Saturday, April 7, 2012

Portfolio: First Set of 12

Development of my Portfolio has consumed by far the most cycles of any single element of this course, each season needing multiple visits and much thinking about composition, content and intent.  I had not anticipated this at the beginning, although I should have.  I am now at the stage where I have photographs from each of the four seasons, although I am hoping improving weather will permit some more work around the Spring theme, the current incessant rain does not fit with my vision of how I want to present spring.

This has been the overriding question during the development of the shots for the portfolio, how to present each season, or rather what visually defines each season.  Autumn and Winter are fairly obvious, bleak white cold instantly triggers thought of "Winter", whilst the golden hues of Autumnal leaves speak for them selves.  Summer is also relatively simple, the lush green of the trees and bright blue skies interspersed with white clouds suggests the classic Blau-Weiss of Bavaria.  Spring, however, is proving harder to pin down.  The early spring landscape is visually the same as Winter, whilst late Spring is redolent of Summer.  With Spring there has to be something more to tell the story, cultural cues can work, references to Easter or the emergence of spring flowers.  These flowers are not really any different to Summer flowers, we just know they are spring and so intellectually make the connection.

Another element in developing this set has been to define the scope of the location and what it is that I want to portray. With Assignment 1 I have investigated the legacy of the 1972 Munich Olympics, looking at what was left behind and now 40 years on how it is being used by the people of Munich.  Extending this study over a year, my first intent was to limit myself to the hill and its immediate surroundings.  I found that this proved too limiting, however, most of the imagery in the set features the Berg in one form or another.  It is the defining element of the landscape.  However, stepping beyond the landscape, I want to show how people use this legacy landscape and how that changes with the seasons.

With these visual cues in mind, I have prepared a first set of 12 "candidate" photographs that will form the basis for developing a final set for submission.  I am arranging the images chronologically, starting with Summer 2011, stepping through Autumn and Winter, into Spring 2012.  I expect to add to the Spring set.





I have not used any of the images from Assignment 1, wanting the portfolio to expand not repeat my earlier work.  The first two images portray the festivals of Summer and the enjoyment of the park.  The third contrasts strongly, it is a geometric study of the student village, reminiscent of a Greek village in mid-summer.  Not sure about this one, individually I love the photo and it extends the scope of the portfolio, but perhaps too far.





With the Autumnal shots, the colours of the trees are the seasonal reference, however, simple pictorial representations of Autumn are not enough.  Image 4 echoes a classically romantic view of Autmun, but one broken up by the modernity of the stadium architecture.  Image 5 illustrates the fact that the cafes are still busy, but people are huddled together against the cold.  Image 6 introduces some of the surrounding buildings, this is the BMW showroom, reflecting Autumn in the steel and glass.





Winter was bitterly cold, typical of this part of Europe and the colour palette is massively diminished, white dominates and structure became the focus of my images.  I wanted to suggest the emptiness of winter versus other seasons, but at the same time every photo has people in it.   I have also not reduced the colour in any of these, but have not enhanced it either.  With Image 7 I want to also place the hill into the context of the city, shooting a view from the hill out over a frozen Munich.  Image 9 fits with 7 and is complementary.  I am not sure about 8, individually I like it a lot (it is better cropped to a more horizontal framing, but I want to maintain the integrity of the framing for my portfolio) but it does not sit well with the other two.  I have a couple of other images that could also work.





As mentioned earlier, these are the least developed set, I have only made two visits for these shots, more will be needed.  At the moment the trees have yet to leaf and so the place looks pretty much like winter, so how to add the cue of Spring.  Image 10 is easy, the blossom screams spring.  I am still not sure about this photo, pink, pink, PINK...  However it does what it says on the packet and does illustrate a part of the park I have yet to include.  Image 11 takes another approach.  A key element of Spring is not the change in the landscape, but the change in the people,  after months stuck indoors, the sun brought out the joys of Spring in these two lads.  I have also been trying to get a shot showing how the hill sits against the industrial complex that is the BMW factory.  Image 12 echoes my final shot in Assignment 1, bringing attention back to the darker legacy of the Olympics the massacre of the Israeli athletes.  Due to Passover (I think) the monument to the dead has been decorated, with the names of the dead taped to the stone. The black shadow of the stone and cable have created a cross symbolic of Easter and also the dead.

Each of the sets of 3 has some strengths and weaknesses, over the next 3 weeks I plan to try and tie this down to the final 12.

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