Genesis – Sebastiao Salgado

Back in July, I visited the Genesis photography exhibition by Sebastiao Salgado. 2013 seems to have been my year of favouring monotone images, possibly all starting from the Ansel Adams exhibition I went to see at the end of 2012 so going to see Genesis seemed to fit into my current preferences very well.

The exhibition showed a mixture of landscapes, nature and portraiture and is the culmination of 8 years of work photographing pristine environments. The exhibition was split into 5 sections Sanctuaries, Planet South, Africa, Amazonia and Pantanal, and Northern Spaces.

As mentioned, all the images are displayed in Black and White and it is quite quickly noticeable that they have almost all been produced with a very high contrast feel. Initially, this production style was impressively impactful and very striking, however, as I progressed the the huge number of images on display it lost its edge and even started to become a distraction and possibly a bit of an irritation.

I’m not sure if it was completely down to the production style but I also started to crave some colour. This feeling was at its strongest when viewing images of the people in remote regions such as workers from Africa draped in robes that my brain was telling me were full of colour. In contrast to this though, I found the majority of landscape and nature images really satisfying.

Of all the images on display, the image that really stuck in my mind was possibly one of the simplest on display. The image was titled “A leopard (Panthera pardus) in the Barab Riber Valley, Damaraland” taken in Namibia in 2005. It was presented in a landscape orientation with the leopard placed on the lower third drinking from a pool of water. Due to the pool being made of rocks in what appeared an almost perfect cicle, it appeared man made. The leopards reflection can be seen in the water but everything else is completely black.

The detail that I felt really makes the image is the creeping posture of the leopard and its stare being straight into the camera. This made it feel like there is a direct communication from the leopard to the photographer. However, I couldn’t decide if the message was some agreement to let each other get on with there business, a warning that this is the leopards territory or fear of what lay in the dark.

Reflecting back on the exhibition overall leaves me a little disappointed because it is the production of the images that has stuck with me, not the images themselves. Having seen other exhibitions all in black and white I felt that it wasn’t this choice that was the issue but the contrast. I feel that producing such a large body of work would have benefited from a larger variation.

Assignment 1 Contrasts – Tutor Feedback

I’ve recently started getting all my posts together for submission and found that I hadn’t posted the tutor feed back for assignment 1.

The original assignment can be found here.

Overall Comments

Well done for completing the first unit, Ian. You have started working at a nice pace, and if you can keep this up, you will find the course will run very smoothly for you.

Assessment potential

Formal Assessment: You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications.  Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit assignment 2.  I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Elements to consider with your assignments:

This assignment asks you to produce pairs of images that work together to illustrate a theme of contrast. You are asked to identify subjects which bring out the essential differences between the two. Ideally, by placing the images side by side the visual message should become clear.

Your assignment in connection with the above points

Producing a pair of contrasting images is particularly challenging as a first assignment, since it requires you to think on so many more layers than just the lessons given. It is however, a very good opportunity to really think about the content of a picture, and its visual strength. Having been given a title to work with, it becomes the subject, and the task then becomes one of making an interesting picture while still communicating the adjective. In addition you are asked to produce pairs of images that contrast with each other. You have produced a good variety of images here, thinking about the subject theme in each case. I particularly like your reflective comments on this process and the thought processes behind your investigations. How can we make something appear big or small in the frame? Choosing to position the baby’s foot in the hand of its mother was a good idea. This gives us some idea of perspective – particularly when you are photographing at such a close range and filling a large percentage of the frame with the subject. Converting to black and white in this instance also helps to remind us of the shape of the area we are looking at. This picture could have also been used to demonstrate large and small in one picture. Adding the reflection of the castle to add volume to the shot was another good idea. In this situation it is good to try and move beyond what we understand to be true and start to think about what we can make appear true. Think about trying to demonstrate diagonal, for instance, in the same way. How could you do this? The diagonal lines are clearly visible in your picture, but how do we go about ensuring that it is these lines that we look at, rather than the number of vertical and horizontal lines that are also apparent? In this case the challenge is to photograph from an angle that enhances your point – or choose a subject that makes the task easier for you (assignment two will offer more help on this point).

The assignment also asks us to consider this work in pairs. This is where the task starts to get even more tricky. Once you place two images side by side we automatically start seeing differences. The hard part is to limit these differences down so that we are left with an understanding of the meaning of the image, or the way it should be read. By having one of the pair coloured and one of the pair monochrome we are adding to the range of contrasts between the two. By choosing very different subject matter in each case we are making it harder to see the message. If we ask the question, “what is the difference between a white peacock and an old fashioned typewriter?” you start to see what I mean. You could come up with any number of answers to this point and the message of white and black becomes unclear. The typewriter/ telephone arrangement is a lovely strong picture and converting to black and white adds authenticity to the subject. However, even on its own the most obvious thing that comes to mind is not its colour but its age.

With very little going on in the frame, your picture for pointed, on the other hand, gives a very clear message. I can see where you are coming from with the corresponding image to illustrate ‘blunt’. Although I don’t think this is a particularly strong example for ‘two in one’ this image is worth considering. Imagine if the corresponding image for this picture involved a couple of people involved in a real (or apparently real) sword fight. If these two images were positioned side by side, wouldn’t it give a strong message of pointed and blunt? In terms of pairs of contrasting images I like your images for transparent and opaque. In these shots there are more similarities between the two shots and because of this the right difference becomes a little more obvious.

Moving back to think about the shots as individuals there are some nice clear shots in the set; the picture for ‘many’ is nice and strong and the ‘still’ and ‘moving’ shots also work very well.

All of your pictures are composed nicely, are cropped appropriately and taken from an appropriate vantage point. All show a good level of technical ability.

Summary/ Pointers for future work

With this assignment you have started to explore visual language. Contrast, as a subject, has proved to be very interesting in this respect. It has given you the opportunity to appreciate the subtle differences in communicating a word in a picture. For future projects you will need to carry this information forward and take time to consider how well the photograph will communicate to its audience without the aid of text. You will also need to pay attention to the way that images work together as a unit.

Learning Logs

The purpose of a learning log is to help you to reflect on your own work and also give you the opportunity to explore, investigate and reflect on the work of other photographers. You have started working very well on this task and I look forward to seeing this progressing.

Assignment 5 – Illustration and Narrative

The objective of assignment 5 is to produce a series of images that illustrate a story for a magazine, including a cover illustration and several pages inside. In previous posts, I’ve shown the planning and image selection stages of this assignment.

For this part of the assignment, I will show the images that I’ve selected and the captions intended to go with the images and then finally, show the images as part of pages for the magazine and how it would be organised. This will allow me to discuss how I see the images relating to each other and show there relative sizes.

Images

Illustration – Front Cover

Assignment5-21

This image is using two symbols to illustrate the purpose of the magazine. The largest symbol is the classic black car with the silver trim and the white walled tires. This is something I feel is immediately recognisable as an old 1950’s style car even though we are only presented with a small amount of the car in the image.

Although this is the largest symbol, I don’t think it is the most predominant symbol of the image. This would be the two reflections of the red car. This is obviously a car from a different era and I feel the juxtaposition of these two cars together illustrates the show very well. In addition to the two cars, there is evidence of people in the image, a key part of the narrative I was hoping to achieve.

Welcome to the Show – Page 1

Entrants to the show are welcomed with each car being photographed on arrival.

Entrants to the show are welcomed with each car being photographed on arrival.

Owners prepare there vehicles, getting everything right before the judging begins.

Owners prepare there vehicles, getting everything right before the judging begins.

Having the welcome arch as the first image of the series seemed like a great introduction. It clearly shows what the event is and has a car arriving. The colour of the car was intentionally chosen to relate back to the red car of the cover image.

As mentioned previously, including people in the narrative was an important aspect so I felt it was important to have a strong image of a person on the first page. This image shows a car owner preparing his car and there is colour relationships to both the other image on this page, through the yellows, and again back to the cover image with the black cars.

Things to see and do – Page 2

The show has stalls selling all kinds of parts for different vehicles.

The show has stalls selling all kinds of parts for different vehicles.

Merchandise isn't restricted to car parts. These classic key rings covered many of the car makes at the show.

Merchandise isn’t restricted to car parts. These classic key rings covered many of the car makes at the show.

These two images are intended to work as a pair. The man looking at the car parts tells the story of how attendants to the show can do more than look at cars. In the background of this image, we can see the key rings which are then shown in detail.

No classic car show is complete without representation for the Mini Owners Club for people to enjoy!

No classic car show is complete without representation for the Mini Owners Club for people to enjoy!

These DMC Delorean's are great examples of 1980's Classics.

These DMC Delorean’s are great examples of 1980’s Classics.

With these two images, I wanted to introduce a bit more of the show and what is happening. The choice of cars is also intended to give a subtle message about the progression through time of car manufacturing. The cover photo was showing detail of a car from the 1950’s and a modern day car. Here, we have the mini which was introduced in the late 1950’s and has been popular since and then the Delorean’s which are a well known car from the 1980’s from the film ‘Back to the Future’.

Small Details, new and old

Jag

The major manufacturers were all represented. The major manufacturers were all represented.

Again, these two images are intended to be viewed as a pair using just a single caption. Having been given the context of the show with the images on the previous page, I wanted to focus in on some smaller detail. Using these two images, they show this detail but also show new vs old.

Assignment5-25


Assignment5-5
. The Farm Car Cart was an interesting blend of many different vehicles. Starting life as a 1930’s Ford, it suffered bomb damage during the war. To bring it back to a useful function, the body was removed
and the remains were merged with a 1895 horse cart.
In 2010, the car was rediscovered after having been abandoned since approximately 1953 and restored using any parts, from any industry, that would do the job. Top speed is 45 mph and 8 people can be carried in the rear.

These three images continue, and go further, with the idea of showing and giving more details.

The bigger picture – Page 4

Classics from all the different eras were on  display for everyone to enjoy.

Classics from all the different eras were on display for everyone to enjoy.

Although the show is mainly about the cars, other vehicles wer n display such as this  collection of war time utility  vehicles.

Although the show is mainly about the cars, other vehicles were on display such as this collection of war time utility vehicles.

This final page was intended to show the larger environment, maintain the narrative of peoples involvement in the show and also hint that there are additional things happening. The first image show more classic cars of different types and subtly includes people walking amongst them or having a get together. From the research I had done, I wanted to capture this kind of image which included people but I didn’t want the people to distract to much from the cars.

In the last image, a similar style has been used but vehicles, other than cars, are introduced. I deliberately left the introduction of other vehicles until the end of the narrative so that it brought the story of the car show to an end but also hinted that there could be more to see at the show.

Layout

The pages below show how I would take the images, organise them into there pages and show there relative sizes.

Front Page

Front Page

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

Page 3

Page 3

Page 4

Page 4

Reflection

The first thing that comes to mind when reflecting on this assignment is that I approached a stranger and asked if I could photograph them whilst they were performing a task seemingly unrelated to me. Although this doesn’t really relate to the assignments objectives, to have done this, is something I’m quite proud of.

Throughout this course, I think my ability to plan and prepare for capturing images has improved and with this assignment it proved especially useful. Photographing at an event meant that I could not go back and capture that ‘critical moment’ because it would have gone. Also, at an event, there are photographic opportunities everywhere. Some obvious and some not so. The plan helped me stay focused on what it was I needed to capture to meet the objective.  However, having too detailed or rigid a plan could be restrictive.

Having a plan wasn’t the only preparation that proved useful. Before going to the event, considering the types of images I wanted to take meant I had the correct equipment with me. As I had wanted to take long exposure images, I would have been stuck without a tripod, or if I hadn’t considered the fact that there could be strong contrasting light and busy back grounds I may not have taken my flash.

Coming home with a varied selection of images to choose from put me in a good position to be able to build the narrative I had imagined. However, putting it all together into the magazine format wasn’t easy. There were images that I had an emotional attachment to, because I liked the idea of the image or the image itself, but for some of them, they simply didn’t fit. I felt that I had enough images to be able to double the number of images I finally included but I think this would have defeated one of the goals of the assignment. Although the putting together the article wasn’t easy, it was still a fun and interesting exercise to carry out and I enjoyed thinking about how a larger number of images could be put together.

From this assignment, it has shown me that it takes practise to put everything together that I’ve covered on the course. As I progress, I can feel things becoming more instinctive. Using the idea’s from part 2, Elements of Design, is something that comes to me much easier now and is a great aid in trying to find an image. Also, I think I am much more aware of lighting scenario’s following part 4. Colour is something, however, that I think will need a lot more work. It seems like colour is a very complex area in the art of photography that could take a life time to master.

Assignment 5 – Illustration and Narrative, Image Selection

Having planned the images I was going to take for this assignment and captured them, I needed to filter them down into a collection that would give the narrative of the day. As was mentioned in the course notes, reducing the number of images can often be a difficult task in itself and I decided it was a good idea to include this part of the process in my write up.

I started out taking the collection of images down to the ones I was most happy with and then I organised them into the narrative elements I had intended to capture, excluding time, illustration images that were intended for the front cover image and then others that I felt appropriate to capture at the time. The reason for excluding time was that I felt all the images could contribute to this part of the narrative.

Illustration Images

Assignment5-1 Assignment5-21 Assignment5-11

The first two images were captured specifically with the intention of using them as illustration images. The first image is a simple statement that this is a classic car. However, with the second image, the message is a little more subtle but I feel it has a better illustration of the event as a whole – that the classic car show has cars from different periods in time. Finally, I included the image with the sign as a candidate for the illustration image because it makes a very obvious statement that this is what all the images are about, even though it wasn’t initially intended to be used as a cover image.

Car Developments – new and old

Assignment5-23 Assignment5-13 Assignment5-7 Assignment5-2

The new vs old images have captured there intent however, in the groupings I’ve used to present the images in this post, I don’t think they’re working together. This is an interesting point and for the final image selection, I really need to be careful that the images work together.

Car Parts – Close up details

Jag B for Bentley Assignment5-22 Assignment5-20
Assignment5-19 Assignment5-18 Assignment5-17

The car parts part of the narrative was always going to provide plenty of scope with this event and I wanted it to continue with the new and old images being captured.

People

Assignment5-16 Assignment5-14 Assignment5-6 Assignment5-3 Assignment5-12

Photographing people is not an area of photography that I have practised and certainly not photographing strangers. Other than the image of the man checking the oil in his engine, all the other people were captured without me interacting with them. However, for the man checking his oil, I managed to build the confidence to approach him and ask if he minded me photographing him. He was happy for me to do so and continued with what he was doing. This was probably one of my single biggest achievements with the exercise and something I was proud to have done.

Others

Capel Car Show 2 Capel Car Show 1

In the assignment planning, I had discussed the idea a wider image of the show to show context of what was happening. However, with the image that I had used, It was very busy with all the cars and the people. An idea I had was to use a long exposure to blur the people, leaving the focus on the cars but to still have the people evident in the image. I was pleased with how these images came out.

Assignment5-25 Assignment5-5 Assignment5-4

These three images were captured because they have a story of there own with the history of the vehicle. I captured the three as I thought they would work well with extending the concept of time in the overall narrative.

Assignment5-15

This image was captured to provide greater detail and context to the image of the man inspecting car parts.

Final Thoughts

With the set of images above, I feel that I’ve appropriately captured the event and have enough material to tell a narrative of the show. Organising and presenting the images in the was I have chose here though will not work well for the final article. I think presenting them in these categorise presents breaks in the story that doesn’t work.

Taking that into account, my chosen layout for the magazine article will be based mostly around the timing of the event:

  1. Cover Image – The reflection of the new car in the body of the old car
  2. People arriving in there cars
    • The car arriving at the show
    • The man checking his oil
  3. The cars available a the show and people interacting with them.
    • The series of minis
    • The DMC Delorean’s with the other cars in the background
    • The man shopping for the car parts
    • The close up of the key rings
  4. New vs Old
    • The close up of the Jaguar
    • The close up of the Bentley ‘B’
    • The story of the car rebuilt
  5. A greater overview of everything going on
    • The long exposure with the cars
    • The long exposure with the military vehicles

Assignment 5 – Illustration and Narrative, Planning

The objective of assignment 5 is to produce a series of images that illustrate a story for a magazine, including a cover illustration and several pages inside. The theme of the assignment is very open and any suitable subject which has a narrative element is deemed appropriate.

Choosing the Theme

After deliberation, the theme I’ve decided to use is that of a fairly local classic car show. I chose this as, after some investigation, I felt I could picture in my mind a narrative with specific elements that I thought could be well represented with images.

The narrative elements I was going to try and include were:

  • Time – people would be arriving at the event, preparing there cars and then interacting with the event as a whole. This was something that was specifically mentioned in the assignment and had been causing some problems with previous ideas.
  • Car developments – I pictured this having an interesting association with time. From looking at the events website, It was obvious that classic car’s weren’t restricted to old cars but that there was a mix of old and new.
  • Car detail – The cars at the show would be exposing detail that isn’t normally seen in every day life. A lot of the cars would have there bonnets raised to reveal the well cared for engines underneath.
  • People – Although this was the last narrative element I considered, I decided it would be one of the most important parts of the narrative. Being a car event, I imagined it would be easy to really focus in the on the vehicles and, although this would be able to form a narrative, it would be weak without people. The event was going to be a show and a show without people there to enjoy it would be pointless.

As part of choosing the narrative elements I was going to include, I thought it was important to make the decision of the audience I was going to target with the magazine article. The two choice I felt I had were either a local magazine or a car magazine. Making the choice between these two intended audiences would give a weighting to the narrative elements. E.g. for a local magazine, being read by local people, representing car detail would be much less important than if the audience was for a car magazine being read by car enthusiasts with no real interest in the local area.

For the assignment, I decided I was going to produce an article targeted as something for a car magazine. The choice was made purely for personal interest as I am a car fan.

Idea’s and Inspiration

Having considered what is was I wanted to captured conceptually, I did some research as to the kind of images others had produced when attending car shows:

An image showing people engaging with a car show whilst also setting the scene and context.

I liked this image as it captures the event really well. It’s showing a lot of the show and capturing the people at the event. However, I also feel the image is very busy and I’m finding that my eye is drifting around the image looking for a focal point. This gave me some areas to consider:

  • The show is going to be busy and isolating subject may be difficult.
  • Having a wider image is working well to describe the show more holistically and it’s good to see people engaging with the show but combined, it can produce a distracting image.

A Car showing detail and being inspected.

This image is beginning to capture more detail of a car and shows the kind of opportunities that will be available a the show. Something that struck me about this image is the lighting. The timing of the show is obviously close to mid day because the shadows are short and the contrast is high.  The show that I was to attend began at 11am so I would be facing similar problems as this image.

 
Close up of an old fashion police car grill.

Seeing this image made me thing about the cover illustration for the assignment. Being this close shows some really interesting detail and I feel it is a strong illustration, possibly for an article about police cars.

The image also made me consider the format of the magazine article. I thought it could be possible to create a landscape orientated article but this would be strange and would certainly go against convention.

Juxtaposition

For this exercise, the intent is to produce a single image to demonstrate a juxtaposition.

Very early on in my journey through this course, I had noticed this exercise and it had stuck in my mind. However, at that point, I hadn’t really looked at what a juxtaposition was and I believed it was showing two different subjects in a single image that represented opposites or contradictions:

Juxtaposition-1

With this definition in mind, I took the image above.

However, at the time of taking this image I don’t think I had fully grasped the concept.

Looking at the dictionary definition of the term, the word is defined as:

  • an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast.
  • the state of being close together.

This suggests a much looser definition than my first thoughts. Further to this, when introducing juxtaposition in his book “The Photographers Eye”, Michael Freeman states:

At the very least, juxtaposition brings two things to our attention at the same time, and as soon as the viewer starts to wonder why the photographer chose that viewpoint, and if the juxtaposition was intentional, this sets off a train of thought.

So, with the above image, I do believe it is an example of a juxtaposition. The relationship between the foreground and the background was intended to show this chinese garden deep inside the metropolitan city of Sydney.

Having further investigated what juxtaposition is meant to be and how it can be used, I took this image:

Juxtaposition-1-2

A similar technique has been used where the additional background object is trying to support the scene. In the foreground, the windmill is clearly the subject but without the church, we would have no context for where this windmill might be. By including the church spire in the composition, I hoped that the “train of thought” that would be invoked is that this windmill is intact set within a town or village.

Symbols

This exercise is purely a thought exercise to explore symbols. For a list of subjects, I needed to consider more than one symbol I would photograph to represent that subject and note down how I might use that symbol. The subjects are growth, excess, crime, silence and poverty.

After thinking about how I might produce an image, I then decided to search Flickr for images that were close to the image I had in my mind. This in itself has been a really interesting exercise. None of the images I was able to find were, unsurprisingly, like the ones I had imaged but it was often possible to find something that had a similar theme or representation using a similar symbol.

Growth

  • Plants/Flower in early spring – Early spring is clearly about nature coming back to life after the winter. Hear, I’d be looking for something like a bulb or plant starting to poke through the earth. To try and emphasise the season, the lighting would be important and I would try and use a scene where the ground was frosted but the sun was shining through strongly early in the morning.
  • Small child walking in an adults shoes – I would try and keep this image as simple as possible to just show a child looking down as they stand in a pair of adult shoes.

Example of Growth.

Mother and daughter in high heel shoes

Excess

  • Obese person eating large amounts of food – The main symbol would be a large serving of food, supported by an obese person in the background.
  • Drunk surrounded by lots of alcohol bottles or tins – Here, the person would be clearly drunk and passed out on the floor, possibly surronded by there own vomit.

Example of Excess

Crime

  • Somebody being handcuffed with clear signs of police flashing lights – the main symbol would be a handcuffed pair of hands with someone else restraining them. To support the symbol, I would use blue lights in the background to show this is the police.
  • Youths in hoody or balaclavas – A group of youths with covered faces either being violent towards others or causing damage.

Rochdale VortexExample of Crime.

Example of Crime.

Silence

  • Someone on there own, praying in a church – The image would be large showing an empty church with a single person sat with there head down.
  • A school teacher with her fingers to her lips – The main focus would be on the teachers finger to her lips but in the background children would clearly be giving her there full attention.

Prayer

Poverty

  • Someone homeless rummaging eating something they’ve found in a bin – This would clearly show someone unable to support themselves.
  • Someone in a shelter with an old, crumpled, news paper – this would show someone who doesn’t have the means to provide themselves with basic accommodation and is being deprived of access to information.

Tramp /Ex Banker? Migrant bin rumaging in London