Empty chair

My friend, the great NY photographer Patric Shaw, tells me that this looks “very much a LSD kind of image Hipgnosis would do for Pink Floyd…do you want it to look like a hyperreal painting? All the suntanned faces, the smoldering ashes, have the aliens killed somebody….all in all very mysterious… love the way all the bits of red leap out at you”.

My notes on the techniques I used to get this image looking as it does are as follows:

“The empty seat appeared while I was shooting Archie Roach and his wife Ruby performing on the steps of Parliament House last weekend, which is what caught my eye about this pic. To shoot a HDR all I do is plus and minus 2 stops and normal, 3 frames on continuous. These are merged in Photomatix and “tonemapped” which gives the overall initial feel. In my opinion most HDR stuff is way too over the top – I only aim to use HDR to give slightly heightened reality feeling to an image.

I then use Topaz Adjust to provide the sharpness and colour boost that gives it the slightly hyper-real feel.
I wanted it to look like they were all hypnotised and under someone else’s control. The native smoking fire helped pull it together, so I guess it worked. The woman second on the right from the chair looking the other way makes the shot for me… “

This was taken at the opening of the Museum of Democracy in Canberra, Australia, on 9 May 2009. I had the chance to photograph Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter on the same day. Unfortunately Ruby died recently (on 18 February), a great loss to Australian music. Ruby was the first indigenous Australian woman to be signed to a major record label.


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