Exercise 2.2 – People and Activity – The Plan

A trip out to 3 venues – Grosmont train station and engineer yard, on the NYMR train between Grosmont and Goathland, the platforms of Grosmont and Goathland.

What do I want to capture? Primary objective is the work being carried out in the engine sheds (trains, engineers, different aspects of work). Will make use of tripod, and will try to use flash. Will attach half toilet roll to prevent flash from bouncing off of the train (glare) so that I can direct it to the workers who I want to capture. Three engine sheds, one well lit, one dark at one end, partially lit at the other (flash), one that stores trains but is less frequently used to work on them. Small aperture, flash, tripod (longer exposure, lower ISO). Workers, trains, grinder, coal hopper, candid.

Secondary. Stations, water being topped up, leading lines, large aperture so focal point is on worker manning the hose and the front of the train. The faces of the crowd – distant, group, candid. Individuals taken candid, but then review with them post photo and ask if they are happy for me to keep the photo. Steam from wheels going over the platform edge and merging with the people.

Secondary. On the train, carriage layout, people, design. View out of window that partially includes the train. View in focus, inner train out of focus.

Will take in photo, but am considering converting to black and white or sepia, although I am not sure.

Keep eye out for portraits where only part of face has lighting. Leading lines for composition, tension on opposing thirds, natural frames, spur of the moment, contradiction/juxtaposition.

Aim:- documentary photography in the style of Martin Parr and Manuel Alvares Bravo, so that I can include candid photography capturing work, leisure and expression, but with the clarity (and hopefully artistry) of Bravo. History can be quite romantic, but I do not want that element to take over, expression and emotion to provide balance with the trains and machinery.

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Exercise 2.2 – People and Activity Research

Before you begin shooting, ask yourself what kind of photographs you want to make. Will they be candid photographs like Henri Cartier-Bresson’s or distant views of activity like Andreas Gursky’s? Will you seek out key gestures, facial expressions and telling relationships like Martin Parr or make ‘snapshots’ of characters in the maelstrom of life like Robert Frank? Will you try to frame the activity in a specific lighting effect like Trent Parke or will you seek to capture cultural details like Manuel Álvarez Bravo? Go online and research these well-known practitioners.

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004) renowned for being the developer of candid street photography. The decisive moment, setting up the shot, waiting for the action to present itself. Used small, often unnoticeable Leica with 50mm lens. People were therefore more natural and not playing up to or avoiding the camera. Often got very close to his subjects. Black and White. Decisive moment  more visible in Soviet Union, Moscow, 1954. Excellent composition, and often creates tension between subject in opposing thirds (diagonally). Leading lines, people, space, good tonal range. Dignity. Are these photos to aesthetic? Does he really photograph life as it is? (the aesthetic beauty suggests otherwise?) Founding member of Magnum Photos.

INDIA. Punjab. Kurukshetra. A refugee camp for 300.000 people.  Autumn 1947.Fig. 1. A refugee camp for 300.000 people (1947)

Andreas Gursky (1955) Oh my gosh. What can I say about him. He is a photographer and digital artist. Some of his photography appears very crisp, and detailed, with small aperture, and others don’t appear to have any clarity what so ever, and are  deliberately abstract. I get that he explores the effects of capitalism and how it impacts upon people and the natural environment. It has taken me a while to get to grips with his photography, with an initial repulsion that I had to wait to settle down, and the ntake another look.

My mind had certain preconceived ideas about what photography is, and Gurskey shatters these, and that’s why it has taken me a while to adjust. The other thing to consider is that I am only impacted by his photos based upon what I see upon a TV screen, and his art/photography may be 2 meters by 10 meters. I would love to experience being involved in photography with that proximity.

He is a master of digital manipulation and will blend different photos of the same scene together, so that the image is distorted in some way. He uses a variety of other pixel painting, digital over painting, pixelate and blur techniques, in order to alter his images.

I am writing this preparing for exercise 2.2, so I am not completing a thorough review here, but I would like to come back to him. At the moment his work is a little to abstract for what I have in mind for my planned shoot.

Hauptversammlung-I,-Diptychon,-2001Fig. 2. Hauptversammlung I, (2001)

Martin Parr (1952) One of the things that I try to get right with my photography is tidiness. Cropping at the edges to remove distractions, being aware of other distractions within the frame. This doesn’t bother Parr. His photos have parts of clothing where people are walking out of the frame, the edge of cars, litter etc. I do not believe this is an accident. He makes use of this to confirm the roughness that he presents, it is a prop for him to add impact to his photography.

It’s hard to look at Parr’s traditional photography, without being aware of the criticism that has been levelled against him, “Parr’s depiction of New Brighton holidaymakers was viewed by some as a grotesque and cold satire that ridiculed the working class” (Hacking, J, 2012; p455) I have seen interviews previously where he has defended his photographic style of showing what is there, however, when you view his more recent work you can see the criticism has impacted upon his photographic style. He has gone from being edgy, cutting edge, pushing the boat out and taking risks, to producing technically good photos at events where he has clearly been invited, and people know who he is and why he is there. It’s no longer candid, nor a challenge to view and interpret.

I find it quite interesting that I have this response. As somebody who is not comfortable with candid street photography, I prefer those earlier series produced by Parr.

If I was going to draw on Parr for inspiration for this exercise, then I could use both candid and more staged photography. I intend to be shooting in an environment where the staff know that they will be photographed on a regular basis, and without needing to gain permission, and combine these with photos of the public that are candid for large groups, and with consent for individuals and small groups.

I am reviewing photographers regularly now, and can see that you don’t have to make technically correct and aesthetically pleasing photos all of the time. With Parr, juxtaposition is more important than aesthetics. There is clearly an element of Cartier-Bresson in the photography that Parr produces. The juxtaposition is how he captures the decisive moment. His desire to capture human expression, which borders on humiliation of individuals, is paramount. Parr clearly has a vision of what he wants to capture. I do not believe he wants to humiliate the working class, but rather to show the disparity between life for those of different classes. There is a strong humanitarian impulse in his photography, although you need the inner space to consider this without preconception and prejudice.

London Undergorund and bus stops 1994Fig. 3. London Underground and Bus Stops (1992)

KENYA. Nairobi. The Karen Country Club. Table service outside the club. 2010.Fig. 4. Karen Country Club (2010)

Robert Frank (1924) The Americans 1958 – Frank is a photographer who I will explore more fully in the future. A renowned street photographer who was influenced a little by his friend Walker Evans, but more so by the Beatnik poets and writers. He moved to America in 1947, and his trips around America during the mid 1950’s gave him the opportunity to explore and present Americans as an outsider. He was curious to explore what was a new culture to him. (Wikimedia Foundation Inc, 2017a)

The facial expressions are key in Frank’s candid street photography, and I can see why he has been suggested in the brief for exercise 2.2. I see dignity, and contemplation throughout the series The Americans. Maybe Frank’s curiosity and contemplation of a society that was unfamiliar is why he chose the photos that he did (only 83 out of 28,000). The three photos that I have selected all capture emotion and leave me with a sense of feeling, sadness, perhaps anxiety as well. I am looking at these photos with an understanding that street photography is about capturing mood, however Frank was one of the first photographers to use emotion to make his photos, rather than to provide technically astute and pleasing “documents” (Kim, 2013). I have not seen many of Frank’s photos, but I can pick up on a racial tension. It is through the reading of articles that I become aware that the truly challenging nature of Frank’s photography was that he explored, photographed and presented the sides of America that were kept hidden, and showed the depths of despair that was felt in many communities.

Detroit 1955Fig. 5. Detroit (1955)

Funeral St Helena 1955Fig. 6. Funeral St Helena (1955)

IndianapollisFig. 7. Indianapolis (1956)

The capture of emotion and the people’s expression are pleasing to me, and something that I can capture a little of during the exercise. I will shoot in colour, but as I am capturing something of the historic, then I may convert to black and white in the developing process.

Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902 – 2002) His photography is crisper, cleaner and more artistic than that of Robert Frank, and although Striking Worker Murdered (see below) is graphic and bleak, his photography doesn’t have the emotional impact of Frank. I believe that as he photographs as an insider he does not allow his documentary photography become street photography. However his influences were different. His interests in art, cubism, abstract, and architecture can be seen throughout his photography and over 70 years of making photos. Many of his images are made collaboratively with the people that he photographed, they were either posed or semi staged so as to appear natural. It is apparent that most of the people who he took photos of, knew that they were being photographed. He makes good use of a small aperture and large format camera to bring out the details of the people and buildings that he shoots.

Striking-Worker-Murdered-1934Fig. 8. Striking Worker Murdered (1934)

Figures in the castleFig. 9. Figures in the Castle (1920’s)

The above photo has good composition and lighting, but the interest comes from the reflection of the domed ceiling, along with the stairs. It reminds me of a bird-cage, and the two women are standing on the perch. I wanted to include this image because it is a representation of the artistic influence of Bravo’s education and before he had contact with other photographers. Bravo was a self-taught photographer (Wikimedia Foundation Inc, 2017b) and I find this quite exciting. Because he was not influenced by other photographers, he had an eye for what felt and looked right to him, and without the need to photograph properly. I admire the artistry of his photographs.

How can I allow his influence in the exercise? The keys here are using your eye. What looks good to me? Does something look artistic? How can I capture the texture best? Depth of field – What is appropriate for the shot.

Illustrations

Figure 1. Cartier-Bresson, H; 1947; A refugee camp for 300.000 [Gelatin silver print on paper]; At: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN&POPUPIID=2S5RYDPXT0R&POPUPPN=3 (accessed on 09/10/2017)

Figure 2. Gurskey, A; 2001; Hauptversammlung I [C – Print]; At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/andreas-gursky/hauptversammlung-i-diptychon-a-0FrC9PrRmiKHjIXN-uF4dw2 (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 3. Parr, M; 1992; London Underground and Bus Stops; At: https://www.martinparr.com/archive/exhibitions/signs-of-the-times/ (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 4. Parr, M; 2010; Karen Country Club; At: https://www.martinparr.com/2014/ (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 5. Frank, R; 1955; Detroit; At: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/07/robert-frank-americans-photography-influence-shadows (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 6. Frank, R; 1955; Funeral St Helena; At: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/robert-frank-the-americans#slideshow (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 7. Frank, R; 1956; Indianapolis; At: https://aperture.org/blog/separate-cars-open-road-robert-frank/ (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 8. Bravo, MA; 1934; Striking Worker Murdered; At: https://www.manuelalvarezbravo.org/english/thirties-A.php#nogo (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Figure 9. Bravo, MA; 1920’s; Figures in the Castle; At https://www.manuelalvarezbravo.org/english/twenties.php (accessed on 11/10/2017)

References

Cartier-Bresson, H: 1954; Soviet Union: Henri Cartier-Bresson; Online at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN&POPUPIID=2S5RYDFPJD0&POPUPPN=33 (accessed on 09/10/2017)

Hacking, J; 2012; Photography The Whole Story; London; Thames and Hudson

Kim, E; 2013; Robert Frank’s “The Americans”: Timeless Lessons Street Photographers Can Learn; Eric Kim Photography; Online at: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2013/01/07/timeless-lessons-street-photographers-can-learn-from-robert-franks-the-americans/ (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Wikimendia Foundation Inc; 2017a; Robert Frank; Online at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frank (accesses on 11/10/2017)

Wikimedia Foundation Inc; 2017b, Manuel Álvarez Bravo; Online at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_%C3%81lvarez_Bravo (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Also Viewed

Andreas Gursky; Online at: http://www.andreasgursky.com/en

Gagosian; Online at: https://www.gagosian.com/artists/andreas-gursky (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Magnum Photos; Online at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN&POPUPIID=2S5RYD1TROZJ&POPUPPN=20 (accessed on 09/10/2017)

Wikimedia Foundation Inc; 2017; Henri Cartier-Bresson; Online at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Cartier-Bresson (accessed on 09/10/2017)

Scharf, A; 1998 (re-edited up to 2017); Henri Cartier-Bresson: French Photographer; Online at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henri-Cartier-Bresson (accessed on 09/10/2017)

Tate; Online at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/andreas-gursky-2349 (accessed on 11/10/2017)

Review – Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt (1904 – 1983)

Brandt, BillFig. 1. Northumbrian Miner at His Evening Meal (1937)

Initial Thoughts:- Real photo of a Northern Miner and his wife. Pulls no punches. Doesnt clean it up, doesn’t wait for sunday best, Makes the photo as it is. Miner – Dirty, stained with coal dust, hands filthy, doesn’t wash or change before eating, wooden table and wood shows signs of ageing, well provisioned with basic food, sugar, meat, sandwich, suet pudding?? loaf of homemade bread. Man – devoid of expression, Woman – looks dejected, fed up, not eating with her husband. This is a working meal of a shift worker, eating alone, going back to work? Mug, glassware, cutlery, ornament on stand mass-produced. Washing is hanging up above the table (jumpers, bedding). The womans handbag is hanging up. Its well used, but hanging up and not left around, it’s not an every day occurrence to use the handbag. This family is not well off, but neither are they broke, although every penny gets accounted for, and everything is repaired, reused, and looked after (the wallpaper is in very good condition, and the only sign of age is where it peels back from the door frame).  There is a painting on the wall behind the washing, and the figure looks to be appearing from behind the washing, looking down at the couple. Do they even talk to each other anymore? Does he just go to work, come home, eat, go back to work and sleep? Does she just cook breakfast, do the washing, tidy, clean the house, cook lunch, do more washing, do more cleaning, cook tea, darn clothes, sleep? Does she have any friends? Does she get time to talk to wives of other miners? He has community with his co-workers, she has little. This is not living. This is existing for existing sake. Where is the pleasure? It is not in the eyes or demeanor. Miners housing. rented not owned, tied accommodation, no work – no home.

 

Robert-GravesFig. 2. Robert Graves in His Cottage at Churston Devon (Circa 1941)

Initial Thoughts:- What a contrasting photo. bohemian, writer, thinker, space, time, cleanliness but busyness. Home is owned, his cottage, can’t see the whole house, but the representation is sparse in the way of possessions (other than writing equipment), does this suggest the cottage is inherited? Regardless of wealth he has enough money in the bank to live comfortably, to write (what doe he write? essays? books? Poetry? – he isn’t a journalist (his clothing, writing in personal space, draft of essay or book. Perhaps a student but I don’t think so. He is a free-thinker, creative writer) He wears several layers of clothing (appears he has four tops on). He is also an artist, there is a tube of paint and several brushes on the table. He drinks from a bone china tea cup, whilst he writes and paints. He has more than enough money in the bank. His is expression is studious, interested. His skin is healthy. What a difference a bit of money can do.

These photos are a tale of two halves. Both images have allowed themselves to be photographed in their own homes. Is photography real? Can photography ever be claimed to be factual? That debates for another day, but I do believe that these are realistic. They havent been staged. This is how the people in the photos live. It says a lot about society, then and now, that those who “have” can enjoy life and have some freedom and choice, satisfaction and the pursuit of their own ideals. Those who “don’t” just exist. All though in the UK there is more comfort and opportunity for those from the poorer side of the divide, there is still a chasm in the quality of life between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The images bring out the angry marxist in me, and sadness. How can I not feel for the couple in the first photo. But I am also like Mr Graves. I want to explore, to learn to express, to challenge, to create, to make a difference. The anger is because there is enough money in the world for everyone to live a free and comfortable life. There really is. So why do we follow this stupid capitalist system so that we can give the 1% more. There is enough for everyone, and yet we still allow this happen. We switch off our minds, buy the next car, the next phone, the next house, the next lie that tells us we should work harder so we can own more, achieve more, and we forget that there is already enough in the world for us to relax, to chill, to have the space to enjoy each others company.

These are timeless images. There is a truth within them. They are also not making a statement about what is right or wrong, but questions arise within the eyes of the viewer, when these portraits are seen in comparison.

What have I learned from these photos? Portraits are more than shots of faces. Allowing space around a person can contextualise their photo. Portraits can make social statements. Portraits are taken for different reasons, some make statements, some ask questions.

Illustrations

Figure 1. Brandt, B (1937) Northumbrian Miner at His Evening Meal [Gelatin] At: https://www.1fmediaproject.net/2013/03/06/bill-brandt-shadow-and-light-at-the-museum-of-modern-art-presents-a-major-reevaluation-of-the-artists-career/ (accessed on 04/10/2017)

Figure 2. Brandt, B (Circa 1941) Robert Graves in His Cottage at Churston Devon At: https://billbrandtarchive.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Portraits-male/G00005CApULC3wVQ/I0000tX1uxdB2Cpc (accessed on 04/10/2017)

Also Viewed

https://billbrandtarchive.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Portraits-male/G00005CApULC3wVQ/I0000TCSNXZyQv0g (accessed on 04/10/2017)

https://billbrandtarchive.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Portraits-female/G0000p2oj30TCuuk/I00000kpBRDZ7y80 (accessed on 04/10/2017)

http://visualarts.britishcouncil.org/exhibitions/exhibition/bill-brandt-photographs-1982/object/robert-graves-in-his-cottage-at-churston-devon-brandt-1941-portraits-p4724 (accessed on 04/10/2017)

http://www.billbrandt.com/news/2015/5/6/barbara-hepworth (accessed on 04/10/2017)

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/robert-graves (accessed on 04/10/2017)

Portrait Photography – Current Goal

I am aware that my experience with portrait photography is limited, but I have begun to explore this genre with my homelessness project and at events such as pride.

However I lack confidence and technique with portrait photography. Before I continue with image the Portrait I wish to read around the subject a little.

My goal at the moment is to take my camera out with me each time that I go out, and ask one person if I can take their photo. I want to practice building rapport, being aware of lighting, gaining confidence and improving my technique.

I need to slow down, talk a little, make the eyes the focal point, be aware of composition.

Today has been a positive start. I’ve taken for photos today. Two with no prior conversation and two with. I prefer the two where we spoke before I asked them.

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity 2

This is a second series taken from the Chinese State Circus. My intention is to complete the research for the brief for the exercise and then do a researched and planned shoot. Although I am only putting the photos up for this series, I will write an evaluation of the two series shot so far, and then when I have completed the planned exercise I will evaluate and then compare my critiques. My prefered image is photo 11. It was a mistake in exposure, where I was too slow to adapt to the change in lighting. The performer looked like she had the moon balanced on her foot (a chinese umbrella. I took the exposure down to around -3 in Lightoom, which gave me a split tone photo, exported to Photoshop, painted the over exposure back into the moon, and then used the colour replacement brush to add colour to the dresses of the 2 performers in the background. The colour replacement tool is subtle, but having some colour in their clothing gave balance to the split tone.

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Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity – In the Style of Darzacq

The brief is quite lengthy so I have left it at the bottom of the page. Yet again I have not followed the brief to the letter. The brief was clear that this exercise is about planning after researching photographers to prepare for a style of photography that we wish to make. Plan for the type of shots, sketch ideas and then go out and shoot. I may do this once I have researched other photographers. I enjoy making photography following a plan. The process is satisfying, and I do have some ideas (I will also present a different series for this exercise later on in the week). There is a lot of noise in some of the images, and there are some that are not sharp enough and tha tI would not use out side of my studies. The series later in the week has the better photos, but these are the ones in the style of Denis Darzacq.

However the opportunity arose and I took it and I also believe that is a big part of photography. See the opportunity, think on your feet and shoot. On the Friday I learned the Chinese state circus were visiting, and on the Sunday I took my camera and went. I set my focus to AF C (21) because I was aware that I would be shooting people who were moving very quickly. I wanted to freeze movement and capture movement. Being aware of the brief I considered that making photos that cover the whole event, building, circus ring, audience, stage hands and performers. Using manual settings have become more natural for me, and I was able to take photos and adjust the settings on my camera very quickly. It was not ease because there were so many lighting changes and I had to change the ISO frequently. Mistakes happened and I got the exposure wrong from time to time. Although I am not presenting the contact sheets, I have a good workflow in place now and use my own version of 100, 75, 50, 25.

These are not the best shots of the day, but having researched Denis Darzaq during the Workflow coursework I hoped that I would get some photos in a similar style.

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Brief:-

In this exercise, the activity is your main subject. Don’t just go out and shoot; choose your activity in advance so you can prepare for it.

  • Before you begin shooting, ask yourself what kind of photographs you want to make. Will they be candid photographs like Henri Cartier-Bresson’s or distant views of activity like Andreas Gursky’s? Will you seek out key gestures, facial expressions and telling relationships like Martin Parr or make ‘snapshots’ of characters in the maelstrom of life-like Robert Frank? Will you try to frame the activity in a specific lighting effect like Trent Parke or will you seek to capture cultural details like Manuel Álvarez Bravo? Go online and research these well-known practitioners.
  • Try to define the way of seeing you want to achieve. Will you be distant, close, in the action, or will you bring the subject out of the situation like Richard Avedon, as you did with the leaves?
  • Research the type of photography or a particular photographer that inspires you. What have other photographers done with similar subject matter or with a similar approach? Ask your tutor for help finding good examples.
  • Pre-visualise images and sketch or note down any ideas, e.g. capturing two strangers glancing at one another. You may not find this shot, but it hones your mind and makes you more observant and ‘ready’ for similar glances or relationships.
  • Equipment: What equipment will you need for this project? Will you need a tripod or a flash?
  • Planning: Do you need to get permission to make photographs in a particular place? Sort out travel and timing. Will you need to have a special vantage point?
  • On the day, be observant: STOP! LOOK! THINK! Look carefully around you at the details of what is happening visually
  • Look at people’s faces and the way they express their character with facialexpressions, posture, gesture and movement.
  • What do their clothes say about their social status, gender or character?
  • What does the location say about them? Think about the way an environment can be ordered into a composition within the frame.
  • SHOOT! Take a lot of photos. This will give you more choice in the edit.
  • Upload your photos.
  • First edit: Look carefully at each shot and make a considered selection of about 50% of your photos. Don’t delete the photos, just mark the best shots.
  • Second edit: Wait about 24 hours until you perform your second edit. Then, with a fresh pair of eyes, edit them to around 25%.
  • Third edit: Edit down to around 10% or less of your original quantity. This is the best of your work but could later be refined even further. This process of editing could be called 100/50/25/10.
  • Perform any cropping, straightening and image adjustments on your final selection.

 

References

Keys, R; 2017; Exercise 1.12 Smash – Denis Darzacq; https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/exercise-1-12-smash-denis-darzacq/ (accessed on 26/09/2017)

 

 

Exercise 2.1 – Portraits

Brief:- Take a piece of white paper and go out and photograph some plants in this way. Don’t cut or pick the plants; leave them where they are. You’ll probably have to photograph in ‘macro’ mode, often indicated by a tulip icon on your camera. Under-expose a little if you find the white card is causing highlight clipping. When you’ve completed that, do the same with a person’s face. You can use a plain wall, a sheet or a large piece of paper as your background, but be sure to eradicate all environmental detail. You can further enhance this by cropping the photos later if you find a distraction on the edges. You’ve photographed two different subjects in different places, yet all signs of the place have been removed. What do you think that does to the interpretation of the photograph? Do you notice how it emphasises both the shape and the subject as a distinct thing?

I have completed the exercise, but I took the opportunity to photograph the Chinese State Circus and have used portraits from that shoot.

 

I have not stuck to just the head shot, and I am ok with that. The shape of the subject, the detail of the clothing and muscle structure are more apparent because there is no background. With photo one the lighting is dramatic and adds a dimension of seriousness to her face, and her clothing becomes apparent. The headwear and clothing in the second image make this photo. The face is soft which adds to the delicacy of the photo. I like the concentration, and the ripples of the mans judo suit in photo 6. Even though there is some environmental detail retained at the bottomof the photo, I don’t find it to be a distraction.

I havent completed the brief to the letter. I used the ad hoc opportunity to make photos and made the most of it. I have produced a mixture of portraits and full length photos, and the results highlight the amount of detail that the camera picks up, and the eye watches, when there is no other details to be distracted by.

I have tried to remove noise in both Lightroom and Photoshop, and I used the Photoshop brush tool, black (000000) to paint away distractions in a couple of photos, and my favourite grad filter, erase brush and exposure to -4.0 in others.

Exercise 2.1

Brief:-

Take a piece of white paper and go out and photograph some plants in this way. Don’t cut or pick the plants; leave them where they are. You’ll probably have to photograph in ‘macro’ mode, often indicated by a tulip icon on your camera. Under-expose a little if you find the white card is causing highlight clipping.

When you’ve completed that, do the same with a person’s face. You can use a plain wall, a sheet or a large piece of paper as your background, but be sure to eradicate all environmental detail.

You can further enhance this by cropping the photos later if you find a distraction on the edges.

You’ve photographed two different subjects in different places, yet all signs of the place have been removed. What do you think that does to the interpretation of the photograph? Do you notice how it emphasises both the shape and the subject as a distinct thing?

The exercise has been an enjoyable one to undertake, and it is quite apparent that the subjects are clear, uncluttered, tidy and almost scientific. Detail is easier to see because of the lack of background. The fruit are my favourite, and I believe this is because without anything distracting then there is only the succulence of the fruit to see. When developing the orange peel my mouth watered.

Taster Photos For Exercise 2.1

I am still in the process of developing my photos for the exercise, but here are two to be getting on with. The rose has been isolated by shooting macro in the wild, and the depth of field throws the background, so the subject avoids distraction. The Rosehip was developed by shooting on white paper, and then eliminating the shadows, with a prolonged airbrush in Photoshop.

Exercise 2.1

Exercise 2.1

Review of Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was a sculptor, who through his photographic studies of plants, was able to teach art, by steering his pupils back to nature and its creation of form and structure. He built his own cameras with high magnification so that he could photograph the minute details in plants.

Plate 46, struthiopteris germainca, 1928 soul cathcher studioFig 1

late 47 pinterestFig 2

Initial thoughts – Shape, pattern, texture, form, symmetry, sharpness, detail, pattern, repetition, macro, no distraction, plain/neutral background, (real size of “fiddle head” in Struthiopteris germanica around 3-5cm). Can see veins in fig 2,

What I particularly enjoy about Blossfeldt’s photography, is the sharpness and the detail. In Fig 1 it is possible to see the new frond growth that are curled up inside of the “fiddle head”, and in Fig 2, it is the leathery texture which highlights the surface structure that I am drawn to.

The neutral background means that the only thing that I see in Blossfeldt’s photogravure’s is the subject. There is an importance to ensuring that depth of field and accurate, sharp focus are spot on to make this type of photography, and worth keeping in mind for the exercises within this piece of coursework.

There are two images by Henry Troth (1863-1948) in A History of Photography (Johnson WS, Rice M and Williams C; 2016; p 274, 275) which I find to be more appealing. Lady Fern (Fig 1) shows the fern with its rhizome, cleverly arranged so that they rhizome is flat on the background and the fern is in the air.

Lady FernFig 3

Tulip Popular Blossom has a black background, and the lighting comes from the left. These combine to bring out some of the detail in the foliage, but more so in the flowers. The background has been removed from these images, but I do prefer the depth in them when compared with Blossfeldt’s images.

Henry Troth Tulip Poplar Blossom 1900Fig 4

 

References

Fig 1 – Blossfeldt, Karl; 1928; Plate 46 Struthiopteris germanica; [photogravure]; At http://www.soulcatcherstudio.com/exhibitions/blossfeldt/plate046.html (accessed on 13/09/2017)

Fig 2 – Blossfeldt, Karl; 1928; Plate # 47: Saxifraga Willkommniana; [photogravure]; At https://www.pinterest.co.uk/jjcoral99/karl-blossfeldt/ (accessed on 13/09/2017)

Fig 3 – Troth, H; 1900; Lady Fern; [gelatin silver print]; At https://www.pinterest.co.uk/lauredarre/vegetable/ (accessed on 14/09/2017)

Fig 4 – Troth, H; 1900, Tulip Poplar Blossom; [gelatin silver print]; At http://www.softpyramids.info/post/19153186317/henry-troth-tulip-poplar-blossoms-ca-1900 (accessed on 14/09/2017)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matteuccia (accessed on 13/09/2017)

https://www.moma.org/interactives/objectphoto/publications/774.html (accessed on 13/09/2017)

Johnson WS, Rice M and Williams C; 2016; A History of Photography From 1839 to the present; Koln; Taschen GmbH; p 274, 275