Following a discussion on the OCA forum I decided to approach this assignment without prior research as a means of testing my creative process.I wanted to see for myself if and how research can affect the outcome of my work.My conclusion so far is that researching is interesting and I probably won’t ever stop doing it , but i did noticed that i tend to limit myself in a bid to preserve originality because of it.I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of doing things ,i think the process should be tailored to it’s specific needs.
However I looked into some of the artists my tutor recommend once I was done shooting.I looked at the Beach Portraits(1992-2002) series of Rineke Dijkstra .The unposed portraits, lit by fill flash and awkwardness of her subjects evoke a fragility and vulnerability that describes the fleeting moment between youth and adulthood. By enlarging these portraits to a huge scale the viewer can examine every detail of that fleeting moment.
The work of Susan Derges really impressed me.Her experimentational approach to the metaphysical and metaphorical is truly captivating.Her large scale photograms explore the relationship between self and nature.She is best known for immersing photographic paper into rivers or shorelines to capture the movement of water resulting in camera-less abstract photographs .With her technique she captures scientific and natural processes like the appearance of sound and the reflection of the night sky on water. I find such work truly inspiring and her awareness of conceptual and environmental issues is motivating.
On the subject of reflections ,I’ve looked into Rut Blees Luxembourg’s work for my last assignment and it proved a good source of inspiration this time around .For my work i didn’t use long exposures but instead i made use of both artificial and natural light .With the use of shallow depth of field i captured the vivid colors of traffic lights “melted” as seen through water.
Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.
For the last part of this module I wanted to create a more abstract work and I knew I wanted to work with water ,rain in particular. I was in the car one rainy evening and I was looking out the window through rain drops .Something about the distortion of light and colour got me thinking of Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” and how we understand time ,more exactly fleeting moments as seen through raindrops on a window.It took me back to my childhood when I was waiting for my father to come from work on a winter’s day,glued to the steamed window .I have a vivid memory of finger drawing lots of stars on it.One of the reasons why I wanted to explore this subject is that I find rain is always giving me a déjà vu feeling.There is something fascinating and familiar about it.Perhaps as familiar as something that has been in my life since I can remember. I think everyone associates rain with some life experiences.There is something so common ,cliché yet still so romantic about it.For me it’s been there through happy times at a festival and painful times when I lost my son.
I used a Canon 700D with a 55mm lens .I set it to Program ISO 400 F5.6-8.I did wait for rain for quite a bit as for some reason it happened to be quite dry in the North East (totally unheard of).The shots where taken during a huge storm that blocked several main streets.Some of the shots where taken on the sea front .Everything was shot from the car and i’ve put a lot of emphasis on depth of field alternating between foreground and background as I was observing .I wanted the series to show a journey and capture the outside madness from the inside calm of the car.
Final Selection :
Look again at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in Part Three. (If you can get to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London you can see an original print on permanent display in the Photography Gallery.) Is there a single element in the image that you could say is the pivotal ‘point’ to which the eye returns again and again? What information does this ‘point’ contain?
Behind the Gare St. Lazare is a statement of great composition and perfect timing. There
has been a lot of debate surrounding this photograph but three interesting points are often noted :the poster of a dancer in the background in mirroring the man walking on water, the ladder reminiscent of railroad tracks and the “Railowsky” play on words poster. It is a great example of “waiting stage” and coincidental detail.Sometimes we find the right setting that’s just waiting for something special to come along and tie everything into a wonderful story.The pivotal point for me is the gap between the puddle and the man’s foot as he runs out of the frame . It’s the stillness of the water in contrast with the dynamics of the man’s movement that makes me move my eyes through out the entire picture and discover everything.
In the series Theaters ,Hiroshi Sugimoto uses long exposures and a very large-format camera to capture entire slices of time by “melting” frames of projected film into a moment of stasis. He condenses the light and the emotion of the running film into an eerie still. The theatres look like cathedrals and the light captured has a divine connotation.
Similar to Rinko Kawauchi’s Illuminance series where the photographer explores complex themes making use of light and composition to evoke sensibility I have made a photograph using a long exposure.I added a split-tone filter and increased the contrast in order to accentuate the shadows and highlights.
Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case?
This exercise has been my favourite so far.I struggled in the beginning with what subject I want to explore and what photographer I want to make the study on .Instead of trying to “copy” a photograph I decided i want to explore a process instead.I’ve been fascinated for some time with the wet-collodion process.Particularly because the end result almost always conveys so much emotion .
A photographer that I admire in this aspect is Keith Carter.In his work he uses two historical processes.He directly applies chemistry to negatives resulting in neutral toned images.Then by placing objects on sensitised paper and exposing them to sunlight he creates really heavily sepia tones shadow images.
“Using archaic lenses, Carter takes us through a looking glass into a parallel universe where feral humans and decorous animals all occupy a whimsically Darwinian wonderland. Carter delves into the rich recesses of mythology and the human psyche to explore the common threads of human and animal attraction, reminding us that we are products of the same earth.-D. Eric Bookhardt
In his essay Photographs and Context ,Terry Barrett refers to three types of sources of information available for the examination of a photograph: internal, external and original context.These sources will give information within the shot, surrounding the shot and about the making and the meaning of the shot.So my approach in this case was from an original context perspective.
In response to Carter’s technique I had to use an alternative way as I have no access to anything that would enable me to create the wet-collodium process other then of course Photoshop.I’m still a newbie when it comes to this amazing software but practice makes perfect.So after a bit of tweaking and by overlaying a wet plate template I found, I managed to come as close as I could to recreating the process.This is my final image.
Of course I would love nothing more then see this process through with my own eyes and i’m going to do as much research as i can and hopefully find a dark room and someone experienced enough to show me but until then it’s amazing what can be achieved in Photoshop.
Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!). Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot. When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame
I was taking a walk in the woods and this tree caught my eye.I become fascinated with the lines and the way the sun created shadows and highlights .To emphasise the contrast I choose B&W for this set.
Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:
Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise .
The set is a sequence of self-portraits looking to capture an instinctual response to being transported into the imaginary. As the story is unfolding so is the camera, capturing in successive motion the body language as a result of being enchanted by the book.The concept is exploring the idea of immersing in reading and getting lost in an imaginary world. To achieve this I used long exposures as I felt this technique can portray effectively an out of body experience .The sequence has beginning ,middle and end .In the beginning most of the information is in focus and then gradually it becomes blurry to finish with a frontal gaze that engages the viewer but also gives a sense of awakening from slumber.
There is only one source of light –an iPhone torch. I wanted to capture a sort of night reading mood ,reminiscent of my teenage years when I was hiding under covers reading, using a torch.I found using the iPhone torch easy to manipulate and interesting to use for the fact that it’s portable and I could place it in unusual angles.My tutor also suggested that it works great as a statement against overusing our gadgets .We live in an age where we are glued to our phones, hardly reading from books when everything is electronic so using it as a flash light to enable book reading seems fitting.
Initially I wanted to go outside and use the night lights,reflections,lamp posts as per Ruth Blees Luxembourg’s work but I didn’t find it inspiring at all , even though I’ve seen some great examples from other colleagues as well.It’s strange because out of all other photographers i’ve researched in this part ,the work that stood out to me was Rut Blees Luxembourg’s but when it came down to attempting the same style,it just didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel any connection.So i’m happy just admiring her work .
In order to understand lighting better I started looking at old masters and got a bit fixated with Caravaggio and his chiaroscuro technique that ultimately led cinematographers into creating film noir.Controversial as it was Caravaggio remains a creative mastermind that used innovation in his time to achieve some of the most beautiful works of art that exists.And the use of the Camera Obscura shows the lengths he would go to achieve this.There is something truly inspiring in the way he used light,mostly just one source.A great example is “The Calling of Saint Matthew”, where the light spreads from right to left, highlighting the important points – Christ’s hand, the money ,the cross in the window, Matthew’s gesture and so on .
Caravaggio “The Calling of Saint Matthew.” 1599–1600. Oil on canvas.
Having researched the masters of Renaissance and Baroque , I wanted to bring a little bit of period drama into my set by using a white cotton chemise with long bell sleeves.Even though there are some Baroque influences in the composition i still wanted a contemporary look so i kept the hair style . Both the hair and costume worked great in achieving movement and interesting shadows.
In comparison to the daylight exercise this felt so much more controllable .To begin with ,I wanted this set to be B&W as I didn’t really think the colour was achieving the eerie feeling I was trying to portray.I’ve posted the set on the forum for feedback and the reaction was split .Some preferred the B&W version some didn’t .One of the tutor (Clive White) stepped in and advised me to tweak the levels in the colour version and this helped me make up my mind .After sleeping on it and looking again with fresh eyes I felt the B&W version seemed theatrical and wasn’t contributing to my concept.
I’ve always thought I should stay away from using Photoshop until I learn what the camera can do on its own as I didn’t want to become to reliant on the software.It’s been a great exercise so far but I feel I’ve also limited myself a bit .Saying this ,it is most certainly a foreign territory and I find myself getting lost quite easy but I suppose practice makes perfect or at least better.You can find the forum discussion here.
In regards to B&W vs colour ,after pushing the white point in Photoshop to adjust the levels I realised that the colour version is no longer just tonal but it actually adds to the dimension instead of defining it.The B&W set looked staged in comparison and while naturally, mono usually creates a very dramatic context in this case it wasn’t adding to my concept.I think it’s easy to accept B&W as a quick fix in achieving a dramatic setting. This is simply because we are not wired to see the world in black and white and this forces us to give up our sense of colour by stripping everything down to form and tonal range.This is not to say that there is no beauty in black and white,there certainly is, but not when it’s used for it’s “forgiving” nature.
Final Selection :
Being mindful of my tutor’s suggestion I changed the order and replaced a photograph in order to convey my idea more successfully.You can view the old selection and sequencing here .