Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options, or a subject of your own choosing:
I started this assignment Collecting putting my thoughts and ideas on paper in the form of mind map.
Initially I started to think about slow motion or showing a passage of time remaining at a location and exploring a time lapse to record the transition between day and night or vice versa. Long exposures using vehicles headlights, tail lights and streetlights were a consideration but this would have posed me difficulities as I wouldn’t have had access to my support worker late at night.
I gave thought to different locations and not only the time of day, the weather or the environment be that rural or urban and in fact could wildlife be a crowd as is often the case when migratory birds arrive en-masse. Quickly I realised that this could be problematic and very unpredictable if the wildlife wasn’t there.
As a beekeeper I have used photography to explain the working of beehive in lectures. Bees by the very nature are always grouped together even at the entrance and would have fitted with the theme of crowds. I wondered if I could have made my own theme around them. I am fortunate to live in a semi-rural part of Kent and surrounded by hops, fruit and farming all of which rely on bees for pollination. However, photographing bees in beesuit is hard work and I would have been working alone, which is not something I can do anymore. So, with some disappointment I dropped the idea.
This left me with what and where could I go and incorporate the ideas of motion and crowds and time passing. Canterbury, one of my chosen locations is a large city with a mixture of busy shopping areas and tourist attractions’ and a cathedral. The cathedral is a very busy area because of the surrounding shops, restaurants and cafes all of which attract large crowds. Canterbury Cathedral attracts thousands of tourists and I knew that I would be guaranteed to be gather photographs of crowds.
I explored other local towns and further away. I arrived at Greenwich park on a wet day and contrary to the usual busy place around the observatory were very few people. The wet day put people off but I thought this was a good thing for me and I decided to include one image into my final selection.
Row 1 (Left to Right)
Image 1 – ‘Cathedral Gate’
Generally, this is my eyelevel from a wheelchair and I wanted to convey how it feels in a busy bustling, crowded area. Being in a wheelchair in crowds and around busy areas can be quite off putting and somewhat intimidating. It was a bright sunny morning and I adjusted the settings using a low iso, small aperture and slower shutter to create a small amount of blur but enough to freeze the action of the cyclist approaching.
Image 2 – ‘Follow the leader’
Crowds are rather like sheep and seem to follow the leader particularly when they are forced to walk in one direction because of obstacles. Using a telephoto lens, from a seated position I concentrated my focus one pedestrian walking across the cobbled pavement followed by a line of people funnelled between a group on the left and the buskers case. The short focal length and faster shutter speed focuses on the subject allowed the periphery to become soft.
Image 3 – ‘Equals’
This was a challenging position for me as I needed to lean over the railings of a footbridge and look directly onto the traffic and pedestrians below. The road naturally started and stopped to give way at the roundabout whereas the pedestrians filtered off to the underpass. I wanted to give a small amount of blur yet create a sharp image so selected a wide angle lens and relatively small aperture.
Image 4 – ‘In a rush’
I normally don’t hold a telephoto lens and camera as I am unable to hold them without shaking. MND (motor neurone disease) can be a real pain at times and especially with photography. However, as I looked up I saw a child running. I had already set the shutter speed but because of my tremors this translated as a blurred but dynamic effect. I am pleased with the result even though it was accidental!
Image 5 – ‘Cycle’
Just around the corner from the cathedral I placed myself discretely across the flow of people. The cyclists are not allowed to cycle through the city during the daytime due to the conflict with pedestrians. I took the opportunity to take this image because the cyclist was forced to avoid the pedestrians and a slow shutter blurred as it navigated the pedestrians.
Row 2 (Left to Right)
Image 6 – ‘Alone in the crowd’
I isolated the subject with a shallow depth of field and wide aperture to give a feeling intimacy without intrusion. I was struck editing this image that you can be alone even if you are surrounded by crowds.
Image 7 – ‘Queues’
I was completely surrounded almost to the point of being consumed by the crowd. I wanted to convey the length of queue to the cathedral and the slow shuffle. A low wide angle, small aperture and a 6 Stop Lee Filter produced a sense of movement both near and far with a sharp image throughout.
Image 8 – ‘General Wolfe’
On a wet, damp miserable day in Greenwich Park usually very busy place with one person present. I wanted to capture a scene where weather had a direct impact on crowds. The wet slabs enhanced using a polariser and a two stop neutral density soft graduated filter to hold the sky back. Centralising the statue helps to balance the composition. Edited: Branch removal upper right.
Image 9 – ‘Jeans & Trainers’
I chose this image because it shows a queue and the crowds waiting are four people deep. I wanted to change the conventional perspective of head shot and reverse this to feet and baggage.
Image 10 – ‘The Tour Guide’
The Canterbury tour guide is surrounded by the students and I isolated him with a large aperture and zoom lens compressing the buildings in the background.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills:
I am happy with my choice of locations’ where I knew that large crowds congregate daily. I have produced a number of shots with different angles and combined my perspective sitting in a wheelchair. Awkward angles I have problem solved using a right angle viewfinder, which I found invaluable throughout this assignment. I dismissed locations that I could gain access to such as shopping centres because of conflicts with private property. Because I have encountered overzealous security guards with previous exercises’. Fay Godwin encountered dozens of such examples documented in her book ‘Forbidden Land’. I explored three locations and decided to focus this project at one location to help create a cohesive panel. The Cathedral entrance provided a focal point although perhaps an obvious choice. I did not want this to be in every photograph but create the feeling of a crowded place introducing it in a couple of images.
Quality of outcome:
Overall I am happy with my final selection, presentation and narrative of each image. I have been critical with my ten images ensuring that they work to tell the story of crowds. What does it feel like to be close-up and personal in a crowd? How distant you can be amongst one yet be right in the middle of it. Alternatively, how the weather, time of day impacts on how we perceive a crowded place would be contrary to what we think. Confident had the weather been different the feel would have been quite contrasting. Perhaps this should be an angle to explore if I revisited this project. I debated at great length to include the ‘street entertainer’. My Petzval 85mm lens generates a swirling soft focus. However, I did not have quite enough people to fit as a ‘crowd’. On reflection I should stood behind the crowd and incorporated them rather than going in close and being part of the crowd.
Demonstration of creativity:
My approach in this project has been creative, given my physical limits with use of equipment such as filters, graduated filters and low tripod angles. My conceptual ideas of incorporating the weather, tourist attractions and local knowledge helped with the odd accidental camera shake worked in my favour. I particularly liked viewing a scene from above to experiment how this would look with textures, light, shadow and objects or subjects that moved.
The hardest objective for me is to be self-critical of my work, however, a couple of months ago I attended a distinction advisory day with the Disabled Photographers’ Society and took my work along. I met one of the panel judges Margaret Salisbury, who gave me excellent feedback. This has definitely helped me looking at my work and with her advice I applied it to this project. I used the theory and exercises in the EYV course to date and used the techniques in this project. I did not research crowds specifically or photographers’ who photograph crowds maybe this would have helped me.
I visited three different locations before settling on my final choice of Canterbury. The project asked to produce between 6-10 images. I edited them to black and white. I decided to produce two rows of five. I produced approximately 580 images in total across the three locations. I added the 20 images to my rejected list.
Turner Contemporary, Margate