Sourced Images – Conspiracy Theories

After conducting my extensive research into photography and gathering all my inspiration. I took my new camera out around surrounding countryside hotspots in Kent & Sussex. One of the most interesting outings was to Bewl Water Reservoir over the holiday period. It was freezing cold and darkness was about to descend, perfect for a spooky misty scene.

Screenshot 2017-01-09 11.04.32.pngscreenshot-2017-01-09-11-06-11screenshot-2017-01-09-11-05-57screenshot-2017-01-09-11-05-47screenshot-2017-01-09-11-05-33screenshot-2017-01-09-11-05-16screenshot-2017-01-09-11-05-05screenshot-2017-01-09-11-04-50

I took all the shots in camera raw as opposed to jpeg to make sure all the tonal data is maintained and not compressed like a jpeg would. This will enable me to further manipulate the colours in the post production process.

I also played around with the exposure time, attempting to create motion blur from a low shutter speed.

I also managed to locate a fantastic bronze statue that will be great for my final piece. I went over to Chilstone in Fordcombe, Tunbridge Wells. I took multiple images various angles to make sure I had loads to chose from in post production. I made sure if anything, I underexposed as opposed to over exposing the subject. I did this because it’s easier to get detail back from the shadows, rather than reducing the highlights and overexposed areas.



Inspiration – Conspiracy Theories

Before setting off with the camera and planning my photography, I wanted to look at the style of photography that I’m looking to imitate, understanding the emotions and messages the audience is receiving. I’m going to look at a series of images of wild cats in the uk, analysing what elements work well and what I can take from this research to implement in my photography.



I find this image quite striking. There is a lot of motion blur, implying the animal is fast. Although the background is so blurred, you can tell the animal is in a natural environment. The cat blends in with the colours of the background, making him blend in and seem less obvious. The animal looks as if it’s hunting and running towards its pray. Interestingly, the animal is framed in the lower left part of the image, spreading across almost two thirds of the horizontal width. I found it interesting that the legs appear to be cut off in the frame, however, I think this has be done purposefully, to show how difficult it is to get a glimpse of the animal, and injecting fear.


This cat has been shot from a long distance and this can be seen in the grain of the image. This tells the audience that the animal is wild and the photographer took care not to approach the cat. The dark cat is almost a black silhouette in against the dark shadow behind. However, The audience can distinguish the shape of the cat from its pointy ears and feline figure.


Again, the image above has been shot from a long way, and the image is of very poor quality. Although the photographer is providing evidence to back up the claim of wild cats in the UK, he has also added doubt in the audiences mind due to a poor quality image. The dark cat again can be identified by its long tail and stance from prior knowledge of cats.


Although this may seem comical, the idea of using a statue may actually be quite effective in my own project as it’s pretty unrealistic to find a wild cat in the UK in such a short time. I may use a single shot like this, or, I may isolate the cat statue and create a composite of different images.

What I can take from this research?

  • Motion Blur
  • Using cat statue
  • Image quality? Blur?
  • Cat silhouette
  • Framing of the shot – Where & Why?


Composite Image Editing & Colour Adjustment – Design Process

I took advantage of the gloomy, merky weather and visited the local resevior to gather images for my conspiracy of big cats in the wild. The vast open natural landscape made it a perfect scene in which to generate ideas. The mist was starting to become dense very quickly as darkness descended, so I hoped to get some interesting shots.

Why Black and White?

Designers commonly shoot in black and white today as it offers timless quality to the images. This is because we still remember the origins of photography, a throwback to the photographic past. In this instance, I think it adds an air of spookyness, whilst also enrapturing the mythical aspect. This “timeless” quality of black and white photograph, I think, lends itself to this particular image and perhaps a large portion of the book.

One of the best was this image. I think it really encaptures the spooky feeling im trying to get accross.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 11.49.19.png

Although the image is dark, I want to change the colouring to gain an infrared effect. This will make the image look as if it has been shot at night, and has “accidently” been captured.

I first created a new adjustment layer to black and white, moving the different colour channels to get the best black and white possible.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 11.56.35.png

I created a new layer and lightened the whole sky, as i think the small vignetting is slightly distracting from the image.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 11.58.32.png

I then used my illiustrator skills to create  the shape of the cat that I will blend into the landscape.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 11.59.32.png

I copied and pasted the vector and a smart object into photoshop, adjusting the scale of the cat and skewing the shape slightly to sit nicely accross the grass verge on the right of the image. I changed the blending mode and opacity to fit in with the “infared” effect.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 12.03.13.png

Although this is quite mysterious, I think its almost too obvious and the audience don’t have to search very far to find out what the animal is, so would be rejected quickly. To make sure the audience is really spooked and engaged, I added a motion blur to imply speed and also makes it harder to identify the  animal. Screenshot 2017-01-04 12.06.42.png

Just to add another sign for the audience to make them believe the image is genuine, I added a reflection in the water of the cat by flipping the shape and reducing the opacity in the water.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 12.10.57.png



Testing Conspiracy Theories

To make sure my images attempt to “prove” a conspiracy theory, I found this interesting article outlining how to prove or disprove a conspiracy theory. This will help me strengthen my argument to my audience, as I will have better knowledge of the persuasive effects my imagery might have.

Ingredients for Conspiratorial Thinking

These theories attempt to connect dots between random events, and turn them into meaningful patterns that generate fear and confusion from what the widely believed theory is. In addition to this, the viewer constantly tests for confirmation of the theories legitimacy, looking for clues based on their existing knowledge. Hindsight also plays an important role in the make up of a conspiracy theory. The view compares the theory to the after the fact explanation given by a group of people or establishment.

There are many other factors that encourage conspiracy theories such as:

  • Group Identity
  • Political Ideologies
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Age
  • Education

Conspiracy theories offer a second theory which people are intrigued as it is an alternative and possibly extreme scenario.

Ideas & Sketches – Conspiracy Theories

After establishing my subject, wild cats, I started to think about how my photography can inject fear and excitement amongst the public. To begin with, I wrote down every significant signifiers I could use to show the appearance of a big wild cat in the UK countryside.



These designs try to incorporate photography merged with illustration to create interesting composites, generating fear and stimulating debate.