Sunday, January 15, 2012

Portfolio: Winter

With Assignment 3 off to my tutor I have time to turn my attention back to my portfolio.  I found Autumn a difficult period to try and shoot at the Olympiaberg, the challenge being one of trying to escape from the attendant cliches that Autumn always brings.  Whilst I have enough photography to select 3 images that will contribute to the portfolio, at no point did I really have a sense of job well done, there's one in the bag.  I simply could not identify with the subject, enthusiasm was lacking.  I put this down to the fact that once assignment 1 was complete my attention and passion switched to new subjects, leaving the Olympiaberg feeling like a rehash of old work, versus the development of new.

Oddly, I do not have that problem with the subject for Assignment 3, I was back in the park this morning to extend the series and continue to build out the concept.  A larger format book, with roughly double the number of images in the current volume, is starting to formulate in my mind.  An element of shooting in the park is the production of shots for this portfolio, this morning I captured:

Nothing special, but a step in the right direction for winter.  A month ago I caught the following dawn light:

Quite happy with this one, maybe not screaming winter, but with 46 separate images I am collecting great material for this element of the portfolio.

So enthusiasm for the continuing "Transient Light" and the "4 identical seasonal shots" is strong, whilst I am pretty down on the rest of the portfolio.  However, I have to persevere, so headed out to the Olympiagelande with my X100 yesterday.  We have had a scattering of snow recently, a rare occurrence this winter, so I needed to grab the opportunity whilst I could.

The shooting went well enough, broken cloud combined with the frozen ground to contribute to an bleak winter atmosphere.  My first attempt at processing the images created a nice enough set of photographs, but nothing special.  With one image I experimented with a large reduction in the Colour Vibrance combined with very high Clarity and Contrast.  This made the images much whiter and hence bleaker, most colours were severely desaturated except for green.  I was immediately drawn to the photograph, it was a far better expression of what I had experienced that day, cold wind whipping across the hill, creating a real chill.  I have reworked all of the "keepers" with this processing model and present here a selection.  There is a risk with this approach that the photographs start to look forced and possibly take on that awful other worldy affect so beloved of HDR enthusiasts.

The change in my usual processing strategy from colour boost to reduction, has created a set of images that convey winter very well.  They will not sit easily next to my other images, but then again, winter should be different from summer.  I am also extremely pleased with the capability of the X100 to capture what I see.  This is by far the most satisfying camera to use, that I have yet to experience.  The huge viewfinder really brings the scene to life and makes composition far easier that with a DSLR.

I feel that, if pushed, I could find 3 photographs from this set that would work in my portfolio, in particular the final image with the BMW HQ in the background.   I have been trying to tie this building in as it is a key element of the Munich skyline and could form a useful narrative purpose to bring in Munich's industrial heritage.  I feel that I have two basic compositional strategies for the winter set:

  1. Accentuate the lack of people and greenery, to contrast with the lushness of spring and the flood of people in the summer.  This would focus on winter as a hard time driving people away.  I would need snow and ice and would be best photographing in the dawn.
  2. Take an opposite view and show that even though it is winter this is still one of Munich's favorite playgrounds, full of kids on sledges and people out to enjoy the winter sun.  This would need the happy coincidence of heavy snow (normally this happens several times every winter) and then a period of cold but clear skies.
Whichever way I go I have a much better feeling for my portfolio now, and can begin to believe that it might be a worthwhile exercise, rather than what seems like a very academic one right now.

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