Reflection Following Tutor Feedback

I’m very encouraged following this feedback, finding it largely positive, while the points of criticism are entirely valid and give me a route to move forward.

I should mention that I did actually include links to larger versions of the photos, both in the main ‘Square Mile’ post, and in the digital submission. I will though make a point to include links to larger images in all future posts (including this one).

History, and examining or representing aspects of the past is something I’m interested in, and do include in many of my photos (and my YouTube videos), so it may be that this will be something I focus on in the course. Having said that, at this early stage, I wish to explore as many possible avenues as I can. I’m unsure if the retrospective angle is where I ‘find my own voice’ or if it’s simply a rut I’m already stuck in, and should possibly think about breaking out of.

On the piece of coursework that confused me: I will look at it again, and while I suspect that Asperger’s Syndrome may be a factor in my struggling to interpret the question in anything other than a literal manner, my wife (who does not have Asperger’s) also could not make sense of it, and she’s a qualified teacher (and in the nicest possible way, a grammar nazi).

Specific points

Image 1.  Going back to take this shot again would definitely have been a good move.

I think I was trying to be a bit too clever, covering too many bases in one image. Night photography, illusionism, and the car interior as a framing device to set the narrative. The result is a jumble, so you don’t really know where you’re supposed to be looking.

This isn’t helped by the car in the middle ground, which while it adds to a possible narrative, creates an extra distraction from the subject.

Unfortunately, going back was not an option within a reasonable timeframe (Long story).

There is more detail viewable in the larger image linked in the main ‘Square Mile’ post (and this post), but I agree that the overall image quality is below par.

How much of this is down to a lack of skill on my part, and how much down the the Panasonic FZ50 having a small sensor and poor low light performance… I don’t know. However, Christmas has come early here (my wife is wonderful), and I now have a Canon EOS 1300D, which I’m fairly confident will produce better results in similar conditions.

I do wonder if the image I rejected was actually the better shot, for while it still lacks detail in the darker areas, the tighter framing possibly makes for a superior composition.

Image 2. I don’t even need to google ‘wooden jetty going in to lake’… I’ve seen that shot a million times and know exactly what images I would find.

I agree, the composition is a cliché, (a concern mentioned in the main submission). On reflection, while I decided to include it due to the pleasing sensation created by the compositional device, I accept that my weighing of the pros vs cons was a miscalculation.

Image 3.  This was me trying to step outside of my comfort zone. Usually I tend to make use of perspective lines and vanishing points, where here I was deliberately not doing that. The result is an image with a different feel, which while I like it, does indeed make it quite a mismatch with the other images. Note to self: Just because I like an image, doesn’t mean I should include it in a series.

Image 4.  I’m a fan of the ‘wonky’ shot (probably from years of reading car magazines, with their dramatic action shots), and while I don’t use it very frequently, it is something I like to play with from time to time. Getting the car breaking into the shot like that, and having it work… that’s not something I’ve ever tried before, but it’s not unusual for me to try something new, just to see what happens.

Image 5. The black and white was indeed covering a technical error, and I agree, its use in a series of colour images could lead the viewer to question the reason for its inclusion. On its own, or in a series of other black and whites, I would defend its use, as the resulting image is pleasing to my eye… though in that circumstance, I would not have mentioned the technical issues in the first place.

Image 6. I’m pleased that the title worked well with the image. I feel that this image most successfully achieved what I was trying to represent with the whole series, and the title was a distillation of that.  As mentioned previously, there is a link to a larger version of this in the main ‘Square Mile’ post, the digital submission, (and this post).

 

Having looked at the suggested links:

Dan Holdsworths night-time pictures  http://www.danholdsworth.com/works/autopia/4/

Yes!

I love that type of work, and have wanted to do something along those lines for years. Unfortunately, while I’m loathe to blame my equipment, even at minimum ISO settings, sensor noise tends to be a problem on the type of equipment that has fallen within my budget. I’m hoping my new Canon EOS 1300D will achieve better results. While it’s very much at the entry level, I’m hopeful, and look forward to experimenting.

Now I just need a night when my wife doesn’t have to be up early. (Our dogs bark continually if anyone leaves the house after dark and no-one’s there to console them.)

 

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher’s Industrial typologies http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-718

Industrial architecture is something I’m fascinated by, and am perhaps a bit odd in that I miss the dirty old industrial landscape of Sheffield, on a purely aesthetic level.

Typologies are something new to me, so this is very interesting. Having read ahead somewhat in the course material and assignments, I can see that this is something I need to pay attention to.

 

Wolfgang Tillmans – Use of colour and black and white http://www.maureenpaley.com/system/files/062016/575c43146bf3b5189a000dea/slideshow_slice_large/Maureen_Paley_Wolfgang_Tillmans.jpg?1465664824

Fascinating!

The black and white images seem to me like a row of windows looking into another part of the building, as if somehow a separate thing from the exhibition of colour images above them.

My guess is that this is achieved by the contrast in colour vs b&w, size, subject matter, positioning and levels of order in arrangement. It sets them apart to the point that my brain perceives them as something entirely different.

Also, I find it interesting that the ‘windows’ offer a view into other interior areas, while it is the ‘photos’ that offer outdoor views.

This exhibition is functioning on so many levels. It boggles my brains… in a good way.

 

Martha Rosler – The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems http://collection.whitney.org/object/8304

I found Martha’s explanation of her work thought provoking. Her way of addressing the whole ‘find a bum’ mentality to certain types of photography strikes me as enlightened. There are questions of ethics when shooting poverty for personal gain. She addresses this by removing any question of exploitation, excluding images of the poverty stricken from their settings, and replacing them with their words.

This gives me many things to think about, aesthetically, and conceptually.

Advertisements

Tutor Feedback

Original Feedback Document

 

Overall Comments

There are some interesting pictures here, Steve, well done. I really enjoyed reading your ‘additional commentary’ and I am glad that you feel able to start to make observations and judgments as well as ask questions to yourself about the work. This is a really good start and your confidence in your own (in)abilities is refreshing and stands your development in good stead.

When looking at students work, it is sometimes helpful to start to pick out recurrent themes between projects or indeed within an individual series. Your images and commentary tell me that you seem to be interested in visiting or recapturing or visiting the past. This mostly came across really strongly in your commentary. Perhaps this is something that you could continue to develop in future projects. Remember, you can angle the briefs to encompass your own interests.

On a more general note, as you progress, be prepared to go back to the same location again if you didn’t get the shot that you need. You mention this in your commentary about image 01. Photographers will often visit and revisit sites until they achieve the desired results – or more interestingly discover new ones!

On a technical note, it would be good to upload larger resolution image to your blog as well as the thumbnails for me to see more of the detail.

Assessment potential

 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

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

Image 01

You clearly have great imagination and I enjoyed your attempts to read this image in an objective way. You have managed to describe some of the elements within the image but I think your reading of it has more to do with a description of what it is like to actually be there rather than an image that describes certain aspects of it. You have successfully managed to suggest an edge of eeriness to this picture but I think that is more to so with the implied narrative. People sit in cars late at night for lots of different reasons and usually they are not entirely honourable! As the viewer, I feel complicit in some kind of dodgyness, stalking? Dogging? Joint casing?

 

On a technical note, I am concerned that there is no real point of focus and although you used a long exposure with a low ISO, there is detail that could be better captured (See note on Dan Holdsworth below).

Image 02

Formally you have used a successful, although well used, compositional device in this picture; the eye is naturally drawn to the centre of the image. That kind of eye movement is something that you should continue to think about (in fact in a later image, the car and signal box, this works really well) but try to avoid cliché and stock imagery techniques unless you are critiquing it. (type the following in to google to see what I mean – wooden jetty going in to lake).

Image 03

I enjoyed the visual juxtaposition that you offer in this one. The strong verticals echo each other while their respective materials are completely different. The irony of the ‘charming rural landscape’ is just about there but this picture feels like part of another series.

Image 04

This is my favourite image of the series Steve. It is clear that you understand what this image is offering compositionally and it is a brave move to include a ’wonky’ image at this stage of your studies. This shows real confidence, well done. As I look at it, I am left in a kind of temporal stasis, I am thinking about what has happened before and what is about to happen at the same time. This kind of brain puzzle is a good thing to discover and understand and is actually really difficult to achieve.

Image 5

Your notes suggest that you may already know what I am about to say! Although this is an interesting image, it is not usually a good idea to mix colour with black and white within a series unless you know exactly what you are doing! (see link below). It sometimes looks as though it is trying to cover something up (a mistake? A bad image?).

Image 06

This picture is compositionally interesting and technically reasonably good (although I would like to see a higher resolution). The relationship between the text in your title and the image is the most successful of the series. The mixture of text and image is a tricky thing as the written word tends to swamp our minds as this is a language that we are much more familiar with than a visual language full of signs, symbols and referents (terms borrowed from semiotics). In this case it works well and is not too obvious because the ‘back there’ could equally be the place or a time and the barbed wire gives us a clear demonstration of a physical barrier.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

An early stage but this is going well. Think again about the question that confused you, could you read it in a less literal way?

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have shown a good examples of appropriate artist research. Please keep this up.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your log looks fine so far.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

General

Susan Bright: Art Photography Now – Have a look at this one it gives a really good overview of the different ways that photographers approach their work.

Charlotte Cotton: The Photograph as Representation – This is a great book which will expand the way you think about photography.

Roland Barthes: Camera Lucida – A must for any photography student!

The British Journal of Photography: http://www.bjp-online.com/

Source Photographic Review: http://www.source.ie

 

More Specific

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

 Wolfgang Tillmans – an example of an appropriate use of colour and black and white –

http://www.maureenpaley.com/system/files/062016/575c43146bf3b5189a000dea/slideshow_slice_large/Maureen_Paley_Wolfgang_Tillmans.jpg?1465664824

Martha Rosler – The Bowery in Two Inasequate Descriptive SystemsA great use of image and text – http://collection.whitney.org/object/8304

Part 1 Project 2 Visual Skills

Exercise 1.2 Point

There are essentially three classes of position [to place a single
point]: in the middle, a little off-centre, and close to the edge.
(Photography 1: The Art of Photography, p.72)

1. Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts
of the frame. (A ‘point’ should be small in relationship to the frame; if it’s too large
it becomes a shape.)
How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you’ve got it
right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point? For the sake
of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that
the point should be clear and easy to see. As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can
evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.
As you look at the pictures you might find that you’re also evaluating the
position of the point by its relationship to the frame.

2. Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.
Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? If it’s
in relationship to the frame you can place a point in any part of the picture and
the picture is balanced.

You could think about the two parts of this exercise in a different way, as ‘test
pictures’ versus ‘real pictures’. The only purpose for the test pictures is the
exercise: you can analyse them according to the criteria and get the expected
answer. But ‘real’ pictures are not so easy to analyse. What are the criteria for
‘relationship’? (We’re hoping that you’ll shoot the rest of the exercises in this
course as real pictures, not test pictures!)

As you review your photographs, observe the way your eye ‘scans’ the surface of the
image. Note how:
• a point attracts attention out of proportion to its size
• the eye looks for connections between two points
• placing a point close to the edge seems to animate both the point and the frame.
Print out two or three of your point photographs and trace the route your eye takes
over the surface with a pencil. Then try the same with a selection of photographs
from newspapers or magazines (or the example above). You should notice that each
photograph seems to have its own tempo. Add the traced photographs to your
learning log together with brief observations.

Part 1

point1

While this image is balanced in terms of the point’s relationship to the frame, according to the rule of thirds, the image itself is not good. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the point, and the point alone. There is no suggestion of movement, or life.

If I were to imagine this as a picture or scene… I see little more than a bullseye.

 

point2

In this image, the positioning of the point conforms to the rule of thirds. The feel of the image is vastly different.

Speaking entirely for myself, I can imagine many scenes or stories, projected as backdrops to this image. The point is a sheep in a field, and up just a little way is a fence, and a horizon with a warm sunset. Trees on the horizon start just right of the centre, and run upwards and further right, where they are cut off by the frame.

Alternatively, I see a child alongside a river (possibly fishing), the course of the river running from the upper left to the lower right of the frame.

The possibilities are endless.

 

point3

This image does not conform to the rule of thirds. It is unbalanced. If I could describe the mental sensation it creates within me, the nearest thing would be an uncomfortable lurch, or feeling of tripping over.

Compositionally, as a balanced image, it could be said that the positioning of this point is wrong.

However….

Wrong in terms of what? Is your intention to take a pretty photo to sell on a postcard, or are you trying to make art? Art is challenging. It has a message. It makes you feel something more than just “oh… that’s pretty”.

Let me put it to you like this….

isolation

… or like this…

afreespirit

The rule of thirds has a purpose. It is a tool, for making balanced images that are easy on the eye.

An image does not have to be easy on the eye to be good, so there are occasions when the correct way to use the toolkit is to toss it out of the window.

 

Part 2

First, I have to say the wording of this question strikes me (and others, if the forums are anything to go by) as utter gibberish.

It seems to me that if a point appears within the frame, then it has a relationship with that frame. It’s only if it falls outside of the frame that it ceases to have a relationship, but then it also ceases to be in the image, and the question becomes moot.

It may be that I’m taking the question too literally, and am missing the point. On the other hand, if the questioner means to ask about whether the point conforms to the rule of thirds, or some other rule, they really should be asking that, and not this vague jumble of words.

Anyway…  to show willing, and while having no clue if this is what was being asked for, I took these images.

 

p1330005b

I can see this image appealing to a young child, but to me… not so much.

p1330005a

My eye is drawn directly to the centre, and hovers around there before grudgingly looking around for other points of interest. The central point dominates, and in doing so, lessens the impact or interest of everything else in the image.

Frankly, I want to flick the teddy out of the photo, because it annoys me. (Sorry, the wording of the question has left me feeling grumpy).

 

p1330006b

This is much more pleasing, though unfortunately, it does look like the lamp is growing out of the teddy’s head. There being other minor points of interest in the image, this shot feels slightly over weighted to the right.

p1330006a

The weighting is demonstrated by how much more time my eyes look over the items on that side of the image.

 

p1330007b

This.

really like this.

The sofa invites the eye to enjoy it’s comfortable warmth, and then you see this little chap, chirpy and happy, suggesting you to sit, so he can whisper in your ear. Your eyes then cast around, seeking more details, letting them tell the story of the room, or the people who live there.

p1330007a

 

Conclusion

It seems to me that the position of the point in relation to the frame matters far less than its position in relation to whatever else is in the image.

Having said that, placing the point in the centre seems always to be wrong. I spent quite some time experimenting, trying to find a composition, with the teddy in the centre, that didn’t look wrong. I failed.

Ultimately, I think I may often continue to do what I have always done… ignore any set of rules, and go with what looks right to my eye.

However…

This being my own personal, and to be honest, somewhat emotional first reaction to this exercise, I feel the need for further reading on the matter. Several books from the essential reading list are on order and may enlighten me on the subject.

Part 1 Project 1 The Instrument

Exercise 1.1

Three images taken in sequence with no alterations made to camera settings or image framing.

This demonstrates the changes that occur to details and lighting within an image, from moment to moment, which are captured and measured by the camera.

The differences between these images are most apparent when viewed in a ‘preview’ window, and cycled through in sequence.

#1

exercise1-1-1

#2

exercise1-1-2

#3

exercise1-1-3

While these differences may be imperceptible, without comparing the measurements in detail, or flipping between each image, it does lead me to question the idea suggested by William Henry Fox Talbot (1900 – 77) that the photographer didn’t actually take the photograph.

If each of these images were identical, I would think that he had a point, but given that they are not, the images that are recorded by the camera are then the result of a choice made by the photographer. That choice being the precise moment to press the shutter release on the camera. That choice being based upon when the photographer thinks the scene looks ‘just right’.

Could it be that it is this very precision that makes the difference between merely capturing images, and creating art?

Chloe Dew Mathews

I’m enjoying the work of Chloe Dew Mathews, particularly her ‘Shot at Dawn’ series.

There’s something very familiar and comfortable about these images. I look at them, and recognise the world I see myself when I go for random walks at ‘stupid o’clock’ in the morning.

I find it interesting how some images are clearly framed and composed, while others are what I can only describe as ‘what you’d see if you turned around and looked that way, at that moment’.

To my untrained eye, they represent the world as it is, without interpretation by the photographer. So you get the feel of the place, and the time… and I imagine this makes the photographer feel a certain way, but she don’t project her feelings into the image.

Like… ‘This is what’s here. Make of it what you will.’

Upon reading the preceding text, which explains what the images are all about, I find there is far more to this set than I had first realised. ‘Shot at Dawn’ having both figurative and literal interpretations.

Note to self: Don’t just look… read!

http://www.chloedewemathews.com/home/

Square Mile: Additional Commentary

Each image I submitted for Assignment One has a tale to tell, be that how I came to take it, why I took it, what it’s supposed to mean, or how it makes me feel.

Since I couldn’t fit all of that into the 500 word limit, I shall discuss those things here. Think of it as a ‘Talking Dead after The Walking Dead’, if you need a metaphor.

#1: Facing Forwards, Looking Back

1-facingforwardslookingbacksmall

Taken around midnight, just outside Worksop Priory Church, looking along a tree lined pathway towards a centuries old gatehouse.

I was sitting in the back seat of my car with the camera on a precariously balanced tripod.

There were three concerns on my mind at that time.

1: Taking a decent photo.

2: Hoping the drunks staggering home from the pub wouldn’t notice the guy with the camera in the back of his car, and come to investigate (they showed some interest, but were distracted by the need to pee in a nearby bush)

3: Hoping that car sitting a few yards ahead of me wasn’t some drug dealer waiting to do a deal (not uncommon in these parts at such an hour).

So, the camera was on a tripod, it was set to ISO 100, it was in full manual mode, had a 2.8 aperture setting, and around 25 second exposure time.

That’s the buildup and the technical part out of the way, but what is this picture all about?

Like the other images in this set, it’s about feeling nostalgia for a romanticised past, while being aware of the impossibility of going back to that time (if it even existed).

There’s something about old architecture (and landscapes)… when I look at them, I imagine the people who lived in those times, going about their days, living a simpler, though probably much harsher life. I often try to find scenes where I can block out signs of the modern times we live in, to try and see through the eyes of a person in that bygone time.

Mostly this is not possible… there’s usually something dragging me back into the real world. This image is an example of that. The architecture and the trees might take you back several hundred years (the church I was parked next to is Norman, so not far off a thousand years old), but even if you ignore the street lights and modern buildings in the background, there’s no escaping that you’re sitting in a 21st century motor vehicle.

Why was the shot taken at night? Two reasons.

The first is practical… I didn’t want any people in the shot, and there’s always someone walking around here in the daytime. Sadly, I failed in this, as, though there are no people in the shot (the drunks had already staggered through the shot and gone home), I was very disappointed to find that car parked there.

The second is atmosphere. I’ve found that taking long exposure shots, where there are trees and a little movement in the branches, creates a very strange and slightly other worldly feel. Some things have a hint of motion blur, while things right next to them are crystal clear. It’s an odd effect, and I like it. Sadly it’s not as visible in this shot as in another that I took, though that one showed less of the car interior and suffered from more noise in the darker areas, so I rejected it.

#2: Obstructed

2-obstructedsmall

I walk through this tunnel under the railway on a regular basis, and am very fond of its ‘olde worlde’ charm, coupled with the ongoing battle between graffiti ‘artists’ as they leave their mark, and the local council, as they cover those marks.

There’s a lot of detail on those stones and bricks, where the cement, or paint, either creating or covering the graffiti has worn away or fallen off. You can see the passage of recent years in that battle. Then you step back, look at the stonework, and feel the age of the thing itself.

I don’t know how old this bridge/tunnel is, but they certainly don’t make them like it any more.

So anyway… what’s the story here?

It’s a handheld shot on a wide aperture (2.8 I think), with the camera as low to the ground as I could get it. The combination of the slightly shallow(ish) depth of field, with a viewing angle that you certainly wouldn’t see while walking in a normal manner, creates something of a mental sensation (in my brain, at least).

But what’s it all about?

Again… it’s that inability to go back to that imagined past. The bridge/tunnel takes you back there, but there are these two posts, and okay, you can walk between them, but their purpose is clear…. to obstruct passage (of cars). “You shall not pass!”

They break the nostalgic spell, and keep you in the present.

#3: Charming Rural Landscape

3-charmingrurallandscapesmall

An unplanned shot. I was walking home from my original shooting location, when I was struck by the juxtaposition (I love that word) of the man-made and natural vertical structures. I don’t know which came first, the trees, or the grain silos… but one seems to continue from the other, to the extent that it looks deliberate.

Taken hand held, with as wide an aperture as I could achieve with the level of zoom I was using (the zoom lens (35 – 420) on the Panasonic FZ50 is wonderful ).

Situational awareness, or the lack of, was a factor in the taking of this image.

I was walking. I saw the scene. I stopped and took out my camera. I framed the shot. The woman with the pushchair who had been walking behind me rammed my ankles.

So why include this image? There are no listed buildings or ‘olde worlde’ atmosphere. What aspect of this image qualifies it for inclusion?

The clue is in the (ironic) title. It’s not about what you can see, but what you can imagine might have been here, a couple of centuries ago. The trees hint at a very different scene, before the flour mill and grain silos were built.  It brings to my mind scenes in classic rural paintings, like Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’.

#4: Golden Age of Steam

4-goldenageofsteamsmall

Another ironically titled image, for clearly, this is not set in the golden age of steam.

The signal box is old… I’m not sure if it harks back to the steam age, or the later 60s and 70s diesel era, but it’s far from modern. The point is, the car, breaking into the shot like startled horses bolting from the stable, drags the viewer into the here and now.

Why the weird angle? No, I didn’t drop the camera, or press the shutter by accident. It’s all about drama. It’s like the the car almost knocks the viewer over as it goes tearing through the shot.

Also, there’s something else here that I like, though it’s pure chance that it worked out that way. There are a series of repeated off-vertical lines, in the fence, and in the signal box itself. They are static, and going nowhere. But if you follow the line represented by the top of the fence, it flows into the top of of the car’s bonnet, curving upwards, and sweeping out of the image on the right. It generates a flowing feeling of movement. Yes, this is a snapshot of a moment in time, but that curve lets you feel the flow of time’s arrow, driving forwards, from the past, into the future. It’s like it’s creating a bow wave.

Back in the real world.

The shot was taken hand held, with a wide aperture (2.8).

I was crouching down as low as I could get, while leaning against a stone wall, which was at the entrance to the railway station car park. To put you in the picture, if you had happened to be coming around the corner from the car park, you would not have seen me.

Just like the lady on the mobility scooter didn’t.

I don’t know which of us was more startled as she missed me by a fraction of an inch.

I know a red flag used to be a requirement for driving a motor vehicle on the roads, to warn pedestrians in advance, but I feel like I could use one while out taking photographs in public places.

#5: Glimpse of a Romantic(ised) Past

5-glimpseofromanticisedpastsmall

On a purely technical level, this shot was a disaster. The sun was positioned such that when I framed the image that I *really* wanted, what I got was massive lens flare. Purple lens flare. Not good.

Note to self: Carry my lens hood with me next time.

I selected a different image to go in this slot. One that featured the wall, the security cameras, and the bridge. It worked. It conveyed the message. But it lacked the romance.

Black and white to the rescue!

I know we’re supposed to keep Photoshop manipulation to a minimum, but I took the view that even though I captured this shot in colour mode, I could just as easily have taken it in black and white, and got this exact same result direct from the camera. The image was converted at the RAW conversion stage, and no other alterations were made, so I’m letting myself off, even if my tutor doesn’t.

The shot is all about the (mistakenly?) perceived romance of the past. You know the scenes in old black and white movies? The husband/boyfriend is going off to war, or to seek his fortune, or something. The weeping wife/girlfriend stands on the platform, waving him goodbye, and wonders if she’ll ever see him again. Violins play quietly in the background as she wipes away her tears on a handkerchief.

It’s a dim and fading memory… as represented by the rays of light (and now less obvious lens flare) obscuring the scene.

And Bam! There’s a big ugly wall blocking your way, with security cameras, and demands to pay. You’re back in the real world buddy… and it ain’t pretty.

#6: You Can’t Go Back There

6-youcantgobacktheresmall

First, I have to point out that the weather was terrible. Never mind not being the kind you’d want to go walking in. It definitely wasn’t the kind you would expect to be able to take meaningful photographs in. There just wasn’t enough light (a tripod, and wide aperture were essential).

However…

Bracebridge Pumping Station. Built in the Victorian era, if I’m not mistaken, used for pumping sewage from the town to the nearby sewage works. It’s abandoned now, but as a listed building, they can’t knock it down.

In this image, it represents a couple of things, to me. Architecturally, it’s a link to the past, but it’s also an indicator of a time when there was industry, when technology, machinery and the like were produced locally. There were jobs. There was affluence, as well as effluent, in the locality.

So the title, and the barbed wire… they represent the restriction of movement, both in space, and in time. You can’t go back there and walk around, much less inside, the old building. But more so, you can’t go back to that time of local prosperity.

The (imagined?) past is inaccessible, while the here and now is, to be honest, ugly and depressing.

Having said all of that, there was a very friendly horse, just out of shot, who made my trip a pleasure.

Conclusion

So this is where I am now. I can take photographs that I’m fairly satisfied with, on an entirely naive level. They look pleasing to my eye, and they (I hope) convey the message that I’m trying to express.

I’m very aware that I’m only just starting out, and have much to learn, both technically, and also in terms of where my work sits in relation to contemporary photography.

I currently have no knowledge of what the current trends are. What’s expected? What’s cool? What’s old hat? I have no idea. These are things I expect to learn, and to say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement.

What do I want to achieve? I don’t want to emulate my contemporaries. I don’t want to see current work, and say “I can do that”. I want to create something that can sit alongside contemporary work, so I can say “Yes… I like that a lot… and look… I did this.”

Am I good enough?

I have no idea, but I sure as hell intend to find out.

Really useful advice

While reading the forums, I came across some really useful advice from tutors, and am quoting it here, just so I can easily refer back to it.

What can be done about consistently low assessment grades?

“Each student has their own personal experience but as photography tutors we experience many students and there are those to whom one can repeatedly make the same points in reports to no effect. Typical areas where responses maybe minimal are suggesting that students write critically about reading they’re doing from the recommended reading, or indeed show evidence of any reading at all, recommended or otherwise, past maybe a book on technique. Another is writing about their conceptual development in terms of their own work and their developing appreciation of the culture of photography and fine art in general and in terms of responding to assignments doing more than meeting the minimum requirement of the brief in developing their responses; integrating them into a progressive development of their personal voices. Addressing these areas can lift a submission by a whole grade band”

“Conceptual development in your own work could be the journey from enjoying making family snaps to realising it as a sophisticated medium of personal metaphorical commentary…”

“Writing critically means discussing the ideas you’re reading about as opposed to simply making a précis of the content or even more sparely just making a list of ‘books I have read’.”

“Appreciation of the culture means a similar thing; writing thoughtfully about the contemporary photography one is exposed to through all the media and exhibition visits, relating it to ones own work and how you may be influenced by it.”

“… what one is really looking for in the blog is a “diary” of ones intellectual and emotional engagement with ones own practice, the medium and the arts and culture in general. Reviewing ones current work in terms of ideas and emotions and relating it to earlier work and musing on future developments.

Too many blogs consist of mainly the exercises and descriptions of reading done with only the occasional sprinkling of self reflection, analysis and contextualisation within the wider culture.”

(White, 2016)

 

“The biggest jump students have to make when they begin to write critically is in moving away from being descriptive about art work and the idea that may be expressed within it and instead developing a stance which is about asking questions.In some ways it is a more detached way of looking at imagery, although of course it is still you looking and still your opinion.

A simple step is to add “because” to the natural response to imagery.

I like it because…of the compositional viewpoint…

I don’t like it because …the ideas is cliche.

Building an understanding that is increasingly analytical does require a vocabulary and over time reading other articles, reviews and books will help you to recognise key words and phrases as well as seeing how to construct an argument or articulate and share your opinions. ”

(Davies, 2016)

 

Reference

Davies, J (2016) What can be done about consistently low assesment grades? AT:  https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/what-can-be-done-about-consistently-low-assessment-grades/3384/32

White, C (2016) What can be done about consistently low assesment grades? AT:  https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/what-can-be-done-about-consistently-low-assessment-grades/3384/32