Sunday, August 7, 2011

Assignment 1: The Hill

Throughout the development of my ideas for this assignment, the most difficult element to photograph has been the Olympia Berg, the hill overlooking the game site.  As a location it offers the best views in Munich, a climb to the top is well rewarded.  I have taken several good photographs, some of which will make it into this assignment from the hill, however, I am struggling to find a way to represent the hill in an interesting way.  The location has a poignant narrative, that will weave well into my overall discussion, it is built upon the past and offers a vision of the future, it is just in of itself rather dull.

I have tried a number of different approaches, from wide angle to telephoto, in each case striving to capture the size and structure.  Key to the narrative is the sheer volume of debris that must have been accumulated to build the hill.  A wide angle scenic shot from across the lake captures this:

However, in each case I end up with a rather anodyne image that doesn't rock my boat at all.  The sky in the second shot has drama and I do feel that this is not a bad image, it is just not a good one.  Another approach I have taken is to consider the shapes and patterns of the hill, with people adding visual points:

The first image carries some of the scale of the hill, and at the same time suggests the recreational use of the location.  The second, has a sense of height, but carries no scale.  Getting in closer I struggle with the very simple shape of the hill and the fact that as the hill fills the viewfinder it becomes impossible to see the summit and again the size of the hill is missing.

Another tactic is to shoot the hill from its own summit or close to it.  This allows a look down on the surrounding landscape and enables a study of the patterns formed by yhe grass and paths cutting through it.

In these three photos I have managed to capture something of the scale of the location, however, I already have photos quite similar to these that I wish to use to illustrate other aspect of the park.   A couple of days ago I tried a different approach, stepping away from the hill to another lower rise nearby:

In these two photographs I capture something of the scale, but i am not sure whether they are particularly good photographs.  The first again captures the use of the place, a key thread in my narrative, but lacks a sense of scale, whilst the second clearly illustrates the size, but little else.

An alternative approach is the use of the cross as a metaphor for the dead city buried inside the hill, the image below is an attempt at that.

Currently, I think this is the best image I have of the hill, it works in a number of different ways, none of which are direct.  The size of the hill is conveyed only by the clear height above the city behind.  I have used a shallow DoF, leaving the city in the background deliberately soft, reflecting perhaps the sense of a ghost city within (not sure about this).The sleeping lady is also an important part of the scene, she represents the lost people inside the hill, but also adds the "Use" case once more within the photograph.  The only problem I have with this image is that it is portrait, almost all my other images are landscape.  I want to try to keep to a similar framing, however, there is something to be said for varying my style at this stage in the course.

I have posted this discussion, as it illustrates my current dilemma in choosing the final 12 photographs from the  1,000 or so I have taken during my multiple visits to the site.  At present I think I am done with the photography element, it is now down to the edit.  In some respects I wish I was preparing a slightly longer set of images, however, selection is a key skill.  I will post another candidate set soon.

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