I would like to just say thank you to my tutor Jayne Taylor for her support, guidance and encouragement. I very much appreciate your input.
I have previously reflected upon the feedback which I received during a telephone conversation with Jayne (seen here).
The written feedback that Jayne has provided is a PDF which can be seen here. I am going to reflect upon the written feedback, but with preparing for my holiday, and having two more posts that I wish to make before I set of on my adventures, then I will further reflections until I have returned home.
The brief asked us to produce a series of photo’s that reflect a piece of written material, and I completed this with my own photography earlier in the coursework (seen here). Having previously read ‘Behind The Image: Research In Photography’ By Anna Fox and Natashe Caruana (2012) I had started to make a photo archive which includes my own photography, photo’s purchased from EBAY and second-hand shops, and photography and articles from newspapers and journals. Creating the archive reminded me of the montage produced by Gerhard Richter’s series Atlas (seen here), in which he makes use of newspaper photo’s and sometimes overlays text from those same papers.
Initially I was attracted to Richter’s overpainting, and my first response to Atlas was quite negative, it wasn’t something that I liked. However, over a period of time this has grown upon me, and exercise 3.5 gave me the perfect opportunity to try something different.
The process of selecting which photos and text to include required me to experiment with which worked together on each individual plate, and then create a layout that symbolises the line(s) from the poem (signifier). For example the presentation ‘what is this life if full of care’ (below) is about connections and networks that we create throughout our life and create value for each of us.
‘No time to stand beneath the boughs (below) is a reflection upon how precious life is, and that it will end in death – let us enjoy the life we have by slowing down to appreciate it.
Some of the photo’s and text were cut carefully, and others I tore from the newspaper, I wanted to see the effect of each – my structured mind has resistance to having torn edges, and layouts that are not aligned. The non-aligned layouts work, it creates a scrap-book style, and the torn edges are effective as a physical collage, but this comes out poorly in the photographs of the art.
My aim was to create light box style digital images from the pastiches, and although the process for doing so takes just a few steps – Lightroom, set white balance the same in each image, adjust clarity, contrast, vibrance and exposure to create brightness in the text and pictures, adjustment brush up to the edge of each text/photo – increase exposure to maximum (bright white background). This sounds simple, however auto-mask was tricky for images with a white border and without auto mask the process was time-consuming. The process wasn’t 100% accurately even when I followed up with the auto-masked erase brush. Consequently I was left with some digital artifacts around the edges. They have been removed or altered in some places by exporting to Photoshop and painted out.
Relationship to current photographic trends
There is a lot of talk in relation to how the digitization of photography and the excellent cameras in smart phones, along with social media, have created a situation in which photographs are taken with ease, shared almost instantly and then deleted or never seen again, and only printed on very rare occasions.. The reaction by many professional and academic photographers has been to focus upon the materiality of photography by printing, creating photobooks and making use of scrapbooks and albums to store and present photography. I am in agreement with the argument and have begun to print my own photos, make photo-books and use appropriated images.
However, I don’t think the argument is as simple as it appears. The digitization of photography has meant that old and damaged photos have been saved by uploading them and digitally removing scratches and marks, adding colour, and creating archives or new print’s. There is a saying ‘What goes on the net, stays on the net’. What this means is that if I or you publish a photo on the world wide web, there is always the possibility that it remains as a record that could be permanent even if I delete it. As soon as a photo is published on-line it can be copied, downloaded for individual or collective use, re-posted in a positive manner, or used to troll and embarrass. Deleting my original post in no way guarantees that it has been removed from the web. My creative process has been a representation of this, and a rejection of the view that physical photos are the only ones with intrinsic value.
Although I created the collages as a physical piece of art, once I had created and photographed them I removed them from the white card and returned them to my archive. Yes I can recreate the physical object as a permanent record because I have kept the photo’s and text, but right now, none of these plates exist in the material form. The only places that these exist are on my hard drive and online. The digitization has provided me with a permanent record of the art I have created.
As mentioned previously, the use of the adjustment brush, which was necessary in order to achieve my objective, has left digital artifacts. You can’t see them unless you zoom in very close, but I can, I know where they exist. The use of WordPress slide show is the correct presentation for this sequence, however it isn’t possible to adjust the caption text colour on a free site. This meant that white text on a white background left the text unreadable. I have had to return to Photoshop and include a layer the length and position of the caption on the slide show, dark in colour, with reduced transparency, so that the text can be read. It works, but it is not how I want the presentation to be.
What an enjoyable and interesting project this has been for me. I love photography, so much I cannot express it enough in words. Becoming more involved with photography has increased my creative drive, and this has freed me up to let go of some of my rigid thinking so that I can explore and express myself with other media. Despite the challenges of the adjustment brush, technically this has been straight forward, creatively it has felt powerful and dynamic, but again very simple.
This has been my first attempt at working with these materials and this genre, and there is room for improvement. The photo’s in each plate work well with each other, but tI haven’t created a consistent sequence photographically, and wouldn’t be effective without the captions. Leisure is my favourite poem, and the words create a strong narrative, in future I can strengthen this by using photographs which connect from one plate to the next.
You know what – despite the imperfection (my perfectionism may be easing? Or that inner critical voice may be becoming a touch kinder?), I am pleased and excited about what I have produced.
I’m so pleased that I am now going out into the sun, walking to the cliff’s and I am going to stand and stare.
Fox, A and Caruana, N; 2012; Behind the image: Research in photography; Switzerland; AVA Publishing SA
Gambling addiction is a serious problem in the UK and unless you live with, or are a close friend of a person with a gambling problem, then it is hidden from society. Substance misuse and problem drinking are far more apparent to the wider public, than gambling is. The harms associated with problem gambling may include debt, non-payment of bills/mortgage/rent, risk of eviction, domestic abuse, arguments, relationship break down, loss of employment and severe mental health issues, to name just a few (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014).
The Gambling Commission reports that 430,000 people have a serious gambling addiction and a further 2 million people are at severe or moderate risk of developing a gambling addiction (gamblingcommision.gov.uk, 2017).
Although I am in favour of the work provided by charities such as begambleaware.org, GamCare and whenthefunstops, I feel very strongly that the Government could do more to address gambling and the harms that it causes to individuals, families and communities. However, the Government receives £1.5bn in revenue from the gambling industry (Parliament UK, 2009), and to make a real effort to address the problem would both cost money and reduce income. It has a vested interest in appearing to address the issue, but I believe it has no intent on doing so.
My own personal opinion is also that “when the fun stops” is ineffective. It may have a limited impact upon those with a moderate risk of developing a gambling problem, but I do not believe that it has an impact upon those who have a gambling addiction. The other side of the coin is that their advertising is targeted towards a male audience, who out-weigh women considerably when it comes to gambling addiction, and uses male celebrities who endorse responsible gambling. Which ever way I look at it though, it’s treating a gaping wound with a sticking plaster.
Point of view perspective from the person with the gambling addiction, highlighting how seriously gambling has affected their life, despite the seriousness of the consequences they still continue to gamble, drowning sorrows, help is available.
Shadow of bottle points to “D-day for Buick”, and the horse – is itD-day for the gambler – carry on despite the consequences or stop?
The pen dissects the “when the fun stops” advert from the racing form guide, and also points to “Lucky Beggar”. this is both ironic and potentially the motivating factor for the gambler to place another bet.
Red and yellow “when the fun stops advert” is bright and draws the eye in, but is a small part of the overall picture, highlighting my belief that the visible pretense to tackle gambling addiction is a fraction of what is really going on.
Insolvency papers at the foot of the photo, clear, crisp, and directly in the line of sight of the gambler – highlights a pressing issue, but the background highlights their cognitive dissonance.
I wanted to make this shoot outdoors and somewhere which was sunny, and I knew that for the point of view perspective I would need a close shot. I feel uncomfortable around people at the moment because of poor mental health, so shooting in public was not easy. I began to shoot using my OMD EM10 MK iii, but even with the Mzuiko 14-42 I couldn’t get the shot wide enough to cover all elements. I switched to using my Huawei P10 smart phone, which gives me a wider field of view, and its a good camera. It shoots in 20MP Raw and has dual Leica lens.
My initial plan was to also have the phone open on a gambling app and have that as a prop in the scene as well. However, I couldn’t get the screen bright enough for it to be a relevent prop, and the extra element in the scene didn’t work either. It became an element that was there for the sake of pushing an idea, rather than being effective staging.
The bankruptcy papers had an individual name, the court case number and the Court which heard the case, none of which are appropriate to publish. This meant that obtaining a balanced and successful composition was difficult to achieve, and it took several attempts to achieve my desired outcome.
I cannot include the PDF contact sheets because they include some of the above identifiers.
The idea and its exploration are strong and relevent, with problem gambling featuring in the news regularly in the UK. Because there was a period of time before the initial idea and the shoot, then the production technique and style developed over that time, so I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to produce, and I believe that the narrative which was important for me to explore comes across very well. The composition is something that particularly please me, and I feel that the use of props have created a balanced visual element which keeps my eye within the frame, and the pen and shadow have worked well for this.
What is also apparent to me is that I responded to the difficulties that I encountered, and worked around what was there.
All blog posts rom part three Communication: Narrative can be seen here.
If you think that you may have a problem with gambling be aware that help is available and recovery is possible.
Brief:-Assignment three – A narrative photograph – A staged photograph. A staged photograph is like a snapshot from a movie. It’s a ‘scene’, an event which you have constructed and captured at the perfect moment as a still photograph. It can be a simple ‘moment’ like a glance between two strangers on the street (Jeff Wall’s Mimic, 1982) or an elaborate recreation of a dramatic event (Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind, (after Hokusai), 1993). It can start with a simple event, like the postman peeping through the letter box, an old lady jumping over a fence or someone tripping over a paving stone. But you should explore it conceptually and make it weightier in meaning by embellishing it; monumentalizing the event even though it is small. In this way you could turn the postman picture into an allegory about privacy or the old lady picture into an allegory that changes perceptions about old age. Start by researching the work of Gregory Crewdson.
Gregory Crewdson (1962)
Fig. 1. Untitled (Birth) (2007)
Initial thoughts – Because the assignment brief is in relation to a staged photograph then I know this is staged.
Taken at night, in winter, dark, dreary, steam on the inside of the window – however both subjects are not dressed for winter and this creates some dissonance. Even with heating on I would be better dressed in the winter. The edge of the car, the angle of the roof, attempt to make this look like a candid street photo. The snow is cleared from the path – trying to work out who actually clears snow so diligently from paths, I have no idea. Muted tones in bedroom, wallpaper from 70’s? Muted tones allow the green from the bed sheets to standout and this emphasises the subjects. The front door has a glass window pane and we can see through to the bathroom, and the toilet is visible. Has this been a home birth? Is this meant to be a photo taken immediately post-partum? Is that why the clothing looks in appropriate? There is a separation between mother and child, a physical distance that strongly suggests an emotional distance.
Primary props – green bedspread, neutral background, clothing, glass paned front door, bathroom and both lamps.
Secondary props – Car, snow, telephone, bedside drawers, painting – these give the setting, or stage.
Fig. 2. Untitled (Bus Fire) (2002)
Initial thoughts – Suburbs, bus has tipped over and smoke is coming out of the back, side street – this photo is a lie, the low centre of gravity in a bus, and more so because this is a single-decker, would mean the amount of force required to tip this bus over would be impossible to happen on such a small street. A roll-over from cornering is not possible in this setting as the corner that we can see would tip the bus the other direction, and even then there could not be sufficient speed for this to happen as the driver would have had to slow down to turn into the road before reaching the corner. There are no other vehicles and no angry mob, and although there are many youths around the bus, and one standing upon it, these would not have enough strength to over come the forces of gravity required to turn this bus over (a double-decker bus would take 77 people to push over, a single decker bus would take far more. Although the single decker would weigh less, the height of a double-decker means that it has a longer pivot and therefore requires less force to go beyond the 32 degree angle to break the centre of gravity. The angle point of no return for a single-decker is larger because of the shortened pivot (Morris, 2015). This is so obviously staged. Why would Crewdson go to the lengths of creating such an elaborate scene that has no bearing in real life in the environment that it is made? This appears to be a complete oversight on his behalf, which is a really useful tip for me. If I am going to create staged photos, then ensure the setting is appropriate for the context of the subject. I have a reluctance to further review this photo because of this.There is a disconnection between the nice, manicured, suburban neighbourhood, which backs onto a semi-desert mountainous region, during an evening that is moving towards dusk, which has a slightly romantic feel. Things are not as they seem, things are out of place, but this does not leave me with any feelings of a realistic dystopia
The first photo looks incredibly simple. I feel dismay, sorrow, sadness and loneliness when I look at it because it’s a scene that I can relate to. The emotion and disconnection that I felt in my childhood, I didn’t belong, I didn’t fit in, I was a stranger placed in a home and world that made no sense to me. A very cleverly envisioned, planned, staged and produced photo, and one that I believe many people can relate to on some level, from some period of their own life. The second photo makes no sense to me at all. I’m not saying it’s a bad photo, but I read it in a more literal sense because I cannot find the allegory. This is perhaps my shortfall rather than Crewdsons.
Brief:-Choose a specific and defined context. It could involve a group of people with a particular interest, like beekeeping or amateur dramatics. It could be about a workplace, a church or a hobby. Amass a body of investigatory images about this subject over several days or weeks. Express a thorough visual knowledge of the subject: particular features, people, places, properties or characteristics. Ask questions of the subject and write these down. If it’s a hobby like fishing, what happens? Where does it happen? Who’s involved? What do they look like and what is their behaviour? A politician will behave very differently in a political discussion than if he’s out trekking in the mountains. Answer each of your questions through photographs. This involves ‘showing’ these things. You’ll probably need to ask permission from the people involved. Tell them you’re a photography student and are making a visual research project about them. Instead of one or two or even a series of ‘finished’ images, produce a series of contact sheets that contain many photographs capturing the essence of this defined context of activity.
Although I have completed an investigatory body of images, as per the brief, it has not included people, as per my anxiety around people.
My original career training was as a holistic therapist and I am trained in massage, aromoatherapy, reflexology and Indian head massage. I am also a Reiki master and a qualified crystal therapist, having undertaken a two year professional diploma in crystaland vibrational energy healing. Crystals are an important part of my life and I always several of them in my pocket, on the sofa next to me or in my hand. I have no jewellery but I have seen a beautiful pink moonstone necklace, and I would love to buy that when I get the cash-back from my new lenses. The photo’s include two pieces of blue moonstone and they are the first in the tumbled section. Moonstone is an oligoclase feldspar with two mineral structures (orthoclase and albite) that don’t combine properly when they have cooled (volcanic minerals). This means that the light diffracts and only reflects back different colours depending upon where the fractures between the two minerals are, and the depth to which they penetrate in the surrounding ignious rock.
Photographing crystals gave me the opportunity to explore them in their rough, natural, polished, cut and faceted forms, and this presents a narrative in its own right. It’s a shame that I have no access to a mine so that I could have photographed them in all of their environments.
I have included a few of my favourite photos individually, along with the PDF’s of the crystals which I photographed. Only my favourites have been developed a touch in Lightroom (exposure, tone curve, clarity), and they are shown presented below. The PDF’s have been left as shot.
I’m exhausted and I really should be in bed already. The busy week ahead is fun. Photography for enjoyment, slowing down, mindfulness and switching off. Fingers crossed that I see and photograph Pufflings – I’ve not made that up, baby puffins are indeed called Pufflings.
There hasn’t been the time to catch up with everyone’s blogs today as I have been making photos for part thee of Foundations in Photography, which is now almost complete. I have one more shoot to do, which is the compliment to one of today’s shoots. Then I have to develop and upload everything.
I have a large collection of crystals and minerals. and I’ve been photographing them in different environments over the past week, for exercise 3.12 (2014 manual), Photography as Research.
In collaboration with a friend I have the photos ready for 3.7 A Significant Object.
Today I have undertaken a part of exercise 3.10 – A Formal Portrait. I’ve blogged before about how I need to make this shoot different from the brief, so I’m taking the time to follow my tutors advice from the conclusion of assignment two. For this I’m going to create a body of work which questions identity, and today I’ve been exploring gender. I’m pleased with today’s results, and I look forward to making the photos for the contrasting set. Gender and gender identity have been featured on the news and in journals a lot recently. Gender is such a broad field that I have narrowed my view down to gender identity. What is gender? Male, female, transgender, gender non binary, gender queer, asexual, third gender. Self identification has become a hot topic and it’s now possible, in some countries, to have your gender altered on your birth certificate and passport, and in more enlightened Nations it’s possible to tick a box for Non-Binary gender. The following is just a test shot and doesn’t include the props or staging.
A Staged Photo is one option for assignment three – A Narrative Photograph. At the start of part three I had an idea which I wanted to explore in relation to gambling. It’s been in the news a lot recently due to fixed odds betting terminals, and their impact upon individuals, families and communities. There has been some government intervention over the past couple of years, with the development of gambleaware.co.uk . On the one hand I think it’s a good idea to have a specific means of help for those who identify that they may have a gambling problem, but my main belief is that it’s a token gesture so the government looks like it’s tackling gambling addiction, when in reality it’s doing as little as it possibly can. The government has no intent on helping those with, nor preventing, gambling addiction. There’s far too much tax involved for the government to want to change the status quo.
My staged photo is an exploration of this. Here’s a taster from today’s shoot.
There isn’t going to be the chance to follow your blogs for around three days. Phone signal is poor where I’m going, so I’ll catch up on Thursday. Happy snapping.
Brief: – A narrative sequence – a narrative sequence can be like a story board or comic strip that tells a story in a series of images. The story may be mysterious or humorous like Duane Michals Things are Queer (1973). It can be a fleeting moment or a monumental event. But there’s always the sense of time passing and an event unfolding. Research the sequences of Duane Michals online. Use your own life and work experiences as a source for ideas. Or use your dreams. Here are some key elements to think about: Event – Your aim here is to express a situation or event. Perhaps it’s something you’ve noticed, like someone sneezing in the high street or two people arguing. You don’t need to encapsulate war and peace. People – It will almost certainly involve people who will need to be rehearsed and directed like actors. But they can be themselves, they don’t need to pretend to be other people and they don’t need to be actors. Try to just let them be themselves and see what kind of images you get. If that doesn’t work, ask them to think about a memory which reflects the one you’re trying to portray. Setting – Every event has a setting. it happens somewhere. So think about places that would be accessible and telling. If you can, use environments that you have access to, like your workplace, your home or back garden. Props – Objects you use are important for setting the scene and expressing meaningful and narrative points about the situation.
At this moment in time I find that I am not able to work with people for this assignment, and although I am submitting this, I will also be submitting a staged photograph as well.
Birds and bird photography are a life-sustaining and nurturing part of my life. They have long brought peace to the overwhelming mental chatter that has impacted upon my ability to function. Since I have had a camera, bird photography has been a safe haven, a meditation and a means of feeling and expressing joy.
This narrative is more important to me than my previous post of the moorhens. By making use of three different species there is a stronger impact demonstrating that the creation of life is a universal phenomenon, rather than an individualised event. It is also symbolic of my process of transformation with regard to my mental health. Building a nest is creating a safe community, incubating the eggs is the experience of hope, glimmers of potential, friendship, love and kindness, and the goslings are the foundations of manifesting and developing possibilities.We all know there is still a lot to be done to move towards maturity at this point.
My gosling is the passion that has developed within me for photography. It has been a life changing experience which has enabled me to face anxiety about being outdoors, and helped me to get out of my home at a time when it was too overwhelming for me to do so.
There are no people involved in this narrative, and the shots that I made, were spontaneous rather than planned. The planning has come from the process of digital developing and personal reflection. My narrative may not fulfill the brief in relation to people and planning but I believe that it’s strong and just as valid as if I had made the photo’s according to the brief.
Symbolism is an important part of photography. Discussions with my tutor with regard to the work of other photographers, and my own photography in relation to society and mental health, have helped me to begin considering how I can make more use of allegory in the work that I create.
Personally I believe that all three photos are good but the strongest is of the mute swans. They were in the process of changing which was one of them was incubating the eggs. The way the new sitter is staring at the eggs and making sure that they are all there is evocative of the value of life. I guess it means so much to me because I have not always felt that value, so this photo brings up both sadness and joy for me.
As always feedback/critique are welcome upon my reflections and the previous post with the photos.