Photography Study Update

Recently I have been very kindly and generously given a speedlight, for which I am most grateful. I’m waiting until the gels and remote trigger which I have ordered for it to arrive, and then I will begin exercise 4.2.

Exercise 4.2 requires us to make use of any space with which we have access to for a few days, to add flat surfaces, and then objects, to create a space which only exists within the boundaries of the photo.

My space is going to be my lounge ceiling. I have paper, material and objects, which can pin too and hang from the ceiling. It’s a space which I intend to make more use of as the still life coursework proceeds. Seeing the photography of Laura Letinsky has been the trigger that my imagination has required to find some enthusiasm for this section.

We’ve also been asked to consider visual effect by exploring photographic effect, by making photos of things that have meaning for us. Well, as I’m slowly making these photos I’m realising that meaning and effect are personal and subjective. Yes, there are photographic techniques (composition, lighting, placement, colour, distraction), which positively or negatively impact upon presentation and reading of a photo, but photography, as with all art, is a subjective experience.

I am going to be working a little out of order at the moment. My health has been poor and rather than lag behind I will work on what I feel able when I feel able.

Here’s are some pigs. Pigs are a the spirit animal for abundance, the universe always provides what I need, and the many pigs around my house are a reminder.

A photo of my pigging cup

A photo of my pigging pigs

A photo of my pigging ornament
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Toxic Shame

Toxic Shame is a mixed media video created in collaboration by several Open College of the Arts Students. We study in different genres of the creative arts. It has been a very enjoyable process which has required thinking out of the box to respond to the work of other members submissions, based upon the theme for the month.

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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Tale From De Cameron – The Conversation

During the Foundations in Photography coursework we were asked to review The Conversation by Michael Buhler Rose, which was from his theme Creating the Exotic (please excuse my lack of academic referencing, I’m tired, unmotivated, and feeling adding something to my learning log is better than nothing). Buhler Roses’ photo is below.

the-conversation-alahua-fl-2006

I’m aware that we all draw our inspiration from the world around us, and I’m begging to think that Buhler Rose may have drawn his from John William Waterhouse. Waterhouse made several paintings which included people, in groups, conversing, wearing bright colours. The Enchanted Garden is a good example, as is Tales From Dr Cameron (below).

800px-Waterhouse_decameron

I certainly have no recollection of Buhler Rose discussing his inspiration or the works of his or others that he had built upon, and I can now see why our tutors ask us to do this. Doing so helps me to become more definitive in my photographic profile and signature and becomes a cornerstone of continued professional development.

I saw the Waterhouse painting on a UK TV program called University Challenge and I instantly thought of The Conversation

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.

Creating A Photo Archive – The Materiality Of Photography – Recent And Current Reading

Following on from reading Behind The Image: Research In Photography (Fox, A and Caruana, N; 2012), I have decided to start my own photographic archive. My current sources are newspapers and magazines, ebay for purchasing used photo’s (it’s bloody strange viewing a family’s wedding photo’s, but other than that it good) and printing some of my own photo’s. Gerhard Richter makes collages using text as well as photo’s and this idea has grown upon me, so I am also collecting snippets that I like. There are also themes and issues which are important to me, such as Palestine/Israel, gender and sexuality, mental health, women as role models (without comparing to men, just strong images and stories about women and their chosen roles). With these I am collecting stories not just headlines. This is a valuable part of me gaining a deeper understanding off societal issues, and a new perspective, as well as the research required to deepen my photographic understanding and practice.

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Returning photography into a physical form creates a lasting document. I’ve purchased a cork board so that I can pin photo’s onto it, which means I can get used to viewing my own photography and gaining deeper understanding into how I work as a photographer. The time difference between taking photo’s and pinning them to the board also removes some of my emotional attachment to the work which I produce. Photographs that I used to like are sometimes less important, and I perceive them as being of a lower quality than I originally thought, and of course this works the other way around as well. There are a few photos that I really was not keen on when I developed them, that now stand out as being good images.

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Fun, interesting, rewarding.

Reading List (Recent and Current)

The fiction and non-fiction which I read are just as important to me and my development as a thinker and photographer as the reading that I enjoy about photography.

Jesmyn Ward; Sing, Unburied, Sing (fiction) – Carol Anne Lee; The Hidden Life Of Otto Frank (biography) – Ian Black; Enemies And Neighbours: Arabs And Jews In Palestine And Israel, 1917 – 2017 (non-fiction) – Sophie Calle; Suite Venitienne (photography) –  Seth Joel; Photographing Still Life (photography) – Arthur Lubow; Diane Arbus: Portrait Of A Photographer (photography) – Archna Singh; The Immortals (photography)

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Reference

Fox, A and Caruana, N; 2012; Behind The Image: Research In Photography; Lausanne; AVA Publishing SA

Stressed – Apologies – Update

Trying to follow and read people’s blogs is a little intermittent at the moment, and I send my apologies for this.

Trying to arrange accommodation and other smaller things for uni is quite stressful, and I don’t cope well with stress. I took yesterday off completely and rested.

Although I had planned to have a second attempt at exercise 3.5, using the same poem but making a collage with appropriated images, I’m putting this on the back burner for now.

I am nearly finished with exercise 3.6 mixing genres, and on the whole I’m pleased with it. Although I may re-photograph one day, early in the morning so that I can eliminate shadow.

When I completed reading The Civil Contract of Photography, by Ariella Azoulay, I had intended to write a review. However it’s going to take me a while to digest and then work through my notes. Her book is so insightful and relevent that to choose just a few quotes wouldn’t do it justice. Her points in relation to women, and the Palestinians continued  assualt, violence and denial of access to basic needs by the Israeli govenment  (power, food, work, health care, education, free movement, military rule, freedom of movement, destruction of property, appropriation of land) is very thought provoking, as is the reality that the UN, world leaders, war crimes commission, all fail to act in order to stop this cruel and inhume treatment.

I’m now reading Dianne Arbus Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lublow, which is enthralling. I’m really enjoying her approach to photography, and her character, which I feel an affinity with.

When I get the opportunities I’ll return to reading your posts. Enjoy your Thursday.

Joy – I’ve Spent The Day Photographing

It’s so good to have been out with my camera. I’ve been tied to my pc lately trying to develop a montage for exercise 3.4 documenting change. Instead of doing a tripict, which I’ve already done, I’m trying something different.

I’m trying to document change in relation to anorexia, but in a single image, my concept is good, my execution is poor. I will post it in a couple of days, but I’m very much aware that this is something I will need to re-shoot, and I’ll be seeking your guidance on how I can make this work.

Any how, today I’ve shot photos for four exercise, emulation, combing genres, Photography from text and a significant place. No need to tell you that my significant place is the wind farm at Redcar. I used the same stretch of beach for combing genres.

My emulation is going to be an emulation of John Sargeant emulating Francis Frith. Scarborough was the venue for that shoot.

It’s been a day of travel, I’m tired, but very very happy that I’ve been out with my camera.

There isn’t enough time in the day. I have personal photos from two trips to develop and I want to catch up with my coursework.

All good fun.

My Portfolio

Below is a video that I have put together of my portfolio. I prepared and used this for my application to study the undergraduate BA (hons) Photography with the University for the Creative Arts.

I have arranged my portfolio into seven sections

  1. Photography that I want to make
  2. Building upon my own work and the critique and feedback of others
  3. A complete assignment from start to finish
  4. Building upon the work of others
  5. Photography for fun
  6. Pushing myself
  7. Committment and moving forward

The video is fairly long because I talk through each of the sections and the photos that I present for each theme. Learning how to make videos properly, and video and sound editing are something for the future.

I am very pleased with my portfolio and that I can see my weaknesses and strengths.