General Research / Exercise 1.1 The Instrument – Anne Mckinnell
In Exercise 1.1 The Instrument, there isn’t any artists to research as such as you are focusing on the histogram which is a tool that helps you with your exposure on your camera. You’re supposed to demonstrate it within your work and show you using it.
In terms of research, I had a quick look around to see if I could find any further information on the histogram itself. I came upon a blog post by photographer Anne Mckinnell on Digital Photography School. She explains simply the histogram and gives various seniors of it being used. I found this information very reliable and I learnt more about its role and how it can be used.
I took a further look into Anne’s work to see if she was a source I could rely on and it turns out I was very impressed with her photography when I stumbled across her website, which you can check out here: https://annemckinnell.com
I really liked her bear photographs as I feel they were very powerful because of the type of animal they are and I think that she captured them really well playing together. You can see for yourself here: https://annemckinnell.smugmug.com/Grizzly-Bears/i-CR97L8R/A
General Research – Larry Clark
After completing the ‘Square Mile’ for the first assignment, my tutor recommended that I take a look at Larry Clark’s work ‘Tulsa’ for inspiration and to help expand my thoughts in terms of what I could have done for the ‘Square Mile’. Larry’s journey is the complete opposite to mine and represents the tough times he endured throughout his childhood involving drugs and death. Whereas mine represented good times with a hobby. As I didn’t want to spend too long studying his work as I wanted to move on from the last assignment I watched a video online, which flicked through his book so I could gather some sort of understanding of his work. I also read an extract of his work on a website I came across. This helped me to understand his work further and to get a real insight into the life he led.
The link below shows one of his images from his series. I feel that this image is very strong because of what it contains. After reading an extract from ‘Tulsa’ you will almost certainly feel that the image in the link is as strong as they come. What I think that he is trying to portray is a sense of brokenness. Smashed glass you would consider to be broken, is this the way he feels in the series after losing a close friend and all the drugs and illegal things he has done?
He also quotes ‘everything was breaking’ in an extract from his work, which you can also read below. This suggests that all aspects of his life were heading in the same direction, downhill.
The man in the image looks discontent and looks uneased by something he is looking down at, you cannot see in the image what he is looking at, which gives a sense of mystery to what he is doing.
Overall, after briefly looking at his work I can see the difference in his work to mine and how I could have interpreted the ‘Square Mile’ in many different ways.
General Research – Ryan Mcginley
I first discovered Ryan when I was doing some research about Larry Clark’s work. His book came up as an advert on my computer screen. I found his website and a series he did very similar to Clark’s work called ‘The Kids We’re Alright’. This series followed very much the same style as Clark’s work, from graffiti to messy nights out and fights. His childhood growing up and shooting pictures of his life throughout. Again, I didn’t research him in depth because I am trying to focus more on part 1, but felt his work was worth a mention because of the link it has to the square mile. The links below are for his website and also one of the photos in particular he managed to capture of one of his friends getting out of hand.
The photo of puke is really up close and shows the result of lots of drinking, I don’t know how he has managed to capture this at that exact moment of time without getting his camera and himself covered! The image makes you feel repulsed and exploits the harsh reality of alcohol. As it is so close up, you cannot tell his surroundings and if he is in a club or outside somewhere. He also has his eyes closed as he embraces the puke coming out of his mouth.
Exercise 1.2 – Point – Jim Zuckerman
Jim Zuckerman uses the rule of thirds in some of his images, as I have discovered. I felt that it would be beneficial if I had a look at some of the images and to see how he uses the rule of thirds to help with the framing of his photographs. His photographs really helped me understand how much better the rule of thirds can make an image. Below I have attached a link to his website so you can see his work from all around the world. I have also done some annotations on his work which you can find under coursework, project 2. Finally, I have attached a link to a blog post he has done which he talks about the rule of thirds and demonstrates with several images, which is an interesting read.
1412. Lighthouse, Lindau Island, Lake Constance, Germany
© Jim Zuckerman, All Rights Reserved
Exercise 1.3 – Line – Eugene Atget
Atget’s work is very interesting. When I first learnt about his style of photography and the idea that lines in a photo lead somewhere, I could straight away see where he was coming from in his photos and how the lines led. For example, the image below which I talk about in more depth in Project 2, uses the line to draw you to the centre of the image. When working with lines I think it is very important that the lines lead your eye to a desired point within the photo as this helps to make the photo better when people view it, instead of the photograph being all messy and not focusing on a specific point.
I can tell by his work that he was a hugely influential photographer back in his day and he has a clear focus when executing a shot.
His prints have very interesting framing and he continued to use the same technique throughout his work. Also, because his work is fairly old, before coloured photographs, they make you focus on other aspects of the image and what’s going on more and his technique
Rue des Nonnains, 1900 (silver print)
Exercise 1.3 – Line – Moholy-Nagy
As I have researched Moholy-Nagy for a previous project, I am well aware of his work and the style of photography he incorporates into his work. His photography makes the viewer think and also some of his work seems to portray a different image than the one actually taken. In other words, it looks different to what it is meant to be, which seems weird. It’s like taking a picture of a plant without it looking like a plant.
Some of his images make you feel unconfutable because of the lines and where they lead your eye, but I feel that this makes his photography interesting because of the style he has chosen and that he has chosen to be independent and to follow his own eye instead of copying someone elses style of photography. Perhaps this is what makes his photography so famous and well known.
For exercise 1.3 Moholy-Nagy is the photographer who is mentioned and is the one that uses lines a lot within his work. I decided to annotate a couple of his images in depth and to really study them up close to get a feel for his work.
In the image below, you can see that it has been taken at height, this makes the viewer wonder how he has managed to get that high up and also the reasoning for this shot. There is a number of textures and lines and different observations you can make within this image which makes it an interesting shot. Lines lead your eye a number of ways and the people walking in the image seem distant and shadow like. The sea is almost unnoticeable as the sea as it is in black and white, although holds a rough like texture. In the foreground there is a lot going on and then in the mid-ground there is space and it seems further away because of the height he has taken it at.
In all, the image is very random and makes you wonder about the possibilities of why he has taken this, and there is so much annotation that you could make to this image to why he has included certain objects within the frame and why he has waited for the man to leave his car etc. and this makes the image seem shady and has a real dark and unknown sense to the photograph.
Stockholm, c.1930 (gelatin silver print)
General Research/ Exercise 1.4 – Frame – Walker Evans
At the beginning of Exercise 1.4 – Frame, there is a few quotes and some text about Walker Evans and his work relating to the task. I thought I would have a look at his book ‘American Photographs’. Instead of purchasing his book I watched it being flicked through on YouTube. This still gives me the opportunity to look at his photographs in the specific sequence recommended to view it through. His work is very gripping and his framing of photographs is strange, he almost takes the majority of his pictures head on with the subject and not at some fancy angle like you’d might expect. I have decided to do some annotation on a couple of his images for Exercise 1.4 – Frame, to get more of an insight into my opinion and understanding of the quality of the work he produced.
Below is a photograph from his work so you can get some idea of what kind of images he produced. This one is of an old building, which looks like scrap but is owned by a contractor. Like most of his images, he has taken this head on and central.
Tin False Front Building, Moundville, Alabama, neg. 1936, print 1974 (gelatin silver print)
Research Point – Campany & Colberg
Read the reviews by Campany and Colberg and, if you haven’t already done so, use them to begin the Research section of your learning log. Try to pick out the key points made by each writer. Write about 300 words.
You can view the reviews here:
Campany and Colberg
Having read the reviews of Campany and Colberg regarding Thomas Ruff’s work ‘JPEGS’ I feel that both writers state some good points although can be seen to go off on a tangent when talking more in depth about the style of the photography.
David Company describes Ruff’s work as demanding, but also quotes that his work ‘offers very particular kinds of pleasure, both aesthetic and intellectual’. Furthermore, he is slightly critical in what he says further down in his review, claiming that Ruff’s work ‘seems cold and dispassionate’ but then continues by saying ‘but at times surprisingly beautiful.’
Company continues in his review covering a range of topics about archive, various influential artistic movements, grid and series work and goes in depth about pixels and grain. His review very much talks about the style and more behind the image, rather than the content of the photographs themselves. This approach is very interesting but I feel that it can lead astray to Ruff’s work itself.
In Colberg’s review of Ruff’s work he talks about whether it is photography or not, which is a very intriguing statement, he writes ‘In fact, many people – especially adherents of photographic orthodoxy – will probably vehemently deny that most of Ruff’s recent work is actually photography.’
He goes on to become more critical of Ruff’s work, when he says ‘And everything would be fine if there hadn’t been so many attempts to convince me that in reality “jpegs” is more. What that “more” really is I never managed to find out. Unfortunately, the text in Jpegs did not help me much, either. 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! I get it!’
Although Colberg is fairly critical of Ruff’s work throughout his review, he does compliment him on various occasions describing his work as ‘beautiful’. My impression from Colberg’s review is that he is not so much critical of the beauty of the images, but how they have been printed and the concept behind them. His summery of the review backs up my impression, stating: ‘Either way, Jpegs is a stunningly beautiful book. Seeing the images in the book has made me re-appreciate the sheer beauty of this body of work, despite the ultimate thinness of the concept behind it.’
In conclusion, I feel Campany’s review covered many key points about the deeper insight and idea of photography and how the images are produced within history etc. and I think that Colberg’s review had key points to how it can be viewed and the concept behind it.
(David Campany: Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel, IANN MAGAZINE NO. 2, 2008 P.1)
(Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff, Book Reviews, Photobooks By Joerg Colberg, Apr 17, 2009)
General Research – Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Having been mentioned by the OCA in the course materials, I found the image presented to me very intriguing and wanted to do a little research of my own on Manuel. When looking throughout his work, he is consistently producing images that seem deep and meaningful and in which has led to me asking myself many questions about some of his pictures such as ‘Why has he done that?’ ‘Why has he chosen this subject?’ etc. All his images are black and white and brilliantly composed. His shots really capture what is going on and can help create a story of the image. I have annotated a couple of his images which you can read here: Manuel Alvarez Bravo