The Nude, Conceptual Approaches to Fine Art Photography, by Jennifer (Zivolich) Emery, published by Amherst Media, ISBN: 978-1682032527
This is a paperback fully illustrated book offering ideas for images of nude females. The book was okay, it described lighting layouts for the studio subject matter illustrated and tips on health and safety if using a fire eater, but it wasn’t very technically detailed nor did it offer a comprehensive range of poses that could help inspire fresh ideas. Only good if you want to copy the ideas presented but not much use in helping you find inspiration.
I have just read this book for a better understanding of Lightroom. I first discovered Lightroom when I took up photography again and began to learn about the art of digital photography. After a bit of research I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements and got the basic principles of how it worked but I struggled to understand the connection of Adobe Bridge and I only understood that Adobe RAW was to be able to read my camera’s RAW files and nothing more. I then came across Lightroom read the reviews and decided to try it. It seemed to do all the things I needed and it didn’t need Adobe RAW however, I was a little confused as to why and Adobe had made it and where it sits in the workflow for a professional. I found Lightroom easier to understand and use; so I have found it my best programs for photo editing. Talking to other serious photographers, it appears that they all tend to use it more than Photoshop, which has been kept for just more extensive and complicated editing, as when required. This book co-oberates this idea as the intention of Adobe to create a more user friendly photo editing package and also recognising that not all photos will want or need extensive editing and also the feather in the cap of this software is the batch editing capability for commercial photographers who will need to do basic adjustments to RAW images for straightforward output.
However, Photoshop is much more than just an editing suit it offers photo management tools that allows you to archive and retrieve your photos in lots of different ways; so you can cross file your images and retrieve them using all sorts of methods from date, location, camera, lens, or search words. Lightroom is also compatible with Photoshop and an edited picture can be exported to Lightroom for further editing. This is a very good book to read it is 700 pages of detailed information and I would highly recommend reading it and keeping it handy on your book shelf.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Traveller and his best friend were walking along a road they were both dead; and looking for somewhere to rest.
Eventually, they came to a high stone wall along one side of the road. Set in to the wall was a tall arched open door. Standing in the doorway was a smartly dressed, attractive, young lady. The Traveller greeted her and asked her where they were.
“Why, this is Heaven!” She replied.
“Wow!” the man replied and they both proceeded to enter.
But the young lady stopped them and said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t accept pets. There is a place for your dog just up the road, leave him with me and I will take care of him.”
The Traveller thought for a moment and unable to leave his friend outside he decided to continue his journey along the road. Further along they came to a gate that stood alone, with neither a wall nor fence attached; and it looked as if it had never been closed, he saw a man behind the gate, leaning against a tree, reading a book.
“Excuse me!” called the Traveller. “Do you have any water?”
“Yes, there’s a pump over there, come on in.”
“How about my friend here?” (Gesturing to his dog).
“You should find a bowl by the pump.”
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was a hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl for his friend before taking a long drink for himself.
When they were finished, the Traveller asked the ‘Gateman’,
“What do you call this place?”
“This is Heaven,” he answered.
“I’m confused,” Protested the Traveller. “The young lady down the road said that that was Heaven, too.”
Shaking his head sadly the ‘Gateman’ replied, “Oh no! That’s certainly not Heaven! That’s the gate to hell!”
“But can you not do something to stop her tricking people in to entering hell?” Demanded the Traveller.
“No! We’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.” He replied with a wry smile.
So much for the contextual narrative! What do we see?
A man stands in the foreground holding a dog on a lead, whilst gripping a walking stick with the other hand. He’s looking at the dog that’s looking back, he’s dressed in a suit with a Yorkshire cap; both he and his dog are drained of any warm colours with a distinct cold blue hue tone as is most of the image. In the background we see a sign indicating no dogs on a wall by an open door, inside the doorway we see a smartly dressed young woman, she appears to be pointing or wagging her finger, her mannerism implies a negative signal and her legs crossed emphasizes this negative message. She appears to be illuminated by very warm amber light and a red halo rims around her head.
My intention for this image is to create a division between the outside world of the Traveller and his dog with the world beyond the door in which the women stands. To achieve this I used the white balance settings of my camera, gelled speedlights and made additional enhancements in Lightroom. The Traveller is between worlds, it is cold. He and his dog are both dead and I wanted their shades to reflect this. The young lady on the other hand is standing somewhere that is very warm and I wanted to convey this; I also wanted to hint at danger using rim lighting.
There is another message in this picture, one of temptation. The young lady represents the fetish pleasures of capitalism; her sexuality is to tempt the man away from his moral values. The price for this implied promise of luxury and pleasure is that he must be selfish and turn away from anything that could hold him back. His dog represents his values and socialistic principles of loyalty, trust, responsibility and selflessness.
I didn’t want to create an obvious ‘Lucifer’ therefore I thought that a sharp dressed business woman would act as a suitably modern metaphor for him/her.
When creating this image, I tried to keep in mind Barthes idea of studium and punctum. The Traveller and dog is part of the studium of the picture punctuated by the warm coloured image of the attractive women (the punctum). I wanted to carefully construct a single image to project my intended narrative.
This was a particularly tricky picture to make when depending on the unreliability of a dog and using non-professional models. Further complication was that my chosen doorway was unavailable to me due to a lost key. The location I chose happened to be my local church which had the ideal doors. I obtained permission from the Vicar however, on the appointed day the Vicar had taken his wife away for her Birthday and not informed anyone of our arrangement. No one had the key to my chosen Choir Vestry door; so I had to use a fire escape door instead. This side door was exposed to the wind and also needed to be wedged open and in the process of the shoot I dropped an expensive speedlight that bounced and although remained serviceable may now need to be serviced by Nikon. I was unable to get the perfect shot as either the speedlights failed to fire at the perfect time or the dog kept moving around and directing my models is still a new experience. I ended the afternoon feeling low as I thought that I had failed to get a suitable image. I gave myself a couple of days space and looked again and I was pleased to find some images that I could collage together to make one suitable picture in Photoshop.
I enjoyed making this image and although it may not have a great wow factor, I am pleased that I was able to achieve my vision. I would like to make more images based on a narrative theme in the future, perhaps using novels biblical stories, sagas, legends and songs.