Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Assignment 3: Decision Time

After a very useful discussion with my tutor I now have the confidence to go forward with this "Transient Light" concept as Assignment 3.  Although I will bring the current series to a point with the production of a book containing the best 30-40 thus far, I will continue to extend the series as winter changes the landscape once again. I started this set in late summer, just as the air cooled and mist started to become the morning weather.  Now Autumn is nearly complete, few trees still have any foliage and the temperature is starting to fall below 0 overnight. This will bring a whole new dynamic to the series, changing the property of the early morning light as reflection from the icy ground supplements the effects of refraction and transmission through the morning mist.

I will still be very much at the mercy of the climate, these photographs only work with a clear sky.  Recently heavy fog or low cloud has resulted in a couple of wasted trips to the park.  The conditions I need require a clear bright sky that will support a strong sunrise, plus very cold air at ground level.  My current plan is to continue to shoot in the small space within the park I have used so far.  I believe this brings an intimacy to the project as I watch the gradual change in the landscape and can better anticipate changes in the light.  I admit this has some limitations, however my goal here is to image the light and its interaction with the air and the ground, this should be the subject not the drama of the location.

I plan to continue this Assignment into the new year, targeting completion towards the end of January.  I have two reasons for this, first I do not want to rush the activity, I still have many projects to complete for the chapter that Assignment 3 belongs to.  I will try and combine these with the shooting for assignment 3 and also have much reading to do, something I have been very lax with recently.  Secondly December and January will bring the drama of winter weather to the shots, we will almost certainly get snow at some stage as well as hard frosts and clear skies.

In reviewing my images so far a clear element in the feedback was to be careful with the softer images, they risk looking very muddy and uninteresting.  I am not fully in line with this, as I quite like the simple boring aesthetic of misty landscapes, however, I realize that this is not to many peoples taste.  The goal of the course is to develop as a photographer and part of that is to balance my own taste against that of others, in particular anyone likely to be on the examiners panel.  As such I have revisited the images and selected a new group from them, that I think starts to embody some of the compositional elements I want this set to capture:

  1. Inclusion of people within some shots to add a point of interest and dynamic
  2. Greater contrast in both colour and density
  3. Variety in angle and composition
  4. Retention of a rigid adherence to a 2:1 aspect ration to deliver a continuity of form in the set
The first shot is an example of these principles, capturing colour and mist, but with a great deal more contrast than others I have chosen

I still like the misty nature of some shots, so took this one and reversed the processing decision to greatly reduce the contrast - a key feature of this shot and the following one, being the emergence of a figure from the mist:

The next two contrast cyclists traveling through the park against a backdrop of trees just being lit by the rising sun.  These have strong movement and very clearly image the riders and the trees, but retain a layer of mist that adds some atmosphere (literally) to the photographs.

In his feedback my tutor was most positive about the images shot into the sun, showing the light streaming through trees with the mist carrying the shadow.  The first is one of my personal favorites and one I gave as a gift to a close friend, the first time I have ever signed a photograph.  The following two extend that aesthetic with the inclusion of people.  I am particularly drawn to the cyclists in the park, this could also add a common thread to the set.  In assignment 2 I commented that there are bicycles everywhere in Munich, the difference here is that people are actually riding them.

In a similar vein, here I have imaged the sun just after it rose above the trees, capturing the rays in the mist and a reflection in the river.  I am not sure about this photograph, personally I love it, however, it could be seen as rather cliched. It is also very heavily processed, necessary for such extreme lighting variance.  There are some artifacts, which I think add rather than subtract from the shot, plus a couple of people on bikes.  It is very rare that I get such an unbroken sky, I will return to this type of image when I get the chance.

My attempt at a "Gursky" aesthetic was too soft, here is a slightly harder version with more layers.  Not sure that one of these will make the final set, but one never knows.

Finally, I also need to turn the camera up a little and include the sky, plus more of the landscape I am working in.  This would provide necessary context to the photographs.  With many of the earlier images I have avoided including any element of the sky, trying to take the viewer into the trees and not over them.  Whilst this works to a degree, it limits the scope of photograph.

That was 12 photographs that I consider have potential as part of my assignment submission.  They are directional rather than final.  Some may make it into the final selection of 8 images.  I now have 3 months of winter ahead of me to add to this set and produce further refinements.  I will continue to blog any major changes, especially if I get the hoped for freeze and snow.

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