Homebrew Electronics Turn Landscapes Into Unearthly Sci-Fi Scenes
If while on an evening walk through the woods you encounter a strange glow emanating from behind the foliage, you may have stepped into one of Barry Underwood’s carefully lit photographic installations.
Using low-power light sources like LEDs and glow sticks, Underwood takes long exposures to produce images of environments full of motion and suffused in an eerie glow. The results can look like lovely radioactive debris or Tron-like vistas, lightsabers thrust through the trees and cybernetically enhanced flora. Each is inspired as much by nature as science fiction.
The scenes are built to exist in their physical environments as much as to make pictures; part of the fun for Underwood is living out a version of the scene from Blade Runner, where a static image becomes a space he can explore.
“You can imagine going into the landscape, manipulating the landscape a little bit ahead of time to then document it,” he says. “It’s sort of like stepping into the photographic image, a temporal shift.”
The wide variety of looks in Underwood’s photos are all achieved by placing lighting elements in different orientations and intensities and letting the camera soak up their glow. By gathering several hundred LEDs and varying the power of battery packs he can precisely control the balance of light and form. His technical tweaks also lead to star streaks, color bleeds, and other beautiful effects.