Reflection on tutor Report, Assignment 4 ‘Image and text’

Reflection on tutor Report, Assignment 4 ‘Image and text’

The written tutor Report was a follow up to an Assignment tutorial via Google hangout audio. Both the tutorial and report gave me valuable perspectives on the Assignment.

The reworked series is shown in Gallery 1 below. I agree that the added photographs are compositionally stronger than those removed as well as possessing a tension which I had not appreciated when I edited the final series for the submission. In this regard the Report’s comments on my use of a long exposure photograph (and Titarenko’s work) was interesting and informative for possible future work.

I agree that the text I used for the series is sterile and in parts repetitive. At the time I did search for alternative text to use but most of the material related to immediate and transitory problems with the traffic and city roads. I agree that these latter type of texts have, as the Report suggests, an immediacy that reflects the tension of city living. For my purpose however, I needed the text to related to semi-permanent situations in order that I could visit (if needed more than once) in order to photograph. The text I used fulfilled this criteria and the form it took is a limitation that I had to live with. An alternative that I considered was that I attempt to react in time to texts and notifications of traffic disruption so that I would arrive at the scene during or shortly after the traffic chaos or whatever. This would have the advantage that I could time-stamp both the text and the photographs. I did monitor some of these types of reports but in the end decided that the logistics of travelling to specific areas of the city at specific times would prove too difficult so that I might too often be left with nothing of visual interest to photograph.

Gallery 1 (click to enlarge) Reworked series from Assignment four submission


Gallery 2 below shows a monochromatic conversion on image #_1174604.CR2 as suggested in the Report. Black-and-white images:

are not just colour images with the colour drained from them; they represent tonality, shape and texture more explicitly. Black-and-white photography is about the presence or absence of light and its creation of texture and form (Prakel, 2012: 82).

These very general criteria were a guide when considering whether ‘the contrast and resulting tonal range could work for this series’ (tutor Report). I converted the image seen in Gallery 2 using a Photoshop ‘Black & White’ conversion layer and accepted the defaults. The sense of ‘light and dark’ appears stronger in the colour image, however, a strength of the black-and-white image is that it allows for extensive manipulation of tone. Gallery 3 below shows the same image but with tones manipulated to accentuate ‘presence or absence of light and its creation of texture and form’ (above).  On this example the conversion works for the overall success of the image, and would likely do so also for those images in the series where light and shadow are integral to the composition e.g. _1174441, _1174452-(ii). However, the series also contains  images composed of general scenes and semi-individual portrait shots where a conversion to black-and-white  is less likely to yield as many benefits to the composition or to the overall aesthetic of the images themselves and consequently to the complete series.

Gallery 2 (click to enlarge) #_1174604 in colour and converted to black-and-white


Gallery 3 (click to enlarge) #_1174604 further processed in black-and-white


As suggested I will revisit my learning blog post ‘Project 2 Memories and Speech (1)’ to write a conclusion containing my opinion.

Overall I found the tutorial and written report to be most useful and relevant to the work I did for the Assignment itself and for future work. In addition, I welcomed the feedback on my learning blog as well as the ‘Suggested reading/viewing’ and the ‘Pointers for the next assignment’ sections of the Report.

References

Präkel, D., 2012. Basics Photography 01: Composition. 2nd ed. Lausanne: AVA Publishing.

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Assignment four ‘Image and text’ Submission

Assignment four ‘Image and text’ Submission

My ‘Assignment four’ learning blog (parts i – vi) address:

https://iandp513273.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-4/

The final sequence of Assignment images are show in Gallery 1 ‘submission’ below; also below are the contact sheets for the Assignment.

How the Assignment meets the Assessment Criteria Points is discussed in my ‘Assignment four’ learning blog here:

https://iandp513273.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/assessment-criteria-points-assignment-four-image-and-text/

Reflective commentary on Assignment four  ‘Image and text’ (500 words, excepting quoted text):

The photographs for this Assignment are of streets all of which were listed over the time period of the Assignment on a city ‘traffic alerts’ service. The texts that accompanies the images are taken verbatim from the service’s web site (AA Roadwatch, 2017). Six streets were visited and photographed, however, I did not want the photographs to fall into the category of ‘street photography’, a genre that is medium specific – it has been pointed out that ‘there exist hundreds of modern paintings of the street, or streets, but nothing called “street painting”’ (Solomon-Godeau, 2017: 78). Street photography has been associated with the ‘decisive moment’ (Cartier-Bresson, 1952) whereby:

In bringing a reflective stillness to the contingencies of a passing scene or to the movement of bodies, the photograph exercises, what we might call, hidden or spontaneous powers of convergence. Indeed, these powers of convergence represent the veridical core of reportage and the photo document since the 1900s, shaping photography’s public emergence as a ‘truth-telling’ medium (Roberts, 2009).

David Campany has remarked the turning away from this concern with capturing the ‘decisive moment’ toward:

photographing the aftermath of events—traces, fragments, empty buildings, empty streets, damage to the body and damage to the world? It comes to us as a particularly static, often somber and quite “straight” kind of picture, which assumes an aesthetic of utility closer to forensic photography than traditional photojournalism. It is a form of what Peter Wollen [Peter Wollen, ‘Vectors of Melancholy’, in Ralph Rugoff, ed., The Scene of the Crime, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1997] recently called “cool photography” as opposing to the “hot” photography of events (Campany, 2003).

In this Assignment I aimed to reflect something of this concept of ‘cool photography’ (above). The series of images is accompanied by text (see above). It has often been suggested that photographs alone are not good at narrative (for example Szarkowski, 1966: 9; Szarkowski, 1975) and require words before ‘the full disturbance of the image’ can be ‘received with full power’ (Jay, 1992: 39). However, in this Assignment, as in for example Mark Power’s ‘The Shipping Forecast’ (Power, 1996), the text, though present, does not fulfil a narrative function.

Instead of creating a narrative the text functions to draw attention to the photograph itself and to the human agency behind it (as opposed to the mechanism of the camera). Stephen Shore has described his experience of photography thus:

As I wade a stream, I think wordlessly of where to cast the fly. Sometimes a difference of inches is the difference between catching a fish and not. When the fly I’ve cast is on the water, my attention is riveted to it. I watch the fly calmly and attentively so that when the fish strikes, I strike. Then, the line tightens, the playing of the fish begins, and time stands still. Fishing, like photography, is an art that calls forth intelligence, concentration, and delicacy (Stephen Shore cited in O’Hagan, 2010).

The non-narrative text employed in this Assignment draws attention to the ‘intelligence, concentration, and delicacy’ (above) that was employed for ‘no reason’ at a particular location i.e. there is no information of any use to a road user in the images, also, as displayed, individual pieces of text are not in any way mapped to particular images). Thus, paradoxically the text emphasises that the ‘full disturbance of the image’ (Jay, 1992 above) lies solely in the images themselves.

Part of the brief for this Assignment is that it ‘in some way reflects upon the ideas surrounding identity and place that you’ve looked at so far in this course’ (Boothroyd, and Roberts, 2015: 89). Previously, as part of the Course (Assignment 1) I was required to make ‘five portraits of five different people from your local area who were previously unknown to you’ (Boothroyd, and Roberts, 2015: 35). For the current Assignment I drew on this previous experience so that in each of the ‘street/traffic’ areas (see above) I photographed an individual who I approached and asked if I might photograph them (again avoiding the photographing of individuals without their knowledge typical of street photography). The intention here was not to include in the final Assignment edit a portrait of an individual from each street — to do so would have largely repeated the Course’s previous exercise. The portraits were taken so as to allow for choice such that portrait(s) could form part of the final series.

The subject matter of this Assignment is inspired in the first instance by an interest in cities and how we build and live in them. The text of the traffic reports reflect the enormous unseen hive-like activity that underpins any city. Something similar is reflected in Alexey Titarenko’s ‘The City is a Novel’ (Titarenko, 2015) but here the emphasis is placed on the city’s massed individuals. I included one long exposure image in the final Assignment series to contrast with the individual portraits such that the series as a whole perhaps invites consideration of a paradox and tension that is associated with any city – that on its streets any individual is always but one among many.

Technical Note — For the long exposure photographs I used a plain neutral-density filter of optical density 0.9 giving a x8 increase in exposure time (Langford, Fox and Smith, 2015: 84)

References

AA-Roadwatch, 2017. AA Roadwatch. [Online] Available at: http://www.theaa.ie/roadwatch/newsroom/ [Accessed 13 12 2017].

Boothroyd, S. & Roberts, Keith, 2015. Photography 1 Identity and Place. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.

Campany, D., 2003. Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of ‘Late Photography’. [Online] Available at: http://davidcampany.com/safety-in-numbness/ [Accessed 02 12 2017].

Cartier-Bresson, H., 1952. The Decisive Moment. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Jay, B., 1992. Occam’s Razor. Munich: Nazraeli Press.

Langford, M., Fox, A. & Smith, R. S., 2015. Langford’s Basic Photography. The Guide for Serious Photographers. 10th ed. New York: Focal Press.

O’Hagan, S., 2010. Writing and photography – is a picture really worth a thousand words?. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/aug/04/writing-about-photography-robert-adams [Accessed 07 12 2017].

Power, M., 1996. The Shipping Forecast. London: Zelda Cheatle Press.

Roberts, J., 2009. ‘Photography after the Photograph: Event, Archive, and the Non-Symbolic’. Oxford Art Journal, 32(2), pp. 283-298.

Solomon-Godeau, A., 2017. Photography After Photography: Gender, Genre, History. London: Duke University.

Titarenko, A., 2015. The City Is a Novel. Bologna : Damiani editore.


Gallery 1 ‘submission’ — this Gallery displays the images and text as they might be viewed when printed and displayed. Images may be viewed enlarged and sequentially by clicking on the gallery.

 


Contact sheets (click to enlarge)

Photographs from the final image series (Gallery 1 ‘submission’ above) are marked in red


 

Assessment criteria points — Assignment four ‘Image and text’

Assessment criteria points — Assignment four ‘Image and text’

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)

Technical and visual skills were displayed in the preparations for photographing a number of specific city streets. Digital images from each street, made over time, were processed and edited to an on-going short list displayed in my learning blog – photographs were made using a neutral density filter in order to achieve longer exposure times. A final edit resulted in the series of photographs submitted for the Assignment.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)

Prior to taking photographs research was undertaken, as documented in my learning blog, into concepts surrounding the combining of text with photographic images. The blog also includes images from various shoots showing how the project evolved as the material grew over time. The text used in the Assignment was broken into discreet parts and interspersed with the photographs that made up the final series – the text was not however mapped onto the images.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)

The Assignment brief was to combine a series of photographs with the written word. In this case the text chosen were inspired by my research into the subject of text/image combination and also by my interest in the city as a subject in photography.

Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking (including learning logs). (20%)

My on-line learning blog demonstrates my reflection, research and critical thinking on the Assignment.

Assignment 4 ‘Image and Text’ (vi)

Assignment 4 ‘Image and Text’ (vi)

As previously discussed, in the final series of images I sought to reflect individual streets and their denizens. Alexey Titarenko’s ‘City of Shadows’ (Titarenko, 2001) allows the individual to be present yet strangely also absent (discussed in blog post ‘Assignment 4 ‘Image and Text’ (i)’). I attempted to follow this concept in a shoot at one of the streets chosen for this Assignment – Harry Street  — see Gallery 2 below.

A city traffic report:

Cathedral Street, Dublin

Cathedral St will be closed until Sun 3rd December to facilitate Luas Cross City works. Pedestrian and local access will be maintained.

Gallery 1 (Click to enlarge) Images from a shoot at Cathedral Street (above)

 


Gallery 2 (Click to enlarge) Images from a shoot at Harry Street (see previous shoots at this street in blog post ‘Assignment 4 ‘Image and Text’ (i)’).


References

Titarenko, A., 2015. The City Is a Novel. Bologna : Damiani editore.

Assignment 4 ‘Image and Text’ (v)

Assignment 4 ‘Image and Text’ (v)

Part of the brief for this Assignment is that it ‘in some way reflects upon the ideas surrounding identity and place that you’ve looked at so far in this course’ (Boothroyd, and Roberts, 2015: 89). Previously, as part of the course (Assignment 1) I was required to make ‘five portraits of five different people from your local area who were previously unknown to you’ (Boothroyd, and Roberts, 2015: 35).

For the current Assignment I drew on this previous experience so that in each of the ‘street/traffic’ areas (see above) I photographed an individual  who I approached and asked if I might photograph them. The intention here was not to include in the final Assignment edit a portrait of an individual from each area — to do so would have largely repeated the course’s previous exercise. The portraits were taken so as to allow for choice such that portrait(s) could form part of the final edit, adding to its coherence.

A city traffic report:

Copper Alley, Dublin

Copper Alley will be closed until September 2018 to facilitate works. Local access will be maintained.

Gallery 1 (Click to enlarge) Images from a shoot at Copper Alley (above)

 


References

Boothroyd, S. & Roberts, Keith, 2015. Photography 1 Identity and Place. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts