Changing Perspective – Kneeling Whilst Making Photo’s

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

Walking with a crutch provided me with the opportunity to experiment with perspective. I can balance and keep the weight off my right heel, but what do I then do with the crutch? It’s made it hard to make photo’s unless I put the crutch down on the floor and kneel down. With this being the case I thought I’d make the most of it and explore what I could learn from the altered perspective.

When standing to take a photo, the head is generally pointing slightly down towards the horizon. From this viewpoint the sky takes up a third of the photo and the land takes two thirds of the space. When kneeling, the eye is looking up towards the horizon and reverses the sky to land ratio as below.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

Usually this doesn’t work and detracts from the subject, the land. However, the above photo is balanced. The line of the boats mast balances the geometry and breaks the photo up. It would have been a better photo if the sailing boats had been further to the left, they would have made a nice subject.

In a narrow street, this new perspective makes the street appear narrower, but brings the buildings in closer to the centre, which could be good to highlight city lines, or to add an emotional tension (being followed on a dark night/a chase scene), especially when a short focal length is used.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

But, with a spacious foreground, a clear line through the image becomes prominent.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

In the wide open space of a Victoria train station the lines of the metalwork are heightened, and the spaciousness can emphasise the activity of the people. I like this shot.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

My favourite of the series comes next.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

OK, so the photo needs to be retaken without the people in the red and orange shirts. Putting that to the side I’ve found a real lesson for bringing the best out of a subject. The lower horizon provides more space in the sky, and this works well with the neutral foreground. And voila – the subject is what my eye looks at. I’m drawn to look closer at the detail. I love it.

Kneeling behind the prominade fence in the next scene creates layers of activity. Not the greatest of photos though. It would work better with a yacht on the sea, the eye needs a point of focus, but the layering works well.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

And finally, I don’t know if this was related to kneeling down and thereby being in a more submissive stance, or not, but I felt more confidence in making Street photography whilst I was in Brighton. Regardless of the reason, or lack thereof, it was fun to take photos of people.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

Annie Leibovitz – Masterclass – Lesson One – Portrait

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.

Lesson 1

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

Elf Portrait

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Concept In Photography? Not In This Example!!! But Most Definitely In This

Brief:- You may think conceptual art has to be motivated by a cerebral idea, but often it’s not. It’s more to do with hunches and entering a process where you don’t really know what the outcome will be and you take photographs that attempt to document that process. For example, what would it be like to spend a week living on a boat? What would it be like to dress differently and out of character? Such ‘ideas’ are not necessarily ‘visual’ but the clearly have visual potential. They also bring up notions that you may not have thought about when approaching a photographic project: what ‘home’ and ‘appearances’ mean.

Maria Kapejeva, One Month. Maria Kapejeva’s diptych above shows two portraits of the same person; the first was taken on the subjects arrival in India, and the second was taken a month later. What do these say about the country’s influence on this young man? Maria Kapejeva based her work on a concept about change over time. The young man appears to have been influenced by his time in india – as if he has matured. It’s very subtle, but you register the change in his clothes, facial expression and posture.

Umm – bollocks. Such a weak example of concept in photography. He may have travelled with those clothes, we all sit differently many times each day, and a suntan alters the appearance of our skin. Yes he may have been influenced by his time in India, in fact it is highly probable that he has, but this diptych is a very poor way of highlighting any possible influences. To infer that it does is misguided. I’m feeling let down by this shoddy example.

To see a great example of concept in photography I suggest seeing the recent work of OCA photography degree student Sarah Andrews (see here for the process) and (see here for the results).

Sarah has explored the concept of ageing and dying with photography from the natural world in Autumn, and her process involved exploring the photos with people who have life limiting conditions. This is how to explore conceptual ideas witb photography

 

Actions To Carry Forward From Assignment Four – News About Action Man

Actions

  • Update assignment to include the image quality, colours and mask concept re over-sewn photo.
  • Meditate
  • Gallery layout
  • 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
  • OCA TV

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.
  • Ochi Reyes: Mother and Revelations
  • Daniel Regan and his Arts & health Hub and Fragmentary (London calling!!)
  • Claude Cahun – use of masks
  • Gillian Wearing – use of masks

Also

  • William Eggleston
  • David Lynch
No fella, it’s actions to carry forward, not carry Action Man forward
No, don’t do it, don’t jump. Yes, I promise you can write a travel blog at Christmas.

Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Three – A Staged photograph

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.

Motivation/Medication/Anorexia – The Authenticity Of Photography -photography As An Act Of Violence – The Ownership Of A photo

  • My motivation has dropped
  • New medication is impacting upon motivation
  • Anorexia is now affecting energy and motivation
  • 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.

I have way to many books to read.

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Self Portrait Cartoons -New Medication And Motivation – Getting The Most From The Olympus OMD EM 1 MK ii

Please click on any photo for a full size image

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait charicature, using the built in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Caricature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Self Portrait Charicature
A self-portrait caricature, using the built-in graffiti edit on the Huawei P10

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.

Reflections Upon My Latest Anorexia Photo – Exercise 3.4 – Documenting Change – Learning Log

Today has seen me complete a composite photo which I have worked on over the past few months (sen here). It was a project that I had begun a while ago, and then exercise 3.4 of Foundations in Photography required us to create a series of photo’s to document change, which I completed according to the brief. However, I also felt that I could use my anorexia project to document change in one photo.

I created a draft of the project and then sought feedback from my peers (seen here), which was very helpful. I have taken this into consideration since the draft photo, but the most helpful feedback that I received was from a peer who sent me a personal e-mail, and this has had the biggest impact upon my re-working of the photo. Thankyou Sarah.

The photo has many layers which include differing sizes of clothing, which progressively become smaller, all of which were photographed individually, parts of the body and the headstone background.

Sarah suggested that I change the emphasis of the head so that eye was prominent, because of its haunted and piercing gaze. So I erased the other elements of the face, and following comments about different parts of the body I have re-shot them this week.

There were times during which I over complicated things in Photoshop especially with using the background eraser. Overtime I have learned that as I had shot each part separately, I could return to the original photo, layer from background, and use the eraser rather than background eraser. This ensured there were no half erased areas, which looked untidy on my working PSD (the clothing photo has evidence of some partially erased areas). The eraser was better than selection tool – delete, because the selection tool was leaving tatty edges in areas where the tone was similar with the background. Again I have improved this with the photo’s that I made this week by shooting the subject upon a white background. This meant the selection tool became an effective method of getting rid of the unwanted parts of the photo’s.

On of the most tricky aspects has been lining up limbs so that they fit into the shape of the clothing, but I feel that I have got this right today by making use of the transform – warp/perspective tools.

(transform – warp – perspective have been applied)

Overall I am pleased with the result of this photo. I have achieved what I set out to achieve, showing the downward spiral of anorexia and change in body shape, but also I have managed to capture some emotion within the eye, as well as sadness I detect some fear as well. With the figure floating upon the tombstone in an ethereal manner, and the fading of the limbs, sinking into the clothing, then moving towards death becomes apparent.

When I create photography such as this I like to carry a message of hope, which comes in the form of the text which is found underneath the photo. Help is available, recovery is possible.

Limited Understanding Of The Male Gaze – Improving Macro Photography

Several women’s football clubs have recently dropped the name … ladies, i.e. Arsenal ladies are now Arsenal Women. This is a huge step to women being treated as equal to men, and progress towards becoming citizens.

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When women are referred to as Ladies they become a myth, they are symbolised as being pure, virginal, chaste and as needing special treatment by men (mustn’t swear in front of a lady, must hold a door open or give up a seat for a lady). This is objectification. This may appear as respect and decency but it is not. When women are objectified in one area they are treated as non citizens. According to the declaration of Human Rights, All men are created equal, and this gives them status as citizens who are given the right to freedom and protection under the Nation’s law. As women are revered as an untouchable, mythological being, they are therefore not equal and human rights are not afforded to them and neither is citizenship. The objectification of women, may appear loving and protective, but as soon as this objectification happens it opens the door for women to be objectified in a myriad of ways.

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With regard to justice it means that women are less likely to go to prison and be given a lesser sentence than men for the same crime. But it also means that if a woman is convicted of a serious violent crime or murder then she is vilified. The case of Ruth Ellis is a good example. Having committed murder she was humiliated in the press, her sexual conduct was brought into question, she was seen as disgustingly promiscuous, immoral and was tried very quickly and hanged. Because she had broken status with the mythological pure woman she was demonised. Also it wasn’t until the 2002 amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 that promiscuity by women was removed as a treatable mental disorder, and during the late 1980’s it became a crime if a man raped his wife. Before this there was no such thing as marital rape, a man had the right to sex with his wife, whether or not she consented. Currently a woman’s sexual morality is still used against her in some rape trials even though it is not permissible to do so. An immoral women will not be successful in gaining a conviction against the man that raped her. Rape trials have an extremely low conviction rate and consequently many allegations of rape never go to trial.

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Objectification in one area creates objectification in others. Women can be seen as sex objects, the object of a man and an object to be owned, an object to be persued for ownership by men. A lady is mine, you cannot have her, I can treat her as I wish.

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As an untouchable object that is persued for male possession women are romanticised, beautified and glorious, to be viewed by as precious, beautiful sex objects with special status. Their beauty is then subject to art, to sell products, advertising, photography, film and pop. This male gaze is either overtly or covertly sexual in nature and is clear evidence that women are not equal, not citizens and consequently unworthy. The sad truth is ladies are glorious myths worthy of honour and protection, who are also slaves and subject to all manner of abuse.

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Removing the status of the lady and becoming women, is a step towards equality.

Being on holiday, connecting with nature and slowing down has cleared space in my brain to understand Ariella Azoulay’s description of the male gaze in her book The Civil Contract of photography.

Slowing down in nature has meant that I have been photographin birds and making macro photography of flowers.

 

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It’s often said that having a new camera or new equipment will not improve your photography. For a complete beginner this is true, however this isn’t the case once you have gained some small knowledge with regards to making good photography. Having just purchased a prime macro lens the quality of my macro photography has improved considerably. The photos on this post are from my phone not from my Olympus and new prime macro lens.

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Having already learned something of good and bad macro photography from my previous set up, I have been able to make some truly “wonderful to me” photos of flowers. Distractions moved out of the way, knowing whether I’m documenting the flower (neutral background), creating a pretty scene (aesthetically pleasing background), using aperture to make a beautiful background and sharp, crisp subject, avoiding moire, and exposing for the highlights (ignoring cameras exposure guide and using settings based upon what I see in the view finder). All of this means I can now make macro photography of a decent standard.

 

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I’m a happy bunny. My smart phone has a pro manual mode which means I’ve also created some good macro shots with this device. The photos throughout this post have been made on my Huawei mobile phone.

My final photo wasn’t taken in pro mode. You know how much I love a windfarm.

 

 

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Two Shoots In One Day – Part Three Nearly Complete – Busy Week Ahead Pufflings

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.

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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.

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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.