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PH0701 Positions & Practice October W1 - W6 2021 CRJ

W1 Topic 1 Mirrors & Windows : Reflection

I like using different formats. When you use the same camera and lens combination you can get a bit stuck in that’s the only way you see, look, experience, create and problem solve. By using different formats I am constantly keeping myself on my toes, have to work with different formats, focal lengths, DOF’s and so forth. To me wide angle and particularly panoramic is the ultimate in compositional challenges. The wider the focal length the harder it is to create strong compositions. Because you see so much there is a tendency to see and create only in 2 dimensions rather than in 3. A tendency to create flat images lacking in depth.

I wanted to try and go to 6x24 as a challenge and so modified a Manfrotto micro positioning plate of mine that I use for macro work and adapt it to take my Linhof 612 PC mkII. The camera already has a inbuilt 8mm rise and by attaching the micro positioning plate to act like a slider I could get an extra 120mm of lateral shift, left and right. So I would take 1 shot and then slide the camera 120mm to either side and then take a 2ndshot and then stitch them together in Photoshop.

The lens was a Schneider Super Angulon XL 58mm f5.6 lens with a 92 degree effective angle of view, shot on Kodak TMax100 120 film using zone system metering that I processed and scanned myself. Composition and focusing is done by gestimate. As this is the first test, the B&W is shot without using the slider.

The biggest downfall was that it is very slow and cumbersome first removing the plate from the camera and then the plate from the ball head. Both needed a 10 cent coin to undo the screws in order to pack the camera down and especially to reload subsequent rolls of film in. Any quick release plate system needs to be removed from the Linhof bottom plate in order to reload the camera. I am still trying to solve this. I need to find a quicker system as I tend to shoot in the last 10 minutes of sunset and I’m limited to only getting 1 roll shot in that time. A 2nd body would solve this however this is not cost effective at present.

I built a 6x12 neg carrier for scanning on a light table, however I am not happy with the ability to keep the film flat. So having been in contact with Andrew Clifford from essential film holder in the UK. I lobbyied him to build 6x12. He has protoyped and beta tested it and I have now ordered a new 6x12 neg holder to arrive from the UK. Although due to Covid delays it may take up to a month or longer. Stand by until I can run tests on it.

W2 Topic 2 Methods & Meaning: Reflection

I find it interesting looking at other photographers work, guest lectures or fellow students. Sometimes the dialogue, concept is really interesting and then you see the work and it is a letdown. Great photography to me is where the concept is good and so is the technique and presentation. Being a photographer, the images have to be primary and technically good as a foundation to base a concept on. Cindy Sherman is a good example as an artist who has some good ideas but technically is very poor and so I struggle to connect with it.

Work to me is that you walk into a gallery exhibition and from a distance the work needs to be able to pull you over to look at it closer. Now in that wok towards art and understanding sometimes upon arriving in about a meter from it your initial spark of interest dwindles and become s a disappointment or interested you again in a whole new way. Much work on the walls is not interesting enough to invite me on a journey over there.

What I try and do is that whenever I come across work that I don’t’ connect with I try to work a bit harder as perhaps it’s something I don’t understand.

Much of my methodology is about enjoying the journey more so than the destination. I like shooting medium and large format as it slows you down to stop and enjoy the scenery.

I find geopsychology challenging and believe this has much to do with my work but if have been unable to articulate it until now and perhaps this could become part of major body of work. I’ll need to reflect in time on this carefully and see what more I can learn here. I was surprised I had not articulated this before.

I really liked Lisa’s polaroid lifts, something I have done very little of. And her holistic approach to the environment and incorporating it into her photographs. It’s an aspect I may need to consider in my own work. Although I tend to be a bit of traditionalist and not a fan of mixed media or collaboration.

I've always been fascinated by the Japanese photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto's (born 1948 - ) work. In 1978 he did a series on Theatres in the US, shot on 10x8 on tripod he would photograph an entire motion picture from beginning to end in one long exposure shot on B&W. The movie on the screen provided the entire illumination. I like the overbleed you get from the screen characteristic from long exposures. I was fascinated to hear him describe that depending on the film genre the darkness of the screen would change, a horror movie would produce a dark screen. A interesting look at time, the time provided the illumination of the environment. In some instances he used a 5x4 and others a 10x8 camera, I was unable to find out which cameras as this would have told me a lot about his technique, exposure, f stop, focal length, his physical height and relative position in the theatre and weather camera movements were used. A photographers photographer where concept and technique are masterful.

W3 Topic 3 Reading Photographs : Reflection

In some ways I think re contextualising photographs or sampling music is a bit of artistic and creative cop out. Your directly ripping off the work of others, changing the context and passing it off as your own work. I think is what challenging me the most and things are fine until someone does it to you. And what's worse gets more exposure and makes more money than you did with the original artwork.

Well we looked at McCurry's image of the Afghan girl and look there are many viewpoints here. It's a great photograph and yes its easy to be critical. Much of the intellectual discourse on photography by people like Sontag, Brathes, de Botton etc are by intellectual who have never been photographers. Much of photography is taken and created not from the intellect but from muscle memory, instinct, feeling and so forth.

W4 Topic Authorship & Collaboration : Reflection

Well we worked on our group project this week and the result is below, I was happy withe the result with a big shout out to my fellow students here, Peter, Charlotte and JoJo. Thanks Peter for pulling this together for the end result. Charlotte chose an image from Sally Mann and then we each did a piece interpreting the essence of Mann's work, to unbalance and distort.

Group Artist
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When I was first at Uni doing Design I worked on a many video projects, music video's for early MTV and shoot films. And while I love film its impossible to do a film by yourself, you have to rely on others. So after quite a few film and video successes, there were some team disasters. Plus you have t compromise your vision. It was from these team breakdowns and having to compromise on visions that I turned to photography as I could do it alone and did not have to compromise on my vision. I could execute my vision by myself and in quick time, the same day. The problem with film / video is that it takes an enormous amount of time in comparison to photograph to get an end result. The other thing I like about photography is that you can control everything to a great degree on the single image, but this is next to impossible on 24 frames a second. So I gravitated to photography and away from film over wanting control and preferring to working alone.

Generally I have worked alone most of my 37 years of professional practice. I mean when you work for a client you are working to a brief and generally the client is there to sign off or you transmit for sign off. So in a comercial sense collaboration is constant however in my own work it is uncommon. Often in commercial photography you prepare to be a director and come up with and execute your vision or a vision for consideration. Below are some examples of my past work done in collaboration with a dancer, Kate and with Rabble Theatre group.

What I would like to do is work again with a few 1 or 2 people where there is mutual trust and respect on a project. I just haven't found the right project yet, I know the right people. I think the key is to be open enough that when opportunities present themselves that you have positioned yourself to change.

In terms of the boundary between collaboration and plagiarism its about clearly defining roles and responsibilities from the outset as in any commercial project. Plagiarism occurs when communication and respect are poor and ego gets in the way. I know photographers who get assistants to all the set up, lighting, technical work, take the shot and do all the post work. And then the photographer does not acknowledge any of the assistants and claims all the work as their own, including winning awards. It makes you wonder what is that the photographer actually does ?? I tend to see this more in the art photography side and am not aware of it happening commercially as much.

Being inspired and influenced by others work is fine but when you take actual bits of others work even if you

recontextualise it I still feel that this is plagiarism. I suppose this is a reason I don't like rap music very much due to the sampling of other musicians work. I think its a cheap cop out. It's the creatively challenged preying on the really creative and using recontextualising as a poor excuse for plagiarism.

W5 Topic 5 Interdisciplinary Practice : Reflection

I draw widely from many disciplines to develop my practice, many outside of photography. Too many photographers are insular and do not consider outside influences. Other art forms. Film, art, music and literature have all had great influences on me. I love rhythm for example and can appreciate it in the music of New Order and a symphony of Sibelius to the editing style of films by Taylor Hackford or Terrance Mallick. A visual rhythm.

I think I got into photography originally as along with drawing it could most accurately capture what I visualised and created in my heart and head.I think the question is more where does this burning NEED to be creative and express yourself come from, why is it some of us about 10% of the population have this urge. I mean if I go more than a couple of days without creating I start to get sad. To me its a need like air food or water. It is not a want nor a choice, it's more of a need / compulsion.

Well the lockdown continues for most of October and business has ground to a slow crawl.

Reading : When the Blue shift comes by Robert Silverberg

Watching : Another Life

Listening : Bladrunner 2049 soundtrack

Eating : Lamb & salad


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