Creative Work

“Creative” is my catch-all for photography that either is a concerted artistic endeavor on my part, OR it might just be work that doesn’t fit anywhere else.

The City Panorama Project: Installed!

It’s “Bachmann”. I’ll try not to vent too much, since it’s totally thrilling to have my panoramic artwork (‘Dancers’, ‘Traffic’ (or ‘Walkway’) and ‘Half the Bike, Twice the Rider’) now viewable in public, especially in downtown Seattle, but how is it possible to spell my last name three different ways? I mean, I KNOW how it’s possible; I grew up with this name! But I’m pretty sure when I submitted my digital files they were all labeled the same way: FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_ID_TITLE_YEAR.jpg

On the off chance that someone sees my artwork and wants to find me online, do I need to optimize my site for “Christopher Bachman” and “Christopher Backmann” as well as “Christopher Bachmann”? Google does a better job with “Backmann” than Bing or Yahoo, but at least they all manage “Bachman” pretty well. To be fair, I don’t think this was a King County Metro issue. They didn’t handle the template overlays.

‘Traffic’, ‘Half the Bike, Twice the Rider’

Find them in downtown Seattle!

Find it in Kent, WA!

The City Panorama Project: ‘Horse and Carriage’

It’s probably not too difficult to determine my inspiration for “Horse and Carriage” (view it larger here). I was strolling through downtown Seattle looking for panoramic subjects when I came upon the — wait for it — a horse and carriage!

I thought, “Wow this will make for a perfect panoramic image!” so I snapped off four quick shots as I passed beside it. By this point, I’d had a fair amount of practice with my photo-stitching process in Photoshop, and I was sure it would turn out. But as a matter of fact, it didn’t. I had some gaps and some perspective issues that were not going to be solved by only having four images to work with.

So I put those images aside for a while, worked on other ideas, and finally came back to them with a new concept. It seemed like every one of my panoramas up to that point had been created with somewhat different processes. Why couldn’t I take these horse and carriage images in a totally new direction? One other person in our class had played with interspersing slices of two images together, and I was somewhat inspired by that, but I finally settled on just shifting my image order around to make an interesting juxtaposition.

Head before arse, carriage split into pieces (and in one case flipped!), and I liked lining up the distant corners of the buildings on Pike Street, which I thought gave the image back some of the continuity I’d taken away by breaking it apart. A black and white finish to give it a more timeless look, and I had another panorama I was satisfied with.

The City Panorama Project: ‘Half the Bike, Twice the Rider’

Early on in the brainstorming process for the City Panorama Project, I found myself doodling on a piece of paper, trying to fit something — anything — into a 4×1 frame. The inspiration for “Half the Bike, Twice the Rider” (view it larger here) ended up being the first thing I scribbled down, a series of overlapping circles with a dot on the edge, “rotating” along a path that would perfectly fit the panoramic format. But how would I do it? After several weeks of experimenting and prototyping, I came up with a tentative solution, and I put a post on Craigslist looking for a unicyclist!

Luckily for me, a friend of Rachel Randall sent her the link. She is a dancer and an instructor in the fine art of unicycling at SANCA Seattle. We met at a Seattle park and I explained my concept to her. I tried to ignore the bemused look upon her face.

While we also shot Rachel in motion from a variety of angles, in the end what I used ended up being less about actual unicycling and more about the illusion of unicycling. It worked best to have her pose her wheel and pedals at specifically marked locations along a bike path, so I could later composite each shot into my final image. Below you can see one of the raw images, and then a portion of my first composited image, comprised of 15 separate photos.

After lining all my image components up correctly in Photoshop, it took me a while to get exactly the post-processed look I would ultimately submit to King County Metro. The first version was very hard to look at. With all the overlapping and translucency, so much detail was lost, and the vividness of the colors was a bit painful to look at. It helped somewhat to use selective masking to highlight the path of the feet on the pedals, but the color was still not right. I tried several iterations of tinting the shoes in an attempt to draw them out and force the viewer to focus on them, but nothing I did could win me unanimous approval in critiques from my classmates or instructors.

Finally, my deadline was imminent, and I made one last decision and submitted it without a final review. Except for the shoes and the yellow line on the bike path, I dropped all the color and let the extraneous elements go dark. What resulted turned into (I think) a rather striking image, one that pulls the viewer in and really lets them ponder the repetition of the unicycle wheel as well as the arc of the feet.

I’ll be very curious to see how this turns out when printed on the plywood lumber. Will the grain of the wood be a distraction? Will the color (or lack thereof) hold up? I’ll give you my assessment as soon as I see it in person!

Original concept

UPDATE: It’s been installed in downtown Seattle!

Map to ‘Half the Bike, Twice the Rider’

Find it in downtown Seattle!