Assignment 3: Reflection following Feedback

I feel more positive following this feedback compared with the last assignment, though some things still bother me.  I shall respond to individual comments in the order that they were written.

 

‘You have submitted an interesting and promising set of images in response to the brief. It is not easy to take photographs in the public realm and you did well to utilize the technology at your disposal. This method of working means that you have to take lots and lots of pictures and that the most important part of the process is in the selection of images to be included. You have done a pretty good job and there are some good examples of decisive moments. Thank you also for sending prints, it is great to get into the habit of experiencing your work in the printed form as objects. As you move forward in your studies, this is something that you will be expected to do more and more.‘

This makes me feel good about the images I have produced, and is encouraging.

I print photos as often as I can. The cost of ink can be prohibitive, but I’m very aware of the temporary nature of anything posted online, and the fragility of digital files. Photos in physical form are the way to go, as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

‘There is a misunderstanding when trying to create images that fit in to the category of the decisive moment. Too often the decisive moment is considered to be simply the capturing of a moment in time through the use of a camera or the capturing of a moment that is about to happen. In one sense all photographs are ‘moments’ but what makes them ‘decisive’ in photographic theory terms is the capturing of a moment within an image whose narrative and compositional particularities conspire to create telling moment in time. This moment can be easily missed by a fraction of a second. I will try to apply this explanation as I comment on each of your individual images.’

 

‘Image 01

This picture has caught an interesting moment in time and there is certainly the suggestion of something about to happen. The position of the foreground subject’s head who appears to be looking at the man creates the idea that something is about to happen. However, the moment might be considered more ‘decisive’ if the car was compositionally placed in a position before it reaches the man or the woman or both offering the notional potential for it to hit one or both of them.

You made a really good point in your reflection where you said that the reason this is your favourite image is because you know what did happen. We as viewers do not have this luxury so are bound down by the information included within the frame.’

I agree that compositionally, the moment would appear more decisive if the car appeared that it was going to hit one or both of the people. However, given that this was a real situation in the real world, unstaged, and completely out of my control, the point is moot.  It was not a matter of poor timing or standing in the wrong place, as such a scene did not occur.

 

 

‘Image 02

This is the picture that most closely includes an interesting decisive moment. It is a really good example that I hope the following commentary will explain.

Compositionally we are drawn to the character in the background through the character in the foreground. This visual arrangement creates a relationship between the two characters.  The gaze of the background subject, who looks like she has been startled by something in the foreground then becomes intertwined with the action of the foreground subject on her phone. These formal qualities create an almost magic moment where we expect something to happen to the background character in relation to the actions of the foreground character. Has the older woman just texted the younger one? Has she just said something out loud? Has the phone made a strange sound? Id there somebody else, currently out of shot to the right, that might be about to do something? I would , perhaps, have preferred both characters to be in focus.’

The apparent interaction between the two people is a happy accident, as the older woman with the phone was the focus of my attention, hence the other woman being somewhat out of focus.

 

 

‘Image 03

The most striking thing about this picture is the relationship between the red of the upright standing character’s coat and the red of the phone box (I also like the accent of red of the sign just peeking in to the left of frame). In terms of the decisive moment, I can see that you would like us to think about whether the phone is about to ring –  and indeed we do but the picture, as a decisive moment, could be improved by the inclusion of another compositional element – perhaps another character who looks like they are walking towards the phone?’

The relationship between the red subjects is what initially drew my eye to the scene, so I’m glad that it worked compositionally. There is also the positioning of the lad and the phone box, either side of a wavy line, like a yin and yang, which is noteworthy.

I am puzzled by the rest of this comment, and indeed, entirely disagree with it. It was not my intention to suggest that the phone was about to ring. My intention was quite clear in my assignment notes, ‘…a youth, apparently staring in bewilderment at a telephone box. It’s as if he’s thinking “Phones go in your pocket. What’s that big red box all about?”’

The scene had comedic value and a narrative that definitely doesn’t require another compositional element.  It is very disheartening when feedback creates the impression that the tutor has not read my assignment notes.

 

‘Image 04

This one works well because of the echoed expressions of the two protagonists who appear to be looking at the camera. Their startled expressions seem to be too exaggerated to be simply responding to a covert photographer; they look like something much more serious has happened behind the photographer. Their reactions are compounded by the apparently not-bothered passer-by on the left of the frame. There is also a good compositional relationship between the angles created by the haircut sign and the cardboard boxes carried by the female protagonist.’

That’s pretty much how I feel about it. While it’s not my favourite image of the set, I do feel it’s the most unambiguous.

 

 

‘Image 05

This one is less successful. The gaze of the cyclist coupled with the other characters arranged around him are not enough to call this moment decisive and it is compositionally less successful than some of your previous pictures.’

 

While I agree that the composition is weak, (the weakest in the set, even), what constitutes a decisive moment can be a matter of opinion, and on the subject of glances, I think I differ with my tutor.

To my mind, (and maybe this is because I have Asperger’s syndrome), eye contact is a very powerful and striking thing. It’s powerful when you experience it yourself, and entirely noteworthy when you see (or capture) it among others.

 

‘Image 06

Again, a weaker one. I assume that it is the look of the woman walking towards the camera that you are considering as ‘decisive’?, this is not enough on its own. She is out of focus and there is not enough of a connection between her and the thing that she is apparently looking at.’

Again, I disagree, but of more concern to me, I again find myself questioning whether my tutor has bothered to read my assignment notes.

 

‘Your research is appropriate and includes some pertinent reflection. See if you can expand on the things you are looking at by visiting more exhibitions – even ones that you visit by design rather than chance! Try to reflect on the new things that you see in relation to your own work. Are there any parallels that can be drawn conceptually or visually or both?’

The visiting of galleries is problematic for me, both in terms of funds, travel, and social anxiety. This is unfortunate, as I do recognise the value of doing so.

I do on occasion refer to parallels that can be drawn between my own work and the work of others, though perhaps as I fit these things into posts on larger subjects, rather than writing specific pieces about them, such remarks are perhaps being missed?

I can work on this.

 

‘Your learning log is really your ‘Research and Reflection’ section. The inclusion of your coursework and assignments is good but your learning log should really be a record of everything that you are ‘learning’ rather than ‘doing’. The best learning logs include an evolving narrative of thinking evidenced by reflection on all aspect of your studies.’

I will have to work on this.

Apart from the technical side of capturing images, it is hard to describe what I actually ‘learn’.

I recognise that I may have an issue here. I reject an amount of what I read as nothing but pretentious rubbish, and so couldn’t claim to have learned anything from it. Other things that I read are concepts that I’m already familiar with, or seem little more than obvious or common sense, and so again, can’t write about learning, as I don’t feel I’ve learned anything new.

Would it be better to fake it? To appear that I buy into something that I do not, would be objectionable to me.

There is another aspect that I think I need to work on. Where I feel I am gaining most is in the looking at the work of recognised photographers. Not so much what they have said, and definitely not what others have said about them…. but their actual work. I see and feel things, and am influenced by their visual language.  This is where it is difficult… because it is a visual language; while I can absorb and appreciate aspects of their work, and indeed, have learned many things… verbalising this is very difficult. It’s probably why I reject so much of what I read by others about others. Verbalising a visual language can result in gibberish.

 

‘There are lots of people that I have suggested that you look at in relation to previous assignments. I am not seeing any reflection of these practitioners on your blog. I have therefore copied and pasted these examples again for you to consider and reflect on.’

I did look at the work of those practitioners, but was unaware that I was expected to write pieces on them. Given that they were related to previous assignments, as opposed to the ones I was working on, this didn’t seem like a good use of time.  Suggestions of practitioners to study, in relation to assignments, are much more useful when they come before the assignment, as opposed to after it, allowing me to be guided by example.

However, if reflection on the work of these photographers is what is expected, I shall comply.

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Assignment 3: Tutor Feedback

Original Feedback Document

Overall Comments

You have submitted an interesting and promising set of images in response to the brief. It is not easy to take photographs in the public realm and you did well to utilize the technology at your disposal. This method of working means that you have to take lots and lots of pictures and that the most important part of the process is in the selection of images to be included. You have done a pretty good job and there are some good examples of decisive moments. Thank you also for sending prints, it is great to get into the habit of experiencing your work in the printed form as objects. As you move forward in your studies, this is something that you will be expected to do more and more.

 

There is a misunderstanding when trying to create images that fit in to the category of the decisive moment. Too often the decisive moment is considered to be simply the capturing of a moment in time through the use of a camera or the capturing of a moment that is about to happen. In one sense all photographs are ‘moments’ but what makes them ‘decisive’ in photographic theory terms is the capturing of a moment within an image whose narrative and compositional particularities conspire to create telling moment in time. This moment can be easily missed by a fraction of a second. I will try to apply this explanation as I comment on each of your individual images.

 

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

 

Image 01

This picture has caught an interesting moment in time and there is certainly the suggestion of something about to happen. The position of the foreground subject’s head who appears to be looking at the man creates the idea that something is about to happen. However, the moment might be considered more ‘decisive’ if the car was compositionally placed in a position before it reaches the man or the woman or both offering the notional potential for it to hit one or both of them.

 

You made a really good point in your reflection where you said that the reason this is your favourite image is because you know what did happen. We as viewers do not have this luxury so are bound down by the information included within the frame.

 

Image 02

This is the picture that most closely includes an interesting decisive moment. It is a really good example that I hope the following commentary will explain.

 

Compositionally we are drawn to the character in the background through the character in the foreground. This visual arrangement creates a relationship between the two characters.  The gaze of the background subject, who looks like she has been startled by something in the foreground then becomes intertwined with the action of the foreground subject on her phone. These formal qualities create an almost magic moment where we expect something to happen to the background character in relation to the actions of the foreground character. Has the older woman just texted the younger one? Has she just said something out loud? Has the phone made a strange sound? Id there somebody else, currently out of shot to the right, that might be about to do something? I would , perhaps, have preferred both characters to be in focus.

 

Image 03

The most striking thing about this picture is the relationship between the red of the upright standing character’s coat and the red of the phone box (I also like the accent of red of the sign just peeking in to the left of frame). In terms of the decisive moment, I can see that you would like us to think about whether the phone is about to ring –  and indeed we do but the picture, as a decisive moment, could be improved by the inclusion of another compositional element – perhaps another character who looks like they are walking towards the phone?

 

Image 04

This one works well because of the echoed expressions of the two protagonists who appear to be looking at the camera. Their startled expressions seem to be too exaggerated to be simply responding to a covert photographer; they look like something much more serious has happened behind the photographer. Their reactions are compounded by the apparently not-bothered passer-by on the left of the frame. There is also a good compositional relationship between the angles created by the haircut sign and the cardboard boxes carried by the female protagonist.

 

Image 05

This one is less successful. The gaze of the cyclist coupled with the other characters arranged around him are not enough to call this moment decisive and it is compositionally less successful than some of your previous pictures.

 

Image 06

Again, a weaker one. I assume that it is the look of the woman walking towards the camera that you are considering as ‘decisive’?, this is not enough on its own. She is out of focus and there is not enough of a connection between her and the thing that she is apparently looking at.

 

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Your coursework looks good and the exercises are easily found and viewed.

 

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your research is appropriate and includes some pertinent reflection. See if you can expand on the things you are looking at by visiting more exhibitions – even ones that you visit by design rather than chance! Try to reflect on the new things that you see in relation to your own work. Are there any parallels that can be drawn conceptually or visually or both?

 

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your learning log is really your ‘Research and Reflection’ section. The inclusion of your coursework and assignments is good but your learning log should really be a record of everything that you are ‘learning’ rather than ‘doing’. The best learning logs include an evolving narrative of thinking evidenced by reflection on all aspect of your studies.

 

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

There are lots of people that I have suggested that you look at in relation to previous assignments. I am not seeing any reflection of these practitioners on your blog. I have therefore copied and pasted these examples again for you to consider and reflect on.

 

From assignment 1 –

Have a look at Dan Holdsworths night-time pictures in relation to your image number 01. They are beautifully sharp, technically brilliant. You should aspire to this!

http://www.danholdsworth.com/works/autopia/4/ – images at night sharp and lovely

 

On relation to image 3, have a look at the industrial typologies that the Bechers have taken –

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-718

 

Martha Rosler – The Bowery in Two Inasequate Descriptive SystemsA great use of image and text – http://collection.whitney.org/object/8304 – -You have used titles again in relation to your images, you need to look at this work and reflect in your learning log.

 

From Assignment 02 –

Sian Bonnell – look at the way that Bonnell photogrpahs easily recognizable objects but yet makes us think about them very differently. Her Constructed Coast project is a good starting point.

Cindy Sherman – Look at Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills project and think about how coherent the series is and how each image adds more to the series.

Thomas Ruff – portraits – the coherence here is obvious but each human subject is, or course, very different.

Hendrik Kerstens – again a very coherent strategy to image making.

 

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

 

  • Try to get out and see more work first hand. Try to find exhibitions that include images of different scales so that you can begin to think about this in relation to your own work. Working purely digitally can discourage thoughts about how important an appropriate scale can be.
  • Further reflection on the examples that I offer as well as ones that you discover yourself.
  • Think about the development of your ‘Research & Relection’ section as a more progressive “Learning Log’.

Assignment 3 – Reflection

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

The nature of this assignment rather dictated the results on many levels. With speed being of the essence, to capture the moment, I tended to allow the camera to take care of things like aperture setting, and sometimes shutter speed too.

In terms of methodology, I’m very pleased with the results obtained using the Canon Camera Connect app, though there were drawbacks to this. Fast, or sometimes merely acceptable focus was sometimes an issue, resulting in a lot of rejected shots.

Visual awareness was of vital importance though, and I found myself very much ‘in the zone’, having to be aware of both what was happening around me, and what was appearing in my viewfinder (phone screen).

I never really know how to score myself, so I won’t. I’ll just say I’m quite pleased with the outcome.

 

Quality of outcome

In terms of presenting the work in  a coherent manner, conceptualisation of thoughts, and communication of ideas, I think my selected images work  well. By working consistently with the same camera and lens, in a locality with a recognisable feel and atmosphere, and in consistent weather and light, my selected images hang together nicely as a set. While there are a couple of noticeable sub-themes within the set, the overall theme of ‘people in the city, out in the cold’ is coherent and clear.

In terms of communicating ‘the decisive moment’, it’s hard to say how many will be recognisable as such to the casual viewer. To me, they’re all glaringly obvious, but then I was there, and have a personal connection to the scene being depicted.

 

Demonstration of creativity

Imagination, experimentation, invention.  Hmm. There was certainly some experimentation involved at first, in finding a way to take photos covertly, so as not to influence the subject. The act of observing (pointing a camera) affects the outcome… sounds kind of like quantum physics to me.

There is a lot of imagination involved, in interpreting the scene both before, and after pressing the shutter. What I saw at the time, causing me to take a photo may be far from the objective reality of the situation.

Was the lad in “Eh?” looking at the phone box? It doesn’t even matter. That’s what I saw when I took in the scene.

Was the younger woman in “Confounded thing!” looking at me with concern, because I was taking photos? Was she being protective of the older woman? I know this…despite how it looks in that photo, she wasn’t with, and didn’t know, the older woman. She had paused to adjust her boot. She got up and walked away a moment after I had taken that shot.

 

Context

Reflection, research, critical thinking.

I had the work of both Atget and Cartier-Bresson in mind (and had browsed many random images of ‘decisive moment’ categorised photos on flickr) when I embarked on my trips to Sheffield.  Unlike assignment 2, I felt like I knew what I was doing… or at least, what it was I was supposed to achieve.

It was a learning process, not just on a technical level, but in how I found myself feeling about the exercise itself. I shall go into this in some detail now.

 

My thoughts on this assignment

While I’m very familiar with street photography, in the past, I have tended more towards the style of Atget. I was shooting the scene… and was largely interested in the buildings and architecture. I actively avoided getting people into the shot.

For this assignment, it was the people who were of interest. This was a scary prospect.

Initially, my fear was in relation to how people would react if I pointed a camera at them. I’ve already had one very threatening experience with a man who insisted I remove all shots with him in them. I didn’t want to go through that again. (It should be noted that what he did was entirely illegal).

Having found a covert method, my concern became one of a moral responsibility. And what do I mean by that?

Here’s the thing. It’s perfectly legal to take photographs of members of the public while they’re out in a public place. Some may claim they have a right to privacy… but legally, they lose that right when they aren’t in a private setting. But morally…. it makes me very uncomfortable.

I have taken photos of people, you can see who they are, sometimes in great detail, and they’re expressing emotional responses to their circumstances. These responses show their personalities… little flashes of character that if they were given the choice, they might not share.

It feels like theft.

But there’s more.

In being there… in observing these people up close, watching little stories unfold on the street, I feel a connection. In reality, there is no connection. These people are completely unaware of my existence, or that I was even there at that moment.  Yet I have these photos of them. I look at them and feel something. It’s probably voyeuristic. If I didn’t feel uncomfortable about it, it would probably be unhealthy.

So what is this moral responsibility I spoke of?

To not mock them. To not demean or diminish the subjects of the photos.

Some of the images I captured were slightly comical in appearance, but my hope is that it is the scene that amuses, or catches the eye. It’s the story. Not the people. The people should not become objects of jest or mockery. They are people, with real lives, just like you you or I.

The image should be such that if one of these people saw a photo they were in, I could, look them in the eye and say “This is about the moment. It’s about human behaviour and interaction. It’s not specifically about you.”  That might not make them feel any better about it… but I would feel better about it. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve achieved this with all of my selections, but I tried.

 

Conclusion

The end result is, I feel these are some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken. They are also the ones I’m most uncomfortable about. I only post them on this blog because it’s necessary, for this course. I wouldn’t post them on flickr, and I wouldn’t sell them. At most, I would exhibit them in a gallery (if I was ever fortunate enough to be in the position where a gallery would want to do that).

Will I ever do this kind of photography again, if it isn’t part of an assignment? Hell yes! It’s art, and who ever said making art should be comfortable?

Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment

Upon reading the brief for this assignment I decided that street photography would be my chosen form.

I’m fond of the work of Eugene Atget (1857 – 1927), and while his street photography doesn’t strike me as falling into the generally recognised form of ‘Decisive Moment’, there are those moments, when the architecture and positioning of buildings fall together perfectly in a scene, that can be considered a decisive moment for the photographer. This is a type of photography I’m very familiar with, and often practice as a hobby.

However, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, and into a type of street photography I have never previously explored, that being the form pioneered by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

My method was somewhat sneaky, but I feel this allowed me to achieve images that I wouldn’t have been able to capture by other means.

I used my Canon EOS 1300D with a 50mm prime lens (80mm equivalent on a full frame camera). It was set to shutter priority mode (most of the time) with a shutter speed of 1/50th sec, in continuous shooting mode.  This camera has the useful inclusion of WiFi and NFC connectivity, which allowed me to connect it to my phone running the Canon Camera Connect app.

With this setup, I walked around Sheffield city centre, with the camera hanging casually around my neck by its strap. Whenever I happened upon an interesting scene, or location with the potential for ‘people watching’, I would slow down, or stop walking, and appear to be engrossed with text messages on my phone. What I was actually doing was observing the people through my camera lens, via the screen on my phone… which I was also using to trigger the shutter.

Using this method I was able to avoid what Yves Bonnefoy described in the Cartier-Bresson documentary, L’amour tout court: ‘Alberto knew he was watched. He knew his gesture would amuse his friends and even reveal what he knew he was to them.’ (L’amour tout court, 2001)

Much street photography seems to either feature people photographed from behind, to keep them unaware of the camera, or responding to the camera, either posing, or disturbed/annoyed. Using this phone app with my camera allowed me to capture people’s facial expressions up close, (mostly) without them being aware that they’re being photographed. This produced very natural looking results.

 

“Wait! Is he…?”

1-waitishe800

 F4, 1/125th sec, ISO 100, 50mm

View 1500 x 1000 at https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/1-waitishe1500.jpg

The young woman suddenly looks up from her phone as the man, who’s just walked past her, clearly doesn’t look both ways. He looks like he may be about to step out into heavy traffic.

The ‘moment’ is seeing a person suddenly recognise the danger another person is placing themselves in.

This ranks among my favourites, of all the photos I’ve ever taken. Partly because I know what happened next and partly because I know what the woman looks like.

 

“Confounded thing!”

2-confoundedthing800

F7.1, 1/50th sec, ISO 100, 50mm

View 1500 x 1000 at https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/2-confoundedthing1500.jpg

Following from the young woman who’s comfortable with modern phone technology (in the previous image) is an older woman who, though her phone is very dated, appears to find ‘modern’ technology a bit of a trial.  The ‘moment’ is that flash of irritation, before she manages to make her call.

I’m unsure what the younger woman is looking at. She has an expression of concern on her face, and though she isn’t looking at my camera (which was in my lap), she may have noticed the shutter repeatedly cycling (it’s visible if you’re looking right at it), and could be looking at me.

 

“Eh?”

3-eh800

F3.5, 1/100th sec, ISO 100, 50mm

View 1500 x 1000 at https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/3-eh1500.jpg

Still following a ‘generations of phone users’ theme, a youth, apparently staring in bewilderment at a telephone box. It’s as if he’s thinking “Phones go in your pocket. What’s that big red box all about?”

This is probably not what he was thinking at all, but his demeanour and direction of gaze created what was, to me, quite a comical looking moment.

 

“It’s how far?!!”

4-itshowfar800

F4, 1/125th sec, ISO 100, 50mm

View 1500 x 1000 at https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/4-itshowfar1500.jpg

The combination of struggling with awkward boxes, and the facial expressions as they realise they’ve got to take the boxes further than they’d expected… it makes a great visual moment. Their personalities are written all over their faces.

 

The Glance

5-theglance800

F8, 1/50th sec, ISO 100, 50mm

 View 1500 x 1000 at https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/5-theglance1500.jpg

The young man glances at the women sitting on the bench. It’s hard to say if they’re looking back at him or not, or what is on his mind. Is it “She’s pretty” or “What are they looking at?”? Whatever the case, the brief eye contact is clear, and stands out from what is a busy street scene.

 

The Glance II

6-theglance2800

F4, 1/50th sec, ISO 100, 50mm

 View 1500 x 1000 at https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/6-theglance21500.jpg

The woman facing the camera glances at the two women walking towards her.  There are many possibilities as to what was on her mind, and whether they were positive or negative, I can’t tell. She was looking directly at them for a couple of paces, so for that moment, there was a distinct thought process.

There’s a secondary glance in this photo, as the man walking behind the woman seems to be staring directly at the camera. I read his expression as guarded antagonism, but I may be wrong. I did, though, experience some negative behaviour regarding my camera, even when I wasn’t actually using it.

Contact Sheets:

The contact sheets feature the shortlisted images from the three days of shooting. It was not practical to include every image taken, as there are 874 of them.

Contact Sheet 1 https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/decisivemomentcontactsheet-001-1500.jpg

Contact Sheet 2 https://photosthingsandstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/decisivemomentcontactsheet-002-1500.jpg

(Word Count: 970)

Reference:

Atget Photography AT: http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Eugene-Atget.html (Accessed on 27/2/2017)

L’amour tout court (2001) [filmed (TV?) documentary on YouTube] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfwNrPX2pvw#t=7m57s (Accessed: 27/2/2017)

Assignment 3 – Refining My Selection

While looking through various files on one of the OCA Photography Level 1 facebook group  , I found a list of image types that are generally considered to be clichés. In that list were images featuring homeless people, and Big Issue sellers.

As it happens, I had shortlisted several images that fell into this category, and so immediately removed them from said shortlist… along with one other that I’ve been umming and ahhing about for a while.

My final shortlist for this assignment is now down to 6 images, all of which I think are quite strong, and I’m very fond of.

Here though, is my final set out out-takes.

 

“I can haz food now?”

decisivemomentday1_5_800

View 1500 x 1000

There are several aspects to this image, that I find noteworthy.

There’s the obvious social commentary… people in our society are struggling and homelessness is a reality for many. Also, the unwillingness of many to engage with, or even acknowledge this problem. See the people walking straight past, seemingly heading for the jewelers, to spend large sums of money on pretty shiny things.

There’s the decisive moment itself, which for me, isn’t the people walking past…. it’s the dog, hoping for/expecting food, as the man reaches into his coat.

There’s also the sign, in the window behind the man. “Me and you. Just us two.” It could seemingly be referring to the man and his love for his pet. This spell is somewhat broken, though, when you notice the other dog.

I’ve been quite torn over whether to include this image or not. I feel it has something to say, and with the (visual and actual) relationship between the man and his dog, there’s something quite emotional about it. That being said, I find the composition somehow obvious and lacking in subtlety. It might make you think, or feel something, but it does so by punching you in the face. Also, on a purely technical level, when looking at the full size image, the focus is not great.

 

“Anybody? No?”

decisivemomentday1_23_800

View 1500 x 1000

I don’t think it’s actually copies of The Big Issue she’s holding out, but it amounts to the same thing. It’s probably safe to assume this would fall into the realms of photographic cliché.

It’s a pity. While this is also compositionally limited and unsubtle, I find it a more pleasing image than the previous one. I think it’s the expression of warmth on the woman’s face, despite being ignored by everyone, and the contrast between the movement and stillness of the ignorers and the ignored..

 

“Big Issue!”

decisivemomentday1_42_800

View 1500 x 1071

Now this chap actually is selling the Big Issue. He’s not shouting it out though…. that’s a yawn. Probably indicative of how hard sleep is to come by for those with no roof over their head. I pulled this one quite early on, not due to clichéd subject matter, but because I find the composition itself quite weak. Like the first image, I find it somehow spatially confined and visually uncomfortable (not in a good or intended way).

 

“I’m sure it’s round here somewhere.”

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The expression on the chap’s face as he rounds the corner… with him being positioned exactly between the edge of the shop door frame and the signpost… it just stands out, to me. It’s like the moment he realises he’s not where he thought he was. What’s he searching for? Salvation? Look up and left, fella.

Assignment 3 – Shooting – Day 3

Still freezing cold, to the point that it snowed on several occasions. However, this time I was wrapped up in more layers of clothing, so I didn’t wind up feeling miserable. In fact… I actually enjoyed myself.

Highlight of the day was only partly photographic in nature. I was approached by a charity worker (for the second time) and on telling her again that I could not pledge a monthly donation due to being a poverty stricken (mature) student… she looked at my camera and said she was into photography too. At this point, I showed her the app I was using on my phone, and how it acted as a remote viewer and shutter release for my camera.  Her jaw dropper, and she commented on how brilliant that would be for street photography. I grinned, and explained that that’s exactly what I was doing. She then said she was a Cartier-Bresson fan, which, I replied, made her the coolest person on the street. She chuckled and I went on my way.

Little things like that brighten up a freezing day.

But as for the actual photography… I shot more images on this one visit that the other two combined, and felt hopeful that I had quite a lot of good material.

Yeah, right.

On transferring from camera to PC, I found a good half were either out of focus or suffered motion blur. Lack of focus is down to the app. It’s slow to focus, or sometimes simply doesn’t bother. Motion blur is my fault. In an effort to not be conspicuous in my activities, I sometimes shoot while still moving. I slow down, but don’t stop. Sometimes stopping is just not practical on a busy city street.

So initially it looked like I had no useable images at all, and only later did I realise that my camera had shut down while mid-transfer, and there were another 90 shots on the memory card. Two of them, thankfully, are very much to my liking.

As per usual, I’m just going to share my rejects here. I like them enough to want to share them, but am saving the best for submission.

It occurs to me that this is counter to what we are supposed to do with these blogs. I should be showing my best images, and seeking feedback on my choices, and there is much to be said for doing that.  Maybe it’s just arrogance on my part, but for this assignment at least, I feel I’m able to recognise my own best shots, and want to keep them as a surprise, showing them all at once on submission.

Whatever. I guess I’ve never been good in regard to feedback… be that seeking it, or valuing it. I do my own thing, and do well or otherwise based on my own choices and abilities. It may not be the ‘correct’ way, but if I should do badly, I’d feel a whole lot better failing based on my own mistakes than if I failed after paying attention to feedback.

There will be those who’d say “so listen to feedback, and if you disagree with it, don’t follow it.”.. and that’s a fair comment. I do, however, find that such things knock my confidence into the floor, and I start second guessing myself. I don’t need that.

Anyway…. here’s some street photography from my 3rd day of shooting in Sheffield.

 

Image #1

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Ever since seeing Rhein II by Andreas Gursky https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhein_II  I find myself drawn to scenes with parallel horizontal lines. So these may not be exactly parallel, and there are vertical features… including people… but there’s something I find very appealing about it. If the two pedestrians had actually collided, I might have included this…. but they didn’t.

 

 

Image #2

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A group of ladies waiting for a tram. Not really a decisive moment, but a nice scene, nonetheless.

 

 

Image #3

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The tram arrives.

 

 

Image #4

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An elderly couple heading home from a fleamarket. The man almost trips, and the woman steadies him.  The composition is weak, but I like what the image represents. This whole street photography series has been an exercise in people watching, and I’ve seen so many different aspects of the human condition. Perseverance in maintaining independence into old age is something I care about. I don’t know that I used to think about mortality all that much, but time marches on and you lose people. It changes your perspective.

 

 

Image #5

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I like the sense of life in this image. One chap’s struggling to do up his coat, while another stops mid stride, distracted by something/someone behind him. The group of people in the centre are moving with a purpose… and at first, I didn’t realise what it was. Sing it now…. “We’re all going down the pub!” lalala….

 

 

Image #6

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I really wish this was a stronger composition, because the moment itself is great. Quite how the chap on the mobility scooter got it up on 3 wheels like that I don’t know.

 

 

Image #7

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Humanity. My roots are very much working class, and this scene feels very familiar and comfortable to me. Something about it just makes me smile.

 

 

Image #8

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This one’s all about light, space and movement. Shooting at 1/50th of a second with a 50mm lense often seem to achieve almost magical qualities in terms of motion blur at walking speeds, while also giving a beautiful sense of depth and space. The two pedestrians are almost leaping out of the screen.

 

 

Image #9

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Busy buses and an angry sky. I stood here for some time, and only moved when a taxi pulled in and almost ran me over.

 

 

Image #10

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I wouldn’t fancy the Skoda’s chances against the bus, but there he is, on collision course.

 

Conclusion:

Quantity does not equate to  quality, and for better results… stop walking.

Assignment 3 – Shooting – Day 2

Day two in Sheffield was not as successful as day one. It was cold… again… but this time I was feeling somewhat ill too. I only spent around 2 1/2 hours walking around with my camera, using the phone app, as mentioned in my previous post, to take shots without people being aware of what I was doing. (A quick note: Day One, the camera was in Shutter Priority, 1/50 sec. Today it was in Program mode, and I let it do it’s own thing.)

What I found was that you really have to be in the right frame of mind to get the best images, and I didn’t ‘have my photographer’s head on’.

So, after 200 shots taken, I came away with 7 images that I liked, and only two that I’ll likely include in my selection.

I’ll share four of the five rejects here, but I’m holding one back, as it feels a little too intrusive to me. The whole process of street photography feels a little voyeuristic to me… and while I love the results, I do find myself a little uncomfortable posting images of people, taken without permission or knowledge. It’s legal… but… in some cases, I think better not to.

Image #1

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This one’s just… nice. It made me smile. There was another moment later on, after I’d put my camera away (the battery was flat and I was too cold to bother putting another in)… I followed a couple in their 70s up the hill. They were holding hands. At the top of the hill, they stopped and kissed, before going separate ways. It was the sweetest thing, and I really wished I’d bothered to put a fresh battery in my camera.

This one still doesn’t make the selection though, for while I like it, I don’t feel the overall composition is that strong, or the moment that decisive. It’s ‘nice’, but nice won’t cut it here.

 

Image #2

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Certainly a decisive moment, and quite a dramatic looking one. Not included in my selection, as I’m concentrating on people, so it doesn’t really fit.

 

Image #3

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Something about the (broken) flow of the lines, the contrasting shades, and the juxtaposition of the hole and the bag. And the rust. I like rust.

Not a decisive moment. Just a pleasing image.

 

Image #4

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Not a decisive moment. Not even an indecisive moment. It’s just a view that I find really pleasing. There’s a shot I’ve been wanting to take, for years. It’s about 20 feet from where I stood to take this photo. I’ve seen the perfect angle for the shot, many times. The problem is, you’d have to stand in the centre lane of a very busy roundabout to get it. That’s not going to happen. Shame, coz it’d be a brilliant shot.

 

Next trip will be Friday. It’s supposed to snow. I hope so. While I hate the actual experience of shooting in the cold, I love the results… and snow could really add something extra.