My understanding of the brief was to prepare 6 to 8 printed photographs that represent “the decisive moment”. The brief clarifies that though street photography typifies this type of image, landscape can also have a decisive moment of weather, season or time of day.
With that in mind I prepared an initial set of images which I thought captured decisive moments in a set of landscapes and I submitted those for peer review. The result of that submission for review can be read here.
As a consequence of that fairly negative feedback, I revised my approach and went back to street photography which I took in London in the UK, and a selection from a recent trip to Los Angeles in the USA. These images I hope include the visual climax that Swarkowski referred to.
As encouraged, with my second set of images, there is no story linking the images other than half were captured in the UK, the other half in the USA. As time was pressing, I have used the combination of a standard lens and black and white to both visualise and present the images. I tend to see images in terms of shapes and tones – colour is something I notice later on. As some of these images were taken as black and white jpegs, without the ability to reintroduce colour, I chose to present them all in black and white. This is not because I am trying to hark back to a bygone age, but simply because I tend to see images in this way first and only consider colour later on.
All the images were taken with a 53mm equivalent focal length and I used aperture priority typically f5.6 to f8 so I did not have to think too much about exposure, focusing instead on the brief moment of each capture. ISO was 400 in the UK shots and 200 in the US shots.
I printed all the images with a Canon Pixma 10S printer on Canon Pro Platinum paper. I did not have access to matt A4 paper but will use this for future assignments and will reprint these images when that paper arrives.
Personally I prefer my work on the Dungeness power station and surrounds though I understand these were not obviously DM enough for the viewers. These images were printed on postcard size paper to be submitted in a little paper bag to create a nostalgic feel in an ironic twist of the chocolate box image normally seen on postcards, the nostalgia being for “big nuclear power” which has had its decisive moment.
However, I take on board the expectation that the viewer should not have to have the images explained by the photographer for decisive moment images and that each image should stand alone. The 6 images that I have printed at A4 were all brief moments in time where the composition immediately before and after shutter release was very different and these moments represent the visual climax.
What worked well
Technically these images are reasonable. Everything is in focus where it should be and exposed properly. The print quality is competent.
Image 1 – shows the millennium bridge at St Pauls to Bankside, London. I aligned myself with the view above and below the bridge with the dome of St Pauls central. I then just waited until people aligned themselves geometrically and was particular pleased that a guy is taking a photo of St Pauls atop the bridge.
Image 2 – shows a random collection of people at High Street Kensington tube station, each preoccupied in their own moments, oblivious to those around them.
Image 3 – the woman on the bench at Blackfriars station had just picked up her phone as I took the shot.
Image 4 – I waited until the cyclist on Venice beach was almost out of the frame before releasing the shutter to create energy through the image.
Image 5 – at Santa Monica, I captured the volleyball at the top of it’s ascent – all 4 players’ eyes are lined up with the ball and there is active movement amongst the players.
Image 6 – at Paradise Cove my two sons were jumping the waves and I caught the eldest at the top of his high tuck jump some four feet off the ground.
What didn’t work so well
Whilst I understood what the decisive moment was, particularly in respect of street work, I was captivated by the idea that landscape shots could also capture the DM. However, the feedback from the Discuss Forum (particularly from two tutors there) suggested to me that I had this completely wrong. I am still unclear as to how I might capture a landscape using the decisive moment as they perceive it – I thought I had with my first set of photographs.
My second submission whilst more obviously visually climactic decisive moments feel like a failure as I feel I should be able to better express what I was trying to achieve with the first image set.
How the series might be improved in the future
When I rework this assignment, I am keen to understand better how I can avoid “action” shots to prove decisive moments. I want to explore how I can incorporate this way of shooting into landscape work that does not require detailed written explanations from me and that is self-evident within the images themselves.
- Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.53