Study Visit : Gregory Crewdson – Cathedral of the Pines

I must admit a certain amount of excitement in my looking forward to this study visit to the Photographer Gallery in London to see Gregory Crewdson’s Cathedral of the Pines. Up until then I had only seen his work in books or online, and had been very impressed. For an artist credited with massive image work I felt that you had to be able to view it in person to be able to really appreciate his work.

This is the first time that The Photographers Gallery has devoted all 3 of its gallery spaces to one artist. This is I think a great statement of respect to Crewdson’s work.

After meeting up with OCA Tutor Jayne Taylor and the rest of the group in the ground floor cafe we proceeded to the galleries with the plan of meeting back at the lobby for 13:00. Most of the group started at the gallery on the 2nd floor, while I decided to start at the 5th floor and work my way down.

All the images appeared to be approximately the same size around 3′ high and 4′ wide. This I felt worked well for the size of the galleries allowing a good initial viewing distance of 7′ to 8′, allowing the viewer to drink in the images. Though the pictures have such attention to detail that one is invited and drawn closer to inspect further in an attempt to decode their meaning. On closer inspection each image has a wonderful painterly quality.

Crewdson’s masterful productions are more akin to a film production that what most people would call photography. In each image the lighting is so balanced and there is nothing in the frame that Crewdson doesn’t want there, it is almost like a single frame of a film frozen. What results is a puzzling vignette left for the viewer to decipher.

My overarching impression of the collection that everyone in it seems to be emotionally detached, a nothingness that is neither happy nor sad. The scenes have the appearance of a form of still life or memento mori, where the entire tapestry of the unfolding act (including the humans) form the elements of the still life.

There is a considerable amount of nudity or partial dress, principally in the women in the images. Whether this stems from a sense of the confidence of isolation, lack of observers, expressing uninhibited personal freedom, expressing vulnerability or just plain not caring at all. These decision seem to be left for the viewer to try and figure out. Kind of jarring at times and with no guidance, one wonders if the nudity is just gratuitous.

Interaction between the protagonists within the scenes is clearly not there, and even when physically close each seems to have their own focus of attention. These people are charged with an emotional detachment, lonely but not lonely, sad but not sad, like empty vessels. Those scenes where it hints of some kind of intimacy or sex, there seems to be no happiness, joy or excitement.

As I mentioned earlier you are drawn into the details within the image searching for clues to make sense of the tableaux. There are plenty of them, for example; a dusty handprint on the thigh of a sleeping man in ‘The Pickup Truck’, a wooden crutch under the bed of ‘Father and Son’, plus numerous visibility of prescription drugs, underwear and other hidden treasures.

Once we had all viewed the collection we decamped to a pub near Carnaby Street, the Red Lion. Here we discussed as a group (for about an hour) the exhibition and the questions it left us with. This was a very valuable part of the study visit and everyone felt able to participate.

In conclusion I want to say that I enjoyed this collection very much and thoroughly recommend it to anyone. These study visits are important as we get a chance to interact with fellow students and peers under the guidance of an OCA Tutor. I look forward to more study visits like this one in the future.

The Blue Project – Contact Printing Frame

I designed a plan for my contact print frame using Visio. In order to make this split screen contact print frame I need the following:

  • Glass Sheet 13″ x 19″ (A3+) (edges dressed so that they are not sharp)
  • 2 x Sheet MDF (15mm) 13″ x 9 1/2″
  • 2 x Blass Flat Hinges 3″ x 2″
  • 1 x Rubber Sheet (3mm) 13″ x 19″ (A3+)
  • 4 x Metal Spring Clips 4″

Contact Frame Plan

So far I have ordered and received the rubber sheet and spring clips. It is my aim to source the glass, MDF and hinges from a local hardware store. Once constructed this frame will be able to accommodate paper up to and including A3 in size.

The Blue Project – Cyanotype Requirements

Experimental Photography – A Handbook Of Techniques has been a great source of information relating to creating sensitizing solutions for relating various solar photogram and contact printing methods. This includes creating Cyanotypes which is my intended medium for this particular project.

In order to try this method  I need the following:

  • 8oz (227g) of Ferric Ammonium Citrate Green
  • 8oz (227g) of Potassium Ferricyanide
  • 3 x 500ml Amber Bottles (Solution A, Solution B & Sensitizer Mix)
  • 600ml Glass Beaker
  • 200g Electronic Scales
  • Glass Stirring Rods
  • Plastic Funnels
  • Foam Brushes
  • Working Trays (probably use takeaway / food tubs)
  • Art Paper
  • Matt Postcards
  • Storage Box
  • Light Proof Bags (for the papers once sensitized)
  • Gloves (Nitrile) XL
  • Distilled Water
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
  • Contact Printing Frame (will make)
  • Source of Ultraviolet Radiation (Sun or possibly a 2nd hand UV Sun Lamp)

I have ordered the above and most has already arrived and now together in a decent sized plastic storage box. I am constructing a split contact printing frame using the plans in the book. This frame will be able to accommodate paper up to and including A3 in size.

Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals used in this process are shown below:

Ferric Ammonium Citrate Safety Data Sheet

Potassium Ferricyanide Safety Data Sheet

Hydrogen Peroxide 3% Safety Data Sheet

The Blue Project – Introduction

Whilst stuck on Assignment Three I have been musing over, researching and doing some work towards a longer term project that may well take a great deal of time (and energy) beyond EYV.

I have been taken with the idea of producing cyanotypes for quite some time and have been researching into the methods and technical details of what is required. I have found a great deal of useful information online and have sourced a rather excellent book:

Experimental Photography – A Handbook Of Techniques

Thames & Hudson

ISBN-10: 0500544379

ISBN-13: 978-0500544372

This book covers the chemistry and techniques of most early sensitizing and development methods including Cyanotypes.

My idea for this project centres around:

  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Self Harm

Blue being a colour strongly associated with the above, I thought that Cyanotypes would be a good medium to reinforce my project theme. These items could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Razor Blades
  • Knives
  • Pills
  • Rope
  • Belt
  • Train Tracks
  • High Point
  • Car Exhaust
  • Gunshot
  • Drowning
  • Fire
  • Crash
  • Electrocution
  • Poison

Assignment 3 planning part 3

For my second planning visit I utilised the anticipated settings I outlined in Assignment 3 planning part 1

These settings outlined below were how I set my Nikon D7200 with Sigma 10-20mm lens:

  • ISO 400 – 800
  • f/5.6 – f8
  • 1/500s
  • Lens 10-20mm (15mm)
  • Hand held
  • Multiple shots

The link to the contact sheets for my 2nd scouting visit is below:

2nd Scouting Visit Contact Sheets

I must admit to being somewhat disappointed with the results. My aim in using the wide angle lens was to try and encompass the majority of the junction so that the status of the traffic lights could be seen as well as the junction activity. Whilst I could see the junction fairly well the action and activity was too small to be useful. I need to use a longer focal length and concentrate on a smaller part of the action for the images to be worthwhile.

Also on reflection I may need to try a few different areas of pedestrian congestion around the Waterloo Station area. This may necessitate a 3rd scouting visit, before I can get any useful images. Although I work close to the chosen area work is always manic, but I must make the time.

Is Procrastination The Thief Of Time?

Is Procrastination The Thief Of Time?

Is it procrastination when life takes hold?

  • Work
  • Family
  • Illness
  • Technical issues
  • Lack of inspiration
  • The blues
  • Power cuts
  • Shots not working how they should
  • Travel

More of a conspiracy than procrastination. What I have found since I started photography 4 years ago is that my creativity is not a natural thing, and that I do find it hard to be spontaneously creative. I lack that gift. My creativity and drive comes in spurts and hobbles along. My studies are a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, some days they fit together to work well and some days (more than I would like) they don’t.

I am envious of the:

  • Better organised student
  • Those who are better equipped (mentally)
  • The naturally creative

EVY is challenging, and I enjoy being challenged. I will get there in the end, but it will take me a lot longer than I envisioned. My tutor is great and so are all the fellow students I have met at study days or interacted with online. There will be many other students out there like me, which is reassuring that I am not alone. We will support one another and all get through.