Category Archives: ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment 3 The Decisive Moment: Rework Post Tutor Review

Preface
The following is Assignment 3 that has been reworked after the tutor review.  It is presented as if it has been written first time through and does not try to compare or contrast the differences between the first and the second versions.  The reason for this is it would (a) detract from the point of the Assignment and (b) anyone reading the Assignment afresh would see how it is supposed to be rather than a comparison between two articles giving a justification for changes.  However in fairness the structure and overall direction of the Assignment has changed little.  Key changes are

  1. The number of images has been reduced from seven to six.  The image North Parade, Southwold, England has been removed because it did not really fit in the set.  In my original submission I argued that it should be in but upon reflection, that although a good photograph, it should be removed.  An interesting lesson in harsh picture editing perhaps in that even if it is good is does not mean it will make the final cut if the context is not right.
  2. Two pictures Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France 1 & 2 were substituted.  Again this was not due to the picture composition or quality but the context was weak compared to others to choose from.  This was in direct response to the tutor review (as mentioned earlier) where I was challenged to:

a) Consider image selection in more than just pure compositional values. Ask the question does the image “linger in the mind after the initial viewing”? In other words is there depth to what is being viewed or is the image nothing more but a compositional exercise.

b) Consider image selection in terms of empathy: Can the viewer for some form of empathy with the subject in the image or are we so far removed that the subject just becomes a compositional element?

As a result they were replaced with Cheseaux Gare, Switzerland and another from Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France.


The Decisive Moment

Background
In this Assignment I try to determine in if today’s society where everyone is far more picture and image conscious there is still room for ‘decisive moment’ images to exist. Or is the genre passé and the images become a cliché?

It could be argued that perhaps Cartier Bresson himself realised that the decisive moment had run its course.  While there is scant evidence to support this statement Cartier Bresson gave up photography for the last 30 years of his life and returned to his first love, art.  Although he saw the camera just to be a way to instantly draw he may have considered he had exhausted all possibilities with this medium.  Maybe after taking so many of similar type images he himself felt they were not fresh anymore in their appeal and perhaps even somewhat trite.

Yet when we look at all different media today decisive moment pictures are still present and there for all to see.  I would argue that perhaps many of these pictures are created more by accident than design which is probably just down to sheer volume of picture recording devices sold.

“humankind’s cumulative picture production total to 5.7 Trillion photographs taken since the first camera was invented”.[1]

So it can be logically concluded that with all these devices out in the world there is a greater statistical chance of more people being in the right place at the right time to produce the right image. However as counterpoint to this as Freeman (2011) states

“Ease-of-use and ease-of-taking guarantees that there will always be a huge majority of ordinary, uninspiring photographs”. [2]

There again does it actually matter the final image was not purposely created? I would argue not, providing the image captures all the elements of the decisive moment.

Yet with that said our curiosity and interest with the decisive moment remains, insomuch as the Cartier Bresson’s original book The Decisive Moment (Images à la Sauvette) was republished for the first time since 1952.  Clearly there is demand and the publisher sees money to be made.

From my images most were not ‘accidental’ in that 4 out of 6 were selected from what I call Group 3, ‘Knowing When to Photograph’, where I have composed the scene first and then waited for a subject to enter the frame at then release the shutter at the right time.  To me these are the most reminiscent of Cartier Bresson’s work and I feel demonstrate that the decisive image does still work today.  However there is the argument that this actually was not true to Cartier Bresson’s meaning in the book Images à la Sauvette because this is popularly translated as Images on the Run.  In other words all his images were taken on the fly rather than planned.  Both observation and Bresson himself says this is not always entirely true as mentioned in the original research for this Assignment (Click for link).  An interesting point is that while Images à la Sauvette is popularly translated as Images on the Run I asked a number of my French colleagues what they understood as Images à la Sauvette in modern parlance. While there was no one unanimous answer (proving there was no absolute direct translation) they majority favoured Caught Red Handed.  If this were true it does put a different perspective on Cartier Bresson’s work in the book.

Before looking at my images in detail it is interesting to note that Clayton Cubitt in his article On the Constant Moment (2013) argues the “the decisive moment is dead. Long live the constant moment” [3] in that Cartier Bresson was limited by technology in that he could only use one, camera, one lens, and one film thus creating the static decisive moment.  As technology has advanced such as devices as Google Glasses or multiple positioned webcams and infinite data storage means that the decisive moment becomes the constant moment.  Here in this constant moment world we do not record a single point in time but in continuous real time.   He proposes that the photographer is then “freed from instant reaction to the Decisive Moment, and then only faced with the Decisive Area to be in, and perhaps the Decisive Angle with which to view it.” [4]  It is a fair prediction of what the future holds but I would argue that even within this constant moment world there is still room for the decisive moment.

Image Selection

Theme
As said before four of the six images are selected the images from the 3rd Group as this is the closest to the feel of Cartier-Bresson’s work.  The linking theme here is that all the photographs contain the element of compositional anticipation in that the frame was composed first and the subject then entered the scene afterwards.  In other words they are not by chance grab shots.  With that said a couple of the images were taken almost instantly after seeing the frame as the subjects walked into the frame.

Portfolio Balance
In this assignment we are asked to deliver the images as physical prints.  As these will be looked at individually, the criteria for selection can be different from those that will be looked as a set.  Stronger single images are allowed to be more dominant although there still needs to be a balance through the set else they will come across as 6 to 8 very good but discrete individual images.

Orientation
Again as being separate images I was not concerned with a balance of orientation in that they all must be landscape format, or 3 landscape and 3 portrait format etc.  Therefore format was ruled out of my selection criteria.

Consistent Ratio
In line with Cartier Bresson’s thinking I have tried to compose full frame.  In a few cases cropping was necessary but in doing so I have retained the original 3:2 format.  Therefore images selected will need to be in this ratio for a consistent feel through the deck.

Subject Balance
Although the subject or subjects are the key focal point I did not want them to dominate so they should not take up more than 20% of the frame.  This will stop the subject becoming so overpowering and taking away from the compositional geometry of the rest of the frame.

Technical Competence
Each image had to be of an acceptable technical quality. e.g. tone, focus, sharpness for the subject contained. Therefore the representation of movement through blur would be acceptable.

Composition
Finally each image had to be compositionally pleasing in that would the viewer feel comfortable observing each image.  While this is a very subjective area it is usually immediately obvious if an image is compositionally ‘wrong’ compared against common norms.

Image Presentation

Titles
I have consciously decided not to put any title other than location.  For these images I believe a title can be very distracting and draw the viewer to the wrong conclusion.  This thinking is based on the fact I recently submitted a grab shot of a group of youths to a constructive criticism photographic forum for review, which as part of the submission process requires a title.  To me the subject matter and composition had the feel of an album cover or pop/rock group publicity shot and therefore titled the image ‘The Band’.  It was interesting that the returned criticism was judging picture against the title (in that how good or not it was a picture of a band) rather than an image itself devoid of label.

Besides guiding the viewer there is also the danger that the title may also slight the viewer’s intelligence.  Pictures entitled Sunset or Tree on Horizon will not add any value clearly when the picture is of a sunset or a tree on the horizon.  Hence again putting weight to the argument that the location will inform the curious but not bias the thought process.

Final Presentation
To produce a high quality image is a complete end to end process.  The capture and processing are down to the camera and software, while the printed output is a combination of printer, paper and ink.  With these images they will be externally printed, and printed on a high grade paper with a matt finish.  My research has shown that this is more favourable to black and white images as there is less reflection and the tones render very well.

While the images are requested to be separate individual high quality prints I will also supply a small photo book.  This will act as a sequence guide and contain the title on the opposite page.

While they will be individual images the sequence is still important.  The mathematics dictate there are 720 ways of sequencing 6 images (factorial 6, 6!) therefore it could be argued that it is almost impossible to get right.  My approach was to print small versions of the pictures and keep arranging until I was happy with the flow.  My guidelines were I did not want the images to have too much of a contrast between one and the next and there was some overall compositional flow between them.  I also noted that Cartier Bresson started the book The Decisive Image with a bold ‘portrait’ oriented image.  I suppose like an opening paragraph of a book it is this that both sets the tone and draws you in. Also first impressions do count.

The final three sequences were:

Option 1

  • Built the sequence so there is a ‘portrait’ either end to replicate start and finish so as to act as an end stop
  • Started with a light tone picture and finished with a dark with the images in between getting progressively darker.
  • Tried to pair up similar compositions of object from follow on images e.g. doors, openings, floors and stairs.

Capture_01[1]

Option 2

  1. A sequence of ‘landscape’ followed by the two ‘portrait’ to keep images in like shape sequence
  2. Try to group the pictures in pairs as with common theme (i) shadows; (ii) groups; (iii) pavements
  3. Try  to keep each picture. in a balanced composition of the  next

Capture_03[1]

Option 3

  • Build up the sequence so there are two ‘portrait’s at the end so as to act as an end stop
  • Keep subjects in pairs of roughly the same size
  • Start and end with the most contrasty image

Capture_02[1]

I selected Option 1 as my preferred sequence

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Images

The structure of this section will:

  1. Show each individual image
  2. Give commentary of the image
  3. Show a before and after where the ‘before’ is the compositional framework that I saw in anticipation of the subject entering the scene and the ‘after’ is the final image. What is interesting to note that in 5 out of the 6 images I feel are strong enough to be could be standalone images in their own right, but not on the theme the decisive moment. It should also be noted that my Lightroom cloning skills are at the very early stages of development, therefore the before is illustrative rather than a perfect picture.
  4. Show a representation of where the eye is compositionally directed.

When looking at the detailed commentary there are two process themes that run through the series:

  • Vantage point: high or low with only one picture at eye level
  • Time for correct subject to enter the picture. The average is about 10 minutes between composing the ‘before’ and taking the picture.  This can seem like an eternity when waiting

1) Piazza Carlo Emanuele II, Turin, Italy

Turin, Italy
Taken from a high vantage point of my hotel balcony.  This shot was all about patience.  I saw the compositional value of the straight lines of the street light and the gutter and wanted to place a subject at the right point.  This was a very busy road with traffic and pedestrians.  I had to wait over 15 minutes until the conditions became ‘right’ with the added bonus that by luck the lady stopped and looked up at something.  The viewer is left wondering what has caught her eye or even distracted her from crossing the road

For my part I like the clean approach of this image in that there are only 4 compositional elements present.  The lady, the road, the lamp post and the gutter.  Also the nature of the optics causing the lamp post to lean into the picture is far stronger than if this had been a more flat geometrical image.

Perhaps Cartier Bresson’s words “It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression” ring true for this simple composition

Capture 07

Before and after

Capture 007

Visual Plan

2) Cheseaux Gare, Switzerland
 Cheseaux Gare, Switzerland

This is one of those almost accidental shots, in that chance entered the prepared mind.  It was taken in the underpass of a provincial railway station.   During research I had seen the potential of what the underpass could compositionally offer and would just have to wait for the right subject to enter the frame at the right time.  As I was fiddling to set up my camera I became aware of people in front and just took the picture.  The process could be described as an instinctive grab shot.  I had no time to check or set up the camera.  I thought nothing of that shot and carried on setting the the speed, aperture, and camera set up and continued with what I had originally set out to do.

It was not until I reviewed the images in Lightroom did I see the potential if this image. In theory everything is wrong with it.  It is out of focus, the subjects are blurred, but not enough to usefully represent movement,.  Also the verticals are out of line because of the use of a wide angle and a low vantage point.  However for me this adds strength to support the two subjects. There is a mystery with this image because what we as the viewer (and in fact myself as the photographer) do not know is the relationship between the pair of women.  On first glance there is the illusion that they are a pair who know each other and are chatting, but the more we look it is if they are travelling in opposite directions as if one is shooting a glance or giving a comment as they pass each other.  While we can speculate, this will remain an unsolved mystery because as soon as I took the photograph I turned my attention back to setting my camera up and when finished the subjects had gone.

It could be argued that an underpass is a bit of a clichéd location for the backdrop of a shot however for me it was full of the geometrical compositional opportunities I desired.  What adds to this shot is the low vantage point as I was actually on the floor at the time sorting my camera bag out.  This gives a different dynamic that if it had been at eye level.  Also I decided not to correct the verticals in Lightroom as I would have normally done.  The ‘corrected’ image lost some of that dynamism of the original.

For me this image is more than just about the pure compositional values because the relationship of the mystery of the subjects does  “linger in the mind after the initial viewing”.

Gare

Before and after

Capture 05

Visual Plan

3) Musée des Confluences (2), Lyon, France

Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France

I had walked around the museum for a while and had spotted the potential compositional value of the alignment of the door, grill and two lights.  I waited for a long while but nothing was right to get the any form of decent picture.  It was a very busy thoroughfare and the timing was just not going to happen. As chance would have it that much later as I was preparing to leave two ladies were standing talking. The one on the right was looking at some artwork on the wall just out of picture and her friend started walking away.  The question for me was when should I fire the shutter for the greatest compositional impact? The obvious was when the lady was being framed by the dark door.  However I dismissed this as it was a little too obvious and felt the picture would have an unbalanced geometrical weight. I wanted the lady directly under the light as it would both give a repetition of theme of the two light with subjects under and also would fill the left hand space.  For what seemed like an eternity I  waited until she was in the right place.  In this case fortune favoured the brave because in those three or four seconds any of the subjects may have moved into different positions or someone could have walked into or across the shot..

For me this image is everything I wanted it to be.  I got the timing right and as shown in the Visual Plan below the relationship of the way the eye through the picture to the right hand lady that acts as a backstop and bounces your eye back into the picture give a greater weight to the composition.

But like the previous image this is more than just a composition exercise we as the viewers are left wondering what is happening here.  Are the subjects friends? Has one walked off after an argument?  What are they doing there and what are they going to do next? Yes this could be argued that these are questions you could ask about anyone in any photograph. However here I think that it is the position of the compositional elements that lend more weight to these questions in order for the image to “linger in the mind after the initial viewing”.

Museum 1

Before and after

Capture 04

Visual Plan

 

4) Galleria Sabauda (1), Turin, Italy – Stairs

Turin, Italy

This shot was a taken from a low vantage point on a busy staircase.  Here I was trying not to make the image look too clichéd with a silhouette of someone walking up the stairs positioned on the thirds.  Again it was a case of a long wait to get the timing right for the lady going up but as she was in the right position a man came running down and for me compositionally added to the picture.  As conditions were bright I was using a fast shutter speed that has frozen the moment.  Ideally it would have been great if the lady was frozen and blur was shown in the gentlemen but as is it I am happy with the result.

I very much like the tonal range in this image as it again just stops it from being a silhouette shot.   The grain in the marble subconsciously takes our eye through the picture.  Also for me there is a little compositional subplot in the arches in the bottom left hand corner.  Besides giving a sense of depth to the picture, it links to the subjects is asking the question what is beyond, where has the lady come from and what is the man rushing on to.

Capture 01

Before and after

Capture 001

Visual Plan

5) Triq San Gorg, Spinola Bay, Malta

DSC08740

Again taken from a high vantage point this shot again required patience.  Even without the subject I saw the strong composition value of this scene.  The eye is drawn down the lamppost and shadow and up to the staircase to the plant and up the further staircase all accentuated by the harsh sunlight giving deep black shadows which I particularly like.  The issue here was in fact a lack of people walking by.  As with a previous image this took about 15 minutes before the right person at the right time.  It could be compositionally argued that the man should be a little further back in the space and walking more into the picture.  My argument here is the position is correct as it fills the space between the curb and the stairs.  Also I like the fact he is walking out of the frame and that we cannot catch his vision.  It gives the photograph an element of mysterious purpose; what is on his mind and where is he going.

Capture 04

Before and after

Capture 004

Visual Plan

6) Galleria Sabauda (2), Turin, Italy

Turin, Italy

I saw the effect of strong backlight on people passing this busy corridor.  I deliberately set myself a long way down the way so as to get a real sense of depth and to ensure the subject just became a silhouette but just enough still to give a sense of purpose and direction of the subject.

Again with this shot it was a case of timing and a little luck.  Many people passed in two and threes but just was not the right composition. This person passed and I knew I had the right shot.  The distance between the two walls (walking into some space), the position of the legs, the body stance and the sense of purpose are all there to make this image.

What I like about this image is how the banner/flag either side of the corridor have narrowed the gap down hiding both where he is walking to and from and also stopping the arch window being too symmetrical.  It breaks the flow slightly so the eye slows down to look and think about the subject.  Also by fortuitous luck rather than design, during processing I noticed the foreground line in the floor.  Initially I was disappointed but then realised that again it subconsciously acted as a barrier to stop the eye racing off down to the end of the corridor.  Effectively it accentuated the depth of the corridor by giving the image a foreground rather than having all the action at the back of the scene.

Capture 02

Before and after

Capture 002

Visual Plan

References

[1] Ahonen, Tomi T (2014) [Online]
http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2014/08/camera-stats-world-has-48b-cameras-by-4b-unique-camera-owners-88-of-them-use-cameraphone-to-take-pic.html  [Last accessed 18 May 2015

[2] Feeman, Michael (2011) The Photographer’s Vision P13 Focal Press

[3] [4] Cubitt, Clayton (2013), On The Constant Moment [Online]
http://claytoncubitt.com/blog/2013/5/13/on-the-constant-moment [Last accessed 18 May 2015]

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Assignment 3 The Decisive Moment: Reflection Post Tutor Review

As with other assignment feedback, I will keep the detailed comments private but in summary the overall feedback was positive in that there was a clear understanding of the requirement, research was comprehensive and the work was presented and reflected upon in an effective manner.  The recommendation was made to move on to Assignment 4.  I feel the comments given were very fair and gave me thoughts for alternative directions rather than the obvious.  The comments also confirmed where I am in terms of development and what I need to do for the future.

In summary the changes needed to the assignment are:

  • Technical work on some of the images: for example correction of blown highlights
  • Consider image selection in more than just pure compositional values. Ask the question does the image “linger in the mind after the initial viewing”? In other words is there depth to what is being viewed or is the image nothing more but a compositional exercise.
  • Consider image selection in terms of empathy: Can the viewer for some form of empathy with the subject in the image or are we so far removed that the subject just becomes a compositional element?

Also changes required to research and investigations:

  • Explore and develop my arguments further either within current research or in the future
  • Support suppositions with relevant sources

These changes will be made and a revised Assignment 3 and any supporting research will subsequently be posted.

Assignment 3 The Decisive Moment: Reflection Post Submission

Of the three assignments completed so far I found this one the most enjoyable.  It is not that the others were not thought provoking or challenging but with this one I found that I really immersed myself in the research, thought process and subject matter.  Perhaps subconsciously I was back in a comfort zone or alternatively maybe I have discovered part of my voice in this genre of image creation.  Overall I believed I have met the criteria therefore would judge my work at the detailed level as follows:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)

  • Technical skill: All in focus, all exposed as I wanted then, all level, depth of field as I required with the correct tonal qualities
  • Observational skills: As my research shows I did not go for the obvious and built my images up in three learning groups, with each group building on the other.
  • Design/Compositional skills: All the pictures are as I wanted them.  During shooting I made a conscious decision as to the correct orientation (landscape or portrait) for the image and tried where possible to keep true to Cartier Bresson in that I composed the image full frame in the viewfinder so as there would be little or no cropping afterwards.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)

  • I feel I have produced images that show visual qualities that allow the viewer to connect with the theme of the decisive moment and reflect the feel of Cartier Bresson’s images.  I also feel that each image works both stand alone and as part of a distinct sequence.  There is one image that I highlighted in the text that may be removed from the final submission as it does not represent a human but an animal.  I think I need time to reflect more on this but more than likely will remove it.
  • From the tutor comments on previous exercises I have given much more thought to the sequence and hanging plan and had tried to express my thoughts more both in the text and visually through annotated diagrams.  In a strange way I find this akin to maths in that while you can easily get to the answer that is only part of the solution, the workings out are what really counts in this case the thought process.  I feel that I am understanding a little more with each exercise completed.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)

  • I believe that the images presented the reflect the question in that I have thought hard about what I wanted to represent, and in doing so created both an interest and a curiosity with the viewer regarding the subject.  Also I tried not to fall into the too obvious cliché trap.  However some of these clichés were perhaps in group 1 of my images but still acceptable as pictures.
  • What is interesting is now that the work has been completed, I am still seeing all around me images that would fit in with this assignment.  Therefore the learning from this is that this assignment has left a legacy in my ability to see an image.  Perhaps the danger is that all future images will have a subconscious decisive moment feel about them.  I have to be careful with this so it does not restrict any future creativity in other assignments.
  • What I have learnt with this assignment (which is perhaps an extension of my work with crowds in Assignment 2) is that most of the time people are actually extremely predictable.  In my group 3 shots where I framed first in anticipation of the subject entering and exiting the frame at the right time and position, very rarely failed.  Once the subject was in the frame the secret was just for me to know when to press the shutter.  Very rarely did this not work out. I think this predictability in people will be an important learning point for the future.

Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking. (20%)

  • For this assignment much research was done.  For me the secret here was not to read about Cartier Bresson’s technique more just to study the images and ask myself what worked and why I liked it and conversely what did not and why I did not like the image.  Besides Cartier Bresson’s work there are many other modern images on the internet that were viewed.  Some of them were conscious exercises in copying his style other more accidental in nature but all good reference points.

Based on the experience and assessment from previous assignments I would consider this a pass but how much I have no idea but as always there is certainly room to improve especially so in the selection and sequencing.  I know from the tutor review positive suggestions will be made for improvement and as always appreciate the constructive criticism.

Assignment 3 – The Decisive Moment

Background
In this Assignment I try to determine in if today’s society where everyone is far more picture and image conscious there is still room for ‘decisive moment’ images to exist. Or is the genre passé and the images become a cliché?

It could be argued that perhaps Cartier Bresson himself realised that the decisive moment had run its course.  While there is scant evidence to support this statement Cartier Bresson gave up photography for the last 30 years of his life and returned to his first love, art.  Although he saw the camera just to be a way to instantly draw he may have considered he had exhausted all possibilities with this medium.  Maybe after taking so many of similar type images he himself felt they were not fresh anymore in their appeal and perhaps even somewhat trite.

Yet when we look at all different media today decisive moment pictures are still present and there for all to see.  I would argue that perhaps many of these pictures are created more by accident than design which is probably just down to sheer volume of picture recording devices sold.

“humankind’s cumulative picture production total to 5.7 Trillion photographs taken since the first camera was invented”.[1]

So it can be logically concluded that with all these devices out in the world there is a greater statistical chance of more people being in the right place at the right time to produce the right image. However as counterpoint to this as Freeman (2011) states

“Ease-of-use and ease-of-taking guarantees that there will always be a huge majority of ordinary, uninspiring photographs”. [2]

There again does it actually matter the final image was not purposely created? I would argue not providing the image captures all the elements of the decisive moment.

Yet with that said our curiosity and interest with the decisive moment remains, insomuch as the Cartier-Bresson’s original book The Decisive Moment (Images à la Sauvette) was republished for the first time since 1952.  Clearly there is demand and the publisher sees money to be made.

From my images none were ‘accidental’ and selected from what I call Group 3, ‘Knowing When to Photograph’, where I have composed the scene first and then waited for a subject to enter the frame at then release the shutter at the right time.  To me these are the most reminiscent of Cartier Bresson’s work and I feel demonstrate that the decisive image does still work today.

See https://swissrolly.wordpress.com/category/research-reflection/research/

Before looking at my images in detail it is interesting to note that Clayton Cubitt in his article On the Constant Moment (2013) argues the “the decisive moment is dead. Long live the constant moment” [3] in that Cartier Bresson was limited by technology in that he could only use one, camera, one lens, and one film thus creating the static decisive moment.  As technology has advanced such as devices as Google Glasses or multiple positioned webcams and infinite data storage means that the decisive moment becomes the constant moment.  Here in this constant moment world we do not record a single point in time but in continuous real time.   He proposes that the photographer is then “freed from instant reaction to the Decisive Moment, and then only faced with the Decisive Area to be in, and perhaps the Decisive Angle with which to view it.” [4]  It is a fair prediction of what the future holds but I would argue that even within this constant moment world there is still room for the decisive moment.

Image Selection

Theme
I have selected the images from the 3rd Group as this is the closest to the feel of Cartier-Bresson’s work.  The linking theme here is that all the photographs contain the element of compositional anticipation in that the frame was composed first and the subject then entered the scene afterwards.  In other words they are not chance grab shots.

Portfolio Balance
In this assignment we are asked to deliver the images as physical prints.  As these will be looked at individually, the criteria for selection can be different from those that will be looked as a set.  Stronger single images are allowed to be more dominant although there still needs to be a balance through the set else they will come across as 6 to 8 very good but discrete individual images.

Orientation
Again as being separate images I was not concerned with a balance of orientation in that they all must be landscape format, or 3 landscape and 3 portrait format etc.  Therefore format was ruled out of my selection criteria.

Consistent Ratio
In line with Cartier Bresson’s thinking I have tried to compose full frame.  In a few cases cropping was necessary but in doing so I have retained the original 3:2 format.  Therefore images selected will need to be in this ratio for a consistent feel through the deck.

Subject Balance
Although the subject or subjects are the key focal point I did not want them to dominate so they should not take up more than 10% of the frame.  This will stop the subject becoming overpowering and taking away from the compositional geometry of the rest of the frame.

Technical Competence
Each image had to be of an acceptable technical quality. e.g. tone, focus, sharpness for the subject contained. Therefore the representation of movement through blur would be acceptable.

Composition
Finally each image had to be compositionally pleasing in that would the viewer feel comfortable observing each image.  While this is a very subjective area it is usually immediately obvious if an image is compositionally ‘wrong’ compared against common norms.

Image Presentation

Titles
I have consciously decided not to put any title other than location.  For these images I believe a title can be very distracting and draw the viewer to the wrong conclusion.  This thinking is based on the fact I recently submitted a grab shot of a group of youths to a constructive criticism photographic forum for review, which as part of the submission process requires a title.  To me the subject matter and composition had the feel of an album cover or pop/rock group publicity shot and therefore titled the image ‘The Band’.  It was interesting that the returned criticism was judging picture against the title (in that how good or not it was a picture of a band) rather than an image itself devoid of label.

Besides guiding the viewer there is also the danger that the title may also slight the viewer’s intelligence.  Pictures entitled Sunset or Tree on Horizon will not add any value clearly when the picture is of a sunset or a tree on the horizon.  Hence again putting weight to the argument that the location will inform the curious but not bias the thought process.

Final Presentation
To produce a high quality image it is a complete end to end process.  The capture and processing are down to the camera and software, while the printed output is a combination of printer, paper and ink.  With these images they will be externally printed and printed on a high grade paper with a matt finish.  My research has shown that this is more favourable to black and white images as there is less reflection and the tones render very well.

While the images are requested to be separate individual high quality prints I will also supply a small photo book.  This will act as a sequence guide and contain the title on the opposite page.

While they will be individual images the sequence is still important.  The mathematics dictate there are 5,040 ways of sequencing 7 images (factorial 7, 7!) therefore it could be argued that it is almost impossible to get right.  My approach was to print small versions of the pictures and keep arranging until I was happy with the flow.  My guidelines were I did not want the images to have too much of a contrast between one and the next and there was some overall compositional flow between them.  I also noted that Cartier Bresson started the book The Decisive Image with a bold ‘portrait’ oriented image.  I suppose like an opening paragraph of a book it is this that both sets the tone and draws you in. Also first impressions do count.

The final three sequences were:

Option 1

  • Built the sequence so there is a ‘portrait’ either end to replicate start and finish so as to act as an end stop
  • Started with a light tone picture and finished with a dark with the images in between getting progressively darker.
  • Tried to pair up similar compositions of object from follow on images e.g. direction of walls and stairs.

lay 001

 

Option 2

  1. A sequence of ‘landscape’ followed by the two ‘portrait’ to keep images in like shape sequence
  2. Try to keep the subject reducing in size through the images until the last one is used as an end stop.
  3. Start with the most compositional complex image and finish on the simplest.

Lay 002

 

Option 3

  • Same as Option 1 to build up the sequence so there is a ‘portrait’ either end to replicate start and finish so as to act as an end stop
  • Keep like objects apart e.g. stairs
  • To make as much contrast between the images as possible to have no link at all

Lay 003

I selected Option 1 as my preferred sequence

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Images

The structure of this section will:

  1. Show each individual image
  2. Give commentary of the image
  3. Show a before and after where the ‘before’ is the compositional framework that I saw in anticipation of the subject entering the scene and the ‘after’ is the final image. What is interesting to note that in 6 out of the 7 images I feel are strong enough to be could be standalone images in their own right, but not on the theme the decisive moment. It should also be noted that my Lightroom cloning skills are at the very early stages of development, therefore the before is illustrative rather than a perfect picture.
  4. Show a representation of where the eye is compositionally directed.

When looking at the detailed commentary there are two process themes that run through the series:

  • Vantage point: high or low with only one picture at eye level
  • Time for correct subject to enter the picture. The average is about 10 minutes between composing the ‘before’ and taking the picture.  This can seem like an eternity when waiting.

1) Piazza Carlo Emanuele II, Turin, Italy

Turin, Italy
Taken from a high vantage point of my hotel balcony.  This shot was all about patience.  I saw the compositional value of the straight lines of the street light and the gutter and wanted to place a subject at the right point.  This was a very busy road with traffic and pedestrians.  I had to wait over 15 minutes until the conditions became ‘right’ with the added bonus that by luck teh lady stopped and looked up at something.  The viewer is left wondering what has caught her eye or even distracted her from crossing the road

For my part I like the clean approach of this image in that there are only 4 compositional elements present.  The lady, the road, the lamp post and the gutter.  Also the nature of the optics causing the lamp post to lean into the picture is far stronger than if this had been a more flat geometrical image.

Perhaps Cartier Bresson’s words “It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression” ring true for this simple composition

Capture 07

Before and after

Capture 007

Visual Plan

2) Musée des Confluences (1), Lyon, France

Lyon, France

This museum was full of geometrical compositional opportunities yet the difficulties I had to overcome were (a) it was very crowded and (b) to stop the pictures looking like recording visitors at a museum.  To overcome the crowd issue I used a high vantage point to isolate out individuals as best as I could.

I saw the compositional value of this location and it must have been about 20 minutes before this shot happened.  Originally I was hoping that someone would walk across (either in or out the scene) on the intersection of the bottom left third but this never happened or not as I wanted it.  This gentleman slowly walked in from the right in deep thought, changed direction and stopped for a split second to look ahead was the perfect time I judged to take the shot.  Two seconds later he had gone and the scene filled with a crowd of people.

Compositionally I am pleased with how the subject is framed by the curved walkway set against the straight lines of the walls and the floor.  This photograph is not technically perfect in that there is an amount of softness almost misty feel to the bottom of the image.  This is caused by very out of focus railings that I was leaning over.  While the narrow depth of field did not allow the capturing any direct image there was enough to leave a trace of the railing.  Similar to the slight out of focus on the left had side of Cartier Bresson’s of Gare St. Lazare perhaps.

Initially I was disappointed with this and thought about cropping this out but it would have destroyed the dynamics and balance of the image.  Therefore this has consciously been left in an I think on reflection adds a further dimension to the picture in that its gives a slight voyeuristic detached view of the man and his thoughts while we observe afar from a peephole.

Capture 06

Before and after

Capture 005

Visual Plan

3) Musée des Confluences (2), Lyon, France

Lyon, France

Again from a high vantage point I saw that children liked to run a long this high walkway.  For this image I consciously wanted to represent movement.  Rather than show a moving object against a sharp focused background I wanted to get a total feeling of movement so I decide to pan the image.  Having not much experience of this technique and only using experiences gained in a previous exercise I gave it a go.

Timing for this image was crucial in that I had to anticipate the subject and follow them through with the camera and take at the right time.  For me this image is everything I wanted it to be.  Movement in the background, and movement in the child caught in the right running stance.  It could be argued that the subject should have been placed more on the top left third to show running into the space rather than being near the centre.  In this case being near the centre does not matter as it adds to the sense of movement of where the child has come and where he is going.  Careful observation will show that the subject actually is slightly off centre enough that our brains do not try to dissect the image in half.  Also the fact that he is running into a wider space from where he has come from compounded by the strong directional lines surrounding the walkway obviates this central tendency focus.

The detail I like about the picture is that his left foot is actually in focus and the movement frozen.  This must have been a combination of the shutter speed used and the fact that the foot must have just reached that split second time in the arch of the swing where it is going to change direction but is neither going forward or backward.

Capture 05

Before and after

Capture 006

Visual Plan

4) Galleria Sabauda (1), Turin, Italy – Stairs

Turin, Italy

Turin, Italy

This shot was a taken from a low vantage point on a busy staircase.  Here I was trying not to make the image look too clichéd with a silhouette of someone walking up the stairs positioned on the thirds.  Again it was a case of a long wait to get the timing right for the lady going up but as she was in the right position a man came running down and for me compositionally added to the picture.  As conditions were bright I was using a fast shutter speed that has frozen the moment.  Ideally it would have been great if the lady was frozen and blur was shown in the gentlemen but as is it I am happy with the result.

I very much like the tonal range in this image as it again just stops it from being a silhouette shot.   The grain in the marble subconsciously takes our eye through the picture.  Also for me there is a little compositional subplot in the arches in the bottom left hand corner.  Besides giving a sense of depth to the picture, it links to the subjects is asking the question what is beyond, where has the lady come from and what is the man rushing on to.

Capture 01

Before and after

Capture 001

Visual Plan

5) Triq San Gorg, Spinola Bay, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Again taken from a high vantage point this shot again required patience.  Even without the subject I saw the strong composition value of this scene.  The eye is drawn down the lamppost and shadow and up to the staircase to the plant and up the further staircase all accentuated by the harsh sunlight giving deep black shadows which I particularly like.  The issue here was in fact a lack of people walking by.  As with a previous image this took about 15 minutes before the right person at the right time.  It could be compositionally argued that the man should be a little further back in the space and walking more into the picture.  My argument here is the position is correct as it fills the space between the curb and the stairs.  Also I like the fact he is walking out of the frame and that we cannot catch his vision.  It gives the photograph an element of mysterious purpose; what is on his mind and where is he going.

Capture 04

Before and after

Capture 004

Visual Plan

6) North Parade, Southwold, England

Southwold, England

From a vantage point above the beach huts I saw people walking along the beach and originally had planned the subject to be people.  Although compositionally strong because of the beach huts almost point towards the subject the image was a little obvious.  I then saw the dog approaching the frame and it was one chance to get this right.

I had chosen a shallower depth of field to emphasise the strong lines of the roofs wanting the background to be slightly out of focus so the subject was not too obvious to the viewer.  Being a dull day therefore needing a slow speed the fast movement of the dog is emphasised by the slight blur.

It could be argued that this one should not be included in the set as it is the only one that does not contain a person.  That is true but I would argue here that the person is implied by association.  Clearly this is not a wild dog running amuck but is a domesticated dog with an owner just out of shot.  The dog has run ahead of the owner and we know and have the anticipation that the owner will follow.

Capture 03

Before and after

Capture 003

Visual Plan

7) Galleria Sabauda (2), Turin, Italy

Turin, Italy

I saw the effect of strong backlight on people passing this busy corridor.  I deliberately set myself a long way down the way so as to get a real sense of depth and to ensure the subject just became a silhouette but just enough still to give a sense of purpose and direction of the subject.

Again with this shot it was a case of timing and a little luck.  Many people passed in two and threes but just was not the right composition. This person passed and I knew I had the right shot.  The distance between the two walls (walking into some space), the position of the legs, the body stance and the sense of purpose are all there to make this image.

What I like about this image is how the banner/flag either side of the corridor have narrowed the gap down hiding both where he is walking to and from and also stopping the arch window being too symmetrical.  It breaks the flow slightly so the eye slows down to look and think about the subject.  Also by fortuitous luck rather than design, during processing I noticed the foreground line in the floor.  Initially I was disappointed but then realised that again it subconsciously acted as a barrier to stop the eye racing off down to the end of the corridor.  Effectively it accentuated the depth of the corridor by giving the image a foreground rather than having all the action at the back of the scene.

Capture 02

Before and after

Capture 002

Visual Plan

 References

[1] Ahonen, Tomi T (2014) [Online]
http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2014/08/camera-stats-world-has-48b-cameras-by-4b-unique-camera-owners-88-of-them-use-cameraphone-to-take-pic.html  [Last accessed 18 May 2015

[2] Feeman, Michael (2011) The Photographer’s Vision P13 Focal Press

[3] [4] Cubitt, Clayton (2013), On The Constant Moment [Online]
http://claytoncubitt.com/blog/2013/5/13/on-the-constant-moment [Last accessed 18 May 2015]

 

 

 

Assignment 2 Collecting – Crowds and Personal Space: Rework Post Tutor Review

The following is a rework of the original submission post tutor review. Changes that have been made are:

  • Overly similar images have been substituted.
  • The hanging plan has been changed to reflect greater image affinity.
  • An objective analysis of image selection has been included.
  • Reasoning behind the sequencing and layout of hanging plan has been included.

Introduction

Within this Assignment I wanted to explore the concept of personal space or rather the invasion of personal space; where personal space is defined as the space surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs.  This space can be looked upon as a bubble around oneself that expands and contracts depending on the circumstances. Research has shown that there are 4 different distances that we accept. When these distance norms are encroached we have feelings of discomfort, anxiety or even anger.

  1. Intimate distance for children, lovers, close family members, friends, and pet animals.
  2. Personal distance for conversations with friends, to chat with associates, and in group discussions.
  3. Social distance is reserved for strangers, newly formed groups, and new acquaintances.
  4. Public distance is used for speeches, lectures, and larger audiences.

What I want/hoped to demonstrate (through the use of aperture, focal length and viewpoint ) is how people react when these distance norms are forcibly broken down by circumstances and their space invaded such as on a crowded train.  Is it possible to show that we are just accepting because we have now have no other option, or perhaps is there a new order of distances emerging in a modern crowded society?

Process

In terms of process my plan was threefold.  Firstly to produce the images in black and white as I felt strong could be distracting.

Secondly to move through the range of apertures and focal lengths to represent the four personal distance spaces.  Therefore the intimate space would be represented by a long focal length with a narrow depth of field.  This would allow the focus just to be on the subjects without the distraction of a background to demonstrate the closeness and proximity to each other.  At the other end of the spectrum a wide angle deep depth of field would be used to illustrate the public space.  This would not only demonstrate the vastness of the space people move (or not move) but also give the dimension of depth in a crowded situation.

What would be the limiting factor to my aperture/focal length plan would be the amount of available light.  It could be possible that within certain environments (inside a building or down in an Underground station) there would not be enough light and I could have to open up the aperture and lose the depth of field I required.  Alternatively using the long focal length with the aperture wide open I would have to slow the speed down beyond the point where camera shake would start to cut in.  At slow speeds blur of moving subjects could be a possibility but I would hope that it may add rather than detract from some of the images.  A tripod would certainly overcome these issues but unless absolutely necessary I avoided this so to be spontaneous and secondly not to attract attention to myself.

Thirdly another dimension to emphasis these space bubbles is that of view point.  The intention for the more personal space shot was to be down at subject level or lower.  Again this would further isolate the subjects from any background.  For the public spaces the plan was to have a high vantage point looking down onto the crowds.  However I did not want to be too square to anything below else it would have lost the full advantage with the depth of field.

Evaluation

Looking at what worked well, what didn’t work so well and improvements future:

Was I happy into the depth of research? Yes

Starting from a point of almost zero subject knowledge and with the amount of reading by comparison I almost feel like an expert in the field of personal space.  This background investigation really helped with what I was looking for as subject matter in a scene.

Also what helped here was my correspondence with a number of prominent street photographers on how they would approach such an assignment. These responses are outlined in my research section (https://swissrolly.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/assignment-2-collecting-practitioner-responses/)

Was I happy with the technical execution in terms of use of focal length, aperture, speed, focal point etc? Yes

This did prove challenging in that while I could plan what I wanted to do with focal point, or aperture for instance, trying to find the right aspect of personal space at the right time did prove quite problematical.  Many of the images taken are a cross between grab shots and the decisive moment.  If I did not take the picture then, regardless of the camera settings, the moment would have been lost.  Without doing an exact count by I would guess that over half of all the pictures taken over the various sessions would be eye level and 50mm lens equivalent.

From a pure technical point of view are the pictures exposed correctly and sharp, level, composed as I wanted them then the answer is yes.  On one or two shots where a slow speed was used movement can be seen but this I feel does not detract

Am I happy that I have managed to capture personal space especially so the invasion of personal space? Yes and no

Yes in that I think each photograph demonstrates a different aspect of personal space and have given a detailed comment of how each image achieves this.  No in that perhaps being too critical of my own work what I wanted to capture in my mind’s eye was not what I could either find in real life and then if found subsequently capture in the way I had envisioned.

Do I think the series works as a whole? I think so

Why I give a reserved yes is because it comes down to seeing the pictures against the intended backdrop.  Without knowing the subject matter the viewer would see 10 horizontally orientated black and white pictures all with the same look and feel giving a sense of rhythm and harmony to the set.  Each photo is composed well, technically competent but none are show stoppingly excellent.  Once the context is then known the pictures take on a different dimension and then this theme is seen across the whole set tying them together as a cohesive unit.

As highlighted in my research the big issue for me was that I took too long over the assignment.  This was a combination of:

  • choosing a subject that was difficult to capture (born out by my correspondence with street photographers)
  • Took too long over the research e.g. was recommended a book by my tutor (The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard) and read it from end to end. It contained very useful themes and ideas but in hindsight I should have adopted a different reading approach.
  • trying to get an image that demonstrated an intrinsically different aspect of space. I did not want the themes to duplicate or repeat and this took time

Key learning for me is that for future assignments I need to re-evaluate how I plan my workload else while enjoyable I will never get the course completed in a reasonable time.

Finally while having to respect to the question to keep the same format throughout (to ensure coherence to the series) I would have liked to introduce a mixed format approach.  Due to the nature of some of the aspects of personal space a vertical format or even a square format would have better suited what was being portrayed.

Hanging PlanHanging1

Image Selection Criteria

The images selected each represent a different aspect of personal space however as touched on before the viewer needs to know the context.  Although they are good pictures individually and work well as a set it is not until the context made known do they all sit together.  Yes it can be argued that that each image should be so strong that the context should be obvious to the viewer.  In some cases this is very much true (photojournalism perhaps) while others less so.  I have covered the context debate a little in relation to the work of Chloe Dewe Mathews (https://swissrolly.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/conflict-time-photography/)

The images were selected by the following criteria:

  • Is it of an acceptable technical quality? (e.g. tone, focus sharpness)
  • Is it compositionally pleasing? (e.g. would the viewer feel comfortable viewing)
  • Is the composition and subject matter sufficiently different than other images selected (to avoid similar looking images)
  • Does the picture work in harmony with others selected? (e.g. does the image draw the viewers attention to the detriment of others?)
  • Does it show a unique aspect of personal space compared to other images selected?
  • Is there a spread of different focal lengths used?
  • Is the format of the image consistent with others selected

For me the most difficult selection was choosing sufficiently different images.  While I am happy with the outcome in that they all work as a group they are not necessarily what I consider my ‘best’ photographs however they do all meet the selection criteria.

Hanging Plan Design

The hanging plan design fell into two stages.  Firstly the selection of the format and secondly the position of the images within the format.

Format
For me this proved problematical in that in theory there are almost a limitless way in which the images can be presented (horizontal, vertical, linear, random, angled etc). My choice was by the fact I did not want eye running along a series of images trying to pair off or balance.  I wanted to break the flow so the eye and stopped and inspected each image in relation to another.  It was a way of slowing the viewer eye down and presenting visual barriers. Also I tried to develop the theme of personal space between the images making the distance between each image much further away.  While this seemed a good idea the final result disconnected the images from the context as there was visually too much space for the eye to easily cross.

Position
Once the format was decided logic was applied to the position.  Again even after ruling out unbalanced compositions there are many ways in which the images can be displayed.  My final selection was made on the following criteria

  • Left wing balances out right wing.
  • Stronger images are in the middle
  • Link the middle through a pyramid of open to closed spaces
  • Try and develop a visual flow from the cramped conditions of the train which both physically and visually transports you to the other images and back to the train for completion.

My view is I am happy with the result and assists in the visualization of the theme of the assignment.

Capture 3

Final Selected 10 Pictures with Observational Commentary
(Note: all pictures taken on a 1.5x crop factor camera)

1) Museum Queue, Palazzo Chiablese, Turin, Italy
55mm  1/100 sec at f4.5

DSC00454

This images show a queue of people waiting to get into an art exhibition.  As the queue was outside there was room to move it can be seen that as the crowd was not forced close together.  As a result a gap of personal space has opened up between groups.  What can be seen is that the gap has not opened up too much so that the shape of the queue remains and no one could easily push in.  Interesting to note the two children at the end appear if they could be strangers with personal space between themselves but they are just getting to know each other.  Perhaps during the course of the queuing as they get to know each other the space will close down.

The flat square on view is used to demonstrate the personal space gaps.

2) Re-enactment, Hampton Court, London
26mm  1/13 sec at f4.0

DSC07151I have put this picture in as a positive antithesis to the invasion of personal space.  This one breaks all the rules in that there are a large number of people in a confined space yet they all seem comfortable that they are invading each other’s space. Why is this?  My theory is they are all here for the common reason of an enjoyable purpose – to see a re-enactment.  They are there for their own enjoyment and they want to see and appreciate what is going on.  This can be further seen by the fact that some of the children are to be involved as they have been dressed for audience participation.  As everyone is there for the same reason the barriers seem to have broken down.  They are concentrating on the show smiling and laughing that any personal space limits have disappeared.  What I could not determine was how long this social euphoria would last after the show before people would return back to the spatial norms.

I like this photo because it was shot at a low angle in line with most of the audience and a slow speed because of the low lighting conditions.  As a result of a wide aperture, the front few subjects are in focus while the rest fade slowly out of focus emphasising the sense of enjoyment on the foreground subject faces.  The slow speed has also added some blurring movement in a few subjects which add some dynamism to the image.

3) Station Platform, Morges, Switzerland
26mm  1/800 sec at f5.0

DSC06337

A square-on shot showing passengers waiting at the station.  Initially my image was going to show the large gap between the man on the right and the girl on the left.  The third subject arrived and placed herself almost dead centre between the two giving naturally equidistance spacing.  Clearly the girl must have (perhaps subconsciously) thought about this as she approached her position to place herself so perfectly.  What is interesting is that the man seems to be oblivious of the newcomer yet the other girl (providing it is not just me capturing point in time) seems to have adopted a protective body language stance.  I was hoping that another person would come along to see where they would stand in relation to the others but the train arrived and the passengers departed.

 

4) Underground Train, London
16mm  1/60 sec at f4.0

DSC06816

A crowded underground train shows how all personal space has broken down.  Passengers appear to accept this as the need to get to their destination outweighs the need for keeping distance.  The lower wide angle shot seems to emphasise the lack of space.  Also interesting to note that a number of passengers appeared to have spotted me.  I think what has happened is that I am a point of interest to which they can fix their gaze outside the carriage rather than having to look into eyes of their fellow passengers.  What I like about this image is that the symmetry adds to closeness and confinement, and the teeth like motif on the door adds to the feeling of the passengers being trapped within their surroundings.

5) Millennium Bridge, London
55mm  1/100 sec at f4.5

DSC07355

An observation here of when all the rules of personal space seem to breakdown to achieve a different goal.  I found out that the subject here was a yoga practitioner who was part of a photo shoot for her website.  Clearly the lady was not concerned about what people thought or how they would react in seeing her.  What I saw was two things relating to passers by (i) intimate space seem to close up between couples when seeing anything strange.  Almost an inbuilt safety mechanism had kicked in, and (ii) the lady was given a much wider berth than others in the thong of people crossing the bridge.  Therefore it could be concluded that while people did not like being too close in crowds it was accepted because of the situation (the narrowness of the bridge), but when something out of the ordinary happens normal rules of distance are applied.

6) Great Court, British Museum, London
36mm  1/60 sec at f4.5

PicDSC06628

This image is all about choices.  I observed the scene for a good ten minutes in anticipation of what would happen before I took this image.

I saw the couple had set themselves down to chat and or eat.  From what I would expect that I had learned about personal space that if someone else came along they would set up their own territory as far away as the could.  As expected a lady sat down on the other table and at the end to ensure this was a border so her space only had the potential to be invaded on side.  It could be argued that she had to sit somewhere so she randomly selected this seat.  Yes that is true but the observation her was that was not the case.

I like this image because you see it from the perspective of someone who may have want to enter this space.  The photograph conveys the element of choice

 

7) Ticket Queue, Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France
55mm  1/100 sec at f4.5

DSC09409

A shot from above shows well the space between people queuing for tickets to enter a museum.  This demonstrates the personal space between the couples/parties in the queue but also demonstrates the intimate space between the couples.  I would argue that as nobody is in a great rush (as there is not start time unlike a sports event) people are keeping their distance and the queue has not closed up.

 

8) Tourist Party Outside Santa Croce Church, Piazza Carlo Emanuele II, Turin
210mm  1/80 sec at f6.3

DSC00326

Taken from afar this image shows the conflict between personal space and achieving a goal. The party is a group of tourists who other than perhaps couples have no connection between each other than they are getting ready to go on a guided tour of a church with this being the introduction/briefing before they enter.  People have to get close enough to hear the guide but because they are unfamiliar with each other they are trying to leave space between each other.  The angle from which the photograph was taken shows this clearly.  So why do not the tourists just stand in front on the guide to get the best position to hear?  Why leave a large gap?  Based on what I have read I would argue that this is a combination of keeping personal space but also what is deemed as the social etiquette of good manners.  There are times when these proximity rules break down.  People on the autism spectrum generally lack any natural sense of personal space, or alternatively people under the influence of alcohol have these barriers broken down sometimes for better or sometimes for worse.  With reference to the picture neither appear to be the case here.

 

9) Platform, Zürich Flughafen Bahnhof, Switzerland
55mm  1/40 sec at f5.6

DSC08795

With this picture I have tried to capture people ignoring any conception of personal space when they have a specific goal in mind.  Here passengers are either rushing to catch the train or get to airport terminal as fast as possible.  What is not represented in the picture too well is how people would jostle and push each other to achieve their goal.

I do not feel that this picture adequacy captures what I saw in that how people react.  Perhaps a slower exposure that would have represented the motion trail may have served better. In saying that this picture was difficult enough as I was seen as a barrier, and subsequently jostled out of the way.

Again what I did not observe that once the people got on the train how they decided to sit.  From observations during taking pictures for this assignment my feeling was each person would seek out a seat ideally with no one else either surrounding or next to them.  Therefore the barriers of personal space breakdown with the goal to get on the train yet return the moment when they have achieved this goal.

 

10) Millennium Bridge, London
16mm  1/100 sec at f5.0

DSC07338

In a way this image is counterpoint to the Underground picture.  In that the passengers were almost looking to me as an escape.  Here the people crossing the bridge to keep their personal space safe did not want to look at me.  Yes they saw I was taking pictures of people passing in front of me, yes they had the opportunity  to change course and go around the back of me, but they carried on in a straight line and to protect their space just looked down and carried on going.  Perhaps on a sunnier warmer day they may have gone around me but on this very cold late afternoon a straight line was the preferred option.

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Contact Sheets

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Assignment 2 Collecting – Crowds and Personal Space: Reflection Post Tutor Review

Again as per Assignment 1, I will keep the detailed comments private but in summary the overall feedback was positive, the theme of the assignment was deemed of interest and engaging, and the recommendation was made to move on to Assignment 3.  I feel the comments given were very fair annotated with excellent mentoring pointers, and confirmed for me where I am in terms of course development and what is needed for the future.

In summary the changes needed to the work are:

  • Too many overly similar images in that while the individual images are strong I need to substitute others from the contact sheets.
  • A need to change hanging plan layout for image affinity so as the images balance each another in a more harmonious way.
  • An in depth objective analysis of my thinking in selecting these images needs to be written and added.
  • Reasoning behind the sequencing and layout of hanging plan is required.

These changes will be made and a revised Assignment 2 will subsequently be posted.

In addition it was recommended to add to my Research section the practitioner responses to my questions about personal space.

Assignment 2 Collecting – Crowds and Personal Space : Reflection Post Submission

Overall I believed I have met the criteria therefore would judge my work at the detailed level as follows:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)

  • Technical skill: All in focus, all exposed as I wanted then, all level, depth of field as I required
  • Observational skills: Did not go for the obvious, selected carefully the subjects and scenes I needed to depict both personal space and the invasion of personal space
  • Design/Compositional skills: As required by the question I selected a variety of focal lengths and focal points. Also the pictures are all landscape format for consistency without any or very little any cropping.  The core elements are contained within frame which I wanted to depict.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)

  • I feel I have produced images that show visual qualities that allow the viewer to connect with the theme at hand. I believe that the viewer can see the idea and concept of personal space manifest itself through the images.  I feel the image do not come across as just pictures of crowds but can be seen that they have been taken for a purpose both as standalone images and as part of themes set.
  • Where I feel I have much to learn is that of the editing process and the final ‘hanging plan’. With many images to choose from deciding which to use so that it demonstrates all aspects of personal space and as a set of coherent images was not without difficulties.  I fear that I could have spent just as long with this process as I did with producing the body of work in the first place.  In the end I feel comfortable (within my current knowledge) with the balance of the final set.  No doubt there is much room for improvement as the assignments progresses.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)

  • I hope that the images reflect that I have challenged the question in that I have thought hard about what I wanted to represent, and in doing so create both an interest and a curiosity with the viewer regarding the subject.
  • While the nature of what I was trying to capture reduced the latitude for creativity I feel that this has been added to the images. I feel I have explored a range of approaches both planned and opportune that resolved my ideas from conception to reality.
  • Perhaps if this body of work were over a longer period there would have been time to deeply understand both how crowds react, and also what to do to make myself as the observer and recorder of this behavior disappear into the background so as not to interfere with the natural course of events.

Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking. (20%)

  • While I may have overly researched and taken too long to produce this assignment I think on balance I am happy with what I have produced. Contacting other street photographers and university professors gave a rich insight to both the theoretical and practical side to the subject.  Even in depth research from the internet I would not have discovered any of the valuable information given by this approach.

Based on the experience and assessment from Assignment 1 I would consider this a pass but how much I have no idea but there is certainly room to improve.