Exercise 5.3 – Behind the gate Saint – Lazaire

Brief:

 

Look again at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph Behind the Gate Saint-Lazare in part three. (If you can get to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London you can see an original print on permanent display in the Photography Gallery).

Is there a single element in the image that you could say is the pivotal ‘point’ to which the eye returns again and again?

What information does this ‘point’ contain?

Include a short response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in your learning log.

You can be as imaginative as you like.

In order to contextualize your discussion you might want to include one or two of your own shots, and you may wish to refer to Rinko Kawauchi’s photograph mentioned above or the Theatres series by Hiroshi Sugimoto
discussed in Part Three.

Write about 150–300 words.

 

Response:

The single most element that my eye kept returning too is the mans heel just above the puddle.
As for the information it contains there is quite a bit.
The first piece of information is that he’s airborne, perhaps trying to leap to a shallower part of the puddle.
The second bit of information is that the puddle is large and quite unavoidable if he wants to get to where he’s going.
The third and final piece of information I get from it is that he’s about to land in it, how deep is it ?
, unfortunately Henri didn’t take a second image to my knowledge and therefore it will remain a mystery.
Which is a pity because if you pose a question it would be nice to also have the answer.
The Composition of this photograph is excellent considering Henri just stuck his camera through the gate without seeing what was on the other side.
What makes it for me is the reflection in the puddle.
It reminds me a bit of my shot I called Peter Pan.

 

Peter Pan ?

This image was shot for an earlier exercise.

 

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Exercise 5.2

Brief:

Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it.

You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, but you must make explicit in your notes what it is that you’re responding to.

Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?
Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log.
Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case?

Take your time over writing your response because you’ll submit the
relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment Five.

 

Process:

I went out with my 24-70 mm. lens at night around Hammersmith in London.

I hand-held for all the shots.

The intention was to get some images like Rut Blees images taken for London transport.

I did get some.

I also tried to get some shallow depth of field shots like Gianluca Cosci took to emphasise the corporate take over of urban spaces, this I also did.

The image I decided upon was one taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

I’d taken this from across the street and exposed for the interior wall.

Photographs:

This iconic image was taken of Buzz Aldrin near the legs of the lunar module.

Neil Armstrong, image as11-40-5903, NASA. 1969.

Space one…….

Contact sheet.

Research:

I have previously looked at Blees and Coscis work and was aware of it.

As I walked past this office building I noticed the photograph that is circular and mounted on the wall, I had seen this before; so in a rare case of image first research second I took the photograph.

Turns out it was a crop of an image taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 lunar mission.

You can tell it’s the same image by the reflections in the helmets visor.

 

Analysis:

Barrett says there is three types of information in a photograph, that in the photograph, that information surrounding the image and how the picture was made.

He calls these the internal, the external and the original contexts.

The brief asks :

Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?

For my chosen image I’d have to say yes to all.

Stylistic because it blends so many ideas and styles together, Juxtaposition because of the photo mounted on the wall together with the sign in the window and the statue; the subject can definitely be described as a decisive moment.

It also is a reflection on the commercialisation of space as I don’t think that NASA intended for the photograph to be used to advertise office space.

This window was a pleasant find and is one of the reasons I like photography.

As for which of Barrett’s information is to be found within my image ?  that to be found within the image and that which is found surrounding it.

 

Reflections:

As I said, I went out with the intention of doing something different but I just couldn’t resist using this image.

I was seven years old when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon.

I can remember my mother letting us stay up late to watch the landing and the first steps on the moon on TV.

I thought it was the coolest thing ever, I can only imagine what it felt like for those involved.

Exercise 5.1

Brief:

Use your camera as a measuring device.

This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!).

Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a
sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’.

Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot.
When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4).
In other words, be open to the unexpected. In conversation with the author, the photographer Alexia Clorinda expressed this idea in the following way:
Look critically at the work you did by including what you didn’t
mean to do. Include the mistake, or your unconscious, or whatever
you want to call it, and analyse it not from the point of view of your
intention, but because it is there.

 

Process:

For this exercise I wanted to explore the idea that I was an outsider looking in.

I also wanted to vary the distances and focal lengths to show how far or close I relate to the subject.

I went out over two nights to get shots of reflections in windows aswell as anything else that could reflect the idea of an outsider looking in.

On the first night I took my 70 – 200 f 2.8 and on the second my 200 – 500 f 5.6 and a monopod.

I often put my camera into continuous high so that I could image stack to remove noise in post processing.

 

Photographs:

Reconstruction.

Time.

Don’t go there…

Worry.

Beanie hat.

Passenger.

Trainee?

Outside looking in.

Reinvention.

I selected this shot because it portrays part of the journey from homelessness through the grimy window to reconstructing your life.

I selected image 16 because it shows the emptiness of time passing by and image 39 because it shows my intended path of getting a photographic degree.

Image 11 shows what I  avoided unlike many homeless.

Image 16 gave me a feeling of the lonely and anonymous journey I took.

Image 8 was selected because it shows re-training for a different stage of life.

No selection from this sheet.

This one really isn’t the selection, I used median image stacking using all similar shots to portray the jostling crowd and reduce the noise of the image ; this one is my select.

I selected this image because I thought it was someone looking out of their window, turned out to be a bust wearing a beanie hat.

I selected this because it shows a feeling of loneliness.

 

Research:

For this exercise I didn’t research a photographer or any other artist.

I  got inspiration from my old journal.

Below is a copy of my thoughts from my learning log.

Part of the brief for exercise 5.1 is the following:

“Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!).

Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a
sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’.”

Sometime after reading this I happened across my old journal I wrote for the three months I was homeless.

This homelessness went on for nearly three months during the most deplorable weather  Oxford has ever experienced, from November 2013 through to February 2014.

The notes in this journal took me back to the bleakest time in my life.

In it were my feelings toward fellow campers, the hunger, the desperation and the loneliness.

Colorado, an American student who saved his money by living in a family sized tent that blew down and leaked often and Cat Weasel an older homeless gentleman who wasn’t all there if you know what I mean.

These and more helped me retain my sanity.

I have to mention here an experience I had at 7 am. Christmas morning.

Two young Scandinavian students stopped across the street from me, not another soul to be seen; took off their hats and started singing a Christmas carol.

Their voices were angelic and echoed from the surrounding buildings.

It was very moving, once finished they donned their hats, smiled at me and carried on their journey.

It was an incredible experience to say the least and I was the only  person there to appreciate their fine singing.

This journal then gave me the idea of measuring how far I have come since then but it didn’t seem to fit the narrative very well.

Maybe I can explore something more specific that I noted down.

I’ll give it some more thought over the weekend.

Well I gave it more thought and decided upon the subject of an outsider looking in.

Looking on the WWW I came across this article in Psychology  today which deals with Highly Sensitive People .

“As one highly sensitive person put it recently, it’s like being an outsider looking in.

Life as a HSP feels very much like pushing your nose against the glass that separates you from society and all you can do is watch and wonder how they do it and how you can ever get in”.
Deborah ward, On The Outside Looking In, Finding the balance between community and sensitivity.
Psychology today October 16 2011.

It doesn’t entirely relate to homelessness but the overall feeling of the article felt strangely familiar.

Analysis:

I like my first image very much, it shows a contrast between the dark and cold outside to the warm glow of the interior.

There’s also a contrast between the circles on the window and the straight lines and squareness of the interior.

The grimy window also adds a certain atmosphere that adds depth of feeling to the shot.

The second image of the chair and clock has a feeling of time passing to it.

From the empty chair to the Earthy tones.

It’s a photograph taken through the window of an interior decorating business and this I think explains the balance within the image.

The image of the Police and their van isn’t as strong an image as the others but did fit into the story I was trying to tell, I did like their faces being framed by the window.

The image of the man using his phone at a table to me is a powerful scene.

Many a time I was connected to distant friends via the  cafes WiFi.

The space around him gives the feeling of loneliness and his expression suggests that all is not right in his world.

The shot of the bust in the window was included because I thought it was someone looking out, as it was on the 6th. floor of a block of flats I didn’t know until I processed the image that it was a bust wearing a beanie hat.

The man on the bus image has many reflections, coloured lights and isn’t what I’d consider a perfect technical image.

But it does have feeling and begs the question “where are you going and where have you been ?” .

The bartenders shot was taken because of the interaction between the three people, that and the fact I was outside looking in.

The last two images really portray my journey to date.

From outside and not belonging to having and working a plan.

The pub was again a median stacked image, I knew the crowd would move and I wanted this to express the chaos of their interaction.

What I didn’t expect was that some of them would remain still despite the jostling that was going on.

This to me makes the image and is therefore my choice or select.

The final image portrays my photographic journey, I’m outside taking photo’s and aiming for my degree.

This is my state of the art at the moment.

It almost made it as my choice for this exercise because of the content but also because I hadn’t noticed the reflection of the traffic lights upon the poster which look like they were part of the original photographers image.

Reflection:

I found this exercise more liberating than some of the past.

Mainly because it was up to me to come up with the subject and how it was treated.

If I had not found my old journal and the idea it gave me it may have been more difficult to conceptualize.

As it is I feel I have completed this exercise with more confidence than some of the previous ones.

I have also started to let go of the technical aspects of photography and let the inner me shine through more.

I’m no longer going to fixate on noise and levelling etc. to the extent I have been doing and concentrate more on the subject and what I intend for a given image.