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Tug O' War: A Senior Black + White High Dynamic Range Diptych by Ryan Young (2016)

Click to read Artist Statement
The two sides of my diptych tell two very conflicting stories. On the left, there is an image of a wedding ring and on the right there is an axe stuck in wood. In this situation, the wedding ring represents risk. Asking someone to marry you is a big risk that could impact your entire life. This metaphor connects to my own life because I am very familiar with risk. I have taken chances that have both been successful and unsuccessful. What matters to me is taking the risk in the first place. You will never learn something new, or have extraordinary experiences if you don’t push your boundaries by taking risks. This plays off of the other half of the diptych because the axe stuck in the wood represents failure. Some of the wood in the back and midground has been chopped, but the job wasn’t finished. The person failed. You cannot fail without taking a risk and trying. Failure is the negative half of taking the risk. In my own life, I have taken chances and they have failed, and I lost the courage to take risks because I became afraid. There is no shame in failure, but there is courage to admire in trying. These two images are balancing forces. The ring representing the bravery to try, and the axe representing the humiliation in fear.

In order to create this piece, I had to find a location to shoot the sets and set up the elements in the shot. For the ring, I had to find a location where the sun would cause a reflection and hit dust, giving the image that dreamy feeling. For the shot with the axe, I had to cut the pieces of wood that surround the main log. Then, I shot three images of the same composition. One image properly exposed, one underexposed, and one overexposed. Furthermore, I linked the three images together in Photoshop to create one HDR image. Finally, I made the images black and white and tinkered with the exposures and concentration of blacks, whites, shadows, and highlights. If I could change one thing about this piece, I would have gone out into a forest and chopped into part of a tree to make the shot more realistic.
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