I’ve been meaning to shoot something like this for a while now. Apart from photography, the game you see above is my biggest passion and I’ve been playing it for around 10 years now (not that that means I’m any good). It just so happened that I needed a profile picture for my account I use for playing online so the time was right to finally get around to shooting something. Before we go on, the game in question is called go.
Go (baduk in Korean, weiqi in Chinese) is one of the oldest games in the world. Most guesses places its origin in China around 4000 years ago. What appeals to me is how the elegance and simplicity of the game can conceal such complexity and variation; no two games are alike and you can never really hope to master the game, only improve your understanding of it. With a game such as this, that has virtually stayed the same for thousands of years, I wanted my photo to reflect that with a timeless feel.
The first step to setting things up was to get a decent board position, just to have something happening on the board. For that I picked one of my favourite games by Honinbo Shusaku, by many considered one of the strongest players in the history go. The game itself is from the first half of the 19th century, so it’s over 150 years old, already quite timeless.
Next up was the light. I wanted to keep it simple and natural, since funky neon colours probably can’t be considered timeless – though something akin to window light probably could. Unfortunately there were no good window light around so I had to create my own. I set up my Lastolite trigrip behind the board and it became my window, now all I needed was a sun. The sun is big but it’s very far away, so it looks kind of small. The great distance also means that the light coming from the sun has time to scatter before it hits any unsuspecting windows. In order to mimic that I put a bare LP160 on the other side of the room (maybe 3-4 meters away) and zoomed it to the max. That way the light had time to scatter before hitting the surface of the diffuser, smoothing out hotspots and simply giving a different quality of light than a flash at normal distant would have done.
Converting the shot to black and white was the final touch to get that timeless feeling. Not much else to say about the final result other than I like it. Would have been even better with a different hand though, an old and worn hand with some character to it. Perhaps I’ll take another shot in 30 or 40 years.
Let me know what you think. Does it make you want to play a game of go as much as I do?