Photographer – Bettina Von Zwehl

In researching assignment 2, I decided upon heads which was largely influenced by the work of Bettina Von Zwehl, who has made a career from experimenting with and re-imagining the art of portrait photography. Born In Munich, Germany 1971 Von Zwehl started making portraits at the Royal College of Arts, achieving her BA in Photography in 1994 and MA in Fine Art Photography in 1999. Much of Von Zwehls work has been studio based with many of her subjects posing to some exacting standards often to an emotional context. Over the last two decades Von Zwehl has completed a number of residencies including London and New York working with a combination of serial work and ongoing projects.

Her first piece of work I came across was “Meditations in an emergency” which was part of a residency she did at the New York historical society and was in response to the Parkland, Florida School shootings. She would respond by silhouetting students from New York schools in creating a contemporary twist on profile portraits from the 19th century. The idea was to present a series of living death masks somewhat reminiscent of those found in ancient burial chambers.

Bettina Von Zwehl “Meditations in an Emergency”

Miniatures is an ongoing project first started during her residency at the Victoria and Albert museum. This work forms a contemporary revival of 19th century miniature portraiture and is inspired by the collections of miniatures on show there.

The Sessions was another project undertaken by Von Zwehl, which I found very intriguing as it turned out to be a single exposure on torn pieces of photographic paper and in fact that is exactly how the process was done. A number of pieces of photographic paper were subject to tearing and scoring and then used to develop this single exposure onto. My initial impression was that this had been done after processing.

Portrait photography often gives rise to memories of school days, forced smiles, uncomfortable poses, mixed emotions and a resulting disappointment with the outcome. There is a fascination here with Von Zwehls work in that she does not hide the fact that this is her aim, there is a tension and drama going on albeit contrived on her part, but the responses from her subjects are real as it forces them to respond in an emotional way in relation to the physical or mental premise that has been placed upon them. Clearly Von Zwehl draws inspiration from the profiles and faces of her chosen field of study.

References

Bettinavonzwehl.com, Bettina Von Zwehl. [online]. Available at: http://www.bettinavonzwehl.com/miniatures.html [Accessed 10 December 2019]

Wikipedia, Bettina Von Zwehl. [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettina_von_Zwehl [Accessed 10 December 2019]

Vam.ac.uk, Bettina Von Zwehl. [online]. Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/bettina-von-zwehl/ [Accessed 10 December 2019]

Photographmag.com, Bettina Von Zwehl[online]. Available at: http://photographmag.com/reviews/bettina-von-zwehl-meditations-in-an-emergency-at-the-new-york-historical-society/ [Accessed 10 December 2019]

Vimeo.com, Bettina Von Zwehl. [online]. Available at: https://vimeo.com/247528797 [Accessed 10 December 2019]

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Reflective Presentation and Evaluation

Critical Review Essay

Expressing my Vision by Andrew Spooner (520268)

I went back to the profile I created when I first started this course to look at what my expectations were and at the time I simply wrote:

“I decided to study to improve my practical skills and learn how to better focus on what I am trying to achieve in my work. I expect that this field of study will give me the tools to do this.”

Now Looking back at where I was, using instructional books and videos to achieve a photographic effect with little or no regard for the finer points of serious photographic technique or composition. Much of my time with the camera had been spent in one program mode or another with only fleeting inquiries into Manual mode. I had knowledge but not enough to allow for deeper experimentation. This course would be a journey with a steep learning curve.

So did I achieve what I set out to do?

Well to answer that question we need to go back to the start.

It was clear from the outset there would be much to learn with the hesitant steps taken with my first assignment. I think part of me worried how my work would be received, whilst forgetting that it is after all a learning experience and I should expect to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from the experience along the way.

The course required that I setup a blog to document my learning as I progressed through the course and there is no escaping the fact we live in a digital age and more so now with the current conditions we are enduring during this pandemic. As such my learning log becomes more important than ever in communicating my approach and thought processes throughout the duration of my studies. Having some knowledge of internet applications already for presenting imagery and information is nothing new. For the most part the blog works well, it is easy to navigate, it is well structured with a varied amount of content.

The exercises in the early parts were engaging and I found them informative in helping me to understand the differing modes on the camera. Whilst the later parts would push more towards looking at photography more deeply and providing context and analysis of pieces of photographic work.

I found the freedom to experiment with my work liberating and it only served to increase my confidence behind the lens. If I did not get something quite right my tutor Russell would be on hand to provide feedback and allow me to look at ways of developing my work further. By assignment 2 we were using 1-2-1’s over video chat, something I was quite horrified at, when it first came up, but it is something I wanted to push forward with and try get myself out of this comfort zone of hiding behind my work.

This really came to the fore in assignment 4 as it turned out to be one of the weaker assignments in terms of context. Yet the advice he gave in making me look at the assignment in a different way, allowed me look more deeply at the work I was doing, which followed me through to the end of the course.

The one thing that stood out for me on a personal level was finding that the more I engaged with a piece of work or another photographer’s work, the more informed I became in generating ideas. This served me greatly in revisiting work I had covered previously, this included assignment two which had a long development process between the feedback, further research and experimentation during lockdown before revisiting again in the late summer.

The images I have selected for this presentation best reflect my ability to learn and look beyond anything I have done before. They explore my willingness to reflect on my own learning, develop new skills and techniques as well as push myself outside of the kind of photography that I have done before. They also show a thirst for experimentation and finally show my pride in being able to shoot in manual mode more confidently.

So did I achieve what I set out to do? Yes

I have become more confident behind the camera than I ever thought possible, despite knowing I have much more to learn about my craft and as such I have decided upon a full photography pathway for my degree going forward.

That said, there are several things I plan to take forward from this learning experience:

  • Experiment more, Experimentation is its own reward.
  • Read, Research and write up more of what I learn.
  • Treat each exercise as importantly as the assignment.
  • Plan my studies accordingly so I give each element the attention it deserves.
  • Keep a “thorough” journal of my work, something I found helpful in keeping me on track for assignment 5 and my submission. It helped to focus my thoughts and generate ideas.
  • Get more involved in peer group sessions online.
“Untitled” taken from Assignment 1 – The Square Mile (Reworked)
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 17 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/15s
“Untitled” taken from Exercise 4.4 – Personal Voice
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 23 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/30s
“Untitled” taken from Research – Studio Lighting
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 16 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/6s
“Untitled” taken from Assignment 4 – Languages of Light
  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 61mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s
“Untitled” taken from Exercise 5.1 – The distance between us
  • Aperture: ƒ/6.3
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 12 July, 2019
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s
“Unititled” taken from Exercise 5.2 Homage
  • Aperture: ƒ/3.5
  • Camera: Canon EOS Kiss X4
  • Taken: 2 April, 2020
  • Focal length: 18mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/50s
“Untitled” taken from Assignment 3 – The (In)decisive Moment (Reworked)
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s
“Untitled” taken from Assignment 2 – Collecting (Reworked)
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 41mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s
“Untitled” taken from Assignment 4 – Languages of Light (Reworked)
“Whitby Harbour at Dawn” taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is simple (Reworked)
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 57mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
“Sprotbrough Falls” taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is simple (Reworked)
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 42mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 16 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/6s
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Learning Outcome 4

Brief

Demonstrate a critical and contextual understanding of photography and reflect on your own learning.

Evidence

Exercise 5.3 Homage

Discussion around my approach to another practitioners work.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/category/learn/ex/ex5-2

Assignment 4 Feedback and Reflection

thoughts surrounding my response to assignment 4 feedback (includes link to reworked assignment).

https://artillustrated.co.uk/assignment-4-feedback-and-reflection

Research 3 – Henri Cartier Bresson

A response to the Decisive Moment.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/research-3-henri-cartier-bresson

 

cc

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Learning Outcome 3

Brief

Develop and communicate your ideas as a photographer.

Evidence

For this section I have chosen the following:

Personal Voice

Discussion around my approach to this exercise on apples.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/category/learn/ex/ex4-4

Assignment 2 Development

Reflective text discussing the development process  between the original submission of assignment 2 into the reworked version over a period of six months.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/development-process-assignment-2-rework

Assignment 5 Timeline

Discussion around a timeline of events documenting my approach to assignment 5.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/assignment-5-thoughts-and-timeline

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Learning Outcome 2

Brief

Present a selected body of photographic work

Evidence

For my selected body of work I have chosen the following five images taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple (reworked) which you can find the link to here. It was initially a choice between two assignments for this final selection as I had considered using the reworked component of assignment 4 as this had been for a major step-change in the way that I viewed my work outside of my own interests, but when I was considering my choices for what I wanted to submit, it turned out I would use that body of work in response to Learning Outcome 4.

The context with which I had approached this assignment was a sense of calm and the five images below best represent what I wanted to achieve with this. I have long been influenced by landscapes through my travels and in my pastimes and represents an area where we can often feel centred. Whether that be spending time with friends and family or just those alone moments where you can feel utterly blessed by what you see before you.

The other thing that these images convey from a technical standpoint and a personal one is that these landscape images are the first I have shot in manual mode on my camera.

Note: I have used the reworked version of assignment 5 as one of the images in my final selection appears there, the assignment does explain the rationale behind this and you can find a link to that assignment above.

I have placed a video of the final prints being shown:

Whitby Harbour at Dawn’ taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Exposure bias: -1/3EV
  • Focal length: 57mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
‘Sprotbrough Falls’ taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 42mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s
Tree lined path in Conisbrough (leading to the Viaduct)’ taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 3 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 28mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
‘Time slowed at Lady Bower Reservoir’ taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s
‘The Don Aqueduct’ taken from Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250s
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Exposure bias: -1/3EV
  • Focal length: 57mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
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Learning Outcome 1

Brief

Demonstrate an understanding of photographic techniques and image making

Evidence

For this section I have chosen 3 entries:

Research – Scanography Project

Experiment in scanography undertaken in my research around assignment 4 languages of light and the work of Harold Feinstein.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/scanography

Exercise 3.3 What Matters is to Look

Examination

https://artillustrated.co.uk/category/learn/ex/ex3-3

Research – Studio Lighting Project

Experiments with studio lighting that would inform my decision for assignment 4 and further develop my ideas around assignment 2.

https://artillustrated.co.uk/category/learn/rsl

 

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Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple (Reworked)

The Brief

‘There are two fundamentals in all picture taking – where to stand and when to release the shutter … so photography is very simple.’ (Jay & Hurn, 2001, p.37)

So photography is simply viewpoint and moment… but what about subject? The simplest subject is the moment. You can record the moment with a snapshot, but when you review the photograph later you find you didn’t actually record the moment, you just recorded the ‘event of photography’.

It might take a very long time to simplify the whole world and its infinite framings into a subject that makes sense to you. Robert Adams said, ‘Sooner or later one has to ask of all pictures what kind of life they promote’ (Grundberg, 1999, p.34). For now, though, you should just feel comfortable with your subject. It should say something about you and, in the end, you like it!

The final assignment is an open brief. Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject exploring the theme ‘Photography is Simple’. Each photograph should be a unique view; in other words, it should contain some new information, rather than repeat the information of the previous image.

Assignment notes
In your assignment notes explore how you think you’ve answered the brief. This is a chance for a little philosophical reflection. EYV student Tor Burridge:

‘I have reconsidered my stand point that fundamentally photography is simple. When I shoot for the pure enjoyment of it photography does indeed feel simple. But really it is the product of layers of knowledge – on composition, on light, the technicalities of my camera. It is also inevitably influenced by the work of others, the subtle lessons that I have unknowingly committed to memory about angles and viewpoint. So taking into consideration the effects of context, the mind-set of the viewer and also the subtleties of what influences a photographer to make an image in a particular way, I think it can be concluded that photography is simple – until it isn’t.’

Make sure you word process and spellcheck your notes as QWE (the Quality of Written English) is an important part of presentation. Include a ‘Harvard’ bibliography to reference your reading and research for this assignment. The quality of your references and how deeply you’ve responded to them is more important than the quantity.

You may like to request a video tutorial for this assignment. As well as the opportunity to discuss the development and/or resolution of the assignment work, your tutor will be able to answer any questions you may have on assessment and progression to the next unit.

Research

Michele Groskopf
‘Not to sound corny but I go on and on how much street photography has taught me about myself – more than it taught me about people, what it’s taught me about myself. What makes me tick, what I love to look at, what I’m interested in, how resilient I can be, how creative I can be. I wish that for
everybody, I wish everybody’s passion led to that kind of self knowledge and self love.’

Michele Groskopf’s Interview with Ibarionex for Candid Frame is at https://audioboom.com/ posts/4242053-tcf-ep-312-michelle-groskopf [accessed 25/01/18]

Miho Kajioka
‘It was Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami that reconnected me to photography. Two months after the disaster, while reporting in the coastal city of Kamaishi, where over 800 people died, I found roses blooming beside a blasted building. That mixture of grace and ruin made me think of a Japanese poem:

In the spring, cherry blossoms,
In the summer the cuckoo,
In autumn the moon, and in
Winter the snow, clear, cold.

Written by the Zen monk Dogen, the poem describes the fleeting, fragile beauty of the changing seasons. The roses I saw in Kamaishi bloomed simply because it was spring. That beautiful and uncomplicated statement, made by roses in the midst of ruin, impressed me, and returned me to photography.

Miho Kajioka’s series ‘as it is’ is on Lens Culture: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/mihokajioka-as-it-is [accessed 25/01/18]

Ane Hjort Guttu
‘I was in this state where everything could be art, or not… as if I was inside a zone where all things could be the result of a higher formal awareness: the roads, the chewing gum on the sidewalk, the yellow light over the city on our way home from kindergarten. Or it could not be, it didn`t matter any more. Everything became art, and in that same moment nothing’.

Morgan Quintance’s interview with the Norwegian artist Ane Hjort Guttu is on Soundcloud. Listen out for the slightly uncanny ‘bell’ at 18:52, it marks the beginning of the passage quoted above. The paradox that Guttu is referring to has been visible in art since Duchamp and examples of it appear here in the ‘Equivalents’ by Stieglitz and ‘Gas Stations’ by Ruscha. You experimented with it yourself in Exercise 1.4.

www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/studio-visit-12jun2016-ane-hjort-guttu_studio-visit/ [accessed 25/01/18]

Response

after speaking with my tutor, whilst not essential, it was suggested that out of the set 4 of the images whilst good in there own right, didn’t sit so well within the set as a whole. So given the number of images I took, I decided to swap out four of the images, which are shown below with the ones I plan to remove:

Images to be removed:

Images to be added:

My initial thoughts for this assignment and discussions with my tutor had me thinking of landscapes. so why landscapes, simply put it is what I enjoy the most in my photograph being able to communicate the character of the landscape whether it be the hills, road, bridges and brooks and take photographs for the sheer enjoyment. There is also for me an emotion wrapped up within it, a connection, a moment where nothings else matters. It that which I want to be able to convey in my photography.

Research

The first stop for me was to look at the most famous landscape photographers, so I started with the internet to see what response I got and I was directed to a site giving me their opinion of the 10 most famous landscape photographers:

  1. Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
  2. Michael Kenna (1953-)
  3. Nadav Kandar (1961-)
  4. Sebastiao Salgado (1944-)
  5. Brett Wilson (1911-1993)
  6. Franco Fontana (1933-)
  7. Takeshi Mizukoshi (1938-)
  8. David Brookover (1954-)
  9. Galen Rowell (1940-2002)
  10. Carr Clifton (1957-)

Michael Kenna (1953 -)

Now 67 Michael Kenna originally planned to serve as a priest before becoming influenced by painting and photography in Banbury at 17. Kenna became influenced by the work of photographers such as Stieglitz, Brandt and Atget and soon turned to landscape photography as his focus. In 1977 he moved to San Francisco where he went on to be mentored under Ruth Bernhard, learning how to manipulate the tone and composition from a negative to the final print. This is something Kenna still does to this day electing to make every print himself. After seeing an interview with him, it was interesting to note that to this day he still goes back to exposure taken decades ago to try different things with them. The things I do find notable with Kennas work is that it often cited as being devoid of any people and the images are quite minimalistic. Kenna prefers working alone and I imagine this is part of his process in looking for what is around the next corner and contemplating the next exposure, something that is reflected in the calmness and solitary nature of his works.

I my opinion Kenna has found a very unique voice with his work, an end to end process where the exposure itself is only the start of the journey. I cant help but think that there is a visionary quality to his work, an ability to look beyond what is in front of him to what the finished article could be.

Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.

Quite an interesting quote, on the one hand it could be a decision to use a certain Camera, Lens, Composition, Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. More importantly I considered that it could also represent each individuals position in time and space and there response to it. What something means to me regarding a particular location or photograph, may mean something completely different to someone else. The message I often wish to convey to an audience is one of appreciation of the beauty of a shot. Another element of this quote is timing, a decisive moment when the conditions are just right from my perspective to take the exposure. It can be a matter of minutes or evens seconds that determine whether an opportunity is missed to get that perfect exposure.

One shot sticks out for me as it often reminds me of the techniques I use to explore when doing wet on wet painting with oils. This image below is taken from Michael Kennas’ series Abruzzo and shows the distant hills and mountains. I like the way the layers between the hills and mountains are separated by the fine mist with the foreground being completely silhouetted. Again there is an appreciation between what the photographer saw and the post processing involved to produce the final image.

© Michael Kenna

Sebastião Salgado

As a son of a Brazilian Cattle Rancher it was hoped Salgado would go on to become a lawyer, yet instead he became an economist after completing his studies at university. Whilst on assignment in Rwanda, Salgado took his first photographs, thus changing his vocation forever. He went on to teach himself the craft and become a photojournalist. Salgado would go on to produce photographic work that would be as dramatic, emotive and awe inspiring as his own life. His work would often involve the social injustices of the world illustrating exploitation, hunger and genocide on a global scale. It is fair to say when comparing Salgado with Kenna, the two couldn’t be more different. Salgados’ dramatic portrayal of the world around us was captured in such vivid detail, it is hard to see how anyone viewing it would not be affected as much as Salgado himself.

“Photography is not objective. It is deeply subjective—my photography is consistent ideologically and ethically with the person I am.”

In looking at Salgados work, there is something very emotional about it – I feel like I’m being drawn into a beautifully sometimes disturbing pictorial piece of storytelling, like Blue Planet. His work pulls at you, draws a reaction and you are under no illusion as to the context of the image before you and that is exactly what they are meant to do. I could have chosen any number of images here, but I decided upon the one below as it is a landscape, but one that beautifully shows to full effect the simplicity of a shot with all of the drama. This one is taken from his series “Genesis”:

© Sebastião Salgado

Franco Fontana

I believe the best way to describe Franco Fontana is as the artists photographer, his body of work often leaves me wondering if they are painted. Bright bold colours and geometric patterns adorn much of his work which I find surreal yet very appealing at the same time. His work is described as abstract, shot with a 35mm camera and telephoto lenses.

“The purpose of art is to make visible the invisible”

His quote makes every bit of sense and actually adds a personal context, motivation and style to his work. From mundane subjects such as road markings, we are gifted with an adornment of lines and colour, cityscapes when zoomed in provide a layering of blocks of abstract colour and finally rolling hills and blue skies provide a canvas of shapes and colours. I am amazed and for a person who originally had no plans on becoming a photographer when he was growing up, yet into adulthood he found a passion for the craft, joined a camera club and never looked back.

© Franco Fontana

In summing up, the photographers here represent some very different approaches, each finding something unique, a voice that elegantly describes the work they undertake. The one thing

Why do I enjoy landscape photography? To put it simply, I have always enjoyed being outdoors and with landscapes it is those moments when I’m alone, just being able to sit and take it all in and let go of everything else. I am reminded that I am just one very tiny part of this wonderful planet we call home. My photography is therefor an extension of myself, my thoughts and what I am seeing at that point in time, which is extension of those influences in my life, be it growing up, literature, art, media and life. It could also be considered an extension of art in landscape paintings which is something I have dabbled with but yet to master. With photography I can wield my camera to do things, that would often take so much time to do in a studio with a paintbrush and in fact I considers these an extension of one another.

So is photography simple? In essence it is, its universal, with so many diversities from polaroid to camera phones, pinhole photography to large format cameras it has something to offer for everyone. Photography is as much accessible to the world as the written word, the only limit to it is your own imagination.

Technical and Creative Approach

Part of me says use every technical aspect of the camera, but is this what the brief is asking for? On some level you could use every technique and produce 10 photographs showing the same thing using different techniques. I imagine that kind of approach very limiting and possibly quite difficult to pull off, whilst missing the point of the brief altogether. So I am going to try and incorporate some of what I have learned and create a set of images with a linking theme of just outdoors.

So I embarked upon a series of walks covering Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay, Lady Bower Reservoir, Kirk Bramwith and Consisbrough and each location provided something with the exception of one which you can read more on here. The idea was to present a calm reflection in the final set and to that end I would be using primarily the Canon 6D with an 18-35mm and 24-70mm lens, Many of the shots are handheld with exception to the lower shutter speeds used where I employed a tripod to capture the final images. Post processing was down in lightroom with exception to the first image which was created from 3 exposures in Photomatix.

Photos and contact sheets

Whitby Harbour at Dawn
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 57mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
River Don, Conisbrough
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 3 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 47mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
Sprotbrough Falls
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 42mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s
Tree lined path in Conisbrough (leading to the Viaduct)
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 3 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 28mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
Lady Bower Reservoir
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/1600s
Time slowed at Lady Bower Reservoir
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s
Canal at Kirk Bramwith
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 19 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250s
Whitby Harbour and Abbey (Pre-Dawn)
  • Aperture: ƒ/5
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 22mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 6s

Coastline at Robin Hoods Bay

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s

Contact Sheets

You can view my all my contact sheets for this assignment here. I have only included below the ones I pulled the final selection from.

Reflection

Its fair to say either way the subject matter of landscapes is what I enjoy most and it is something I look to improve upon from a technical and creative standpoint as my studies progress and the rest of my life. This is the final assignment from this unit, one that has been challenging in terms of the time I had left to complete the unit and achieve an August submission date. There is a concern over the number of images I take, a part of me wants to go back to basics and take up film photography and learn those skills from the ground up with perhaps a view to having a appreciation for the finite scale of resources, thus focus more on individual shots rather than this click and forget mode of digital.

Have I managed to meet the assessment criteria for this brief, yes and no. I am very happy with what I have been able to achieve in such a short space of time in terms of breaking down a final list for research, which has been both engaging and rewarding. This tied in well with the idea of landscape, yet what I have found is that the idea of landscape to me is not just about wide open spaces. I find I’m also drawn to the smaller elements that exist within this. As such this has culminated in a lot of different feelings and ideas whilst I was out photographing, not all of them panned out and  I have had to be quite disciplined in the final selection of images to create a set that offers something different in each shot. it has enabled me to worry less about the outcome by just enjoying the journey. I have an idea of what I am looking for, but I don’t pre-empt what I will find.

References

Phototraces.com, Famous Landscape Photographers and Their Photos [online]. Available at: https://www.phototraces.com/creative-photography/famous-landscape-photographers/ [Accessed 05 July 2020]

azquotes, Michael Kenna. [online]. Available at: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/939705 [Accessed 17 July 2020]

You Tube, A conversation with Michael Kenna. [online]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8bMGzj6V9Q [Accessed 16 July 2020]

Ormsdirect, David Brookover. [online]. Available at: https://blog.ormsdirect.co.za/david-brookover/ [Accessed 22 July 2020]

You Tube, Franco Fontana Photographer. [online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnI52IL1Y4Q&list=PLvP-fJ6DDIRWOB9IlXy4apF18nHKK0gQF&index=12 [Accessed 22 July 2020]

Italianways, Franco Fontana. [online]. Available at: https://www.italianways.com/full-color-in-rome-interview-with-franco-fontana/ [Accessed 17 July 2020]

Huxley Parlour, Michael Kenna. [online]. Available at: https://huxleyparlour.com/artists/michael-kenna/ [Accessed 17 July 2020]

Learn Zoner, Sebastio Salgado. [online]. Available at: https://learn.zoner.com/6-ways-the-life-and-photos-of-sebastiao-salgado-will-stun-you/ [Accessed 22 July 2020]

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Assignment 2 – Collecting (Reworked)

The Brief

Create a series of between six and ten photographs on one of the following subjects:

• Things

• Views

• Heads

Assignment notes

Send your photographs to your tutor accompanied by assignment notes (500–1000 words) introducing and contextualising your work. The photographers and reading above provide starting points for your research for this assignment.

Reflection

Check your work against the assessment criteria for this course before you send it to your tutor. Make some notes in your learning log about how well you believe your work meets each criterion. Your tutor may take a while to get back to you so carry on with the course while you’re waiting.

Reworking your assignment

Following feedback from your tutor, you may wish to rework some of your assignment, especially if you plan to submit your work for formal assessment. If you do this, make sure you reflect on what you’ve done and why in your learning log.

Response

The main feedback point I wanted to respond to in revisiting this assignment was to re-shoot the set of images I presented. Whilst the set worked and fit the brief which I was responding to, one or two of the images were not as sharp as I had wished them to be. The primary reason for this was owing to using such a low ISO indoors which introduced some soft focus into the some of the images. In my previous response I was looking at animal headshots from the local wildlife park or views which would either encompass my love of landscape, below are some brief examples of the path I may choose to go down.

  

Research

However whilst my approach was fine, I felt there needed to be context. There would need to be some sense of cohesion in the set in terms of the subject matter and framing. So I took to looking at some of the suggested material. I looked a the video on Jorg Colbergs you tube channel showing the work of Ishiuchi Miyako in producing a cohesive set of images showing items collected from the atomic bomb site at Hiroshima. There was an eeriness about them, only conveyed by the fact that these were items taken from a site of an awful atrocity.

I became quite engaged at Andrew Langfords work on his series called “Species”, where the resulting images were beautifully shot and conveyed to me an idea of something almost alien in its presentation yet familiar at the same time. The work seemed almost clinical and well thought through and I loved the idea of a monotone background. It sort of reminded of some of the art by H.R. Giger.

Andrew Langford – Species
H.R. Giger – Alien

I have in fact changed my mind on Edward Ruschas work ’26 gasoline stations’, I initially stated it did not strike a chord with me, where in fact there is an appreciation to be had for what they represent, which is a sense of history, one that has sadly disappeared. I say that because I also caught a piece of work which seemed to be inspired by Ruschas work by a photographer called Eric Tabuchi, who created a series of photos titled ‘twenty six abandoned gasoline stations, which serves to remind us all that nothing is permanent. 

Edward Ruscha – 26 Gasoline Stations
Eric Tabuchi – 26 Abandoned Gasoline Stations

Bettina von Zwehls work really connected with me on some level, her series meditations in an emergency are beautifully shot heads silhouetted against a white background. The images conveyed a sense of calm and were reminiscent of  the shadows cast over the distant hills in a landscape. It also reminded me of some of the themes explored in science fiction such as Star Wars and Mission to Mars where faces from structures and fallen statues made up the landscapes. The silhouettes also reminded of some 19th century portraiture. There were a number of ideas bouncing around my head as I explored some of the photographers

Landscapes – I immediately thought of some of my favourite themes of Waterfalls, Viaducts/Bridges Castles and Cliff edges.

Things – I had a couple of ideas of photographing the tools I use through the different stages of baking and decorating a cake presented on a monotone background. Another was to present and photograph the contents of people’s bags, backpacks or handbags used on a day-to-day basis.

Heads – I had a number of ideas ranging from photographing headshots of animals at the local wildlife park or just focusing on the big cats there. I also thought about photographing other photographers at work. Then I got to thinking about Bettinas work with silhouettes and doing something similar before settling on one of the last two ideas. The first was simply photographing family members against a lit background and the second was photographing people in a sleeping pose. 

Technical Approach

In revisiting the assignment I remained settled on this idea of sleep or lack thereof, when our bodies are expected to be most at peace, relaxed and letting go of the day. In part 2 it recommended we stick to an ISO of 100, for this exercise with a subject that was likely to move I needed to adjust the ISO. In this instance  I decided to approach this from another angle. So I set up a soft box pointed at approximately 45 degrees to the left of the subject. The photos would end up looking like a person asleep on the floor when in fact the whole shoot would be down against a plain wall, so I could capture the shadows cast of the subject being photographed. I remained fixed on the idea of presenting the images in black and white to retain a sense of cohesion in the images and to this end I used black and white mode on my Canon 6D using the 24mm-70mm lens fixed to a tripod on a 2 second timer delay. I would later rotate the images in light room to give the effect of the subject lying on the floor. Post processing work on the shadows and sharpness in the images before exporting.

Contact Sheet

Final Set

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 41mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/1.3s

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 41mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 41mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/3s

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 41mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/1.3s

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 30 August, 2020
  • Focal length: 42mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s

Reflection

On the whole the image quality is an improvement over the first attempt at this brief, however I am really kicking myself here, because I was so focused on what I wanted to do with this brief, I do feel there was a missed opportunity here to experiment a little more with different angles and composition. This would have undoubtedly given me more options in the final selection and again this plays into the notion in being much focused on time management going forward.

References

Andrew Langford. Species. [online]. Available at: www.andrewlangford.co.uk/projects/species [Accessed 20 October 2019].

Tate, Edward Ruscha ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ 1963. [online]. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/about-us/projects/transforming-artist-books/summaries/edward-ruscha-twentysix-gasoline-stations-1963 [Accessed 20 October 2019].

Lens Culture, Eric Tabuchi, ‘Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations’. [online]. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/eric-tabuchi-twentysix-abandoned-gasoline-stations#slideshow [Accessed 21 October 2019]

Bettina Von Zwehl. Meditations in an Emergency. [online]. Available at: http://www.bettinavonzwehl.com/meditations-in-an-emergency.html [Accessed 20 October 2019].

Marten Lange. Citizen. [online]. Available at: https://www.martenlange.com/works/citizen/#1 [Accessed 20 October 2019]      

Artisma.org, Edward Ruscha. [online]. Available at: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/32513/twentysix-gasoline-stations-edward-ruscha [Accessed 28 August 2020]

Artlistr.com, H.R. Giger – 6 Interesting Facts. [online]. Available at: https://artlistr.com/h-r-giger-6-interesting-facts/ [Accessed 28 August 2020]

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Development Process – Assignment 2 Rework

The rework around this assignment had been the longest in development largely owing to the lockdown, which ended up being an advantage more than anything else. When discussing the outcome of the original submission, I had explained that I wanted to try and stay true to the recommended ISO of 100 for the remainder of the course. In this instance it had not worked because of the increased exposure times I was hampered with under the lighting conditions I was using (standard energy saving room lighting). My tutor suggested that because of this the images were looking a little flat and the blur in some of the images was quite noticeable as you can see below:

You can see the original assignment here. As a result of this my tutor suggested I look at another students blog which referenced an authored book on studio lighting. From this I subsequently managed to track down a PDF on the web, but was also able to secure a copy of the book on the internet. I had not any experience with studio lighting, so I was keen to experiment and subsequently I did so with a relatively inexpensive studio kit setup in the kitchen and my wife Debra who volunteered to be my subject for the experiment. You can see the results of this research here, but needless to say I was very happy with the results of this piece of experimentation, as you can see below:

It would also turn out that this exercise would inform my decision to use artificial light for assignment 4 – Languages of Light and as there was still a semblance of lockdown still in effect, I would not be in a position to rework this assignment for another few months. As it turned out, it would be this assignment that would be the catalyst that would change my approach to this assignment. The question of context and why was raised during feedback on assignment 4 and I would end up reworking it from a different perspective. It was during this period I was looking a lot more closely at bodies of work produced by practitioners such as Bettina Von Zwehl, who had originally been one of the practitioners that had informed my decisions on collecting earlier in the course and there I noted a very disciplined approach in her work, a cohesion in composition, positioning of her subjects and the final framing of the images. This was something that was lacking in my opinion from the original set of images. I had also in the back of my mind the results of the experiments I did with a lamp, some canvas board and a piece of stone in the exercise 4.3 Egg or Stone which you can see here. It was from this process I began to think about how I wanted to position the subjects and it was a brief experiment I did whilst reshooting some shots of the reworked assignment 4 that I considered a different approach to developing depth within the images I would end up producing for the reworked assignment 2, which you  can see below:

This experiment just used the diffused light from the front door and the camera set on a 10 second timer to produce this. I thought about using a light wall in the front room with a back drop and a softbox. It would turn out that we would end up attending a small family BBQ shortly after where I was able to use one of my Sister-in-laws rooms to produce the final images for the reworked assignment 2. There is an example of the final shoot below, but you can also view the full assignment here:

 

References

Karen Skelhorn, Studio Lighting. [online]. Available at: https://karenskelhornoca.blogspot.com/2013/03/people-and-place-studio-lighting.html [Accessed 12th May 2020]

Archive.org, 50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers. [online]. Available at: https://ia801808.us.archive.org/1/items/50_Lighting_Setups_for_Portrait_Photographers_Easy-to-Follow_Lighting_Designs_an/50_Lighting_Setups_for_Portrait_Photographers_Easy-to-Follow_Lighting_Designs_and_Diagrams.pdf [Accessed 13th May 2020]

 

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Assignment 3 – The (In)decisive Moment (Reworked)

The Brief

Create a set of between six and ten finished images on the theme of the decisive moment. You may choose to create imagery that supports the tradition of the ‘decisive moment’ or you may choose to question or invert the concept by presenting a series of ‘indecisive’ moments. Your aim isn’t to tell a story, but in order to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, whether it’s a location, event or particular period of time.

Include a written introduction to your work of between 500 and 1000 words outlining your initial ideas and subsequent development. You’ll need to contextualize your response with photographers that you’ve looked at, and don’t forget to reference the reading that you’ve done.

Response

Overall I was happy with the final outcome of this brief, but there were a couple of issues I wanted to resolve in the way the brief was communicated based on the feedback from my tutor. First of all, it was felt that the research was lacking even though during our discussion it became clear that I had covered a number of research pieces in answering the brief. That said the extent of this was not immediately visible in the final presentation. So in reworking this assignment I will try to give context regarding what influences directed this assignment. The second point I am going to address is the final presentation of the images as it was felt that they were a little too dark.

Initially my thoughts looked at this from a landscape photography perspective, which is my comfort zone and while it is creative, it is in many cases a repeatable event. That said I could use a longer exposure to create something different. The brief does lend itself to the street photography point of view and my own anxiety with this is something I will need to tackle in time. Sadly at the time of writing we are  in lock down which does limit my options and the subject of queuing and messages on walls seems a bit cliché even in these early stages. So I am leaning more towards the indecisive moment and the use of longer or multiple exposures to illustrate a theme.

Research

So what is the Decisive moment? In my opinion the decisive moment is many things, but most importantly it is instant the work of a moment frozen by the shutter. it can be creative in composition and how elements line up in the finished exposure and such examples are easily found in the work of Henri Cartier Bresson which include the leaping man and another of the cyclist in Hyeres. It can be a moment of historical importance, events that are unlikely to repeat such as the independence in India, the end of the second world war, the fall of the Berlin wall. Bresson dealt with historical themes in his work that were equally decisive, hence why he is considered the forerunner of photojournalism. You can read more on  the decisive moment here

“For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously

Joel Meyerowitz is another fine example of a photographer who managed to capture the decisive moments in his career and as an early adopter of colour film he has compiled some striking images in street photography over the years, not least of which was his photo documentary work of the clearing of the site where the World Trade Centre stood until 2001 which again epitomizes  the decisive moment from a historical perspective.

In terms of the direct influences on this assignment there were a number of practitioners that influenced the direction I took. As I wanted to invert the concept I decided to have a look at the work of Daido Moriyama and the Provoke movement. Provoke really did break the academic norms of photography with its edgy high contrast images with little or no regard for composition or context yet it do go own to influence photography for a great many years after its initial release. What Daido Moriyama achieved with provoke and throughout his career, I am reminded of some of the use of high contrast colours and monochrome in films like Sin City and Kill Bill. This Image below of a stray dog encapsulates the essence of the final process I wanted the images to portray.

I was also very much drawn to the creative works of Michael Weseley and his amazing work with long exposures. Looking at his work documenting the building work at the Museum of Modern Art online and through his book “Open Shutter”, which almost like being able to see all the layers of an onion in one shot and whilst his works were clearly not decisive  they did very much serve as a record of time. That stand out influence for me had to be the work of Francesca Woodman, more specifically the photographs from her series Space², Providence, Rhode Island 1976. Her use of movement, but there is also a balance between herself and the geometric properties around her, often using herself as the subject to create poetic use of composition an movement within an image and it is these two that serve as my inspiration for this assignment. Below is one example of her work, but you can view more on Francesca Woodman here

Space²

In comparing Woodmans  work to that of Weseleys, there are some clear distinctions to be made. Weseley presents changes in the landscape in response to an event such as building works, the life cycle of cut flowers or the response to a televised football tournament. Woodman on the other hand I find presents images that balance the image as a whole

 

Technical and Creative Approach

So I became struck by the idea having spent some time at home, what it is we do when faced with time on our hands and how we maintain a sense of normality when the world around us has changed. As such I started to experiment with longer exposures around the home as we went about our normal daily routines. The camera was set to Shutter Priority Mode with an ISO of 100 and a varying number of shutter speeds. In the spirit of Woodmans and Weseleys work I have chosen to stick with the theme of black and white photography as I wanted a consistent feel across all of the images. I have used lightroom to add some sharpness and a tone curve to the final images.

Contact Sheets

There are a number of contact sheets in this brief:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Shots

  • Aperture: ƒ/14
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 25 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s

  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 38mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

  • Aperture: ƒ/20
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 21 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1.3s

s

  • Aperture: ƒ/9
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 4 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 10s

  • Aperture: ƒ/16
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 21 March, 2020
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

Reflection

This was a difficult assignment in all honesty and the current situation we are in right now had not made the task any easier. Ideally I would have rather gone and photographed seascapes or waterfalls to express the movement as an indecisive moment and at least a more creative one at that. That said I am reasonably happy with the way I had engaged with the brief and the circumstances did force me to rethink the brief entirely from what I had originally intended. Time has been a factor with this as well and I would have preferred to have had more time to work on this assignment especially as I started to engage more with the revised approach. My favourite image has to be with the making of the bed, which was a challenging shot to get right between getting the right shutter speed and the movement of the subject and given more time I would have hoped to have achieved the same level of quality throughout all of the shots, as there were varying degrees of trial and error. I would have liked to have worked with some really long exposures capturing changes in environments around the home over a number of days, but this was beyond the physical capabilities of the equipment I had at the time without investing in a continuous power source and a number of ND filters.

References

Foundation HCB, Henri Cartier Bresson. online]. Available at: https://www.henricartierbresson.org/en/hcb/ [Accessed 24th May 2020]

Magnum Photos, Henri Cartier Bresson. [online]. Available at: https://www.magnumphotos.com/theory-and-practice/henri-cartier-bresson-principles-practice/ [Accessed 6th June 2020]

Azure Bumble, Michael Weseley. [online]. Available at: https://azurebumble.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/michael-wesely-long-exposures-photography/ [Accessed 2nd June 2020]

Joel Meyerowitz.com, Joel Meyerowitz. [online]. Available at https://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/ [Accessed 31st May 2020]

The Guardian, Joel Meyerowitz. [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/11/joel-meyerowitz-taking-my-time-interview [Accessed 2nd June 2020]

Artnet, Daido Moriyama. [online]. Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/daido-moriyama/stray-dog-misawa-3bKwiI-ujUXg_ubQ6BW6Pg2 [Accessed 1st June 2020]

Artnet, Francesca Woodman. [online]. Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/francesca-woodman/ [Accessed 1st June 2020]

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