Category Archives: Part 1

Part 1 Surface and depth

Thomas Ruff Aesthetic of the Pixel – David Campany

Book Review of JPEGS – Joerg Colberg

At first glance these images are crude and repulsive to a viewer expecting to see good photographs.

Pixelated images already have a file in our consciousness as ‘bad quality’ or hiding something in the media that is not of public domain like a child’s face innocent to the story, or a number plate of a car, where the information is personal  or censored material.

German Photographer Thomas Ruff trawled the internet for images of the terrorist attack of 9/11 after returning home to Germany to find his negatives were all blank. Many images were of poor quality and Thomas began to find their structure of pixels interesting.

“Use photography to reflect the medium” –Bernd Becher. (Ruff studied under Becher at the Kunstakademie  in Dusseldorf) . Ruff describes his JPEGS work as ‘Compression as representation of the medium’ . As if in direct response to the Becher advice.

In the JPEGS book review for Concientious ,  Joerg Colberg  starts by citing Ruff as possibly ‘One of the most creative and certainly inventive photographers of our time’ . This grand opening  dosen’t follow through as Colberg talks of an “uneasiness” where the work needs more than “just technique”

David Campany  talks of how adapting images helps us make sense of the world around us and archival imagery is important for artists to rework and understand where that image lies in the context of art or photography.

In the D-Day landing pictures of Robert Capa, Campany explains how the grain of the analogue images in itself is a record of the extreme conditions that Capa faced. Like Capas D-Day photographs, Ruff certainly adds to the drama and sometimes horror of his subjects by using the pixels as a medium.

An reworked image from 9/11 by Thomas Ruff.

An reworked image from 9/11 by Thomas Ruff.


Exercise 1.4 Frame

In this framing  exercise I used my camera grid to partition the view. The grid was divided into 16 equal parts, I found these too small to work with so I took the initial idea and imagined the grid in sections of 6. At first only photographing a portion of the subject was challenging as I couldn’t ignore the rest of the picture. I chose to photograph my ‘larder’ it was a really gloomy day outside that hadn’t stopped raining. I pushed the speed up to 1000 iso. I still was only able to use shutter speeds of around 1/25 with the aperture wide open (2.8). Knowing that it’s almost impossible to handhold below 1/40 I pushed the iso further to 2000. After analizing my images, I decided to keep the ones in that are a little ‘soft’ due to low shutter speeds. I think these add to the flavour of the ‘rustic’, ‘wholesome’ larder, especially the fruits & vegetables that remind me of still-life oil paintings from the last century.

I chose 9 final pictures to work together. I really like the idea of creating a ‘storyboard’ of images to portray an idea. I purposely used the chillies at the beginning and plates at the end as where they are placed with the collection makes them seem like ‘bookends’ holding everything else in.

I think the placement and compositions work regardless of which part of the grid was used.

Excercise 1.3 (2) Line

These images show how lines can ‘flatten’ a picture. the sense of depth is lost and there are no ‘perspective’ lines to draw the visual onlooker to any particular point.

This Photograph by photographer Julian Li shows the surface of the photograph as flat. the eye is drawn to the content as one uniform plane.

Informity and Individuality by Julian Li

‘Informity And Individuality’ by Julian Li.

Excercise 1.2 Point

” How you build a picture, What a picture consists of, how shapes are related to each other, how spaces are filled, how the whole thing must have a kind of unity”– Paul Strand.

We (photographers) are given a ‘frame’ to fill. How shapes, objects and lines relate to each other and relate to the confines of the frame is what creates good composition. The result is a visually pleasing record. ‘For a natural photographer composition is instinctive’ (Michael Freeman-The Photographers Eye) For others it can be learnt. ‘The rule of thirds’ divides the frame into 9 equal segments. Placing the point of interest at the intersections or within the ‘third’ balances the image.

The rule of thirds places the tree & distance at the intersections of the frame.

The rule of thirds places the tree & distance at the intersections of the frame.

The composition in this image when the point is central is made stronger when the picture is cropped to a landscape. This increases the focal point and eliminates any water or sky lacking in interest.

The Instrument 1.1

Take 3 or 4 shots of the same sequence without changing any settings. View the histogram of each image and understand the sensitivity the camera has to the light by noticing the variations of the graph.

The Histogram is a bar graph that relates to image exposure. Divided into 3rds the graph records pixel information for dark areas (left), light areas (right) and midtones in the centre.

In a well exposed image, the graph reaches to each end of the chart showing that there is information in each of the dark, light & midtone areas. On the graph showing ‘over-exposure’ we can see the dark areas are flat and ‘spikes’ (clipping) appear at the lighter end.meaning the image is too light. If shooting in ‘jpeg’ detail will be lost. By shooting in raw mode detail can be recovered to lessen over-exposure.