My tutor feedback on Assignment One indicated that a number of my paired images required revisiting against the background of:
“The images created should interpret the pairs of descriptive words in a manner that would be obvious to an unitiated viewer. In other words, the picture should tell the story without the assistance of any prior detailed knowledge or helpful legend. I understand your logic for the images you have submitted but I am afraid that in a number of them the interpretation is too obscure and would not be the first impression that your viewer would understand.”
Having reflected on this comment I decided to use the same subject for one pair (Long/Short), but with an adjusted viewing position for one image as, in my opinion, the comparison story is told; in my experience people tend to comment on the length of piers. For the remainder of the comparisons I selected new subjects.
By changing the viewing point for the second shot I believe there is more of a direct contrast between the two piers and, for me anyway, the one thing that stands out is the difference in length; vive la difference!
Staying with my idea of subjects from the same family, a rummage in the trusty toolbox revealed a couple of items that I think make a fair contrast of pointed and blunt. Setting up the shots provided an opportunity to explore some new skills, namely reverting to manual on the camera, taking light readings with a hand-held meter and setting a custom white balance. I explored a number of different angles for both shots looking for the ones that best emphasised the contrast between the two. I also tried different aperture settings to see whether the depth of field added anything; for the hammer shot I settled on a value that lost sharpness along the handle in order to give weight to the head whereas I found a greater depth of field better suited the shot of the cold chisels.
My theme for this pair is glass and these two shots came about by chance. The first image was the result of contemplating the meaning of life one evening, as you do. Looking into the fire I was taken by the unusual burning in that rather than the wood being on fire the heat was generating gas which was accumulating at the top of the combustion chamber and then igniting; this produced a rather striking image through the glass panel in the door of the burner. I hastily gathered together camera, tripod and a couple of lenses in the hope of capturing the scene. There was a good deal of trial and error to achieve the image I thought best captured what I was seeing, working against a diminishing occurrence. It was achieving a depth of field that captured what was going on inside the burner as well as showing the context of the event coupled with the ISO setting and shutter speed to show the swirling flame. The second shot, which I found equally demanding, was the result of visiting an art exhibition by Melanie Paice titled “Trash to Treasure”. She has used old lightbulbs to create bugs using the filament wires and amongst these were some opaque bulbs and I saw an opportunity. Having obtained her permission to take photographs I set about capturing a suitable image. On my camera I had a 50mm f/1.4 lens so was limited in minimum focus distance but benefited from having a fast lens. Of course the gallery was painted brilliant white with plenty of overhead illumination and the displays were arranged on white tables; having never taken photographs in this sort of environment before I found the lighting something of a challenge an experimented with various camera settings.
I’m hopeful that I have not strayed into the realms of deep obscurity once again by choosing this metaphor! The first shot was relatively straightforward, although I did try a range of different backgrounds but found the contrast with the black to be the most striking. The second shot was a bit more of a challenge both in finding the view that most clearly conveyed the meaning and the lighting. It was shot positioned next to a window and I used a piece of white card to reflect the light; I tried a number of settings to obtain the best contrast between the cream tablecloth, the white dish and the butter.
I am hopeful that these photographs have moved me out of the obscurity zone; if not I look forward to some meaningful debate since I am of the opinion that many pictures have a degree of obscurity in order to generate thought and debate. However, I do accept that there are degrees and at this early stage in the course it is perhaps best to err on the side of obvious.
Paice, M. (2013) Lightbulb, 2013. ‘Trash to Treasure’ exhibition. Walton-on-Thames: The Robert Phillips Gallery. 15-26 May 2013