First impressions & initial response
This assignment was a lesson in “the best laid plans …”. I was originally planning to do the assignment in my local area before I moved. Well, that was a great theory. It turned out that I didn’t have time to complete what I’d planned. So what started as saying “goodbye” to one place ended as saying “hello” to another.
After a quick re-think, I decided to do the assignment around my new home. Although I knew the area fairly well, I decided to make the photos with a “beginner’s eye” and try to think about what things would appeal to a person totally new to the area. It gave me a chance to not think, but just take it all in. I had a bit of plan, based on what I knew of the area, but ultimately I enjoyed just wandering around and letting my eye be my guide. It was great fun!
Practitioners looked-at and their influences
Looking at the suggested photographers for this assignment led me quickly to the conclusion that the “Square Mile” is very open to interpretation. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d not heard of a single one of the listed photographers. Also a bit pleased, because it gave me a place to start.
This image by Venetia Dearden, from her series “Somerset Stories Fivepenny Dreams”, really grabbed me:
The quality of the light struck me – it reminded me of a painting by John Constable painting or Claude Lorrain. It doesn’t seem very typical of her work which in the series features many shots of (presumably) local people and a great many of travellers.
I have always found these beautiful, “pastoral” scenes very attractive. I look particularly for the light and shade.
I am most influenced by Michael Kenna and Michael Levin. I like well-composed, minimalist images which have a real beauty. For this assignment, I have tried to make it clear what the subject is – to keep it simple and also attractive.
Technical approach / particular techniques
Nothing much to say here – I tend to use aperture priority and think carefully about depth of field, sometimes taking a couple of frames to give me post-prod options. Only one photo was processed in PhotoShop to take out a power line which I just couldn’t stand to look at. All the rest were processed in Lightroom with only minor adjustments.
Strengths and weaknesses of particular photos and project as a whole
My single biggest self-accusation is that the photos are all well within my comfort zone. My original idea was people in context, which was great, but fell apart due to practicalities. See the next section for how I would progress …
I particularly like the dollhouse-like nature of the birdhouse photo. I chose the backlighting with the idea that it would look interesting and so it turned out.
The weakest photo for me is the one of the flower display. It is pretty, but for me risks being banal. It could probably be cut without hurting the overall sequence.
The sculpture of the fox running is well-known. It is a bronze by Swiss sculptor Robert Hainard. I love the way it is placed is a small patch of grass to give the impression of the animal moving in a secretive way. I think it is superb.
Thoughts on how I could develop the project further
An obvious extension is to go back to my original “people in context” idea. As I get to know people in the neighbourhood, it would be good to photograph them in their gardens or wherever to give a sense of place.