Category Archives: Research & Reflection

Bill Henson

As part of my feedback on my assignment 4, my tutor signposted me to the work of Bill Henson.

Bill Henson is an Australian Photographer famous for his low light, painterly images. Many of his images are taken using the ambient twilight to create a painterly ‘chiaroscuro’ effect.

Chiaroscuro ‘is an oil painting technique, developed during the Renaissance, that uses strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms, often to dramatic effect’ (Wikipedia). I understand this to mean the use of light and shadow to give a three dimensional ‘solid’ appearance to a subject.

Henson produced much of his work using ambient twilight to create ‘otherworldly’ emotional images. This twilight light was also used to suggest the ‘twilight’ boundaries between male and female, child and adult.

His book ‘Particle Mist‘  is a collection of images of ballerinas as they practice their dance.

Image 1

These images show dancers ‘lost in a reverie as they practice dance in a dimly lit studio; but through Henson’s lens they could just as well be the protagonists of a 17th century Dutch masterpiece’. (Woodward 2017)

Henson (in Woodward 2017) says: ‘When I first encountered ballet, as depicted in these works, it wasn’t so much the dancers that struck me as the light and atmosphere of the space in which they were rehearsing. There was an otherworldly twilight created by the darkened and dusty windows in this old studio which seemed to hold the dancers in thrall. Gradually I came to realise that these spaces and the people who inhabit them start to become one’. (Woodward)

To me, these images are portraits that show the feelings and thoughts of the subjects and show them as inseparable from dance, almost as if the portrait is not about the individual but is about her mental connection with and total absorption in  her physical expression through movement. These images are soft, conveying a gentle emotion and a blurring of the boundary between the dancer and the dance.

I am particularly interested in Henson’s images of industrial landscapes, taken at night.

Image 2

I would be interested to combine my work on assignments 4 (night photography) and 5 (industrial images) to capture images of Sheffield’s E.ON power station at night. I find it particularly striking at night because of the orange ‘fire-glow’ effect from the main building. This would be an interesting contrast to my daylight images of the site.

List of illustrations

Image 1: Henson, B (2015) Photographs from Particle Mist at:  http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8060/bill-hensons-bewitching-anti-portraits-of-ballerinas (Accessed 8 May 2017)

Image 2: Henson, B (1998) Photograph. ~31 untitled. At: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&qpvt=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&qpvt=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&qpvt=bill+henson+industrial+landscapes&FORM=IGRE (accessed 14 May 2017)

Bibliography

Woodward, D. (2017). Bill Henson’s Bewitching ‘Anti-Portraits’ of Ballerinas. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8060/bill-hensons-bewitching-anti-portraits-of-ballerinas (Accessed 8 May 2017).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro

Britain in focus – A Photographic History (part 3)

Documentary series, BBC4. In three parts, commencing 6 March 2017.

I thought it would be helpful to my learning to take notes as I watched this program, and to record my learning in my learning log.

This final part of the series documents the progress of photography from colour to digital. The presenter, Eamonn McCabe says that he has seen a photography ‘revolution’ during his career.

I was particularly interested in this episode for its focus on some of the photographers I have been introduced to on this course, such as Faye Godwin, Peter Mitchell and Martin Parr. It is interesting to see how these are becoming familiar manes to me now, and I had not heard of them prior to starting this course.

First though, I was interested in McCabe’s focus on 1960s postcards. He looked at the work of John Hind who created the vivid coloured postcard images that we all know, highlighting the mood of optimism and ‘Britain enjoying itself again’.  Hind’s colours and effect were not just created by his camera, but were produced by the ‘cutting edge printers’ and the alteration and enhancement of colours post-capture.

The Kodak Instamatic camera, developed in 1963 ‘was simple to use and widened the appeal of colour photography’ . People could take their own colour snapshots, send away the cartridge for development and receive their prints in the post.

In terms of colour photography however, McCabe said that ‘some aspects of British life didn’t seem to lend themselves to colour photography’. ‘Black and white’ was still considered the proper medium for ‘serious’ photography.

John Bulmer photographed ‘the north’ in colour. Until then it had been considered ‘a black and white subject’. Bulmer’s images of the north were often taken in winter and in rain or fog, because he felt that if they were taken on sunny days, his images wouldn’t ‘get across the atmosphere of the place’. As a northerner, I am not sure quite what to feel about this depiction of the north as an homogenous and depressing place. However, I can’t deny that I really like these images.

Photographer Jane Bown ‘refused to shoot in colour’. She was a portrait photographer who worked for The Observer and she used mono to reveal the characters of the many famous people, including the Queen, who she photographed.

The 1970s saw a ‘new generation of photographers, driven to tell stories that they thought no one else was telling’. Van Lee Burke (I may have misheard this name and am unable to find record of this photographer), for example, took photographs depicting his experience of African Caribbean culture ‘from the inside’ as a challenge the negative stereotype and to show the reality of the growing black community in Birmingham. He felt that black people were ‘not in charge of their own history’ and his work was an attempt to address this by ‘writing our history ourselves’. He took photographs to show locally, he didn’t want his pictures in the press and he said ‘the community is the audience’. This may explain why I have been unable to find more information about this artist.

Peter Mitchell recorded change within his home town of Leeds. He created a 40 year record of demolition within the city and he chose to do this using colour since he felt that ‘it is the way we all look at stuff’. He says that he regards photography as ‘almost slightly religious … almost that God’s light comes down and hits you.’ McCabe says that although his photographs are now valued as an important historical work, Mitchell could have been overlooked were it not for Val Williams, Gallery Curator who exhibited his work in her Impressions network of new galleries. Please see my post Peter Mitchell, Planet Yorkshire.

Faye Godwin worked in the traditional landscape genre. Her work Land, in 1985, presented a picturesque view of Britain, ‘in contrast to her disillusionment with other aspects of natural life’. Paul Hill, interviewed, said that ‘Faye could say something with her pictures’ – about access to the land – she used photography as a vehicle for her beliefs and opinions’. I had not consciously thought of Godwin’s work in my assignment 5 submission, but I can now see similarities in my attempt to say something about the accessibility of industrial spaces. Val Williams says that ‘Godwin could find out a lot about how the land was being used and her Forbidden Land became a political project in which she explored how the land was being bought up, restricted and controlled’.

Martin Parr’s images have divided opinion. His The Last Resort images ‘made his name’. McCabe says that Parr ‘mixes the colour and quality of commercial photography with documentary realism’. Critics accuse him of being cruel in his capturing of unflattering images of the working class. Parr explains that in a follow up book The Cost of Living , he ‘turned the camera on his own tribe’. Here, his images show the middle class attending anti-natal classes or going to craft fairs (which he hates), capturing them because Parr ‘finds people funny’. He insists he is ‘not taking the p***’ out of people but admits to a ‘sense of mischief’. Parr’s use of colour and flash makes his images look like ‘glossy magazine shots rather than traditional documentary images’. However, he does provide a ‘documentary’, taking images exploring consumerism among the middle classes – people deliberating over which sofa to buy, or attending aerobics classes, for example. He says that ‘flash makes it clear that it is an interpretation of a scene rather than a depiction of reality. McCabe says he shows ‘a parallel reality, instantly recognisable but somehow ludicrous, a kind of Parr world’.

In terms of digital photography, McCabe says he is sceptical. His ‘worry is that the camera, which is more like a computer, does so much of the work, there is less consideration to composition and framing.’ In an age where ‘everybody is a photographer’,  he asks ‘how, in the vast ocean of images, are you supposed to take a really great photograph?’

McCabe interviews Mishka Hannah, who creates images in a studio ‘with not a camera in sight’. Hannah uses material from the internet and satellite imagery to ‘access forbidden places, for example industrial farmland in Texas’ – in common with Faye Godwin, he reveals how landscape is used and controlled. His technique seems far from traditional photography but he uses existing images from Google Earth which he superimposes onto maps of land boundaries and puts them together ‘to make a new composition’.

McCabe says that the digital revolution has ‘affected how we take, present and share photographs. He interviews a 16 year old girl, Molly Bonneyface, about her use of Instagram. She tells him that the images she takes with her smart phone is not just a hobby, ‘it is a means of expression’. She explains that she ‘can use her phone all the time, it is always there, it’s what I do all the time’. She says that the images she presents to her 1300 followers who like her pictures ‘are just a version of me that I choose to show everyone… its a public diary that looks nice.. other pictures I keep just for me’. McCabe confirms ‘taking pictures is central to who Molly is’ and says ‘the most important subject for the everyday photographer is now themselves’.

This series of three episodes has looked at the development of British photography since the first images were taken 180 years ago and has ‘considered the changing ways in which we have pictured ourselves… we have learned how science and technology have shaped the course of photography at every stage of its history and how great art has come from the camera’.

 

Assessment – Final Self Evaluation

It has been helpful to base my final self-evaluation around the course assessment criteria.

Technical and visual skills

I feel that I have applied myself to all the course exercises and that these have helped to build my technical and visual skills and improve my knowledge, I have repeated some of the exercises for further learning and have benefitted from the process of reflecting on my work.

Please see the my re-work of exercise 2.6 for an example of how my reflection informed my approach to taking images with a narrow depth of field.

I am aware that technically, I have a lot to learn. However, I have become much more comfortable with my camera over the last twelve months in terms of the techniques covered in the course but am keen to develop my photography skills further, including techniques for editing with Photoshop. I am developing a habit of always looking and am beginning to see things in everyday life in terms of light and composition. I am much more aware of the ‘camera (as) a tool for expressing ideas’ (course notes p20) and of photography as a visual language.

I have become much more open to taking images that I would previously not have considered as appropriate and to looking at and enjoying the work of artists whose work is more difficult to understand.

Quality of outcome

I have experimented with print submission and I believe that the prints I submit for my final assessment are superior in quality to those I submitted in assignment 3. I am very aware of the importance of presentation in the visual arts and I am happy to be able to draw on the experiences of fellow students for their knowledge of options available.

I have completed all the set assignments and I have learned from my experiences and my tutor feedback. I can clearly see how I initially failed to address the brief for assignment 3 and by re-working it and considering my tutor’s comments, I learned a lot. My fourth and fifth assignments received much better feedback from my tutor and I was happy that I had fully addressed the brief in both these assignments and created some good images. In assignment five I have produced a piece of work with a clear concept that also shows something of my personal interest and perhaps the beginnings of a personal voice.

On reflecting on my submitted images, I am aware that, without exception, I have used a landscape orientation and a 2:3 ratio. This has largely been a deliberate decision. In exercise 4.5  for example, when photographing the tallest structure in the country, I chose to use landscape to avoid the emphasis on the height of the building in favour of different viewpoints. However, I have a mental note to experiment more.

Demonstration of creativity

Perhaps the most difficult part of the course has been the ‘creative’ side. By this I mean the formulating of ideas for assignment work. I envy those students who seem to overflow with creative ideas for their work. However, I am learning to draw on my personal interests and life experiences and I have found a particular interest in quite a number of areas. I am keen to develop further my interest in architectural subjects, ‘ordinary’ things, low light and night photography and women’s issues. Being a twin myself, I am also very interested in the ways that twins seem to be a popular subject for photographers keen to establish and point out similarities and differences between them. Twin photography from a twin’s point of view, or in collaboration with my twin, may be interesting for future work.

Exercise 5.2  demonstrates my own assessment of my work as creative, and this was a significant realisation for me. Through this analysis, I realised that I am learning to develop my creativity and I am pleased that I am starting to feel that this side of my learning has started to develop.

In my Insomnia Project I hope to show a sense of experimentation. I had a sense of wanting to say something and thinking about how I could translate ideas into images technically. My focus here was on the idea rather than technical excellence since it was not appropriate to set up a tripod in the middle of the night in a shared bedroom. However, I hope that it shows a desire to experiment and a sense of the development of my creativity.

My Food Project was an attempt to tell a story and present a political message about food consumption. This was in response to The Food Issue of the British Journal of Photography and it encouraged me to see my work as a means of conveying a particular meaning. My inspiration was in terms of the excesses within the food industry as explored by Bobby Doherty (BJP December 2016 p24). This was also an attempt to introduce something of myself into my work since it involved images of my own relationship with food and my routines around it. Ultimately it is an attempt to highlight the waste within food sales and the consequent effect on the planet.

Context

My understanding of the art of photography has changed dramatically since starting this course.  I have begun to know the work of significant artists and to develop an understanding of the history of photography and its place in the visual arts. I have a new understanding of photography as a visual language and how images can be used, like words, to convey a particular message or story, and can say things that may be impossible with words. I have been introduced to different genres of photography and to debates between photographers and to viewing the work of photographers exhibited in galleries. This has all given me a wider understanding of the world of photography and has started to open my mind to the possibilities for my own work.

Bibliography

British Journal of Photography (December 2017) Are you being served? The Food Issue. issue 7854

 

Britain in focus – A Photographic History (part 2)

Documentary series, BBC4. In three parts, commencing 6 March 2017.

I thought it would be helpful to my learning to take notes as I watched this program, and to record my learning in my learning log.

In this second part of the series, Eamonn McCabe introduces us to the beginnings of media reportage. Following developments in photographic processes that allowed images to be reproduced directly on the pages of a newspaper, media images of significant events could be produced. The new process of photography relied on producing negatives on glass plates which could then be quickly reproduced as positive images. Previously, the only way an image could be reproduced directly into a newspaper was through individual engraving. The Mirror newspaper group significantly increased its sales when it published a report including a dramatic front page image depicting the Sydney Street siege in London in 1911.

This report aroused unprecedented interest from the public and was ‘the making of press photography’. It led to a growing public appetite for news stories. For the first time, for example, intimate pictures of the armed forces could be taken and used to record the experiences of the soldiers leading up to the war.

I was interested in the fact that the most significant photographer of WW1 soldiers’ lives was a woman. Christina Broome took images of soldiers and she and her daughter printed and produced them overnight. Her images showed a personal view of the experience of war, the everyday lives of those in the army. So successful was her venture that her images of happy healthy soldiers actually boosted recruitment into the forces.

The development of the ‘Vest pocket Kodak’, marketed and aimed at use by the soldiers allowed images to be taken by them and introduced ‘a new level of realism’ to war photography. Written notes about location and date could be made directly on to the negative using a stylus. The first pictures of the war action were taken by soldiers. However, when images of friendly personal relationships between the English and German soldiers were circulated, the army banned the use of VPKs. The few images that do remain create a valuable historical document.

‘Back in London’, Alvin Langdon Coburn was making his mark on photography by establishing portraiture as an art form. His image of George Bernard Shaw, naked and posed like ‘The Thinker’ established Coburn as ‘the country’s first celebrity photographer’. Coburn’s technique involved establishing a raport and relationship with his sitters. He wanted to break down the usual barriers between photographer and subject.  His image of  W B Yeats, taken while the author is reciting a poem, shows him with a natural, honest expression, staring straight at the camera. This image was not staged and it perfectly captured the honest relationship and lack of barrier between Coburn and his subject. McCabe goes on to tell us that Coburn’s moody urban landscapes of London were very much a result of his printing techniques. He used platinum printing techniques that ensured a misty, ominous outcome.

Cecil Beeton is famous for his capturing of stylised images of the ‘roaring 20’s’ showing life after the war and celebrating the new freedoms. His famous picture of his sister Nancy shows a new stylised photography in its theatrical and dramatic use of her flamboyant costumes and re-touching to create a staged image that captured the hedonism of the post war years. Beeton’s images were published by Vogue magazine for many years and fashion magazines used images like these to help to sell their products. Photographs were artistic, they did not always clearly depict the product for sale but their use of glamour and setting helped to ‘sell a lifestyle’, and consequently the product. Beeton was influenced by the surrealist art movement that used theatrical and magical images, and he helped to establish the genre of fashion photography.

Following the  hedonism of the 20s, the thirties presented a very different view of Britain. This was an era of ‘unemployment, poverty and protest’. Bill Brandt was a German Photographer working in the north of England at the time. His images show the reality of life in some of the most deprived areas during the depression. Some of his images were staged to capture portraits of people who lived and worked in poor industrial communities, and he ‘created a version of Britain never before recorded’.

The ‘roll film Leica’ allowed photographers to take their images without the use of a tripod and changed the nature of photography as a consequence. The famous image of the two young women on the fairground ride, both smiling, one showing her knickers as the wind blows her skirt was considered ‘ahead of its time’. The girl’s underwear was airbrushed out but the final image was cheeky, and showed working class girls having a laugh. This image was different to anything previously seen.

A year later, in 1939, WW2 broke out. Bill Hardy’s images captured the work of firemen as they responded to calls during the blitz. His work shows the danger inherent in the work and also to the photographer. For the first time, a photographer was credited with the images used in a report that appeared in the newspaper. Hardy went on to document the liberation of Bergan-Belson concentration camp, capturing unprecedented scenes of human suffering. Similarly, George Rodger’s image of a little boy, out for a walk, and passing piles of corpses at the roadside was shocking and disturbing. The visual record of the Holocaust formed part of the evidence used to convict war criminals

McCabe says, it is important to record these events, however terrible, as a lasting testimony for following generations.

This post is written using hand written notes taken while watching the program. I have used quotation marks where words have been directly lifted from the commentary.

 

 

 

Charging Bull and Fearless Girl

I was interested in how context can dramatically alter the interpretation and meaning of an image. Although this analysis does not directly relate to the meaning of a photograph, I felt that it illustrated very well how meaning depends on where art is displayed – the external context.  Just as the meaning of Doisneau’s Paris Café image (Please see my post Part 5 research point – context) could be interpreted as a comment on alcohol or prostitution, or simply on café culture, according to where it was viewed, so the artist’s intention in the exhibition of his Charging Bull statue was compromised by the ‘addition’ of Fearless Girl. The changed environment in which the statue was presented altered its meaning.

Charging Bull was intended as a symbol of the strength of America following the stock market crash in 1987. It depicted resilience and determination. The artist, Arturo Di Modica felt that Fearless Girl, a symbol of Women’s equality in the workplace, undermined his artistic intention because it encouraged a new interpretation of the Bull as signifying dominance and fear, something to be ‘stood up to’ and challenged by women.

Di Modica felt that the addition of Fearless Girl to the site ‘fundamentally corrupted (his) artistic integrity’ (Ruth 2017)

 

Image 1 (Ruth 2017)

My difficulty with this issue is in seeing the Bull (without the girl) as symbolising simply American resilience. To me, this is a symbol of dominance and perhaps aggression and it suggests an uncontrollable power or unstoppable force rather than resilience and determination. Consequently, the meaning of the Bull, for me is little changed by the addition of Fearless Girl.  Fearless Girl perhaps emphasises the bull as dangerous, but she does not re-define it as dangerous. What she does is focus attention on the danger as ‘male’ and consequently on the strength of women. I think that the Girl symbolises resilience and determination far more than the Bull does.

However, in terms of context, I agree that something has changed for the Bull with the addition of this second sculpture and it is interesting to see just how the setting can significantly alter the way in which a piece of art or a photograph can be interpreted.

Bibliography

Ruth, A. (2017). ‘Charging Bull’ Artist Says ‘Fearless Girl’ Should Be Removed and He’s Right. [online] RedState. Available at: http://www.redstate.com/prevaila/2017/04/12/charging-bull-artist-says-fearless-girl-removed-he%e2%80%99s-right/[Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].

 

Homage – Sally Mann

As part of the work on homage photography in part 5 of the course it was suggested that students refer back to their personal archives to consider images that celebrate the work of other artists.

Below is an image that I took as part of my research for exercise 4.2  on natural light. Inspired by the work of Sally Mann, I took this image in a soft foggy light to create a dreamy ‘other-worldly’ atmosphere.  I was actually a bit anxious in this quiet spot in the fog, and my image, taken off-level emhasises this sense of disorientation. I included a vignette, as Sally Mann did, with the intention of creating a narrowed viewpoint to exaggerate the feeling of unease. I hoped that it would suggest a hidden and therefore unsettling presence.

Please see my post on Sally Mann – Southern Landscapes and this image in particular:

Image 1

Sally Mann (1998) Southern Landscapes

and my image:

I am not sure if this is homage photography, though I clearly was influenced by Mann’s work and have not attempted to hide that fact.

List of illustrations

Mann, Sally (1998) Southern Landscapes (Photographs). At: http://sallymann.com/selected-works/southern-landscapes. (Accessed 22.1.17)

Reflection – Seascapes

I looked at Sugimoto’s Theatres series as part of my research for assignment 3 and this work led me to look at this photographer’s seascapes.

I commented, in my post Hiroshi Sugimoto:

‘How can images that should seem abstract have so much depth? I found myself entranced by them. This series of images are of the horizon between sea and sky, with the horizon in the centre. Despite no obvious technique to lead the eye into the image, the viewer is drawn into the picture’.

I was interested in Sugimoto’s motivation for this series being the desire to capture a view that has remained unchanged over centuries and that can be seen now as it was many many years ago. In considering homage photography in part 5 of the course, I wanted to attempt some seascapes of my own, both recognising Sugimoto’s work and as an experiment in taking a photograph that seems so simple yet so enthralling. I wanted to see if my own sea images could feel so meaningful.

My first images are in colour:

My first comment is that these images were surprisingly not straight forward. I used my shortest lens, 16mm, and a horizontal framing because I wanted as wide a view as possible. I did not want to use a telephoto lens to zoom in. In some ways this would have been a lot easier since the wide angle needed a significant expanse of uninterrupted horizon. The view from Filey Bay was not wide enough – my images would have contained the Brig to the left, and the cliffs of Reighton Bay to the right. However, just north of the Brig, there is a wider expanse of horizon, with Scarborough to the left, and it was from the cliff tops there that I decided I would take my images. I hadn’t considered the distance that the bottom of the cliff extended into the sea, which made it quite difficult to avoid it in the foreground of my pictures. It was a very windy day too, and I was mindful of the dangers of getting too close to the edge. Also, I had taken only a monopod, and the strength of the wind was too much for me to use a slow shutter speed. My best images were taken with the camera handheld close to the ground. I had hoped that I could use a long exposure to further blur the distinction between sky and sea, but this was not possible. I experimented instead with larger apertures to try to create a blurring effect that way.

However, the results showed me that my images had that same feeling of being drawn into the picture, as Sugimoto’s did, and I really liked the effect.

I tried my images in mono, to more closely reflect Sugimoto’s images:

I think these images work well in mono. The second image, because of the positioning of the clouds, encourages a feeling of depth in the image. It would be interesting to see the effect of a cloudless day, and perhaps a calmer sea, and whether this would create a more abstract result.

Reflection – Cloudscapes

In part 1 of the course, we looked at Alfred Stieglitz’s cloudscapes, The Equivalents in terms of composition and framing. The course notes say, of his photographs, ‘they don’t appear to be composed at all; instead they are ‘equivalent’ in that any section of the sky would seem to do as well as any other. Because there is no sense of composition our eye is drawn to the edges’. (p27) The images are cropped rather than composed.

I recall reading that on being asked if his images were of the sky, Stieglitz asked why it matters at all what they were of (I am unable now to reference this). I understand his intention to create an abstract image in its own right, not a reflection of reality.

I attempted some cloudscapes myself, to observe my process of identifying which part of the sky to photograph and to consider whether I felt that that my images had anything to do with the reality of the view I captured.

I chose this part of the sky for the heaviness of the clouds, in an attempt to create a very abstract image. It is clearly sky. However, in a second image, converted to mono, this is less obvious.

My experience of the sky, while taking these images was of being drawn in to the view and of appreciating the beauty of the whole sky because, with a movement of my head and eyes, I could see it all. My view was not constrained by a frame or an edge, except for the horizon, and this sense of space is clearly absent from my photographs. They are a poor record of the reality of the scene, and interesting for that fact.

I took the following image in an experiment to include a sense of depth to my cloudscape:

I took this image while standing rather than laying down. It has made a difference though it is difficult to say exactly how. The clouds in this patch of sky were more linear and as such, there appears to be a sense of viewing from the side rather than from below.

My conclusion is that these images are not representative of my viewing the sky in reality. They are segments of a whole and I could have pointed my camera at any patch of sky that day, with the same result.

 

Part 5 – evaluation

I recall my first reading through of the course notes, about a year ago, and my liking the sound of assignment 5. I was looking forward to this assignment and thought about it a lot during the course. My chosen subject at this early stage was Emley Moor Transmitting Station. I had an interest in the ‘mast’ and felt that it would perfectly fit the brief. I started thinking about the images I would take. Emley Moor mast became symbolic of my finishing the course.

Assignment 5 in the end was not about Emley Moor. I chose this as a subject for an exercise in part 4 instead. Interesting.

Part five of Expressing your Vision has been another interesting journey.

Exercise 5.2 involved taking an image in homage to the work of another photographer. I enjoyed this concept and I was inspired by a book of Walker Evans’ images. My homage to Walker Evans involved taking an image of a local railway bridge in response to his ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ image.

As asked, as part of the exercise, I reflected on whether my image demonstrated ‘beauty’, ‘creativity’, or ‘a perfect memento’.

My response is here:

The course notes ask that I consider the possibility of my camera having shooting modes that ensure perfect images in the categories of ‘beauty’, ‘creativity’, or ‘memento’ and asks which mode was used in this exercise. This is an interesting thought. I think that the unusual point of view and short focal length highlights this neglected and unnoticed bridge. Also, I think that although the straight line of the shadow on the wall emphasises the angles of the iron structure, the bridge as a whole is softened by the sunlight. I hope it also shows, through the cars and the steps leading to nearby houses, that the bridge is an important part of a local community. I think that my image therefore shows creativity rather than beauty or a perfect memento.

From exercise 5.2

I have identified a personal weakness in that I have to work really hard to be creative. It is, therefore, with some sense of achievement that I end part five of the course able to identify creativity in my work.

EYV Part 5 project 2 – Rinko Kawauchi – Photography as Information

I was interested in the idea of a photograph as information and in the notion that, since a photograph is created by light, then a ‘well exposed’ image could be seen to convey more information than an image that is underexposed or blown out. A good exposure that avoids missing detail in highlights and shadows could be seen to convey maximum information. One that fails to capture detail in the highlights and shadows could be seen to inadequately convey information.

Our cameras are very sophisticated in their efforts to ensure that we ‘correctly’ expose our images. We have auto-exposure modes and a light meter to allow us to check that exposure is ‘correct’. Zebra stripes show us where our images may be blown out so that we know to re-set the exposure to produce a better image. We use histograms to ensure that the tonal range is ‘correct’ and software like Photoshop to allow us to correct contrast, lightness and darkness after the fact.

However, not all images benefit from ‘perfect’ exposure. And not all images with blown out highlights and black shadows have less information.

Rinko Kawauchi ‘s image, below, at first glance, appears to show an overexposed rose. The background is blurred beyond recognition, and lens flare creates a blue orb. The colours are soft and the colour range is narrow. What information could this image possibly hold?

Image 1

Rinko Kawauchi (2012) Illuminance

In terms of the traditional techniques for conveying information through photography, this image clearly does not conform. The rose is the main subject of the image yet it has no detail, other than the outline shape of the petals and the leaves, since almost all shadow and colour are removed. The result is gorgeous. The shape of the flower is emphasised and to me, this image has more of an emotional impact than a traditional image of a rose. It is quite a sad image because of how the colours of the rose have disappeared from the flower and slipped into the background. Traditionally, this would be a vibrant pink rose, the colour of the pink in the background, and in perfect focus. The green at the bottom of the picture is the colour of the leaves. The blue orb is suggestive of the moon and adds a spiritual connotation, a further link with the natural world.

This image demands that I do not ignore the beauty of nature and reminds me that one day I will not be able to see it.

List of illustrations

Kawauchi’. Rinko (2012) Illuminance (photograph) At: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=wqhjGI62&id=FF725A0DBC0595DB92961F783EF0266111A3C367&q=Rinko+Kawauchi+Illuminance&simid=608016763208204417&selectedIndex=0&ajaxhist=0(Accessed 29 March 2017)