Level 3 Exhibition

On Monday a few of us guys from the level morning session and some from level 2 set up the exhibition in the RACC Atrium to run all Summer. It was hot and hard going to get it done in the heat but we managed to get most of the Images hung.

Looks good once up and straightened and this year we have fixed with screws so hopefully they won’t ebd up falling off like Last year.

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.

Transformations Final set – Scars

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Following up on my OUTLINE post for the Transformations project, For my final set and presentation for this term entitled Scars, I have chosen a set of 6 images that I feel portray this theme to perfection, showing material change yet also offering a change in perception to the viewer as they look upon rust with a new viewpoint and perspective as totally unrecognisable from what they expect. Inspired by Aaron Siskinds textured works.

Equipment, editing and technical information for the project and shoot can be found in this Post.

From the moment I began editing and selecting images I had visions of the planet Mars in my head, since the photos closely resemble what I have always thought Mars to be like and have observed in actual images of the Martian surface.

I have named each picture after an area on Mars, after seeing work by Rachael Talibart in which she named images after mythical entity’s, that I feel represents the image and the structure and content within and I will go through these individually after the gallery of final images below.

Now I will explore and explain each image in a bit more detail along with the area of Mars which inspires its name. I hope you will see why I have chosen the names, as each of my images draws its inspiration from those areas. Below is a stock photo of the area followed by my image and its presentation format and media used.

Utopia

Shot from above Utopia Planetia (Stock Image)

Utopia planetia is a vast plain on Mars known for deep red colouration and being relatively flat Compared to other more rocky and mountainous regions.

Due to the large size of this print I wanted a good colour depth and also to keep detail in the Image. I chose lustre as my media as it offers a good balance of both without favour toward one. The flatness and flat effect I needed for the overall image would not be affected by the lustre finish as can happen with gloss perhaps being too sharply detailed.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO200 – 1/200s
Framed 16×12 print in white box frame

Syrtis

Syrtis from Above (stock Image)

Syrtis is a huge dark patch on the surface of Mars surrounded by a flat pitted plain of deep reddish hues.

I chose to print this image on Permajet Omega Rag at home and I feel it has come out superbly showing deep contrast and detail in the blacks and shadows whilst retaining colour and vibrance in the overall print.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO200 – 1/400s
Approximate crop and corrected orientation
Framed

Elysium

Elysium is a huge volcanic region with cascading hardened lava flows and icy regions of frozen rock

As with Syrtis I printed this image on a fine art paper, Permajet Baryta paper which again allowed for crisp detail and contrast and retained and enhanced colour vibrance.

105mm Macro – F11 – ISO200 – 1/250s
Approximate crop and corrected orientation
Framed

I chose to print and present the next 3 images as a triptych of texture and surface markings, I feel grouping the images like this allows me to offer some seperation from the more serene and flat surfaces of the previous set whilst retaining them as a cohesive collection.

Naukluft

Naukluft is a plateau of jutting rocks and layers of volcanic sedement, the sharp edges to the plateau contrast with the sand beneath.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO160 – 1/640s

Olympus Mons

Olympus mons is a huge circular mountain around the size of France on the surface in the volcanic region of Tharsis

105mm Macro – F11 – ISO200 – 1/400s

Tharsis

Tharsis is a volcanic region with several round volcano like mounds they dimple the surface like hills.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO200 – 1/500s

For the more textured images of the “really rocky and mountainous areas” I chose to print in gloss to ensure extreme detail in the sharp contrasting lines of each image and still retain a colour depth and 3d effect to the print.

Framed

Finally we come to presentation of the images as a set. I took the framed images to class and following input from the class and Zig I chose this grouping which is quite formal and contemporary as I feel the Images should be displayed and set very simply to provide a contrast the abstract content in the images. I printed my main image in large format 16×12 complimented with 2 medium images of around 7×5 and a Triptych of textured images. All images have been mounted on acid free white mount board and framed in a white box frame.

Final set in display formation (obviously gaps between)

Final Critique

Overall this term I am extremely happy with the 6 images I have produced and chosen for “Scars”. I feel they match the images they are inspired by and really give the viewer something to consider when they look at Rust in the future and the transformation that it brings to metal surfaces. I am pleased at how quickly I rethought ideas and overcame obstacles to produce a coherent and tonally structured set which fulfills the brief given.

I feel the title is apt and gives the viewer only an inkling of what the set portrays but has enough there for anyone who hears the title, Once viewed, to say “yes I get it”.

Yes there were a few missed opportunities and perhaps I could have further considered which pictures to include from many taken but feel the set produced is excellent and pleasing to the eye, I could have expanded the project to cover other decay and such but I feel the set of 6 images here are special and form a much better cohesive set than if I were to include more images of a different style or subject.

Transformation Final Project Submission outline – Scars

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

For my final submission I have chosen to do my photographic study of Transformation on the theme of Decay, specifically Rust. I considered many approaches to the theme as detailed HERE but finally settled on the topic of Rust and corrosion as I became more and more focused and narrowed down onto a single course I had seen work and discussed Transformation of surfaces HERE.

Rust causes transformation of a metal object at chemical levels, it is ceaseless and can be fast or slow, there is no predictability in its action, it is the ultimate destruction of an iron based metal object transforming strong metal to base elements.

I was not just content with showing this material change, I wanted to take people’s perception and twist it aswell, I wanted them to see the beauty in that change. To challenge them into seeing a landscape of red, mountainous and jagged, contrasted with flat desert plains of crimson, orange and brown hues. This is the basis of my project – SCARS.

A slow decay is underway
When neglect stays ever vigilant
Movement slows to a stop
Robust iron and hardened steel
Give way to the conformity of corrosion

Potential etched with failure
Layers stacking and packing
Cavitation, pitting, and spalling

Aged soldiers forever at rest
Vivid drippings from many holes
A stark likeness to flowing crimson
The discipline of structure gone

Emptiness and sadness
Abandoned to father time
Painted with the oxide of depression.
Fences that guard no boundary
Closed doors that never open
Implements evolve to ornaments

Rust supporting flaked cement
It falls with no one to hear
Massive gears that will not turn
Horse shoes, nails, and barrel rings

Cast away like everything
From the front yard to the scrap-yard
Out to pasture as they say
It’s the price of progress today

R.J SHWARTZ.

To begin with I started taking images of Decay at the coast, this ranged from flaking paint on boats and buoys to cracked surfaces of anchors, chains and fences I had come across, pitted and creased by age.

It was when I was exploring the cliffs at Portland I came across my subject, An old quarry crane used for lifting stone and boats known as The Red Crane. A relic of industry left to the elements on the coast. Once I had explored its surface in the sunlight I knew this was the subject for my project.

The challenge now was to creatively capture this relatively ordinary object in new ways, to see beyond the obvious and find a new angle so to Speak. I set about it’s surface looking for crags, flakes and scars in its hardened exterior, cuts in its skin bleeding in the sunlight, the scabs, scars and wounds of decades of standing alone as a coastal monolith.

Equipment and Technique

From the outset I had envisioned Macro as the way to go for these miniscule landscapes to be pictured and given scale and majesty. So I used my Canon 80d with a Sigma 105mm Macro lens, this afforded me the luxury of being able to get very close to the surface and retain focus and detail whilst the combination of great light and optical stabilisation allowed me to be free of a tripod and move about the structure. All the shots were taken by hand keeping the camera sensor level and parallel with the plane of the subject, I used varying shutter speeds and F-stops, which I will Detail below the shots on the final post, and took each image using a burst shooting mode and gently. Moving toward or away from my subject to ensure I got as much chance of a fully focussed image as possible given the hand holding situation at such high magnifications.

Editing

I actually had very little editing to do as such on these shots, the surface itself was quite well lit and saturated with colour and as I previously said the detail afforded by the Sigma macro lens was excellent. I have increased the contrast and ambience slightly, adjusted for blacks and white levels and added some structure via clarity. There were a few where I had to raise the exposure a tad to lighten the I age as it was taken in my shadow due to positioning. I felt this was sufficient and didn’t need to use the high pass filter method for sharpening that we have been looking at with Zig. So just simple minor edits to each image to create an over tonal similarity and cohesiveness to the set whilst retaining as much detail in the mini scene as I could. You can see some test edits HERE

Safety Considerations

Health and safety was foremost in my mind on this assignment given I was atop a cliff around 100 feet up from the sea. I had my partner watching as a second set of eyes and was extremely careful with my footing and placement of myself and my equipment. The flat surface of the cliff helped but there were a few points where I was perilously close to the edge and in those instances I always had a handhold to the structure and shot one handed.

Gallery of Prospective shots

Below is a gallery of Several Shots taken and considered for this project, a few of the final Shots are in there in a pre-edit stage for reference

Presentation

Having initially decided to present in a square format as 5×5 prints I looked at clean white frames and did some Tests, however I did not really like the look or feel of those, Somehow they seemed lost and too partitioned. I then looked at previous gallery visits and how other photographers and curators would often present in different sizes and formats leading the eye. I decided to do something similar, but not only to present in a series of sizes but also a series of finishes that I had used or researched over the entire course from Lustre and gloss finishes to rags and fine art paper. To present the images I chose 1 large framed image complimented with 2 smaller framed images and 1 set of 3 framed in a tryptch style. I experimented with a few photoshop frames detailed HERE but decided on another approach which I will detail on the final post.

Shocking printing disparity

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

Well I am Stunned today at the vast difference between a set of Prints of a single Image.

Lets explain, I wanted to see how different sizes and paper types. Would Affect the colours, hues and quality of an image so I set up a Test.

The following are prints of the same image file, edited to my taste in Photoshop and then I printed one at home on fine art paper, 1 on 18×12 lustre and 1 on 9×6 gloss at a commercial lab.

I am Absolutely stunned at the colour difference between them the lovely vivid red print is my one from home on Permajet fine art paper and it matches well the screen and the outcome I was looking at. The other 2 more brownish prints are the gloss and the lustre printed at a commercial lab.

To say I am Stunned is putting it mildly, the sheer disparity between the quality of these prints is a lesson to me why fine art and good. Quality papers are an investment in photography. The sheer colour match and detail reproduction on the home. Printed fine art image vastly superceded any print from the lab, although both prints are OK detail wise and the browner prints still retain a good level of colour.

Whether it’s the paper difference, the size or Just a combination of both is unknown but my god what a difference.

Stunned……

Transformations – The final preparation.

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Transformations – The theme given to us for our final term was extremely vast. In reality anything could be construed as being in the realm of Transformation, from my Initial mind map below I found myself perhaps limiting the ideas I was having to a few more obvious ones. Although my final technique was one I considered from the outset. The subject was one I had not considered all those weeks ago.

However this changed once I really looked into the subject and began to explore how I could translate the idea into an Image. I wanted to do something that delved into Transformation in more than one way, by both showing something transforming in a material way and transforming the viewers perception of that subject, to take an object or subject that we see everyday and make it new and introduce a completely different look and feel to the visage presented.

Initially I thought I was settled on an idea which combined seascapes with long exposure, but upon trying this whilst on holiday it very quickly became apparent that the sunny weather and clear skies were perhaps not the best conditions to make for good shots for that particular idea as the ND filters needed to bring the shutter speed down to what I required would have been prohibitively expensive (the local camera shop was asking triple the price of online) and also numerous not to mention nigh on impossible to mount with the equipment I had, perhaps an idea for another day… A wet cloudy day.

With that in mind I reverted to another idea I had, after seeing some of the works by Aaron Siskind, which would show transformation of a Surface in some way through decay, rust or peeling paint. And as well as taking images of peeling paint and cracked surfaces whilst on holiday in Christchurch and Mudeford. I finally found my subject on the Dorset coastline on the cliffs of Portland.

The Red Crane is a large iron and steel relic quarry crane on the cliffs or Portland, used for lowering boats and stone into the water for decades, it has been steadily decaying and rusting due to the constant exposure to the elements at their harshest and has the deepest reds and orange hues in the rust I have ever seen. The textures and colour drew me in immediately and I knew straight away I would be using this as my subject. Now I did mention I wanted a dual perspective on Transformation so I decided that using Macro as my technique would give such an effect on perspective as it would transform the rusting surface in the viewers eyes to an almost unrecognisable surface.

Almost everyone I have so far shown the images to has commented that some of the images are unrecognisable as rusting metal, in fact many have commented that they look like the surface or Mars or some other barren desert, which is exactly the outcome I was looking to achieve.

Now when I saw the images in full I wanted to go further, the full image although stunning printed at 12×8 needs refining, therefore I decided that I would further transform that image and take portions of the full size print and mount those in either a square 5×5 format or a tryptych of sections around 5×4 or thereabouts. I have even trial Printed at 18×12 in lustre finish to see what sort of levels of Colour depth and Detail that brings but we shall see once they arrive. I printed some of my final edits on various matte type fine art papers from Permajet and was extremely pleased with the outcomes, so much so that I will be using some Of them for My final selections. The colour reproduction and depth was amazing as was the detail particularly on fibre based and Baryta type Papers which offer such inclusions.

I am still yet to land on my exact way of presenting the images for marking, but I have purchased some clean white frames in various sizes and mount options and will be looking at my different choices this week. I really like the idea of small sized prints which draw the viewer into that macro world, yet make it look like landscape, very much like Rachael Talibarts series I talked about HERE.

Transformations – The end is near

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

So now is the time to properly finalise my choices and edit to taste. The decay and rust style Images I have taken will be my final selection for editing and printing and these images have had good reception and feedback from people I have shown including Rachael Talibart which was nice to hear. I have many images similar to below (some test edited some straight from camera) to choose from So it will be a hard task to narrow them Down.

I’ll have to get some Feedback from Zig tomorrow to help narrow down to around 6 to 8 images.

As for printing I was so impressed with the clarity of just some gloss test prints I did that that seems the natural choice a real matte fine art paper would make the courts pop but lose some detail as would a lustre or pearl finish but I will get a better idea of how to proceed once I have edited a few and added any framing or borders.

Ongoing

Visiting Rachael Talibart’s studio

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 1, 3

Had a very good and inspiring morning today, visiting Rachael Talibart’s open studio as part of the Surrey open studio month. I discussed her stunning work previously HERE

Set in the grounds of her lovely house in Weybridge she has a beautiful studio/gallery setup and I had a pleasant few hours fuelled by tea and cakes chatting about all her work and some of her techniques and methods, as well as seeing her photographic equipment.

Had the chance to discuss my projects. With her and she loved the idea of the rust Images I had taken as a transformation idea, and it turns out she had done some very similar work.

We spent time talking about the best way of printing and display and I will definately be booking a workshop or 2 with her in the future at the coast.

An extremely interesting and inspiring day which will bear fruit along the road.