Learning Log

After spending the day running through the very well thought out ‘An Introduction to Studying in HE’ I first started out thinking what the hell am I doing here but the more I read the more at ease I became. Especially after you come to realise the way you are expected to learn are fundamentally the way you learn for almost everything in all walks of life. Doing, reviewing, concluding and planning such a simplistic concept to follow only if it was that easy, of course as part of the human race we have our own added bonuses to add to the pot in the forms of external influences and our own delightful demons and doubts. On a more positive note I am up for the challenge and can’t wait to get started.

Assignment 1

Have to say the start has been a bit shaky as this is the first time studying in quite some time but it is definitely rekindling an old flame. I have finally got something down on paper and things are starting to progress. Having bounced ideas around regarding the concept of the series I wish to create from an original idea of entering the village at a young age using locations and people of various ages as we travel through the village until we leave or die. I had a problem with this idea as I do not know enough people of various ages to complete the work. I still wanted to keep the location to my village, the more I thought about the project the more barriers seem to stop me being able to complete what I intended to achieve. This is how I came up with idea that I am now using for the Square Mile assignment. There was no shortage of objects and locations with fences and barriers but I did also want to introduce a time element to the series.

Equipment to use:
Nikon D5600 shooting RAW images only using full manual mode
Nikon 18-200mm telephoto lens

Series Time Elements:
Birth Hospital: Nearest 25 miles away not local can’t use
School: Permission granted by Head to take photos out of school hours Completed
Toddler to Teen: Playground Completed
Young Adult: First car concept, old banger Completed
Adult: Employment, Lifestyle, Transport: Transport completed
Old Age: War Memorial Completed
Death: Church Graveyard Completed

Finally got around to sending a link to my tutor for feedback on my first assignment Square Mile, have to say a quite nervous as I have never studied in this fashion before and really don’t know if I am going in the right direction the way I feel at the moment any direction has to be the right one. Some sure footed guidance would be much appreciated at the moment

Exercise 2.1

Firstly deciding a location, pathway, tunnel, road all these have depth, I will have to make sure whatever the choice is that if it is inside the area is well light due to trouble with exposure at distance. After visiting a few sites I settled for a road that runs along the railway station, quite devoid of people at that time of day and mostly no traffic to limited access.

Equipment to use:
Nikon D5600 shooting RAW images only using aperture priority mode as per the brief
Nikon 18-200mm telephoto lens
Remote Trigger

Assignment 2

After reading the brief and even though I am happier to aim towards ‘views’ which would be in my own comfort zone I have decided to take up the challenge of ‘crowds’. With both Cardiff and Swansea in easy reach of each other I have thought of the crowds that gather for shopping on the weekend but there is rugby fixture Wales vs Australia at the Principality Stadium on 11th November. The before, during and after crowds are phenomenal at these grounds.
Again after more time to reflect and plan I have now been given an opportunity of photographing views of a different kind, ie not your average mountains, rivers and seascapes but more of an industrial view. I am inclined to go for both shoots and decide from there which I prefer.
‘Research note: Bernd and Hilla Becher Industrial Landscapes’

Possible industrial landscapes locations:
Tata Steel Port Talbot
Cwm Coke Ovens Beddau
Tower Colliery Hirwaun
Uskmouth Power Station
Severn Power Station

Finally I can get started taking photos in the steelworks where I am currently employed. Did manage to start this morning from outside of the site grounds but now have been given the releases, personal protective equipment and areas I am allowed in. There is a strict no photograph rule on site and the company has the right to veto all my photos.
I forgot how big this site was until I had another drive around looking for different angles of familiar views only to encounter new views which I had completely missed whilst on my daily journey. Some may say I have gone slightly overboard with the amount of images I have taken but my argument is in a digital era you can’t take enough because at the end of the day what does it cost you?
With my photos uploaded and write up finished I of course do what I always do and request feedback from other students and tutors from OCA Discussion forum and group email. I have taken on-board the feedback and made a couple of changes and am now ready to submit.

Exercise 3.1 & 3.2

I have initially combined my thoughts for these exercises as I had intended to take the photos required in the same location on the same day namely at Barry Island fair ground. After returning home and looking through the shots I had taken I wasn’t happy with the images for exercise 3.2.

Assignment 3

Firstly I would have to decide what a ‘decisive moment’ meant to me, I was more inclined to lean towards street photography after reading a paper ‘The Psychology of the “Decisive Moment”‘ by John Suler. Most photographers believe the decisive moment photo can only be captured through candid, one off street photography but my understanding is that anything can be a decisive moment as long as the photo doesn’t looked staged or purposely setup.
Suler breakdown the rules behind a perfect decisive moment photo, incorporating comments from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Gestalt psychology. The rules are as follows:

  1. A sophisticated composition in which the visual coalescence of the photographed scene capitalizes on the principles of Gestalt psychology to create a “prägnanz” atmosphere of balance, harmony, simplicity, and unity.
  2. A sophisticated background to the subject that interacts both visually and psychologically with the subject in a synergistically meaningful figure/ground relationship.
  3. The visual as well as psychological anticipation of completion and closure, which often surfaces as a visual gap, interval, or suspension of some kind.
  4. An element of ambiguity, uncertainty, and even contradiction that rouses the viewer’s curiosity about the meaning or outcome of the scene depicted.
  5. The capture of a unique, fleeting, and meaningful moment, ideally one involving movement and action.
  6. A precisely timed, unrepeatable, one-chance shot.
  7. An unobtrusive, candid, photorealistic image of people in real life situations.
  8. A dynamic interplay of objective fact with subjective interpretation that arouses meaning and emotion about the human condition.
  9. The overarching context of a productive photography session – or “good hour” – that starts with tension, then culminates in a personal and artistic realisation that is the DM image.
  10. The DM photo as a product of a unique set of technical, cognitive, and emotional skills developed from extensive training and experience in photography, as well as from a psychological knowledge of people.

Whether or not all these rules can be followed at any one time I very much doubt it and also this is one persons interpretation of decisive moment photography. If you look at Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century it is believed all the rules have been followed.
Cartier-Bresson compares his camera a form of sketch book, where the image is only captured once and if it is wrong and another photo is taken that becomes a separate sketch in its own right. He describes himself as a surealist artist but refused to be labelled a surealist as he did not want his audience to think this is all he produced and therefore being constricting his work to this one form, so he continued to class himself as a photojournalist which leaves the possibility of a larger scope of achievable work.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Hyeres, France

Started taking street photos whilst on a family trip into Cardiff during the Christmas market weekend using a Nikon D5600 and a 50mm prime lens, even though I did get a few photos I was happy with I did find myself missing the telephoto capabilities of the 18-200mm lens. This weekend I am going to try again but with less family and opting for the original kit lens that came with the D5600 a 18-55mm telephoto lens. Don’t believe I need anymore than a maximum 55mm focal length but being able to see a wider angle range would help more with some of the structural images I wished to incorporate into to compositions.

Illustration: Cartier-Bresson, H 1932 Hyeres, France http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/08/22/10-things-henri-cartier-bresson-can-teach-you-about-street-photography/ [Accessed 16/11/2017]

Exercise 4.2

At the moment I seem to be struggling with this exercise due to work commitments and the lack of any weather change from just raining and overcast to a point where the light does not really change except from light to dark, no shadows, no sun, not much of anything but I will continue to plod away until I get the break I need to complete this exercise.

Assignment 4

This assignment has got of to a very slow and rocky start mainly due to weather and work again. There are a few ideas which I am mulling over such as either industry at night theme or another revolving around solitude. There are a few photographers that have been inspiring me of late ranging from 1930s to modern day ie Brassai, Tom Paiva and Marius Veith each with their own style but also all use ambient light during the night whether it is street or industrial locations.
After what seems an age I have managed to finally get a set of images together of the steelworks at night. The one thing I do like about February times is the weather is normally crisp with clear nights, so with a good pair of gloves and a woolly hat I got to work.
At night the site looks desolate with everything lit up but not a soul in sight this gives a distinct alien feel to the place which suited the look I was aiming for. Lucky enough the blast was under maintenance so the whole tower was lit up like a Christmas Tree.
I think I have a new found best friend the nikon 35mm lens it reminds me of when I was younger and used and old zenith 11 35mm film camera where there is no zooming in and out but you would have to physically move yourself to achieve the best frame.

Assignment 5

After a little bit of thought I am inclined to aim towards water as the subject behind my photos, of course when I actually go out and shoot this could completely change as that is one aspect of photography I have learned. The best laid plans and ideas are not necessary the ones you are going to finish with. Being an avid scuba diver water has always been a fascination of mine this is of course where Darwin believed all life evolved from, a viewpoint I am more or less inclined to agree with but do try and keep an open mind to other theories and religious beliefs. I want to try and capture life’s emotions as these make the fundamental backgrounds to how people react in different situations.

Steps through life

Sources of water

Water comes in 3 forms gas, liquid and solid. Transparent (when clean), reflective, refracted, magnify.
I have now ended up back where I started, asking myself what is about water that I feel so affiliated with and its comes down to the thrill water makes me feel whilst I am scuba diving. The almost weightless feeling, effortless energy to glide or be carried by currents, the peace and tranquility and not forgetting home to some amazing unseen creatures. What allows me to experience this wondrous world? My equipment without it I would simply not be able to stay underwater for any great length of time, the equipment has to be maintained to a very high standard as my life and others depend on it.
Studio setting either black or white backdrop. Individual equipment parts making up the scuba unit taken at a close focal range so as not to show the whole part. Image of fully assembled unit.
Still struggling to bring images together, I am looking to shoot a series of photos showing the pieces that combine together to for the finished Scuba unit without the images looking like something out of a product catalog.
Failing my first attempt at the images they were left bland without any context. After speaking with my tutor I took him at his word and re-shot the photos near a harbour giving the images the required background to tell their story. Again this has been a bit underwhelming but I think I have gain an idea that I want to proceed with after reading my tutor’s feedback. I ave gone back through old photos and tried to incorporate these to show the equipment used and form memories of my experiences whilst exploring the entire sport of scuba.

Exercise 5.2

I have always enjoyed the industrial landscapes produced by Edward Burtynsky and at times people have mention some of my work takes on the same sort of form, with this in mind and also were I work I thought this was a great opportunity to try and capture a photo that resembled one of Burtynsky’s smaller scaled works.


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