Tag: Photography

1st Week!

What a week its been! Everything has built up to the first classes of the Fall term (or the Autumn Term for those back home in UK).

I’ve figured that as well as doing the monthly blogs, I might do a weekly blog as well detailing everything I have gotten up to the week in a more condensed form, leaving my vlogs to me a more overview sight of the month!

So here goes…


Monday:

So the first class to begin the term off was my Photography, Art, and the Media: The 19th Century.  To start off the class, we decided to watch two film to make us think about the age old question: What is Photography? The films to help the grey brain cells were:

  • Ulysses: Based on a picture that was somewhat spontaneous, the director looked at how the memory affected those that were part of the original photo and how much they could remember of it, whilst also looking at the other historical events that were happening at the same time.
  • Nostalgia: Looking at the pictures taken back by Hollis Frampton, we are taken down a journey with personal comments made on each individual picture whilst they are being burnt; however there is a slight twist to it (watch the film to find out!)

Both of these films were a great start in getting the whole group to think not critically, but offer a variety opinions not only on the film but towards the question “What is Photography?”


Tuesday:

Oh yes. The class I was pumped for. This was the beginning of the Colour Printing class, taught by Darin Mickey (have a look at his work if you can!) I was quite excited for this class as it was going to push me into a new limit of analogue I have always wanted to try. Shooting in colour isn’t the hardest, but being able to go into a fully functioning colour lab? It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass down.

And although we didn’t go straight into printing this week, we are given quite a few tips. For example, with negative printing (this would be colour and Black+White shooting) you want to over pose the prints more as it allows it to be dealt easier in printing.

This can be done by either going up an aperture or shutter stop. However, an easier way is that if you are using a light meter, by changing the ISO settings on it, it will automatically give you that 1 stop change.

E.g.

A 400 ISO —> Shoot at “200 ISO”

So now its onto shooting more rolls of film in order to start printing!

In the afternoon, we had our first Seminar class. As we were in smaller groups, it was an opportunity to get to know each other a bit better, with everyone talking about their interests, their aspirations etc. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say, giving a deeper insight into them all. Afterwards, we started looking through each others work, but in a different critique method: instead of explaining their work, we as the viewers had to decipher the work with no help and make our own interpretations on it, providing interesting responses.


Wednesday:

This was the first lecture with the Dean of the School, Fred Ritchin. This was possibly the one class I had no idea of what to expect, apart from that I was prepared for a lot of information to be heading my way.

And I was right! In three hours, which seemed to fly by so quickly, we had covered so much material my brain was hurting. The conversation started talking off about hyper text (non linear narrative) and how it can begin a collaboration with the reader, something which the digital is good at doing. This then led on to a conversation about digital and analogue and the restrictions between the two and how a multitude of ideas can be implemented differently.

We was introduced to a site Fred used to run called pixelpress.org which should the capabilities of the digital in which analogue could not do, and in how text can provide a different meaning to the image as well. Do have a look at the website, as it will definitely start making you think about how important text is…


Thursday:

This was the start of my video class. I know I have already done video in the past, however I personally del that there was much more that I could lear from this, especially in terms of editing the video to an acceptable standard.

So we was introduced to some of the tools in order to give more steady shots (fluid tripods, shoulder rigs) as well as some of the better external microphones that we had on offer for us to use. And it was drilled in that with DSLR’s, the internal microphone is rubbish, so using an external microphone is always the route you want to head along.

We was also given our assignment for the week which was to shoot a video on out daily routine, and we was advised to follow the 5 second rule (don’t remain on a frame for more then 5 seconds.) To help us understand this more, we was shown then short film The Big Shave by Sorcasse (again something I would highly recommend but be warned, very graphic!)  to show us how we could shoot a similar video.


Friday:

The class where I was different whoop!

So this was the first class for Future Storytelling and the main thing was that stories can be told however we want them to, whether it be via Transmedia (art of telling one story over multiple media where each is unique) and Multimedia (different forms of media to create powerful stories that can communicate.)

However to make a more powerful story sometimes, it is best to get the obvious out of the way in order to surprise both the audience and you, with surprise being a way for the brain to release dopamine to the body.

We was also introduced to the different types of User experiences out there:

  • Visceral design
  • Behavioural design
  • Reflective design

And finally, to finish off the week, we had our Digital technical seminar to round off the afternoon. This was just a quick introduction and recap over Colour theory and how the Primary and Complimentary colours work together and how it helps with colour correction.

For example:

If there are 256 different shades of RGB (primary colours), we could check to see if we have a correct exposure on an area by clicking a grey area to make sure that there are equal amounts there, such as R= 119 G= 119 B=119.

If one is unequal, then you have to change the others so that you can make everything balanced out

This led onto us talking about histograms and the actual importance they hold when we go and take photographs. The rule of thumb for getting a good capture is to get your histogram more to the right (e.g. making it more over exposed.) Now this may seem strange to do, however this allows the highlights to have more information stored in them and giving more subtlety in the tonal ranges. So when it comes to editing the picture, you can avoid loosing any information in any area if you decided to darken the image in RAW for example.

I also learnt the use of the HDR feature as well! If you are in a situation where you cannot change your histogram at the risk of loosing information in your image, you can use the HDR feature to give a more rounded exposure that will give the information in all areas of the picture by combining multiple images of different exposures.


So yeah, that was just a general overview of what I got up to this week… A lot isn’t it? There was more I could have included, but all I have mentioned was probably the more interesting stuff I think! Next week will begin to get more serious, and I can’t wait for it as it means more information is gonna be chucked at me and I so ready to absorb it all! Until next time!

The Move, Adjustment and Settling

When they said it was going to be intense, they weren’t kidding. And that even before I moved to the USA!

The past year has been a blur of sorts. It was hard to believe that this time last year, I was even considering the notion of studying in the USA. Of course I had the option of places in Europe, but obviously I had to be the odd one out and be different. So begun the process of talking to lectures about advice and opinions, before I settled on trying out The International Centre of Photography in New York.

This was the beginning stages of what was a long and tiring process; never before I had to write a proposal of my work at such a high level of writing. Yet I still managed it; I think it was down to my determination of getting everything right and not leaving anything to chance helped. As well as getting lecturers to proof read it all!
Soon, everything had been handed in, and began the waiting period of hearing anything.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting.

*ping*

When the e-mail came through stating that I had got my place in the programme, I screamed. In a restaurant. Yeah I was quite excited… But still, the feelings that were bursting through me was unreal. Words could not explain it at all. But now it was real, it was time to start prepping for the travels. And that meant getting my visa (however that’s a story I don’t want to get into as I fear for my blood pressure rising…)

Time flew by, and before I knew it, I was leaving the house at 4am. The flight was how flights should be; smooth and steady. But the excitement was building up inside me more and more, eager to actually start this new adventure. In the first week of being in The Big Apple, my family and I started the basics of moving into my accommodation and getting the essentials for me to live in some sort of student way (don’t worry I bought all the snacky stuff later on!)
We also planned the journey I would take in the mornings to actually get to ICP, so I had an understanding of where I needed to head to so I wouldn’t get lost (although the travelling system is fairly straight forward there.)

And then I was left all by myself. It was emotional saying goodbye to my parents as we all knew how big and life changing this could be for me. Tears were shed by everyone, par my brother who seemed more interested in Youtube at the time (although I’m hoping there was some emotion later on though.)
I know that for the past two years I have essentially lived on my own in Coventry, but this was different. Living alone, in a different country thousands of miles away? It’s the same but not the same. And I will always miss home, that’s a given.

But I wasn’t given much time to dwell on that as the orientation period was starting. For 3 weeks.

Yes you read that right, 3 weeks. And it may seem like a long time. but with the amount covered (darkrooms, DML, printing, Library etc) it was needed. And having it all spaced out helped as well, as it allowed everything to be taken in. What I found to be very interesting (and also a good way to bond people from the different courses) was the Scavenger Hunt. Rather then your traditional hunt of finding items, we were given set themes that we could interpret fully and do whatever we wanted with.
And the ability to be free and shoot whatever was amazing, and I felt like that I came out with some interesting shoots. But the main thing was that I had a fun time shooting, which is the main thing. Here are some of the images I shot:

Edit1_46 Edit1_47 spirit Edit1_1 Edit1_25 Edit1_36 Edit1_41

So as I type this out, I’m prepping for my first proper week at ICP. This is where I’m gonna be starting all my classes in full and start my journey into learning so much. However, I don’t want to bore you all with writing about everything! I have created a youtube channel where I will be making monthly vlogs at least saying what I have learnt etc. I’ve already shot a video about my classes and scavenger hunt, so click on the video below to find out more (when I publish it)!

The Beginning! August-September Vlog

Until in a months time people…

250MC: Initial response

Acknowledging that the paradigm for photography is shifting, and the future of traditional photographic careers are uncertain.”

The use of photography has undoubtedly changed in a quite obvious way. In a time period in which film was used all the time to create sharp, contrast images, the notion of digital was seen as rubbish. However in today’s world digital is seen as the norm for any emerging photographer, with very little still using film.
Even when Kodak created the first digital camera in 1975 (Dan 2012) they held back from using this technology because they feared it would harm their business. Instead, the digital age blossomed and provided in such a way that more opportunities for photographers were created.

As digital natives, we are used to the norm of DSLR’s in our practice, yet there is technology coming out that is making these cameras seem old and not needed as well. Film cameras have such high resolutions now that you can take a still from one and it will be a crisp image.
Yet sometimes sticking to the key basics in everything can still provide amazing results, and older techniques are still used to the maximum effect

So for this project, I believe that I have to keep this project based on something that I want to do and that takes my interest, rather then trying to keep into the folds of what others may want me to do.

Bibliography:

Dan, A. (2012) Kodak Failed By Asking The Wrong Marketing Question [online] available from <http://www.forbes.com/sites/avidan/2012/01/23/kodak-failed-by-asking-the-wrong-marketing-question/&gt; [7 October 2014]

Summer Work – Re-do Project

Last year in the 154MC module, we were asked to do an extra-curricular activity project, which could be based on everything. Mine was based off Slender Man, but at the time I was still in the beginning stages of planning those pictures, as I wanted to make it into a project for me. So the pictures that I made were simply introductory and planning pictures so that I would begin to get a feel for what I exactly wanted to do in the project.

So in order to give myself a better understanding for the project, then a lot further research would be needed in all areas

The first starting point then, as in other projects, would be to look at the origins. In 2009, in the Something Awful forums, a photography competition of a sort was created; a user by the name Victor Surge created an Internet meme depicting a thin, unnaturally tall man with a blank and usually featureless face, wearing a black suit.
In his picture, the man was seen hidden in the trees in a busy children’s park.

The inspiration for this came from the idea of the “shadow people”, paranormal beings that have supernatural powers from apparently the shades of the underworld.

When reading up on the shadow people, you can begin to see the links made that can be contributed towards Slender Man; both have the ability to produce an onset of hallucinations and paranoia, all that come down to psychological problems.

Since the introduction of this meme, many people began to actually turn this piece of fiction into real life, as many fingers were pointed to historical references, which seemingly seemed to reflect the Slender Man.

  • One of the earliest ones is a cave painting found in Brazil that dates back as far as 9000BC, which depicts a large man with tentacles leading a child by its hand away.
  • After this, the next reference is in Egyptian Hieroglyphic, which again showed a person with multiple limbs
  • Perhaps one of the more talked about references has to be Der Ritter, where a multi-limbed skeleton is shown fighting. Freckenberg, the artist, was more known for his painting on human anatomy, so this was very unusual for him. Some say the skeleton was to represent the plague that was ravaging Europe at the time (1500’s) but others think that Freckenberg was trying to represent “Der Großmann” otherwise known as the Tall Man. This was a legend that used to take bad children who wondered into the woods late at night.
  • In both Romanian and English history there are references to a Tall or Tree man, again with references to children being kidnapped and killed.

As depicted in the “history” (some of it has been changed/photoshopped in order for people to create this history) Slender Man has specific behavioral patterns. Some of this is creating pure fear into his victims as he taunts them by visiting them from time to time, letting them see his face, almost a psychological thrill for him.

SO with all this history made from the forums, it inevitably blew up via social media, presumably the only way that it became so popular; this is turn allowed various YouTube channels to create online video series that were based off the Slenderman, with one of the most famous being Marble Hornets.
This series looked into the life of a video director called Alex who was seemingly being haunted by Slender Man, with the episodes delving into the history of Alex and his friends as to some of their sudden disappearances. What made this series so famous was that it followed the lore very well as to what the Slenderman is, yet making it their own in a way though.

However, like most things, there is a negative with these things; and recently, the thought of Slender being real has had some serious consequences in real life. On May 31st, two 12 year olds were reported to have stabbed one of their friends 19 times on the basis that they wanted to become proxies (slaves of the Slender Man) and to actually see him and prove that he is real.
Sadly, this isn’t the only case; recently there have been more of these attacks where young children or teenagers have attacked love ones or friends in these attacks after reading up on Slender Man.
The main reason behind all of these incidents is that all the information is easily locatable online for anyone to see of any age; some people put it down to the fact that as humans, we are more likely to believe in the unbelievable. If we are presented with hard facts about something, the fear factor is lessened in most people; yet if we are told about something that we know that can’t be real, yet there are claims, this fresh fear in increased to the point that we start to believe (I myself have been one of those people.)

Yet these videos just weren’t the end of the Slender Man push; these myths became so popular, some game developers decided to take advantage and create games to push this fear to the next level.
The idea was very simple; you are stuck in a forest with no way of getting out, with the only solution being that you have to collect 8 pages to win, but for every page you would get, Slender would become more aggressive in trying to capture you. Simple, yet effective. The hysteria caused was massive, with more people becoming drawn into the hype. And it increased and increased to create another game, again with more hype caused by it.

And it was really these games that caused the start of this project. I had never heard of Slender before, and when I was first introduced to the game, I was hooked at first with fear, then competition and finally into fascination. I started to read up on all of the lore behind it to quench this thirst for knowledge.

And then with my friends, who enjoyed the game as well, we played our own real life version of it, which was when I discovered that it would make a good project to take in, as most people created fan art of Slender, and no real proper projects. SO this made me more determined to carry out the project to offer something different.

For the actual shoot, it was much more difficult then I had imagined it to be. To make it as realistic as possible, we went into a forest to get that background look into everything. However, when it got later, the trees actually blocked out all the lot rendering it hard to get any natural dark photos as flash had to be used to get the camera to properly focus.
This meant that the subject was clearly lit up when walking around, however the background was covered in more harsh shadows. This was problematic for me as it was becoming harder to get the picture that I was seeing with my eye on my camera.
So I decided to change things up a bit by using my iPhone camera; the reason behind this was that the phone was simplistic in taking pictures of what it sees rather then you changing all the settings.

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This was much more in tune when it came for me taking the homage pictures of the game itself, as I was able to get the lighting to show everything that was important without loosing any detail at all. This is important as if I only used minimal lighting, it would have been near impossible to get Slender in due to the moonlight being blocked out, creating a darkness around the whole area.
What also made it more interesting was the noise created in the pictures; one of the myths that come with the Slender Man is that when you come closer to it with electrical equipment, he creates a disturbance with anything you may be using causes static.

Distortion Slender 1

Overall with these pictures, I was pleased with them as for a first attempt at something that was new to me; they have come out quite well. However though, not all of the pictures, in my opinion, are up to standard. A lot of these pictures are quite basic and are more in line with the game itself. For me to push it out that little bit further, I think I have to go down the lines of the proper myths that surround the Slenderman.
I think there are other areas of interest I have to look at such as lighting in films (Friday 13th is one that I will have to look at) so that I can fine tune everything down into a couple of pictures that really do stand out massively.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27776894

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Slender_Man

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/The_Tulpa_Effect

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Quantum_Theory

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Canon

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/06/03/the-complete-terrifying-history-of-slender-man-the-internet-meme-that-compelled-two-12-year-olds-to-stab-their-friend/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/30/the-story-of-slenderman-the-internets-own-monster/

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/slender-man

http://time.com/2817725/slender-man-killing/

http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Slender_Man

151 MC: Amateur vs Professional

Over the many years, more people have been able to take part in photography. In the time of Fox Talbot, only the rich could afford the camera, plates, chemicals etc to take pictures. Nowadays, there are more opportunities for amateurs to take photos. And this had led to a rise in digital photography, leading almost to a “death” of analog photos, as people tend to avoid it.

Erik Kessels installation of 24 hours of Flickr pictures uploaded shows us how many pictures are uploaded; it almost shows how photography has now changed to being so open and access, it takes away the special feeling of a photo as we are now used to seeing photos all the time.

However though, the way we consume things everyday has also changed the way we see things. For example, in past wars there have been iconic pictures, yet in the current war of Iraq there is no singular image that sums up the war. Perhaps this is how various ways of media show different ways.

A Paradigm Shift: A change in assumptions, a new way of ordering and making sense of things (Thomas Kuhn, 1962)

So what is the role of the professional within 21st century photography?

  • Becoming Specialised
  • Keeping up with current technology
  • Placing yourself in your audience

With some amateur photographers today, Corinne Vionnet shows that even though amateur photographers can take pictures everyday of objects, places etc. but still make it different. E.g. with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there may be 100’s of pictures that are very similar, yet Corinne as a visual artist has been able to change something we see everyday into another picture that we appreciate.

Martin Parr talks about how amateur photography takes so many pictures on phones, cameras etc. they don’t actually experience what they are looking at. The idea of taking a picture of everything, it almost destroys the motion of seeing/experiencing.

Assignment 1: My first pictures – 150 MC

So instead of looking at artists straight away, I wanted to get straight into taking pictures of social pressures. At this point, it’s worth saying that there is no idea running behind the pictures; it is just me trying out a few tests.
1451 edit

So for our final pieces, everything has to be done from analogue (e.g. from the darkroom) so it’s unlikely there is going to be any colour at all. And in some way that is quite beneficial for me, as I feel that from the above image, when it is colour it seems to… cheerful almost? the bright colours doesn’t help at all drawing our attention to the serious fact at state here.

1451 edit_1

Whereas when we put it into black and white, it instantly turns more serious. Perhaps this is from the idea sticking our head that when someone wants to portray something serious, being in negative always places sadness into the viewer (examples of this could be TV adverts when they might show black and white parts to highlight a serious point -> A way to make an emotional point.)
But moving back onto the picture…it’s quite weak really in my opinion. Firstly the facial expression is just wrong, as it seems like the subject is trying not to laugh but be serious at the same time. And in that it makes it quite comedic to look at, so that takes away the serious aspect. But also I don’t like the positioning of the hand as well. It’s way to low down and towards the edge, its not in our face at all when it should be. The cigarette is the main focus as it should look like it’s being passed towards the camera. Yet even that doesn’t work well with how it is being held. It looks like the subject is holding it in his hands rather then wanting to pass it on.

Relating back to the theme, I don’t feel like this explains “Encountering Culture” really that well at all. Yes, smoking is part of culture, but the image doesn’t make sense as you can”t tell what on earth is going on really. It just looks like the cigarette is being held up.

1457 edit

In contrast though, this picture works better. The face this time is turned away with a non-interested expression on the subject, as if he doesn’t care what is happening. It’s a more natural look towards the subject, but yet also we are focused on what is going on in a more serious manner. This is boosted by the fact that the hand is much closer towards the lens (although I think it could get even closer, almost in the middle of the body) so our eyes are drawn towards it.
Yet here is were the problems begin. As a non-smoker, I don’t know how one would share/give a lit cigarette to another person. I can only guess people have different ways of doing it. And this way (which is being shown) just doesn’t work for me at all. In my eyes, it looks more like the arm is raised for the person to take another drag of the cigarette. In some way though, I can see it, but it’s not too powerful at all for me.

In this picture, again relating back to the theme this picture works a bit better as it looks like the cigarette is being held up to the viewer, but it’s not really too powerful at all, not relatable at all.

Drug Test 2

I then decided to look at maybe the idea of taking drugs (Don’t worry, it’s icing sugar being used here!!!) With this first picture, I wanted it to look like someone was regretting taking this drug by having their head in the arms, a typical expression of regret…or tiredness to some people!
Certainly the black and white colour makes this picture work much better, as it has this quite serious tone with it. Someone could look at this photo and see what is going on straight away, and they would be asking what has happened.
My only problem with this picture is that it’s looks way to set up in my opinion; as if it has come straight out of a movie scene. It’s so stereotypical, you can’t take it seriously at the same time. And that’s the problem, as these pictures need to remain serious.

In this picture, the theme is seen somewhat clearly, as it looks like the person is taking part in the culture of taking drugs, but seems to be regretting it. But at the end it just shows a person with his head on the table, so it’s not really special at all.

Drug test

This picture though… I really like it. We can tell what’s going on in the picture from just the few pieces here and there: head bowed down, powder in the hand, a tube in the other hand. We can tell what the person is thinking…or do we? What I think is very powerful in this picture is the head being bowed, we can’t tell what is going on on the person’s face. With facial expressions, we can tell what a person is planning to do or is thinking to do with certain little movements.
With no sign of this face, we are somewhat anxious to know what the next move is going to be. What will the person choose? And this is intensified I think by how the lighting just falls around the body of the subject, as if to say everything else is the background is useless and we need to focus on what is happening now.
The only thing which just puts the picture down is how the head is suddenly cut off though. It would be so much better if we could see the whole head, as it would look aesthetically much better.

Out of the lot, this picture I feel shows the theme the best; again we see this person that looks like they are about to take drugs, showing that they are part of this culture. It works the strongest out of the lot, but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to improve it massively, as so far it is still simple.

Assignment 2: Diane Arbus and the others final thoughts! – 150MC

So after looking more into Sally Mann and Elinor Carucci, I have certainly began to see the similarities and differences between the three of them.

Starting off with Sally Mann, I believe her work is more exploitive than Arbus’ on a completely different level. Now, this may be because the nature of her pictures (naked children in pictures could be seen a child pornography by some) is different from Arbus. But still. There is a line, and Mann does cross it with her pictures, where Arbus doesn’t even come close. But that’s from a view of today. When Arbus was alive, it’s most likely her pictures did cross the line.

Diane 2 [1]Sally Mann 2 [2]
But looking more specifically at ‘A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C, 1965′ and ‘Virginia at 4, 1989’, a question comes to mind. Is there a difference between seeing a grown adult, who knows more about the body, naked on a picture compared to a child, with no knowledge of the body and is quite carefree, naked? Where is the line in both pictures??

So we then move onto Carucci, a more modern-day example of exploitation. Her work is very similar in the theme of exploitation but this time its more on a personal level. Her pictures are quite intimate and, to some extent, push the boundaries of modern-day society as well.
But what makes Carucci differ from Arbus slightly is that the pictures are from her family only, so she has more control over what happens. But if we keep on the idea of exploitation… well it’s interesting, because Carucci photographs things which we see on a day-to-day basis. So we tend not to be shocked by these things at all, whereas Arbus was taking pictures of those that society wasn’t used to be seeing and not accepting off. So there is a big difference between things, but that could be down to how society has changed over the years massively, where thoughts and other issues have been addressed and accepted.

At the end of the day though, I think Arbus has definitely changed photography slightly. She has allowed photographers to venture into the unknown and that which we are scared off, and I think it’s now widely accepted in the community. This is why Carucci has not faced that much criticism with her work at all, because we have come to expecting these sorts of pictures really, whereas in the days of Arbus and Mann, it wasn’t so much expected at all.
But an interesting point to raise is that if Arbus never took her photographs in the first place…would of Mann and Carucci received the same praise like they did with her work, or would they have received the same criticism as Arbus? Food for thought there!

[1] Arbus, D, ‘A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C, 1965’, Revelations 2003-06, pg. 98
[2] ‘Virginia at 4, 1989’