After drinking lots of water yesterday and sleeping during the day, I didn’t need much sleep last night. I woke Richard up at 4.30 and headed straight to the city, via St Paul’s Cathedral.
(I’m back to being the star today.)
From St Paul’s it’s just a short walk to the millennium bridge, which provided me with the opportunity for a few more poses. Richard hates being photographed but I love it.
(Millennium Bridge, River Thames, Tate Modern)
(River Thames, The Shard, a glimpse of Tower Bridge.)
Sometimes life just walks you into wonderful opportunities and experiences, and this morning has been serendipitous.
As well as the dancer being photographed, a newly married couple were having their wedding photos made before the chaos of the daily grind.
After a quick visit to Starbucks (I’m sticking to water), we meandered slowly to the Shard via Borough Market. I found it to be more appealing than the Old Spitalfields Market yesterday.
The Shard viewing platform doesn’t open until ten, but Richard is meeting his friend Jonathan (going to Tate Modern) who also studies photography with the Open College of the Arts. We’ll go to the viewing platform afterwards and then Richard wants to go to Hobby Craft.
All packed and ready to go. And I’m taking a friend with me. Let me introduce you to …
Please click on any photo for a full size image
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.
For those of you who know me, you will understand that I struggle with street photography. It’s my least favourite genre, but as a photographer it’s important to push myself.
Here are a few photos from the previous couple of days. Click on any photo to see a full size image.
A peer on Foundations in Photography has commented that eye’s come up as a theme for me throughout my photography. I have cropped a few photos which had eye’s within them develop a test series to see if eyes have the potential to become a future project. It’s certainly something to bear in mind. If at some point I decide to take this further I will make new photos in which eyes are the point of focus.
Yesterday afternoon I had the 1,000th person follow my blog. Thank you so much for choosing to view my photography and read my posts. I’m just a guy with a camera, finding my way through the complexity of life, and as such I find it quite humbling that you want to share my journey.
I’m very grateful for your support.
The Photo Sociology “I can do better than a Turner” Photography Award (see here to enter) has had its third entrance today (see here for the gallery). The competition is open to anyone over 18, it’s free to enter, and there is a £50 amazon voucher for first place, and £25 each for two runners-up (or the equivalent currency value of Nation were the winners reside). Why not pop over and enter the competition.
On the way home from my interview at the University for the Creative Arts in April, I had a few hours in London.
St Paul’s Cathedral and Millenium Bridge
St Paul’s Cathedral
Kings Cross Station
Houses of Parliament
The London Eye
The women of world war II
Field Marshal Earl Haig
Nelson’s Column and Trafalgar Square
St Pancras Station
Thomas Struth (b 1954)
For this review I have tried to find photos made by Struth that I haven’t seen reviewed by other Foundations in Photography students. This is so that I can keep my initial thoughts as my own. However I am going to start with one portrait that I have seen reviewed by others because it is highly relevent to exercise 3.10 A Formal Portrait.
Fig. 1. The Late Giles Robertson (with book) Edinburgh (1987)
Initial thoughts:- I like, grace, calm, dignity, poise. It captures thoughtfulness, contemplation, a good example of how to capture a still portrait with a busy background. This is done by making use of the space in the foreground, the thoughtful expression, the side lighting from the window, shot in daylight so the background remains subdued, small aperture, distance between subject and background. The ‘props’ do not appear to be staged, they are what Robertson has gathered over his lifetime, things he values, and maybe some things that he has inherited. A man who values ‘things’ because of their emotional connection to events and people, memories. Dressed quite formally, smoking jacket? tie, very natural in them, this is his style of dress, smart, traditional. He has a heritage that is upper-middle class? Upper class? Old money. Culture and art are valued, and the landscape appears to be Constable or Gainsborough but I cannot be sure of this.
There is symbolism in relation to the depiction of age, the old way, and possibly a representation that the traditional life and values are ageing and will soon be lost. But I believe that is a minor consideration and Robertson’s values and character are more important to both the subject and photographer.
Fig. 2. Hannah Erdich-Hartman and Jana-Maria Hartman, Dusseldorf (1987)
Initial thoughts:- Mixed thoughts about this, soft focus and large aperture (maybe even a photographic background) create an image of love, tenderness and gentleness. The position of the girl’s arm around her mothers neck and Jana-Maria’s hair also add to that sense. Jana-Maria’s expression changes between warmth and a touch annoyed/questioning, and Hannah’s expression is almost a challenge to the photographer and viewer. Dianne Arbus often forced her subjects frustration by delaying pressing the shutter so that people would eventually let go of the mask the ywant to present so tha the real self was revealed. In this photo it appears that Struth has done the same. Although I don’t consider this to be a formal portrait, and there is a tension between flattering and challenging, I wanted to include this photo because it presents a challenge to me with regard to reading and understanding it. It’s also of a different style than the other images that I’m including in this review. I feel that I am walking away from this photo confused.
Fig. 3. Kyoko and Tomoharu Murakami, Tokyo (1991)
Initial thoughts:- There is something about this particular photo that I find appealing, although I cannot put my finger on it, especially considering that I do not find emotion within the photo. There is a gulf between husband and wife, and I get the inkling that this was shot in a place of work, probably outside of the home due to the size. I am viewing this photo from and Western European background, and there maybe cultural differences and formalities that are hard for me to fully comprehend, and I say this in response to my perceived lack of emotion and a formality that borders on rigidity. I find the light very interesting. There is more than one window in this room, and it/they are large. I don’t see obvious signs of flash and the light coming through the window is bright daylight. The only apparent prop is the chair, so that the woman can sit down. The chair doesn’t fit in with the desk/work bench. On second thoughts there is a space on this side of the bench that would give her space to work whilst having the direct light from the window. The combination of vertical/horizontal and diagonal lines may symbolise structure, a structured and organised lifestyle reflective of the wider community?
Fig. 4. The Shimada Family, Yamaguchi, Japan 1986
Initial thoughts:- Is this a formal or informal family portrait? Do I understand formal group portraits outside of a studio or wedding? Can a formal portrait include people in various degrees of relaxation and formality? Is this merely a reflection of the characters of people who are of different generations to each other?
I enjoy the composition of the family and the lines they are placed in take me backwards and forwards between the people. No one individual stands out and this means that the photo brings the family together as a group, a collective, despite the space between them. I’m quite impressed with that actually. My knowledge of group portraits is of the tradition British style of everyone being close together. This is a pleasing and comfortable photograph to look at, and I find the contrast between this grouping and the group photo’s that I am used to to be quite refreshing.
I also like the contrast between the grey rocks and green shrubs/bushes. A planned/formal/structured garden that represents prosperity. Although I say garden (and I mean the garden of the family’s home when I do), it could be a formal community garden/park/or visitor attraction. I am still more inclined to think that this is their garden and the live on the edge of the suburbs or a rural community (maybe I’m just and old romantic at heart).
The colours and tone of the clothing provide a contrast with the garden and this brings out the people as subject. The trees that form the background keep my eye within the photo and they act as a frame. No use of props, and none required.
Four completely different styles of portrait from one photographer. Struth clearly is a people person and he either spends the time tgetting to know the people who he shoots so that he can bring out their personality, or he already knows them. Despite the styles being different between the four photo’s, the similarity is the capture of character. There are very few signs of props, and this is worth remembering, subtlety is paramount. Getting to know people is important as is liking people, in a general way. You may not necessarily like or know someone enough to like in order to make formal photographs, but there must be a genuine value of other. If portrait photography is undertaken without this then its going to come through and will over ride the individuals character.
Clothing is important for two reasons, it signifies personality and individuality, and if the clothing is not what the subject is comfortable with then it will be hard for them to relax. This made me think of the photographer Rankin and his work with charities.
He uses a team of lighting, make-up, fashion, studio and design staff with clients who use of charities for support. He meets his clients in his studio on the day that he shoots them (sometimes over a couple of days). He brings out the best in these people, and some of whom really struggle with self-image and self esteem. In my opinion he is a genius and I envy and admire his sense of humour and the ability to create a strong rapport with people very quickly, in what is a very strange and difficult environment to be photographed in. Having a large range of clothing and accessories gives his clients the opportunity to look good and to find an outfit that they feel comfortable in, but his personality is the glue that brings the very best out of people. Maybe working with a background team ensures that he can spend his time creating a relationship with the person he is going to photograph.
Figure 1 Struth, T; 1987; The Late Giles Robertson (with book) Edinburgh [colour on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-the-late-giles-robertson-with-book-edinburgh-1987-p77746 (accessed on 24/05/2018)
Figure 2 Struth, T; 1987; Hannah Erdich-Hartman and Jana-Maria Hartman, Dusseldorf [black and white on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-hannah-erdrich-hartmann-and-jana-maria-hartmann-dusseldorf-1987-p77747 (accessed on 24/05/2018)
Figure 3 Struth, T; 1991; Kyoko and Tomoharu Murakami, Tokyo [colour on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-kyoko-and-tomoharu-murakami-tokyo-1991-p77751 (accessed on 24/05/2018)
Figure 4 Struth, T; 1986; The Shimada Family, Yamaguchi, Japan [colour on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/struth-the-shimada-family-yamaguchi-japan-1986-p77745 (accessed on 24/05/2018)
Feature Image Rankin; 2016; Here as I am (pic 20); AT: http://rankin.co.uk/portfolio-charities/#/pic20 (accessed on 24/05/2018)
Rankin; Online AT: http://rankin.co.uk/portfolio-charities/#/pic0 (accessed on 24/05/2018)
Relief, joy and pride at completing this project, which I have been working on since January 2017. I can’t believe that I have finished it, and I am very pleased with the result. A photomontage that includes almost 500 photos of graffiti, tags and street art.
Idea Development:- Walking around with my camera I noticed writing on the wall, not tags, not street art, just writing. My assumption was that if people are excluded from some participation in society, if their voice is ignored, then they will find a way to express themselves. Self expression is a vital part of the development of self-identity and involvement in culture, community and society. The working title for this project was “Making my mark”. At this stage I had no idea of where I was going to go with this, just that I wanted to take as many photos as I could so that I could develop this at some point in the future. Street art often looks wonderful, and so do tags, and they both stem from the same roots, but I felt that it was just as important to include things that people had scrawled on the wall in marker pen. The writing may be plain but I felt that it strongly fitted with the sociological theme that I wished to explore and express.
Watching Anti-Social (Reg Travis; 2015) helped me to consider how these forms of expression are part of a youth counter-culture that is often anti-establishment in nature, but is only so because they are excluded from politics and society on some level, from policies that discriminate against young adults, a lack of engagement from the political elite (who ignore young adults as they have been seen as non-voters) and social and financial inequality.
I have read a couple of interesting snippets from books which I found links too on Google Scholar (an amzing site to discover reputable sources and peer reviewed research). These explained how graffiti developed as a means of personal and political expression by those who have been both under and misrepresented, and whom have also been heavily disadvantaged within their societies (Rhan; 2002; Lupton and Power; 2002; 118).
What pulled the project together though was a comedy clip that I viewed on YouTube at the end of last year (Russell Howard’s Good News Extra; Series 7, Episode 11; 2012). Towards the end of the clip Nathan Caton discuss his brother and his friends and how they use the word “standard”, which I then looked up as a colloquialism to find out that one of its definitions means “it goes without saying” (Urban Dictionary; 2018). The penny dropped at this point about how I could make a montage of many photos with the word “standard” as the backdrop, and “When you take away my voice” as the title.
The basic part of the technique was to go out with my camera and take the photos. When I saw exercise 3.2 Series, typology, I figured that I could make use of this project for the exercise. My intent is to make the kind of photography that matters to me as a theme for the exercises on the course whenever it is possible to do so. This meant that I had to get a wriggle on with taking the photos, which I managed to do on a holiday in Cork, and the final push was a planned two-day visit to Leeds just to make photos for this project.
Thank god for my computer. I have 16GB ram and 4GB dedicated NVIDIA graphics card, which was needed for the amount of layers that I used in Photoshop. At the end of the project the working PSB was 10.2GB, and although for the first 200 of layers my equipment could keep up, during the later stages lag was a significant problem. My computer is not connected to a monitor but a 48inch 4K TV. This was also a necessity for a project of this size (240cm by 135cm, 16:9 format).
The first process was to develop and save the photos so that they were all 1080p, create a background in Photoshop, and find the font for the word “Standard”. Next I opened up 10 photos at a time, and began by copying one photo at a time onto the board as a new layer, and placed the darker tones and more vivid colour photos onto the writing, and the lighter colours into the background.
Using the free transform, perspective and warp tools I altered the shapes of the photos so that they would create smooth edges over “standard” and joined the edges. It wasn’t easy to decide which part of each photo should be hidden under other layers and which should remain visible, aesthetics were highly important to me to get the result that I wanted. After I had created “standard” with photos I then developed a lighter outline, and finally mixed lighter and darker photos into the background.
At first glance the project looked successful, and I only re-arranged or replaced a few photos that did not fit with their surrounding. However I realised that with a final project over two meters on the long side, I would need to ensure the edges were perfectly aligned. I didn’t want to make a white background that would hide where the edges were not aligned. It would have been the easier, softer and weakere option. This is a huge and significant project for me and I wanted the outcome to be complete and to a professional standard.
Aligning the edges
Thank god that’s over. The process was intense, time-consuming and left me exhausted. The first step was to create a new layer, place it above my background and use the paint bucket tool so that it was bright orange, which would show through the gaps. The next step was to zoom right into each edge – 500 photos, 2000 edges, 2000 corners, all which needed to align perfectly and have no gaps, and with lag between each zoom and shift around the page. Aligning the edges wasn’t as straight forward as it may appear. As I had previously imported each photo and moved them around the board to position them where I wanted them to be. This meant that four photos next to each other would not be on adjacent layers. Often when trying to align one edge, it would reveal part of the photo next to it that had been hidden. This was due to the fact that most of the photos had been warped so the image had a sense of movement and flow. Consequently, working out which layer was above or below, and which would be better to adjust the edges of was a challenge, and there were several occasions where the easiest option was to import a new photo as the top layer and warp that to fit in with the others. The reason that I had to do this was that with the original warped photos there were times when it was not possible to un-warp them to make the suitable adjustments.
I spent several 8 and 10 hour days putting this project together to get a final result that I am happy with.
The story doesn’t end here. I have been collecting photos of street signs and health and safety notices, which I consider to be a blight. These signs should be criminalised rather than graffiti in my opinion. The aim is to create a second project with the title “The voice of control” using the same process as above. I am relieved to say that I have a long way to go with making these photos, so the laborious task of creating the result can be delayed and allow my brain to recuperate. Yay. My aim is tha tthese two completed projects will gain some exhibition space, which I believe that they are worth.
When I enrolled on Foundations in Photography my aim was to develop my creative ability. Anybody that wants to technically improve their photography can do so if they are willing to put the effort in. But how do you become creative? I am fortunate that my mind generates many ideas, too many infact, and I am learning to filter out those that are a distraction and not worth persuing at this moment in time.
Creativity is a process that cannot be rushed and takes time to ferment. I am quite happy to have an initial idea, to pick that up and reflect upon it, then leave it alone and allow life to inspire the development, and this is what happened with “When You Take Away My Voice”.
Watching Anti-Social because it looked good, listening to Nathan Caton because he’s funny, finding graffiti on my travels, research into the modern history of graffiti, having knowledge of Leeds and where to find the best street art there and going on holiday to Cork, all allowed this project to develop and be ompeted in its own time
The idea developed with little help from me, an initial idea and faith that life would reveal itself in the process. The major part for me was, having been inspired by Caton, to visualise how I could tie the project up into a work of art, and then creating that in Photoshop.
My process is my process and we all have our own creative workflow. I am discovering and developing a technique that works for me, and for this I am truly grateful.
I have produced a work of art that I am very pleased and impressed with, and proud to have created. Art that explores and expresses sociological themes, and this is the kind of photography that I want to make. I am so grateful to the Open College of the Arts, and look forward to my continued development.
Lupton, R and Power, A; 2002; Social Exclusion and Neighbourhoods, In; Agulnik et al; Understanding Social Exclusion; Oxford; Oxford University Press; pp.118-140; Can be viewed online here (accessed on 04/04/2018)
Rhan, J; 2002; Painting Without Permission – Hip Hop Graffiti Subculture; Westport; Begin and Garvey; Can be viewed online here (accessed on 04/04/2018)
Russell Howards Good News Extra, Series 7, Episode 11[Television Programme and YouTube clip online] Pres. Howard. Perf. Caton. BBC UK (2012) 14 mins AT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQmn-nJIM1U (accessed on 04/04/2018)
Travis, R; 2015; Anti Social; london/Hungary; RST Pictures, JRSM Films, Origo Film Group; Online AT: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3475596/ (accessed on 04/04/2018)
Urban Dictionary; 2018; Standard; Online AT: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=standard (accessed on 04/04/2018)