Seeking ideas/advice for project
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Old 06-11-2017   #1
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Default Seeking ideas/advice for project

Hi all,

Well, I don't think I've ever actually posted to the forums before, and I can have a hard time staying succinct, so please bear with me a bit.

I'm looking for ideas, input, advice (etc) for a photographic project, or at least the beginnings of it. It's not fully formed, more just sort of a starting-point idea / concept that a friend and I came up with together (he usually accompanies when I go out to shoot).

We were in Chicago at the Willis Tower. As many folks may know, at the Skydeck near the top, there are special all-glass boxes people can step into and look straight down (through the glass floor) all the way to city far below.

My friend and I decided we wanted to try a similar concept, but sort of "mirror-image" version of the Skydeck POV. Our thinking is, we'd like to create a variety of photos in which all the subjects -- both human (he and I) and inanimate -- are seen not from a bird's-eye, top-down view, but the opposite -- an "ant's-eye," bottom-up view.

I initially said, "How about on a fire escape?" As my friend pointed out, "But anything you put on one will be largely obscured by the thick metal bars. It would be like looking through a sewer grate."

So if I want to see something that either is (or even just "appears" to be) directly above me, unobstructed, how might I go about it? In my lifetime I've seen a few places with glass/plexiglass floor or staircase, but I don't know of any such place in or near Chicago (I come from the surrounding suburbs). But then, maybe there are other ways to get such an angle -- or to manipulate the shot and create (what appears to be) that perspective.

I don't know, what do others here think?

Sorry about the long message. I guess this is what happens when one's writing is insomnia-driven. Anyway, I would be most appreciative of any and all comments (of any variety) people would be willing to offer.

Sincerely,
George

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Old 06-11-2017   #2
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

`

Sounds like a doomed idea :-(

But perhaps it's stepping stone, to some other
fully workable idea, one you might never have
thought of if you hadn't paused on this stepping
stone.

I've worked a lotta construction sites and avoid
shooting UP at things whenever possible. Most
of the relevant context of the scene is missing
and substituted by the sky. The lighting on the
bottom side of stuff is flat ugly and shadowy ...
which includes faces looking down at "ants with
cameras". Even if there's something other than
sky surrounding the shadowy downward facing
subject, it's all overexposed if you expose for
the shadowy stuff. A big flash unit helps if your
aesthetic will allow that. But in general, due to
the lighting problem, it matters very little what
location you choose cuz the exposure problem
just obliterates, or at least minimizes, visibility
of the location.

Thaz my experience, but hey, rotsa ruck !


P.S. Put yourself in the place of the viewer of
your images. The image "lives" on the vertical
plane of the wall or a screen. So the viewer's
optical axis is horizontal. For whatever reasons
we can view an image that way and if it's of a
view downward from above, we "feel" that.
Acoarst if it's an image of a horizontal [normal]
point of view, we naturally also "feel" that. But
an image of a vertical view upward toward the
sky we don't "feel" that effect of craning our
neck up to see it or of being flat on our back.

I suspect this is related to our normal behavior
as we move about and look around at our usual
environment. Right now, just swing your head
left and right and also downward. All feels very
fluid and easy. Now tip your head back to view
a spot directly overhead. Rather awkward when
compared left-right and down, no ? Sooooo ....
viewing a vertical-from-ground-level view as it
is displayed on the vertical plane, it's alien. We
don't engage. We take it as a normal horizontal
view with a few details out of place, but not as
any semblance of what we'd observe being flat
on our backs.

No denying that analytically, intellectually, we'll
recognize when the view is at or near vertical
from the ground level. We can see that. Be we
only see it, we don't feel it, we don't engage or
enter into the world within the frame. Our neck
and our inner ear tell us we can't :-(

----------------------------------------------

Obviously, you didn't hafta apologize for your
reeeally loooong post .... not to me anyways
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Old 06-12-2017   #3
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

Ignore Golem's pessimism about the probability of getting something worthwhile, but his summary of the problems - oops! challenges - is accurate. I have successfully shot up at people climbing things though, such as climbing walls, and have seen images from a similar viewpoint of mountain climbers. You might also try something from the ground floor up toward a mezzanine. There ought to be a few places like that around Chicago. If you can find such a place with a transparent floor, you have all the requirements you have for your "worm's eye" viewpoint, and your problems with strong backlight will also be greatly mitigated.
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Old 06-12-2017   #4
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

Go big or go home... go for it. A failure with effort is better than no effort at all.

Andrew
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Old 06-13-2017   #5
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

Try it. If it works, oh joy. If it fails, at least you know (and Golem can say he told you so).
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Old 06-13-2017   #6
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

The problem with finding that floor limits you to that location. I'd suggest buying a square of lexan that you can staND on, some cinder blocks, rubber strips and a mirror. Set the blocks up with the rubber on top to keep the cinders from scratching the lexan then put that on top. Use the mirror underneath to get a bank shot so to speak.
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Old 06-13-2017   #7
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If you take Greg's suggestion, I would go with a regular frame of some kind rather than the cinder blocks. Even with the mirror on the ground, you will still need your pane of plastic at least 4 feet or so off the ground, preferably higher - more like 6 feet. A suitable ladder would also be called for so that your subjects can climb up high enough to stand on the plastic. I suggest making this frame from 2 x 4 planks with diagonal bracing where it won't obstruct the camera's view. You might use the cinder blocks to test the plastic floor for strength first though. Also keep in mind that many plastics scratch easily, so take suitable precautions while testing and assembling. You will want something that is sturdy enough to hold two full-grown men safely, yet can be collapsed small enough to carry to your chosen location in whatever kind of vehicle you already have available, set up, and broken down in a reasonable amount of time and effort. Hope you can enlist the help of someone with some fairly serious DIY skills!
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Old 06-14-2017   #8
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

Thanks, all. Appreciate the input. Greg, I like the one idea, though I would be hard-pressed to create such a complex platform, or to find someone who would do it.

I have heard before -- from people who like to really go exploring in Chicago and surrounding -- that there's a diversity of unique and fascinating architectural features (exterior and interior), some of which either fairly well-hidden or that just don't get a lot of "publicity." I wonder if there's some kind of website, for enthusiasts of photography or architecture or just plain exploration ... that's Chicago-specific and that I could query about "interesting places to see." I know some sites are dedicated to abandoned locations and buildings -- and while that's not what I'm looking for, surely there must be some resource / site out there that's similarly suited to what I described.

Good thing the Internet isn't large and there are only a handful of websites in existence. Otherwise I might be Google-searching for a LONG time.
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Old 06-14-2017   #9
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Default Re: Seeking ideas/advice for project

`


Yes I did suggest it's a doomed idea. And I also clearly
said it might act as a stepping stone to ideas that might
not occur without that stepping stone.
So, I never said
NOT to try it. I simply warned that, given the likelihood
of failure or perhaps I should say "extreme frustration",
that such a failure should be valued for what it can lead
to as a next idea. IOW, yes, I predict failure but thaz to
forewarn of the high degree of "challenge", and suggest
that one should look beyond what has failed rather than
pounding away at a lost cause
. The former is progress.
The latter is high effort stagnation.

Again, as to my pessimism, yes, I own it, but I quote
myself here, from that same post:

Thaz my experience but hey, rotsa ruck !

Just to emphasize my "enthusiasm for lost causes" let me
offer an idea: Arrange to shoot bungee jumpers, head on
and looking up, from just beyond the limit of the stretch,
catching the point just before the cord bounces back


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