Review of “A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania” by Walker Evans

My tutor Jayne Taylor suggested that I review “A graveyard and steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as a follow on to exercise 1.9 soft light landscape.

I decided that I would analyse the photo before researching Walker Evans, and I’m very pleased with my analyses, having now researched Walker Evans. My analyses helps me to see how much I have developed by completing two sections of the coursework for Workflow.

W1siZiIsIjIxMTY2MiJdLFsicCIsImNvbnZlcnQiLCItcmVzaXplIDY0MHg2NDBcdTAwM2UiXV0Fig 1

My notes:- Four layers, Foreground – cross, then mid-ground split into two layers (front) graveyard (back) church and buildings, background – steel mill.

Very few blacks, mid-tone are quite dark, few whites, low contrast.

Initially I thought the shadows were confusing as one Shadow (headstone and cross – middle of mid-ground) appeared it was falling to north north east, whilst the rest are falling to the east. I’m using my mobile phone to look at the image and finally managed to see that the headstone shadow is also falling to the east, but the shape of the headstone made it appear different.

Sun – left, quite low, suggesting mid to late afternoon. Taken in bright daylight, but the grey sky suggests otherwise. Why? Photo silver nitrate on gelatine and developed in dark room, overall picture under developed, but with correct development of mid and foreground (having never used a darkroom this analysis is based upon my limited knowledge of digital developing).

Photo taken in 1935, the great depression. This makes me believe this photo is a metaphor.  Why? The picture doesn’t give me a realist impression of death, the graveyard has better light and more lights and whites than the rest of the photo, I find it quite cheery. The photo is a metaphor for the death of a community, Bethlehem,  and the impact of the steel industry on unemployment, loss of income, property and decline of a community.

Research:- Starting point Wikipedia. Great Depression, Drought, Dustbowl. Unemployment soared to 25%, GDP fell by 15% worldwide (comparison – 2008 recession – worldwide GDP only fell by 1% and that had a major impact worldwide). (wikipedia; 2017)

Bethlehem Steel Corporation – well developed, well managed and profitable company that made a loss of $30m from 1931 – Dec 1933 and had to lay of staff and close mills and factories. Although at the time Walker Evans took the photo the company was turning over a profit as it had retooled and developed production lines to produce rolled tin for the newly developing tin can (beer can) industry. Despite this growth Bethlehem and surrounding community had been devastated by the Great Depression. (encyclopedia.org; 2017)

During 1935 Walker Evans photographed for the Resettlement Administration . Words associated with Walker Evans are information specialist, formalism, modernism, realism and documentary. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 2004)

Despite the consistent biographies of Walker Evans I don’t find this particular photograph of his to be of the documentary, information or realist styles of photography. I feel that this photo presents an allegorical narrative of the impact of the Great Depression upon a town and community.

References

Newcastle Riverside

These are taken on my android, such a vibrant and beautiful city.

And beauty and the beast

20170722_212959

I don’t think I can recover those clipped whites though!

Amazing Day With Northern Pride – Anxiety Vanished – Thankyou

This is just a short post as I’m exhausted. I’ve left early because talking with so many people is emotionally draining. This has been a well organised, attended and supported event. Lots of happy, joyful, colourful and photogenic people. I’ve lived it.

It took me a little while to get into asking people if I could take their photos – and then you couldn’t stop me. The overwhelming majority of people have happily had me take their photos.

I’ve also been able to take photos of Northern Pride committee members Jane and Chris – Jane has been very supportive in enabling me to take photographs. There were so many organisations supporting the event and I have many photos of them, which I will email and tweet to them. The security was excellent with the local police and Smart Security and although Cleveland Police don’t police the event as it’s out of area, they attend and support Northern Pride.

I have no idea how many people I have asked if I could take there photos but it was a lot. I’m pleased with my self for that. I don’t enjoy portrait photography because of my anxiety, so this is another part of my development as a photographer.

Thankyou to the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters, Northern Pride and it’s supporters and sponsors.

It’s going to take some time to develop these photos.

Time to eat.

Northern Pride – My Kind of Britain – Emotionally Preparing to Photo in a Large Crowd

My Kind of Britain is an ongoing project about diversity, equality and discrimination, that I began a few months ago. I intend for it to be an ongoing project. With this in mind I am visiting Northern Pride in Newcastle tomorrow. “Here at Northern Pride we have an overall mission to reduce homophobia, promote awareness of equality and to unite LGBT communities across the region.”

Preparing my photography equipment is straight forward. My mental health is a little more difficult. I’ve had increased anxiety and racing thoughts for a couple of days. I have to build up to talking with people, explaining a project and seeking consent. It terrifies me in the build up and right up until I open my mouth. However once I have started to speak I take on the role of photographer, become present and my mind switches off. Today my emotions are quite intense. It will pass.

I’ve completed a lot of coursework over the past few days so that I could switch off today, and so that I can develop my photos on Monday and Tuesday.

Time now to phone a friend and seek support for the anxiety I’m feeling.

 

References

www.photosociology.info/sociology/ethnicity-and-diversity

www.northern-pride.com

 

 

Exercise 1.12 Smash – Balloon Burst

Brief:-

  1. Set up your camera on a tripod a few metres from the ‘impact zone’ (ground, wall or other) and set the shutter speed to the fastest possible for the available light. Focus your lens manually on the ‘impact zone’. Take a few shots to make sure the exposure is spot on.
  2. Now ask an assistant (standing out of shot) to drop or throw your object onto the impact zone where you’ve nailed focus. (They may need to wear protective glasses depending on your choice of object.) Take your shot.
  3. Review your photo. How was your timing? Is the shutter speed fast enough? Should you increase your ISO?
  4. Try again…and again…
  5. Review your images.

You should have a variety of images that show the frozen movement. However, this project doesn’t just illustrate the effect of a fast shutter speed, but also the significance of chance in photography. Even if you photographed the same kind of object ten times, the resultant images would all show subtly different results. This is one of the reasons why photographers invariably shoot a lot of exposures.

This exercise also shows how a ‘planted’ object can alter the interpretation of the environment.  All juxtapositions have this effect, but usually in subtler degrees.

I have really enjoyed this project. My friend and I had a lot of fun that afternoon, and he was very patient with me making adjustments to the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I did not have my tripod with me that day, and I really wanted to try to catch water as a ball in the air, so my friend burst the balloons with a pin and his hands are in shot. If we get the chance to do this again then we will use a pin on a stick so that it will be easier to remove in developing. We had 50 balloons, so at 5 frames per second I took 250 photos. I used manual focus throughout.

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 5000, f6, 1/8000th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 8063, f5.6, 1/8000th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 6400, f4.5, 1/6400th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 100, f6.3, 1/40th Sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 100, f7.1, 1/20th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 320, f4.8, 1/500th sec

I have included the last photo to demonstrate that in freezing fast-moving objects there is a lot of chance involved, however there are ways to mitigate it. Good communication with the person helping you. Taking the time to set the camera up before each shot. Using continuous exposure – I could try with my Fujifilm 9900 which has 12 frames per second, and for something like this the loss of image quality would not matter. We did try to use fruit juice to colour the water, but the balloon needed to be filled with pressure from a tap. Every time I tried to add fruit juice the ballon would spurt all of the water back onto me.

I like the first and the fourth photos. The first because I managed to obtain my ball of water, and the movement in the fourth photo is beautiful and dynamic, it catches the moment of explosion. Seeing the bubbles of air within the water is also pleasing to my eye.

Exercise 1.12 Smash – Harold Edgerton – Attempt to Emulate Edgerton

Brief:- This exercise asks you to choose some suitable small objects that you can break! An old toy, some rotten fruit, a shirt or a balloon filled with water would all work well. The point here is to freeze a fast-moving object in an otherwise still location. You must get the object in sharp focus to reveal the detail of its disintegration and movement. Choose a suitable location where you won’t make too much mess. Aim to frame the object quite close, with the environment around it. You’ll need to frame the object in front of a background that helps to emphasise it visually: that could mean a complementary colour (e.g. red against green) or an opposite tone (light object against dark background or vice versa). Before you start, research the freeze-frame photographs of Denis Darzacq at http://www.denisdarzacq.com/ Do an online search for Harold Edgerton’s experiments. These photographers give you images that would be impossible without the mechanism of the shutter.

 

 

These notes are quite concise as I spent a lot of my time trying to photograph milk in the style of Edgerton.I say more about that at the end.

Electrical engineer, deep-sea and sonar photography, fast flash photography to capture balloons exploding and the bullet through the apple. Photographing and recording for nuclear testing. Photographic techniques have been a part of and an extension to his work

Milk Drop Coronet 1957 – high speed motion picture, then develop single image showing the coronet.

Milk drop coronet 1957Fig 1

Guisse Moran Tennis Serve 1952 – Multiflash – single negative, shutter fully open. Taken in pitch black. Strobe lighting. Film only exposed when strobe flashes.

Gussie Moran tennis serve 1952Fig 2

Atom Bomb explosion circa 1952 – Raptronic shutter. Shutter opened by magnetic field so the shutter could be open for a fraction of a second – down as low as 2 milliseconds

Atom bomb explosion circa 1952

Shadow Photography – No camera, no lens, just film, flash and fast-moving object. Flash is timed to fire just before the subject passes in front of the film. This way a bullet can even be filmed.

Stroboscopic photography – Electrical charge stored, discharged into inert gas tube for flash, flash then exposes the subject so rapidly that it can illuminate and freeze subject at high-speed, so running water would appear as drops of water.

Here are my attemptsExercise 1.12 SmashExercise 1.12 SmashExercise 1.12 Smash

I decided that I would try to capture a milk drop coronet. I have a Nikon d7100, Tamron 18-270mm lens at 270mm, and I attached the whole set of Vello Extension tubes, 36mm, 20mm and 12 mm – this gave me a focal length of 507mm (adjusted to include 1.5* built in crop sensor. I had the ISO at 8063 so the images have a lot of noise. I have done what I can to reduce it in Lightroom by using a combination of grad filter, eraser brush with auto mask to delete brush from the edges of the milk drops, then reduced clarity and increase noise slider. When I can afford better Lighting on external flash I will give this ago again. All are taken at 1/250th sec. I couldn’t go faster without underexposing and introducing more noise through development. Considering that Edgerton was using a high-speed motion camera which could record between 6,000 and 15,000 frames per second, then I think I have done well at 5 frames per second. It would have worked out better if I was using a pipette to drop milk or have someone else to do so, and I will also try the method that Edgerton did – having one drop of milk on a flat surface and dropping the next drop onto the milk on the flat surface. I have had a lot of fun today.

References

Fig 1 Edgerton, Harold; 1957; Milk Drop Coronet; Online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/

Fig 2 Edgerton, Harold; 1952; Gussie Moran Tennis Serve; Online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/techniques/multiflash

Fig 3 Edgerton, Harold; 1952; Atom Bomb Explosion; Online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/techniques/rapatronic-shutter

Sheldon, James; 1998; EXPLORING THE ART AND SCIENCE OF STOPPING TIME: A CD-ROM BASED ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF HAROLD E. EGDERTON; Cambridge; MIT Press; online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/

Exercise 1.12 Smash – Denis Darzacq

Brief:-

This exercise asks you to choose some suitable small objects that you can break! An old toy, some rotten fruit, a shirt or a balloon filled with water would all work well. The point here is to freeze a fast-moving object in an otherwise still location. You must get the object in sharp focus to reveal the detail of its disintegration and movement. Choose a suitable location where you won’t make too much mess. Aim to frame the object quite close, with the environment around it. You’ll need to frame the object in front of a background that helps to emphasise it visually: that could mean a complementary colour (e.g. red against green) or an opposite tone (light object against dark background or vice versa). Before you start, research the freeze-frame photographs of Denis Darzacq at http://www.denisdarzacq.com/ Do an online search for Harold Edgerton’s experiments. These photographers give you images that would be impossible without the mechanism of the shutter.

Ensembles 1998-2001 – Initial thoughts – Random, candid, unplanned, lines, people in lines, lines on road, lines of railings. Appears to be non specific and non focused, but has frozen movement of all people in the frame, no blur, fast shutter, smaller aperture f11-f16 as a guess – no metadata to check against.

E006Fig 1

Lachute 2005 – 2006 – Initial thoughts, people, lines, frozen movement, staged, no candid, planned and purposeful capture of movement of people performing acrobatics. The freeze of the movement has an ethereal feel and makes people look like they are flying, floating. So the intense movement that’s required to perform the acts, becomes a moment of peace and tranquillity. The use of lines is similar to how an artist uses mark making, but he uses it in a manner that highlights uniformity, solidity, structure to provide a stillness as a counter balance to the movement that he captures.

Hyper 2007 – 2009 – Lines, people being shot (they are not but there movement makes it looks like they have suffered an impact. Completely frozen. Fast shutter speed. F7 or wider, blurred backgrounds, object in focus. Again staged and planned. There is a demonstrable progression in planning, technique and performance from earlier works. “Hyper opposes bodies in movement and the saturated, standardized space of mass distribution outlets. In this totally commercial setting, the body’s leap expresses the freedom and unhampered choice of its movement. It is a clear challenge to the marketing strategies which seek to control our behaviour. Some of the figures, glowing with an aura, impose glory and give off a sense of spirituality in total contrast with the temples of consumption in which they are found.” (Hatt; 2012) I do not see this in the series at all. I do not see unhampered movement or an aura of spirituality, I see forced movement as if the person is being shot, which is a very specific but uninhibited movement.

My view is partially agreed with by Amy Barrett-Lennard in lensculture “Not all these bodies are in calm repose, however. There are those caught as if in the aftermath of a violent act — a punch, a throw, a kick. Darzacq tells me that areas around Rouen have had a bad reputation for youth violence — and so here we see this played out quite dramatically, almost ballet-like in the clinical, normally “safe” environment of the hypermarket.” (Barrett-Lennard; 2008)

Hyper-07-72 2007Fig 2

Hyper 2010 – Lines as marks, bouncy castle, weightlessness, introduction of more vivid colours, fast shutter speed, continuous focus, continuous shooting. These were not captured as single shots. The position of the actors within their movement and jumping evidence this. It would have been impossible to time such perfect shots. I suspect that he took several hundred photos and then chose the best for the series.

HYPER-24 2010Fig 3

Act 2 – 2015 – Further development that shows how he has built upon previous work. He has included actors to perform so that he can freeze the movement in his own unique style, but got them to do so in public as street photography against the back drop of people getting on with their daily living.

Act2_07 2015Fig 4

 

References

Fig 1 Darzacq, Denis; 1998; Ensemble 06; Online at http://www.denis-darzacq.com/ensemble06.htm (accessed on 20/07/2017)

Fig 2 Darzacq, Denis; 2007; Hyper no 7; Online at http://www.denis-darzacq.com/hyper07.htm

Fig 3 Darzacq, Denis; 2010; Hyper no 24; Online at http://www.denis-darzacq.com/hyper2010_03.htm

Fig 4 Darzac, Denis; 2015; Act 2 – 07 Mickael Lafon; Online at http://www.denis-darzacq.com/Act2_06.htm

Barrett-Lennard, Amy; 2008; Hyper – based upon remarks she made for the opening of exhibitions by Denis Darzacq at the Perth Centre for Photography, 5 April 2008.; Online in www.lensculture.com  at https://www.lensculture.com/articles/denis-darzacq-hyper

Hatt, Etienne; 2012; Biographie de Denis Darzacq; Online in www.denis-durzacq.com at http://www.denis-darzacq.com/Bio.pdf (accessed on 20/07/2017)

My Approach to Exercise 1.11 – Transitions – Breach of the Peace

Every time I went out shooting since starting the course I looked to capture movement, panning, zoom, shutter speed, people, animals and transport.

I had a series from my events photography that was good, and showed movement and stillness in many forms, but it didn’t say anything. I love events photography and it gives me the opportunity to promote my work, but it isn’t artistic.

I chose roundabouts because they are not the photographic form. They are often overlooked places of transition. They don’t only show movement and stillness as structure and object – they become a subject, a journey, going somewhere, leaving somewhere.  A mystery for the viewer that can be analysed.

The boats was an adventure of peaceful movement in the first photo and gradually breaching the peace as I opened the shutter. The movement became quicker. I don’t know that the boats work that we’ll but I wanted to explore breaking the cliché of peaceful boats on calm waters.

I also tried to leave space in the frame. I often close crop subjects, but through following others blogs I wanted to allow space for the viewer to breath into the photo. Space also creates a broader context.

Exercise 1.11b – Capturing Stillness and Movement

Brief:- Choose a subject that includes both stillness and movement. Seek out a variety of different instances of this subject. Make a series of photographs that shows the visual effect of stillness and movement within these different but similar settings. When you’re assessing your photographs, try not to think in terms of what is ‘photogenic’ in the usual sense of the word. Go beyond that. Ask yourself if your photographs communicate what you intended: stillness and movement. Do your photographs communicate any other ideas? In other words, are they symbolic or metaphorical? This capacity to take something unintentional and make something out of it is a sign that you’re developing as a photographer. If you’ve discovered a metaphorical aspect to your photographs, develop a new series based on this.

I have been making photos for this brief for a while now, exploring with people, road traffic, boats, racing cars, aeroplanes, and finally decided on roundabouts. So over the past two days I have been out to re-shoot the photos, so that I could get the images that I want. Its taken me a while to get used to what shutter speed is best for different subjects depending on the amount of motion of freezing of motion that you want.

I have tried to make a series that has a level of tonal and colour consistency, and tried to show a selection of movement and stillness within them.

This was my first attempt at trying to present a series. I have put photos together/next to each other before, but had not previously considered that series requires a consistency and flow that joins them together. The result isn’t perfect but I will develop further as time goes on. I have really enjoyed the process. Its taken a while, and the results are not perfect, but overall I am pleased.

Roundabout Series

Boat Series.tif

For both series I made initial selections in Lightroom by assigning an attribute, then reviewed only those selctions by highlighting which attributes I wanted to see in the same grid. Once I had developed the photos and taken them over to Photoshop, I then realised that some of the selections did not work together. I went back to Lightroom, changed some selections, then I redeveloped by selecting all (Ctrl + A) and then Sync develop settings. This meant that I had similar white balance and tone. I made individual adjustments, then press G to view in grid, to see if the adjustments were bringing the range closer together.

I had to go a step further and see if I could blend a Typhoon jet aeroplane into one of the images. It doesn’t go with the series but watching a few YouTube videos on selecting and blending was rally useful and I have learned a new skill.

Exercise-1.11-4

References

Webflippy; 2016; Photoshop Tutorial – How to cut out a tree in Photoshop

Dewis, Glynn; 2015; Tricky Cut Outs made EASY and FAST: PHOTOSHOP #76

Smith, Colin: 2015; How to combine photos in Photoshop with Layer Masks, seamless blending technique

 

Exercise 1.11a Capturing Stillness in Movement – Toshio Shibata

Brief:- To prepare for this exercise, research the work of Toshio Shibata whose images of dams and waterway reinforcements in Japan contrast the fluidity of water with the solidity of rock and concrete. They also document the way human beings interact forcefully with the natural environment. Notice how rigorously composed Shibata’s photographs are. They are almost abstract in their use of geometric lines, angles, shapes and forms. Shibata, like many other photographers, works in series. This means they photograph different instances of the same essential subject many times, often using similar compositions and image tonality to help the photographs sit together as a series. Working in series is a strategy that helps the photographer hone his or her skills when directed towards one particular subject. Series can help to emphasise subtleties of form or content.

Research Toshio Shibata

Dams

Dams works well as a series. Same perspective looking down the dam, slightly different angles of images creates a different eye level for the viewer. Uses different shutter speeds – all slow so that the water is flowing rather than frozen. The way the water flows creates lines of movement, but the lines create the illusion of further stillness.

The foam of the water at the bottom of the dam, top of the picture, create an illusion of animals and clouds, and also add movement, but it looks more like oil gliding across the surface of water. Having the bottom of the dam at the top of the screen by shooting down the dam is amazing. It creates an abstract feel, mystical, so that my mind can think about the shapes as ethereal forms. The converging lines, the movement, the strong contrast pull my eye into the photos – I see runways at airfields, and bowling ball alleys.

Fig 1, 2, 3

 

Colours

Some of the photos work well as a series but others are so different that they don’t. So I have chosen three photos that appeal to me.

Fig 4, 5, 6

Colours #0916 (fig 4) the solid structure is hidden by the water going over the edge of the weir, but the shape makes it clear that it is a weir. The light on the water and the slow shutter speed mean that the movement is soft and gentle. What comes to mind for me is the right of the picture (the water going over the weir), is like a stream of thought just before sleep, moving to the left and into the beginnings of sleep.

Colours Kofu City 12 of 102 (fig 5), maths, physics. Wave diffraction, Huygens principle (Cowley, 1998), Quantum Diffraction/wave particle duality, Einstein, Bohr (Kumar, 2014: 263-275). Shibata demonstrates that photography can be artistic, surreal, scientific and also present reality.

Colours #1103 (Fig 6), reminds me of cubist surreal art – similar to Paul Klee’s Dream City #29421216 (Klee, 2017) but with softer colour and a smoother tone gradient than can be found in Klee’s work.

Paul Klee

Fig 7

There is so much more that I could write about Shibata’s photography. I have really enjoyed taking the time to do this piece of research. Shibata is somebody that I will refer back to as I develop my photography. How he brings the real,  surreal and imagined into his work, by using composition, structure, form and light to create, lines, strokes, shape, movement is very pleasing to me.

 

 

References

Fig 1; Shibata T; 2017; 31 Contact prints Toshio SHIBATA; #1875 Grand Coulee Dam; Tokyo; Art Unlimited Gallery; http://www.artunlimited.co.jp/en/artists/toshio-shibata.html (accessed on 17/07/2017)

Fig 2; Shibata T; 2017; 31 Contact prints Toshio SHIBATA; #1878 Grand Coulee Dam; Tokyo; Art Unlimited Gallery; http://www.artunlimited.co.jp/en/artists/toshio-shibata.html (accessed on 17/07/2017)

Fig 3; Shibata T; 2017; 31 Contact prints Toshio SHIBATA; #1885 Grand Coulee Dam; Tokyo; Art Unlimited Gallery; At http://www.artunlimited.co.jp/en/artists/toshio-shibata.html (accessed on 17/07/2017)

Fig 4; Shibata T; 2017; 31 Contact prints Toshio SHIBATA; Colours #0916; Tokyo; Art Unlimited Gallery; At http://www.artunlimited.co.jp/en/artists/toshio-shibata.html (accessed on 17/07/2017)

Fig 5; Shibata T; 2017; 31 Contact prints Toshio SHIBATA; Colours Kofu City 12 of 102; Tokyo; Art Unlimited Gallery; At http://www.artunlimited.co.jp/en/artists/toshio-shibata.html (accessed on 17/07/2017)

Fig 6; Shibata T; 2017; 31 Contact prints Toshio SHIBATA; Colours #1103; Tokyo; Art Unlimited Gallery; At http://www.artunlimited.co.jp/en/artists/toshio-shibata.html (accessed on 17/07/2017)

Fig 7; Klee, P; 2017; Dream City Trip #29421216; Viatura.us The Online Art Gallery; At http://viatura.us/paul-klee-dream-city/paul-klee-dream-city-citytrip-barcelona-met-vlucht-city-2-horaires-hall-leuven-belgium-29421216/ (accessed on 17/07/2017

Cowley, L; 1998; The Huygens Principle; At http://www.atoptics.co.uk/droplets/huygens.htm (accessed on 17/07/17)

Klee, P; 2017; Dream City Trip #29421216; Viatura.us The Online Art Gallery; At http://viatura.us/paul-klee-dream-city/paul-klee-dream-city-citytrip-barcelona-met-vlucht-city-2-horaires-hall-leuven-belgium-29421216/ (accessed on 17/07/2017

Kumar, Manjit; (2014); Quantun, Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality; London; Icon Books; p263-275

http://azito-art.com/topics/toshio-shibata-concrete-abstraction/

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150825103246.htm