No, I’m not going to do that—far too late. But, looking back—many months later—and realising how I could have done this assignment so much better—how I could have had a theme which would have pulled it all together more and made it more mature!
Off to see Prix Pictet today and have been looking at the shortlist and winner. Theme is ‘Consumption’ and Michael Schmidt, the winner. Now what I think is that I could have followed a similar line—and still shot the pig—twisted the brief a little—concentrated on consumption—head to toe eating— tout est bon dans le cochon—photographed different parts of the pig as food. Think that would have worked and been stronger than merely a series of images of a pig’s head?Read More »
Was really relieved to finally get the report for this assignment. To an extent, it’s a form of closure and a freedom to move on to the next section.
Happy, that in the main, these were positive with the mention of good visual quality, good exposure and post-processing skills on the technical side; and evidence of strong research backing up my project. Taking on board the comment that my research is on the excessive side—but one thing tends to lead to another—and there I go off again on another little voyage of discovery.
Technically, I still have problems with lighting, and one that came up a number of times the concept of angle of incidence being equal to angle of reflection. I have asked for some more references so that I can get this under control. And my choice of lighting modifier and placement of the light also came in for a bit of criticism.
My problems with time-management were also mentioned—I am aware of this, it’s something that feeds into my entire working life. Everything has to be perfect—else it’s not worth doing, so I keep on researching and looking and thinking—it’s not procrastination—it’s a fear of committing to something with a sense of finality, and then failing at it.
My plan for assignment five is that essentially I do not have a plan! I’m going to follow a similar approach to that which I adopted quite late into assignment 4, where I listed 6 possible projects and chose one to do. The fact that I did not stick to that choice—we’ll ignore that; but I will choose one of my options—and move on from there. I’m going to take a couple of weeks and just jot down thoughts, then run them by the Thames Valley group and move on from there. If it’s one thing I have learned from this assignment, my woes and advice from Keith—that once chosen, a project may change and evolve—but the idea is to stay with it.
For the first time, I actually submitted a PDF of my off-line journal—still not sure why I never did it before. This was favourably received—can’t believe that he read all of it—I only submitted the section relevant to the time spent ‘living in assignment 4’—but because that was such an extended time—there was a lot of it. The problem is accessibility for the assessors—finding relevant information within the document. [More about what I intend to do for submission towards the end of this post]
The other comment about the journal content was that I need to find a way of incorporating my research into the supporting document that goes with my assignment. Not sure yet how we are going to do that, as I thought I had to keep the ‘narrative’ separate from the assignment—but we will work out a way.
image 1: colour—photographic lighting
The use of a clam-shell approach—softbox above angled in and softbox below angled in—did what it was supposed to do in that the big flat light softened the existence of both texture and volume. So effectively all that was left was the colour. However, as with my other ‘colour’ ones, I still have to get a handle on the idea of the angle of the light and the positioning of the lens being at reciprocal values so that I get the most effective capture for colour. This is one that is going to need far more investigation on my part in the future.
image 2: form—photographic lighting
Suggestion was that my key light should have been camera right; and the fill, camera-left. But, that it was a better image than the first one. Completely agree with these comments. My biggest problem is trying to get over not fully lighting an object.
image 3: shape—photographic lighting
My tutor suggested that I could have used a snoot to place light on an eye—and I thought that was a brilliant suggestion. He was pleased with the exposure and shape though. I was gutted—why had I not think of the snoot? I felt this section was my worst—I hated the fact that there was nothing showing some of the pig.
image 4: texture—photographic lighting
My choice of the beauty dish with grid was criticised here. I had thought that beauty light was harsher than a soft box—especially because it is a silver one—and then I thought adding a tight metal grid would make the light harsher—guess that didn’t work.
image 5: form—ambient lighting
This was positively received. There was even a mention that although I had not got there—Old Master look—there was a definite ‘north light’ feel—thrilled! My tutor suspected that I might have clipped some highlights—but the histogram seems fine. But again I have this problem with too much light on the side away from the light—I’d used a reflector to fill—should have held it further away as that would have helped. However, I’ve done a bit more work on it and I think it is better? Will post a comparison on my blog soon.
image 6: texture—ambient lighting
The positioning of the head facing the window was criticised because it would have acted as a giant flat light—I needed to think more about the angle at which the light hits the skin. Beginning to feel that texture is obviously something I failed at! I thought that placing the pig facing the window, the light would rake across the skin that was facing the camera would show the texture—wrong!
image 7: colour—ambient lighting
This one was very favourably received—especially regarding the fact that I was working in an alley. Too much top and back light is washing out colour though—again it’s to do with the angle of light. I really need to work on this 45° in = 45° out—it does not click for me yet. But no worries—you know I’m a little tenacious. For the moment, I will let sleeping dogs lie—but will come back to it.
image 8: shape—ambient + tungsten lighting
And another goodie! My tutor commented on texture, colour and volume. And mentioned how small lights are better for volume. I can understand that because small lights are harsher. This was the last image of the pig, and there was a sense of panic. I was outside, the light was failing, the pig was stinking—there was no way that it was coming out again. So, I think that maybe in panic, I worked a little more intuitively and it seems to have paid off.
image 9: optional—lighting
The comment was that it was a striking image—this made me happy. The image had come from when I was doing the first shape one and had incrementally added fill light. My tutor accepted that I had gone heavy into post-processing and was not sure how much of it was needed. But I am glad I did, it was the beast that I wanted to show.
learning logs/critical essays/sketchbooks
We do need to do some sorting out here—fully agree with what he has said. The gist of the comment is that my blog is good—I know it needs some rearranging before I submit for assessment; but it needs to have stuff from the journal incorporated into it. In his words: “The journal is the real deal. It’s what is wanted in an arts-based student.” Thrilled or what! Anyone who witnessed the 19th nervous breakdown in Brighton will know what a relief his comment was to me!
When I started the course, I worked off-line—intending to submit as separate books—then I got ‘gently coerced’ into an online presence.. I started a blog; hated it; went back to offline, then came back on online—and have carried on straddling both ever since—not putting the ‘personal’ or the ‘copyright images’ up on line because it was personal and also not wanting to cloud issues.
My intention—at the moment—and open to suggestions is the following:
- Prints: Silverprint box with A4 assignment prints—the finals. [Advice needed here— is it best when you have landscape, portrait, square and panoramic formats—to optimise the space on the A4—leaving margins etc for holding—and have some prints on the A4 landscape orientation and some portrait—which means assessors have to rotate prints—or is it best to be consistent—have all landscape orientation—so no rotating required—but then portrait images are smaller on the page? Will also contain a contact sheet for each assignment—all the ‘final’ images at a glance.
- Coursework and blog: Some re-organisation of the blog so it is easier for assessors to find my coursework and other bits? At assessment time, the only place where coursework will be accessible is via the blog.
- Assignments: This will be a landscape blurb book—13x11 inches (33x28cm). It’s been designed like that from the beginning—and is the format I submitted for 1, 3 & 4th assignment—number 2 needs to be worked to go in there—this was the time where I was trying to use the blog and did not like the concept so returned to original. It will contain all assignments as submitted; my reflections on assignments, contact sheets, tutor reports, my reworks. Page edges are colour-coded in sections so that sections are visually different. There will also be a proper TOC at the front. [Also considering having that TOC printed as a separate object—so no need for assessors to flip back and forward from TOC to contents.]
- The journal: Final output as for the assignment book. I guess that’s because it’s as much for me as it is for submission for assessment. It is ordered in a similar way to the assignment book in that it will have full TOC—again considering printing that as a separate document. It has coloured coded strips on page sides like the assignment so anyone looking at it knows at a glance where I was in my studies. There are some bits on the blog which are not yet in the journal—from my brief dalliance with the idea of a total digital submission. Those will get copied in to it. Loads of material cannot go on my blog—personal and copyright concerns.
The way it is set-up in InDesign—when it is exported as a PDF, it is totally interactive—all weblinks are active in the PDF and take you to the web page. It will also have a TOC when finally completed and exported—it will show up automatically on the left hand side when opened as a PDF and assessors will be able to click and link to pages from it. My only concern is the size of their monitors when they look at it as a PDF onscreen as it is designed—font wise—for the larger print output??
So in a nutshell—box of prints, blog for coursework, book for assignments, book for journal, DVD with both assignment book and journal book as interactive documents with full interactive TOCs.
Happy with the report—time to move on now…Read More »
Received feedback from my tutor on assignment four last night—relief, happiness and sadness in equal measure.Read More »
Finally done after so many failed attempts, different approaches, fear—of what I don’t know, frustrations, procrastinations and other time thiefs. In fact, I’ve been ‘busy’ with this assignment so long, that my pre-planning comments at the beginning of this section could easily be seen, in part, as my reflections.
In the previous two assignments, I had been reluctant to make a final selection of images; and put forward more than were required. A fear on my part to ‘choose the wrong image’. For this assignment, I have made my selects; and one additional because the brief said we could submit any others that we thought were interesting.
Now of course, I am worried that I have not chosen the strongest images, so I’ve made a ‘contact sheet’ of all the images—just in case one is rejected; and there is another in there which might be suitable?
technical learning—photographic lighting
In my previous attempts at light [assignment 1 & assignment 3]. I had just been ‘lighting’ the subject—although I suppose that the introduction of using light to create colour in assignment 3 was a little more than just ‘lighting’.
However, what I learned in this module and assignment was the idea of using light to show different characteristics of the subject—I had never thought of that before—and now having done it, it is something that will remain with me—especially the volume and texture approach.
Once I was shooting the final ‘subject’, I found that I was able to set-up lights for my requirement fairly quickly and shoot with more confidence.
Do I feel competent with photographic lighting? Nope—possibly even more frustrated because I cannot get the effects that I want. Not that I really tried that hard to do that this time—the emphasis was on showing shape, volume, colour and texture—and this is where I stayed. But, I look at the work of artists like Sharon Core—with the soft, directional lighting; or the cinematic approach of Crewdson or Erwin Olaf—and I have no idea where to start. [This has to become a long-term goal of mine?]
Additionally with photographic—or I suppose—with any type of lighting, I want to feel confident ‘not lighting’ the entire object. Have some examples in my journal where the light intentionally does not illuminate the whole subject—Rembrandt lighting etc—and it looks right. At present, I’m no good at getting that control, but also I have this nagging thought that it will look wrong when I do it—that I had not set the lights correctly to light the object.
My intention is obviously to carry on trying to learn more about it—maybe, hopefully, I might make a connection with someone who shoots in that style and who would be prepared to accept me as an unpaid assistant. Doubtful, so I might just have to continue practising by myself.
technical learning—ambient lighting
This was a surprise—a pleasant one, at that. Part of my reason for wanting to shoot with photographic lighting was this fear that I could not control ambient light, but when I finally did it, it was so much easier than I had anticipated. More fool me. [Further comment about that in the section below.]
only 141 images this time…!
This was an improvement from the +700 images that I took in the previous assignment. This was down to a number of factors. I’m hoping that I have got more selective, more sure and considered as I work? Interesting in that of those 141 images, only 25 were done with ambient light—and yet I ‘got’ the shots I wanted. Which implies that I ‘fiddle’ too much when I shoot with photographic light!
One thing I did notice towards the end was the fact that I kept positioning the pig ‘looking’ to the right. It was not a conscious decision or one made because that side of the pig looked better, or that I was too lazy to move the pig’s head. It was shot over a number of sessions, and each time the pig would be returned to the fridge; and then re-positioned at the start of the next session.
It’s not a major—but it is something that I need to keep an eye on—otherwise all my images will start to look the same. Also, it would be interesting to understand the reasoning/logic behind my decision.
inspiration vs emulation vs transcription
Fair coverage of this in my journal; and I’m still making progress with the concept. I need to be more ‘grounded’ in understanding of art and visual culture so that it informs my practice—consequently I’ve enrolled in ‘Understanding Visual Culture’ as my next module. Thus far, it’s pretty taxing; but feedback from others who have done it, indicates that it is a worthwhile pursuit.
Looking into attending some additional theory courses with a London Institute which could also help me fill in the ‘gaps’ and add to my understanding.
photography as art
I’m not making ‘art’ yet; but my extensive studies have been worthwhile. I’m beginning to understand more about contemporary photography and artists such as Rineke Dijkstra—thanks largely to the blog posts by Keith Greenough—a final year student.
Attending exhibitions has also started to be more informative. I’ve really enjoyed the last ones—especially the ‘Question of Colour’ at Somerset House; and ‘Seduced by Art’ at the National Gallery.
My readings are making more sense as my knowledge of photographers is growing through these visits. Two, who are definitely on my ‘hunt down and understand list’ at the moment, are Jeff Wall and Joel-Peter Witkin. I think a large part of that comes from my constant fight with the ‘inspiration vs emulation’ conflict—and seeing how they have referenced past art is making sense.
Once again I’m relatively happy with some of my images; but the assignment is not as successful as I had hoped—particularly my photographic light—shape image; but I am not sure what to do about that.
Disappointed with myself for taking so long to get this assignment out; and also because I failed to create something which was more than just trying to fulfill the requirements of the assignment. Maybe, in retrospect, I once again took on too much, set my standard too high—and ended up disappointing myself. Fears that I have flat-lined and that my images have not improved are constant.
where to now…?
On my ‘to do’ list—some short term and others long term:
- Continue to actively use ‘ambient’ lighting in my images. Not looking only for correct exposure, but getting the light to contribute to aesthetics of the image.
- Attempt at combining photographic and ambient light successfully outdoors.
- Study three books for the next module—’Basics Creative Photography 02: Context and Narrative’; Freeman’s ‘The Photographer’s Story: The Art of Visual Narrative’; Evan’s ‘Pictures on a Page’.
- Not get bogged down—technically or emotionally—as I did in this module.
- Use my learnings from ‘Behind the Image: Research in Photography’ more effectively in next module.
Child, J. and Galer, M. (2008) Essential Skills: Photographic Lighting. 4th ed. Kidlington: Focal Press
Fox, A. and Caruana, N. (2012) Behind the Image—Research in Photography. Lausanne: AVA Publishing
Galer, M. (2006) Essential Skills: Digital Photography in Available Light. 3rd ed. Kidlington: Focal Press
Hunter, F., Biver, S. and Fuqua, P. (2012) Light—Science and Magic. 4th ed. Kidlington: Focal Press
Hunter, F. and Reid, R. (2011) Focus on Lighting Photos. Kidlington: Focal Press
Präkel, D. (2007) Basics Photograpy 02: Lighting. Lausanne: AVA PublishingRead More »
This post contains only the images that I am going to submit for the assignment. Discussion of them is in the other posts.Read More »
This image developed out of the previous example where I was attempting to show ‘shape’ with photographic lighting.Read More »
Not really happy with my photographic lighting image for shape, I opted to try something different for this final image…Read More »
Still not quite sure as to how I showed colour with lighting, but knowing that this was required as an aspect for the assignment…Read More »
In the reworking of my approach to this assignment, I had briefly considered continuing an idea from the previous attempt…Read More »
Although I don’t think it is particularly apparent here—or in any of my images—I was striving to achieve the kind of directional lighting…Read More »
As with the image for volume, I had learned that the best way to show texture was to light across the image…Read More »
When I first started thinking about this assignment, I really wanted to try something different to show shape.…
The most straight forward way is to silhouette the object by back-lighting it—which is effectively what I have done here.
With one of my previous ‘subjects’—an attempt at which I failed miserably, I had wanted to do a cast shadow to imply shape—essentially shadow as shape—similar to that done by Mapplethorpe, Testino, Sam Taylor-Wood, Perou with Marilyn Manson, Brooke Shaden, Natalie Dybisz and Peter Coulson—but I found it far more difficult than I imagined and have put that approach on the back-burner to be revisited at a later stage.
So accepting that the skill was beyond me—at present—I opted for a more traditional approach—with a little difference. I was hoping to ‘hang’ the submission together as a set—and thought that going for a square crop and a black background throughout would help give it some sense of coherence. [At time of writing this up, I have not completed the second submission for shape—which I hope to do with natural lighting—so not sure if I will be able to maintain the black background.]
Instead of backlighting forward—I opted to backlight away from the subject onto the background—trying to create a ‘halo’ around that object which personifies my present nemesis.
lighting and capture
I started with a single light with a small reflector and a grid—but found that the light source was too small and did not give me the halo that I wanted. I then switched to a larger flatter reflector without a grid—but then the light spread was too large. Finally, I opted for the original reflector without a grid which gave me the spread of light that I wanted—creating that halo behind the head. Ten frames followed as I tried to position the light centrally behind the head—this was more difficult than I had anticipated.
Once that was sorted, I had the silhouette—which effectively shows shape—but I’m not sure if I am happy with it. Granted, I think it fulfils the requirements for shape—but there’s not that much else in the image. So I continued to experiment—slowly adding a fill light to the front of the pig to show more detail—until I ended up with the image at the end of this section. Although I really liked that image, I wondered whether I had gone too far away from the shape concept.
I also tried two alternate approaches—one where I reversed the light so that it was shining directly behind the pig; and another where I placed two small gridded lights either side of the pig—behind at approximately 45°—they were not really successful at all.
Because minimal detail was visible in the pig, the image was simply processed and exported from Lightroom. The only adjustments made were to set the Lens profile correctly, apply a minor sharpening and use a square crop. I contemplated a little split-toning—adding a colour to the highlights; but decided against it.
Gatcum, C. (2011) Light and Shoot 50 Fashion Photos. Lewes: Ilex Press
This was one of the newest concepts to me in terms of using lighting to show an object’s form…Read More »
It was difficult to get my head round the concept of showing only colour because I felt that it was visible in all the images?Read More »
With all my previous plans out the window, I started on a new tack looking at photographers who made close studies of people or objects. Below is just a brief outline of some thoughts as included in my off-line journal.
August Sander: ethnographical approach—taxonomy and classification. Sontag says that he always centred subject in frame; also that he was unjudging, an observer—not looking for secrets. But in a way he did by his choice of location: ‘Professionals and the rich tend to be photographed indoors, without props. Laborers and derelicts are usually photographed a setting (often outdoors) which locates them…’ [Sontag, 2003, pg 47]
Gustav Theodor Fritsch: images of South African communities—note that he tended to take only two images when creating portraits—one face-on and the other a straight profile—there were no 3/4 approaches. He did these and back images for some of his other African studies.
Eadweard Muybridge: for his close studies of animals—except for the fact that he was looking at movement.
Roelof Petrus Van Wyk: “The Afrikaner: A Self-Portrait” where he systematically photographed young Afrikaners in an approach similar to Sander and Fritsch above—but he does more angles—so it is more of a ‘probing’ look. This approach has appealed for a while—despite my not having understood it when I first saw it at V&A—maybe now have right subject?
Avedon: confrontation as opposed to collaborative. Not that pig can collaborate. But it is the intention on my part to take what I need instead of it being given. Also plain background—his was white though.
Irving Penn: ‘Worlds in a Small Room’— preferred to isolate his subjects from natural settings—in studio against stark background—the studio could most closely capture their true natures—but did allow props to be included.
Karl Blossfeldt: because of the ‘scientific’ attention to the detail within the plant as a study.
Nadav Kander: His use of lighting in his portraits—particularly the black and white ones—where the lighting is very considered—and the face is not totally lit. Would like to be able to do that—not light the whole face—but make it look intentional, not like I had just messed up!
Nick Dolding: His ‘Wanted’ series—more like prison mugshots than ethnographic or scientific study—but possibly still relevant? Same two-image set as Fritsch.
Platon: His ‘Power’ series—don’t think this is an option. Already, with the subject, there is too much of a chance that it could become a grotesque parody—although I might just try a wide-angle for an experiment—not part of assignment though, but I have the model!
Tim Flach: looking at his images of animals in his ‘More than Human’ series. Relevance because of the ‘humanness’ of some of the images—still not too sure which way I will go—will it be ‘scientific’ or a ‘portrait’ series—think scientific. Practical point of view—positioning of lighting to show texture.
Jill Greenberg: Not the post-processing—strange, a while back this might have appealed—but guess have had fill of too much Photoshop. But she does get the texture to show.
Lord of the Flies — William Golding: ‘Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!’ Ch. 9
Eagles—Hotel California: Lyrics which reflect how I feel about my personal demon at the moment which I hope to exorcise now.Read More »
I had been ‘planning’ this assignment for a couple of months because I have a bit of a passion for/obsession about lighting. It’s where I seem to I differ from the other students; they seem keener on natural light and ‘found’ situations; on the other hand, I want to make ‘lit’, constructed images. Well, that’s what I think now—but that may change as I get exposed to more options.
the original plan
The ‘plan’ as such, was pretty much finalised before I had completed assignment three; and posted to my blog as a pdf in late April. I felt the time was right for me to step up a gear and instead of merely ‘creating’ images that met the brief, I wanted to create something that was ‘of me’.
I was thinking of something along the line of a ‘self-portrait’ similar to the way that Roelof Petrus Van Wyk had done his ‘Afrikaner—A Self-Portrait’ series as seen in the Figures & Fictions exhibition that I had visited at the V&A [June 2011]. Van Wyk had created a series of self-portraits by ‘projecting’ his thoughts and concerns onto other young Afrikaners—so they were not ‘self-portraits’ in the ‘true’ sense of the word.
I wanted to do the same—using a doll as me—and exploring concerns or feelings that I had encountered either over the past ten years; or my experiences as a student—a cathartic, semi-psychotherapy approach.
I could make no progress down this route when I tried to balance it with the requirements of the brief for assignment 4—that I use lighting to illustrate shape, form, texture and colour—because the doll had little in the way of colour or texture. This problem was further compounded by the requirement to complete some of the images using natural light—I was reluctant to take the doll outside because of her value and delicate nature.
I became doggedly stubborn—wanting to stick to my original plan and use her in my images—despite gentle suggestions from other students that I might try another approach or different subject matter to get me over the ‘hump’.
keeping your tutor informed
I think that this was mistake number one—there were more to come. I keep a large off-line journal—where I paste images, make random comments and just generally muse my way through this course. I had not thought of submitting it to my tutor. [Comes back to my early misunderstanding of the role of the blog versus a ‘real journal’; and the importance of that journal as a means of communicating my intentions.]
If my tutor had seen these thoughts—there would have been one of two outcomes. Either he would have read my ‘thoughts’ and steered me gently in the correct direction at an earlier point; or in seeing that I was going off-course, he would have warned me that I would have to put forward a pretty strong argument for the course I wanted to take. My bad; and it is something I will rectify for the future.
reading and understanding the assignment
I was at fault here—I had glanced at the assignment and put my own spin on it. The assignment said, “take about eight photographs of it, each in a different kind of lighting. You can use any light at all, from daylight to available artificial light, to photographic lighting”.
For different kind of lighting, I read ‘different lighting set-up’; and this is where I think my problems came in. I thought I would be fine using photographic light throughout—the penny had not dropped that I should use different types of lighting—especially because I had seen assignments completed which only used photographic light; and others done using only natural light. Still think that the assignment needs to be rewritten and the requirements for using different forms of light clarified.
There were false starts. The mannequin featured in a couple; and I was determined to use the doll to ‘tell a story’; then disheartened, I shot a pig statue—and those images landed in the trash. I bought a wooden scooter from a local charity shop, but then decided that whilst it had form, shape and colour—it had not texture. [Finally saw the texture in the wood the other evening, with the light coming in the bedroom window in the late afternoon.]
Eventually months late, I looked at my options and made a decision to keep it simple and get it done. A tutor mentioned on one of the forums that the focus was to illustrate a knowledge of lighting and use it to show the physical properties required—if the end result was art—that was a lucky, additional result.
I did a fair amount of research—looking at a number of different artists—and although none of these are clearly evident in my images, I think I am richer for the experience and may well find myself referencing some of these artists more closely in the future.
In addition to looking at Van Wyk—mentioned earlier—I’ve looked more closely at the works of Sharon Core, Perou, Sam Taylor-Wood, Brooke Shaden, Miss Aniela, Sarah Moon, Joel Grimes, Rankin, and many more. Specifically, as I approached the ‘reworked’ subject matter—the pig, I also considered the work of August Sander. Fritsch, Muybridge, Avedon, Penn, Nadav Kander, Nick Dolding, Platon, Tim Flach and Jill Greenberg
My regret here is that I was unable to put what I had learnt from reading of Fox, A. and Caruana, N. (2012) Behind the Image—Research in Photography into practise as I developed my research on this assignment. It’s still too haphazard and is something that I will need to develop properly in further modules; although I still hope to use their suggested self-evaluation form when I have completed this assignment—and work out clearly where I went wrong.
Although the mind-map is included in my journal; and posted on my blog; I have included it below to provide a quick overview of where my thoughts were going initially—and to eliminate the need for my tutor or assessors to cross-reference by going to either of the alternate sources. [It goes without saying that the direction in which this assignment has gone has little to do with that original plan.]
I’ve also managed to work my way through my continued conflict about ‘emulation’ versus ‘inspiration’ from other artists—and that bodes well for the future.
An interesting discussion on the OCA forum where Anne’s comment about ‘transcription’ being an accepted art practise was especially interesting. Peter directed me to the art of Sherrie Levine. Also looked at Joel-Peter Witkin and self-portrait based on Velazquez’s “Las Meninas”—and we have some sense of closure there—for the moment at least.
return to a previous approach
It’s a little late in the day because I have already deleted some of my non-keepers; but as I write this assignment up, I am hoping to return to the approach I adopted in my first assignment where I annotated my ‘failures’ and keepers as I progressed through the shot.
This was a particularly useful approach for me in that first assignment; and although it may not have worked in the second; I regret not returning to it in the third assignment, where I presented only my final images. It’s not a contact sheet in the true sense; but it does give an indication of my thought process and my workings—useful for me and hopefully for my tutor.
[To view the original plan in a new window, click assign4plan]Read More »
From the first set of images that I took of the pumpkin, once I had realised that the apples were not going to rot—and my images of them were disappointing. As I understood the brief—form is another way of describing the volume of an object—how three-dimensional the object looks. To achieve this, I needed to be aware of the modelling effect of the light and the way I dealt with the shadows is all important. I needed to use the lighting to show as much depth as possible in the subject.
From my research on a site suggested by my tutor: ‘The Top 10 Photography Lighting Facts You Should Know’, I have learned that shadows create volume—which I now understand is equivalent to the quality ‘form’ as required in the assignment. The site said that volume is “three-dimensionality, the sense of seeing an image as an object in space, not projected on a flat surface”. Lighting from the side, above, or below—casts deeper and longer shadows—creates the sense of volume.
Although I don’t think it is particularly apparent here—or in any of the images to come—I was striving to achieve the directional lighting achieved by Sharon Core in her ‘Early American’ series; and that of others when they emulate the lighting of the ‘Old Masters’. But I cannot get the softness nor the ‘coldness’ of the light that they seem to get—and that frustrates me. Mine is far too directional, harsh and hot at the moment—but it is something that I will master.
I had one large softbox camera-left—high and behind the pumpkin. There was a soft egg-box grid on the softbox in an attempt to give my light more direction because I felt I needed that to get the stronger shadows to show the volume.
When I posted this image on flickr for some feedback from other OCA students, comments included the hot-spots on the left; and also that the foreground was too light and slightly distracting.
To lessen the hot-spots—which I can’t seem to avoid with photographic lighting—I used a neutral-density [50% grey] layer set to Overlay; and painted with black at a low opacity—find this approach less destructive than using the Burn tool.
I added an UnSharp Mask which I masked so that the detail in the hessian was not exaggerated.
I used a Curves Adjustment layer to darken down the distracting lighter foreground—again using a feathered layer mask to control where the burning was applied.
Keith Greenough gave me some good technical advice regarding the Old Masters and depth of field—and that if I was truly trying to emulate them then I needed greater depth of field and for the image to be sharp throughout—which was something I had not considered—but a point put on the backburner to consider again at a later stage.
Eileen also gave me a handy hint about focusing 1/3 of the way into the object in order to get more of the front of the object in sharp focus.
My biggest concern about this image is that although it may be showing volume/form; it lacks the atmosphere I wanted to achieve—Old Master—and has more of a happy Halloween feel to it! Not my intention at all.Read More »
On Friday, I received a letter from Admin giving me a rather strong chiding for not having submitted an assignment for such a long time. I’ve taken it on board and decided that if I am ever going to finish TAOP, then I have to really get my skates on. I have dithered for too long because I am not happy with this assignment and my subject matter; and to be honest, if I had the time, I’d start all over again. But I don’t, so I can’t. Have seriously considered de-registering and re-registering and starting from scratch all over again. But I won’t do that either—for the present at least—although it does remain a strong possibility.
So, I have decided to start posting parts of the assignment as I write it up; and finish off the remaining images. This will force me to commit; something I am finding very hard to do at the moment—I’m really not satisfied with the direction I have been taking—and the pumpkin is a sad deflated shadow of its former self—maybe that’s how I am feeling too at the moment. But we will do it and post it and move on—it has to be done.
But, the absence of assignment submissions has not meant that I have not been engaged in my studies—implied in the letter—I have been—but just not doing what I should have in order to show this engagement and progress. My meanderings [also known as WAB—work avoidance behaviour] have been very fruitful and I have learned loads which hopefully I will be able to put into practise at some later stage!Read More »
After yesterday’s post, I sent an email to my tutor—referencing that post and asking forgiveness for my bad behaviour. It was bad behaviour—I’d been on the missing list for six months. I’d not contacted him for help; or even explained what was happening. And the problem was, that the longer I stayed on that missing list, the harder it was for me to make contact again. Now, this is no ‘Second Coming’—in fact it might be construed as being a bit pretentious—but some how this feels right…
" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…"
In this instance the falcon could not hear the falconer because she had run away and hidden in some cave—frustrated and embarrassed by her failure. And I waited all day to see what response I got from my email and the blog post. I got a b***ll**cking; but it was a gentle, good-humoured and encouraging one. Enough to make me laugh, perk up my spirits and make me think, ‘yeah, I can do this!’
So tonight—as the fruit still decays—I am relieved, full of enthusiasm and ready to move forward.
[As an aside, I really must look at poetry more for my inspiration. Know that came up in one of the forums or 'We Are OCA' posts recently; and it is so true. Funny, I was an English Lit & Modern History major all those years ago—but for the English Lit—I saw it in words—now when I read those poems, it is so much more visual for me—as if I 'see' what they were saying now—I must use that.]Read More »
My assignment is months late; and at this rate I’m not sure whether my tutor will ever speak to me again. Also really scared that I will not make my deadline for assessment. But today; after months and months of being stuck in a bog; I think I have made a breakthrough. I’ve not been neglecting my studies—in fact, I’ve read many books; looked at a number of artists—superficially and in-depth; but I’ve not been able to come up with a focus for my lighting assignment that ticks all the boxes.
A very large part of it was my fault. I’d decided on what I wanted to do on this assignment as early as last October—of course, I had not read the assignment properly. But I knew what I wanted to do, it was going to be personal and relate to a rather large milestone in my life.
And then it all fell to pieces—for a number of reasons—not relevant here. But I could not get past the starting block, and every idea I had—and believe you me, there were many—I shot down in flames. The bottom line was that even if I strayed very far from that initial concept—in terms of subject—I could not stray in terms of the personal concept. Additionally, I did not want to capture any object, there had to be that little bit in there that said, ‘this is me’—this is of me, and from me. I know that it is not required, that getting the lighting techniques right is the focus; and that if I made a little ‘art’ along the way—that would be an added bonus. But it just did not sit right with me, I did not want to feel like I was just ‘going through the motions’! No guarantee that the images will be any good, but I will feel better for have tried.
On the weekend, I put my six ‘still-standing’ ideas down on a double-page spread; and basically wrote down the pros and cons for each one. I read back through my ‘paper-log’; and thought ‘you bloody fool’! I think I am there now…! But here below, my thoughts on each possible submission, as they appear in my log:
- shape: yes, no problems
- form: ditto—lighting to show both will require work—but then, so will all the others—not a negative or positive
- texture: very little texture—can find some in the skin—but that’s with glarey light—shown in contact sheet a little while back.
- colour: very little inherent colour—some on face; and parts of body—but can colour be subtle? Could buy clothing—but then that destroys the original concept.
- narrative: there was one with initial concept—so many pages ago—but things have changed—so not likely to proceed down this route
- concerns: cost of doll—hesitant to take her outside—bought for an ‘inside’ project.
Conclusion: Not going to use her for the lighting project. Determination to use her and trying to find ways around the limitations is what has caused the problems. Might use for narrative, else possibly in DPP or for a personal project some time later. [5th position]
pig or elephants statue
I actually shot some images of the pig one afternoon—for the assignment—but it just did not feel right—and I stopped again!
- shape: yes—could show shape but whether it would be a recognisable shape without the other images is a concern here.
- form: both have folds in bodies which could be used to show volume/form.
- texture: both options have texture—it will require macro to show it.
- colour: pig is pink [nuff said]; elephants brown —pink inside ears.
- narrative: not really an option here. It would just be a collection of images showing lighting, which although that is all that is required, is not something that I want to do at this stage. If I opt to go down this route, I will feel that I have accepted failure and opted for the easy way out.
Conclusion: Going back on the shelf. At best this would be a half-hearted attempt. [6th position]
- shape: has a definite shape which could be lit as a semi-silhouette or maybe a cast-shadow. Idea like crime-scene for one of them.
- form: definite form—lumps and bumps —highlighted by the right lighting.
- texture: not much—would need to be introduced with clothing or bits—bandages, muslim or netting. Joyce Tennyson type images are an option.
- colour: similar problem/solution as above
- narrative: large scope for narrative here, but maybe it would be contrived; and also I would be making changes to what she was wearing to achieve this narrative—and then worry that goes outside of the scope of the assignment.
- concerns: she is a little big to be moving around.
Conclusion: Very good chance that I will opt to use her for the narrative [at this stage at least!—haven't read that module—and can't fall into the same trap!] Can develop the theme that I have in my head. Will require me to use big lights outside for some of images. [4th position]
- shape: yes—but nothing really inspiring
- form: if decayed there will be more options for showing form—also if stacked, then there is individual form and total form to the shape?
- texture: similar as above—but again more texture will be evident in the rotten bits?
- colour: no problems here
- narrative: yes, there is one—and I can’t believe I did not see it before! And it is a personal one. Ties up with the image I discarded ages back when doing the points exercise in the garden—using my shadow and the apple as a single point. Also watched Sam Taylor-Woods ‘Vanitas’ video recently—and this is possibly where there is common ground.
- concerns: bugs!
Conclusion: Looking like odds-on favourite at the moment—until I get to the pumpkin alongside. Think it ticks the boxes for OCA; and for my tutor—because all will be outside—even when using photographic light—and for me, because it has a personal narrative/story. [1st position]
veggie still life
- shape: no problem if a variety of shapes—and therein lies the problem!
- form: folds will allow form to show
- texture: very little surface texture—opening would help—but then shape would have to change—think this is acceptable to do—or could introduce sacking as background for texture?
- colour: very strong colour
- narrative: not really.
- motivation: Referencing Ori Gersht —using a still from his Pomegranate video— which he referenced from Juan Sánchez Cotán painting— Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber. Really like the light in both the still and original painting—but I have to do more than light it just like that. Maybe if opt for apples, can try and do it there.
Conclusion: Second favourite because although I like the concept & the lighting, it leaves me feeling that I failed to do something personal—in that the images are just images—there is nothing of me in them. And, it’s more than one object—so breaking assignment? [2nd position]
- shape: yes, also variation in shape possible from closed to open? Is that allowed?
- form: not too sure that there is any—unless it is closed/semi-closed
- texture: available in folds when closed; and in embroidery when open—but again subtle.
- colour: not much—again very subtle because is cream/off-white
- motivation: semi ‘picnic at hanging rock’ feeling to the images. Again going back to module 2—where I shot the parasol in the back field with the sharp setting sun.
- concerns: there could be some sort of personal input to the images—but not sure I would get the variation that I wanted?
Conclusion: Maybe third favourite? But think too hit and miss. [3rd position]
So there you have it—please, please—don’t let me wake up tomorrow and change my mind! My feeling is that by putting it out in the world, then I commit myself!
Came across these images in today’s Sunday Times magazine—and found some inspiration for the lighting assignment. Recalled similar images by Lynne Collins, and also our front room at Christmas, where the three children were immersed in their own, isolated worlds—communicating by electronic devices—phones, iPads, etc—with the telltale glare on their face—in an otherwise darkroom. [And me bemoaning the fact that I did not grab the camera!]
The images in today’s magazine are from the series ‘Strangers in the Light‘ by Catherine Balet—also available here at the Polka Galerie. The images are all ‘lit’ using technology; and are included in her upcoming book, with the same name as the series. The lighting on the images by Balet looks softer than that in the Collins images—so am presuming that that was some post-processing?
“One summer night Catherine Balet was inspired by the sight of a young couple standing in the sea bathed in moonlight, shooting a self-portrait with a mobile phone. Balet was touched by the beauty of the scene, the two white bodies revealed by the lightning of the electric flash, and was struck that this was the point where technology met romanticism, where the future met the past, and the blue light of the new world met the golden light of classical painting. Connecting the ephemeral, vacuous, anonymous nature of an out of control digital world with long-lived cultural references, Balet questions how yesterday links into tomorrow. Strangers in the Light explores the dominance of media screens in contemporary life, from surgical simulators to interactive sex, from a connected family gathering to the violence of video games. Her images also refer to the narcissistic self-awareness expressed on social networks and the new approach to quick, light mobile photography that affects our visual culture. All the scenes are lit only with the technological devices, generating a mysterious beauty. Balet casts a fascinated, sometimes ironic, eye on the intricate relationship between man and technology, providing a captivating portrait of our society that hovers between fiction and documentary. Ines connected with Amina, an early image from the series, won the London National Portrait Gallery Taylor Wessing Photographic Third prize in 2008.” Source: Steidl.
Interview with Balet explaining the inspiration for her Taylor Wessing submission and her more recent work is here—worth a listen.
There are also two short videos on the Balet site which are lit by the same equipment; and are worth a look.
Had not thought of possibly using television, laptop, iPad or phone as an option for lighting in this assignment—now I do! Watch this space…some more thinking to do! Especially because many of them are ‘portable’ light sources for the evening.
[Catherine's book on Identity also looks interesting—for another day!]Read More »
Putting my failures out here—so I can face them and work through them instead of being stuck on the treadmill.Read More »
Aware that an option to illustrate shape through lighting is to back-light the subject—thus creating a silhouette…Read More »
Been stuck in a rut for the last couple of months; and have not moved forward at all—it’s now time to do so…Read More »
Coming back from my cave—not Plato’s cave; or a gender-bending version of man’s Mars cave. Just my own little cave where I have been hiding for over a month trying to get to grips with assignment four and my frustrations with it—the divisions between what I have to do if I stick to the brief properly—and what I want to do, if I am to exorcise my demons and move on. Have hit a road-block; and don’t really have the impetus to carry on. But looking at Barry’s blog, his progress with his lighting exercises; and the resultant conversation—below—will hopefully kick-start me again. It did me good to have a little rant—so have decided to post it here…
[Me] Thank you for this one!! I have come to a complete standstill in this module—don’t know what’s happened in my head—but I am very disinclined [is that a real word?] at the moment. Reading your exercise, which I will re-read again—has made me think that I will go upstairs and shoot this exercise this afternoon! Ta muchly for a [non-intended] kick up the behind!
[Barry] I’d have thought you’d have sailed through this photographic lighting malarky, but I know what you mean. I found myself coming to a bit of a standstill in terms of motivation that I didn’t experience in the earlier sections.
My hand was forced by the monsoon rains though! I wanted to take pictures, but I didn’t want to go outside in the rain, (although I hear the UK has had it pretty bad too – hope you weren’t affected by it).
In actual fact, I did both this exercise and the contrast and shadow fill one twice. I used different subjects the first time around, but quite liked the results and thought I might use either of them for the assignment. The second time around the results weren’t quite as good as I wanted, though. I’ve learned from it big time though, and that should help me in the assignment. Oh yeah!! Disinclined is fine!
[Me] Sailed through it—nada! All my lighting in previous assignments was just spray and pray—no idea what I was doing. And light fascinates me so much that I want to get a firmer grip on it!
Weather—cr*p here too! Half my shots must be outside—but there is no light—constant cloud, mingled with wind and rain most days. The smoke machine—a la Drew Gardner—sits like the elephant in the room on the floor of our playroom still in a cardboard box! Even when the rain stops, the wind continues; and that will blow the smoke away too quickly.
Really wanted to make something of this assignment—something personal—but I have screwed up so badly. Did not read the assignment properly when I thought about this last October and ordered a BJD doll from Korea—white and smooth as a baby’s bum—texture and colour—nothing!
In my head I had to shoot eight images—so had eight completely different scenes with different props planned—well, that’s not the brief, is it?
One of my scenes was going to be bird as doll in nest outside. Can’t find anything that resembles a nest on internet; and we have one in the shed; but it belongs to the robin who lives in the garden—and I could not bring myself to nick it, even though it looks empty at the moment…
Okay, rant over—I could go on and on—maybe I will post this on my blog—getting it out there has made me feel a little better. So bl**dy frustrated! Keep trying to follow K-I-S-S [Keep it simple, stupid], but it’s not working.
Anyway, back to your exercises above and on the other post. They really have helped me step back and look and think—so hoping to do those this afternoon and get back on track! And the learning that you are experiencing with lighting—brilliant. That’s the purpose of these exercises.
[Barry] It’s a shame that you can’t use the doll, as I know you had that planned from the beginning. And the smoke machine’s still in its box – oh dear.
I know what you mean about wanted to make something personal. I tried to do that for Assignments 2 and 3, and it worked out ok. For this one though, it’s so hard for me technically that I’m going with the ‘keep in simple’ idea.
I haven’t decided on my object yet, but I’m not going to be too ambitious, and will just use a mixture of lighting with simple backgrounds.
I think I’ve taken over almost a thousand images for this part of the course, and to be honest i’m looking forward to getting it out of the way now. Part five: Narrative looks to be much more up my street.
Anyway, I hope you get going with it again, and I’m sure it will all work out great in the end. Looking forward to reading about the exercises on your blog!
[Me] Not use the doll—never! Dammed if I do; and dammed if I don’t—so I might as well! Working my way through all my thoughts—I need eight images—two locations—one object. Well, I am going to do the above—but with a variation. Eight images—two scenes, two different locations—one object as main focus.
I could go back to the one object—just to ‘do’ the assignment—but that would leave me feeling like I cheated, or quit on myself. So, I am carrying on. If I fall on my jacksie—so be it; at least I will fall knowing I did what I needed to do. [Hears Bon Jovi—Blaze of Glory ringing in her ears.]
Thanks though for the encouragement—much appreciated. Looking forward to seeing your assignment too!
[Postscript] Have just read Penny’s blog where her tutor mentions that she should have written a ‘project proposal’ because she has embarked on a ‘self-directed’ project and …diverged from the brief. So be it, this is what I think I need to do then?
And excuse the naff image—the downside of having an image-driven wordpress theme!!Read More »
Came across these images on Jake Garn’s website—unusual for him—he tends to do more high-key colour images.
Drawn to them for a number of reasons:
- They are really stripped back—in terms of props—I am getting held back because I keep embellishing my images in my head—and that leads me on to wanting to buy more props—procrastination—like in the flowers series. Oh yes, it’s coming on again!
- I love mono—we know that!
- My doll is nude—at the moment—yup, have been thinking about making clothes! Have bells, ribbons, feathers etc!
- But—I think most importantly—they show two of the characteristics that we have to illustrate in the assignment on lighting—volume and texture. Volume through the light and shadows; and the texture of the hair? Really like the bottom one—and think I can emulate that sort of texture if I attack an old duvet and its innards!
Says on his blog that he used a two light gridded set-up—which I can see and which I think I can handle—have small reflectors, grids and loads of gaffer-tape to limit the size of the light—doll is only 45cm big. [The gaffer-tape hint comes from Joel Grimes in a video on ‘framed network’. It’s about three mins into the video.]
[I'd like to thank Jake for giving permission for me to display his images here—much appreciated!]Read More »
Because I want to use the doll for the images in assignment 4, I know that I need to control the light…Read More »
Became interested in the work of Jamie Baldridge a number of months ago. What first attracted me to the images was the darkness, the colours, the surrealism, lighting, fantasy/fairy-tale world. I had come across what I call ‘constructed realities’ in the work of Paolo Ventura and Lori Nix; and for me I was imagining a chance of combining the two approaches for my assignment on lighting. Located his website—make sure you have the sound up on your computer—and his thesis.Read More »
I’ve been thinking about this project for a while. Many months in fact—she was ordered as long ago as last October, although it took her until January to arrive from Korea. Now I am finally at assignment 4, I can start to bring all my plans to fruition. What I will include here are just some of the random thoughts which I have been putting down on a mind-map as I get the assignment clearer in my mind—yeah right! It’s as clear as mud at the moment, but I know that as I start to work through the artists I intend to reference, my ideas will become more lucid. It’s the first time I have started a module; and already known—roughly—what I want to do for the assignment!Read More »