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11 Mar 2011

Project: Illustration, pt3

Exercises: Juxtapositon & Rain
2 photographs

Click here to view flickr set.

I've decided to group these x2 exercises together in one blog post as both only ask for x1 photograph each and both are to illustrate a magazine cover.

Something I mentioned in a previous entry, planning for Assignment 5, I came accross, a website about creative magazine covers. I'm sure I will do a lot of cross-referencing with this at a later time but I will discuss a few basic observations I've made for these exercises. The main one is the way an image in composed for use on a front cover; it is normally centrally dominent or slightly off-center with a leading line toward the middle, creating a very static frame. This is done so that there is room either side of the image for headlines and article text to draw a potential reader into opening the issue. The second observation is that there is not normally many elements that make up the image, more a few key details or indeed a single object so that it makes a simple, striking "first glance" off the shelves to draw people in.

The first exercise asks for a photograph to be composed that is both striking and makes reference to the oil industry. The first thing I did was think about a few of the key issues around oil and, without wanting to bore you, the main thing I could think about was the sheer amount of money that revolves around it. Conflicts, taxes and finite resource make the entire industry a cash-cow and a centre of tension. So, what I've done is used a bottle of olive oil to symbolise the industry as a playful quip against the seriousness of it all, and juxtaposed it against money around it. This is two fold: the first, sitting on a pile of money as oil does, and also money falling around it, much like the shares in BP since the oil disaster. I did this simply by setting the shutter on a timer and dropping the coins from my hands (yes, I am aware it's merely shrapnel from my change pot: I would of liked to have used all gold doubloons!!) I made a mock-cover which you can see here and in the flickr set.

The problem with juxtaposition is not to confuse in with the frame elements exercises in chapter 2.

The second magazine cover was on one subject: rain. In was an exercise in trying to find an interesting way of showing the concept of it without being too literal. Inspiration came in the shower considering that the weather has been glorious as of late, and I was wondering what I could soak down easily for a simple yet striking image. Remembering that I would be creating a static, centrally framed photograph I decided to mount my umbrella in a block of polystyrene and set it in the bath. On one side of the brolly I set up a soft box and a reflector at the other, avoiding electrical shocks!!. Then, with the camera on the tripod and using its remote control, I took a series of exposures whilst moving the shower head. You can see the set up in the flickr set.

Project: Illustration, pt2

Exercise: Symbols

The idea behind this exercise is to note down any ideas I might have of symbolism for the below subjects. There's no actual requirement to produce any photographs but I'm sure if I happen upon anything interesting I'll post them with these notes.

Its an interesting subject for TAOP as symbolism has been used in art for centuries. In Renaissance Art, for example, when art was used to teach the stories of the bible for the illiterate masses, symbols were often used to point to partiular events. You can read a few examples here.


Plant sprouts, juxtaposition of x2 similar objects of different sizes, an organic object breaking free of an undersized container...


Obesity, greed, wealth, drug addiction, the effects of alcohol; eg hangover, stomach pumping, unkept enviroment.....


Results of an assult; eg cuts/bruises, broken door/lock, vandilism, riot, signs of authority that have been vandalised; eg police officers hat splashed with paint....


Plaster/tape/finger over mouth, singular entitiy in a large surrounding; e.g. alone in church, in an enviroment that is quiet; e.g. underwater / outerspace....


Moth escaping an empty wallet, close up on a foot with disintegrating shoe, dirty, open hands as if begging, cardboard home....

Project: Narrative

Exercise: A narrative picture essay

I have done NOTHING on TAOP since Focus on Imaging because I have been far too busy at work. It’s starting to get on my nerves that I’m being pulled away from it as I really want to come back to my art and get cracking on this chapter.

I’ve had a read through the chapter and it’s quite short this one, though a lot of thought will have to be put into the final assignment. I want to bring everything I’ve learnt along the way into this one and go out with a bang before submitting for assessment in July. Flicking through, however, the first exercise in narrative seems to follow the Sequence of Composition exercise in Chapter 1. Also, a large proportion of Assignment 5 seems to follow this format so I don’t want to exhaust my most creative ideas on the exercise. I’m not big on skipping exercises but I feel that I’m going to on this one…

Speaking of a narrative, however, and given my love of elaborately staged scenes, Horror Photographer Joshua Hoffine has produced a series of works called PICKMAN’S MASTERPIECE, based on an H.P. Lovecraft story called PICKMAN’S MODEL. As I’ve said about Hoffine in a previous log entry, he is an expert on the macabre and seems to emulate a certain elegance to a scene that would initially stretch the comfort zone of a sensitive viewer. I love his work.

Now, this series Hoffine produced was for ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine’. I have been desperate to emulate Hoffine's work much like I did Gregory Crewdson for Assignment 3 and I might have found an excuse in Assignment 5. The brief is to produce a narrative for a magazine so I’m wondering if I can stage something much like this, maybe a twisted fairy tale such as the telling of Red Riding Hood. So much fun could be had!!!!

Another idea I’ve had for the planning stage was a tattoo studio and following the course of someone selecting, receiving and living with skin-art. I’m fascinated by tattoos and how gorgeous a piece a talented artist can produce. I don’t currently have one because I haven’t found an artist I trust enough yet!!!

Something I also found which I will expand on later is all about creative magazine covers. Assignment 5 expects x1 photo to adorn the front page so I will have a look through this site for some inspiration.

10 Mar 2011

Focus on Imaging pt 2 and Looking Back....

Updated photographs

Click here to view flickr set.

One of the best parts of attending Focus on Imaging at the NEC was the chance to visit the OCA stand and meet some of the staff and other students studying photography. It was great to put faces to Gareth Dent, Dee, Eileen, Min, Nigel and others. Also, some of my work from Assignment 3 made an unexpected appearance…

As I mentioned in my previous post I really feel I’ve come a long way since the beginning of TAOP and have discussed the progression with my tutor. I think we’re both wincing over some of harsh flash usage in Assignment 1!! Also, there was an issue with record shots in
Assignment 2 to be addressed.

I further discussed this with Gareth and some of the other OCA students at the NEC and had my suspicions confirmed for assessment in July: I can submit new photographs with the old and expand on my reasoning and development along the way. The important thing is to show the progress, after all I’m learning more with every exercise.

To that end, I’m going to start putting things into a flickr set intended to supplement my earlier work. I should finish the TAOP in plenty of time for the July Assessment but thats no reason to not start now.



9 Mar 2011

Assignment 4 Feedback and Focus on Imaging

10 photographs

Click here to view flickr set.

I’ve had some time to reflect on my tutor’s comments from Assignment 4 and there was a lot to digest, but on the whole I’m very happy. I feel that my photography has improved a lot from the beginnings of TAOP and I am enjoying myself more and more. That’s not to say that there aren’t still things to learn mind you.

One thing that came to light was the particulars of the fair use policy of other artists’ work: it does NOT apply to digital logs. The fair use for study purposes does not apply to the internet, so my learning log only hyperlinks to others’ work.

One of the main things to come out was using high ISO settings on my Nikon in order to achieve a faster shutter speed. Because my home made lighting setup lacked the power of actual studio lighting I was forced to up the sensitivity to make the series work, but there is of course the drawback of noise. Normally this would be a big no for an assignment but hopefully this wont be a problem at assessment as I’ve explained my reasons why.

This brings me rather neatly to the Focus on Imaging show at the NEC that I attended. If I’m honest, it wasn’t what I was expecting: too many people pushing the hard sell, even when attending the demos and workshops. One on the more exciting things I tried out was a radio trigger for a lighting setup where I took the photograph shown right. The ISO for this was at 100 and needed no editing: this is the shot as per. Life would have been so much easier for Assignment 4 if I’d thrown money at it, but of course this was not desirable. What has been suggested by my tutor are cheap flood lights from B&Q so I will give these a go for next time.

Focus on Imaging also reaffirmed the whole objectification of people that I was the subject of my last assignment. I felt somewhat embarrassed taking photographs of the models and found myself rather gingerly thanking them after my turn. I know that they were getting paid and its there job to model for the lighting setups but people (well, men really) flocked around like a cattle market.

All awkwardness aside, I did, of course, take advantage and took some photographs. Another thing worthy of note is that my model for Assignment 4 looked a little wooden and uncomfortable at times. Apparently, a great deal of research has gone into the ways in which people pose and still have it look relaxed and natural. I suppose that this is a failing of myself as I had set ideas in my mind as what I wanted from Assignment 4 and that probably made my friend a little uncomfortable. If you see some of the photographs I took of the professional models, they all look as if they’re not even trying and know what you want from them (it is, after all, their job).

I didn’t buy anything despite the hard sell from a particular stand trying to get me to purchase a membership following a lighting tutorial I watched. Did I mention that the demonstrator was trying to sell the lighting setup while giving the tutorial? Well, he did. Then the model he was using tried it on too…. Doesn’t mean I don’t want them mind :-P