Dancer in Motion: Cinemagraphs

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I've always been intrigued by cinemagraphs, animated GIF stills that also show motion. There's something about incorporating motion into photographs that adds just a bit more excitement and interest into a still. 

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During one of my last days in San Luis Obispo, I called up my long time ballerina muse Andrea to do one last annual dance shoot. I envisioned something simple and classic, after one too many outdoor shoots around the area. I wanted an evenly lit space with enough ambient light and room to move, jump, whatever Andrea wanted to do. I set up two black velvet sweeps in the shaded mini basketball courtyard of my architecture building at school. Thankfully campus was relatively empty, and for the most part, everyone who walked by ignored the crazy girl yelling behind a camera standing more than 40 feet away from her subjects. The challenges of this shoot mostly involved Andrea's long limbs extending out of the frame because I didn't have enough backdrop material and the wind blowing across the backdrop and exposing the messily taped seam right down the middle of the frame.

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Post-production involved a lot of frame-by-frame clone stamping to cover up those darn tape spots. But beyond that, animation is still pretty new to me. I haven't experimented with cinemagraphs too much, but they're really fun...when you get it right of course. The process of finding motion that perfectly loops and timing each frame can be so frustrating when you're a perfectionist, but once in a while it works and voila, beauty! I'm still learning the technical side of creating GIFs, like how come Photoshop refuses to render out animations that have over 200 frames and crashes my computer when I try? Until I figure that, you can view the last cinemagraph of this series here.

 Our set, which included many borrowed things all taped together.

Our set, which included many borrowed things all taped together.

Thank you always to my favorite contemporary photographer Jamie Beck for inspiring me everyday. And thank you Andrea, for always being so down to shoot with me and not being afraid to make a scene in public and always staying after to help clean up. You were one of the reasons I got to express myself through photography these past four years, so thank you for helping me live out my dreams. 

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Photography / Art Direction / Production: Sophia Liu

Talent / Production Assistants (lol): Andrea Look, Winston Chang