Self reflection

Throughout this course you’ve been introduced to the work of different photographers to
help give you an understanding of the creative potential of photography. Now it’s time to
question your own work and identify anything you think is lacking. You don’t have to be
over-critical, just honest.

Write down any areas in photography you need to develop. (Your tutor reports should
give you some clues here.)

Research – online research about artists and different styles of photography, reading books about different aspect of photography as well as biographies, writing up the results of my research on my learning log.

Technical skills e.g. use of flash, lighting

Photo editing

Experimenting creatively

Write what sort of photographs you want to take. Just note down keywords.

Candid, Street

Now look through a book like Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story, or Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) (both London: Thames & Hudson) and try to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that you want to attain or just things that interest you. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is contemporary or historic.

Make a note of these key elements.

Now research these photographers online and choose one key photograph to use in the
next exercise.

Researched Photographers

Addario, Hicks and Mieth are all photojournalists. Addario and Hicks, like Robert Capa, have spent time photographing in areas affected by war and conflict. Mieth documented life in the Depression and post-Depression era United States of America. All of these photographers show in their work, things that I aspire to achieve in my own work one day.

Lynsey Addario

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynsey_Addario

http://www.lynseyaddario.com/

Tyler Hicks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Hicks

https://www.worldpressphoto.org/person/detail/2633/tyler-hicks

Robert Capa

Capa is famous for his war photographs. The links below tell more about Capa the person and also highlight some of his work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa

https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535353

https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/robert-capa?all/all/all/all/0

http://www.artnet.com/artists/robert-capa/

While researching Capa Ilearned about Gerda Taro, his lesser known partner and collaborator. As a result of this I’ve started to read up about her and the work that she achieved in a short life, including inventing the person that would become known as Robert Capa.

Hansel Mieth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansel_Mieth

https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/hansel-mieth?all/all/all/all/0

https://ccp.arizona.edu/artists/hansel-mieth

http://www.artnet.com/artists/hansel-mieth/

https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/womphotoj/miethessay.html

Don McCullin

McCullin is someone who has photographed a wide range of things. He is most well known as a war photographer. Since starting the Foundations in Photography course I’ve been building up my library and it now contains a number of books about Don McCullin and his work.

I’ve read Unreasonable Behaviour his autobiography, as well as well as the books Don McCullin and Don McCullin In England.

Selected Photographer

In the end the photographer I selected was none of the above. I decided that I was going to look at someone whose work would force me to experiment in order to achieve what I was aimging for. I chose Irving Penn. The research I did about Penn can be found in Exercise 4.11 along with the results of my experimenting.

Photomontage

Brief

Juxtaposition in photography can be as simple as placing two photographs side by side.
But juxtaposition can also be said to happen within the frame in still life when objects are purposely placed together. In photomontage rougher and often amusing juxtapositions result from sticking bits of pictures together. Have a look at the work of John Heartfield and Hannah Höch to prepare for this exercise. Heartfield’s photomontages are politically charged images designed to express social ills: www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield For more advanced contemporary examples, search for Beate Gutschow’s ‘S’ series.
1. Get a few old magazines or newspapers.
2. Decide on a background picture – for example a large view of space or any place.
3. Now add to it a figure or at least the head and shoulders of a person.
4. Now find some other images that you can substitute for the person’s head (for
example a cabbage) or their eyes (telescopes) or mouth (a pothole). Stick them on
the face.
5. Photograph the result.
As you can see, the process tends to result in bizarre combinations. But there is a deeper
meaning to this process. By cutting and pasting fragments of images, you’re choosing
how a picture should be made and offering an interpretation of the different subjects you choose. You’re also constructing an image in a way that would be impossible to construct in reality.

Research

As research for this exercise I looked at some of the work of Heartfield and Höch as suggested.

Heartfield (2019) has a small selection of his work but the piece Rationalization Is On The March is an excellent example of how you can use different items to make a humanoid figure, with a slightly Steampunk feel to it.

The Art Story (2019) shows examples from Höch’s work that highlight how artists have commented on those in power. Heads of State and Cut With the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany are examples of how different techniques can be used to achieve a result. In the former images of the German president and his Minister of Defence are used with ink drawings to make a statement. In the latter, cuttings are used to the same effect.

MoMA (2019) provides links to a number of pieces of Höch’s work. One that leaped out at me was Postcard to the artist’s sister. Although this has been achieved purely by writing in ink a similar effect could be achieved with words cut from magazines and newspapers.

Azurebumble (2011) highlights the work of Beate Gütschow who is known for constructing landscape photographs by utilising fragments of other images using a computer. None of the images look particularly as if they have been constructed, at first glance, but when you look closer things begin to stand out.

In image S #2 there is a water pump that wouldn’t look out of place on a farm but not in the middle of an industrial area.

In image S #24 there is what appears to be a very large ant in a plastic container and the stairs on the building appear more like something that you would see in a swimming pool with diving boards hanging off them.

Final Images

Exercise 4.7 Photomontage-9493

In the image above I started off by including some text cut from a magazine “The Problem with Anxiety”. I decided that the text detracted from the image and so removed it for the version I finally went with. The set of stairs could easily be replaced with something like clouds or some other means of implying that the child is escaping from things.

Exercise 4.7 Photomontage - -9485

The above image simply came from trying to combine different bits to make something that looked vaguely like a person. I was a bit disappointed with the positioning of the boot on the leg, need to take more care next time.

Exercise 4.7 Photomontage - -9494

Not much to say about the above image, other than I could have been a bit neater with cutting out the camera lens.

References

  1. John Heartfield Website (2019) Heartfield Art. Dada To Graphic Design To Anti-Fascist Antiwar Images To Theater Set Design Available at: https://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art [Accessed 1st February 2019]
  2. The Art Story (2019) Hannah Höch German Photomontage Artist Available at: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-hoch-hannah.htm [Accessed 1st February 2019]
  3. MoMA (2019) Hannah Höch Available at: https://www.moma.org/artists/2675 [Accessed 1st February 2019]
  4. Azurebumble (2011) Beate Gütschow : “S” Series (Photographic Constructions) Available at: https://azurebumble.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/beate-gutschow-s-series-photographic-constructions/ [Accessed 1st February 2019]

Contact Sheets

Final Selection-1Final Selection-2

Using image layers in Photoshop

Brief

1. Create a series of photographs that include deep shadow in much of the frame. You
could achieve this by using a black backdrop or by exposing in high contrast light as
in Part One Project 2 (Shadows).
2. Choose about four final images.
3. In Photoshop, place the images on top of one another and change the Blend Mode
to Screen (removes the black from the image) of the images above the lowest image.
Experiment with Luminosity and Colour blending modes. You may also want to reduce the Opacity of each image. Move them around with consideration for the sense of depth the image represents and try to create a final composite.
The image below was made by making a double exposure with a film camera. But you can do the same thing by using Layers in Photoshop.
Russell Squires and Craig Hull, Doppelgängerism

Final Images

Space Centre

The series of images below combine 3 photos taken at the Space Centre in Leicester. Two of the photos are of a Soyuz capsule but from different angles. Changing the blend mode resulted in very different effects. The opacity of the images that were used for layers 2 and 3 I found were limited in what I could do. Too high an opacity percentage and they obliterated the other layers, too low and you lost all detail. Getting something that allowed all three images to be seen was a bit of a balancing act.

The blend mode for each image has been added in brackets to the caption. In all cases the same mode was used for layer 2 and layer 3. Using combinations of modes would have led to even more possibilities.

Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Screen)
Space Centre (Screen)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Luminosity)
Space Centre (Luminosity)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Subtract)
Space Centre (Subtract)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Hard Mix)
Space Centre (Hard Mix)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Divide)
Space Centre (Divide)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Dissolve)
Space Centre (Dissolve)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Darker Colour)
Space Centre (Darker Colour)
Exercise 4.6 - Space Museum #1 (Colour Burn)
Space Centre (Colour Burn)

Below are the three photos that were combined in the images above.

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What We Worship

In March I visited Cyprus again and for a few days stayed in Ayia Napa. One of the days I paid a visit to the monastery located in the centre of the town and took a series of photos. For the series of images below I used shots taken through an archway of the church in the main part of the monastery.

I then used a photo of a rocket, obtained at the Space Centre, and overlaid the monastery image with this. In set of images #1 I had only part of the arch showing. In iamges #2 I had the full arch. When I overlaid the rocket itwas slightly to one side of the image and so I moved it slightly to the right so the top of the rocket connected with the centre of the arch.

The idea to mix the images of the monastery and rocket was inspired by one of the original Planet of the Apes movies where a group of humans were worshipping a nuclear missile.

Combining the images juxtiposes traditional worship of God/Gods/Goddesses with more modern worship of technology and power.

In both sets of images I particularly like the Hard Mix and Difference blends as they make the rocket stand out more while not overwhelming the image of the church.

The individual images are in the slideshow below.

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What We Worship #1

Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship (Screen)
What We Worship #1 (Screen)
Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship (Luminosity)
What We Worship #1 (Luminosity)
Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship (Hard Mix)
What We Worship #1 (Hard Mix)
Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship (DIfference)
What We Worship #1 (Difference)

What We Worship #2

Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship #2 (Screen)
What We Worship #1 (Screen)
Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship #2 (Luminosity)
What We Worship #1 (Luminosity)
Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship #2 (Hard Mix)
What We Worship #1 (Hard Mix)
Exercise 4.6 - What We Worship #2 (Difference)
What We Worship #1 (Difference)

Contact Sheets

Final Selection-1Final Selection-2Final Selection-3

Presence/absence

Brief

When we look around familiar environments we tend to ignore or ‘not see’ certain things in them. In this exercise, you’ll explore the absence and presence of an object that you’re accustomed to in order to bring to the surface an altered ambience.
Your purpose here is to convey the trace of the absent person or thing, or to express
something of an altered mood by a particular emphasis.
• Choose an environment that you know well, but one where you can move things
around without getting into trouble!
• Ask yourself what forms the character of that place for you.
• Take a photograph of the place or ‘scene’ as it is.
• Now remove an item that strongly characterises that place or scene and take another
photograph with the same framing, without the key object. This key object can be
anything from a bed in a bedroom to the chairs around a table in a dining room or a
particular tree in a landscape.
• Yes, you can use Photoshop to remove items in images with the Clone Stamp Tool
or some clever selecting and masking as in the photo below, where the surgery has
been removed. But it may be simpler just to remove them while you take the photo.
• Place the before/after, presence/absence photographs side by side. But, like the
image below, it may not need it.

Final Images

exercise4.12presenceabsence-9419exercise4.12presenceabsence-9421exercise4.12presenceabsence-9441exercise4.12presenceabsence-9457

At New Year we were in the Cotswolds visiting my in-laws. While we were there some squirrels had been playing in the trees in the garden. I popped out with my camera to take some photos of one of them high in the trees. While I was doing that my gaze wandered around the garden. It is somewhere that I’ve spent a lot of time when we’ve stayed with my sister-in-law, playing with the children or just chilling out.

Looking around I saw many of the things that the kids and I had played with over the years. I found myself thinking that these were great examples of presence and absence. The swings and slides, the abandoned football, the trampoline covered with branches, placed in front of the goal. The bikes leaning against the house.

All things that were once used by the kids when they were little but now abandoned, never to be used again.

I know that this doesn’t exactly fit the exercise brief but I do feel that it highlights presence and absence.

Contact Sheets

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Emulation

Brief

Remember, there’s no need to make a direct copy of a photograph, for example a Man Ray photogram; make your own photographic experiment as Adam Fuss did (you can compare their photograms online).
If you chose to emulate Man Ray, you might seek out interesting objects that can be rendered graphic shapes in silhouette by shooting them against a white background. Or perhaps you want to emulate the uncanny, liminal sense of space created in a Laura Letinsky photograph but using landscapes.
Make the image your own. Artists rarely copy each other, but they do learn from each other. Try to identify exactly what it is in the photograph that appeals to you:
• the visual quality (tones, colours, light and dark)
• the composition or design
• the subject
• the concept
• the photographer’s viewpoint
• the way the photographer has influenced or constructed the image.
When you’ve identified these elements, plan what you’ll need:
• equipment
• location
• models.
When you’ve organised all this, make the photo.
Tanya Ahmed’s photographs from the series East 100th Street show the influence of American street photographers like Bruce Davidson and Garry Winogrand, but they are  also very much her own.

Research

Adam Fuss / Tanya Ahmed

Adam Fuss’s work, artnet (2018), builds on Man Ray’s work, producing some very artistic results. Some of the effects seem to be a lot more complicated that Man Ray’s original rayographs and without knowing that they were photograms could easily be taken for photographs taking using a camera.

Ahmed (s.d) has a similar look to Bruce Davidson’s East 100th Street series, Magnum Photos (2014), but there are clearly differences. Davidson’s images have a darker feel to them, even the ones of people, whereas Ahmed’s photos are much brighter, especially the ones of people. What I get from her photos is a sense of a place where people are happier, of a place that has seen improvements.

Davidson’s images leave me with the impression of an area that is more run down, and whose people are surviving more than prospering.

Irving Penn – Frozen Foods

Penn produced a number of still life images. Irving Penn (s.d) shows examples of these, including Still Life – Frozen Foods with String Beans. I’d come across a variation of this in Hacking (2015), this version being minus the string beans.

Penn’s images were made at a time when we weren’t inundated with plastic packaging so I decided that I wanted to recreate the images both with and without the packaging.

Considering the bullet points in the brief for this exercise concerning what appeals to me about this photograph:

• the visual quality (tones, colours, light and dark)

The colours in Penn’s photograph range from muted greens through to bright oranges. The mix of colours contrast with each other but also provide a link, for instance the blueberry and yellow corn when combined link tho the green beans and asparugus.

The reflection in the surface is not immediately noticeable but when seen can’t be ignored.

The lighting has been done in a way that provides shadows between each of the blocks of fruit and vegetables, giving a sense of depth to what could otherwise have been a very flat image.

• the composition or design

I like the way that the different shapes of the fruit and vegetables have been pulled together by making square blocks, but throughout the image there is the circular theme within each of the different items. The carrots positioned end on so that they appear as round item, the larger circles of the raspberries; which then carry that circular theme down into each individual raspberry. Even the asparagus tips have that theme at their ends.

• the subject

Fruit and vegetables are such a simple subject, one that

• the concept

The concept is a really simple one. Take some fruit and vegetables and stack them on top of each other. No fancy backdrops, just let the items speak for themselves, their colours, their textures.

But make them into small bricks and stack them on top of each other.

Such an image could be used in different way. The blocks are reminiscent of a child’s building bricks, and in a similar way to how a child might build something with their bricks, these blocks can build up a healthy diet.  This would work for both children and adults.

• the photographer’s viewpoint

Penn has captured the blocks straight on. Although this could easily have led to a very flat image, the use of light and shadow provides and indication of depth.

• the way the photographer has influenced or constructed the image.

Penn has constructed the image in such a way that the differing shapes within it draw you deeper and deeper into it. The big square blocks stacked on each other, then the smaller rounder shapes drawing you to the finer detail such as the textures on the carrots and asparagus. There is so much to see within the image, regardless of where the eye first alights.

Final Images

Not So Frozen Foods

Exercise 4.11 - Emulation-8804

The variety of different styles of packaging made capturing an image of everything still within it’s packaging a challenge. I eventually achieved this by attaching string to each of the containers which were then cellotaped to a cupboard and each container allowed to hang in such as way that it rested upon the ones below it. Even so, this was wasn’t a simple task with different containers swinging loose at some point. the final image was processed to remove signs of the strings.

Frozen Foods

Exercise 4.11 Emulation-8831

Having tried capturing each item in its plastic container I decided to try and replicate the original image in a much closer way. The vegetables were blanched before they and the fruit were placed in suitable containers and then put in the freezer.

The challenge with the above was to remove each item from its container get it so that it would rest on another item and then take the photos before the ice that was holding them together melted.

Exercise 4.11 Emulation-8851

In the final image above I decided that I wanted to include the packaging once again so that there was a contrast to how I see the time that Penn’s image was taken, compared to our current times.

References

  1. Magnum Photos (2014) Bruce Davidson – East 100th Street Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K7O3RP0468 [Accessed 25th July 2018]
  2. Ahmed, T. (s.d) East 100th Street Available at: http://tanyaahmed.com/east-100th-street/ [Accessed 25th July 2018]
  3. Cheim & Read (2018). Adam Fuss Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Photogram-Adam-Fuss/dp/0965728013 [Accessed 25th July 2018]
  4. Adamson Gallery (s.d) Adam Fuss Available at: http://www.adamsongallery.com/artists/adam-fuss [Accessed 30th January 2019]
  5. artnet (2018) Adam Fuss Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/adam-fuss/ [Accessed 30th January 2019]
  6. Penn, I. (s.d.) Still Life – Frozen Foods with String Beans. At: https://www.irvingpenn.org/still-life/ (Accessed on 13 August 2018)
  7. Hacking, J ()2015) Lives of The Great Photographers. 1st edt. London: Thames & Hudson

Contact Sheets

final selection-1final selection-2

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.