Sir Donald McCullun born Oct 1935 was brought up in Finsbury Park, London until he was evacuated during the blitz to a farm in Somerset. He says he was not a bright fellow when growing up due to slight dyslexia and leaving school at the age of 15 without any formal qualifications. McCullun then started work catering on the railways before being called up for National Service in the RAF. During his time in the RAF he worked as a photographer’s assistant mainly in the darkroom due not passing the written exam to become a RAF photographer. In 1959 McCullun took a photo of a local London gang which was published in the Observer and then between 1966 to 1984 worked for the Sunday Times as an overseas corespondent covering war zones such as the Vietnam war and the Northern Ireland conflict.
In an interview McCullun explains how he used to travel into London by car and park a mile away from Chelsea and walk in the rest of the way dressed in a trench coat and Dr Martin boots with his Nikon F hidden under his coat. He would then proceed to wander the back streets of Chelsea all day trying to capture photographs depicting the unemployed, downtrodden and the impoverished.
McCullun’s more recent work are a series of black and white landscape images showing the stark and bleak areas of England during the winter months, these months he proclaims to love as it shows the landscape at its hardest, the struggle, its abrasiveness, the nakedness.
Start by doing your own research into some of the artists discussed above.
Then, using slow shutter speeds, the multiple exposure function, or another technique inspired by the examples above, try to record the trace of movement within the frame. You can be as experimental as you like. Add a selection of shots together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the shots) to your learning log.
Both these images were taken early evening allowing me to use a long exposure without the need of a filter, no tripod available so a handy bollard was nearby. Camera set to ISO 200, 0.4sec @ f16, 50mm primary lens.
These photos were taken using a D5600, 18-200mm lens and tripod. Again I selected to take the photos during early evening so no filter needed, Camera set to ISO 400, 0.6sec @ f8, FL 29mm
Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject. Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph. Try to find the beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated John Szarkowski. Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the images), to your learning log.
The images above were all taken with the same settings on a continuous burst which gave a feeling of movement from one image to the next, ISO 100, FL 34mm, 1/400th @ f5.6. The show owner open a panel in the fence to allow me to get the best angle to capture the water spray and then started up the ride to send an empty car down for me to shoot. Even though the frame rate has frozen everything in time I can see why this fascinated John Szarkowski as the image still achieved a sense of movement as well as the physical displacement of objects not normally captured with the naked eye, this in itself creates it’s own picture.
After researching Fay Godwin’s work I feel the image below taken at Barry Island Bay fits aesthetic and political idea of inapproachable Britain. Albeit the photo is not in black and white such as Godwin’s images. The boat is left to rot in the deep mud of the bay and is completely submerged at high tide, nature’s ability to reclaim what man has discarded no matter its size. Even though the boat is the main focus of the photo the viewer is still able to scan the rest of the image at their leisure.
With no formal training Fay Godwin started out by photographing her children in the mid 1960s, then moved onto portraits, reportage and finally landscapes. She was famed for her creative interpretations of the landscape as for her campaigning to conserve it. She co-authored her first book in 1975 with John Richard ‘The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway’ which featured the landscapes of the North Wessex Downs and the Chilterns. Godwin was able to continue to develop her landscape photography in 1978 after receiving a major award from the Arts Council of Great Britain. Her quote whilst being interviewed by David Corfield in 2004 illustrates her love for landscape photography.
‘I don’t get wrapped up in technique and the like,’ she said. ‘I have a simple rule and that is to spend as much time in the location as possible. You can’t expect to take a definitive image in half an hour. It takes days, often years. And in fact I don’t believe there is such a thing as a definitive picture of something. The land is a living, breathing thing and light changes its character every second of every day. That’s why I love it so much.’