Monday, March 4, 2013

FOAM Amsterdam

I visited FOAM in Amsterdam last week which housed a number of photography exhibitions. I enjoyed one by Jan Versweyveld entitled Inbetweens very much. He made scenery for theatre and took a whole series of photographs backstage, during rehearsals and during performances. It got to the point where it was difficult to tell what were real emotions and scenes rather than those that were staged. One in particular that stuck with me is below.

There was also a beautiful one of a lone man dancing in a room filled with only a sofa. He was off to the right hand side of the photograph with light from the door spilling in behind him but I have been unable to track it down online so far.

The other part I really enjoyed was a slide show of pictures by Boris Mikhailov. Many of his pictures were very voyeuristic. He is from Russia (former USSR) and has many nudes in his collection but also some really beautiful artistic shots that caught my eye much more. One was of two woman sharing one shawl in the cold, another of a manequin hand with painted nails resting on a chair. A third was of a ballet dancer balancing in a doorway and a fourth was a soldier with a pink carnation in front of his mouth. These candid shots really captured a moment to me and were beautifully observant. An inspiration and I will definitely be looking up more of his work moving forwards.

Assignment Five - Applying the Techniques of Narrative (1) defines narrative as :
  1. A story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
  2. A book, literary work etc containing a story.

It defines illustration as :
  1. Something that illustrates, as a picture in a book of magazine.

Most of my experience with illustration comes from reading and enjoying graphic novels and comic books. They reply on the use of illustrations and pictures to narrate a story with minimal dialogue and using other ways to demonstrate the tale. This is easily extrapolated to photography and using photographs to tell a story of an event, documentary, story or idea. Michael Freeman (2) discusses the idea of intent in photography and that “it is key to remain aware of what you are setting out to do, and what results are likely to satisfy you.” He is taking more of a single photograph in this case, but when looking at a narrative it will need some preparation beforehand with thought going in to what message you are trying to convey.

I thought a lot about what to do for this final assignment. I eventually decided to stick with what I know best right know, which is event photography and specifically Burlesque photography. I love going to cabaret nights and trying to get that one shot that sums up the performer and the routine. The pictures that I choose for the assignment have a similar theme running through them but I have tried to mix candid behind the scenes, colour, black and white, portraits, crowd poses and shots taken mid routine. I also like to vary the angle I shoot from with some being standard portrait or landscape and others being at an angle to vary the style and composition of the collection. I took a lot of photographs on the  night and edited many more, but these are ten of my favourites. 

The photographs were picked to tell a narrative of the performers and atmosphere during the evening. I had a few different options in mind such as choosing one performer and using pictures of them to tell the story of their routine. Instead I opted to use a selection from the night to give a little more variety to the set. It is more a collection of snap shots that tell a larger story like Sally Mann does one of my favourite collections Immediate Family (3). The shots do not tell a story by themselves, rather they capture moments in time, but as a collection they document her children growing up and exploring themselves in a rural setting. 

2 Freeman, Michael. 2007: The Photographer’s Eye. The Ilex Press Limited. Sussex. 
3 Mann, Sally. 1992: Immediate Family. Phaidon Press Limited. London.

Project Illustration : Exercise Juxtaposition

I thought I would keep this simple and as my cats are always sleeping I decided to put a small wooden cat mimicking their curled up, sleeping position next to them. There are three cats in the picture (one just behind Morgaine the black cat whose ears you can just about make out) plus the wooden cat. I hope that upon a quick glance viewers assume it is a series of real cats and it's only when looking a little closer that they realise the smallest is in fact a wooden carved cat.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What I learned from Assignment Four

I think the main thing I learn from Assignment Four is that my still life shots are still pretty dull. I tried to put thought and effort in to them but as I've been focusing so much on portraits and fashion shoots external to the course, it's an area I have neglected in my studies so far. I hope to become a well rounded photographer in the long term and so have been trying to use still life shots for some of the exercises for part five. It's trying to find ways to make them more interesting and from looking at other photographers it really is something as simple seeming as light. It's the play of light and shadows across an object that makes it interesting to my eye both in photograph, moving film and art. I will keep experimenting, keep reading and studying other photographers I admire.

I also need to continue to increase my proof reading skills. I do double check for spelling mistakes and typing errors, but some are still slipping past me. I need to double check if I can rewrite some of written parts of my assignments before final submissions. I write my assignments in Pages and then copy into blogger to try and keep errors to a minimum as well as get a second person to read over, but it still means missing things sometimes if the word is correctly spelt but in the incorrect context.

I'm most of the way through the final part now and have signed up for Digital Photographic Practise. I have a couple of sets of pictures to potentially use for the final assignment and I hope to finish and submit to my tutor this week.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tutor Feedback Assignment Four Light

Overall Comments Well done again with this assignment Katie, I get the impression you eventually solved the problems you faced, through a determined methodical approach. The key issues I mentioned within my last feedback report were as follows: Look at the work of Sander / Penn / Weston. Continue reading around the work of the practitioners. Review an exhibitions or gallery visits via the blog. I can see you have made some headway here and was impressed to see your research developing through the submission [IE: Weston / Sanders refs] It would also be useful to start to try and discuss their work when commenting on your own now [IE: critical position] – it is sometimes easier to try and start doing this by perhaps using a relevant quote from somebody you have researched. You can only really achieve this by reading about the works, as well as viewing the prints. This is why the bigger names are easier to research as there has been more written about them within academia. Also … just be very careful when citing references … you have referred to Edward Weston as ‘Watson’ ! A simply enough mistake to make, but this won’t strengthen your argument when trying to convince assessors you know what you are talking about etc. Assignment Feedback This assignment specifically looks at the application of different lighting techniques. IE: Highlighting Shape, Form, Texture etc Your set of images work well together as a series and certainly answer what is essentially a technical exercise. I liked your use of backgrounds, especially when a shorter depth of field had been deliberately selected in order to reduce distraction. [Form 1] The next image [Form 2] does tend to merge into the background somewhat and for me, doesn’t work as well as Texture 1, where you have managed to define the object against the background. The image which had most visual appeal to me was Shape 2, which worked really well as a silhouette. Here the positioning of the object was well thought through and the vignette and double exposure effect really added to the image. Finally Texture 2 was also interesting – especially your comments about ‘shade on a nice day’. I find bright but overcast days are really the best days to photograph on location, as the cloud acts as a huge softbox, avoiding deep shadows and highlights which both film and sensors often struggle with. Take a quick look at the amazing typological work of the Bechers [Bernd and Hilla], who painstakingly record Gas and Water towers …from very specific viewpoints in very specific weather conditions ! Learning Logs/Critical essays Your blog is progressing well and is being updated regularly. Suggested reading/viewing Germain, Julian.2005: For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness. Steidl MACK. Gottingen. Germany ISBN-3: 86521-077-5 Muller, Wolgang.2003: Karat - Sky Over St Petersburg. Nazraeli Press. Tucson USA ISBN-3: 932809-40-8 King, Stephen.2009: Lewis’s Fifth Floor – A Department Story. Liverpool University Press. Liverpool UK ISBN: 978-1-84631-246-5 Billingham, Richard.2000: Ray’s a Laugh. Scalo. Berlin. Germany ISBN-3: 908247-37-3 Follow Up Work Your next assignment deals with ‘Narrative’ or story telling through imagery and I have included some excellent contemporary publications for you to take a look at in direct relation to this. Some will be easier to track down than others but you will find most of them in any University Library that has an Arts and Media Faculty. I would recommend you could try to locate your nearest Uni Library and try to gain access to these publications just for reference [IE: You won’t be able to take them out without being registered as a student with the institution, but you can view them on site as a reader] In addition to this, most of them will have been reviewed on line. I’d like to know your thoughts on these publications for the next assignment if possible. The four key images a picture editor will be looking for in a photostory / essay are as follows: The Establishing Image - In order to place an event, activity or person within context of their environment, it is important to step back to get an overview. For example, if your story is about a small coal mining community in a Welsh valley, you will need to get a shot of that valley in order to set the seen of the location. This image is often referred to as an ‘Establishing Image’ but doesn’t always necessarily have to be the first image in the sequence. This image can often be taken from a high vantage point, thus setting the stage for the rest of the story. It is obviously one of the most important images to get right as the success of what the entire story is trying to communicate can rest upon this one shot. This shot should really not just be of a sign in front of a company declaring what the company do etc … try not to be too obvious. The Action Image - This shot refers to a medium distance image capturing the action or interaction of the people or place that the story is about. Many images fall short within this area, especially if there isn’t an awful lot happening in the story ! The photographer should try and change the vantage point frequently for this image to be effective. Too many images from the same vantage point can be considered visually repetitive and would probably result in the editor removing them from the story. The Portrait Image - Portraits are really important in any story as people are generally interested in people and the viewer will want to identify with the key character or characters of a story. Viewers will generally be drawn towards the portraits unless the action images are particularly exciting / bizarre. The viewer will expect the photographer to have connected with the subjects in the story and the portrait image is a method of showing this connection. Environmental portraits differ from straight head and shoulder portraits in that the character is seen within the location of the story. The Close up or Detail Image - The final category requires the photographer to identify a significant detail within the overall scene. This detail is enlarged to both draw the viewers attention or to increase the amount of information the image offers. The detail shot might offer the viewer the opportunity to read an inscription or clarify a small detail. For example, if the story is about a crafts person that works with their hands, a good detail shot might show a close up of their actual hands, or a detail of an artefact they have made. These shots are quite unique and help to tie a story together, thus avoiding image repetition. Assignment Brief Ideas Commodity – Maybe try to find a local allotment to photograph. Visually they are always very appealing and generally most people are friendly and wouldn’t mind helping with a student project. Light - A day in the life of ….. Try photographing a person you might know in the daily working routine from dawn until dusk. This would represent time through the shifting of daylight. Holidays – Try to uncover an issue that has been deliberately hidden from view or covered up from the perspective of the tourist. This could be an environmental issue hidden away from the pleasant commercial face as seen by the tourists. I’ll look forward to your final assignment Katie, at which point we need to discuss what you should do regarding submitting your work for summative assessment and grading, in order to obtain the credits and move on to the next module.

Project Illustration : Exercise Symbols

The exercise is to think about symbols for the following concepts and make notes on how you would photograph them :


1. A flower - try doing a time lapse series of photographs of one going from bud to fully flowering.
2. A tree - One that is tall and strong next to a small sapling.
3. A picture of a chart with the lines going up - like a sales tool showing the profits growing and improving


1. Many cupcakes with someone with frosting on their mouth, holding one.
2. A whole lot of expensive shoes - get a couple of female friends together with their best shoes and fill the frame with them.
3. A very large bag on a scale - Think excess baggage. Perhaps use a smaller briefcase as a simple comparison. Could also try and use the full airport symbolism and show the large bag not fitting into a container.


1. A raccoon - could see if a local zoo has one. The stripes aymbolise the old black and white jump suits.
2. A broken lock - need a padlock and something to cut the lock
3. A derelict house with a broken window - location scout and probably just focusing on the broken window looking like it's been smashed. Could also try and action shot of using something heavy to break the window


1. Someone in prayer - Taken during a religious ceremony, head down with mouth and eyes closed.
2. A close up of someones lips with a finger in front of them in a shush gesture - Easy to shoot almost anywhere.


1. A homeless person on the street in the evening - Not in full dark but shot to look moody with the focus on the lighting. The dirtier the feel to the shot the better. Could experiment and wait for some very well dressed people or person to go by to really show the difference in condition and status.
2. A young person behind a chain link fence - this is an image that frequently seems to show poverty. Ideally on an industrial estate that isn't in a very good condition. Could either do a close up of the child's face or a wider shot to show the dereliction/disrepair of the background.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Project Illustration : Exercise Rain

I originally set out to take a picture of my husband through a pane of glass so I could experiment with off camera flash. This was shot indoors using a glass door on a cupboard. I used my speedlight down at hip height pointing upwards to light up the face. I really wanted to try using the on camera flash as well, but I couldn't get it so it didn't reflect in the glass horribly. More experimentation is required. Once I processed the image I felt that although it represented "rain", it was not very interesting so I went back to the drawing board.

For my second attempt I borrowed a set of Scrabble from a friend. I then set up on my fire escape with the scrabble tiles spelling out "RAIN" but upside-down. I took the plastic case off the front of a cd case and placed it balanced on a couple of boxes above the tiles. I set up a tripod and focused on the droplets rather than the tiles underneath. I wanted it so that the letters spelt out "RAIN" in the individual droplets of water to reinforce the message. I made some small adjustments in Lightroom 4 and feel much happier with this final image for the exercise.