23 Dramatic Photos of Dreams

What does a dream look like? As vivid as the images may be in your sleep, by the time you wake they are long gone. But for this week's Shooting Challenge, you reassembled those fleeting pictures.

Illustration for article titled 23 Dramatic Photos of Dreams

Creepy Doll

I love taking photographs at night, but without the proper preparations (e.g., fast glass, tripod, sobriety), the resulting snaps are often too blurry to use. When it comes to photographic representations of dreams, however, some blurriness can actually be useful.

My submitted photo started with just such a blurry pic - a late-night snapshot of a shadowy metal grate that was so out-of-focus that it was actually more ghostly and evocative than a tack-sharp photo would've been. That became the backdrop for a composite image of photos I took the following night, including a doll that hung over the DJ booth at a dance club, a seemingly dead-end apartment corridor, and the backside of an African mask that I spied through a shop window. The final addition was the text, which I gleaned from an old psychiatry book and photographed inside my apartment.

Tech specs: The initial nighttime images were shot on a Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 400 ISO with an exposure of minus 1-something (it's a semi-crummy pocket cam, so the controls aren't exactly pro quality). The text was photographed with a Panasonic Lumix FZ40 at 800 ISO (since noise wasn't really a factor in this instance). And everything was mixed together with an old copy of Photoshop CS1.
- John Graham

Temporal Leap

I had a dream I was watching my girlfriend and me, hanging out next to our little tiki lamp. Funny thing about my dreams, they're always in the third person, and even though they seam fuzzy, I somehow know exactly who the people are. I took a photo of me during the day time and then a few stacked together at night. This strongly depicts the actual dream I was having, in which the world around me was light out, but the dream in front of me was night. I know it's confusing, but then again, it was my dream.
- Paul Valerio

Illustration for article titled 23 Dramatic Photos of Dreams

The Tree

I used my phone to take this picture. It was very hot and sunny out. I use an HTC Radar, and I used the Thumba photo editing app to edit it and create the trippy image you see. My dreams are normally placid and goofy, but I occasionally have bizarre nightmares. This tree monster is really a good example of what I might encounter in a nightmare.
- Bryan Fulton

Illustration for article titled 23 Dramatic Photos of Dreams

The Stuff of Nightmares

Like most young women, every now and then I catch myself dreaming about my wedding day. Since I've been divorced, however, my wedding dreams don't consist church bells, sunshine and dandelions, they consist of me running for dear life and ending up all by my lonesome. In most cases the weather would have put a damper on my plans, but it worked to my advantage with this one, as the mood is supposed to be a little dreary... We succeeded in confusing every innocent bystander as they congratulated my friend on her wedding, to which the response was "this is the best way to mess up $1,500!" as she proceeded to stomp around in the ocean.
As far as equipment and settings go, I can't really pinpoint any one particular, since I've blended four images together to make the one. I used a Canon Rebel T3i with the basic stock lens and switched around between a whole bunch of different settings.
- Megan Zavalaga

Illustration for article titled 23 Dramatic Photos of Dreams

Cat God

The day you announced this week's contest there was a pretty massive thunderstorm here in Chicago. I've photographed lightning before and was looking forward to another crack at it (get it?). I set up my camera on a tripod on my back porch and locked down the trigger on my remote shutter release. The exposure was set to 4 seconds so I let that go for about 200 shots and ended up with about 8 that had lightning in them. After that I came inside and tried to get the F-U stare my cat always gives me. I thought it would be funny to have the lightning coming out of my cat's eyes. Then I just did a lot of playing around in CS5.
Canon T2i, EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens Lightning Pic: Manual mode: f/5.6, 4 seconds, iso 100 Cat Pic: f/5.6, 1/6m iso 3200
- Rob Lennox

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2 Days 1 Night

I had this film in my camera while I was in Indonesia and it jammed in the heat and rewound itself. I was there for only a weekend before being sent to Amsterdam. I managed to get the film winding again while i was there, which resulted in double exposing the film. Because i was in each country for only 2 days, the whole experience felt literally like a dream, and ironically when i scanned the film, the results reflected that! This shot bridged the two trips so well, and it's great to see Indonesia which was apart of the old Dutch colony reunited with the country itself in a frame. Camera: Yashica T4, Lens: 35mm, Film iso: Fujichrome Velvia 100 (cross-processed)
- Tom Law

Illustration for article titled 23 Dramatic Photos of Dreams


The idea came from a few weeks back, when I had a dream where I was standing out in the parking lot and suddenly became lucid. Excited, I decided I'd try and fly. It worked, but being a bit careless I somersaulted, flipped over and careened straight into the brick road below and woke up. This is my attempt to capture that particular instant; blasting through the dream and back into reality. Upper half = Canon EOS 1000D, f9, 1/160 sec, ISO 200, Legs = Canon EOS 1000D, f10, 1/200 sec, ISO 200, Lower half background = Canon PS G11, f8, 0.4 sec, ISO 100, All lit camera right using Canon 270EX on flash cord. Post process using Photoshop and Nik filters.
- Bart Tieman


I worry that this week, I may have influenced some of you too much with the example photograph. It's always tough to ask for an abstract concept, but at the same time, totally know I'm planting a seed that will be tough to dislodge from your mind's eye. That said, so many of you captured something that made no literal sense but felt very dream-like for explanations that neither of us can provide. So strange, isn't it? We've all seen dreams every night, but in some collective failsafe of the human mind, we can't really recall them?

Full galleries below. Big shots on flickr.




This is nice... but for most guys, 70% of the internet (the so called nsfw content) is the "dramatic" photos of their dreams.