Project 3: What matters is to look – Research point

Research point
Watch the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001)
available in five parts on YouTube:
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF
Write a personal response to the film in the contextual section of your learning log,
taking care to reference properly any quotations you use (300–500 words).

  • Whenever you read or watch something, get into the habit of putting anything you
    take directly from the source in quotation marks and note down full bibliographic
    details. If you do this, you won’t have to spend ages hunting for half-remembered
    references later – and you won’t inadvertently plagiarise someone else’s work.
    Always use Harvard referencing; print out the study guide on the student website
    and keep this to hand.
  • Be very careful about what you put on your blog. Take a moment now to read what
    the OCA learning blog study guide says about copyright law and fair use or fair
    dealing.

Parts 4 and 5 of the Henri Cartier-Bresson video ‘L’amour tout court’ have had the
audio muted by YouTube owing to copyright. However, the subtitles are still
included in the video which does allow the conversation to be followed without
audio.
‘L’amour tout court’ is also available on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/106009378
(accessed 26/09/2016).


The YouTube excerpts of the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ started with Henri mentioning that he escaped from prison. I looked into this for more details and found out that he was captured during the Second World War. From his confinement in forced labour camps he finally escaped after two failed attempts. He says in the video ‘I always feel like a prisoner on the run.’ (‘L’amour de court’, 2001). It is my opinion that this experience has been one of the major driving forces to his developed style of photography.

Shortly after this Henri comments ‘It’s always luck. It’s luck that matters… just be receptive and it happens’ (‘L’amour de court’, 2001). But this I think is more down to his uncanny awareness, heightened by that feeling of being on the run; always aware, always, looking, always listening, always searching. Using this amplified sense of awareness allows him to instinctively understand the geometry of what he sees and visualise the golden proportions within his field of view, enabling him to take images that seem naturally balanced. In this way he selects his framing waiting for the decisive moment, in anticipation of his target moving into the perfect position.

He lets the viewer into a few trade secrets. When with other people he tunes out, to him taking photographs demands ultimate concentration. Yet to those around him when he is taking photographs he seems to converse as if aware of them, though he confesses to talking nonsense. While taking photos he does his utmost to blend in with and become one with the scene, gentle and unobtrusive. To the point that he painted all the shining parts of his Leica black so that the camera attracts the minimal attention. ’I look, I look, it’s an obsession’, he muses (‘L’amour de court’, 2001).

My overall impression of Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of deep and profound awe. He demonstrates such amazing spatial awareness and a sensitivity to his surroundings, it is almost magical.

Reference

‘L’amour de court’ parts 1-5, 2001 YouTube video, added by Rangefindergeneral [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF (Accessed 2 April 2017).

Project 2: A durational space – Exercise 3.2

Exercise 3.2
Start by doing your own research into some of the artists discussed above.
Then, using slow shutter speeds, the multiple exposure function, or another
technique inspired by the examples above, try to record the trace of movement
within the frame. You can be as experimental as you like. Add a selection of shots
together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you
captured the shots) to your learning log.


As part of Assignment 2 I took a number of images around Waterloo station in which I was attempting to capture images that evoked the chaotic movement of commuter crowds. The following images were all taken handheld due to the restrictions regarding tripods within Waterloo Station. I tried various combinations of; height, angle, focal length and exposure. I think that the images evoke movement and provide the traces of time I was attempting to create.

Blur 1

Blur 1 – Focal Length 450mm, ISO 400, Exposure 2 sec at f/22

Blur 2

Blur 2 – Focal Length 123mm, ISO 400, Exposure 2 sec at f/22

Blur 3

Blur 3 – Focal Length 123mm, ISO 400, Exposure 2 sec at f/22

Blur 4

Blur 4 – Focal Length 90mm, ISO 400, Exposure 1 sec at f/22

Blur 5

Blur 5 – Focal Length 217mm, ISO 400, Exposure 2.5 sec at f/22

Blur 6

Blur 6 – Focal Length 450mm, ISO 400, Exposure 1/15 sec at f/6.3

 

Project 1: The frozen moment – Exercise 3.1

Exercise 3.1

Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject.
Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible
blur in the photograph. Try to find the beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated
John Szarkowski. Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and
a description of your process (how you captured the images), to your learning log.


The following series of 3 images were taken at covent garden during the performance of a street artist. I was lucky to have a seat and be able to carefully use my tripod discreetly.

The 2nd of the three really captures the action but  the 1st and 3rd provide context and the series works really well as a triptych.

artist 1

Artist 1 – Focal Length 27mm, ISO 800, Exposure 1/1000 sec at f/4.0

artist 2

Artist 2 – Focal Length 27mm, ISO 800, Exposure 1/1000 sec at f/4.0

artist 3

Artist 3 – Focal Length 27mm, ISO 800, Exposure 1/1000 sec at f/4.0

Post processing involved aligning and cropping images in photoshop. Followed by conversion to black & white and a few minor adjustments.

Project 1: The distorting lens – Exercise 2.5

Exercise 2.5
Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom
in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on
the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the
focus to infinity and take a second shot.

The closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field; the further from
the subject, the deeper the depth of field. That’s why macro shots taken from very
close viewpoints have extremely shallow depth of field, and if you set the focus at
infinity everything beyond a certain distance will be in focus.

As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition?
With a shallow depth of field the point of focus naturally draws the eye, which goes
first of all to the part of the image that’s sharp. It generally feels more comfortable if
the point of focus is in the foreground, although there’s nothing wrong with placing
the point of focus in the background.


These two images were taken at the end of my road. The first focusing on the top nodule of a post box. This sharply focuses on the foreground and throws the background out of focus. The Second focusing on infinity puts the background in focus and throws the foreground out of focus.

They were all taken with:

  • Aperture priority
  • ISO 100
  • f/5.0
  • Fujifilm X30 equivalent 35mm focal length of:
    • 56mm
road-short-focus

Post box and up the road – Short focus

road-long-focus

Post box and up the road – Long focus

I can see that playing with the point of focus will effect the depth of field. This will be a useful technique to limit or restrict attention to elements within the image.

Project 2: Lens work – Research point

Research point
Do your own research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project.

Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that
could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes discussed in Project 2. Whether or
not you had a similar idea when you took the photograph isn’t important; find a photo
with a depth of field that ‘fits’ the code you’ve selected. The ability of photographs to
adapt to a range of usages is something we’ll return to later in the course.

Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you’ve
re-imagined your photograph.


Looking at the six recommended photographers, I selected one who demonstrated images with a deep depth of field and one who demonstrated images using a shallow depth of field.

First I looked at the work of Fay Godwin, especially those challenging the environment. I chose the image below from her work and one from my own that also shared a large depth of field and was also challenging what I had witnessed:

Fay08

“Countryside of Brassington Derbyshire” – Fay Godwin

Fly Tip

Fly Tipping – Perry Tatman

For my shallow depth of field example I was attracted to the work of Mona Kuhn. In particular the use of a tilt-shift effect that provided a sliver of shallow focus. My attempt at this type of shallow focus follows:

MK_GrandFalls_2013

“Grand Falls”  – Mona Kuhn

Lynmouth

“Lynmouth, Devon” – Perry Tatman

Reference

Imgc.allpostersimages.com. (2017). [online] Available at: http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/70/7033/JYDL100Z/posters/fay-godwin-countryside-of-brassington-derbyshire.jpg [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Monakuhn.com. (2017). MONA KUHN. [online] Available at: http://www.monakuhn.com/collections/view/private-series/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

 

Project 1: The distorting lens – Exercise 2.2

Exercise 2.2
Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the
frame in front of a background with depth. Take one photograph. Then walk towards
your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length. Take care to frame the
subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot. Compare
the two images and make notes in your learning log.

As you page between the two shots it can be shocking to see completely new
elements crash into the background of the second shot while the subject appears
to remain the same. This exercise clearly shows how focal length combined with
viewpoint affects perspective distortion. Perspective distortion is actually a normal
effect of viewing an object, for example where parallel train tracks appear to meet
at the horizon. A ‘standard lens’ – traditionally a 50mm fixed focal length lens for
a full-frame camera (about 33mm in a cropped-frame camera) – approximates the
perspective distortion of human vision (not the angle of view, which is much wider).
A standard lens is therefore the lens of choice for ‘straight’ photography, which aims
to make an accurate record of the visual world.


Below are 2 shots I took near the South Bank Friday lunchtime with my Fujifilm X30 compact camera. The pair of images are framed on the sign. They were all taken with:

  • Aperture priority
  • ISO 100
  • f/5.0
  • Fujifilm X30 equivalent 35mm focal lengths of:
    • 112mm
    • 28mm
focal-length-112mm

Tenison Way – Focal length 112mm

focal-length-28mm

Tenison Way – Focal length 28mm

The difference in the view between these two images is striking considering the fact that the subject occupies the same space in the frame.

Project 1: The distorting lens – Exercise 2.1

Exercise 2.1
Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six
shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to
use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)

As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re
moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use:
rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do
it for you. The other immediate difference between the shots is the ‘angle of view’,
which also depends on the sensor size of your camera. Use the sequence to try to
get a feeling for how the angle of view corresponds to the different focal lengths
for your particular camera and lens combination. Which shot in the sequence feels
closest to the angle of view of your normal vision?

Does zooming in from a fixed viewpoint change the appearance of things? If you enlarge and compare individual elements within the first and last shots, you can see that their ‘perspective geometry’ is exactly the same. To change the way things actually look, a change in focal length needs to be combined with a change in viewpoint.


Below is a sequence of 5 shots I took on the South Bank Friday lunchtime with my Fujifilm X30 compact camera. The sequence does give the appearance of travelling through the image. They were all taken with:

  • Aperture priority
  • ISO 100
  • f/5.0
  • Fujifilm X30 equivalent 35mm focal lengths of:
    • 28mm
    • 35mm
    • 50mm
    • 85mm
    • 112mm

Of all the images taken, the image taken at a focal length of 50mm appear to me the closest to normal vision.

focal-length-28mm

South Bank – Focal length 28mm

focal-length-35mm

South Bank – Focal length 35mm

focal-length-50mm

South Bank – Focal length 50mm

focal-length-85mm

South Bank – Focal length 85mm

focal-length-112mm

South Bank – Focal length 112mm