Reflection and demonstration of learning following my tutor feedback

In my tutor feedback, Les has asked my not be too hard on myself and this, sadly is a personal trait that has been with me prior to having the ability to hold a camera. I will however try, going forwards, to keep a little distance in my self-critique, remain reflective and not be overtly self-negative. This is a good point made by Les and one we have discussed over Skype. This will be demonstrated in more depth on my Context and Narrative course.

Be careful when choosing black and white, was another well-made critique. This was discussed at length and also in previous assignments with Les. Les knows I love black and white images (Sally Mann in particular), however on reflection, I have listened and taken on board this feedback. My final selection is in colour, as they were recorded on my sensor.  I agree the colours do show the narrative more clearly, possibly because the lighting was poor in church and partly because this is how we would have seen it with our own eyes. This is something I have discussed in the past with Les and I now get it. With the black and white set, I was trying to show the “truth” of the Liturgy, but colour is unedited and therefore it must be closer to the truth than converted images, which have undergone a transformation process.

I have made my final edit based mainly upon colour and shape, with the final image showing the Metropolitan, as a “real” person and not just a senior member of the Orthodox church.  I feel this adds to the narrative and places him as an individual. This image also enhances the feeling of being there, due to the depth of field and the fact that this is shot over someone’s shoulder.

I have listened and taken on feedback from Les about eye contact, losing impact in the series and affecting the overall feeling of this narrative. I have ensured no images in my final selection have any eye contact with me or the camera. I did not feel this was a problem prior to my tutorial, however on reflection I feel that this is a fair critique and the final edit is now better for it. Any eye contact simply places me in the scene as a photographer with a camera (weapon of intrusion) and loses the impact and feeling that the viewer was there (in the church), rather than the viewer just looking at a photograph.

I have made a further 3 re-edits since my Skype with Les, all of them in colour and I have used prints to do this rather, than on-screen images. This is something I have learned during the course and this type of editing is more beneficial than on-screen editing. The re-edit amounted to a further five hours of work, but this was well spent, not only as the final edit is better than my original, but it has given me further opportunity to practice this art, which is not by any means easy to master.

I have added the original edit and the final edit side by side below, to showcase my final series and to demonstrate my understanding and the progress made, even within the final assignment.

I have also chosen images that are both portrait and landscape, after discussing this with Les. He felt that this would not distract from the narrative. In my first edit, I had purely concentrated on portrait images, as I was under the impression that seriality can only be achieved in one aspect ratio. Examples of mixed ratios can be seen in Sally Mann’s Family Pictures featured on her website. Please refer to http://sallymann.com/selected-works/family-pictures (accessed 23/03/2017).

Please refer to my prints that I have submitted for my assessment, as the images need to be seen in print, in order to gain the optimal viewing experience.

As a postscript to this I have managed to sell over 200 images from the images on my contact sheet, with all the proceeds being generated to the church.

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Assignment five re-edit

I was asked by my tutor to re-edit, even though he felt my original posting had met the brief for the assignment. He felt the assignment would be better for the images in colour and he asked me to concentrate the re-edit on colour and then shape. My final edit is below.

I await his written feedback, which will be posted upon receipt. I  was told previously  to make a series uniform, in regards to the  aspect ratio i.e. landscape  or portrait, but on this occasion  I have been asked to mix them up. Hence my edit below.01-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images02-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images03-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images04-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images05-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images06-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images07-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images08-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images09-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images10-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images

EYV reflection

One of the most important learning points I have come across during this course is to reflect upon my work and also to reflect upon the work of other artists. I have completed a number of other photography courses including some with the OCA and the Open University. However, I can say that this course has stimulated a wonderful thirst to pursue the work of other artists and to explore how they use their skill, craft, power imagination, ethics, feelings, emotions in their pursuit of their photographic goals. A good photographer can never read too much. I don’t profess to be Sally Mann, Elliott Erwitt or David Bailey, but I have read until I have dropped to sleep with bleeding eyes and my work, when my eyes have recovered, is showing signs of developing a voice and improving.

My collective reference list is extensive and includes a number of books that I have bought and have that been read with passion and sometimes with confusion, with ideas and understanding developing through the fog, to reveal wonderfully crafted learning and points of view I have never considered. These books will now stay with me for life and I am convinced they will not be dust gathers on shelves, but will be points of references, learning and lifelong relationships that will build my own photographic voice.

I have added my first and my final assignment below as a side by side comparison. I can now see how I have evolved. They were both black and white assignments. The first  assignment was a black and white set because I simply liked black and white images, at the outset, with no apparent reasoning behind this. I still love black and white images, but I do now understand more about this way to display the images I make and the meaning and context for this colour scheme.

My first assignment  was aimed at working as a series and was a political statement from me. The images were both landscape and portrait in nature and there was no real uniformity. There was some seriality, but this was not too evident. They were also captioned, not leaving the image to stimulate the viewer and potentially closing down on interpretation. There was also a lack of people in there. This was intentional, but the piece would have benefit from the human touch.

My final assignment is also black and white, but is full of people, with studiums and punctums interspersed in each image. My two assignments are similar, in so much as they are a series on one topic, yet they are miles away in terms of what they instil and inspire in the viewer.

My current work has definitely been inspired by Sally Mann. Not so much as copying her beautiful Southern lighting, her techniques, but using her thoughts on photographing her family. The final assignment is based around my wider family (not too dissimilar to her book cited in my reference list called, My Family) and I feel have captured the love that is the centre piece of any happy family.

I have benefited greatly from the tutorials with Les. He has made me think about myself as an artist (and as a person too) and what I want to get out of the course and how to progress on to being a successful degree student. His suggested reading and the pointers to other students’ work has been cleverly thought through and taken on board. There has been invaluable guidance on how I work and what other artists to look at. It has been very interesting, eye-opening and has helped me grow.

I feel the two comparative sets below, demonstrate the strides I have made and that this insight will be a building block for me.

 

 

Assignment five

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The above image was taken by myself of an Icon of Saints Columba and Kentigern, patron saints of the church in Doncaster. The icon has been painted in the age old icon writing tradition and is a work of pure love, and genius. This icon can be seen in the upper left corner of image 8  (below) and will give you some sense of scale. It was painted by a nonagenarian, who decided to take up such painting two years ago. The iconographer is the grandma of one of the congregation and she lives in Bulgaria. The icon was painted free of charge and shipped free of charge, all the way from Sofia, Bulgaria. It goes to show what amazing art is out there that never gets seen and how beautiful people can be.

Please note my images are to be presented and submitted as a series of ten, 12×8 inch, black and white glossy prints,  as this medium shows off their beauty and meaning, fully. This church is a relatively dark environment to shoot in and the ISO was increased accordingly to 3200, which is higher than I would normally shoot at. This therefore presented a number of issues for me. Not only did I have to work within the confines of a moving and living Liturgy, but I also had technical difficulties and issues around angles with each shot.

My chosen subject for this assignment is a “Greek Orthodox Hierarchical Divine Liturgy”, which took place on Sunday 12th February 2017, at Sts. Columba and Kentigern’s church, in Edlington, Doncaster.

There are many moments within the Liturgy that make this a special subject to photograph. I have tried  to capture several and various people within the Liturgy, that make it so special, and it is these people and surroundings that constitute the overall subject I have chosen. Without the collective people, the Liturgy would become simple prayers of the clergy.

It is uncommon to see a series of images on this subject matter, especially ones that take you behind the iconostasis (in the Altar area), as this is off-limits to most, including to all ladies and those who do not belong to the faith. The faith can trace its’ beginnings directly back to the teaching of Christ, and there is a continuous line of Ministry from Christ until this present day.

This was a special day for the church, as this was the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy there in over twenty years. It was a special honour for me and a privilege to be given the approval to photograph this.

Ambient lighting was used, as flash photography would have been disrespectful and could have caused issues.

Metropolitan Silouan Oner attended and led the Liturgy. He is the clergyman in the dark robes and hat with the veil, and he can also be seen with and without his crown. I have captured various parts of the service, from the arrival of Sayedna (Master in Arabic), to the preparations at the prosthesis table, Sayedna’s crowing and showing his affection and love for his Church family.

I have converted to black and white, as the majority of images on the web are in colour and I wanted to do something different and showing that I am still developing my photographic voice.

Photography is a language and I prefer reading these images in black and white. I also feel that the tonal contrast of black and white is beautiful and they are better compared to those in colour.

The lighting again is non-dramatic in comparison to some of my peers. Does this mean my images are of less worth than theirs? Not in my opinion.

I have been asked in the brief to capture a unique view of the same subject and these ten images, certainly are unique and are of the same subject.

I have captured humourous images within a serious religious service, as demonstrated in image number 7. I have also demonstrated  an awareness of my surroundings, as seen by capturing the baby in image number 6.

Shot number 4 is an image that needs to be looked at for a while, to ascertain what is going on due to the multiple elements within it. I am pleased to have captured the incense rising from the thurible, adding to the drama and movement within the image.

Having the images in black and white, in my opinion, also adds an element of truth to the images, bearing in mind this subject is something that is rarely seen by most people. This series is therefore an educational piece too.

I have added the photos as a series rather than adding my best image first, which was something that was discussed with my tutor at my last tutorial. This is also necessary to fulfil the brief.

There is unique information in each of the 10 images, whilst all remaining fully focused upon my subject of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The order of the images is chronological and they are therefore a natural series of the Liturgy developing.

Interestingly I cannot find any famous photographers who specialise in Greek Orthodox clergy/services. There are several hundred images on Getty’s website, but none that follow the full process of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

My series is all about bringing to life a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and to give the viewer a flavour of this and the diverse nature of what happens. Another purpose is also to express the beauty of the people attending, their diverse age range and also acknowledge the wide cultural base we have. The Lord’s prayer for example was said in 7 languages i.e. Arabic, Welsh, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Greek and English.

This is not only a piece to celebrate Orthodoxy, but it embraces and celebrates people of all different cultures and backgrounds and shows how beautiful all people are and not just those who are native to Britain.

I have received much praise for the work at this Liturgy and this has come from as far afield as Bulgaria. Some of the comments received are copied below :-

  • By Fr Gregory: Photo 75 is probably the best photo taken of Sayedna to date!
  • By Jan: AMAZING,WONDERFUL,FANTASTIC. THANK YOU SO MUCH
  • Hello Nicholas. Your photos are amazing.It is a great joy for me to see Boris and Zlatina with all of you in the church and to have their photos with me.God Bless you and all your family.much love in Christ,Katia. С най-сърдечни благопожелания – Катя Тодорова.
  • Nick has captured the essence of meeting Metropolitan Silouan for the first visit to the Parish in Doncaster. That essence is Love! The skill of getting the exact moment to grasp the best image is not easily learned, but Nick has aquired that ability in bucket loads! Will definitely hire IkoNick to capture our important memories. Hope your business goes from strength to strength, with Many Years of happy snapping.
  • You have done the parish proud Nicholas. Much Love, Fr. George.
  • I really like these and the fact that they are in black and white, the lack of colour makes the colours stand out more… I particularly liked images 3, 7 and 9. OCA student.
  • Love the series especially image 7. great set – good luck. OCA student.
  • I like them all, but I love no.7. Kids will be kids, whatever the occasion. OCA student.

My images will also be displayed shortly on the following websites and are being sold to raise money for the parish ; –

http://www.ikonickimages.co.uk/guestbook.html

http://www.antiochian-orthodox.co.uk

I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I did writing it.

 

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Contact sheets with basic exposure details.contact-sheets-for-assignment-five-1contact-sheets-for-assignment-five-2

Exercise 5.3

Henri Cartier-Bresson. Magician with light, geometry and luck. I believe he created his own luck and new things would happen after choosing his viewpoint. Very very clever man, whose work I appreciate more as I progress on my journey as a student of the art he so well mastered.

Image taken from ;- https://iconicphotos.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/cartier-bresson-henri-iza-gare-st-lazare-paris-1932.jpg?w=700

The pivotal point in this image is the upward pointing right for captured just inches above the still pool as this is poised to shatter the stillness of the mirrored pool of water.One second later this image does not exist.It is this point that the whole image is dependant upon.

This is a world-famous image taken by HCB. It is also an image that has been cropped to make it work.

There are so many elements in this that makes this work. The moment is the key to its’ success for me. The context of where the image is taken is also key. This is taken behind a railway station and I see the jumping man as a train jumping off the track, taking a step into a union future.

There is also some interesting points that balance the image well i.e. the circles in the puddle being balanced against the circles the ballet dancer on the posters. The poster stating Railowsky adds an element of amusement to the image as this gives me the impression of this being some sort of Russian/Easter European train station, although there may be a letter missing from this as it appears to be torn.

HCB claims this image is all down to luck but i do not agree. He liked the geometry and the set up so was aware enough to be able to sneak his Leica through the railings and make this world-renowned image.

The rubbish/rubble in the background adds a contrast to the stillness of the water and the overall quality of this image.

I enjoy HCB’s work and this is one of those images that stimulated my interest in photography when I was a young man, when I bought my first camera, an Olympus Pen in 1986.

Exercise 5.2

 

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Image Taken from 

The above image is made by one of my favourite purveyors of the art of photography, Sally Mann. Her work as I have covered before, has a dream like quality with the Southern Light she uses and is truly inspiring. These three kids clearly have attitude and if anyone knows her worked they are clearly loved, nurtured and photographed in the way only Sally Mann can do so.

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I have certainly not tried to copy this image, but have responded to it by showing three children with different attitudes and their wider (immediate) family, the book which the Sally Mann image is taken from. In my image there are two boys and one girl. I have converted to black and white but have deliberately not copied the tonal qualities of the above image. Due to the process Mann uses to make and develop her images, they develop a mystical tonality which I would never try to emulate.

I am unable to discuss the context in relation to Terry Barrett and his essay as any link to Terry Barrett’s website is broken and will not load. There I have no way of accessing this. I have tried on numerous occasions to access this but to no avail.

I am responding explicitly to the three children, their attitude and their wider family, which although cannot be seen in this image, is a question that springs to my mind when I see the image. i.e. are they related and who is their family.

In my response I have decided to show the childrens’ wider family and I have given them a setting and context, unlike the Sally Mann image.

The Mann image is a posed one, with all the children posing away for their mother, something to which they have grown accustomed, due to her many works she has produced of her family. In my response, although this is a posed image, the three children, two of which are brother and sister, are all behaving slightly differently with only the girl being attentive to the camera. In contrast the adults are all aware of the photographer and are well-behaved.

The aim of Mann’s image is for me to portray the kids as they are and the are the sole subjects of the image, with the background deliberately kept out of focus, adding to the mystery of where they are and who they are. It is clear though that this is an outside shot, which appears to have been lit by ambient lighting. Mann is an absolute master of this and she maximise the ability of her full format camera and bellows to full effect. Her image would have been tripod mounted, where as my response was hand-held.

In both images the children are the main focus of the image and spite the inclusion of the adults in my response, I did not want these to detract from the children. You can see in my image the affection of the adults, but the way the adults are touching them, yet in Mann’s image, this love may not be at first apparent due to the stares manufactured by the kids and captured so wonderfully.

Whilst both images contain only ambient light, the two light qualities are so different. Mann’s Southern mystical light works it magic with a dappling effect probably created be the trees in her garden, where as the lighting in  my image, comes from a set of widows with a couple of overhead candle style bulbs. They are both extremely different in light quality, but my position could not be moved  as the setting was the only real place for such a posed photograph. It also was necessary to shoot there, to give context to the image via the setting and so I could donate this image to the metropolitan, for his own archives.

Mann’s image does not contain any props, where as my image contains a number of props in the form ofgifts given to the Metropolitan and a drawing made by the children and their parents as a welcoming gift.

The two images, whilst both containing three children are miles apart in terms of photographic light, style, context, quality, meaning, setting, tonal qualities and yet they both work in very different ways. In my image, there are only two English people, whereas the three children are all native to the photographers home land.

There is both a studium and a punctum in both images as Barthes woud say.

To summarise, both images contain three children, but there the similarities end.