Project 2 Exercise 5.3

Project 2 Exercise 5.3

Note the journeys you go on regularly and reflect upon them.

Now photograph them. Remember to aim for consistency in your pictures. If you choose to photograph all the charity shops you’ve visited in a week, try to photograph them all using the same camera, lens, standing position, lighting, etc. This will help keep your project honed to the subject matter rather than you, the photographer.

Each journey I make begins at the front door of my house. I live in suburbia and whether I leave in order to walk to for example the bus or tram stop, or leave to drive further, I must always pass the tree shown in Gallery 1 below. This is an old tree (maybe qualifies for ‘ancient’) and pre-dates the modern developments with which it is now surrounded. The first photograph, ‘Tree’, simply shows its stature as I see it each time I leave the housing estate in which I live. The second image ‘Time’, refers to the tree indifference to the changes that are constantly occurring around it – for the tree, change is calculated by a different measure. The final image ‘Space’ shows the tree’s indifference to the attempts to define and confine its space by neat, artificial and arbitrary constraints.

The photographs in Gallery 2 are of an early morning journey by car, beginning in the darkness of the driveway of my house and ending in the false daylight of the underground car park.

Gallery 3 is of journeys to the bus stop, and on the bus itself and also of the tram stop, on the tram and of the walk back to suburbia, the tree (see Gallery 1) and my house.

All the images in Gallery 2 and 3 are taken with the same sub-full frame camera with a prime lens of 22 mm focal length (crop factor of 1.6 gives equivalent focal length of 35 mm) (Langford, Fox and Smith, 2015: 105). This consistent choice of camera and lens  was an attempt to give to the images a consistency as suggested in the Exercise brief (above).

Gallery 1 (click to enlarge)


Gallery 2 (click to enlarge)


Gallery 3 (click to enlarge)


References

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

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Project 2 Reflection point

Project 2 Reflection point

Where would you choose to do a project of this scale given the chance? What would you choose as your subject matter? What worlds would you like to create?

Where

I would choose to visit European cities – Western Europe and on into the East. This is not a new idea for a project – cities as a subject. For example in 1996 Victor Burgin published ‘Some Cities’ (Burgin, 1996) which is:

a travelogue with an insightful, analytical writing style to coincide with page after page of minimalist photographs taken from Northern England to his [Burgin] present home in northern California. It is an itinerary including stops in Sheffield, Berlin, Malmo, Warsaw, Woomera, New York, and the islands of Stromboli and Tobago. It is a modern (some may say postmodern?) inquiry about spaces and places, memory, childhood, looking, distance, loss, perspective, urban history, social and architectural change. Underlying the spare black and white images which are focused in the main on public spaces, urban information systems, and the places of transportation is a stylish text in which Burgin occasionally breaks through into substantial descriptive writing … (Hankwitz, s.d).

Burgin’s book and exhibition (Galerie Thomas Zander, 2017) illustrates the broad possibilities that such a project offers. As Burgin states at the outset:

Our relations with cities are like our relations with people. We love them, or are indifferent toward them. On our first day in a city that is new to us, we go looking for the city. We go down this street, around that corner. We are aware of the faces of passers-by. But the city eludes us, and we become uncertain whether we are looking for a city, or for a person (Burgin, 1996: 7).

Subject Matter

As Burgin observes ‘the city eludes us’ despite the fact that it can be described and observed objectively. Each city, made by its people, has a unique quality and an identity that makes it more than an agglomeration of buildings. The subject matter of my project would be the people living in, and coming to terms with living in, particular European cities:

A city without people is a dead city. The crowd is the essential sign of city life. A living city is the embodiment of the people who inhabit it. They fill its streets and its public spaces; they pour in every day to find all that a city has to offer (Sudjic, 2016).

While the crowd is ‘the essential sign’ of the city, and it is possible to be lonely anywhere: ‘there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people’ (Laing, 2016: 3). There is therefore a paradox that living in a city brings between the individual and the crowd. An artist whose work is often thought to give expression to this is Edward Hooper (see for example fig. 1., 2., and 3.). Is there a difference between cities, are some more alienating than others?

The journey that traverses a large territory in order to capture something of its essence is mostly associate with  a road trip across the US where: ‘long-repeated promises of liberty and freedom begin to haunt the American imagination and the road trip like broken promises’ (Campany, 2014: 29). For example David Campany identifies:

an unbroken thread that runs form Walker Evan’s ‘American Photographs’ (1938) to Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’ (1958/59), Stephen Shore’s ‘American Surfaces’ (1972), Jacob Holdt’s ‘American Pictures’ (1977), Joel Sternfeld’s ‘American Prospects’ (1987), Paul Graham’s ‘American Night’ (2003), right up to Doug Rickard’s ‘A New American Picture’ (2010) (Campany, 2014: 35).

Campany remarks that: ‘The American experiment is ongoing. It is in a state of constant becoming and thus needs to be monitored’ (Campany, 2014: 35). Stephen Barber says something similar about the European city, of its demand for ‘constant, obsessional exploration’ (Barber, 1995: 7):

The European city is a hallucination made flesh and concrete, criss-crossed by marks of negation: graffiti, bullet-holes, neon. The city is an immense arena of eroded and exploded sighs – signs that mediate the city to the individual, and that individual to the city. For all their pockets of stasis and stagnation, the European cities have taken on a momentum of transformation in the final decade of the twentieth century, and that transformation demands constant, obsessional exploration (Barber, 1995: 7).

The world I would like to create

Famously American’s chase ‘a Dream’ and the knowledge of this pursuit arguably influenced the photographers listed by Campany above. Close to a dream in nature is a hallucination to which Barber (above) compares European cities. Both dreams and hallucinations each have a darker side – dreams can turn to nightmares and hallucinations to bitter illusions. It is true that every city is distinct:

Climate, topography and architecture are part of what creates that distinctiveness, as are its [city] origins. Cities based on trade have qualities different from those that were called into being by manufacturing. Some cities are built by autocrats, others have been shaped by religion. Some cities have their origins in military strategy or statecraft (Sudjic, 2016:1).

Nevertheless, globalisation is bringing convergence, with people and cultures often being forced to interact, and this interaction takes place almost exclusively in cities.  This creates liminal, transitional zones where the results of globalisation, both good and bad, may be observed as individuals (both native and emigrant) attempt to negotiate this new unmapped territory, both physical and cultural. This negotiation, with its many new variables — ethnic, cultural, religious, economic, familial — must give a historically new twist to the universal dynamic between the city dwelling individual and the crowd. The world I would create is this new liminal zone.

Photographers who have explored a similar theme include Virgilio Ferreira, Lucy Levene, Henrik Malmström and Tereza Zelenkova – all contributors to the group show ‘Rebecoming’ at Flowers Gallery in east London, curated by Tim Clark in 2014 which tackled the subject of emigration: ’The sense of place suggested in Levene and Zelenkova’s work reflects a melancholy state of mind – the sense of not belonging, and longing for home, that so defines the emigrant’s life’ (O’Hagan, 2014). The exhibited work of Tereza Zelenkova’s:

takes a detached approach to the subject of belonging and alienation. Her series Girls and Gloves [see fig. 4.] gathers detritus from an abandoned brick factory in Bedford that once employed over 7,000 Italian men. Black-and-white closeups of the grubby gloves they wore are juxtaposed with crumpled remnants of the Page 3 pinups that adorned the walls, where the menial and mind-numbing work, she suggests, bred an atmosphere of simmering sexual and social frustration (O’Hagan, 2014).

Another source of inspiration could be the work from the same exhibition by Virgilio Ferreira which was described by a critic as:

Perhaps the most atmospheric series … photographer Ferreira, who has tried to show the inner emotional landscape of emigration. His pictures sit somewhere between documentary and impressionistic narrative, and are a lyrical evocation of the Portuguese diaspora. Using blurred movement and double exposure as well as traditional portraiture and landscape, his work is best experienced in the accompanying book, Being and Becoming, which is mysterious and allusive but quietly, cumulatively fascinating (O’Hagan, 2014).

Ferreira says of the project:

Becoming is a concept derived from philosophy which considers change in itself as process and a transition from one state to another. It refers to the transformation and changes in one’s way of being. Change is inevitable and an essential part of the world.

This project focuses on the lives of several migrant workers in Europe, who left their countries looking for better living conditions. What I intent to depict is not only the human presence, but emotional aspects or inscriptions (on people’s faces or environments), while symptomatic enough and able to reveal something. These psychological portraits also attempt to open up a perceptual area for reflecting on “hybrid identity” and the “third space”, the polarity of living in-between cultures, languages and borders [see fig. 5. and 6.] (Ferreira, s.d).


Figures 1 – 3 (click to enlarge)


Figure 4. (click to enlarge)

 


Figure 5. (click to enlarge)


Figure 6. (click to enlarge)


References

Barber, S., 1995. Fragments of the European City. London: Reaktion

Burgin, V., 1996. Some Cities. London: Reaktion Books

Campany, D., 2014. The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip. New York: Aperure

Ferreira, V., s.d. Being and Becoming [online] Available at: http://www.virgilioferreira.com/projectos/being-and-becoming?showtext=1 [Accessed 19 01 18]

Galerie Thomas Zander, 2017. Victor Burgin Some Cities September 02 – November 04, 2017. [online] Available at: http://www.galeriezander.com/en/exhibition/some_cities/information [Accessed 17 01 18]

Hankwitz, M. B., s.d. Some Cities by Victor Burgin [online] Available at: http://www.cristintierney.com/attachment/en/5374ea09a9aa2cc9708b4568/News/57c48efa8cdb50f4663a101c [Accessed 17 01 2018]

Laing, O., 2016. The Lonely City. Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. Edinburgh: Canongate Books

O’Hagan, S., 2014. ‘Factory floors and sexual frustration: photographing the migrant worker’s life.’ In: The Guardian [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/sep/11/factory-sexual-frustration-photographing-migrant-workers-life [Accessed 20 01 18]

Illustrations

Figure 1. Hooper, E., 1939. New York Movie. [online] Available at: https://www.edwardhopper.net/images/paintings/newyork-movie.jpg [Accessed 17 01 8]

Figure 2. Hooper, E., 1942. Nighthawks. [online] Available at: https://www.edwardhopper.net/images/paintings/nighthawks.jpg [Accessed 17 01 8]

Figure 3. Hooper, E., 1952. Morning Sun. [online] Available at: https://www.edwardhopper.net/images/paintings/morning-sun.jpg [Accessed 17 01 8]

Figure 4. Zelenkova, T., 2013. From Girls and Gloves. [online] Available at: https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/9/11/1410436963711/4ca3fc60-6990-40a9-aa5d-17ab36628177-1654×2040.jpeg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=e9c3de996840414565516db668734833 [Accessed 19 01 18]

Figure 5. Ferreira, V., 2013. From Being and Becoming. [online] Available at: http://www.virgilioferreira.com/projectos/being-and-becoming/01-Virgilio-Ferreira.jpg [Accessed 19 01 18]

Figure 6. Ferreira, V., 2013. From Being and Becoming. [online] Available at: http://www.virgilioferreira.com/projectos/being-and-becoming/02-Virgilio-Ferreira.jpg [Accessed 19 01 18]

Part five, Project 2 Exercise 5.2

Part five, Project 2 Exercise 5.2

Choose a viewpoint, perhaps looking out of your window or from a café in the central
square, and write down everything you can see. No matter how boring it seems or how
detailed, just write it down. Spend at least an hour on this exercise.

Here are some areas to consider:
• Can you transform this into a photography version?
• Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?
• Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get
your tripod out?
• Would it be better in black and white or colour?
• Would you include your list with the final images?
You may choose to turn this into a photography project if it interests you.

To perform this Exercise I sat at a table outside a cafe on a centre city street. For about an hour I noted down in a notebook what I saw.

I had read beforehand Georges Perec’s ‘An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris’ (Perec, 1975) but this did not prepare me fully for the difficulty of the task: I had not appreciated that there would be so much to record, so much in fact that it was impossible to write it down fast enough. This means that I was forced at many times to edit, that is, to record some things knowing that others would go un-noted. This process of choosing what to include is reminiscent of the act of taking a photograph – what to include within the frame given the almost infinite possibilities. So it was with this Exercise, five minutes could have been spend recording the visual details of some of the individuals who stopped in front of me as I sat but then so much else that was passing would have gone un-noted.

Can you transform this into a photography version?

Yes, but as mentioned above the dilemma is what to choose to include. One possibility is if I included only the visually pleasing, or what provided a good composition, but this would not even come close to photographing everything that is present or happening. Perhaps setting up a camera on a tripod or on a table top and taking a time-lapse series of photographs would ensure that nothing was missed. But this is not the way people look at anything, it is necessary to discriminate in order to comprehend. Any photography version of the list would involve editing at the time of shooting (i.e. what to photography) and then again at the time of reviewing all the photographs that had been taken in order to tell a particular story or, by means of removing the ‘noise’ of other images, to reveal what I think has been submerged or hidden.

Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?

It would depend on what I wanted to say with the final set of photographs. Broadly, to stay in the same place will reveal literally the big picture, an overview of the scene. Getting in close to the detail could also do this but it would be necessary that the details were indicative of a larger situation. For example: photographing a wounded and frightened child can show the plight of hundreds of refugees caught up in a particular crisis; photographing the expensive jewellery and cloths worn by an individual can indicated the type of person to be found in a whole district or street.

Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get your tripod out?

Using a tripod gives people the choice as to whether or not they wish to be photographed, and this inevitably profoundly changes what appears in the photographs. The use of the discreet camera phone gives greater freedom to photograph – the scene is captured ‘as is’ without the changes that the known presence of a photographer would bring. If I wished to place the emphasis on portraiture I would likely use a tripod, whereas use of the camera phone would yield photographs of people in situations in which they were unaware that they were being photographed. Clearly the two approached result in two very different types of photographs, which could tell similar or very different stories.

Would it be better in black and white or colour?

Black-and-white abstracts the scene by enhancing the weight of form and contrast in the image, something that has been exploited successfully in street photography. Therefore if I choose to photograph discreetly I would be more likely to convert the images to black-and-while. Portraiture would likely be suited to colour, however, black-and-white could lend an element of social documentary to the portraits.

Would you include your list with the final images?

Perhaps, depending on the audience for the images. The list is exhaustive and contains much that (inevitably) is not photographed. The list cannot be produced simultaneously with the photographs; the scene and viewpoint may be the same but there must be an interval of time between completing the list and making the images – much detail will change, for example there may be people present at both the list-making and photographing events but they will not be the same people, they may be very different if for instance the scene was the same but the time of day differed.

A possibility is to visit the same scene and decide to make one or two photograph of somewhere within a 180 degree arc of my position at say five minute intervals which would yield twelve images over the course of an hour. If the list was provided alongside the twelve photographs it would have the effect perhaps of bringing to the viewer’s mind all that was not photographed rather than what was (as might be the case if the photographs were shown without the list).

When thinking about a photography project, as in answering the Exercise questions above, it is tempting to be definite and prescriptive about the outcome. It is worth remembering however that when faced with a scene or a situation to be photographed (or to be written about) :

A person does not process things as “a narration, a report”, lining up observations and interpretations like two sides of a zipper. Instead you absorb impressions, feelings, and sensations. Maybe you can spot a pattern, maybe not; maybe you only recognise things much later. As it is, what you see on the face of things may or may not tell you much about what it means – the same way you can be hypnotised by the play of light and shadow on a pool of water without ever knowing how cold or salty it may be (Jasanoff, 2017:147).

References

Jasanoff, M., 2017. The Dawn Watch. Joseph Conrad in a Global World. London: Harper Collins

Perec, G., 1975. An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. [online] Available at: https://iitcoa3rdyr.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/perec_readings.pdf [Accessed 18 01 18]


My list made at a particular place (see above)

  • Light metal railing separating café table and chairs area from street
  • The ground of the seating area is covered with large paving slabs – they look old
  • The table and chairs are wrought iron
  • A tram passes going into the city
  • A bus stop on the street immediately outside the café; the pole has a number of panels on it giving times of buses
  • A young man stops the bus stop, dressed in dark cloths, no hat.
  • Bus number 145 pulls up at the bus stop, passengers alight quickly and waiting man steps on. This action is too quick to write down in any detail. The bus pulls away.
  • Immediately a white delivery van stops in bus-stop space – logo CWS/boco on side; CWS in red rest in blue colours.
  • Hazard lights begin to flash on van and driver walks to path-side of van and opens the door; driver is a man dressed in dark cloths with red flashing inserts in jacket
  • Tram passes on far side of street – going out of the city
  • Van driver removes packages from van, closes door and walks away
  • Pedestrians pass, all wearing cloths suitable for cold day – lots of ‘puffer’-type jackets, some with hoods, some without, others with fur trimmed hoods. No time to write down full descriptions when many pass at once
  • Van driver returns to van and drives off
  • Man on red coloured bicycle cycles down street towards city, cycles between tram tracks
  • Young woman with red coat and small yellow back pack stops walking suddenly to attend to something on her phone screen
  • Three men, two well wrapped up against the cold, the other with open coat and heavy scarf swinging
  • A taxi passes
  • A red double-decker sightseeing bus passes
  • A taxi and bus number 46A passes
  • Woman in red woollen hat with white wires of earphones emerging from beneath it
  • Woman in bright yellow jacket with shoulder bag
  • Tram going to city
  • A couple, both man and woman in peaked caps
  • A man smoking while walking
  • A taxi with yellow livery
  • A lot of traffic suddenly, cars, taxi, white van, green van
  • Woman and child holding hands
  • Man wearing woollen hat slows passing coffee shop, looks in, and passes on
  • Blue coloured Aircoach passes – ‘Travel in Luxury’ on side
  • Taxi stops outside the coffee shop
  • Black van with ‘Guinness quality team’ on side, slows and the nmoves off
  • Figure in dark green long coat, hood up, small black back pack – man or woman?
  • Man passes to enter coffee shop
  • Tram passes going into city – many passengers looking down at phone screens
  • Bus number 37
  • Young woman with ear phones; old woman pulling empty (deflated) shopping trolley bag
  • Taxi moves off with new fare, man
  • A couple, talking, pass to enter coffee shop
  • White van, ‘Vernon Catering’ passes
  • Woman in white coat passes to enter coffee shop
  • Green hop-on, hop-off, double-decker bus
  • Man with red woollen hat
  • Tram going out of city—not very full
  • Woman waits at bus stop – light pink jacket with hood, large shoulder hand bag
  • Two men and a woman talking animatedly
  • Number 145 bus
  • Old man, green woollen cap, walking stick
  • Mother and daughter, daughter with ‘top knot’ hair style
  • Four young women, students, talking animatedly pass to enter coffee shop
  • Taxi stops outside
  • Across the road man carries small folded ladder
  • Taxi fare leaves taxi, moment later another man sits in and taxi moves off
  • Number 78 bus arrives, passengers alight but woman in pink jacket remains
  • Young man walking with folding-type bike, wearing yellow bicycle helmet
  • Number 39 bus arrives, lady in pink jacket leaves on it
  • Number 61 bus passes
  • Woman with hood
  • Young woman talking on phone, pulling shopping trolley bag
  • Tram going out of city
  • Fast walking young man wearing headphones over yellow woollen cap
  • Man on phone carrying green bag with shop logo
  • Tram going into city
  • Man in high viz. jacket, carrying parcel
  • Man with shoulder bag
  • Number 46A bus
  • Number 38A bus
  • Two men, a woman in mauve coloured coat
  • Number 11 bus stops and passengers alight
  • Elderly man with crutch waits at bus stop; wears mustard coloured jacket with hood down, grey hair, black trousers
  • Red double-decker sight-seeing bus
  • Man with short rolled umbrella carried beneath his arm crosses road
  • A postman with high viz. jacket with company logo cycles past, post bag held in front
  • Couple holding hands, woman wears stylish black beret
  • Young woman waits with man with crutch; she stands apart from man and constantly looks at her phone screen – wears sneakers and carries large shoulder handbag
  • Green hop-on hop-off bus
  • Man passes leaving coffee shop
  • Couple (not young) holding hands, man wears black woollen hat, she carries small white bag from some shop
  • Tram going out of city
  • Man with bright red jacket with ‘City Tours’ company logo on back
  • Young woman with red ‘bobble’ hat
  • Tram going into city
  • Young woman wearing matching jacket and scarf – light pink
  • Number 39A bus stops and man with crutch and young woman get on; bus leaves
  • Old man with walking stick enters coffee shop seating area and stands, waiting
  • Bus showing ‘Sorry, not in service’ passes
  • Number 46A bus passes
  • Number 37 bus passes
  • Woman member of coffee shop staff comes out talking on phone and begins at the same time to collect some wind-blown rubbish that has collected in the seating area
  • Man with laptop case on shoulder passes, smoking
  • An blue Aircoach passes – ‘Travel in Luxury’
  • Woman with long white hair, wearing white coat crosses from other side of street
  • Fire engine ‘Dublin Fire Brigade’ passes, no speed or flashing lights
  • Van stops – ‘clean bed for 250,000 patients every day’ on side

The list runs to several more pages of hand written notes

Part five, Project 2 Reflection Point

Part five, Project 2 Reflection Point

How often do you see people walking and reading their texts or on the train and reading their tablet rather than enjoying the view? What are we missing when we do that?

The answer to the first question is: very often. What is missed is the interaction with their immediate surroundings and environment including the interaction with other people (which may include at a minimum simply noticing their presence). People who look at screens instead of their surroundings are distracted, diverted from seeing, even listening – experiencing — what is around them. By consistently choosing the screen rather than the surrounding world they are making a decision about what matters. And it has been argued that for most people the decision to choose the screen has been in fact made for them. Consider the experience of this air passenger writing in 2015 and looking forward to a relatively digital device-free few hours:

But on the flight to Washington I noticed that the forces of distraction are winning the war in the air just as they are on the ground. There was a large selection of films, before which adverts were shown. Marketing slogans were written on the teacups: “Twinings – get you back to you”. Someone in front of me was playing Candy Crush, a game to which I had a short but debilitating addiction in 2013. Not only are you now allowed to use your electronic devices in the air, you can charge them, too. When the internet is available on international flights, as it is on some local routes, the game will truly be up (Cumming, 2015).

Another traveller says that the only quiet, distraction-free place in the airport is the business-class lounge: ‘If you’re in that lounge you can use the time to think creative, playful thoughts …’ (Crawford cited by Cumming, 2015). Howard Jacobson links this idea of ‘playful thoughts’ to the making of art, saying of the effect of digital distractions: ‘We have lost sight of the necessity of “play”. Diversion, not in the sense of being distracted from what matters, but in the sense of being distracted from what doesn’t …’ (Jacobson, 2015).

This idea of the screens as a distraction from what does not matter is an interesting one. Asking someone who is on, say, a train journey to put away their tablet and simply experience their surroundings does not mean that they then seek significance in every detail in a Sherlock Holmsian manner. The point is that there is a world of difference — a different way of being in the world — between looking at a screen and simply looking:

We increasingly encounter the world through these representations [on a screen] that are addressed to us, often with manipulative intent … These experiences are so exquisitely attuned to our appetites that they can swamp your ordinary way of being in the world. Just as food engineers have figured out how to make food hyper-palatable by manipulating fat, salt and sugar, similarly the media has become expert at making irresistible mental stimuli (Crawford cited in Cumming, 2015).

To Jacobson ‘play’ is the means whereby ‘we lose ourselves in the act of creation, and find what we had no idea we were looking for’ (Jacobson, 2015), and that: ‘what draws people to art and artists is a desire to enjoy the propinquity of play. For it is the very freedom of the imagination. And what else were we born to do, but imagine freely?’ (Jacobson, 2015). It strikes me that screens with their content designed with ‘manipulative intent’ (above) to the point where addiction can occur are the antithesis of the essentially human ‘freedom of the imagination’ vital for creativity.

It is this freedom of the imagination that photographer Robert Harding Pittman is referring to when he says:

I love looking. I love light, especially the light from the sun. Whenever I sit on a bus, train, bike, car or plane I take great pleasure in looking out the window and seeing the landscape pass by. I very much enjoy the process of searching for places and objects to photograph. When I have a camera in hand it intensifies my action of looking, helping me to focus and organize what I see in front of me. It helps me be more present and even if I were to not have film in my camera (or a memory card), the act of looking and focusing on something through my viewfinder helps me remember and connect more intimately with the places I visit. The best photographs come when everything comes together in one instant – the light, the place, me with my camera and some kind of magic (Pittman cited by Boothroyd, 2015).

References

Cumming, E., 2015. ‘Matthew Crawford: ‘Distraction is a kind of obesity of the mind’’. In: The Observer [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/apr/12/matthew-crawford-distraction-is-a-kind-of-obesity-of-the-mind-the-world-beyond-your-head [Accessed 16 01 2018]

Jacobson, H., 2015. ‘Howard Jacobson: artistic creation frees us from ‘right thinking’’. In: The Observer [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jun/20/howard-jacobson-artistic-creation-frees-us-from-right-thinking [Accessed 16 01 2018]

Boothroyd, S., (2015) ‘Robert Harding Pittman’ In: Photoparley [online] Available at: https://photoparley.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/robert-harding-pittman/ [Accessed 16 01 2018]

Part five, Project 1 Exercise 5.1

Part five, Project 1 Exercise 5.1

Create a set of still-life pictures showing traces of life without using people. You could do this with your camera phone to reflect the vernacular and transient nature of these moments or you could choose to use high-quality imagery to give these moments gravitas, like Nigel Shafran. Your technical decisions should back up your ideas, so write a short reflective commentary detailing these decisions and the reasons for them.

Picture 1 (Click to enlarge)

This photograph was taken by available light, hand held, 35mm digital SLR.


Picture 2 (Click to enlarge)

A tripod was use to take this photograph as the light was dim — for the image to succeed there had to be a large difference between the light inside and that outside the door. Image contrast was adjusted in digital post-processing in in order to heighten the  sense of someone standing outside the door, as indicated by the two dark breaks in the continuous strip of under-door light.


Picture 3 (Click to enlarge)

Main Image: In digital post-processing the image contrast was adjusted  and the image, originally shot in colour (see ‘Unprocessed’above), was converted into black-and-white. This was an attempt to give a crime scene aesthetic to the picture reminiscent of those taken by for example Weegee.


Picture 4, 5 and 6 (Click to enlarge)

An ashtray (left; traces of life?) and cup on a table situated outside coffee shops (for smokers) — 35 mm digital SLR


Picture 7, 8 and 9 (Click to enlarge)

Street scenes with objects — Picture 8 was converted to black-and-white to make the image more poignant.  35 mm digital SLR


Picture 10 and 11 (Click to enlarge)

Picture 10 is straightforward but Picture 11 is less so. Taken of a sleeping-blanked left by someone who had slept rough in part of a city church. The red gives strong contrast with the stone, it is ‘shocking’ and reminiscent of blood, an association heightened by the lock and chain. 35 mm digital SLR