Some initial ideas for Responding to a Theme

Lunch by the sea
Lunch by the Sea

Last summer I started thinking about what I wanted to do for the 4th assignment in the course. The theme was man’s impact on the environment and with that in mind I took some photos while out walking near the sea while we were in Norfolk.

I don’t think that the photos meet the brief for a still life, however, they did give help me refine some ideas around what I wanted to do.

Although my original intention to collect some of the things that people leave on a beach and use them to make a still life didn’t happen, it’s amazing how clean beaches can be at the end of the season, during a recent run in the countryside I noticed so much rubbish that people just abandon. Looking at some of the items it’s not people accidentally dropping things, it’s people deliberately throwing them from vehicles.

So the next time I go out that way for a run will be with a rucsack and some gloves to collect the more interesting items that I can then use to make some still lifes from.

Re-emerging

I’ve not been doing much with the course for a good number of months now.

Last year I set out to do a number of running and triathlon events. I managed to complete the London Marathon, not in my best ever time but it was the hottest race day they had on record.

My first triathlon of the year, and one of the ones I had set as a must do, ended early on when I crashed my bike about 7 miles into the bike course. Although my injury wasn’t that bad and I could have been patched up, the only way to get medical attention was to return to the race headquarters, which put paid to my day.

From there things got worse, I struggled to find the motivation to train, and spiralled downwards.

In the end, days before my second must do race, I went to my GP and asked for help. In return for anti-depressants I handed over a large number of painkillers I’d collected to use to end my life. I also went to the hospice where my son Rhys had passed away and asked for bereavement counselling, something I’d denied I need since he died.

That point was a wake-up call and I finally accepted that I’d tried to do too much, put too much pressure on myself. Partly as a way to hide away from the loss of someone who was my whole world.

I decided that I needed to take a huge step back and just focus on a couple of things for a while so with the OCA’s agreement I took a break from my studies.

In the autumn I signed up with a triathlon coach who is linked to the tri club I’m a member of and, with him and another coach’s help, have been focussing on training for a long term objective and something I promised Rhys before he died.

In March I’ll be returning to Cyprus and the triathlon training camp I went to last year. At the end of that week I’ll be taking part in a middle distance (or half Ironman) triathlon at Ayia Napa. During the rest of the year I’ll be racing another 3 middle distance triathlons (Ironman 70.3 Finland, Immortal Half: Stourhead and The Woburner).

Next year I’ll be racing both the Outlaw Half middle distance races in Nottingham and Holkham and then stepping up to long distance (full  Ironman) and racing The Outlaw.

It’s taken me a while to get into the swing of training, this week was the first time I’ve completed every single planned session. The coming months are going to see my training workload increasing as I get closer to my A races for the year but I’m at that point where I feel I can get back into my photography and start working towards finishing the course.

Happy New Year to everyone, and it’s good to be back.

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