BRIGHT IDEAS

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A fascination for special effects is helping ADRIAN LIMANI build a reputation for imaginative and original photography. He tells Keith Wilson how he creates worlds in light bulbs and why he believes future success lies abroad

Like a miniature sailing ship in a narrow-necked bottle, Adrian Limani creates a vignette of life within a light bulb. It could be a solitary tree, a pair of birds squabbling in mid flight, a floating umbrella, or a young couple holding hands beneath a heart-shaped filament. Like a light bulb, the ideas shine brightly in Limaniimagination and theyoriginality matched by his expertise in post-production techniques.

It is not surprising therefore to learn that the Albanian-born photographer is a student of computer sciences and technology in Serbia, where he now lives.

Still only 20, Adrian is a self-taught graphic designer whose interest in photography began when he was 14. "My passion with photography developed by browsing on the internet," he says. "I began to do serious photography when I was 17 years old and my first collection was a series of nature and landscape images." With no part-time job to rush to between lectures, the student devotes his spare time to creating an eclectic mix of images from domestic cats to plastic pegs, while earnestly cultivating his identity as a fine art photographer.

"I like to call myself a fine artist and photographer because I do both, even though I like fine art a little bit more," says Adrian. When asked to explain the distinction between the two, he emphasises the difference time plays in the outcome of both pursuits: "If you are a photographer you catch a very interesting and unforgettable moment —and that is the main point of photography —but an artist doesnjust catch a moment, he creates one. To take a photo is not a very hard and complicated thing to do, but to create, that requires a lot of imagination. The artist is able to present his own world and thoughts in a photograph, much like a painter, sculptor or musician."

PROCESSING AND SPECIAL EFFECTS I DONTHINK THAT YOU CAN MAKE SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY COOL”

DEVELOPING A STYLE

The debate about photography as an art form is an old chestnut and Adrianpronouncements bring to mind a famous quote attributed to Paul Delaroche, a 19th Century French painter, who uttered upon seeing the first Daguerreotypes: "From today painting is dead." Of course, painting still thrives and remains imperious as an art form, but Adrian doesnbelieve all photographers can be called artists. "There are a lot of different styles of photography," he says, "but for me a photographer can only be called an artist when he has developed a unique style and presents really wonderful messages and thoughts in his work." He is also acutely aware of the proliferation of hi-tech cameras that are making people more confident in their own abilities, yet resulting in many false claims to photographer status. "All people have very hi-tech cameras in their hands today, but buying a Nikon doesnmake you a photographer —or an artist —it just makes you a Nikon owner!" He then concludes his explanation with a quote by the American novelist Steven Wright: "Everyone has a photographic memory, some just donhave the film!"

Adrian regards his special effect images of light bulbs to be the work that supports his own claims to be a fine art photographer. But how did he become so obsessed with light bulbs and what inspired the ideas behind these arresting and carefully constructed compositions?

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"Years before I just took some shots of light bulbs, without any effects, just straight shots with the camera," he recalls. "Then suddenly I discovered that I really liked that kind of form." Working on the concept that "a light bulb can be everything," Adrian has set about photographing a variety of subjects, scenes and concepts contained within the thin glass sphere of a light bulb. He sees these images as being his signature creations, something unique from other artists or photographers: "I will continue with the bulb ideas because I like being unique."

PHOTOSHOP EFFECTS

Creating a vignette within a light bulb is a multi-disciplined task requiring many images, often of the same object shot from a variety of angles, and a choice of backgrounds. "First of all I make some shots of a light bulb in different positions and the background behind is always blue or white because it makes it easier to manipulate with the inside area of the bulb," he explains. Then there are the Photoshop effects, for which there are many steps: "To remove the inside area I use the Smudge tool or the Clone Stamp tool, and for the inside images I usually make spotlight effects and use opacity to make it look like it is inside a bulb."

Wherever possible Adrian tries to ensure that all images used in these complex composites feature his own work. "I usually combine two or three shots in one. When I see that I do not have original material to finish that work, I usually search for resources on the internet like brushes, design stuff, png stuff." His approach is experimental, free and fun —this young man doesn’in Photoshop, he plays with it. "I always like to play with images and usually with colours," he says. "Without processing and special effects I donthink that you can make something that is really cool. You can make something good but not very professional. I like to manipulate images and I think all artists are like that because fine art is about manipulation, plays and creations."

For this reason, image manipulation is an obvious feature of Adrianwork, not just on his light bulb collection. For example, many of his photographs of water appear to be long exposures, but the appearance is deceptive: "Some of my long exposures, especially of nature, are not really long exposures," he confesses. "Theydone with Photoshop. The reason I do that is because even though I like doing long exposure, I have no big lakes, sea or a rivers near to where I live. So I need to travel to do ’long exposures."

ONLINE COMMUNITIES

He also uses Photoshop to alter the weather as depicted in an image, using the extensive options available through the Adjustment menu. "Adjustment is very good for creating these effects because it contains a lot of options," he says. "I always use Curves to make the sky lighter or darker. Colour Balance enables me to play with the colours, for example the grass to make it lighter or darker, or to add in other colours." The manipulation of outdoor scenes, landscapes and high-flying birds is largely determined by his choice of background skies, which he photographs constantly. "I do a lot of shots of only the sky in different kinds of weather and I usually choose one that is appropriate to the natural colours of another image. After that, I choose the Curves options to make the sky lighter or darker and I use Layers to fit the sky to another image.

I can change it to Normal, Darken, Multiply, Overlay, and can make a spotlight, play with the colours, or something similar."

Like any aspiring, yet impoverished student, Adrian has great ambitions for a career in photography. He uses social media and online communities, including Deviantart (www.deviantart.com) and 500px (www.500px.com/adrianlimani), to raise his profile and share his photography, which has led to some sales. "People have bought some of my work on these communities and I feel happy for that because here in Serbia I donhave many opportunities to sell my work." For this reason, Adrian thinks his future may lie further abroad. "I want to be a professional artist or photographer and if I could work somewhere outside of my country full time, well why not?" The list of hopes and dreams then pour forth: "In the future, I want to take part in different magazine interviews like this one! I want to take part in international competitions, exhibitions and be a well-known artist. And I have a plan to make my own photography book with all my work. I hope that will be a reality one day."

Before he can climb the ladder to international stardom, the young student knows he has to complete his studies. But he is already wise enough to know the potential value of having his photography featured in a British magazine. Until now, Adrianphotography had only been published in one other title, Fotopasion, a quarterly published in his native Albania. hope that someone reads this interview and if they like my work they can contact me if they need a photographer like me." Adrian Limani isn t just another young man with bright ideas —he is also in a hurry.

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