Assignment 3: assignment notes & submission

Introduction

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.

Technical approach

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.

Reflection

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.

Evaluation

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.

 

 


Bibliography

  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.53

Assignment 3: peer review -version 2

Following the critique of my first image set, I am choosing to now show a second set of images that hopefully fall more squarely in the decisive moment area.  The images are presented in black and white as some of them were taken in B&W jpeg so for consistency I am presenting that way.  I also continue to struggle with colour – I tend to see images as tones and shapes and only think about colour once in Lightroom.  Black and white is therefore consistent with my way of seeing.

I have presented 9 images here and will reduce to 6-8 images for my final, printed, submission. (Image 2 is portrait format but I like the composition and geometry.  I may have to delete it for consistency with the “landscape” format of the other images.)

Assignment 3: peer review & feedback

Please find my images for Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment.  I have chosen to present images of Dungeness power station in Kent.  You may know that the site contains 2 nuclear stations A and B one of which is closed and one of will close within the decade. It is a decisive moment for nuclear power as alternative fuels have their moment. The irony of this is that nuclear power was once viewed as the future.  I have chosen to use small postcard size matt card to present images, in the same way a favourite view of a seaside town might appear on a postcard.  It is supposed to be an ironic twist so I would appreciate any thoughts! (NB the images look grey as they are scans of the actual prints)

The approach
Up close
The departure

Assignment 3: assignment brief, initial response & approach

Send a set of six to eight high quality photographic prints on the theme of the “decisive moment” to your tutor. Whilst street photography is the traditional subject of the decisive moment, it doesn’t have to be. The aim is not to tell a story but to work naturally as a series with a linking theme, whether location, event or period of time.

Initial response

I have a strong response to this brief and a clear view of what I want to present.  There is a particular series of images that I have wanted to take for some time and this brief provides the opportunity to explore it.  Rather than explore two or more different approaches, I intend to explore a single idea initially through this blog and the OCA forums to refine and approach my thoughts and end up with and effective set of prints.

The linking theme for the images is the decline of nuclear power in the UK.  It could be the decline of any big primary industry in the UK, but I have a particular interest in a location linked to the nuclear industry.

Approach

The nuclear industry in the UK is in decline.  The future is alternative fuels.  The nuclear industry is at a decisive moment where it’s very future hangs in the balance. I intend to showcase that decline using techniques and ideas which I have gathered along the way.  As well as a linking theme, I intend to create a strong visual link between the images by presenting them in a set way, using the same format and style image to image.

Traditionally we have used picture postcards, typically vivid colour, to show the idyllic place we have just visited.  I intend to use a similar picture postcard format but rather than glossy colour, I will use matt card and print the images in monochrome.  This creates a sense of the past, while retaining a jewel like quality for the actual images, presented like special treasures. The images themselves will be a contrast to the materials used to show them.

I have in mind the photographs of water towers by Bernd and Hilla Becher with there highly curated approach to framing images of similar subjects in different locations.  Their use of black and white brings a link between images while also introducing a degree of separation from normal through the removal of colour from the images, an approach which I think will work well with this assignment.

My intended use of the postcard format is to bring the sense of a historical reminder of a place or event to a subject that is on the brink of becoming historical. Below are two versions of the postcard, one printed as a borderless print the other printed with a frame. At this stage I prefer the second, borderless print on the paper which is Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308gsm matt card.

 


Bibliography

  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, pp.72-73
  2. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-water-towers-p81238, accessed 3 July 2018