Category Archives: Research and Reflections

About Looking by John Berger

about-looking

Among my pile of books yet to read as part of my studies I had ‘About Looking’ by John Berger.  I have only recently been introduced to this author through my Context and Narrative Course, I read his book ‘Ways of Seeing’ and watched the accompanying BBC TV program on You-Tube which I found very interesting. I then went onto read ‘Understanding a Photograph’, in preparation for my fourth assignment.  The recent sad news of John Berger’s death prompted me to read this book, ‘About Looking’.

This book is made up of a selection of essays, Berger wrote from the mid 1960’s up to the late 1970’s.

His first essay examines how man looks and sees himself; how he regards animals and his world around him and compares this to how other animals regards themselves, man and the world through their eyes.

His next essay looks at pictures by August Sander the famous farm hands going to a dance photo and another image of a local musical band posing for their photograph and he discusses how their suits give away their status in society despite their smart attire.

Also included is an essay on the works of Paul Strand.  The rest of the book moves away from photography and looks at works by other artists from the 17th century such as Hals through to Artist’s such as Francis Bacon and Giacometti of the 20th.

An interesting read, Berger had his own style of writing and if you have heard him speak you can almost hear his voice coming through the pages of the book.

He was clearly very passionate about art and I am sure a nice guy to have met.  I am sure all who were fortunate enough to have met him will miss him.

The Burden of Representaion, Essays on Photographies Histories by John Tagg

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I have just finished reading this book that I began in November!

Tagg looks at how photography has been influenced and how it has influenced history in Europe and North America by examining historical records in the UK and Europe and USA.  Taking examples of photographs taken in the 19th century for recording likeness’ of prisoners, photos of slums such as in Leeds that were used to push to challenge the Local Authorities and fight for improved living conditions for the poor.  Images taken in the early part of the 20th century to document the results of economic rescission in the rural community of the USA.  Tagg analyses both images and back the ground events to produce a strong argument for his book and often makes reference to a French philosopher, Michel Foucault, that who I should perhaps find more about and how his ideas may help in my creativity.

An interesting book, a little heavy and have your dictionary to hand but worth studying as his method of research is good and his idea that arguments that are not fully tested with good background research are weak and likely to be biased.  I think Tagg alludes to this when referring to John Berger and Susan Sontag.

 

Dodge and Burn

Further to comments made by my Tutor, I have used the Burn feature in photoshop to reduce the highlight area to the left of the picture that my Tutor suggests pulls the eye.

Before.

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After:

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My skills with Photoshop are still very basic and a thorough scrutinisation of the brick work will quickly reveal the work I have done with the ‘Healing Brush’.  Although I hope that no one is going to look too closely at the brick work.

Crisis of the Real, Andy Grundberg

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Andy Grundberg is an American art critic, based in New York who over a period of the 1980’s and 1990′ has written a number of important essays of artists and their exhibitions which he has written for The New York Times, etc.  His critical analysis of artist such as Walker Evans, Georgia O’Keefe, Joel Sternfield, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lewis Hine, Robert Heinecken, gives a very good insight into a great many of 2oth century artists both modernist and postmodernist with a helpful explanation as to the difference.  I found this book as recommended reading on Amazon and I dare say I expect to find it listed among future recommended or required readings in my OCA journey.  A good book to read.

The Photography Reader, edited by liz Wells

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This book is full of famouse / influential essays for photography and a particular essay of  interest is ‘See Photographically’ be Edward Weston.  In his essay under the section ‘Recording an image’ he describes an image being a piece of art when the artist has pre-visualized his intended work and selected the elements, composed and framed his picture through a planned process.  This I feel simply sums up true art and can be applied to music, painting, sculpture any medium that can be hailed as art.  additional good essays to read or re-read are Barthes expects from ‘Camera Lucida’ and Rhetoric Of The Image, Walter Benjamin’s extracts from ‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction’.  Also there are some good essays on fetishism which helps to understand the full meaning and use of this term, which would typically be only associated with sexual deviations.

Again this was a book listed as recommended reading of my Art of Photography course which had no bearing to the subject matter covered in the syllabus.  However, this book made sense with connection to the course on ‘Context and Narrative’ as many of the essays had been referred to or covered, yet it is odd that this book is not on the reading list.  I found the book a little dry at times as the essays differ in style; but overall this is a book that I am glad to have read.

Some additional remedial work to assignment 3

Further to my Tutor’s comments in his report for assignment 3, I decided to re-shoot image No.5, as my Tutor felt that the crop was too tight against the ‘soap-box’.

this is my new image.

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D-800e, 24-120mm f/4 @ 92mm, 1/125 sec, f/13, ISO-125, flash used, daylight W.B. Adjustments in Lightroom, tint added in Photoshop, Hue 257, Saturation 3.  Camera mounted to tripod and tethered to lap-top.  A speedlight was mounted in a soft-box and remotely triggered using Pocket Wizard.

Here is a of my all my revised images.

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Alternative images as per my Tutor’s comments.

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This is my new alternative presentation from my original work for assignment 2 based upon my Tutors comments.

My Tutor commented on two images that he felt should have been composed in landscape to be consistent with my other images and he felt that the last image was weak in comparison the the rest.  I have therefor re-shot to offer better alternatives.

The first was referring to my dog and this was the original portrait version.

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D-800e, 24-120mm f/4 @ 120mm, 1/20 sec, f/8, ISO-320, daylight W.B.  Adjustments made in Lightroom to convert to black-and-white and then image tinted in Photoshop, Hue 257, Saturation 3.

This new version composed in landscape photographed in RAW and converted to black-and-white in Lightroom and tinted in Photoshop.

This next image Clive felt was weak.

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Clive’s two objections were that again it has in portrait and he felt the colour was at odds with the black-and-white theme of the other images.

I  can not re-do this picture to landscape as time has moved on and this bud has since flowered and gone.  Furthermore, I was never one-hundred percent happy with it anyway, as I had struggled to come up with a better idea for an image.  However, I have recently had a new idea that I like….

alternative-idea

As you can see I have sketched out my idea of an image of myself suited and booted shaking hands with another suited and booted person whilst discreetly crossing my fingers.  I want this image to denote a business meeting or interview and connoting a message of hope and optimism for the future.  I set the camera up on a tripod, used one speedlight in a soft-box controlled remotely by Pocket wizards.  The camera was set to manual and manual focus and tethered to my lap-top for picture control, I also used a separate Sekonic lightmeter to meter the flash.

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D-800e, 24-120mm f/4 @ 120mm, 1/125 sec, f/6.3, ISO-125, flash used, daylight WB.  Adjustments in Lightroom to black-and-white and colour tint adjustments made in Photoshop, Hue 257, Saturation 3.  On reflection of this picture, I now consider that a second light would have been in order, set in front of me and to the left to help separate my right arm from the background.  I could mess about in Photoshop to get better separation; but for this exercise I wont.

Using Clive’s suggested tinting I have produced new tinted versions of the rest of the black-and-white images.  The originals are on the left and the new tinted versions on the right.

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