Exercise 1.4 Frame

The final exercise of this project makes use of the viewfinder grid display of a digital
camera. This function projects a grid onto the viewfinder screen to help align vertical
and horizontal lines, such as the horizon or the edge of a building, with the edge of
the frame. If your camera doesn’t have a grid display, imagine a simple division of the viewfinder into 4 sections.

Take a good number of shots, composing each shot within a single section of the
viewfinder grid. Don’t bother about the rest of the frame! Use any combination of
grid section, subject and viewpoint you choose.

When you review the shots, evaluate the whole frame, not just the part you’ve
composed. Take the same approach you used to evaluate the point and line
exercises: examine the relationship of elements to the frame. Composition is part of
form and formal analysis will be a useful skill for your exercises and assignments as you progress through the course.

In many respects this proved to be the most challenging of the exercises. I tend not to use the grid screen on my camera and I think of the frame as a whole. It was an interesting learning experience to think about just one element of the frame. I kept to a single theme of ‘things in the street’ in order to bring some sense of continuity to the activity.

I was quite firm with myself in trying to frame picture element in just one part of the frame and I almost tried to ignore the rest of the frame. This did provide difficult and I took a lot of images that were immediately deleted! As some one who ordinarily shoots with a film camera , the ability to delete a shot proved very helpful in undertaking this task!!

The Exercise

Framelines 1 (1 of 1) Framelines 2 (1 of 1) Framelines 3 (1 of 1) Framelines 4 (1 of 1) Framelines 5 (1 of 1) Framelines 6 (1 of 1)

Framelien 334 (1 of 1)Framelien 337 (1 of 1)

I selected a range of images that i took that placed focal points in sections of the 3×3 frame of the camera. in mosts instances i placed the objects in the corners although I did deviate from this on occasions.

If I am honest I was really mindful of the rest of the frame when I was placing aa focal point in one part of the frame. In some ways this means i failed in the task, i found it difficult if not impossible to only think about one part of the frame.

That said, this still provide a useful activity in that it did make me think differently, if not quite achieving the focus the activity called for,

Composing a picture is a complex process, a mix of previous experience, thoughts of other images, compliance to or active breaking of  compositional rules, creating a sense of balance and self satisfaction as well as trying to respond to the brief!

Certainly lots to learn still.

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Exercise 1.3 (2) Line

Take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space. To avoid the effects
of perspective, the sensor/film plane should be parallel to the subject and you may
like to try a high viewpoint (i.e. looking down). Modern architecture offers strong
lines and dynamic diagonals, and zooming in can help to create simpler, more
abstract compositions.

Review your shots from both parts of Exercise 1.3. How do the different lines relate
to the frame? There’s an important difference from the point exercises: a line can
leave the frame. For perpendicular lines this doesn’t seem to disrupt the composition
too much, but for perspective lines the eye travels quickly along the diagonal and
straight out of the picture. It feels uncomfortable because the eye seems to have no
way back into the picture except the point that it started from. So for photographs
containing strong perspective lines or ‘leading lines’, it’s important that they lead.

I spent some time looking at the work made by the Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy, my interest was piqued by the picture in the course materials. The Bauhaus online resource is fascinating (I was familiar with the work of Walter Gropius) and one work emphasised the look I wanted to achieve in meeting the requirement of the exercise, ‘using lines to flatten the pictorial space’ Interestingly it was a painting rather than a photograph.

Construction Z1 has a mix of sharp intersecting line and shapes, there is an interesting use of colour and also what might be the reflection of glass or some other transparent material. this eve me an idea that I followed up upon. I sought to flatten space and create an abstract feel to the images.

EHIMG_0681

EHIMG_0685

EHIMG_0683

EHIMG_0686

Reference

http://bauhaus-online.de/en/atlas/werke/construction-z1

I took the theme a little further and sought out some architecture with strong lines that I photographed at right angles to keep the flat face on composition, emphasising a zero element of perspective, trying to keep the sensor/film plane parallel to the subject.

Flat 3 (1 of 1)

Although the shadows hint at perspective and depth, an effect I was striving to avoid, the flat plane effect is still quite strong I feel.

Flat 1 (1 of 1)

This image was far more experimental. Whilst more than 50% of the image is flat, the sharp angular form of the building I think dominates the image, retaining to a large extent the desired flat effect. The exercises clearly demonstrate there are ways o control whether an image has depth or not and therefore are tools the photographer has at their disposal to express the theme or idea they are setting out to create.

Exercise 1.3 (1) Line

Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. Shooting with a wide- angle lens (zooming out) strengthens a diagonal line by giving it more length within the frame. The effect is dramatically accentuated if you choose a viewpoint close to the line.

Depth I used, as suggested, a wide angle lens to create a sense of depth in the images. Initially  I looked for some locations with defined lines that would accentuate the effect.

St Savious Lane (1 of 1)

In this first image Iused the lines on the road as well as the wall on the left. This creates a clear sense of depth in the image with the road markings creating physical perspective lines in the scene.

Norwich street 2 (1 of 1)

Again, road marking are used but this image was made withe camera much close to the ground further accentuating the sense of the lines moving off into the distance. I can’t help but notice the problems with the vertical lines but I have purposefully not corrected these as I wanted to keep image post processing to a minimum for these exercises as suggested in the course materials.

Norwich Arcade (1 of 1)

The lines are far less obvious in this image but the eye and the brain fill in the gaps and again believe the is a clear sense of depth in this photograph.

line 12 (1 of 1)

In the image above an object within the frame creates the sense of the church being in the distance. It emphasises convergence and line even though it occupies only part off the frame.

Rural line (1 of 1)

A final ‘road into the distance’ image, taken from a low angle. Not straight angular lines but the effect of distance and line  is clearly expressed I believe.

Exercise 1.2 Point

Exercise 1.2 Point

There are essentially three classes of position [to place a single point]: in the middle, a little off-centre, and close to the edge. (Photography 1: The Art of Photography,
p.72)

1. Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts
of the frame. (A ‘point’ should be small in relationship to the frame; if it’s too large
it becomes a shape.)

One

point 1 (1 of 1)

Two

point 4 (1 of 1)

How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you’ve got it
right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point? For the sake
of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that
the point should be clear and easy to see. As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can
evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.

As you look at the pictures you might find that you’re also evaluating the
position of the point by its relationship to the frame.

Reflection on Image One and Two

This was in interesting exercise and one that did tax me as I was uncertain about the nature of a point! I made an educated guess and created the images below.

The first two illustrate an inserting point for me  in the second image does not feel right somehow? The eye and the brain make us see some relationships as being more satisfying the others . Although the original and future of that satisfaction are somewhat elusive. Proximity to the edge and the relationship to the farm as a rectangle seems to imply that some images is somehow more balanced than others. Interestingly, to me anyway is the unsatisfying position of the object in the second image? It is near the edge and off centre, the framing is calling me to crop the photograph and also raising questions about why I framed the point in that position? In considering the term ‘crop’ my comment above clarifies crop as a post capture act, where as framing is a choice at the moment the image is taken.

2. Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.
Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? If it’s
in relationship to the frame you can place a point in any part of the picture and
the picture is balanced somewhere within the frame.

I don’t think there are positions where the point is not in a relationship to the farm, however some locations work better than others. the concept of balance is interesting because it is a perceptual rather than an absolute concept. Whilst there are rules of composition, I know some very striking and engaging images are created by breaking the rules of composition, which are at best a set of cultural conventions and not an absolute truth. There is though a fine line I feel between breaking a rule and making an image that challenges or eaven grates on the eye.

I remain uncertain about the motive of this exercise but it has asked me to consider some interesting questions!

point 3 (1 of 1)

point 5 (1 of 1)

point 6 (1 of 1)

point 7 (1 of 1)

point 8 (1 of 1)

point 2 (1 of 1)

Some of the above compositions have a greater sense of balance than others, but all show a set of relationships. the other personal issue for me is coming to terms with a rectangle from, Much of my photography to date has been undertaken with cameras that produce square images. More to reflect on I think?

Project 1- The instrument Exercise 1.1

Exercise 1.1

Take three or four exposures of the same scene. Don’t change anything on the
camera and keep the framing the same.

Preview the shots on the LCD screen. At first glance they look the same, but are
they? Perhaps a leaf moved with the wind, the light changed subtly, or the framing
changed almost imperceptibly to include one seemingly insignificant object and
exclude another. Time flows, the moment of each frame is different, and, as the
saying has it, ‘you can’t step into the same river twice’.

Now bring up the histogram on the preview screen. The histogram is a graphical
representation of exposure – the camera’s sensitivity to light. As you page through
the images you can see small variations in the histograms. Even though the pictures
look the same, the histogram data shows that in a matter of seconds the world
changes, and these subtle differences are recorded by the camera. If you refine the
test conditions – shooting on a tripod to fix the framing, moving indoors and closing
the curtains to exclude daylight – still the histogram changes. Probably some of
the changes are within the camera mechanism itself; still, the camera is a sensitive
enough instrument to record them.

Add the sequence to your learning log with the time info from your camera’s
shooting data as your first images for Part One.

Exercise in practice

This was an interesting exercise to execute, it was a new experience to set the camera to Programme.

I chose a subject with quite a lot of contrast in it, as well as some strong areas of colour.

the three images where loaded to Lightroom and the histograms were copied using my iPhone. I am sure there is a better way to capture the histogram, but this worked in the absence of a better way.

The slight changes in light and framing can be seen in the work set out below. Indeed it is interesting just how much change there can be from moment to moment when seemingly taking an image of the same scene?

Image One

Ex 1.1 P1 (1 of 1)

Hist P1 (1 of 1)xx

Image Two

Ex 1.1 P2 (1 of 1)

Hist P2 (1 of 1)xx

Image Three

Ex 1.1 P (1 of 1)

Hist P3 (1 of 1)xx

Paul Seawright – some further study and reflection

I have now had a chance to look in more detail at the work of Paul Seawright. His work is simultaneously challenging and engaging. His work does take some reading, he takes a particular standpoint on conflict, almost certainly informed by his insider view of conflict growing up in Belfast. I can connect with the messages he is conveying about conflict and how we view it for quite personal reasons. I find his take on the world increasingly powerful. I also found an excellent online lecture that he gave in 2010 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, he provides real insight to his motives and technique and I understand his work more completely having watched this. Although he does not use the term ‘Punctum’* in the talk I think I understand this concept more having watched this lecture. He frequently refers to the salient point of the image ‘puncturing’ the photograph. The lecture also encouraged me to think about three key area:

Finding your voice

Finding your subject

Constructing meaning

I need to consider what all of this means for the work I produce, which to date does not speak coherently or loudly  enough about the messages I want to convey!

* Rolands Barthes term Punctum: ‘A photographs Punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruised me, is poignant to me)’  pp27 in Barthe, R. (1980) Camera Lucida, Vintage Classics, London

The online lecture can be found here:

The commentary below was supplied with the lecture:

‘Paul Seawright, Voice Our Concern Artist’s Lecture 2010′ is a 40 minute illustrated artists lecture by the artist photographer Paul Seawright given in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in November 2010. Paul talks about the use of photography in conflict situations as often being unreliable and how his work as a photographic artist is a response to this. He presents photographs from the Crimean war and discusses the influence of photographer Paul Graham on his work. He describes the difference between photo journalism and art in the context of artists defining their subjects and in the construction of meaning. He goes on to discuss and present examples of his Sectarian Murder Work series. This Voice Our Concern lecture was a joint project organised by IMMA and Amnesty International Ireland.’

Paul Seawright

I was recently introduced to the work of Paul Seawright, the Belfast born photographer by my tutor Robert Enoch. Over the past week I have spent a lot of time on line looking at Seawright’s work and I have also bought one of His Photobooks ‘Hidden Cities’.

Seawright has, since the late 1980’s photographed the aftermath of conflict, starting with an oblique perspective on the sectarian murders of his native Northern Ireland. What I have found particularly engaging about Seawright’s photographs is the rethinking of conflict that is evident in what he includes and does not include in his images.

In his work ‘Sectarian Murder’ Seawright visits the locations of prominent murders during the height of the troubles in Ulster, recording what might now be a mundane scene. The interplay between essentially a benign image and his captions, based upon newspaper reports of the crimes, creates a highly emotive effect on the viewer. Seawright himself talks about there being 3 components involved in his work. The surface image, the caption and the thoughts created in the viewer.

http://www.paulseawright.com/sectarian/

The real impact of this description to me however is that Seawright must see the viewer not as a passive observer but and active participant in the work!

I need to explore this work further and will add more to this blog entry as I look deeper into this photographers images.

Sent from my iPad

Square Mile

First impressions and initial response to the brief

This initial assignment presented me with an interesting challenge. My first reaction was to consider where I might shoot this initial assignment? I found myself making a number of excuses to myself for identifying somewhere other than my immediate environs to shoot this project. In part this was due to my belief that where I live is not particularly interesting. But what this really meant was that I didn’t want to photograph it. This may seem odd, but on reflection this was me having to face up to someone else’s brief. In my years of making images I have always taken photographs entirely on my own terms. This task, although offering much freedom and interpretation, was essentially shooting to someone else’s tune! Given that realisation I set about considering the precise square mile in which I reside. I live in a sparsely populated and rural part of East Anglia. I am not from here and although it is my choice to live here I am an outsider, I have no roots or connections to this place.

With this in mind I set about planning how I would meet the brief and the photographic and personal challenges it presented. I used a spider diagram to plot out some thoughts and ideas and this is in my Learning Log. A key theme that quickly emerged was my lack of any romantic view about rural landscapes and rural life, to me the rural landscape is every bit as constructed as the built environment of the city. I wanted my pictures to show the mark humans on the landscape. Indeed, I narrowed the concept down further to the notion of ‘planting’. In an area of arable farming planted crops surround me. However this is not all that has been planted in the landscape. All the trappings of human existence in this place have also been planted. ‘Planted’ is the theme that I wanted to run through my images.

Which practitioners I looked at for inspiration and how their work influenced you during the project?

In advance of going out and making images I undertook some research that subsequently informed how I approached and executed the assignment. I first considered the photographers whose work I was familiar with who had photographed their own environment. I have always loved the work of Josef Sudek (1896-1976), the Czech photographer known for his haunting images of Prague. Sudek used large view cameras to capture the spirit of the ancient and the new Prague. This was no mean fete given he had lost his arm during the First World War. His study of the construction of St. Vitus Cathedral in the heart of the city, demonstrate for me a thorough record of this giant human endeavour. His images, sometimes shot at dusk or dawn present to me a very romantic almost magical view of a place that in many respects was at odds with the harsh reality of the lives of many who lived there. The people of Prague saw hardship across the 19th and 20th, turbulent years politically for many Eastern European cities. What I took from my review of Sudek’s images was his ability to convey mood and atmosphere. His work I believe contains more than a record of a place, they speak of change, that nothing is permanent and that the photograph as a record seals a moment in time, a moment that will never be repeated.

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941) was another photographer who I felt had a strong association with a place. Known for his images of Whitby, his work is evocative of a time when sailing ships plied the oceans and the town was a hub of trade and commerce. Sutcliffe captured both epic scenes of sailing ships on the docks but also the minutiae of the lives of sailors and dock workers in there everyday activities. An abiding impression I get from this work is the sense of place, of some images being unmistakably Whitby, unmistakably being the work of Sutcliffe
I also considered the work of another early photographer, Eugene Atget (1857-1927). I have been drawn to his work for many years and he is already an influence that I bring to my forma study with the OCA. Given the rural focus of my assignment, Atget may seem an unusual artist to consider, particularly as he is ostensibly known for his work photographing Paris during a period of great change. I have however been drawn to Atget’s work over time, less for the context and more for the approach he takes. To me Atget’s images say so much about how people lived in Paris without actually photographing people. Indeed few of the images I reviewed contained any pictures of individuals (Atget did photograph the people of Paris, but it was not this work that I reflected upon). He somehow manages to portray so much about life in the capital city of France during a time of great transition without a shot of a person or people. It is the evidence of human existence he records, human endeavour, buildings, street scenes, shops and theatres that all say so much about the city and the people who inhabited it. In my humble opinion his work is a definitive record of a changing Europe, a city that swept away the old and built the new. In some case his images remain the only record of parts of Paris now long gone. I too wanted to record the signs of human presence in my square mile, but like Atget not show any people at all. This was to be a strong theme that really influence my executions of my assignment, one that I retained, even when it meant waiting for some time to let people pass so the I could get the image I wanted.

I was keen also to look at the photographers whose work was recommended in the course materials.

The first I looked at was the Belgravia set by Karen Knorr, work shot in the exclusive district of London. With one exception in this set her work is a collection of interior images, showing the wealthy and probably privileged in their homes. The images appear to be very formal in composition and quite possibly posed. There are recurrent the themes of the rich at rest in their lounges and in their ‘Sunday best’, women wearing coats and men in the uniform of the upper class.

To me the images rely on their captions to interpret the message the artist is conveying about class and privilege, but possibly also about people on a different sort of margin. Marginal people are perhaps more commonly thought about as being the poor, this work challenges that I believe, suggesting there are different margins of existence.

The inclusion of an image of the artist’s mother and grandmother in the set say something about her as an individual, her motivation and her own place in the world she is photographing. To me she is an ‘insider’ in the world she is recording, perhaps documenting the familiar. The caption on one of the images:

“The interior represents the universe for the private individual”

says something about the artist’s intent, the themes of imperialism and sexism appear in other captions. To me the work is an interesting perspective on place, it is different but engaging. Whilst not taking pictorial ideas from this work I was struck by the idea of Knorr as an insider, photographing the familiar, it strengthened my sense of being an outsider in my square mile.

I was also drawn to the work of Venetia Dearden although I did find it challenging and problematic.

From reading about her work ‘Somerset Stories and Fivepenny Dreams’ it is clear that it has a number of themes; kinship, friendship, family, motherhood, birth and the land, all linked to a particular locality. The work is an extensive set of engaging and in some cases quite beautiful colour images, all recorded in a specific area of Somerset. The images are hard to date. Some of them are really quite timeless and the whole sequence is punctuated with pure landscape shots which perhaps anchor the people depicted in some of the images in a clearly defined landscape of fields and woodland. Many of the images appear to have been taken in the dawn or dusk light, leading I believe to the ‘fairy tale’ atmosphere that commentators suggest her work expresses. There are a number of images of small children, babies and mothers and expectant mothers, renewal is perhaps a further them of her work?

There is also a sense of freedom in the images, but also for me sense of foreboding, particularly in the images of the travelling community. This is a vanishing way of life, that however an idyllic view her images paint, they are of people in hardship, poverty and in a world where they are not always welcome. The work reminds me a little of Boxall’s (1964) work ‘Gypsy Camera’, a long-term study of the Vincent Family of travellers in Surrey and Sussex. Although that work is much darker than Reardon’s, as it tracks the slow decline of a family and a way of life. What is similar however is a real sense of respect for the subjects that is evident in the images, the intimate moments recorded, the positive, even hopeful image portrayed. Reardon’s use of natural light is evocative and very strong.

However, many of the images grated with me in that they had the feel of a fashion catalogue, I know this is a bit contentious perhaps!! There is for me a tension between the reality of the subjects in the artist’s work and the idyllic and romantic atmosphere created by her. This is however a highly subjective interpretation on my part. I did however take from the work some thoughts about the light and the look of images in the dawn and dusk light. Indeed I set out to record my square mile images, in most cases in the early morning or late evening light.

An Internet search also led me to a Flickr page: ‘Y Filltir Sgwar’. It contained lots of individual images by many different photographers and although taken in different place a lot of the images were emblematic of rural Wales. It did make me think about what would be emblematic in my square mile?
Technical approach and any particular techniques you incorporated

From a technical point of view I wanted to convey the open expanse of my square mile, the sparcity of population and the impact of humans in creating this built landscape. To this end I decided to predominantly use a wide-angle prime lens for many of the images. Also as stated and influenced by the look of Dearden’s images I shot many of the images in either the early morning or late evening light. I took the pictures over 5 days too and from my journey to work.

I produced in all 78 images and after careful consideration and reflection on my theme of the built landscape narrowed it down to 10 final photographs.

A feature of a number of images in the final selection is a sharp angular geometry, such geometry does not often exist in nature and this I used to try to capture the man made environment I was trying to emphasise.

Strengths and weaknesses of particular photographs and your project as a whole (self-assessment)

I have mixed views about the images that I took and the final set I chose. There are one or two I was generally pleased with but overall I don’t think the collection is strong enough in conveying my message that a rural landscape is a built environment. In future I would consider some captioning. I chose not to on this first assignment because I was keen to get tutor feedback purely on the images alone. Although I used a couple of prime lenses on this assignment I will on the next one make use of a zoom. I tend not to use zooms because those affordable I find a bit slow. That said I need to address this personal prejudice!
I learned a lot from this exercise, I possibly over thought it and I recognise I need to increase the pace of my work. I also need to think more carefully at the planning stage what I want the final message of the work to be. Lots to learn, but that’s why I am here!

Thoughts on how I could develop this project in the future

There are a number of potential follow up projects from this work. I could look to create a real sense of drama in the landscape, in particular the vast East Anglian skies could be presently more dramatically than I did. The use of Neutral Density and graduate filters coupled with long exposures would create a real sense of the dramatic think. This is a technique employed by Tom Hunter in some of his images. At the suggestion of my tutor I did look at these images after I had completed the assignment. There is of course scope to shoot the people of this landscape and that is something I am giving serious consideration to trying too. All in all however I really enjoyed this activity and will post something about my tutor’s comments soon!
References

Adam, H. (Ed.) (2004) Atget’s Paris. Taschen London
Boxall, T. (1992) Gypsy Camera. Creative Monochrome, London
Eglon Shaw, W. (Ed) (1974) Frank Meadow Sutcliffe: Photographer: A Selection of His Work Paperback. Sutcliffe Gallery
Murray, J. (1990) Josef Sudek- Poet of Prague: A Photographers Life. Aperture Foundation. New York

Web Resources

Karen Knorr: http://karenknorr.com/photography/belgravia/
Venetia Dearden: http://www.venetiadearden.com/en/somerset_stories_fivepenny_dreams. Html
Tom Hunter: http://www.purdyhicks.com/display.php?aID=10
Y Filltir Sgwar’: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicdafis/sets/725448/#

My Square Mile-April 2015

Click on the images to enlarge

Verdant with Nitrogen (1 of 1)

Daffs and Telegraph (1 of 1)

Wires and Sky (1 of 1)

Postbox (1 of 1)

Track and sky 2 (1 of 1)

Track 2 (1 of 1)

Tree and Avenue (1 of 1)

Telegraph A (1 of 1)

Oil Seed and Sky (1 of 1)

Shadow (1 of 1)

Contact Sheets

Contact Sheets 1,2 & 3-2

Contact Sheets 1,2 & 3-3

Square Mile Contact Sheet 3a

Contact Sheets 1,2 & 3-1