Recreating a Dream

So much fun this past week. And with a broken camera to boot!

One morning last week, I was shooting an early morning traffic time lapse when suddenly I noticed a black bar appearing across the images I was shooting. It took a little digging before I realized I had a loose shutter curtain that was not retracting with the rest of the shutter mechanism. Long-story short, my camera was down for the count. Mostly.

 The camera shutter started malfunctioning in the middle of this time lapse...

The camera shutter started malfunctioning in the middle of this time lapse...

I'd been looking forward to the 52Frames theme last week: "Dreams and Fantasy"

A few ideas involving apocalyptic scenes of Lego figurines fleeing through hookah smoke from explosions had been running through my head for days, but I was now confronted with the aforementioned shutter issue. Experimentation led me to discover that I could actually get a clean frame out of the camera every once in a while if the camera was in a portrait orientation. For the sake of time, I determined that I could get away with one or two frames but I would have to shoot a still subject with little control over the background action.

That's where the self-portrait idea came from.

This week's "Extra Credit" challenge was to recreate an actual dream. While not resembling a single specific dream, I took a loose interpretation of the challenge and started with not so much a dream as a photograph of an intense experience.

The photograph above was shot at a protest in the Bedouin town of Hura on October 30, 2013. A peaceful demonstration against a plan formulated by the Israeli government to displace Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) desert turned violent and riot police mobilized to break up the protest and arrest agitators. I had given my backup camera to another American who sat next to me on the bus to the demonstration and he shot this image after the tear gas and water cannons had turned the place into something resembling a war zone. This was my first experience observing police violence and the memory of that event has a strange quality to it because I continued filming and all of my own memories were filtered through the camera lens. I've returned to that field a few times in my dreams so the challenge I set for myself was to recreate something of those dream-like images for this week's challenge.

This is the result.

I call it "Soundtrack to the Revolution"

The pose (with the phone) is actually a practical effect in itself. I had to repeatedly trigger the camera until I finally got a frame that didn't have a shutter curtain blocking the sensor so I flipped the screen of the camera to face, placed my remote control on the face of my phone and used my thumb to trigger the camera. I'll put the image progression below,

The first real challenge was to find a photo, in portrait orientation that had a focus point placed in a similar location as the original shot of me against a green screen but with nothing occupying the point where the image is focused. So basically I needed a vertical, empty image of a landscape but with the camera focused a meter in front of the lens instead of on the horizon. Well, I ended up finding one. During my first tour of the New Dawn in the Negev offices in Rahat, Israel, I shot a panorama of the space outside the main classroom building. I focused on Jamal Alkirnawi (the NGO's Director) standing in the corner of the yard, talking on his phone, and then panned left with the camera in vertical orientation to capture the entire scene (to be stitched together later). It was one of those middle images that I chose for this apocalyptic background. Take note of the car on the right hand side of the image.

I have to admit, I bought that green screen at a fabric store in Tallin (Estonia) over two years ago and this is the first time I've actually used it and therefore justified wasting my friend Emanuel's time when I dragged him into a fabric store to buy a ridiculously large, impractically green sheet of fabric. Fun times.