ASSIGNMENT4: LANGUAGES OF LIGHT

Niki South    Student number: 514516

Final Images

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Image 178:exposure 1/320, Aperture f/13, ISO 400, focal length 151mm

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 Image 57: Exposure 1/320sec, Aperture f/11, ISO 400, Focal length 77mm

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Image 168: Exposure 1/400 sec, Aperture f/11, ISO 400, Focal length 103mm

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Image 69: Exposure 1/200 sec, Aperture f/11, ISO 400, focal length 48 mm

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Image 157: Exposure 1/400 sec, Aperture f/11, ISI 400 133mm

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Image 42: Exposure 1/320 sec, Aperture f/8, ISO 400, Focal length 162mm

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Image 89: Exposure 1/400 sec, Aperture f/13, ISO 400, Focal length 100mm

 

ASSIGNMENT 4: LANGUAGES OF LIGHT

Niki South Student number: 514516

FINAL NOTES AND ANALYSIS

BRIEF

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 your 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 further explore daylight and its impact on photography.  I was fascinated by: colour temperature, clarity, the quality of shadows and reflections, all this without the additional effects of location, season and sudden localised changes. I researched light conditions and considered carefully the impact of different lighting that occurs during daylight, their influence on photography and how to use to their advantage. Previously I avoided shooting at less favourable times of the day and now challenged myself to work with the light, consciously turning it to my advantage.

 MY PROCESS

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. Both photographers 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).

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 used, as I considered in colour light reflected in the vertical surfaces was more visually interesting and presented the saturated colours evolving from harsh midday sun most effectively.

As I worked into the light reflected in the predominantly glass surfaces of these buildings, I recalled the work of Rut Blees Luxumberg, containing representations of urban phenomenon, revealing often abstract detail with glows of light, colour and tone.  Although shooting in daylight, I also was capturing some interesting colours and effects, 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).

RBL

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. When researching I found the “Fallout” (2014) work by Jonny Savage and noted how he used reflections to create layers in his images.

Link to research page: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/a4-research/

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 I thought were the most interesting, whole or partial reflections of light, steering away from representations which were less challenging for the viewer. 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/

REFLECTION

How well have I developed the exercise to meet the creativity criteria?

Experimentation: I realised after exercise 4.2 that I usually shoot to avoid the midday sun, so challenged myself with these lighting conditions, therefore taking 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 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 physically as these buildings were sited around a busy 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 did get underneath some buildings. I tried to compensate by using the reflections themselves to give a variety of visual access to the buildings. My thought processes were fluid which led to experimentation with abstract reflections and saturated colours.

Invention: 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.

Additional reflections:

What worked well:

  • Fluid thinking and hence evolving ideas
  • Observational skills
  • Manual exposures
  • Experimentation
  • 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/

 REFERENCES

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).

 

 

ASSIGNMENT 4: LANGUAGES OF LIGHT

Niki South Student number: 514516

REFLECTIONS ON FORMATIVE FEEDBACK

My Tutors feedback has gave me encouragement, confidence and further food for thought.

Strengths highlighted:

  • The way that I explored and used various possibilities of light.
  • That the planning, notes and research support the images and explain the rational and methods.
  • I was particularly pleased that my Tutor commented on the sharpness and good exposures of the images as this was the first time that I had consistently shot in full manual mode and this had been a challenge for me in the harsh midday lighting conditions. I also noted this as a development point for myself after the last assignment.
  • The successful forming of a series. This I was relieved about as the series had evolved as I shot and subsequently edited, and was concerned that I may have strayed too far or misinterpreted the brief as it was unlike any other work I had seen for this assignment.
  • My creative concept combined with my choice of light. It seems that from my exercises and development work I was able to correctly assess the best light conditions for my subject.
  • Following on since assignment 2, when I lost my confidence to edit my images, it seems in the last two assignments, that my more fluid process and thinking is working well. 

Areas for development:

  • To ensure that I “kill any babies” during editing. I completely agree that the first image (29) does not fit as well as the others in the series and have dropped it from my final submission. This was definitely a case where I held onto the image for too long in the editing process because it was one the earliest images which I “liked”.
  • To take a step away from subject matter and develop my seeing eye, as in the work of Uta Barth whose photography “ isn’t about what is seen in the photograph; it’s about the very act of seeing”. (Fallis, nd).

 My Learning points:

  • To continue to trust my instinct, remain flexible throughout an assignment and have more confidence in my photography.
  • To continue to research widely and follow up on the photographers suggested by my Tutor. I particularly like the work of Uta Barth who “has made visual perception the subject of her work” (Anon, nd) and will explore further the work of Keld Helmer-Peterson.
  • To continue to learn how to voice the rationale behind my images; although my tutor commented that my explanations supported my images well, his comments seem to describe my rationale in both a more artistic and interesting language.

 References:

Anon (nd) Uta Barth Biography.  http://www.tanyabonakdargallery.com/artists/uta-barth/series-photography

Fallis G (nd) Uta Barth. http://www.utata.org/sundaysalon/uta-barth/

 Link to work submitted to tutor: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/a4-work-submitted-to-tutor/

Link to learning log: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/a4-learning-log/

The following mind maps summarise the narrative of my preparations, post-shooting thoughts and editing notes contained in the learning log.

Preparations:

mind map preparations

 

Shooting:

mind map shooting

 

Editing:

mind map editing

 

 

 

 

 

LEARNING LOG: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

Assignment Four

REFLECTIONS AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

  • I believe I used my observation skills honed in the last assignment to good effect, seeking out the interesting.
  • As usual I composed in camera and occasionally returned and reshot to improve.
  • I predominantly shot in full manual mode which was new to me to this extent and this gave me greater control especially in the challenging midday sunlight.

Quality of outcome:

  • I think a flexible mind set at the outset of editing enabled me to be more objective when choosing images.
  • I looked for coherence by choosing the images that were “a mystery and support for our imagination” as some of Michael Schmidt’s photographs have been described (Delahaye, 2014) with abstract, distorted and or partial reflections.
  • I thought carefully when presenting them as a series using colour tones alternatively to break the viewer’s rhythm.
  • I hope that I have communicated these ideas clearly in my analysis.

Demonstration of creativity

  • I believe that the images are imaginative and varied in the viewpoints that they present (in a conceptual rather than physical sense).
  • I experimented by testing different types of daylight before settling on midday sunlight.
  • I feel as if I am beginning to develop a personal voice, knowing that I most enjoy working with and using colour to advantage rather than black and white.
  • I think that I took creative risks as I interpreted the brief in an individual way.

Context:

  • I reflected throughout the exercises and assignment and have recorded this.
  • I have researched as suggested and in a wider sense.
  • I applied my learning from the exercises when choosing the context for the assignment images.

References:

 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).

 

LEARNING LOG: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

ASSIGNMENT FOUR: DAYLIGHT                                                 

Niki South Student number:514516

1st thoughts: Once I decided to shoot in daylight and extend exercise 4.2 I considered what type of daylight I might use and revisited my research for exercise 4.2 and lighting in general, see link: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/a4-research/

I then experimented with daylight at different times of day. Initially I thought I might photograph ruins and ancient monuments and began by shooting grave stones and ruins to learn about the effects of strong midday sunlight (influenced by Schmidt and Atget) as well as late afternoon light (influenced by Atget). Testing hard light and side raking light on angular objects; I was looking for starkness and abstraction. I was able to see the clarity that the minimal shadows gave to an image and how strong midday light emphasised their hard edges and gave good contrast. I experimented with soft diffused light falling on trees gravestones and ruins. From this I had an initial idea that I might photograph old buildings in soft diffused daylight and new buildings in stark daylight and use the different natural lighting to emphasis the different qualities of such buildings. Consequently I went on to shoot modern buildings in both midday light and then at dusk.

I found the modern buildings offered me more interesting potential and I realised that the inconsistent weather would limit my possibilities for photographing different subjects in different light unless I was shooting over a long period of time. I decided to concentrate on modern urban buildings and to use harsh overhead midday sunlight to exploit their angular lines and hard edges. 

Mind map preparations:

mind map preparations

The first shoot: I shot in mono as I believed I would present the assignment in black and white to make the most of contrast and preserve neutrality. On reviewing the images I found them flat and uninteresting even though I had captured their starkness. I had however caught some curious viewpoints, reflections, partial reflection and distortions. I decided that I should find my difference from Schmidt and Atget here and explore the effect of reflections and distortions of urban images, rather than presenting documentary images.

Subsequent shoots: I returned to the same locations in the late afternoon but found that the stronger midday sun gave the most effective graphic urban images. The light reflected in vertical surfaces were stronger, even distorted, and the colours heightened; I could see that the colour temperature was bluer when the light falling was strong especially on shaded surfaces, and the colours more saturated. I determined to make the most of the colour and shoot in colour not mono. I revisited the same locations several times as my shooting window was short each day to catch the direct overhead light and experimented with different perspectives, partial reflections and distortions.

Mind map shooting:

mind map shooting

 Editing: Whilst editing I was particularly conscious of the creativity criteria. I gradually shortlisted images that I thought contained more than just good composition and technical skills. I steered towards images that contained interesting reflections of light and effective colours (predominantly blues and browns). At this point I returned to the work of Rut Blees Luxumberg , as although she photographs public spaces at night I was struck by her use of colour and the way that though some of her images are recognisable some are almost abstract. Some of my images, though shot in daylight, I thought shared some similarities with her use of pools of colour, perspective and reflection.

In the final stages of editing I eliminated images that were simply graphic urban images with reflection:

_MG_3252    (Contact sheet image 33)

Images that were not strongly representative of urban space:

_MG_3650    (Contact sheet image 127)

Images where the reflected light was simplistic and not challenging to the viewer:

_MG_3505    (Contact sheet image 96)

A few remaining images which were portrait:

_MG_4285    (Contact sheet image 143)

Mind map editing:

mind map editing

The theme for my series emerged:  Reflections of light in urban spaces.

 

RESEARCH: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

RESEARCH FOR ASSIGNMENT 4

THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT – DAYLIGHT

Michael Schmidt  ( 1945 – 2014)   A documentary photographer based in Berlin. He captured images of the city, its residents and its concrete landscapes in stark black and white images (BBC 2014). He preferred black and white photography as it neutralises images so that the viewer “is able to form an objective opinion about the image from a neutral standpoint independent of his subjective colour perception. He is thus not emotionally distracted.” (Schmidt, 1979). Over five decades he shot a series of projects, all in varying degrees of grey, believing that “Photography was invented to enable us to portray reality with complete precision to the last detail” (Schmidt, 1979).

One of other ways that he achieved neutrality was photographing in the flat midday sun, preferring to work without shadows so that the viewer allows” the objects portrayed in the photograph to take their effect upon him without being distracted by shadows or other mood effects’.  (Schmidt, 1979).

The French photographer Luc Delahaye said of Schmidt’s work: “His pictures look simple at first glance, and their anti-sentimentality, their refusal of all the tricks of the usual seduction, their concision and their clarity, give them great efficiency. They show what they show but they manage to retain an opacity, a mystery, and they become a support for our imagination”,  (O’Hagan 2014).

 

schmidt 1    schmidt

                                        (Nordenhake, n.d)

Eugène Atget (1857-1927)   His early work was of Paris streets mostly shot at midday with light that is factual, unemotional with minimal shadows: “light is external and illuminates its subject with an even clarity” (Borcoman, n.d). He sought as a documentarian would, to convey information objectively.

atget a   (Anon 1, n.d)

His later photographs used more subjective light with deep shadows, reflecting mood. These were often shot early in the morning, they use “light and shadow to create a mood rather than to describe a place”, (Anon 2, n.d). When photographing the parks and gardens in and around Paris, “these late photographs have a qualitatively different sensibility: formally bold and synthetic, they are also atmospheric, mysterious, and resonant” (Anon 2, n.d).

atget 2  (Anon 3, n.d.)

(Anon 3, n.d)In this image he uses light and space to describe the subject, and by shooting into the sun, the tree and its canopy is in silhouette in the foreground whilst the trees in the distance have been flattened to a narrow band.

atget 3  (Anon 3, n.d)

Golden (2013, p26) suggests that “the simplicity and limitations of his technique, which led him to photograph in the early morning…gave a certain empty and surreal charm to his cityscapes”. His work is also characterised by the rapid foreshortening caused by wide angled lenses and “frequent truncating of the nominal subject in exchange for a more intimate vantage point”, (Szarkowski, n.d). 

Johnny Savage     An Irish photographer whose new body of work Fallout explores modern landscapes in Ireland through a series of sixteen surreal and haunting images of modern day ruins. These buildings were built during the economic boom but have never been occupied. I came across his work when researching photographers working with urban space and reflections. Savage (n.d) describes fallout as a series of photographs that considers the modern Irish landscape; a landscape where empty buildings stand like ruins, reminders of another time or place in history”. 

I like the way he uses reflections to create layers in the images, creating a mood of “disillusionment and loss, a haunted empty landscape” (Savage, n.d)

savage 1   savage 2

(Anon 4, n.d)

 

I was also inspired by Rut Blees Luxemburg, see research for exercise 4.3 link: https://nkssite.wordpress.com/category/exercise-4-3/ 

References:

Anon 1. (n.d)Art of Old Paris. National gallery of Art Washingtom. http://www.nga.gov/feature/atget/works_art.shtm (Accessed 27.3.16)

Anon 2 (n.d). The Art of Documentary Photography. National gallery of Art Washington http://www.nga.gov/feature/atget/bio.shtm (Accessed 27.3.16).

 

Anon3 (n.d) Parks and Gardens. National gallery of Art Washington. http://www.nga.gov/feature/atget/works_park.shtm (Accessed 27.3.16)

Anon 4 (n,d) https://www.lensculture.com/articles/johnny-savage-fallout (Accessed 28.4.16).

 

BBC (2014). Michael Schmidt: German photographer dies aged 68. 25.05.2014.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27567306 (accessed 27.3.16).

 

Borcoman, J ( n.d) Eugene Atget, 1857-1927

http://masters-of-photography.com/A/atget/atget_articles3.html (Accessed 27.3.16).

 

Golden, R (2013) Masters of photography. (Third edition). London. Goodman books.

 

Nordenhake (n.d) http://www.nordenhake.com/php/artist.php?RefID=70 (accessed 27.3.16)

 

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)

 

Savage, (n.d).http://www.domusweb.it/en/photo-essays/2014/09/23/johnny_savage_fallout.html (Accessed 29.4.16)