Category - Exposed

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Spoiler Alert!

In my 'Exposed' series of articles I reveal some of the secrets behind how I created my images.  If you don't want to know how I made this image, then STOP reading now!

Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes - Abstract Art by Jane Trotter
Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes

Sometimes you’re on a mission – I really wanted to find something to photograph which was completely new to me and which would hold its own special challenges.

There was only one thing for it – I intrepidly ventured into my husband’s home office and mounted an all out assault on his stationery drawers.

Rummaging through various items (and making mental notes to come back and photograph some of the things I was discovering) I eventually found an inauspicious envelope containing plastic dividers, the type you’d use to section off and partition notes in a folder.

Plastic dividers used in the image 'Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes'
The plastic dividers used for ‘Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes’

Mission Accomplished

Bingo! These thin pieces of plastic were just the type of thing I was looking for. There were many different colours – always a good start, as I like to have a variety of colours and colour combinations at my disposal.

Plastic is also quite reflective – another bonus, as you can create many different effects with just a tiny movement of the object.

So – what to do? Holding the plastic divider in one hand, and my camera in the other, I started playing with a single sheet, moving it this way and that to manipulate the different reflections. Working close to a window gave me ample light and I could tell there was potential in the resulting shots.

Although I was getting some interesting effects, I still felt there was something missing. The images lacked depth. Not to be defeated, I decided to fold the plastic over on itself.

Thinking in 3D

Folding the plastic to add depth - tricks used in creating 'Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes'
Folding the plastic to add depth

This yielded much better results. The simple, undulating folds caught the light beautifully and produced fascinating effects. Subtle variations in turning the plastic or my camera would result in wildly different patterns, shapes and shading.

I began to use this technique of folding the plastic with the other coloured sheets, trying to discover if one particular colour worked better than the others. Pleasingly, all the stronger coloured sheets worked well.

When I began the photo shoot, I was equally open to creating a triptych or producing a single shot. As I went along, a triptych format became increasingly appealing. While the individual images held a certain degree of interest, they came to life even more when combined. The trick was going to be finding some way to connect them.

‘In Camera’ Shots

The three original 'in camera' images used for 'Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes'
The three original ‘in camera’ images

These are the three original images used in ‘Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes’. I decided to go for three distinct blocks of colour which would contrast, yet oddly, sit comfortably alongside each other. But this wouldn’t be enough. There still needed to be more connectivity across the three panels.

Fortunately, I found three differently coloured images which all contained a prominent diagonal line. I could then use these leading lines to link the shots, creating a type of ‘Z’ effect running down the panels which would act as an anchor point across the whole triptych.

Visit another world

Crescent Moon over Martian Dunes - An abstract photograph by Jane Trotter

In the final presentation, you’ll see I have enhanced the colours and cropped aggressively where necessary (especially in the bottom green image) in an effort to remove all of the extraneous, distracting elements. I decided to include the ‘moon’ in the top purple panel as this was an interesting focal point and sparked the title for this triptych.

I’ve always had the feeling of visiting another world in this image – faint moonlight penetrates strangely coloured atmospheres, illuminating the ridges of shadowy and mysterious alien dunes.

While I’ll never make it to Mars (or any other alien destinations for that matter) I can still travel there in my imagination…with the help of a couple of pieces of plastic!

About the Author

Jane Trotter is an abstract photographer living in Dunedin, New Zealand. Reimagining everyday objects found around the home, Jane transforms them into colourful and dramatic pieces of contemporary art.

Jane Trotter