What is Photography?
This week I am investigating into the practice of photography itself and digital media related to this practice. Photography is a medium that has been used for over 100 years with the earliest photograph, ‘View from a Window’, being taken in 1826/1827 by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Photography made a vast development throughout the 19th and 20th century with the introduction of the darkroom process, otherwise referred to as ‘Camera Obscura’ which was developed by Louis Daguerre in the 19th century.
Over time, photography has developed immensely. It appears everywhere whether it be through advertising, reading or the internet. Now, it can be found in almost any form of digital media as technology has consistently progressed and society has adapted to a digital lifestyle. As photography has come a long way, I intend to document it’s origins through my own series. My idea is to create a series of images that represent different areas within the photographic field i.e. dark room or studio.
My first idea is to create a still life mood board series in which I will gather objects relating to a type of photographic practice for each image. I feel this idea can bring across the concept in a commercial way as I literally lay down on the table what is used when it comes to taking a photograph. I do intend to make each image collectively form a different perspective on using the photographic medium to show variety, for example, one image could present found objects which would have been used in earlier periods in which photography was used.
This is a quick draft experiment of my idea of the image content. I feel this experiment is a good first attempt, however, I feel there is too much going on in the image making the concept too obvious. I would like to simplify the content, perhaps use only one object that relates to the subject in a more straight forward still life.
For my second idea, I wanted to bring across the message as simply as possible so I decided to brainstorm exactly what the photographic medium involves.
Photography Brainstorming Diagram
From this activity , I have broken the photographic medium down into key elements/words that represent the needs when using it;
Making sense of photography involves making sense of light. Light is perhaps the most essential element that is controlled when taking a photograph in order to fulfil a correct exposure or a particular exposure to create the effect desired. A photograph simply cannot be created without this source.
The medium also involves focus: this is where technology comes in. To achieve the desired view range of a subject, the adjustment of shutter speed, aperture and lens focus are all participants in this.
Taking a photograph is creating a memory of something and is commonly used as a way of recording information which brings meaning to the image as it is a creation of history.
Following this activity, I have come to the conclusion that the particular aspect ‘Light’ is a crucial element of photography and that using light itself would be the best method of representing the medium through my practice. I have decided to do this through the experimentation of light trail photography.
Photographic Artist Research
Janne Parvianinen is a Finnish light trail artist who creates installations featuring using both performers and the environment as the platform of displaying light. As well as a light painter, he is also a musical performer and a teacher in Helsinki. Parvianinen is popularly known for using light extension materials to completely cover a figure as well as the environment to create a brilliantly lit displays. His typography works such as his image ‘Days of our Lives’ (see above) are very bold with lighting and completely change the environment into a setting that appears very futuristic. This image gives a rather ghostly aura with the colouring of the HD lights and the placement of the figure on the floor.
From the viewers perspective, the setting brings across a sense of trespassing as if the viewer is stumbling across the aftermath of an event. I notice how not all objects are covered with lighting; Parviainen allows certain objects used within his imagery to stay as they should. I find this could make the viewer feel needy to search for ‘normal’ things you would find in a ‘normal’ house setting. I admire Parviainen’s use of strong lighting sources as this makes his images appear more effective for his subject matter. This is something which I also intend to do within my own practice in which the lighting acts as a core representative of the subject.
Following my findings of this type of image processing, I have chosen to create my series by simply writing the key terms ‘Light’, ‘Memory’ and ‘Focus’ as individual messages using a light source. I find creating this imagery in a literate way will engage the viewer in an interactive sense as I am performing and creating the words for the viewer myself.
This collection of images displays a variety of experiments carried out during the shoot. I intended to create as much contrast as possible for the final images (with additional further development through the image editing process) so that the message would be displayed clearly to the viewer.
All Original Images
On some occasions, I found it difficult to balance the light correctly in within the background and the area in which I was writing my message. For example, this image reveals too much light on the backdrop withdrawing focus from the main subject.
Another experiment I chose to do was to draw photography equipment in which I attempted to draw the camera. However, I found this too complex to achieve and I feel this drew away from the main concept of my series.
For each of the key words I wrote, I outlined them with a circle as one would draw a circle around text to acknowledge its importance i.e. brainstorms or diagrams.
Image Editing Process
From the collection of images I have produced, I have continued to further develop my chosen final three images for the series using the Photoshop editing software. For each photograph, my main focus was to increase contrast and reduce glare in the background so that the image would only show the writing of the light,; almost in a photogram like fashion.
I firstly resized and cropped each image before manually contrasting the visuals. To do this, I used the curves and brightness/contrast tool.
I then used the colour balance tool to create a cool temperature for the text. As some background/additional lighting was intervening around the written messages, I chose to give the text a very light blue hue; I find this compliments the simple colour scheme nicely.
Final Images: ‘Light, Memory, Focus’
I find my three final images for this project are successful in conveying the core aspects of the photographic medium and I am satisfied with the visual results. Some parts of the visuals where I have circled the message are cut out of the imagery which is something I think could have been presented better as this does give some flaw to the light visuals. I think this flaw was due to working in darkness and within a small space a I found it difficult to measure out the area in which I would write the message from right to left. I think that experimenting on a larger scale would have assisted in avoiding this issue and I also feel using the background as a supporting aspect in the visuals would have made the images stronger; I find the images suitable for the project, however they are almost too visually simple for the viewer. As a future experiment, I would be eager to try creating literate light trail photography within an environment relating to the text written. I also think I could be more experimental with lighting by using additional studio light sources to reveal more of the background rather than to hide it. Nevertheless, I feel that my approach to this project has resulted in outlining the important factors of what photography is as a medium which is what I intended to do.
Janne Parviainen (2014) Janne Parviainen Light Art photography and Painting, [online] Available from http://jannepaint.wix.com/jannepaint-2#!about/c10fk, [Accessed 13/10/2015]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2000-2015), Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, [Online[ Available from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/dagu/hd_dagu.htm, [Accessed on 13/10/2015]