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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.

 

 

Repetition

Brief

Repetition of one image or very similar images, whether exactly the same or with slight
differences in exposure, crop or image quality, elicits an inquisitive eye. Repetition
emphasises the sameness and yet paradoxically indicates a difference. Andy Warhol used this strategy in his screenprints and photographs. In the image below, do you notice how the dog’s ‘stare’ becomes more insistent through repetition?
1. Make a still life set-up of your choice, but you can use any subject.
2. Try to emphasise your subject with the use of light.
3. Aim to make around 20 photographs.
4. Choose the best shot and process it to your liking.
5. Now create a presentation of that one photograph that involves six to eight copies.
Make some notes on the overall effect.

Final Image

Exercise 4.9 Repetition - Windmill
Windmill

I recently put a toy windmill in our garden. On the weekend there was just enough wind to start it spinning so I set the camera to a long-ish shutter speed and took a photo of it. The colours have been enhanced slightly but I loved the effect.

Other Images

I also took a few other photos and used them for this exercise.

Exercise 4.9 Repetition - Spots
Spots
Exercise 4.9 Repetition - Deer
Oh Deer
Exercise 4.9 Repetition - Jess
Jess
Exercise 4.9 Repetition - Charlotte
Charlotte

Contact Sheets

Exercise 4.9 Repetition - Contact Sheets

Layers

Brief

Most imagery contains layers of some kind: subject and background, f/g m/g and b/g,
for example. In this exercise you’ll experiment with ways of making layered imagery in
your camera and in the following exercise, you’ll experiment with using image layers in
Photoshop.
Look out of a window from inside and make a photograph that includes all three of these
elements:
• foreground detail in front of the window
• a reflection of something in the window
• background environment on the other side of the window.
Consider the light carefully. If there’s a dark area on the other side of the window, it will
help the window act as a mirror for an illuminated object inside.

Final Images

Between the Walls (Edward Steichen) - a reflection - Shape of Light @ Tate Modern
Between the Walls (Edward Steichen) – a reflection – Shape of Light @ Tate Modern
Exercise 4.15 - Layers-8333
Bedroom at night
Exercise 4.15 - Layers-8748
Studio View
Exercise 4.15 - Layers-8809
Morning Kitchen #1
Exercise 4.15 - Layers-8811
Morning Kitchen #2

Reflection

During a recent trip to London I was able to spend an hour at Tate Modern viewing the Shape of Light exhibition. Wandering around I recognised the names of many of the photographers whose work had been included; Man Ray, Bravo, Stieglitz, Moholy-Nagy and Ruscha just to name a few.

Photographing a number of pieces of work that captured my interest I took the above photo of Steichen’s Between the Walls. It wasn’t until I was looking at it later that I noticed my reflection in the glass.

Although the image doesn’t strictly meet the brief for the exercise, it’s not through a window, I’ve included it as I think it meets the spirit of the exercise. Looking at the photograph it has either been taken from a roof top or from a window. Although the original doesn’t show any reflections and so if taken from a window it would have been open, I think the reflections, including those of photos on the gallery wall opposite, give a feel of what it might have been like when Steichen took his photograph.

Bedroom at Night and Studio View were taken quickly when the opportunity arose and I thought it would be useful to see what could be achieved.

Morning Kitchen #1 and Morning Kitchen #2 were also taken because the opportunity arose but were more considered because the light outside was at the right level, light enough that you could see things outside but dark enough that reflections in the window could be clearly seen. The selection of kitchen utensils added the required element in the front of the image.

Taking these two photos I made sure to shoot at an angle so that my reflection wasn’t in the window. I also adjusted the ISO, shutter speed and aperture to get an image that was slightly darker, resulting in the details on the wooden handle of the knife sharpener being a bit more visible.

 

Picture Analysis – Laura Letinsky

Have a close analytical look at the photograph above by Canadian
photographer Laura Letinsky. You can see a larger version at
http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/ill-form-and-void-full (note: image is no longer available at this location).
There is something immediately uncanny in this photograph and in
much of Letinsky’s work. Firstly, notice the planes that make up the
background and the area on the lower left of the picture. These ‘surfaces’,
on which there are objects, shadows and cut-out pictures of objects, create an odd sense of space which you can only partly identify as a table
scene, a meal. There appears to be a slanted table top seen from the
side in the middle of the area on the left, but this surface is uncertain,
reflecting some of the objects and not others.
The objects themselves are simple, everyday items: two spoons, some
fruit and cherry pips. But the shadows and perspective of these objects
is inconsistent. This plays with our sense of dimensionality, the way we as
viewers orient our viewpoint on the scene depicted.
Some of these objects appear to be ‘real’ in the sense that Letinsky has placed and photographed them herself, whereas others have
been cut out of magazines. Notice that these cut-out objects had been
photographed from different viewpoints (and in a different time and
space), which Letinsky has tried to incorporate into the perspective of
her own ‘still life’ scene. The spoon on the far left appears to rest on the
surface and take part in the scene and the other spoon appears to hover
above the surface and has no shadow.
How many things in your own life are real in the sense that they are in
front of you physically? And how much of what you experience and
know comes through representations? Do you play sport, spectate or
watch it on television?
In her previous work, Letinsky used left-over meals, plates and cutlery
to indicate a scene, event or relationship going on beyond the view of
the photograph, turning viewers into detectives looking for clues and
connotations. Meticulously placed dishes express the thoughts and
emotions of the ‘character’ who placed them. In this work, she extends
this by looking at the ways people incorporate representations and
collective fantasies into their ‘reality’.
Have a look at Laura Letinsky’s website lauraletinsky.com. Also look at the
still life work Bungled Memories by David Bate at www.davidbate.net. For
a seventeenth-century comparison with Letinsky’s work, you can look at
the paintings of Pieter Claesz here: www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-A-4646/still-life

Write about the following issues in response to Letinsky’s photograph.
1. Visual description (objects & background/space)

Laura Letinsky → ILL FORM AND VOID FULL (2010) is an image of a white space containing a table covered with a white cloth that hides the legs. On top of the table is a white glass sheet, on which have been placed a number of objects. These include two pieces of orange fruit, some cherry pits, two spoons, one silver, the other slightly darker looking,  containing some sort of red objects, at the back of the table something that could be a small, white plate with more cherry pits resting on it and a curved object near to the two pieces of orange fruit.

2. Composition/design/arrangement

The image has been composed in such a way that it represents part of a meal or snack. The focus is on the bottom and middle left of the image but primarily the middle left.

The space being predominantly white, attention is drawn to the objects on the table and away from the majority of the space.

The table appears to be in the corner of a room as the light on the right hand side of the image gives the impression that there is a wall at an angle from the wall behind the table. However, close examination of the image doesn’t show any obvious line that would mark a corner.

The top of the table is sloped at a downward angle.

A reflection of the orange fruit can be seen in the table top and shadows of it are cast on the wall behind it.

A shadow from the curved object also appears on the wall. The spoons and small plate, however, have no reflections, or in the case of the spoon on the right and the plate, shadows. There is a very faint shadow of the handle of the spoon on the left on the wall behind.

3. Sense of space or ‘dimensionality’

The majority of things in the picture being white gives a sense of openess and space. The coloured items being so small this sense is added to. However, it is not possible to be sure whether this is a normal size room or a model of one.

4. Connotations

The images leads one to thinking about food and meals. The plate and spoons suggest that a meal may have been, or is in progress. The spoons hanging in the air and the cherry pips falling off the table suggest sudden absence, as if someone has rushed away from the table.

The cleanliness, as symbolised by the whiteness of everything, and the lack of clutter or mess, suggest an environment other than a domestic one, perhaps a high class restaurant.

Research

David Bate | BUNGLED MEMORIES (2009) has produced a series of images of household objects which have been broken and then photographed in colour on his kitchen table. These images are similar to Letinsky’s work in the simplicity of the arrangement and items being photographed. Although there is a sense of space in common with Letinsky’s work there is not sense that the images have been adjusted using photos of other objects.

Claesz’ paintings Still Life with a Fish, Pieter Claesz., 1647 (s.d.) and Still Life with a Turkey Pie, Pieter Claesz., 1627 (s.d.) are similar to Letinsky’s work. Although in both these examples there is no sense of space, the paintings are filled with objects, there is still a sense that something isn’t quite right when you look at them in detail. Shadows don’t always go in the directions that you would expect, if an object actually has a shadow. Claesz I feel had an easier time with achieving the effect that Letinsky has because he would have been able to put shadows wherever he wanted, if indeed he added them to an object at all.

References

  1. David Bate | BUNGLED MEMORIES (2009) At: http://www.davidbate.net/ARTWORKS/BUNGLED-MEMORIES.html (Accessed on 2 August 2018)
  2. Laura Letinsky → ILL FORM AND VOID FULL (2010) At: http://lauraletinsky.com/photographs/ill-form-and-void/ (Accessed on 2 August 2018)
  3. Still Life with a Fish, Pieter Claesz., 1647 (s.d.) At: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-A-1857 (Accessed on 2 August 2018)
  4. Still Life with a Turkey Pie, Pieter Claesz., 1627 (s.d.) At: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-A-4646 (Accessed on 2 August 2018)

Patchwork

Brief

Make a series of photographs of textures and colours, objects and forms. These can be
close or wide shots of essential things like clothes, bricks, bark, grass, sky, etc. Try to
render everything ‘abstract’ or not entirely recognisable by altering your viewpoint.
Reduce the file size of the images.
• Save As…JPEG
• Image Size > 1500 pixels
Place the photographs together in a grid. Aim to make a composition of at least nine
rectangle or square images.
Consider how the colours and textures, objects and forms work together and as a whole.
• Which pictures seem closer and which appear further away?
• Which colours stand out and which colours (or tones) recede?
Save the arrangement with a different file name; call it Patchwork_1.

Reflection

I decided to make a series of images based around water but which also included something square or rectangular.

I think the cream and browns work well together. The green in the top left image stood out a bit too much for me at first but I then noticed the green on the steps in the bottom right image and I felt a lot happier.

I think each image has a colour that stands out more than the rest. Top left image has the green of the statue but I think the pigeon actually leaps out more. The middle top image, the water stands out but I keep being drawn to the yellow bits. Top right image, the ivory  in the middle stands out from the creamy colour around it. Bottom middle, the pale cement stands out from the grey slabs that fill the image.

Final Images

Patchwork - Water Features
Patchwork

Other Images

The two sets of images below don’t fit the brief for this exercise but were something that I tried out while working out how to put images together in a grid in Photoshop. Something that turned out to be very simple in the end.

I found the duck lying on the waterside when we were in Norfolk. While taking some photos to see if my ideas for assignment 4 were workable and what I would have to do in order for them to become workable I found this poor creature. It can’t have been dead for too long as the carcus has not started to decompose and it had not been bothered by dogs or any other animals, ants were in the process of exploring the corpse.

When I put the individual images together, there are four images making up the grid and not just a repetition of two, which it might appear at first glance I put the close up of the duck top right and bottom left but after looking at it wasn’t sure whether that was best so created the second set of images with the close up top left and bottom right.

Like a lot of the work that I’ve produced as during the exercises and assignments for the course I can see that there is potential to take it further and explore death and decomposition whether limited to birds or the wider animal kingdom.

Dead Duck
Still Life – Dead Duck #1
Dead Duck 2
Still Life – Dead Duck #2

The image below I produced after taking my first set of images for this exercise. Again this doesn’t fit the brief because it is the same object that is being photographed, just from different positions.

Patchwork - Water Feature
Still Life – Patchwork #1

 

Contact Sheets

Patchwork Contact Sheet #1Patchwork Contact Sheet #6Patchwork Contact Sheet #5Patchwork Contact Sheet #4Patchwork Contact Sheet #3Patchwork Contact Sheet #2

Shape of Light

From the 2nd May to the 14th October 2018 at the Tate Modern.

Tickets £18 at time of visit.

Introduction

“The world we see is made of light reflected by the things we look at: Photography records this light, holding and shaping these fleeting images. Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art explores the history of artists who have worked with light to create abstract work. These photographers prioritise shape, form and expression over recognisable subject matter. Some use the camera lens to transform reality. Others work with photographic materials to create images with little obvious reference to the real world.

Shape of Light reveals photography’s role in a wider history of abstraction. The photographic artists in the exhibition have engaged with advances in abstract art across a range of art forms; from painting and sculpture, to film and installations. At times these photographers have responded to new discoveries by their peers working in different media. Occasionally they have pre-empted them.”

The above description is from the leaflet that you receive on entry to the exhibition.

Every trip I’ve had to London recently I’ve told myself that I’d visit the Tate Modern to have a look around. At the end of July, I managed to do that, but only for an hour in between other activity.

Tate Modern is an impressive building, huge and spacious, it would be easy to spend a day wandering around.

While a lot of exhibits are free some exhibitions incur a cost, this is the case with the Shape of Light.

At the time of visiting there were several exhibitions, including one about Picasso and another by Joan Jonas. It was the Shape of Light, however, that I wanted to see.

The exhibition space consists of 12 rooms, each with a different theme.

This review will not be comprehensive but will focus on some of the artwork that drew my attention.

But first, I want to share something from the day.

I wasn’t visiting the exhibition on my own, my partner was with me as we were away for her birthday. I was expecting her to get bored quickly, but I was surprised when she started looking at various artworks and commenting on them.

Martha Hoepffner’s Homage to Kandinsky she described as looking like a boat, while the piece alongside it looked like a guitar.

The piece below, looked like SpongeBob SquarePants and a tree.

20180728_121152

Another photo alongside Constantin Brancusi’s Maiastra looked like it included penguins.

With this terrible influence on me I found myself seeing different things in photographs, something that team behind the exhibition were encouraging in the Activity section of the leaflet when they stated “Photography is all about finding new ways of looking… Does looking differently change how you think about the artwork?” In this case it certainly inspired a new way of looking.

Throughout the exhibition there were works by artists whose names I recognised.

Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents provided four images, of which three are shown below. This project was one that took 8 years and resulted in over 300 photos of clouds.

These particular images struck a chord with me because I’d recently come across an article about cloud formations, and had read something about Stieglitz’s cloud images. Having taken a cloud photograph a few years ago that I was particularly proud of it was nice to know that even great photographers do similar work at times and is something I might do for the Emulation exercise later in part 4 of the course.

The series of images above was also interesting and shows how capturing something in an abstract way changes how it’s seen. The images are part of a series called Bodies and are by Bill Brandt. They were taken on beaches and appear to be rocks and large pebbles. In fact, on closer inspection it is possible to see that they are parts of peoples bodies. The top left is someone’s bent legs, the top right is a close up of a mouth and nose.

The above photograph was where my mind started to go into overtime. At first the two blobs in this chemigram by Pierre Cordier looked like pandas to me. After seeing it a few times they now look like Teddy Bears, one which is wearing a bowler hat. Facing them are either rats, dogs lying down or Falkor, the luckdragon, from The NeverEnding Story.

The exhibition comes with a catalog. Published by Tate Publishing in 2018 and entitled Shape of Light – 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art ISBN 978 1 84976 369 1.

The exhibition is well worth a visit if you are interested in photography and especially how it can be used for abstract art. I found it very inspirational, especially seeing  work that some photographers and artists have done, which I could use as part of developing my own photography and finding my own personal photographic voice. I also wish I’d had more time to wander around the exhibition as I don’t feel that I got everything I could have from it. At some point I have to arrange a trip to London with the express purpose of visiting the Tate Modern and spending the day wandering around.

Constructed imagery

Brief

Traditional still life presents a small-scale space to explore the composition and meaning
of objects. But still life doesn’t have to be bowls of fruit and vases of flowers. You can
place any object or combination of objects in any setting. And both can be constructed. It
may be useful to think of still life as having two key elements – object(s) and setting – and
go wherever your imagination takes you with them

Setting/background

Choose a space that you can work with over time. You don’t need the traditional wall and
table yet, just a cleared space.
What does your space present you with? A wall? A floor? A corner? Put your camera on
a tripod and aim it at this empty space. Now add to this space one large flat object. It
could be a sheet, a painting turned back to front, an up-turned table or a large piece of
paper stuck to the wall. Don’t place anything in the middle of space to act as an ‘object’ but rather compose your setting with surfaces, colours and textures. Have a look in the
viewfinder. Note every element in the frame:
• the way surfaces create angles, lines, shapes and planes
• the way planes create a dimensional ‘space’
• the effect of different lighting on this setting.
Take a photo. This should be an entirely artificial, constructed image even with no proper sense of gravity.

Objects

• Now choose a simple object and carefully place it into this composition. Avoid
clichéd objects. Take a photo, then remove the object.
• Replace it with another object, something very different. Place this object in such
a way that it’s not emphasised. (Did your first photo emphasise the object?) Take a
photo.
• Now fill the space with a lot of different things (mattresses, furniture, crockery, books,
plants, anything handy) and try to create an entirely constructed ‘environment’. Think
about how objects coincide as planes, lines and points in your frame. It may be very
messy, but it should depict a ‘place’ with an identity that only exists inside the frame
of your camera.
• Look at these pictures and you will see that gradually you have removed any trace of
the original space. It could be anywhere. Just like a painter, you have taken control
over every part of the picture.

Clear the setting. Keep the space free for your use as a ‘studio’ for a few days and
experiment with different backgrounds, objects and lighting. Try to create different self-
contained, unique environments. Experiment with creating a new sense of space.

Final images

The space I used for this was the top of a chest of drawers that is next to a wardrobe in one of the bedrooms at home. It’s at the opposite side of the room to the window so light from the window is blocked in part by the wardrobe, as can be seen from the shadow in the first few images.

That provided the opportunity to look at the effect of light on a couple of objects, just by moving them around.

The photos of the juggling equipment allowed me to fill the space so that it went from bare white area to something full of colour and shape.

With the photos of the ships I wanted to contruct something different. I’m not totally happy with it. I think it changes the area but it would be better if the background to the area was also changed so it’s not so noticeable.

Contact Sheets

Final Selection-1Final Selection-2

 

Experimenting with Street Photography

Taking photos when I’m out and about that include people and things isn’t something I find the most comfortable doing. I’ve had to take photos at events as part of the Foundation in Photography course and that was fine because it was for exercises.Wandering around with the intention of taking photos of people and things in the street is not something I normally do.

During two recent trips I decided I’d try and overcome that.

London

Recently I had to go to London for work. The office I had to go to was a fifteen minute walk from Waterloo station so I headed up to the Thames and walked along the river. While I was walking I was looking out for photo opportunities.

Banks of the Thames-7824

Banks of the Thames-7825

I spotted the trailer and decided to stop and take a couple of photographs. I think the first with both bikes is slightly better composition wise.

Banks of the Thames-7829Banks of the Thames-7830

A bit further on from the spotty trailer I saw these two people sitting on benches and thought it made for a nicely balanced photo. In the first one I took the shot a little bit early, a fraction later and the cyclist would have been nicely in the middle of the shot.

For the second image I was able to take a bit longer over composing the image as neither of the people sitting had noticed me, and if they had they likely would have taken me for a tourist phtoographing the London skyline.

Norfolk

During our trip to Norfolk we visited Cromer and went out onto the pier. As we were walking along I had my camera down by my side and decided to try out a technique I’d read about where you shoot from the waist or hip, and where you happen to be facing in a different direction to the one the camera is pointing. In this case I was a bit far from the chap on the left and so have cropped the photo to get a cloer view. The reason I clicked the shutter when I did was because he had walked ahead of the group he was with and began to dance around.

Cromer Street Dance-8224

On both occasions it was interesting. Although I’m more aware of my surroundings and the opportunities for photographs, I’d normally miss chances like these because my camera wouldn’t be out and ready to take a shot. It was nice to be out and about with the intention of taking shots if the chance came up and so having my camera at the ready.