Over the last week or so, it feels like I’ve begun to make improved progress with the course. I’ve particularly enjoyed the study of lines in composition for a couple of reasons. Firstly, having had time off in Poland, spending Christmas with my wife’s family, has mean that I’ve had the time, and importantly daylight to get out and take pictures. I also see more things to take pictures of when I’m away from the familiar surroundings of home. This is of course only my perception and something I’ll need to work on if I want to maintain this current rate of progress. There’s plenty of subject matter in Leicestershire, I just need to identify it in the same way that I would here.
The first section of the course that dealt with the frame, and at times did feel a little basic, not helping to encourage my engagement with it. Learning more about composition, particularly the analysis of the composition of ‘classic’ photographs has been fascinating. It is a huge subject and I look forward to a lifetime of learning about it. This study has already begun to influence and improve my pictures.
This enthusiasm for the subject matter obviously helps motivate me further and I hope to be able to continue this momentum when I’m back home, at work, and not seeing much daylight because of work and other commitments. In the last couple of days of my holiday, I’ll be taking the opportunity to begin thinking about my next assignment.
The course also helps us learn in other more subtle ways. I am experimenting more. I’m taking pictures of things that I wouldn’t usually and seeing subjects in a new way. A couple of examples from this week are below.
The scythe picture needed the identification of a suitable subject, the creation of an interesting composition and lighting in a way that enhanced both. Such still-life photography is new to me but I’m pleased with the result and will try more in the future, perhaps in the next section of the course when we study shape.
The picture of the bridge, also from the ‘curves’ exercise is more standard fare, but thinking to include the shadowy figure in the shot is another example of this newfound experimentalism. It’s hardly revolutionary, but for me it’s something new.
Another interesting learning point from this week away has been the change to my workflow. I usually use Aperture, Photoshop Elements, Silver Efex etc. Here, I’ve been limited to importing the pictures onto my mother-in-law’s creaky laptop, saving them to Dropbox before carrying out very limited editing in Snapseed on my iPad Mini. What I’ve learned is that despite this apparent restriction, the pictures are still good. It has shown me that the time I spend working on my pictures after they’re shot is less ‘value-adding’ than the time spent taking decent photographs in the first place. Better spending a couple of hours reading about composition and then practicing it than tweaking the mid-tone structure of an average image.
Aside from the coursework, I have begun a collaboration with a fellow Leicestershire photographer to explore the issues raised by Don McCullin in this article in The Independent. Through our photography, we’re hoping to investigate the experiences and motivations of, and prejudices against, migrant workers in Leicestershire. I hope that we can expose the social division that is often exacerbated by the ignorance and fear of the unknown that some British people can be known for.
It promises to be an interesting project – I’ll keep you informed.
Clark, N (2013) ‘Forget foreign conflicts, chronicle Britain’ says war photographer Don McCullin (Online). The Independent. Avaialable from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/forget-foreign-conflicts-chronicle-britain-says-war-photographer-don-mccullin-8947692.html?origin=internalSearch [27 December 2013]