Assignment two – ‘Collecting’ re-work

I was extremely pleased with my feedback for assignment two and I did not feel that a re-work was necessary. I had met the brief of ‘crowds’ and added my own personal viewpoint, quite literally, of the back of heads and slightly obscured views. This was the first assignment where I think I truly started to pushed myself out of my comfort zone as I never usually photograph people, most definitely not the public and I hate crowds!

 

 

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Tutor feedback – Assignment two ‘Collecting’

Expressing Your Vision Assignment 2 New

After the feedback from assignment one was not as I had hoped I can honestly say I am delighted with my feedback for assignment two. I found myself literally beaming from ear to ear that I was finally getting something right.

There are a number of things I need to work on such as research, creativity and risk taking so I am going to try to consider those at lot more moving into assignment three. I did research a lot of photographers but not many ‘crowd’ photographers, I admit I did struggle to find them. The risk element for me had been taking pictures of people, which is not really my thing, but I understand I need to take more risks photographically even if they don’t work.

expressing-your-vision-assignment-2-new

Reflection on ‘Collecting’

I feel that I have demonstrated progress on this assignment and I tried to show better conviction in my final selection. I also stepped out of my comfort zone and battled my shyness head on, and I surprised myself by enjoying it. I had a number of choices which may or may not have been the better final selection but I felt the images I chose represented my personal point of view within crowds.

I demonstrated an understanding of shallow depth of field and deep depth of field although I did not have as many deep depths of field images to choose from for my final set. I felt that I looked for opportunities for images and composition within the crowds and tried to overcome the pace with which I needed to capture these images. I also experimented with different ideas such as not using the viewfinder from within the crowd , example below, although this was not very successful as can be seen on my contact sheet. I may explore practicing this some more to see if it a skill which can be honed with time.

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I also learnt that using my zoom lens to near its maximum length was to my detriment as some of the images I would have liked to use appear too grainy for the final selections, so I have realised I need to get up close and personal with my subjects in future.

In my final choice I think I have communicated my view of crowds successfully and they work cohesively as a set.

I did start out with the idea of focusing on Santa /Christmas and had some creative ideas on presentation. I explored the idea of Christmas cards with my images which I could then re-photograph into a new single image. I also though of an advent calendar type presentation, these ideas I thought would communicate the over commercialism of Christmas and Santa Claus which the set of Santa selfie images I took may have worked well for however I choose a different final selection.

I think I could expand on my final images if I could perhaps retake the viewpoint when the crowd was no longer there and overlay them somehow with Perspex or I could cut into multiple copies of the image and almost create a decoupage 3d effect of the heads I refer too. I also like the idea that these images could be almost life size and at eye level height so that the viewer takes on a voyeuristic view point and can see as well as feel the images through my eyes.

Crowds – Final submission

layout-final

I chose to explore crowds as my subject for this assignment; I do not usually photograph people or strangers so it was going to be an interesting learning curve. I decided to visit a few different events that were happening before Christmas. For my final submission I chose a series of pictures that focus on the back of heads within the crowd. This is my own personal viewpoint, whenever I am in a crowded environment there is usually someone in my line of vision and I spend the entire time moving from left to right trying to gain a better view, I think this comes across in the images I have selected. It is what a crowd means to me.

Due to dropping and breaking my camera in the middle of this assignment I have used a mixture of three cameras, a Nikon D3200, D3100 and a D7200, I used two different lenses, an 18-300 lens and a 55-200 lens, one of which was not cooperating very well after being dropped.

dsc_0051f.3.5, 18mm, ISO 100

This image was taken from behind the subject from a lower vantage point, with the camera directed slightly upwards. I like the curve of the female Santa’s arm and the curve of the tree which gives a porthole effect to the crowd of Santa’s in front of her. The gaze of the female Santa also leads you towards the crowd of Santa’s, my shadow is also visible in this image which I feel adds to the effect. A wide aperture has created a shallow depth of field although the out of focus Santa’s are still recognisable within the frame.

 _dsc0334                                                                                                  f.4, 26mm, ISO 100             

This image was taken level with the crowd:  whilst in the middle of the crowd a small pocket opened up and I managed to capture the boy on his parent’s shoulders. The crowd in front of me blocking my view were deep in conversation and this child appears to be looking directly at them, the arrow to the top right almost tells you to look back towards them too. Despite this being taken with a wide aperture a deeper depth of field has been maintained with the sharpest focal point being the child.

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f.4, 30mm, ISO 100

                                                                                                                                                    

Again this was taken directly behind a group of onlookers; you can see that the soft focus lady in the hooded red and white cape was the object of their attention. The wide aperture has softened the overall image, the sharpest area being on the lady with the purple knitted hats shoulder, the gaze of the lady directs you back into the image.

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f.4, 55mm, ISO500

 

This image was taken behind the subject but focused upwards; the wide aperture has created a shallow depth of field with the sharpest point in the image being Santa’s hat. Your eyes are naturally drawn up his arms towards the camera which he holds. You can see the crowd from the image in his camera and despite the soft focus it can be seen that it is a crowd of more Santa’s. Quite often when I am in crowds it is easier to see what is happening by looking through peoples phones which are held in a similar way.

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f.25, 26mm, ISO3200

This image uses a small aperture to maintain the depth of field. You are drawn to the centre of the image and the church doorway; however as is usual for me you cannot see what the spectators are viewing.

 

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f.4.2, 40mm, ISO100

This was taken with a wide aperture so that the subject stands out against a shallow depth of field.  There is also a symmetry which I like between the subjects hat and the hat of the lady in the soft focus area.

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F5.3, 80mm, ISO220

This image uses a shallow depth of field which highlights the subject and the vibrant colour of the lady’s hat draws you towards the back of her head. The child’s blue coat just in front of the subjects adds a splash of contrasting colour.

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F4.5, 48mm, ISO 100

In this image I am drawn directly to the back of the man’s head and at the contrast between his grey hair and his black hat. The shallow depth of field ensures that the subject stands out from the crowd in front of him.  This image feels the most nature viewpoint to me, the man is clearly blocking my view and I can only really focus on him. I would usually start jostling from left to right at this point to see if I can get a better line of sight.

Evaluation

Overall I am pleased with my selection and I feel they show my own personal point of view on a crowd.  My biggest challenge was the crowd itself and the pace in which I had to work, I felt hurried and unable to compose my shots the way I had hoped. I couldn’t be sure that I would get enough images if I focused only on one common denominator so I took a variety such as children on shoulders, selfie takers and the back of heads. I was very torn when making my final selection as I was concerned that the backs of head images were too similar but from my own personal point of view it is an all too familiar sight.

What worked well

I took many more images for this assignment so I had a large variety to choose from, I looked into events that would provide the opportunity for crowds and I researched multiple photographers and ideas.

What didn’t work so well

I learnt that I should not rely on my zoom lens as many of my images were too grainy to be used, I now know that I need to get up close to my subjects and my final selection proves this. I would have liked to have had an even mix of images showing deep D.O.F as well as Shallow D.O.F.

 

 

 

Re-reading the brief

Having re-read the quote at the beginning of assignment two I am now in a quandary over my choices.

‘Fragments of a vessel which are to be glued together must match one another in the smallest details although they need not be like one another’ (Walter Benjamin, (1936) 1999, p.79)

I had settled on my set that focused on my own personal view-point , the back of heads, together as a set the feeling of the view being blocked, I feel ,comes across strongly. My concern is that the images are all very similar, obviously given the theme. I may need to re-visit the images I have chosen.

Research for assignment two

My research of photographers for assignment two was slow at first, then I stumbled on a number of different photographers that opened up various ideas to me.

Hans Eijkleboom

The first photographer I came across was Hans Eijkleboom and his work ‘ People of the 21st Century’, it is a compilation of images taken over a large period of time. Eijkleboom finds a spot for the day , or for a short while, and chooses what ‘type’ he will photograph that day from the people who pass him by. It could be yellow jumpers or people holding hands, his idea was to explore ‘identity’ and the fact that despite us all thinking we are individuals commercialism means that there may be many others wearing or doing the same thing. What we wear is a form of visual self-expression even if 1,000 others are doing the same. We can feel we have expressed ourselves whilst still fitting in to the ‘bigger picture’, this could be fashion, religion or even Christmas!

I explored this idea of a repeated collection in my crowd shots when I tried to focus on Santa hats in the crowds, back of heads, selfie’s and children on shoulders.

Bill Cunningham

I also came across the work of Bill Cunningham, A fashion photographer for The New York Times. He collected images of people on the street in a similar way to Eijkleboom except he was exploring fashion on the streets and emerging trends rather than commercialism of identity.

Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton’s images ,in ‘Humans of New York’ , although again a collection of images are different in that they also include a story. It is a personal record of each person and what lies behind their image. It started as a collection of photographs designed to catalogue the people of New York and included captions. The collection is now from many different countries and features stories as well as captions and makes for really interesting reading. This collection ‘Humans of New York’ has a huge following on social media in which images and stories are being shared.

Image result for Brandon Stanton Humans of New York

 

I also briefly explored the works of Brassai and his ‘Paris by Night’ series as well as images by Bill Brandt before deciding to look for images by photographers which related to Christmas as my images would be around this theme. I struggled to find suitable ‘crowd’ photographers.

Martin Parr’s image ‘Santa’s grotto’ really reflects how my own children reacted to sitting on Santa’s knee! and the use of typical garish Christmas colours. Martin Parr also did a collection of ‘Selfie stick’ images which inspired me to look for selfie stick moments.

 Martin Parr G.B. ENGLAND. London. Harrods. Santas Grotto. 2002

Martin Parr – London. Harrods. Santa’s grotto. 2002

Stuart Franklin’s picture of Santa Festival Day taken in New York in 2015 is a very similar subject to mine in that I have focused on an event. I feel it is a snap shot style image which documents a moment. One lady smiles directly at the camera whilst the gentleman dressed as a king behind her is completely oblivious as he is busy on his phone and the men in front are in conversation with one another, one of these sporting a blue Santa hat?

I love the image by Bruce Gilden of ‘Santa leaving  bar’, I had hoped I would capture something similar by the end of Santa Con but sadly I did not capture the end. The closest to this was Santa’s drinking a pint or two but I missed out on Santa’s climbing on the lions at Trafalgar square! Similar too is the image by Eric Hartmann of Santa trying to navigate a map of the New York subway. Richard Kalvar also captured a Santa on the subway in New York, the idea of misplaced Santa’s appeals to me.

Bruno Barbey managed to capture a group of Santa’s taking a photograph by the Berlin wall, I found this voyeuristic style interesting as he has captured a photo of someone else taking the photo.

Dennis Stock’s image of Santa’s lined up as Volunteers of America gives a sense of the commercial mass iconography of the season and makes me think of the stories we tell to our children when they are young of why there are so many Santa’s and how they are all helpers as he cannot be everywhere. Diane Arbus also touched on this notion in her image ‘Santa’s at the Santa Claus School’, her Santa’s obviously need to work on their jolliness!

I also looked at the images from Trent Parke’s ‘The Christmas tree bucket’, these were interesting but added nothing to the crowd images I was trying to capture. I did however like the Santa at the end of the hallway, it left unanswered questions about who he was exactly? Was he going home? Or was he delivering Gifts? Was he sober?

Raymond Depardon’s image of a lonely Santa walking through Central Park gives me a similar feeling to one of my own images of the lonely Santa who seems to be talking to a tree. It does make me wonder if I should strip my images of the obvious seasonal colours as I find that by looking at the black and white image I focus on the person rather than the costume.

In my searching I have found many images of Santa’s , more than I realised I would find, what’s interesting is that although Father Christmas appears timeless the images really show the decade in which they were taken and the changing face of the holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

Contact sheets

For this assignment I took far more photos than I did previously , I visited various locations and events and used a variety of devices especially as my camera broke. You will see from the contact sheets that I experimented with different ideas such as taking a picture without looking through the viewfinder from within a crowd (These were not so successful) I also explored using my iPhone on the underground to see just how inconspicuous it could be. Overall I am pleased with some of my images and it was an excellent learning curve for me in taking pictures of people and the pace in which I would need to work within crowds.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1AqLhDu-BB_RjhXSzhEWnRpaEE

 

Crowds

Overall I am pleased with some of the images I have taken and I am pleased to have taken myself out of my comfort zone. I have been braver at taking pictures in public and of the public, although I did find it difficult to keep pace with the crowd in order to properly compose a shot. In a more relaxed crowd setting I might be able to achieve this, I also felt my best images were obtained when I had planted myself in a good fixed position or seated at a café rather than from within the crowd. I am now deciding on what choices to make as following previous feedback I have captured many more images to make selections from.

  • My initial idea of juxtaposing the Christmas revellers against the homeless did not materialise as I was so unwell during that weekend of planned shooting so I am left with different options. I feel my preference is the back of head images which really resonates with my own personal viewpoint within a crowd and the winter crowd scenes although I do also really like the selfie images.

Santa hats:

Back of heads : (My natural viewpoint)

Christmas selfie’s:

Winter crowd:

Santa by numbers:

Then I was left with a few portrait orientation images that I really liked and a few other images that tickled me but unfortunately I cannot use these as I need to keep the final set cohesive in theme and orientation.

Decisions

So after reviewing the images I have gathered between Rochester, the Santa run and Santa Con I need to make my selections. There are number of choices that stand out to me from these, they are:

Back of heads (Being only 5ft this is always my natural viewpoint in a crowd)

Santa hats

Santa selfie’s

Santa in numbers (I think I have enough Santa images to do 1 Santa, 2 Santa’s, 3 Santa’s etc.)

Or just a winter crowd?

I also have a small collection that I have found to be slightly humorous.

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Santa Con

After the disaster of dropping my camera I managed to get a new one in time to visit Santa Con. Unfortunately I was full of flu with a raging temperature on the day and in possession of an unfamiliar camera but nevertheless I plodded on. Luckily the secret start for the south of London was not too far so I went to see the start, waited around a while and then decided that I really did need to be at home tucked up in bed! I squeezed in quite a few shots in my waiting around time but I’m not as happy with them as I had hoped. If I had not been ill I was hoping to follow the Santa’s all the way into London to capture the inebriated shots later in the evening which I had visualised.