Embrace: A Senior Black + White High Dynamic Range Diptych by Siyuan Che (2016)
Click to read Artist Statement
The left side of the diptych is a burnt marshmallow with smoke surrounding it. The outside of the marshmallow is almost completely burnt, while the inside of it is still soft and creamy. This represents I sometimes use the outside of myself to protect my inner, true self. It also illustrates that I have a strong and a soft personality. The smoke depicts yet another layer of protection between the marshmallow and its surroundings. The right side of the diptych is a large disco ball and a small clock pushed to the very corner. This conveys that I believe we should always seize the moment. The contrast in size also illustrates the importance of the disco ball. The disco ball reminds most people of party, but here it represents any enjoyment that you may find in life. We are always pressed for time in our lives, but we should nevertheless side aside some time for leisure for ourselves. I chose these objects because they represent my values well and they are everyday objects that could speak to a wide range of audience. The two sides speak coherently by characterizing distinct personality traits with the messages embedded in them.
The process I went through to create my composition was first shooting the objects in different exposures, then I merged the photos into HDR in Photoshop. Next I put a camera raw filter on my HDR photos, converted them to grayscale to create black and white. I then adjusted exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, etc. Assorted adjustment layers of levels, hue/saturation, and black and white were also added. The most notable issue I encountered came early in production. When I tried to shoot photos of the marshmallow, it was difficult because I had to multitask a lot. Also, the marshmallow moves as it melts into the fire, so only a few shots were usable after merging. If I were to change anything, I would want myself to be more prepared before each shooting session to maximize the amount of valuable shots.