Assignment 2 – Self Assessment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

My first submission for Assignment 1 included a number of weak compositions and whilst I hope that this was addressed in the re-work of that assignment (see here) it was an important self imposed criteria to achieve a visually consistent and strong set of compositions in assignment 2.

This assignment was shot with a wide angled lens (Nikon 16mm – 35mm) in an attempt to place each of the subjects into a wider context. This has been reasonably effective but I needed to use the PS lens correction filter to reduce the level of distortion in each image. Generally a minor adjustment has straightened the image but after several attempts fig. 1 below continues to show distortion.Fig.7 Portsmouth - 1/125 at f/14, ISO 200

Fig.1 Portsmouth – 1/125 at f/14, ISO 200

I believe that shooting from such a low position and the curve of the beach has created a particular problem with distortion in this image and the wall appears to be both curved and leaning backwards. This is clearly a challenge with architectural photography and perhaps cannot be solved without either investing in a 14mm prime lens or using a tilt-shift lens.

Perhaps these issues could have been addressed through compositional angles but I was intent on achieving the visual consistency required by the assignment so, in editing, I rejected images that might have been more effective as a stand-alone shot but that did not fit in with the series. (see fig 2 below)

Fig. 2 Portsmouth - 1/125 at f/14, ISO 250

Fig. 2 Portsmouth – 1/125 at f/14, ISO 250

After far too much deliberation I eventually changed the photograph altogether and used a very different shot. See below.

Fig.6 Portsmouth - 1/125 at f/14, ISO 450

Fig.6 Portsmouth – 1/125 at f/14, ISO 450

It is fair to say that I have generally avoided a too strict an interpretation of assignment briefs but in this instance I felt that the requirement to be visually consistent and tightly edited was important and I am satisfied that, in this regard at least, I have met the brief.

I made the decision to work within a 16:9 crop which by being slightly wider than normal emphasised the walls. Apart from the issues with fig. 1 as mentioned above I am satisfied with the technical aspects of this series.

Observation was a key element to this series and I had to walk many miles around the streets of the eigth towns and villages that made up my shoots. I am satisfied that I found consistent subjects that fitted into the original idea. If the weather had been kind and stayed overcast for every shoot I would have had several more options for the final series and I would have like to ended with a demolished wall such as the one in fig. 5 or included a wall that held some mystery as to origins as shown in fig. 4but these would have needed to be part of a different series.

Aldershot - 1/125 at f/13

Fig. 4 Aldershot – 1/125 at f/13

Aldershot - 1/125 at f/13

Fig. 5 Aldershot – 1/125 at f/13

Quality of Outcome

I believe this series is presented in coherent manner and that it is contextualised effectively both in terms of my own ideas and the artists who have influenced me over the last few months.

The concept of photographing time is not especially original but the use of the archeology and palimpsest of walls as a metaphor for time is not something I have seen elsewhere.

Creativity

I cannot argue that this project is experimental although working in such a disciplined manner in terms of the brief was a not something I had tried before. I also wanted to complete the whole project with one lens and to use Photoshop in a construction, if not especially creative, way to emphasise the contrast in the walls so that the patterns in their fabric was obvious.

I have appropriated text from historical quotations but I have used appropriation before and cannot claim this as an experiment.

I think the most creative aspects here were the attempt to introduce the kind of subtlety that can be seen in Paul Seawright’s work where the viewer has to search for meaning and to take on board and use the type of compositions that feature in Mark Power’s 26 Different Endings.

In terms of continuing to develop a personal voice I am in two minds. My most effective work to date has had a social / political edge to it so it would be fair to say that I have been tending to develop a documentary style but this series has a slightly different direction. On the other hand, visually I think it is a natural progression from assignment 1 and some of the work I did in TAoP so, in that sense, it is developmental.

Context

This series is built on the research carried out in this course and I have used this assignment to experiment with some of the approaches and styles of several of the artists I have been studying for the first time such as Edward Ruscha, Mark Power, Jeff Brouws and Eric Tabuchi but also leverages earlier study of the Bechers, Stephen Shore, Josef Koudelka and Joachim Brohm.

The course led me into looking closely at Postmodernism and Post Postmodernism and whilst this took me on a diversion for over a week I am pleased with the research I carried out and feel that a close look at the work of Cindy Sherman has helped me prepare for the next part of the course.

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