Category Archives: Coursework

Reflections of part one

I began this course not ever having thought much of what documentary photography was, in fact if asked I would have guessed and suggested that it was a form of photojournalism and probably a title given to a number of images pertaining to a news of magazine story.  I now understand that documentary photography has a much broader meaning and is very much linked to the Art photographer as describing their project work and I look forward to my next section.

I also learned that street photography / photojournalism is not that easy or straightforward, as I learned when I went out and about with my DSLR to take street style photographs.  Planning is always essential even if it is just arming yourself with some compositional ideas to find and photograph.

Exercise, Project 3- Street Photography

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In this exercise I am tasked to take 30 colour images and 30 black-and-white images in a street photography style and then comment on the two formats.  I prepared my shoot by first making a list in a small note-book of ideas for composition which helped motivate and provide aims and objectives.  I set about altering the settings in my camera for JPEG and familiarizing the setting between monochrome and colour.  I altered ISO settings from auto to manual throughout the shoot and I did the same for white balance and the shooting modes (manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority).  I used just one lens a 24-120mm zoom f/4, hand-held, no flash.

Street photography

I am using a DSLR and would normally take my pictures in RAW and process them through Lightroom.  However, for this exercise I feel that to do this properly I must work as if I have only colour or black-and-white film in my camera.  Moreover, it would add to the challenge if I limit my shots to 36 each, the most from a reel of 35mm film.  So for this exercise I set my camera to JPEG, Fine, and made 36 images set to Monochrome and 36 images set to Colour – Vivid.

I find working with a DSLR on the street to be very awkward.  The camera is heavy and bulky and it is difficult to take candid shots because as soon as you lift the camera to your eye people become aware of you.  Moreover, I had an incident when a busy-body manager from the local Mall came out and tried to interfere with me working outside in the street but he backed down immediately when I told him that I knew my law.  I am sure that if I was using a smaller camera or a mobile-phone I would have been left alone and ironically would probably have been able to work in the Mall without anyone taking any notice.

Black and white

Out of 36 shots some I duplicated to get the correct exposure and some didn’t come out as I was experimenting with times exposures.

Colour

As with the black and white images, I made some duplicates to try to improve on the colour or composition.  I would have liked to have been able to have taken some of my colour images inside my local Shopping Mall to make use of the white balance feature for lighting effects but I was told that I wasn’t permitted to use my camera inside the Mall.

My preference has to be monochrome, I personally found this a more challenging and rewarding medium for this project.

Remaining monochrome images that made up my 36 image limit.

Remaining colour images taken that made up my 36 image limit.

Assignment One – Two sides of the story.

The Report

The Report

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1# My mother was posing for her photograph.

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2# A lady looking the wrong way and another pedestrian sees the danger and rushes to prevent an accident.

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3# The gentleman grabs the lady before she steps out.

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4# He saves her just in time.

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5# He then rushes off and catches a Bus.

The Statement.

The Statement

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1# My mother posing for her photograph with the attacker in the background.

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2# The attacker rushes to attack the lady.

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3# The assault

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4# The attacker runs away when he realizes that we witnessed it.

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5# My mother helps and comforts the lady.

 

Research point – Duane Michals

This image by Duane Michals cleverly uses hand written text to suggest a personal relationship between the author of the caption and man in the image.  The black and white print eliminates any distracting colours to concentrate the emotional feeling of love.  However, is the picture a genuine snap shot of the artist and his ex? or is it a composed image?  Who took the photograph? Why was he of she in the bedroom with them?

I would suggest that this is a posed photograph and the hand written text intentionally alters the context to suggest a personal memory a reflection on a past relationship; but fiction all the same.  Below is another image which we can see is posed and the hand written message adds humour to the context.

Research point – Karen Knorr, Gentlemen

Photograph by Karen Knorr

An interesting project by Karen Knorr with privileged access to London’s Gentlemen clubs of St. James’ in London.  Knorr photographs in black and white appear to be taken of a medium format camera and are very sharp and well composed.  She has cleverly added texts constructed out of Parliamentary speeches and news she has added new contexts and meanings to these images to put across her ideas of British politics and democracy and the status of women in an entertaining way.

To me, this is a little like the idea of Sophie Calle’s, ‘Take Care of Yourself’.  Knorr has taken other peoples text and linked it with carefully composed pictures with a feminist point of view.  However, the similarities stop there as Knorr is clearly an outsider and has little in common with her subject; so she has had to use speeches that members of clubs like this have said in Parliament or have been quoted on the news to create a narrative that puts across her documentary message in an entertaining way.  Calle on the other hand was an insider as she shared a common experience with fellow women.

Research point – One in 8 Million, The New York Times

One in 8 Million is an interesting online photo project in which a diverse range of people living in New York city talk about themselves with a slide show of still and black and white photographs that play-out in time with the audio narration.  The pictures have been photographed to compliment the transcript and are a good example of how the theory of relay and on occasion anchoring is used with the audio.  A very interesting social documentary on the diversity of New Yorkers.  The interviews reflect what the individuals personality and identity from a woman into sexual bondage to a reformed drugs dealer, An immigrant from Nepal who is a baggage handler at JFK to a Blue Chip Broker and everyone in between a total of 54 different subjects all with there own story and collection of photos, that runs for two and a half minutes each.  Very interesting and entertaining.  Martin Parr, comments that in order to make interesting social documentaries he makes the entertaining to disguise the intended social message.

Research point – Sophy Rickett’s, Objects in the Field

th  Re-produced print by Sophy Rickett, ‘Obbjects in the Field’

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sophy+rickett+photography&view=detailv2&qpvt=sophy+rickett+photography&id=6FF769463DBEFD016BACBBA5E6FC0A503676280C&selectedIndex=1&ccid=DbBb3aB7&simid=608009787647919593&thid=OIP.M0db05bdda07bd3750c69bd7556c5a7c6o0&ajaxhist=0

In 2013, Sophy Rickett, held the post of Associate Artist at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, were she met Dr. Roderick Willstrop, who invented a three mirrored telescope and his work inspires Rickett’s project, Objects in the Field and displayed at The Museum of the History of Science and reviewed on the Photomonitor website.

Rickett, interviewed D. Willstrop and with his permission printed some black and white negatives of photographs made by his three mirrored telescope that he built at the University. Rickett, using digital technology for wider tonal print and aesthetic qualities she exhibited these photos with some of her own with examples of scientific instruments and linking a video and text.  Rickett’s text consists of a narrative of her experiences working with Dr. Willstrop and juxtaposing this with childhood anecdotal experiences that complemented her story.

This postmodernist documentary approach is based upon a professional relationship that Rickett developed with Dr. Willstrop in order to understand his work and create and artistic project from it.  Using the insider technique of meeting and getting to know Dr. Willstrop, Rickett hoped to find ways of aligning her artistic practices with Dr. Willsrops scientific practices, hoping that she could find away through their commonly shared interests.  She however feels that she failed to achieve this and although she was able to put together a good exhibition she still doesn’t know if Dr. Willstrop liked it or not.  The exhibition appears to have been fairly successful and interesting; but reading between the lines, I wonder if the three mirrored telescope project was a painful memories for Dr. Willstrop that Rickett was racking up.