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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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.

 

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