Major Brief – 600 Word Essay

Essay

Steve McCurry said “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”

The Decisive Moment. 1952. Henri Cartier-Bresson

Upon receiving this brief, dates were quickly booked to locations of mass beauty, pleasing aesthetics, and hidden features. Amongst these was Mevagissey. The small fishing village is situated in Southern Cornwall, and still boasts a working harbour, along with a few dozen fishing boats.

Whilst down visiting the Cornish town for a few days, small, discrete and locally ran shops were stumbled upon. Many were situated down rocky trails and hidden alleyways, creating something of a mystery to the location. A humble fishing shop was found down by the harbour, with the warm glowing tones from inside, contrasting to the harsh winter pigments.

The next morning, a trip down to the harbour was taken. Here, surrounded by the hustling and bustling of the seagulls, the only thing that seemed calm, was the ocean. Towards the harbour edge, a rusted ladder lead down to the sea below. The blue skies, and lack of clouds meant the vivid reddish, brown tones from the corroded steps contrasted boldly against the crisp, clear aqua pigments, creating what turned out to be an aesthetically pleasing view.

The photograph taken fearlessly interprets that despite its tranquil nature, the ocean is merciless at heart. The tarnished ladder and its decayed complexion portrays the sea’s true identity.

Nearly eighty miles was travelled to take this photograph. Situated in a small town of Cheshire, it was January 5th. Not just any day, but a very special day for some, as two sisters were celebrating their birthday.

This photo holds no set up, no decision making, no detailed plan of what to do, or where to photograph, making it perfect for the given brief. The monochrome tones of the black and white image, add a strong sense of depth and definition to the photo. Shot in a quick second, the final look clearly portrays the happiness behind one of the sister’s eyes.

Cats.

Small. Furry. Carnivorous… Playful.

The final photograph in the series of four, was taken around Christmas time. Located at a friend’s house party, a few old buddies gathered together to celebrate the ending year. The star attraction of the gathering, was the curious feline, Lola. Compelled by her moggie instincts, the white tabby spent the night in the Christmas Tree

The twinkling tones of her amber-coloured eyes, are highlighted by the fine, moonlight glow given off from the bulbs all around. The lights act as a spotlight, illuminating when she lies, and darkening the rest around; as if Mother Nature is associating her with her large feline relatives.

To achieve such photos, many camera settings were used, from wide apertures, to low shutter speeds, and to shooting in black and white. All of the given techniques, and the others used, allow for a vast range of contrasting images to be taken. No connection runs throughout the four chosen photographs, showing that the Decisive Moment can happen anywhere, and at any time.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photographer of The Decisive Moment, said “A photography is neither taken or seized by force. It offers itself up. It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.”

References

Major Brief – Final Four Photographs

There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.
— Robert Frank

beth-h-image-1beth-h-image-3beth-h-image-4Beth H Image 4.jpg

The first photograph taken was shot at my friend’s Christmas party, in Alsager, (home town). It was the first time the all of us had met up since starting our second year at university, so the setting had a strong meaning to us all. Whilst sitting in the living room chatting about how everything was going, I heard a rustling from bending me. Camera in hand, I spun around to find Lola, the cat, hiding within the Christmas tree. Personally, I think little miss Lola was loving the camera, as she proceeded to carry on posing.

Image number two was taken down in the little fishing town of Mevagissey, Cornwall. After photographing a flock of seagulls flying past the harbour, I looked down at the sea below. It was a clear and sunny day, so the bright tones of the blues and greens from the ocean were very crisp. In the distance, I noticed something poking out from within the water. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a ladder used by the local fishermen when they arrive back into the bay. The initial shot was actually just a test shot, to see how the settings on the camera were looking, however, upon viewing the image closely, I found the warm, harsh tones of the red-ish brown rust, contrasted beautifully with the cooler, relaxed ocean colours.

My third photograph, was taken only a few days ago on January 5th, 2017. Here, I travelled just under 80 miles North on the night before, to celebrate the 48th birthday of my Mum and Aunty. The celebration involved only four of us – Me, my Mum, my Aunty (Mum’s twin sister), and my cousin. Nothing much happened that night, except lots of laughing and drinking of Prosecco. Whilst messing about, I begun to taken random photos of everyone around. None of the images were intended to be used, however, out of the may taken, a handful clearly summed up the night. This being one of them.

Finally, the fourth photography was once again taken in the Cornish village of Mevagissey, here, upon arriving in the B&B I was staying at, at unpacking everything, the sun started to set outside. It was still very early, 5pm at the latest, when I began to have a wonder around the town. I decided to walk the longer route to the harbour, taking a short cut down an alleyway. With it being early December time, the cold, crisp night had begun to arrive, however, I stumbled upon this quietly hidden local fishing store. The shop sold a range of items, from chairs to baskets, to fishing equipment and magnets, however, what caught my attention of the store was the warm tones which emerged from within. Inside, a group of local fishermen were gathered around laughing. The warmth from their voices was portrayed within the bright orange light which shone from the entrance, and personally, I feel this picture easily sums up the importance of local stores in comparison to high brand chains.

Photos The Nearly Made The Cut

beth-h-image-5beth-h-image-2beth-h-image-5beth-h-image-8beth-h-image-6

Task 7 – Light Photography

There are so many factors, so many challenges that come into play with night photography, that when you finally do capture the perfect night shot, it’s that much more rewarding. – Max Seigal

The final small task given to us, was on Light Photography. Here, we looked at examples of low light images, which included:

From this session, I ventured up to the city of Glasgow, Scotland to take some low light shots. The images below show a few of the best low light photographs captured within the trip. Here, the main target was the brightly lit carousel located within the Glasgow Winter Wonderland. Via the use of a slow shutter speed and a wide aperture, I was able to capture the essence of each light streak, as the ride spun.

Some of my Light Photography shots –

dsc_0115dsc_0107

Contact Sheet

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-13-59-14

Task 6 – Street Photography

Street photography has a long tradition but shooting strangers can make you, as the photographer, feel rather uncomfortable. This is worth overcoming however as the technique can be lead to engaging images and can significantly develop your skills as a photographer. – Paul Hazell

Within this task, I have begun to focus on the more urban, candid stylings of photography. Street photography is the capture of unmediated and random chance encounters. From this, I took to the streets of Worcester City, to capture some unique and interesting street photographs.

My main focus was the manipulation of black and white photography, and the use of pigeons as my main subject.

I felt that the specific species of bird gave off stronger characteristics and emotions, when compared to the ‘motionless’ people in the city centre.

Some of my Street Photography shots –

Contact Sheet

contact-sheet-1contact-sheet-2

Task 5 – Weird World

“You should not use any post-production but rely solely on ‘in-camera’ effects. Be as creative and experimental as you wish and try to think how the technique might enhance what you are conveying.” – Paul Hazell

‘Weird World’ focuses on the use of five different ways of capturing a picture:

  • Forced Perspective
  • Exaggerating Scale
  • Lens Foreshortening
  • Unusual Viewpoint
  • Using a Specialist Lens

Within this task, I have begun to look at Lens Foreshortening. Lens Foreshortening is the transformation of an object, or person, and their surroundings, to object the image captured with a normal local length. Both wide angle and narrow angle shots can be produced, with the outcome related to the angle of view used to capture the image.

Tips on capturing an aesthetically pleasing photo using the Lens Foreshortening method, include:

  • Using a small aperture setting, roughly at f8 or higher. This gives a crisp and clear finish to both the foreground and the background.
  • Stand far back from the subject, and zoom-in. This will give the appearance that the background is closer than in normal view.

Some of my Lens Foreshortening shots –

Contact Sheet

contact-sheet

Task 4 – The Great Photographers Part. 2

“Nick Brandt’s latest work is both gorgeous and disturbing…Brandt has deftly turned his art into a call for action.”  Jack Crager, American Photo, 10 Best New Photobooks Spring 2016

Biography

Born just over 50 years ago in 1964 England, Nick Brandt and thus become one of the most influential wildlife photographers of his time.

Exclusively working within the African Continent, Brandt has described his goal is to “record a last testament to the wild animals and places there before they are destroyed by the hands of man.” and 16 years ago, he started just that. Beginning in East Africa, Brandt would focus of capturing the beauty of Mother Nature and her animals before they were destroyed due to human activity.

Brandt, himself, has stated that he prefers not to use any form of zoom or telephoto lens, as he feels “the personality of the animals photographed can only be well captured up close.” Because of this, many photography critics, like Vicki Goldberg for example, have stated that Brandt’s work “convey a rare sense of intimacy, as if Brandt knew the animals, had invited then to sit for his camera, and has a prime portraitists’ intuition of character…

“The wasted lands in Inherit The Dust were once golden savannah, sprinkled with acacia trees, where elephants, big cats and rhinos roamed.  These now dystopian landscapes – as Nick Brandt’s unvarnished, harrowing but stunning work reveals – brings us face to face with a crisis, both social and environmental, demanding the renewal of humanity itself.” Kathryn Bigelow, Film Director, The Hurt Locker

The Trilogy – Book One

In 2000, Brandt started on the first section of his three photography books.

On This Earth consists of 66 photos, all taken from between 2000 and 2004. With introductions by Jane Goodall, conservationist and primatologist, as well as author Alice Sebold, the photographs show the unaltered side of the African paradise. Brandt focused on this idea of an animal utopia and an idyllic landscape, to allow his future books to contradict the message he’s portraying.

The cover photo used for On This Earth, titled as ‘Elephant with Exploding Dust’, taken in the Amboseli National Park, in 2004, has since become one of Brandt’s best known pieces.

Black and White magazine have thus described Brandt’s work as “heartbreakingly beautiful”.

“An evocative portrait of change and loss.”   Wall Street Journal

nb2

The Trilogy – Book Two

Nine years after the publication of On This Earth, Brandt thus produced his second book of the trilogy; A Shadow Falls.

Regarded to be superior to On This Earth, A Shadow Falls features only 58 photos, taken between 2005 and 2008. Photography critic Vicki Goldberg, once again describes Brandt’s work as “a love story without a happily ever after.”

Within his new publication, Brandt carefully planned the layout of the book, to dramatically change with every page turn. Starting with “an unspoiled lush green world, filled with animals and water”, as show by the ‘Wildebeest Arc’, the book the begins to show the substantial changes caused by mankind the further you go. Towards the end, the image ‘Abandoned Ostrich Egg’ sums up the effect that humans have had on the world, with dying trees, parched lakes and animals reduced to minimal number

I had a vision in mind: I wanted to create an elegy, a likely last testament to an extraordinary, beautiful natural world and its denizens that is rapidly disappearing before our eyes. I wanted to show these animals as individual spirits, sentient creatures equally as worthy of life as us.” – Nick Brandt

nb3

The Trilogy – Book Three

To complete his trilogy, Brandt successfully published his third book; Across the Ravaged Land.

Released 13 years after On This Earth, Across the Ravaged Land records the near complete disappearance of East Africa and it’s wildlife.

Revealing the darker side of humanity within the animal kingdom, Brandt starts to introduce humans within his photographs, as shown in ‘Ranger with Tusks of Elephant Killed at the Hands of Man’

Critics have described Across the Ravaged Land as “Dedicated to the billions of animals, past, present and future, that have died without reason at the hands of man, the book is the culmination of more than a decade of work.  Over those years the pulations of elephants, lions, and other large mammals have fallen precipitously, while Brandt’s vision and his attachment to his subjects have intensified. His images of animals resonate with a simple idea: That the sentient creatures in his portraits are not so different from us and have an equal right to live.”

My images are my elegy to these beautiful creatures, to this wrenchingly beautiful world that steadily, tragically vanishing before our eyes. – Nick Brandtnb4

Inherit The Dust

Three years after the final book in Brandt’s trilogy was published, the photographer once again travelled back to East Africa.

This final trip meant that Brandt could capture the ever escalating changes of the natural world. Brandt states how within just 16 years, mankind can cause such a destruction to the world we live in, “we are living through the antithesis of genesis right now. It took billions of years to reach a place of such wondrous diversity, and then in just a few shockingly short years, an infinitesimal pinprick of time, to annihilate that.”

Inherit The Dusk captures a vast range of epic panoramas, that record the impact that humans have had on the places where animals used to live. To portray the extensive and limitless obliteration made to the world, Brandt uses a previous unpublished photograph of his and erects the life sized image within the newly developed areas. Recent changes such as factories, urban development, quarries and wastelands, show the desolation that East Africa now holds. Such an example is ‘Wasteland with Elephant’.

“My images are unashamedly idyllic and romantic, a kind of enchanted Africa. They’re my elegy to a word that is steadily, tragically vanishing.” – Nick Brandt

nb6

“I want to get a real sense of intimate connection with each of the animals – with that particular lion or elephant in front of me. I believe that being that close to the animal makes a huge difference in the photographers ability to reveal its personality. You wouldn’t take a portrait of a human being from a hundred feet away and expect to capture their spirit; you’d move in close.” – Nick Brandt

Task 4 – The Great Photographers Part. 1

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment – Ansel Adams

Biography

Born nearly 115 year ago, Ansel Adams is, today, still regarded as “the master photographer of the American West”.

Ansel’s career lasted nearly 60 years, with the Photographer producing everything from etching designs, to soft-focused imagery. Adams later settled on a intensely exposed shooting style, with a sharp contrast, to produce such depth and defined prints.

Many of the monochrome photographs taken by Ansel have been widely used within literature such as books, calendars and posters. Photographing mainly Yosemite National Park of California, Ansel’s work rapidly developed into capturing the close up details of mountains, rivers and other large forms.

Ansel Adams has been credited as the longest running environmentalist, throughout American history, with his work helping expand the National Park Service and it’s reservation sites. In 1968, Adams was awarded the Interior Department’s highest civilian honour, the Conservation Service Award.

“In recognition of your many years of distinguished work as a photographer, artist, interpreter and conservationist, a role in which your efforts have been of profound importance in the conservation of our great natural resources.” the Conservation Service AwardAA1.png

Zone System

To help determine the optimal exposure setting on a camera, Ansel Adams and Fred Archer founded the Zone System.

As described by Adams, the system “is a codification of the principles of sensitometry,” it provides photographers with a structured method, to help define the relationship between the photographic structure and the final result.

The Zone System is applicable to many different photographic film formats, such as:

  • Sheet Film
  • Roll Film – Both black and white and colour
  • Negative Film
  • Reversal Film
  • Digital Photography

Based on the work of Ferdinand Hurter and Vero Charles Driffield (also known as Hurter and Driffield), nineteenth century photographic scientist. The system brings structure to photography, via the use of sensitometry – the study of light sensitive materials – and densitometry – the numerical measurement of the optical density (absorbance) within sensitometry materials, such as photographic film and paper.

“Beauty comes first” – Ansel Adams

aa4

Group f/64

Founded by seven San Francisco based twenty century photographers, Group f/64 was formed to oppose the current photographic style of pictorialism.

Wanting to produce a modern aesthetic, based on perfectly exposed imagery of found objects and natural forms, Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, John Paul Edwards, Imogen Cunningham, Henry Swift, Edward Weston and Sonya Noskowiak, thus created Group f/64.

During the Great Depression, many people began to admire the works of Ansel Adams and the America West, describing his photography as a “pictorial testimonyof inspiration and redemptive power.” Because of the social change amongst photographers, many found it hard to redefine their mediums and what it represented, thus allowing the establishment of Group f/64 to laydown a foundation of common aesthetic principles.

The phrase f/64 comes from the small aperture used on a large format camera, thus resulting in a great depth of field and an evenly sharp image.

“His efforts to preserve this country’s wild and scenic areas, both on film and on earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature’s monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a national institution.” – the Presidential Medal of Freedom

aa5

Personal View

My personal favourite photography taken by Ansel Adams, is the Yosemite Valley Bridge.

Capturing nearly every aspect of the natural world, Adams brings all his childhood memories of Yosemite National Park together, to create this highly detailed and dramatic shot. Compared to his previous works, Adams expands his focus and begins to include more man-made elements, such as the Yosemite Valley Bridge.

Personally, I love the way the natural elements, such as the rocks, the river and the trees contrast well against the later manufactured bridge. I believe that it brings a sense of beauty to the natural land, in which humans have inflicted upon this world.

“Everything I have done or felt has been in some way influenced by the impact of the natural scene” – Ansel Adams

aa6

I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us.” – Ansel Adams