Dance Impressions

 
Aggression: The fusion of the two dancers in motion portrays aggression. The head of one merges into the leg of the other to create one continuous form. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

Aggression: The fusion of the two dancers in motion portrays aggression. The head of one merges into the leg of the other to create one continuous form. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

Through this series, Jwalant Mahadevwala explores the merging of figures and the emergence of entirely new forms altogether.

My Assignment

  • Description: To capture forms that are blurred yet defined.
  • Duration: This assignment is a work in progress and I have been working on it since 2009.
  • Notes: The shooting distance and exposure are very crucial in order to achieve the desired form.

One of my first experiments with blurs was on an outing to a beach in Dover, UK, in 2009. The  backdrop of the English sea in broad daylight inspired me to create blurred outlines of the subjects in my images.

Force: The dancer fuses with the fabric and becomes one with it. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

Force: The dancer fuses with the fabric and becomes one with it. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

When I processed those photos, I  was amazed at the alternative forms I could achieve by further blurring and refining them. But as I created more images for the series, I realised that it was actually the background light that was sculpting the object.

In Sync: The essence of this photograph lies in the simplicity of dancing in total synchronisation. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

In Sync: The essence of this photograph lies in the simplicity of dancing in total synchronisation. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

My Perspective
As an architect I have always been interested in forms. This series, titled Impressions, is my attempt to understand them through photography. It celebrates the interaction of the human form with its environment and how forms become interdependant in the photographs.

Upright: I made the shadow look like a reflection to enhance the linearity of human form. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

Upright: I made the shadow look like a reflection to enhance the linearity of human form. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

The Process
When I started the series, I would photograph static objects against brightly lit backdrops. Gradually, I realised that my subject could be static and working with dancers would be an interesting way to achieve the desired formal expression. Soon  after, I found my subjects in these two lovely young dancers Alessandra Ruggeri and Andrew Graham from the Labaan School of Dance in London. During these sessions, we would work indoors.

Pull: A piece of fabric held by the two dancers connects them in one seamless movement. Also, the positioning of the dancers reminded me of the infinity symbol. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

Pull: A piece of fabric held by the two dancers connects them in one seamless movement. Also, the positioning of the dancers reminded me of the infinity symbol. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

To blur the image, it is important that the subject be at least 15ft away from the camera and the focus be set at 8 to 12ft away from the camera. Getting the blurs right is essential to get the light to fluidly merge with the form. The  photographs have to be overexposed to allow light to eat into the subject’s outlines.

Undress: Make sure that your images don’t have harsh shadows as it would reduce the impact of the blurs. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

Undress: Make sure that your images don’t have harsh shadows as it would reduce the impact of the blurs. Photograph/ Jwalant Mahadevwala

The images are made by capturing the light directly from the source rather than capturing the light reflected from the object. Hence, postprocessing did not have much influence on the final outcome.

My Equipment
I use a Nikon D5000 with a Nikon 28–105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D lens. What is really crucial to this series is the ability to throw your subjects out of focus. Hence, any camera that allows you to focus manually would be ideal.

Tips on Doing an Interpretative Series

  • Don’t be Shy to Collaborate: When I met the dancers, Alessandra Ruggeri and Andrew Graham, I knew right away that working with them would help my series.
  • Choice of Location: There should be abundant indirect diffused light, which is evenly spread out. I worked under an overcast sky to avoid sharp shadows and bright spots. A curtain can be used to soften harsh light.
  • Which Backdrops to Use: When shooting in daylight, you could use large glazed windows, while huge LED screens could help act as backgrounds at night.I use a Nikon D5000 with a Nikon 28–105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D lens.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Better Photography.

 

Tags: September, On Assignment, better photography, Blur, light, 2014, Jwalant Mahadevwala, Impressions, human form, interpretative series