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
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.
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
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
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.