Assignment 5: People & Place on Assignment- Revised

Sarah’s Comments

After feedback from my tutor from the first version of assignment 5, I decided to revisit this and this is the revised version submitted for assessment.

The Brief

Background

I’d chosen the model flying club for a couple of reasons, I wanted to create a real world situation where it’s possible that I could be providing images for their requirements, also I’d been there in May with my camera supporting my husband who is a member of the club and the other guys with an open day in conjunction with a local model shop who were sponsoring the event.

As my husband is a member, its enabled me to get regular access to the flying field and has provided me with the background knowledge needed to undertake an effective portrayal of a model club and to be able to identify which parts are of most interest to members- both new and old.

In line with some of the other background work I’ve done on assignments, I’ve started by brainstorming what is at the club, what could be photographed and how they all relate.

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Undertaking the assignment

I’d sent my brief over to my tutor who advised me to look back over the most successful images from the course and also mentioned some interesting images I’d previously taken of planes at Cosford. As a result, I decided to extend my photography with some stronger compositions and different use of objects within the space and different uses of lenses.

Context

There are plenty of magazines that deal with model aircraft, and having looked through some of these examples, covering events such as the open day I’d attended in May, I was very keen that I didn’t want to replicate these and that the images needed to be more in my style and needed to have eye catching shapes and composition compared to just a record of the flying club. I was also aware that these are to be used online for their website and You Tube channel so it was important that they stood out.

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(Example of article in RC Model World)

Interpreting the Assignment

Looking at the brief “the choice is yours within people and/or the place they inhabit”, I wanted to use this and have a mix of both people and place. The place is very much an empty field with fences separating where you fly from the areas used for people not flying and setting up their gear. There is a green metal cabin and some benches, the rest is empty and configured as required. I wanted to capture the flyers with their planes in the air and the concentration needed, the friendly atmosphere and helpfulness, and the large amount of kit required for both IC (using fuel) and electric (using batteries) type of crafts. During flying the field is transformed from one of perfect peace and quiet to one of many different configurations of hardware and tools showing a presence that’s obvious even when the flyer is away from their possessions. Again I’m looking to challenge the stereotype of a model aircraft club by not taking the obvious images and looking to produce a coherent and engaging series.

My thoughts on this were affirmed by a visit to the private view of ‘You never see them like this’ by Tim Hetherington at the Open Eye Gallery. I’d originally been interested to see this as I’m a fan of Don McCullin after picking up a copy of his ‘Shaped by War’ at the local library, I was so fascinated by the images within and wanting to know more about the man and his life in conflict situation, so I purchased his autobiography ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’ a book which gripped me and is still with me in my thoughts a few weeks after reading it. I was interested to see how war and conflict was captured by a different photographer.

The images featured in the series comprise of both people and place, even when people have left a place behind, they still leave a trace such as a comb or an imprint, and while I can’t compare my work to his as they are worlds apart, even at the flying club where people pack their possessions away, there can still be traces left, a position of the fence where it’s been set up, a burn stain on the grass from the fuel used for the planes, little traces of broken planes and propellers etc. Place is essentially something that takes on the characteristics and impressions of the people using it, wherever this may be. A further example of this is the previous work I’d undertaken for the last course of abandoned buildings and will be something that I’ll continue as a theme in my work going forwards

Use of Light

One of the feedback comments from my fourth assignment was about the quality of light at different times of the day. With this assignment, I was restricted to photographing at certain times of the day due to my availability around work, but more by the fact that the flying club only allows IC aircraft to be flown after 1pm at weekends due to noise restrictions and that some days such as Saturdays tend to be quieter than Sundays so there wasn’t always a lot of people or planes to photograph.

Where possible I’ve tried to photograph in strong light, on some days there has been sun and blue skies which allow the colours of the site and kit to really stand out, some days have been very overcast with a grey light, and while I have photographed for the assignment during this, I’ve not been that happy with these, so I have tried to either use those with more tones to the sky, or have composed the image to exclude the sky and to focus in closer on the subject area.

Editing and Contact Sheet

As part of the editing process, I’ve shortlisted a number of images and then printed them as contact sheets so that I could scribble out which I didn’t think met my brief. I usually have physical 6×4 prints made but in this instance, even after shortlisting, I still had a lot of images. Once I’d gotten the short listing done, I ordered prints from an external company in order to keep consistency with the ones that I’d already had done for previous assignments. For this assignment my preferred choice was matte A4 to allow a good size image that wouldn’t be subject to shine and fingerprints as much as a gloss image would be. Once the prints arrived I had one final review of them before working on the order. As you can see from the images, I laid them out and spent some time with them where I kept looking at them, thinking about the connection between the images and moving them until I got a set that I felt worked best for the audience.

Contact sheet shortlisting process marking those I wanted to use

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Having received the prints, I laid them all out and studied them to decide the most appropriate order

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After moving the images around and looking at how they connected and flowed, this was my final layout. I liked the mixture of people and then a place image and hoped to tell a story of a day at the flight club through this series.

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The Images

Image 1

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Merging, people, place and planes, this image shows the flyer running the engine of his plane and making adjustments. It’s a very neutral image in tones, unfortunately this was quite a changeable day with differing light levels, all of the grey and green tones blend in together, with the blue and yellow of the plane standing out. To emphasise the movement, the propeller has some blur on it showing that it’s running and getting ready to be flown capturing one of the stages of model flying and also highlighting the connection between the flyer making the plane operational. Interaction between the flyer and the plane is needed to get them to fly with different fuel sources and techniques needed, each plane needs a different personal touch, the relationship here is symbiotic, shown by the tweaking of the engine, each requires an action to get to the goal of flight.

Image 2

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As part of my work in showing the place when it’s busy and has been transformed into a flying field, I wanted to get some detailed images on the kit and planes to complement the general images of the flyers using the space. Showing the relationship between the power starter and fuel required to start the internal combustion engine of the plane in the background. I wanted a composition that was quite striking and showed the box first, and then the plane in the background, but also that it needed to be strong to capture the viewer’s eye and to make this more than just a photograph showing kit. As a result I wanted a strong angle, almost zigzag in form; with real and implied triangles (using some of the knowledge from my previous level 1 courses), the strong colours also help to give weight to the image with reds and yellows featuring, both bold primary colours on the same section as part of the colour wheel so complementing each other. View after view, my eye keeps coming back to the yellow of the plane and the colours popping out at me.

Image 3

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One Saturday afternoon I was lucky enough to have the field to myself with only my husband flying, as a result I could break the rules and actually stand on the field to photograph him while he was flying. I took a number of different images, close up portraits and half body images that show the context as he is holding the radio controlling the glider (that is out of sight) After looking at some of the images via my selection process (see contact sheets), I decided that the most effective one to tie in the context of the flying club, was the half body one, you can see the radio and the flyer looking up so it’s clear that there is something happening, conveying an action but also a concentration and respect for the moment of flying. The context of the flying club is there with the field in the background, and the cooling towers just visible. While the towers are not part of the flying club and are some distance away over the canal, they do feature in this series of images as this is the direction that you tend to look at when planes are landing so they tenuously form a part of the place.

Image 4

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Flyers usually bring a couple of planes with them, types and models can vary and I wanted to show the contrasts. It would have been very easy to just capture a side on static and flat image of a plane, I wanted to experiment and try a different composition to this. This is a contrast between two different types of plane, and I focused on the silver electric Vampire in the foreground as I loves it strong silver colour and futuristic shape which contrasts with the straight standard tail of the other plane. I tried to get an interesting zigzag shape when composing this to keep the viewer’s eye moving through the frame, and to highlight the bold silver against the green grass. The composition also features real and implied triangles which stand out to the viewer’s eye and helps to keep the interest in the frame.

Image 5

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As this image was taken on quite a dull day, I’ve zoomed in to get both the faces and the plane in view, with the dark background the grey sky cannot be seen. This forms part of the set for two reasons; the context is clear- people with planes at the flying club, and also because of the interaction between John with the radio and Al carrying the plane back. This was a new plane that John had been flying, previously owned by someone else so they were discussing how it had flown. I like the prominence of the white plane standing out against the dark tops of the flyers and it divided the image, focusing on the people on the top rights and the space to the bottom left. Al, carrying the plane is the focus point and John is more out of focus as I wanted the attention to be on Al and the plane with John as the secondary subject, as for me it was important to focus on the connection between the person and the plane as part of the hobby of flying.

Image 6

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As well as some detailed images of the club, I also wanted some wider views to show the interaction between the people and the place. Sitting at the top end of the field looking down the pits area toward the hut and seating, on this sunny day the most eye-catching thing for me was the umbrella that one of the members had brought to provide some sun protection to his planes. The components of the planes tend to be foam, balsa and film, fibreglass or plastic so on a hot sunny day, they tend to be covered up for protection. For me the umbrella is quite surreal coming out of the ground amidst planes and kit, with the flyers sat down to the right of it, you get a feeling that this is also a place for relaxation and an escape from the daily grind. The fact that the majority of the subjects and people are centred in the image and very much clustered together creates a sense of unity of people and place in one shared but individual pastime, with the contrast of the natural environment of the grass and sky. Flying model aircraft is the hobby but it’s also a place to get away and forget about things with good company, and often there can be days when you just chat, although they are usually bad weather days. The light is good on this image, it’s a sunny day and the sky is blue with the clouds visible compared to some of the duller days that just didn’t catch the eye. As an example of a day at the club, those with brighter light and sunshine will be more effect at appealing to new people than those where it’s cold and windy!

Image 7

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In contrast to image 8, this portrait while taken within the pits area of the club, does not show anything that would put it into context, the closest is the out of focus grass in the background. I took a couple of images, one with a wider angle than this but I liked the close in full face image. Bob had been flying and at this point was getting ready to head back, while he did pose for the photograph, he looks relaxed as we were chatting and I was just trying to put him at ease. Having already photographed a number of his planes, he was already used to me with the camera. I’ve tried to use some of the techniques that I’d tried earlier on in this course when looking at portraits, to get the face to stand out. I’ve zoomed in to avoid too much distraction such as the light colour of his hat. I could have used a portrait composition for this but the landscape view allowed me to put some hint of space into this

Image 8

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One of the images from a less than perfect weather day, I was thinking about what to include and while this was one image I chose to forego in place of one where there were people sat in the seats, this image showing the wide open space of the flying field with the traces of activity and memories there like ghosts stood out to me. I did try and crop this to focus more on the emptiness of the chairs but it pushed everything together too much and I like the feeling of space and expanse, it adds a sense of almost loneliness, certainly tying in with the fact that on some days you can be the only member flying there. I also like the temporary nature of the structures, aside from the fence partly visible on the right hand side, these are pieces that can be removed and put back in their natural places, and while this remains a record of the moment, there is a transition in the fact that barely anything is permanently anchored at the field and that the same scene will not exist again, as each time there would be some difference, whether its marginal or not. Looking at the colours of the image, they are flat but the sky is quite strong and stormy at that moment and it does command the attention, is a storm due, is that why there is no-one flying or is it just time for a tea break?

Image 9

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An action portrait, a new jet was being hand launched and I wanted to capture both the owner of the plane (as it was new he was getting a friend to test fly it) and the plane. It was taken on a weekday evening when the sun was starting to set; as a result it has cast some strong shadows over the image but also given the colours such as that of the grass a warmer hue. It’s a portrait that’s natural and not posed, as while he knew he was being photographed; his concentration is on the plane. The overall tones of the image are very natural greens; the plan with its vivid bright red catches the eye and stands out making you aware that this is the star of the show. If it was a dedicated portrait, I would have used a flashgun to provide some fill in flash. However I feel that this would have affected the balance of the image, and that it would then have turned into a staged images and not a natural representation of the moment.

Image 10

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Similar in style to the plane and box image, with this I could see a number of components that make up a typical day at the club. Starting with the fuel and toolbox in the front of the frame, the eye moves in then to see the planes, more kit boxes and radio -everything you need to fly, and then a little later on into the frame, the runway with flyers. I didn’t want the flyers to be clear, I wanted the focus off them so that they were just representative of anyone who is a member. The key for me is the use of the wide pits area to get set up and each flyer picks an area and sets up, each time they visit, it changes. The use of focus partway into the frame allows the viewer to take the abstract pieces of equipment and picture theirs in place of these genericising personal equipment.

Opportunities

I’ve been lucky with my access to the club, I’ve been able to be there on a number of weekend with the camera and as I’ve gotten to know everyone, they are quite relaxed in my presence, as a result I’ve been able to wander freely about the club with my camera. Despite being relaxed, there does seem to be an element of being camera shy and they are certainly more focused on getting photographs of their planes than themselves, despite explaining the reasoning behind this.

Difficulties

One of the difficulties that I had was in getting natural portrait images, I didn’t want posed shots as it needed to reflect the activity of the club and I felt that posed shots were too much like those in the magazine and that I needed something more dynamic. The standard pose of flyers seems to be either bending over planes or peering up at the sky. Due to restrictions at the club, non-flyers are not allowed on the flying field, they have to stay behind in the pits area and this restricted my ability to get some photographs of the flyers.

Reflection

What started off as an easy subject to work on, at least when it comes to having as much access as needed, certainly provided me with plenty of challenges from weather and light, to actually getting a good mix of images that formed a logical series. With so much free access, I’ve found it hard to know when to stop taking photographs and just to go with the set that I have, after tutor feedback I’ve added a couple more weekend there just to give myself the opportunity to get any extra images,

Bibliography

Hetherington, Tim (2009) Long Story Bit By Bit. Umbrage Editions

Hetherington, Tim (2010) Infidel. Chris Boot Publishing

McCullin, Don (2002) Unreasonable Behaviour. Vintage

McCullin, Don (2010) Shaped by War. Jonathan Cape

Todd, Lindsay (2013) Steve Webb Models Invitational Fly-In. RC Model World September 2013 pp. 30-33

Book reviews of Don McCullin’s images and autobiography

Shaped by War by Don McCullin

I was just browsing my local library for some books to help me with some background research for one of my assignments when I stopped off in the photography section as per usual. Seeing this, I just grabbed it and thought it was worth looking at at home.

I was only familiar with McCullin’s name from a documentary that was shown on the BBC (and which I have recorded and not yet got around to watching) and hadn’t previously seen any of his work. For anyone not familiar with the book, it’s a large hardback, perfect for presenting photographs in it and allows you plenty of scope to look at and absorb all of the detail.

I started off by skimming the book and reading some of the text, in just a few paragraphs I was enthralled with the story and wanting to know more, decided to order the more detailed book ‘ Unreasonable Behaviour’ which is an autobiographical book written by McCullin with Lewis Chester. (A further review on this to come once I’ve finished reading it)

Looking at this in conjunction with Unreasonable Behaviour is quite advantageous as they complement each other well by allowing me to review larger images that feature in the former or to see an image that was referenced. The text just adds to the horror seen in the images, and it isn’t an easy book to look through; however the photographs are eye catching and are to be looked at and studied. As with any war photography where the subjects of the images can often by horrifying and hard to look at, only by seeing what’s gone before can we look to change anything.

Unreasonable Behaviour

I ordered this after a quick look through Shaped by War, usually I don’t have that instinct where I need to order a book pretty much straight after reading a few lines but in this case, I just had to read more. Luckily the book came a couple of days later and I’ve been gripped from the start. Going from McCullin’s roots with a hard childhood with poverty and gangs in London through to him discovering photography, buying his first camera, and getting his big break with an image of ‘The Guv’nors. An image that is evocative of the Kray era but could equally be the cover of a band’s album. While the book contains a number of his photographs to supplement his narrative, the extended text compared to ‘Shaped by War’ is the highlight. While the subject matter is not easy to read at times, it flows well and is easy to read, even when discussing the political situations McCullin was in the middle of. I was gripped from the start and would recommend this to anyone, not just photographers as its more about the man and the situations that he was in, not the photography, although the camera both allowed him access to areas and put him in many dangerous and life threatening situations. To come through all of the conflict, death and destruction with near misses yourself and still be living and sane is miraculous, especially when compared to the colleagues in photography and journalism that lost their lives along the way. The book is moving and inspiring and I felt very much that my photography will never live up to anything McCullin has done as I don’t take risks, I haven’t pushed myself and I’ve stuck to safe subjects but I’m sure there are plenty of other similar views. In the presence of what it think is greatness, I can’t help feel anything but inferior.

I’ve finished the book now, it ended on a sober note, McCullin survived countless warzones, conflicts and life threatening situations including badly damaging his arm and ribs after a fall off a roof only to be let down by the newspaper he had undertaken all this for and then the illness and death of his first wife Christine. I had to admit being stunned, shocked, horrified and moved to tears through reading this. I hope I get chance to see his work exhibited and one day I’d love to shake his hand and let him know that his work is still having an impact now.

Assignment 5: People and Place on Assignment

The Brief

For this final assignment, the choice of subject is yours within people and/or the places they inhabit.

First decide on a notional client, choose the kind of client, the purpose of the assignment and how the images will be used. Imagine what the basic brief would be, write the brief as you will refer back to it.

Having assigned yourself the brief, you now need to complete it. You need to submit between 8-12 photographs. Accompany the final images with a short written assessment.

This should include:-

– The client briefing that you gave yourself

– A statement of how you set about planning the photography

– How well you succeeded, including the difficulties and opportunities you encountered that you had not anticipated at the outset

You will need to show that you can project good judgement in your choices.

Client:

Halton & District Model Flying Club (H&DMFC)

Purpose:

Promotion of the club

How will the images be used?

To advertise the club and facilities to members and non-members to encourage further participation and new memberships

Brief from the customer:

H&DMFC require a selection of images capturing both normal flying and special event days such as open days and BBQ events. The images should capture a mix of people and their planes, show the facilities and how they are used and also promote the members

Plan:

The photography will be taken over a couple of different events, an open day and a BBQ as well as photography taken on normal flying days

Presentation:

A small selection of images will be presented for the assignment; the club require the images to be presented on a cd for their use and will form part of a longer slideshow of images on the club’s You Tube Channel.

Background Work/Context

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For this assignment, I started off thinking about what I could photograph, what I wanted to portray and the format in which to present this. I’d had the idea while working on Assignment 4, to produce a tourist brochure on Chester and the roman history which is still part and parcel of the city. Unfortunately despite some research into potential sites that I could photograph, I struggled to get a date arranged with one of the roman tour companies so decided to look into some of the other ideas that I’d had.

Around the same time it was mentioned that a local model flying club were having a bbq one weekend. This alone does not sound like enough of a basis for a project, however I’d been at an open day held there in May with a local model shop sponsoring the event and a bbq and spent the day photographing the area and aircraft. My results were presented to the club and the model shop who both wanted to use them for their own publicity, and since then some of the members have asked me to photograph their planes flying, and some of my images have been combined with videos on a ‘You Tube’ channel for the club.

When I heard there was to be a bbq, I thought that this could be an excellent opportunity to photograph the club and its facilities in way that could be used to promote the club to both members who don’t attend that often and also show new members what they have. A lot of the open days and bbq are actually open to families of the flyers to come down so it was important that they could also see that all are welcome. I also planned to attend some weekday evening and weekends at the club to ensure that I got a good mix of images

Thinking about people and place, I was originally trying to focus on a mixture of images of people and the place of the model flying club. However as the brief is for the club, I had to think about what people who join the club or search for the club online are interested in. I also had to rethink my plan about featuring members of a club when one of the main components is the planes and helicopters flown there. With this in mind, I revisited the images and also went back to the club with a 100mm macro lens to try and get some interesting compositions of the planes and people in action and a mixture of lens were used in the overall set as each had its own strength.

One of the issues mentioned in my last assignment was the with the use of light, the model flying club while open any time, only allows internal combustion engine planes to fly after 1 pm so while light in the middle of the day is not the best and can be flat, sometimes this was the only time I could photograph activity. Some days were quite bright and there were some bright evening sun so where possible I’ve tried to photograph as much as I can in the better light.

The Space

In reality, the facilities at this chosen space are very few, it’s a large field with a mown area for the runway, lots of space to set up planes, a cabin with small kitchen area, a covered area for seating, bbq or set up, some picnic benches and a portaloo. For me this assignment was about showing how the limited facilities but large space was used and that the open configuration changes every time. I also wanted to show these in use with actual members as its very much an active use of the space and in order to meet the brief of publicising the location, facilities and club, this needed to be reflected as such.

How will the images be used?

The images will form a set that will be available for the club to upload onto their website via a CD in conjunction with a longer slideshow of images on the club’s You Tube channel.

Planning the assignment and photography

My plan for this was to attend as many days as I could at the club, including the special event BBQ and general flying times. I knew from speaking to a member of the club that the majority of people tended to fly on the Saturday and Sunday compared to weekdays, which fitted better around my availability.

Depending on the weather and who is onsite, the space used to set up can change for example on windy days sometimes a more sheltered part near the cabin is used, but it also depends on personal preference and what space is available when people arrive. Visiting over different days and times I found that no two visits were the same with variables including different people, different use of the space and different planes. I knew a lot of the people from attending the May open day so the people at the club are used to seeing me with the camera. An advantage of this is that I’ve been able to blend into the background as per any other club member, but the biggest advantage is that I’ve gained the trust of the people who fly, they’ve seen my images and ask me photograph their planes in the air. I was conscious that I wanted natural photographs and nothing posed in order to give an accurate representation of the club as it is.

Images to capture:-

I started by listing the areas and activities that I wanted to photograph and then I could review and keep the most appropriate ones as part of the selection process.

Hut

Undercover area (used for seating/bbq/setting up/shelter)

Flying field/airstrip

Spectator/Pits area

Benches/seating

Set up areas in use (can be different areas where people choose to set up)

People setting up planes

People relaxing/watching the flying

People flying

After I’d taken photographs of all of these, I decided to swap lenses and be a little more creative and more fun with this using a macro lens.

How well I succeeded, including the difficulties and opportunities that you had not anticipated at the outset

Some of the difficulties that I faced were due to the fact that currently only a fraction of the full membership attend on the weekend days and even fewer in the evenings, on some days there seems to be same crowd there so while I’ve tried to get different members in the images, I had to be creative with some of the photographs and try and get different aspects. I also wanted to get different images to the static planes flying, people on the ground that would be featured in the specialist magazines. I would have liked to have taken some slower images of the people moving about or of the planes. However after investigating this, the club and the activity there is not ideal as there isn’t enough footfall around the site, and with the planes flying around, it’s hard to get a fixed point to capture.

One thing that I did photograph but didn’t include within this were images just of the planes flying, while this is an important part of the club and certainly something the members ask me to photograph when I’m there- this didn’t quite fit into the brief.

I think that I succeeded quite well in meeting the brief, a variety of images were taken showing the club in use, and the images have a lot of activity and colour in them which is appealing to the eye and would make these suitable for either web or print usage.

I felt that I had more opportunities within the club due to the fact I’d built a relationship with them through previous work, and I anticipate that this will continue as I will work with them to provide further model plane photography.

I found it easier to get the photographs I envisaged when the club was busier; these days provided more opportunities and better scope for the photography.

1) Plane and box

Showing the relationship between the power starter and fuel required to start the internal combustion engine of the plane, this image has strong shapes, real and implied triangles with the shape of the plane in the corner, the inverted triangles on the box, the grass triangle on the left near the wing and the grey of the mat on the right hand side. The eye is first drawn to the red tubing on the box, then the plane stand in inverted triangle shapes and then the yellow of the plane in the background that’s slightly out of focus as I wanted it to be obvious but for the flight box to be the main subject. All flyers have their own flight box, and this composition shows the start-up set up when a flyer sets their kit up on the field to prepare for flight

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2) Reflection

Hats and sunglasses are common accessories on the field, it’s quite open and when the sun is out can be harsh to stand in and sunglasses can help to see the plane stand out in the sky. I like this as it’s the connection between the flyer and their plane/kit on the field. I caught sight of this reflection and asked the flyer to tilt their head so I could get a better view of the plane and not a reflection of the camera. The bright blue of the stand and yellow and white of the plane stand out against the dark green of the glass

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3) The flyers

I chose a portrait composition as I wanted to start the image off with the plane and helicopter (which don’t feature too often at the club) and then move across to the runway where the flyers stand and where spectators/visitors don’t go on. You can see the concentration of the flyers in their stance, holding the transmitters and looking into the sky, with the banking and power station in the background, you get an idea that this is quite an open area, close to other features but enough out of the way to have space.

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4) The plane

I can’t describe the use of the space or show one of the main uses of that space without having some images featuring the model planes. Having looked at coverage in magazines such as RCM&E, a lot of the images are the planes in flight, sideways and being held by the owners. I wanted a different composition and the use of a macro lens allowed me to get closer than usual. It was important to capture the sense of movement with the engine just started and ticking over before being taken onto the runway. Using a focus point on the non-moving side and a slower shutter speed gave me the propeller blur to provide the sense this is a powerful and moving subject on the grass of the pits area.

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5) Three wise men

As with the reflection image you can see the use of hats and sunglasses here, compared to some of the images this was taken in the evening sunlight so has a golden hue and a blue colour to the sky. I’ve not made this a wider image as they could be looking at any plane or transmitter. I wanted the suggestion of sharing and comradeship that comes as part of the membership and active participation in the club where people are willing to help you out with time, materials or knowledge.

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6) Waiting for take off

Flyers usually bring a couple of planes with them, types and models can vary and I wanted to show the contrasts. This is a contrast between two different types of planes and I focussed on the silver electric Vampire in the front of the images as I love its strong silver and futuristic shape which contrasts with the straight standard tail of the other plane. I tried to get an interesting zigzag shaping to keep the viewer’s eye moving through the frame.

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7) The pits area

Similar in style to the plane and box image, with this I could see a number of components that make up a typical day at the club. Starting with the fuel and toolbox in the front of the frame, the eye moves in then to see the planes, more kit boxes and radio- everything you need to fly, and then a little later on into the frame, the runway with flyers. I didn’t want the flyers to be clear, I wanted the focus off them so that they were just representative of anyone who is a member. The key for me is the use of the wide pits area to get set up and how each flyer picks an area and sets up, each time they visit it changes.

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8) The pits area 2

Showing a different side to the pits, this was a windier day so shelter was taken around the side of the cabin. As a busy day for flyers, there were a lot of planes and I was drawn to the red colouring to start with on a quite dull day first of all and then the other lines of planes leading to the small group huddled around a plane. Showing the setup, the variety of planes, and the space for people to use and the willingness to help out other flyers, this compliments the other pits area image.

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9) Shadow

At this point in the day, the sun was quite strong and casting shadows of the flyers onto the runway. I took a number of images of just the shadow but was conscious that it needed something to tie this in. With patience, I got the image I wanted with the plane in the top of frame and the shadows of the flyer and the wind flag in the bottom of the image.

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10) BBQ Day

This was a day when there was a club bbq and more people were in attendance. While this isn’t an image that’s full of people, this wider shot shows the different areas for flying, set up, and the cabin for shelter, drinks etc. I like this wider image as a contrast to the more specific and close up images, the light was really good and there is a bright blue sky which the flag showing the wind direction is standing out against. The 3d plane in the foreground acts as a grabber for the eye as its quite colourful and then you look up to the flyer in white, then the standing men and then you travel around to see all the other interactions happening.

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11) The umbrella

On another sunny day, although there are some clouds in this one, one of the flyers had brought a large parasol umbrella to provide some protection to his planes. For me this stands out so much with its clear shape and it’s only after you’ve looked at this first do you move around to the seated flyers and the plane in the foreground. There is an echo of the blue plane stand which moves the eye from one to the other and then the seated flyers showing that the club is about more than planes, it’s also a good social meeting place.

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Printing

I’ve kept these all in colour as I feel that is how they should be seen, to convert these would lose the bright colours of the planes and equipment that stand out when you view them, and due to the amount of green from the field, and I didn’t feel that this would benefit from being presented in monochrome.

Summary & Thoughts

This was an interesting exercise, at the moment I seem to have a lot of ideas where there is an open brief and I went from feeling that the scope was too elastic and easily extended, to then completing the work and thinking that the number of images the assignment calls for is too few. I think this is partially down to the type of work I’ve chosen to submit for this- it feels like there are infinite possibilities to photograph at the club as every week you might see something different. One of the improvements from assignment four that I have in my mind to work on is being more specific and when there is an open brief, I need to write my own defined brief and extend if necessary as opposed to trying to photograph everything at once.

Looking to where this fits within contemporary practice, it’s certainly more commercial than the work that I’ve previously done, which I’ve tended to focus on presenting as either a book or exhibition series. I feel that it’s more commercial as obviously I’m presenting this to a real life client, it’s being used to represent the client on the internet and while the images are not being published in a magazine, I’ve based the style on a real magazine article referencing the coverage of the May event in RCME magazine. I’ve been unable to find any examples of other photographers capturing model aircraft in flight. Most of the sites I’ve found are either using model planes for aerial photography or photography at full scale air shows.

Painting with light

Just seen a film on the BBC’s One Show looking at photography in the Peak District and around Stanage Edge. While this is one of my favourite places to visit and photograph, nothing I’ve done compares to the long exposure images by Dan Arkle.

Climbers with different coloured head torches climbed up Stanaged Edge and the cameras set up (7d’s) set to a 15 minute exposure showed the rocks and these fantastic light trials.

I’ve googled this and found this link that shows some of the work:-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2232207/Peak-District-path-pictures-Dan-Arkle-head-torch-long-exposure.html

Its well worth looking at, even if its not something you’d do yourself, or have access to people who could do this. I love the fact that there are always people with new ideas and that there is always something more you can add to your photography.

People & Place Assignment 4: A sense of place

The Brief

Imagine you are on an assignment for an intelligent, thoughtful travel publication (not tourism promotion) that is demanding a considered, in-depth treatment.

Aim to show the character of the place and of the people who live there with as much visual variety as possible. Pick a place that you know well and have sufficient access to in order to complete a strong selection of images

Aim

To draw together all the various strands explored so far, including technical skills; observation and reaction and “the underlying appreciation of what spaces and buildings mean for people who live in and among them.”

To compose a collection of 12 images for an in depth travel publication with 6 good, publishable images as the final selection

Background work/Context

As part of my feedback from assignment 3, for this my tutor advised me to undertake some contextual research on documentary photography through websites such as Magnum, and American Suburb X. Spending some time looking at these sites and also the British Journal of Photography, I was looking for photographers who have a similar style to mine or a body of work similar to what I want to produce as part of this assignment. I enjoyed looking through these websites and seeing the different photographers and I have to reference Martin Parr, partly for his huge body of work that spans both black and white and colour and for taking images of everyday life certainly encouraged me to look for interesting people and situations. For me, I prefer the black and white, and when I was researching Manchester and looking to see if there are any contemporary photographers working on street photography in the North West, I came across some older images by Parr. Looking at some of these after I’ve shortlisted my images, I can see a similarity in the subject, but this can also be applied to anyone out on the street with a camera. I don’t feel that our styles are similar, I think that presented in a series my voice comes through and that they have been taken without any attempt to replicate other photographers work. I also spent some time researching contemporary photographers that I could compare and benchmark my work against, one of those that stood out more is work by Daniel Hoffman for his black and white series of everyday life. My favourite that stands out is the pedestrian and the bike, showing that what’s in the area can be added to by having interaction with people in the same scene.

I did find that as I’ve visited the Look 13 festival and attended a talk by Tom Wood, that his style of street photography was something that I liked for his mix of posed work and incognito street photography and with it being in the North West, something I could identify with (even though I couldn’t recognise any of the locations) It was with this in mind that I tackled this assignment using some of his techniques and seeing what I got. A lot of the images were pot luck but I liked some of the angles and reflections that felt more like real life to me, than any conventionally taken photographs from eye level.

Street Photography

I’ve not always been interested in street photography, while it’s fascinating to look at work in this genre, I always felt that it was something I’d never do. While I can be quite confident in getting most photographs, when it comes to people, I seem to revert back to my childhood shyness and I have to admit I’ve found this assignment to be well out of my comfort zone. With a willing model, I’m happy to pose and photograph them, with strangers and especially with trying to get natural, almost unseen images; I was more hesitant and a little fearful. During the course of my photography I had to make a call on whether it was a good idea to take an image and whether it was morally acceptable, Manchester has a lot of people begging on the street and while they would have fitted into the work and provided a more rounded profile of the highs and lows, I was conscious that this wasn’t the time and place and that vulnerable people should be photographed as part of a planned and considered treatment. I was really encouraged by Tom Wood, his images were fantastic and when he showed us his tip of holding the camera at his shoulder and looking away to take images, I thought about putting this into practice. I was also encouraged by the fact when he spoke to us, he had a Fuji x100- I’d just purchased the x100s as I wanted something faster than my Olympus PEN but smaller than my dsrl but with equivalent quality. I admit some of the images worked, some didn’t but I felt less obvious with this camera. While a couple of times I felt that people had figured out I’d photographed them, the fact I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder and kept moving gave the impression I was just going about my business.

Problems

I’d been struggling with defining the scope of what I’d cover within this assignment. I had a few ideas but nothing was really working for me. I’d scoped out the possibility of my town centre, of Chester city centre or of Manchester. I needed it to be easy to get to for repeat visits and a place that I knew well.

Ideally I wanted to avoid Manchester or Liverpool as I’d featured locations within these cities as part of assignment 3, but they had their advantages that I knew them very well, could get to them as many times as needed and offered variety. I’ve parked my ideas on Chester for assignment 5 as I feel these could work better there. After a lot of consideration on where I could get access to I thought that I could still use Manchester but show a different side to the galleries and museums that featured within my previous assignment.

For Manchester I’ve considered not just the social aspect of culture, entertainment and shopping but also that of a place to work, where business is encouraged and where transport links are strong to and from the city. It also co-incides with a number of visits I have planned to Manchester for different events and also business meetings.

The images- I was toying with the idea of presenting these all in black and white as homage to the early days of street photography and photographers such as William Klein. While a couple of the images really lent themselves to be black and white, some of the images had strong colours in them, and its these that had caught my eye when I was looking for subjects to photograph and when I reviewed this in monochrome, they didn’t have the original visual impact so I used colour to provide a coherent link between the images and to help suggest that these are a series to be viewed together.

Part 1: Twelve Shortlisted Images

Man reclining in street

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On one of the days where I was wandering about Manchester with a list of different areas to try and photograph, I came across a large crowd outside the Arndale centre, as I got closer, I could see that there was a man sat reclining in the street, but without a chair, and just an umbrella for balance, and a chain leading to an old suitcase (which I presume was weighted to act as a balance for him) I took two different images for consideration, and have chosen this one as you can see in the background other members of the public watching him. I’ve never seen him before or indeed afterwards, it captures for me fact the street is used as a performance space, and also money generator as he was getting coins thrown into a pot he had.

He did put his umbrella up at point to show it wasn’t used just for balancing and I really wish I’d got this image, unfortunately at this point in time, my battery decided to die on my camera and I missed the key image while I switched over.

Glass Bridge, two small figures

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Manchester is very well known for shopping, not only does it have the Arndale centre, but in recent years some more designer shops have been built including Selfridges. As part of the redevelopment and add on to the Arndale centre, there is a glass bridge over the road linking the two. Conscious that photography in shopping centres can be restricted or banned, I was walking through and I saw the angle of the round bridge curving so I photographed that and then I waited until someone crossed it. The figures are small so are almost anonymous and the curve of the bridge just draws the eye into the centre and to the people, while representing the connection between the shoppers (people) and place.

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Part of what I wanted to show in this series was the fact that Manchester is also a transport hub, as well as people coming into the city, there are people passing through via the bus and the tram, this wide shot shows the hustle and bustle of people crossing over the tram lines and around the bus station near to Piccadilly gardens, which tends to always be busy as a transitional place. I like the people moving in the image, however viewing it now, I feel its more two dimensional than most of my other work and in some ways reminds me of work by L.S Lowry. If I redid this, I’d be tempted to wait for rush hour to capture even more movement and activity.

Two women on a break

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I was taking a lot of these images in the method of Tom Wood, using my Fuji x100s away from me as if I was just holding it, not using it and hoping that I had my angles correct to capture the subject. In most cases it worked and I got some really interesting images. I saw these two women stood outside Primark, they were obviously on a break, and this area gets a lot of people waiting or having a break here. From the low angle I was able to frame both of the women in full; you wonder what their topic of conversation is.

Women shopping outside Debenhams

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This is a strong image for me as a snapshot of a weekday morning, with the subjects just going about their normal business and getting the shopping done. With hindsight it reminds me again of Wood’s images as a lot of the women in these are holding ‘Kwik Save’ carrier bags and they tend to feature quite strong, characterful subjects that I don’t think are really seen in images today compared to photographs taken in the 1980s and into the 1990’s . Rob Bremner’s work ‘Unfinished Liverpool’ also features strong subjects. The feeling I get from this is that Manchester is their town, a place of functionality not fun.

Woman in Debenhams café

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I took an image last time which I wasn’t happy with of the window of the café and people passing, I felt it wasn’t quite there technically. I was walking past at a later date and was caught by the blue of the woman’s outfit and also her expression. She looked lost and lonely and I wondered what her story was. I had to photograph this and I feel the lines of the window frame her, the empty space and cut of frame on the left hand side also adds to the sense of loneliness as this isn’t a busy bustling place. I walked past later on and she had been joined for morning coffee and that mood and expression that caught my eye had gone.

Woman buying flowers

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Another event where the colour caught my eye, looking at different places and businesses in the street, the woman picking flowers stood out in pink with the red canopy above, which didn’t work as well when converted. In amongst the old buildings and established high street are an ice cream stall and flower stalls. Both a temporary but adding more character to the city, I feel I’ve captured something that might not be here next time I visit.

Shoppers at market stall

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More colour grabbing composition in this image, I’d taken one of the market stall on a previous visit and wasn’t happy with it, I saw these people and the little girl stood out. I’ve been wary on photographing under 18s as part of this but have gotten around this by taking the image from the back, it was the colours then subject that caught my eye, it doesn’t matter if you can’t see the faces straight on as for me it’s all about representing the street market and activity of daily life. It also fits well with the previous image of temporary space, albeit even more transitory..

People stood outside Primark with bikes and bag

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Again the low angle of this has captured the moment of the person on the phone and the people behind her. The image is quite cluttered with a phone box, people, bikes etc. but they all combine to give the viewer a reflection that Manchester is a busy city and there are always people coming and going within the centre. I wasn’t originally going to include this as part of the series but I kept coming back to it and I loved the moment of the woman with a suitcase, has she just arrived or is she leaving?

Piccadilly station

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One of the first images I took for this, I’d seen the sign and thought that was a good starting point and then I saw the man walking in to so I waited, took two image and had this one. I like the purposeful stride and the glance towards the sign. Not only are people entering into Manchester, it’s a portal out so you see someone who has just left the station in the background and someone just arriving ready to move on.

Selling the Manchester evening news

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I’ve debated a lot on whether to include this or not, I wish I’d been closer or had a telephoto lens to get just the interaction of the face of the MEN seller and the customer. However every time I look at this, I like it, the use of yellow in his coat and stand is tied in with the yellow to the right of the image, the rest of it is quite neutral in comparison so it really stands out. Monochrome didn’t suit this, it lost its impact which is in the strong colours.

Ice cream seller at Fatsos

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I walked past this girl selling ice-cream on the street on my first photography expedition here, I knew I’d missed a chance so doubled back and asked if I could take her photograph. The vintage style costume caught my eye and she really stood out against the rest of the street and in front of the shop she worked at. I would have like to have taken a couple more images and posed her but this was a quick shot between ice cream sales and not someone who I could model.

Shortlisted Six Images

 

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I did originally have the image of the ice cream seller in here as she really stands out as a welcoming figure with the uniform and ice cream sign. However when I started to review this in the context of a series of images that captured the spirit of Manchester showing both people and place, I felt that there were other images in the series that had both people and place in them and fitted into the series more appropriately and this just stood out which indicated that it just didn’t fit in.

Rejected Images

When I shortlisted the images, I managed to reduce these to 14, and I struggled to decide which of these I wanted as my 12. I wanted to show these as part of my thought and working process in editing and reducing the numbers of images to meet the brief.

Near the Corn Exchange

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On a later visit, I was walking near the Corn exchange and looking at more of the buildings, my first thought was of the person walking through the image, I wanted to capture them but then I saw the path leading into a central point of the image and that also caught my eye. I took the photograph but would prefer it if the person was a little stronger in the frame, I think I was too far away when I saw them and should have waited in position for someone else to pass through.

The other image that I decided to reject was the image of the people crossing the street, its an interesting image but compared to the set, I feel this isn’t as strong as some of the others and as I wouldn’t consider it as part of my 6 final images, have decided not to include this.

Pedestrians at traffic lights

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Reflections

I’m not sure that I would have done anything else differently, I had locations and types of images that I felt would capture the ‘sense of place’ brief pre planned and a few visits to ensure that I had a large enough pool to select from. I think during the first few visits I was still trying to get comfortable with the idea of taking images that captured the spirit of the place and people and while I got some images that I’ve used, it was more on the last visit that I actually felt happy with the output.

I’ve certainly faced more issues than I expected during this assignment, I found the brief quite wide open so instead of being filled with a sense of freedom, I had too many ideas and struggled to tie them down to one. I was conscious of the fact that after the first batch of images had been taken and I’d got some sample prints back that I looked through them and felt very much that I was on the wrong track. I wasn’t happy with the ones I’d shortlisted, the rest of the images didn’t seem to fit my brief either and I had couple of weeks where I didn’t do anything on this apart from debate what else I could do. I had the option of starting again or having another attempt at capturing the images I wanted. As I’d already completed a lot of work, my preferred option was to revisit and then see what images I’d captured through just walking about and not worrying about trying to get every different part of the city.

One thing I’ve noticed while looking through other street photography is that there can be items in the background that can clutter the image. Always conscious that I should only include components in the frame if I purposely want those in the image, it’s not always possible, especially when you only have a moment or two to capture the image. After this assignment, I’m still aware of this but am more accepting as it can add to the context and situation you are presenting.

I also found it quite hard to actually shortlist just 6 images from the set and it did take me some time to keep looking through and reviewing them as a set and then individually to see if I’ve got a set that worked well to meet the brief. I think I’ve achieved this and am happy with the final images that I’ve selected.

 

Bibliography & Websites

Manchester Evening News (2004) The Changing Face of Manchester, MEN Syndication

Rob Bremner

http://lookphotofestival.com/exhibitions/liverpool-unfinished/

Martin Parr

http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult_VPage&VBID=2K1SN2J2I87KR&SMLS=1&RW=1423&RH=750

Daniel Hoffmann

http://www.streetphotography.dk/

http://www.streetphotography.dk/photos/content/dan_1__large.html

Tom Wood

http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/men-women-2

Exercise: Selective processing and prominence

Select one image that you have already taken for an earlier project, an image in which the issue is the visual prominence of a figure in a setting. For this exercise you will use digital processing methods to make two new versions of this image.

In one, make the figure less prominent so that it recedes into the setting, in the second do the opposite and make it stand out more.

Increased saturation and blacks, bumped up tint and temperature to make their clothes stand out

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For this image I used the lasso tool around the figures and then converted them to black and white. I left the colour of the lighting in as I wanted them to blend in with the grey as opposed to a full monochrome conversion.

 

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An opposite of the first image, I again used the lasso tool, this time working on the figures one by one I increased the saturation and the colour temperature to make their clothes stand out against the grey of the stairs and background.

Original image as used in my work for assignment 3

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Exercise: Balancing figure and space

Aim to produce two images, using the same general viewpoint and composition, varying the balance of attention between the person (or people) and the setting they are in

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Image one is very much balanced towards the setting and the place, a wide angle zoom and high viewpoint adds to this. Image two is from the same viewpoint but using the zoom to emphasise the people and to reduce the space. This one is much more balanced with almost equal space occupied in the frame by the people and the place