The decisive moment – where I currently stand.

After watching the you tube video on Bresson and doing exercise 3 I find that I neither agree with or disagree with Henri on this topic.

I’m more in line with Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck Is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, I think this sums it up most admirably.


Henri Catier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer famous for his street style of photography.
These video clips of his interview where in many ways eye-opening.
His early childhood through to him at the time of the interview showed a unique perspective of his developement into the photographer he became.
He came across as an easy-going man who had travelled the world and experienced much in his life time.
From meeting and talking with Gandhi to his experiences in his home town brothel whilst growing up.
He also describes how he took some of his more famous images, I especially enjoyed the moment he told the interviewer that most photography is luck.
The way he got the famous image “Behind the Gate Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932″ was a good example of luck.
But was it a case of luck or more like what Gary Player said in an interview one time, the immortalised quote ” The more I practice, the luckier I get”.
I feel it’s more like the quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”.
You have to have a certain skill level, you then have to put yourself in the place where an image is likely to occur; then it’s down to luck.
This is what I think Bresson meant by  luck.
Otherwise the world operates on the basis of statistical mechanics, you know; the Simians with typewriters writing Shakespeare theory.

You can see his impact on photo-journalism, what he called the decisive moment when moving things are in balance.
Any sports photograph is a perfect example of his thinking here.

At the start of this research point I was seriously questioning this course, after all what has a “this is your life” video have to do with me learning photography, not much; but it did get me thinking of Seneca and his philosophy and this, in a very round about way was the main lesson I took from these video’s.
This train of thought took me back seventeen years to my start in car sales and my boss telling me I must “Practice, drill and rehearse” in order to be succesful.
Again I have been reminded of the truth of their wisdom.

The trials and tribulations of printing.

Not too long ago I bought a new printer and was somewhat bothered by the fact that I had to keep adjusting how bright the prints came out.

In order for your photographs to be seen as you intend on your blog you must calibrate your monitor, most monitors are too bright and blue.

To get your prints to match the screen is another matter and more difficult.

It never really occurred to me, although it should have; that monitors are back-lit and have light shining from behind the image whereas prints are seen using reflected light.

This revelation also exposed a problem with my room lighting, the bulbs and the curtains where giving a yellow cast, I fixed that with daylight led bulbs balanced to 6500K and I only work when the sun is down; not ideal as the walls are painted a light cream colour but much better than it was.

After many You-tube  Videos I went out and purchased a Colormonki display calibration tool and a Spyder 5 printer calibration tool.

Calibrating my monitor was as painless as the blurb on the Colormonki Box suggested it would be, just load the software and place it on your screen; it takes about ten minutes and will remind you when it needs re-doing.

It also came with what they call a passport which  when used with Photoshop and Lightroom , helps colour balance your  photo’s in difficult lighting conditions; very clever.

The Spyder 5 loads and prints colour swatches and then scans them in order to match your screen with the printers output.

You have to do it for each type of paper you’re using and it produces a profile for your printer.

I found the plastic guide to be awkward and gave me inconsistent results until I discarded it and placed the reader directly on the swatches.

This was very time-consuming but gave me excellent results.

I am fairly confident that I can produce very good prints and after all the expense it should prove cost-effective compared to a professional print service.

Experimenting with flash

While looking for subjects for exercise 3.1, freezing movement; I tried an experiment comparing an image of a spinning fan taken with and without flash.

The images below are taken at roughly the same shutter speed but the flash seem to have almost frozen the fan’s motion.

It’s after you zoom in on the flash image that you can see the safety screen behind, almost super imposed on the fans blade.

55mm. 1/80th. sec. f 5.6 ISO 1600

55mm. 1/60th. sec. f 5.6 ISO 100

iTTL flash.

The effect is quite startling.

As it didn’t entirely freeze the fans motion I didn’t include it in my images for exercise 3.1, maybe practice some and include it in later exercises and assignments.

Research Point

Brief :

Do your own research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project.
Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes discussed in Project 2.

Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took the photograph isn’t important; find a photo with a depth of field that ‘fits’ the code you’ve selected.

The ability of photographs to adapt to a range of usages is something we’ll return to later in the course.
Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you’ve re-imagined your photograph.

Tony Ray Jones and Ansel Adams.

Of the Photographers mentioned in this section there are two that stick out to me.

Tony Ray Jones and Ansel Adams.

Tony Ray Jones was, in my mind; a social photo-journalist whose excellent series on the English at play is truly sublime.

The way he framed things to include multiple stories or themes in one image resonated with me, maybe because I grew up in the 60’s.

His colour work taken in America is also very good.

I can see why he is so influential.

At the dawn of this millennium the Oxford photographic archive sent out a photographer to mimic the work of one of their archives, same views etc. just a hundred years later on; a beautiful collection put side by side with the plate images in a calendar.

This is what needs to be done here with the English at play, it would be a worthy project and I might do it in slow time.

This image here of a man working reminded me of something.

A picture I took looking through the entrance to an Oxford college.

This to me has a similar feel to it, from the lighting to the subject.

Ansel Adams is one of those rare photographers that are so well-known that they don’t need an introduction.

Most famous for his work in Yosemite but also did some excellent portraits and architecture work.

I particularly like the following pictures.

Ansel Adams, US National Archive

Ansel Adams, Baton practice, Manzanar.

His series on Manzanar internment camp produced many wonderful images and proves to me how versatile Adams truly was.

You can see the influence of the F64 group in all his work as they’re mainly sharp throughout the image.

Page 50

Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, page 50 mentions two photographers on one page, Gianluca Cosci and Mona Kuhn.

There can be no better comparison of art over salesmanship then these two.

I know art is subjective and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but really!

Cosci’s work, with the exception of some of his reflections in glass and the picture frames is awful.

The low to the ground, shallow depth of field urban pictures are truly bland in an epic sense.

They’re the kind of pictures, that if I took them would be relegated to the files bin on my computer.

I was a car salesman for many years in the U.S.A and knew that when I heard such gushing descriptions of something I was being sold a bill of goods, i.e something sub-standard.

Contrast these to Mona Kuhn’s work !

The use of good light, excellent framing and stunning subjects makes Khun’s work brilliant.

I may be being harsh on Cosci but if you where to display both these photographers works together, opened it to the public and took a poll I’m certain Kuhn’s work would be way more popular.

To me photography has to illicit a response, Cosci’s work does this but in a negative way.

In order for it to be considered good it must make people look and at least say “Hmmn” if not “Wow”! anything else is average.

Alec Soth

Having looked at Alec Soths work on his web site I must say that most of his images are powerful.

When taken as a collection, such as broken manual; they also tell a story.

He seems to have the ability to relate with his subjects and get some of these wonderful characters to allow him to photograph them, the survivalist in this Gillie suite must have been a hard sell.

From the book  Broken Manual by Alec Soth & Lester B. Morrison, 2010

His compositions, to me at least; are pretty simple for the most part but incredibly poignant.

There is a sense of lost hope and sadness to a lot of his work which I find depressing to some degree.

Overall I like most of his images and the stories they tell.