Tag: Macro

250MC: Trip to the Herbert History Section + Third Idea

As part of 250MC, to get us thinking more about the idea of site specific in Coventry, we went to the Herbert’s History section about Coventry to provide us some more context as to what happened here in the past, and to give us some more ideas/inspiration if needed. For me this was particularly needed, as I was beginning to struggle as to where my ideas could lead me next. I had managed to get up to scratch with the technical ideas, however I was lacking the backbone of a story.

The first area of interest for me was based on the history of Coventry’s football team. Last year I did some volunteering work with the club, so the idea of creating a piece on them was intriguing. As a football fan myself for Chelsea FC, a football clubs history is quite rich in various aspects that happen on the years. Compared to football today, in the 1960’s football was still popular, but yet it was more based on local grown players that were more idealistic in the idea of traditional football (today we look at teams that are more focused on buying the best players for the most amount of money, or the players that can produce great bits of skill; both which were non existent.)
For Coventry, it was more important period for them as they had recently gained promotion into the top division in the English league. For any club, this was a great achievement which showed off the status as a good club who could play football. However for Coventry, it was a high yet the beginning of a low, as they battled to avoid relegation in the seasons to come. So a decline in the leagues were on the cards for the club, as well as receiving top recognition.However this changed in 1987 when the club recorded their highest achievement to date, when they knocked out Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup to win the trophy for the first time. This created a massive gathering in the town when the club brought the trophy home.
Nowadays, the club isn’t struggling (even though it has had a few financial problems throughout the years) but also it isn’t doing brilliantly. Even though they have moved into a much bigger stadium, the fan support is mixed, however you still get the atmosphere that can’t be missed.

To see items such as the kits, older balls, programs etc, it does show a change in time. However I feel that this isn’t really a history section as such; really I just see it as giving some additional information that I didn’t really know. If I was to compare it to Chelsea’s, the difference is major as they cover every single major point in the club’s history, whereas here there is nothing. This exhibit did inform me though in brief parts, but not enough for me to feel confident in making a project out of it.

The second, and possibly the most interesting idea, was based on watches. To me, what stood out for me actually wasn’t the history, but more from the technical side. Seeing as I have delved into macro photography in an essence, but wanting to have more of a story running through the image. So I thought that with these, I could begin to look at the more intimate part of the watches possibly. But firstly I decided to look more at the history surrounding these watches, as they were pretty unusual.
In Victorian Coventry, watchmaking was an intricate part of society, as it was one of the most important industries at the time, with a rough estimate of 3500 workers being employed. These workers were chosen because to make a watch you had to be extremely skilled and patient as these were complex jobs; however on the flip side these were well paid jobs so competition was high for them. Most of these watches were all hand made as their wasn’t really any technology at the time (late 1800’s) in the small workshops that were located mainly in the Spon Street and Butts area. Afterwards the areas of Earlsdon and Chapelfields began to become well known for watch making as well. However towards the beginning in the 1900’s, factories in other countries, such as the USA, began to arise and make over millions of watches for a much more cheaper price as well in a quicker time period as well. As this began tot threaten jobs in the area, some of the local watchmakers tried to retaliate by setting up their own factories instead. The most successful one was Rotherham and Sons, who went on to employ over 500 workers, including women as well. However, this was set up too late for it to have any effect, with the business eventually collapsing in the 1920’s and dying out.

This was just a beginning point to look at for my new idea as I definitely think that there is something to examine here with regards to a story, as I think a narrative could be built up. However I feel like I need to do more research into the history first so that I can begin to build up a better well of knowledge before I go onto the next step in this process.


250MC: Macro artists

 After my talk with Anthony, he gave me a few artists to look at the delved into macro but in a different non-traditional way of things. In my previous pictures, I just went up front to the animals and took almost a portrait of them.

cropped-spider.jpg Sea snail

So instead I need to start looking at a different perspective through the lens. My older pictures were too commercially based, like they were going to be shown in a nature wildlife magazine. Rather, I need to start looking at a more artistic approach on things, especially on how they get close up and make it more interesting.

So the first person I looked at was Nadège Mériau; she is a French artist (Nadegemeriau.com 2013) who wants to “explore the possibility of creating fictional spaces that encompass the visceral and the sublime… reflecting on the interweaving of biological and creative processes” (Uk.linkedin.com n.d.)

The work that took my fancy was the Au Centre De La Terre series. A series that seems to depict another world in a different galaxy, we are transfixed by the amount of detail that has been captured. But these landscapes are in fact made from food such as bread, meat and other items (Tepper, 2012.) When you realize this, the images become very disorientated (Hemsworth, 2012) as we begin to try and get our head around this.

274(Mériau, 2011)

What I find so interesting with this work is how close and personal we get with the objects; as we aren’t told what we are looking at, we are drawn into this surreal landscape. What makes this so much more intriguing is that every one of her pictures were taken on Medium format (Pumpkins, Grottoes and Cold Allotments, n.d.) so that when it came to printing she was able to make them massive, enabling the viewer to almost be inside the image.

Looking at her images, I have begun to understand the idea of turning macro into an art; it is all about turning the little things into something that is not recognizable but is obvious that has some meaning towards it. It’s about letting the image tell a story to the viewer.
Obviously though there are some limits to this; you don’t want to make the image fully unrecognizable as then the viewer would be left confused as to what exactly you are trying to show. If we take Mériau’s work, we get the sense of this other world that we have never seen before, so we begin to make stories about this place. (second image of pumpkin here) (Mériau, 2011)
If she had zoomed in on the food instead, even though we wouldn’t know what it is, the effect wouldn’t have been as appealing I feel, nor as impressive.

Another artist who is as equally important in this idea of creating a narrative behind his pictures is David Moore with his The Commons series. He was granted entry into the commons in the early mornings and was able to photograph the unseen and overlooked areas. In this book, Moore wanted to show “how an environment can act as a metaphor for wider societal issues” (Cornerhouse.org, n.d.)
What he did was bringing the overlooked details in “razor sharp focus.” (Gavin, n.d.) In one way, you could say that Moore is showing off the evidence he has found in his three years.

One of the more interesting things that I noticed about the images are how he takes the items we commonly see in the room, and twists them into something unrecognizable for a background shot for the other items, the ones we would pass in the street and completely ignore.

138(Moore, 2002)

However I feel that the images, which focused more on the smaller, more hidden objects, produced a more powerful response compared to his other pictures such as shots of the chairs/benches. I feel like as they are seen so often, even having these close ups, they don’t trigger anything at all. Even though Moore spent 3 years in The Commons, getting to know what goes on and who sits where, we as the viewer don’t have this same connection.
As there is a lack of text when we see the picture son his website, the lack of background info makes these shots much harder to connect to. Whereas the other shots provide more context as to what is happening.

However, this doesn’t stop the pictures from looking very aesthetically pleasing though, just like Mériau’s images. However looking at the two artists, it shows to me that beginning to look at more of the story and meaning behind the images are quite important. You don’t want to say everything in one go, but you almost have to give the viewers something to let them take up the rest themselves. So really, when it comes to making the images, looking at the background info to create them is vitally important.

Hemsworth, M. (2012). Cosmic Terrain Photos Made From the Strange Architecture of Food | WIRED. [online] WIRED. Available at: http://www.wired.com/2012/09/nadege-meriau-food-caves/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2014].

Gavin, M. (n.d.). The Commons Review. 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: http://www.photoshot.com [Accessed 20 Oct. 2014].

Moore, D. (2000). Scratches caused by heels: Opposition backbenches, 26 June 2000. [image] Available at: http://davidmoore.uk.com/projects/the-commons ?imagenum=11 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2014].

Mériau, N. (2011) Au Centre De La Terre II [online] available from <http://nadegemeriau.com/viewGallery?gallery=25&image=307&gt; [17 October 2014]

Mériau, N. (2011). Post Ocular, [image] Available at: http://nadegemeriau.com/viewGallery?gallery=25&image=274 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2014].

Nadegemeriau.com, (2013) About – Nadège Mériau [online] available from <http://nadegemeriau.com/about&gt; [17 October 2014]

Pumpkins, Grottoes and Cold Allotments. (n.d.). 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: http://nadegemeriau.com/_uploads/article/15.pdf [Accessed 17 Oct. 2014].

Tepper, R. (2012). PHOTOS: The Weird Worlds Inside Your Food. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/nadege-meriau-inside-food_n_2322948.html [Accessed 17 Oct. 2014].

Uk.linkedin.com, (n.d.) Nadege Meriau – United Kingdom | Linkedin [online] available from <http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/nadege-meriau/82/70/3b5&gt; [17 October 2014]

Talking to lecturers

So in order to get an outside opinion on my work so far, I decided to speak with my lectures so that not only could I give them an update on what I was looking at, but also so that I could get some opinions and criticism on my work.

I spoke to Anthony first as I wanted his opinion more so on my actual pictures rather then the idea at the minute as it was still early stages. With the whole project being based on the history of the sites, I personally wanted to get more of a story being shown in my pictures, which I was lacking in already, plus I was struggling to see how I could begin to show this in my work.

Anthony said that on the technical side, the pictures were good and it was obvious that I knew what I was doing. However, like my own thoughts, he said that really the pictures told him nothing at all. Only the main spider and the sea snail offered some sort of narrative, but the others were something that you would just see in a National Geographic magazine.

The thing with macro photography is that it is such a common theme to go in the photography world; it no longer stands out as much (unless you have a stunning image.) SO he suggested that if I were to go down the macro route, I would have to think about it differently; with the snail shot it was quite obscure as to what it was plus what was going on. What I had to look at was making things slightly more obscure so that the viewer had to work out things more on their own.

Afterwards, I went to speak to Caroline as well, but this time it was more based on my actual idea to see where I could head next. Again, like with my pictures I was slowly beginning to reach a wall in where I could head next with my ideas. Trying to base the idea of the history of a place and getting a story behind it is quite hard for wildlife I found, as it was more documentary based.
Caroline agreed with my thoughts here, saying that as a starting point it’s a good idea and it shows I can work with the technical part of things. However there was a lack of research that could be done on the site specific part which would affect my grade; so she suggested that I head to the Herbert as they had an History of Coventry section which could give me more of a better idea as to what I could move onto next.

250MC: Research into Macro

If I am to go down the route of Macro photography, I need to do some more research into the actual technique itself. This is because to get the best images, I need to take into account every action that may determine what can be the difference between a good picture and an excellent picture.

So what actually is macro photography? The technical way of thinking about it is that it is close up photography of an object so that you make the size of the object is greater then the real life size. This is commonly known as 1:1 size, although it can go bigger sizes such as 1:20. This is known as the reproduction ratio.

One of the major problems with macro photography is that the depth of field has to be taken into consideration in every shot. When focusing onto the subject, the depth of field becomes extremely small; so one small turn can make everything go out of focus. This is why you use manual focusing with macro so that you can avoid it focusing onto something else. Being able to use this ring makes everything so much easier (Puntti 2014) This means that you have to use a smaller aperture in order to keep a level depth of field, resulting in either: a slow shutter, higher ISO or good lighting levels. Another way to counter this is by using a flashgun so that you can use a higher shutter speed, as well as a higher aperture. (Rockwell 2014)

One of the elements of macro is to frame the type of shot you want in the first place; if you are looking at an inanimate object, then you can have plenty of time to frame and get your composition right. However if you are looking at animals, then you have a short period of time to work in (depending on how quick the animals are.) So this is where you have to try and wait for the action shot to happen with the animal so that it will make it so much more interesting. (Phillips 2004)

This leads onto an element of patience with your photos. If you go head first into taking an image, you will most likely be disappointed with what you take. Macro is almost like a skill, and it takes time to perfect everything you do. (jrista♦ 2011) What can help with this is by using a tripod for the pictures, as this will enable a steady picture overall, but also will allow you to spot any changes that may be happening around you.

Finally, its important to be slightly creative and having unusual angles. With macro, you tend to see the same repetitive shot over and over again, making it almost a cliché shot. So it’s worthwhile to think about where you are shooting and how you want to shoot. (Exposureguide.com n.d)

Macro is one of those areas that requires a whole lot of patience in order to get that shot of what you want, but it also requires a lot of technical precision so that every little detail will be shown in the picture.

Exposureguide.com, (n.d.) Photographing Insects | Close-Up Photography Tips [online] available from <http://www.exposureguide.com/photographing-insects.htm&gt; [14 October 2014]

jrista♦, (2011) What Methods Do Macro Photographers Use To Get So Close To Butterflies, Bees, Insects And The Like? [online] available from <http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/7422/what-methods-do-macro-photographers-use-to-get-so-close-to-butterflies-bees-in&gt; [14 October 2014]

Phillips, F. (2004) Beautiful Bugs: How To Do Macro Insect Photography [online] available from <http://www.beautifulbugs.com/beautifulbugs/howto.htm&gt; [14 October 2014]

Puntti, T. (2014) Macro Photography Tips [online] available from <http://www.slrphotographyguide.com/blog/macro/macro-tips-images.html&gt; [14 October 2014]

Rockwell, K. (2014) How To Shoot Macro [online] available from <http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/macro.htm&gt; [14 October 2014]

250MC: Initial trip and talk about photos I took and interest

To start off the project, I decided that the best thing to go and do would be to actually visit the sites themselves, but go through each individual map by itself. The reasoning behind this was that if I just limited myself to one individual area, I might possibly miss out on other scenery or landmarks that might give me other ideas.

So I started my journey at the top of map 1, which happened to be at Allesley Park, one of the areas I was already looking at. I started in the top left and made my way down, noting anything that was particularly interesting.

One of the first things that took my fancy was the old people’s home that now locates on what used to be the Deer Park. What I found interesting is how many of those living there would possibly remember of what this park used to be like and any memories they possibly could have. However a complication with that would be that possibly some of them might not even be from Coventry. That would mean I would be very limited on who I could talk to.

Whilst walking through the actual part itself, I came across an unusually large spider dangling from a tree towards the ground. This caught my eye straight away, as it wasn’t something I expected to literally almost run into. So I decided to wait for it to reach the ground and let direction that it wanted to go in, but making sure I wouldn’t disturb it.

Eventually, I got on the ground and began taking pictures of the spider, and its movement and body intrigued me, as it wasn’t the usual spider you may see in homes. I also think that the spider actually sensed that I was there and eventually stopped dead still, allowing me to get a bit closer and take a picture of it. I think that by not rushing into things helped it keep calm, which allowed me to take the following picture:


After looking at the pictures, a new idea sprang to mind, which incorporated the other parks as well. The idea is based on macro photography of the wildlife in the park. Since the redevelopment of it with more tree’s being planted (Coventry.gov.uk 2014) as well as there being a small garden and pond being located in the park, I suspect that this would be a host to a whole ecosystem of wildlife would be available.
So take advantage of this bit of fortune, I went around looking for more places that might hold habitats for some insects. Primarily this was leaves of plants and in the soil.

What was important for these shots was maintaining a sharp eye on everything, including the places that you would normally knock off. This was important especially in a shot like this, in which I was lucky to spot this tiny insect, but also another visitor at the same time:


As I looked at each individual picture, my interest and excitement was beginning to grow as I realised this was something that I was getting very excited with. The technique was something that had practiced before and knew what I was doing with, but also getting in close to these animals piqued my curiosity for what they did in their lives and what was happening at that very moment.
I proceeded to then go to the small pond that was situated in the park as well to see what might. This was slightly more difficult as there was a lack of space to manoeuvre around in. However, I noticed some movement in the water and managed to spot a water snail moving around. This was a more difficult shot to take as the sun was blocked out via the trees; this didn’t make things easier with that the further you zoom in on an object, the further it takes for light to reach the sensor, making the picture more darker.

Sea snail

However I did manage to get a decent picture in the end of the snail; I think this is quite an interesting image as in the end we don’t exactly know what we are looking at or what is going on, adding an element of mystery towards the picture.

After I took a few more pictures, I decided to walk on down in the direction of the other maps, still keeping an eye out for anything else that might of took my fancy. I took a few more pictures of some of the wildlife that I spotted on my walks, however due to a lack of tripod I was unable to get a good close up due to handshake on the camera.

I also looked at St Mary’s Guildhall as well to try and get a feel for my other idea on the history of the building and the people that occupied it. However looking around the rooms, I wasn’t struck by the whole place compared to when I looked at the website.
I think the reasoning behind this was that even though there was a whole surplus on history that could be delved into, I was struggling to visualise what exactly I could use with the rooms to make an interesting image at the end.
SO I believe that I will scrap this idea in favour for the wildlife shots as I think I could make a more interesting and appealing product out of them in the end.

Coventry.gov.uk, (2014) Allesley Park – Parks In Coventry – Coventry City Council [online] available from <http://www.coventry.gov.uk/directory_record/273/allesley_park&gt; [7 October 2014]