Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 4 – “Trash”

Final Video:

Password: a

Final gif:

Artist Statement/Concept

Being born in the 90s, I fall under the generational demographic otherwise known as the millennial. There are many personality traits of our group of people, ranging from the positive to negative.

When I set out to create this image, I was hoping to explore the negative side of my own experience as a millennial. Negative traits such as self-entitlement, arrogance, thinking we know how to run the world and being sheltered from reality are some of the traits I felt that I embodied in my personality as a millennial. To put it simply, I or we are considered trash, I used trash to represent this as we are useless, just thrown on to the ground as we lay to waste & do nothing with our own lives. At least that’s the negative stereotype that came with the title.

As you can see in my image, I have strewn a trash bag on to myself as I lie down in the vastness of this empty beach lying there asleep or ‘doing nothing’.

That was the concept when creating the original image, as this assignment was to create a moving image, it was a good opportunity to push the concept further and make the image more dynamic. I did this by adding other empty plastic bags floating in the wind. They move slowly as this is representative of this sedentariness I want to capture in my image as I am lying down asleep. The plastic bags are empty, representative of millennial stereotype as just being airheads and seemingly being able to hold a lot of things but are in actual fact just completely empty.

Technical Decisions 

Before I started the animation process, I broke down the image into 2 parts, creating a separate layer of just myself and another of just the background. I had to use the clone stamp tool to paint in the background to recreate it after I removed myself from it.

Background layer

Me layer

Afterward, I added 3 separate layers of empty plastic bags PNG files on top of the image so that I can use this for the animation process during After Effects. Breaking down the plastic bags into separate layers makes it easier during the animation process as they are all in individual layers.

The first thing after dragging the Photoshop file into After Effects was to create a new camera and enabling the depth of field settings to create a sense of perspective in the image.

After enabling 3D on my layers, the next thing I did was to move the position of my plastic bag layers, as I wanted them to be in the foreground of the image and out of focus, I moved them closer to the camera, but locking the camera’s focal point on my image and background plane.

I started by animating the camera to move forward, this helped to create a sense of depth and movement as it moved past my plastic bag layers and closer to me.

Next, to make the plastic bags have the floating effect I wanted, I used the puppet tool to create points on the layer, I then key framed the position of the points as the camera tracks in, I animated it to look like it’s floating in the air. This was done for all 3 plastic bag layers.

The movement was close to what I wanted for this gif, but I realised something was a bit off, and that was the sky was too still as everything else was moving.

What I did was to duplicate my background layer and do a quick rotoscope of the sky, with the sky as a new layer, I moved it behind my background plane and scaled it up to fit the image. I then just did a small position keyframe to move it as the image tracks in.

Just for minor details, I rotoscoped out the plastic on myself and created puppet points and key framed them as well to move back and forth to simulate the wind effect I was creating in my image.

Lastly, I used a curves adjustment as well as a hue/saturation adjustment on my plastic bag layers to blend the lighting of it into the image and change the colour of the plastic bag to a bit more of a dirty green colour.

And with that my final gif was created!

Artist references

1. Ronen Goldman

Ronen Goldman is an Artist and Conceptual Photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.  He specializes in creating “Photo-Dreams” – conceptually constructed photographs illustrating his various dream states. I was inspired by his compositions and framing, employing the use of objects that come into the foreground to create a sense of movement and depth in a still image.

2. Scorpion Dagger (aka James Kerr)

James Kerr, better known as Scorpion Dagger has created hundreds of GIFs that warp Renaissance artwork into a collection of surreal, irreverent animations. I was inspired by the subtleties he employs in his gifs, creating small and simple animations but yet are effective in terms of image-making.

3. Carl Burton

Carl Burton creates soothing and peaceful gifs to look at. The slow subtle movements he creates in his work definitely inspired me to employ this sense of calmness in my own image-making.


Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 3 – “Mouth”

Artist statement:
The 2 main things I set out to do for this project was to have a slightly quirky approach and telling the story from an unexpected perspective. The editing would also be quick but somewhat off matching with the voiceover is saying. With that in mind, I developed my concept.

The story I developed follows the mouth as it’s way of life is slowly become disrupted as it’s user’s lifestyle changes. The VO in this film is told from the perspective of the main character’s mouth.

As I was telling an entirely new story, finding the footage I needed for this project would be a challenge and I decided to just film everything from scratch.

Here is the link to view the final film!

And here’s the 30 seconds version:

Password: m

Technical decisions:
For the editing of this video, how I approached was this to create a first-person narrative of the mouth that is typically viewed as a non-sentient being. Having that perspective to indirectly match the visuals was to help keep the story light-hearted as well as to keep the quirky vibe I was trying to go for.

One of the main challenges for the editing of this video was the lack of music. As we were not allowed to use a music soundtrack for this project, it was a challenge trying to keep things interesting as well as to keep the pacing of the video.

So when I was conceptualising this project, it was important for me to always have an accompanying audio in the visuals. This was to help me achieve the kind of cuts I was going for as well keep the pace of the video.

Sounds such as the teeth brushing, cereal opening, chewing sounds and the door opening etc.

With these sounds in mind, I then used it to achieve the quick cuts of the visuals with the sounds.

Colour grading:

For the colours of this video, I was going for something that emulated film stocks but something that was more natural and having the colours to pop, the colours were also bright and everything was in bright light, keeping with the light-hearted tone of the film.

I then added some stock film grain by using an overlay over the raw video footage. This was to create that filmic look I wanted for the film.

Lastly, I added 4:3 crop bars, usually, people would use the 2:35:1 crop bars for the cinematic look. But for this video, a 4:3 crop bar was used as the film was focused on the mouth as the character.

Cropping off the excess on the sides helped removed any unwanted information in the frame and bringing the focus to the mouth. It also helped as an aesthetic choice to help the video have this vintage look.

Voiceover script:
This is Jerry.
But, no I’m not Jerry.
I’m Jerry’s mouth.
Jerry and I have been together for about 26 years.
Things used to be simpler.
But since that day things have changed
I’ve been getting quite a workout lately
It’s tiring
Things used to be more efficient
But now things take so much longer
Things used t… Jerry, what
are doing it’s only 6pm
You never gargle this long!
Floss? You never floss….
Jerry what’s happening? Who is this?
Jerry, what are you do… no! Jerry!

Oh. Well, that wasn’t so bad.

Artist references:

Edgar Wright

One of my main references is English filmmaker Edgar Wright, he often uses employs quick cuts with sounds and swells to great comedic effect. Employing this visual style of his, I was able to pace my video to show information but with the shortest amount of time.

Here are some examples of how he employs the use of quick cuts in his editing:

Wes Anderson

Another influence of mine is filmmaker Wes Anderson, he employs the use of central, symmetrical framing which helped guide me visually as I was shooting this film.

Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 2 – “Morning Dip”

For our 2nd project we were tasked to create a composited self-portrait of a hyperreal fantasy world.

For my project the first thing that came to mind was to create something surreal & in line with what I have done for my first project.

After brainstorming & playing around with the other self-portrait images I shot previously, I couldn’t think of a concept that fit what I was trying to go for.

However, one of the images that I found & experimented on ended up something that I used to develop further into my final composite.


Final Image

Artist Statement

The concept for this image was my heavy reliance of drinking iced tea or ‘teh bing’ every morning before I started my day. While most people rely on coffee to get their daily caffeine fix, I relied on good ol’ coffee shop teh bing to kickstart my day.

I can literally feel the rush of sugar & caffeine every morning once I take my first sip of this beloved drink of mine. So for my image I pushed this idea of drinking teh bing in the morning into a more surreal one.

Showing myself dressed up in standard 9-5 office attire, I am swirling around in a whirlpool of a cup full of teh bing. This represents the overwhelming feeling I get when drinking it every morning.

The title of my image is ‘morning dip’, representing the idea of instead of getting my morning fix, I am now literally swimming in this cup full of teh.

Leaving on the Ya Kun toast logo on the cup was to add this local context to my image. Leaving it on a blank cup would have made it look like normal British tea, thus the decision to leave on the branding so people would immediately identify the colours & relate it to the classic teh bing drink.

Technical Decisions

While the image may look simple in it’s final form, there were quite a lot of challenges I faced while in my process of creating this image.

Firstly, the masking of the whirlpool to fit into the cup of teh had to be blended so that it looks seamless & not stick out like 2 different images pasted on top of each other.

The adding of myself into the whirlpool was also hard as I had to match the lighting of the teh image with the lighting of myself in the original image. Also I had to create a subtle reflection of myself in the teh such that it creates the idea that it is a liquid & not just a cut & paste of myself into a cup. Lastly, I had to remove certain parts of my arms so that it looks like I am sunken into the liquid.

Using the clone stamp tool to duplicate the swirls of the whirlpool underneath my hands such that it looks like I am being pulled along with the currents of the whirlpool.

Finally applying an overall colour balance to give it this vibrant low-contrast milky look I was trying to go for.

Artist References

Aleksandra Kingo

I was inspired by Aleksandra Kingo’s photography & her use of objects on bright coloured backgrounds. The way she places them in such a way that plays with the subjects was a source of inspiration to how I wanted to place myself in the cup.


Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 1 – “Trasher”

For our first project we were tasked to create a self-portrait that was a reflection of an exploration of oneself.


Artist statement & concept:
The concept that I had in mind when creating this image goes back to my own personal history as a skateboarder. I have been skateboarding for almost 7-8 years now.

I first started skating at the age of 14, this was when I was first exposed to the whole skateboarding scene in Singapore & also how I first started discovering about the town area, mainly the Somerset & Orchard areas.

I was skating mainly at the famous Somerset skatepark where I was exposed to a lot of these so-called rebels or rejects of society in Singapore. Skateboarding as a sport in Singapore is already quite uncommon & it comprises of a very small community of people. The general public tends to label us skateboarders as people who smoke, we are rowdy, always skating at street spots and causing damage to public property. There were times where I was even chased away by security & even got screened by the police. It was almost like we branded as criminals.

But as a skateboarder myself, I was exposed & was experiencing a completely different perspective of the skateboarding scene. While society tends to shun us & brand us as these so-called criminals or rejects, what I saw in this beloved sport of mine was passion.

People are using skateboarding as a way to escape their own troubles or worries of life. As cliche as it sounds, the moment I stepped on to my board, everything is gone in this temporary moment. Skateboarding to me is freedom, not just giving me the literal freedom while riding. But also in it’s freedom of expression, I was able to dress & do whatever I want & not care what people think.

It was in fact through skateboarding that I discovered my own path as a creative. Skateboarding is deeply rooted with art, design & films. It meant a lot to me & probably many other people as well. It was freeing for us & it is quite sad to me that people judge us & give us certain looks as we ride our boards minding our own business.

I’ve personally gotten these looks of disappointment myself. I felt defeated. Defeated from the love of own sport from other people who had no idea of how much it meant to me & the influence it had on my life.

With that experience in mind, this was what I chose to portray in my image. I am wrapped up in a trash bag, symbolic of myself being regarded as trash. I am lying motionless on the floor, almost like in a body bag as part of this crime scene.

Around me are my board, and other parts like trucks, wheels & my shoes have flung out of my feet. I lay defeated within this wide space to show how small & irrelevant I am in this stigma society puts us in.

The environment I am in is in a giant bowl of a skatepark, it’s marks on the corners resemble that of a large trash chute & the space creates this idea of the space of a huge dumping ground.

I put myself in this environment as I felt it was ironic that even though I am this literal piece of trash lying defeated in this massive dumping ground. But yet I am still lying in the comfort of my own ground within my territory which is that of a skatepark.

Hence the title of my self-portrait is “trasher”, this was intended as wordplay on the iconic skateboarding magazine otherwise known as Thrasher Magazine along with the word trash.

Technical decisions:
For the edit, I was trying to create this slightly desaturated with neutral colour tones, but yet also leaning towards a colder look for the photo. I have added these blue-green tone in my highlights to help push this visually.

I wanted this low contrast & flat look for the overall image, but yet at the same time, not losing this contrast on myself & the items that lay around me.

I did this by masking myself & lifting up the shadows, to allow my highlights on the trash bag to really pop out from the background. I also did masking to the skateboard & the parts, lifted up the saturation slightly to help bring that focus to it in the composition as these were the only elements in my photo that had colours.



After receiving feedback during our critique presentation, I went back to make minor adjustments with the highlights & shadows present in my background to help push this image stronger visually. By pushing down these 2, it helped me as a subject in the frame pop out stronger as well as the colours of my skateboard parts become more prominent.

I made adjustments to the saturation of the background as well, tweaking it slightly to give it a more flat look.

Further edits after feedback

For my lens choices, I shot this image with a Canon 6D & a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens. This image was shot at a focal length of 42mm which I would say is something close to a 35mm focal length. As my image isn’t the usual close-up portrait, I didn’t want to use the usual 50mm focal length that would be used for portraits. Neither did I want the distortion that would come from using a wide angle lens or a 28mm focal length.

This image was shot at f5 to help keep everything sharp & in focus as opposed to using an f2.8 aperture which might have created unwanted softness in certain parts of the image.

Artist references:

1. Kyle Thompson

I love the surreal, naturalistic portraits Kyle Thompson creates. He makes use of everyday objects & common locations but creates something that is not only visually compelling but also feels out of worldly. The surreal feeling he creates was what I wanted to capture as well with my own image.

2. Alex Stoddard

Another photographer whose work inspired me was Alex Stoddard’s self-portraits series. Similar to Kyle, he plays with the use of objects & environment to create that I feel was something visually compelling & conveys a strong narrative behind the image.

Final Image:

And once again, my final image. Really enjoyed exploring different ways of doing self-portrait photography through this assignment. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to create something that was unlike the stuff I would typically shoot.

Onward to project 2!