Monday, October 31, 2011

Portfolio: Autumn

Whilst I have easily chosen the site for my 4 seasonal photographs and am slowly collecting images week by week, the other element of the portfolio is giving me a real challenge.  I selected the site for Assignment 1 carefully and it has turned out well, yielding a cohesive set of photographs that carried the narrative I set out to deliver.  However, subsequently I must now return to the site and generate 3 photographs for each of the following seasons, Autumn, Winter, and Spring.  This is where I have come a little unstuck.  I am finding it difficult to drive variety and coherence in the Autumn set of photographs.  First of all the urban elements of assignment 1, the two villages, will not easily work with a seasonal theme as concrete does not greatly change with season.  OK, there is some vegetation, but this is peripheral to the photographs.  This leaves me with the hill and Olympic site to work with.  Good material, in one sense, but hard to craft further than I have already taken it.

Given a free run at this, I think I would be doing something quite different for the portfolio element of this course.  I think of a portfolio as a personal statement of my ambition as a photographer, seasonal photographs of a semi-wooded landscape is not quite what I am about.  I would prefer to deliver an urban portfolio divorced from the seasons, reflecting my relationship with my city.  However, as I have admitted before, this is an educational experience and perhaps I do need to learn about how to capture the seasons as they pass.

The problem is that I am not really into golden trees in a rolling landscape, so I need to deliver something else.  It is also true that a hill is a hill, trees are trees, I need to express what is unique about this hill and these trees!  In effect I must capture the fact that this is the Olympic site in Munich and a place much enjoyed by the local population.  With that in mind I have spent the last 3 weekends walking once more across the hill trying to capture its essence, but also within an autumnal theme.  Autumn brings to mind a number of thematic elements, golden trees, early morning mist, long shadows, people wearing a lot more clothing, and finally the fallen leaves.  For my photographs to correctly say "Autumn" I will need to contain at least one element per photograph.  I have selected quite a few photographs from my recent shoots and grouped them into ideas that might generate a photograph for the portfolio.

Once again, I am posting a large number of photographs, but this is the way I want my work to speak. My first group looks at people in the Olympiagelande enjoying the space:

In each of the above photos the architecture of the space is very firmly imaged within the photographs, however, there are plenty of views that completely eliminate the concrete and show that this is also somewhere where city dwellers can get away from urbanization.

I am particularly fond of the second images, the colours a re powerful, blue and green punctured by the red coat of a little boy running down the hill.  Another concept I have explored is the idea of height, this is a hill after all.  How can I convey the "hilliness" of the area.  I tried to get down low and shoot up onto an artificial horizon:

Each of these more or less eliminates the hill in favor of the sky, an alternate viewpoint is to include a much greater proportion of either the hill or the landscape behind:

In each of these shots I have progressively turned the camera into the sun to silhouette the people in the frame.  Not sure about the last shot, perhaps too romantic and also not really seated in Munich or Autumn for that matter.  Stepping away from a primary focus on the people in the landscape I also have an interest in details within the landscape, the cables and pillars of the site:

The above shot is a tricky one, it is the memorial to the athletes murdered at the games in 1972, difficult to frame well and perhaps not terribly interesting, but of great importance in the story of the location.

In my submission for assignment 1 I deliberately avoided using the most prominent element of the landscape, the Olympic tower. This was partly driven by the desire to avoid a landscape format, driven by such a tall narrow object, but also because I simply could not make it work in the context of the submission.  However, with my portfolio I can look in more detail at the Landscape versus the story and so the tower becomes a key element of what I must deliver.

I all of these I think the reflected images are perhaps most interesting, maybe the one in which the tower is only visible in the reflection.  Finally I close out with 3 shots that strongly feature the autumnal colours and strong architectural elements

This final shot fascinates me, I love the reflection in this massive wall of glass, question is whether the assessors will feel the same.  Perhaps this is a good statement on the balance of nature and urbanization in the modern city of Munich.  I appreciate that the goal of this exercise is to deliver 3 shots and that I have presented 27.  This points to my lack of decision making and challenge that I continually have in selection.

I think there are sufficient photographs in this post from which to pull for my portfolio, but I may make one more visit, early in the morning.  If I judge it right and mist is rising from the lake, lit by the rising sun, I may just capture something quite special.  If I do so, see the upcoming post.

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