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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.

 

 

Research Point – Sequence

The purpose of this research point was to go online and look at the work of Eadweard Muybridge, Duane Michals, Keith Arnatt Self Burial (1909), John Hilliard and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on Sunset Strip.

For each of the artists the task was to identify how each was using sequence differently and try and find inspiration within their work.

Eadweard Muybridge

Wikipedia (2018) indicates that Eadweard Muybridge was born on the 9th April 1830 and died 8th May 1904. Throughout his life he changed his name a number of times. His birth name was Edward James Muggeridge.

Although he was initially a bookseller, it was following a stagecoach crash in 1860 that he took up photography.

In 1874, Muybridge shot and killed his wife’s lover Major Harry Larkyns. His subsequent trial led to him being acquitted.

Muybridge is best known for his work on animal motion.

Hacking (2014 pp 144-145) contains an analysis of a collodion positive on glass called “Leland Stanford, Jr on his pony ‘Gypsy'” that was taken at Palo Alto Stock Farm, the site of the modern day Stanford University.

The image shows the son of Leland Stanford, a Californian governor, the horse Gypsy and the horse’s trainer and was captured using up to 12 camera’s which were triggered by wires connected to them by the horse as it moved through the area covered by the cameras. A technique that most photographers now would not be able to replicate easily.

Muybridge used the same technique to capture greyhounds running.

Time 100 Photos “The Horse in Motion” shows the piece of work that Muybridge is probably best known for. The project was undertaken at the request of Stanford in order to answer the question, when galloping did all four of a horses hoofs leave the ground at the same time. The resulting 12 images proved that while galloping, a horse is completely off the ground for a brief moment. These individual images when played shown rapidly one after the other are an example of the earliest form of stop motion animation.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica in their entry for Eadweard Muybridge provide another example of his motion work, which shows that his interest wasn’t just limited to the movement of animals but also that of people.

The images captured by Muybridge using this technique can be replicated a lot easily using the technology availalbe to us in the 21st century. Modern, digital cameras are capable of capturing multiple images in fractions of a second.

Muybridge’s work uses sequences of images in order to better understand how a person or animal moves. Something that is of use to scientists and artists.

Duane Michals

Born in Pennsylvania in 1932, Duane Michals is a self-taugh photographer who defines himself as a narrator.

Hacking (2014 pp 340-341) provides an analysis of Michals’ work Things Are Queer from 1973. This sequence of 9 images starts and ends with the same image, a depiction of a bathroom suite. From the second image in the sequence onwards the camera pulls back further and further, revealing more of the scene. As it does we find ourselves questioning what we are looking at. Is it a miniature bathroom with a normal sized person stood in it, or is it a photograph in a book. Where is the person standing reading the book. Is that person themselves part of something else, like a framed photograph or a mirror. Image by image we find ourselves faced with an infinite regression but Michals stops that regression by ending the sequence without the original image. Or has he, are we just about to start over?

Fundación MAPFRE (2017) shows a second work by Michals “Dr Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty”. This sequence has a woman looking at her image in a mirror while Michals captures photographs her. In our modern day world where people take selfies, this is almost the equivalent of someone taking a selfie of themselves taking a selfie of themselves taking a …

Keith Arnatt Self Burial

Keith Arnatt was born in 1930 and died in 2008, he was a conceptial artist. The course text dates “Self Burial” as 1909, in fact it is 1969.

Tate (2009) contains a copy of the 9 images that make up “Self Burial”. The sequence of images, which was shown on German television over the course of 9 nights with no explaination, show a landscape with a patch of ground into which a figure, because of the title Arnatt themself, disappears image by image into the ground, leaving just a patch of bare earth.

Arnatt is quoted as writing “The continual reference to the disappearance of the art object suggested to me the eventual disappearance of the artist himself” and this sequence reflects that.

John Hilliard

John Hilliard is a photographer from Lancaster in England. He was born in 1945.

Hacking (2014 pp 414-415) shows provides an analysis of Hilliard’s “Cause of Death?”. This sequence of images provides different views of what appears to be a shrouded body.  In each image the body is presented subtly differently. The image having been cropped in ways that allow the viewer to interpret it differently. Each image is also captioned in a way that influences that interpretation; crushed, drowned, burned and fell.

“Cause of Death?” shows that it is possible by framing an image in different ways to affect how it is seen, and so highlighting that photography can be used to tell the story you want rather than the actual situation depending on how you frame things.

Tate (2016) is another example of a sequence by Hlliard. Here we have a camera taking photographs, via mirrors, of itself. The images within the sequence change as aperture and speed change but the central image, the camera, remains the same. From this sequence we can see that even if we don’t change how we frame a subject, by changing how we capture it, we affect what is seen.

Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on Sunset Strip

This work by Ruscha presents “Every Building on Sunset Strip” as a sequence of images in a 25 foot long, accordion fold book; with one sequence of images at the top of the pages and a second set, upside down, at the bottom. Although, without a doubt, every building within the sequence would have been photographed at some point, it is the presentation format that makes this different.

Including all of the buildings must have made the project easier to some degree. The decision as to which buildings to include and which to leave out, had already been made; include all of them.

That decision, however, must also have made the project more difficult as there would have been a need to capture images of each building that Ruscha felt were suitable for inclusion in the end result.

Hacking (2014 pp 408-409) describes how Ruscha achieved this.

“To photograph Every Building on the Sunset Strip Ed Ruscha loaded a continous strip of black-and-white 35mm film into his morotr-driven Nikon F2 mounted on a tripod in the bed of a pick-up truck. He then snapped photographs at regular intervals as he drove down Sunset Strip”.

Hacking doesn’t say whether this drive was a one off or whether Ruscha had to repeat the activity a number of times.

With the technology available to us today, whether a project like this would be done has to be considered. When phones, cameras and camcorders provide the capability to drive down a street and record what you see, then replay the recording, why go to the effort of capturing something and then presenting it in a book format?

If you wanted to present a series of images in a book format then modern video editing software provides the ability to capture stills from a recording, reduces a project like this one to a technical exercise.

Summary

Muybridge’s work relates to photography as a source of documentary or fact. Michals’ work is more to do with the metaphysical aspects of life. The specific piece of Arnatt’s work highlighted here shows art as metaphor for something else. Hilliard’s work highlights how we can influence what people see by the way as a result of how we capture it. Rucscha’s work demonstrates how when capturing a sequence of images, we also have to think outside the box sometimes when it comes to presenting them.

There are many ways that we can make use of a sequences of images. How we do that will be influenced by lots of different factors. What are we trying to achieve? Do we want the person viewing them to think in any particular way when they see them? Is there a particular format that we want to use to display the end result? Are we reflecting fact or some more nebulous idea?

References

  1. Wikipedia, 2018. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  2. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eadweard-Muybridge [Accessed: 19th February 2018]
  3. Time 100 Photos. The Horse in Motion. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/eadweard-muybridge-horse-in-motion [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  4. Hacking J. (2014) Photography: The Whole Story. 2nd edition pp 144-145, 340-341, 414-415 and 408-409. London: Thames and Hudson.
  5. Fundación MAPFRE, 2017. Duane Michals. Available at: https://www.fundacionmapfre.org/fundacion/en/exhibitions/historical/2017/photography-duane-michals/ [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  6. Tate (2009) Self-Burial (Television Interference Project). Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-self-burial-television-interference-project-t01747 [Accessed: 19th February 2018]
  7. Tate (2016) Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors)  Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hilliard-camera-recording-its-own-condition-7-apertures-10-speeds-2-mirrors-t03116 [Accessed 19th February 2018]

Research Point – Typologies

This research point asked that we take a look at Gerhard Richter’s Atlas and to note how he has placed together multiple images of a similar subject. These may be building, trees, portraits or even the colour of the sky. This is called a typology.

Richter’s Atlas “is a collection of photographs, newspaper cuttings and sketches that the artist has been assembling since the mid 1960s” and which are arranged on loose pieces of paper (Richter, 2018).

Atlas provides an insight into how the artist creates imagery.

To examine very single piece of paper with the photos and clippings attached to them would take a while, there are over 800 sheets of paper. However, skimming the images on the website shows the wide variety of ways the material is presented.

There are sheets with dozens of photos arrayed on them, almost like a collage, others have maybe a half dozen images. Some have small groups of two or three items but with multiple groups on the sheet, and then there are sheets with just a single photo on them.

Images vary from black and white, through sepia to colour.

What each sheet has in common is that the content follows a theme. For instance “48 Portraits”, “Magazine Cuttings”, “Newspaper Cuttings”, “Cities”, “Hitler”, “Mountain Ranges”, “Trees” or “Forest”.

A lot of the sheets have the same theme which would lend to the tendency if displayed together for the viewer to gloss over individual ones. Which makes it all the more powerful when one of them doesn’t fit, and especially when the theme for that one leaps out at you. Did any of the list above leap out at you?

Looking at the range of themes in Richter’s Atlas it is obvious that it is possible to make a series from anything and that as artists, and not just photographers, we can use other sources as well as our own photographs to make our own artistic works that little bit more interesting.

References

  1. Richter, Gerhard, 2018. Atlas. Available at: https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/art/atlas [Accessed: 4th February 2018]

 

Painting with Light (Assignment Submission)

The brief for this assignment was to take a photograph of a person. The photograph was to be taken in a dark space, either at night or in a space that could be blacked out completely. When taking the photograph a torch or some other light source was to be used to ‘brush’ light over the person.

Prior to undertaking the exercise the work of Annette Messeger and Wolfgang Tillmans needed to be researched. The results of that research can be found here. My initial thoughts on the exercise and some initial experiments are documented here.

The photos were taken in my living room late at night. The room has blackout curtains so it’s possible to make it completely dark, the only lighting being from the LEDs on things like the Sky box and stereo system.

To hide some of this light leakage I put up the framework from a small studio kit that my family bought me with a black backdrop attached to it. My partner was then positioned sitting in front of this so that I could take photos and use some small torches to paint light on her.

Exposure times used were 15 seconds, 30 seconds and approximately 1 minute (using the bulb setting on the camera and the highly technical and accurate mechanism of counting to 60 in my head). Photos were taken with the camera set to ISO-400 and f/5.6.

Two LED torches and a small pencil torch (the type used by doctors to check pupil response) were used as light sources. The light produced by these was adjusted using a 35mm film canister with a hole through it’s middle and a series of balloons (red, orange, yellow, green and blue in colour; and stretched over the end of one of the LED torches).

Photos were taken over two nights. The first night was predominantly head and body shots (the majority from the knees up). The second night was head and shoulder images.

When examining the resulting photos those where the subject had not been illuminated enough were discarded immediately, this included the shots where the green and blue balloons were used as these did not produce sufficient light. The images captured using the yellow balloon were also discarded as the light they produced was far too harsh and unflattering to the model.

This left the images involving white, red and orange light.

Having looked at the work of Messeger and Tillmans and how they had displayed their work I decided that I wasn’t going to opt for a straight line or grid presentation. Instead I decided to narrow the final selection of images down to five. These images would be cropped and resized to produce images approximately 6 by 6 inches in size. These would then be attached to a cube shaped object (I created a 6 by 6 cube out of cardboard and black sticky back plastic). Five of the images would then be attached to each of the sides that would be visible to anyone viewing it. The sixth side allowing for the cube to be placed on a surface or for a base to be added that would allow it to rotate.


The final selection of images, contact sheets for all of the images captured and the final presentation of the selected photos are shown below.

Assignment 2 - Painting with Light-5837 - cropped and resized - 1024 pixels at 72 pixels per inch
LED torch through red balloon

Using a red ‘filter’ it was possible to just have the subject lit, details on the black backdrop being more difficult to discern than with white light. Some editing of this image was performed using the dodge/burn tool so that the seat blends into the background.

Assignment 2 - Painting with Light-5846 - cropped and resized - 1024 pixels at 72 pixels per inch
LED torch through red balloon

A change of location and not using the black backdrop allows for objects in the background to be seen. As can be seen from the shadows the light was from the right hand side of the subject. This and the use of the dodge/burn tool has allowed for some smoothing of facial features. Something that my partner was keen on.

Assignment 2 - Painting with Light-5847 - cropped and resized - 1024 pixels at 72 pixels per inch
LED torch with 35mm flim cannister covering the end

Using a much smaller light source it was possible to highlight a smaller amount of the model. From this image I can see that it would be possible to use this technique to highlight very specific parts of the model, for instance the head, hands and forearms, while leaving the rest dark or only faintly lit.

This image was edited to make the parts of the model that were illuminated more visible.

Assignment 2 - Painting with Light-5881 - cropped and resized - 1024 pixels at 72 pixels per inch
Plain white light

The above image has been edited to darken the background to reduce detail that would distract from the model. Looking at the image closely one of the things I’ve noticed is the eyes. Sitting still for 30 seconds is hard but not impossible but when someone is shining light on you there has to be a tendency to follow the light with your eyes and looking at the iris of the eyes that has happened here. I do think the points of light in the eye make it more interesting though.

Assignment 2 - Painting with Light-5889 - cropped and resized - 1024 pixels at 72 pixels per inch
LED torch with orange filter (balloon)

Part of the brief suggested that we get the model to move slowly so we can see what effect this has. Movement of the arms didn’t really register very well because of the particular light that was used.

An image that I’ve always been drawn to is that of Janus, the Roman God of beginnings, transitions, duality and endings, amongst other things, which is partly because of the duality of my own nature. This assignment gave me the chance to create my own “Janus”.

Duality is something I’d like to explore further within my photography and also use to help build up my skills. I’ve already got some ideas that I’d like to build on.

The images below show the final presentation format for the 5 photos using the homemade cube.

Assignment 2 - Painting with Light -5901
Exhibition Arrangement 1
Assignment 2 - Painting with Light -5902
Exhibition Arrangement 2
Assignment 2 - Painting with Light -5903
Exhibition Arrangement 3

Below are the contact sheets for all of the images taken during the assignment.

Edited Images-1
Contact Sheet 1
Edited Images-2
Contact Sheet 2
Edited Images-3
Contact Sheet 3
Edited Images-4
Contact Sheet 4

Pixel Painting

In this exercise, the goal was to produce a portrait in which pixels have been moved, altered or otherwise manipulated.

How this was achieved was down to us but experimentation, many tries and looking at online tutorials would be needed.

As part of the research for the exercise we were asked to look at the work of fashion photographer Nick Knight. See Knight’s profile under the People section of my log for that research.

Looking at the example image in the course notes, the adjustments are simple and somewhat subtle.

My own first attempt at Pixel Painting wasn’t very good. The changes I made, although trying to follow where the hair had been highlighted was a bit too garish for my liking.

Exercise 2.7-4881 - Hair Highlights

My second attempt was a bit better. I took the existing red colour of the mouth and made it a bit redder. Subtle but it stands out.

Exercise 2.8 Fill-flash-4991

However, after looking at Nick Knight’s work I realise that it’s possible to go brighter but also to paint things into an image that weren’t originally there and that is something I plan to look at in the future.

 

 

Photographers’ Sketchbooks

23 - Stephen McLaren and Brian Formhals - Photgraphers' Sketchbooks

The Photographers’ Sketchbook by McLaren and Formhals (2014) brings together in one volume the work of 49 photographers. Each photographer describes their work and in particular the specific project that has been included.

I found the book interesting because it highlights the thought processes behind the work of experience photographers and how they decided to do the projects that have been included. Some of the projects have seen the light of day while other projects were either aborted, put on hold or are still works in progress.

The variety of work included also shows that anything is possible as a theme.

Some of the projects I think also show that photographers have to have a level of confidence, especially when dealing with people.

The Photographers’ Sketchbook is something that having read it through completely, I will dip into in order to draw inspiration from the work of professional and experience photographers when my own work touches upon theirs.

For someone who is only just getting into the theory behind photography and starting to look at the work of other photographers this book is a great way to get to know a number of them.

The only negative I have with regards to the book is that after not a huge amount of time and handling the cover and binding seem a bit flimsy. It wouldn’t take a lot more handling before the pages came loose from the cover. Something I wouldn’t have expected from a book with a similar price tag.

References

  1. McLaren, S & Formhals, B. (2014) Photographers’ Sketchbook. 1st edn. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson.

Painting with Light (Artist Research)

As part of the assignment we were asked to look at pieces of work by Annette Messager and Wolfgang Tillman. The reason for this was to explore different ways of presenting your work.

Annette Messager

Annette Messager’s My Vows (Mes Voeux) is a piece consisting of hundreds of photographs. Each photograph shows a single part of the human body. The artwork forms a circle with each of the photos hangs from a piece of string and forming, as the description on the Museum of Modern Arts website states [Reference 1]; borrowing from Aristotle, “a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

The assignment asks will we arrange our own photos in a classical line or grid. The example images that go with the assignment in the course notes show a grid arrangement. Both of these arrangements are good for portraits, and if I was doing a more traditional style of portrait, the kind that you would get if you went to a photographic studio then I might be tempted to go with either of these. The small number of final images that we’ve been asked to produce (5 – 10) couldn’t be presented as well in the way that Messager displayed My Vows but something different could be done.

Thinking about how the images will be displayed does influence the number that would be produced. It also makes you think about lighting and colour schemes because where they are displayed and how can have an influence on how people see what you have produced.

Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans’s work Concorde Grid, 1997 is a rectangular grid of images 4 rows by 14 columns in size. The theme of the work is the Concorde supersonic passenger plane [Reference 3]. This appears to be a fairly ordinary way of displaying a lot of photographs. The beige background helps to highlight the blue of the sky and the darker tones of the buildings.

Tillmans’s exhibition at the Andrea Rosen Gallery [Reference 5] has more space for the images and as a result it is possible to put larger and smaller pieces closer to each other. The variety of sizes makes it interesting. I thought the image of the young child sleeping in the car seat was particularly good, the innocence and trust that a young child shows in its parents by being able to fall asleep like that it always remarkable. Although I’m not so sure that they’ll appreciate it when they grow up and their parents go “do you want to see a baby photo of you, let’s go the art gallery”. The large board with lots of smaller photos on it also stands out.

Tillmans’s website provides a good source of ideas. The photograph captioned “Wolfgang Tillmans, Zwischen 1943 und 1973 lagen 30 Jahre. 30 Jahre nach 1973 war das Jahr 2003, Kunstverein Hamburg, 23. September – 12. November 2017” shows how images of different sizes can be presented regardless of the space that you have available. Displaying pieces in the gap between the heaters and the large windows, by choosing appropriately size ones, was a great idea I thought.

The image “Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017, Tate Modern, London, 15 February – 11 June 2017” also provided an interesting way to display work, beneath glass on tables/

References

  1. Messager, Annette. My Vows (Mes Voeux) 1988 -1991 Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79724. Accessed 31st January 2018.
  2. Annette Messager. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annette_Messager Accessed: 31st January 2018.
  3. Tate Museum Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/wolfgang-tillmans-2747 Accessed: 31st January 2018.
  4. Tillmans Available at: http://tillmans.co.uk/ Accessed: 31st January 2018.
  5. Andrea Rosen Gallery Available at: http://www.andrearosengallery.com/exhibitions/wolfgang-tillmans Accessed: 31st January 2018.

 

Painting with Light (Initial Thoughts and Experiments)

This assignment is a trial and error process in taking a photograph of a person.

The photographs are to be taken at night or in a dark space and light from a torch or similar light source is to be used to paint the subject with light.

To make life easier all of the photographs will be taken at home in one of the bedrooms or in the living room as it is possible to darken the rooms or place a black cloth behind the subject.

In order to figure out what settings on the camera and what light sources work best I’ve drafted in my trusty model Barnaby. Once I’ve figured out settings and techiques I can move on to the proper subject.

The first thing I had to do was to make a snoot for one of my torches. I took a sheet of black card and wrapped it around the end. Unfortunately this just ended up with a tube of card on the end of the torch, which did stop light spilling everywhere but still left most of the light shining straight ahead.

Snoot Mark II was an empty 35mm film canister with a hole in it. This reduced the amount of light and provided an interesting diffraction pattern.

Mark III of the snoot was the lid of the film canister with a smaller hole through the middle. The smaller hole reduced the amount of light even more.

Moving away from the snoot I found a red filter on the enlarger which worked quite well, providing enough light to illuminate the bear but only the red wavelengths.

Following this a pair of sunglasses provided a similar effect but resulting in a different colour light illuminating the subject.

Looking at the examples of Kate Aston’s portaits in the course notes there seems to be a lot more light illuminating the subject than my torches are currently producing.  However, it may just be a case of moving the light source closer to the subject. or alternatively increasing the exposure time.

Locations is fairly easy. At home, our living room and two of the bedrooms have blackout curtains and the remaining bedroom has a blind that can be pulled down. This means that I have plenty of places which can be made very dark. In addition to this my family bought me a portable studio set-up for one of my birthdays and this contains a frame with a black backdrop, something I can use to hide anything behind my subject.

In order to take the photos I’m going to have to work over a couple of evenings, so that have the darkness and don’t have a model who gets very bored.