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Introduction

A bit about my photography and me

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I have been interested in photography for a number of years. Until last year I used my camera on Auto. I hesitated to use any of the other modes because I didn’t understand them.

Last year I stepped outside my comfort zone and took an evening class in photography which challenged me to produce a set of 6 photos on a theme, mine was dance. At the end of the course a selection of the images I produced were included in the college end of year show, along with a couple of the other students on the course.

At the start of this year I returned to college and took a further evening class on black and white film development.

Both courses increased my enthusiasm for photography and pushed me to explore what I was able to do.

MDG_1076
Interaction with the audience, Hoots n Hooters, 37 Club, Puriton Somerset – 8th April 2017 (Nikon D7200 ISO 6400 1/30 sec, f/1.8 50mm)

I considered doing A Level Photography at the local college but it’s during the day time so would mean juggling work. Then I discovered the OCA and gave serious thought to doing a photography degree. It’s still what I would like to do but discovering the Foundation course gave me the chance to try out studying again and see how I get on. With luck at the end of the course I’ll be ready to go on and do a degree.

 

Thoughtful Snowy
Thoughtful Snowy (Nikon D7200 ISO 400, 1/640 sec , f/2.8, 40mm)

 

I have plenty of subjects that are willing to let me take their photos and I live in Somerset so have a lot of wonderful countryside to explore with my camera.

Camera equipment wise, I have a Nikon D7200 with a number of lenses, and a Nikomat EL 35m which I’m still getting used to; the set of photos I had developed from it had some flaws which might be due to the cameras age and condition. I also have an electronic flash, some filters, tripods and a monopod. Oh, and last year I had a portable camera studio set up for my birthday.

So to end who am I?

Well I’m a 50 year old married woman with a grown up son, who has terminal cancer. He is my inspiration in life. I work full time as a computer consultant, photography is one of my main creative outlets; that and the occasional bit of writing and dancing (burlesque and hopefully soon pole). Being able to photograph my friends who dance, and even other performers, to a high standard is one of the places I want to get with my photography.

 

 

People in light

The objective of this exercise was to take a series of photographs of the same person in different kinds of light over several days. The final selection of photographs were to be presented in a grid.

For this exercise I drafted in my partner because I knew that I’d have more opportunities to take her photograph on a number of occasions.

While completing this exercise I decided to make use of the Lensbaby 3G lens I’ve just bought. The lens is designed to have a sweet spot that you use for the main subject of the photograph, it is then possible to soften the focus in the remainder of the image in-camera with no need to apply similar effects during post-processing.

The photographs were taken over a period of about four days with some being taken indoors while others were taken outside. The outdoor shots utilised both days with cloud cover as well as bright sunshine. The indoor shots were taken using normal house lighting, flourescent lighting in a restaurant and also indoors with sunlight backlighting the subject.

The final selection of nine images and the contact sheets are shown below.


 


Selected Photos-1Selected Photos-2Selected Photos-3Selected Photos-4Selected Photos-5

Near and far

The purpose of this exercise is to make use of the knowledge gained with regards to depth of field and to photograph a figure in an environment combining portrait with landscape and emphasising the sense of space.

To meet the exercises objective a series of full-length and head-and-shoulders portraits need to be taken using a foreground figure or face in front of a background plus a foreground space with a figure in the distance with both areas in focus.

The figure needs to be placed in the edges and corners of the frame as well as in the centre and on the four points of the ‘golden section’.


For this exercise I roped in my friend Matt as my model. We’ve been talking about me taking photos of him for a while so this was a good chance to do that.

We met up at Stourhead House and Gardens. Unfortunately Matt was limited with the time he had available due last minute work committments so I took photos of him as we made our way around the gardens using a two mile route. The gardens would provide plenty of interesting backdrops for shots, especially as we walked around the lake.

Wanting to maximise the Depth of Field for my shots I set the camera to an aperture of f.25 / f.28 using my 18-55mm lens.

Of the photographs I took a number of them didn’t work because part of the image wasn’t in focus or Matt was moving, resulting in blurring of hands, arms or legs, which was an interesting effect but something I found distracting for this particular exercise.

I also rejected a number of images where Matt was to one side or the other of the photo but was looking towards the same side of the frame as he located.

Images were processed in Lightroom to make adjustments to exposure as well as the Tone Curve.

The results of the exercise can be found in the slideshow below along with a selection of the images.


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Exercise 2.6-4887Exercise 2.6-4890Exercise 2.6-4935Exercise 2.6-4932Exercise 2.6-4925Exercise 2.6-4937

St Jame Church – Taking the photographs

After months of trying to get around to take photos of St James Church, I finally managed to make time today to pop into the church while it was empty and photograph a much of the church as possible, using the list of items that David, the vicar, had come up with.

I didn’t manage to photograph the organ loft or inside the bell tower because I couldn’t get into them. However, I did cover everywhere else in the church that I could reach.

In the end it took about 2 hours to take all of the photographs and I made use of various pieces of equipment. My tripod, flash unit, 40mm macro lens and 300mm telephoto lens. In total I took over 400 photos. In addition to this I have a set of photographs I took several years ago when we had heavy snow so I’m including those as part of the project.

After performing a first pass through the photographs I’ve reduced the total number (including the snow pics) to 398. Using the 100/50/25/10 process I’ve done a first pass through and reduced the total number to 188. This includes at least one of each item that I needed to photograph, which will make reducing the overall set of images very difficult. For instance there are about 20 individual boses on the ceiling, so there are 20 photos to start with. Each of the figures on the wall needed to be photographed and there are at least a dozen of these. In total I think the final set will be somewhere in the region of 150 images, which I’ll need to edit in order to present to David in order to decide on the ones that he wants to use for the church guide and children’s guide.

Thinking about the task after I’d finished taking the photographs I feel like this has been more about documenting the church than anything else. Even if only a tiny number of the photos are used the sum total provides a historical record of the church as it was today.

As soon as I’ve gone through the photos, got it down to one of each particular item, and then edited those then I’ll share a selection of the ones I like best.

I plan to make use of as many of the techniques that I’ve learned so far during the course when editing the images.

 

The Conversation

The following picture analysis is of Michael Buhler-Rose image The Conversation from his project Constructing the Exotic.

The image can be found here (https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/337318).


Question 1

Write a visual description of the photograph above (see links) using short phrases and descriptive words. The four key elements you should descibe are:

Facial expression, posture and gesture, clothing, location

A group of women sit and stand outside a building in a wooded area. A group of four women are on the left of the image. Three of the group are sitting, one if standing with arms folded across her chest. One of the women sitting is talking to the others, she is gesturing with her left arm.  The faces of the others in the group show rapt attention.

On the right of the image are another three women. One is sitting on a set of steps leading into the building. She is leaning back against the steps, left arm resting on the step, right arm across her body, with the hand resting on her left hand. Her eyes are looking towards the woman on her left who is standing with legs slightly apart, hands on hips. The final women in this group is stood at the top of the steps, legs together, head slightly tilted as if listening, arms out to the sides, hands resting on the bannisters either side of the steps.

Each woman’s hair is pulled tightly back into a bun. Their hair is adorned with jewellery and flowers.

The women are dressed in sarees, hinting that they are from India. The ethnicity of the woman on the steps seems to back this up. However, the other women, appear to be of a  more Causasion extraction.

Question 2

What do you associate the women’s dress with? Are you making any other associations?

I would associate the women’s dress with the style of clothes worn by someone from India, or who has an Indian heritage, but does not live in India.

The building and the plants surrounding it I associate with a more Western country such as the U.S.A.

Question 3

You may be confused by the photograph because it throws up visual signs that appear to be ‘in the wrong place’. Can you pare down this photography to a series of signs? For example, where do the women look like they originate from? What does their costume, jewellery and make-up say? What about the building in the background? Does it looks like it comes from the same place?

On the basis of the costumes, jewellery and make-up, the women appear to be from India. However, the Caucasion appearance of the majority of the women suggests that they come from a different country.

The building in the background looks like it belongs in a Western country such as the U.S.A or United Kingdom. The grass and plants throughout the image are those I would associate with those countries and not India.

The plant pots on one of the windowsill, the planters on the ground and the bird feeder behind the group of women on the left of the image are also somewhere I would expect to see in the UK or U.S.A.

The building also has a temporary feel to it. It looks like a porta-cabin. Equally it could be something of a more permanent nature but designed for someone that doesn’t have the resources to buy something more substantial. The greenery surrounding the building gives the impression of somewhere that is of a more permanent nature.

Question 4

Does this photograph seem posed to you? Perhaps it is reminiscent of images by nineteenth-century photographers like Henry Peach Robinson or of painters like Raphael.

The photograph does seem posed. The placement of the group of women, the poses of the women to the right of the image. It is reminiscent of Henry Peach Robinson and composite photograph ‘Fading Away’ as well as many more including ‘Gossip on the Beach’.

The bright colours worn by the women make them stand out from their environment. This is remininscent of Raphael because of the colours he uses in some of his paintings when depicting women.

Question 5

The photograph is from a series called Contructing the Exotic. How does this title resonate with the photograph?

The title of the series definitely resonates with the photograph. The women within the image are wearing outfits that aren’t normally associated with the United Kingdom, not everyday outfits at least. Before the early twentieth century, outfits like these would certainly have seemed exotic. Even now outfits like these could seem exotic when worn under the right cricumstances, for instance by belly dancers.

The staged feel to the photograph also resonates with the title of the series showing that these the image is not a natural one and has been put together in some way.

Question 6

Do the women look contemporary? What do you make of their poses?

The women’s poses are relaxed. Their body language is for the most part open, although the body language of the woman standing at the left of the image is closed because of the folded arm.

The group to the left appear to be listening intently to what the one is saying.

The women do have a contemporary look which I feel is given by the make-up they are wearing. The setting also lends to this contemporary air. A setting that was more in keeping with the outfits would have given a much older feel as if you were looking at a group of women from nineteenth centure India.



The whole series can be seen at www.michaelbuhlerrose.com.

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in France in August 1908 and died in August 2004. He his famed for his candid photography [References 1 and 2].

He is one of the founding members of Magnum Photos [Reference 3].

The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation was set up in May 2003 to preserve the work of Cartier-Bresson and his wife Martin Franck [Reference 4].

An analysis of some of Cartier-Bresson’s work can be found at PetaPixel [Reference 5] which contains links to two videos by photographer Tavis Leaf Glover.

A review of the republished version of Cartier-Bresson’s book The Decisive Moment can be found on The Guardian’s website [Reference 6].

Finally, Eric Kim has produced an interesting analysis of things that we can learn from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s when it comes to street photography [Reference 7].

Project 1: Activity, depth and distance

Exercise 2.2: People and Activity

Quite a lot of the photos I take of people are candid and not posed. I find that is when people are at their most revealing but can also be when they are most vulnerable. I’m sure that there will be plenty of opportunities to capture candid images of people at the ploughing championships.

Being able to take candid photographs of people requires being discrete if you want to catch them acting natural and not posed. This means having the minimum of equipment so that you aren’t swapping lenses all the time.

For the ploughing championships I took the minimum number of lenses. A 55-300mm lens to get close up to my subjects without needing to be in their faces and a 35mm prime lens for more distance shots.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Henri Cartier-Bresson. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Cartier-Bresson Accessed: 22nd October 2017.
  2. Magnum Photos. Henri Cartier-Bresson Profile. Available at: http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN Accessed: 22nd October 2017.
  3. Magnum Photos. History of Magnm. Available at: http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAX_2&FRM=Frame:MAX_3#/CMS3&VF=MAX_2&FRM=Frame:MAX_5 Accessed: 22nd October 2017.
  4. Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation. Available at: http://www.henricartierbresson.org/en/fondation/ Accessed: 22nd October 2017.
  5. Zhang, M. The Masterful Photo Compositions of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Available at:  https://petapixel.com/2017/08/16/masterful-photo-compositions-henri-cartier-bresson/ Accessed: 22nd October 2017.
  6. O’Hagan, S. Cartier-Bresson’s classic is back – but his Decisive Moment has passed. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/23/henri-cartier-bresson-the-decisive-moment-reissued-photography Accessed: 22nd October 2017.
  7.  Kim, E. 10 Things Henri Cartier-Bresson Can Teach You About Street Phtography. Available at: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/08/22/10-things-henri-cartier-bresson-can-teach-you-about-street-photography/ Accessed: 22nd October 2017.

Denis Darzacq

Denis Darzacq is a French photographer born in Paris. He graduated from the French National School for Decorative Artts in 1986 at which point he started his career in photography.

Darzacq has published several books of his work and has exhibited extensively in his home country and around the world [Reference 1].

Part 1 – Project 3: Stillness and movement

Exercise 1.12: Smash!

As part of the exercise Smash! we were asked to research the work of Denis Darzacq. HIs works Hyper [Reference 2] and Act involve freezing motion.

In Hyper he has captured people who appear to be levitating within the aisles of a hypermarket. None of the individuals are being held up by any means. The motion of each has been frozen by the camera to give the impression that they are levitating.

Some of the images appear quite simple in that Darzacq has captured a person while they were moving in a somewhat ordinary manner. Other images give the impression that the photographer has caught the action at a fortuitous moment, as in the image of the young woman diving through the air; has she tripped perhaps?

Other images have a much stranger tone, for instance where people are hanging in the air, their bodies in strange positions, or appear to be being pulled backwards through the air or even where they look to be walking on air.

Capturing images like this must have taken a lot of planning for what must have required taking a great number of shots to get that single image each time.

Pursuading people to throw themselves to the ground in a hypermarket aisle must have taken a lot of work. I’m pretty sure that most people I know certainly wouldn’t do that.

From looking at Darzacq’s work it is obvious that capturing action in a reall impresssive way takes a lot of thought, effort and persistence. Attempting to smash eggs to get that one singular image that stands out certainly means brweaking more than a dozen.

 

References

  1. Laurence Miller Gallery. Denis Darzacq. Available at: http://www.laurencemillergallery.com/artists/denis-darzacq. Accessed: 20th October 2017.
  2. Lensculture. Hyper. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/denis-darzacq-hyper Accessed: 20th October 2017.

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon was born in May 1923 in New York City. He died in October 2004 and is known for his portrait and fashion photography [Reference 1 and Reference 4].

A foundation set up in his name houses his work and equipment. It is possible to visit but only by appointment [Reference 2].

Born to a Jewish family his mother encouraged his interest in fashion and art. His interest in photography began when he joined the Young Men’s Hebrew Association camera club at th eage of 12.

An article by Cathy Horyn in the New York Times provides additional analysis of Avedon and his work [Reference 3].

In 1942, Avedon joined the US Merchant Marine and served as a Photographer’s Mate. It was during his time taking identity photographs that he realised he was becoming a photographer.

In 1944 he left the Merchant Marine and found work as a photographer under the guidance of Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for Harper’s Bazaar.

Although famed for his fashion  work this allowed him to explore his cultural, political and personal interests. He is particulary remembered for his photographs of civil right activist and Vietnam War protesters.


Part 2 – Project 1: Activity, depth and distance

Exercise 2.2: People and Activity

Looking at Avedon’s work his images have a tendency to draw individuals out of the the background. At the Ploughing Championships I’m sure that there will be opportunities to capture images that draw individuals out of the background. Reducing the depth of field to blur backgrounds and highlight particular individuals will definitely be something that I could do.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Richard Avedon. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Avedon  Accessed: 18th October 2017.
  2. The Richard Avedon Foundation. Available at: https://www.avedonfoundation.org/ Accessed: 18th October 2017.
  3. Horyn, C. How Avedon Blurred His Own Image Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/fashion/14AVEDON.html Accessed: 18th October 2017
  4. Richard Avedon – Photographer Available at: https://www.biography.com/people/richard-avedon-9193034. Accessed: 18th October 2017