Assignment 5-Photography is Simple

Photography is simple…..

Honey is a Lundy pony. A Dunn, with characteristic mane and tail darker than her body and a long dark strip of colour running down her back known as a dorsal stripe. Lundy ponies were created from New Forest and Welsh Mountain ponies, introduced to the island of Lundy, 12 miles off the coast of Devon in 1928 to establish a new breed.

On the island, the 20 strong herd are semi-feral, apart from veterinary care and hoof trimming.

Honey lives in Devon.

My idea for this assignment was to find a field of horses and take different parts of their bodies and habitat. After receiving permission and directions to the fields it soon became apparent that vast, rolling Devon fields containing only one pony each were going to be a challenge.

I returned to the stables disheartened, ready to rethink the brief. My initial ideas and research of ‘The Exmoor Pony round-up’ and the ‘Wild Horses of Sable Island’ were feeling unachievable.

When I arrived there were two ponies that had been stabled. The moment I saw the Dunn against the dark background, contained, head up, and alert I knew what I wanted to do. I had been given a copy of Tim Flach’s Equus in 2008, a book whose images were familiar to me.

Honey couldn’t canter away. She was confined to her stable and even though this was ideal for me, I was aware of needing her permission to take her photo. I spent a while, just being there holding the camera and then began to talk to her. Once this communication was established I began to photograph the beautiful curve and strength of her back, the vulnerability of her eyes and the gentleness of her mouth.

Initially I was concerned with photographing every piece of Honey to make a ‘jigsaw’ almost to piece together. However, when selecting the final edit this seemed unimportant compared with capturing her fragility.

Refs:

The Wild Horses of Sable Island (2008) Dir. Robert Dutesco .Youtube  [accessed October2016]

The Exmoor Ponies (2014) Dir.Caroline Tout. Youtube [accessed October 2016]

Flach T (2008) Equus.London.Abrams

Photographers Gallery (2014) Charlotte Dumas ‘Anima and the Widest Prairies’ thephotographersgallery.org.uk  [accessed October 2016]

Contact Sheets:

contactsheet-001contactsheet-002contactsheet-003contactsheet-004

Final Selection:

Assignment 5 Feedback:

Overall my feedback was good for this assignment. As far as the images go my tutor particularly liked image 1 comparing it to a landscape. This pleases me as I think it’s my strongest image and this is the abstract look that I was trying to put across. The abstract nature of the pony in a stable come across well as opposed to photographing the animal in a field.

Other comments are that number 3 has no focal point and number 6 feels too central. The images are also quite repetitive with information and other parts of the horse could have been used eg: hoof, belly etc.

I did photograph different parts of the horse but my final selection was based more on which images I liked and also the ones that I thought were stronger as a series.

If I am honest, I struggled with producing 10 images for this assignment. I was desperate to edit down to create a stronger set, however I followed the brief.

I am pleased to have been told that the reason my prints were blue in places was down to calibration of my monitor with the printers. The problems I had with printing these pictures overshadowed the enjoyment of this assignment. I have spent too much money, not ended up with the size I wanted and not received borders on my images as requested.

My tutor does not want me to send these images into assessment before the printing is rectified.

There was also no feedback from the request of linking the assignment to exercise 5.2.

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Exercise 5.3 Behind the gare Saint-Lazare

The iconic image ‘Derriere la gare Saint-Lazare’ (Paris, 1932) is the photograph that helped coin the term ‘The Decisive Moment’.

In 1932, Cartier-Bresson began using a small, hand held Leica camera with rolls of film he could carry in his pocket. This liberation enabled Cartier-Bresson to capture images that could not have before been created with cumbersome large and medium format equipment.

The image was captured by pressing the camera between slats in the fence, Cartier-Bresson says he couldn’t even see the picture at the time he pressed the shutter. Did he then, see the figure and ‘anticipate’ that the person would jump into the flood water. Was there another piece of debris not shown that the jumper could have been aiming for to save himself from getting wet?

Cartier-Bresson always chose “form over light L’amour Tout Court (2001) and spoke of pictures needing a strong sense of geometry.

In ‘Derriere la gare Saint-Lazare’ My eyes come back to the point of the symmetry where the heel of the figure is off the ground and is a fraction away from touching the reflection. This is the point of  ‘movement’ in the image making it interesting but also the point of the highest contrast. I also find the reflection of the static figure in the background stands out, again for the contrast but also because we recognise the shape as human and while the railings and geometry of the lines give structure to the photograph, we are probably more curious about a human figure. We know what the railings and buildings are doing, their story or form won’t change but we are naturally drawn to part of the image that might move or allow us more information to the story.

This particular picture is also interesting from upside down. The ‘jumper’ looks like he is putting more speed into the motion. We can also see his hands and his back leg is almost ‘springing’ from the board.

Another picture by Bresson titled ‘Hyeres, France’ was also taken in 1932. There are many similarities to the two images. It is difficult to know which was taken first but, the form of the cyclist in the space past the railings could of helped Bresson anticipate ‘The Decisive Moment’ in ‘Derriere la gare Saint-Lazare’

Homage Photography-The Distance Between Us

I started my photographic beginnings being heavily influenced by Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz,  Jacques Henri-Lartigue and Eugene Atget. In the early 90s, it was for me, very much about black and white imagery,  and self processing and printing. I have never acknowledged how much of an influence these great photographers have had on me…until now, viewing them side by side. I am astounded, and hugely grateful to have been asked to make this ‘connection’.

Exercise 5.2 The Distance Between Us

For this exercise I have chosen a picture from photographer Shane Lynham named ‘Untitled’. I first saw this image at the Getty ‘Renaissance Prize’ exhibition. The image was shorlisted in the category ‘Line’. I very much like the work of Lynham and this image has been etched into my mind ever since for the simplicity of the background and understated participation of the subjects.

Whilst at a local Triathlon, I knew I could use the idea of Lynham’s picture to create similar aesthetics.

After reading Terry Barrett’s Photographs and Contexts, I believe my response of the photograph falls into the category of ‘internal context’ because of the near identical subject of the swimmers wearing caps, the element of sea and also of the composition as the line of swimmers draws your eye to the same point on the horizon. The viewpoint, whilst taken from the right hand side, is different as Lynham is standing higher, creating  a lower horizon line for a greater expanse of sky.

Assignment 4 Tutor Feedback

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills:

Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

Your work for this assignment has shown very competent technical and visual skills. The lighting and in particular use of darkness for a background works very well. The use of screens and shadows is highly effective. You have constructed these images to only show exactly what you want to show and so visual awareness, design and composition have all been carefully and effectively controlled.

Quality of Outcome:

Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

Your work has been presented well, I could see this work as large prints in an exhibition. You have communicated your ideas effectively, there are a lot of signs and symbols in these images and I would be interested to see a write up on the thoughts for each image. Also could they have text accompany them to emphasise the idea or do you think this would detract?

Highly effective work presented in a professional way, showing strong judgement.

Demonstration of Creativity:

Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

Strongly creative, takes risks with many imaginative and successful outcomes, strong evidence of personal voice. I think your idea and the way you have gone about constructing it is very personal to you. Well done.

You have experimented with lighting and reflections in your image to create images which are full of layers of interest to keep you looking at them for longer and trying to“read” the images.

 Coursework:

I can see exercises have been completed from the write up on your work submitted, however for assessment the exercises will need to be provided on your blog.

 Research:

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis.

I can also see you have completed thorough research from the write up of your work. You have reflected well on your own work and the work of other photographers.

Learning Log:

Very articulate and self aware, very well researched, demonstrating a developed intellectual understanding. Make sure that everything is on your blog for assessment.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

  • Keep up the good work
  • Make sure everything is evidenced on your blog

 

Assignment 4 Languages of Light

Assignment 4- Languages Of Light (A)

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part 4  (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4 Prepare it for formal assignment submission.

Introduction:

The exercise I found I learnt the most from in ‘Languages of Light’ was exercise 4.2. The sequence of images shot at different times throughout the day opened my eyes to the importance of light when creating a mood or story and planning for a shoot.

The arthouse movie, ‘In The Mood for Love’ by Christopher Doyle uses artificial lighting to accentuate the mood of love and betrayal. The bare and stark light bulbs illuminate the delicate contours of the Chinese actors adding to the fragility of the storyline. Restaurant menus are used to cast soft reflective lighting onto the face that only need subtle expression to portray a feeling. As I watched and took notes of lighting techniques, I became on several occasions distracted by the actual compositions of the movie and how many outlines were used to frame the subjects. The framing of the actors, whether through a door, window or hallway gives the viewer an idea that you are observing or spying on real life rather than watching a performance made for the audience. Each scene could have easily made a ‘still’ photograph to stand alone. It is the use of lighting and framing together that are important in creating the style and effect of the movie.

I decided to take the idea of ‘framing’ instead of lighting from ‘In the mood for Love’ and combined it with the exercise 4.2 natural light.

I have a big picture window that looks onto the garden beyond, so I set up my DSLR camera on a tripod and placed it directly in front of the window frame. I set aperture priority to either F 20 or F22 to keep the depth of field sharp and created a set of images, mainly on hourly intervals throughout the day by using the selftimer function to activate the shutter. I lowered the iso rating from 400 to 200 and LO at points to see if I could capture or notice greater detail.

I wanted to create a frame or boundary to enclose the image. This draws attention to the contents and invites the viewer to enter and explore the interior of the frame without dictating where the eye should land.

In his Paradise series, Thomas Struth photographed dense jungles around the world. By closely cropping sections, they become annonymous sections of overgrowth. Struth describes the framing as membranes for meditation’ – (Cotton C, 2014:105).

In an excerpt from an interview, Struth says he didn’t want specific places that are recognisable, instead looking more for ‘the moment of beginning that was once the world’ –(Questia.com)

Thomas also goes on to say in the same interview ,“I don’t understand why so many people equate the notion of paradise with escapism. Paradise was never a place one could enter. Though, in this global moment escapism is no longer an issue either”

Struth’s idea of non-escapism is completely opposite of mine. My window to the outside is absolute escapism. Without my view of the outside world I am left with brick walls and only an ability to look inwardly to myself and the objects contained within the walls. Looking out gives me hope, allows me to wander in my mind when I can’t physically leave. My garden is my jungle and uplifts and transports me when I need it to. Struth says that paradise is unable to enter, but paradise can be a ‘state of mind’ It dosen’t have to be a physical. Again, he refers to escape as not being important. I think that In this ‘global moment’ escape can be more important than ever.

Paradise=An Idyllic place or state./ A place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be. -Dictionary Cambridge.org

Outcome:

Having saved my camera twice from family members trying to navigate a newly arranged living area, I dismantled the tripod and viewed the images using Photoshop. After a whole day of monitoring and alarm setting I was really disappointed with the outcome of the images. They were not nearly as sharp as I wanted them to be. Factors considered include, slight movement from breeze outside, shooting through double paned glass and not having access to a larger format camera. I also spent a frustrating amount of time in Photoshop trying to perfect lens distortion. I couldn’t make the window frame seem like a ‘frame’ because of the difference in shadow to one side of the wall. The overall deciding factor to shelve this idea though was the overall sharpness of the images. I feel that my idea in this assignment was strong, but the execution was not achieved. At these times, you wish you were in the presence of other students and tutors.

Assignment 4-Languages of Light (B)

Not happy with my first assignment attempt, I have decided to choose another exercise whilst incorporating elements from my previous ideas and research.

More often than not my teenage son stays up later than me and like most young people can be found on his laptop in the evening. The artificial room light is always off as he dosen’t seem to notice how dark or late it is. This allows for the reflected light to light his face. The light is draining of natural skin tones and depicts an almost lifeless demeanor. I was able to shoot through the window from outside unoticed.

I used manual mode and the widest aperture on my chosen 55-70 lens which was 2.8, I could handhold this around 1/60 and 1/40 as I had increased the iso to 1000 and then to1600.

Creativity Criteria:

In exercise 4.3 I took a sequence of shots capturing the ‘beauty of artificial light’. I have developed this idea and taken the elements of my window, the outside world, from before to intertwine a series of images depicting the outside with evening natural light, combined with artificial indoor lighting from ‘blue light’ devices such as computers and television.

In ‘The Dreamers’, Photographer Laura Morton takes images of the ‘new techies’. She photographed software programmer Ben Greenwood in his room where he also works, lit by the screen of his computer. (Smyth D. 2016.83)

In researching for these pictures I found the photographer Nick Turpin who used a long lens at 1/40 of a second in photographing through glass and at night which shows the modern capabilities of digital cameras. This answers my question to my original exercise when I was surprised how I could handhold and look through the window with a slow shutter speed. ‘In learning photography I was always told that anything hand held below 1/60 would result in an unsharp image. These pictures were all hand-held between 1/20 & 1/10 and considering they were also shot through a window are surprisingly sharp.’-Exercise 4.3 out take.

As humans, we are ever curious about learning and connecting with others, now often looking inwards to find answers quickly on the world wide web instead of finding out for ourselves by looking and experiencing life outside. As the internet becomes central to us for knowledge and answers, the reflections cast on the windows stay constant reminding us of our place on the planet.

Final Selection for submission.

Refs:

Cotton C. 2014:’Deadpan’ The Photograph as Contemporary Art’ Thames & Hudson, London.p105.

Noemie Goudal ‘Haven Her Body Was’. Feurerhelm B. 2012 Photomonitor.co.uk [online] accessed July 2016. Feuerhelm

Thomas Struth ‘Paradise Series’ Questia.com [accessed July 2016]

Laura Morton -.‘BJP Weird Science’ Smith D.April 2016. P83

Nick Turpin-‘Through a glass Darkly’ Nickturpin.com [accessed July 2016]

‘In The Mood For Love’-(Dir.Wong Kar-Wai 2000) Youtube.com [accessed July 2016]

Tutor Feedback: I received a really positive feedback assessment for this assignment especially in the ‘creative’ sense. 

My tutor was interested as to whether there could have been some text for each image. I think this is a good idea as it helps to portray what the photographer wants to say. Too much narrative however could distract the viewer from their own  perceptions.