During my research I read a very interesting article a Royal Photographic Society (RPS) magazine. (‘Mostly Left turns’, 2017). The article Mostly Left Turns documents the locations of all cycling fatalities involving motor-vehicles in London during 2015. Eight cyclists form the series of photographs and their last movements and all, but one was the result of lorries turning left, a known problem with a blind spot. (Graeme Weston — Photojournalist – Mostly left turns, no date)
Weston used the light trails to and empty roads to show the direction of travel and turned the light off at the point of the collision during the long exposure to leave an abrupt stop. I also felt that the angle and height was from a drivers’ perspective not necessarily a lorry or taller vehicle. Perhaps this was something I needed to consider.
I attempted to take photographs from the same perspectives’ and viewpoints’ much in the same way Mark Klett approached the Third View, Re-photographic Survey Project. Klett, revisted locations that had been photographed in the late 19C and using calculations was able to recreate the viewpoint.
During the rest of the assignments I have been adding to my research. I found a website called Ghostbikes and one example locally near Deal, Kent placed on the side of the road. Daniel Squire was killed in 2013 aged 18. What I was struck by in the news article was the comment “the area has become a shrine, with floral tributes and solar lights, laid by family members and some of Daniel’s many friends from Deal and Dover, where he went to school and played football.”
Daniel’s father said, “The family is now having a plaque made for the bike with the message “Cyclist Killed Here 7/9/2013”.
Mr Squire said the area is not allowed to become a dedicated memorial, and it is therefore not permitted for them to inscribe that the bike has been installed in Daniel’s memory.”(‘Ghost bike’ shrine to cyclist killed in crash, 2014)
Grief is an emotion that can last a lifetime and as I looked around the local roads I saw more and more evidence of shrines that had been left by the roadside. At this point it dawned on me this was my assignment 5 project, Fatal Consequences and to use my experience how to document each fatal collision site.
The next part of my research was quite easy using a website called Crashmap. Although I could not access all the data I was able to cross-reference with news articles. I found five significant locations consisting of two cyclists, two cars and one motorcyclist.
I looked Joel Sternfeld’s work as part of the research as suggested by my tutor. I found at least two examples similar to my project where either a shrine had been left or a plain ordinary building both with history of a violent past, but without the knowledge of what had taken place just looked like any other building. In a similar way each of the locations along the A2 may or may not have had serious accidents or none at all. (Press & Commentary, no date)
I consulted with David (my tutor) about my idea and apprehension about producing/making a book as I have never tried to this. He suggested reading Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book (Design Brief). (Lupton and Maryland Institute, College of Art, 2008).
I found some helpful YouTube videos about Japanese Bookbinding. My tutor and I agreed if I was struggling for time to complete this assignment I could photograph my work and he would assess it on that basis. I managed to make two mock-up copies to ensure that the binding and page layout was correct before completing the final printed photobook.
Ghostbikes(2014) Ghostbikes. Available at: http://www.http://ghostbikes.org(Accessed: 10 July 2018).
‘Ghost bike’ shrine to cyclist killed in crash(2014) Kent Online. Available at: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/deal/news/ghost-bike-shrine-to-cyclist-26899/(Accessed: 10 July 2018).
‘Mostly Left turns’ (2017), 157(1).
Press & Commentary(no date) Joel Sternfeld. Available at: https://www.joelsternfeld.net/press/(Accessed: 29 July 2018).
Rephotographic Survey Project(no date) MARK KLETT. Available at: http://www.markklettphotography.com/rephotographic-survey-project/(Accessed: 17 July 2018).
Sea Lemon (no date) DIY Japanese Bookbinding Tutorial | 4-Hole | Sea Lemon. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-r6c_trSxY(Accessed: 17 July 2018).
alan sillitoe, black and white, country park, external context, Fay Godwin, Landscape, mans influence, nick ut, north kent, original context, reculver roman fort, robert doisneau, terry barrett, the saxon shore way
Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, but you must make explicit in your notes what it is that you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?
Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case? Take your time over writing your response because you’ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment Five.
I researched as part of the exercise the PDF essay ‘Photographs and Context’ written by Terry Barrett.
In essence he explains that there are three contexts’. The Internal, External and Original Context.
The Internal context is evident within the photograph and therefore should not really need any explanation. The example used for this is a photograph for an advert where the ingredients to create and Italian dish and Italian wording against the backdrop imply that it has “Italianicity.” The connotation that the ingredients would be fresh sealed in packaging be that glass or a can.
The External context I thought was rather interesting. I learnt that in 1958, Robert Doisneau took a photograph in a café entitled ‘At the Café, Chez Fraysse, Rue de Seine, Paris’. The couple consented to being photographed and the photograph was later published in a magazine devoted to cafes. However, sometime later the same photograph was published without permission demonising alcohol abuse.
Again, the photograph was published for a third time but without permission and appeared in a French scandal sheet entitled, “Prostitution in the Champs-Elyees”. Needless to say that the male in the photograph successfully sued the publication.
So, without knowing the first two versions and publications you could be forgiven that this was the first publication and had been taken totally out of context. Needless to say, the male in the photograph successfully sued and was awarded compensation. It has since appeared at the MOAM.
It has gained a place in the history of art and has been presented, received and interpreted in many ways by others. Therefore, the context in which it appears defines the meaning of the photograph itself.
Original context has to contain something which was present either physically or psychologically at the time the photographer intended to take the photograph.
The key here is that firstly the photographer intended to take the photograph in the first place and that the second ingredient has to be present e.g. a something physically present. Without either of these then the definition of an Original context doesn’t apply.
Barrett talks about Nick Ut’s example photograph of a young naked Vietnamese girl running away from the fields set ablaze by napalm with American soldiers in the background. It is without a doubt a haunting and harrowing photograph and we can only imagine how the child felt. I know what war and conflict feel like I have been there in Kuwait and Iraq. It is neither pleasant or welcoming. The images I have seen will never be erased from my mind and in a way neither can you do it when you have seen Ut’s photograph. Whilst we do not know the circumstances that surround the photograph it has become a synonymous with the Vietnam conflict. (Nick Ut, no date). If you have the knowledge and history that appertains to this photograph, like many other examples then it makes more sense and is more than just a photograph of war involving children.
I chose to pay ‘homage’ to Fay Godwin. Godwin, documented the changing landscape and how inaccessible the land had become to the general public. She was a self taught photographer, who started her career taking portraits but quickly moved into the countryside. She wrote several books ‘Our Forbidden Land’, Land and many others but by far a personal favourite a signed copy and first edition of The Saxon Shoreway From Gravesend to Rye written by Alan Sillitoe. Godwin accompanied him photographing the 140 mile walk.
The chapter Along the Wantsum and in particular Reculver appealed immediately to me. I have a love hate relationship with Reculver. It is of historic national and local importance and in my opinion an ancient monument and should be treated as such by the general public, but I find it heart-breaking to see children climbing over the ruins with little or no respect. I love that we are able to get up close and appreciate it but with that comes the price of commercialism
Reculver Roman Ruins and Towers are a short 20 minute drive from my home. Reculver is now a country park managed by Canterbury City Council. A great deal has changed since Godwin and Sillitoes walked past and if Godwin was to re-visit today she would be horrified to not only see the expanded caravan parks but the visitor centre, play area and pay and display car parks encouraging coach loads of visitors to a fragile part of the North Kent Coast.
Sillitoe described it (Reculver) as “Reculver is surrounded by caravan parks – Caranville with a vegenance.” I fear that it was too late then as he goes onto to explain, “I hope no calor-gas bottle outside each tethered living van will explode, because if one does, so will the next, and I will clearly regret not being alive by the end to have witnessed a spectacular example of the domino theory in practice.” (Sillitoe and Godwin, 1983)
Godwin photographed the expanse of the caravan park surrounding the Roman towers, which resonated with my recent visit in my specially adapted wheelchair vehicle. The recent installation of a height barrier to the old car park and creation of a new open car park, with restrictions was the idea and inspiration for this exercise. Often Godwin photographs signs, which are direct in their message or show man’s interference on the landscape usually to its detriment and contain ‘Original context’. Her use of monochrome is appealing and removes the distraction for me and focuses the viewers’ attention to the important parts of the photograph. Although Godwin did later use colour film and a flatbed scanner for me the early work is by far her strongest photography.
I took a walk around the site from the entrance searching for a viewpoint that echoed the caravan park and the negative impact it had on the landscape; but because the place has changed so much I was unable to replicate the viewpoint and had to work back from the entrance to the more public areas searching for an original context photograph.
The entrance to the Country Park now has rather posh wooden sleeper sign mounted with metallic letter, which lit up when the sunset hits it and creates low shadows across the car park. The sign welcomes visitors but juxtaposed is the formal sign erected adjacent and three times the size outlining the pay and display rules and policies apply. Rather interesting for me is the disabled rules and regulations are so extensive that they are condensed in size and make rather difficult reading from a distance and inaccessible as the sign is mounted in the verge facing the entrance rather than the car park. Are we really welcome???
The next layer is the new welcome centre and café and further into the distance the towers and Roman ruins the commercialism spreads like a disease from the old photograph taken by Godwin.
The North Kent Coast has become something of a wind farm mecca and the increase to harness wind power is now more important than ever. I came across a sign containing information about the wind farm, which can be seen in the distance on the horizon from the edge of Reculver.
I selected the final image – “Welcome?” as my photograph in homage to Godwin’s photograph of Reculver.
Perhaps and just perhaps nature will reclaim it all as it did with the village that is now submerged in the sea who knows?
Nick Ut(no date) World Press Photo. Available at: https://www.worldpressphoto.org/people/nick-ut(Accessed: 3 July 2018).
Sillitoe, A. and Godwin, F. (1983) The Saxon shore way: from Gravesend to Rye. London: Hutchinson.
Ut, N. (2017) ‘Nick Ut: a career in photography – in pictures’, The Guardian, 30 March. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2017/mar/30/nick-ut-a-career-in-photography-in-pictures(Accessed: 5 July 2018).
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)
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.
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).
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Fay Godwin is probably one of the finest landscape photographers of her time. She was born in Berlin, Germany in 1931 her father a British Diplomat, mother an American artist.
Her education took her to various schools all over the world but she settled down to live in London.
During the mid 1960’s she became interested in photography by photographing her own children and neighbours although she had no formal training. Her marriage dissolved and her husband shortly after her divorce passed away.
She began to carve a career out of photography by taking portraits professionally of writers. Fay was a keen reader but realised that the work was limiting.
She started to photograph writers and at the same time was diagnosed with cancer but went on to make a full recovery. John Fowles, author invited her to work with him on a book, which took her photography in a new direction.
Landscape photography became important because naturally things became important to her after undergoing orthodox medicine she turned to holistic and complementary therapies. This enhanced her feelings towards the natural world and landscape photography.
Fay explored the landscape documenting locations, which were published the first of those being ‘The Oldest Road’, with the writer J.R.L Anderson, and toured with an exhibition from the series in 1975. She collaborated on a further eight books during her career.
Her work documented the changing landscape of Britain often depicting scenes, which some historical societies found controversial. One photograph in particular of Reculver Towers, an old roman fort in Kent showed a caravan park juxtaposed with the ancient structure. This was criticised for placing the ‘modern caravans’ against the old abbey ruins and did not show them in good light.
A further example of this with Richborough Castle, Kent a Roman fort. Fay has composed the image to show the three cooling towers of the now demolished power station between a gap in the wall. (Fowles and Jeffrey, 1985, p. 109)
John Fowles writes in his essay in Land, (Fowles and Jeffrey, 1985, p.13) ‘The camera cannot really reveal the grim truth that now lurks in the fields. the copses and woods. the distant valleys and hillsides of contemporary Britain. We have done unimaginably dreadful things to our countryside’s in these last fifty years. We have destroyed an incalculable number of hedges; profoundly changed 95 per cent of our natural lowland meadows. with their once countless flowers.’
Fay was aware of the general public perception of the countryside extended to the fairly new idea of county parks and not really connected with the true countryside compounded by countless books filled with ‘pretty postcard’ photographs. She realized that to live in the countryside people who inhabited the spaces had to earn a living and to do so would mean building on it.
She explored our historical monuments such as Avebury, which she found quite mysterious. The composition of these images makes you wonder how or why a solitary stone has been placed in a vast landscape rather than painters such as John Constable who in 1836 painted Stonehenge in great detail. Fay’s images are crude, simple as if the stones were randomly placed and their purpose long forgotten.
I am impressed by her work and simplistic composition showing how our heritage that once was has fallen into ruin and sites that we should have access to such as Stonehenge are no longer free to roam around but fenced in.
The photographs at the beginning of ‘Land’ in particular Glencoe shows a complete lack of human habitation or animals. She admits that these are somewhat depressing because of the lack of interest but they show the rugged, rough and inhospitable land and a feeling of isolation.
I am particularly interested in her work on the Romney marshes. I live in North Kent and have visited Romney Marsh on numerous occasions during my course. Fay gives a sense of a vast barren, desolate, wild but inhabited landscape exposed to the elements. The images are raw and powerful.
In contrast to her images in the Saxon Shore Way, which documents the walk from Gravesend to Rye it shows local images to my home of the marshes near Faversham. I find it intriguing that in less than three decades how much we have lost of our landscape and yet ‘Rotting car, Cliffe Lagon’ is something which Fay returned to time after time documenting its erosion. (Fowles and Jeffrey, 1985, p.111) She talks about the rotting car in a video online. (protesilao1057)
I found a similar scene a couple of miles from my home of two burnt out and discarded cars in what was once a thriving cherry orchard awaiting their final journey to the scrap yard. I have been fascinated by them ever since they were exposed and photographed them at different times of the day and over the course of the summer.
Society has not moved on it would appear that we still live in this throwaway society and it does not matter that we are destroying our countryside or what impact we have on it.
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)
During my research I found it strikingly similar that both Fay and Kirsty Mitchell had both gone through a traumatic time and turned to photography as a source of solace, inspiration, therapy and way of coping. Personally, I look at my life and photography has given me the opportunity to express my feelings and my view of the world I firmly believe that photography is a healer and by sharing my work it has inspired others as both these photographers have inspired me.
Fowles, J. and Jeffrey, I. (1985) Fay Godwin: Land. London: Heinemann.
protesilao1057 (no date) Fay Godwin – ‘Paesaggi’. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JE8I44Ak7o (Accessed: 3 August 2016).
‘Snapshot’ (no date). Available at: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/01/master-photographer-fay-godwin/ (Accessed: 3 August 2016).
My first glimpse of Kirsty’s work was in the February 2016, RPS Journal as it dropped on the doormat. The hauting image of the almost victorianesque style dress and white pale faced model forced me to open the journal and read the article.
Within minutes of reading I echoed my own thoughts and feelings about life with a terminal disease and the escapism of photography immersing myself in something which is a welcome distraction from the daily grind and constant reminders of being ill.
Kirty’s mother Maureen passed away in 2008 from cancer. Kirsty’s mother a former teacher had a huge influence on her childhood of reading stories way past her age when mother’s stopped reading stories to their children. Her biography was of great interest how she started her career in one direction studying fine art and photography gaining an honours degree in fashion design and textiles at Ravensbourne College of Art.
Practically unknown at the beginning of six and half year journey now an award winning fine-art photographer.
She posted self-portraits, titled Nocturne, on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kirsty841/
My mothers widow…….
In this image I see the veil as a symbol between the living and the dead and yet we are only moments from one place to another, whatever we believe that other place to be. The sombre expression and gaze downward and almost inward. You can almost sense the grief, loss and overwhelming sadness yet at the sametime there is that knowledge that above her mother is still connected albeit by memories surrounding her. The colour muted blue representing her sadness and that no matter how much time will pass the loss will never completely heal.
Maureen’s funeral was a small affair and Kirsty felt that she should mark this by working in her memory on ‘Wonderland’.
I had depression and was becoming reclusive, so I was drawn to running off to the woods and creating a more beautiful experience than I had in reality. Then I started releasing the images on Flickr and created a little blog which two people would read if I was lucky.'(CLARK, 2016)
Mitchell created imaginative characters’ incorporating them into her blog, which gained a following and by 2011 she had given her job in fashion up and pursued her photography.
Mitchells’ philosophy is not to just create a unique piece but experience it, feel it and create it and be part of that otherwise she would be denied ‘incredible experiences'(CLARK, 2016). She admits that whilst she uses Photoshop to retouch and process her photographs it is important that she makes the costumes and props by hand.
In 2012, ‘Wonderland’ featured on the Daily Mail website and the whole story went viral. The power of the internet and Social Media cannot be underestimated but she doesn’t believe that it doesn’t ensure success on its own. ‘You can’t magically create a fan base. If people like your work, they relate to it. It’s as simple as that.'(CLARK,2016)
Mitchell was inundated with mail echoing her own sorrow and loss. I can see why her personal story plays a pivotal relationship and attraction to her work.
Nearing the end of the photography for the Wonderland book in November 2014 she decided that she would self publish. The book containing not just the images but her 65,000 words of her personal diary. The book in her words, ‘This book is a circle of life, love and loss, and in the final pages there’s me ready to go on to a new stage. It’s the perfect end. The timing is extraordinary. You couldn’t make it up if you tried.’ (CLARK,2016)
Clearly, Kirsty Mitchell is a talented designer and photographer. She can relate to her viewers through her powerful images ignited by her childhood and her mother’s passing and journey of living with a terminal illness. I can relate to that. I can see how my own personal experiences and journey have infulenced my work even in a short space of time. I don’t have the dexterity or skills to make wonderful costumes or sets so I take what I have around me and the landscape, which I feel most take for granted as everyday is a blessing.
I agree that Social Media doesn’t ensure success but does play a part and without some sort of context or narrative in my work that connection is lost between the viewer and myself. The prior preparation, meticulous attention to detail is again something I can see in myself I am somewhat of a perfectionist and revisit places time and time again sometimes not even taking a single image. I visited one location Deal Pier a dozen times before I caught the light, cloud and tides right before being satisfied with “Perfection Personified”, gaining a Judge’s selection and third place with the Disabled Photographer’s Society.