Square Mile: Workflow

11th January 2021

After the Jab: The Forgotten

Contact sheets show how I work through the images and select and annotate them progressing from the first shoot to the chosen images. They can all be found within a different post which can be accessed here: https://dawntomlincreativeartist.com/2021/01/15/square-mile-contact-sheets/

They consist of: *Shoot one RAW *Shoot one identifying *Shoot two *Shoot two identifying *Shoot one and two combined and ordered *Shoot one and two ordered *Shoot one and two chosen *Chosen with annotation *Final decisions

The Brief

“Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’. Use this as an opportunity to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You may wish to re-trace places you know very well, examining how they might have changed…” (OCA course folder p. 14)

My first response to the assignment brief was excitement, the theme of ‘environment’ is one that I love to work within. The only downside at the moment is the lack of diversity connected to people in the environment due to the current pandemic.

This helped with my decision to not include people in my location shots although this is a practice that I enjoy doing.

Introduction

I researched specific photographers whose concepts and practice intrigued me and could inform my own practice. Keith Arnatt was of particular importance to my practice as his work isolated subject matter within an environment which can be specifically seen in the series “Pictures from a Rubbish Tip’ (1988-9) and ‘Miss Grace’s Lane’ (1986-87).

The photographers who I researched as part of the OCAs research list which includes Keith Arnatt’s work can be found on my blog post Square Mile: Practitioners research: dawntomlincreativeartist.com

I tried to research other photographers who look at objects in their environment but those that came up in a Google search had produce creative shots rather than real life shots. I even looked through my extensive book collection on photography, photographers and art and artists, four different categories yet I just could not find anything that could inform my practice for this assignment.

This assignment is very close to my own photography practice and because of this I decided to use a concept within the task to add meaning to the series. The concept is that of journeys and within the journey I will be incorporating the theme of the forgotten.

The theme looks at things within our environment which become forgotten in time, they are overlooked, often broken, decayed or they have become lost in a new environment that has sprung up around it. As we walk within our localities we are often unaware of the little details and if such decay and broken objects are spotted, our initial response to seeing them is that of disdain. However, I believe they are interesting in their own right and symbolise the passing of time and if looked at closely they have their own visual appeal.

I decided that I would focus on a journey from my doctors, after having my flu jab, to my home. I named the series After the Jab because the word ‘After’ can be used to develop the series further so that I can show many forgotten objects on different journey routes not specifically tied to any one location. Possible series titles could be, After the Gig: The Forgotten, After Pub Night: The Forgotten, After the Big Shop: The Forgotten, After the Train Stop: The Forgotten etc… and each would focus on the theme forgotten objects but would however show different places that these objects were located. Places such as shopping centres, to places of interest, countryside, the broads, the seaside as well as being able to incorporate different times of the day and night.

Therefore, this Assignment will be the beginnings of an ongoing series.

The shoot

The map below shows the square mile which my journey was within. The two blue points on the map represent my starting point which was the doctor’s surgery and the finish point which was my home. The red line is the route which I walked. Unfortunately I only managed to take photographs on two-thirds of my journey because I had made the mistake of not putting in a fully charged battery which meant that the battery I had in my camera died on the shoot. Not the most professional moment of my life, but at least I could use the first shoot as a stepping stone into developing the theme further.

Technically I used settings which would visually compliment the idea of the image as an authentic representation of what I was viewing through my viewfinder. I set the ISO to 200 for the light which was bright and adjusted the f-stop and shutter speed according to that which each shot needed. The camera was handheld with a Panasonic 14-42mm enabling me to shoot both the object in its environment as well as a close-up without the need to change lenses. 

If a shot looked quite dark or light in specific areas I tried to compensate by adjusting the f-stops either way + or – depending on the exposure needs. Although I practiced this, I still realise that I have still have some learning to do in this area to strengthen my usage when shooting.

Map showing the location and the route for the shoot

I managed to take just under 200 images but they were not all connected with the assignment as I took the opportunity to try to take images of boats on water. This is a topic that does not interest me at all but I wanted to see how difficult it would be when water would reflect extra light onto my camera’s sensor. I was also greeted by two swans who followed me for a while so I said ‘Hi’ to them and took some snaps just because they were there.

Having failing eyesight and loosing my glasses over the Christmas period means that at the present moment I am completely relying on the cameras ability to focus for me and I am unable to check for any errors while shooting. This inconvenience is annoying me quite a bit and on viewing the images I have noticed a few shots are out of focus.

Processing

During the process of reviewing my shots I noticed that a recurring idea kept cropping up in my mind when I was looking at certain images. These were the images that I had purposefully focused into so that the close-ups showed texture, decay or another interesting aspect of the object.

I looked through the images and circled the ones that I thought had interesting content and which could possibly be used within the project. I was not worried about the exposures or any other technical faults that they showed because I always re-visit shoots if they are for assigned projects or exhibition work.

While studying on the OCA’s Foundation in Photography course, I had developed my presentation method to include grids of images or images presented in pairs. This practice had given me the idea to present two images of the object together, the first would show the object in its environment and the second would be a close-up of the object which would focus on a specific feature such as texture or a shape etc…

Searching through the contact sheets I isolated ten images which would give me five sets in the series to present for the final trial selection. After loading them into Photoshop all I needed to do was to alter the tone on a couple as they had a very slight yellow tint. Then once the images were saved I loaded them into an iPad app called Sketchbook so that I could arrange the photographs in pairs. It was while I was doing this that I decided to make the close up shots slightly smaller than their paired shot. This took away the usual formation of presenting two images of the same size and made viewing the pair more interesting as they seemed to connect better on the page when viewed.

For this series I have decided not to individually title the images, but they each have the title ‘After the Jab – The Forgotten‘. The title of the theme The Forgotten coupled with the objects in the images provides the information for the viewer and from this they can reflect on the meaning behind the image from the visual clues. I believe that the images titles would not add anything to the overall concept of the series and may in fact detract from it.

I am also regarding the images as still life because they are showing inanimate objects as their subject matter.

The first trials for the assignment can be found below.

The Trial Images – After the Jab: The Forgotten

Reviewing the Work

On reviewing the first set of images I thought that visually they lacked something and I am thinking that maybe it has something to do with my exposure, I am not sure as I am still unaware of how to latch onto problems with my images, I just know they are not visually perfect when it comes to the colour and lighting.

I have now bought a few books on different types of lighting so that technically I can improve my photographic knowledge. I have taken notes from the books as well as watching and taking notes from YouTube videos. Research can be found on the following post: Lighting, White Balance and Colour Temperature.

If I am wanting the viewers to feel as though they are viewing the objects on a journey they then will need to be given detailed clues to the type of location the object falls in. I purposefully chose objects that could be found in varying locations of interest for example, river, derelict land and boat workshops etc…

Although the above images did in fact show different locational environments the details were cropped out of the images as I focused in far too much and I actually need greater environmental details in the shots so these will have to be re-taken so that they include more of the environment around each object.


14th January 2021

The Second Shoot – Reviewing the images

After a couple of days of rain I managed to go on my second shoot revisiting objects from the first shoot and looked for new ones such as the signpost. Contact sheets were then made afterwards with annotations and then these contact sheets were also reviewed further until I had a final selection of images.

On reviewing my images my technical skills have let me down. The colour temperature does not seem constant in my images and I am still unsure about the concept of white balance and how to alter it for different types of shots. The sky constantly changed quite dramatically and with it the light colour and strengths. It is this which has made me unsure to whether my images differ because of the changing light source or if I have missed something out in my technique or if it was my chosen settings on my camera. Because I do not know what I am looking at in the context of what is visually wrong with my images I cannot adjust my practice accordingly and I definitely need advice here.

Looking at strengths and weaknesses connected with individual photographs is difficult for me. It is not the techniques of composition and content that I have difficulties with but the technical side connected with exposure and light. This is the most important thing for me to learn at the moment and I am also now needing to develop my knowledge of histograms so that i can really improve my photography practice.

I have researched histograms in a little more depth for future use and the research can be found in the blog post: Histograms.

Adjusting exposure and temperature

Reading chapters in books and online articles I have learnt there is three technical problems (at least) with my images. The first is connected with the white balance which I now have learnt how to adjust in camera, the second is my exposure as a few of my images are either slightly over or under exposed and the third is the colour temperature content in a few of my images which tend to have a yellow warm tint to them.

The images below show the original on the left and the adjusted image on the right. I am still not completely sure if visually they are correct, some of the problem is I pre-dominantly shoot in black and white so I find judging colour difficult and the other reason is due to being a novice at photography.



Presentation of images

I have decided to present the images one above the other with the environment image at the bottom. However, there is one set of images that is portrait in orientation which is at odds with the presentation of the remaining images in the series. Due to their difference and not having shot many others in portrait orientation, I haven’t included them at this time. I have also realised that I have too many images for the assignment brief anyway.

After pairing the images up for presentation I decided to look into other ways of presenting the images. From the pairing of images I next looked at presenting my images in strip format.

The reason I decided to trial presenting my images in a strip is because it would strengthen the concept of a journey as the images would be placed in the order that I came across them and the viewer will then visually take the journey when they are looking at the images in sequence.

I did not want the strips to run from left to right which is how a journey would usually be read, because the viewers eyes run through the order quicker when looking at images in this orientation. I have found from my own experience that when viewing images from top to bottom I take longer viewing each image as their is a slightly longer pause in the physical aspect of looking from one image to another below. The only negative in producing a top to bottom strip is if they were to be presented for exhibition as the sizes could not be presented too large because of the overall length of the images joined. They would however look good in a printed exhibition pamphlet or book.

The strip format I used is in square format as I wanted to visually acknowledge if a different shape would enhance the completed series and in this instance the concept of journey from one image to the next. Although aesthetically the strips are very appealing to the viewers eye, the square picture plane means that some of the environment, which is an important part of this series theme, is cropped out. However, I have left enough visual environment details within the square format for my concept still to be successful.

The completed sets of images are presented below and in the order in which I came across them in the journey from the Doctor’s surgery to my home.

After the Jab – The Forgotten

Strip presentation


16th January 2021

Developing the concept further

I have been thinking about how I can attach my journey and my photographs to a map, which would mean the map could hang alongside the photographs in an exhibition.

The images that I am taking are small, parts of a large environment on a specific journey and they are therefore like location points on a map. My daughters regularly go out geocaching, a pastime that not only gets them out on long walks but enables them to look closer at their surroundings for hidden objects.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.

Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org

It was my initial thought which coupled with my daughter’s past time, which had me researching if there was a Google map app which I could place my photographs on so that the objects in the images could became location points in their own right.

I have completed this task before but on my iPhone when the shots are being taken, my most viewed shot has 149,403 views and I have a total of 532,068 views with only about ten images on the map. The fact that entertains me the most about this however is that out of all the subject matters I take photographs of, well known London exhibitions, animals, gigs etc… it is the food photographs that have thousands of views.

With this in mind I have thought about how to use Google maps as an extended way of showing my work, a Google map exhibition springs to mind, especially as you can share your maps to social media platforms and they can be seen worldwide.

Once I tried to map the places on basic maps which can be seen above, I researched how to add the final images to Google Map. The technique was very easy and the completed map can be seen below, there is also an accompanying url link so that anybody viewing this post can see how the map works with my photographs uploaded to it.

There are many things that can be completed to personalise the maps for instance I have explained how the route is connected with a photographic project so that the public can read about it. I have also added a title for the map which is the same as the assignment title, labelled the location points and uploaded both of the images that were taken at each point. To make sure that my location points stood out from other labels on the map I re-coloured the pin point from blue to red. This re-colouring of pin points shows a more distinct locator marker which can easily pick out my journey route, especially as it is accompanied by a black line to represent the route.

After the Jab – The forgotten, interactive google map

Below, link for the Google map:


18th January 2021


THE EXHIBITION After the Jab – The Forgotten

To complete my assignment, I planned the final outcome of the work as though I had a wall space in a joint exhibition, of which I have at least one a year. The design for my wall space showing my work would also include a title banner and a few areas for text. The text would include the concept for the series and a description of the location that I had shot within.

The sizing of the images would also be different for specific sets. This difference can be seen in the mock exhibition plan below. Although I have drawn the sizes by hand they bare no correlation to actual real life sizes, this is an area of practice that I need to develop further. I would like to learn how to draw correct ratio proportions using specific photographic sizes which will enable me to design the wall spacing more precisely as well as work out sizing of individual photographs for printing and framing.

If the work was hung in an exhibition I would include the two portrait images of the barbed wire post and also the 3D terrain location map. I also usually present 3D work with my photographs and for this exhibition I would have probably picked up the square piece of wood, the two square bricks, the twig and the rubbish that lay at one of my location points that I photographed. These objects would be laid out on the floor in front of the images, therefore bringing the outside objects from the image into the exhibition space.

To be honest I would really like to buy the abandoned rotten boat which has natural plant life growing in an around it from the owner and place that in my exhibition complete with plant life surrounding it, as though it has been plucked by the hand of God and placed in my exhibition room. However, not being either famous or rich this is just an imaginative ambition.

One plan that have designed can be seen below I usually plan many rough sketches before I choose a final layout and illustrate that in the style below.

After the Jab – The Forgotten, exhibition idea

Because I am continuing this project and producing more journey work, I will eventually show my work in a solo exhibition. Last year I was successful in being awarded £275 to have my final assignment from Foundations in Photography printed and framed for exhibition. The grant that I applied for was the SANE art grant and I am hoping to eventually apply for a grant to exhibit this new project that I will now work on in my spare time.

The journeys incorporated into this exhibition will also focus on interesting locations within the United Kingdom as well as the everyday journeys one goes on. However I am planning a local series first due to the fact we cannot travel because of the COVID rules and will show the exhibition locally.


20th January 2021

Reflection

I have really enjoyed this assignment and the fact that I now have an ongoing project to work on, has been an added bonus.

Knowing the theme and concept early helped with working through the different parts of the workflow due to the fact I could review the shots on a contact sheet, reflect to whether or not they fit the projects concept and theme, analyse shots for content, composition and lighting and then respond suitably. Response in this occasion is the reshooting, taking into consideration the inaccuracies within the first shots.

Another aspect of this assignment that went well is the extension ideas. Not only can the possibilities to record forgotten things on journeys become a recurring practice but using Google maps to enhance the project as well as act as a type of online galleries proved successful.

I know my weaknesses lay predominantly in the technical area of photography connected with exposure and obtaining the settings correct in camera as early on in the project as possible. I have begun to read into this in more detail but know it’s putting knowledge into practice and learning from mistakes.

While researching exposure, lighting and white balance I came across another area which will help to improve my photography practice and this is how to use histograms. The link to my research can be found on the blog post Histograms: Histogram research.

Another area I am disappointed in is my research into photographs on a similar subject and photographers that shoot these type of themes. The OCA provided a list which proved informative and Keith Arnatt’s work definitely aided my learning and development of my concept. I could not however find anyone myself to research, either in the books I own or on the internet. I therefore feel my research needs to be significantly better.

To help me locate further photographers or artists I did put out a shout for help in the OCA Facebook photography group and other groups I belong to such as Suffolk Photography however no examples came out of any of the discussions.


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