Lens Work: Research Point

Research point
Do your own research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project.
Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes discussed in Project 2. Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took the photograph isn’t important; find a photo with a depth of field that ‘fits’ the code you’ve selected. The ability of photographs to adapt to a range of usages is something we’ll return to later in the course.
Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you’ve re-imagined your photograph. 

 

The use of depth of field is a powerful tool in photography.  It dictates the compositional elements that draw in a viewer’s eye and it is this that provides the photographer with the control to direct what the eye sees.  For example using a shallow depth of field,  where the photographer wishes the viewer to focus on the main subject and by throwing the other elements of the environment out of focus (shallow or narrow depth of field) means that the viewer has no choice other than to focus on the main subject. The photographer has total control of the viewer.

Both Godwin and Adams use depth of field to enhance and draw the viewer into the landscape.

 

Manipulation of depth of field is a good way to modify the characteristics of your photo, and manipulating the aperture is the ideal way to do this because it has little or no effect on composition. You simply need to change the shutter speed (or change the light sensitivity – ISO) to compensate for the changes in the exposure from the adjustments to the f-number. Changes in distance and focal length also affect DOF, but these changes have trade-offs in terms of composition. Therefore, changes to aperture are the best way to manipulate DOF without affecting a photo’s composition.

http://www.exposureguide.com/focusing-basics.htm (accessed 26.1.2016)

In my research for Project 2 I noted that both Ansel Adams and Fay Godwin use black & white photography to further “dramatise” the effect of the landscape,  Godwin in a brooding and haunting way and Adams in a more romantic way.  However both, by and large, make best use of depth of field to ensure the viewer has an opportunity to take in the whole shot.  Having said that, both compose their photos in a way to draw the viewer into the shots. Godwin uses the relationship between man and the land  to do this in her composition whilst Adams is more likely to use leading lines to draw the viewer in.

 

Godwin in her last interview talked about how she became a landscape photographer because of her love of walking and desire to earn a living.  This was predicated by her relationship with Ted Hughes who asked her to co-author a book of poems about the Bradford area (The Remains of Emet).

I had no aspirations to become a landscape photographer at all. In fact it was portraiture that was my beginning, I suppose. I have always been a very keen walker, though, and I often took a camera with me on my walks. But I was, and still am, an avid reader and so when I first started I chose to photograph many of the great writers in this country to try and earn a living.

Ansell was widely revered and many replicated his photographs of the American National Parks.

ansel adams quotes – Bing images.

As well as comparing the approaches of Godwin and Adams I did the same with Bourdin and Kuhn.  Whilst both exploit in their photography the human form, Bourdin does it in a quite aggressive way which is evocative and sexy even though many of the models are at least partially dressed.

Bourdin has been criticised for his treatment of women.

“objectifying the female form in pursuit of the perfect image…”

via Guy Bourdin: Audacious, Controversial, Humorous and Surrealist Fashion Photographer | Yatzer. (accessed 26.1.2016)

The way in which Kuhn expresses her photography of nudes is much softer, often using blurred imagery or reflections to help compose and frame her shots.

Critics have observed that Mona Kuhn’s subjects seem ‘nude but not naked

via Evidence by Mona Kuhn. (accessed 26.1.2016)

 

Conclusion

Whilst Godwin and Adams are primarily landscape artists and Bourdin and Kuhn use the human body in their work, the ways they portray themselves as artists are quite different.  I observed that the photographic artistry was more similar between Adams and Bourdin  and Godwin and Kuhn than first appearance.

Both Adams and Bourdin have been cited as searching for “truth” in their images by using sharp and crisp images.  Similarly, Godwin demonstrates her passion for truth in the landscape.  This becomes evident in “The Forbidden Land” where there is without doubt an urge for her to inform viewers of the devastation of the countryside by man for commercial or selfish reasons.

Kuhn however, seems to be portraying the strengths and weaknesses of the human body which creates tension and unease for the viewer.  Despite this apparent difference between the four photographers, my view is that in their own interpretations they are endeavouring to capture a story, whether it be past, present or future by using a set of aesthetic codes including composition, depth of field, sharpness, lines and viewpoint to express their point.

IMG_4098 (2)

Photo from my archive of Olden Ffordd in Norway, re-imagined as a high contrast black and white shot.

The next image goes beyond the brief but I couldn’t resist trying it out.

Edited image as a black and white shot.IMG_4098 (2)

 

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