Category Archives: Assignment 4: Languages of light

Assignment 4 – tutor feedback

Following are my notes from the discussion with my tutor, Wendy McMurdo:

  • Good feedback regarding my approach and in particular my editing process
  • Clear to see how my ideas have developed in the contact sheets
  • It would be useful to reflect at this point on my journey through EYV to see what I have learned and how I have changed
  • Recommendation: go to Arles! In particular, look at the work of Eamonn Doyle and his work titled “END”. Plan to write one or more reviews.
  • Observation: I need to develop my research more – at least one review for each submission. I am ok with my level of book reviews, but need to increase my exhibition and photographer/photo reviews.
  • Look at blogs of John Umney and Stan Dickenson for inspiration about how to attack research and reviews

Here is a link to the tutor report: Tutor report – assignment 4

Assignment 4 – the language of light

Brief

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:

  • Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.
  • Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise
  • Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your ‘process’ (the series of steps you took to make the photographs). Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link in to your own work. Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria. Write 500–1,000 words.

Introduction

The starting point for this assignment was exercise 4.3 – artificial light. My response to that exercise was inspired by Sato Shintaro’s Night Lights scenes. For this assignment I wanted to develop the theme of the beauty of artificial light. I wanted to move away from a reproduction of reality and produce something much more abstract that distilled the brilliance and colour of artificial light, but hid the form.

Research

The images from the series Liebeslied by Rut Blees Luxemburg provided good food for thought.

Rut Blees Luxemburg: Rayners Lane, 2007

Rut Blees Luxemburg: Rayners Lane, 2007

Rut Blees Luxemburg: In Deeper, 1999

Rut Blees Luxemburg: In Deeper, 1999

Rut Blees Luxemburg: Cockfosters, 2006

Rut Blees Luxemburg: Cockfosters, 2006

I particularly like the way that she often used water as a reflector of the artificial light in a way which makes the surfaces seem metallic and shows that even though there are deep shadows, the light spills everywhere.

Penelope Umbrico’s series titled Suns (From Sunsets) from Flickr (referenced in Alexander, 2014) also provided inspiration. This series, which relies on the work of others, has a kind of “pop art”, abstract look which is arresting, partly due to the vivid colours.

Another inspiration came from Mark Rothko:

Mark Rothko: Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow On White And Red, 1949

Mark Rothko: Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow On White And Red, 1949

Mark Rothko: No. 61 (Rust and Blue), 1953

Mark Rothko: No. 61 (Rust and Blue), 1953

Mark Rothko: No. 3/No. 13 (Magenta, Black, Green on Orange), 1949

Mark Rothko: No. 3/No. 13 (Magenta, Black, Green on Orange), 1949

The great swathes of colour that he used for many of his paintings triggered the idea of using camera motion to remove the form of the subject, but retain the colours. Finally, I had a starting point.

Concept Development & Process

To experiment with camera motion, I used a tripod with a slow shutter speed and panned the camera while the shutter was open. I found that, like assignment 3, using a shutter speed of 1sec to 1.5sec worked best. The results were ok – I felt they were interesting but somehow they didn’t quite capture what I had in mind. I was also unsure that the technique had enough interest for a whole series. Another problem: due to the camera motion, sometimes even quite vivid colours became lost because something else was “painted” over the top.

After reviewing my first set of images, it occurred to me that another thing I could try was deliberate out-of-focus. That would make the highlights flare nicely and (in my opinion) in a very cinematic way. On my second night out, I started experimenting with hand-holding the camera using a moderately high ISO (400-2000), a wide-open aperture and with the focus ring set at minimum focus. The results immediately looked better. I found the best results were obtained from getting relatively close to simple subjects with interesting colours. It was quite amazing to see the results transformed. It became a case of looking for interesting lights and seeing what the technique did for them. I noticed that even small spots of colour became quite dramatic when out of focus – they took on a greater significance.

After trying out my out-of-focus idea, I did some Web research to see who else had tried this, looking for inspiration. There are plenty of examples of such images, often associated with the word bokeh, but most do not use a radically out-of-focus approach – the majority have something in sharp focus (often a foreground element) with an out-of-focus background. I did realise, however, that some of the work of Sally Mann goes in the same direction due to the limitations of the antique and home-made lenses that she loves to use.

Photos

DRG-26Jul2016-018

DRG-26Jul2016-018

DRG-26Jul2016-035

DRG-26Jul2016-035

DRG-26Jul2016-042

DRG-26Jul2016-042

DRG-26Jul2016-047

DRG-26Jul2016-047

DRG-26Jul2016-056

DRG-26Jul2016-056

DRG-02Aug2016-003

DRG-02Aug2016-003

DRG-02Aug2016-006

DRG-02Aug2016-006

DRG-02Aug2016-032

DRG-02Aug2016-032

DRG-02Aug2016-034

DRG-02Aug2016-034

Contact Sheets & Selection Process

Following are the contact sheets containing the full set of photos including exposure data and an indication of my selects.

 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-01  EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-02  EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-03 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-04
 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-05 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-06  EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-07 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-08
 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-09 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-10  EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-11 EYV Assignment 4 Contact Sheets-12

I followed the selection process originally suggested by my tutor for assignment 2: try alternative selections, display them and live with them for a while before editing down to those required.

While editing, I looked for variety: colours, shapes and composition; and tried to eliminate repetition.

Creativity Criteria

I believe that I’ve managed to meet the creativity criteria in an imaginative way by capturing the beauty of artificial light in its pure essence. It took some experimentation and reflection to get to an end point where I feel that by ignoring the form and concentrating just on the arrangement and colours of the light, I have come up with something stripped down to the essentials. I had a lot of fun with this simple technique. It reminded me of my first Polaroid camera – there was nothing to fiddle with – just find something interesting and point. Every outcome was a surprise.

My response to Exercise 4.5 can be found here.

Assessment Criteria

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

In the same way as assignment 3,  I felt that I learned as I went through this assignment. I tried out my initial idea of using camera movement which worked successfully in assignment 3, but in this case it didn’t give me quite what I was looking for. On the 2nd night out, I tried my out-of-focus idea and fine-tuned to give me images that I felt were immediately pleasing. This evolution is clearly visible in the contact sheets. Quite quickly I became aware that bright light sources in a simple arrangement were more effective than broad patches of light. I also found that getting closer and zooming in heightened the effect by reducing the depth of field.

2. Quality of outcome

Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

From a presentation point of view, I believe that the photos form a coherent set with enough variety of colour and structure to be interesting. I have used a landscape, 3:2 format and colour throughout for consistency. I believe that this set could also work printed as a grid, in a large format. Each image has interest and they also work together.

3. Demonstration of creativity

Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice

As above.

4. Context

Reflection, research, critical thinking

The two photographers mentioned in the research section had the greatest influence over this work. Reflection was an important part of this assignment – looking at the results, trying again. As described earlier, I wanted to explore the creative element and get out of my comfort zone with this assignment and try something new. I believe that I have succeeded.

References

Alexander, Jesse (2014) Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography [Kindle Edition] From: Amazon.com (Accessed on 29.09.15)