Project 2 Reading pictures

Rip out an advertising image from a newspaper supplement and circle and write on
as many parts of the image as you can. Comment on what it is, what it says about
the product and why you think it’s there. You could use this as the basis for your
assignment if you feel it’s taking you somewhere interesting. Or you could adopt this method for your assignment preparation.

Come back to this exercise when you’ve reached the end of Part Four and see if you
can add anything to your analysis.

I selected this image by Cuprinol taken from the back of S Magazine from the Sunday Express June 18, 2017:

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Cuprinol Advert taken from the back of S Magazine from the Sunday Express June 18, 2017

Below is the image with some of my observations:

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Cuprinol Advert taken from the back of S Magazine from the Sunday Express June 18, 2017. With my observations

I chose an advert for Cuprinol shed/fence paint that a lot of us use here in the UK. The image originally caught my eye because of the image of the blue tit bird in the top right of the image. At first glance I didn’t even realise it was an advert, let alone an advert for fence paint, I guess this could be called the hook that draws you into to keep looking at the image. My eyes then moved down the image to see the summer house below set in a nice sunny garden. I then noticed how the colours of the bird and shed matched; blue, white and yellow.

The image is creating a lifestyle, the toys in the garden, the relaxing chair, garden gnome, the nicely looked after garden. If you buy this product your life could be easier, you could relax on that comfy chair and enjoy your garden. It wasn’t until after I had viewed the image that I saw the pot of Cuprinol paint at the bottom left of the advert, then I saw the writing next to the pot of paint, I then related the words back to the image itself. So the advert has worked by drawing me from the top of the image all the way down to the bottom of the image to sell me the product. It uses a high viewpoint, as if viewed through the eyes of a bird, either that or its a giant mutant blue tit!

The advert and the image says that this product will ‘protect your garden wood’ so you can kick back and enjoy your garden for the next ‘6 years’. I did think the whole 6 years claim of the the advert was interesting, why 6 years? It seems like an odd number and quite precise, why not 5 years or 10 years? I wonder if the competitors provide 5 years of protection so they felt the need to say it protects for 6 years, a selling point. I wonder how the claim lives up to the reality of the product.

Overall I think its quite a convincing advert.

Reference:

  • Cuprinol advert taken from the back of S Magazine from the Sunday Express June 18, 2017. Image reused for educational purposes. 

Project 1 The language of photography

Before you read any further, look carefully at Erwitt’s image and write some notes
about how the subject matter is placed within the frame. How has Erwitt structured
this image? What do you think the image is ‘saying’? How does the structure
contribute to this meaning?

Elliott Erwitt, New York, 1974. Copyright Elliott Erwitt

**Elliott Erwitt, New York, 1974. Copyright Elliott Erwitt

The subject matter is placed centrally within the frame of the image with a low viewpoint, suggesting the photographer was either crouched at the height of the little dog or that the original image was larger and has been cropped. There are 3 subjects within the frame but we only see the face of the small dog, which gives visual weight to this particular subject; its importance is more significant. 3 is kind of a magic number in photography, a so called ‘rule of odds’; 1, 3, 5, 7. It is more visually pleasing to the eye.

All of the subjects are placed in the bottom third of the image with the small dog sitting perfectly on the bottom right hand side following the ‘rule of thirds’ or earlier known as ‘the golden section’. So if you were to draw the rule of thirds over the image, the image would sit snugly into the three distinct sections. The visual weight of the image is in the central third of the image.

On first glance at the image I assumed it was 2 people and a little dog but on closer inspection you I noticed it was a dog and I assumed that the 2nd larger dog may be on 2 legs. My final thought is that the larger dog is only partly in the frame with the front legs in the image and the rear legs off to the left of the image, as you are looking at it.

The image did make me laugh the first time I saw it, what’s with the little hat on the dog as well?! Its funny and a bit daft! I was then drawn to the significance of this little dog as the main character within the frame. We can’t see the face or body of the owner (assumed through the lead on the dog leading out of the frame) or the other larger dog. If they had been included within the frame the smaller dog would not have played the staring role in this image but as it stand it does. It is essentially, physically,  the smallest subject but the framing and composition of the image makes it the most important part.

John Berger makes some interesting observations about our fascination with looking at animals in his book ‘Ways of Looking‘ which I feel are relevant:

‘With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.’  (Chapter 1 ‘Why look at animals?’ from Ways of Looking’)

On viewing the picture of the dog we would like to assume what the dog is thinking, ‘did she really drag me out of the house wearing this ridiculous hat?’ but we can only assume to know. The owner has almost tried to humanise the dog by dressing it up in clothing but it’s essentially an animal and we can’t ever know what its thinking.

Reference:

**Featured image: Elliot Erwitt New York 1974

 

Assignment Three: Tutor Feedback and my thoughts

Tutor Report Assignment-3-cn-formative-feedback-craig-sinclair-515221

As ever I am grateful for the formative feedback from my tutor for assignment three. I like to take a couple of days to think it over.

I don’t currently have the equipment to produce decent prints from home. I would like to look into getting a printer for the future but its weighing up the cost of both the printer and the ink cartridges at the moment. I emailed around the C & N student community for some thoughts on printers and printing from home in general. The general consensus was that printing from home can be expensive, the main issue being the price of the ink cartridges. Another issue was around colour accuracy. Some students suggested a colour calibration device as well. I’ve never done prints in a dark room, I would love to see how it works, the closest thing I have is my newly acquired Polaroid camera but its not the same thing really.

I looked for the print submission guidelines but I can’t seem to find them. I’ve asked student support if they can point me in the right direction. I like the borders but a wider border may give a better separation and framing.

I take on board my tutors feedback about being rigorous with selection. I had cut back a number of images from my selection but I guess I could be a little more ruthless with my final selection. There are a couple images I may consider dropping from the selection. I was a little disappointed my tutor wasn’t keen on the concluding image, its one of my favourites and I think it conveys in summary what I was trying to say. I had toyed a little with dropping all the other images and just submitting a version of the final image. I could see a series of 8 images may sit better that than the 12 images plus the final concluding shot.

I will consider emailing around a link to my fellow students on the course for some feedback and think about my privacy in regards to the blog.

I enjoyed doing the masquerades exercise with my father. I guess the final photograph is what ultimately matters the rest is all noise. It was a little tricky trying to explain everything to my Dad and construct the shots at the same time. I’m glad I went with this idea though. I feel this unit is really challenging me in a positive way to experiment, even if the end result isn’t always perfect, I feel I am developing as I’m going along. I’m less worried about trying and failing. My mentor recently gave me some advice when I was struggling with a bit of a mental block, she said “get the ideas out of head, try ideas out, just do it!

I’m really enjoying the reading on the course. I feel a bit like a sponge, the more I read the more I want to read. Photography is so much more than being just about photography, for me it encompasses everything in life.  The more photographs and exhibitions I go to the more I want to see. The more photographers I here about the more I want to learn about them and their work. I’m quite hungry for consumption at the moment, which feels refreshing. I recently had some feedback from the NPG in London and they explained the reasons for no photographs in the particularly exhibition I went to, so I can see their point of view (I don’t agree but I appreciate what they said!) and they hoped I would be back again soon, so that was really nice. I’m looking forward to getting back to London sometime soon, I’m nervous with everything that’s been going on in London but you can’t let these things hold you back.

I will have a look at stylisation around the thumbnails. Not 100% I can change this or how but I will have a look. I quite like the shadows and borders on the thumbnails though.

I will have a look at the work of the level 3 student as suggested by my tutor.

Looking forward to working on the essay for my next assignment. I enjoy writing. I will give it some thought about which image I want to write about. I think this will develop as I work my way through part 4 of C & N.

-Craig, 12/06/17

Can you think of any photographs that are not used as a means of expression or communication?

In the course book we are asked ‘Can you think of any photographs that are not used as a means of expression or communication? Blog about them.’

Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of any examples where photography isn’t used as a means of expression or communication, this feels like fundamental elements of picture making.

A poorly thought out photograph doesn’t express or communicate effectively what it intended, it may communicate something else entirely.  The photograph may also be affected by how I interpret or read the image as an individual. I have experienced already through my studies how the same image can have a different impact on different people. John Berger touches on the role of the observer in photography and art in his book ‘About Looking’ and the impact of different upbringings etc. on how you view the world.

I guess I could argue to some extent that the photograph on my driving licence or my ID for work is not really an expression, yet it is a means of communicating my identity, visual information about my face but this all has guidelines stipulated by the government or my place of work. A photograph used as a document, for example medical/scientific photography used in a Hospital, evidence for a court case or CCTV imagery.  Stephen Bull touches on this in his book Photography in chapter 6 ‘The Photograph as Document’:

‘Whereas the range of profile pictures on social networking sites have no official guidelines for them and vary widely in their style, the look of such government-controlled photographs is strictly regulated and demands that the front of the subjects head and face are fully revealed to the camera.’ 

When I bought my new camera last year I took countless shots trying to work out how to use the bloody thing. These were neither a means of expression or communication but a way for me to work out how it worked, similar to when I first picked up a camera I took loads of test shots, I still take test shots. I recently got a Polaroid camera, I’m still working on getting it right, my first 8 photographs were test shots. So technical experimentation in photography could be classed as neither expression or communication, similar to the processes the pioneers of photography must have gone through i.e. Henry Fox Talbot or Louis Daguerre.

Reference:

  • Berger, J, 2009. About Looking. UK ed.. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • Bull, S, 2010. Photography (Routledge Introductions to Media and Communications). Routledge.

 

Assignment Three

Introduction

Following the creation of my 2 week diary I used it as a springboard to explore and say something about my own mind, nature and landscape. I found in my diary I spent a lot of time reflecting inwards and spending time in the woods. I like to think of it as a journey through my mind both physically and psychologically. There are some metaphors and symbols. There are 12 shots, like 12 steps, with a final concluding shot. The captions lend to the journey. I think of a journey on a trail a bit like walking through your own mind. I have found in life if I’m feeling lost, my mind is cluttered or I’m really anxious I head out on the trail, into the woods and I rediscover myself. I am centred again.

Influence

I had viewed a number of images by Vivian Maier in the book Self Portraits. I liked the way she explored her mind in the images. She had a unique way of putting herself in the frame in different ways. There is something uneasy and unsettling. In some of her images she used reflection or her shadow and sometimes a sort of double exposure effect which really interested me, exploring the multi layered aspect of the mind. This led to me creating that final shot which is a layered composition of 2 shots; a portrait shot layered over the top of a shot looking into the woods.

I have also touched on a really great self help book, which has helped me over the years by Susan Jeffers called ‘Feel the Fear and Do it anyway. When I feel uncertain I often refer back to the book for hints and tips but the overarching title just sums up that it’s OK to feel fear, you embrace it and you do it anyway. There are hints and nods towards this ethos in the series of shots, particularly the first shot and the shot where I’m looking at the tower.

Reflecting back on the images I think there is an unconscious philosophical element to the series of shots too. I find the links between the mind and nature, mother earth really powerful. We are so disconnected from nature in our busy life it’s really important to reconnect with the earth.

Reflection

I thought a lot about composition within the frame, what to include and exclude were really important within this assignment for me. Its about me but the landscape and environment are the other subjects of the photos.

I read the book Understanding Composition’ by Bryan Peterson which gave me some tips on composition and technique.

I have experimented with a number of different viewpoints within the assignment and really looked to explore who I am and what I want to say as an individual. I wanted to say something about myself but not make it blunt and direct. I want the viewer to think a little and work for it but still try to deliver a message using the visual language of photography.

I did question the boot shot a number of times – all the other shots are landscape orientation and the boot shot is portrait. I’m still a little unsure to be honest if it works or not, hopefully my tutor will give me some feedback on this. I have heard some people say for a coherent story all of the shots should be of the same orientation but I’m not sure I really agree with that myself.

I’m aware there are quite a lot of shots in the series, 13 in total. I am curious what my tutor thinks about this, are there too many shots? I will be interested to hear what he thinks.

One of my favourite shots is the vertigo shot looking up the tower. This took a number of attempts but it was created by looking up the tower from the inside and by twisting the focal ring either forwards or backwards. I like the way it turned out.

I did drop a number of shots which I had taken in Black and White and a different layered photograph. I like the shots but I didn’t really want to mix B & W with colour shots.

I do like my final prints but if I’m totally honest I’m still not 100% sure I know what I’m doing with prints. Maybe my tutor can give me some pointers? I used a company on line where I could upload my images and view them before sending them off. I have found my local printers are just far too expensive. This experience may come with time along with trial and error.

I feel I have again stepped out of my comfort zone with this assignment and explored new possibilities for me.

My favourite image is the last photograph, I feel this worked really well and I like the way the two images blend together to summarise the whole set.

I really enjoyed this assignment, it was a lot of hard work and took longer than I had planned but it was fun to experiment with ideas that I would never have normally photographed.

Reference:

  • Bright, S, 2010. Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography. 0. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Jeffers, S. 2007. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Revised edition. Vermilion.
  • Maier, V. 2013. Self Portrait.
  • Peterson, B. 2012 Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact. Amphoto Books.

Individual images:

1

1. I feel trapped like I’m in a self constructed prison. I need to get out of here today. I’m scared if I step outside I’ll get sucked off the earth. What was it Susan Jeffers said “Feel the fear and do it anyway”

2 Time for the well worn trusty boots DSC_6934

2. Time for some courage and the well worn trusty boots

3

3. Getting on the trail. Am I alone here or is there someone else?

4 There's been a murder here, they killed the trees DSC_7026

4. There’s been a murder here, they killed the trees. Like stolen memories.

5 I wish you were here today my love DSC_7039

5. I wish you were here today my love, to keep me company

6 But I don't think you're real

6. But I know you’re not real. I’ll see you tonight.

7

7. The tortured and the slain like old memories cast aside.

8 Onwards DSC_7041

8. Sometimes the only way out of your mind is straight through.

9 I need to climb up this bastard but I'm shit scared of heights DSC_7199

9. I need to climb up this bastard but I’m shit scared of heights, I’m shit scared of so many things. Fear is just a thought process. Every day is a challenge but you have to keep moving forward, looking up and never giving up.

10 Inside the tower I look up and I'm overcome by vertigo but I need to do this DSC_7177

10. Inside the tower I look up and I’m overcome by vertigo and fear but I need to do this. Transformation is a multi layered transition through time and space.

11 Triumph, from up here I can see everything clearly DSC_7161

11. Triumph; from up here I can see everything clearly. I can see everything behind me and everything in front of me. I can see where I have been and where I’m going.

12

12. In reflection it wasn’t that bad after all, the fear of something is often worse than the thing itself.

Conclusion

Conclusion Self Portrait: The woods are like a construct of my mind where I go to find myself again.

Click for larger images:

Assignment 3 – 2 week diary

For assignment three we are asked to keep a diary for a 2 week period.

Below is a digital copy of my diary:

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Getting prints and preparing to send to tutor

I think I’m nearly there, got my prints through today. I dropped and swapped a couple of images from my final set. I’d taken some B & W images but they felt out of context with the set, I still like them but they don’t really work collectively as a whole.

IMG_2329

I’m at the stage where I now need to hand this over for some constructive feedback from my tutor, I could be totally barking up the wrong tree…but I feel it represents me and who I am. I have played a lot with viewpoint and perspective in this assignment, there is a little bit of a psychology in there somewhere too. I’m hoping the captions will help!

For now I’m going for a pint, its bloody hot and I need a cold one.