Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, but you must make explicit in your notes what it is you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?
Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case? Take your time over writing your response because you’ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment Five.
I have spent around three and half years living on the Isle of Man for two separate periods. The Isle of Man is famous for its motor sports and in particular the TT motorcycle racing which takes place every year at the end of May/early June. I had been to two earlier TT races but felt my photos were largely the same as every other person out on the course. There is the added difficulty that as an amateur photographer I was unable to go into some of the spots marked for the media photographers. The racing takes place over two weeks – a practice/qualifying week and then a race week culminating in Senior Race Day (a public holiday on the Isle of Man).
Prior to going out this year I researched both how to take motor sports photographs and I looked at motorsports photographers through a Google search.
The one that seemed to have a good variety of work both of cars and motorcycles was Jamey Price. He appears to use two techniques – panning to give a sense of motion which results in a sharp motor vehicle but blurred background or the opposite using a fast shutter speed to freeze action or give a ‘decisive moment’.
The photo I have chosen from his work is
This photo shows the moment the car hit the mud in rainy conditions on the race track. I am responding to the excitement of motor racing but also the skill of capturing a ‘decisive moment’ – the viewer of this photo will be left wondering what happened next – did the car go out of control or was the driver able to bring it back under control. There is also the difficulty of taking photos in such conditions.
The photo below was taken during the first Superbike race during TT:
I believe this image shows a ‘decisive moment’ with the bike up in the air – he has just gone over a hump in the road.
In exploring Barrett’s (accessed 24/04/2017) article and the three types of information available for this image the following conclusions can be drawn:
- Internal context – if one clicks through to the picture information this internal context is readily available in Photoshop under file information. It will show that the author is myself, the image number and that it was taken on 4/6/2017.
- External context – this refers to the ‘presentational environment. It can be seen that this is a motorcycle on a road that has a number on it suggesting that it is participating in a race. There appears to only be a small audience so one may wonder if it is a practice. If the viewer is unaware of how the TT race works they may wonder about a bike on its own in the middle of what appears to be a rural area.
- This leads me on to the original context which is around what I knew was physically and psychologically present when taking the image. This meant I was aware that the TT race is a timed race which means that the bikes start at 10 second intervals so that particularly on the first lap often they will come through the course singly. I also was aware that the race takes place over 37 miles of roads on the island and passes through built up areas as well as rural areas. In addition there are now very strict guidelines in some areas of where spectators can be or not be in order to minimise the risk of spectators being injured if there is an accident with a bike. The small audience on that side of the road is due to that being private property and restricted to the general public. Sadly every year motor cyclists are killed undertaking what is seen as one of the most dangerous motorcycle events in the world. This year there were three and in fact I have an image of one competitor at this spot whom within 30 minutes of my taking the photo was fatally injured. Thus psychologically one is always mindful of the danger ever present but also in the case of my image above the superhuman strength required to control a bike that flies in the air in order to land safely. For me these instances are the ‘decisive moment’ of motorbike racing. Despite this awareness there is always the psychological awareness of ‘the race’. I have over the years followed one particular New Zealand competitor, Bruce Anstey, which gives me a particular psychological interest in how he does – 13th in this particular event from memory. He did get a 1st in a race later in the week. Barrett (p.116) talks about attempting ‘to place the pictured segment back into the whole for several reasons and in particular to understand the reality it came from. In terms of my picture the original includes a wider frame which has a 50 mile an hour sign which could have added some irony to the photo as the bikes tend to average over 120 m.p.h. around the course. My first version of cropping the photo was as below:
However, I think including the people on the wall gave the impression that it was a race and that there was audience participation. The slightly blurred background in the one with the audience means that the bike is still clear and the main focus of the image.
www.terrybarrettosu.com/pdfs/B_PhotAndCont_97.pdf accessed 24/4/2017