Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.96
Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt.
Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots. In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.
[2Mar19] What shall I choose? Something small and portable so that I have control over location, so not landscape or sunset, but not an apple either.
Looking back at the four quotations,
Haas is not useful in choosing a subject or a treatment;
Bailey seems to be advocating simplicity (echoes of Cartier-Bresson‘s “precise organization of forms … [giving] … proper expression” to the subject);
Burgin suggests that no object can exist in the viewer’s perception without contextual baggage
Brandt just gets on with the job of photographing stuff.
Perhaps using a small portable object would allow the Brandt approach in a number of settings, thus exploring Burgin’s conjecture. OK, that’s settled.
Maybe using several objects in those settings would add a further dimension to the exercise.
This is beginning to shape up.
One thought before I call it a night: how about six similarly sized objects on top of six walls = 36 snaps. Perhaps too many – 4 and 4 to give 16.
1. Bullet, cigarette packet, baby’s dummy, #4
2. 4 things costing <£1 from a charity shop.
[23:17, time to stop]
[3Mar19 13:24] I quite like last night’s ideas, but the only problem I can see is coming up with an image search with which to compare the results. If the purpose of the exercise is to photograph a commonplace subject in imaginative ways (or, if exploring my interpretation of Burgin’s notion, to explore the influence of context on subject) then the initiating Google image screenshot is largely irrelevant.
The only pertinent search I have thought of is bric-a-brac and that just generates snaps of junk shops. I have just tried small objects and that is quite fun: one of the examples brings to mind Keith Arnatt’s splendid The Tears of Things (Objects from a Rubbish Tip), 1990-91.
Another subject which sprang to mind is Street Litter — I had in mind individual items thereof, but the searches deliver littered locations, or, perhaps, litter landscapes.
I’m happy to run with these for now. I might take a survey of what other EyVers have chosen:
|Tower of London
|Burj Khalifa (Dubai)
I think it’s fair to say that some devoted more time to 4.5 than others (although the instruction is to “[a]dd a final image to your learning log”. I have found nothing that changes or influences my plans: it’s still Things on a Wall, but I am having trouble finding my bullet pen.
The search for the bullet pen has failed and so I intend to reconsider and simplify, concentrating on drinks cans and exploring the form by transformation (bending it) and translocation (photographing it in various places). A Google search on the subject returns a tediously uniform set of results.
Cans it is. Some closeups in a newly acquired £12 lighting tent that is a good size for most of the items I expect to photograph but a little small for the upright can. One on the lawn and I’ll take the can for a walk tomorrow if the weather improves.
And the bullet pen has turned up at last.
I have learned that I find product photography rather tedious. The lighting tent images were taken with a Lensbaby 56mm manual focus lens which will take some getting used to. The can on the lawn was taken with a Fuji zoom lens.
To Tate Britain for the Don McCullin show and a can shot on the staircase (Box B fig. 6). There was an alternative shot, closer to the can, which would have been chosen but it did not have the person on the stairs which was the decisive factor. Two more to go – I am carrying the can with me and will take it to Bromley tomorrow. One on a playground swing and some interesting out of focus background might suit.
I have reshot the indoor cans with a rather more conventional lens – 35mm f/2 (50mm equivalent). I have also added the more can-oriented image from Tate. The weather is pointedly unpleasant today and so the outdoor shots will have to wait.
[21 and 28 Mar]
I will add a few more – the first on Cannon Street station, 21st March then on Brighton beach a week later.
Box D fig.1, (D1) Cannon Street Station, extends the Tate Britain series (B6 and C5) of objects (the can) out of normal context.
Box D, figs 2 and 3 continue from B5, object and texture. D4-6 are intended to explore the question, when does an image of a can become an image of a pier? Brighton’s West Pier is photographed and its images are published endlessly: on this site, it was first encountered in Part 1, including an evocation of Thomas Ruff.
In fig D4, the can is in focus, D5 the pier is in focus. In D6, two images have been combined in a focus stack to provide an exaggerated depth of field. For me, the pier is the dominant component in all three images, partly because that is what I expected to happen.
[28Mar] To summarise this exercise, four groups of three images each have been taken in an attempt to break out of the normal, anodyne portrayal of a tin (or aluminium) can.
Group 1 – the can in three states
Group 2 – the can in three textures
Group 3 – the can in three contexts
Group 4 – the can and the pier.
A reminder of the purpose,
… take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt.OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.96
… In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.
In G1.1 the can has potential. The image is not as bland as the advertising shots because the shadow allows it some form. In G1.2 and G1.3, the can has taken on the aspect of litter.
The can (it is the same one throughout) has now become physical litter. Juxtaposing it with textural backgrounds does not change its nature. Any discarded object on the ground in a public place becomes litter.
A discarded object in an unexpected place is still likely to be litter, although in a gallery it is possible for objects to become art. An empty, crushed drink can on a table outside a pub will always be litter.
Here it is litter but hardly seen because it is not the object of attention, even when that object is not in focus.
[29Mar] One final manipulation, converted to B&W with the exception of the tin. This, albeit artificial manipulation, serves to rebalance attention to the tin.
A final instruction on this exercise is to
Add a final image to your learning log.OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.96
I will probably choose the mostly monochrome image.