Tag Archives: place

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

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Assignment 3: Buildings in Use

Assignment Brief
Choose five or six buildings and for each produce between two and four images that describe effectively and attractively the way in which these spaces are used.
You can choose to include people in the images or not
For each building it is important that you conduct some research beforehand either archival or personal (or both) so that you have:
– A good understanding of how and why it was designed in the way it is
– An opinion on its effectiveness as a usable space
Try to encompass variety in your choice of buildings including size and purpose
Write a short statement demonstrating your understanding of the function of each building, the way it was designed to achieve that, and how well you believe it succeeds
Describe briefly how you initially set about showing the important features of each building photographically, and what you learned during the course of shooting the assignment

Scope
After looking at the brief, I started off with an idea that I didn’t just want to go and photograph any buildings; I wanted a theme or a link between the images. The first idea that I’d had was to capture the space and buildings that had some relevance or meaning to me, such as the Liverpool Anglican cathedral where I graduated. As I progressed with this, I’d begun to see that I had a trend of using museums and galleries and there were more of them in my original work than I’d planned.
When reviewing the first few images, I wasn’t happy that I’d captured the space and its use effectively. Going back to the drawing board I then began to think more about how museums and galleries have changed and redeveloped with the changing trends in visitors. I subscribe to a museum journal newsletter so could see that audiences and the expectations were changing, for example “New museum policies should focus on how to become more stimulating, participative and inclusive, while staying educative and enriching. Museums should propose a multidimensional offer to visitors, without falling into an empty event promotion” (Hanquinet & Savage 2012)
It’s with this in mind that I put together a mix of images that show the change from what we recognise as a traditional museum and the changes, and improvements made for today’s and future audiences.
The brief asks you to encompass variety in your images and the sample journals that I’d seen online by other students all featured different types of buildings and space so I emailed my outline plan to my tutor to compare the different spaces in the same type of building, working to the same audience and he agreed that this could be done.
My new focus was looking at the change in museums and galleries, how the space was used for exhibitions, visitors, how they’d been improved and developed over time.

The Process
Once I’d confirmed the scope, I then started to look at a selection of museums and galleries and drew up a shortlist of old, new, specific, and general and those that had been through development. Visiting and photographing nine different sites, I followed my usual process of selection, review, editing, printing and re-selection. While I’d been through a process of selection using a shortlist on a contact sheet, once I’d received the prints back, I wasn’t happy with the way some of them had come out. While I’d viewed the edited images on different monitors to check the colours, some of them were darker than I’d planned or the colours were not as crisp as I’d envisaged on the screen. I put the images to one side for a couple of weeks while I caught up with some subject reading and went back to research my locations to see if I could revisit some of the images or if there were any other locations that might be more suitable. I’d revisited some of the previous images that I’d not thought of using as I found that as the more I progresses, the more my thoughts changed on what I wanted to show and represent.

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Editing, Processing & Technical Details
All of the images were taken on a Canon 7d with the lenses being used:-
Canon 50mm f/1.8 Sigma 24-60mm Lensbaby Composer
Minimal editing with Photoshop CS6 was undertaken with tweaks to colour, saturations and some black and white conversion. I’ve chosen to get these printed by a third party company as while my Canon 6150 printer does photo printing well with separate black ink tanks and a grey tank, I’ve currently run out of ink. However I would in future either stick to outsourcing from one company for all work or print at home as opposed to mixing through the term of submitting assignments. I prefer to use a matte paper for my images with a white border. While I’ve tried glossy images and have undertaken a side by side comparison between matte and gloss on a black and white image in this series, I find the high gloss far too reflective. Further inspection to my eyes didn’t reveal a great difference in tones between the two and at the moment I prefer matte or satin paper with some texture. There have and still continues to be plenty of debate on the student forums on printing, it’s something I will monitor and change if I feel that a subject needs a different approach, different paper type or has a different audience where it would be appropriate to use this.

Reflections
I thought that this was going to be a straightforward exercise, even after my change of scope. However as I undertook more research and spent longer visiting these locations, my thoughts on just providing a photographic representation of the chosen building and space changed. Partway through my work on this I’d reviewed the results of my formal assessment for my previous course. I’d been disappointed with my scoring so I hit a wall with what I’d done and what I needed to do. I wasn’t happy with the selective images and whether they had the ability to fulfil my brief. I’d taken so many images over the different sites that I’d almost made this too large a body of work with the number of images. I didn’t know whether I wanted to revisit some of the locations to see if I could do better or whether to rethink my whole idea. Reading through the assessment criteria provided as part of the study guide, I was looking for the gaps where I felt that I need to improve, one of the things that I realised was that I was just taking photographs of the space as a record of what’s there and that I’d lost some creativity as I’d worked through.
One of the exercises I’d undertaken when I wasn’t happy with the progress I’d made was to lay the images out in their series again and review, but I also started brainstorming what people expect in a museum or gallery and also what the spaces inside these are used for.

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Luckily the Easter break was upon us so I chose to forget about coursework and try to clear my head as I find sometimes some space away gives me more clarity and the thinking time helps. During the break I planned to visit two other museums that I visit quite frequently for a change of scene. As I had been there before, I had no agenda apart from just wandering around with my camera, I thought that I’d continue to focus on the space and while I had one eye on my assignment brief. I felt a freedom and a sense of experimentation using my 50mm prime lens and my Lensbaby composer. I’d been thinking about the previous images and wanted to be a little more experimental and creative showing a different viewpoint to the usual point of view.
Looking back, I think that the break away from working on this assignment helped but that in the future if I don’t feel that my work is what I expected or wanted, that I can start again and not be concerned as until you sits down with prints, it’s not always clear if you met the brief you were working to.

Manchester Art Gallery
The former city art gallery had been built for an audience very much of its time in 1892, a lack of space extended the building with an athenaeum in 1938. A redevelopment programme in the late 1990s cumulated in the newly developed galleries opening to the public in 2002.Bridging the gap between the older buildings and the newly built expansion is a glass walkway and staircase leading the visitors into the new galleries and the changing exhibition gallery compared to the traditional galleries. The space is not limited to being purely functional, the foyer on the ground floor holds an information desk, there are rooms leading off that can be used for events. I’ve attended a photography lecture in these rooms, and then hanging above the staircase is the metal sculpture ‘Filter’ by Antony Gormley providing a focal point of interest as you walk up and get higher to the individual galleries. It is all personal preference as to what you think of the space as a visitor, I’ve been many times to the gallery and love the older works such as the pre-Raphaelite collection, yet it’s where the newer, more spacious side that appeals to me more. The white walls are prime blank canvases for touring exhibitions, at the time of visiting for this the Raqib Shaw exhibition was on and the vivid colours and textures in his work benefitted from the neutrality. The space is very much a mix of old and new, however it works as the types of work exhibited is paired with the most appropriate gallery layout that suits its age, for example the galleries hosting the Victorian art is very much in keeping with the decoration and colours of that period.

The Balcony (Image1)

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The Steps (Image 2)
For both the images, when thinking about the effectiveness of the space, these are both areas where there are limitations. On a balcony there is only so much space so that paintings and hung 2d works will fit more appropriately than 3d sculptures. The use of hanging baskets is in my eyes innovative and really stands out as I’ve never seen that done before and the splash of green breaks up the colouring of the stone. Again there is limited scope that can be done as part of a staircase but the usage of modern materials and the light coming through the glass helps to create a focal point and maximises the feeling of space.

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Manchester Museum
As with the Manchester Art gallery, Manchester museum has also evolved from a traditional stone building to one that has been modernised and expanded with work still continuing in some galleries. While the gallery also features a connecting glass corridor between the buildings that is not what caught my eye when I visited. The ‘Ancient World’s’ gallery reopened in October 2012, originally it had the feel of a much older museum, dark rooms with lots of exhibits have been transformed in a much more open mix. It had previously had the feel of an older more traditional museum when the visitor experience has been moving towards a more interactive way of visiting. Now the gallery is a much lighter space, taking advantage of the large glass windows with a mixture of glass cabinets, stone exhibits and illuminated panels providing information on key people. When I visited the light was shining through the windows on the left and casting long shadows onto the cabinets. I took a number of photographs as I wanted the light but also to capture the new way of presenting information in the panels. I feel that this really shows the juxtaposition between the old and the new, and that this manages to be modern but still keeping its heritage.

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The Gallery (Image 3)
The Allotment (Image 4)

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While there is a large focus on the inside of a museum/gallery, one of the features that I felt needed capturing was the allotment space. I’ve included this for two reasons, it’s very obvious, being positioned outside the main entrance to that all visitors walk past this to get entry to the museum, the other reason is that it’s a prime example extending the gallery space outside and also provides hands on education. Again it’s an evolution of what exhibits should be in a museum combined with what’s needed for the audience and to educate with

Foundation of Art and Creative Technology (FACT) Liverpool
The Foundation of Art and Creative Technology (FACT) stands out within the series of images due to the very modern external profile. This purpose built site opened in 2003 and while I took a number of photographs within the building, I felt that it was important to show the exterior and the colour contrast between the orange and the grey. The façade of the building is very different to the exteriors of some of the other museums due to the relative newness of the building and its purpose built manner. While this image isn’t about the internal use of space, if a building doesn’t appear attractive on the outside, it won’t be able to attract in the visitors required.
The second image shows the building in use, while there were a number of photographs taken of the inside space, most of it is very open and can be utilised in whatever way they need. They have static unchanging spaces such as the café and the box office, the rest of the space in neutral grey can be used as a blank canvas as required with floor space and hanging space. My chosen image of the staircase is a strong image that has shapes and lines that draw the eye in and the people at the top help to show the use and the fact it connects the two main spaces within the building leading up to the cinema, bar and a further exhibition space. While there were a number of photographs taken of the inside space, most of it is very open and can be utilised in whatever way they need. They have static unchanging spaces such as the café and the box office, the rest of the space in neutral grey can be used as a blank canvas as required with floor space and hanging space. My chosen image of the staircase is a strong image that has shapes and lines that draw the eye in and the people at the top help to show the use and the fact it connects the two main spaces within the building leading up to the cinema, bar and a further exhibition space. Is it effective space? Well it’s been designed with a modern architectural style and materials compared with that of the older galleries, it’s also been built for a specific purpose of a space that can be used, adapted and is open to different art forms.

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Staircase (Image 6)

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Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) Manchester
For the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, I’ve included these images as I feel that there is so much variety in the use of spaces. The site is based on an old railway and this can be seen with some of the tracks still remaining in place. There are four main buildings as a part of the visitor complex, some have been redeveloped and modernised, yet some are still as they were when I first visited on a school trip some years ago. The first two images were taken in the steam hall, a very large space that houses static steam engines and some full size locomotives. With this visit, I tried to be a little more creative in my subject and the composition. Within the power hall, there are large glass windows that allow the viewers on the street to look in, and also for light to come through. I was focusing on the gauge on the equipment but my eye was drawn to the triangle of lights falling onto the back wall. I decided to focus on this instead to show the brick structure of the building but still keeping the equipment in the background so that the viewer can see more than just the exhibits.
The second image was again in the power hall, and I wanted to include an image of the equipment and steam engines to enforce the message that this is a very specific collection and focus of the museum. I took two versions of this, one was a close up just on the movement of the working engine, but while it was effective at showing the action, it didn’t show the context. I opted for the wider image to show the engine working in its setting but also capturing the movement to give the viewer an idea that this is more than just static displays.
The final image is in the air and space gallery, this has been in need of some redevelopment for some time and is looking tired and even empty in some areas. I did focus on these but felt that that it didn’t fit what I wanted to show, there will always need to be a process of change and improvement which does rely on funding to do this. While there are some weaker areas in this gallery space, it’s also full of different vehicles and planes as the structure is large. While it wasn’t possible to get everything in shot, even with my widest lens, I focused on the one plane that really caught my eye. The former Lower Crumpfield Market hall and later city exhibition hall comprises of a large iron framed and glass structure that previously had fallen in dereliction before being bought by the museum. From the upper balcony, it’s possible to look out across the aeroplanes and through the large windows into the surrounding streets. The light was quite bright coming through the windows in the early afternoon so while I took the image in colour, my eyes saw this as monochrome so I converted it later in Photoshop. With the view of the plane and the large windows, it gives the sense of scale and space needed to exhibit this type of subject.
Power Hall (Image7)

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Air and Space (Image 9)


Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford
In companion to MOSI, Cosford also displays aircraft and some other vehicles. Partly converted from an RAF training base, and still featuring in training and air shows, parts of Cosford are housed in large hangars with large opening doors to manoeuvre the aircraft around. In addition to this is the newly built cold war hangar that opened in 2007 and from the outside is a very tall, silver metal structure. I did take some images of this, but for me the most appropriate use of space was from the inside. I’d visited here many times previously and felt that I’d gone as far as I could in photographing the displays and space with my normal camera lenses. When I visited this time, I took my Lensbaby composer which I am still experimenting with. I wanted to capture the visitor interaction but without direct focus on the people, for me it’s all about the visitors using the space

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Airfix (Image 9)
I feel this image really shows some of the space of the hangar but the effect of photographing this from the balcony and using the changeable tilt focus of the Lensbaby gives the image a sense of looking down onto something small. As a viewer you know the size of a plane and the building must there therefore be large to accommodate this but the effect tricks the eye and mind. As there were a lot of people visiting that day, I focused the lens on the right hand side to show the space but to get the blurred effect of the visitors moving through.
Cosford Balcony (Image 10)

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Within the cold war hangar there are planes hanging from the ceiling in different positions as well as static displays over the different levels with a small high viewing balcony. My two images from within here show the different floors and levels. Image two is included as again it gives a sense of scale of the building with the large planes and then in the background the lift and balcony populated with visitors.
The next image is also within the cold war hangar, on the middle level you can see the ceiling of silver metal stretching up to the top of the image, the focus on the full size plane that’s hanging stands out with the yellow stripes on it. In the foreground there is a mixture of place and visitors with the Vickers Valiant in white on the right hand side of the screen. Again, I didn’t want the people in sharp focus, there were a lot of families visiting and for me the image was about the space bring used effectively and the visitors showing the scale and the fact this is a place that people choose to come to. The effect of blurring is an added advantage that no people or children can be identified so I didn’t need to get permission for the images.

 

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Hanging (Image 11)
The final image was taken in the warplanes hangar, again the Lensbaby has rendered the people out of focus as I wanted a feel that the planes were static but the traffic of visitors was moving, and I think this is added to with the leading lines around the plane on the floor.

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Visitors (Image 12)
I think that Cosford does use its space well, there are a few areas of free space and for events the hangar doors allow the planes to be moved (they can be moved out to make space for events) Where the space is most effectively used is within the cold war hangar, a purpose built building so that the planes and exhibitions have been planned in.

Summary
I’ve looked at the images that I’ve taken to see where they fit into the context of today’s photography. Some of the images such as the stairs are very much in keeping with the work of older photographers such as Aage Strüwing and City Hall stairs from 1956 with very defined lines and patterns.

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However due to the number of images that I’ve taken and of the difference between the content in each, in this case its hard for me to find a current context with the varied styles covering the images within this project.
What I expected to be an easy assignment has proved to be a very tricky one, which I feel has really pushed me. I’ve struggled with the scope, narrowing it down, feeling creative and feeling that I’ve met the brief that I’ve set myself. However I’ve worked through the processes and am happy with
the final results. From this I feel that the time and effort that I spent in consideration and redoing this until I felt it was right, was worth it.

Bibliography
Elwall, Robert (2004) Building with Light: The international history of architectural photography. Merrell Publishers
Hanquinet, Laura & Savage, Mike (2012) ‘Educative Leisure’ and the art museum
Kopelaw, Gerry (2007) Architectural Photography: The Digital Way. Princeton Architectural Press
Website
A guide to current architectural photographers http://blog.buildllc.com/2010/09/a-guide-to-current-architectural-photographers/ (Link valid 23/04/13)

Assignment 2: People and Activity

Assignment Brief

You should produce a set of approximately 10 final, selected images, and you can choose between depicting the same person or small group at different kinds of activity, or different people at the same single activity or event.

Concentrate especially on two aspects: on telling moments, and on ‘explaining’ the activity (which means choosing viewpoint, framing and timing to make the actions as intelligible as possible).

– Critically assess you finished work. Consider each piece individually

– Identify what has worked well and what has been less successful and analyse the reasons for this.

Introduction

I recently visited the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition in London entitled ‘A Question of Colour’ where the photographers included within this all in their own ways had captured the decisive moment, Its with this in mind that I prepare for the day’s photography at a local event. Doing some background research into the decisive moment, I was surprised to read that the cover of Cartier-Bresson’s book Images à la sauvette, in English The Decisive Moment had its cover drawn by Henri Matisse. For me, this connection between art and photography is something that I keep coming back to. One of my earliest study visits was to ‘The art books of Henri Matisse’ at the Walker art gallery. I wasn’t sure whether it could benefit me until I actually started looking at his work. Colours, shape, positioning, composition are all transcendent between mediums whether you prefer a camera or a paint brush and again reminds me that I can’t view photography in a silo, separate from other mediums. My aim was to capture a series of images that fulfilled the brief of capturing telling moments or that showed a clear activity which can also be translated to be the ‘decisive moment’

Background

The hardest part of undertaking this assignment wasn’t the photography, but actually finding an appropriate outside event that I could photograph in winter. While I did have a rather generous deadline to get this completed, I was keen to work through and to move on as I don’t like having a gap where I can’t do anything and I’d caught up with all of the exercises I needed to do. I receive a magazine with monthly events in for Chester and Cheshire and saw a celebration called ‘Holly Holy Day’ in Nantwich comprising of a winter fayre and a battle re-enactment.

This was an annual event that was held to celebrate a historical event and as well as entertainment within the town centre, there was a re-enactment of troops marching through the town and then of the 1644 Battle of Nantwich. We’d had some heavy snow fall the day and evening before so I wasn’t sure if this would still go ahead but luckily the troops were willing to fit in these conditions.

Photography on the day

I went with the brief to capture the battle but was surprised to see a troop of Border Morris dancers in the square; these were an excellent subject with different costumes and roles involved as well as a sense of activity and movement. I then moved on to photograph the parade through the town and then onto the battle field. Over the course of the day I took 393 images in total shortlisting to 41 Morris dancing and 47 battle/troops images. While some of the subjects were happy to be photographed, there were some people who seemed less keen. These are excluded from the set only because they were ones that didn’t fit into my theme, however it was a public event, I wasn’t there with the biggest lens unlike some of the people attending but I think the large number of people with cameras might have something to do with this.

Selection and Editing

While both of these events were under the same billed day, and I liked certain images from each set, I felt that if I was presenting these as a series that they had to be either Morris dancing or troops as without the knowledge of the event, it would have been hard for a viewer to see the connection and I wanted to make the series a strong and coherent one that could stand on its own and didn’t need a lot of captioning. I spent some time looking at both shortlisted sets and felt that there was more scope for activity and movement in the images with the troops as there were more roles and people involved within this. After I’d chosen the theme, I then shortlisted a second time getting the images from 47 to 19, I ordered small prints of these and once they’d arrived started the shortlist part 3. I laid out all of the images on the floor so that I could stand back and look at them; slowly removing the ones I felt didn’t stand out or fit the brief. I then left the images and went back to them later to make sure I was happy and just made a couple of more changes.

Once I’d decided on the images, I waited a couple of days and got on with some write ups of a recent study visit and then just went back to the images to start the editing process. I’d ordered the original prints from a straight jpg conversion so now I used Photoshop CS6 to tweak the colours and to give them a little more punch and then to add a border around them. Once saved these were placed into a folder for printing.

Aims of the assignment

I’ve tried to choose a set of images that show both individuals taking part within the parade and the battle re-enactment but also a wider view showing the context in which they are in.

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While we were waiting for the main body of the troops to get to the battle ground, there were two sets of troops setting up their cannons. The subject of this image was walking us through what they were doing and making us all aware of how load they can be when they fire. He is demonstrating where you should put your hands to protect your ears, apparently you should deflect the sound away not put your hands over your ears. I like this piece as a stand-alone as it shows an action that is unusual and one that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as part of a re-enactment or historical event, its also quite humorous. I’m pleased that he has yellow laces in his boots as with the snow on the ground, it needs something to just make the pale boots stand out. Looking at it as part of the series, I feel that it’s the weaker of all the selection, with hindsight, this would have been a much closer portrait focusing on the upper body and head as this is where all of the action is.

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This is one of my favourite images, not only does this subject stand out in his red coat but the light is just casting onto his face. He was keeping a piece of rope lit in order to light the cannon and this involved lighting the end of it and then blowing the flame until it’s just a glow and I loved the effect of the smoke coming off this. As on one of them there was someone else in the background, I’ve cropped this to show just the subject. I think it shows the action well, the subject is obviously undertaking an activity, and the vivid colours really catch the eye. However I feel that the picture is made by the blue smoke patterns, these were only there for a short time before they faded and I’m really pleased that I managed to get it, and it is helped by the background of the trees which is quite dark and helps it to stand out.

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Again another image that caught my eye due to the strong red colour of the flag, it really stands out against the beige of the uniform and the fairly dull January background. With the drummer and other troops in the background there is a sense of context there, of marching into or away from a battle. There are two forms of action here, the flag bearer as he is part of the march and also the flag as it moves about. I think you get more of a sense of the marching through the flag and the people in the background, the subjects expression shows that he is focussed on the task.

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This is one of the favourite portraits that I’ve taken; I took two versions of this, the one chosen above and also one of the main subject on his own. I wasn’t sure which to choose and debated over this one more than any others in the set. In the end I thought this was more appropriate with what I was trying to show and that the slightly wider angle showing the troops in the background but not quite as in focus. This wider angle gives the subject more context and you get the impression that this is a march, an event as opposed to someone just as a static guard.

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In a series of images, I wanted to include at least one wider angled shot showing the battle to give some indication of the scale of the event. I chose this one as it shows the smoke from the musket fire but also the troops fighting with pikes, which to me seemed more like a rugby scrum with very large wooden poles. I feel that this falls into the rules of thirds- horizontally the top has the band of smoke and pikes, then the middle darker band of the uniforms broken up with some colour and then the bottom band of paler snow.

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While this does feature a subject from a previous image, I’ve included this as I don’t think that there can be a better image of an action taking place, of him just moving away with the combustion of the lighter and the black powder in the cannon. I’m really pleased that I managed to get the flames as the fuse was lit and also coming from the front of the cannon, as I had been trying to get this throughout the day and it was a matter of patience, understanding the timing and a very good continuous shooting mode on my camera. This to me really sums up the decisive moment as once the cannon has been lit there is no changing the course of action.

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This is the moment just before the cannon was fired. When they were ready, a member of the troop raised his arm to signal and to get the attention so that there was a clear path in front of the cannon (cannonballs weren’t being fired but it was still maximum safety obviously) and when ready to fire, the shout to alert everyone was ‘have a care’ meaning be on your guard. I like the colour of his uniform and the depth of field that shows the battlefield in the background but the focus is obviously on the man and the action he is about to perform.

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This is a closer image of the troops leading up their cannon and the action in padding the gun barrel. I’ve chosen this for two reason, the first one is the action, they are all there with individual roles, whether its padding the cannon or ensuring that the fuse at the back is ready for when they want to light this. The second reason I chose this is the vivid blue colour of their tunics which stands out against the surroundings, and the expression utter concentration with the tongue slightly sticking out on the man padding the cannon is one of those unposed moments that

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All of the troops in the cannon teams were taking it in turns to light and fire the cannon. This is another member who is looking after the lighting mechanism. As with some of the other images, the colour of his uniform really stood out and grabbed my eye with his yellow cuffs, and interesting helmet he was a good contrast to some of the others. I also liked the repeat action of looking after the lighting coil as they were keeping that maintained throughout the hour and half event

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I loved the expression and arm position of this guy, while it’s not clear what he’s doing, you can see the troops in the background so it has some context. I chose this as I thought it was unusual and a good character portrait, it’s certainly an image of something happening. Looking back on it a few weeks after taking it, I’m wondering what he’s saying and who to.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed this assignment, it was certainly challenging as in the market place there was very limited room in the high street crowds to get a good spot and the dancers did come quite close by a few times. The battlefield was challenging more for the freezing snow we were all stood in and having to persist in getting the composition I wanted when there people moving across the field and undertaking their activities, as well as the loud explosions coming from the cannons which did make me jump.

The hardest part was then down to just editing the images from the large original number to the ones I was selecting but that was no different to any other assignment and as I had undertaken digital photographic practice as my last module, I had my workflow sorted out. This was a good exercise to undertake with plenty of different people and poses, none of whom I know so I just had to get out there with the camera.

Sample of rejected images

To highlight I’ve included a couple of rejected images from the parade as not quite fitting what I wanted to show.

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Bibliography & References

· Berger, John and Mohr, Jean (1995) Another way of telling. Vintage International

· Stepan, Peter (2011) 50 photographers you should know. Prestel

Online Learning Log

All entries into my paper learning log are replicated electronically and are available to view at:

https://saltwickstudios.wordpress.com/