Bill Brandt

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Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt, born 1904, Germany Is widely a recognized as one of the masters of 20th Centrury photography. His work was wide and varied documenting life in Great Britain. The work ranged from social commentary, surrealism and pure abstract.

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) was a major influence on him. He worked with Ray for three months in 1929 in his Paris studio. In 1931, he returned to England and began documenting English Life. Ray used drastically cropped his photographs something which Brandt attempted to copy in his nude series.  Brandt had a close friendship with Brassaï. Brassaï (1899-1984) born in Transylvania was like Brandt a master of night photography. Later in Brandt’s career he based Brassaï’s work ‘Paris de Nuit’ on his series A Night in London (1938), where he photographed his first wife Eva. Eva pretended to model as a prostitute in St. Pauli, at the time the red-light district of Hamburg. Both contributed to several magazines including Picture Post and Lilluput in London.

The English at Home (1936), was Brandt’s earliest English Photography and using his family contacts was able to gain access to his subjects. The Parlourmaid and Underparlournmaid ready to serve dinner taken in 1933 illustrated life in the 1930s. The book documented the disparities between the wealthy and the working class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Bill Brandt’s Art of the Document, 2006)

In the 1940’s he photographed nude models indoors with the use of low-key natural lighting. Brandt’s use of body in space echoes throughout the book and in particular focusing on various parts of the anatomy e.g. an ear, eyes. However, the models though do not really connect with the viewer and the expressions are hard to read.

The series Fashion in Bras 1949, depicted models in day lit rooms posed sometimes in front of pain mirrors without reflections of the model. The photographs were reserved and classic in their style.

Later in 1961, Perspective of Nudes was published. Brandt used a Hasselblad super-wide lens for the beach photographs. It featured nudes in interiors, studios and on the beaches of East Sussex. He combined the landscape and parts of the anatomy in and abstract way reminiscent of Henry Moore’s abstract female sculptures. “These nudes, out of Balthus to a scenario by Hitchcock played a minor part in perspective of nudes” (Brandt and Jeffrey, 1994)

Brandt’s own account of how he took these nudes were explained in Bill Brandt: A Life. Brandt says, ‘Over the years, I learned much from the old Kodak (police camera). I learned even how to use modern cameras in an unorthodox way and, for the last section of ‘Perspective of Nudes’, photographed on the beaches of East Sussex, Normandy and southern France. I discarded the Kodak altogether. But I continued to let the lenses discover for me. It is difficult to explain how I took the last photographs. They were perhaps chance pictures; unexpected combinations of shapes and landscapes. I watched them appear on the ground glass and exposed. It was as simple as that.’ (Delany, 2004)

Nude Baie des Anges, 1959 © Bill Brandt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandt experimented with colour between 1962 and 1964 on the Beaches of Normandy and Sussex. Eight photographs appeared in the first edition of Shadow of Light but cut from the second edition.

Brandt used professional models but also sometimes family and friends. His second wife, the journalist Marjorie Beckett, modelled for the Campden Hill photograph.

Campden Hill, London, Bill Brandt, 1949 © Bill Brandt Archive Ltd.

Campden Hill, London, Bill Brandt, 1949 © Bill Brandt Archive Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibilography

Bill Brandt (no date) Michael Hoppen Gallery. Available at: https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/45-bill-brandt/overview/ (Accessed: 5 April 2018).

Bill Brandt’s Art of the Document (2006) David Campany. Available at: http://davidcampany.com/bill-brandts-art-of-the-document/ (Accessed: 5 April 2018).

Brandt, B. and Jeffrey, I. (1994) Bill Brandt: photographs, 1928-1983. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Delany, P. (2004) Bill Brandt: A Life. Stanford University Press.

Victoria and Albert Museum, O. M. (2011) Bill Brandt Biography. Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/bill-brandt-biography/ (Accessed: 5 April 2018).

 

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Exercise 4.4

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Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour to light an object in order to reveal its form. For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such as an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object. Man-made or cultural artefacts can be fascinating to light but they also contain another layer of meaning requiring interpretation by the photographer; this exercise is just about controlling the light to reveal form.

You don’t need a studio light for this exercise; a desk lamp or even window light will be fine, although a camera flash that you can use remotely is a useful tool. The only proviso is that you can control the way the light falls on the subject.

Take some time to set up the shot. The background for your subject will be crucial. For a smallish object, you can tape a large sheet of paper or card to the wall as an ‘infinity curve’ which you can mask off from the main light source by pieces of card. You don’t need to use a curve if you can manage the ‘horizon line’ effectively – the line where the surface meets background. Taking a high viewpoint will make the surface the background, in which case the surface you choose will be important to the shot.

Exposure times will be much longer than you’re used to (unless you’re using flash) and metering and focusing will be challenging. The key to success is to keep it simple. The important thing is to aim for four or five unique shots – either change the viewpoint, the subject or the lighting for each shot.

Add the sequence to your learning log. Draw a simple lighting diagram for each of your shots showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill. Don’t labour the diagrams; quick sketches with notes will be just as useful as perfect graphics. In your notes try to describe any similarities between the qualities of controlled lighting and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3.

 I have been saving a lovely, curved beech leaf that fell in the Autumn, all be it a little worse for wear than when it fell from the tree in the garden.

I’m perhaps fortunate to have a small studio equipped with various modifiers, flash heads and backdrops to create several setups and experiment with direction and colour of light for this exercise.

I utilised my angled desk lamp fitted with a daylight crafting bulb at 6,500K and the use of window providing natural daylight.

So, I started with the most complex of the setups and assembled two flash heads, one fitted with a beauty dish and honeycomb grid as my main light source. My second head, the fill light was a small gridded strip box, which I flagged the lower half. This prevented the amount of light being output across the lower half of the black infinity curve I had created using a piece of black material. The Beauty Dish created a narrow pool of light, focalised onto the subject rather than a soft light; which would have been produced from say a square softbox. I fitted the stripbox with an egg crate again to produce a controllable beam of light. All of the three setups I used a handheld lightmeter and 18% grey card to set my white balance in camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I kept the focal length and distance constant for the three types of lighting although I had to adjust the ISO for the natural daylight example. This was primarily because of the incident light falling from the window to the subject was quite low. However, this produced a rather delicate result.

I found an online resource to draw my lighting plans which I have attached to the learning log.

The Studio lighting produced a balanced, detailed still life image with a punchy contrast. By being able to control the lighting, direction and power of each head gave various results. I was able to fine tune it unlike the light bulb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how did this compare to exercises 4.2 and 4.3?

Quite simply, I was able to use a grey card to create a custom white balance and using colour calibration card to produce an exact reproduction of the colour cast using flash photography. Rather than mixed artificial light complicating the white balance. This was very specific way of photographing a subject almost clinical in its approach and nothing was left to chance. The end result in my case a highly detailed crisp, which is rich in colour with shadow and contrast exactly where I wanted it. By using flash I was able to exaggerate the texture, shadows and highlights evenly with a relatively shallow depth of field. My final choosen photograph produced a technically perfect and balanced photograph.

In my next attempt I used my desk lamp, which is fitted with a 6,500K daylight bulb. By using a single lamp source, the direction of the lamp restricted how the light could fall or strike the leaf. It tried to be as creative as I could but felt rather restricted and somewhat frustrated with the end result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to position the lamp over the 10 exposures and moved the leaf into various positions in an attempt to cast varying areas of shadow. This proved difficult and although it changed the angles and shadows the length and depth didn’t seem to change that much. It was not as crisp as my previous set using flash photography and lacked strength or control over the flash heads. Whilst I accept that I could have experimented with reflectors this would have perhaps given a little fill to the shadows but I question how successful this would have been. Perhaps this is something I should revisit.

In my opinion though the final result was simple and subtle with shadows falling minimally producing a low-key photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how did this compare to exercises 4.2 and 4.3?

In the case of exercise 4.2 there is no comparison that could be made. However, with the case of 4.3, this light was artificial but had a specific wavelength, which replicated daylight. Using a single light source and having some control helped with both outcome and avoided mixing light sources confusing my white balance.

I then moved the setup to within five feet of a small kitchen window. The daylight in the mid-afternoon was dull and overcast ideal for this task. The incident light falling onto the leaf was very low even if I moved the subject even closer to the window. The ISO increased to 3200 even with a wide aperture of f4.5 maintaining a shutter speed of 1/125th as I had done for the other two light sources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I think on reflection gave the most natural of all the results because the light flooded through the translucent leaf. It managed to cast even and long shadows across the black velvet. The detail was sharp and allowed the magic of the shadows across the underside of the veins to look like peaks and troughs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how did this compare to exercises 4.2 and 4.3?

Well, this was the opposite of the previous lighting setup and gave a lovely result, which I could easily see have differing results had I left the leaf in situ throughout the day and taken a shot for example every hour.

Contact Sheets

 

 

Exercise 4.3

Exercise 4.3

Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’ in a short sequence of shots (‘beauty’ is, of course, a subjective term). The correct white balance setting will be important; this can get tricky –but interesting – if there are mixed light sources of different colour temperatures in the same shot. You can shoot indoors or outside but the light should be ambient rather than camera flash. Add the sequence to your learning log. In your notes try to describe the difference in the quality of light from the daylight shots in Exercise 4.2.

For this exercise I went to Canterbury Cathedral as it has a mix of both artificial and natural daylight both inside and outside.

I started inside the main part of the Cathedral where the light is predominately artificial lighting, which illuminates the ceiling. I took two handheld shots and set the White Balance (WB) to Auto. As I was shooting in RAW I knew that during post production I could, if I wanted to correct the white balance. I reviewed DSC_5827 and 28 and noticed how the second image moved into the blue spectrum rather than a daylight spectrum in the first shot.

I think that the reason for this could have been the stained glass in the distance confusing the camera. Although, the stone is much, much more cold and clinical and enhances the carving and flaking stone. It makes the whole Cathedral feel cold and uninviting. Whereas, in the first shot it feels homely and inviting. The oak takes on warm look but somehow feels false and more reflective in the second shot.

Overall, I have to admit that I personally prefer the colder second shot as it reflects the interior and realistic of its grand interior.

DSC_5828

DSC_5827

The interior posed the usual problem of accessibility and I found myself at one point locked into a corridor leading to some steps. So, I took a couple of shots from the artificial lights above into the daylight beyond. I admit that the first exposure was over-exposed but again gave a cool blue tinge to the bricks and stonework. Once I had managed to free myself I went outside to the cloisters, which are light but have openings of daylight between each section.

Due to the narrow passage and unable to stop people walking into the tripod in the dim light I moved to a more open area of the cloisters. However, the eight shots I took the WB changed and produced some mixed results. I found this challenging as my WB swung from one extreme to another. I had to increase the ISO to increase for the low light levels. The results are grainy images with some being rather blue and others yellow.

The shaded corridor and the light streaming into the cloister adversely affected my White Balance in the final set of shots. If felt this light was more atmospheric giving an impression of passing time with the worn flag stones and brittle masonry. I was perhaps fortunate to find a priest in moments of contemplation as he walked along the cloister; as he if he was looking for divine inspiration. The sunlight was weak and produced minimal shadows, which I would have expected to see on a brighter day. But I could imagine how this would have looked centuries ago with the light creating a dreamy feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Sheet

Exercise 4.3 – Contact Sheet

Exercise 4.3 – Contact Sheet

Exercise 4.2

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Exercise 4.2

In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day. It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk. You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata. In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.

Joe Cornish in first light and landscape photographers art he writes “first, light. Everything else follows, the light is the language of photography as well as its raw material. As a poet uses words, so photographer uses light.” I think he really encapsulates what light actually is in a paragraph in the beginning of my rather prized signed copy.

“When I plan to take pictures, it is planning for light, and when I take my pictures I seek to capture its essence. While often news first light – dawn – I also work in the fading light-dusk. Sometimes even work in the middle of the day, as is but will reveal. For the title is really about priorities. First? Light!”

Sally Mann describes the quality of light in the late afternoon as being layered, complex and mysterious. Personally, light is light in my opinion or it’s more about the quality of that light, the composition and in context in which it is photographed; it either makes or breaks a photograph.

Joe Cornish, has himself photographed Roseberry Topping near to his home and appears no less than 5 times in his book ‘First Light’. I am particularly fond of a local nature reserve at Harty Ferry, Oare, Faversham. I frequently return to the same location at the foreshore in order to constantly document the ever-changing light and seasons and how this impacts on the final result. (Cornish and Waite, 2002)

Fay Godwin, has also photographed Harty Ferry, Oare in her book, ‘The Saxon Shore Way from Gravesend to Rye’. I have included a photograph taken from the same perspective to compare against her monochrome on page 69 of the book. (Sillitoe and Godwin, 1983). Godwin’s photograph is rather flat in the sky juxtaposed against the incoming tide creating reflections and movement. Whereas, mine is the reverse.

Copyright Fay Godwin

Sally Mann, compares a light in the North and that of the South as complete opposites and how the light differs from season to season. My home faces directly north and south in a think it’s fair to say that most people agree that the light in a home or room facing south is far brighter than a room facing north.

I find it quite difficult to get up quite early in the morning primarily because of the medication I take overnight. However, I found myself awake quite early in the morning just before sunrise on a cold, misty morning.

When I woke it was still in the blue hour. I looked from my kitchen facing North and took a rather shaky and slightly out of focus shot. I decided to change my position and move to the front of my house. I knew that the sunrise would cross the front and into the lane, road and fields beyond. On reflection and researching this exercise I looked at Mann’s work and the series Southern Landscapes (32 images). I was struck by the similarity to my rather shaky, grainy and accidental capture of the passing plane high in the atmosphere. It seem to have some elements and slight resemblance to Mann’s vague, grainy, mystical work. (‘Sally Mann’, no date)

02/11/17 07.08:04

I took a series of images from various directions as the sunrise began to develop across the landscape. The sky was partially cloudy although not enough to obscure the brightening sun.

I would describe the light initially was quite dull and flat slowly but as the sun warmed the tones across the clouds began to brighten into a subtle magenta hue.

At 07.48 I started my series of photographs. I handheld the camera rather than fixing on one position as the sky developed I was ale to face the sunrise to the East. In the space of 8 minutes the warmth of oranges and yellows grew across the horizon.

The car headlights blurred as they drove past me at speed leaving small light trails in the fog adding some kind of mystery amongst the bustle of the morning; in the lane opposite objects slowly began to appear.

I have added the sequence to the log in addition I took the opportunity to take a sequence on an overcast flat shadowed afternoon. In contrast to the damp, foggy morning the cap stones on the wall are featureless slabs dividing the render and gentle greens and browns in the lane.

Contrary to the wet glistening concrete in the morning sequence. They (concrete slabs) were almost shimmering with a tinge of orange from the headlights. The concrete comes alive showing all the impressions of the casting. I reflected on the work of Michael Schmidt, who won the 2014 Prix Pictet for his series, Lebensmittel, an epic exploration of the global food industry. Schmidt worked for over five decades describing himself as a ‘blind alley photographer’. He produced black and white photographs but said that they were varying degrees of grey. He said: “For me, black and white are always the darkest grey and the lightest grey.” Eschewing colour was a way, for him, to make what he called “neutral” photographs that would not be “emotionally distracting” to the viewer. (O’Hagan, 2014)

I began to wonder what effect this would have if I changed the photograph taken in the early morning to black and white or as Schmidt says degrees of grey. Immediately it lost a sense of time of day as the visual clues as to the time of day had disappeared. But changing it to a monochrome photograph enhanced the concrete and made it the focus. I admit that I used the leading lines of the road, wall and tree line to draw the viewer to the vanishing point; however, it certainly enhanced the image in my opinion.

I ended the sequence with the sunset, which was far from disappointing on a cold winter’s day. The sun sank slowly across the cricket pitch and filtered through the tree line on the lane opposite. The glow from the sunset bounced across the dappled clouds reflecting the oranges and blues. I think that because of the cloud cover the shadows had been eliminated but the patterns in the sky were breath taking. I decided to focus on the clouds directly above me and take several photographs with the telegraphs dividing the image into segments.

I converted one photograph to black and white and enhanced the contrast and edited the global highlights, shadows, white and blacks. The solid wires really seemed to create layers in the clouds above.

Final Sequence

Contact Sheets

Biblography

 Cornish, J. and Waite, C. (2002) First light: a landscape photographer’s art. London: Argentum.

O’Hagan, S. (2014) Michael Schmidt obituary, the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/28/michael-schmidt (Accessed: 21 February 2018).

‘Sally Mann’ (no date). Available at: http://sallymann.com/selected-works/southern-landscapes (Accessed: 21 February 2018).

Sillitoe, A. and Godwin, F. (1983) The Saxon shore way: from Gravesend to Rye. London: Hutchinson.

Joel Meyerwitz

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Meyerowitz, began his photographic career in 1962 inspired by the work of Robert Frank. A street photographer, however, unlike Frank, Walker Evans and HCB he favoured colour prints. That’s not to say he did not produce black and white photographs.

I found a video on his website where he discusses his Leica and why he favoured this camera. Interesting that his early work was an 8×10 as he talks about how the viewfinder is offset as opposed to a DSLR, which means you still have one eye in the frame yet can still see the opportunities with the other that would otherwise be missed.

HCB also talks about framing, composition and geometry but I cannot agree with Meyerowitz entirely in his statement that you are somehow missing part of the story with a DLSR because the other eye is covered by the body.

If I rotate the body to portrait rather than landscape orientation I still have 50% of my view left. While it’s not ideal and restricts my use of a DSLR this tactic could be used in Street Photography.

Provincetown, USA, struck me as a colour version of Evans work but would not have had the same impact if it were not in colour. The vivid hues of the sunset and the clouds lit up by the sunset and the half-light left on the front of the building still able to illuminate the signage. Time here is captured so well with the visual clues and the change in light as the bright fluorescent tubes light up yet we can read clearly the words DAIRY LAND and FOOD in black lettering against the weather boards. That fleeting moment captured.

Biblography 

Joel Meyerowitz | Contemporary Color Photography | Author of Cape Light (no date) Joel Meyerowitz Photography. Available at: http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/ (Accessed: 4 July 2017).

Link

Henri-Cartier Bresson

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Henri-Cartier Bresson, was renowned for his Street Photography and the phrase of the ‘Decisive Moment’. So where has the phrase the Decisive Moment come from?

It (the Decisive Moment) is probably the most mentioned and discussed phrase in photography. His work shows glimpses of reality and in geometric patterns. He was obsessed with form, composition and aesthetics of photography. He began in earnest to photograph seriously in the 1930s influenced by the Surrealists. Cartier-Bresson was also an accomplished painter. Cartier-Bresson’s book published in 1947 ‘The Decisive Moment’ the book is divided into two chronological and geographical sections. The first years 1932 to 1947 and comprises of photographs in the west; the second from 1947 to 1952 and mainly in the east.

In Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Brussels, 1932, using a small-format Leica created intrigue and air of mystery with two males facing a cloth barrier one of whom appears to be peeping through, while the other acts as a look out and he gazes uneasily. Why does there appear to be such a look of guilt? There seems to be a respect for authority. Isn’t it the case that whenever a police car follows you and although you have done nothing wrong and committed no offence you feel guilty and you behaviour changes. Yet the police have no interest in your activity, unless you are doing something illegal. I wonder how the facial expressions would look like? Would it be the same as the two gents in 1932?

 

 

The decisive moment, which was at the core of photography for over a century, has been whittled away by technology. Now, on your DSLR you can roll video and (while editing) pluck out a perfectly good quality frame – this makes me push my work further.’ (Bonita Evans, 2016)

In essence Nick Brandt makes a statement that the decisive moment no longer exists because technology no longer allows that to take place. Surely a decisive moment still dictates when to capture that moment although editing removes that whereas with film you cannot simply delete and move on. Brandt says in his article that ‘There’s a part of me that wants to go through the stress, neurosis and paranoia of using film. You don’t have the luxury and temptation (or distraction) to check what you just shot with analogue, so you have to stay utterly focused and in the moment with your subject matter.’ (Bonita Evans, 2016)

Biblography 

Bonita Evans, A. (2016) ‘Hearing Nature’s Cry’, Black+White Photography, September 2016, p. 96.

 

Assignment 3 – Tutor Formative Feedback

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Overall Comments 

Overall, I thought this assignment submission was an effective and personal take on the ‘decisive moment’. At first, I struggled not with your approach to ‘the decisive moment’, as the indecisive moment is just as valid, but with how your diary entries related to the pictorial content of the pictures. Once I found your website and read through the assignment post everything became much clearer and I thought the work was very effective in communicating an autobiographical ‘decisive moment’. With this in mind I would suggest the key aspect to address between now and assessment is how to present the work so that the links remain absolutely clear. By this I don’t mean the text must be descriptive, but I would suggest finding a way of matching up small segments of text with each picture. These might be written on the prints or printed on the labels, the final method depends on how you want to personalise the work further.

Feedback on assignment 

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity 

Below are some key points I wish to make about your work. The list is not exhaustive but covers what I feel to be the most salient at this stage.

  • I’ll admit I felt a bit lost in the work when just looking at the prints and the accompanying text. It was almost as if the text referred to what you wanted to be doing vs the prints looked at your reality, but everything made sense when I found a link to your blog in an old assignment and reviewed the post here: https://mndcanttakemyeyes.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-3/ 
  • It was apparent then that ‘Day 1’ doesn’t necessarily equate to print 1, etc, and the work began to fit together more for me as a viewer with no experience of your day to day reality.
  • Once I read the online diary alongside the pictures the work came together so I think you will need to consider this when you collate the work for formal assessment. Perhaps longer, diary entry captions on the back of each print? Or text (just a few lines that hit the heart of that day’s entry) under the image on the print might work. As you have your own printer perhaps try a few different approaches and see which works.
  • In terms of presentation the prints looked good but you don’t need the plastic inserts. Just a portfolio box of A4 prints with labels on the back is acceptable and appropriate for assessment.

Coursework 

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity 

I see that you weren’t able to complete one of the exercises. This isn’t the end of the world and you should not be penalised for it at assessment. I will forward your comments to the Unit leader and we will think of a compromise for future students. I agree they could be worded better but the first part at least is entirely optional and depending on students still having access to a manual film camera. The second part though does not need to be completed from an elevated position, it is just easier. Your view shown in the window (photograph 5) is actually ideal for the exercise. The exercise is all about understanding how the view can be a multi-layered scene and is designed to encourage students to look at everything with in the frame, rather than just the aspect that caught their eye.

Research 

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis 

I noticed you spent some time looking at Fay Godwin’s work. What you may not know is that Godwin made several bodies of colour work, the most interesting of which were one set looking through greenhouse glass and another of found objects on a beach photographed with a scanner. You can find all of Godwin’s archives on the British Library website.

I see that you include a lot of research into other photographers with the actual assignment but I wonder if these sections might be better separated away and in their own posts within the Research section of your learning log. You can then link to them from within the assignment post. This will then demonstrate very quickly to the assessors the breadth of your wider research into photography.

Learning Log 

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis 

The blog is easy to navigate. My one hesitation is as I mention above, that perhaps you would be best served by dividing the research included within the assignment post into separate posts under the research category.

Suggested reading/viewing 

Context 

Whilst not dealing with physical disability, I think you could do a lot worse than spend some time looking at John Darwell’s ‘A Black Dog came calling’, all about his experiences with depression after the loss of his wife.

PDF – Decisive Moment – Feedback

Reflection

Overall, I am pleased with work on this assigment given the limitations I had. David makes some relevant points in particular  “At first, I struggled not with your approach to ‘the decisive moment’, as the indecisive moment is just as valid, but with how your diary entries related to the pictorial content of the pictures. Once I found your website and read through the assignment post everything became much clearer and I thought the work was very effective in communicating an autobiographical ‘decisive moment’.”

I can see why this could be the case perhaps my labelling of the prints did not necessarily make sense with the text and the suggestion by David, “I would suggest finding a way of matching up small segments of text with each picture. These might be written on the prints or printed on the labels, the final method depends on how you want to personalise the work further.” 

I researched John Darwell’s work as far as I can at the moment as the thesis is currently not avaible to me until I visit Kent University Templeman’s Library. However, I found a e-book with a study of Darwell’s work. I was struck by the similarity to my print submissions. Darwell must have had quite a traumatic time with the death of his wife, which caused his depression. I have to agree with sterotyping that depression is ‘ a black hole’ or ‘darkness’. Depression is not like that or for me personally. I would say it a sense of hopelessness, feeling lost and living at time without a purpose and difficult to be motivated; at times life seems quite normal, whatever that is? But that ‘black dog’ is never far behind snapping at your heels dragging you back to the dark corners of your thoughts and mind and the world looks upside down.

Mental helath is more widely accepted and without the stigmatism that it has had. But I found the images of the decay and abandoned mental health hospital a refelction of today’s NHS crisis and it cannot cope with the demands placed on it. A lack of resources, buildings and mental heath beds. I find it very sad.

A couple of years ago when I was more mobile I visited an old mental health unit that had long since been abandoned. St. Augstine’s hospital had a eerie echo of it’s former use but to me echoed the decay; metophorically representing mental health. It is very easy to slip into the state of chaos and find no way out from the labyrinth of corridors.

I found a couple of articles about the life of St. Augstine’s, which closed in 1993. https://www.kentlive.news/news/nostalgia/gallery/inside-one-kents-most-infamous-980615

The hospital succumb to vandalism, theft and damage and with exposure to the elements felll into decline. The NHS, sold the land and properties and moved to St. Martin’s, Canterbury. I have my own thoughts on the ‘new’ hospital having visited with patients as a Police Officer and I can easily see some of the old victorian buildings falling the same way as St. Augstine’s. It all feels a bit unloved and uncaring when you arrive not exactly a place of rehabiliation and recovery.

Mental Health, is a massive issue with underfunding and the government’s promises to plough extra resources into it. I only hope that we have not gone too far to cope with demands placed on a creeking system.

On the recommendation of my tutor I looked at Fay Godwin’s colour work, which it would seem that she turned to later on in her career. Godwin’s colour photographs’ are a total contrast to the more traditional black and white early years. She seems to have focused in minute detail.

Godwin’s Pioneer Glassworks series (1999) produced abstract work of leaves, flower petals shot through a diffused medium such as glass or netting, and mixed with debris and detritus working at close range to the subject.  I found one example in the British Library Prints. (Fay Godwin: Glassworks and Secret Lives, no date)

I now feel I missed an opportunity here that St. Augustine’s was perfect for producing some interesting photography with all the old and ruined parts of the building and infrastructure left behind. Sadly, not a place that I can re-visit as it is now demolished and became very, very unsafe. But Dungeness has a wealth of old fish netting, delopodated fishing huts and old boats, so perhaps this this maybe a project I can start when the warmer weather arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Godwin was filmed in ‘Don’t fence me in’ a production by Malachiterthe most fascinating abstract work using a digital scanner and artifacts she found beachcombing and by placing them onto the bed of the scanner producing mysterious, accidental compositions in contrast to her macro photography of tangled beach finds. (Mapleston, 2014)

My tutor suggested, “Once I read the online diary alongside the pictures the work came together so I think you will need to consider this when you collate the work for formal assessment. Perhaps longer, diary entry captions on the back of each print? Or text (just a few lines that hit the heart of that day’s entry) under the image on the print might work. As you have your own printer perhaps try a few different approaches and see which works.”

I gave this a great deal of thought and having looked at Darewell’s work and how it was produced with small captions I felt this enhanced my photographs. It took a little figuring out how to produce the final work. I used a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop to create the final set of images.

I think I worked to literally and that each image had to be in the order of the day I took them, when in fact it works in any order and adding my diary gives more of an insight to each image and as a collection. I am pleased with the final seven photographs and could easily add to this.

 

Biblography

Fay Godwin: Glassworks and Secret Lives (no date) Warwick Arts Centre. Available at: https://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/mead-gallery/previous-exhibitions/1995/fay-godwin-glassworks-and-secret-lives/ (Accessed: 20 February 2018).

http://johndarwell.com/index.php

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=OzslDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=john+darwell+a+black+dog+came+calling&source=bl&ots=EdDGV8hJjY&sig=Erlj9QNemjFzS3BQzcsCYG2gqBk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiE6svOw9LYAhVMDcAKHc8kB-oQ6AEIajAO#v=onepage&q=john%20darwell%20a%20black%20dog%20came%20calling&f=false

Mapleston, C. (2014) Don’t Fence Me In – Fay Godwin’s Photographic Journey. Available at: https://vimeo.com/88588932 (Accessed: 19 February 2018).

 

 

 

Exposure – Exercise 4.1

Part 1

Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes. Photograph a dark tone (such as a black jacket), a mid-tone (the inside of a cereal packet traditionally makes a useful ‘grey card’) and a light tone (such as a sheet of white paper), making sure that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus). Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.

You might be surprised to see that the histograms for each of the frames – black, grey and white – are the same. If there’s not much tonal variation within the frame you’ll see a narrow spike at the mid-tone; if there is tonal variation (such as detail) you’ll see a more gentle curve. If you find the tone curve isn’t centered on the mid-tone, make sure that you have your exposure compensation set to zero. You may see an unpleasant colour cast if you’re shooting under artificial light, in which case you can repeat the exercise using your monochrome setting (a light meter is sensitive to brightness, not to colour).

This simple exercise exposes the obvious flaw in calibrating the camera’s light meter to the mid-tone. The meter can’t know that a night scene is dark or a snow scene is light so it averages each exposure around the mid-tone and hopes for the best. But why can’t the camera just measure the light as it is? The reason is that a camera measures reflected light – the light reflected from the subject, not incident light – the light falling on the subject. To measure the incident light you’d have to walk over to the subject and hold an incident light meter (a hand-held meter) pointing back towards the camera, which isn’t always practical. If you did that each of the tones would be exposed correctly because the auto or semi-auto modes wouldn’t try to compensate for the specific brightness of the subject.

I took two pieces of mount card and my 18% Grey Card; placed them into daylight just outside my front door against a wall and used the auto setting (P Mode) and added the results of each histogram to my learning log.

Part 2

Set your camera to manual mode. Now you can see your light meter! The mid- tone exposure is indicated by the ‘0’ on the meter scale with darker or lighter exposures as – or + on either side. Repeat the exercise in manual mode, this time adjusting either your aperture or shutter to place the dark, mid and light tones at their correct positions on the histogram. The light and dark tones shouldn’t fall off either the left or right side of the graph. Add the shots to your learning log with sketches of their histograms and your observations.

I placed the same mount board in the same location as the previous exercise and using manual setting keeping the aperture at f8 and ISO 400 I was able to control the light meter by adjusting the shutter speed. The screenshots of the histograms have been added to the learning log.

I noticed far more control using manual mode.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 16

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TAYLOR WESSING PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT PRIZE 16

THE EXHIBITION

 For the first time in its history the National Portrait Gallery’s annual competition the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is to permit digital entries for its first round of judging, it was announced today, Friday 28 April 2017. (News Release: NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY ANNOUNCES TENTH ANNIVERSARY TAYLOR WESSING PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT PRIZE CALL FOR ENTRIES… DIGITAL SUBMISSIONS WELCOMED FOR FIRST TIME – National Portrait Gallery, no date)

The Beaney Museum, Canterbury is currently holding the

exhibition until the 29th October. https://canterburymuseums.co.uk/beaney/explore/

The exhibition is located on the first floor in a large room which was fairly well lit with spot lights over the hung mounted portraits with a few darker areas; where it enhanced the work on display in particular Angela (photogravure) February 2016 by Peter MOSELEY.

Moseley’s portrait in monochrome and using a printing technique that took me back to a time when I left school and started work in the print industry; a very evocative portrait not only for the print process but the subject reflected myself with every minute detail emphasised in the skin and atrophy.

The overall layout of the exhibition was displayed in two sections parted by a small divide with a total of 61 portraits.

In the corner of the small divide was a section ‘In Focus’ by l. The De Middel exhibition comprised of four large inkjet prints from the series ‘The Gentleman’s Club 2016’. De Middel was born in 1975 and has Spanish and Belgian parents. She studied at the Polytechnic University of Valencia gained her MA in Fine Arts but photography was to great an opportunity and was side-tracked by the

camera. ‘That’s when I fell in love with the darkroom process. I soon realised the possibilities the medium had to explain the world we live in and I wanted to try to understand the world through the lens.’ (Bloomfield and National Portrait Gallery (Great Britain), 2016)

 Working clockwise around the exhibition the prints varied in size, colour and medium with the exception of De Middel’s work. The prints had a feel of a seedy nature, solitary males in dimly lit rooms casually dressed. One male looks high on drugs with a vacant expression on his face. The narrative sitting slightly to one side of the portraits and under each a short explanation about the subject and why they use brothels.

 I progressed along the walls and immediately struck by two portraits of nurses on a bright crimson background against which the bright white uniforms leapt out of the photograph. Larger than life in size and posture. I felt quite intimidated by the pair staring at me.

The overall winning image a schoolboy in uniform seemed rather bland and boring it could have been taken at any school anywhere in the world. I did not find it in anyway stimulating or leaving me asking Who? What? Where? When and Why? I found it (Similar uniforms we refuse to compare) disappointing, however, well lit, sharp and technically correct a classic portrait. Claudio Rasano’s work does not appear to differ from any other work he has previously produced; clean backgrounds, natural lighting and without manipulating the image. (correspondent, 2016)

The second prize awarded to Joni Sternbach a tintype was outstanding! The incredible, tangible feel and look of the surfer and his girlfriend was almost three dimensional with an aged quality that you could not have achieved easily digitally. Tintypes were popular at seaside resorts in the nineteenth century, as they were cheaper and easier to produce than daguerrotypes. Sternbach processed her work using a mobile darkroom on location. (correspondent, 2016)

Sternbach made a connection with the subject and it is translated in the expression of both surfer and girlfriend the relaxed pose and intimacy between them clear. If it weren’t for the reversed lettering on the t-shirt you could be fooled into thinking it had been enhanced in photoshop.

Overall, I felt some of the aspects of the exhibition very positive others I felt indifferent and in particular the overall winners work. I think the highlight the exhibition had to be poignant picture by Ebony Fink of her late grandfather who at the time was a resident at a Melbourne palliative care facility.

The natural daylight streaming in from the window and the clean linen create the impression of a sterile environment. Yet at the same time I feel the despair and fragility of Fink’s grandfather. I cannot decide if he is sitting on the edge of the bed or about to try and get up onto his feet. The watch echoes that time is fleeting and life is ebbing away given the state of his body, again the light creating shadow and detail.

I found this a sad portrait and thought about my own plight and that of my grandfather and the last few days he spent in hospital before he passed away. This inspired me to go back home and revisit my current assignment three, the decisive moment or as suggested by my tutor the un-decisive moment.

There seemed to be a consistent theme as a source of reference of old masters, pre-Raphaelite dra

wings and Dutch masters in many of the portraits. The use of Chiaroscuro lighting was evident by Karsten Thormaehlen, Paul Stuart, Peter Moseley and Josh Redman.

Chiaroscuro lighting means light (Chiaro)and dark (Scuro). The greater the subject is separated the more three dimensional they become; and detail becomes prominent.

I would go and see this exhibition again but concentrate of those of interest to me. I would have like to have seen more documentary portrait photography but felt that this made only a small portion of the exhibition; particularly given recent world events of mass migration (Greece) and the refugee crisis. The focus seemed around age both old and young or health and death with a very specific narrative; whereas Judy Gelles work left me wanting to see more of her work and far more thought provoking. (Fourth Grade Stories – Judy Gelles, no date)

Accessibility

I think this is a really import part for me to share as I am coming across more and more obstacles in my pursuit of my degree. If I had known that it was going to be such a battle to get into this exhibition I may not have gone.

The exhibition was quite a challenge for me to access; this seems par for the course with most buildings one way or another and particularly in Canterbury. The disabled access lift from th

e street was temperamental and staff had to assist me. Once I had managed to get to the first floor and into the exhibition everything was easy to view and without restriction, apart from the obvious no photography allowed. Sadly, the lift failed when I wanted to leave and I was escorted out through one of the fire exit doors to the adjacent car park. 

Before the entrance to the exhibition on display are early examples of photographic equipment modern and old with family portraits and slides. A fascinating display!

Biblography

Bloomfield, K. and National Portrait Gallery (Great Britain) (2016) Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 16.

correspondent, M. B. A. (2016) ‘Shortlist announced for Taylor Wessing portrait prize’, The Guardian, 12 September. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/12/shortlist-announced-for-taylor-wessing-portrait-prize (Accessed: 9 October 2017).

correspondent, M. B. A. (2016) ‘Taylor Wessing portrait prize won by photo of boy in school uniform’, The Guardian, 15 November. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/nov/15/taylor-wessing-portrait-prize-won-photo-boy-school-uniform-claudio-rasano (Accessed: 9 October 2017).

correspondent, M. B. A. (2017) ‘Photo of girl fleeing Isis shortlisted for Taylor Wessing portrait prize’, The Guardian, 5 September. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/sep/05/photo-girl-fleeing-isis-shortlisted-taylor-wessing-portrait-prize-2017 (Accessed: 9 October 2017).

Fourth Grade Stories – Judy Gelles (no date). Available at: http://www.judygees.com/fourth-grade-word-portraits (Accessed: 9 October 2017).

News Release: NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY ANNOUNCES TENTH ANNIVERSARY TAYLOR WESSING PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT PRIZE CALL FOR ENTRIES… DIGITAL SUBMISSIONS WELCOMED FOR FIRST TIME – National Portrait Gallery (no date). Available at: https://www.npg.org.uk/about/press/tenth-anniversary-taylor-wessing (Accessed: 9 October 2017).

 

 

 

 

The Routine of Daily Life – Assignment 3

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Assignment 3

Initial Thoughts

I have struggled to kick off this assignment not through laziness or cannot be bothered with my studies but the sheer battle of my disease and the routines that I cannot escape. I am bound to my home, which has had a massive impact on my mental and physical health over the last few months.

To live with a life-long condition and all that entails is bad enough but when it is compounded with a world of isolation and routine, which relies on others to help you wash, get up out bed or do the simpliest of tasks is really depressing.

My road to being independance has taken almost 11 months of my life, that’s one fifth of my diagnosis waiting for a specially adapted wheelchair accessible vehicle. Motabilty awarded me with a £20,000 grant to not only help with my daily life but my BA Photography degree and studies. However, it has been a long, long road and something I could never of foreseen.

It is fair to say I lost my way with the course and Expressing Your Vision when it came to Assignment 3. The never ending battle to research and getting access to a library has been huge and this may sound like a moan but I have found through the journey of the course I am a book person. I do not absorb information from the internet. Perhaps, the fact that my brain is suffering because of my disease has something to do with it. Who knows? I am not a neurologist but merely living with it.

After a call and chat to the OCA office my imagination was sparked and with a new vigor I started work on Assignement 3. My life is mudane, boring and monotonous so why could this not be my ‘Decisive Moment’?

I began with a Mind Map and my thoughts, ideas and research and added to it as I progressed with the assignment.

Decisive Moment Mind Map

Research

Henri Cartier-Bresson and others

Henri-Cartier Bresson, was renowned for his Street Photography and the phrase of the ‘Decisive Moment’. So where has the phrase the Decisive Moment come from?

It (the Decisive Moment) is probably the most mentioned and discussed phrase in photography. His work shows glimpses of reality and in an geometric patterns. He was obsessed with form, composition and aesthetics of photography. He began in ernest to photograph seriously in the 1930s influenced by the Surrealists. Cartier-Bresson was also an accomplished painter. Cartier-Bresson’s book published in 1947 ‘The Decisive Moment’ the book is divided into two chronological and geographical sections. The first years 1932 to 1947 and comprises of photographs in the west; the second from 1947 to 1952 and mainly in the east.

In Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Brussels, 1932, using a small-format Leica created intrigue and air of mystery with two males facing a cloth barrier one of whom appears to be peeping through, while the other acts as a look out and he gazes uneasily. Why does there appear to be such a look of guilt? There seems to be a respect for authority. Isn’t it the case that whenever a police car follows you and although you have done nothing wrong and committed no offence you feel guily and you behaviour changes. Yet the police have no interest in your activity, unless you are doing something illegal. I wonder how the facial expressions would look like? Would it be the same as the two gents in 1932?

© Henri Cartier-Bresson

The decisive moment, which was at the core of photography for over a century, has been whittled away by technology. Now, on your DLSR you can roll video and (while editing) pluck out a perfectly good quality frame – this makes me push my work further.’ (Bonita Evans, 2016)

In essence Nick Brandt makes a statement that the decisive moment no longer exists because technology no longer allows that to take place. Surely a decisive moment still dictates when to capture that moment although editing removes that whereas with film you cannot simply delete and move on. Brandt says in his article that ‘There’s a part of me that wants to go through the stress, neurosis and paranoia of using film. You don’t have the luxury and temptation (or distraction) to check what you just shot with analogue, so you have to stay utterly focused and in the moment with your subject matter.’ (Bonita Evans, 2016)

Meyerowitz, began his photographic career in 1962 inspired by the work of Robert Frank. A street photographer, however, unlike Frank, Walker Evans and HCB he favoured colour prints. That’s not to say he did not produce black and white photographs.

I found a video on his website where he discusses his Leica and why he favoured this camera. Interesting that his early work was an 8×10 as he talks about how the viewfinder is offset as opposed to a DSLR, which means you still have one eye in the frame yet can still see the opportunities with the other that would otherwise be missed.

HCB also talks about framing, composition and geometry but I cannot agree with Meyerowitz entirely in his statement that you are somehow missing part of the story with a DLSR because the other eye is covered by the body.

If I rotate the body to portrait rather than landscape orientation I still have 50% of my view left. While it’s not ideal and restricts my use of a DSLR this tactic could be used in Street Photography.

Provincetown, USA, struck me as a colour version of Evans work but would not have had the same impact if it were not in colour. The vivid hues of the sunset and the clouds lit up by the sunset and the half-light left on the front of the building still able to illuminate the signage. Time here is captured so well with the visual clues and the change in light as the bright fluorescent tubes light up yet we can read clearly the words DAIRY LAND and FOOD in black lettering against the weather boards. That fleeting moment captured.

© Joel Meyerowitz

Eddie Adams, photojournalist photographed the Siagon Chief of Police mercilessly shoot in the head a suspected Vietcong. At that precise moment the trigger was pulled he pressed the shutter. This one act was recorded on camera and was a perfect example of the decisive moment. Adam’s photograph froze a micro-second and monumentalized it, turning it instantly into an iconic moment of great import. (Badger, 2013)

© Eddie Adams

Adams, was in the right place at the right time a moment either way and the scene would have looked different; equally if the framing had changed and it was halfed we would have been

As I searched the internet for other photographers’ who have documented their own lives rather than the conventional Street photography I found an article about Graham MacIndoe. Graham a Scottish photographer living in New York pursuing a professional career but with the pressure of work his life spiralled out of control. He started to use drugs and ended up doing a spell behind bars. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/exhibition/graham-macindoe-coming-clean

What I found most interesting that he began to photograph what was happening to him. In his interview he said, I looked at myself and thought ‘Wow – this is how bad I look’. I realised that photographing myself was more relevant than photographing other people. (Fraser, 2017). I have often caught myself looking at my body in the mirror, sitting in a chair or laying in bed and thinking I don’t recognise myself.

Approach

In part my inspiration for this assignment came from Neil Platt’s story and blog ‘Plattitude’.

Neil Platt, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in his early thirties when he began to lose the use of his legs. This once professional architect was being reduced to nothing more than a withered body and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it. Motor Neurone Disease was depriving him of his life, his son, his wife. I similarly have watched my life, career and family be devoured by this disease.

In Neil Platt’s documentary, “I am breathing”, which is heartbreaking to watch, but I can relate to. Almost at the beginning it starts with Neil’s Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) breathing machine sounding and the day begins with his wife opening the curtains as it does it mine! I would encourage anyone to watch “I am Breathing” to gain an understanding of what life is really like with MND.

Today in the news Neil Conway, who also has Motor Neurone Disease is challenging the right to die. Of course this issue is a contentious one and I have my own thoughts on this particularly living with a variant of MND. I watched the BBC interview and I thought how it may come across that Neil’s life is challenging he seemed to cope all be it with his wife caring for him. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40615778

It doesn’t show the low points or the as I call it ‘Sod’s Law Sunday’, when it always goes wrong on a Sunday and all the medical professionals you can call in the week are off work.

Unable to do the conventional Street Photography project or any other traditional decisive moments. I decided that to record my day; and at crucial points that are repeated each day but with a change in the light, scenery and time of day from one of my semi-permanent places during the day e.g. my riser recliner armchair, office desk or bed.

I have approached this with a week’s worth of photography and photograph one significant part of my day.

Hopefully, my assignment will explore this and give a glimpse of my daily life.

I look at the same view everyday but the weather changes, the seasons change but still I am looking at the the same view and position each morning, afternoon and evening. I will need to add to the blog as the week progresses so it will be both narrative and pictorial review of my thoughts, feelings and reflect my mood.

 

My veil to a world beyond.

Day 1

Today, I started this assignment with my morning bathroom routine. I am sure that millions of us do this activity everday and without thought or regard and move onto to the next task. However, for me this is a reminder that I am not quite right and I catch a glimpse, a fleeting moment that my muscles are wasting.

My intial thoughts were how would I overcome being on my own and photograph myself doing a sequence of routine and mudane tasks. The answer was quite simple and use time lapse photography. I was able to record each part of my routine.

I pre-focused the lens at the mirror and mounted the camera to a tripod. I used the natural light from the window to illumate the scene. In Lightroom I edited the images converting them to black and white and increasing the contrast.

I have included the contact sheet at the end of the assignment.

Day 2

Today, I am totally shattered a night of pain. The impact is a lethargic body and mind that feels full of brain fog. The easiest tasks are becoming so hard it’s like I am climbing Mount Everest and I haven’t even left base camp.

The bin men came today. Thank god for assisted collections. I heard them, the dogs barked as usual and the gate slammed I know my bins are empty. The same cycle of washing, dressing and eating have all taken place.

Breakfast followed the same as yesterday scrammbled egg for breakfast, lunch swiftly followed pasta again and then I came down with a bump!

The result I MUST stop and rest after lunch and go back to using my NIV. I am now part man, part machine. I’m all topped up with the mornings medication and feel a bit like a drug addict dependent on a cocktail of drugs to get me through another 24 hours.

Day 3

One size fits all?

We are supposed to live an age where disability rights and access have no barriers. Well the reality is somewhat different where access can be a real headache. I have to think to myself before I head out and ask myself a set of questions; Where are the toilets? Does the building have ramped access? Can I park?

My own home is not entirely wheelchair friendly even though I spent a whopping £48,000 on my disabled living extension. The original set of double doors into the rear of my home and not wide enough for a wheelchair. Ramps are essential to getting in and out along with fingerless cycling gloves. I found very quickly that using a wheelchair is can be unforgiving on your knuckles!

Today, I ventured out of my home a rare occurrence these days to visit the GP’s. A simple task for most but my GP’s surgery has only two disabled spaces for the entire surgery and 99% of the time they are occupied by those who are to lazy to walk the extra 10 yards to the front doors or the commuters into London making parking nigh on impossible. Mentally, I asked myself a million and one questions before leaving home as I do each time I leave to go anywhere.

During my research I discovered David Hevey. Hevey, himself suffered from Epilepsy as a child. He is a successful photographer and directed three films for the BBC documentary series Modern Times. The Disabled Century was directed and produced by Hevey.

I watched the three series including an episode ‘Suicidal’. The powerful and moving stories told showed how society perceived disability after post-world war I. The most shocking episode personally was the final and third listening to disabled rights activists, who chained themselves to buses and delayed trains but were challenged by members of the public who asked them why they couldn’t get the bus! Thankfully such behaviour is not tolerated today but I can empathise with the plight. I still have to request assisted travel on trains and notify 24 hours in advance of my travel into London. http://davidhevey.com/viewing/

We held the Para-Olympics in London yet you cannot access South Kensington, High Street Kensington, London Bridge, Stockwell tube stations’ to name but a few using a wheelchair. No step-free access.

We haven’t moved that far on in my opinion and have a long way to go to remove all the barriers.

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/avoiding-stairs-tube-guide.pdf

Day 4

It feels like a scene out of Oliver and the phrase “Can I have more please?”. The start of another day and with little difference to any other morning this week. Breakfast is always the same with a smoothie but I have to drink it through a straw. This makes me feel like a child.

I cannot tip my head back otherwise it will cause a laryngospasm; this can be quite unsettling when it first happens. It has the sensation of dry drowning; waking from a deep sleep and gasping for air tends to send you into blind panic. When I had my first attack my neurologist didn’t belive me and told me that it was too early in my diagnosis. He was wrong and later conceded that I was suffering from dry drowing.

Then came the referrals to other clinical outpatient appointments to the SLT (Speech and Language Therapist), Dietician and lots of others. The appointments are relentless each week I can attend up to six in a week others I have one or two. It all takes my energy and I am exhausted or in pain, hence up and awake again at some ungodly hour typing my blog. Oramorph is my friend.

This morning my personal assistant Tara made a magnificent breakfast from the MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association) cook book. The smoothie was quickly followed by a cup of tea with added thickener and scrammbled egg and salmon. No toast, no cornflakes, weetabix or anything really, really tasty as long as it resembles baby food I can eat it almost. I never feel like saying, “Can I have more please?” Unless it’s me and the camera for a few hours where I can lose myself in another world.

The post arrives and I sink in the chair as I recognise the postmark and style of typeface as yet another NHS letter. I wasn’t surprised when I opened it; another Outpatient Appointment to see my Speech Therapist. This makes the 5th appointment in 3 days. My heart really does sink when will this ever stop!

 

Day 5

Saturday is usually one of the busiest days of the week. Today was no exception and my good friend Rod came around to help with the weekly bee inspections and his weekly tuition in Beekeeping.

I would be totally lost without his help and had to give up beekeeping a couple of years ago. My friend and I marvel at the growth of the hives; although in my case the lack of Queen in one of the hives has mean it has descended into chaos!

I find beekeeping such a relaxing hobby and distraction from the normality of daily life. I look forward to seeing how my hives have progressed, what has changed, what is to change and how they will fair from one season to the next.

The orchards are rich and full of apples and pears and a heavy crop to come. The hedgerows are full of blackberries and the seasons seem to be ahead. The bees are storing like mad a sure sign that winter will come early. Nature is far better at predicting the future than we are! Shame that medical science is not as good at prediction.

For reasons of safety I used my iphone to take the photographs of the bees.

Day 6 

Awake half the night in pain not great to almost see every hour from 11pm to 4am. Exhausted I feel asleep after two large doses of Oramorph and I look forward to my appointment on Tuesday for a steroid injection into my hip (bursitis).

The rest of the day is a very quite day with little energy to do anything. I welcome going back to bed at 10pm.

Day 7 

I wake to bright morning and as I open the bedroom patio doors the breeze gently wafts the voile. I glimpse on the world and what could be the next chapter in my life.

The long awaited day has arrived. After months of wrangling from one consultant to another and one hospital to another I am off to discuss a feeding tube or PEG as it is referred to. This will be a decisive moment in my journey and a pivotal turning point. It will release me from the risk of choking and daily grind of eating and drinking orally unless I desire to.

Post Processing

I used Lightroom CC to edit my workflow making slight global adjustments to exposure, contrast, noise reduction etc., I rated each image from one to five and then coloured the final selection of images.

My screen is calibrated using a ColourMunki Photo, which I also produce ICC profiles for my Canon Pro10 for each photo paper. For the final seven printed photographs I used Permajet Oyster A4, which is lustre paper and I feel suited the final images. That is not say that I would not use one should I need to on other assignments.

I have not considered using an external printing company e.g. DS Colour Labs because I previously worked in the Printing Industry as a pre-press originator and have sufficient knowledge to produce high quality prints.

If I were to display this assignment I would have preferred this to be displayed in book format.

Final Images 

Contact Sheets

Biblography 

Badger, G. (2013) The genius of photography: how photography has changed our lives. London: Quadrille.
Bonita Evans, A. (2016) ‘Hearing Nature’s Cry’, Black+White Photography, September 2016, p. 96.
Fraser, G. (2017) ‘Photographer Graham MacIndoe captures his life on drugs’, BBC News, 7 April. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-39531545 (Accessed: 16 July 2017).

Joel Meyerowitz | Contemporary Color Photography | Author of Cape Light (no date) Joel Meyerowitz Photography. Available at: http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/ (Accessed: 4 July 2017).