Level 3 in review

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

It’s come to the end of my level 3 course and, obviously, I am more than a Little sad that it’s over to be honest.

I won’t be doing level 4 at RACC as they don’t offer the course, for the next term, but will continue on my little journey somehow with some good friends I have met along the way on these courses. Perhaps at a photo club or Society or perhaps I may drop in and pester Zig at RACC every so often just to keep him on his toes 🙂

So what have I learned this year, well to begin with, an appreciation of the art form and its deeper meanings. I have further learned to look past the image and explore what the photographer is trying to tell us either through composition, tone, texture or colour and content. There is no set pattern to what to expect from a photo and as the art is always evolving you must evolve with it and explore new ways you can portray your work.

Alongside this I have felt encouraged to experiment with techniques and styles I hadn’t before and to not be afraid to go wrong in trying those styles.

I have Learned to critique images, both my own and others, and to use that critique make selective judgements on how to present a flowing set of images or project that gels with a particular theme or approach to a subject matter or topic.

To see the tones and lines within images that “join” them with others to create a meaning or conscious collection of similar work. To objectively select images and also discard those that do not meet criteria or objectives.

I have also learned a bit more about the Importance of different media types for different Images or approaches to printing for different markets or uses. Different images or edits may affect what media you use as will the setting, lighting, framing and audience.

So here is a gallery of images taken during the level 3 course from all projects and terms both final images and prospective ones as well as other test images and such.

Cruel and Tender Appreciating Art

Unit 23 – Photographic Media, Techniques and Technology criteria P 1,2,3,4

As a secondary choice for my my Cruel and Tender project I shot some candid images of people at the Tate Gallery and the Gursky exhibition. It’s an idea I first had a few months ago and mentioned to Zig and blogged about HERE and HERE , but never had the chance to shoot until I had visited a gallery. It was again interesting to see how people looked at art and interacted with the artwork they saw.

I wanted to show the varying emotions and differing opinions people had through images alone and looking at this now it is a very hard thing to do in such an environment. I would really have had to get face on to see anything other than body language and stance. And at this time I am not the most confident in just walking up and taking peoples images without first asking which would have defeated the whole object of the idea.

It was a challenge to do in the Tate at least, as there are many barriers, the light is terrible (for a gallery) and to be honest I don’t think the idea or meaning of the project comes across in the images I managed to get. So again like my Art Underfoot idea I decided against this as a final submission. So have included here as a rejected proposition which I may well revisit at a later date or in a separate and well lit gallery

Thomas Struth

Unit 23 – Photographic Media, Techniques and Technology criteria P 1,2,3,4

A photographer I have recently been researching after chancing upon some of his work both online and in the Cruel and Tender book is Thomas Struth. I must admit to noticing a few key themes in some of his work that align with ideas I have had for my project for a cruel and tender. From his work in architectural and brutalist imagery to his Images of people in art galleries and museums which correspond with my idea of people in Art appreciation. Here are some Images and some Information about him.

Thomas Struth (born 1954) is a German photographer whose wide-ranging work covers detailed cityscapes, museums, art galleries, urban jungles and family portraits. Along with Andreas Gursky, he is one of Germany’s most noted modern-day photographers

Born in Germany Struth trained at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1973 until 1980 where he initially studied painting under Peter Kleemann and Gerhard Richter before settling on Bernhard Becher’s photography studio. He won a scholarship to work at in New York for the year of 1978. His early works largely consisted of black-and-white shots of streets in Japan, Europe and America. Skyscrapers were another favourite feature of his work, with many of his photographs attempting to show the relationship people have with their modern-day environment.

In the mid-1980s Struth added a new dimension to his work when he started to produce family portraits.

As a result, these works attempt to show the underlying social dynamics within a seemingly still photograph.

Basing himself in the art capital of Germany – Düsseldorf, Struth’s artistic profile continued to rise in the 1990s, and in 1997 he was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize of Lower Saxony.

Struth had his first solo exhibition in the U.S. at The Renaissance Society in Chicago in 1990. He had an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2003. The centre of the exhibition was the Museum series, I previously mentioned, which featured seemingly ordinary shots of people entering churches, museums and other public places and appreciating the architecture and art within.

Thomas Struth’s work is a testimony that ‘us’ photographers are researchers. This next extract is from James Lingwood’s Composure – A text on Thomas Struth.

Thomas Struth’s photographs over the past 20 years constitute a sustained and concentrated inquiry into the ethics and aesthetics of seeing. Struth’s research is not motivated solely by an interest in what we can see – the surfaces of places, people and paintings – important though the subjects of his photographs are to him. He is equally preoccupied with the question of the way that we see. Because the way that we see, the manners and the models of seeing, are a powerful signifier or our social being, of the way that we are, with ourselves and with others; of the way that we negotiate our relations with people around us, with ‘Strangers and Friends’, to return to the title of an earlier book of Struth’s.

Thomas Struth is an artist that after researching his work and portfolio I have grown to admire and I feel his imagery has become more relevant to me. With the work I am doing now and the projects I am considering lining up… I find my own vision aligning with Struth’s in certain themes and ideas I have had independently, which I find interesting

Sources – Tate and Art institute of Chicago as well as the book Cruel and Tender

Abandoned/Derelict – A cruel and Tender idea

Unit 23 – Photographic Media, Techniques and Technology criteria P 1,3,4

During myself and Alexas train ride to meet the class at the Hayward Gallery for the Gursky exhibition we had time for a chat about potential cruel and tender ideas.

Along the way looking out of the train window I commented how I would love to get access to some of the buildings and seemingly abandoned structures and places we saw along the way from tunnels to graffiti clad huts. Each of these places seemingly left or forgotten some like time capsules others frequented by homeless folk and people who use then for more questionable things. It got me thinking of ideas I have had Here and my previous set for people and the environment where I visited dungeness (images here). An ongoing theme which I may explore for C&T but let’s see what other avenues I can venture down before I settle. Here are some example by a few toggers who have done the kind of images I envision.

Jason Lanier is a particular highlight for me as his shots in abandoned theme parks and industrial areas and structures are what really drew me to his work with night photography and long exposure. His work is well known for having pin up models, punk and even wedding shoots in these structure giving a real opposition between the model and the setting.

I had some great places locally I could have taken similar shots…. Sadly, for me anyway, these have been either demolished or regenerated recently so are considerably less photogenic for this particular idea.

People and the Environment Final Outcome

Unit 33 lens based image making criteria P 1,2,3,4,5

When looking to finalize and select images for this project I chose around 10 images from a series and took them for my classmates to look at and help with the final selection. We initially agreed on 6 images with 2 others that different people had views on for various reasons. One of the images had people in so it was an easy decision to omit it as i wanted to portray the area as free from human life and reclaimed by the environment and put into context why that had happened. I finally decided to submit 7 images which I feel show the desolation and ultimately the peace and serenity of the area despite the huge nuclear power station which looms over the landscape.

I used various lenses, focal lengths and exposures to capture the landscape and I feel happy in how the images turned out in the end with some final edits to match the tonality and equalise the skies and colours to gel them into a more cohesive collection.

With regards to printing the set I initially Produced the images at 9×6 to give me an idea of colour tone and exposure in print. I then marked on each image how I would like to edit each one to colour and tonally match the set. Once that was done I printed them at 12×8 in both gloss and lustre and again reviewed the images, It was during this review i found them to lack something. I followed Zigs advice and hung the set on my wall for a few days to ponder over and it may be that my walls were helping to lose impact or colour in the images but I decided to add a 2 inch white border to the images and reprint.

Now obviously I could not print at 12×8 with the large border as it would make the image to small so I decided to reprint in both gloss and lustre at 16×12 which allowed me to keep the 12×8 image size and have a 2 inch all round white border. So now I had to choose between the gloss and the lustre so again we looked at this in class and although one of the images was superb in the gloss the others were far better in lustre and for the sake of maintaining the integrity of the set I chose to submit all images in the lustre finish which does give a fantastic shine to the final image whilst allowing a comfortable viewing experience even under harsh light with no reflections or glare.

Below is my final set of 7 images for this project. My favourite image is the Giant wooden T navigation marker on the beach. I love the wide-angle viewpoint which shows the car and caravans in the distance and reminds me of images of the Las Vegas desert and trailer parks in the USA perhaps taking inspiration from Robert Adams and Stephen Shore. Its also the one image from the set that looked spectacular in gloss finish and now resides in a frame on my office wall.

F10 30s ISO 200 at 24MM

The above image was taken as the evening set in so I used a longer shutter speed and an ND filter to give some movement to the background and bring the winch into sharper view against the backdrop as people were walking on the beach and I didn’t want any humans in the images.

F13 1/160s ISO100 at 35mm

There are several lone boats on the shore but it is cluttered with ropes debris and old crates and such so chosing the right angle of view whilst still giving some thought to composition was difficult i had to go slightly under one-third for the sea here as just over the pebble bank were several piles of clutter which would distract from the subject.

F13 1/250s ISO100 at 27mm

As above these boats to were on a bank and this viewpoint hid 2 other small boats and a tractor. I like the slight hint of foreground with the grass as it sets the viewer at ground level and gives some framing. I would have like to have included a bit more so could have gone slightly wider.

F9 1/400s ISO100 at 18mm

One of many old fishermans sheds/shacks which have gradually been demolished and vandalised. this one probably less so as it is concrete. Compositionally I prefer to have the shack start less than a third of the way up the scene so I could include more sky.

F25 1/60s ISO 100 at 27mm

Another shack, Less fortunate than the concrete one which worked to my advantage allowing me to frame the distant boat within the wooden structure and still show the decay of the area. I used F25 to keep the boat in focus as well as the shack as they were some distance apart.

F5.6s 1/1000 ISO100 at 18mm

An oppressive sight really for the area, The nuclear power station is surrounded by a wall like this for what seemed like forever on all four sides. Dotted along the wall every hundred feet or so were these signs warning people of what was behind the boundary. I used a wider angle and got close to the wall to allow me to take a relatively tight shot.

F10 1/250s ISO 100 at 18mm

My favourite image…blue sky and pebbles for as far as I could see. This scene really justified the use of a wide-angle to really capture the scale of the T against the area it was situated on the beach. As I say above it remind me very much of signs in the desert in the USA. It has a feeling of Robert Adams or Stephen Shore about it in its setting and composition.

I have very much enjoyed the challenge of this project from choosing a theme to getting a location researched and finding a structure to the workload.

I feel I have accurately portrayed my intention using various focal lengths and lens styles and types and researched many more whilst concentrating on the theme and eventual outcome. I would have like to have had perhaps a chance to try some other techniques and wider angles in a few images but feel in most compositions the focal length I used is beneficial and warranted for the framing of the scene within my aims.

Printing paper.

Unit 33 lens based image making critieria P 2,3

Unit 23 – Photographic Media, Techniques and Technology criteria P1, P3

During my search for paper types for this and other projects I have mainly used gloss and lustre but there are many many types of paper. Rag, pearl, baryta and William Turner fine art papers to name but a few and and many come in a variety of textures.

I have yet to use some of the more niche and art papers and fine art media but during the next term I will be experimenting with those so below are detailed the types I looked at for this project. I discounted matte and metallic as the images weren’t suitable but I printed my images on both gloss and lustre and have still yet to decide which I will present.

In most photo printing, either the local print shop or a professional printing service, printing often comes with a variety of finishes to choose from. Having some idea about how these finishes work is always helpful to determine the kind of final outcome that you wish your photo to look like. They affect the overall photo surface, texture, vividness of color, contrast and types of photography.

Below, I have listed 4 types of finishes (glossy, matte, lustre and metallic) that are commonly used in photo printing industry.

Glossy Finish

Coated paper with very smooth, shiny surface and results in a reflective appearance. The end result of the photo often looks vibrant in color, crisp and sharp. Produces brighter color and offers more saturation. It does not produce a textured look when scanned or converted into digital format. However the photo surface is likely to stick to glass when framed. It is also highly susceptible to fingerprints and smudges if hand-held without a glove. It is possible to remove marks with a photo cloth or liquid solution, but it still can leave some scratches. Glossy finish is a good choice for printing everyday snapshots and photos with vibrant colors.

Matte Finish

Photos with a matte finish are always smooth and have no glare on the surface. Lower contrast but an enhanced texture print. Fingerprints are not as visible. This style works very well especially for black and white photography which produces a classic look. In most cases, it is often used by professionals and is capable of producing a high quality professional look. Matte finish is also a good choice for framing and suitable for portrait, wedding and baby photos. It comes with different grades and is harder to scratch. However, the texture on a matte finish can make the photo look grainy and may produce a visible texture if scanned or converted to digital format.

Lustre Finish

A photo with a lustre finish comes with slight gloss with a subtle and pearl like texture. It offers a deeper color saturation than matte finish, higher in contrast and thicker papers. Fingerprints are not as visible, anti glare, looks professional with high quality paper and best for framing on the wall. It also captures the best qualities from glossy and matte by combining them into one beautiful finish.

Metallic Finish

Extremely durable and produces an almost chrome-like burnished appearance. Glossy finish with a Striking, distinctive metallic eye-catching look, increased color gamut for a rich impact and exceptional sharpness. Images printed with metallic tend to ‘pop’ and appears to be printed on metal.


Source Paul Chong

Finalising the P&E project

Unit 33 lens based image making critieria P 1,2,3,4,5

When we first looked at this project the choices were far-reaching. People and Environment covers such a wide gamut of topics and possibilities for subject matter that it did, at first, seem overwhelming. So I decided to break down some of my favourite ideas into a Chart and began to pick away at them in finer detail.

Given my previous reluctance to Image people, I quickly discounted several ideas on the board and some may see this as a mistake including myself in some ways As I found some later confidence to go and do some street imagery with total strangers in London which I enjoyed and found to be a lot safer and easier in approach than I had imagined. You can see the outcomes HERE.

Prior to my decisions about themes, and probably a good influence, I had been researching work by Robert Adams and Stephen Shore amongst others and the work they all did documenting the increasing urbanization and encroachment on the natural Landscape from mankind.

I decided to pay a loose sort of homage to the theming and style of some of those great images by completely turning them on their head and showing how nature is reclaiming what mankind left behind when they were finished with the areas of land they had encroached on.

Intention….To portray decay and dehumanisation

With this in mind I researched desolate areas… Urban wastelands and places long forgotten in the eyes of most of the general population. It was then I remembered going to Dungeness as a boy with my dad to fish…. Dungeness is officially classed as a desert.. The UKs only one in fact, a former army training base… A set off point for the D-Day landings… A thriving fishing community… all of which is long gone and now it is a huge nature reserve with a rather imposing nuclear power facility at its tip. The landscape is pebble and rock for miles littered with small shacks, old railway carriages, boats and boat winches all of which are rotting and rusting away unused for decades and slowly but surely being reclaimed by the natural environment… Man is no longer master here… now there’s a project title.

The place was, as I remembered, quite sparse and somewhat serene in its quietness and stillness. I initially drove down for a reccy and to shoot hoping for looming clouds and sunless skies to add some drama and a foreboding sense of doom to the images I had envisioned. I was met with bright blue skies and high sun which to honest completely threw my ideas up in the air but open a new door.

I proceeded to take images of areas and objects and the theme began coming together as I had hoped and using my 10-18mm and my 18-135 with an nd filter and tripod in tow I managed an array of angles and shot styles which i really enjoyed finding and doing (particularly a wide shot of a T tower which was very reminiscent stylistically of a Vegas desert structure)

As you can probably see from the selection above there are some grey skies in a few and this is down to a return visit where the weather decided to do a complete uturn and be cloudy and dull rather than the clear blue skies i needed for reshoots….theres a lesson here….

So now we have images its time to select them and with that in mind I printed the selection I had lightly edited as 9×6 prints and took to the class for my classmates to look at and give opinions to consider. I will then re-edit the final images into a cohesive and flowing set with similar theme, tonality and colour which I will blog about once done along with the edited images.

For printing I am thinking of 12×8 which is as near as I can get really to the A4 size for the project but I will be looking at potentially adding borders and printing larger but this may be prohibitive as spome of the images are crops of larger pictures for artistic and visual effect.

Genesis – Sebastiao Salgado

Unit 33 lens based image making critieria P 1

Last week I visited an exhibition of work by Sebastiao Salgado called Genesis at Beetles and Huxley in London. Its a fantastic series of work and is one of his long term projects aiming to highlight environmental issues and show the beauty of the planet. The exhibition had a collection of around 40 images from the series presented framed and lit fantastically.

Rather than just take images of polluted places and rubbish grounds, Oil Slicks and dead animals he has taken the decision to instead highlight the beauty and serenity of the wild untouched places and people (in as much as they look unaffected by any form of human pollution or impact) .

From wide open huge landscapes to the animals that live there and indigenous tribes and people’s of the various areas it was majestic in scope and vision.

So many times I’ve photographed stories that show the degradation of the planet. I had one idea to go and photograph the factories that were polluting, and to see all the deposits of garbage. But, in the end, I thought the only way to give us an incentive, to bring hope, is to show the pictures of the pristine planet – to see the innocence.

I found the exhibition to be so beautiful and thought provoking, and the images all in black and white to draw the eye to the subject and form rather than colour to distract the eye, that I immediately bought a set of 16 prints of some of the images I had seen in the exhibition.

A crisis of confidence

Unit 33 lens based image making critieria P 5

So…. My initial idea for my project is now in jeopardy…a good long look at the set has shown that no matter what I do to edit them I cannot seem to gain a Consistant style which bothers me more than it should. I put this down to the images being taken across 2 seperate, and very different weather-wise, days so with this in mind I have edited roughly 20 shots from the set and sent to print to check them Over before deciding whether they are good enough and show fully the intention of my initial idea.

Luckily I have had a few ideas in mind and on the go and upon reviewing my set from this weekend on the southbank my fears of taking images with actual human content for a project have been set at ease meaning I can still shoot some of my other ideas and edit them to taste.

Perhaps my initial doubts in shooting people have been set aside or maybe it’s because I have been experimenting either way it has opened doors I had previously locked myself due to self doubt.