Week Two - Jabberwocky

Canon 6Dii / Sigma 14-24 (14mm) / 15sec / f11 / ISO4000

05 AUGUST 2023

Read the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. Read it and think about the visual effects of the words. While the words are mostly made up and nonsensical, they still do have meaning.

React to the poem photographically. Use imagination and take some creative risks – as there are no right or wrong responses.

Through the Looking-Glass (1871)
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

Obviously while nonsense, the poem visualises a boy who discusses with his father the existence of things in the woods that he needs to be weary of. The Jabberwock is one of the creatures in the wood. The Jabberwock is traditionally illustrated as a dragon-like creature with wings and claws, however in reality the poem isn’t very explicit in its desciption and is open to interpretation.

To me the more explicit part of the poem is where the Jabberwock is killed by the boy with a sword. I also think the idea of the Jabberwock having red or flame-like eyes is stated pretty clearly.

I have been mulling over this task for a few days now, and I immediately had a few ideas as a response to the brief come up. I wanted to work out how I could technically pull this off before attempting the shoot.

I immediately knew I wanted to shoot this in a forest with dramatic lighting. I had been torn between using a natural backit scene at sunset or using coloured artificial lighting to create dramatic shadows. As I plan to do this at sunset/evening I think I may give both ideas a go and see what eventuates. I have the idea of doing this at the National Arboretum at either the cork oak forest or the pine forest.

My vision for this piece is to make it have a mystical or magical feel regardless of the final shot. The idea I have is to represent the boy with the sword either through a backlit silhouette or through sharp shadows on the ground. In addition I had the idea that I could add in some movement and make a stacked/composite photograph to represent the Jabberwocky (perhaps the red eyes?) moving through the trees. I am not sure my post production skills are quite up to the task, however I will take the photos and attempt to see what I can make with it.

Technically I am thinking a small aperture to ensure that the sun rays and foreground are in focus and (perhaps f16 or higher). I am also thinking I will use a very wide lens (14-24mm) to warp the trees purposefully. I will experiment with shutter speed for the composite shots to add in movement.

I faced a few challenges executing my plan for this image, and my final result was both better and worse than what I wanted to achieve.

The image was taken in the cork oak forest at the Arboretum. Work got in the way of getting there at a reasonable time – so the sun had faded too much, meaning I needed to use flash. I set up a single speedlight with a Magmod diffuser behind a tree on the right and stoof my subject along the very edge to recreate the silhuette the sun would have given if I had got there earlier and naturally backlit the subject. The flash was set to full power with a 24mm spread, angled towards the middle of the frame.

I then used a headlamp with two red lights and ran around the frame while the shutter was open creating the red line (the “eyes” of the Jabberwocky”).

In post production I cropped the image, and did minor adjustments to the image. I upped the luminance on the red to enhance the brightness of the light source. I added the “Jubjub” birds in photoshop, and added in a larger sword than what was originally shot. The Jubjub birds are based on the choughs that actually reside in the cork oak forest, there were some around the day of the shoot.

– Love the birds in the background. Pop of light is very cool.
– This photo is epic! I love that you have used all of the image space with light trail, it gives a real sense of adventure. Well done!
– Very imaginative and well executed. Great work with the lights.
– Love the creativeness of this.
– Amazing light and composition and light, how come you are always so good at this? The person could have been slightly sharper maybe.
– The birds! Amazing detail and really capture the medievelish fantasy mood. The cloak and sword are also clear symbols of the genre. Well lit and the red light is well created, adding a modern fantasy. Nice with depth of field with the trees in the background. Perhaps the right fifth of the image is not needed.
– Moody, ominous, the red light leads the eye on a journey. Composition gives it weight/dark/mysterious predominately dark gives atmosphere.
– I like that the model is dark. I like the crows and the red light. It feels mysterious.
– Perfect place, perfect time. Ravens and all! Adds the depth of your image.
– I can appreciate the use of your lighting and exposure time.
-Beautiful work with light, very intriguing with the shadows. I like the flash of colour through the middle too.
– So simple, creative and powerful. Its focussed and exposed well.
– Beautiful mixed lighting use.
– Brilliant lighting and composition.
– You’ve nailed the atmosphere with the birds and the appropriate setting, Imagine if it was a foggy night!
– Very cinematic, you have nailed the fantasy adventure vibe. Good job with the light painting.
– Love this! The crows, the technical light painting, the lighting, the composition. The subject could have been a little more lit, but fabulous.

Execution wise I am really happy with the lighting of the scene. It is the first time I feel I have sucessfully used an metered location flash on my own and I had fun experimenting with it. I am a little disappointed in the execution of the silhouette as it doesn’t stand out as much as I would have liked. I also think the wide angle lens choice meant the subject was smaller than I had planned, but I am really happy with the way the trees look in the shot so it is a bit of a trade off.

Overall I cannot be disappointed in the photograph. I tried some new techniques and they worked really well. I learnt a lot and had a fun time while doing it.