A precious gift that I recieved for Christmas, from a dear friend, was a subscription to an Annie Leibovitz Masterclass.
Masterclass is an app that provides master-classes by people who are world renowned in their field, it can be optained on Google Play Store and the Apple Store.
There are a few points that I’m taking away. Which I’ll bullet point below. But the most interesting point was a question one of her students asked. It was raised in relation to to photo-journalism, but I think it applies to all genres of photography. “Where is the line?” I photographed an act of self harm for part four of my coursework and in assignment four, and it was necessary for me to question was my photography relevant, necessary and provided in context. Ultimately this is a personal question and each photographers answer is subjective. It’s of note that Leibovitz says this question is ongoing for photographers.
You cannot capture an individual with one photo
To capture different aspects of personality more than one photo is required
It’s beneficial to return to work with an individual in a new setting at a different time (months or years apart
A series created in such manner reveals more about a person than a single shoot could do
Take lots of photos and regularly
It takes years to learn how to see
Keep photos that you’re not initially drawn too, your perspective may change over time
Update assignment to include the image quality, colours and mask concept re over-sewn photo.
Collaborating with others – OCA collaboration group and TL
Continue to use thoughts and feelings as drive for my photography
Consider using prose and verse more frequently to enrich photography
Build up mixed media skills
Be photographed by AK – journal my reactions to the shoot and the photos, use the journal to create prose and verse of the experience
Mexican Votive painting
Continue emulating Laura Letinsky to develop this technique further
Read about lighting and ask JK when neccessary
OCA London regional group
Reading and viewing
Diane Arbus: A Chronology – I relate to Arbus’ character and motives of fascination with self and other.
Stick close to Arbus over the next year, dip into her photography and also those critiques of her, especially Sontag.
Gregory Crewdson: Beneath the Roses – Look for the message of yearning to be, or for, something other than the mundane/seeking escape. Also view Twilight to explore effective use of lighting and colour temperature.
I can hardly contain myself. I’ve developed an idea for Assignment Four – Responding To A Theme. It means I get to make use of photos in a physical form. I have set the theme as self-love and self-harm. Three photos upon the theme of self-love and three on self-harm. I’m going to over stitch one photo from each theme, similar to Gerhard Richter and his over painting. I’m then going to cut each photo into 16 squares which will then be stuck into a Rubik’s cube. Self-harm and self-love are not binary concepts, they over lap and mix into each other. Playing with the cube is to explore ones own psyche and to consider how one relates to ones self (hmmm not sure of the use of the word one in this context).
This may seem “fucking mental”, my own words about what I have done. To follow my chosen theme I have self harmed. I’ve cut myself for the first time in two years. Self harm is a part of my own experience. There was a period of my life in which I self harmed every day for 8 years. Self-harming again after two years abstinence is extreme, but I’m pleased with the photos I’ve made. More than this though, I’m pleased to be exploring the concept of the relationship with self.
The concept is good, let’s see how the execution turns out.
I’m struggling to keep up with everyone’s blogs. I apologise, but I’m also aware that I must focus on my eating disorder recovery. I attend at least one self help meeting each day, and talk to others in recovery everyday. I’m recovering, I’m getting there, it’s much harder than I ever imagined. My emotions are chaotic and inconsistent. But I’m eating what I meant to, when I’m meant too.
Recently I have been very kindly and generously given a speedlight, for which I am most grateful. I’m waiting until the gels and remote trigger which I have ordered for it to arrive, and then I will begin exercise 4.2.
Exercise 4.2 requires us to make use of any space with which we have access to for a few days, to add flat surfaces, and then objects, to create a space which only exists within the boundaries of the photo.
My space is going to be my lounge ceiling. I have paper, material and objects, which can pin too and hang from the ceiling. It’s a space which I intend to make more use of as the still life coursework proceeds. Seeing the photography of Laura Letinsky has been the trigger that my imagination has required to find some enthusiasm for this section.
We’ve also been asked to consider visual effect by exploring photographic effect, by making photos of things that have meaning for us. Well, as I’m slowly making these photos I’m realising that meaning and effect are personal and subjective. Yes, there are photographic techniques (composition, lighting, placement, colour, distraction), which positively or negatively impact upon presentation and reading of a photo, but photography, as with all art, is a subjective experience.
I am going to be working a little out of order at the moment. My health has been poor and rather than lag behind I will work on what I feel able when I feel able.
Here’s are some pigs. Pigs are a the spirit animal for abundance, the universe always provides what I need, and the many pigs around my house are a reminder.
Having been unable to find appropriate accommodation in the locale of Farnham I have deferred university until next year. A lot can happen in a year, so I am open-minded. I’m going to keep looking for a home swap, but I’m also happy to finish Foundations in Photography and then make a decision as to whether to take the photography degree with the Open College of the Arts, which is distant learning, or go to the University for the Creative Arts. There are advantages to both, but with my mental health as it is, then taking the degree with OCA has become my preferred option. Distant learning suits me, I can study part-time, have less pressure with deadlines, and not have the stress of moving. These are all protective factors for my mental health.
Is this still life?
I am shortly going to begin part four of Foundations in Photography, which is a section based upon still life. With the new medication that I am on and how it is affecting my energy, I decided not to begin part four until I return from London. However, I have been exploring thoughts, and making photos for my digital sketch book, which I hope to upload before I travel. We’ll wait and see. My aim is to read part four in the FiP manual, so that I can make the most of being in a new, dynamic environment, and begin to make photos, or at least test photos for the coursework whilst I am away.
Is this still life?
London, here I come. I am very excited about visiting London. My initial plan was for it to be for a few days. But I haven’t been too London as an adult. Yeah I have passed through it, and been to two football matches there, but I have never explored. I have activities planned, a few people to meet and an OCA study visit/field trip.
Is this still life?
Lots of wonderful opportunities for photography in different environments and with several genres, as well as museum and gallery visits, West End shows, football match, and nature. Lots and lots of nature, animals, birds, flowers, macro. I have Lightroom on my laptop now, so I may upload some photos as I go along, although my lap top is incredibly slow compared to my PC with its huge RAM.
Is this still life?
Consequently I am not going to be able to keep up with everyone’s blogs anywhere near as much as I would like to, but normal service will be resumed upon my return.
Making this and the last post has taken me several days to get motivated to produce.
Photography was originally understood as being a means of authentically documenting reality
This view reinforced by Barthes in Camera Lucida – photographing “what was there”
Photo Journalism and documentary photography are meant to be factual and not misleading.
My view “as photographers we always mislead and never represent the external authentically”
My view “as photographers we spend more time excluding the distraction of what was there”
My view “our photography is shaped by our life experiences, psychology and ideology”
My view “our personality influences exactly what we choose to exclude from any photo we make”
My view has been reinforced by reading Photography A Critical Introduction by Liz Wells
Liz Wells highlights the photo “Migrant Mother” by Dorathea Lange
“Migrant Mother” is shown next to the other four photos Lange took of the mother and her children that day. It’s clear why Lange chose this as her final selection.
The context added by the other photos would have eliminated the emotional impact.
This is photographers manipulation of fact in order to present a moral viewpoint.
Editor’s, curators and accompanying text bastardise this “authenticity” further.
Ariella Azoulay adds to this by demonstrating how the Israeli National newspapers use photography unrelated to the story to reinforce an anti Palestinian Agenda.
In The Civil Contract of Photography Azoulay posits the idea that no one has authorship/ownership of a photo, as the subject, photographer and viewer all bring their own unique understanding and agenda to the photo
Kathryn Ryan (Canadian comedian) stated during her interview by John Bishop (John Bishop In Conversation With) that her daughter is a unique individual and as her mother she has no right to publish photos of her daughter.
She doesn’t own her daughter and has no ownership of her image
To do so would be an act of aggression as there is no consent.
This view is supported by Susan Sontag “On Photography” and Ariella Azoulay.
Hearing Kathryn Ryan was the first time this viewpoint made any sense to me.
In other contexts to commit an act upon another person without their consent would be illegal.
Asking permission to take a photo, even using a model release form can never be informed consent as we no longer know where a photo will be reproduced or end up.
Its been useful to solidify these ideas that have been floating around my psyche, it’s not to say that I agree with them all, and even where I do I think there has to be a loud call for balance. The views I’ve highlighted are valid, but where do we draw the line? There are legal lines of course, and I believe there are humanitarian lines. Governments often break these humanitarian lines for the purposes of propaganda (it’s happened in the UK in relation to “illegal” immigrants (no human is illegal!!!)). However, as photographers we can only do what feels right to us, and that’s different for us all.
Interestingly, as I have experimented with street photography I have become more comfortable with others taking my photo whilst out and about.
As many of you are aware, I struggle with self-image. However, I wanted to produce some self portraits get used to me being in front of the lens. So I have been making some self portraits over the past week, which I have overpainted using the edit and graffiti tools built into the Huawei P 10. Here are some of the photos that I’ve recently made. Some of these I have posted before and others are new photos, I’m enjoying this so much that I’m going to continue making self portraits in this style.
On Monday I started some new medication to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The side effects are making me quite sleepy, and this is impacting upon my motivation and ability to complete the tasks that I wish to. I am aware that these side effects will pass within a week or two, so I’m just doing little bits and pieces as and when I can for now.
My two recent trips to the Farnborough airshow and RSPB Bempton Cliffs have been a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know my new Olympus OMD EM1 MKii. One of my favourite features is the built-in image stabilisation. Although the EM1 has five axis stabilisation you can alter the settings for this.
Photographing aeroplanes means that I needed to plan along the horizontal plane. The EM1 has the ability to alter the image stabilisation from five axis to either vertical stabilisation or horizontal stabilisation. Because I was panning along the horizontal plane I altered the image stabilisation to vertical. Why is this necessary? If you have the settings for five axis the cameras inbuilt artificial intelligence will try to stabilise the image which interferes with auto focus when planning. Setting the image stabilisation on the vertical plane stops the AI from trying to correct stabilisation when on the horizontal.
The continuous autofocus was wonderful for shooting both fast-moving aeroplanes and slower moving propeller driven aircraft. I was photographing using burst mode and it took time to get used to releasing the shutter and then pressing half down again to refocus.
The continuous autofocus is very quick to respond and this is incredibly useful when photographing moving subjects. Combining this with burst mode and far shutter speed made it possible to make some wonderful photos. When photographing small and fast-moving subjects, such as the birds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, using the burst rate of 15 frames per second is ideal although, it was too fast for me to control the shutter and take a single photo. Photographing larger subjects which are also fast-moving, such as the aircraft at Farnborough airshow, 10 frames per second is more than adequate, and even whilst in burst mode I had enough control to take a single photo.
The OMD EM1 MKii has some wonderful features such as being able to set up all of the cameras buttons for different purposes, which makes the process of changing settings very quick and very easy.
When I attended Armed Forces Day in Scarborough, I shot the flying displays in shutter priority and trusted the cameras AI to make the rest of the judgements to set the exposure. I didn’t check the exposure as I was shooting, and underexposed many photos, so much so that when trying to develop them in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, increasing the exposure created an image which had so much noise that it was unusable. So whilst photographing the aircraft at Farnborough airshow I shot in manual mode and exposed for the underside of the aircraft where the shadow is more intense. This has meant that the sky is overexposed, which is very easy to correct in Lightroom, and the aircraft correctly exposed.
Photographing a RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Farnborough airshow has been a lot of fun for me, and I have really enjoyed myself. I am in the process of evaluating the photos from Farnborough airshow. I took way too many photos over the three days of the air displasy but I have got many great photos. I have no idea how long it will take me to evaluate and develop these, I will post some as soon as I can.
My knowledge of the OMD EM1 MK ii will develop over time, there are so many more features that I look forward to getting to learn. So far I am very impressed with the camera’s capabilities and very happy that I converted all of my cameras over to the Olympus micro 4/3 set up.
My plan was to attend Sunderland airshow this weekend, but adjusting to this new medication means that the kindest thing that I can do for myself is to stay at home and relax.
Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you enjoy my self portraits.
Having recently received a small amount of compensation I have bought an Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii. YouTube is a wonderful place to watch tutorials so that I can get to know the camera and how to set it up. Having to camera’s means that I can choose and attach the lens at home for each camera, and hopefully not have to make any changes whilst out. This will reduce the likelihood of getting dust on the sensor. It also means that I have quick options whilst on a shoot. This will be useful at Farnborough airshow, where I want a wide-angle lens for the static aircraft and telephoto for those in the air.
Having a break from my studies until after Farnborough has been wonderful. It has meant that I have caught up with so much of my personal photography projects. I have been able to complete much of my eating disorders photography, although I have no idea how I am going to shoot for PICA or orthorexia, these are also eating disorders, but I trust my creative process.
Naturally I have been walking around with my camera strapped around my neck. It would be wrong not to right? I have been walking around the same places that I have taken many photo’s previously, as I haven’t had the opportunity to travel this past week. I was fully aware that the majority of photo’s that I was taken would be deleted, so why do it?
Photography is about observation, learning to see and gaining understanding of light conditions, and for me it’s mindfulness. If my camera is in my hand I walk slowly, I look around for opportunities to explore composition, to find something new, to spot a bug or a butterfly and to exploit light and tone. This is all good practice and makes me more intuitive as a photographer. Mostly though I love photography.
When I decided to go fully Olympus and trade in my Nikon D7100, I purchased this lens, primarily because it’s coming up to Farnborough airshow. This lens and the OMD’s Micro four thirds 2xcrop ratio, gives me a 150mm – 600mm lens. Which is pretty good for aircraft. Armed forces day was on 30th June so I took the lens over to Scarborough, knowing that they had three mini air displays. The lens is heavy, as to be expected, and on full zoom, 300mm, handshake isn’t always cancelled out by the OMD’s 5 axis image stabilizer. However, when panning the camera to follow the movement of the aircraft, the hand shake becomes irrelevant to a large degree. It’s much more noticeable on those shots when the lens is not panning. This is despite using shutter priority and keeping in between 1/800 and 1/4000. I also have a neuro-muscular condition and this makes hand shake worse sometimes.
There is a down size to this lens, and it’s the same one you get with most cameras at full zoom, and that’s vignetting. Although to give credit where it’s due, this is really apparent on an under exposed image, and decreases as you get closer to the correct exposure, at which point it’s sometimes apparent and others not. So the vignetting is really down to me under-exposing the photos and not keeping my eye on what I was doing.
The above is clearly an underexposed photo. The next image I have developed a little in Lightroom, but I wanted to show one of my favourite photos from the afternoon. There is still a slight halo around the aircraft, which shows that even good exposure doesn’t eliminate the vignette completely. However as you decrease the focal length to around 200mm the vignette isn’t there at all. This is no different than any other non prime telephoto lens.
C-AF – Continuous auto focus. In preparing myself for Farnborough I wanted to put the OMD and the Mzuiko through their paces, and test the continuous autofocus as I will be shooting fast-moving aircraft. Having completed some research online I ensured that I did not include focus tracking with the C-AF, which is an option with the OMD. The reviews were clear that the tracking works best when much closer to a slower moving subject. Before leaving home I changed the metering to centre weighted instead of the spot that I usually use, and increased the focus area slightly, again instead of the centre point that I often use. It was a mixed result to be honest. At times the C-AF worked wonders, and at others it kept refocusing and going completely out of focus, or focusing on the clouds or passing gulls (which incidently began to mob the aircraft as if they were birds of prey – common behaviour during the breeding season, but with aircraft? That’s a new one on me).
Maybe the inconsistent auto-focus is down to my lack of experience using it, or maybe that’s the way with C-AF for distant objects which are very fast-moving.. The OMD EM10 mk iii doesn’t have the added element of phase detection auto focus, it’s known to not be as quick as other Olympu’s, but when it worked it was exceptional and I have some very clear, crisp photos, and during some highly complex aerobatic maneuvers. The EM10 is probably performing better than its enthusiast+ level, I can’t expect it to be as good as the pro camera OMD EM1 mk ii, and the auto focus on the EM10 is reportedly better than the Pen F, which is aimed between the EM10 enthusiast+ and EM 1 mk ii Pro level in the market. Overall the results were good, and the defects were mostly mine. I need to be more aware of shutter speed and exposure, the camera did what it could to keep up with the fast speed that I was using, but I either needed to increase the ISO or decrease the shutter speed, and that’s completely down to me. Very good preparation for Farnborough, and I know what I need to do to improve my photography of aircraft, including pan more smoothly.
Meike Extenders 10mm and 16mm with electrical contacts
I purchased these so that I could get closer to the subjects in macro photography, and capture sharper details of the eyes and wings of bugs and bees, and closer to the inside of flowers. The Meike extenders for the 4/3 mount has electrical contacts that actually work, so autofocus and aperture changes can be controlled in camera. I have previously had extenders where the electrical connectors didn’t work (for the Nikon), not good.
Iam really impressed. I only used the 16mm (you can combine the two and create a 26mm extender, but you then need to shoot almost touching your subject and the depth of field is so narrow that its difficult to shoot anyway. It was a very windy day, so I had little opportunity to use the set up, but the results were impressive when I was able to. Depth of field is best controlled by using auto focus, half press on shutter release, and in one smooth action press right down and take the shot. If you pause you’re gonna lose the focus. The other way is to use auto focus, and then move your head very slowly backwards and forwards until you have the focus and the focal range that you are seeking for the image. Macro photography is a very gentle, slow, getting to fall in love with your subject before pressing the shutter release – if you want good photo’s. You can’t rush. here are some photos of the same subject – in the last one I hold a 20 pence piece so that you can see just how close the set up brings me and how small the subject is.
The third photo shows just how narrow the depth of field is. The stars are out of focus, but between them they have these little brown leaves – the tips of which are in focus. Only the first photo is good, but I wanted to highlight how narrow the depth of field is. I know that I can get that close now (and take better photo’s than these). The strengths of the extenders are that you have more control eliminating background distractions, you can get closer to your subject and capture the minutiae in fine details (can’t wait to get to shoot more Bee’s), you can create very large photo’s of tiny subjects, the electrical contacts work. The difficulties, you need to be incredibly aware of depth of field, double-check that you have got the focus how you want it where you want it. you lose a couple of stops of light, so it’s better to shoot in bright, sunny conditions, there’s no point shooting in the wind. Theres too much movement to control depth of field. Here’s one more just because I love, love, love macro photography.
Dot.foto batteries for OMD EM 10
When I shoot aircraft I do so in burst mode. It’s the last part of the technical elements that I use to capture crisp images of aircraft in flight. With going away to Farnborough, and burst shooting, there is no chance that the one battery I had was going to last me 5 hours of flying and three hours of static and street photography. I took a risk and decided to but the Dot.Foto battery for the OMD rather than the brand version. I got two batteries this way for the same prices instead of one Olympus branded battery. Did the risk pay off? Most definitely. 1127 frames shot, plus an in-camera review and evaluation of half of those (to delete the crap). The frame count sounds high, but shooting in burst you are able to shoot more frames with less battery depletion than when you are constantly turning you camera on and off for individual photos, and this is most certainly the case for the Olympus brand battery as well. My belief is that these batteries are as good as each other, however, I am aware that the performance of the Dot.foto is likely to reduce with repeated charging, whereas the Olympus are more stable and will deplete more slowly. I will keep an eye on that.
One final photos, OK, so the aircraft are not sharp, but couldn’t resist adding this one.
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.