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Into the Void: A Senior Surreal Photo by Zachary Dembner (2015)

The eye in the center of my composition dominates the image and draws the viewer's eye (so to speak). Eyelids border the image and further reinforce the strong pull towards the middle of the photograph. After noticing the eye in the center, the viewer is drawn to the person sitting cross legged in front of the eye. He seems almost peaceful in a way, but at the same time it is a relatively ominous photograph. He appears to be looking into the eye and beyond the eye there's a photo of star trails (achieved using a 30 minute exposure). It surrounds the iris of the eye and further pushes the viewer's eye to the center. For this composition I used photos taken with high dynamic range and then combined them using Photoshop. Within Photoshop, I experimented with blending modes and edge softening to make it seem as though the elements of the photo were meant to fit together. Then I selectively applied infrared and line gradient filters to various aspects of the photo to increase overall contrast and tension.

When creating this composition I kept in mind the phrase, "the eyes are windows to the soul." When we look at someone, we interpret much of the meaning of their expression from their eyes. I wanted to represent someone who was trying to find the meaning behind the eyes but ended up being paralyzed by wonder at the vast complexity of it (represented by the stars). I wanted to maintain a balance between wonder and fear. People's first reaction when they look into the giant iris floating in the middle of the frame might be that of fear. But I hope that as they look deeper into it, they see that the only thing that's really fearful about it is the unknown. Despite garnering a large amount of information from people's eyes, there is only so much that we can know. In reality, there is much that we don't know about the brain that lies beyond the eyes of every one of us. What this photo comes down to is a tale of discovery. The man in the front and center set out looking for a deeper meaning, but he found only wonder at the vast complexity of the universe.
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