Category Archives: ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment 5 – Photography is Simple (Fishing Boat Images Re-Work)

Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.

This series started as the life and death of fishing boats but after researching the subject it became the resurgence of fishing.

The time of sailing ships is past New faster automatic vessels upon old ships shadow cast © Patrycjusz Kopec | Year Posted 2014
The time of sailing ships is past
New faster automatic vessels upon old ships shadow cast
© Patrycjusz Kopec | Year Posted 2014
The graveyard is a place that inspires. You will found the unknown legacies, untold stories of the forgotten many. ©2014 copyright Michael Cross
The graveyard is a place that inspires.
You will found the unknown legacies, untold stories of the forgotten many. ©2014 copyright Michael Cross
My fishing boat lies sleeping in the harbor Anchor weighing heavy on the ocean floor I still miss all those nights at sea My fishing boat will sail again no more
My fishing boat lies sleeping in the harbor
Anchor weighing heavy on the ocean floor
I still miss all those nights at sea
My fishing boat will sail again no more.  ( Part of Me, Vince Suzadail Jr. 2006)
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” ― Janet Fitch, White Oleander
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”
( Janet Fitch, White Oleander)
The sea is calling to us in a blithesome voice and free, There's keenest rapture on its breast and boundless liberty! Lucy Maud Montgomery
Build me straight, O worthy Master! Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel, That shall laugh at all disaster, And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!  (from The Building of the Ship (1849. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Sea of azure waves descend Golden streams flood through porthole. Stephen Parker Sep 5, 2012
Sea of azure waves descend
Golden streams flood through porthole.  (Floating Hammock Descends, Stephen Parker
Sep 5, 2012)
my ship coming in with its cargo of joy. Carol Ann Duffy
my ship coming in
with its cargo of joy.
Carol Ann Duffy
The quota’s nearly done for me, too many a catch thrown back to sea The jobs-worth from the ministry, care’s nothing for my misery Lobster pot and fishing creel, Dover sole and jellied eel Biting wind and roaring gale, I risk it all when I set sail
The quota’s nearly done for me, too many a catch thrown back to sea
The jobs-worth from the ministry, care’s nothing for my misery
Lobster pot and fishing creel, Dover sole and jellied eel
Biting wind and roaring gale, I risk it all when I set sail. (from The Trawlerman, Howard Bull.  2009)
You shall have a fishy on a little dishy, You shall have a fishy when the boat gets in You shall have a herring on a little dishy
You shall have a fishy on a little dishy,
You shall have a fishy when the boat gets in
You shall have a herring on a little dishy (Trad.)
Town By The Sea There's a steady mist rising, Down by the sea, Glowing red in the lamplight, I see fishermen unloading their catch, The sea gulls trying to snatch.

There’s a steady mist rising,
Down by the sea,
Glowing red in the lamplight,
I see fishermen unloading their catch,
The sea gulls trying to snatch.  (from Town by the Sea. Laura Williams, 2015)

 

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Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment – Images

 

 

 

 

 

the look

  1. The Look

In this shot (1) I particularly like the look on the woman’s face, it is almost saying “talk to the hand”, not listening” or “let’s get on with the shopping”.  I edited the orange light on the right hand side so that it was not so distracting.

Piolice

2.Police on Duty

In this shot (2), I was just leaving when the two policemen arrived and stood at the barrier.  They agreed I could take the shot.  The older man was from the outset, a little self-conscious and on all shots he had his eyes closed.  I like the context of this one – police doing their job wherever they are needed.

Little girl

3. Little girl

Being a newish grandmother, this little girl caught my eye toddling through the shopping centre with an adult pose, hands behind her back.  I considered editing the white space to the left out but it really changed the composition and context of the shot.

 

-Dave

4. Anything but shopping

This shot (4) is of my husband who had been very patient.  I thought it was reminiscent of a Thomas Leuthard shot.  Although I did not capture or attempt to capture the same composition the concentrated look and the blurred background is similar.  I feel that the bigger space behind the subject gives the shot more context and story.

 

_1100135

5. Lost

At Cabot’s Circus this couple (5) was quite obviously lost or looking for something.  They stopped just below me giving me the opportunity to compose the shot using the shadow as a leading line to the couple and their activity.

Glass walk

6. Glass Walk

The Glass Walk image (6) allowed me to combine architectural detail with the capture of a young girl admiring it.  The almost monochrome effect of this shot is lifted by the detail of the street below in the right hand corner.   Soon after I shot this the girl took off at a run which I captured but she bent her head and it was obstructed by the hand rail.

balloons

7. Balloons

In this shot (7) the little girls are clearly excited by their balloons but the woman on the right is in a hurry to get past.  I particularly liked the movement and the vague look of impatience on the woman’s face.

Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment – Reflection

Reflections using the assessment criteria assessment

Demonstration of technical skills

  • Equipment:
    • Cameras
      • Canon 5DMKIII
      • Lumix GX7
    • Lenses
      • Canon 25-104mm
      • Lumix Vario 45-200mm
      • Lumix Vario 14 -42mm
    • Settings
      • Aperture priority/Manual
      • Auto Focus
      • RAW format

Composition

  • Using feedback from my tutor for Assignment 2, I extensively researched Street Photographers (See Research) and paid particular attention to composition. Especially, at Cabot’s Circus I took time to visualise the shot and how the shot might be framed.
  • I also looked to some contemporary Street Photographers for influence e.g. Vineet Vohra and Rui Palha for use of stairs and escalators, Brend Schaeffer, Valerie Jardin and Thomas Leuthard for lead in lines and the use of architecture. I have a long way to go but I feel that I have improved on previous attempts.
  • I thought hard about where to position myself and took most shots from a high position or a low position looking up. This worked to a greater or lesser extent especially those looking up (see Contact Sheets) however, what did help greatly was that I had more of an idea of what I wanted my shot to look like.
  • I was more patient (especially at Cabot’s Circus) in waiting for the shot to appear.
  • I used a shallow Depth of Field on the more candid shots.

Quality of outcome

  • I was much happier with the outcome of the shots compared with Assignment 2 composition improved and I visualised the outcome more.
  • However, a number of my shots lacked vibrancy and contrast and were a little under exposed when I downloaded them even though they and the histograms looked alright on the back of the camera. Therefore, I did some editing using Lightroom.  On two candid shots there was some distracting back ground (a yellow strip in one and a red sale banner in the other), I used Photoshop CC to reduce the impact of these on the shot.  I have a lot to learn in using the “digital darkroom”.  This is the first time I have attempted this type of editing and I am quite pleased with the results.
  • Printing was a nightmare. I used two local well respected printers and I was very disappointed with the results.  In one the contrast was way too high to the extent that it blew out highlights (I had already printed these at home on my Canon 100S printer and they were fine), the other was on low quality paper even though I had ordered them on high quality.  I therefore, decided to attempt to print them myself.  I still need to learn about how to resize photos that have been cropped but overall I was quite pleased with the quality.

Demonstration of Creativity

  • Feedback from Assignment 1 stated that I did not take risks, I feel that I have been riskier with this assignment but still have a long way to go.  I would love to emulate some of the photographers who obviously get down low the take some amazing shots but as yet I have not got the confidence to do so.
  • That said, I feel that the shots which include architecture and depth of field are more creative than previous shots and I have tried to tell a story in the shots using lead in lines and the rule of thirds to place important features.
  • I have learnt a lot about “The Decisive Moment” and what it means from the more received definition of Henri Cartier-Bresson to a more contemporary definition that would include the work of Diane Arbus. No matter what the approach I take I have learnt that the planning of the shoot is of utmost importance to capturing “the” shot.

Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment – First Thoughts

First Thoughts

My first thoughts for this assignment were that I was NOT going to do street photography.  I find it emotionally challenging. However, the weather and circumstances worked against me and I found myself considering another go at street photography.

mind-map

My first thoughts included a number of subjects and a number of locations.  As I was about to start the shoot a very strong storm (Imogen) blew through, causing damage and making outside photography impossible.  I waited and then visited Slimbridge Nature Reserve.  I took several images of various exotic birds but for most I was rather too far away and the cold weather was a limiting factor.  I re-considered my options and decided to shoot in shopping malls.  I started in Newcastle Metro Centre and did a second shoot at Cabots Circus in Bristol.

Notes

 

Based on feedback from my last assignment and before the shoots I considered:

  • composition
  • framing
  • leading lines
  • reflections
  • simplicity
  • backgrounds
  • architecture

Again taking into account feedback from Assignment 2 I researched a great number of famous street photographers paying particular attention to how they composed and framed their shots and how they used other “props” such as reflections to lead the eye around the image.

Research

It isn’t hard to see the influences of the “Old Masters” such as Cartier-Bresson, Capa and Adams to name but a few, of the Decisive Moment in many modern photographers work.  For me the interesting thing is how they then use it to develop their own unique style.

Thomas Leuthard

Thomas Leuthard  particularly caught my attention in the way that he captures the essence of ordinary life and the candidness of his work.

“Street photography is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Leuthard T. (2011) http://thomas.leuthard.photography/ebooks/GoingCandid.pdf   (accessed 28.2.2016)

Valerie Jardin

I particularly liked the way Jardin  uses structures as well as reflections and candid shots for context.  Like Leuthard he also writes and shares his expertise freely.  Hi work helped me make a final decision between colour or black and white.

When is color preferred? The color can be an integral part of the story, which also means that a black and white conversation would take away the most important component of the image, and it would not make any sense. Jardin V,http://digital-photography-school.com/7-tips-anonymous-approach-street-photography/ (Accessed 28.1.2016)

 

Diane Arbus

I have long admired the work of Diane Arbus and her ability to capture the most unusual and interesting aspects of life.    An on-line biography of her quotes:

“ During her wanderings around New York City, Arbus began to pursue taking photographs of people she found.” Biography.com Editors

Whilst her photography does not quite fit with the received definition of the decisive moment as she quite obviously sought out her “subjects”  As Eric Kim  points out, we can learn a lot from her about street photography. 

 Arbus was not always comfortable about the type of people she photographed earning the question by some of whether she (or we who view her work) was voyeuristic or not.   That said there is no doubt that some of the expressions tell such as story that they may well be classified as a decisive moment.

Lee Friedlander

As part of feedback from assignment 2 I researched Lee Friedlander to help me understand composition and how he used reflections and objects to dissect the frame to lead the eye around the image.

His work is challenging for me because he often dissects the frame in places where I wouldn’t have even considered and might have discarded shots that I have taken (I will come back to this in the Reflection section).

Friedlander

©   Lee Friedlander, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1971

Molyvos

©Lynda Wearn, Molyvos 2012

While I am not suggesting that this is a good shot in any way I am now thinking, having reviewed Frielander’s compositions that if I had positioned myself in a slightly different position so that the ladder and sail had somewhere to lead the eye to, the fact they are in the middle of the shot would not have been important.

A few of the other photographers I researched:

Rui Pahla

    • Eric Kim
      • Eric Kim is a young photographer photographer from Berkley, California who has a mission statement:Influenced by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Besson, Pahla an amateur photographer, takes some of the most inspiring and candid street photography I have seen.  He has the ability to get in close and capture shots which seem to reach into the souls of his subjects.   
        • Vivian Maier
          • Another American photographer although born in Hungary and spending most of her youth in France, Maier’s use of reflection in self-portraits is inspiring. She photographs herself at work, at the hairdressers, shopping and in car wing mirrors.  In fact almost anywhere and she obviously carried a camera with her most of the time.  Maier died in 2009 aged 86 and I have not been able to find anything written about her on the web. http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits-color/#slide-2 – Accessed 29.2.2016

         

    “My life’s mission is to produce as much “Open Source Photography,” to make photography education accessible to all.” http://erickimphotography.com/blog/start-here/ Access 2.3.2016

    A prolific user of social media Kim has interviewed many photographers and it is through the interviews published on his website that I was introduced to many of the photographers that I researched.  He describes himself as a teacher of photography but in fact he himself is a great photographer and has been interviewed in his own right.

    • Garry Winogrand
      • Winogrand another favourite of mine was a prolific street photographer who left behind an enormous archive legacy.  He was described as always being on the streets and hated the description of “Street Photographer”.  He did not think that photographs told a story but did think that the photograph should be more interesting and more beautiful than what was photographed.   Eric Kim on 10 Things Garry Winogrand can Teach you about Street Photography  http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/08/20/10-things-garry-winogrand-can-teach-you-about-street-photography/ – Accessed 3.3.2016
    • Helen Levitt
      • Levitt has been described as the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_.  Her photographs taken on the streets of New York of ordinary everyday life; children at play, adults in conversation and shopping and elderly people observing her intention was not to tell a story nor to document social history but to capture what was visually interesting in the poor neighbourhoods she worked in.  Levitt continued to work into her 80’s and died at the age of 96 in 2009.   Levitt http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Helen-Levitt.html (Accessed 2.3.2016)

All of the photographers that I researched take very interesting and compelling street photography and although different in style they together bring the concept of how to take effective street photography together.  In my next assignment I will be using some of the techniques and compositions I have read about to improve my street photography.  After all it can only get better after my last attempt (I hope).

 

 

 

 


 

Assignment 5: Planning and Reflection

Assessment criteria: Context

Reflection, research, critical thinking…

Why is ‘Context’ such an important part of the assessment criteria?

 The word ‘mutable’ is sometimes used by writers when discussing photography:

Mutable: capable of change or of being changed (Merriam Webster online dictionary)

Some take this mutability (ability to mutate) so far as to say that photographs are essentially empty. Allan Sekula, for instance, says that photographs are a fragment of the world with just ‘the possibility of meaning’ (1982, in Bull, 2010, p.41).

 The meaning depends on the context – where the photograph is published or displayed, the caption or other text with it, the sequence of images around it. As you continue to take photographs on the OCA photography programme, you’ll also be developing a context for them, shifting the emphasis from formal and aesthetic concerns to include what you feel about it and want it to mean.

Preparation and Planning

Thoughts 
Use the North East coastline as inspiration
Use the inspiration of Ray Carofano of using dereliction and decay as a starting point
Take a fishing boat and document it’s life (or one like it) from build (birth) to end of life (death) in the boat graveyard.
Document the increasing fishing industry after it’s decline in the 1970s. Parkol Marine have a full book of orders until 2018.  The boats in North Shields have increased from 7 to about 20 today.
I made copious notes about possible subjects.
img_1870
img_1871
Example of my notes
Shots
  1. The Build
  2. Detail of the Build (Courtesy of Parkol Marine, Whitby)
  3. More build
  4. Setting sail – shot still to be taken,  if can’t be achieved use Seahouses Harbour shot
  5. Landing the catch in harbour
  6. Detail – landing the catch (in this case. crabs and lobsters)
  7. Fishing Boat fishing – unlikely to get this shot – rethink needed – maybe a shot of the fishermen
  8. Detail – equipment, nets or pots?
  9. Graveyard – overview
  10. ?overview/?more detail
Presention – thoughts
  1. As shot
  2. Black & white
  3. Carofano style
  4. Find poetry or song lyrics to attach to the photos.

Choosing final selection

In coming to the decision of which shots to use, I printed off my contact sheets and made some notes.  I then laid 20 out full size prints (A4) and analysed which order would work best and then I took these prints to a group day for feedback.  I also posted on the OCA forum and Facebook page for feedback.

 

Whatis it  about

When I was thinking about a subject for this assignment I came across a boat graveyard in France and inspired by the work of Ray Carofano who I compared in exercise 5.2 and who has photographed dereliction and decay, I thought this might make a good subject for the assignment.  I had already started to take test shots of beaches, the sea and boats, so this extended my thinking.

However, after taking a series of shots I thought that the subject was a bit narrow and it was difficult to think about the mutability (or the meaning) of the series, how I might present them and how or where they would be viewed.

I thought slowly revealing the site and starting with detailed shots moving through to the whole area might be an option.  Then when I was reviewing this idea I thought about where the wrecks had come from and what kind of people worked on them so I came up with the idea of portraying “The Life and Death of a Fishing Boat” based on  the notion that the fishing industry was in decline.  I focused on two areas in France (boat graveyards) and three areas in the North East – Seahouses, North Shields and Whitby .  All are different in their contribution to fishing boats.  Seahouses (primarily crabs and lobsters) and North Shields (a mixture of white fish and crabs, lobsters and prawns)  are active fishing ports and Whitby has the nearest fishing boat building yard.  The work of Peter Loud and the way he portrayed the size and scale of the ships was an important influence on how I approached my assignment.

In my research  and through talking to fishermen I discovered that despite the perception in the north east that the fishing industry was in decline because of the imposed quotas of the EU and the development of the 200 mile limit imposed by Iceland and Norway, it appears the decline was much more complicated.  The reasons include the  under investment of local ports, particularly that of North Shields, and the migration of cod and haddock to more northern waters which resulted in the larger trawlers who fish for a week at a time landing their catch in Scotland.  This changed the type of fishing from North Shields,and saw an increase in smaller vessels which could only fish in daylight and an increase in fishing for crabs, prawns and lobsters.

Context

I decided on a documentary style of presentation and after careful consideration following my research findings, decided to present the series from the wrecks through to the building of new boats and then images of active fishing boats.

I am very grateful to the staff of Parkol Marine Engineering in Whitby, for allowing me access to the boat building yard.  This presented challenges for photography because it is a very active small yard which currently has at least three vessels in the building process, one of which was just starting and the new keel had just been built taking up a large proportion of the outside yard and as it is a building site it had many hazards, trip as well as others found in such environments.

“Mutability”

Having researched captions with photographs and following comments from my tutor I decided to include the words of relevant poems and songs with the images.    Shwarz M.E. and Tierney -Tello M.B. (eds) suggest that by using such a textual strategy with the images works to insert the reader into the scene  increasing the relationship between the spectator and subject to be more dynamic and complex.  Karen Knorr in her “Marks of Distinction” produces an almost humorous  and certainly a rather sarcastic approach to her subjects by adding text to them.   In my first attempt at adding text I didn’t want to go down this rather unconventional route but wanted to give the images some meaning in the way the boats had been, would be or were being used.  With this in mind I researched and found poems and song lyrics to help illustrate them.

Research

There are many contemporary photographers who shoot sailing vessels and racing yachts but fewer who shoot fishing boats.   There are many images on Flickr and I took inspiration from some of these.

capture2

Screen shot (accessed 18\10\2015)

Corey Arnold a commercial fisherman, has documented his life at sea since 1995.   His documentary demonstrates the hard life of fishermen whilst at sea.  He has exhibited globally.  I tried to book a trip on a fishing boat to take some shots at sea but the weather was inclement with gales and high spring tides and so this was not possible.

I was born in Wallsend where shipbuilding was a significant employment for many men including my brothers.  Peter Loud has a portfolio of the last ships to be built on the Tyne including this one of the propeller of the Everett F.Wells (1976) which inspired my shots of the fishing boat build.
Peter Loud (accessed 18/10/2016)
Assessment Criteria:  Context
If each of the photographs in my final selection were viewed as stand alone images they would not necessarily have a great deal of meaning.  By showing them in the context of the series the information seen in them take on a different context.
The images of the boat graveyard told only part of a story and although some might be seen as artistic it was not immediately obvious what in fact they were.  The image of the porthole in my final selection is an example of this.  If I had chosen to submit this image on its own it is likely to be seen as an abstract shot but by placing it in the context of the documentary style it is clear that it is a porthole.
Originally, I thought that the documentary would start with the boat build and move through to the boat graveyard but the more I thought about the improvement of the fishing industry I wanted to move through the story to end on  a positive note and I am pleased with the way this turned out by ending with working boats.
Creativity
I did want these shots to be more creative and out of my comfort zone so decided to edit them Lightroom and Photoshop.  I increased the colour palette and the contrast between the rusting shots and the sea worked quite well but those of the wrecks and the working boats looked over processed and did not sit well as a series.  I then returned to the original colour palette and processed them to give a more uniform and softer feel.  I also considered presenting them in black and white or processing them in the style of Carofano but the working boat shots especially lost movement and became flat and less interesting.
Reflection
Overall I am pleased with my final ten.  I am pleased with the way they tell the story and that the words direct the viewer to think a little more about the shot and series.
If I were to approach this again I would choose the time of day for shooting more carefully and make sure that it was consistent throughout the series.  Most of my shots were taken in the afternoon, partly because that was when the working boats came in and partly because of travelling around France to the two graveyards.
References
Schwartz ME, Tierney-Tello M.B. (eds) (2006) Photography and writing in Latin America: double exposure.  University of New Mexico Press, USA
Knorr Karen (?) Marks of Distinction, Thames and Hudson, London

 

 

Assignment 5: Fishing Boats

Brief

Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.

What is it About?

 My set of images is about Fishing Boats. Having been brought up near the sea and in a shipbuilding town, boats have always fascinated me. Until recently I had a fear of water and so the bravery of those who made their living from the sea had a particular significance for me.

I chose to present in a documentary style for my assignment. I chanced upon a grave boatyard in France and likened this to the decline of the fishing industry. However, during the course of the assignment and through my research I discovered that the fishing industry is in fact enjoying a rebirth.   My research took me to a boat-building yard Parkhol Marine Limited, in Whitby, who has a full order book until 2019. Additionally, the fleet based in North Shields has grown from an all time low of 7 boats to more than 20 today.

I also discovered that the type of fishing has changed from largely cod, haddock and herring to more crustacean fishing for lobsters, crabs and other molluscs. Ironically, much of these are exported to the Far East and the herring, which were once famous in the North East, are imported from Scandinavia.

All images were taken over a period of about two months with a Canon 5D Mk3 and either a 25-104mm or 17 – 40mm lens, with the exception of the boat sailing into port which was a Sigma 120 – 400mm lens. I kept the ISO low at 100 and all were hand held. I would have preferred to use a tripod in the boat-building yard but because of the space available this option was not possible. This does not appear to have affected the clarity or focus of the images. I have taken a series of shots documenting the “death” and “rebirth” of the industry with a mixture of detailed and wider shots.

Most of the shots were taken during the day in the summer months.  This has given them a uniform style of mainly, bright skies.  Had I taken them at sunrise or sunset they would have taken on a different quality and maybe rendered them more interesting.  However, for the boatyard shots and the fishing shots I was dependent on the time of others and the tide.