A Hermits Journey
I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence.
My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as much joy to be found in darkness as there is in light. That’s not the way it used to be, so I think a positive attitude comes with experience and age.
People are important to me. Through my studies I have developed an online community, and I have some very close and wonderful friends that I have known for years. However I chose not to meet with people very often, I prefer to have a physical distance, and enjoy the freedom of not having to be with people.
If I spend too much time around people I feel overwhelmed and oppressed. It’s not that people are oppressive, its hard to explain. I find that being with people is quite heavy and tiring. It’s hard for me to just let go and move with current of life when I am in the company of others.
Its much easier to blend into the background and be invisible.
Spirituality, in my mind, is not about a church or belief system. Nature and space provide me with a connection and nourishment, as of course do birds. For me, feeling connected, that I have a place and purpose is important, and photography has given me that in bucket loads. I am grateful for my camera, and grateful to be studying photography.
Gratitude is something that is so important to me. It is possible to feel grateful for so many small things, and in this photo its the colour and texture of the wood, and how they are strengthened and exaggerated by the snowy background. One of the many things that I found to be grateful for on my walk. Gratitude is a spiritual practice. At the end of each day I write five things down in my daily gratitude journal. Positivity has to be cultured.
One of the down sides to living the life of a hermit is that there is a wee bit too much time for thinking. I find it is easy to slip into either negative thinking or dwelling on the past.
Too much self-reflection can leave me feeling trapped, brittle and easy to break.
During those times I have to dig deep and find my inner strengths and push myself forward. Colour and beauty is to be found within those inner resources that I use to move onwards and upward.
Once I have pushed myself back up to the top of the hill, and re-discovered the joy of being, I can take a rest at my post. I lean upon this post with my camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. There are so many different bird species to be found in this small patch of bracken, bramble and trees. Peace and beauty flutter around me.
In the journey through life people come and go. Maybe in passing, for however long that maybe, we will sit on these benches together and connect. But whether I sit with you, or someone else, I will never be alone because I will always be with myself.
I am so grateful that I have used the opportunity provided in exercise 3.3 to explore different themes in relation to photography as a sequence. The photos for A Hermits Journey were taken during a walk from Whitby Abbey, down into the town, along the river Esk into Ruswarp, and then back into Whitby, ending with a walk along the West Cliffs.
The walk took me five hours, and I took many photos along the way. Although I will publish others in my gallery, I narrowed my selection for this narrative down to twelve photos which I could use to express a little of who I am. These photos are sequential in relation to the walk that I took, and I have tried to use my words in a manner that flows throughout.
If viewed by anyone who hasn’t walked the route I enjoy, then the photos without text would be seen as a series rather than as a sequence. The writing brings the photos together as a sequence, and provide a way for me to communicate and express myself. This is directive in its manner and probably doesn’t leave the viewer asking questions, although some may be able to relate to different aspects. I don’t believe that this has any abstract or conceptual slant to it, and fits very neatly into a genre of narrative photography.
Critique and feedback are always welcome on my blog.
Somewhere that I will have to go back to. I spent a few hours at the castle and the 60 acre estate, but as a photographer, taking my time to find the things that interest me, I hardly explored any of the grounds. However, here are my top ten, starting with my favourite. Oh and before you ask, no I did not kiss the Blarney Stone, just a wee bit to scary for me.
For information about Blarney Castle please visit https://blarneycastle.ie
Following my reflections you will find the six individual photos that I selected, and also the PDF contact sheets for the full set of photos, and others which I made during the evaluation process. There will also be a PDF that contains all of the blog posts relating to Image the Portrait.
This assignment has been one that has developed for me over the period of the Image the Portrait coursework. When watching Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor I realised the opportunity for exploring how lighting effects the skin, hair, clothes and make up. The dancing and some of the holds inspired me to develop a vision for the assignment. I have made two posts about my original plans, which can be seen here, and here.
Due to anxiety and paranoia I am socially isolated and rarely meet up with people, but as I had a planned holiday with friends, I asked if they would help me with the assignment. Having not visited them before I had no idea of the space that would be available, and when I got there I soon realised that I was not going to be able to follow my original plan. I wanted to be able to follow the brief, and create a snoot so fine that I would be able to use the lighting like a laser so that I could paint a crown, a wedding ring, and light up parts of clothing very specifically. However, I just couldn’t create a snoot this narrow. Light is both quanta (packets of particles – Photons) and a wave (electro-magnetic), that spreads out rapidly from its source (wave particle duality). The light from my snoot acted accordingly and covered a larger area than I wanted it to. Lasers work differently and would have been effective, but I did not have access to any lasers.
I had to develop another idea. After considering my options and decided that I would use glow sticks in order to create the effect of moving narrow strips of light to create my portraits. This came with its own challenges. The room I was shooting in had light coming in through the curtains, I had no black background to hide the kitchen behind Nick, and it took a while to get the aperture and shutter speed to get the correct exposure for my models face, and the moving glow sticks.
It has certainly been a positive experience of having to think outside of the box, develop another plan, and how to get the most out of ISO, shutter speed and aperture in order to create the visual effect that I wanted. The creative and technical process was thoroughly enjoyable. I made use of a tripod (which I don’t do often enough), learned how to connect my camera to my phone so that I had remote shutter and instant view, and have now learned how to adjust my print output so that it increases the light level to that of my screen.
After evaluating and developing the photos, I went through a further selection process to arrive at the final six that I am using for the assignment. My initial print run highlighted that my prints were darker than the on-screen photos, so I had to make further developments in Lightroom to increase exposure and saturation, whilst decreasing the background very carefully with the adjustment brush. Another print run helped me to spot some places where I had been a touch careless with the adjustment brush, and where I needed to make further use of it. I increased some of the highlights with the adjustment brush and then the dodge tool in Photoshop. This has taken longer than anticipated because I run out of black ink and had to oder some more.
It has not been easy to decide how to mount the photos, which layout, which background etc. I have tried a plain white background which looks too stark, a plain black background, a white background sitting on a further layer of black, and with glow sticks around the edge.
After due consideration I have settled for the black background. The glow sticks looked good, however, for this to have worked I would have need to cut the glow sticks down to size so that they framed the photo. I tried to cut them and the result was coloured dye leaking out of the sticks. The test photos of the differing gallery layouts can be seen below. Choosing the layout of the photos was difficult, and I tried several arrangements. The reason that I made the choice for the final piece of work was due to the way that the light on the centre edge of the photos almost flows from one image to the next.
The process of photographing the gallery was challenging, and I felt frustrated at times. Overhead lighting reflected off of the photos, side lighting from the open curtains had a similar effect, and the mount was slightly twisted which altered how the light could be captured. In the end I hung a dark curtain behind the camera, so that the wallpaper didn’t reflect onto the images, closed the curtains used a long exposure, and corrected the twist of the mount.
Is the result perfect? – No, far from it. There is too much background light which wasn’t possible to eradicate completely. I have had to make extensive use of the adjustment brush to dodge and burn areas, and I’ve increase the saturation quite a lot to enhance the light from the glow sticks. However, I am pleased with the effects, and particularly like the movement of the light across the model and the frame. This was created by throwing the light sticks at my model, towards him, around him, and from the sofa behind him.
I do not have the opportunity to repeat this assignment, as I am back home and will not have anyone available to model for me for sometime now. However, given the chance I would do a couple of things differently (a black backdrop, make use of blackout curtains, different location, combine torch and snoot for more side lighting, develop a finer snoot, paint light closer to the model). This is an exercise that I will come back to when I have the right equipment to complete it in the manner that I had originally planned.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica; 2018; Wave-Particle Duality; Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc; Online AT: https://www.britannica.com/science/wave-particle-duality (accessed on 22/01/2018)
Richard Keys; 2017; Initial Thoughts For Painting With Light – The Marriage Of The Mikado Phantom; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/initial-thoughts-for-painting-with-light-the-marriage-of-the-mikado-phantom/ (accessed on 22/01/2017)
Richard Keys; 2017; Exploration Of Lighting, Skin Tone, Skin Colour, Make Up And Costume; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/exploration-of-lighting-skin-tone-skin-colour-make-up-and-costume/ (accessed on 22/01/2018)
Richard Keys; 2017; Assignment Two – The Original Vision; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/assignment-two-the-original-vision/ (accessed on 22/02/2017)
Final six photos
PDF Contact Sheets
Gallery Layout Practice
With special thanks to Nick, and also to The Saltburn Framing Company who provided me with a selection of black and white mounts free of charge.
Two slightly different photos taken from Cobh that include Haulbowline Island, Spike Island, Ringaskiddy, Corkbeg Island and Rams Head.
St Colman’s Cathedral
Cobh Museum – Scots Church
Annie Moore Statue
Titanic Anniversay Memorial – Cobh Station
The Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal the Eighth) Bill, allows for a referendum to take place with regards to whether the 8th amendment should be repealed. The referendum will take place in the Republic of Ireland in May or June of this year. For more information visit https://www.repealeight.ie/background-to-eighth-amendment/