Category: Developing and Understanding Photographic Practice

Assignment 1: Final Thoughts – 150 MC

This project has undoubtedly been very interesting. my path of direction changed about a quarter of the way through to a more focused path of looking at peer pressures with those at my age. That was a good starting point to try to find what area I was most focused on and would investigate further, so I decided to stick home with an area that I had an experience in, which was drinking.
It was an interesting project for me to take part in, as it did make me think to go beyond the usual pictures that one sees most of the time, and to explore more into the drinking idea of the culture that I am part of.

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Uni students are renowned for drinking and the exploits, games and laughter they come out with during their time at uni. And I wanted to highlight this “drinking culture” through my pictures; showing the harmony and conflict one may face when it comes to drinking.

With my pictures, I didn’t want to be too utilitarian with what I was showing, as that’s how “drinking” is usually portrayed through photography. Rather, I wanted to give my pictures a more subtle and abstract tone to the pictures. Usually when you have the face shown in pictures, you can build up a sense of character usually of what this person is like.
So I decided to just have the majority of my pictures just focusing on the arms and hands. This was because by just showing these, you don’t build up any prejudices at all the subject, but also focuses more on the real actions that are taking place.

The main point is to remember that this is a generalised drinking culture that surrounds me on a daily basis, and for someone else in a different place, they may meet something completely different. Or, on the flip side, some of the images could be a replica for what others experience as well.

The following are the names of my prints (in order) for this project:

“Empty”, “Pour”, “Spin”, “Result”, “Standing firm”, “No Spillage”, “Chink”, “Slamming it Down”, “Chug”, “Regret”

Assignment 1: Final Presentation – 150 MC

So in my last post in which I talked about my presentation, I was discussing the idea that whatever way I decided to present, it would have to be in a way that would be good enough that it wouldn’t detract from the real images. As even though we aren’t presenting to an actual audience, in my head I am thinking about the way that I would want to present to them if I did.

So that’s why I was against putting my pictures into a book, as I feel that it wouldn’t make it seem as serious really (as if you think of a photo book, it’s almost documenting all the work that has taken place) so when I want to highlight the message being portrayed, I think this wouldn’t work at all.
Therefore I thought about presenting my pictures as a box of images (eg all of them placed into a box) but then I started to think well isn’t that the same as them being in a book almost? By placing them directly into something, I feel it wouldn’t that effective.

Hence I decided that I would just have my prints being shown just how they are. With all the borders being straight, I don’t have to do any trimming on them, making them all the same size in the end. So I decided that I would place them up onto a wall to get an idea of which order I would present them (also giving them my own titles so that I could remember what order I would place them in!)


Picture 1: “Empty” -> Print of all bottles on the table

Picture 2: “Pour” -> Liquids being poured into cup

Picture 3: “Spin” -> Shot Roulette

Picture 4: “Result” -> Picking up the shot glasses

Picture 5: “Standing firm” -> Hand being placed up against a bottle

Picture 6: “No Spillage” -> Liquid being poured into shot glasses

Picture 7: “Chink” -> The two shot glasses being chinked together

Picture 8: “Slamming it Down” -> The shots being taken

Picture 9: “Chug” -> Taking swigs from a liquor bottle

Picture 10: “Regret” -> Bottle on the ground.


Assignment 1: The Scanner? – 150 MC

So seeing as I have everything done, with all my final pictures printed, I decided that I would have a look at the Negative scanner in order to see if there was anything I could maybe do to my negatives that could help me even more for this assignment.

Using the scanner is a pretty lengthy process really, and one that takes a lot of patience and time to get everything on a high quality scale. Using the scanner allows me scan over the images in a high quality manner (as if they have been printed from the dark room.)

When initially placing the negative in the holding tray, you need to firmly place the tray into the machine, but not forcing it in or else it would possibly break. Once this is done, the machine will start to read what has been placed in, and on the screen, there would be a pop up saying what has been read.

TO move on, you click on the image you want to get a preview of it come up, in which a whole image will appear on the screen. When this happens, you need to edit the choices for the scanning options (so in this case, I would choose black and white, and 6×7 etc.) on the left hand side.

Whilst on the right hand side, the pop up there will state what quality size of the image you want, and if you want to clean the negatives (Note: This is to only be done for colour negatives, as it would read the grains on a black and white negative as dust, so would try to clean the film.) You can also select the option of wanting to edit the negatives via colour balance etc, but it is more suitable by doing all of this in Photoshop as you have greater control over it all.

So, this is a pretty useful technique to have in the bag if there was something in the picture that you desperately wanted to change (E.g there was an area in the picture that required more contrast whilst being exposed slightly more.) However the only problem is that for this assignment is that all the prints are required to be printed in analogue (so from the darkroom) so I wouldn’t be able to print normally from a printer.
Regardless of this though, I will definitely use this machine in the future if I ever taken more pictures via a 35 mm film or medium format, as it could provide a different twinge on my pictures.

Assignment 1: Final Prints – 150 MC

So after spending a long time in the darkroom, I finally got all of my prints done, and then scanned them up onto my blog (which is why they seem to have this greenish tint to the pictures. The real prints are more in a black and white colour rather than having this tinge to them though!)
On a side note as well, the order these pictures are shown in are not necessarily the final order yet, but rather have just been uploaded one at a time. The real order would be sorted out when I come to my final presentation (talked about later)
The contrast for these picture (apart from the last one, which was on contrast 4) were on 3 which allowed more depth in the blacks and white, whilst the aperture being on 11 which allowed me to have my shutter speed between 15-30 seconds depending on the picture. By doing this, it allowed e to have greater control over my pictures when it came to testing on the various speeds on seeing which time worked better.
And the reason I went for darker pictures was that if I hadn’t of changed the contrast at all, all the pictures would have appeared to be too flat, resulting in a dull picture with nothing interesting at all. But also I felt that if the pictures were too light, then it detracts from the seriousness from the pictures really, whilst having them darker allows them to seem much more imposing and serious.

Print 2

Print 1

So the first two pictures here would be working as a dyptych of a sort in the project (the top one would be shown first, then the next one would follow on from it.) I really like these two pictures first for the shadows that are involved within them, as they are the only ones which have these diverse shadows. The shadows are more effective in the first one I feel, as in the second picture the hands are the main focus really.
I feel like these pictures would be shown more towards the beginning as they are more gentle and subtle in nature, so they would be used to generally build up through out all the pictures.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
Well this roulette set is designed to be used for drinking, so it was bought by one of my house mates for this purpose for when we would drink. And it has been used from time to time, but we have been forced by the person who bought it to use it though. So this picture shows the both the harmony and conflict of having to drink via this peer pressure placed on this guy to not disappoint at all.

Print 3

This picture is based on rejection of a drink, but whilst in all my other pictures I did have the face included, I decided that I was more focused on having only the hands being show, as not only were the shapes on the arms quite interesting, but it left some sort of mystery towards who each person. Having the face in the pictures allows the viewer to build up a connection with the subject; but by removing this it leaves everything open for interpretation from the viewer.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
This picture was a reference on sometimes when you have a group of people drinking, an person may force another to drink with them and the group, collectively creating this massive peer pressure on one person, especially when at uni drinking is part of social life. So this picture was to show the conflict between others when someone tries to reject a drink being forced onto them, with the outcome being unknown.

Print 4

This picture is another in which I know where it would be placed in the series; I would like to place this as the last one because the photograph was based on someone on the floor passed out whilst still holding onto the bottle. Like most of the pictures, I focused only on the hand again.
With the angle of the picture as well, it seems as if the bottle is about to be dropped, which gives it the imagery that everything is now ending, hence why it seems like a good place to end the project on.
But in general I like the composition of this picture, as everything just seems to be right in place, especially with it being a plain background all our focus is placed onto the bottle at once without any distractions.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
This picture was used to highlight what the consequences of drinking too much may be, so it highlights the conflicts one may have with drinking. As someone may drinking within their social structure without thinking about the consequences because they just want to have a good time.

Print 5

This is the odd picture out of the series, but for a specific reason. When Carolyn gave us her talk about editing, she talked about having a picture that would stand out half way through the series. Now with everything being just based on the arms and shapes, to suddenly have a portrait picture seems out-of-place, but in the end it is still relatable to everything else.
I wanted this picture to be the stand out, as it highlights this idea of “binge drinking” with uni students where they would do anything, even downing huge bottles, just to have a good time and get drunk. So it’s the picture that symbolises the uni drinking culture all in one really.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
This picture again shows the ideal about if you’re a uni student, you have to drink however much in whatever to get drunk. So this picture is showing the harmony within our social structure as too how accepting people are of this idea and will happily do it. Again, another part of seeing the uni culture for drinking: drink whatever you can.

Print 6

This picture is quite visually appealing due to the symmetry of what is happening. The main action which was going on was two people taking shots, but it’s after you look closely at how symmetrical we are when we do actions like this really.
Everything seems to just be right in place, with this nice “V” shape being produced from the arms. It was probably this picture (the original test one really) that got me more interested in looking into these arm shapes, as they are quite abstract without us meaning to do this on purpose.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture”then?
This picture again shows harmony of our drinking culture, or having multiple people taking part in drinking shots at once. Taking shots allows people to feel part of our social structure in a easier method. However we can’t see any peer pressure in this picture, so we just assume the people are doing it on their own accord.

Print 7

This picture was more based on the legacy of the drinking game “Ring of Fire” which is extremely popular with uni students, as it’s one where you can have a laugh with everyone whilst trying to get people drunk. Now on my first shoots on digital, I did have these pictures involving playing cards (which the game usually has around the glass) but I found them to be too distracting when looking back on it really, as it made it too utilitarian as we could tell what was happening easily.
With this picture, it’s slightly harder to tell what is going on. You may ask are these liquids being placed on purpose? If so why? Does the drinker know this is happening? Again by only focusing on the shapes on what is happening, you can attach yourself on a human level, so you ask yourself these question about why this happening, which is the main point of this picture. It’s all about raising a question.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
I feel that this picture is more suited in the conflict role really, as mixing drinks with various amounts of alcohol is something that is frowned upon usually. And in this picture, you can’t see what the reason for this is at all. So you become desperate to know why this is going on. However this is the culture that uni students are in, so it is to be expected in the end.

Print 8

This picture is possibly the easiest to understand in what is happening throughout the picture, which is why it would probably be placed in the front. This time the background is slightly important for the context of the picture. Sometimes you might see shots be placed on a bar top, with other glasses around it. Yet you don’t get that idea of “uni drinking” really at all. That’s why the table the shot glasses are on seems like it is in a kitchen, which is something with a uni student would be more likely to do shots for “pre-drinking.”
The aim for this picture was to not over complicate it at all; I could have gone too a bar, but not only would it have been probably too dark, but with everything going around you wouldn’t be able to focus on the shots being poured at all.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
Yet again, another picture which I feel rests within the harmony area of our social structure, as shots are part of what the uni culture is when it comes to drinking. If you had never been to university before and didn’t know what went on in the social life, this picture would depict what happens regularly.

Print 9

I find this picture to be somewhat comedic, hence why I chose it. With shot’s you expect it to be done quickly and wouldn’t look very stylish at all. But in this picture, everything seems to have been reversed as it looks like the shots are being chinked together like someone might do with another drink. So it gives it this more respectable twinge on the pictures really, whilst how the hands hold the glasses, to me, make it look funny really.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
Yep you guessed it, another harmony picture here… But this time it’s simply based on the image itself. There’s nothing negative going on at all, so it would seem weird to say it was in conflict, when there is no conflict at all. the two subjects are taking part in the drinking, so it’s safe to say they are part of this culture.

Print 10

This is the final print I did, and might be the picture that could start of the series really.  This picture is probably the most bold out of the lot in what it is stating, but that’s why I took it, as I wanted to say what is going on. I felt this was the picture that would highlight “uni drinking” really as they would drink anything and everything if they could. So this picture was taken to highlight this fact, but at the same time it does separate itself from the rest of the series slightly with everything that is shown.
So how do these two pictures relate back to the theme of “Encountering Culture” then?
Yes finally, another conflict picture! This picture was designed and taken to be utilitarian, as I wanted to show the conflict of how overboard the uni culture can go when it comes to drinking, where no care is given at all to what is happening. But there is also conflict to how much is drunk in such a short time period by uni students on a regular period; but again, that is part of the culture…

In the end, I am pleased with how all of my pictures have come out in the end. They all relate back to the initial theme in the end in their own ways. And even though you can’t properly see it due to how the scans didn’t come out properly, the printing was very successful as I was able to get all my prints out successfully.

Assignment 1: Test shoot 3 – 150 MC

Contact sheet 3 copy

This was the final shoot I took, this time with the Mamiya RB67 due to the face that this time I could actually focus on various parts in the picture rather than being limited to only one area being in focus (which was the problem I had with the Mamiya 7ii)As you can see from the picture, I have highlighted the pictures that I feel will be the best ones to use for my final prints.

With the picture in the top line, I chose this one out of the others due to the angle it was taken at. With the others, with everything being in the picture, I would have to crop out certain parts which would mean having to zoom in on the picture. This would result in the quality deteriorating slowly, as the higher the enlarger head is, the quality begins to suffer slightly, which causes more grain to be shown in the images.
So by going for this one, I wouldn’t have to change anything at all, and could keep the image pretty much how it is at the moment (I could probably go outside the red rectangle really, as there isn’t much of a restriction at all to it.)

The picture on the second line was chosen over the others this time due to how the hand is holding onto the bottle. With the other picture, it seems as if the bottle is being laid on top of the hand, so it doesn’t have the look as if the person holding the bottle is going to drop it at all. In comparison, the other picture seems as if the bottle is slipping instead, making it more effective in my eyes.
For this picture it was vital in my eyes for the bottle to be held in the right way, as if it wasn’t then the wrong impression could be given completely, so when setting up for the picture it took a while to just get it just right.

The last picture was a choice between the last two pictures; the reason I went for the one with the two bottles is because of the background. In the second image you can see a radiator in the background, and whilst it isn’t too distracting to me honest, it downgrades the picture really as it’s so obvious. Whilst with the other picture, everything is much smoother and white in the background, so more focus is placed onto the drink instead with our eyes.
Like I said a while ago, I don’t want to over complicate my pictures with lots of stuff going on in the background. I need to make sure that the main focus is being shown clearly enough with no distractions, whilst not being too obvious in what my message is.

I finally think all of the pictures have addressed the theme at last fully; the “drinking culture” is being encountered via these pictures quite clearly. From the typical pictures you would see on the internet (which were too obvious and in your face), mine are more subtle, in the way that I haven’t shoved everything into the viewers face at once, and showing the theme in a gentle and subtle manner, whilst being somewhat obvious.

Assignment 1: Presentation – 150 MC

So after the Carolyn Lefley talk, I have begun to look at all of my prints and think about which ones are the best for me to use out of the others and where order I am going to present them in the end.
But one area that I haven’t really addressed so far is presentation, which is something important when it comes to my final pictures, as not only does it make them look much nicer and presentable, but it also relates to hoe we present our work.

Hans-Georg Gadamer had this idea about horizons, where you had the artists horizon, in which they saw their own vision or agenda for their work. And then you also had the Viewer’s horizon which was based on their memory, knowledge and/or experience. And that for our presentations, to make it as good as possible we had to get it between the two lines:

Artist’s ‘HORIZON’ – Vision/Ideas/Agenda
Golden area; where we want our presentations/work to be in

Viewer’s ‘HORIZON’ – Memory/Knowledge/Experience

I know for a fact that a lot of people were thinking about photo books or sketchbooks for their work, which is fair enough as it’s a presentation method that suits their work perfectly. However for me, my area of work is within drinking, which makes it much more difficult, as we have to remember that our presentation choices must reinforce the communication of my message or theme.

So whilst presenting the pressures of drinking and drinking culture, presenting my work in a book probably wouldn’t work the best, as the two methods don’t fit very well at all, as you wonder what the relation between the two is. So I started looking at a small wine box as a way in order to store my work, as then you would be able to relate both to alcohol so it would fit in-between the two horizons. But when I looked more into it and had a brief experiment with the box, I discovered that not only would I have to pull out some of the box to provide a flat surface, but at the end of it, it all looked quite gimmicky really.

There was nothing special about it at all I thought, as it simply just looked like the prints had just been placed in there, making it pretty much worthless. I am thinking on placing the final prints onto card to give some structure to the prints so they don’t bend as much.
But I am beginning to struggle to think about which method of presentation would be the best, as with drinking, is there really a right way to present? Or are they best just being shown on their own in the end?

Carolyn Lefley – 150 MC

  • BA Fine Art 97-2000, Coventry University
  • Early influence by Robert Rauschenberg
    • Famous for combine photography
    • “Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made”
    • Home – A lens to look at life, memory, identity
    • Also inspired by Gaston Bachelard – Poetics of Space
      • A home is a “topography of our intimate being”
      • To gain access to some homes, she had to approach home dealers during a transaction period of ownership, especially on houses that weren’t done up.
      • As a photographer we notices the little things, like a stand up comedian does
      • Carolyn noticed redundant telescopes on the coast (Viewpoint, 2001)
      • Next project was about how the television has become a “surrogate” part of the family
        • So she took pictures of room only lit by the dim of the television. Initially she tried doing it with people in the picture, but it looked too much like an advert
        • Thompson based film – medium format
        • Studied for a masters in photography at UWL (University of West London)
        • First project was called ‘Home’
        • Took pictures at the night-time, but initially tried to blur the pictures
        • Reason behind this project was that when you grow up, home isn’t really home any more
        • “Semi Detached” 2006
          • Looking at mirrored images from a same room, but in different houses
          • At first some may seem similar, but again it’s looking for the little differences
          • “Belonging” 2006 (Final Masters project)
          • Used eBay to look for old restoration doll houses
            • Ambiguity to the lighting – when can’t tell what time of the day it is when it is actually studio lighting
            • Used the Mamiya Z7 for the pictures; able to get clear pictures without loosing any focus/ depth of field like you would normally get with macro photography
            • Presented these in depth-frames (about 5-6cm deep) because as the pictures were dark, glass would have stopped us seeing the full picture
            • “Within” 2007
              • Started playing with the miniature and the giant
              • Toys in the children homes contrasted to a real house which would be shown in the background
              • Troika Editions (Website to look at if struggling about how to write about pieces of work or how to present maybe)
              • Fictional Space
              • A gallery on top of an industrial building that would present pictures
              • “Cosmogony” 11-13
                • Holton Lee Studio residency Sep 2010
                • Made her own sets, but it was too clinical
                • Photographers don’t tend to create something, we just photograph something already there
                  • Cosmology is all about the existence of the universe, how we got here etc.
  • The figures were scaled down too much; around 1/200th whereas the trees were about 1/20th
    • -> Places that would give you funding and access to areas for your projects
    • “Realm” 09-13
      • A digital double exposure (not done in-camera)
      • Started off as a landscape project, but still came back to the interior
      • The forest was to show the area that was untouchable, that we could see but couldn’t go.
      • A layering of realities
      • All bases on sites of myth
      • Part of the Timespan Museum who has funded for her for a project this summer of the excavation~ of a 200 year house
        • Wanted to look at the people who lived there, seeing as photography wasn’t invented then
        • Linked to the ‘Clearance’ Period
          • With ‘Finds’ she tried to go for an emotional response
          • Experimented with Cyanotypes
          • Also worked with portraiture as well with descendants of those that used to live there
            • Used the people to give a sense of scale towards the pictures
            • Another approach was a ‘Home within a home’
  • Key themes were: ‘If these stones could talk’, Diaspora (the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland), migration, Home and Belonging, Abandonment
  • Final pieces were pictures printed onto stones; inspired by archaeology
      • Used Matte Medium transfer, but it didn’t have that true effect

    Then decided to use liquid emulsion

    Looking back at the lecture, I thought her first work on the house wasn’t very appealing to be initially to me, but when she started introducing double exposure into her work I began to become more interested in her work. But the real aspect that caught my interest was the area of mythology. As someone who is into horror games based on myths and horrors, I thought this would be a really interesting area for me to look into at one point in the future.
    But another part from the talk was that she talked to us about editing, on the basis of photo manipulation as well as choosing which pictures we would use in the final pieces. I thought being told about how to properly edit, as well as the way we could present our work (such as what pictures would come first, be the stand out and end etc.) This was extremely useful for me with my current project, as it has made me think as to what order I would present my pictures in as well.