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Flashing Lights: Taking Photos of Artificial Light Installations with my LC-A+ and Fisheye No. 2

My two passions are art and photography. For my first article about art on the Lomography magazine, I decided to visit "The Light Show" exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. I aimed to take as many creative photos of light installations as I can with my Lomo LC-A+ and Fisheye No. 2.

Photo by vanfrancis

With my LC-A+, Fisheye No. 2, and a press badge in hand, I arrived at the Hayward Gallery to see “The Light Show,” a group show featuring artists working primarily with artificial light.

I entered the nearly empty exhibition space and was immediately welcomed by a monumental installation of LED lights, Cylinder by Leo Villareal. Mesmerized by the changing light patterns, I instantly thought of Christmas, as it reminded me of silver tinsel’s shimmer. I took as many photos as I could, hoping to capture the best light pattern on film.

Photo by vanfrancis

Behind Villareal’s white lights was the colorful illumination of David Batchelor’s Magic Hour. What used to be exit signs, shop signs, and other light boxes, Batchellor had resurrected and given new life. He faced the front of these signs against the wall, the lights illuminate around and in-between them, mimicking a city landscape. I took photos at different angles, hoping to achieve a kaleidoscope effect.

Moving on, I ventured into Carlos Cruz-Diez’s chamber of neon lights called Chromosaturation. His installation is an experience, taking advantage of how the human eye perceives light. With three rooms emitting a different light each – green, red, and blue – this installation proved to be the most challenging for me as I thought the experience would be difficult to capture on 35mm film.

I headed upstairs to see the last work that I was allowed to photograph, Ivan Navarro’s cleverly titled Reality Show (Silver). Reminiscent of a telephone box made of mirrors, you enter inside and become part of the work while other visitors outside watch and observe you. Not having to worry about the latter, I thought my Fisheye No. 2 would give a warped perspective – expanding the confined (yet infinite) space and capturing as many unending patterns of reflected light as possible.

With these four installations, I wanted to not only highlight each work but also integrate them with one another. As they were primarily made of light, I took advantage of the multiple exposure feature, for instance, juxtaposing the profound colors of Cruz-Diez’s with that of Villareal’s white LED lights.

Photo by vanfrancis

Easily finishing films in both cameras, I wished I brought more rolls. But using film that’s been inside my Fisheye No. 2 for a couple of years then, I realized, was a huge mistake.

The film was black and white. Oops.

Feeling incredibly disappointed, I observed other works including those by Dan Flavin, Jenny Holzer, Conrad Shawcross, and my favorite, Jim Campbell’s Exploded View (Commuters) – all of which helped brighten my mood.

Sharing the exhibition with just one other professional-looking magazine photographer with his SLR camera, I must admit, felt a little intimidating. But while he was there to take perfect installation photos, I came to create my own photos. With different angled, close up, and multiple-exposed shots, I wanted to offer a different perspective. Even the black and white film brought out a fantastic viewpoint. It just proves that it doesn’t take an expensive camera to capture amazing photos.

written by vanfrancis

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