Exercise 2.6, Near nd Far

This fantasy photo is of Scarborough Beach and Lighthouse

F4, 1/1000sec, ISO 250, 24mm


Need help?

Marcus is my favourite current street photographer, and he was recently voted 30th in wordpress’ most important street photography blogs. His Web site has a help Centre so that you can learn to improve your photography. He also welcomes questions and comments. Marcus travels around the world regularly with his job, and he makes great photography wherever he goes. There is always a story accompanying his photos. Well worth following.

Streets of Nuremberg

Calling for Help Calling for Help | Portland | 2017

Have you checked the tips and inspirations in my Learning Center? Are you looking for specific photography related advice? Anything out of the realms of Street- and travel photography you want me to write about? Let me know in the comments section!

Have a great Wednesday!


Related Posts:

Street Photography Quick Tip (6)

Finding your photographic style

Some thoughts on monochrome shooting

Instant Inspiration (11) – Change of Perspective

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Assignment Two – Final Photos

I love the photography and the accompanying poem for Chloes second assignment. In fact I find this to be incredible.


I keep re writing the process for Assignment Two, how I choose the images, what happened on the shoot but I realised that it was important to feature the assignment here without the words. I want the viewer to take their own meaning from the images without being swayed by any of my writing. Of course, I shall post the written work after this.

I’d appreciate any feedback. Thank you.

Here you can see the images in the form of a PhotoBook (medium resolution)

Walk with us Book Cover – Come Walk with Us

Assignment Two - One_edited-1 INSIDE COVER Come walk with us they whispered. Leave that dark place in your mind. Come walk with us they beckoned and leave the world behind


Assignment Two - Two They took me on a journey Winding round and round Each corner whispered mystery But answers were not found

Assignment Two - Three For every corner that I passed Another would surely wind There seemed…

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Exercise 1.12 Smash – Denis Darzacq


This exercise asks you to choose some suitable small objects that you can break! An old toy, some rotten fruit, a shirt or a balloon filled with water would all work well. The point here is to freeze a fast-moving object in an otherwise still location. You must get the object in sharp focus to reveal the detail of its disintegration and movement. Choose a suitable location where you won’t make too much mess. Aim to frame the object quite close, with the environment around it. You’ll need to frame the object in front of a background that helps to emphasise it visually: that could mean a complementary colour (e.g. red against green) or an opposite tone (light object against dark background or vice versa). Before you start, research the freeze-frame photographs of Denis Darzacq at Do an online search for Harold Edgerton’s experiments. These photographers give you images that would be impossible without the mechanism of the shutter.

Ensembles 1998-2001 – Initial thoughts – Random, candid, unplanned, lines, people in lines, lines on road, lines of railings. Appears to be non specific and non focused, but has frozen movement of all people in the frame, no blur, fast shutter, smaller aperture f11-f16 as a guess – no metadata to check against.

E006Fig 1

Lachute 2005 – 2006 – Initial thoughts, people, lines, frozen movement, staged, no candid, planned and purposeful capture of movement of people performing acrobatics. The freeze of the movement has an ethereal feel and makes people look like they are flying, floating. So the intense movement that’s required to perform the acts, becomes a moment of peace and tranquillity. The use of lines is similar to how an artist uses mark making, but he uses it in a manner that highlights uniformity, solidity, structure to provide a stillness as a counter balance to the movement that he captures.

Hyper 2007 – 2009 – Lines, people being shot (they are not but there movement makes it looks like they have suffered an impact. Completely frozen. Fast shutter speed. F7 or wider, blurred backgrounds, object in focus. Again staged and planned. There is a demonstrable progression in planning, technique and performance from earlier works. “Hyper opposes bodies in movement and the saturated, standardized space of mass distribution outlets. In this totally commercial setting, the body’s leap expresses the freedom and unhampered choice of its movement. It is a clear challenge to the marketing strategies which seek to control our behaviour. Some of the figures, glowing with an aura, impose glory and give off a sense of spirituality in total contrast with the temples of consumption in which they are found.” (Hatt; 2012) I do not see this in the series at all. I do not see unhampered movement or an aura of spirituality, I see forced movement as if the person is being shot, which is a very specific but uninhibited movement.

My view is partially agreed with by Amy Barrett-Lennard in lensculture “Not all these bodies are in calm repose, however. There are those caught as if in the aftermath of a violent act — a punch, a throw, a kick. Darzacq tells me that areas around Rouen have had a bad reputation for youth violence — and so here we see this played out quite dramatically, almost ballet-like in the clinical, normally “safe” environment of the hypermarket.” (Barrett-Lennard; 2008)

Hyper-07-72 2007Fig 2

Hyper 2010 – Lines as marks, bouncy castle, weightlessness, introduction of more vivid colours, fast shutter speed, continuous focus, continuous shooting. These were not captured as single shots. The position of the actors within their movement and jumping evidence this. It would have been impossible to time such perfect shots. I suspect that he took several hundred photos and then chose the best for the series.

HYPER-24 2010Fig 3

Act 2 – 2015 – Further development that shows how he has built upon previous work. He has included actors to perform so that he can freeze the movement in his own unique style, but got them to do so in public as street photography against the back drop of people getting on with their daily living.

Act2_07 2015Fig 4



Fig 1 Darzacq, Denis; 1998; Ensemble 06; Online at (accessed on 20/07/2017)

Fig 2 Darzacq, Denis; 2007; Hyper no 7; Online at

Fig 3 Darzacq, Denis; 2010; Hyper no 24; Online at

Fig 4 Darzac, Denis; 2015; Act 2 – 07 Mickael Lafon; Online at

Barrett-Lennard, Amy; 2008; Hyper – based upon remarks she made for the opening of exhibitions by Denis Darzacq at the Perth Centre for Photography, 5 April 2008.; Online in  at

Hatt, Etienne; 2012; Biographie de Denis Darzacq; Online in at (accessed on 20/07/2017)

Research Point – Diffused Light – Gabriele Basilico

Brief:- To prepare for the next exercise, look online at the cityscapes of Gabriele Basilico. Notice the smooth quality of light, the sense of space and the way architecture seems more like sculpture, with its shape and form emphasised. And look at the broad tonal range in Mike Walsh’s landscape below, which comes from the naturally occurring light and dark tones in the landscape.


I had a look through some of Basilico’s photography and it took me a while to get into. I have a resistance to black and white photography “if you can’t take photos then take them in black and white it will at least have mood”. It is not a helpful attitude to have, but I do think it is harder to work with light in colour photography then in black and white. I have not researched what other people think, I am aware there is a whole debate about black and white v colour, so I am prepared to be corrected.

However, after a while doing some research I found some photos that I really enjoyed. As one of the aims of the brief is to explore the tonal range then I have viewed the histograms in Photoshop and will show the images with the respective histogram.

Sanfransisco 2007

Basilico; 2007

The perspective and the angles are what catch my eye here. I like the view from above as it’s not one that I experience. I also like the levels of contrast between the highlights and the darks. This is definitely not an example of making a photograph in diffused lighting. The shadows and the highlights give this away. The histogram is interesting though. I would expect the peaks in the whites and blacks, but the tone throughout the rest of the image is smooth.

Basilico montecarlo with Histogram

Basilico; 2007a

Perspective, leading lines of roads, non flat horizon, cars – all create an interest due to the movement of the eye through the image. Then to learn the photo is of Monte Carlo, but it looks dirty. The photo was taken in 2005 or 2006. This throws up a mental challenge for me. Through my years of watching Formula 1 on TV, and knowing of the harbour, the casino I have come to believe that Monte Carlo is a place of beauty for the rich and famous. I have had to look really closely to explore the “dirt” – there does not appear to be too much grain, but on close viewing the focus is not clear from the mid-ground to background. This is a more neutral photo than San Fransisco.

Bor de Mer with histogram

Basilico; 1984

Crisp, journey, transition, ferry framed by dockside and by light of sky and reflection of sky in water. The sky shows that the photo was taken with cloud that may be slightly broken in some places but also diffused lighting. I have learned to see that reflections of objects in water always look as if the light is from above wherever it comes from. That may seem obvious to many, but I only became aware of this at the start of Foundations in Photography, when I started to look with my mind open. The histogram does not show a smooth tonal gradient, but that is to be expected with the white from the sky and the highlights in the water. However, I am going to ignore the histogram and say that what I see is a balanced image with blacks, shadows, mid-tones, whites and highlights. Additionally I have evoked memories of the ferry from childhood and that does have an impact upon me.

Sotto la pelle di beirut with histogram

Basilico; 1991

Even before the title I became aware that this is a photo of a war zone. Houses falling to pieces (blown apart), bullet holes, the possibility that the photo of the man is a missing person photos, and what appears to be a military vehicle further up the road (it isn’t, but its enough to add to the image of war). To me the broad and smooth tonal range of this photo is the most obvious out of the four. There is an ease to the eye because of the lighting, which is added to by the composition, where all of the leading lines point to the centre of the photo.


OK so I have only written up the research today and I have already completed the photos for the next exercise. However, I read through the course manual before starting on workflow, so I have been exploring lighting, time of day, contrast, cover, clouds, white balance and diffuse lighting from the start of the course. I prefer to shoot in bright sun with no cloud cover when making macro photography, but prefer broken cloud the rest of the time. Maybe I would enjoy shooting at sunrise or dusk, however I am never out doors at those times. I have a routine in the morning (health related) that means I am not out at sunrise anytime of the year, and you wont find me out at dusk at this time of year, too many drunk people, means too much anxiety. I did enjoy exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape (the results were not as enjoyable as the exercise), and I will publish that over the next few days.


Basilico Gabriele; 1984; Bord de Mer; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 1991; Beirut 1991; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 2007; San Fransisco; (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 2007a; Basilico Montecarlo; Gabriele Basilico, Marco Belpoliti, Jean-Michel Bouhours; Arles; Actes Sud; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)


The Irrelevant Surrealism of Sontag

“As if only by looking at reality in the form of an object-through the fix of photography-is it really real, that is, surreal.” 1


Firstly I must confess that I find the above quote as surreal as Sontag finds photography. A quote written in a book critiquing photography that has no images. It appears that the author wishes to leave a visual image in the readers mind, through the frame of her values and ideology. Isn’t that what photography does with pictures?

I have really enjoyed this research trail and have a greater enthusiasm for photography, and have more insight into the production of photography.

With regard to research methodology, having enthusiasm, determination and desire are what matters. I am willing to go to galleries, to review and evaluate the work of photographers and other artists. I read every day, watch Youtube video and tutorials. All of which means that I will learn and I will develop in technique, understanding and creativity.

I have found a few techniques that I have learned through the Introduction to Higher Education module, and through trial and error, that will be necessary to study effectively.

ITEP map for planning research sources



Writing a brief assignment/essay plan


Use voice recordings when watching TV or video as a source

Write references as I go along and refer to OCA resources for OCA’s Harvard Referencing

When I have studied before I have used pen and paper for recording my notes and quotes, and then typed them up. This was the first time that I have used a computer as a method of recording and organising notes. I have found that on the whole it is easier, although I do get tired more quickly this way, and need to take more study breaks.

I have had consideration to my motives for making the photography that I enjoy, but this project has helped me to explore that even further. Having interview accounts from Benjamin Lowy and Sebastiao Salgado has been invaluable, as has On Photography. There are times that I have felt myself agreeing with Sontag and also those where I have disagreed, but she has pointed a spotlight upon the implications of and reactions to photography. More importantly than this though, she has guided me to be more considerate of what I am leaving in my lens, why I am leaving out the wider part of the scene, and how my ideology affects the photography that I make.

As for the debate about being an embedded or non embedded photographer? I believe that we are all embedded photographers. Salgado’s upbringing and politics affected his career and choices, as much as did Benjamin Lowy’s family situation and the recent deaths of his colleagues, as much as Abdul-Ahad life as an Iraqi national lving under the regime of Saddam Hussein. After reading Sontag I believe it is impossible for any of us to say that we are “independent” photographers.

(I have decided not to include the questionnaires that I completed whilst going through the introduction to higher education course as they contain personal information relating to my health.)

What becomes more surreal is that if I remain aware of my ideologies and motives when making photography then Sontag is irrelevant, and yet Sontag will be an author that I return to repeatedly to ensure that I remain focused and aware of how and why I project my construct of self in my work.

Click to read the full essay

Essay Resources

1 Susan Sontag; 2008; On Photography; London; Penguin Modern Classics

2 Sebastiao Salgado; 2000; Migrations – Humanity in transition; Aperture




6 Benjamin Lowy; 2011; Iraq | Perspectives; Duke University Press; also

7 Katy Parry; 2010; A visual framing analysis of British press photography during the 2006 Israel–

Lebanon conflict; In – Media, War and Conflict, Sage Pub; p69 + 79 and

8 Allan Thompson; 2011; The Media and the Rwanda Genocide; Pluto Press

9 Susan Sontag; 2004; Regarding the torture of others; In – New York Times; 23rd May 2004 see


Other Resources Viewed and Read



Sebastiao Salgado:Exodus by Lelia Salgado; Taschen Books; 2016

The visual fix The seductive beauty of images of violence Jane Kilby; European journal of social theory; March 14 2013

Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology; Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Phillipe Bourgois; Wiley; 2004

Rwanda Revisualized: Genocide, Photography, and the Era of the Witness; Frank Möller; Alternatives: Global, Local, Political Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr.-June 2010), pp. 113-136

Projecting Trauma, War Photography and the public Sphere; Haim Bresheeth; Third Text; Vol 20, Issue 1, Jan 2006, P57

Photography The Whole Story; Juliet Hacking; Thames and Hudson; 2014





The Salt of the Earth; Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado; Curzon Artificial Eye; 2015

Photography and its Role in Conflict and Peace – (completed essay)

“The images that mobilize conscience are always linked to a historical situation. The more general they are, the less likely they are to be effective” Susan Sontag 1




Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastio Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado published his book, Migrations – Humanity in Transition2 in the year 2000. This was the culmination of 6 years of work, following different groups of people in 40 countries around the world. Some were migrating for economic reasons, others due to natural disasters, and there were also people displaced because of war and genocide.

He has been described as a photojournalist, a documentary photographer and an activist, but this is not how he sees himself. Sebastiao did not visit an area in the style of a journalist covering a war, spending a limited period of time as an “embedded” photographer, returning home and then back to the next national crisis. Instead he moved into a community and lived amongst its inhabitants, developed relationships with people and viewed their plight in accordance with the openness that they would share with him.

This does not mean that he documented what he saw with neutrality, he acknowledges that he has his own ideology that inspired his work as a photographer and influenced the images that he present in his books.

“But, hear me, much of these guys’ work (Glauber Rocha and his comrades), like my photography, was not made because these people were activists, it was made because it was their way of life—you live like this, your ideology is this, and your language is photography or cinema, and your life comes from that.” Sebastiao Salgado 3

Amongst his aims he wanted to change how people viewed war, tragedy, migration and immigration. He has used his role as a photographer to support the work of Medicines San Frontiers, to raise funds for them, and also as an ambassador for the United Nations.

Rwanda 1994

Tutsi corpses in an abandoned school, Nyarubuye, Rwanda, 1995 (Sebastião Salgado)

Tutsi corpses in an abandoned school, Nyarubuye, Rwanda, 1995 (Sebastião Salgado)

Salgado was in Rwanda during 1994, during the genocide in which 800,000 people died. Most of these were Tutsi, murdered by the Hutu. He remained there during the turmoil following the genocide, the displacement, immigration to surrounding countries as refugees, the famine and the disease. The question gets raised as to whether a photographer, making photos of human tragedy is a witness, a chronicler or a participant. This is a pertinent point to consider if you are embarking upon a career in documentary photography, and an opportunity to reflect upon motive.

As well as considering motive, and without discounting the suffering of those whose lives are being recorded, risk to the photographer also has to be taken into account. Salgado became very ill after returning from Rwanda, and his illness can be attributed to witnessing such intense trauma.

“…Migrations…during the time I was photographing this, I lived through a very hard moment in my life, mostly in Rwanda I saw in Rwanda total brutality. I saw deaths by thousands per day. I lost faith in our species. I didn’t believe it was possible for us to live any longer,” 4

Other photographers have lost their lives during the course of their work. During an interview with Joerg Colberg, Benjamin Lowy discusses the impact that the deaths of Chris Hondos and Tim Hetherington had upon him. Hetherington, a British photojournalist, and Hondos and American war photographer were killed by Libyan forces in Misrata whilst covering the 2011 civil war. 5

Benjamin continued to work and he became an “embedded” photographer with the American armed forces, shooting images through the window of a Humvee that was patrolling through Iraq.

Iraq | Perspectives

Iraq Perspectives

Benjamin Lowy 6

He was aware that he had to retain his own personal safety and that it would not have been safe for him to photograph in a manner other than that of an embed.

“Journalistic independence, as an abstract idea, is worthless if the journalist is dead or kidnapped. There are way too many examples of people trying to tell the story in ridiculously extreme situations and paying the price with their freedom.” 5

Lowy felt that using the frame of the window he was shooting through became part of the picture that emphasized the disconnection between himself, the Iraqi civilians and the American soldiers. During his discussion with Colberg he spoke about the political and socio/economic discord between New York and Iraq, and how hard it is to promote empathy and discourse when there is such a strong disconnection.

We must also consider how the ideologies of a nation and culture are reinforced by the media, sometimes consciously, but not always. Is it possible for the media and the public to consider an alternate view if it is entrenched part of the psyche? Katy Parry discusses how the media is selective in its use of images, and captions that go with them. The photographs that are sent to media outlets are evaluated, and may then be cropped. When a photographer takes an image they are selective in what they ignore and what they shoot, so photography is subjective and neither a factual nor objective account of what is happening around the frame. This decisive moment is then reduced and bastardised by the press, so the image that is put out to the public is even more incongruous than the photographers.

“The highly selective use of press photographs, along with their brief captions, may present a strong, forceful idea about a distant conflict. By omitting other possibilities, there is a danger of one-sided representation.” And “Are there visual elements that evoke cultural ideas or values related to the frame?” 7

There are many considerations that may decrease or increase the benefits of photography in conflict. Photography may not be the instigator of peace, but it can bring public awareness to disconnected world situations, that then leads to donations for relief and aid to reach those who most need them. 8

Making photographs can also be the best medium to bring around such intense public disgust that political change is inevitable, whether these images were made with that intent or not.

Abu Ghraib

Selfie by American military personnel, depicting inhumane cruelty to an Iraqi prisoner

Abu Graibh

Image reported by which they obtained from ABC News

The series of images of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners damaged the reputation of the Bush administration inside and outside of America. It has had and still has an impact upon the American political system, and to a degree how and when America decides to intervene in conflicts in distant countries.

Sontag’s reportage on the Abu Ghraib images explores why the Bush administration were outraged by the images being made public and yet not by the horror of the actions and makers of the images. She leaves us with a powerful question in relation to the objectivity that’s crucial for the documentary photographer:-

“To have the American effort in Iraq summed up by these images must seem, to those who saw some justification in a war that did overthrow one of the monster tyrants of modern times, ‘unfair.’ A war, an occupation, is inevitably a huge tapestry of actions. What makes some actions representative and others not?” 9



1 Susan Sontag; 2008; On Photography; London Penguin Modern Classics

2 Sebastiao Salgado; 2000; Migrations – Humanity in transition; Aperture




6 Benjamin Lowy; 2011; Iraq | Perspectives; Duke University Press; also

7 Katy Parry; 2010; A visual framing analysis of British press photography during the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict; In – Media, War and Conflict, Sage Pub; p69, 79 and

8 Allan Thompson; 2011; The Media and the Rwanda Genocide; Pluto Press

9 Susan Sontag; 2004; Regarding the torture of others; In – New York Times; 23rd May 2004 see

Blogging – As a Learning Log

I have had reservations about how to go about using other peoples images as reflective practice and learning. My reservations were more about how to use the images of others without falling foul of copyright.

I have no problem with the idea of blogging as a learning log. I think it is far more effective than keeping a note book and printing images or collecting them in a scrapbook.

I am currently going through “Introduction to Studying HE- Developing your learning log” and thought it would be useful to review and OCA Blog. I have just had a look at he learning log of James Payne, and particularly liked his page on photographic lighting. He discusses lighting in general (and I will read the rest of the blog in more detail later), but I particularly like where he talks about diffuse lighting (from large light sources) creating soft shadows, and small light sources creating hard shadows.

I feel that as a photographer I should know more about light – Photograph (LightWrite or writing with light). I have a basic understanding of lighting, shade, time of day, weather – my favourite lighting is post rain sunshine, where there is enough cloud cover to soften the light and enough light to create clarity and depth of contrast. But my understanding is basic and I have a lot to learn.

I keep a written journal at the moment to reflect upon my practice and development, but I wouldn’t say that it is critical learning or indepth reflective practice. James has helped me to see how I can be more reflective and critical.