Reflection On A Question On Gender And Identity – Exercise 3.10

The brief for exercise 3.10 can be found at the bottom of the page.

Gender and identity are important to me, and are significant around the world at the moment. People are being able to explore and express their identity, and statues, laws and policies are being changed to recognise that gender is not a male female polarisation. we all know that our chromosones and genitalia define whether we are legally a man or woman, but gender is not as simple as this.

What the bloody hell is gender I aks myself? Truth is I realy do not know. We are socialised into behaving in certain ways according to whether we are a man or woman/boy or girl. But if we are socialised into this behaviour then surely we cannot say that this is a true reflection on gender. Socialisation means that gender roles can be different depending upon culture, class, ethnicity and religion. Gender roles have also changed over the centuries. So is gender defined by what we wear and the unequal division of unpaid labour within the home, then to me, this is not gender, it’s culture. There is far more that I could explore here, becaue it’s a theme that matters to me, but I’ll leave that for another day.

When I read the brief for this exercise I knew that I would not be able to complete it. My anxiety is high at the moment, so I could not make a formal portrait of another person. But I did not want to avoid the exercise. After assignment two my tutor and I discussed how I could develop a body of work which explores identity, where I use masks and props with a variety of people, in a manner that they feel represents an aspect of their personality. I figured that I could do this with self-portrait for this exercise.

This has been one of the most fun photo shoots that I have made. It’s not perfect and there are some points of learning for me. This series will need to be re-worked in order to be added added to the Identity body of work (which will not be about gender per se).

The shoots took place over two weekends, and at slightly different times and lighting conditions, which is where the issues lay for me. The first weekend I shot the ‘female’ clothing with the male mask, and the following weekend the ‘male’ clothing and the ‘female’ mask. The props include the books on the sofa, which and in my hands (which are photography related), the photos above me in the seated photos, the book case, the crystals, two masks, different outfits of clothing.

In the diptychs that I have presented as a seperate post (see here) I have tried to match composition and tonal range, and in Lightroom have set the white balance the same through out the eight photos. Because I shot over two weekends then thematching composition is ok, but will be better with a re-work of the series. I have tried to demonstrate  what may be defined as male body language where I am wearing the make clothing, and female poses in the female outfits. The clothing, body language and masks are a relay between the photos and the title ‘A question on gender and identity’. I felt that the title gives the viewer space for contemplation, without requiring further introductory text. People can make of it as they will.

In order for a successful re-work I need to

  • Invest in some lighting equipment
  • Have a technician to take the photos
  • Buy a new mask for when I am wearing the male clothing
  • Use a cream foundation as a base and then the powder on top
  • Re-touch lipstick frequently and use a slighlty brighter colour
  • Take all of the seated shots at the same time with all sets of clothing
  • Take all of the standing shots at the same time with all sets of clothing
  • More male clothing outfits

I made several hundred photos for this shoot so evaluation and selection has not been easy at all. It involved going through a process of adding picks and labels in Lightroom and going through the “cut” process in which i delete photos, on five occasions, and finally I printed contacts in black and white so that I could make the final selection by matching tonal range and composition, without the element of colour to disteract me.

cof

Leaving out photos that I like, but that did not fit in with the series was hard. There were thre that I particularly liked, but as I am developing as a photographer I am learning to avoid attatchment and personal involvement where I can, so that I can have a more objective approach. This is very much a learning process and work in progress for me. The following are tow of those favourites.

On-Gender-and-Identity-5

Over all I am pleased with the diptychs that I have produced. They refelct aspects of my personality, the staging and composition are ok, but with room for improvement, and the masks and props work well.

The Final Four DiptychsOn-Gender-and-Identity-1

On-Gender-and-Identity-4

On-Gender-and-Identity-3

On-Gender-and-Identity-2

Brief:- How would you make a formal portrait of someone, that tells the viewer about that persons charachter, life and interests but remains subtle and restrained? Making a ‘formal’ portrait is a ‘real world’ scenario for most photographer. It’s generally a full-length portrait of a person whowing their whole figure deliberately posed to be the main subject of the composition. It wont include exessive display of emotion or activity. A formal portrait demands great care over the composition and the lighting. You will need to make many exposures to capture a meaningful portrait from your subject. Wait for your subject to relax. Be alert to their nuances of facial expression and gesture and try to find a ‘real’ face, not a self-conscious or smiling or ‘this is how I want ro be seen’ sort of face. By juxtaposing significant elements (props, setting, clothes) in the frame, you’re setting up a kind of ‘dialogue’ between them, in which a resonance should occur, but try to remain subtle. Before you start, research the photographs of Rineke Djkstra and look at Thomas Struth’s portraits on the Tate website:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks?aid=2339&ws=date&wv=grid

Exercise 3.5 – Photographs From Text

Brief:- History painting was a specific genre of painting that depicted scenes from religious, historical or mythological texts.  Choose a text that has meaning for you. It can be anything from a poem to a newspaper report, a biblical passage or a scene in a novel. It can be a long text, but it would probably be best if it was reasonably short, even a few lines. You’ll need to know your text by heart, so read it repeatedly.

Try to generate visual ideas that communicate something about the text. Discuss the text with other people and find out what images spring to mind for them. Write down any ideas you get from the text. They can be visual ideas or thoughts about the subject.

How would you turn that text into a photograph or a series of photographs?

  • Begin by thinking of a literal translation from the text, like a movie or a biblical painting.
  • Next, try to think in more metaphorical and symbolic ways. Text can be didactic, but you don’t have to illustrate the text; you can use it as a starting point for your picture making or you can create a broad interpretation based on the intuitive or emotional meaning the text has for you. For example, the Resurrection may cause joy and this joy could be metaphorically expressed in an explosion of colour, as in the work of Polly Apfelbaum.

When you’ve finished your work, place the photograph or photographs you’ve made with the text, side-by-side.

Leisure

by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Leisure by William Henry Davies

Reflections

What a lot of fun I have had whilst making this sequence, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Because I read the course manual before I started Foundations in Photography, I had planned to use Leisure by William Henry Davies from the outset. It is probably my favourite poem, and one that is etched in my memory. My intention had always been to make this as close to a literal representation as I could do.

Technically this has been quite straight forward, with the only challenges coming from using Photoshop to remove an electric fence in the scene with the cows, and also from trying to get the text size correct. This has been difficult because I have taken the photos on four different cameras, each with their own dimensions, and because they have all been cropped to different ratios so that I could make each omage how I wanted them. I felt that it was important to get the text correct on the full size image, rather than the 1080p that I have saved the photos as, so that if I need to rework a photo then I have the original in its complete form.

The text has not worked out, and this is easy to correct by saving the original without text to 1080p and then increasing the canvas size and adding text, which can now be added at the same size.

I am going to go back and do this, but I felt that it was important to, as my former school teachers would say, show my workings out not just the answers.

Because this has been planned for a long time, than I have had the opportunity to take these photos in many places that I have visited, although I have had to include two from before I began Foundations in Photography so that I could retain the narrative, and two portraits from previous coursework.

 

 

Proud of Pride

Pride is a celebration of diversity and gender in all of its many forms. It’s an opportunity for the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters to gather together and be proud of being who we are. Being visible as a community means that equality and diversity can be promoted and homophobia and discrimination can be challenged by presence and a carnival atmosphere.

Pride Portraits and Organisers/Sponsors Now Online – Lightroom Adjustment Brush and Airbrushing Portraits – Big Tip for Skin at the Bottom of the Page

The series that I will keep for my portfolio will be 24 of my favourite/meaningful photos of the day. I am currently reviewing the contact sheet and will select  the final 24 from 40 over the weekend.

I have uploaded the portraits and the Pride Makers on my website. I will include a few at the bottom of this blog.

Portraits Page OnePortraits Page TwoPride Makers

I have used a lot of the skills that I have learned on Foundations in Photography with making and developing these photos. I am more aware of how ISO, shutter speed and aperture affect lighting, grain and depth of field. With some of the portraits I felt anxious and I didn’t check to make sure that I had all of what I wanted to include in the frame, at other times my anxiety wasnt so bad and it was clear that I took more time.

It wasnt the kind of environment where distractions could be avoided altogether, but the people I photographed were happy to move so that I could light them more effectively or get rid of the background distractions. This was something that got easier as the day progressed and I became aware of how people allow you to direct them once they have consented to their photo being taken.

On the whole I use Lightroom for my developing, and tend to only use Photoshop for clone and healing brush. The healing brush tool is really useful for those times when I have cloned complicated areas of clothing or sky where the cloned section has been lighter or darker than the surrounding area. Clone first, then find smooth toned area with some texture, use the Alt key to select the source, then smooth over the cloned area. The key for me was finding a textured area, as it prevents the healing brush from turning the cloned area into a smudge. That’s a new trick up my sleeve.

Developing portraits in Lightroom has become more intuitive as this process went on. The first thing that I realised was to set the exposure and tone curve for the main subject. Once I had got that right I could then use the adjustment brush on the background. For many of the photos I have used the adjustment brush with decreased exposure and clarity and brushed over the background. This works well for complex scenes, but can look messy on bright white sky’s, however that’s what the grad filter is for.

I Feather, Flow, density and auto mask have taken me quite a while to get used to. Feather is useful for brushing around the outside of a subject as a harsh boundary with no feather creates the halo. I tend to use auto mask in conjunction with the grad filter, and use it as an eraser inside a subject so the filter doesn’t effect them. Density gives me more control of the affect – so a burn of -.3 can be toned down using the density slider and this decreases the incidence of “brush strokes” on light areas.

Airbrushing – using spot heal for blemishes, adjusting saturation, temp and tint on lips, eyes (am amazed at how you can bring out the colour of eyes) and skin. Whites adjustment for eyes. Increase exposure for deep-set eyes or eyes in shadow. Decrease highlights and whites for reflections on glasses. I am also going to change my Lightroon and Photoshop background to white. The sites I use have white backgrounds and the tone appears different to my eyes on a black background than it does on white.

Big skin tip – don’t do a global increase of contrast, it changes the skin colour. I have found that the best results came from a typical ‘S’ tone curve, but with darks at no more than 10% and then increase the mid-tones and bring up the shadows.

Amazing Day With Northern Pride – Anxiety Vanished – Thankyou

This is just a short post as I’m exhausted. I’ve left early because talking with so many people is emotionally draining. This has been a well organised, attended and supported event. Lots of happy, joyful, colourful and photogenic people. I’ve lived it.

It took me a little while to get into asking people if I could take their photos – and then you couldn’t stop me. The overwhelming majority of people have happily had me take their photos.

I’ve also been able to take photos of Northern Pride committee members Jane and Chris – Jane has been very supportive in enabling me to take photographs. There were so many organisations supporting the event and I have many photos of them, which I will email and tweet to them. The security was excellent with the local police and Smart Security and although Cleveland Police don’t police the event as it’s out of area, they attend and support Northern Pride.

I have no idea how many people I have asked if I could take there photos but it was a lot. I’m pleased with my self for that. I don’t enjoy portrait photography because of my anxiety, so this is another part of my development as a photographer.

Thankyou to the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters, Northern Pride and it’s supporters and sponsors.

It’s going to take some time to develop these photos.

Time to eat.