“L’Amour de court” – a personal response

For this element of Part 3 of EYV I was asked to watch and write a personal response to the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (2001) available in 5 parts on YouTube.

Cartier-Bresson was, according to his Wikipedia entry (as at January 2015) “considered to be the father of photojournalism”, a “master of candid photography” and coined the term “the decisive moment” . In fact, however, the last of these statements – although almost an article of faith among the photographic community – is perhaps rather questionable. I think I only really understood this, and the meaning of “the decisive moment” and why it is applied to Cartier-Bresson’s work – from watching this film and doing some associated research.

Cartier-Bresson referred to the “decisive moment” in the preface to his 1952 book Images à la Sauvette. He did not himself create the phrase “decisive moment”, however, but rather quoted the 17th century Cardinal de Retz, who said “Il n’y a rien dans ce monde qui n’ait un moment decisif” (“There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment”). Using his own words Cartier-Bresson went on to say “Photographier: c’est dans un même instant et en une fraction de seconde reconnaître un fait et l’organisation rigoureuse de formes perçues visuellement qui expriment et signifient ce fait” (“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”). The title of this particular book in English as the “Decisive Moment” was determined not by Cartier-Bresson himself, but by his publishers (Images à la sauvette would more accurately be translated as “Images on the Sly”, which sounds a bit devious).

So, how had I previously understood “the decisive moment” and how do I understand it now? Previously I had thought that it was about the decisiveness of the moment in its own right, wherever viewed from, and whether photographed or not. For example, the famous images shot by Capa of the Normandy landings or the falling soldier in the Spanish civil war record significant moments of action at critical times. Likewise, although not having the same historical significance, Cartier-Bresson’s famous picture of a man about to step in a puddle is at a point when something of interest is happening – his step and the consequences of it can be thought of as decisive (at least in relation to the imminent state of his feet).

But having viewed the video, I think Cartier-Bresson was more focused on the “decisive moment” when the picture is in harmony rather than at some specific moment of drama, action or emotion unfolding. He refers to the geometry of a photographic composition saying (in translation) “intuitively, I know how it sits”. He explains that he went for “form rather than light”. Despite his reference to “the significance of an event” some of his photos are of entirely everyday scenes – children playing in a covered square, or a cyclist passing a curved staircase, for example – where there is no action happening that would not also have been happening a few seconds earlier or later. What was “decisive” therefore, was the composition at that particular time. A few seconds later or earlier, for example, the cyclist would have been at a different point in the shot.

So my understanding now is that “the decisive” moment is simply the moment when the photograph will look good, whether recording an event of historic significance, or a more mundane, everyday scene. Cartier-Bresson reflected this himself when he said in 1957 “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.”

What then comes across is that Cartier-Bresson spent his photographic career looking for those “decisive moments” – carefully composing shots and waiting until those elements of the shot that could move were in the right place (with some obvious exceptions where he took iconic photos “by luck”). “I look, I look, it’s an obsession” he says. In one scene in the video, looking back at old pictures he berates himself for what he views as a poor picture, saying “this guy isn’t in the right place – I rushed it”. Such errors aside, the results of his work speak for themselves, coming from what he describes as having demanded extreme concentration. And in fact by the time the video was made Cartier-Bresson had more or less stopped taking pictures entirely because, he said “there comes a time when you have to stop, to live”. I find that a bit sad – as if to say that the depth of his concentration was stopping him living.

References

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1952). The Decisive Moment. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Bernstein, Adam (August 5, 2004). “The Acknowledged Master of the Moment”. The Washington Post.

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Part 3, Project 2 “A durational space”, Exercise 3.2

This exercise is the opposite of the previous one which was concerned with freezing movement through very short shutter speeds. This exercise looks at use of long shutter speeds to capture an impression of movement within a still image.

The first part of the exercise involved some research into photographers who have used this technique.

Robert Capa

Robert Capa was a Hungarian photographer, famous for his war photography, who also co-formed the Paris-based Magnum Photos agency. The EYV coursebook presents one of his most famous images – a soldier wading ashore on Omaha Beach during the 1944 Normandy landings. This is a grainy, blurred shot. The coursebook also points out that Capa shot many much clearer images from the period of the D day landings, but the grainy, blurred one is the one that became “iconic”. Why is that?

 Copyright Magnum Photos

In fact, although Capa took a great many shots on D day and over the following days, due to an accident in processing only 11 images from the actual D day landings survived (Kuper, 2013). And of those, all of the ones that appear to show “action under fire” are blurred and grainy. So the question is not really why this particular image has become famous, but rather, would it still have become as famous if it were not blurred and grainy. I suspect it would, since an even more famous picture taken by Capa – the falling solder (below) – is not at all blurred.

 copyright Magnum Photos

It is nevertheless said that “Capa understood the blurring effect” and that “sometimes he’d shake his camera to give pictures of war a sense of motion” (Kuper, 2013). But it’s unclear if the blur was deliberate in the D day shot, or a consequence of the limited light meaning he had to use a relatively long shutter speed and narrow depth of field.

Regardless of whether the result was intentional or accidental, I think the blur in the photograph creates a sense of confusion and urgency which we can reasonably presume must have been prevalent in the D day landings. Yet at the same time, the solder’s face is quite clearly presented, so we can recognise a specific person. The background is more blurred as if Capa took the shot while “panning”. So overall the image presents a picture of an individual, representing a collective effort, in a chaotic, urgent and dangerous endeavour. The soldier, incidentally, was called Ed Regan and you can see him being interviewed here explaining how frightened and exhausted he was.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOpFQ2FneEk)

Reference

Kuper, S. “Interview: John Morris on his friend Robert Capa”, FT Magazine, 31 May 2013.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is a concept photographer. The EYV coursebook refers us to a youtube clip which explains his approach (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2XUtoTRjtc). Among other series he has photographed the interiors of cinemas over the entire duration of a film. The result of this long exposure is an entirely white screen and the apparent disappearance of all the people, so that only the furnishings of the cinema are visible. Personally I find the images rather less interesting than Sugimoto’s philosophical explanation: “too much information ends up with nothingness”. The main thing I think is noteworthy about the images is that while a long exposure usually leads to an impression of movement, in this case it suggests the complete opposite. The image is entirely static looking.

Hiroshi Sugimoto - holywood cinerama theatre

Michael Wesely

Michael Wesely is a photographer who has taken images, often of large scale construction projects, over periods of months or even years. The resulting pictures don’t so much show movement, but rather change, and in some cases have the appearance of having combined several different images (resulting from different stages of construction being captured in a single exposure).

The lines in the sky are created by the sun tracing a different day – and clearly some days will have been overcast so there are some gaps. Wesely has said that: “the lines in the sky put our existence, us, our planet into context with the Dance of the Universe, which coexists on an entirely different time scale” (http://itchyi.squarespace.com/thelatest/2010/7/20/the-longest-photographic-exposures-in-history.html).

Some experiments

The next part of the exercise asked me to use slow shutter speeds, multiple exposure, or some other technique expired by the examples above, to try to record a trace of movement.

Before I took the pictures I generated a bit of a mental checklist of the types of things I could do using the equipment available. These were as follows:

1. Camera stationary, subject moving or changing. This is in effect what Sugimoto and Wesely above have done.

2. Camera moving, subject stationary. The camera can be moved in various different ways – e.g. up and down, left and right, forwards and backwards, pivoting, twisting.

3. Camera and subject moving. There are a couple of possibilities here. One is that the camera and subject are moving in such a way that the subject still appears relatively clear (i.e. relative to each other, the camera and subject are not actually moving very much, e.g. panning). The other is where the movement of the camera and subject are independent of each other.

I tried to take a few pictures covering these various permutations. Here they are.

DSC00552

Camera and subject (myself) more or less stationary relative to each other, but both moving. This is a “selfie” taken while spinning round on a chair. 8 secs at f11.

DSC00556

Camera stationary, subject moving. Another “selfie”. In this one I progressively moved my position towards the camera. 6 secs at f11.

DSC00587

Camera and subject moving independently. This was hand held, at waist level, while I was walking down the street one way and this chap passed me on a skateboard going the other way. 1/3 sec at f11.

DSC00635

Camera and subject both moving but stationary relative to one another. This is my friend Shaun on a train. The background is whizzing by at around 70mph so is completely blurred. 1/8 sec at f4.5.

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Camera stationary and subject moving. Ice skating in Bristol. 1/4 sec at f11

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Camera moving, subject stationary. I was twisting the camera as I took this picture of Alfred. I tried to put his left eye in the centre to keep that as a relatively undistorted feature. 1/4 sec at f22.

IMG_3015

Camera moving, subject stationary. Similar to the above except in this one I quickly zoomed in after pressing the shutter. Again I put the left eye centre shot. 1/3 sec at f22.

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Camera moving, subject stationary. This is St Werburgh’s in Bristol, taken while moving the camera up and down. Quite a pleasing result and vaguely Turner-esque. 1/8 sec at f22.

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I slightly lost the plot here and can’t remember exactly what we were doing, but it looks like we were both moving, and the end result is interesting. 1/5 sec at f8.

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Camera and subject moving. In this one I was trying to pan the camera to keep Alfred’s head reasonably clearly defined as he passed by. 1/13 sec at f8.

I also took this series of long exposure night shots on a recent trip to London, all using a tripod. Exposures were typically around 10-15 seconds.

IMG_2722 IMG_2736 IMG_2748 IMG_2749 IMG_2755 IMG_2766 IMG_2768

Assignment 2 – Collecting (Revisited)

I originally posted the results of this assignment on 1 November. I am now re-posting them with amendments to take account of feedback from my tutor, Dave Wyatt: NEEYV2.

The main changes have been to alter some of the images in terms of their colour balance, and to replace some of the images selected to produce a more coherent overall set. Two images previously included (“smartphone relief” and “outside the British Museum”) have been removed from the final set. Although fine as images in their own right, my tutor’s comments suggested they were slightly different from the rest of the set, focusing less obviously on large crowd scenes and more on individuals. In their place I have added three new images from my previous set of “other contenders”, making a total of 10 shots.

1. The courtyard of the British Museum (f22, 1 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

IMG_2341 edited after feedbackThis has been edited to reduce the slight cyan tint that appeared in the previous version.

2. The entrance to the Rosetta Stone (f8, 0.6 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

IMG_2385 edited after feedbackEdited for colour balance.

3. Alone among the crowds (f22, 2 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

IMG_2384 edited after feedbackThis is also edited for colour balance. I have tried to reduce the slight red tint (compare against previous photograph) although I think the lighting must also have changed slightly between shots.

4. Where Science and Nature meet (f9, 1/100 sec, ISO400, 250mm)

IMG_2499 edited after feedbackThis has been slightly altered for colour balance but is little changed. My tutor also commented on the limited depth of little, which I had also noted in the original posting. In order to get a wider depth of field I would have had to increase the ISO rating in order to be able to shoot at a narrower aperture while still retaining a sufficiently fast shutter speed. Alternatively I could have put the camera on a tripod and shot at a longer shutter speed.

5. The queue for the Natural History Museum (f25, 1/2 sec, ISO100, 250mm)

IMG_2690 edited after feedbackSlightly edited for colour balance.

6. The queue for the Natural History Museum – part 2 (f9, 1/25 sec, ISO400, 50mm)

IMG_2521 edited after feedbackThis is one of the newly added images. It shows the queue in a slightly more orderly state than the previous one.

7. The dinosaur queue (f11, 1/4 sec, ISO800, 33 mm)

IMG_2593 edited after feedbackSlightly edited for colour balance.

8. The dinosaur queue – part 2 (f6.3, 1/15 sec, ISO800, 17 mm)

IMG_2615 edited after feedbackThis is another of the newly added images. Because I am closer to the crowd (in fact almost in it) it looks denser than the previous image taken from a different location.

9. Chaos in the main hall (f22, 6 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

IMG_2631 edited after feedback Slightly edited for colour balance.

10. More queuing as we left the museum (f25, 1/2 sec, ISO100, 250mm)

IMG_2687 edited after feedbackThis is the last of the three newly added shots, and was taken of those poor souls still queuing to get in as I was leaving the Natural History Museum. I think there is a nice combination of compression of the crowd, a couple of interesting expressions (man at far left and woman at far right), people who are “anonymised” by the crowd (we see the backs or tops of their heads), and a few interesting pieces of blurred movement. It was shot with a small tripod to allow for a long shutter speed.

Part 3, Project 1 “The frozen moment”, Exercise 3.1

This exercise asked me to use fast shutter speeds to isolate a “frozen moment in time” in a moving subject. I have presented below a selection of shots from this exercise along with shooting data and notes.

1. Stationary lemur

DSC00433 f4.9, 1/1000 sec, IS0400, 100mm

It may seem odd to start off these images with one of something that isn’t moving. Well, I just wanted to show it for context, and because these creatures are also very cute. We were visiting The Wild Place Project in Bristol, where visitors can enter the lemur enclosure. I wanted to take some pictures of them “frozen” in midair while leaping. But this was easier said than done. In fact I didn’t manage to capture a picture of a jumping lemur apart from the headless one below, before my wife and child told me they wanted to move on to see the wolves. We returned to the lemurs later but by then it was raining and they were all clumped together indoors in a large, furry lump.

2. Headless lemur

DSC00438 f7.1, 1/1000 sec, ISO400, 50mm

So here is my attempt at freezing the motion of a lemur. They don’t give you much notice before the spring off, and there is a slight lag between depressing the shutter and capturing the image. I should have zoomed out a bit, and then could have cropped the image around the jumping lemur.

3. Alfred impersonating lemur

DSC00487 f1.8, 1/100, ISO160, 28mm

My attempt to freeze Alfred mid jump was more successful, although I still chopped off his fingers. It helped that I was able to count him down: 3, 2, 1 jump! If only the lemurs would work that way.

4. Splish, splash

DSC00448 f3.2, 1/1000 sec, ISO160, 28mm

DSC00482 f1.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO320, 28mm

In the first of these 2 pictures I asked my wife to step in a puddle, and she gamely obliged. The result is rather pleasing, and the water pattern somewhat reminiscent of Harold Edgerton’s 1957 Milk Drop Coronet. I then wanted to try again but, not unreasonably, Valerie was less then keen to keep splashing her non-waterproof shoes with muddy water, So the second picture is a self portrait of my own foot.

5. Splosh

DSC00461 f1.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO800, 28mm

Continuing with the theme of trying to “freeze” water in motion, this last shot from the set at the Wild Place Project was as the hand washing station. This is Alfred’s hand deflecting the water but, slightly oddly, Valerie’s legs in the background.

6. Nude sunbathers caught in downpour

This morning the sun was out and I decided to do a bit more experimentation with trying to freeze water in motion. I put some small plastic figures of sunbathers on my garden wall, and made it “rain” using a watering can. Here are some of the results. The exercise was more challenging than I thought. Even with shutter speeds of 1/1,000th and 1/2,000th of a second, the water showed some movement over the very short distances I was focusing upon (the figures are about 1 cm high). So I set the shutter speed to 1/4,000th of a second. However, if I had the aperture as wide open as possible, the depth of field was so narrow that the shots just became overwhelmed by blurred drops of water. So I wanted to shoot at mid range apertures, and coupling this with the ultra-fast shutter speed meant I needed to hike up the ISO rating. So some of the images are quite grainy. I think if I try this again I may try a different lens and shoot from a bit closer.

IMG_2887 f7.1, 1/4,000 sec, ISO800, 149mm

This first image is quite pleasing as I managed to capture some reasonably sharp individual drops of water.

IMG_2896 f8, 1/4,000 sec, ISO 800, 149mm

This second one is odd. The water in the watering can was just running out and starting to dribble, and I managed to capture a big splodge just before it landed.

IMG_2917 f7.1, 1/4,000 sec, ISO800, 89mm

In this last picture I zoomed out a bit to capture a wider depth of field (I made the people about the same size as in the others by cropping the image during post processing). The watering can was set at “maximum drench”. Shortly afterwards the head of the watering can fell off, a large amount of water shot out and went everywhere, and I was forced to stop in order to salvage my soggy camera.

Sebastiao Salgado at the Beetles & Huxley

While I was in London recently I had chance to visit the Beetles & Huxley gallery (www.beetlesandhuxley.com) which was showing and selling the work of Sebastiao Salgado. Salgado is a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist.  He is particularly noted for his social documentary photography of people in less developed nations.

The images shown were very high quality, modern silver gelatin prints. The prices seemed fairly high – from £5,500 for an 11×14 inch print to £14,200 for a 24×35 inch print (unframed). It made me wonder what that money is really paying for – the quality of the original image and the composition, the quality of the print, or Salgado’s signature on the reverse? Probably a combination, but it seems like a lot of money for a photograph to me.

They are great pictures though. These ones in particular caught my attention.

sebastião-salgado-dinka-man,-southern-sudan,-2006 Dinka Man, Southern Sudan, 2006

This picture interested me because at the point I saw it, I was wondering which subject to choose for my second assignment, and one of my options was portraits. In approaching this I had read some literature about portrait photography, which discussed the importance of ensuring that the eyes are well lit. This clearly isn’t the case here – the eyes are dark, almost dead looking. But it’s a striking photo nonetheless – perhaps partly because of that.

SERRA-PELADA-BRAZIL-1986-2-C33172 Serra Pelada, Brazil, 1986

This image is of the appalling working conditions at the Serra Pelada Gold Mine In Brazil. In addition to its visual impact, this was of interest for two reasons. Firstly, in one of my past roles I was involved in the development of a European Union strategy to counter global mercury pollution. The strategy was founded in part on the threat of such pollution arising from the poorly controlled use of mercury in and around gold mines such as this. Indeed, although the Serra Pelada mine is now closed, the area around it remains contaminated with mercury. Secondly, and more prosaicly, at the point of viewing this I was considering the choice of my second assignment, which included the option of photographing crowds (my eventual selection).

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

I am looking forward to visiting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition, which is coming to Bristol later this month. In fact the same exhibition was on in the Natural History Museum, but I didn’t see it then, knowing that it would be coming to Bristol. This now seems like a good choice, because it would have cost £12.60 to view the exhibition in London compared to a much more reasonable entrance fee of £3 in Bristol. I do wonder why the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide are making people more then 4 times as much to see the exhibition in London. I will see if I can find out.

Ahead of visiting this year’s exhibition, my mum came across an article which she save for me about how it has evolved over its 50 year history (“Beasts of Eden” in the Sunday Times magazine, 19 October 2014). A small selection of winning images from different years were presented. The very first winner , from 1965, was this picture of a tawny owl taken by Roger Dowdeswell:

_78428475_wpy_1965_cvrdowdeswellowl_g

This image was taken in Warwickshire by a British photographer using fairly basic equipment including a home made flash. I would be pretty pleased if I could manage to get an image like this, even with the much fancier technology available 50 years later. A lack of knowledge of the habits owls, and a disinclination to wait around in dark, possibly cold, woods, probably means I am unlikely to have a large portfolio on this subject.Nevertheless, it seems within the realms of possibility.

Contrasting that with more recent images, however, while I am impressed by their beauty, and the effort that has gone into achieving them, I do feel a bit as if they have been propelled into the realms of impossibility for all but the most specialised and dedicated photographer. In particular, it seems that some of the winning photographers have relied on an ability to travel to farflung locations, and to get the camera into some pretty unusual places. The 2006 winner, for example, was taken underwater off the coast of Greenland (a walrus digging in the sediment, by Goran Ehlme).

beast_photo1

I don’t have a problem with these images that rely on special (probably expensive) technology and exotic locations. They show things I will almost certainly never see with my own eyes, in a beautiful way. But they don’t inspire me as much in terms of my own photography, because I could never hope to be in a position to produce something like them. So when I view this year’s pictures, I hope they include some beautifully captured images of more accessible wildlife too.

Assignment 2 – Collecting

This assignment asked me to create a series of 6-10 photographs on the subject of crowds, views or heads. I have chosen to present a set of images on crowds taken in London at the British Museum and the Natural History Museum. It was the start of the half term school holiday and so I knew crowds would be in abundance there. I enjoy museums but I find crowds hard to cope with. I wanted my pictures to give some sense of the feeling of being overwhelmed, uncomfortable or bewildered that sometimes comes over me in such a situation. Interestingly, while I was actually photographing the crowds I felt somehow “apart” as an observer, and therefore more comfortable among the throng.

All of the pictures were shot in landscape mode for consistency. I used a range of focal lengths and apertures to capture different types of images which I hope convey my overall sense of what these very crowded museums can be like.

1. The courtyard of the British Museum (f22, 1 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

This first image was taken in the atrium with its fantastic glass roof. I wanted to capture that plus the columned entrance way, as well as the crowds. So I put my camera on a small tripod on the floor, shooting upwards, which makes the people look large and creates a sense of how a small child might feel among a sea of adults. The combination of a small aperture, long shutter speed and use of a tripod allowed me to capture some movement while keeping the nearby and distant elements in focus.

2. The entrance to the Rosetta Stone (f8, 0.6 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

IMG_2385The Rosetta Stone is one of the British Museum’s top attractions. This picture shows a crowd surging in to see it. I went up the central staircase to shoot from above, again using a long shutter speed to capture movement. Officious museum staff had stopped me using my mini tripod at this point so I had to hand hold the camera against the staircase.

3. Alone among the crowds (f22, 2 sec, ISO100, 17mm).

IMG_2384This shot was taken from more or less the same point as the previous image, except focusing on the other side of the entrance. I used a smaller aperture and therefore a longer shutter speed. The end result shows the crowd having become almost invisible apart from their lower legs and feet (which remain in place for longer than any other part of a person in movement). I hoped the woman leaning against the plinth wouldn’t move, and she didn’t. Holding the camera against the staircase it was difficult to keep the shot steady for 2 seconds, so the image isn’t perfectly sharp.

4. Smartphone relief (f5.6, 1/80 sec, ISO1600, 178mm)

IMG_2448I wanted the man on the right to be the point of focus so I zoomed in and used a wide aperture. The other figures are out of focus but convey a blurred sense of a line of people who are tired or have become disinterested in the museum. It had become quite overcast so I had to switch to a high ISO rating to achieve anything like a reasonable shutter speed at this focal length.

5. Outside the British Museum (f5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO400, 250mm)

IMG_2485I liked the expression on this man’s face after he had left the museum and was sitting outside it. He looks a bit exhausted and bewildered, which is often how I feel coming out of a museum. I zoomed in to frame the image so that his head filled the left-hand third of the frame. The wide aperture has put his companions out of focus to avoid distracting from the man’s expressive face.

6. Where Science and Nature meet (f9, 1/100 sec, ISO400, 250mm)

IMG_2499

This was the crowd scene on Exhibition Road, London, near entrances to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. I zoomed in to compress the crowd and strengthen the sense of feeling surrounded and hemmed in. Because of the compressing effect, it seems as if a car is an integral part of the crowd, and the streetlights to the right look  very close together. I used a moderate aperture at ISO400 to have a reasonable shutter speed for the focal length. This has put the foreground out of focus. If I were taking the picture again I would probably increase the ISO rating to get a wider depth of field.

7. The queue for the Natural History Museum (f25, 1/2 sec, ISO100, 250mm)

IMG_2690We had to join a long, snaking queue to get into the museum. When we were near the entrance we went up some steps, and I was able to shoot down towards those behind us. I shot at 250mm to further compress the already dense crowd.  The aperture gave a wide depth of field and a long shutter speed. Because the queue was slow, many people seem to have kept quite still but there are some areas where others have moved a bit.

8. The dinosaur queue (f11, 1/4 sec, ISO800, 33 mm)

IMG_2593This was the queue to get into the dinosaur exhibition. I framed it to put the dinosaur skeleton on a diagonal and capture of much as the crowd as I could. As with other images this had to be hand held as I was not allowed to use a tripod. I’m quite pleased with the result because I obviously managed to remain reasonably steady for 1/4 second, which was nevertheless long enough to capture some movement in the crowd.

9. Chaos in the main hall (f22, 6 sec, ISO100, 17mm)

IMG_2631For this last image I could be confident in a longer exposure at a small aperture, as I could place my camera on a flat, solid surface. The result nicely captures the architecture of the main hall of the Natural History Museum plus the rather chaotic nature of a crowd during a 6 second exposure

Reflections

Overall I am pleased with these photos. I think as a group they capture what I want to convey – that museums can be overcrowded, bewildering spaces – and they show a reasonable level of composition and technical proficiency. I generally manage to overcome the problems of being unable to use a tripod to achieve some interesting long exposure results, although maybe there are too many of these. If repeating the exercise I would probably try to get special permission to use a tripod. I might also try to include more “documentary shots” with both a wide depth of field and a short shutter speed. In order to do that I would need to return when there is better light, or increase the ISO rating (which would make the pictures more grainy).

Self assessment

Demonstration of technical and visual skills: I think I have done reasonably well in terms of techniques although could pay more attention to choice of ISO rating and aperture. My observational skills and visual awareness are quite good, although some of the pictures are quite obvious and I could have sought to produce some more unusual shots. Design and composition were quite good here although in the museums this was quite heavily dictated by where I could find a place to take pictures which included the elements I wanted to incorporate.

Quality of outcome: I am quite happy with how I have presented and discussed my pictures and the sentiments behind them. I hope I have been discerning by selecting images that work together rather than simply those which I think are the best on an individual level. For instance, among the “rejected” images below I rather like the one of reflections in the Volkswagen wheel hubcap – but that is because it is an interesting and more unsual shot. It doesn’t really fit what I was trying to convey about crowds.

Demonstration of creativity: I think I have been reasonably creative, with pictures of blurred people and some careful picking out and composition of shots of individuals. I have also tried to include some sense of the museums as beautiful spaces, despite the crowds. I tried some experimentation with taking shots of crowds while I was moving, but the results didn’t work.

Context: I am less certain about self-assessment against this criterion. I based my technical approach on the lessons learned from the earlier projects in the EYV course around use of aperture and focal length. I did not do specific additional research on crowd photography because, knowing that I would be going to these museums, I had reflected beforehand and had a strong sense of how that would be for me, and therefore what I wanted to photograph.

Other images

It was difficult to winnow down all the images I took (several hundred) to a final selection of 6-10 (in the end I concluded that the group of 9 above worked best). I had a shortlist of 24 and have presented below those that didn’t quite make it into my final 9.

IMG_2801 IMG_2800 IMG_2785 IMG_2687 IMG_2615 IMG_2563 IMG_2521 IMG_2503 IMG_2498 IMG_2444 IMG_2440 IMG_2437 IMG_2307
IMG_2294

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