Monday, 22 November 2010

Assignment 4 : a critical review (planning)

OK, before anyone starts scrolling down their screen looking for Assignment 3. It hasn't been done, but it will be. It just suits my situation at the moment to do something additional to image making. Assignment 3 will come along soon.

Assignment 4 is a critical review of about 2500 words about the life and work of a photographer. The OCA list five, although it is possible to do A N Other, but I will conform and stay within the list. In addition I am mindful of Assignment 5, where I am required to produce 12 photographs "in the style" of one of these photographers.

The List
  1. Ansel Adams
  2. Robert Adams
  3. Fay Godwin
  4. Edward Weston
  5. Galen Rowell
The critical review will deal with their life history, work, influences and successes and why they were chosen for the essay. Although as I said, another photographer could be chosen (subject to tutor comments) I thought it interesting to look at the OCA list in a little more detail before making my choice. My first comment is that I had only heard of three of them, which in itself is appalling and demonstrates why doing this course will at least introduce me to more photographers than I had previously been aware of.

A quick run through of the candidates then.

Ansel Adams.
I have a few of his books and they were all well read years ago when I did my work in a wet darkroom. His books "The Negative" and "The Print" are masterclasses in developing and printing using large format negatives. Inventor of The Zone System and founder member of the f64 group, he is perhaps the best known of all those on the list. A god like figure in the world of monochrome, but I wonder how I will fare when it comes to his style.

Robert Adams.
I had never heard of him. Reading about him and looking at his work has not brought about a "wow" moment. The style of his work is however interesting although I have never found myself interested in this type of work I feel uncomfortable that later I will have to work in his style.

Fay Godwin
Well, Fay Godwin, I think you either love her or hate her. I do both. I feel my opinions of her are so mixed that I would need an entire essay on its own to explain them. Far be it from me, but aren't many of them just ordinary photographs in very poor light. Maybe some other time I will expand on this.

Edward Weston
I was aware of some nudes and shells, but only from magazines and the Internet. Further research has however interested me. Not only his photography but his life. A complex man who lived in a wooden hut, had many lovers and photographed a toilet. During a holiday this year I read a biography by Ben Maddow and began to realise that Weston was establishing himself as a possible candidate for my essay.

Galen Rowell
Again, I had never come across this photographer prior to this list. His work using 35mm transparency and the hard won landscapes in remote parts of the world hardly seems plausible as a style for myself to try and emulate.

My decision: Edward Weston. I visited an exhibition of his work in London in September, now re reading his biography (this time making notes) and have just acquired "The Last Years in Carmel".

Critical review writing is new to me so I will do some reading on the style and techniques needed prior to starting.The OCA has a 3 page document on this and that seems like a good place to start and base my technique as I assume the tutors use it as a checklist for content.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Autumn - Mid morning light

D3  300mm  1/6400 sec  F4.5  ISO 800

The rotten apples - an image of late Autumn

D3 60mm macro 2 secs f32 ISO 200

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Pylons in Fog and a Tree

Two from the early mornings this week

This one has had less work, but is suitable for Project 15

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Autumn Trees

From this morning. D3 300mm f2.8 ISO800 1/800 sec f5.6

Temp -2c

And one from yesterday

These images may be short listed for project 15

Monday, 15 November 2010

More Autumn

An amazing morning. -2.2C and a clear sky with the promise of an amazing dawn in low lying areas. 6.45 and out with one lens. I like to do this from time to time as I find changing lenses a bind and an unnecessary break in the photography. Its not needed in my opinion and travelling light is much easier. So, the D3 and 300mm 2.8, incident meter and a monopod, although I think the Gitzo tripod is in the Land Rover somewhere if needed. The D3 is quite capable at ISO 1000 so 1/000 sec and higher quite possible even at dawn. Ive also decided to keep all my shooting close to home, well within 10 miles. Ive been finding that by revisiting small patches of countryside I am getting know them, anticipating where I think shots will be and the topography and how that effects the light and atmosphere. The Nar valley is shallow, its no Swaledale and may only be a few 10's of feet lower than the surrounding countryside but it is enough to collect fog in a thin layer just before dawn and near to Wormegay has a fen, so bleak minimalist features. As the sun rose it was amazing, although I am not sure I got my position right. The fog about 10 feet thick and good recessions in tones to the distance. After a while I moved to another favourite, West Briggs Wood. Still good light although less options due to being in and around a forest, so the edges were best options. Still looking for assignment shots that are Autumn, so one or two predictable trees, but my style is naturalistic rather than contemporary so there may be a few cliches in there still.

If, it looks good tomorrow I will do a similar trip, maybe the same lens, but maybe an extension tube in my pocket to allow closer focus distance on some detail. I never like to rush PP so, the Raw files will be left for a day or two before I look at them again. Its my digital equivalent to sending the films for process. When I look at then again they will be new to me and I will be happier then rather than now to manipulate them.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chasing around

Saturday 6th November and at last some images of Autumn, all in a random sort of way. Weather and cloud watching is now as important as having a lens on the camera. Three mini trips in the last two days to West Briggs Wood may have saved the day. Due to being so behind the season I am playing catch up, which means getting some ordinary shots at least and then maybe next week look for something a bit more unusual. First efforts were in bright but overcast light, which although good doesn't cut it for Autumn. Vibrancy of the colours is paramount and while the images were OK, it wasn't ever going to be good enough. Second and third attempts were better, good light but wrong time of day. The part of the wood I wanted to work in was still without direct light, so I needed to work on the South side or at least something with a South facing aspect. I had armed myself with 80-200 zoom, 50mm, 60mm macro and 24mm PC-E. and in the end the 24mm and the 60mm macro predominantly used. The right angle finder used also to get the 24mm very low down on the tripod. 60mm for some nice close ups of leaves. Third rather rushed visit was late in the afternoon, this time the 300mm on a monopod. The sky had now become very black, the sun was low and I went looking for a single sunlit tree with a stormy cloudscape. I love the 300mm and its max f2.8 is great for isolating detail. There were a few moments that may have worked, but no PP yet, so nothing to show, but relief that something has been done. 

Also saw deer and loads of squirrels, but the 600mm not taken on these visits, so nothing of them, but they can wait till another day