Melting Chocolate

In the previous post, I mentioned the difficulty I encountered with the dry-looking sugar. I stared at those photographs for the longest time, and I began to think that perhaps I could somehow incorporate this kind of texture to the series. As much as I want the photographs to be consistent, I had a feeling that little bit of variations wouldn’t hurt. All the materials are same, and so is the aesthetic.

So, I shot various layers of sugar with different cracks. The first is the least layer (actually achieved by removing all the layers…the sprinkle color transferred to the skin!), and the sugar layer grows towards the end. The last one probably has 6 sugar coats with less sprinkles:

To be honest, the dry looking ones (or the last one) doesn’t look very out of the series. I think the transparent parts that are partially visible help lessening the exaggerated details of the sugar. Even when the palm isn’t completely covered by sugar (such as the second to last one), the balance between the dry and wet is working pretty well. I then realized these two opposite textures create variations of depth. I like it not only because it looks visually interesting, but because you can see how many layers of sugar the hand has grown. I’m feeling pretty good about them!

I also started adding sugary food with the sugar. The first one up is one of the most common snacks ever found – literally everywhere – , chocolate chip cookies. To experiment, I shot this in two different ways; a) small crumbled pieces and b) medium sized chunks. Both chocolate did melt in well with the sugar layer to an extent. This is probably because of the color, but the melted parts started to resemble mud. Still unappetizing though.

The differences are how obvious the cookies are. Smaller pieces blend in with the sugar very well, especially since they are fairly similar size. But some parts are a little hard to identify the cookies because of its finely crumbled size. On the other hand, the medium chunks are easily recognized, but sort of gets in the way. They just seem like someone dropped it on the sugar layers instead of merging out from the sugar layer. Both are interesting, but I don’t know which one to choose.


I need to look at them a little more…and ask other people’s opinions. But alongside, next up is either candy or icing.

Sugared Hand Cont.

Since the group critiques, I have been shooting couple sugared hands. The hands are from various models. I probably said this in the previous post, but I really am liking the direction this project has taken.There are just so many intriguing factors that I am attracted to in these photographs! The textures of the sugars changes depending on the sugars’ wetness, the colors of the sugar sprinkles pop brightly yet melts into the sugar smoothly, and above all, the skin peeking through the cluster of sugars is simply gross ( yet also kind of cool). But visually, these factors create appealing image. Oh, and I can’t forget the shiny highlights the sugar reflects off the light. That is what makes everything bright and pretty, just like candies and sweets are. They are cute little jewels.

Through the shoots, I found some issues that I have to be aware of. In one of my shoot, the sugar appeared very dry (looked at the first image of the gallery below). It was to the extent where the sugar started to resemble more like salt. Perhaps that’s because it looks much whiter and chunkier. Visually, the texture is interesting, but I was bothered by how much changes the moisture created. The dryness removes the shines and becomes very flat. I think it’s missing that bumpy, uneven surface that allowed it to simulate crystal-like texture. To solve this, I sprayed water onto the surface. Sugar dissolves in water easily, so simply applying water makes the sugar reflective (the second and third photo had more shine).

I also need to be careful of how thick the sugar layers become. Especially in the center photo below, the sugar coat is so thick that the skin becomes invisible. You can barely see the skin underneath since the layers isn’t translucent at all. I do like the variations these kinds provide though. As long as other photographs in the series show a hint of skin’s presence, I feel like there could be one where the layer is thick. But, in this case, the thickness probably went too far… Extra attention needs to be paid so that the skin is slightly visible and recognizable.

I went extra step to see what happens when the composition changes. Instead of filling the frame with sugared part on the palm, what if the curves and the outlines of the fingers/hands are shown? This would give more hint to the audiences about how the sugar is pasted onto the skin…at the same time, I don’t want the composition to be too distracting. The images below are some experimentations I did with composition. So far, the background color is too loud. Toning it down to desaturated hues or using nude color might be better. I do enjoy the ones where the hand is less obvious (e.g. the second and fourth). Still need to consider this.

I’m going to continue shooting sugared hands till I hit the limit. Alongside, I’m also going to add sugary food crumbles (e.g. cookies, icing) to see how that will work out.

Sugared Hand

I did additional experiment with sugar. This time I used the same methods as the last time, and coated sugar all over my hand, back and front. To achieve 4 coats of sugar wasn’t as easy as I thought. I had to let first few layers dry pretty well in order to advance to the next coat. Otherwise, the sugars fall apart easily, and in a big chunk (when painted continuously, all the layers merge into one thick coat). The colored sprinkles seemed to dissolve into the layer better when done with rests. On top of this, the fingers are hard to get around to, especially the corners. Smaller brushes are probably the answer to this problem.

As everything came out, the hand looked…mix of extreme feelings; a little repulsing and disgusting, yet colorful and fascinating. I really want to pursue this aesthetic into this project. That’s just what sugars truly are.

I let the sugar dry out for longer than 20 minutes to see what happens (yes, I had the sugar on my hand for that long). The overall appearance of sugar was similar to snowflakes, or more like salt. Visually, it was obvious that the sugar was very dry. It might be a good addition to the texture though.

We also had a group critique last Friday. To see how much everyone has been devoting their time and effort on their personal project was so amazing and motivating. I presented the general idea behind this project and test shots of poses and sugars I have been working on. Everyone was very attracted to these two images (look below). They are detailed shot of the painted sugar hand from the experiment above. I cropped those into these format just to see whether the details can stand alone by itself – and it did! Most of the responses focused on how they are disgustingly beautiful, and repulsive yet intriguing. The skin is what mainly causes the turmoil, which is interesting since it isn’t obvious as it is hidden by the sugar.

As I reviewed these images after the critique, I did see why they are much more powerful. Compared to the first idea I had (people eating sugary food with sugared hand and face), this is much simpler in composition and aesthetic. Visually, there are no actions at all in the frame, but the reflective nature of the sugar and the colors from the sprinkles add vibrancy. This creates space for the eyes to wonder around the frame, corner to corner. The quiet fresh pink background (which is the skin) tones down the loud colors, and brings in innocent image the sugars have. Above all, it really is the melting sugar that creates the uncanny feelings. Shiny but wet. Pretty but unpleasing.

I decided to pursue more into these images. The feedbacks were very helpful!