Exercise 3.3

I am unfortuate in that I cannot get to my upstairs as I have no way of accessing it. I am unable to use the stairs now due to the muscle weakness in my lower limbs and therefore unable to gain any view or elevation as directed in part two of the exercise.

I am also somewhat housebound because I have no transportation to get me out at the moment so I cannot adapt the exercise. Once I am in a position to do so I may well revisit this exercise.

I do not have a manual camera so the first part is unable to be completed either. I feel that I failed miserably with Exercise 3.3. I wonder if this has been considered when writing the course material? Those of us disadvantaged by mobility or disability and those of us who just simply do not own a manual camera?

Radical Eye:Modernist Photography Tate Modern

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Radical Eye:Modernist Photography Tate Modern 10 Nov 16 – 7 May 2017

Sir Elton John Collection

Curated by Shoair Mavlian with Simon Baker and Newell Harbin, Director of The Sir Elton John Photography Collection.

The exhibition of Sir Elton John’s private collection of over 8,000 prints, which he has been collecting for just over 25 years. The collection ranges from the early twentieth century to the present day.

The exhibition is contained within seven rooms each with a theme and all the photographs on display are displayed in the homes of both Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

The radical eye begins with a narrative on the wall and a photograph View from the Berlin Tower 1928, leading into Portraits, Experiments, Bodies into Documents and finally Objects, Perspectives and Abstractions.

The rooms are filled some literally with photographs’ in frames and document the artistic approach and the photographic processes involved. The colour of the walls painted in a metallic grey echo the silver halide in film and the lighting is bright throughout the exhibition.

The Portraits, which I have a keen interest in, where most intriguing in the portrayal of well- known figure, artists, and actors. In particular, the poses and the objects that surrounded them Salvador Dali, 1944 I felt was a typical example with his gaze and long pointed moustache, which I am sure most would describe or remember if his features were described. I could also see how portraiture could have been pivotal in the public’s perception and how this shaped their career; after all this was the modern equivalent of painting a monarch and distributing to the masses.

Experiments, was exactly that how we as photographers are fixed to rules be that rules of thirds, the golden ratio or inverse law of light. The rules are there to be broken and this demonstrated that precisely. The accidental mistakes were embraced and use of double exposures with image manipulation today performed with the click of a mouse. It made me appreciate my days of working in a darkroom and galley cameras in the printing industry spending hours over a light box and bottle of opaque masking areas of the negative.

Bodies, revealed that with better and faster film motion could be frozen, capturing dance with such clarity and detail previously impossible to do. The photographs on display focused the eye on body parts or their tight crops. The catalogue quotes, ‘The camera should be used for a recording of life, rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.’ Edward Weston 1924

Documents expose the viewer to an era where portable cameras and new technology could show spontaneous events and moments in the everyday world. The 1930’s, was an era where photographers such as Walker Evans, Robert Capa and Dorothea Lange documented the abject poverty, historical evidence uniting artistic control and a form of propoganda. The style of street photography that these pioneers employed influenced social attitudes as much as a visual impact. One image particularly stood out for both my brother and I was Migrant Mother, Lange 1936. The small baby being held in the mother’s arm almost obscured and the two children with their backs to the wall and mother’s facial expression are haunting.

In 1936, at age 32, Florence Owens Thompson was living in a tent with seven children during the height of the Great Depression. Thompson looks on, determined but weary, while her children turn their faces away. Lange’s composition may utilize the composition and emotion shown in many Virgin and Child scenes. Although we do not know if this resemblance is intentional or not, it does trigger a similar moral sentimentality. Copyright MoMA Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California

Objects, Perspectives, Abstractions a collection of photographs from extreme close-up to the worm’s eye. Everyday objects became unrecognisable and angles made them surreal. The combination of weird, macro and different perspectives made me look at my own work in a different light and that macro does not mean that I must obey the rules of convention.

I found the most valuable part of the exhibition was Objects, Perspectives and Abstractions it really made me think about how and why I photograph an everyday object or where I stand and what angle to take a photograph from. What message or do I even need to convey a message in my photography and that breaking all the rules is acceptable. I could apply that to my portrait work and focus on a body part rather than the what is expected or acceptable as a portrait.

Biblography

‘A-Z of Modernist Photography’ (no date). Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/radical-eye-modernist-photography-sir-elton-john-collection/a-z (Accessed: 3 July 2017).
MoMA | Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California. 1936 (no date). Available at: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/dorothea-lange-migrant-mother-nipomo-california-1936 (Accessed: 3 July 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMA – Submission

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My final 10 images after 9 weeks of the course, which covered light, exposure, shutter speeds and basic composition and colour. Each week I submitted 10 images based on the module and some free work for peer assessment.

Some of the final images were drawn from the 9 weeks, others were revised and some new images added.

I concentrated on the top row in black and white and using structure, shape and form as the basis of the theme.

The second row focused on colour and various types of photography from creative, portraiture, macro and landscape.

As part of the EMA I provided a 200 word narrative on two images.

Image 6 – Explosion of Colour

I had great fun taking this photograph. I am limited at times with my photography due to my terminal illness. My intention was to freeze the colours of holi powder in an abstract cloud.

This required precise direction and position of studio lighting and which direction I threw the powder into the air. I positioned two studio flash heads fitted with snoots at forty-five degrees in front of the camera. To assist with focusing I placed an object in the centre of scene and used the modelling lights to check the direction and power of incident light with a sekonic light meter.

Selecting manual mode ISO200, f8 and the fastest shutter speed I could possibly using of 1/200 due to the synchronisation speed. Using a short focal length gave a better opportunity to capture the entire scene. I manually focused as I needed to remotely trigger the camera at the same time throwing the powder into the air. I chose three harmonious coloured powders, green, yellow and blue to create a Triad-split. By placing the camera with sufficient distance between the focal point and background, with an aperture of f8 creating a well-lit subject and an almost black background. Post-process in Lightroom I cropped to a 1:1 ratio making global basic adjustments and enhanced the vibrancy and saturation.

Image 10 – Stained Glass

This photograph of the stained glass window was quite a challenge to capture because of it’s height, direction of light (back lit) and low light levels inside the church.

I used a tripod to mount the camera to minimise camera shake and because of the height would not have allowed to me to create the overall finished image. I used a prime lens in this case a 50mm. To reduce camera shake further I used a remote trigger and manually focused to ensure sharpness.

To create a correctly exposed photograph I spot metered both bright and dark areas of the scene. I took one reading for the reflection on the stonework and one for the glass. I then took two exposures setting my camera to manual and settings at ISO800, f4. The first for the exposure for the glass at 1/160 and reflection at 1/40.

I edited the two exposures in Photoshop and Lightroom. I used layer masks to combine both images to produce a correctly exposed photograph. I made my final adjustments in Lightroom where I reduced the noise and sharpened it slightly. I also used the transform panel to adjust the vertical distortion.

Project 3 – What matters is to look

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Project 3 ‘What matters is to look’

Watch the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001) available in five parts onYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF

‘L’amour tout court’ is also available on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/106009378 (accessed 26/09/2016).

Write a personal response to the film in the contextual section of your learning log, taking care to reference properly any quotations you use (300–500 words).

 

I think that it’s fair to say that the phrase ‘the Decisive Moment’ has been used over and over again or perhaps misused. After all, the title of the book was in French, Images a la Sauvette, translated may be better read as images on the sly. Cartier-Bresson was convinced that given the right set of parameters; all the right ingredients of geometry, framing, proportion and rhythm come together in perfect balance to create the perfect photograph. The paramount and key point he makes is observation. He questions do we really look before we press the shutter? Do we indeed? In part four Cartier-Bresson is asked, “Can one learn to look?” He replied, “Can one learn to have sex?” (‘Just plain love’, 2001)

It is a basic instinct humans are programmed genetically to have sex, therefore, we look at each other intimately. We pick up on facial clues, body language and gestures when we fall in love. We must then look but do we know or even realise it?

Photography is in the most part instinctive and intuitive without it we are lost and just resort to taking pretty pictures that have no real value or meaning. I think we are all guilty of setting the camera to take hundreds of shots in a matter of seconds and hope that we have that winning image. The truth is we’ve probably missed it between the split seconds of each exposure. Is it better to take one good image than a hundred?

In that one perfect image, which encapsulates the decisive moment there needs to be an exchange of views about a photograph; although editing adding contrast and dynamic range seems permissible to create the final image. Cartier-Bresson took a break from the pressure of producing good photography and took up drawing; this gave pleasure and meaning when he returned to his photography. He owned a Lecia with the shiny parts painted black to enable it to be discreet and an extension of himself. Cartier-Bresson sums up how he is that extension in the boy performing a handstand. What he could not do was stop as none of us can is the aging process. “I am the young man who’s done all the things that took risks, knowing I could not do these things as I grew older.” (‘Just plain love’, 2001) So, Bresson participates in the image almost as if he is the subject despite being an old man.

In Africa he recorded his life, his residence but it was not about recording his life. He was living in the moment; as we do with today’s social media. He captured everyday occurrences including death. However, Bresson would have to wait weeks to see his results from the laboratory.  Why did photograph death? Because we are staring death in the face every day just as am I with my terminal condition and in my eyes mundane events become quite special, unique and there for a split second then gone.

Bibliography

‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001) (2001). ARTE France. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF (Accessed: 14 February 2017).

Exercise 3.2

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I began researching Francesca Woodman as part of the Durational Space project and immediately struck by the similarity of her mental health to my own. I have struggled for months with various aspects of my care and disease. Sadly, Woodman at the age of 22 committed suicide after jumping off a building. “We read such a lot.” In the past, Woodman’s suicide – she jumped off a building in lower Manhattan – has been linked to a funding application that had been turned down. Berne disputes this. “She had an illness: depression. That’s all there is to it.” (Cooke, 2014).

It is sad to think that Woodman’s work did not achieve any status until after her death. Woodman’s suicide seems to be the focus of her autobiographical work and it should not be the case.Yes in someway she gained the recognition she deserved but her death is not why she was a success if you read the photographs. Woodman’s parents both with a creative background gave her a camera a Yashica 2¼ x 2¼ when she was just 13. In a lifetime she would produce over 800 pieces culminating in an exhibition entitled zigzag. Her images were of self-portraits and using either arms, legs, or other parts of the limbs but excluding her face and intertwining a collection of angles.

Untitled 1975-80 Francesca Woodman 1958-1981 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00358

Untitled 1975-80 Francesca Woodman 1958-1981 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00358

This gave me the inspiration for this exercise. Woodman, employs the use of slow shutter speed and composition with light and shadow, contrast and use of monochrome to convey a sense of drama as in the ‘untitled image’ of Woodman bare footed bending forwards and out of the frame but with a blurred action of a flimsy material. The skirting is sloping downwards.

Like Woodman I am restricted in the use of models and my mobility further restricts locations where I can access. So just why did she put herself in the images?

Francesca once said that it was just a matter of “convenience”: she was always available, whereas finding a model would take time. “I do think that was it,” says Betty. “Though telling yourself what to do is also much easier than telling someone else to smile, or to look this way or that.” (Cooke, 2014). I don’t think that she was being narcissistic being her own model Kirsty Mitchell also took self-portraits in similar surroundings of dilapidated buildings shortly after her mother’s death.

I imagine that she was also controlled by her mental health and probably withdrew at times from the world immersing herself in photography. I say this because I use my own photography as a form of expression and escape.

In 2014, under immense pressure from work to take early ill-health retirement and living with a deteriorating terminal neurological condition I tried to commit suicide. I didn’t plan it but one cold, bleak april morning I woke up and left everything behind and drove to Beachy Head. Everyday mental health is a constant battle for me. On reflection the past few months have been a struggle with this course and I found myself thinking why am I putting myself through this?

But today, I woke and the sun was shining; with a positive attitude I picked up my coursework for the first time this year.

How do I portray what it is like for me to look in the mirror and see before your very eyes your body wasting? How do I express my fears, anxieties and depression?

I think that John Coplan had the answer. He was a British artist, art writer, curator and museum director who at the end of World War II emigrated to the United States. He became a director of the Akron Art Museum in Ohio.

In the 1960s, he began taking photographs of his own body and documented the ageing process. The photographs recorded what was once familiar had now become unfamiliar. I can compare this to my own body at the age of 48 and with the disease progression of only five years I no longer recognise my own feet. They have become distorted and contorted with the toes curling under and atrophy across the top of my feet as the nerves waste away sending signals to the muscles eventually causing atrophy.

I have carers to help me daily with showering, dressing, drying and making meals. The routine is laborious at times. It’s great to have help but I want to be independent for as long as possible. My activities are somewhat restricted; however, this gave me the idea to combine Coplan and Woodman’s style and be able to use a slow shutter speeds. Adopting Woodman’s composition but showing my deteriorating body as Coplan had done became quite an obvious choice. I thought about showering and how my naked body is exposed to the world and plain to see that my lower limbs are weak, disfigured and aged. What indeed was familar is now unfamiliar to me.

This exercise though posed several difficulties and challenges. The first being alone and no one to operate the camera and how would I get changed, unchanged and dried unaided; and be the model. So, in order to do this, I placed the items I required e.g. shower chair before I took the photographs. I used a tripod and manually focused the lens with a self-timer. To increase the exposure the naturally lit room I used a 6-stop Lee filter thus increasing the exposure from 1/8th of a second to 8-10 seconds.

I deliberately positioned the wide angle lens downwards to only capture the lower half of my body. I wanted to tell the story of not only a daily activity but how I cope. How I have to transfer from my electric powered chair into a plastic shower seat and leave my clothes within reach. There is no such thing as an ‘easy task’. I deliberately framed it so that my head was not visible but leaving my legs and arms in as the frame as much as possible. I couldn’t guarantee that of course my head would not appear! The angles of the tiles, flooring are reminiscent of Woodman’s photographs.

Unlike both Coplan and Woodman whose work is predominately in black and white I wanted to retain the colour in my photographs’. I converted them to black and white but it seemed the context and narrative was lost.

The first frame depicts the atrophy, clawed toes and the deformed ankles and lack of muscle in the upper legs but you cannot see the neuropathy that I have. I now wonder how do I portray that sensation? Short of sticking needles in I am at loss how to photograph neuropathy. Perhaps I shall give this some consideration.

I think this exercise was a success and overall I am pleased with the results.

contact-sheet

Contact Sheet

Bibilography

Cooke, R. (2014) ‘Searching for the real Francesca Woodman’, The Guardian, 31 August. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/aug/31/searching-for-the-real-francesca-woodman (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/john-coplans-2353 (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

Hiroshi Sugimoto

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Hiroshi Sugimoto

We have been asked to research several photographers as part of Project 2. I chose to look at three photographers’ one of them being Hiroshi Sugimoto. I wanted to examine his work because he uses a style of long exposure rather than a more conventional route using either an automatic mode e.g., Shutter priority, Aperture or Program

Hiroshi Sugimoto for over 30 years has used a large format 8×10 camera

I watched the link provided, which comprised of two short video clips. In his theatre series, he opens the shutter using bulb mode for several hours starting at the beginning of the film and at the end finishes the exposure. This leaves a blank white screen in the cinema and all the people disappear. He explains that this is a blank space within a blank space.

Michael Freeman in his book ‘Photographer’s Vision’ looks at movies and films in a way that he explains a movie splits time into sections and to specific sequences. A famous photographer Eddie Adams, captured an image of a Saigon police officer executing a prisoner in the street in 1968 his view: “a still photographer has to show the whole fracking movie in one picture. A still picture is going to be there forever.” Freeman, The Photographer’s Vision.

In light of this quote Adams makes the point, which refers to a solitary image telling the whole story whereas a movie tells the story over several sections and has a definitive beginning and end. Comparing this to Sugimoto’s style of photography he takes one picture shown a film from beginning to end but does not literally show each frame of the film and considers he three-hour image one photograph. I question what is the point of this?

He explains that depending on the movie the screen can vary from being bright at the end if the film was optimistic and dull if that story was sad.

Sugimoto went onto photograph seascapes something I particularly enjoy photographing and using long exposures. He uses a very spiritual and natural way to express colour in photography and almost be at one with the world.

His latest four yearlong project ‘The Lightning Field Series’ involves no camera only striking metal with high voltage electricity and then processing the film in varying amount of salt solution to create a natural phenomenon. His philosophy is that the final photograph is representative of the wind and gods.  The exhibition was called ‘The Day After.’ Nakamura, Memories of Origin.

I recently met up with an old work colleague and we discussed my current university work and he told about Nobuyuki Kobayashi. Kobayashi is a captivating photographer producing platinum palladium prints on washi paper using ancient techniques that date over 300 years. I watched the short 30 minute video and was totally gripped by his composition of the landscapes but the art of producing wonderful prints that only emerge months later in the darkroom. He describes  ‘Yubi’ quite literally translated as ‘Yu’ meaning “gentle” and ‘bi’ meaning “beautiful.” His work echoes that of Sugimoto and this is why I wanted to mention him in my research.

 

I do not want to stray away from Sugimoto but I came across the phrase ‘Wabi Sabi’ whilst researching Capa. “Wabi” refers to an austere, natural state. “Sabi” refers to a lonely, melancholic sense of impermanence in life. So, the fact that everything in life is in a constant change and that nothing lasts forever. The fact that nothing in photography is complete or perfect and constantly evolving fits both these photographers’ work.

I found several websites describing Wabi Sabi, which I have included below for anyone who maybe interested in fiuther reading.

http://www.discoverdigitalphotography.com/2016/wabi-sabi-photography-the-art-of-the-imperfect/ (Accessed 13/02/17)

http://www.wabi-sabijapan.com/photos/gallery/index.html (Accessed 13/02/17)

Bibliography

Freeman, M. (2011) The photographer’s vision: understanding and appreciating great photography. Lewes: Ilex.  (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

Nakamura, Y. (no date) Memories of Origin. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhZJF4IPXcw (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

Endre Freidmann – ‘Robert Capa’

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Robert Cappa

As part of the exercises to the frozen moment we are asked to research a durational space. Most photographers at some point try to freeze time or at least the sense of movement within the frame. I chose Cappa firstly because of his connection to conflict and documenting war having served in the Armed Forces I wanted to see exactly how he recorded it and how I had done so with overseas tours of Iraq and Kuwait.

Robert Cappa an adopted American sounding name but was born Endre Freidmann in Hungary 1913. His parents worked in Pest,Hungary running businesses and father although not clear where he served in the first world war he returned to Hungary.

I find it ironic that Cappa hated war yet came directly in the line of fire and that I willing signed on the dotted line to serve my country and put myself in conflict.

He studied political science at the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party. At a time of over four million unemployed in Germany, a banking crisis and collaboration of political parties.

He worked as a photographer in Berlin and in 1933 moved from Germany to Paris.

Prior to leaving in 1933 he met with others at the SDSE, Schutzeverband Deutscher Schrifstellar im Exil the (protective association of german writers in exile) run by communist leaders where he made friends with Gisele Freund, who managed to escape Germany with little notice that she would be arrested the same evening. She went on herself to become a distinguished photographer in France and would later become associated with the Magnum, the photo agency of which Capa would become one of the founder members along with Herni Catrier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour. The four were a collaboration of photographers that each played part in documenting wars formed Magnum.

David Szymin, who was known by his friends as “Chimm”, was born in Warsaw in 1911. Chim was a talented pianist in his youth and even considered pursuing music as a career. His father, however, had other ideas for his son. His father was a publisher of Hebrew and Yiddish books. He wanted him to study publishing with a view that he would join the family business. In 1929, “Chim” studied in Leipzig and commenced a three-year course covering printing techniques, graphic arts, and photography.

By 1932, he had moved to Paris and intended to study chemistry and prepare to research printing inks and lithography. He too found himself in the same position of Cappa had experienced in Berlin and found himself unable to fund his studies because his family had suffered during the economic crisis. His family had a family friend who ran a photo agency in Paris and he began work as a photojournalist.

Chim was friends with Cartier-Bresson. Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in 1908, the son of a wealthy Norman family in the textile business. He was a scholar at Lycee Condorcet and went on to study at Cambridge in 1928 reading literature, during this time he met the Cubist Andre Lhote.

As a child he had an interest in photography and this came back into his life when he found himself recuperating from an infection conracted in Africa. He was drawn to Surreralism and due to his wealth unlike Chim and Capa he had the luxury to travel to France, Spain, Belgium, Italy and Germany during 1932-33 in pursuit of his passion for the subject.

Capa, had several transient jobs during 1934, as a darkroom technician as he had little technical knowledge about photography. However, a newly formed photographic agency was looking for photographers as they could not afford established photographers’ to cover the newly fashionable Riviera of St. Tropez. He was advanced a camera and film along with expenses. Unfortunately, his lack of experience and bad luck meant he failed to deliver any useable photographs and the Plaubel Makina camera he was supplied with was pawned to cover the unforeseen costs he’d encountered. The agency realised that something had happened when they received strips of 35mm film he sent were not the same format of the medium format single plates they had supplied. He returned to his employers with feeble excuses, who went on to rent their darkroom to other photographers whilst Capa moved onto other darkroom work.

During 1934 he met Ruth Gerf, who he wanted her to pose for him. Gerf did not want to meet Capa alone and took her friend Gerta Pohorylles along. Gerta eventually changed her name Gerda Taro and the two became friends. (O’Hagan, 2012)

Capa and Taro invented the American sounding photographer ‘Robert Capa’ as a marketing ploy selling their work under the pseudonym.

In early September 1936, both were covering the Spanish War and by far one of the most controversial images ‘Death of a loyalist militiaman’ a Spanish Republican soldier falling backwards, who appeared to have been shot falling to his death. However, it appears that there is a certain amount of curiosity as to whether the soldier was indeed posing for Capa and been shot or it was a staged shot, which he was known to have done.

SPAIN. Córdoba front. Early September, 1936. Death of a loyalist militiaman.

SPAIN. Córdoba front. Early September, 1936. Death of a loyalist militiaman. Copyright Magnum Photos

For the first time he had documented the conflict in a rather personal, up and close way that had not been achieved before. Photographs that showed families and children such as crowds running for an air-raid shelter as the alarm sounds.

In 1937, Capa returned to France, Taro remained in Spain continuing to photograph the Spanish conflict. Sadly, on 25th July 1937, Taro was travelling in a car which was struck by a tank of the Republican army. A day later she died from her injuries. In December that year Capa covered the battle of Teruel.

From here on Capa moved to the invasion of China by the Japanese and ahead of the 1939 German invasion he had left France for America. Upon leaving France three boxes of 126 rolls 35mm film containing 4,500 negatives of the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and Chim. The ‘Mexican Suitcase’ thought to have been lost since 1939 had been re-discovered in 1995 by a Mexican family, descendants of a Mexican General. (The Mexican Suitcase, 2016)

Capa’s greatest achievement was by far the coverage of the D-Day landings. He covered wartime London and at the beginning of 1943 had a romance with Elaine Justin, which lasted two years. He spent a year covering the Italian campaign, including the liberation of Naples.

On 6th June 1944, he landed with US troops on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. I can only imagine the fear and anxiety he must have felt has he was shoved out of the carrier onto the beaches clinging to his camera. He had learnt from his earlier mistake in 1934 and immersing his camera in water. It was only when his film reached the darkroom that most of his film was ruined and only a few images were useable.

Again, it seems unclear if this was a mistake made by a clumsy lab assistant at Life magazine or that he had caused the accident.

The blur of some images is understandable but with some of Capa’s work the blur almost seems deliberate rather than accidental. Who am I to argue either way. I consider the tension and scene he was presented with I am pretty sure that he would have had little time to consider his settings more a case of point and shot, hope for the best and the law of averages that if you use enough film you will have something useful. He didn’t bargain for the aftermath of most ending up in the bin!

FRANCE. Normandy. June 6th, 1944. US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings.

FRANCE. Normandy. June 6th, 1944. US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings.

He followed the invasion and liberation of France and covered the Battle of the Bulge. In 1946, he became a US citizen and co-founded Magnum Photos. He took a break from his photography until he began to travel once again in 1948 where he travelled to Israel.

Once again he returned to Paris and from 1950 to 1953 he was the director at Magnum Photo’s.

His final photographic assignment in 1954 of the Vietnam War resulted in his death. On 25th May, 1954, he was travelling with a convey when the convey stopped. He followed the patrol into a field and took at least one photo, when he stood on a land mine and was fatally wounded.

Portraits of Capa portray him as a sophisticated man almost plucked out of a film from the 1950’s or a war hero with a cigarette in his hand dressed in uniform.

Biblography

The Art of Photography (no date) The Mexican Suitcase. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KympSgVknO4 (Accessed: 26 September 2016).

O’Hagan, S. (2012) ‘Robert Capa and Gerda Taro: love in a time of war’, The Guardian, 13 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/may/13/robert-capa-gerda-taro-relationship (Accessed: 26 September 2016).

Pro Magnum Photos (no date). Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/ (Accessed: 26 September 2016)

The Mexican Suitcase (2016) International Center of Photography. Available at: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/collections/the-mexican-suitcase (Accessed: 26 September 2016).

Exercise 3.1 – Traces of time

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Brief

Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject. Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph. Try to find the beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated John Szarkowski. Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the images), to your learning log.

The exercise asks for a frozen moment in time in a moving subject. I decided that for me the beauty of bees is something that I find truly fascinating and natural. How can bees reveal that moment in time? What is it about their lifecycle and behaviour that captures the essence of this exercise?

I have been beekeeping for over a decade and at one time managed 24 hives over a season that is almost halfway to a commerical beefarmer. It is fair to say that I have had my ups and downs in this branch of animal husbandry; when you are dealing with nature everything is unpredictable.

I can relate to the fragililty of bees; one thing I learnt very quickly is we are a keeper of bees rather than a ‘beekeeper’.

Now sadly life is somewhat different and not how I planned it. My condition just stops me dead in my tracks, I am so vulnerable although I look fine I am far from it. This reflects the form of the bee itself with its minute wings, small body parts but being able to carry large loads of pollen for miles. I view myself as being outwardly strong, independant and determined to carry on life as normal, but inwardly my body is not as strong, constantly coping with change. A beehive can appear to be very strong and yet house a weak diseased colony.

The lifecycle of bees reflect a dying off by their very nature; the lifespan is so short that the bees I am looking at this very moment will be gone in a matter of weeks to be replaced by their sisters. The Queen will keep laying and suppress the workers, who are all female, from laying infertile eggs, whilst the males (Drones) will be ejected from the hive in September. They serve one purpose: to mate with new queens early in Spring.

Workers have such a short life span lasting only a mere six weeks in Summer and so what I see today at that moment will not necessarily be there in a few weeks, days or hours in time. So that is why I chose bees as the subject of freezing time.

In considering my access to subject matter, the proximity of my beehives offer me control. I can collect my equipment I do not have the headache of having to organise help, transportation and taking all of my equipment. I am not forced to adapt to circumstances surrounding my disabilities to such an extent as exercises that take me into the world. Again this relates to the bees that they have their world in a wooden box that I can observe.

I can now sit at eyelevel and perform my inspections with the help of a new beekeeper who I am passing my skills on to; beekeeping is not without risk and the most obvious  is being stung. So how am I limited when photographing bees in flight?

This beehive is located in a shady part of the garden. This exercise uses shutter mode priority during daylight hours on a particularly sunny afternoon. This avoided using high ISO settings, which reduces noise and blur in a photograph. However, due to the shade, lack of direct sunlight and speed of the shutter this inceased the ISO, which was set to automatic taking this to an ISO of 1,000. This produces quite a grainy image.

An average hive can hold 80,000 bees. Imagine you are standing at the end of the runway to Heathrow if you stand there long enough something will hit you! This is equivalent to the same as the entrance to a busy hive about two foot long with several hundred bees waiting and departing. Therefore the best and safest way to photograph them is side on and slightly away due to dark shapes registering within their perception as a bear.

With regard to protection from being stung the issue is to suit or not to suit and how does this relate to this exercise?

It is possible to observe bees with experience without being stung. If I am bothered by a bee I move away slowly, no hands waving and flapping and return once the bee has lost interest in me and I will do this whether I am wearing a beesuit or not. I decided not to wear a beesuit because it is almost impossible to balance and hold the camera, view the screen or the viewfinder easily, and compose the shot.

That raised the next question what lens? Do I opt for a Macro or zoom lens? I considered both options but I was not going to get the results I wanted using a zoom lens as I would be losing detail and it would affect the acuity of the focus.

Bees are fairly predictable in this situation and once you have observed them for long enough you can judge where they will take off and land from, and which side of the entrance they will use. Therefore, it is then the case of focusing manually and watching patiently with a little luck, using a fast shutter speed, tripod and quick shutter release.

The results were as I expected and after thirty-three exposures the final three images captured that ‘frozen moment’ with a soft focus backgroud.

I feel that it would have served little point in taking a photograph straight on as one bee in flight would have been lost against a background of all the other bees at the entrance. The perspective would not have necessarily shown the wings, as opposed to a side view. However, the bees I captured in that split second would have been either returning or going on forage flights, how long would they live or die for before being replaced? I have recorded a moment in time that has no past or future.

However, I was not entirely satisfied because the bees flight was so unpredictable that it affected the foreground and background focus leading to a slight soft focus of the subject. I continued to reflect on the set of images; I began to research Harold Edgerton’s technique and photograph ‘milk coronet’; this made me rethink my idea of freezing time.

hee-nc-57001-l

I made the connection to the ‘milk coronet’ and my own ‘milk coronet’ in the form of water droplets in my hand basin. Whilst not an original idea (freezing a dripping tap) what makes this composition different is my perspective as I sit at eye level to the tap. My wall hung basin has been designed to allow me to sit in my wheelchair and shave, wash etc.

If I was standing above the hand basin and looked down onto it, I would not have necessarily taken much notice of how the splashes form over the chrome domed plug and the effect it created. In the website we read that ‘Edgerton synchronized his electronic stroboscope with a special high-speed motion-picture-camera so that with each flash, exactly one frame of film was exposed.  The number of flashes per second determined the number of pictures taken.’ (‘High Speed Camera’, Harold “Doc” Edgerton’, no date) This reading gave me insight how to approach this problem.

Therefore, I thought about using a tripod and added flash with a soft box to difuse the light and placed it to the side of the sink. I reduced the daylight, closed the blind and shut the door. I then manually focused before reducing the ambient light, and placed my camera about two feet from the chrome domeshaped push plug. The most difficult part was to set the right amount of water dripping from the tap. Therefore, I experimented with shutter settings and by slowing the shutter speed with the flash and co-ordinating them I was able to freeze the waterdroplet.

Initially I was not overly impressed with the white porcelain background as I could not see the waterdroplets due to the reflection from the flash. When I was sitting infront of the basin myself, I did not have the amount of bright light reflecting and could clearly see each drop of water. I tried to remedy this by using a black piece of mount board but this made little difference other than getting a very soggy wet piece of card.

I re-evaluated and changed the shutter speed to syncronise with the flash, as the fast shutter speeds were leaving a black band at the top or bottom of the image. The two shutter blinds travelling from top to bottom opened to reveal the sensor; however, due to the flash firing out of synchronisation with the shutter, I was left with a black bar at the top or the bottom. This could have been corrected using HyperSync flash settings.

However, by slowing down my shutter speed and setting my flash at 1/250th second I was able to produce a splash of water and the droplets coming from the plug.

Reflection

I think at times I am critical and seek perfection in every task and this gets in the way of my creativity. I get frustrated with myself and my inability to get to a position because of my mobility problems. I now view the world with different eyes and adapt to my ever changing condition, which is something I do not necessarily do consiously but nevertheless it is forcing me to slow down, stop and observe.

I like to experiement and try new things even if it goes wrong; some of these photographs did, but overall I think I have captured a ‘frozen moment’.

contact-sheet-water-drop-unedited

 

 

 

 

Biblography

‘Drops & Splashes « Harold “Doc” Edgerton’ (no date). Available at: http://edgerton-digital-collections.org/stories/features/drop-of-water (Accessed: 2 September 2016).

‘High Speed Camera « Harold “Doc” Edgerton’ (no date). Available at: http://edgerton-digital-collections.org/techniques/high-speed-photography (Accessed: 1 September 2016).

Assignment 2 – Tutor Feedback

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Overall Comments

Overall I thought this was an acceptable submission for assignment 2 and one that is likely to pass at assessment. There were some specific issues with your write up that I have identified in the ‘Feedback on assignment’ section of this report, but these should not take long to amend. The main issue I had was that you need to make it crystal clear what you have done in terms of responding to the brief and, importantly, why. You then follow this up with a reflective summary of how you think it went. I didn’t feel I needed to comment in any depth on the individual pictures as they were of a suitable standard for the assignment and there didn’t appear to any glaring technical issues. Where you need to do a little work before the next assignment is to think about how to clearly convey your thinking concerning the assignment to help the assessors give you credit where it is deserved.

On an additional note regarding reworking assignment 1: you are free to if you feel it would be a useful learning experience. Assignment 1 is diagnostic in nature and as such is submitted as part of your overall module submission at assessment but is not itself assessed. You will not get additional marks for reworking it.

Assessment potential

Assignment 2

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Feedback on assignment

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

  • I thought the initial premise (documented in the caption to image 1) of conveying the view from a wheelchair was interesting. As I am sure you are aware, disability and illness are frequently subjects for photographers looking in from the outside, so I am always interested in work made that challenges that power relationship. Whether or not you pursue this further is entirely up to you of course, I just thought I would mention that I found the comment
  • I thought your combination of slow shutter speeds, allowing movement, and then faster shutter speeds to freeze it worked well in the overall edit. The mixture between the two approaches and the variety of viewpoints made an interesting
  • The first picture has a curiosity –the cyclist is frozen whilst the pedestrians are caught in motion. Normally it is the other way round due to the relative speeds at which they
  • Image 8 was a bold move –including an almost empty scene in a series on crowds. I think it almost works here. Perhaps produce a set with it and another with a replacement with a crowd and pin them up somewhere you see them every day. After a while it should be obvious to you which edit is the
  • In your self-evaluation there is a section called ‘Rejected Images’ that has a few points that would benefit from further elaboration:
    • You say that you have edited them to black and white but do not say
    • When you say you decided to produce two rows of five –is this intended to be prints on a wall, in a magazine layout? I worked it out (see below) but you need to be clear at the beginning about what you have
    • You mention adding 20 images to your rejected list. What happened to the other 560 pictures that you made?
  • Related to the above you have included a contact sheet as presumably the final layout. This isn’t a contact sheet In terms of what we usually understand it to be. When I specify a contact sheet in my general guidelines it is a reference to what was traditionally referred to as a contact sheet when working in the darkroom. A photographer would develop their film and then they would lay all of the strips of negs onto a piece of darkroom paper under an enlarger and place a piece of glass over the top to keep everything flat. They would then expose the negs and sheet to light from the enlarger and develop the sheet. The end result is a positive image of every picture on the roll of film, all on one sheet of 9 ½ x 12”
  • Your file ‘contact sheet.jpg’ appears to be your proposed final edit in the layout you have chosen. This is fine. Before assessment, simply change the name of the file, and consider if you want it to be a print, a set of prints (with the file as a reference for how they should be viewed) or a digital
  • A short comment as you progress. Generally within an academic context no one will be terribly interested in your equipment. Instead, it is the quality and clarity of your ideas and vision and the realization of both that will be the focus. This will become more apparent as you move through the assignments and modules. There isn’t really any benefit to including technical information with assignments. If I can’t work something out from looking at the picture and I need to then I will contact you

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

 The Lens Work exercise was an example of good practice at level 1. I thought you did well identifying what worked and what didn’t and have taken some useful pointers from the work reviewed, especially that of Fay Godwin (who you cite in the assignment write up). I would caution about relying solely on Drabble’s article. I read through it and, whilst it is broadly accurate, it is a piece of PR rather than a serious academic review of Godwin’s work. I have added some Godwin links to the Suggested Reading for you to make your own judgement.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

There doesn’t appear to be any new research posts on the blog for me to comment on.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

 The learning log is coming along reasonably. Try to maintain a steady pace of adding new content in terms of your thoughts about your work, your thoughts about the work of other artists and your results from the projects and exercises.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

 It might be useful to look at some of Godwin’s earlier photo guidebooks to compare the strategy used with Land and Our Forbidden Land. There are a host of them available on sites such as Amazon for next to nothing:

Anderson, J.R.L & Godwin, F. 1975. The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway. London: Wildwood House

Godwin, F & Ingrams, R. 1980. Romney Marsh and the Royal Military Canal. London: Wildwood House

I didn’t see any note of it in your write up so if you haven’t I suggest you go back and look at my assignment 1 feedback and watch the South Bank Show Special on Godwin.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

  • Remember to try to be as clear as possible in explaining what you have done and
  • Make sure you send me contact sheets with all of the pictures you made. This can help me identify how you are thinking

Exercise 2.5

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Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the focus to infinity and take a second shot.

The closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field; the further from the subject, the deeper the depth of field. That’s why macro shots taken from very close viewpoints have extremely shallow depth of field, and if you set the focus at infinity everything beyond a certain distance will be in focus.

As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition? With a shallow depth of field the point of focus naturally draws the eye, which goes first of all to the part of the image that’s sharp. It generally feels more comfortable if the point of focus is in the foreground, although there’s nothing wrong with placing the point of focus in the background.

The subject for this exercise was an exhibition held at the Turner Contemporary. I thought that this would make an interesting subject as it has depth of field within the sculpture and can be photographed at a close distance. I used a prime lens because it works well with this exercise. The lens I selected was a 50mm f1.4.

I reviewed the two shots and I feel that the point of focus works best with image one. The foreground being sharp and the background soft, which feels comfortable to view.

The opposite can be said of the second image and it is confusing looking at the image as the foreground being out of focus suggesting that there is something there but the brain cannot work out what exactly it is. Only when you view the first image do you realise what is ‘missing’. Personally it is something that I would not choose to do for a straight shot of course that is not to say that I would not consider this style or approach for other images.