Category Archives: Part 3

Exercise 3.3

Exercise 3.3

The task

  1. What do the timeframes of the camera actually look like?  If you have a manual film camera, open the camera back (make sure there’s no film in the camera first!) and look through the shutter as you press the shutter release.  What is the shortest duration in which your eyes can perceive a recognisable image in bright daylight?  Describe the experiment in your learning log.

I am unable to complete this exercise before my assignment is due in as my film camera is in Scotland and I won’t be there again until the weekend of the 24th February – I will do the exercise then and write it up.

 

  1. Find a good viewpoint, perhaps fairly high up (an upstairs window might do) where you can see a wide view or panorama.  Start by looking at the thigs closest to you in the foreground.  Then pay attention to the details in the middle distance and, finally, the things toward the horizon.  Now try and see the whole landscape together, from the foreground to the horizon (you can move your eyes).  Incude the sky in your observation and try to see the whole visual field together, all in movement (there is always some movement).  When you’ve got it, raise you camera and take a picture.  Add the picture and the description of the process to your leaning log.

I chose to climb the hill near Peel Castle on the west coast of the Isle of Man to get a wide angle view.

In the foreground is the grass of the hill – looking down into the carpark there are two stationary cars.  The edge of a painted 3 legged Manx symbol can be seen beside a litter bin.  There is a gate and pathway as well as another red bin in the carpark.  There is a wall which is at the edge of the causeway between the island the castle is on and the mainland.  Fenella beach can be seen in the middle ground with some people moving about the beach and the edge of the waves.  At the end of the middle ground there is the cliffs at the edge of the castle.  The watchtower is at the edge and there is a wall surrounding the castle.  Out to the right of the castle is the entrance to the harbour with lighthouses on each end.  There is an expanse of sea but in the far distance there is more of the Isle of Man land mass.  There is a faint hint of land further out which is Ireland.

In terms of movement it was an extremely windy day so the grass was blowing, there were the waves in the sea as well as the movement of the car entering the car park.  There were people moving around on the beach.  While in this area there weren’t a lot of clouds visible  they were moving.

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I probably didn’t spend as much time on this exercise as I could have but it was late afternoon and bitterly cold!  I was having difficulty keeping upright in the wind so it was a quick glance with trying to remember what I had seen.

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Exercise 3.2

Exercise 3.2

The Task

Start by doing your own research into some of the artists discussed above.  Then, using slow shutter speeds, the multiple exposure function, or another technique inspired by the examples above, try to record the trace of movement within the frame.  You can be as experimental as you like.  Add a selection of shots together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the shots), to your learning log.

 

  1. Magnum Photos

 

Magnum photos was set up by a small group of photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa in 1947.  The main theme is photojournalism and in the early days this was in black and white.  Robert Capa as outlined in the course book (p.62) was famous for developing a technique that became famous in newspaper reporting where there was a certain amount of blur and grain in the photos which seemed to lend a certain authencity.  Henri Cartier-Bresson was the master of spontaneity in photography and what became known as ‘the decisive moment’.  There are now around 100 photographers listed on the Magnum Photo site.

 

  1. Robert Frank – The Amercians

 

This book is cited in the course book (p.62).  Frank took a 2 year road trip around America, taking 28,000 photos of American life which he whittled down to a mere 83!  He was criticised for the very things that had been admired in Capa’s photo – grain and blur  but which gave immediacy to the photos(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Americans_(photography) accessed 29/01/2017).  He emphasized the differences in American culture between race and class alongside wealth and culture or in other words his book is a ‘social analysis’.

 

One of the most famous photos is of a trolley bus in New Orleans where the clear segregation of white and black is obvious.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHtRZBDOgag accessed 29/01/2017).  The presenter of this video thinks Frank’s idea was to ‘stand outside to look inside to analyse more intently’.

 

He wanted to see the ‘real life’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt97Jomj5nw accessed 29/01/2017.  In this video he explains the influence of the 2nd WW and listening to his parents worries as his father was a Jew.  They were living in Switzerland and it made him decide to leave when he could.  He explains he used his intuition rather than having planned concepts.  He photographed ordinary, everyday things.  He did not want to portray things romantically.  He believes you need a feeling for the people in order to be a good photographer.

 

  1. Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

In contrast to the more candid photography of the photographers above Hiroshi speaks of having a vision and a concept that go together.  He thinks and plans what he is going to do.  In the video on YouTube he explains how he planned to go to the theatre and each time he went he would open the shutter on his camera when the title came on the screen and only close the shutter at the point the ending credits came up.  The end result is an empty movie theatre with a blank white screen.  His concept was to take out the too much information of the movie and transform it into nothingness.  The movie theatre itself contains this nothingness.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY3nGoZqw9U accessed on 29/01/2017)

 

  1. Michael Wesley

Michael Wesley is known to have taken the longest photographic exposures when photographing the construction of buildings.  He set up 8 cameras in 4 different corners when the re-development of the New York Museum of Modern Art was underway.  He left the shutter open for 34 months and this gives an interesting perspective on the progress of the building as well as the sun traces in the sky mapping the movement of the earth around the sun. (http://itchyi.squarespace.com/thelatest/2010/7/20/the-longest-photographic-exposures-in-history.html (accessed 29/01/2017).  He had to undertake careful planning to ensure that the photos wouldn’t be overexposed.  He used a self-built pinhole camera. The original photos were constantly being destroyed and recreated as new images overlaid the old.  In this there is the concept of change and transition much in the same way as the building was evolving.  The older parts of the building are darker and clearer with the newer parts appearing almost translucent or ghostlike.  Eric Hehr (https://ehehr1955.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/the-longest-photographic-exposures-in-history/ (accessed 29/01/17) states that the photos express the themes of ‘life and death, birth and re-birth’.  You can see some of Wesley’s long exposures  on that site.

 

  1. Mike D’Angelo – How Wong Kar-Wai turned 22 seconds into eternity (https://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/221-how-wong-kar-wai-turned-22-seconds-into-an-eternit/ accessed on 5/2/2017)

 

In this article D’Angelo discusses how the film makers made use of time-lapse photography to enhance their films.  He talks about how most of the film has the characters either looking back or forwards.  He discusses how the film makers ‘visually represent temporal distortion’.    The impact of this is that it appears the character is distorted not from space but time – in this particular scene the character is in focus but the background is a blur of neon streaks.  He goes on to talk about a snippet in the film however, where it appears as if nothing happens for 22 seconds – as he writes he makes realisations and interpretations and has a ‘light bulb moment’ when he suddenly registers the letter and how the character in the end never opens the letter or takes it with him.  The stillness of the server and her T-shirt grab the attention and her romantic interest in the main character.  For D’Angelo this is a ‘decisive moment’ in that it is a snippet in the whole movie that stands apart or in Barthes terms it is the ‘punctum’ of the film (see my earlier research into Barthes in the research section of my blog).

 

  1. Francesa Woodman

 

The story of Woodman is a sad one in that she committed suicide at a young age.  Her photography is one of the ‘metaphysical’ (La Grange, 2005:110).  She displays through her photography the psychological psychodrama of her thoughts and deep feelings of unhappiness.  She uses self-portraiture with long exposures taken in decaying rooms.  This use of long shutter speeds also led to blurred movements.

 

According to Badger ‘Woodman avoids the self-reflective gaze, preferring instead to mirror a mysterious, vaguely defined alter ego, while the subject/object herself, a pallid, naked sprite, performs an airy dance’. (http://www.gerrybadger.com/francesca-woodman/ accessed on 5/2/2017).  There is an example of one of her photos on this site.

 

A similar example is displayed on http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/woodman-space-providence-rhode-island-1975-1978-ar00350 (accessed on 5/2/2017).

 

In this series it appears that Woodman was taking photos for a University assignment using the theme of space showing both the dimensions of space but how it can also be flattened in the final print.  The author of the article suggests that Woodman’s use of movement was in order to ensure that the viewer did not stamp their identity on her.  The space is ‘mental, imaginary, and constructed by the movement of her own body’ (original quotation is from Pedicini 2012, p.72).

La Grange, A. (2005).  Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. London: Focal Press

My photos

 

I had planned to have two full days in London prior to heading to Costa Rica at Christmas time.  The best laid plans don’t always work as the London airports were closed by fog on the day of 17th December 2016 and having flown there we were flown back to the Isle of Man.  I ended up flying to Birmingham and getting a train down to London thus losing the first day of my weekend.

 

I decided that I would try and get to a few well known landmarks/areas of London and undertake some street photography using long shutter speeds in order to get some motion blur in the people.

 

I used a tripod, a Canon 6D camera with my 24-105 mm lens.  The camera was set to Shutter priority mode.  Generally I don’t think people took any notice of what I was doing given the number of other tourists in the area also taking photos.

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Focal length 24 mm, 0.4 sec, f22, ISO 100

Pedestrians in front of Big Ben

 

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Focal length 24 mm, 0.6 sec, f22, ISO 100

Posing for the camera

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Focal length 24 mm, 0.8 sec, f22, ISO 400

Trafalgar Square

 

The longer shutter speed helped blur the water and I got the interesting ghostly feet with the buildings around the outside of the square being in focus due to the narrow depth of field.  I had bumped up the ISO as it was a gloomy day with remnants of fog from the day before.

 

I then moved onto Oxford Street as I had a couple of things I needed to get for my holiday but also spent some time photographing the hustle and bustle of last minute Christmas shopping:

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Focal length 24 mm, 0.8 sec, f.10, ISO 100

Christmas shopping Oxford Street

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Focal length 85 mm, 6.0 secs, f/22, ISO 100

 The Message

 

Out of all the photos this is the one I liked as I felt there were different messages or interpretations or thoughts about the scene.  Why did the gentleman sit with his back to where the main action was – he clearly felt he had an important message to share.  The shoppers and business in the background shows the indifference of the general population to him.  While it’s not obvious that this was Christmas time it did strike me as ironic that the commercialism of Christmas was so indifferent to the gentleman proclaiming the Christian message which began with Christmas.

 

Exercise 3.1

Exercise 3.1

 

The Task

Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject.  Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph.  Try to find beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated John Szarkowski.  Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the images),  to your learning log.

 

First attempt

 

For my first attempt at this exercise I tried to replicate using indoor photography and water splashes.  I set up the camera on the tripod with a shutter speed of 125.  The camera set the aperture at f4.  I tried ISOs of 800 and 1600.  I also tried different backdrops – a black sheet and a blue vinyl table cloth.  Two of the photos were taken dropping strawberries in water while the third is done by dropping coloured inks into water.

 

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afternoon-tea

I did not feel happy with the results feeling that the focus was poor.  I am not sure that the shutter speed was fast enough which may have led to the poor focus.

 

I next tried some outdoor shots – the seas at the Calf of Man in the south of the island can be good for this.  I always feel that there is beauty in the raw elements of the weather.  I have seen very dramatic seas in this area and in the past have taken photos where the waves are breaking over the top of Chicken rock and the lighthouse.  There was some swell but not on this occasion as dramatic.  I tried a couple of different shutter speeds but feel the one with 1/500 worked best as it gave a good aperture for sharpness.  ISO was left at 400.

( File info large picture) 1/1000, f5.6, ISO400

(File info top right)  1/500, f/10, ISO 400

(File info bottom right) 1/1000, f5.0, ISO 400

3rd attempt

I had gone to Costa Rica on holiday.  I had hoped to get photos of wild life in action with the thought I might get some ‘decisive moment’ shots.  However, I found with the constant weather fluctuations and dark jungle areas I was struggling to get the photos right on shutter priority so for most of the trip used either Manual or automatic in order to not ‘miss the shot’ while fiddling trying to get the right shutter speed.  However, I did get a few photos where I had used shutter speed – for me I enjoy shooting wild life and seeing the beauty in animals in action.

 

The file data for the squirrel monkey on the left was a focal length of 400, a shutter speed of 1/1000 which gave an aperture of 5.6.  Despite being quite a distance away (on the balcony of a hotel room) these settings meant I caught the monkey as it was about to jump onto another branch.  The background is also nicely blurred making the monkey stand out.

In contrast the next two photos had a deeper depth of field which means for the bird it tends to blend into the background.  The larger monkey was climbing along a leaf.  The settings were a focal length of 400, shutter speed of 1/1000 again giving an aperture of f5.6.  The settings for the humming bird were a focal length of 300, shutter speed of 1/1250 and aperture of 5.6.