Phase 2 Practice: ‘From The Inside’ Interior Space Experimentation

Upon entering the second phase of my project, this week I am exploring the interior personal space through self portraiture.  For this practice, I have placed my focus on natural light while creating a short test narrative of how the individual longs to explore outside but expresses anxiety and fear.  I have taken this approach to experiment with how the natural element of light could be used as a key source that attracts the individual’s attention in terms of seeking a way out.  This is intended to represent the notion of hope in a situation where the individual feels trapped.  To create this series, I positioned the camera at a far corner of the space at a slightly high perspective to allow visibility of as much room space as possible.  I chose not to feature the window itself as my intention is to maintain a sense of the unknown where the audience can ponder what the individual is looking at outside.

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During post production, I enhanced the images by adjusting the saturation and colour temperature of the images as well as cropping and adjusting the lighting using the curves tool.

This photograph shows the individual hugging a pillow as they gaze out to the outside world.

This image sees the individual turned away from the interior window, however the individual is still somewhat uncertain but also curious about what lies beyond beyond the interior space.

This final photograph has the individual address the presence of the viewer while sitting in a tight position so as to represent how the individual is tied between the interior space and the outside.

Conclusion

In conclusion to this experiment, this style of photography is reminiscent to the work of Gregory Crewdson, a cinematic photographer I have previously observed.  Similarly to Crewdson, I am bringing full attention to the individual within an isolated space where there is a sense of sentimentality.  The images may be too simplistic and there is barely any interaction with a particular object which takes a step back from still life and portraiture as a combined representation, however, my objective to explore portraiture within the interior space has been realised and the element of ‘light’ alone as a natural source brings good potential for future experiments.  However, I have decided to dismiss this experiment as a contender for the final major outcome and continue practice in the studio space as I intend to control the light with more intensity.

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Symposium: Workshop

As a collaborative activity, myself and fellow peers have been identifying our key objectives in the major project and so during this activity, we created a poster that highlights key words relating to our method of working.  This activity has been very beneficial to my understanding of what stage I am progressing towards ad reviewing why I am exploring my particular interests within the project.  This was also a good session to realise what has been accomplished so far and how I currently feel about the status of the project, highlighting any doubts or miscalculations I might have.

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Fig 1. Poster

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Fig 2. Poster and Group Questions

Portrait Exhibitions Part 2 – The Flowers Gallery and Autograph

Flowers Gallery Group Exhibition

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Jacques Lacan ‘Dit Mansion’

The Flowers Gallery holds a new exhibition featuring several artists and photographers as part of a group exhibition.  The exhibition features a variety of series including abstract prints from Magalei Avezoe presenting ‘Murmur’, Boomoon and ChrisMcCaw presenting ‘Out of Obscurity’.  ‘Murmur’ is particularly intriguing in the observation of form and colour in which the work is complimented with calming music bringing an immersive experience.

The images featured include a series of small polaroids created by artist Alessandro Dandini De Sylva who uses a process that chemically deconstructs the the image by disturbing the printing process.  As a result, the images each present visuals of a deconstructed landscape where striking colour and pattern dominates over the original image.  This series shows an example of how imagery can be transformed through deterioration. Another section of the gallery brings a infra-red lit room that presents images that are unfixed, thus highlighting how the switch of a light can make the image content disappear altogether.  Presented by Ryan L. Moule, the purpose of this display is to bring awareness of our own emotional attachment when preserving images.

The series ‘Dit Mansion’ by Jaques Lacan presents images that I found particularly intriguing is a series of 3 large photographs of 3 dimensional and 2 dimensional objects possessing a plain, basic shape stood within an empty interior wall space.  The images bring blue and yellow as contrasting partners in colour where Lacan embodies abstraction in the most basic compositions.  The simple placement of a corner of a wall and a large box plinth in a clear space embodies a sense of both presence and absence.

Autograph Gallery

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Aida Silvestri. ‘Unsterile Clinic’. 2015

Aida Silvestri presents ‘Unsterile Clinic’ at the Autograph Gallery which brings awareness of a complex subject of Female Genital Mutilation.  For this exhibit, Silvestri brings together a series of portraits that are highly contrasted enough to that the individual remains anonymous.  Alongside each image, a poem features telling the story of that individual’s experience of the traumatic experience FGM entails.  Beginning the project in 2015, Silvestri interviewed and photographed FGM victims who live in the UK and with the prints, Silvestri also uses leather fabric material to represent a visual 3 dimensional diagram of the physical outcome of the FGM procedure.

A larger material image also features where Silvestri invites the audience to place a pin into the portrait as an additional tribute to the cause.  Curated by Renee Mussai, the exhibition marks the 2nd anniversary of the Girl Summit, an organisation intended to ensue forces to end the practice internationally.

I personally found this exhibition gave the most impact when addressing a dark subject representing a global issue.  Although this show does not relate in terms of concept to my own creative practice, the way Silvestri has executed the display is very powerful as she shows the audience visually what the subject encounters along with detailed information.

Conclusion

In conclusion to my investigations at the four galleries, National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, The Flowers Gallery and Autograph, I am particularly influenced by the works of William Eggleston as he presents a variety of narrative ideas that is more closely related to my own practice.  I have learned by viewing his show that narratives can be represented through the simplest encounters in everyday life.  This is something I intend to bring to my own visual narratives where a connection is made with basic gestures and actions.

References

ARR Flowers Gallery (2016) ‘Exhibitions-Current‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.flowersgallery.com (Accessed 22/07/2016)

ARR Autograph-ABP (2016) ‘Exhibitions-Aida Silvestri Unsterile Clinic‘ {Online] Available from: http://www.autograph-abp.co.uk (Accessed 22/07/2016)

Portrait Exhibitions Part 1 – National Portrait Gallery and The Photographers Gallery

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William Eggleston Portrait Exhibition

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William Eggleston. ‘Untitled’

At the National Portrait Gallery, photographer William Eggleston presents a collection of works from the 1960’s to his his current photography.  Eggleston captures the everyday in which his subjects include spaces, people and objects where he is particularly known for his rich use of colours.  Eggleston’s work include evocative portraits of ordinary people, capturing moments in limbo.  While some portraits have the subject acknowledging the camera, Eggleston also creates anonymous portraits where he leaves the audience to conduct an image of a person through aspects such as fashion, scenery and other gestures.  Eggleston uses a dye transfer process which highlights his unique eye for colour photography.  Eggleston also features various black and white images and contact prints within the display which bring a reminder of his earlier processes as well as a sketchbook of vibrant doodles he used to record his practice.  Eggleston brings a sense of both formality and informality to this exhibition as he stages his images to appear spontaneous.

For example, one of his images features a perspective from the back of a woman’s head as a second person, who is also anonymous, sits opposite her in a dark room.  The lighting in this image is low and the woman holds a cigarette which could suggest the image is set in a smoking room.  The style of the woman’s hair is perfectly layered suggesting the 60’s era and her head blocks the view of the second person.  Eggleston cleverly disguises both individuals this way as it leads us to question not only who the woman is but also who she is sitting opposite from.

One thing that all the images of the show featured have in common is how they each give the impression of an occurring event.  When will the young lady lying on the grass wake up? Is the man and the Chauffeur leaving or have they just arrived?  There is a continuous sense that there is something missing in these images that would never be revealed to us and this is what makes them all the more intriguing.

Black Chronicles Portrait Exhibition

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‘Albert Jonas and John Xiniwe of the African choir’

Black Chronicles is also a current display at the National Portrait Gallery in which over 40 images feature depicting black people of history in the 19th and early 20th century.  The exhibition brings focus to African and Asian cultures within the British domain in which this acknowledges the black immigration in Britain. This event is in partnership with Autograph ABP, an arts charity in the London which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The exhibition instantly draws the viewer in as the walls themselves are painted black in which quotes from the late Stuart Hall feature on the walls above the images.  The images in the display are a gathered collection from both Autograph and the Hulton Archive which brings discovered imagery of black people including celebrity and slaves.  One of the most striking images in the show features a large print titled of two boys on a platform (‘Albert Jonas and John Xiniwe of the African choir’); while one sits on a chair, the other is handling the camera.  The contrast is effective in this image as the subject matter is placed against a white background and similarly to other images, markings on the original camera film reel is visible in the image.  The portraits themselves are mostly formal which is why the image of the two choir boys particularly stands out.  The expressions in each of the individual portraits may appear somewhat intense, however there is also a sense of pride and honour in how they pose for the camera.

Eggleston’s and the ‘Black Chronicles‘ exhibits differ largely from one another and they both represent narrative in different ways.  While Eggleston allows his images alone to show narrative, ‘Black Chronicles‘ presents text alongside the images to give more information of the each of the individuals, telling us specifically who they are. Eggleston also does this, however there is a sense of informality.

‘Made You Look’ at The Photographers Gallery

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Presented as a grouper exhibition by several photographers, ‘Made You Look’ brings a variety of portraits that takes a look at the black ‘dandy’ male in the early 21st century.  The show explores the justification of identity in style and reputation that objectifies black men in the United States as well as the United Kingdom.  The images featured give reference to music culture and trends which highlights reputation and profile as key aspects of the message brought to us.

One series of images in this show features several portraits of a colourfully dressed black man stood against a similarly striking background.  This series brings a strong focus on texture, tropical colour that refers to African culture as well as featured objects sitting within the framework of the images.  As an example to my own creative practice, this presents a new way of inserting objects into the gallery space that also refers to the cultural aspect seen in the images.

‘Alma Haser: Cosmic Surgery’ at the Photographers Gallery

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Alma Haser. ‘Alexandra’

German portrait photographer Alma Haser brings sculptural aspects to her work in which she uses paper oragami to create ambiguous 3 dimensional character to her representations of people. Haser merges collage into her work that brings a futuristic feel to her subjects where the identity of the subject is distorted.  As an additional exhibit in the gallery, Haser physically allows the audience to create a picture of what a person looks like by paying close attention to what we can see within the shape of the origami sculptures. Shooting against a pale background, Haser brings contrasting colour to her subjects as she also has them raise their heads slightly to a higher angle.  Haser encourages us to piece together the broken visuals of the individuals face bringing a message that represents self identity that is never fully taken away no mater how broken or changed it may seem.

References

ARR National Portrait Gallery (2016) ‘Black Chronicles‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.npg.org.uk (Accessed 26/07/2016)

ARR National Portrait Gallery (2016) ‘William Eggleston‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.npg.org.uk (Accessed 26/07/2016)

ARR The Photographers Gallery (2016) ‘Alma Haser: Cosmic Surgery‘ {Online} available from: http://www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk (Accessed 26/07/2016)

ARR The Photographers Gallery (2016) ‘MADE YOU LOOK: Dandyism and Black Masculinity‘ {Online} available from: http://www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk (Accessed 26/07/2016)

‘Photo of the Week’ and Week Review

 

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My photo of the week gives tribute to the equipment I have used recently which includes the Nikon D810 camera in which I used the 55mm fixed lens and also the 24-85mm range lens.  I have found my most recent still life photo sessions successful in terms of learning how to get specific type of lighting using certain equipment and this has been very useful to developing my knowledge further of photography cameras and other equipment.

When shooting the feather to represent the element of ‘Air’, I found using the fixed lens changed the way I observed the subject matter both at a distance and up close.  As I could not zoom in, this allowed me to be more free with moving around my subject matter and experimenting with different perspectives.  This also encouraged me to step away from using the tripod.

Switching from constant lighting to flash lighting was also a new step forward in the best type of lighting I could potentially use for my final piece.  Using constant lighting was a good method of photographing simplistic subject matter, however, I found there was a lot more opportunities when using flash to create more intriguing effects such bouncing light from different directions and using coloured gels.  There is no particular preference, however, I have learned that using flash lighting has been the more challenging activity.  This has given me more understanding of how I could bring across a theme simply through the lighting.

Week Review

This week, I have come to the end of my still life experimentation and my final step to complete this stage is to test my experimentation within a portrait photo shoot.  I have decided to experiment with portraiture against a white or black background or perhaps both to finalise which suits best to use for my final piece.  However this will not determine what the objects will be for the final piece.  I shall now begin phase two which will see experimentation with light as an additional natural element within interior as well as exterior suburban environments.

Symposium: At the Forefront

This week in Symposium, I have been analysing what currently lies at the forefront of the photography field.  This analysis is intended to observe current work by other practitioners in the photography industry particularly bringing attention to what techniques, technology and styles of photography others are using now.

William Eggleston Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London

American photographer William Eggleston is currently hosting a show at the National Portrait Gallery in London which brings a broad display of his works spanning from the 1960’s to present.  Eggleston is largely recognised for his experimentation with colour photography and brings a vintage style to his images.  This event lies at the forefront of my field as it re establishes previous works from Eggleston as popular galleries continue to highlight Eggleston as a leading photographer in the modern photographic industries.  The collection is unique as Eggleston invites the audience to review his work as a whole and this is something that is common within galleries as we are encouraged look again and again at the work of our heroes.

Wolfgang Tillmans Exhibition at Maureen Paley Gallery, London

German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans is also currently hosting at the Maureen Paley Gallery in London.  Tillmans creates works with a fine art, documentary style in which he works with still life, portraiture and abstract printing.  In 2000, Tillmans became the first to win the Turner prize and has since gained high recognition in the creative world.  He has also been commissioned for various fashion and lifestyle magazines including I-D.  This event lies at the forefront of my field for similar reasons to that of Eggleston but also because Tillmans is using projection to display his imagery.  This is also a common way to display images which brings an inventive method of immersing the audience into the image by blacking out everything else.

 

‘Unseen’ Photography Fair in Amsterdam

The ‘Unseen’ Photo Fair annually takes place in Amsterdam inviting international artists and photographers from around the world to present new and emerging work.  Founded by the magazine company FOAM, ‘Unseen’ brings together ultimate collections of printed archives where visitors can explore the book market, attend lectures and share inspiration.  This ultimately lies at the forefront of my field as it presents a wide collection and range of activities involving current photography to a large extent.  The event takes place between the 23rd-25th September and I plan to attend during this time.

 

References

Waywell. C. (2016) ‘Four Things to know about the King of Colour Photography‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.timeout.com (Accessed 26/07/2016)

ARR Founders of ‘Unseen’ (2016) ‘Unseen Photo Fair‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.unseenamsterdam.com (Accessed 27/07/2016)

ARR Maureen Paley (2016) ‘Wolfgang Tillmans‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.maureenpaley.com (Accessed 26/07/2016)

ARR Tate (2016) ‘Wolfgang Tillmans‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk (Accessed 27/07/2016)

 

 

 

Still Life Practice – Studio Lighting Techniques

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For this photo session, I have practiced with more focus on lighting techniques rather than concept to achieve a better understanding of how I can use light to enhance my narratives.   Using ordinary objects, I created a set up where I have used two standard lights that are flash ready against a plain backdrop.

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Low Key VS High Key Lighting 

For this technique, I used only one of the lights to capture the subject with a shadow on one side .  I took the same image with several F. stops to help see the difference between the exposures.  I also moved the light around the subject matter to sit more closely next to the camera in which this brought about less intensity and made the subject matter appear quite flat.

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I then used more power in the flash settings to capture the subject matter at a more defined exposure and used a reflector to bounce the light back on the shadowed side. The closer the reflector was to the object, the lighter the shadow became.

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Flagging Out

Th second technique I experimented with was lighting the foreground with the subject matter but also blacking out the background.  To do this, I faced one light away from the set towards a white polly board in which this would bounce the light back to the set up, however the board is moved in a position where its shadow appears behind the set up. This separates the foreground from the background to display a lit area against complete darkness.

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Controlling reflections

To experiment with capturing controlled reflection against particular objects, I used an additional poly board and shone the light toward the gap, creating a narrow direction of light.  As a results this created a controlled strip of light upon objects with shiny surfaces. I then used a second light to sync which shaped an additional light strip on the other side of the subject matter.  This revealed more of the objects shape making it appear 3-Dimensional.

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Using Coloured Filters

I also used additional equipment including the honeycomb and the beauty dish to shape the lighting to create wide and narrow effects.  But attaching gels to these lights, this changed the colouring of the background, foreground and both at the same time.  I also increased the exposure of the flash to create a more luminous appearance to the lighting as well as turning one light away again to bounce light back.  As well as this, I turned off the modelling light and used one light to capture the subject matter from one side only.  This created various effects where using this technique made the images appear very futuristic and moody.

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Directing the Flash

I also tried directing the flash from behind the subject matter and lighting the forefront at at low key.  This created further dramatic effects that gave an inverted appearance in lighting.

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Lighting from below

I also used a light to shine under a reflective still life table to create more intense lighting in the background. I placed a second light on one side of the set up at a low angle.  As the table reflects light, I found wavy lines appear in the images on the background.  this is because the light from below is crossing paths with the light from above.  However this could be decreased by increasing the exposure and moving the lights around.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, I found this experimentation very useful toward my knowledge of lighting techniques and this has also given me more options to take advantage of lighting to represent aspects of my narrative themes.

I found this experiment a challenge as it was difficult to correct the exposure when bouncing light off other tools, however, I have learned more methods of how i can use light alone to bring across enhanced atmosphere.