Video art exhibition...some C&C please...

Jim Walczak

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Sep 9, 2004
Reaction score
Lorain, Ohio
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Ok, so this past weekend I was offered a last minute commission to shoot some stills (and video) of a multimedia installation that was part of a local art festival. I won't go into too many details about the exhibition itself except to say that I was essentially doing this as a favor for a friend...although I would add that the friend is question happens to be one of my former art teachers (including raster/Photoshop).

The exhibition itself was indoors and consisted basically of 7 screens with 5 projectors of some conceptual animation work that was set to some equally conceptual orchestration (each display had it's own set of speakers, with the visual set to the audio). Needless to say, this was easily the trickiest lighting situation I've ever had to deal with! LOL! Not only were these projections, the light from each projection often affected the other screens and the light was constantly changing and shifting, both in color and intensity...along with the music, it actually had a rather hypnotic effect (particularly after 6 hours of staring thru a camera lens at it, LOL).

Because this was a very low light situation, I did have the ISO on my Nikon D90 fairly cranked...and as a result, I am having to do a fair bit of clean up and noise reduction in post (using Camera RAW and Photoshop). Likewise, because of this lighting situation where the colors and intensity were constantly changing, I'm doing more than a fair amount of processing in regards to fill light, exposure, saturation, levels, yadda, yadda, yadda., as well as some final sharpening. I can't really provide many specific details of HOW I shot these as I used a variety of approaches ranging from full manual to full auto.

I have shown a few preliminary samples to the client and so far he seems happy with them, however as the client also happens to be a friend as well as a college art teacher, I do very much want to give him my very best effort as well. As such, I could use a few extra sets of eyes here.

Comments and suggestions are very much encouraged, however I would ask; please be detailed! I have no ego to bruise here...if you like it or if you hate it, that's fine, however please tell me WHY you like it or WHY you hate it. I don't really mind if someone thinks my work sucks, however saying that alone tells me very little that can't be attributed to personal taste. I am firmly of the mind that honest, if not brutal feedback is the singular best way for an artist of any medium to improve! this specific case, as a professional courtesy I would ask that you please critique ONLY the PHOTOGRAPHY on it's own and not the actual art seen in the projections! The work seen on the displays is NOT mine and I had no part in the installation itself...that credit will be given exclusively to the artists who created it once the processing of the images is complete.





Good job. I would try a 16 to 9 aspect and try and get rid of the ceiling in a few. For # 2 I would suggest getting rid of the plugs and cloning out the lighter portion of the bottom with the darker are near the plugs. That's all I got...
The only time I've tried something similar to this has been taking pictures at banquets etc. for my own use where there were video presentations. Seems like you got some photos that show the artwork well. I found that photographing something lighted I don't necessarily go too high with the ISO.

I agree a couple of them have too much ceiling showing; you probably want enough to give some frame of reference but not so much of the ceiling tiles might be better. I don't know about the outlets in the one photo, how much I might crop, if I'd try to balance the composition taking them into consideration or crop them out. Cropping the top of #1 and 4 would bring the viewer into seeing the artwork more I think.

I like the idea of the one with the bright light at the top, but I think I'd like to see less of the white circle - makes me feel like I want to squint from it. I love the arc of golden light below it and the flare - seems to fit with the subject well.
Thanks for the comments. I'm doing a re-shoot this morning...we're gonna freeze the video and see if we can get some sharper images and I'm gonna try and get a few images that I can stitch together as pano's showing at least 3 screens. One of the big problems with this shoot (other than the video aspect of course) is that it's actually a fairly small "space" and there really just aren't that many angles at all to really shoot from...not really a lot of room to move around in there at all. As the artist, my client really did maximize the use of "space", however from a photography point of view, it makes it a bit difficult to get shots that aren't redundant.

The reason I had gone with the higher ISO was because this is animated video...the video itself (most of it at least) is rather well lit, however it's constantly in motion as well so I was trying to get the shutter speed up a bit. The client had offered to freeze the video for the shots the first time around, but my thinking at the time was this might provide a greater sense of they say, hind sight is always 20/20. For the reshoot this morning, we're going to freeze the images so I can shoot at a lower ISO and do the exposures a bit longer...I think it should work.

I do agree on the ceiling in a few of the shots...I wanted to keep some of it in there to provide a sense of theroom/ environment, but I agree there's just a bit too much there, particularly in the last shot (and I do have several that are like this...same angle, different portions of the animation on the screens). The main reason I haven't cropped it out yet is that I've been trying to maintain the 4 x 6 image ratio for the client so that there's a uniformity to the majority of the shots, since I'm not 100% sure how he's going to be using them yet...I figure if I need to, I can always crop them down later if need be. If push comes to shove, the client also happens to be the professor from my college Photoshop class (again one of the reasons I'm trying to do the best possible work I can here), so he can certainly crop them himself if need be (LOL). I'm just trying to provide him with as much raw material as I can ( pun intended) with a few options and such.

Ok...this is a stitched pano from this morning's re-shoot. Over-all I think that freezing the video(s) worked a bit better...if nothing else I was able to keep the ISO around 1000 and had a bit less grain to clean up. This particular image is a comp of 3 separate images...I had to do some pushing and pulling and squishing with the perspective to get it to look right, but I think I got it pretty seamless. I do find the crooked ceiling line a bit disturbing, but I'm waiting to hear back from the client to see if he wants me to bother fixing that or not.

I do have 2 or 3 other 3 shot panos I'll be doing as well as a 5 shot pano and a few more single stills, but I probably won't start on those until the morning.

Anyways, C&C is welcomed and encourage...not looking for an ego stroking here, so feel free to be as brutal as you like. I mainly just want to provide some good material for the client.

I think the color looks good and the subject(s) look nice and sharp. I found it took some learning to get neon or scoreboards etc. in focus (spinning letters and whatnot).

I probably would go ahead and straighten it because it would drive the ever lovin' crap out of me! lol And I'd be more likely to provide a photo ready to use, the final edit, where it's ready to go.

I do find the reddish screen to the right somewhat distracting since I found my eyes drawn there, but I love the rest of the photo. Of course it depends on if you're going for a photo of all of these screens. This whole exhibit seemed to be a lot of wiiiiide screens to get in photos!
I pretty much agree on the reddish screen to the right side...that one I'm gonna call "artist's choice", as those are the stills chosen by the artist responsible for the other words, that's where he chose to freeze each screen for this shot. And you're right...a lot of WIDE screens there...essentially there were a total of 7 screens with 5 projectors. Two of the "screens" were (obviously) a side wall and the two smaller screens on the left of the image were basically windows in the back wall, however my client had built the two side screens himself (the two large framed screens). Again the most difficult aspect of shooting all of this (othern than dealing with it being video) was simply trying to move around in the "space" widest lens is only 18mm, so there was only just so much I could frame with a single shot.

I did hear back from my client this morning and oddly enough, the crooked ceiling line doesn't bother him (yet)...I think he may have simply gotten that one projector a bit crooked when he hung it. With this first test run on the processing, I had actually straightened the screen/image in the center without realizing that it wasn't actually parallel to the ceiling. He is bothered by the missing/displaced ceiling tiles though, so I'll probably just straighten the ceiling line when I go back in to clone in some ceiling tiles.

I'm probably gonna start on the big 5 shot pano next as that one is likely to be a real was taken from a slightly different angle with that middle screen splitting the room, so it should effectively show a total of 5 of the screens. Once I get that out of the way (as well as a few of the easier shots) and get the client's approval, then I'll probably make a second round on everything to start doing some tweaks.

Most reactions