A photography art exhibition exploring the line between reality and fantasy has opened at Bournemouth University.
Created by Rehan Zia, as a part of his PhD thesis, the multi-shot, blended photographs allows for the capture of greater detail in a single photograph to enhance the image to show detail beyond what the naked eye alone can perceive.
Titled, Landscapes on the Cusp of the Real & the Fantastic - Photography by Rehan Zia, the photography artwork allows greater flexibility to craft the look of the image in line with the look conceived in the mind’s eye whilst minimising ghosting and other lens and camera artefacts.
Creator Rehan Zia said, “As a visual effects artist, I have always been intrigued by the idea of the viewer's notion of the real and the unreal in visual images. With my images, I am trying to experiment with and challenge this notion by combining scene elements that are familiar to viewers but depicting them in a way that they appear unfamiliar in terms of the lighting, tonality and detail.”
All photographs were taken of real world environments, with several pictures layered on top of one another to enhance detail and bring the beauty of the scene to life. The scene details and the look can only be revealed through the camera and cannot be experienced by the naked eye. The tones, colour, exposure and contrast have been enhanced to create a look that lies on the cusp of realism and fantasy and blurs the line between landscape photography and painting.
Rehan Zia continues, “The practice explores the meaning of the digital photograph itself in the context of multi-shot photography and contemporary digital photography techniques. What I am trying to do is capture the full range of tonal values that exist in the scene and map them to a range that the eye can see. In the process, I am taking artistic license to enhance certain elements in the scene and suppress others to create images that I see in my mind's eye based on my own experiences and notions about the scene.”
The images depict scenes such as Bournemouth in the snow, with other locations such as Hengistbury Head and famous Pakistani landscapes also included. Rehan concludes, “It is hard to pick a favourite as I like a number of different images for different reasons. Bournemouth in Snow brings me the greatest joy. It was physically challenging to photograph this image in the snow and it took me five trips to Hengistbury Head over the course of ten days to finally climb up and take the pictures given how difficult and slippery it was in the ice and snow.
“Technically, it was a challenge to work with such a large data set of images at one time and my computer could barely put up with the task. This image brings me a lot of satisfaction as I had previsualised this scene in my head almost five years ago and then had to wait for the right amount of snow to fall before I could photograph it!”
Rehan, a lecturer in Computer Animation and Visual Effects at Bournemouth University, plans to continue to explore the art of digital photography, and how it can be used to be used to blend both art and reality together. Rehan says, “What my research has highlighted is the need to redefine digital photography as a medium in terms of a dataset rather than thinking about it in terms of the notion of film photography. My plan now is to look at photographing and documenting the landscape environment, natural heritage and archaeological sites at risk from climate change. This goes beyond photography and ties into digital heritage and conservation using 3d models and photo-scanning.”
The exhibition runs until 20 December 2019 and is open to all in the Lees Gallery, on Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus.