Photographer – Francesca Woodman

Born in 1956 in Denver, Colorado to George and Betty Woodman. Francesca was one of two children born into a very art focused family, George was a painter and teacher whilst Betty was a celebrated ceramicist. Before Francesca went off to boarding school she became interested in photography and received a camera from her father. That year would ignite an interest in photography  from well composed imagery to becoming more experimental as time went by. Francesca would go on to enrol at the Rhode Island School of Design, where it became clear that there was an intensity and passion in her photography that was considered by her teachers and peers ahead of its’ time. Francesca would go to spend time in Italy with the school before returning home and graduating from RISD in 1978. Francesca then went on to New York to pursue a career in Photography, where she would eventually become artist in residence at the McDowell Colony in 1980. Francesca died at the age of 22 leaving a considerable body of work which has since been managed by her family. Her work would eventually go on to receive critical acclaim and be viewed around the world through numerous exhibitions.

From “The Woodmans” Excerpt ‘On being and Angel’

When asked why she used herself in photos she replied “because she was always available”

In researching Woodmans work there appears to be a veneer of debate around the way her work is viewed in the context of here death. I find that there is a playfulness, excitement , enthusiasm and fearless experimentation in her work which again I was reminded of in one of the pieces of video work where a flour truck had tipped over and she had acquired some of the flour which was used in producing some of her work. Her excitement was evident over the effect it had produced. There are some clear influences from surrealism here, which is often associated with the work of Man Ray as well as some abstract exploration into geometry in some of her work.

References

You Tube, The Woodmans. [online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=5zqNUdtCwkU [Accessed 12 August 2020]

Artnet, Francesca Woodman. [online]. Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/francesca-woodman/biography [Accessed 12 August 2020]

Aesthetica, Francesca Woodman. [online]. Available at: https://aestheticamagazine.com/review-francesca-woodman-zigzag-victoria-miro-london/ [Accessed 12 August 2020]

Moma.org, Man Ray. [online]. Available at: https://www.moma.org/artists/3716 [Accessed 12 August 2020]

Wikipedia, Francesca Woodman. [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesca_Woodman [Accessed 12 August 2020]

 

 

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Research – Scanography Project

Having used scanners of varying makes and models in publishing and web related work over a number of years I was not even aware that scanography was a recognised process at all until recently let alone be used as a legitimate form of presentation for publishing. Such was the case when I came across the work of Harold Feinstein whilst researching assignment 4. Feinstein initially used this process to produce a book called 100 Flowers, but has since gone on to produce more books of the genre. Nonetheless he was a photographer who managed to find a perfect recipe for photographing flowers using a scanner. Below is one of the many images he has produced in this large body of work:

 

The concept is of course not a new one as I remember the days of youthful or not so youthful antics of using a photocopier to produce reproductions of animate objects as much as anyone else. It was surprising that the use of this medium goes back much further. In fact the concept goes back much further to the late 60’s with the use of photocopier machines to produce works known as xerox art. One such example included the artist Sonia Landy Sheridan who work included artist in residence at 3M and Founding the Generative System program at the art institute of Chicago which enabled students to combine art with the technologies, early scanography being one of them. Her work in the industry enabled her to give here students the most up to date exposure to the visual communications of that time.

So what is a scanner? well it is a device made up of two main components, a CCD (charge coupled device) which collects the photons of light picked up by the internal light source that passes along the bed of the scanner. The difference in quality can measured in a number of ways, the first major element has to be the devices optical resolution. Needless to say the higher the resolution the better the quality of the output or finished scan. Some lower end models use interpolation as a means of increasing image quality by producing extra pixels in an image. This can also adversely affect image quality such as banding. An example of which you can find below. Aside from resolution it is also important to remove unwanted light sources from the scanning and this can be achieved by using a deep box of the scanner bed with the object(s) encased or in other case the use of a large black blanket to blot out other light sources. It is important to note as with lenses that your glass on the scanner should be clean and free from dust and other particles as the will show up in an annoying way on your final image. Another factor to consider is the software as some bundled software and third party options do allow for manipulation of the devices core setting prior to scanning, much like a camera dedicated software can produce marked improvements on an image as opposed to post processing.

I have attached a few images taken from the integrated scanner on my printer, the quality is nothing to write home about, but I do find the end result interesting in terms of the output, namely the balance of shadow on the image giving an impression of depth. This is something I would like to experiment more with as and when a more suitable scanner becomes available.

Face off
Light Bulb Moment
Artificial Thingamabob

References

Wikipedia, Scanography. [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scanography [Accessed 14/08/2020]

Scanography, Scanography. [online]. Available at: http://scanography-scannography.blogspot.com/2011/05/ [Accessed 14/08/2020]

Scannography, Materials[online]. Available at: https://www.scannography.org/material.html [Accessed 14/08/2020]

 

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Assignment 4 Feedback and Reflection

Strengths

  • Good technical work – particularly lighting for this subject
  • Well-acquitted coursework

Areas for development

  • Expand research base to include other media
  • Log/evidence interaction with peers

Response to Feedback

Note assignment 4 at this point had been completed before assignment 3, owing to the lockdown

I think this is the point I thought, “Why am I doing this course?” – this was it I had reached my low point, after considering my options for this assignment, I had wanted to avoid another portrait shoot, even though part of my independent research was just that. I had chosen the subject of flower photography as an extension of work I had previously done some years back. In some ways I wanted to see how the two compared. In addition, it also linked in with my love of horticulture at large, although I’m still largely a beginner in this area. I had great expectations for this assignment and the reaction to it was lukewarm at best.

It was felt that the approach to the some of the exercises was rushed except for 4.4, where it seemed I had given this more consideration. In my mind this was the part I felt really engaged with and the more suited to the environment we were living in at the time. 4.3 I had played around with setting up a little makeshift studio for the egg or stone exercise.

But then my tutor gave some advice that made perfect sense to me and made me realise that the exercises are perfect opportunity to act as a precursor to the main assignment. They are each an assignment of their own, each one building on the one before and culminating in the main assignment. Something to take forward when I start the next part and subsequent units.

I think I sat for the longest time the day after, just reflecting on what my tutor had said, admittedly feeling a little under pressure and a little sorry for myself, but then I started to think about the exercises and how I felt about them. To be fair I can look back at a lot of work that I do in that context and have other ideas about how to execute them, That is the beauty of photography, there is always an opportunity to revisit, but more importantly learn lessons so you don’t repeat mistakes. It seems timing had a part to play in this being ever mindful of the scant amount of time I had remaining to complete the unit.

One of the other things highlighted was my use of social media to gauge feedback and in the context of this course may not be useful in generating the right responses in favour of peer feedback. I may not have made it clear at the time that there were a couple of responses from the initial images sent out and in response to the two assignments I had posted which were positive. In addition, I was advised that I could research by using 3 viewpoints to synthesize my findings using critic/curator responses, the artist and ultimately my own.

Finally, the research was lacking and there was a missed opportunity to explore other mediums as part of my research to this assignment, admittedly this is something I had not considered before. If there was a reason for lacking the emotional context needed, the answer was right there and funnily enough whilst I was reflecting an answer was staring me right in the face. My tutor also suggested some links that might be useful:

https://archives.rgnn.org/2018/06/08/chaotic-stillness-17th-century-dutch-still-life-paintings/

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nstl/hd_nstl.htm

Classical painting

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/past/dutch-flowers/dutch-flower-painting-in-detail

The suggested reading made me consider a slightly different approach. In response to this I got an idea from looking at a vase of dead flowers and started to consider the idea of life and death in the very short life cycle of a flower, the was a strange beauty in the aged nature of the bloom, which then started me looking at the idea of flora from a historical and mythological context. From there I started to consider presenting the images as diptychs which I have put an example of below. You can read more on my reworked assignment here.

https://archives.rgnn.org/2018/06/08/chaotic-stillness-17th-century-dutch-still-life-paintings/

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nstl/hd_nstl.htm

Classical painting

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/past/dutch-flowers/dutch-flower-painting-in-detail

In response to this I got an idea from looking at a vase of dead flowers and started to consider the idea of life and death, which then started me looking at the idea of flora from a historical and mythological context. From there I started to consider presenting the images as diptychs which I have put an example of below. You can read more on my reworked assignment here.

Suggested Resources and Reading

Allison Watkins

https://www.allisonwatkins.com/

Sarah Jones

https://aperture.org/blog/black-rose-garden-sarah-jones-anton-kern-gallery/

Robert Mapplethorpe’s flower images. (Note: there is some explicit adult content elsewhere on the site)

http://www.mapplethorpe.org/portfolios/flowers/?i=1

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Assignment 3 Feedback and Reflection

Strengths

  • Prepared to experiment with techniques
  • series/sequence consistency
  • coursework in assignment workflow/development

Areas for development

  • Look more closely at composition and setting
  • Document independent reading and research in Learning Log
  • Interaction with peers

Response to Feedback

I was really happy with the way the assignment had been received, especially after having to rethink my approach to the assignment owing to the circumstances at the the time along with this being the underlying reason for starting the fourth part whilst reconsidering my options for the (IN)decisive moment. One great piece of feedback here was the possibility of looking at the abstract nature of the assignment as another piece of work, which offers up a multitude of ideas worth exploring which as suggested could be added to my learning log. In hindsight my thought process would have benefitted from the suggestion of perhaps using a spider diagram or examples of ideas that were considered for this assignment as another one of my early ideas was with children at play, bubble guns and machines.

The real weakness in this assignment is the lack of research content, yet the actual physical work of reading, listening and watching was boundless. In reworking this assignment I will be able to address this quite simply, which should provide a clear rationale behind my approach. There was a concern that some of the images were a bit on the dark side, which I may revisit, seems part of research into dark contrast heavily influenced my choice of presentation here and gain it would have been worth providing some evidence to that affect.

I explored a number of diverging themes on DM, on of which included DM in landscape photography, which was not made clear in this assignment and to be clear I had dismissed them as a result of taking a different path. That said it would have been worthwhile adding that as a further piece of research, which I now plan to do.

My approach to part 3 was well received, which made me both happy and relieved at the same time. In hindsight I probably worried a little too much about it, but nevertheless it was an interesting concept to work with as well as opening my eyes to some new ideas and concepts I had not considered before. This is where the lesson is, being open to new ideas and in contrast to assignment four a much better outcome.

Suggested Resources and Reading

The Deadpan Aesthetic

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/23/henri-cartier-bresson-the-decisive-moment-reissued-photography

https://www.photopedagogy.com/the-indecisive-moment.html

I pointed you in the direction of Discuss/OCA and some recent uploads of students from different courses looking for feedback on their work.

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Assignment 5 – thoughts and timeline

05 July

Well I have just finished discussing my recent assignments with my tutor, which I will discuss in another post once my written feedback has been received. The one thing that is clear is that while I can research a piece quite competently, I don’t communicate my thought processes enough to make this evident. Its something I need to address.

Soooo, I have been thinking over the  last few days what Id like to do for my final assignment for this unit. I’m thinking I would like to do something with landscapes that explores the counties of Yorkshire, perhaps coastal or country but something that explores my favourite mode of photography. So to that end I will start looking at practitioners of Landscape photography and I wont be surprised if Ansel Adams ends up in there somewhere. Having purchased “Ansel Adams 400 Photographs”, the work is breath taking and is certainly the hall mark of landscape photography.

Next steps research and location scouting….

I’m  thinking along the lines of some Landscape work to incorporate some of my favourite spots across Yorkshire

  • Lady Bower Reservoir
  • Canals that lie along our local area
  • Sprotbrough Falls
  • Aysgarth Falls
  • Whitby
  • Saltburn
  • Robin Hood Bay

It may change, I may not even use any of it, but it will be nice to get out and do some photography outdoors at last and I might even get to fly the drone this time, we’ll see, it would be nice though.

12 July

Well it has been a gruelling week of work, so haven’t had much time to do anything except read. I have been looking at the work of a British photographer Michael Kenna who along with Ansel Adams and Sebastiao Salgado seem to epitomise the type of photography I like to do at a standard I would love to attain albeit with my own voice. The images they produce speak volumes:

When I think of landscapes personally they conjure up memories of travel especially moving from place to place with my fathers work, the times I spent visiting relations on the south coast, the holidays I spend with friends and family involving a tent, caravan or cottage which extends from family vacations as a child. It also reminds me of my time working in the scouts, cadets and subsequently army reserves as well as the work I used to do in Youth services. All of it retains a memory of something good. This is surely where my love of landscape photography comes from. There is a peace associated with it, getting away from it all.

17 July

So the plan is to go for a walk on Sunday and retrace the route of a local cycle trail and see what comes to me. I have some ideas regarding water as a general theme, but don’t want to force it as I may find something that leads me elsewhere. In the meantime I will finish typing up my notes on exercise 5.3, which was  interesting as it is probably one of the first times I’ve really sat and explored a photograph, interesting…

19 July

Took a walk along our local canal to take some photos and I am reasonably happy with what I have come away with, in the meantime I will continue my research into Michael Kenna and David Brookover. There is not a lot of information on David Brookover, yet I do find his work quite interesting and he was quite enjoyable to listen to. I may do a separate piece on him or perhaps use it to discuss some of the developing techniques he talks about. In terms of the assignment I have chosen Michael Kenna, Franco Fontana and Sebastiao Salgado as my practitioners, 3 very different styles for the same subject matter.

This was one of the images I snapped today that probably will not make the final edit, but I liked the way it looked in this format and the layering between this bridge in the foreground, the trees and those big beautiful clouds in the distance.

24 July

Talk a trip further along the canal today as I wanted to get a few shots of the Aqueduct and I was very fortunate to snap a lovely barge crossing as I arrived. Next stop was Sprotbrough Falls to get some longer exposures and experiment a little with my pinhole lens (not for this assignment). Again fairly happy with the results, though I wont be sure until I do some post processing. Sunday I plan to take a trip to Lady Bower Reservoir, but it may change into a trip to Robin Hoods Bay, Saltburn and Whitby. I’m letting the wife decide on this one as we are taking our social bubble along with us.

25 July

Came across some You Tube videos named the artist series on “The Art of Photography” channel

26 July

I’m definitely feeling my age today, finishing the night shift for the week, home, shower and an hours kip before shooting off to the Lady Bower Reservoir. Its either a combination of the sleep deprived state I’m in and the drive and nightmare of trying to find a parking space, when it feels like half of the country has descended on the place. Lets just say I wasn’t feeling it and felt totally underwhelmed by my work, though it was nice to get out and enjoy the air and take in the surroundings. I imagine another time of year it may be a different story altogether. It almost feels like I am looking for something in the landscape I cannot quite put my finger on, though it feels better just getting out with the camera and even the smartphone one. I have managed some images, so well see how they turn out after post processing. On a side note, I finally got to use my camera backpack today and have to say it was quite comfortable, so It will remain packed and ready to grab and go now. Here are a few image grabs captured today:

I like the panoramic shots this phone can do and these two above I was very pleased with and as much as I am tempted, they will not be in the final set, I should try this on the camera at some stage. I also like the first image of the steps inside the overflow quite abstract.

27 July

Lots of research to type up, well lets see how much I actually get into the assignment this time. Its always concerning when I do this bit, because it can often feel way too pretentious in trying to render an opinion on someone who I consider to be an artisan or Master of their craft and use that to justify my approach to a brief with images by a photographer still searching for his voice. Does that make any sense? I’ve also asked for an extension to the assignment today and I don’t expect to get this one finished off until after the weekend. I have Friday booked as a holiday so that will give me time to reflect on the what I have done and plan for this weekends shoot. I’ve decided to get the assignment finished first before tackling the remainder of the tasks I have left to do before I am happy to mark this unit as complete.

29 July

Just finished going over the research for Franco Fontana, 3 landscape photographers each with very distinct approaches and very unique voices. I could sum up as an artist, a minimalist and a dramatist. Time to get ready for work and finalise my to do list for next week.

2 August

Wrapped up a lovely weekend of walking, taking in the sights of Robin Hoods Bay, Whitby and Conisbrough. I decided upon early morning for Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay as these places for one tend to get busy during the day. It would also give me a perfect chance to capture sunrise at Whitby, which to be fair turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment. Nevertheless I made the most of what we had to work with and captured  some nice shots in both places before heading home. I have added the ones that didn’t make the final cut to the end of the post. This reminds me of why I enjoy this mode of photography, I can just find something to shoot that interests me and go.

10 August

I have spent the last week selecting, editing and finalising the details on this assignment, including adding a PDF viewer to my site to make it easier to add and view contact sheets. I just hope it was all worthwhile and if not I enjoyed it anyway. The one thing I have noticed in reflecting on the images I take is that there are competing elements I look at beyond the landscape, it could single elements such as stones and rocks to the abstract. I have considered whether it would be worthwhile documenting this process for future reference.

 

References

irastehmann.com, Michael Kenna – Series. [online]. Available at: https://www.irastehmann.com/artists/37-michael-kenna/series/ [Accessed 9 July 2020]

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 11 July, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/6s
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Assignment 5 – Photography is simple

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

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
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Exposure bias: -1/3EV
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 57mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
River Don, Conisbrough
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 3 August, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 47mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
Sprotbrough Falls
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 42mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s
Tree lined path in Conisbrough (leading to the Viaduct)
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 3 August, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 28mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
Boats Crossing at Kirk Bramwith
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 19 July, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 53mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s

 

Barge crossing at the Don Aqueduct
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 July, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250s
Time slowed at Lady Bower Reservoir
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 July, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 65s
The Old Post Office – Robin Hoods Bay
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s
Conisbrough Castle
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s
Whitby Harbour and Abbey (Pre-Dawn)
  • Aperture: ƒ/5
  • Credit: Andy Spooner
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 1 August, 2020
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 22mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 6s

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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Exercise 5.3: Looking at photography

The Brief

‘When somebody sees something and experiences it – that’s when art happens’ (Hans-Peter Feldman)

Hans-Peter Feldman: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPPhiSgv5fw [accessed 25/01/18]

If photography is an event then looking at photography should also be an event. 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? Remember that a point is not a shape. It may be a place, or even a ‘discontinuity’ – a gap. The most important thing though is not to try to guess the ‘right answer’ but to make a creative response, to articulate your ‘personal voice’.

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 300 words.

Response

So what is the image telling me? – On the face of it there appears to be a man leaping, though my first impression was running for some reason. It is evident that there is a body of water there, so leaping is the likely scenario. I cannot see where this man will end up, perhaps he will disappear like Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley when she jumps into the puddle. Why has the man chosen this haphazard route, is he trying to make an escape or an ill thought out shortcut.

The standout element in this photograph, the thing that draws my eye every time I see this image is the gentleman leaping, captured at precisely the right moment before he makes contact with the water. The man appears to float . There is a symmetry between the gentleman and the water which creates a perfect reflection of the man as he leaps. The same assessment can be made of this image below, which was taken several years ago and shows the reflection of the railway bridge and land in the water creating a mirror image.

As I explore Bressons image further other elements come into view such as the reflection of the bank, the fence, the wall and posters that adorn it. There is also another man in the background along with a wheelbarrow. I consider these secondary elements but, as I explore the image further another element stands out. The poster on the wall shows a woman leaping, which creates a new striking juxtaposition between and the leaping man in the foreground. This element was not immediately noticeable by me and as such gives me a renewed appreciation for the image.

To the world at large at least as an art form and as a biographical piece this image is lauded as a great example of the decisive moment and it stands as a great example of photography that has often been eluded to in print and copied by other artists and enthusiasts over the years. That said, what did Bresson see in that moment that motivated him to pick up that camera at that moment and press the shutter. In his own words he never saw the man leaping, so was it reflection that caught his eye of the background and the water or was it something else?

References

Moma.org, Henri-Cartier Bresson [online]. Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/98333 [Accessed 05 July 2020]

You Tube.com, Henri-Cartier Bresson – Just Plain Love [online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYYwqo8HKbw [Accessed 05 July 2020]

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Exercise 5.2: Homage

The 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 an idea, such as the decisive moment? Is it an approach, such as intention – creating a fully authored image rather than discovering the world through the viewfinder?

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.

A photograph inspired by another is called ‘homage’ (pronounced the French or English way). This is not the same as Picasso’s famous statement that ‘good artists borrow, great artists steal’; the point of the homage must be apparent within the photograph. It’s also not the same as ‘appropriation’ which re-contextualises its subject to create something new, often in an ironic or humorous way. Instead, the homage should share some deep empathy or kinship with the original work. An example is Victor Burgin’s series The Office at Night (1986), based on Edward Hopper’s famous painting of the same name:

‘The hackneyed idea of ‘influence’ is not at issue here. I am not interested in the question of what one artist may or may not have taken from another. I am referring to the universally familiar phenomenon of looking at one image and having another image spontaneously come to mind.’

www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/separateness-things-victor-burgin [accessed 25/01/18]

You may already have taken some homage photography where you’ve not tried to hide the original inspiration but rather celebrated it. Refer back to your personal archive and add one or two to your learning log together with a short caption to provide a context for the shot.

Response

I have chosen Michael Weseleys, series “Still Lives” which were a series of photographs taken for his book published in 2007 representing a series of long exposures, each taken between a few hours to over the course of a week to illustrate the life cycle of cut flowers. Weseley is known for building his own cameras, utilising a combination of small diaphragms and neutral filters to achieve the desire result. I have long been a fan of long exposure photography, but it was not until I started this course that I became aware of his works. I realised at this point that I had only just started to scratch the creative surface of what I could do with my camera. Photographs like these often leave me with the question “How did he they do that?”. The context to me is clear it is a life cycle from bloom to decay, it reminds me of nature programs where you see time sped up so that changes in season or environment become instantly observable and it is quite beautiful to see this captured in one long exposure. Below is one of Weseleys’ images taken from “Still Lives”:

I had come across Weseleys work earlier in the course and when I first saw these flowers, I thought I have to try this. The idea came to mind from my experiments with multiple exposures in exercise 3.2 Trace, where I had taken multiple exposures of my hand and knitted them together. The image I have chosen to use in response is in the style of Weseleys’ work, though taken from a technically different standpoint using multiple exposures. I do not have the equipment yet to fully explore longer exposures, so I had to improvise and opt for a slightly different approach. In this instance I took a vase of Daffodils and placed them in our conservatory where the light was good and setup the camera on a tripod. Over a period of about a week I took a series of exposures showing the different points of the life cycle of the flower. I would later knit these together in lightroom to produce the result you see below:

  • Aperture: ƒ/3.5
  • Camera: Canon EOS Kiss X4
  • Taken: 2 April, 2020
  • Focal length: 18mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/50s

I do look forward to purchasing a power source for the camera that will allow to explore long exposure photography further in the future.

References

Bird in Flight, time shows ultra long exposure in works of Michael Weseley, [online]. Available at: https://birdinflight.com/inspiration/experience/time-shows-ultra-long-exposure-in-works-of-michael-wesely.html [Accessed 03 July 2020]

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Exercise 5.1: The distance between us

The 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.

Response

This was an easy response in that I knew straight away it would be Tigers, predominantly those I have been going to see for a few years or so at our local wildlife park. I could sit for hours and just watch them laze and play, but on this particular day I’d spent about half an hour watching and photographing them. I was using my Canon 6D MK2 along with a Sigma 150-600mm lens, due to the distance between the viewing platform and the subject. Unfortunately I did not have my tripod with me so all of the shots were handheld, albeit using the barrier on the platform to stabilise my grip. This explains the visible blur in some of the frames and the lack of tack sharpness in the rest. Below are the contact sheets for the series of shots taken:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shot I decided upon for my final select is the one you see below and the first thing I notice is the background albeit it faint reminds me of the fence that exists at the rear of the preserve, the image itself is not the sharpest and I only have to look at the eyes to realise this. You will also notice a patch of green above the tigers left eye. Despite all that it still remains one of my favourite shots. He is looking at something to my right (lunch maybe), but I am wondering what thoughts are running through his head.

  • Aperture: ƒ/6.3
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 12 July, 2019
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s

This was the final shot after cropping and editing, which I display at home:

  • Aperture: ƒ/6.3
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 12 July, 2019
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s
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