Selection & Editing for Finals.

As I had conducted a fair amount of photo-shoots at this point, meaning a lot of potential images and with a couple of shifts in my project idea, I felt it would be best to pick out all the possible finals and edit them accordingly so then I could make final selections for what images I wanted to include in my book and also print for my final exhibit.

final1

For me, the biggest difficulty I have faced with my anxiety is feeling like I am constantly engulfed by it like I can’t do anything without it affecting my enjoyment, engagement and actually being able to relax. This feeling of being ‘trapped’ is something I definitely wanted to convey through an image and after seeing the particular image by Samantha Puglsey I realised how relatable it can actually be to the viewer. For this image I wanted a dark plain background, signifying loneliness and the daunting effect of anxiety of my life. I wanted to have the mask on in this image as throughout my series I wanted to keep the majority, if not all of my face covered to signify how I feel as if anxiety has taken away my personality. This is similar to something Jo Spence explored with the use of a mask covered in make up which suggests a ‘fake’ persona she put on during her battle with cancer. In order to create this image, I shot the first one of myself on the floor, then lots of individual images of hands coming in from various directions. I wanted the grasp of the hand to look daunting and menacing, signifying my anxiety constantly grabbing at me and pulling me down. They didn’t always look so good in every image so often I would just duplicate the hand and use free transform to rotate it and place it accordingly. I spread the hands out around the image to give the sense of entrapment and no escape. To begin with, I felt this was my strongest image to portray how much anxiety has had an effect on my life but I have had mixed reviews of people’s opinions on it. Emma Critchley liked how it was staged and quite theatrical, whereas Emma Lambert felt it was one of my weakest. As I was going to use it as my main print for the final exhibit, I then had to reconsider whether this would be the best to use or instead a series of images to reiterate my narrative of the anxiety, struggle and control.

Final2

I shot this image in order to portray the petrifying feeling of not being able to breathe during a panic attack, hence why I shot it underwater where we cannot breathe. I wanted to create bubbles infront of my face to continue the running theme of not being able to see it and taking away my personality. I think the texture of the water, with the ripples and bubbles contrasts really well and the different shapes distort my face particularly around the eyes, something Emma Critchley picked up on and thought it worked particularly well. Whilst it is quite obvious that it is myself underwater, this distorting effect represents feelings of panic and struggle, what I feel during a panic attack. I decided to decrease the saturation so that it gave the image a sense of coldness and lifelessness. It also enhanced the strong contrasts between my dark hair, white bath and clear water. Again, I think this image is quite relatable as the viewer can identify with not being able to breathe underwater and knowing that my project will be about anxiety, the representation of a panic attack will be clear.

Final3

I personally feel that this is one of my strongest landscape shots as for me it again represents the feeling of entrapment though the darkness and entwining branches. By taking this shot looking upwards, it makes the tree appear daunting and powerful and as you can visualise the branches expanding beyond the edge of the frame, it gives this sense of no escape. I drew a parallel between this image and the first, with the branches and the hands both representing feeling trapped but when I suggested this pairing to David Rule, he thought the two together was repeating the same message rather than complimenting each other therefore when making final edits it may be worth considering if these images work stronger alone. I do think this image is a little underexposed but it actually works really well as the darkness enhances the mood of the photo, with the light background contrasting greatly to the dark branches.

Final4

This is another one of my favourite images which represents one of my coping mechanisms, playing and pulling with my hair to help distract my mind when feeling particularly anxious. With this image, I wanted to be able to show the pulling and strain on the hair which can be seen with the strand on the right held between my fingers while the rest hangs loosely. The textures here are quite soft from both the hair and the skin, as well as an interesting contrast between the skin colour and dark brown hair. The darkest value is held in the hair which draws the eye immediately to the centre of the photo but then leads round to the hand playing with the hair which is communicating my message. I have cropped this image closely to focus solely on this and no other distracting detail. I used levels on Photoshop to slightly lighten the image overall and bring out some of the texture in the strands of hair which was lost slightly through the artificially lighting used in the studio.

Final5

This image represents another coping mechanism when I often dig my nails into my skin so the pain distracts me from overwhelming anxiety. I decided to make the mark then move my finger away slightly, so you can see the indentation on the skin showing the severity of strength used to make this mark and help take my mind off my anxiety. I shot the image using a macro lens to get really close up and define this line, as well as the soft textures of the skin which makes the indent stand out even more as its quite raw and bold. By picking up these textures, I thought it would pair particularly well with a still life image which I have also shot with the macro lens and picked up the different textures and shapes within the object to run parallel to the texture of the skin. Caroline Molloy particularly picked up on this as one of my strongest images therefore it is definitely worth considering including this for my final exhibit and how to enhance it in the book. I was a little unsure of the colour in the image but I didn’t feel as though I knew what to do to improve its appearance and also felt it important to keep the skin tone colour to make it relatable, as well as increasing the vibrance to +20 to enhance this a little.

Final6

I thought this image a little different to the other’s I have picked out as it I don’t know whether I would class it as a still life or even a landscape image. For me, when I encountered this it symbolised feelings of being left behind which represents well the feeling of isolation from anxiety. This is enhanced by the sprinkling of snow suggesting it has been left behind for a long time and gives a cold feeling to the image overall. There are interesting contrasts of colour and texture here, such as the brown/green of the wall contrasting to the blue glove and white snow, and the hardness of the wall contrasts to the soft knitted glove and frosty icicles. I think this gives the image a very natural feel, but the colours don’t enhance the representation and seems quite basic. Also, the glove is small and represents a child’s hand which is completely irrelevant here. Therefore, although I like the concept of feeling left behind I don’t feel as though it is the best image to portray this representation.

Final7

I like this image because it fits really well with the running theme of death in still life through the decaying of the lead which can be seen through the crumbly texture and small holes throughout. The brown colour also symbolises the changing of seasons and ending lifecycle of the leaf. For me, I felt this would run well next to a self-portrait to suggest feelings of ‘falling apart’ or not being able to pull myself together with anxiety constantly ruling my life. However I don’t think this is quite an easy thing to pick up on therefore it may not work so well within my selection. The macro lens has beautifully defined the texture of the leaf and the artificial studio light has lit the image beautifully to capture the rich brown tone and contrasting dark background, demonstrating my understanding of a common technique in still life by keeping the background plain so it does not detract away from the detail of the subject.

Final8

I didn’t expect to be using this image once my project started developing further than my very intial ideas of photographing the seasons but as I looked back through all my shoots there was something about this which stood out to me. I took this from the inside of a pumpkin, creating a new perspective as well as using a macro lens which has created an interesting depth of field focusing the centre and blurring around the edges. I think once you know this is a pumpkin it can detract away from its representation but I don’t feel it is immediately obvious and what strikes your attention first is the shapes which make up a face. This is similar to the work by Francois & Jean Robert who created ‘Faces’ which I researched and identified how we recognise different shapes/elements as a face through our own understanding of signs. The face looks menacing and evil, representing how anxiety acts like an inner demon constantly taking over control. I think this is really enhanced by the vibrant orange and dark background creating a dynamic contrast which I enhanced slightly through photoshop by increasing it +10.

Final9

I’m not so sure about the use of this for the inclusion of my finals but what stood out to me was the gentle decaying of the flower which can be seen through the browning on the white petals. Again, this draws on the feelings of deterioration and anxiety breaking you down. I decreased both the vibrance and saturation here to make the flower look lifeless, whilst increasing highlights by 15% which enhanced the colour of the decaying petals drawing the viewer to notice this more. The flower here looks fragile and delicate, something anxiety can often leave you feeling after a huge attack. Something which was once beautiful is now decaying again playing on the running theme of the reminder of death in the still life genre, and in terms of representation of emotion it suggests how anxiety has a huge run down effect on a life which was once ‘normal’ and blooming.

Final10

At first, this wasn’t an image I was considering for final selection but after the idea of creating the image of scratching/rubbing on the collar, I thought this would work really well alongside it. As the scratching brought up red streaks, I thought this runs parallel to these vibrant red leaves. The macro lens has defined the texture greatly in these leaves as well as slight discolouring and lines. The red also contrasts greatly to the dark black background enhanced by artificial light. I think the close up crop has also made the shape of the leaf a bit more interesting as the shape isn’t instantly recognisable. I did experiment with lightening the image slightly but this just took away from the aesthetics of the image.

Final11

I thought this particular image worked well along side the close up of the nail digging into the skin as both really highlight the textures of the object. I presented this pairing in tutorials previously and received quite a positive response so I think I will be using them together in the book. This is actually one of my favourite images as with the use of the macro lens you really get to see the detail of the leaf, something which I had never appreciated so much before. It really highlights all the thin, delicate lines and the brown colouring gives a kind of skin like appearance. This close up perspective means again it isn’t instantly recognisable of a leaf which encourages the viewer to draw the meaning from what they see rather than what they instantly know about what it is.

Final13 I picked out this image as a potential final after David Rule brought to my attention continuing the theme of trees. I like this image because it is so colourful, with the bright sun on the opposing side creating soft shadows underneath the leaves and various tones of yellow. Although it is aesthetically pleasing, I’m not sure how it works it terms of representation of emotion. It is good to look at but doesn’t portray a particular meaning relevant to anxiety therefore I am unsure whether it would be best to include it. Nonetheless, it may work alongside something else to portray a message.

Final14

The idea for this image stemmed from something I had previously explored in Picbod, a self portrait where half of my face was in darkness and half lit up symbolising how people often have a hidden battle which they are hiding from society. In this case, it represents my anxiety. By lighting the image from the right whilst using a black barn door to absorb the light on the left, this has darkened the left side of my face. By looking down, it makes me look vulnerable and melancholy. I enhanced this contrast by moving the white slider to 190 through levels to lighter the white side of the mask without detracting away from the darker side. I did also adjust the contrast but this didn’t seem to add anything other than losing the detail in the hair. I also experimented with a cooling filter to give the image a colder feel but the original colour made it feel ‘fuller’ overall.

Final15P

I don’t feel as though this composition is one of my strongest but I think it’s important to include in terms of representation. Daffodils begin to bloom in Spring as the dark cold days of Winter has passed the trees remain bare, this is the first sign of new life growing. For me, it symbolises feelings of hope which would work well on the positive side of my book. I increased the contrast to +30 to deepen the green colour of the stems compared to the light petals as well as enhancing the saturation to boost the difference between the yellow centre and white petals. I would have liked to have got a close up shot of a daffodil possibly with a macro lens but at the same time, this could have detracted away from the recognisable shape and recognition of the daffodil.

Final16

I am already quite sure that I won’t be including this image in my final selection, but thought it was appropriate to consider it as it shows new life growing similar to the daffodils, a sense of hope and beauty. I like the way this flower contrasts to the dark background making it stand out more, as well as the soft petals contrasting to the hardness of the poles. However this detail in the background isn’t too important as the wide aperture enhances the focus on just the flower and the new buds waiting to bloom. The natural sunlight is quite harsh here but it made me think of an image from Rinko Kawauchi’s ‘Illuminance’ where the light is quite dominating and distorting so it makes the image a bit different from my others.

Final17

I didn’t edit this photo in anyway as I felt the colours worked great as they were. This was taken from inside a window, something I wouldn’t usually do but for the purpose of the photo worked really well here. I think this image is easily identifiable and relatable as we have often found ourselves on the insides looking out to gloomy, dark weather. In this case, the darkness and raindrops represent the anxiety and the saddening feelings which accompany it. The different sizes and shapes of the raindrops creates a repetitive patten but spreads the visual weight all over rather than drawing the eye to one particular space.

Final18

Although this image is very similar to the previous, it will definitely be worth considering the use of this to create a parallel whereas this one represents feelings of positivity. I like this image because it shows the clouds moving away revealing a bright blue sky, again representing feelings of hope and escape whilst the raindrops remain on the window which act as a reminder that the anxiety doesn’t instantly go away and how it still stays with me. I did a little bit of editing here by increasing the saturation to +20 to enhance the blue tones and the representation of positivity.

Final19

This image is very similar to the one of the glove covered in snow, with the footprint representing being left behind or suggesting someone previously being there who has now gone. This image didn’t work as well as I had hoped as the snow really wasn’t thick enough but I did make a quick couple of edits to try and enhance this. I experimented with the levels a little to draw out the footprint more but still keep it soft rather than completely losing some detail, as well as using a cooling filter at 15% to add a bit of colour as I initially thought it was quite lacking and it also added to the coldness of the image. I could potentially pair this image with the one of the glove but this might reiterate something David Rule had already picked up on of repetition in the images.

Final20

I took this photo knowing I wanted it to be powerful, strong and become my final image in my book. I knew for the location I wanted to have stunning views far into the distance and this has also provided some delightful colours which all contribute to the positivity of the image. Here, I am holding on to a bunch of balloons with the mask tied to the end. The balloons represent letting go and as I am holding them out, it suggests letting go of my anxiety particularly with the mask on the end suggesting trying to get my life and personality back. I had considered trying to take the picture after I had let go of them, but I thought it best for me to still be holding them as it represents trying to let go but the anxiety still sticking with me. As this goes at the end of my book, it represents where I am now in life as my anxiety has improved but still not gone away.

Final21This image is quite similar to my others of flowers but they all unite together to represent feelings of hope and new life. I particularly like the composition of this one as I used a macro lens which has delicately detail all individual parts of the daisy including each little petal. Again I think this allows the viewer to see something they often recognise through a different perspective both through composition and representation. The macro lens has also eliminated the problem of distracting detail around the edges by focusing directly onto the daisy which means the background doesn’t detract away from it but still provides an interesting contrast of the dark green background to make the daisy stand out more.

Final22

This is another one of my favourites because the composition is quite simple but the concept is quite powerful. This image is quite symbolic in the same way as the image with the balloons as the pieces of the dandelion slowly blowing away in the distance represents the anxiety slowly disappearing. There is a slight blurriness to the centre of the dandelion but this adds to the gentle movement shown in the image. The wide aperture also works really well here as it draws the eye right into the centre where the dandelion has been framed and defined neatly whereas the background is out of focus but you can still see the small segments floating away delicately. This image could work really well with the balloons or even on it’s own to avoid the repetition but both still conveying a strong message both through self portraiture and still life.

Final23

This is another image I picked out to fit the continuous theme of trees but I think this is stronger than the previous one with the autumnal leaves. The green leaves are bright and fresh, bursting with positivity and good vibes. This is completely different to the image at the beginning with the bare, dark branches which is why I think it will work really well including it so I can have the same landscape but one positive and one negative, suitable for each side of my book. I took this image from underneath the tree looking directly up which I think creates an interesting perspective as the branches don’t seem connected to the ground, more free and widespread. The image is overall very bright with the sun shining through the small gaps which again enhances the overall mood of the photo.

Final24

Even though I already have one definite image of the dandelion to include, I also wanted to consider whether it would be worth using this. The macro lens has really highlighted the interesting shape of each individual segment of the dandelion with lots of small, thin lines spread throughout. Together it creates a really intriguing pattern and sense of unity. Although this image works aesthetically, I have the same problem with not being able to pick out representation of emotion therefore it will probably not be used in my final selection.

Final25

Although this is quite similar to the other flower images, this one is actually my favourite as it is a little different. It feels fresh and bold, the beautiful pink colour is vibrant but gentle which enhances the flowers delicacy. The macro lens has defined the small raindrops on the petals which enhances that fresh feeling. However what really stands out for me is the strong pink colour contrasting to the dark background. It represents hope emerging out of darkness and could also work really well in the sequence of my book by placing it at the beginning of the ‘positives’ as it shows things initially getting better but still feeling like I am in a dark place.

Final26

A bleeding heart plant is one of my favourites in the garden, simply because it is so emotive in itself. I am always mesmerised about the delicate little shape which forms the recognisable shape of a heart. They are also rich with my favourite colour and instantly identify colours of love and relationships. This is why I want to include it in my final selection with one particular image which features my family as the pairing will compliment each other to represent how the love from my family has helped my anxiety improve massively.

Final27

I thought of the idea for this image when Caroline encouraged me to have more images which make the viewer feel my anxiety therefore I kept the composition of this simple to show feelings of frustration and fear. Again it is a coping mechanism to help distract my mind from an anxiety attack, trying to focus on different feelings and senses in order to take my mind off it. I actually found this picture was more dramatic in black and white with my skin contrasting really well to the knees and although the dark background makes it hard to define the difference between the two, I actually think this works quite well in enhancing the concentration on the hands digging into my knees.

Final28

Although this image is quite similar to the one of nails digging into my skin and the nails digging into my knees, I think this is possibly the most powerful in terms of raw emotion. I think it has the potential to make the viewer a bit uncomfortable but it shows the harshness and extremes of trying to distract myself from engulfing anxiety. I decided to edit this image to enhance it aesthetically, firstly by decreasing the saturation as I felt my skin looked too bright and colourful for the message I was trying to portray. Secondly, I experimented with selective colour and increased black to + 25% as I felt this brought out the redness of the scratches best without de-colourising the whole image. I have adapted the technique from the still life genre here of keeping the background plain without distracting detail to focus the concentration on the scratches.

Final29crop

I was a bit apprehensive of creating this image because I didn’t know whether it was too cheesy or typical. However, it works well with another image I am including of me crying as it works with the eye but represents a fresh vision. Inside the eye, I have edited in a photo of my family who have been one of the coping mechanisms for helping my anxiety improve. This makes the image very personal and also relatable for the viewer. I decided to keep it as a close crop to try and focus as much on just the eye as possible where the image of my family is placed.

Final30

This is the other image which will create a parallel to the previous as it works with the eye and is personal and relatable. Crying is another coping mechanism used to help distract me from my anxiety when it is becoming so overwhelming and I look for any escape. I decided to have the image in black and white as there are some brilliantly strong contrasts in the image created from a dark background and also the artificial light coming in from the right casting shadows onto the left side of my face. Although the image is dark with strong feelings of sadness and not being able to cope, the textures are soft and represent this feeling of fragile, similar to the state I feel when I hit this point.

Final31

This was another image I felt quite apprehensive about because I didn’t want to just take an image of a pen and paper as it isn’t particularly experimental or emotive. Instead, I tried to work with including a text layer over the top on photoshop with an extract from my journal I have kept whilst coping with my anxiety. I spread the text over the edge of the frames to suggest its continuation beyond the crop but also centralising key words such as ‘humiliation’, ’embarrassment’, ‘panic’ and ‘start living again’. I particularly picked this font to give it a handwriting feel but didn’t want to make it too cliche. I don’t think this is my strongest image but it is important to include as it enhances the positive side of my book and the different things which helped my anxiety improve.

Final32

Another aspect which helped my anxiety improve is music which is why I decided to use this simple composition to highlight that. I used a wide aperture to focus on the headphone as I did not need to include any other particular detail to help convey this message. I used to listen to one particular extract of music to help calm me, even when I used to walk to school because some days even that was too overwhelming. It included relaxing sounds of trickling water which is why I decided to pair it with the next image. Knowing it would be going next to this, I decided to use a warming filter to enhance the image with warmer tones and add to the positivity through colour.

Final33

I didn’t think this image would have been included in my finals but after thinking about how music helped me and remembering the specific piece of music I used to listen to, I thought it would be apt to include this to represent those relaxing sounds of trickling water which helped calm me alongside the image of the headphones so the viewer can make the connection. The overall green colour is very dominant here but works well in making the little droplet stand out. The macro lens has also highlighted this well and blurring the edges of the image, drawing the eye right to the centre. This made me think of the image I picked out by Sian Bonnell from ‘Ordinary Magic’ as she used a similar composition to draw the eye to small piece of detail in the centre.

FrontCover

Finally, I shot this image to feature as the front cover of my book because I feel strongest about how anxiety has made me feel like I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be normal. It made me too afraid to do anything, hence taking away my personality and my confidence. It may be theatrical but I also think it best represents hiding my identity and will introduce how anxiety has affected my life appropriately.

Now I have my complete selection of finals, I am able to move forward from the feedback from Emma Lambert and create my final sequence for my book, especially with the potential pairings I have identified.

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on May 7, 2015.

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