Inspirations – Justin Hartford
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF16-35mm f.2.8L II USM, on tripod, remote shutter release f22, 1/25, ISO 100
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF16-35mm f.2.8L II USM, camera wedged in the crack of a large rock face on 10 sec delay f11, 1/6, ISO 100
The body of work this image comes from is titled Proserpina – a Self Portrait. Proserpina is a Greek Goddess whose name means “to emerge”. She is synonymous with springtime when she emerged from her six months of being forced to reside in hell. Proserpina is a series about how we as humans so often stay in our own caves not letting the real us be seen so we can be accepted by society and removed from its judgment. I use my body to further show the metaphoric tie between societal pressures on our individuality and how we go out of and retreat back to our own caves in response to that pressure. This work is also quickly becoming a representation of my life, where it has been and where it is going. The increasing tensions in the images pointing towards impending big changes.
This particular image is a composite made from images taken in 2009 while in Serra Cafema, Namibia on the boarder of Angola. While in a major dune field for an evening shoot, I took off running to find a clean spot to work on my self-portraiture. I found this particular spot after much time trekking into the dunes. My first order of business was to set up my camera on the tripod, compose the stage and attach the remote shutter release. At that point I took a few images making certain the composition was what I wanted and the exposure was appropriate. Using the tripod allows much slower shutter speeds that help to make softer images in dunes when the wind is blowing the sand as it was that evening. The light was quickly leaving me so once my equipment was set up and the initial images were made, I was free to enter the stage. I had three poses to execute and worked through them quickly getting to the laying down pose last.
I knew in the field that it was an image I needed to use in my work. The best pose was easy to pick out. I pulled it into Photoshop along with the initial stage image I captured first. I used that initial stage image to remove any trace of footsteps I made while entering the scene. I also kept the initial clean shadow lines, while retaining the light falling on my body in the shadow. From there, I found a cave image I made from a small crevice in a sheer rock wall not far from the dune field. The single top rock with the dune extending into the cave is similar to what is sometimes found in the Serra Cafema area. I made a simple drop shadow and positioned it according to the light of the dunes. The last piece to put in place was the appropriate cloud cover to finish creating the mood I was looking for.
Ansel Adams once said “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” This is why I choose to focus my art into bodies of work that have very clear and personal objectives. Each images does tell it’s own story, yet it is the entire body of work that I hope brings that story even more focus by making the statements I intend. Proserpina is a body of work that is still ongoing, it is a story that is unfolding over time and has much more to tell. A story that, in the not too distant future, will add a new dimension. ~ Justin Hartford