NOTE: This blog post contains artistic nudity. Nudity is not bad but if you are viewing this at work I hope your employer allows nudity at work. Nudity at work, how fun!
I desperately wanted this blog post to be entirely about the art. I am afraid you’re not going to get that. I don’t necessarily think that a lot of art needs to be explained but the way we’ve reduced it to social media posts on Instagram and Facebook leaves me with a wicked bad taste in my mouth. I’ve had this conversation with myself and others numerous times in the last few weeks. I think just posting it to social media streams(that you don’t own) cheapens your work. It’s like saying “Look, I’ve worked so hard on this, now appreciate it on a 3x3 box that some millionaire told you it would give you more exposure.” Bleh, double bleh. I guess I hate that we stare at art on such a small screen. It’s meant to be bigger. It’s meant for us to actually process, not just slam the heart button and move on. I know lots of people just don’t care. I know I can sometimes scream into the abyss expecting a response but it’s important to me. The stuff we create and labor over deserves more. Hosting most of my treasured work on my website, my home on the interwebs, feels like a small step in the right direction. I mean, I own the website. You can at least view things full screen. That’s something right?
Okay, okay, I get it, let’s get down to the real reason you’re here, the art. I recently stumbled upon a camera obscura in the woods of the North Carolina museum of art. What is a camera obscura you say? To not get so technical it’s a box, even a room that is pitch black, aka “obscura” but has a tiny hole allowing light in. It is the precursor to the actual camera and has been used for a millennia to demonstrate how light works.
Mike, what are you talking about? What?
Here’s a diagram!
Really graphically beautiful right? See light travels in a straight line. Everything reflects light from the sun, even our moon light, is sun light. So if you force light into a tiny hole(aperture) you are going to get an amazing result. The image just outside of that tiny hole will be projected upside down onto the wall, floor, whatever inside the camera obscura. Put a lens where that hole is, yes a piece of glass, and some photographic paper at the back of that camera obscura and you have….A CAMERA! That’s basically how a camera works. Light enters the lens and film captures those rays.
Like I said before, camera obscuras can be as small as a box or as large as a room. You can totally try this in a hotel room with black out curtains. The only real issue is that the human eye is not going to collect enough light to see a really cool image. You’ll see shapes and details but you need something a little more robust to collect all that light.Who here knows what you need? Bingo! A long exposure photograph! You get a gold star! If you have a long enough exposure, you’ll get to see the real magic.
So like I said, North Carolina Museum of Art has just that, a hobbit house sized camera obscura.
I enlisted the help of my friend, and I’m so proud to call her my friend, Kaylee to help me make some images inside the camera obscura. Don’t worry I will link all her info plus the museum’s stuff at the bottom of the page. I always know she is ready to create anything and if it involves nature you already have her on your team. Being nude, on a cold concrete floor, in complete darkness while Mike counts down to hold still during long exposures is not anyone’s idea of fun. Trust me. It actually looks sorta bizarre.
Luckily I was working with crap tools as usual. I had forgotten my quick release plate to my tripod in New Jersey so my sturdy tripod, a must with long exposures, was useless. Luckily enough, my dear friend Theresa, who is also an amazing makeup artist, had a basic plastic tripod that did the trick. Thank you Theresa. This wouldn’t have happened without your crappy tripod. Not that crappy if it gets the job done.
Okay enough talking. Enjoy these shots. Exposures ranged from 4 seconds to 10 seconds and iso ranged from 1600-4000. I wanted Kaylee to be able to keep her eyes open for most of these things. Remember, an underexposed sharp image is better than an out of focus, well exposed image. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT.
One thing I’d like to point out. If you were to put these in a flip book, like stop motion animation, you could subtly see the leaves move in the wind. It’s beautiful. This is beautiful. Please enjoy the work and please leave a note.
Tripod: Theresa Burden
Special thanks to North Carolina Museum of Art. Although I did not ask for permission to create art, their Instagram gave me some love for doing it. I’d think it’s pretty funny if an art museum had a problem with making art on their campus.