Initial Ideas, Concepts and Tests

So we were given a key word to base our narrative on, my key word is ‘Light’. Light is a vast part of photography, as photography is capturing light and the element has been in practice since the beginning of the art. The more I thought about my key word the more I struggled, although light is a big theme to work with it kind of flooded my mind with to many thoughts and ideas, I couldn’t see through the clouds. However I got myself together and thought about the simplest way of portraying light in a series of photographs, I could use times of day, create a circular narrative about somebodies day, I could use props like house lights and switches to create a narrative within a building; or using flames in some way. All these ideas I need to run through and test in some way.

Start with some basic observations about light –

  • It creates and sustains life

  • A constant property

  • Has many spectrums

  • Travels in straight lines

  • Creates Atmosphere

  • It easily makes us feel calm and comfortable or scared and out of place*

  • The biggest element within photography*

  • It takes along time to master the art of light

  • Can project colour

  • Reflects on mirrors

  • Objects which project light, Lamps, bulbs, signs, torch etc

So what kind of narratives can I explore when using light? I need to look at the potential light has in creating atmosphere  within images, but also I want to look at our everyday lives and how light becomes a important factor. For example light keeps people calm, creates warmth and feeds us however it could also make us nervous, feel out of place and scared. So there is a lot of potential in my key word when it comes to human conditions and that has a strong base to create a narrative. The question is how am I going to do it? What themes can I use? How? and why?

The first thing for me to do is to simply capture some images involving light, the more items or environments I test shoot in the more ideas that I will gather to create a narrative, I hope that these tests will spark some inspiration. I want to see what objects I can use at hand, as I’m not to sure what I want to create I’m just going to play around.

Light Around John Rylands    

These are some shots from a trip to John Rylands library, I’m not thinking about using this building within my narrative but I remember taking these primarily because of the lighting.

Rylands-light2 (3 of 3)

Rylands-light2 (1 of 3) Rylands-light (5 of 5) Rylands-light (4 of 5)

 Rylands-light (2 of 5) Rylands-light (1 of 5)

Rylands-light (3 of 5)

I really like using the darkness to create a atmosphere, I believe that the dark has just as much power and importance as the visible light; the dark brings more attention to the light and really helps to highlight the points of focus.

Around My Flat

test one

These four images are watching strong sunlight shine through my front room window, I wanted to create movement through the series just to test some physicality and distance from a object/scene in a proportioned manner. I could use type natural light in a building to create narrative but I’m not sure how or why yet.  After all this is a test just to get my creative juices flowing.

test two

I like the idea of using fire with in a narrative, this source of natural light can be very effective and has a lot of content to research and explore. I wanted to make a simple sequence of flicking a lighter on and off.

switch (4 of 4) switch (3 of 4) switch (2 of 4) switch (1 of 4)

Rather than a sequence I took four separate images of a light switch, once again I feel that there is potential in using light switches because it could open up any number of narratives within a building giving me complete freedom to branch out and create a story. Depending on the story depends  on the angle of the image, I would have to have to know the atmosphere of my narrative to understand which angle to use.

lamp tests (4 of 4) lamp tests (3 of 4) lamp tests (2 of 4) lamp tests (1 of 4)

The potential of a lamp is exactly the same as using a switch, however I would prefer to use a lamp within a narrative just because of its physical presence. I could use a lamp to create a narrative within a dark house, for example someone waking up very late at night from hearing a noise in their house, switching on and off the lights to check it out?

Brownie (2 of 2) Brownie (1 of 2)

I have many cameras lying around my flat and just picked one to photograph the light hitting it, I then started to angle the brownie camera to see the sun light bouncing into the mirrors inside the camera. I really like the idea of following a light trial, or using light to jump into lens’ and cameras. I then thought maybe I could join the light beam with other cameras, create a trial or narrative of light going through many cameras, this is a little hard to imagine right now but it’s something I want to try. This could create some interesting effects and could give me creative freedom to make something interesting in a way Duane Michals’ work is.

camera jumping

These three images above are what gave me some on the spot inspiration to create a sequence of light travelling through camera lenses, I feel I need to experiment in different ways, try to build different narratives and hopefully come to a final concept. So here I had the idea of following a trial of light through specific cameras which are from different periods in time. I want to take a Duane Michals approach to this sequence where I can play with the viewers perception of what they are seeing and hopefully create a circular narrative.  As cameras need light to operate I want to try and make a statement about the importance of light. Time and technology moves and I like the idea of travelling through the lenses of period cameras with one main light source. I obviously need to work on these ideas and refine the edges but I want to bring attention to the way we use and capture light and how we evolve technology to do so. Although light has always been here (obviously) our ways of capturing it have changed over time. I want each view finder of the cameras to hold the previous camera inside it, although I have trouble explaining in words I think the best way for me to show this is to draw and start taking photographs.


Story boarding is the best way for me to get my head around something.


Frame 1: Brownie camera on desk

Frame 2: Close up of twin lens reflex with brownie inside view finder.

Frame 3: Full shot of twin lens holding brownie.

Frame 4: Close up of 35mm view finder holding twin lens with brownie inside.

Frame 5: Full shot of 35mm camera containing twin lens and brownie.

Frame 6: Close up of brownie cameras view finder holding the 35mm film which is holding the twin lens, which is holding the brownie.

Frame 7: See Frame 1

Now I have a idea of what I want to achieve fright now the best thing for me to do is take some sample photographs and have a go!

IMG_0319 IMG_0321 IMG_0322 IMG_0323 IMG_0325

The images above are my test shots for this experiment, only simple images, no real effort went into capturing them because this is only a experiment. I followed my story board in terms of composition and went into Photoshop to create a circular narrative and edit my cameras into each others view finders.


For each frame I did a simple layer of the cameras into each view finder in the order which I decided and then turned the images into black and white so that I could bring more attention to the view finders. I needed to remember that this is a exercise and to help me grow an idea and narrative so not to much time was taken in creating this sequence.

test sequence, trial

As a trial I think this worked rather well, in terms of a circular narrative or series it definitely starts back where it began, I used Michals technique of showing frames within frames and exploiting them but I don’t know how much of a narrative I can put into this work. I will need to speak with a tutor and go over things. I was thinking of involving more of a set with a figure holding a lighter to a camera lens and that being the first and last image in tern involving a source of light that is rare and never changes.

Definitely a good little exercise to get some creative juices flowing but I need to think of:






I think that I need feedback for this idea so will return to it when it have spoken to my tutors and other students.

I have also been thinking of creating a narrative within my home, I like the idea of using light as a comforting element but also a un-easing one; from looking at Crewdson’s work I could take some of his lighting effects into my narrative to create an atmosphere. I think with lighting in the right places you can make an ordinary scene into something much more diverse and abstract, giving the creator a freedom to convey an atmosphere.

I’m going to take some test shots around my flat, I’m going to find areas which are being effected by light the most and maybe put some small edits together. I want to create a dark and eerie feel to my images because if I was to create a narrative within my home that’s what I would be looking to achieve. I would also strongly think about converting to black and white, in my head I imagine black and white images when I think of light, not strictly but it’s a prominent thought. I like the way black and white conveys like, the images have no distractions away from light and the grey scale adds to the shadows and highlights.

IMG_0342 IMG_0338 IMG_0336 IMG_0330

Well I chose my hall and stairway to take 4 images of using different angles to make some edits. The lighting to the house was quite dull and there were many corners of shadow, this was perfect for now. I thought about getting low down and looking up to get a sense of space between the stairs and the hall, thought about walking around in a strange dark house and hesitating about going up stairs. What I needed to do with these images was to edit them, convert them to black and white while enhancing the shadows, exposing more highlights and helping to add to a strange and maybe intimidating place.

Myflat (1 of 4) Myflat (3 of 4)

I like this image above and to the right because of the angle at eye level, it’s like peering up the dark staircase to see what’s at the top but the darkness is covering it, I brought out more highlights on the banister rail to add more value to the shadows and create a larger tonal range.

 Myflat (4 of 4)Myflat1 (1 of 1)

The more I think about it the more I would like to create a narrative within my flat, I could use my studio lights to convey a strange environment or occurrence within the building. I would like actors within my narrative so that is something I need to think about. Once again I would like feedback.

My Presentation of initial Ideas and concepts

Circular narrative Daniel Hancox  – PDF of my presentation.


The feedback I had on my presentation was highly valuable, I did think I had some good initial first ideas and concepts and the tests that I have been undertaking have definitely made the process a lot easier. It seemed that my idea of using light travelling through the lenses of cameras had more substance than I thought, the more I have mulled over it the more gravity I feel I can add, the thing that was recognised about this idea was that its a statement. This is because of the way I’m using light and cameras; I’m showing how light is a perpetual substance which hasn’t changed over the course of time however our ways of capturing it have changed, I want to take the viewer through a journey which shows us the change in technology and how light in its rawest form still drives us as a race to advance. But in doing so, I want to show it in a abstract way which takes the viewer through cameras as if they are the beam of light; using my research of Duane Michals to help me through a process of creating a circular narrative playing with the viewers perception. Another element of this proposal that I have been thinking about is that the images between the first and the last could go on and be added to the circular narrative for as the technology advances, cameras could be added to it over time and this could act as a calendar and narrative of the progression of cameras, once again using a raw source of light like fire.

But my presentation feedback didn’t rule out my other proposal idea of using my flat as a set and using light to create a eerie atmosphere, the fact that I want to use the darkness as my allies was a celebrated thought and could lead me into having research and substance for both light and dark. So my group helped me decided that it was a good idea to try out both proposals and see which becomes the most prominent.


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