I’m back from my holiday in Lindisfarne. I’ve had a wonderful time with family and enjoyed myself and was able to relax.
Tourism photography is not something that I have tried to avoid in the past. Everyone does it and when it comes to this genre there are so many great photos easily available.
However I have been with family and we all want those memories of a wonderful time. So I’ve used many of the skills that I’ve learned over the past year, and have tried to be creative. I will upload some to my gallery when I get the chance to develop them, but I’m getting back to my studies from tomorrow.
I have enjoyed making tourist/holiday photography, and of course there’s been some bird photography as well.
In the mean time here’s a quick snap from my Huawei phone.
Northern Ballet have produced Jayne Eyre (seen here), which I went to see at Leeds Grand last night.
The last time that I read Jayne Eyre was over twenty years ago, which meant that I had no recollection of the storyline. However, the ballet was so well choreographed and performed that it came back to me scene by scene.
I felt sad and cried, I felt angry, and I laughed. Such a moving and convincing performance.
My seat was in the upper balcony, slightly to the left of stage and that meant I had a good perspective for some technical analysis.
Choreography uses the same visual, placement and use of space that is used in photography.
Diagonals were often used, either with a group of dancers (front corner to opposing rear corner), or by two characters to create visual tension with my eyes moving back and forth between the two.
Foreground, mid-ground and background were used effectively. There were a couple of scenes in which there was a lot of movement across the whole of the available space, but not often. When the action took place in the background then there may have been one performer in the foreground. This gave a sense of space and perspective.
There were other occasions when the performance was taking place at the front of stage, and those dancers in the background barely moved. They provided a visual context to the rest of the action.
Use of scenery and props were relevent and limited to when there was a need to alert the viewer to a change of setting.
It was also clear that costume and colour was relevent to the social status/age/emplorment and personality of the character, as well as reflecting the change of social status for Jayne.
Make use of space by allowing it to be there.
Emotion is portrayed by body language, clothing, lighting and props.
Make use of background appropriately – if the action/subject is in the background then have a touch of visual contrast in the foreground and vice versa.
Distractions – does it need to be in the scene. If it doesn’t then remove it or change perspective if possible. There are some occasions where distractions can be deliberately used to create tension, confusion and movement.
Props can be used to create the setting, to demonstrate personality (portrait/fashion) and to divide available space so the eye is drawn in to one part of the photo.
Lighting can be used to create mood, to alter emotion engagement, to highlight, to obscure, and can be used in an abstract manner to provide a hint to the viewer without being directive.
Planning. Having a photographic eye is no different from choreography in visual or performance arts. There are times when performance is ad lib as in photography, but often having a plan, even if it’s just a vision in the mind can ensure that a photograph is taken just at the right moment.
As I begin to move into making the political/social themed photography that I want to make, I am gaining more of an understanding about the necessity of planning. Test photos, beginning a project then realising it isn’t right, going out with my camera and taking photos for fun – these are as important as mind maps and written exploration of ideas. These ways of planning are a photographers dress rehearsal.
My first experience of ballet was mesmerising. Viewing the world through the eyes of a photographer is becoming more natural.
Two recent projects that I have completed, as a part of my studies, have given me a boost. They are the beginnings of the kind of photography that I wish to make. A Hermits Journey (here) is a narrative that expressed part of my current life experiences, and combined text with photography. Sick of Bulimia (seen here) is a conceptual sequence exploring that particular eating disorder.
A Hermits Journey
The snow provided me with the opportunity to make photos which could convey the mood that I was looking to express, and the use text gave me the oportunity to present a visual and emotional journey. There were two influences that I used to help me to develop the idea for this work. Chloe Halstead, an OCA Photography and Creative Arts degree student, has produced Snippets, for assignment three. Snippets is a photograph (which can be seen here) that has text written onto it. The text is snippets of conversations that she heard. The narrative is broken in respect that brief glimpses of heard conversation do not provide a continuous narrative, but viewing the progress of her assignment sparked the potential for using text as a part of photography, rather than only as an introduction to a series.
Telling Stories by Judy Bach (seen here) has been an incredible experience to view. The story is told from a first person perspective and begins with the narrator, Florence Fountain, finding a box of photos in her mothers former home. Using appropriated and found images, Bach has developed a story which explores Florence’s family history. The use of photography and text has been both emotionally moving and convincing. Telling Stories was produced by Bach for Assignment Five Digital Image and Culture (seen here).
My initial plan was to create a sequence that was purely a physical journey, but as I began my walk I realised that I could take the opportunity to express a little of who I am and what the journey represents to me. Whilst I was walking I considered what I would like to say in relation to the scenes that I was photographing. A five hour walk left me with a lot of photos, and the selection process wasn’t easy. However, because I had considered the personal importance of the scenes as I was photographing them, some sections were quite straight forward.
Sick of Bulimia
The conceptual sequence that I produced for exercise 3.3, Sick of Bulimia, is photography that I am very proud to have produced. The idea has been nurtured over many months, with test photos taken last year. Having reviewed Self Burial by Keith Arnatt (seen here) I returned to my ideas in relation to bulimia, and decided to develop this into a conceptual sequence. The power of Sick of Bulimia is due, in my opinion, to my personal experiences. The photos are an expression of my emotions and thought patterns, and the emotion is evident in the series.
Two key learning points come across from these projects; Studying the developmental process of other photographers is a key to learning to turn an idea into a body of work. Halstead and Bach’s work has included reasearch, experimentation, development of ideas, critique from peers and tutors, re-working and excluding some photography that did not work. The other point is that photography which I have an emotional connection to, and that I feel passionate about, will be of higher quality and be more evocative than work that I approach nonchalantly.
Colour vs Content
I follow many student blogs and I recent commented upon the learning log of OCA photography degree student Tanya Keane. She was comparing two photos from groups on opposing sides of the abortion debate (eighth amendment) in the Republic of Ireland. The comment that I had made was in regard to the exposure of the two photos (seen here). Keane disagreed with my reflection and explained why. This gave me an opportunity to explore in some detail my confusion about colour, vibrance and exposure.
I am drawn to colour. You will see me out and about in blue, red, purple, green and other coloured trousers, and my jumpers and shirts are always colourful (not that they often go together). Much of my previous photography has been high contrast, colourful and with added vibrance. One comment that I received a while ago was that a photo looked like it had been processed as HDR, it wasnt, but I do produce similar photography with the use of Lightroom. How I view photography is affected by this. My initial attraction is to colour, and then progresses onto the content.
Once I had completed my presentation for Sick of Bulimia, I sought critique and feed back, and it was suggested that I try different layouts, and a white background instead of the midtone grey in the original. The photos with the white background appeared brighter and were more prominent, however the series with the grey background meant that I felt drawn into the photos, and connected with them on a deeper level. I can make use of this practical experience to guide me with developing photographs in the future.
Frame of reference when viewing photography
We all have a personal belief system that has developed from our experiences. My mental and emotion frame of reference informs how I view the world around me. Having realised the importance of making photography that means something to me, which is developed from my frame of reference, I have discovered where there can also be a drawback.
Viewing others photography from my own frame of reference is completely natural, and I particularly enjoy reviewing the work of photographers. Once I have written my initial thoughts, I try to get into the photographers head and see what they are wanting to convey. I fall short of the mark but it helps me to see things from a viewpoint which is different from mine. My frame of reference is humanistic, ideological, left-wing and sometimes borders on anti-establishment. This is limiting when it comes to analysing the photography of others who have created their art from a different internal construct. To have realised this at an early stage of my studies is very useful indeed, and will broaden how I relate to the work of other photographers, and hopefully make me a more rounded individual.
Bach, J; 2018; Assignment Five Digital Image and Culture; Online AT: https://judybachdigitalimageandculture.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-5/ (accessed on 10/03/2018)
Bach, J; 2018; Telling Stories; Online AT: https://tellingstoriesmyfamily.wordpress.com/ (accessed on 10/03/2018)
Keane, T; 2018; Two very different images taken from the media; Online AT: https://tkocalevel3.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/research-for-contextual-studies/ (accessed on 10/03/2018)
Halstead, C; 2018; Assignment Three handwriting; Online AT: https://chloeslenscape.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/assignment-three-handwriting/ (accessed on 10/03/2018)
Reflections upon Sick of Bulimia.
I have published Sick of Bulimia as a separate blog post, because I believe that it warrants being presented as a stand alone project. It can be seen here.
Exercise 3.3 is about photography as sequence, and I have now explored many of the options, based upon the ideas and learning about the photographers that we have been asked to review. Keith Arnatt’s Self Burial is a conceptual sequence, which I reviewed as part of the coursework (seen here).
It helped that I have had an idea that I wanted to explore about bulimia, and created some test photos around 6-9 months ago. Two of the photos in my final sequence have come from those, and the rest I have taken over the past couple of weeks. The opportunity to build upon my previous photography and to do so for exercise 3.3 was influenced by reviewing Self Burial.
I have an eating disorder, and was first diagnosed with Anorexia – binge-purge subtype in my late teens. I was actually a restrict-pirge but that’s not a separate diagnosis. My eating disorder has changed its shape over the years and I haven’t purged for many years. Having a personal investment has meant that I could explore bulimia from my own perspective, the experience of others, and from additional research.
There is a sequence, a ritual that is often associated with eating disorders, and I have tried to express the mental urgency around going out, buying food, bingeing and vomiting by using blurred photos, movement, the use of bright colours. Some of the photos are taken from the perspective of the person engaged in the depicted activities rather than going with the golden rules of photography. Bulimia is personal, deeply emotional, and both thrilling and devastating. The excitement and the rush of buying and bingeing is short lived, and is quickly replaced by overwhelming shame and distress.
The central portrait is the signifier of shame, and I think the sequence would have worked better if I made this image larger and more dominant.
Reviewing eating disorder charities and websites from around the globe has evidenced that death is a very possible outcome for people with an eating disorder. Up to twenty percent of individuals with an eating disorder will die from either heart failure, organ failure or suicide. This made second photo important for me to include. The symbolic references by including the memorial and the shop where the food was purchased has a deep significance.
Bulimia is secretive, as are other eating disorders initially. Overtime it becomes obvious to family, friends and healthcare workers that a person is severely underweight and may have anorexia. People with bulimia may be underweight, of a healthy weight or overweight, and this poses many problems because it is less obvious to loved ones.
Purging depletes the body of the vitamins and minerals that it needs for electrical conduction (we are electro-chemical beings) and death can come from disturbances to the hearts electrical conduction as well as organ failure. Of those who die from bulimia, heart failure is the biggest cause of death.
However recovery is possible if help is asked for, so I included a link to eating disorder charities from a few countries.
Self Burial (Arnatt) helped me to formulate how I could build upon my original photos and create a sequence. The urgency of HAVING to go out and buy food, knowing that you were going to binge and then purge was a starting point, and lead onto re-creating the journey to do so, and things flowed from there. I made use of two cameras, Olympus OMD EM10 MKii and Mzuiko 25mm (50mm equivalent) prime,, and Huawei P10 smart phone with dual Leica lens, 27mm, 20mp raw. The Huawei gave me the opportunity to create good bokeh, if slightly unusual, which can be evidenced in photo 5 where the shopping is on the floor.
Fully aware that it is important to take lots of photos of each scene and from different angles, using different lighting (building upon 100 photos, soft light landscape, smash – part one of FiP coursework (seen here)), I set to work and took many photos.
Creating the vomit was a simple process of blending dog food, baked beans, carrots and eggs together. It’s visually effective. I have made the toothbrush the focus of that photo because the photos of just the vomit were too graphic. A tooth-brush may often be used by people with bulimia to make themselves sick.
The selection process also built upon previous coursework in relation to evaluating and selction, as well as the skills that I have learned from reading The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers, 2015 by Scott Kelby.
Through following the blog of an OCA degree student (can’t remember who) I picked up the idea of writing upon contact sheets as a method of aiding the evaluation process, and this was indeed very helpful.
The weakest two photos are the first – the trainers, however they are symbolic of the urgency to get food, and the third photos of the shopping basket and trolley. Nine Photos make for an aesthetically pleasing grid, so I have included these. I had not planned to use a combination of portrait and landscape orientation, but the final photos were important to me because they carried the message that I wanted to express.
Reworking from Feedback
Sick of Bulimia has received a lot of welcome feedback, which has included using photo two, the memorial with its symbolism od death as the central photo, keeping the same background, and changing the background to white. Having tried these options and also a white background and a grey border, I feel very strongly that my original presentation is the strongest, along with the grey background, which I was originally unsure of. The restructured grid to have death as the central photo doesn’t work because it significantly changes the grid layout. The shame of having an eating disorder is also the strongest emotion that I have in relation to my own experience of bulimia (I have no shame about anorexia), so the portrait of me crying has to be the central photo. The white background with the grey border is presentable, however the focus is taken towards the colours rather than the content. Having the grey background draws me deeply into the photos, and that’s what I would like for the viewers.
Here is the original presentation, and the other forms of presentation that I have tried.
The Individual Photos
I am deeply grateful for the feedback that I have recieved.
Kelby, S; 2015; The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers; New Riders; Pages 47-54
Keys, R; 2018; Review – Keith Arnatt – Self-Burial; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/review-keith-arnatt-self-burial/ (accessed on 09/03/2018)
Please click Tutor Feedback Assignment 2 for the full word document of Jayne’s feedback.
Of particular note in your second assignment is the fact that you successfully worked with a model here and that you achieved the results you wanted through direction and rapport as well as careful preparation. You clearly enjoyed the creative process and (I sense) are feeling enthused towards the rest of the course – so I look forward to your third assignment!
Many of you are already aware that I have anxiety about being around people in general and working with people and photography. However, my skills and confidence in have improved throughout the Image the Portrait section of coursework. Although my anxiety remains, I enjoy working with people, and hopefully, in time, I will become more engaging and conversational with those that I work with. There is a vast difference between asking someone if I can make their portrait, and entering into a conversation with them. It helped that my close friend was my model for this assignment.
So Nick’s stillness of presence is key. As is the black background (the unknown aspects relating to his move and the future) and the light ‘waves’ as the different emotions or energies around this.
With this in mind, I encouraged you to write a brief (100-200 word) introduction to the piece to gently (slightly obliquely) introduce the context (leaving experiential space for the viewer, i.e. try not to be too literal or too descriptive. You might also decide to veer away from the factual side of Nick’s life altogether and take the images somewhere different entirely through the introduction.
We also discussed the possibility of developing this work further as a future project (using the very strong 5th image as a ‘template’), as you enjoyed working on this so much. The idea of masks is very creative and potentially very interesting. But, no rush! Generally, though, taking the strongest image from a series and developing elements of that image further can be a great way to go when riding a creative ‘wave’.
Chloe Dewe-Matthews provides an excellent introduction to her body of work “Shot at Dawn, which can be seen here Shot at Dawn, and Tom Hunter has an introduction to all of his series of work which can be seen in his web gallery. Their series of work have a mixture of both long and short introductions, which are informative, and guide the viewer to think about their photography. I found that this guidance was thought provoking and still allowed me to view the photos and have my own thoughts and opinions.
I chose to write a poem to introduce my assignment, and my reasons for doing so are:- I intend to follow Jayne’s suggestion of using the fifth photo to develop a series of work that explores “self-identity”, and felt that the poem raises questions. Who am I is a question than has been around as long as humanity has had rational thought, but I have a personal interest in this question. From a spiritual, cognitive and emotional perspective I am beginning to let go of conditioning, and am committed to exploring my identity. Although I have not followed Jayne’s suggestion in the manner that she suggested, we have communicated via email and she agrees that the words are an appropriate accompaniment to the series of work.
Jayne commented upon a photo that I took for exercise 2.8
You’ve overcome the challenge of photographing strangers and have produced a super portrait in ex 2.8, which not only illustrates the flash effect but also the great rapport and connection you clearly achieved with the subject. Well done!
and I believe that this is my strongest individual photo from the coursework, and demonstrates that I can photograph strangers despite my anxiety.
Jayne comments upon the preperation and planning that I put into developing assignment two. What I find most interesting is that preparation and planning are important. They create ideas, provide the opportunity to explore options and develop perception and technical skills. I thoroughly explored the effects of coloured light and how it interacts with skin tone and make up. However, plans also go sometimes, as they did for me with the assignment. My belief is that my preperation gave me the confidence to be flexible and creative when it was not possible to shoot as I had planned. Was the outcome better than what my planned shoot would have been? I have confidence that it was. The out come was vibrant and dynamic, and I think this is because it allowed my model, Nick, and I to play and experiment.
The final comment of Jayne’s that I feel is important to reflect upon is in relation to my experience as an OCA student.
Excellent to see/hear that you’re making the most of the opportunities for peer group interaction; a real enhancement to the student experience, especially in distance-learning mode.
Studying at a campus would not suit me at this moment in time due to anxiety and paranoia, but that doesn’t mean that I do not need connection with other people. I have chosen to make the most of the opportunity to interact with others as part of my student experience. The Foundations in Photography group email is a wonderful form of connection with my peers, there are several of us who communicate regularly via the group email and provide feedback on each others work.
Giving and receiving critique can be a bit daunting at first, but I find it is one of the best opportunities to develop. receiving the input from others provides an alternate perspective as well as suggestion of how to explore, alter or develop photography in a different way. Giving feedback I find scary, because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. However, it also engages my eye and permits me to explore what an image is saying, rather than just looking at a photo. My own photography improves because of this, and when I am out shooting I am more considerate about the photos that I make. Why am I taking this photo?
When I started the course I used the WordPress search option to find other OCA students. As well as following my Foundations peers I follow the work of OCA degree students, and now communicate with several of these. Seeing how others, who are studying at a higher level than me, think, plan, execute, present, reflect upon their photographic work is inspiring, and this also has an impact upon how I view and want to develop my own photography.
There are other photographers, artists, poets, creatives on WordPress, as well as OCA students, and I follow several of these and engage with them as well. Creativity is creativty, I feel inspired by creative people, and it doesn’t matter whether they are photographers or not. One of my aims when I began the course was to develop my creativity. Anyone can develop technical skills if they apply themselves, but creativty requires internal and external engagement, and the willingness to let go and be free. As someone who is highly analytical, following other creatives permits me to let go and be free.
My peers, and the others I engage with on WordPress have become a community for me. I avoid contact with people face to face, so my OCA and WordPress community have given me the opportunity to contribute, and this has improved how I perceive my value and worth.
The poem that I have used as an introduction to I dare you to define me (assignment two) is
What do you see when you look at me?
Am “I” the “I” that you think you see?
The stillness within and my activity,
These are just circumstance, do they make me “me”?
Is it the hidden depths that I cannot see,?
Or does the mask that I wear make the person you see?
Can we define self with true certainty?
I can only be sure that I am humanity.
Do you dare to define yourself?
Dewe-Matthews, C; 2014; Shot at Dawn; Online AT: http://shotatdawn.photography/about/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)
Hunter, T; 1980’s – 2017); Holly Street Resident Series; Online AT: http://www.tomhunter.org/gallery/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)
I will write a full post about my tutors (Jayne Taylor) feedback once I’ve had time to digest and reflect upon what we discussed.
However, one thing that I have really connected with is the potential for developing the Painting With Light Assignment further. I now have lots of thoughts and ideas floating around in my brain, that will develop over time. Certainly the theme of self and other has come strongly to the surface. A theme that’s particularly important to me, and where I am currently in my life. Jayne has prompted me to consider that a good piece of work doesn’t need to be viewed as having been done and dusted, but how it can be built upon and developed into a body of work.
As for being excited about photography – I am. I have enjoyed the coursework and my personal photography, but since going to Cork I have been out with my camera more frequently. The more often I am out with a camera in my hand, the more I enjoy photography.
I’m struggling at the moment. My confidence in my photography is low. Partly this is relating to my health. I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s not a major condition bit it’s knocked the wind out of me. I have no energy and feel ill after eating, and because of my mental health I rarely get out until after lunch.
So I haven’t been out with my camera much. This doesn’t help with confidence. To improve my photography I need to be taking photos, exploring light, and seeking opportunities to create the photography that I want to.
My first assignment has been an eye opener for me. I followed the brief and from reviewing the work of Chloe Dewe Matthews, Walker Evans and Dan Holdsworth, I wanted to create a series that fit together and had a narrative. My aim was also to create a narrative in some individual photos that also included some symbolism. There were four that my tutor liked, which I also did, and one more that I felt worked. Five photos that achieved my aim. There was one other that I didn’t include because the traffic, which was endless, ruined the photo. I am not good at travelling without support so I can’t go back and re take it at the moment.
I know the photography that I want to make and it involves people, and a sociological narrative. History has come up for me as something to explore that had also come from the Square Mile assignment.
In writing this I feel better about the first assignment. I did achieve my goals in several photos, and even the ones that I didn’t get good feedback about in relation to my vision as a photographer, there technicality and how they would work well in the tourist industry and promotional photography was noted upon and promising.
That’s not the kind of photography that I want to make though.
My plan now is to bring sociology and history into my coursework wherever I can. If I make the kind of photos that I want then tI can make the most out of the rest of my coursework.
I have been asking people if I can take their portraits, which I will upload at a later date. I’m a stickler for doing things in order.
I have completed my photo essay on autism, but can’t contact who I publish with at the moment, I will give it a few more days and then either self publish or look elsewhere, although I would prefer to stick with the magazine I use. I will add my analyses and learning once the article is published.
Image the Portrait.
I’ve been reading others blogs and I look forward to Creating the Exotic. I’m going to compare it with photos of Matahari.
Painting with light.
I have some ideas that I want to explore, including using two people sitting side by side, and using light to highlight half of each person’s face, the half’s that are next to each other. I can then create a face from two different half’s that are the wrong side.
Colour, skin, texture and drama.
Wow. What a difference colour can make. The drama of different lighting is apparent to me from my photography of the Chinese State Circus. But I’ve also been looking out for lighting effects on TV and film. Green is not a good colour as it makes skin look Ill. Red can have many effects depending how close, soft, or hard the lighting is. Blue brings out texture of skin and building very well when it is close to the subject.
Lighting, make up and tanning.
Why are we seeing so many orange people on TV nowadays? Sunbeds and tanning booths make for poor skin on TV. Make up artists and lighting technician’s need to be more aware of how lighting and make up interact. With the wrong lighting and make up people look burned or bruised.
The question this has raised for me is how does lighting affect people of different race and skin tone?
I’m feeling much better at the end of this post. I may not be photographing at the moment, but I’m still exploring photography.
As I left a shop yesterday a man put his camera to his eye and was going to take a photo of me. I turned away and put my hand to my face. If he had approached me and asked to take the shot I would have obliged. It wouldn’t have been candid but I would have agreed to walk back into the shop and come out again. He would still have got a good photo.
On Friday I watched Masters of Photography. Series 1 episode 1 which was shown on Sky Arts HD on 16th May. A few of the contests followed individuals around Rome, taking their photos. Several of the people told them to stop and leave them alone.
One of the better photos of the day was a candidate street shot. I attended a photography society last year and two of the best presentations were by candid street photographers.
My attitude has been that if I am aiming to take a photo where one individual is the main subject then I seek their consent first. The photos for my homelessness project were taken with consent and information about how I would use the photos.
When I attended Northern Pride it was apparent that seeking consent would not be possible during the march. I shot on the presumption of informed consent. I remained visible as a photographer and only used photos where people were engaged with the camera. If people looked uncomfortable or turned away I deleted their photo. At the event following the march I again gained verbal consent for portraits.
Whilst in York shooting for assignment one I took several photos of individuals or small groups where they were the subject of the photo. I included one of these in my final cut. This photo was taken when I was obviously in view as a photographer. However there was no engagement between the camera and subject.
I also took one photo where I was almost hidden from view. I got a great photo. It didn’t make the final cut, however that was because it didn’t fit in with the series. Would I have included it if it had have fit the theme?
I feel that I’m on an ethically sound footing with informed consent, and I am comfortable with implied consent. I’m less comfortable with being visible but without informed/implied consent. I feel very uncertain about candid street photography where I catch people by surprise or where I’m partially/fully concealed.
This is an area that we all have to be true to ourselves. What other photographers choose to do is their choice, and what I shoot is my responsibility. I certainly appreciate the art of candid street photography and have seen some incredible photos of this genre.
I can see that my ethics and boundaries are evolving as I watch more photography and read books and others blogs, and I will continue to evaluate my personal morals in this regard.