Clouds

Alfred Stieglitz produced a series of photographs called Equivalents. This was a series of images of clouds as observed from his studio.

As part of Exercise 4.11 Emulation, I decided to try and do my own version of Equivalents.

Working through this mini-project gave me an appreciation for the wonder of clouds and our skies, and how they can look depending on the time of day and the weather conditions.

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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

The Final Journey

Shortly after Rhys passed away in 2017 I begun a project with the intention to tell the story of his last months, through pictures and words. The words being written as if Rhys was telling his own story.

Although most of the photos I wanted to use existed there were a couple that I didn’t have.

One photo I wanted was of a CT scanner or a MRI, it was to accompany the part of the story where we found out about the tumours in Rhys brain. The ones that would signal the end of active treatment and the beginning of palliative.

I was never able to get that photo and so one day I decided to use a photo I’ve used here, the one of the white toy bear staring out a window.

The other photo I wanted to get was of one of one of the a local ambulances. I finally managed to do that yesterday. With some minor editing I included that in the document I’d put together in Publisher.

The end result of the project can be found in the PDF below. Apologies for the size it’s about 30Mb.

the final journey

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.

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)