Friday, 8 February 2013

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I have become increasingly interested in Cartier-Bresson's work who's photography came to define the 20th century. Like William Klein, Cartier-Bresson started out as an artist and in his early years as a photographer he was heavily influenced by the 'surrealists'. His friend and fellow photographer Cappa advised him not to focus on the surrealist style and to project himself as a photo journalist, but remaines a surrealist at heart.

In this fascinating little video, Cartier-Bresson talks about his pre-occupation with geometry, lines and shape and that shape is essential, describing it as his 'greatest joy, a sensuous and intellectual pleasure', his love of geometry is very evident in his images, I find it so very impressive that he is able to capture the moment with all its lines and shapes and still get a great picture. On talking about portraits Cartier-Bresson touches on how difficult portraiture can be and the difference between them and a street scene, he talks about capturing that moment where you 'put the camera between the skin of the person and their shirt' which is exactly what he does so well.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

William Klein + Daido Moriyama Tate Modern Study Visit 12th January 2013

My notes only scratch the surface of this enormous exhibition, this video gives a better idea:

This was a fascinating exhibition, as it was so large I could have easily returned a few more times as there was so much to see and take in. Both Klein and Moriyama had huge bodies of work spanning many decades and a range of formats, both are still working and are now in their 70's.

Both have used a variety of media over the years to push the boundaries of their art, Klein as an artist, film maker and photographer with a great many photo books to his name and Moriyama also with a great many photo books and as a magazine publisher.   

The exhibition starts with the work of William Klein, who began as a painter and graphic artist studying under Fernand Leger, there were a section of his graphic works, including the panels he had his wife move whilst he took images creating the interesting graphical images and patterns with which Klein became intrigued. 

The exhibition then moved into a room with enormous images, as this was the first time I'd looked at Klein's work the scale of the images blew me away. He gets up close to his subjects, in among the action, in many of his images there is someone looking at him in the crowd, sometimes suspiciously it seemed. There seemed to be a feeling of chaos which Klein had capture with the full, wide frames, some with blurring and a feeling of movement and action others were more controlled as in the one seen below with the fashion models who had been asked to walk back and forth over the zebra crossing with Klein taking images with a telephoto lens perhaps to be less obvious and therefore capturing the reactions of those around. 

From iPhone by caroline..collins

I am now a big fan of William Klein, I enjoy his edginess and style. I definitely got the feel of an artist with a need to be creative, expressing his creativity through various media and not being afraid to re work previous images but with a different approach as seen in his stills of previous work which he's painted on re-creating them "The jubilation of painting recalled the celebration of taking the photo. For me, taking a photo was a celebration, was physical and gave me a super charge"

I felt so inspired by Klein's work, I have developed real a love of black and white, I enjoy the way is shows the image graphically but also timelessly and intend to use it more in my photography. I am also inspired to be less concerned about how perfect my images are and instead concentrate on conveying the message or feeling.  I don't think I'll be getting in the crowds with my camera as I am not sure that it would be appreciated, the world is a very different place now, I think people less afraid to challenge what they see and there is less of the innocence and fascination I saw in the faces of many of Klein's images. 

The exhibition moved through the many rooms of Klein's work through to the beginning of Moriyama:

This video I feel captures Moriyama perfectly. It shows him walking around the Tokyo  streets taking pictures on his compact camera. He has been described, following a particular image he captured, which became his signature image, as a 'stray dog', and that is certainly the feeling I got when looking at the exhibition, that he captured all areas of life. The video starts with him saying "I have always felt that the world is an erotic place. As I walk through it my senses are reaching out. For me cities are enormous bodies of people's desires. And as I search for my own desires within them I slice through time, seizing the moment. That's the kind of camera work I like" 

I would have preferred to take a break at this point as the Klein exhibition had been so intense and time consuming that the Moriyama exhibition wasn't given my full attention or energy.

I wasn't really drawn to Moriyama's work initially, maybe because the images weren't on the scale of klein's or maybe just because I was tired and need to freshen my eyes I suppose. But on reviewing his work more on returning home I find him quite fascinating, his work seems to show a mass of technique and styles that were simply too much to take in on the day. 

Moriyama's images seemed quite random in style which again gave the feeling of an artist with a need to create, this was reflected in the number of images in the exhibition was unfathomable. Some of his images were quite shocking, the aborted foetus which looked composed with consideration given to the lighting which only added to the macabre element of this image.  

Moriyama says: "my approach is very simple - there is no artistry, I just shoot freely. For me, photography is not about an attempt to create a two-dimensional work of art, but by taking photo after photo, I come close to truth and reality at the very intersection of the fragmentary nature of the world and my own personal sense of time" I did feel this in his work, the randomness of his images and dare I say many looked a little point and shoot and I struggled to warm to his work.

The Klein exhibition was a positive inspiring experience for me and am now a complete fan. 

The visit concluded with much valuable discussion with fellow students and OCA tutors over a cup of coffee. The exhibition was great experience, the study visit, as always, very rewarding. 

Then off into a very cold but always fabulous London!

From iPhone by caroline..collins

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Inspirational Photo's & Photographers

W Eugene Smith - 'Walk into Paradise Gardens'
On the surface this image looks like a 'sweet' image of two children holding hands taking a walk on what looks like a sunny day, until you understand the background for Eugene Smith taking the picture.  This was the first photograph that Smith took after two years of recuperation for injuries sustained while covering World War II. As he writes (collected in Art and Artist):

The children in the photograph are my children, and the day I made this photographic effort, I was not sure I would be capable of ever photographing again.

It was a good day on which to try. A beautiful, warm spring day to cradle a man’s efforts to reclaim himself. The children…approached a clearing roughly arched by the trees, and I became acutely sensitive to the lines forming the scene and to the bright shower of light pouring into the opening and spilling down the path toward us. Pat saw something in the clearing, he grasped Juanita by the hand and they hurried forward. I dropped a little farther behind the engrossed children, then stopped. Painfully I struggled—almost into panic—with the mechanical iniquities of the camera…I composed the setting as I labored…tried to, and did ignore the sudden violence of pain that real effort shot again and again through my hand, up my arm, and into my spine…swallowing, sucking, gagging, trying to pull the ugly tasting serum inside, into my mouth and throat, and away from dripping down on the camera where it would obscure the clarity of the image…preparing, testing, checking the approaching merger of the subject factors…tensing tighter and tighter the delicate pressure on the shutter release, trying to anticipate in time to defeat my reaction lag…and, as the children stepped in space, to complete my foreseen composition, I pressed the camera release to retain the image of that instant—to hold secure on film the vision of this minute fraction of time floating within eternity.
The reaction was immediate. I knew the photograph, though not perfect, and however unimportant to the world, had been held. Shock waves of feeling released through me, breaking damply out of my flesh…I was aware that mentally, spiritually, even physically, I had taken a first good stride away from those past two wasted and stifled years.
On viewing the image after understanding a little more about how it was taken evokes a variety of emotions and an appreciation of the effort taken to take it but more over an appreciation of the effect that it had on W Eugene Smith and as a parent, the swiftness of the passing of time that how special it was to capture a moment of childhood innocence

Chim - 'Air Raid Shelter'
I enjoy several elements of this image, the faces of the children, the expression of sadness and confusion on their faces, adults can be seen in the shadows. The image forms part of a collection in the Corcaran Gallery of Arts called 'reflections from the heart: photographs of 'Chims children'. The name Chim (shim) is a compressed french version of Mr Semours original last name of Szymin. His assignment was to shoot and document the war's effect on children, Chim became known for his poignant treatment of people especially children. There is a book out in spring 2013 called 'Chim:Children of war' must look out for that.

This image is a serious one, it feels 'worried', the children standing very close to together in a united and comforting way. Behind the children, the adults stay close, the distance from the camera makes me feel like they need to keep a distance away, to stay together in safety, they seem to move back further as you look at the image, the light cascading a protective crust surrounding. The other side of the light is darkness, unknown for these young faces, faces of the future with the older faces keeping them safe, beyond the darkness is the unknown, the light is safe.

Carlo Bevilacqua - 'Mafia'
This image entitled 'Mafia' was of instant interest to me, I'm not sure if it was the title of the image that caught my eye or the man in the image. I love the way it is lit, with the light catching the side of the sitter highlighting his cheek. The unshaven chin and the rolled cigarette and clothing give the impression of a less fortunate individual until you look into the eye, only one eye is seen, the other in shadow, the expression without looking at the eye could be mistake as a happy state of mind but the glint in the eye leaves me feeling that the sitter, who looks you straight in the eye back is someone confident and unafraid, a look maybe of 'don't mess with me'. The large hand also suggest that this man had worked hard, a large man with a story to tell. 

These three images are just a few of the many I've been attracted to since starting The Art of Photography, these were the ones I was instantly attracted to.

I noted an article in the May edition of the British Journal of Photography when Bill Henson talks about night photography, he talks about how photography, compared to art, is evidential. Art can carry the viewer off into a world of fantasy, where as the photograph, being evidential, contradicts other mediums. He says he tries to hold onto both the evidential authority and allow for the universalising of the subject.

Interestingly, Henson doesn't caption his images stating 'who am I to tell people how to read them?' I don't know how you perceive things, it's down to our own individual experiences and ultimately our genetic make-up.

What I find so interesting about all these images is the detail that isn't immediately obvious and is revealed as you view the image, which is the same for most images I know but for the 'charoscuro' type of image there can be a level of mystery, that you are being let into a secret if you look hard enough.

So maybe 'darker', 'charoscuro' type images are my thing? I certainly feel attracted by these type of images looking back over my blog. I was delighted with my night time shoot, this was the first time I'd taken photo's this way and am looking forward to exploring this area more in the future

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Assignment 5 - narrative

 Lincoln Cathedral

John Ruskin famously said, 'I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles'
Lincoln Cathedral, or Lincoln Minster as it is also known, dates from 1072 when William the Conqueror instructed that the bishopric of this, then the largest diocese in England (covering the lands between the river Thames and the Humber), be moved from Dorchester, near Oxford, to Lincoln, where he had already established a castle in the old Roman upper city. The first Norman Bishop of Lincoln, Remigius had previously been a Benedictine monk, and a loyal supporter of William at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The cathedral was finally consecrated in 1092. It has dominated the skyline of Lincoln since then and is a prominent landmark from many parts of Lincolnshire.
The night time image was chosen as I like the way the building is lit at night time showing it in all it's towering glory, it almost seems to glow and can be seen for many miles. In retrospect I should have used a tripod and take a longer shutter speed in order to prevent any camera shake.

Upon entering the Cathedral, visitors are greeted with a view of the nave stretching back to the organ

The image on the left was taken at the particular angle as there is a restorative programme in situ which obscures the view of the tower on the right. The image on the right shows a blue barrier tape which I left in the image on purpose, my reason for this was to demonstrate the division between the sacred area of the cathedral and the area for the general public, demonstrating the sanctity of this special place.

 In spite of its size, the Cathedral is filled with intricate detail
I included this image of the curves and arches looking up at part of the ceiling, I particularly liked the way the light cascades through the glass of the arches.

The nave, transepts, St Hugh's choir and the ten-sided Chapter House are
all early English. The nave is huge public space with a tremendous feeling of light and space. The Cathedral  is very much a place of worship and peaceful place for anyone to come to pray

St Hugh's Choir is one of the earliest examples of English gothic style. It contains fine examples of carved 
choir stalls dating from 1370.

In Lincoln Cathedral the architects of
the gothic style perhaps reached the
pinnacle of their art. Everywhere you look
 there is the most intricate detail, walls,
 roof elaborated by the finest carving.

Yet, it doesn't stop there, today some
thirty men and women wonderfully skilled
in their traditional crafts of masonry,
joinery, lead-working and glazing are
continuing the act of creation as they
follow the century long cycle
of maintenance of this astonishing
Completed in 1898, designed by Henry Willis,
 it proved to be the last cathedral organ
 finished by  'Father' Willis himself, and one
of his finest instruments. It also has the distinction
 of being one of two Willis organs in English
cathedrals to retain its original quality.
The organ is admired by organists from
 all over the world. Organ concerts are held
 regularly in the Cathedral and in recent years
 performers have from from Notre Dame, Paris
 and Westminster Abbey to name but a few,
 even Rick Wakeman has played the
Lincoln Cathedral organ. 
Holy Communion is taken daily, all are welcome to take part and receive a blessing

Unlike many tourist attractions, all tours are included in the entry charge. The Floor Tours, are suitable for all, take about an hour and take in aspects of the Cathedral from architecture, history with a few interesting stories
along the way!

The Roof Tours are very popular, suitable for most but if you have trouble climbing steps please reconsider. The tour takes approx 90 minutes and gives fantastic views of the inside of the Cathedral and over to the Castle:

Inside the roof
The roof top tours give visitors the
opportunity to get quite a different
view of the nave
View of the Norman Castle 

Visitors get to see behind the scenes

Up close and personal 

Before you go, light a candle and take a moment to reflect,pray, or just enjoy the peace of this incredible building  

Monday, 5 November 2012

Assignment 5 - Tutor Report

Overall Comments

You have taken on board my comments about being careful stretching the brief - to do so with a rationale - and reverted to a more straight-forward interpretation. This is fine and you have produced a perfectly good and reasonable narrative of Lincoln cathedral. However, In doing so, you have lost a little in terms of showing your individuality of approach that sets the work apart from the norm. You need to maintain your individuality of approach but on the basis of a well argued rationale.

Feedback on assignment
You have a good set of images that are a mixture of standard and more personal views. There are technical issues with some of the images that I will discuss below.

What is lacking in your assignment is a discussion of the reasoning behind your work and how the work of other photographers have contributed to it. For example, you give no indication of how the images’ size might vary or why you chose a night scene of the cathedral as your opening image as opposed to the more conventional daylight view. I’m not suggesting that the first image is wrong - It does show an individuality of approach which is good. But why this as the opening image to the magazine articles and how would its size relate to some of the other images? It’s these sort of questions that should be covered in your learning log.

The sequencing of the images is a natural progression as if you were being taken on tour which is good. In image 1 although strong in terms of showing the cathedral in a less traditional night scene with it towering over the smaller buildings, there are some technical problems: You might want to straighten the towers. You could also consider straightening the verticals that are currently converging. Being a night scene you have used a high iso setting which has resulted in quite a lit of noise in the image. As an opening image in the magazine this is a definite disadvantage. It would have been better to have used a lower iso, put the camera on a tripod and used a long exposure. There are other views of to establish the setting of the cathedral - see the Wikipedia links - It would have been instructive to see your discussion of these images and your argument for choosing the images you have as part of your log.

You have several strong images - image 2 the view of the naive towards the organ. Although fairy traditional it does convey the size and grandeur of the interior very well. Interesting to have included the blue tape barrier? was this a conscious decision? You could perhaps have taken the picture from in front of this to avoid it.

Image 3 is perhaps falling between two stools - its not looking down enough to show

the whole front door, nor is it looking up enough to show the tops of the towers and making a strength of converging verticals. Having Image 3 to show the height and grandeur of the building you might have considered concentrating more on the detail of the entrance. and included the bottom of the door and any steps.

Image 4 is another strong image that shows a more individual view with its strong graphical shapes and lines. However I’m not convinced that this is the best illustration of the point being made in your caption - detail. I would say that a close up detail of the stone carving might be a better illustration. See one possibility in this link

Image 5 conveys a good feeling of peace and calm showing that there are places for quiet contemplation. Images 6 and 7 are good strong images again giving a good feel for the size and different sections of the spaces in thecathedral.

However image 7 does look a bit warm in colour temperature (as is image 8 where it shows particularly strongly) and you might consider cooling it down a little. Also, if you were wanting specifically to illustrate the choir stalls a straight on closer view might have been better. I appreciate that this might not have been possible in the circumstances and again this is something that you should be discussing in your log.

Image 9 showing the organ pipes has made good use of composition turning the picture so that the pipes make a good strong diagonal with the top of the central column coinciding nicely with the apex of the vaulted ceiling. Did you consider trying to get a picture of the organ keyboard as an alternative?

Images 10 and 11 - people during a service. I think that image 10 is the strongest composition showing the preacher in action with members of the congregation out of focus in the foreground. However the image does suffer from the noise associated with high iso settings and an overly warm colour temperature. Image 11 is good in capturing nice side lighting on the figures, but I’m not convinced about cropping their bottom halves so tightly and the image needs rotating slightly to straighten it. I would consider dropping image 11 and moving straight on to image 12 a good image showing the aspect of tourism playing a part in the cathedral.

Images 13 and 14 are good strong images showing unusual views. Would you consider using image 14 on its own and not using image 2 as they both show similar views just from different viewpoints. You need to be thinking of how each image in the magazine tells part of the story and these images could be said to be duplicating the message. Images 16 and 17 both show interesting and different aspects of detail of the cathedral. In 16 attention seems split between the bell ropes, the furniture and the framed images on the wall you might have bee better to have concentrated on just one of these.

You have done well in 17 to show a more unusual angle and crop of the stained glass window.

The last image while rounding off nicely the magazine article does to some extent duplicate image 5 and you might want to consider dropping one of these.

Learning Logs/Critical essays
As I have already indicated your log could do with more discussion of your rationale for choosing these images - there is no commentary relating to the actual assignment.

In relation to the exercises leading up to the assignment It’s good to see your review of other photographers work but again, you could include more commentary on how this influences your own work and what you might do

differently. You are starting to record comments about what you are wanting to

say which is good but you need to expand this more to elucidate and refer to
other people’s work in this

Student feedback
Following a review of the Tutors Report the following changes were considered:

The first, front page image was changed to a daytime image. My reasons for choosing a night time image was that when lit the cathedral is even more striking to the viewer than in the daytime, increasing the impression of size and grandeaur, also it was a little different from the usual image I'd seen before. Due to the amount of noise associated with the image I'd taken, which in retrospect I should have produced with a tripod and long exposure time, I decided to replace it with one of the same scene but taken in the daytime. For this image, I manage to convice the staff on the gate of the castle to let me in free for a few minutes for the sole purpose of taking this image from the walls on the cathedral side. I set up my tripod, which was a little tricky as the exact spot I wanted to take the image was between two points where the ground wasn't exactly even. I had seen this shot on several items of tourist literature so thought I'd try to reproduce the same. I didn't have a great deal of time to take the image, but was relatively pleased with the result, although I did straighten it slightly in Lightroom.

The image taken at the front of the cathedral, which didn't include all of the door or all of the towers, I had intended to re shoot this image but as the restorative programme has progressed further across the front of the cathedral, this won't be possible.

My tutor commented that image 4 talks about detail but I might have been better placed to include a close up of some detail within the cathedral, the infamous lincoln imp, which is pretty high up so a telephoto was required. I took the image in black and white in order to highlight the carving of the imp, although not as sharp as I'd like it was a case of take the image quickly before the next tourist puts 20p in the machine and lights the imp up as way of identification, not good photographic lighting.

Nov 2012 by caroline..collins

The image of the people watching the preacher is to be dropped from the assignment, as my tutor commented, its too similar to the previous image, allowing better flow onto the image of the tourists during a tour.

This image of the naive from a high perspective is to replace the image at the beginning of the assignment, is shows a view that is largly unavailable unless attending one of the roof tours, which aren't suitable for everyone.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Conceptual Photography - 'Knowone died today'

Broomberg and Chanarin create a set of conceptual photographic images which have been described by some as merely a 'stunt'. I can appreciate why they did what they did in order to highlight the restriction and control forced on embeded photo journalists covering current war zones especially when compared to say images produced from coverage of Vietnam in the 60's.

Conceptual photography is a new area I'd not considered previously. I'm not sure if anyone really knows what it is. It seems to relate to some areas of photography and not others, I think conceptual photography relates to art more than other types of photography such as fashion advertising or photographic images created to sell a car, these are also conceptual photography by their very creation, which makes me question....isn't all photography conceptual? other than of course simply walking around snapping at whatever takes your fancy, which is what I did before starting this course. But does then photography fall into the category of conceptual only when there are drawn plans? maps and ideas? evidence of the concept? If these plans are in the mind, is this conceptual?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Exercise - Juxtaposition

fun day 126 by caroline..collins
fun day 126, a photo by caroline..collins on Flickr.
The connection suggested in this image taken in a 'retro' cafe, is that of London or Britain. The 'oxford street' sign along with the canvas of the union jack creates this connection. There are other connections that could be made in the image, including the 'keep calm and carry on' picture which has been diluted so much lately that it means less than it once did, but these two stand out for me in this image.