Monthly Archives: March 2016

Assignment 2 – Initial Thoughts


Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options, or a subject of your own choosing:

  • Crowds
  • Views
  • Heads

My initial thinking for this assignment was to leave my comfort zone and take photographs of the crowd at a non-league football club where I’m involved as a board member. However, the game I chose to take my photos at, I forgot to take a charged camera battery!   Rather than wait until the following week, I spent a Monday evening rush hour at a Nottingham city centre tram stop, sitting on a very cold stone bench taking 140 photos of the people waiting for their transport home.  Hardly crowds, and most of the people were looking at their mobile phones – presumably either choosing music for their travel, texting people or catching up on their social media activities.

On examining the shots, I was disappointed in my achievements and didn’t feel the images showed the range of field of depth that the course material required. However, I was pleased with the point of view achieved by sitting down. Here are my favourites from that shoot.


Image 1

Here passengers are moving to get on the tram whilst sorting their tickets. The two passengers closest to me are in focus, whilst the two in from of them and the tram are not in focus.  I’d have liked this more if the brown coat had been out of focus.  I like the reflections in the tram window, and the reflection of the tram’s light on the green bag.


Image 2

Here we have two passengers using their mobile phones in different ways (calling and texting). The two are seemingly oblivious to each other and almost have their backs at right angles to each other. Their leading feed point 90 degrees away from each other. I’d have preferred this image more if I’d framed it better so that the poster in the bank on the left wasn’t so distracting, and the person on the right was further from the edge of the frame.


Image 3.  This image lacks the depth of field I’d wanted, and it doesn’t capture the pace of the traveller validating his smartcard quickly in order to catch the waiting tram. I do like the diagonals of the tram leading away from the front that do add depth, and  like the splashes of brightness with the tram’s lights and the tag on the suitcase.


Image 4

Here, two passengers are engrossed in their phones, whilst another has headphones on gazing toward the coming tram. This image is one of many I took that show that people travelling home from work often don’t interact with each other.


Image 5

This image contracts image 4 in that we have two pairs of people. On pair appear to be mother and daughter (with the daughter checking something on her phone!) and the other two are seated kissing, with the male gripping his tram ticket in his left hand, whilst his right arm is around his girlfriend.


Image 6

I like this one with the flash of red from the lady’s scarf. I like that she’s engrossed in the content of her phone whilst unaware of the tram stops beside her.


Image 7

Here a passenger is using her phone to photograph an oncoming tram.  I purposely focused on her hands, meaning that her face, the passer-by behind and the background are all out of focus.  It was a lucky catch to get the passer-by looking at the phone!


Image 8.

I love the expression on the girl’s face.  Is it disgust at something she’s just read on her phone? I like composition and use of depth of field on this one more than on others.


Image 9.

I nearly left this one out as it’s another image of someone engrossed in their phone whilst the tram is stopped near them. I kept it, because it demonstrated good use of depth of field. I would straighten this image if I was submitting it.


Image 10

Here three passengers are, again, on their phones.  A passer-by behind is walking and her right foot is blurred showing that movement against the static nature of the phone users. If I were to submit this shot, I’s straighten it so the verticals were vertical.

All shots taken with a Canon 7D (crop-sensor) and 70-300mm lens, on the widest aperture (f/4-f/5.6 depending on focal length), on aperture priority mode.  As it got darker, I altered the ISO from 200 to 400 so that the shutter speeds were usable .

Two weeks ago, I went on a trip to Oviedo in North Spain and took quite a few photos on that trip.  I’d travelled light with a Canon 400D and a 18-55mm kit lens, and had tried to take a few interesting urban images, in addition to traditional ‘postcard’ style shots as memories of my visit.  I had processed them in Photoshop to enhance clarity and contrast, rather than spend any more time trying to master crowds at this point, I am considering submitting a set from those images instead for Assignment 2.

Part 2 Project 2 Lens Work – Research point

Deep focus gives the eyes autonomy to roam over the picture space so that the viewer is at least given the opportunity to edit the scene himself, to select the aspects of it to which he will attend.

(Bazin (1948) quoted in Thompson & Bordwell, 2007).

Ansel Adams used a tilted lens to achieve a depth of field close to infinity, it also enables parallel lines to remain looking parallel (as opposed to converging as with a standard lens).  The result was very sharp, detailed images.


Fay Godwin’s black and white images of the British countryside also displayed a deep depth of field.  Her love of the environment/countryside is evident in her images where she shows the conflict between man and nature such as in Night Guard, Stonehenge, 1988.


Gianluca Cosi’s work is the opposite of the aforementioned photographers – his work has extremely shallow depth of field where the viewers eye is drawn to a small in focus detail in the street scene, with an out of focus fuzzy background.


Mona Kuhn’s Evidence series uses soft focus to provide a sense of intimacy to her subjects naked bodies.


Kim Kirkpatrick used a shallow depth of field in his early work to draw attention to the subject matter in the foreground, leaving the viewer to wonder what the context of the image as a whole was.


Guy Bourdin’s use of colour coupled with deep depth of field adds drama and intensity to his fashion shots.


Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand was another street photographer whose work my tutor suggested I take a look at.

He was from The Bronx, New York and lived from 1928 – 1984. His work was a post-war social commentary of many US states and was conducted in black and white film.

From the very few images I’ve seen, there’s a lot of movement in his shots and the use of diagonals adds depth and often draws the viewer away from the main subject matter which is usually (but not aways) centrally placed.  His work is good inspiration for me to try and catch movement in street


Eric Kim

Another photographer it was suggested I take a look at was Eric Kim – an international street photography teacher based in California.

From the sets of images on his website, it appears he uses both black and white and colour depending on the mood he wishes to convey.

Suits (2013- ) is in colour and really doesn’t appeal to me.  I don’t like the reflections in the windows and glasses, or the use of colour.  It seems messy and ill-composed to me – although it does get across the miserable life of ‘the man in the suit’ as seen by someone who has escaped that life.  However, at this point in the course, I struggle to see the ‘art’ in this set…

Grandfather (2013) is in black and white and very grainy. The set appears to document the death and funeral of a grandfather.  The deserted hospital bed and grief-stricken mourners are particularly striking.

Cindy Project (2009 – ) is again in grainy, black and white. This set documents Kim’s partner going about her everyday life.  The images I like best are those shot from above – the ones where Cindy is leaving the building give an impression of sadness.

The City of Angels (2011 – 2015) is in black and white and shows some of the characters of Los Angeles.  Detail of tattoos, elongated nails and a shadow of an elongated nose in another shot give the impression that things are big but not particularly attractive – much like the sprawling city itself.

Features is a series of high contrast colour portraits of a range of people of differing ages. The two younger women appear to have been shot to make themselves look attractive, whilst the remaining six images accentuate the characters of the subject matter.  These images suggest that younger women have beauty but older people are more interesting – not something I’d agree with!


Whilst I wasn’t drawn to Eric Kim’s work, I did enjoy his blog, and also his interview with  Good insights in terms of being true to yourself when developing street photography style, rather than emulating someone else’s personality which may fail.  I note that he has several tutorials on YouTube, so I hope to watch some of these at some point soon.




Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

My tutor suggested I take a look at Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.

Nan’s work is an intimate look at relationships between herself, her family and friends, and the New York subculture of the late 70s/early 80s. Her work is in colour and captures the closeness and distance of the relationships in a candid but also, in some cases, upsetting way.

Things that appeal to me about Nan’s collection include:

  • Her use of colour – primary colours, especially red, are key.
  • The honesty and emotion she captures – both positive and negative feelings
  • Her bravery in the choice of images for the collection
  • The use of skin exposure to denote vulnerability in some images and sexual confidence in others.
  • Her choice of framing of parts of the body – eg the caesarean scar, and some of the more sexual images

I understand that the exhibition was initially (in 1985) a slide show set to a soundtrack of music by Velvet Underground, James BrownNina SimoneCharles AznavourScreamin’ Jay Hawkins and Petula Clark.  As someone who often hears a soundtrack to my own life in my head, I like the idea of exhibiting work in this way – in fact, I have done before with a burlesque photoshoot I completed.

There are various links to extracts from her work online – these are the ones I looked at:





Part 1 Project 3 Surface and Depth – Research point

Key quotes by David Campany

  • “The photographic art of Thomas Ruff makes very particular demands of us and offers very particular kinds of pleasure, both aesthetic and intellectual. His work seems cold and dispassionate, willful, searching and perverse but at times surprisingly beautiful.”
  • “JPEGs – The effect is to simultaneously emphasize and de-emphasize whatever is specific about his chosen photographs. We see each image as unique but we see that uniqueness only by sensing the grouping or series of which it is a part.”
  • “Pixels are quite different. They are grid-like, machinic and repetitive. They do not have the scattered chaos of grain. The pixel represents a cold technological limit, a confrontation with the virtual and bureaucratic order than secretly unites all images in a homogenous electronic continuum, whether they are holiday snapshots or military surveillance.”


Key quotes by Joerg Colberg

  • “The 9/11 images were iconic, but of terribly low resolution. With the […] jpeg structure and the results from work with image structures I managed to modify the terribly poorly resolved but still visually aesthetical images my way.”
  • “For me, seeing the jpegs in the book actually works much better than seeing them as gigantic prints in the Zwirner gallery setting where, well, there was that whiff of things being just a tad too pretentious.”
  • “The tremendous beauty of some of the images notwithstanding, the concept itself seems to rely a bit too much on the technique itself. What else is there?”
  • “At various stages, I thought “Well, now we’re getting somewhere”, only for the author to end a thought. Well, sure, images on the web often have low resolution, and if you blow them up then they show funny patterns (caused by the image compression algorithms2), and of course, photography’s role has been changing through its use online – but all that is just so obvious!”




Exercise 1.4 Frame

Take a good number of shots, composing each shot within a single section of the viewfinder grid. Don’t bother about the rest of the frame! Use any combination of grid section, subject and viewpoint you choose.

When you review the shots, evaluate the whole frame, not just the part you’ve composed. Take the same approach you used to evaluate the point and line exercises: examine the relationship of elements to the frame. Composition is part of form and formal analysis will be a useful skill for your exercises and assignments as you progress through the course.

In this exercise, the aim was to take a number of shots composing each shot within a single section of the viewfinder grid.

For this exercise, I took a few shots around Hucknall Train Station.  For these shots I used a Canon 400D (crop sensor) with a 15-55mm kit lens set at ISO 200 and shutter priority 1/160. I used a variety of focal lengths to frame the images as appropriately as possible.

I struggled with this exercise.  My eyes were drawn to the whole image, not just the section I was concentrating on.  I may revisit this exercise again at a later date, as I’m not convinced I completed it correctly.

In some cases, even though I tried to concentrate on one section, the frame as a whole tends to work (IMG_7078.jpg, IMG_7083.jpg and IMG_7086.jpg)