Category Archives: Notes

Francesca Woodman


Photo by Francesca Woodman. This linked image is available to view on: http://www.heenan.net/woodman

I have just been reading about Francesca Woodman and looking at her images sadly Woodman died at a very early age and I am sure that had she lived she would have been successful as an Artist.

Susan Bright, comments, “It is difficult not to read Woodman’s self-portraits as alluding to a troubled state of mind.”

Looking at Woodman’s images I see a mixture of fantasy with pathos.  There is a feeling of melancholy and vulnerability in her poses.  There are a lot of nudes, but the images are not about the nude body but the nakedness and perhaps this was a reflection of how she felt.

I can only guess at her thoughts based upon her tragic end and not having read her diaries but this is what I read from the photographs.

However, I find Woodman’s photos both a little erotic and disturbing.  Woodman clearly had a lot of pent up sexual-tension with an artistic voice wanting to be heard.  If I was to say that there was an element of narcissism in Woodman’s photos I think I would be wrong.  I think that she was probably insecure about herself and her looks, yes she was very self-indulgent which may sadly have lead her to her death.  I think that Woodman’s images don’t need accompanying text for the images to be appreciated.

I wonder however, that Woodman clearly had mental-health issues and perhaps the wider issue is the stigma attached to this form of health-issue and the lack of understanding and help for sufferers.  Many artist suffer from depression as many artists by there nature are bipolar in some degree and perhaps educational institutions such as schools and colleges / universities should also watch for this and offer counselling and support.  Woodman committed suicide in 1981 and over 30 years later we are still loosing talent through our lack of understanding of how to help.

Working in Black & White

Working in Black and White

Working in Black & White, by David Prakel, Basics Photography, Published by AVA.

I have just read this book on black-and-white photography which covers both for film and digital with advice on developing and darkroom techniques for those unfamiliar with it and for digital post-production editing with Lightroom and Photoshop.  The book covers all aspects, including going about thinking about tones rather than colour; but explain a bit of colour theory to help with understanding the mental and physical grey-scale conversion.  If using film cameras there is also an explanation of filters for both cameras and darkroom enlargers, how and why they are used and how digital software that mimics filters that can be used and again why.  This book also looks at returning or adding colour to black and white prints either digitally or manually for various artistic effects.  This book offers allsorts of fresh ideas that can be brought to your work.

I began photography with a Pentax K1000 SLR working with Ilford Black and White film that I used to develop and print myself.  I would recommend any modern photographer who has only experience with digital cameras to have a go converting some images to black-and-white and playing with the effects.

The main reason I chose to read this book now is because I am going on a couple of courses at the Nikon school in London doing Film-Noir style black and white portrait photography.

Making Photographs

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Making Photographs by Mike Simmons, Basics Creative Photography, published by Bloomsbury.

I have just re-read this book again for my Context and Narrative course.  I first read this around September last year when I was preparing for my fifth assignment for the Art of Photography course.  This book is a great asset for planning you picture making.  It has good tips of brainstorming for ideas and story-boarding, using symbiotic and text.  The last chapter is useful tips for the presentation of your work for exhibitions, book or web.

I would say that this book is a must and one to refer back to from time to time.

A good book about semiotics

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This Means This, This Means That, by Sean Hall, Published by Laurence King Publishing.  ISBN: 978-1-85669-735-4

I have just finished reading a good book on the subject of semiotics, this is a comprehensive that looks at how and where semiotics can be found and used.  As semiotics is fundamental to communication this book illustrates how it can be employed in practically any field of study.

I am currently working on me second assignment, the subject being ‘The Unseen’ and this book has helped me think, a little more, outside-the-box.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone studying the Arts, literature, Photography, Cinema, Theatre or even Sales and Marketing.  Perhaps OCA should add it to their list of recommended books to read.

I will keep this hand for future reference.

Photography by Stephen Bull

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Photography, by Stephen Bull, published by Routledge.

I have just finished reading this book as part of the required reading for my course and I found it inspirational for my current exercise Image and text as part of project 2, Part Two – Narrative.  It has also provided me with ideas for my next Assignment.  This book helps to tell the history of photography, explaining what and how modernity, modernism and postmodernism is and influenced photography.  It helps explain for photography can and has been used to communicate ideas and how photography has developed in both the professional world and in the hands of the non-professional amateur / general-public with snap-shot photography which has gone full circle with snap-shop style photography adopted by the professionals.

A good book and with a useful guide to further reading in the back.

Behind the Image

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Behind the Image by Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana, published by AVA.

I have just read through this book for a second time.  The first time was in Spain when I began the Art of Photography course and at that time I was concentrating on more technical aspects of photography such as lighting, composition, design, colour and exposure.  Returning to this book for a second time the information now seems more relevant to me; and although some of the practices preached in this book I am now already using, there is a great deal more for me to try to put in to regular practice and make part of my working routine.  Moreover, there are useful websites for photo-book suppliers and examples of other Artist blogs to look and compare.  I am glad that I re-visited this book at this time.

Bending the Frame by Fred Ritchin

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I have just finished reading this book which is a critical look at the current challenges facing photojournalism and documentary photography.  Ritchin looks at how the rise of the digital media through the internet is threatening and changing photojournalism and traditional documentary photography.  He points out that less funding is available to documentary photographers from the traditional sources and that the day of the front page is coming to an end with a predicted total disappearance of the printed newspaper by 2040, beginning with the USA by 2017.  Ritchen suggests that the news media is going through a transition and new ways to grab and hold the readers attention has to be found.  This he acknowledges will be difficult as news images now have to compete right next to an attention grabbing advertising image, something that just was not done in print.  Moreover, with digital webpages images are constantly being replaced or slide-showed in order to maximise display space whilst the viewers attention spans diminish faster than the slide shows.  In a shrinking market for newspaper and magazine publishers Ritchin observes that it is tougher for new photographers to get their work published as publishers / editors are more interested in the fame of the photographer than the work he produces, suggesting that modern editors are more influenced and controlled by capitalistic ideas of celebrating the celebrity in order to sell.

An interesting and useful book for anyone looking to work in  photojournalism / editorial world.

I purchased it and read it as I thought that it might have relevant information for my course on Context and Narrative; but although it was an interesting read providing background to this industry I am not sure how useful I will find it in the future.  I will keep it on my shelf in case I need to refer back at a later date.

Robert Wyatt

 


Photo by Robert Wyatt. This linked image is available to view on line: http://www.robertwyatt.net

Whilst reading Behind the Image, )Creative Photography 03, Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana, Published by AVA) I learned of an interesting photographer called Robert Wyatt and have been looking at examples of his work.  http://www.robertwyatt.net/  I like his style.

Alexey Titarenko

 

I have just come across this photographer on YouTube Alexey Titarenko.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3IgZUJTlOo  All I can say is WOW!  Long exposure with a tripod and my guess using an ND filter.  The black and white film has turned the Russian commuters into smoke as Titarenko puts it like something out of Greek mythology.

 

Ansel Adams

Hi have just watched a very interesting documentary on the life of Ansel Adams the great American landscape photographer on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvt1ImIKi0U  .

I mention it in my blog as Adams’ work, Serra Nevada the John Muir Trail was pivotal in persuading Congress and President Roosevelt to in act a law to protect the wilderness of the Serra Nevada which became known as Kings Canyon National Park.  It struck me that documentary photography can take on many unexpected forms and can sometimes make a difference.