RESEARCH

Follow up research to Assignment 4 The language of Light

Uta Barth born 1958

My tutor suggested I look at her work following my Language of Light assignment; he commented that the way that she uses light as a subject matter rather than something concrete, helps to “develop your seeing eye so that finding photographs becomes freer and less dominated by subject matter”.(Trillo 2016).

Her photographs are both abstract and evocative, she “intentionally depicts mundane or incidental objects in nondescript surroundings in order to focus attention on the fundamental act of looking and the process of perception” (Anon 2012). She examines how the eye and the camera see differently and is most interested in what you can see when looking through a lens.

Ground and Field the work that gave her international attention, were “photographic blurs caused by focusing the camera on an unoccupied foreground; these lushly colored images tested connections between the descriptive clarity of photography and the haze of memory” (Anon 2011). Here as in much of her work, objects that would normally be in the background of a photograph are at the centre.

Ground_12

 Ground 12 (Barth, 2014)

In “…and to draw a bright white line with light” (2001) she manipulated the curtains in her home creating lines and curves of light that expand from a sliver to a wide ribbon across a sequence of large-scale, dramatically cropped images, that emphasis the pleasure of seeing.

Uta Barth white line

White Line. Installation view (The Art Institute of Chicago Photography, 2011)

Barth continues to explore the theme of perception in new and inventive ways, encouraging viewers like me to reconsider the traditional functions of the photographic image. Firstly I love her work, all of it that I’ve explored, but secondly I agree that her process is very freeing; taking a photograph of the act of seeing by removing a subject from the photograph in a setting that is both anonymous and familiar and eliminating all but the most universally abstract elements from the frame. I concur with Fallis (nd) that as photography is totally dependent on the visual, this is a good process for exploring the act of seeing and “by focusing on where the subject would be in a conventional photograph and by overtly calling the viewer’s attention to the absence of the subject Marth is, in effect, turning the viewer into the subject” (Fallis nd). Fascinating!

Keld Helmer-Peterson (1920 – 2013)

He was a pioneer of Danish modernist photography, photographed structures, patterns and details in cities, industrial areas and nature and his work became increasingly abstract. “Unlike documentary photographers, including Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange who infused their images with specific markers of time and place, Helmer-Petersen stripped his images of context, giving them an abstract, untethered feel”.(Hiatt 2014). He photographed in colour, most unusual for that time and aimed to illustrate “nothing whatever beyond the fact that we are surrounded by many beautiful and exciting things” (Anon, 2013).

Kled holmer peterson.jpg

Helmer- Peterson (Hiatt 2014)

Some of his subjects could seem to be picturesque clichés now, though they are always well composed in form and colour often where ordinary objects juxtapose and appear eerie  and mysterious.  His pictures “are remarkable not for what they depict but for what they are” (LIFE Magazine 1949).

I find his work a satisfying colour experience and another of enhancing the act of seeing in a very different way to Uta Barth.

References:

Trillo, D (2016) Formative feedback assignment 4 Languages of Light.

 Anon (2012). Uta Barth Conceptual Photographer https://www.macfound.org/fellows/859/ (Accessed 14.6.16). 

Anon (2011) Uta Barth May 14, 2011–August 16, 2011, Galleries 188–189, Art Institute Chicago http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/utabarth  (Accessed 14.6.16). 

Fallis, G (nd) Sunday Salon with Greg Fallis http://www.utata.org/sundaysalon/uta-barth/ (Accessed 14.6.16). 

The Art Institute of Chicago Photography (2011) The Art Institute of Chicago.http://utabarth.net/work/and-to-draw-a-bright-white-line-with-light/#image-2 (Accessed 14.6.16).

Barth, U (2014). The official Website. Ground 12 1992-93. http://utabarth.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Ground_12.jpg (Accessed 14.6.16).

LIFE Magazine (1949) cited in Hiatt (2014) The Unknown Master of Color Photography. Timeless images from one of the earliest.  https://newrepublic.com/article/118484/keld-helmer-petersen-unknown-master-color-photography. (Accessed 14.6.16).

Poynor, R (2013) Keld Helmer-Petersen: Pioneer of Color.The design Observer Group. http://designobserver.com/article.php?id=38030. (Accessed 14.6.16).

 

 

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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)

 

RESEARCH: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

NOTES FROM BOOK:

Prakel, D (2007) LIGHTING. New York. AVA Publishing SA.

I made these notes to support my understanding whilst working through the exercises in The Language of Light and in preparation for shooting assignment 4.

“A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere. They are often momentary, chance-sent thing…sometimes they are a matter of luck… Sometimes they are a matter of patience” Bill Brandt cited in Prakel (p57).

Daylight “is a combination of direct light from the sun, from the sky, and light reflected by the clouds” (p58).

Colour temperature is bluer when the light falling in shadows of an image are illuminated by skylight alone.

Morning light: Soft and diffuse. Before sunlight red to violet blue, immediately before pinker, at daybreak yellow.

Noon light: Though harsh does give saturated colours. Winter noon light is higher and has a warmer colour balance than photographic daylight.

Evening light: Strong, low angled light casting long shadows leading to crisper images. Sunsets are rich red and gold,

Night light: Gives an inky black or softly coloured backdrop.

Seasons: The winter is a lower colour temperature and the summer higher.

Location: Mountain top direct light is unforgiving and bluer. Coasts are giant reflectors as is sea spray. City light and tall buildings block all but overhead light. Vertical surfaces reflecting light. Pollution shows in a telephoto lens as yellowing or browning.

Fluorescent light: Is not a continuous spectrum of colours but a combination of green and orange and magenta light.

Street lighting: Is usually mercury or sodium vapour – giving violet/blue and yellow light respectively.

Neon light: Comprised of gases in a tube used to create colours.

Colour filters and film: Daylight and electronic flash (5500K)    Tungsten (3200K)

Exposure:  when contrasty lighting increase by 2 stops.

RESEARCH: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

BOOK REVIEW

Freeman, M. (2013) Capturing the light – the heart of photography. Sussex.  The Ilex press Itd.

I first read this book when preparing for assignment 2 and have revisited as it is especially relevant to assignment 4 The Language of light. It explains in some detail various qualities of light in photographic terms, but in a non-technical way, showing different ways to work with natural light. The book is divided into 3 parts, waiting, chasing and helping the light.

1) Waiting for light He describes the lighting conditions for which you need to understand, plan intelligently and have reasonable expectations for (especially a feel for contrast and shadows). These kinds of light (22 are explored) range from grey light, raking light, snow light and includes the magic hour. I found it useful that he gives the key points of a light, for instance wet grey light: sheen local contrast and atmosphere; then describes subjects and environments that are suited to the light and the effects that it gives, for wet grey light: glistening reflections and higher local contrast.

For this assignment I became particularly interested in hard light (used by Eugene Atget in his early works and Michael Schmidt). He describes this light as mostly unloved, as it casts dense shadows with hard edges and high contrast. Whilst this may not be flattering if trying to photograph people, it can pick out details and textures and add abstraction which may be desirable for angular objects. He suggests that hard light is particularly suited to producing strong images in black and white photography, concentrating on tonality and shape, suggesting tones can be pushed to extremes more acceptably in black and white. He also proposes that as lighting helps to “evoke the physical sensation of a time and place” (hard light) it is conducive to creating stark city-scapes. High raking light (from the side) reveals texture and adds the shapes of the shadows to show more of what the subject is about. I wondered could I use this to advantage in my exercises and assignment. I will also be interested in observing the difference in the hard light at high altitudes when I am trekking in North Vietnam shortly (he calls this high altitude blue). Apparently the contrast is particularly high and the open shade is noticeably blue at high altitudes due to the very high UV content of the light. Freeman suggests using a polariser (which work the strongest at high altitudes) to exaggerate the deep blue sky, I intend to try this.

The golden hour was also of particular interest to me, (following research into Aget’s later photographs). I knew it was warm sympathetic sending out long bands of light and shade, but what else could I learn to exploit it better? I probably knew that this light gives a 3 point shooting choice (sun behind, at the side or in front of the camera) but had not realised how elements such as clear air would accentuate the blur of shadow edges or the proximity of an object affects the sharpness of a shadow edge and will watch out for this.

I reread with particular interest the chapter on reflection light once I decided to shoot images of reflective buildings and reflections of buildings for assignment 4. He refers to reflection as capturing reflections of light, rather than using reflected light to bounce up onto a subject. I learnt that the lower the camera to the surface the sharper the angle and the stronger and brighter the reflections, and that the refection would probably be darker (about 1 stop) than the actual, would I see this in my images? This will be affected by other elements; haze which softens the contrast, focal length where a shorter length is more likely to keep the reflected light evenly bright across the frame, silhouette and elevation (the higher the sunlight in the sky the higher the camera needs to be?).

I was also keen to learn more about skylight blue shade. Apparently on a cloudless day 85% of the light comes from the sun but some from the rest of the sky reflecting only in blue wavelengths. I had thought that many of the buildings that I’d shot reflections in were blue, but were they really blue or accentuated by “diffuse sky radiation” (where blue wavelengths, which are normal atmospheric particles predominate, as they are shorter than the wavelengths of sunlight). This means that anywhere shaded from the sun is lit by blue light, some which bounces up from the ground or walls – can I now see that in my images?

For the exercise on artificial light I re read the chapters on city light-street lights and display lights. I learnt that street lighting may be long-spectrum orange (old fashioned tungsten – now rare, with a rounded appearance), narrow spectrum yellow-orange (from sodium, sharp cut narrow and monochromatic), blue-green from fluorescent, blue white from mercury vapour and similar blue-tinted light from metal halide. Can I distinguish these different types of artificial lights in my images? Apparently if a photo contains at least a couple of these different sources then the neutral setting will show these colour difference. As far as display lights go neon is becoming rarer but do tolerate a wide variation in exposure.

2) Chasing light Freeman distinguishes these lighting conditions as when you have to be opportunistic, as they are unpredictable and a photographer has to work quickly to catch the light at its best. This also includes the golden hour and other lighting such as light shafts, foggy light, and reflected light. It was Chiaroscuro light that particularly caught my interest as I have read of several photographers who use it. It is sunlight that bounces off different ground surfaces rather than direct light, often out of frame; it’s not intense, though is still the main source of lighting. It usually gives light from the side and a subtle range of mid to dark shadows making them a warm brown.

3) Helping light   This he calls mastering professionals techniques for manipulating light. Here he covers lighting from filled light, to filtered light, to processed light, amongst others. This I will return to when most relevant to me.

The learning that I will take away:

  • It has encouraged me to find the positive aspects of photographing in less popular daylight conditions such as flat grey skies, he explains that “most kinds of light are good for something, if only you think and work hard enough” (introduction).
  •  It has also caused me to stop and really notice then reflect on the best use of any given lighting situation (outdoors for now).
  • I will certainly use the book as reference when shooting in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COURSEWORK: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

RESEARCH AND INSPIRATION FOR EXERCISE 4.3

Rut Blees Luxemburg (b 1967)   She photographs the public spaces of the city at night using long exposure and the light emanating from the street only: this sometimes creates almost abstract images: “The rich tones of orange and yellow and green in her images, make her work recognisable in an instant. The lighting of other places around the subject, emphasis the atmosphere but also bring out the themes of her images…The long exposure of the image creates a sense that the glow of the lights allow the viewer when looking at the image more time to look at them” (Emer, 2012).

I particularly like A Girl from Elsewhere, (below) and am interested in how she often uses reflection with the artificial light.

rut blees.jpg
(Rut Blees Luxemburg, 2000)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brassai (1899-1984)    He photographed Paris at night, most especially it’s more tawdry aspects, prostitutes, pimps, madams, transvestites for instance. His technique was primitive but effective; using his small plate camera on a tripod, he focused, opened the shutter and fired a flashbulb. His pictures were published in Paris de nuit (1933; Paris After Dark) these caused a stir because of their sometimes scandalous subject matter.

brassai
(Aget photography, n.d)

Sato Shintaro (b 1969)     Shows a completely different way of capturing artificial light. He primarily shoots between dusk and dark. His Tokyo cityscapes combine grand vistas and images of a real city. He explains his technique: “To get that atmosphere, I used a large format camera in twilight. It needed a lot of time to take one shot from 4 to 15 minutes. I tried not to move the camera to get clear images during that time. So my enemy was the strong wind. Every time I took a picture, I struggled against the wind while using an umbrella.”  (Sreyoshi, 2012).

I particularly like the way he often completely fills the frames with the city lights.

Shintaro
(Shintaro n.d)

 

Christopher Doyle (b. 1952)     A cinematographer who in his films uses artificial light on faces in an unnerving way. His films also combine woozy light and saturated colours to create rich visuals. He says that he shoots be instinctively. I am heartened that he believes “There’s always a shot or a moment you missed; it informs your work rather than takes from it.” (Film4, n.d).

Of these photographers I am most stimulated by Rut Blees Luxumberg and intend to reshoot at night trying some of her techniques. 

References:

ATget photography (n.d). At: http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/BRASSAI.html (accessed 1.4.16)

Emer (2012). Rut Blees Luxemburg at: http://www.photoforager.com/archives/rut-blees-luxemburg (accessed 1.4.16).

 

Film4 (n.d). Interview: Cinematographer Christopher Doyle on his work with Wong Kar-Wai. At: : http://www.film4.com/special-features/interviews/interview-cinematographer-christopher-doyle-on-his-work-with-wong-kar-wai (accessed 1.4.16).

 

Rut Blees Luxemburg (2000). A Girl from Elsewhere. At:http://www.photoforager.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/RutBleesLuxemburgagirlfromelsewhere.jpg (accessed 1.4.16).

 

Shintaro, S (n.d). At: http://sato-shintaro.com/work/night_lights/index.html (accessed 1.4.16).

 

Sreyoshi (2012). Capturing the twilight zone with Sato Shintaro. At: http://sato-shintaro.com/work/night_lights/index.html (accessed 1.4.16).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEARNING LOG: THE DECISIVE MOMENT

RESEARCH FOR ASSIGNMENT 3

I had already researched some street photographers for Assignment 2, in particular Alex Webb, Garry Winogrand and William Klein, as well as reading tips from Eric Kim (see link). I have researched Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank during this project’s exercises and additionally investigated these photographer’s to further broaden my view.

Additional research in preparation for assignment 3 

Robert Doisneau

A French humanistic photo journalist (1912-1993) who was a “deft and amusing observer of the minor aspects of life and culture which define frenchness” (Golden 2003, p 62). He considered that “The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street (Pollack 1977, p 144). His work bridges documentary and art. He was innovative and combined modernism, surrealism and narrative in his photographs.

In 1950 Doisneau created his most recognizable work for Life magazine – Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photograph of a couple kissing in the Paris streets. Apparently he never liked the photograph, perhaps because he had posed it. More typical Doisneau images of the 1950s are unposed, but still carefully stalked and framed (children, prostitutes or market porters, and other street-dwellers in the unfashionable, parts of Paris). “He would often find a location, or a “stage” as he called it, and lie in wait for many hours for the right action or characters to arrive.” (Lichfield, 2010).  He has also been described as a photographer “with an eye on the world and a love for others” (Clark 2016).

Doisneau   Doisneau 2  Elliot Erwitt 3

Elliot Erwitt

A French documentary/commercial photographer with a sense of humour, who has captured some of the defining images of the 20th century. His images may sometimes look simple but on closer inspection are not. A “gently mocking and probing eye that has always preferred to look at life’s absurdities rather than its ills” (Golden 2003, p 74). He has been called a purveyor of the “non-photograph” and “combines a deceptively casual approach with an unrivalled, sometimes gloriously silly, visual sense of wit. (O’ Mahony 2003).

He has a masterful technique although believes that the instinct that creates great photography is casual and uncontrollable. He is widely considered a ‘master’ of the indecisive moment, as he captures the irony and absurd of daily life.

Elliot Erwitt 2   Elliot Erwitt Elliot Erwitt 3

Joel Meyerowitz

An award-winning New York photographer, who is a “street photographer” in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, although now workings exclusively in colour. He was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of colour photograph. Speaking to Sean O’ Hagen he said “A lot of what I am looking for is a moment of astonishment,” (Guardian 2012). He believes in “recognition and the power of the frame to put disparate, unrelated things together” (Kim). Meyerowitz often uses juxtaposition or constructs relationships between subjects.

Meyerowitz 1   Meyerowitz 2   meyerowitz 3

References:

Clark, D (2016) Diverse Doisneau in Amateur Photographer 18.14.16p 30-31.

Golden, R (2003) Masters of Photography. 3rd Ed. London. Goodman.

Kim, E (unknown) 82 lessons from the masters of street photography. E book.

Lichfield, J (2010) Robert Doisneau: A window into the soul of Paris, Independent Sunday 5 December 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/robert-doisneau-a-window-into-the-soul-of-paris-2151370.html (accessed 30.1.16)

O’ Hagen, S. (2012) Joel Meyerowitz: ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’. Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/11/joel-meyerowitz-taking-my-time-interview (accessed 30.1.16).

 

Collecting: Crowds – Learning log

THE BRIEF

Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options, or a subject of your own choosing: Crowds, views, Heads.

Use the exercises from Part Two as a starting point to test out combinations of focal length, aperture and viewpoint for the set. Decide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal. You should keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence to the series.

A series should reflect a single coherent idea, even though the individual photographs will be unique. For this assignment you’ll make a collection of photographs using a combination of lens techniques that you’ll decide for yourself. Your tutor will evaluate the series in terms of its technical skill but also on how well the assignment works as a whole.

PREPARATIONS

Knowing that I was about to spend 3 weeks travelling through Rajasthan India it made sense to seize the opportunity and shoot the images for my assignment whilst there. For that reason I chose the subject matter of crowds. I have travelled to the region before and so had a good idea of the situations that I would encounter and was confident that I would collect plenty of images.

The challenge for me was being focused and prepared whilst on location, as I would also be capturing images for our travelling album and myself (architecture, individuals, views etc.). I was also very aware that I should not fall into the trap of thinking that images taken in such a location would be interesting in themselves and should therefore be very sure that they fitted the brief and were strong in themselves.

Research

I began by exploring the theme of crowds, looking at definitions and others images. The definition that stuck with me was “A crowd may be definable through a common purpose or set of emotions” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowd (Accessed 15.10.15).

I browsed some online images of crowds such as: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/photos/crowd?excludenudity=true&mediatype=photography&phrase=crowd&sort=mostpopular (Accessed 15.10.15).

http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/new-york-city-time-square-people-walking-high-res-stock-photography/127810433 (Accessed 15.10.15).

I was able to explore the work of Syd Shelton in his Rock Against Racism exhibition whilst attending the East London photography Festival on October 24th (http://autograph-abp.co.uk/exhibitions/rock-against-racism  Accessed 22.10.15) and found in his images many that offered interesting and different viewpoints and focal lengths of crowds.

In preparation for shooting I decided to research street photographers, as I knew that much of my capturing would be “on the hoof” on the streets.

Street photographers

Alex Webb uses strong colours and emotion when capturing his images. Webb said of Mexico and Haiti “these are places where colour is somehow deeply part of the culture, on an almost spiritual level”; indeed I knew this to be so with the location where I would be shooting and expected to use it to capture the intensity of a crowd situation. He “stumbled upon a way of working in vibrant, saturated color” (Alex Webb: Rendering a Complex World, in Color and Black-and-White, Estrin. J 8.1.13 http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/alex-webb-rendering-a-complex-world-in-color-and-black-and-white/?_r=0 Accessed 20.10.15), I thought that I would probably do the same working with colour in Rajasthan.

Webb “takes complicated pictures of complicated situations” (Alex Webb: More is more, Dyer. D. 14.5.11, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/may/14/alex-webb-magnum-photographer-geoff-dyer  (Accessed 20.10.15). Webb uses layering to create depth in his images, often with strong foreground, midground and backgrounds. Leading the reader into the image and fills his frames with many subjects. He rarely planned his shooting and shared “I sense the possibility of a picture. It might be a group of people, it might be the look of a corner I can’t say what it might be until I see it. It’s all about having a feel for the street.” (Estrin. J. 8.1.13).

Garry Winogrand was a prolific photographer Street photographer, constantly searching for subjects and situations “Life, for him, was the energy of the street in all its unruly momentum” (Garry Winogrand: the restless genius who gave street photography attitude, O’Hagan. S. 15.10.14 http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/15/-sp-garry-winogrand-genius-american-street-photography (Accessed 21.10.15). Winogrand did not mind being noticed, “many of his reluctant subjects only seem to register his presence at the very moment he presses the shutter” and stare at him in a “slightly bewildered fashion”: I would like to learn to be gutsy but respectful when shooting on the streets.

Interestingly there is a “Winograndian” logic to his compositions, an instinctive grasp of the geometry of a good photograph” (as above). He was interested in the rhythm of the streets and the people who created it, I will need to find the rhythm of the crowds on the streets. Winogrand was also an advocate of emotionally detaching yourself from your photos and often left an extended period between shooting and editing for this reason, he said “photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the picture as judgement that the photograph is good”. I should remember this when editing. For more of his images see http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Garry-Winogrand.html (Accessed 21.10.15).

William Klein the photographer wrote a series of books about cities in the 60s, New York, Rome, Moscow and Tokyo “filled with raw, grainy, black-and-white photographs that caught the energy and movement of modern urban life with scant regard for traditional composition”, (William Klein: ‘I was an outsider, following my instincts’. O’Hagan. S. 28.4.12, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/apr/28/william-klein-interview-sony-photography Accessed 21.10.15). In New York he captured the ethnicity of people and in his images represented their culture. “His images came from the thick of things. He was often working down on the pavement at the eye-level of the kids he was photographing…in Klein’s New York people press themselves up against the lens, dancing around the photographer, pulling faces, pretending to shoot each other, or the photographer, with toy guns”, (Photography: William Klein, P. Strathern, 23.10.11, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/photography-william-klein-1178874.html Accessed 21.10.15). He filled his frames with emotions, actions and his compositions were innovative and often intimate.

I also viewed an interview on Andreas Feininger which was suggested by my Tutor as an inspiration on perspective and photography: Andreas Feininger BBC Master Photographers (1983): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23UjjfnlDDc&app=desktop (accessed 12.10.15).

This you tube interview of the photographer Andreas Feininger, as my Tutor suggested, inspires you to consider different aspects of perspective and the use of lenses. He talks about photography as “freezing the moment”. Feininger talks about the superiority of the camera lens over the eye as it is not fixed, the eyes sees only rectilinear whereas the camera sees cylindrical (panoramic) and spherical ((fish eye). He believes photographs interpret as well as represent reality and so widen the viewer’s sense of reality

He uses photography to show you things that you otherwise wouldn’t see, in particular using the telescopic lens for small objects. He also uses the telescopic lens to change perspective, to compact masses, to create monumentality. Feininger also uses the wide angle lens for distortion to create a strong feeling of depth.

Feininger prefers to work in black and white as he likes the contrasts it gives, the shadows that give depth and feels that it can make stronger statements. When asked what makes something visually attractive, he suggests: interesting, eye-catching, something that speaks to you or tells you something and suggests that you should select your technique as a graphic means of expression (a means to an end).

His portraits are interesting as they are symbolic and abstract representations, his images of nature as they show you things that you’ve not seen before focusing on structure and pattern.

From this research I knew when collecting crowd images I should:

  • Develop a feel for the emotion and rhythm of the crowds
  • Use colour to portray emotions
  • Show the context of the crowd
  • Fill frames and layer interest
  • Shoot in the “thick of things”
  • Use various perspectives

For the rest of my preparation I created a mind map of reminders of foci to use when on location organised into the subheadings: Technical, Fact and form, context, senses, perspective, viewpoint, focal length and aperture see below:

IMG_1417 mind map prep