NOTES AND ANALYSIS
Niki South Student number: 514516
Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:
- Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.
- Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
- Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment. Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your ‘process’ (the series of steps you took to make the photographs). Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in v assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link in to your own work. Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria. Write 500–1,000 words.
Include a link (or scanned pages) to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor’s comments.
INTRODUCTION TO SUBJECT
Working on exercise 4.2 daylight “a combination of direct light from the sun, from the sky, and light reflected by the clouds” (Prakel, 2007, p58), stimulated me to explore daylight and its impact on photography further. I was fascinated by: colour temperature, clarity, the quality of shadows, and reflections all this without the added effects of location, season and sudden localised changes. I read more about light conditions and considered more carefully the impact of different lighting types that occur during daylight, the influence they have on photography and how to use them to their advantage. I was aware that previously I avoided shooting at less favourable times of the day, light or weather wise, and should challenge myself to work with the light, consciously turning it to my advantage.
I experimented with daylight at midday, the beginning and end of the day, to see which would best lend itself to a particular subject. I was influenced at the outset by Michael Schmidt and Eugene Atget (Link to research for assignment 4: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/a4-research/ ). Both photograhers worked with midday sun, presenting subjects in a documentary manner, “Photography was invented to enable us to portray reality with complete precision to the last detail” (Schmidt, 1979). Atget also “sought to illuminate his subject with even clarity, to best convey information” (Anon, n.d). However Atget later in his career photographed in subjective light with deep shadows, creating mood rather than describing with daylight.
After initial experimentation, I found that photographing angular modern urban buildings in the midday light yielded interesting images and focused on shooting these. Reviewing my first images of the buildings in monotone, I decided to depart from the monotones that Atget and Schmidt had used, as I considered that in colour, light reflected in the vertical surfaces was more eye catching and presented the saturated colours evolving from the harsh midday sun more effectively.
As I worked into the light reflected in the predominantly glass surfaces of these buildings, I recalled the work of Rut Blees Luxumberg I had researched and admired for exercise 4.3. Her work contains representations of the city and urban phenomenon, using long exposures at night to reveal often abstract urban detail; what struck me in particular about her work were the glows of light and her use of colour and tone. Although shooting in daylight, I was capturing some interesting colours and effects and bringing out details that might not otherwise been obvious. She suggests photography has the capacity to critically deconstruct the present, “photography is a powerful tool to question received notions of representation…to give visual pleasure” (Blees Luxemburg, 2015).
In deeper 1999 – Blees Luxemburg (Emer 2012).
Despite their neutrality Schmidt’s photographs also “retain an opacity, a mystery and they become a support for our imagination”, (Delahaye, 2014). I continued shooting to capture images that were less obvious, a support for the imagination and gave alternative representations of urban buildings; I found I could do this by exploiting reflections of light in the buildings. Because of the short daily window for stark overhead lighting and only occasional bright sunny days, I returned many times for short shoots, often reworking the same locations, buildings and reflection with slightly different light, perspective and exposures.
When editing my priority was to fulfil the creativity criteria: imagination, invention, experimentation and personal voice. I shortlisted images which thought were the most interesting, sometimes abstract, reflections of light and steered away from reflections and representations which were less challenging. When forming the series I ordered the images to break the rhythm of the photographs, by varying form and colour, to maintain interest for the viewer as they move through them.
See link to learning log for mind maps on preparations, shooting and editing: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/a4-learning-log/
How well have I developed the exercise to meet the creativity criteria?
Experimentation: I realised after exercise 4.2 that I tend to shoot to avoid the midday sun, so in this assignment I challenged myself with the lighting conditions and therefore took some risks. Using harsh overhead daylight was unforgiving and exposed some technical challenges: possibilities for blown out details, excessive contrast and light spots. I tried to overcome these by avoiding shooting with sky detail included in compositions under the brightest sun; instead then focusing on buildings vertical surfaces entirely, to avoid different relative exposures. I used the cloudier days to include sky detail and shot away from the sun. I was careful of dark shadows, but did use it deliberately on my 1st image to emphasise the contrast between an actual building and its lighter reflection.
Imagination: I tried to capture imaginative images and look deeply. I found it quite difficult to vary perspective as these buildings were sited around a busy city centre road system with limited pedestrian access (although I did manage to get in some unusual spots). I was unable to gain much height to photograph but was able to get underneath some buildings. I did stay fluid with my thinking and that led to my experimentation with abstract reflections and saturated colours.
Invention: Certainly photographing the effects of reflected light in urban buildings, emphasising distortions, abstraction and colour was new to me; it has probably been shot by others but I have not come across similar myself. I hope that I have made the conventional more interesting.
Personal voice: It is becoming clear to me that I love to work with colour, this may come from my background in fashion and textiles. In my final images I deliberately choose images that appear either as brown tones in cloudy daylight, and as a contrast those accentuated by diffuse sky radiation in sunny daylight, which appear very blue. I sequenced these to alternate as much as possible in my series.
What worked well:
- Fluid thinking and hence evolving ideas
- Observational skills
- Manual exposures
- Use of colour
- Use of manual settings
What didn’t work so well and how the series might be improved in the future:
- I’m sure I still have much to learn to improve my technical skills
- I used auto white balance and it will be interesting to see how I can use this when I have the confidence to vary it
- To continue to strive for varying perspectives
- To use post production to enhance the images, as I tend to be quite pure, and compose and get things as I want them in camera.
Link to exercise 4.5: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/exercise-4-5/
Anon (n.d). The Art of Documentary Photography. National gallery of Art Washington www.nga.gov/feature/atget/bio.shtm (Accessed 27.3.16).
Blees Luxemburg, R (2015) “Photography is a powerful tool”: http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/photography-and-film/art525886-photography-is-a-powerful-tool-artist-rut-blees-luxemburg-on-her-new-exhibition-at-the-museum-of-london (accessed 27.4.16).
Emer (2012). Rut Blees Luxemburg.
http://www.photoforager.com/archives/rut-blees-luxemburg (Accessed 12.4.16).
Delahaye, L. Cited in: O’Hagan, S (2014) Michael Schmidt Obituary. Guardian online. 28 May 2014:
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/28/michael-schmidt. (Accessed 27.3.16).
Prakel, D (2007). LIGHTING. New York. AVA Publishing SA.
Schmidt, M. (1979) Thoughts about my way of working’ in Camera Magazine #3 (March 1979) in http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/10/michael-schmidt-thoughts-about-my-way-of-working-1979.html (accessed 27.3.16).