Category Archives: Part 5

Reflecting on Part five – Viewpoint and Assignment five…

As with my previous posts, this post summarises what I have learnt from part five of the course and Assignment five, with the aims: 1) to embed the learning for future courses and projects and 2) to act as a review and reflection tool which gives ease of reference to the learning points.

So to summarise the feedback received:

  • experiment with different approaches to see what works best for the idea/brief,
  • qualify the rationale for any decision-making so there is a clear understanding of the approach taken,
  • be consistent with the look and feel of the series so it hangs together,
  • include more critical analysis including opposing views, and
  • ensure focus is 100%.

Following tutor feedback I have included within this post a re-shoot of images 2, 7 and 10.  In addition, my tutor has suggested I provide a response to Annie Leibovitz’s ‘warts and all’ Las Vegas Showgirl and Spencer Tunick’s Capital of Culture 2017.  This will be covered under a separate blog post which you can access here.

Note: With the re-shot images I kept the ISO the same so the images would be consistent with the original series.  I did consider re-shooting the whole series again but decided against this because, a) I would have probably gone insane as it was difficult enough to do the first time round and 2) I was happy with the majority of the images so it seemed a waste of resources at this point to go back to square one. And so here are my re-shots:

Image 2 : Hands
Original Vs digital re-worked image (image re-shot) 

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revised hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found the original image hard to re-create from a composition perspective, however, I did re-shoot this image but still felt the original image was much stronger so I decided to keep the original in the final series.  The reason I felt the original image was stronger was that; a) the lighting was more consistent with the rest of the series, b) the aesthetics of the grain was more consistent with the rest of the series, c) there was more detail apparent and I prefer that visually, and d) it has a better composition.

Image 7 : Torso Front
Original Vs digital re-worked image (image re-shot) 

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revised Torso Front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not as obvious with the digital image but the re-shot image is much clearer and in focus compared to the original.  The lighting is consistent with the original series and so the re-shot image makes it into the revised final series (see below).  [Note to self: more exercise required as I seem to have put on some weight.]

Image 10 : Hair
Original Vs digital re-worked image (image re-shot) 

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revused

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image aptly named hair (and there is more of it this time round) was re-shot mainly due to unwanted shadows.  There were no such shadows apparent in the other shots in the series so this one stood out from that perspective.  To reduce the cast shadows I simply; a) moved further away from the background and b) introduced a bit of light in at the front to reduce the shadows on my legs cast by my hair.  As a result the shadows have been eliminated in the re-shot image and this is the image that makes it into the final series.  I also prefer the composition of form in the re-shot image.

Contact sheets for the re-shot images above:

Before I go on to the full series comparison I need to make a comment about why colour was not considered for this Assignment.  I think by looking at the two sets of contact sheets black and white provides a more consistent look to the skin.  With colour you are distracted by the nuances in skin tones and blemishes and to me this exercise was about form and black and white allow the eye to focus on this aspect more.

And now to the original versus the revised final series:

Original series:

Final revised series:

Post re-work/re-shooting I am now much happier with my final series and I feel that as a set they represent me and what I was trying to achieve with this assignment well.

A side note about key lines:  
A key line is a line which goes around the edge your image so there is a clear break between the printed area and the border (in my case, white). I have been experimenting with these both on assignment prints and on my competition entry prints with mixed results.

I have concluded to date that where the print edge is the same or similar colour to the border there is some merit in using a black or grey key line to provide a frame which keeps the eye contained within the image.

This now completes my work, re-work and reflection of part five/Assignment five.

 

Part five – Project 2 – Exercise 5.3

Exercise 5.3

Brief:
Look again at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in Part Three. (If you can get to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London you can see an original print on permanent display in the Photography Gallery.) Is there a single element in the image that you could say is the pivotal ‘point’ to which the eye returns again and again? What information does this ‘point’ contain?

Include a short response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in your learning log. You can be as imaginative as you like. In order to contextualise your discussion you might want to include one or two of your own shots, and you may wish to refer to Rinko Kawauchi’s photograph mentioned above or the Theatres series by Hiroshi Sugimoto discussed in Part Three. Write about 150–300 words.

The single element that stands out for me the most is the area of the image where the man is leaping and his reflection.  I think this is because there is a very dark element in the man and a very light area between the two sets of legs; the leaping man and his reflection, i.e. the ’empty’ space captured between those confines.

The light area looks like a star shape. It is definitely the light section which draws my eye back to it all the time.

This attraction to the light/highlighted area within the image has the same effect in the two other referenced photographers work: Rinko Kawauchi’s cover of her book Illuminance and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Theatres series.

This makes me think that a bright area which is in strong contrast with the areas around it will bring the eye back to it.

I have entered a fair number of competitions at my photography club and the judges always point out the light spots (blown out highlights) which are distracting to the eye especially on the frame. So I think what this exercise is trying to prove is that not only can light areas be a distraction but they can also work as a focal point and used to the photographers advantage especially when you want the viewer to be drawn to a particular part of the image.

I guess my question that would follow on from this is why does this happen….

Word count: 244

References:

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare by Henri Cartier-Bresson;
http://100photos.time.com/photos/henri-cartier-bresson-behind-gare-saint-lazare
(Accessed: 1 March 2017)

Illuminace Book Cover Photo by Rinko Kawauchi; http://aperture.org/shop/illuminance-rinko-kawauchi (Accessed: 1 March 2017)

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Theatres series; http://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/theater.html (Accessed: 1 March 2017)

Part five – Project 1 – Exercise 5.2

Exercise 5.2

Brief:
Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, but you must make explicit in your notes what it is that you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?

Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case? Take your time over writing your response because you’ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment Five.”

Practical:

The image I used for this exercise is a photograph I recently saw as part of The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection at the Tate Modern , Man Ray’s photograph of Max Ernst taken in 1938.

(Note: You can find my review of The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection exhibition under the Exhibitions section of this blog or by following this LINK)

It is a straight forward portrait which looks as though it has been in a glass picture frame and subsequently smashed to pieces; the shards of glass represented by pieces of the photograph which look shattered and separated.  The photograph is almost reconstructed but not fully, however, your brain reconstructs it for you so that in your mind’s eye you can see what the original image looked like.  

This image was included in the exhibition section covering Experiments and it is this element of the photo that I am responding to.

After writing my interpretation above I found out that the original Man Ray glass-plate negative was intentionally broken by Max Ernst, who then stuck together the glass splinters with tape.

Early photography had been used mainly to record and document, however, artists and photographers in the early twentieth century started to experiment with abstract intervention to distort visual perceptions and create new realities in their images. Photo-montage was a large part of this experimentation as well as tinting and transfer.

I do not have access to a glass-plate negative so I used what I thought was the next best option for distortion, a digital manipulation tool.  

So my initial response to this exercise, using Man Ray’s image of Max Ernst as my influence, was to use Photoshop to deconstruct a portrait image.  I selected slices/pieces/segments of the image, from the middle out, using the marquee selection tool and then pulled the pieces apart to get a more abstract look to the image but not pulled apart enough that the mind’s eye couldn’t reconstruct the image, see figure 1.  

alice-by-elisabeth-smith-3-distortion-first-try-5

Figure 1

On carrying out a comparison of the original image and my image, my image seemed too clinical/clean and I didn’t like the way the face had disjointed and made the subject look unreal.  I then realised the reason for this was that I hadn’t kept the integrity of the frame.
So I had another go…

alice-by-elisabeth-smith-3-distortion-second-try-1

Figure 2

This time, again in Photoshop, I used the free-form pen tool to draw the separation lines by hand which gave less of a clean bit more of a haphazard ‘by chance’ look and feel to the pieces separated, see figure 2.

I could have stopped there but then I thought, the original photograph was a photograph of the post image distortion so I decided to print a photograph use a blade to cut the original and then make an image of that, see figure 3.

fullsizerender

Figure 3

This third attempt actually looks and feels more honest.  You can see the white edges of the photo paper which gives more authenticity to the image as a physically altered image.  So it is this the third and final photograph that is my final response to the brief.

The second part of the brief asks what information in Terry Barrett’s essay titled ‘Photographs and Context’ provides context to this exercise.

On reading the excerpt of Terry Barrett’s essay titled ‘Photographs and Context’ (linked to as part of the course reading material) he talks about ‘how an image is interpreted’ and that this is dependent upon; 1) what is within the image – the ‘internal context’; 2) where the image is being viewed – the ‘external context’ and 3) what the photographer had originally envisaged the image’s use to be – the ‘original context’.  

So to analyse these 3 contexts above in relation to the original and indeed my response image, I believe:

1) the internal context is the image of a portrait of a man (woman) which has been deconstructed and then reconstructed.

2) the external context is the image was part of a collection being exhibited.  Hundreds maybe thousands of people will see it and by being in an exhibition suggests it is of value. (my image is displayed on the internet as part of my degree coursework and will be seen by my tutor and maybe a hand full of other people than happen to read my blog).

3) the original context is that Max Ernst intentionally broke the Man Ray glass-plate for the purpose of presenting it as a reconstruction (my image was produced solely in response to Max Ernst’s reconstruction).

To take this experimentation one step further:

“In a further act of appropriation, Ernst wrote on the tape with India ink and exposed the plate so that the light-colored tape came out black and the writing white. The new plate, now a self-portrait photomontage of sorts, was used by Max Ernst as the invitation to his 1935 Paris exhibition, Exposition Max Ernst, dernières oeuvres.”

but the response to this is for another day…..

(Note: you can see the original images that I took of Alice on my other blog HERE).

References:

Collectif,, Mavlin Shoair (2016) Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collec, : Tate Publishing, Limited.

Part five – Project 1 – Exercise 5.1

Exercise 5.1

Brief:
Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!). Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot.

When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4). In other words, be open to the unexpected. In conversation with the author, the photographer Alexia Clorinda expressed this idea in the following way:

“Look critically at the work you did by including what you didn’t mean to do. Include the mistake, or your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it, and analyse it not from the point of view of your intention, but because it is there.”

Practical:

I set up some table top lighting and used a sandstone ornament representing a mother and child in arms as my subject.  This object has a lot of sentimental significance for me being that it was given to me at the time my first child was born, hence a subject I have empathy with.

I took a lot of different shots from different angles and distances to see how the ornament looked from these new angles, angles which I had never viewed it from before, being that is has always been in a fixed position on my mantle piece.

I found this exercise of viewing this familiar object in ways which were unfamiliar to me intriguing.  The ornament had some lovely form from the different angles I was now viewing it from.

I put all the images together on a contact sheet and took a look at this familiar object, in both the familiar and now unfamiliar ways:

CONTACT SHEET

Because I had been so familiar with the subject from one particular viewpoint for years it was hard to select which image represented my ‘best shot’, given this new perspective I had on the subject.

In the end I was drawn to this image:

DA6A1919-2

The reason I like this image is;

  • the subject from the side creates an ‘O’ at the center which works well with the curve of the heads and base,
  • the subtle reflection of the subject in the table top.  The circle of the subject and it’s reflection almost look like a pair of eyes sideways on, and
  • the edges of the table top provides shadows and depth to the image.

I think your eye is initially drawn in to the center to the subject then runs down to the bottom dark area, across the bottom of the frame and out on the right hand side.  The eye then picks up on the shadow on the right hand side further up the frame and brings the eye back in following the leading line of the shadow where the table top meets the wall. The eye then returns back to the subject.

Reflection:

Playing around with this image a bit more, I think the composition could be improved so I have added a re-cropped image, with a controversial square crop, below:

DA6A1919-3

References:

Expressing your Vision (OCA 2014, updated 2017), Rob Bloomfield, ‘Project 1 The distance between us’ pp. 104.