Exercise 5.1 The distance between us
I don’t pretend that I can describe the ‘other’. The camera for me is more a meter that measures the distance between myself and the other. It’s about the encounter between myself and the other; it’s not about the other. (Alexia Clorinda in conversation with the author) EYV p102
Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring (!). Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot.
When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4). In other words, be open to the unexpected. In conversation with the author, the photographer Alexia Clorinda expressed this idea in the following way:
Look critically at the work you did by including what you didn’t mean to do. Include the mistake, or your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it, and analyse it not from the point of view of your intention, but because it is there.
The fishing boat
I have always been drawn to this fishing boat which sits on the water or sand most of the year and has been for many years. I believe I know what most attracts me to it but tested it in the exercise by taking a number of quick shots of it as I walked towards it one day, trying not to think about composition.
Images 1 & 2: The first shot does not betray the subject I intended in this shot as its set amongst other boat and they interfere with “my” fishing boat. The second is without the distractions of other boats but its small size in the image is not interesting to me.
Images 3 & 4: These are similar shots of the boat although one is landscape and one portrait. I much prefer the landscape image the width of the frame helps to emphasis the wide belly of the boat, even though the buoys and chains are a distraction and the “thirds composition of the portrait image is probably more pleasing to most.
Images 5 & 6: The first sets the boat in its context, a beautiful river estuary with a mountain behind, a lovely old harbour wall, buts its impact is diminished by the boat in the foreground and the building in the background. The next image is compositionally fine with a leading lines of the wall and the anchor chain, but still does not portray why I am drawn to the boat.
Images 7 & 8: I hope with these a viewer can sense my empathy with the boat. In both the boat dominates the image, but most importantly the angle of the shot is from underneath the boat emphasising the underbelly of the fishing boat; this is what attracts me to this fishing boat – simply its shape. In both images my eye is drawn by the line at the bow up into the boat from the anchor chain and then to scan around the belly of the boat by the horizontal lines.
Image 8 is the most pleasing image for me as additionally the subject is more off centre with another leading line of reasonable length coming in from the right hand side taking my eye in again to the belly of the boat. I also like the slight tilt of the boat which gives it a vulnerability.