Tag Archives: Aldershot

Assignment 3 Self Assessment

Fig. 01 Pescara - 1/125 at f/11, ISO 720

Fig. 01 Pescara – 1/125 at f/11, ISO 720

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

The choice of subject created a number of technical challenges. Firstly, the project became an exercise in low light photography; it was essential to have as deep DoF as possible to have both the mannequins and the reflections of the street in focus but because I was photographing from the street into shop interiors and through glass covered with reflections, light levels were usually low.

In any situation where low light is an issue there is the option of using a tripod and longer exposures but this has to be weighed against loss of spontaneity and introducing movement blur. Movement blur would not have been a problem in this instance but it was not practical to use a tripod on, often crowded, pavements and spontaneity was essential.

The end result is that a lot of the photographs were taken with a high ISO. I am not particularly concerned about this, many of the set are quite moody and melancholy and any noticeable noise has only added to that.

In summary, at a technical level I feel that I generally rose to these challenges with a few of the images having the desired mix of saturated colours and acceptable noise levels.

The second challenge was compositional. There was a limited choice in viewpoints that enabled me to frame the mannequins, capture reflections and avoid including myself in the frame. This meant that I ran the risk of capturing 16 similar images. There are too many right to left shots and, in this regard, a lack of variety.

Since looking at William Eggelston I have been focussed on improving my observational skills and I believe that a number of these images are based on having seen and captured small details that strengthen the photographs. There is clearly a lot more work needed to refine those skills but I believe assignment 3 is a step forward in this area.

Quality of Outcome

This submission was the end result of, what felt like, a long process. I started looking at the change in the high street being brought about by the opening of large indoor shopping centres resulting in the high street of many towns comprising of small, often immigrant, businesses, charity shops and betting shops. However, when I moved from Basingstoke and Aldershot to look at Guildford the model didn’t hold up because the town is comparatively wealthy and the high street is still full of mainstream fashion names. In effect Guildford High Street is more akin to a large shopping centre than to a high street. This started me thinking about mannequins and how they are created as body shape role models and about fashion in general with its endless new lines that promote cheap “disposable” clothing and waste.

I found the compositional opportunities of the mannequins and reflections and the multiple layers of light visually exciting but wanted a way to set these, hopefully attractive, images against the excesses of a hedonistic and self obsessed industry. Anna Fox’s idea of using relevant quotations from the industry she was critiquing to put her photos in context in Workstations was the perfect answer so, quite late in the day, I adopted that approach.

It is for others to judge whether this has come together to achieve the assessment criteria points but I feel that it has for most of the images. There are still one or two that I am not convinced about and I may yet make some changes. I was interested in Anna Fox’s point that one has to allow enough time between capture, edit and presentation but on the other hand every time I look at the set there is another image that I am not convinced about but I need to move on from this project. She also made a strong point about the role of the curator and I can see how having an independent but skilled review by another person would improve selection.

Demonstration of Creativity

This is the hardest area to self access, I’m not even sure what creativity really is and certainly find it hard to measure. I know that I have had to think deeply on how to complete this assignment, I had to work through several processes and the project demanded experimentation, testing, re-evaluation and re-positioning several times. I believe that it is a step forward for me and a move away from anything I have tried before. My main concern is that a lot of images rely on other people’s creativity such as mannequin artists, photographers and window dressers so how much of me is in there is hard to judge.

Context

The research and reflection required by this course is one of its great benefits. I have enjoyed looking for inspiration, reading to gain understanding, following leads and cross references and writing up my thoughts. Having spent many years in my commercial career writing for specific audiences it is satisfying to be writing for myself both in terms of the pleasure of writing and in building  a record of my thoughts.

 

 

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Test Shots and More Thoughts for Assignment 3

Contact-sheet-culled-01

Over the course of the last few weeks I have visited several towns testing ideas for assignment 3. As previously discussed (here and here) I have evolved the idea from reflecting change in shop windows through to looking at the high street using reflections in the physical sense and mannequins in a more metaphysical sense.

To help me consider how best to approach this subject I have looked at the work of a number of practitioners (here) and have seen how they use reflections as a compositional tool rather than setting out to photograph reflections.

I have been looking through the best of the images I have captured in Guildford, Aldershot, Farnham and Godalming and culled a few that will not make the final cut. The above contact sheet contains 20 of the culled images. My process has been to work through the raw images editing those that seem to work and then re-visiting that collection of edited images on several occasions to cull the weakest. I find that I have to create some distance between capture and editing and between editing and selecting to allow me to be as objective as possible in my choices.

For various reasons none of the above will make the final selection although they all had some promise at some stage in the process. A number of them take me away from my main theme (Figs. 10, 11, 13, 18 & 20), they all work as images but I feel and I sense my tutor felt that my series on Turks and Caicos (assignment 2) was not as coherent series as I wanted it to be. This group of pictures are directly about people or objects and, whilst reflections play a part, mannequins and retail marketing does not.

Of the others many have been culled because they are vertically framed. I have considered producing the series as verticals but although this works well when I focus in on a mannequin I often need the horizontal format to provide an appropriate context.

A small number of the culled pictures stand out for me at this point because they are close to what I am trying to achieve.

Fig 01 - Shoulder - 1/125 at f/11, ISO 800

Fig 01 – Shoulder – 1/125 at f/11, ISO 800

NK0_5812-shoulder-2-coloursThis image works well for me. In the context of assignment 3 the main colour relationship is between shades of blue and brown/orange with these colours both appearing in a range of shades. The image gains a lift from the small group of red accents to the right of the mannequins head and the golden backlight on the photograph of the model. I particularly like the cross relationships such as the necklace on the mannequin being similar to shades in the model’s hair and how the faded denim is close matched with the tarmac road.

My selected subject matter for this assignment dictates that colours will often be muted as there are, by definition, layers of glass and reflections obscuring the subjects and current fashion colours appear to be quite subdued.

Whilst working on this assignment I have become interested in the relationships between us, mannequins that in some way are intended to represent us and photographs of models that often appear with mannequins in shop window designs. This is a good example where the mannequin has body form but the head only hints at having any features. By removing the eyes and mouth the designer has removed all personality but then a large photograph of a real person forms a backdrop to the mannequin. Often, as in this case, the model’s clothing is the not the same, either specifically or generally, to those on the mannequin.

This is close to the end result I am seeking. The colours are harmonious, the layers are complex enough to demand attention if the viewer is to decipher the image and it asks questions about why we want to buy clothes modelled on a being with a body but no personality, is the model aspirational and is that message about her looks or the beautiful summer’s afternoon she is photographed in.

Whilst these complex layers play out on and behind the window life goes on in the street with an uninteresting white van heading into the distance.

Fig. 08 Holding Hands - 1/125 at f/8, ISO 1,100

Fig. 08 Holding Hands – 1/125 at f/8, ISO 1,100

NK0_6232-holding-hands-2-coloursFig. 08 is a very different image. It is far simpler, the reflections are faint and not important to the composition and the focus is far more clearly on the hands of these two mannequins.

There are four main colours, blue, red and yellow and brown. The blues of the nearest shirt are linked to the pink trousers by  the strong turquoise of a belt and the left hand mannequin is linked to the right hand mannequin by their brown wooden arms. The colours compliment each other both left to right and up to  down with some tension created in the pick to yellow diagonal.

From a subject point of view I was interested in the mannequins holding hands. The designer has gone to some lengths to de-humanise these artefacts, they are obviously made of wood, their joints are puppet-like, they have no heads. However, they have been positioned to hold hands so we have two, presumably “male” mannequins holding hands in a very conservative (in every sense of the word) town centre.

This opens another avenue  about how shop displays ask questions and, especially in big brand chains, they tell us something about the physiology of marketing and what is perceived to influence us but at a micro level they might reflect something about the window dresser, their humour, or their reaction to the street outside or their sentimentality.

Fig. xx Perspective 1/125 at f/13, ISO 640

Fig. 14 Perspective 1/125 at f/13, ISO 640

NK0_6995-perspective-coloursAfter a fairly fruitless couple of hours in Godalming I came across this combination of reflections and interiors that appealed immensely. For me, the image is made by the perspective of the five mannequins receding into the distance to the child mannequin in the window at the right.

The colours are the blues in the clothes and sky and the reds and browns in the third mannequin’s trousers, the street and the roofs.

This composition lends a lot to my study of practitioners and the way they often use the reflected sky as a frame for the interiors and other reflections. I began to look for this far more after seeing the work of some of the Magnum photographers. It is a very effective device and in this example forms a tunnel of blue that leads the viewer into the picture.

The nearest mannequins have some personality both in their subtle features and their jaunty styling. They are in an independent shop where the budgets are presumably tighter so they have to work in isolation, no expensive model shoots here, and this might require them to be more than a clothes rail, their fibre glass features have to be aspirational and become our role model in terms of style and dress sense.

This photograph is complex enough to hold my interest without asking me to decode it but the diminishing sizes of the models, the ornate window frame in the centre and the blue sky mixed with the shop interior make a strong combination.

Fig. 06 Clock Face - 1/125 at f/11, ISO 900

Fig. 06 Clock Face – 1/125 at f/11, ISO 900

Fig. 06 approaches colour differently and, whilst red/orange is prevalent as a background, the most active colours are the accents of green, in two passerby’s clothes, the red dress bottom right and the gold on the clock. My interest in this composition is in the two squares of the clock and the reversed Body Shop sign and their relationship with the mannequin’s head. The mannequin is another hybrid with a human body but a stylised human head that is rather alien in the Doctor Who sense of the word.

As a composition this has a number of the elements I am looking for. The shape of the mannequin, the two squares, the strip of sky acting as a frame or ceiling and a clear picture of the street with two people reflected within the mannequin’s black dress.

At this stage I feel the theme is taking on some shape and that the ideas I have explored are leading me towards a conclussion. The main decision is whether to edit a series based on what I have done so far or whether to look for more variety. I am conscious that trying to tick off the design elements in assignment 2 led me further and further away from the series that I wanted to produce so I am hoping that I can get near enough to the assignment 3 criteria with the images I now have. I feel that, if I start searching for specific colour combinations, I will start to compromise the theme.

Developing Assignment 3

ContactSheet-004 ContactSheet-005

The above are two contact sheets from the last couple of weekends which have been part of the process of planning assignment 2.

My first idea is to look at describing one or more Hampshire towns with an emphasis on their changing ethnicity. Following shoots in Winchester, Aldershot and Basingstoke I have trawled through the photos multiple times looking for something that resonates and helps me find a starting point. This process has culled the edited photos from many to a few less to the sixteen shown here four of those are just alternative crops of the same image.

Nothing is leaping out at me but I see some promise in the ones below which have a sense of continuity about them that might be worth developing. Overall I like the reflections combined with people’s faces and how the combination of the elements tells us something about how cosmopolitan or diverse these little towns have become.

Fig. 3 Red Girl - 1/125 at f/8, ISO 400

Fig. 3 Red Girl – 1/125 at f/8, ISO 400

I am starting with Red Girl because I like the lighting. It has a lot of the elements that I am looking for, multi-ethnic food (I’m not even very sure whether is is noodles or Italian), colour and reflections. It is tempting to crop even tighter to remove the dead space of the ceiling but I like her arms so unless i go square it is difficult to see a final image.

Fig. 4 Hairdresser & Bank - 1/125 at f/11, ISO 720

Fig. 4 Hairdresser & Agent – 1/125 at f/11, ISO 720

Fig. 4 Hairdresser and Agent would have worked better if a live person was in there somewhere but the colours really work well here and the ghostly reflection dominates the scene. I love the multiple layers of reflection so that it is hard to differentiate between the estate agent, the hairdressers and the infrastructure of the street. This might be worth shooting again when the shop is open although it might be quite different if the lights were on.

Fig. 5 Gurkha Jewellery - 1/125 at f/16, ISO 640.

Fig. 5 Gurkha Jewellery – 1/125 at f/16, ISO 640.

I have discarded this (fig. 5), come back to it, discarded it again, re-cropped it and now have it on my promising list. I like the gold, green and red and love the women’s face and expression but I can’t decide whether the white car is too strong.

Fig. 6 Turkish Barber - 1/125 at f/16, ISO 4000

Fig. 6 Turkish Barber – 1/125 at f/16, ISO 4000

Fig. 6 is another hairdresser, the reflections work well and the curled photos on the wall give it a back-street feel. His expression is great but it was taken on the shady side of the street and ISO 4000 is pushing the quality to the brink. To make the idea work I need a deep DoF so that the interior detail and the reflections are both in focus but I also need good light to allow me to at work at a lower ISO.

Fig. 7 Taste of the East - 1/125 at f/16, ISO 560

Fig. 7 Taste of the East – 1/125 at f/16, ISO 560

I like this for all the same reasons that I like Gurkha Jewellery. It is one of those brilliant cafés that sell a bizarre mix of food. Fish and Chips to Black pea rice and the boy just adds to the mix. The reflections are very strong and I like the fact that I have to take a long look at the picture to decide what goes with what.

The next step will be to try another shoot and try to focus in on finding the right combination of reflections, people and influences from outside of Hampshire. There are plenty more hairdressers, barbers, specialist clothes shops and cafés to look at in Basingstoke and Aldershot so I’ll run with it for a while longer.

Planning Assignment 3 with Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr

Fig. 1 Cafe in Aldershot 2014 - Primarily influenced by Vegara in the sense that I am drawn to capturing the changing shop fronts of Aldershot head-on but with a touch of Parr in that I am interested in the two customers who represent the changing population of the town. 1/125 at f/16, ISO 720. 50mm prime lens.

Fig. 1 Cafe in Aldershot 2014 – Primarily influenced by Vegara in the sense that I am drawn to capturing the changing shop fronts of Aldershot head-on but with a touch of Parr in that I am interested in the two customers who represent the changing population of the town. 1/125 at f/16, ISO 720. 50mm prime lens.

Working through the exercises in the third section of the course I have been thinking about my approach to assignment 3. Each of my shoots for the part 3 exercises has given me one or two pictures that fit into a pattern that is leading me towards a potential assignment 3 submission. I am not quite ready to finalise my plans and start shooting but my current idea is to find my colour combinations by photographing people in front of contrasting and colourful backgrounds. I am not certain whether the backgrounds are shop fronts or cafés or beach huts  or a combination of all three but I am looking for significant blocks of colour to contrast, compliment or clash with people’s clothes. I am putting this post together to help me crystallise my thoughts and to bring together some test shots in one place.

People and place will be the most important elements but the colour cannot be incidental, it needs to play an essential role. I have reached this point partly because I have found a selection of shots that hold some promise and partly as result of the work of a number of artists who are influencing the way I am looking at locations.

Since Christmas I have become increasingly interested in the American colour movement of the 70s and I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the work of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore and their approach to documenting a time and a place by focusing on the ordinary,  this has influenced my thinking and hopefully in time will influence my work. I have also drawn inspiration from Camilo José Vergara whose work documenting the changing infrastructure of urban America is a refreshing approach to street photography where the street is often more important than the people in it, I like the way he allows the architecture to dominate the image. so that he photographs the influence of people more than the people themselves. Each of these men work in colour which is appropriate to this part of the course and, more importantly, is my favoured medium but their work is fundamentally about America which is not an issue in terms of appreciating their art but, culturally and locationally is removed from where I want to focus.

Fig. 2 Polish Deli in Aldershot - Similar to fig. 1 with the shop providing a colourful backdrop to a lone Nepalese passerby. In 1975 Ray-Jones could view the English as a, generally, single race, in 2014 we are a much more exciting cultural mix so we have a Polish Deli in a Hampshire town with a Nepalese resident. - 1/125 at f/16, ISO 200. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 2 Polish Deli in Aldershot – Similar to fig. 1 with the shop providing a colourful backdrop to a lone Nepalese passerby. In 1975 Ray-Jones could view the English as a, generally, single race, in 2014 we are a much more exciting cultural mix so we have a Polish Deli in a small Hampshire town with a Nepalese resident. – 1/125 at f/16, ISO 200. 50mm prime lens

The test shots I have included here do not represent the work of the artists I am mentioning but it is work that is coming from the same direction or where I feel the result is a direct result of having explored the work of Eggleston, Shore, Vergara, Ray-Jones or Parr. Most of these photos are current test pieces for assignment 3 and I want to take some of these ideas further over the next few weeks as I build towards that assignment. Some are older photos that I have gone back to as a result of studying the aforementioned artists but are photos where I feel I was on the edge of the kind of observational skills I need to move forward with assignment 3.

Many of my photos here are taken with deep DoF, this is a very conscious decision based on the work of Shore and Parr, I am actively seeking detail and am willing to sacrifice a bit of quality and use a higher ISO to be able to pack as much focussed detail into the frame as possible where all the information is playing an active role. I have some ideas that will be best achieved with a tripod and playing the waiting game al la Shore but when I am working hand held I will accept the high ISO.

Since starting this course I have held back on getting too deeply into Martin Parr’s work because I felt that a time would come when his approach and his subject matter would be especially relevant. I thought this might be towards the end of TAoP but I sense the moment is here and now because my embryonic ideas for assignment 3 have strong links to his exploration of Englishness and the types of locations that he has often been drawn to.

Fig. 3 Man In Cafe on Rainy Day Clevedon - Typical English seaside resort on a wet cold day, there will alawys be someone having a cup of tea in the rain. 1/125 at f/8, ISO 400. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 3 Man In Cafe on Rainy Day Clevedon – Typical English seaside resort on a wet cold day, there will always be someone having a cup of tea in the rain. The lack of colour makes it a poor image for assignment 3 but I like the empty café and the wet pavement. 1/125 at f/8, ISO 400. 50mm prime lens

I can see Eggleston and Shore’s influence in Parr’s work, especially in his indoor shots of cafés, meal tables, cups of tea, the trivia of everyday life but more than that it is his intent to document a way of life more than to take photos of places or things or even people. However, I think that there is a fundamental difference in his work and that is his sense of humour and his ability to gently poke fun at something that he is part of, his Englishness. This desire to photograph the English being English is something that Parr shares with Tony Ray-Jones and to understand Parr’s work better I started by looking at Ray-Jones who Parr cites as a major influence.

Fig. 5 Café in the Sun Clevedon - Another person wrapped up against a cold wind enjoying a cup of tea at the seaside - 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 100. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 4 Café in the Sun Clevedon – Another person wrapped up against a cold wind enjoying a cup of tea at the seaside, the colour of the sign works well but there is not enough human interest – 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 100. 50mm prime lens

Tony Ray-Jones tragically died very young and, as a result, there is a limited amount of his work available to see and much of it is in black and white. A small selection of his colour work can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-24142421 * (1) and Martin Parr’s selection of his black and white pictures can be seen at www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-24826739 * (2). In the context of this discussion the black and white prints are the most relevant but I was very interested in some of his American colour work especially where he is using shop fronts as a backdrop to his studies of people. Parr says that Ray-Jones approached his project, that was posthumously published in 1971 as A Day Off, with “anthropological skill and rigour” * (3) and this phrase reveals something of both men. They both worked to document a place and a time and approached their work as a study. The power of their work partly lies in the sets of the images and the context of the sets. We are used to seeing individual Martin Parr photos in isolation but they lose something when they are extracted from the context of the set and this appears to be equally true of Ray-Jones’ work. In A Day Off he sets out to show, in his words, “the sadness and humour in a gentle madness that prevails in people” and he focusses his attention on his own race to communicate “something of the spirit and mentality of the English”. To achieve this he visited places and events in the late sixties, traditional and ritualised events such as Glyndebourne, one off events such as the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival and places where the English were being very English such as on the beach.

Fig. 3 Dog in Rome 2008 - As an ex-resident of Italy I find this very Italian, a stylishly dressed couple photographing their dog at the Trevi fountain. 1/200 at f/5, ISO 140

Fig. 5 Dog in Rome 2008 – As an ex-resident of Italy I find this very Italian, a stylishly dressed couple photographing their dog at the Trevi fountain, this is sort of lucky shot I need to find to explore Englishness, more colourful clothes would help assignment 3. 1/200 at f/5, ISO 140

He captured people dressed in strange costumes for competitions or because a specific mode of dress was the uniform for a particular event or because a visit to the beach was such a special occasion for the working classes that they sat in the sun in their best suit and tie. This is so emotive for my generation, my mother would insist my father wore a tie to dig the garden in case a passer-by mistook him for a labourer. Ray-Jones photographed a lot of people drinking tea and often this very act was totally at odds with the backdrop. The well-to-do couple drinking tea at Glyndebourne with cows in the adjoining field and people on deck chairs drinking tea from china cups. This gentle madness documents a generation who were constrained by convention and by custom.

Many of Ray-Jones’ compositions are crowded, even cluttered, packed with information and this style is important with this type of documentary photography. An interesting beach, festival or street is often a busy place and to capture the sense of place the image needs to contain plenty of information. The skill of Ray-Jones is to make sense out of all this information. A good example is his photograph of the Salvation Army on Brighton Beach * (3) where the frame is packed with people but the composition is designed to carry the viewer deep into the group and focus on the flip chart before spreading out to all the band members. Parr said of Ray-Jones’ pictures “They had that contrast, that seedy eccentricity, but they showed it in a very subtle way. They have an ambiguity, a visual anarchy. They showed me what was possible.” * (4)

Parr picked up the baton and has been running with it ever since. His earliest black and white work published as the Non-Conformists documented a small Northern industrial town with sympathetic humour. I have read blogs where writers find Parr’s work distasteful and, in some cases, offensive; they interpret his photos as being cruel, suggesting that he is laughing at his subjects. I believe that this is far from the truth, I think Parr is comfortable with being British and that there is affection in his portrayal of, what he sees as, people being British.

Another aspect of Ray-Jones’ work and Parr’s early work is that in the 60s and 70s Britain was becoming a multi-cultural country but most, if not all, the photos in The Last Resort and those that I have seen from A Day Off and The Non Conformists are of Anglo-Saxons. 40 or 50 years later we live in a different England where being English means something quite different and this is something that I want to explore.

Fig. 5  - 1/125 at f/16, ISO 360. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 6 Indian influences in Aldershot, a Nepalese women walks past two Indian restaurants, I was looking for colour combinations and found them in the women’s clothing, the signage and the yellow and black scaffold poles and it further explores modern England,  there is no clue that we are in Hampshire – 1/125 at f/16, ISO 360. 50mm prime lens

I am going to write up a review of The Last Resort in the next few days but, here I want to concentrate on how Parr’s approach can influence me in assignment 3. In Last Resort there is the same warts and all feeling that I see in Eggleston’s work, the same acceptance of seediness without focussing on it in the way that many modern street photographs tend to do. Parr shows that observation needs to have no boundaries. Looking back at my own work I see that, whilst living in Asia, I saw and photographed the world as it was but in England and when living in Italy my photographs have been about the way I want the world to be. In the Philippines I wanted to capture a real sense of place and its people but in Italy I appear to have wanted to produce calendar shots. There is no doubt an underlying reason for this but I now want to get back to observing and photographing what is there and not what I want to be there.

At this stage I am letting myself be influenced by the small group of photographers who have really caught my attention and am consciously letting their ideas impact the way I work. For example Cartier-Bresson and Eggleston work with compact small cameras and by using a 50mm prime lens much more often I am realising that I work faster, less intrusively and with less distractions that I did with heavy zoom lenses. Vegara has taught me that the architecture tells an important part of the story; Parr and Ray-Jones are great observers and work in sets and I can see that a good set is worth far more than the sum of its parts, five photos working together to tell a story is far more exciting than one great picture. Shore shows that you can pick a good spot, compose a picture, thereby creating a stage and then wait for the players to enter.

Fig. 7 Dogs Waiting - A man waits with two dogs outside a shop , the colours in the window display drew me to this shot but it is the man and two dogs both looking in the same direction that makes it interesting - 1/125 at f/11, ISO 100. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 7 Dogs Waiting – A man waits with two dogs outside a shop , the colours in the window display drew me to this shot but it is the man and two dogs both looking in the same direction that makes it interesting – 1/125 at f/11, ISO 100. 50mm prime lens

At this stage assignment 3 is probably a progression of the type of images I have used here. I am not satisfied with any of them which is okay because they are only test shots. There is too much empty space in too many of them and because of that they lack the punch of Parr’s New Brighton shots and I have to work on my angles when trying to include shop or café fronts, the lines of doors, signs and pavements need to work better with each other to avoid becoming a distration. I need to use the architecture as a structure to frame the people more effectively.

However, on the positive side I feel the idea developing:

  • background colour from shops or cafés and I still want to explore beach huts
  • foreground interest and colour from people
  • explore modern Englishness
  • concentrate on observation and capturing the sense of a place and its inhabitants in a positive way without being judgemental
  • create a set

Sources

Parr, Martin (1986) The Last Resort. Revised edition published in 2013. Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing

Parr, Martin (2007) Martin Parr. 2013 Edition. london: Phaidon Press

Internet

* (1) BBC News – Tony Ray-Jones in Colour  www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-24142421

* (2) BBC News – Only in England: Photographs from a bygone era (Martin Parr and Tony Ray-Jones) www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-24826739

* (3) BBc News – In Pictures – The English by Tony Ray-Jonesnews.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/in_pictures_the_english_by_tony_ray_jones_/html/6.stm

* (4) Amateur Photographer – Tony Ray Jones, Iconic Photographer http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/how-to/icons-of-photography/534741/tony-ray-jones-iconic-photographer#JWIau4qOtRYovXFo.99

Exercise 18 Curves

Exercise 18 continues the study of lines with curves. Like the diagonal line the curve can have a dynamic impact on an image but it can also impart grace, elegance and beauty. There is no shortage of curves in nature, including the human form, and many subjects that we find beautiful are simple or complex combinations of curves such as flowers, hills, trees, animals and beaches. The list is endless.

We have used curves and circles in our architecture since the earliest structures, surely this was not solely motivated by ease of engineering. Circles appear to be a reassuring shape for an enclosure, the shape may link to the circle of life or just look better but European prehistoric structures are often, if not mostly, circular and thereby curved. Curved shapes in architecture continue through history, notably with the interiors of medieval cathedrals and into modern times where elegance and beauty in design is often achieved through curves such as the Royal Crescent in Bath or the Sydney Opera House.

Fig. 1 Pigeons in Window - 1/640 at f/8, ISO 100. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 1 Pigeons in Window – 1/640 at f/8, ISO 100. 50mm prime lens

Fig. 1 is a a simple photo of an existing, tangible curve with silhouetted pigeons.

The curve is potentially more emotive than straight lines and in being so becomes a powerful graphic design tool for the photographer. An arrow in flight is direct and dynamic, we draw a stylised arrow as one straight and two diagonal lines, it is a loud statement telling us that something important is happening at the tip. A meandering river still communicates movement but suggests a smoother, more graceful and flowing feeling. If we draw something to express graceful we will use a curve. So, whist a curve will communicate movement it is a smoother and more graceful expression of speed.

Fig. 2 London Eye - 1/800 at f/2.8, ISO 360. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

Fig. 2 London Eye – 1/800 at f/2.8, ISO 360. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

In fig. 2 I have set out to express smooth movement with that curving path heading to the London Eye. The Eye itself is a huge curve that we recognise as a circle despite part of it being hidden and from this angle seems to lean out over the River. using a mask and the curves function in Photoshop, I have processed the image to increase the contrast between the path and its surroundings to make it a more prominent feature.

Fig. 3 Southsea Fort Lighthouse - 1/100 at f/9, ISO 140. 24-70mm at 24mm

Fig. 3 Southsea Fort Lighthouse – 1/100 at f/9, ISO 140. 24-70mm at 24mm

For fig. 3 the image is based on the curving stairs and its shadow on the wall. I run the risk of a curve leading the eye to nothing with the curve of the wall and the top railing leading to the same point. However, I think that the photo is really about the stairs and the wall and the flow of the image from right to left consolidates this. I have processed this photo to create plenty of form and detail in the shadows and to emphasise the brickwork which is bright in the winter sun.

Fig. 3 Southsea Fort Lighthouse - 1/100 at f/9, ISO 140. 24-70mm at 24mm

Fig. 4 Southsea Fort Lighthouse – 1/100 at f/9, ISO 140. 24-70mm at 24mm

Having seen fig. 3 as a study about the stairs and the courtyard I wanted to test the role of the lighthouse in this composition so fig. 4 is a square crop of the same image. It has a totally different feel to the image, much more peaceful, a quiet empty courtyard with stairs leading out of it. Fig 3 is more open with the inclusion of the sky and the lighthouse gives us a destination for the stairs.

Fig. 5 Southsea Lighthouse - 1/100 at f/9, ISO 110. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

Fig. 5 Southsea Lighthouse – 1/100 at f/9, ISO 110. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

Fig. 5 is an alternative composition of the same scene. This framing excludes the courtyard and focuses much more attention on the lighthouse as the subject. The curves continue to play an important role and help to create a sense of movement from ground level to the base of the lighthouse.

There is an interesting comparison to be made across the three photos. the curving stair plays the most important role in fig. 4 but I find it an empty composition. I like the peaceful courtyard and the strong shape of the lighthouse in fig. 3 which I think brings balance to the composition with the large empty space counter balancing the strong vertical shape of the lighthouse.  Fig.5. is a more complicated composition and the inclusion of the bell might be a mistake and fall foul of being unnecessary detail plus, in the context of an exercise about curves, the strongest lines are the vertical wall to the right and the implied vertical of the lighthouse.

Fig. 6 Roman Baths - 1/100 at f/9, ISO 1,250. 16-35mm lens at 16mm

Fig. 6 Roman Baths – 1/100 at f/9, ISO 1,250. 16-35mm lens at 16mm

For fig.6. there are tow very distinct curves creating a frame for the building behind the Roman Bath at Bath. I have included this photo because the framing is very distinctive creating an eye shaped view of the building but in trying to bring out the shadows at the top of the frame I have made the image too flat and uninteresting.

Fig. 7 Roman baths - 1/100 at f/9, ISO 1,000. 16 -35mm lens at 16mm

Fig. 7 Roman baths – 1/100 at f/9, ISO 1,000. 16 -35mm lens at 16mm

Another shot in the series, fig. 7, works better and the curve is a softening influence on the composition and balances the line of arches. It would be interesting to re-take this image on a bright sunny day as more distinct reflections of the arches in the bath would add life the image.

Fig. 8 RAMC Memorial - 1/100 at f/4.5, ISO 320. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

Fig. 8 RAMC Memorial – 1/100 at f/4.5, ISO 320. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

In fig. 8 the subject is the statue at the Royal Army Medical Corp Boer War memorial on the top of, the wonderfully named, Gun Hill in Aldershot. I have use the curving lines of the memorial to lead into the statue. In this image the lead lines are graceful which suits the subject.

 

Exercise 17 Diagonals

diagonals

Diagonals, unlike horizontal and vertical lines, are often created by the photographer as the angle of view or camera tilt can convert a line into a diagonal. This gives the photographer greater control over the impact of the horizontal line. All lines in an image will ask the viewer to follow them but a diagonal draws the eye to follow it more rapidly than a horizontal or vertical line and thereby creates a greater sense of movement and speed of movement. For the same reason it is also a stronger directional signpost. It is therefore a more dynamic and less stable line than a vertical or a horizontal.

In exercise 17 I looked for a variety of diagonals to test the way they worked in an image.

Fig. 1 Breakwater - 1/100 at f/13, ISO 110. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

Fig. 1 Breakwater – 1/100 at f/13, ISO 110. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

In fig. 1 the series of converging diagonals lead the eye quickly to the fort in the distance. This shows the power of the diagonal as a leading line but also shows how parallel diagonals photographed to create perspective converge and draw the eye deeper and faster into the photo and increase the dynamic effect.

We understand that the eye reads a photograph from left to right so the shoreline is well positioned just above the the lower left corner and pointing towards the upper right. Although the fort is not in itself an especially interesting subject  it provides a focal point. If there is no focal point the converging parallels potentially need to extend to infinity so that the distance and depth become the subject, otherwise I felt there needed to be something for the lines to lead me to.

Fig. 2 Eyes Right - 1/100 at f/10, ISO 2,000. 70-300mm lens at 75mm

Fig. 2 Eyes Right – 1/100 at f/10, ISO 2,000. 70-300mm lens at 75mm

Fig. 2 is less dynamic, the perspective is much shorter so convergence is less significant. The main diagonal is created by the matching items on the Gurhkas’ uniforms and all lead us in the direction of the march. Because we cannot see either end of the lines we are left to imagine the length of the column which I think adds some interest to the photo. It is a softer use of lines, our eyes move along the column and there is a strong sense of movement but not rapid movement. There are also a lot of verticals formed by the soldiers’ bodies so there is a sense of stability as well. I find this image interesting because the composition underlines what the viewer already knows, they are marching and moving, they are soldiers so we might already see stable, solid, reliable and organised how ever they were photographed.

Fig. 3 Southsea Fort Lighthouse - 1/400 at f/9, ISO 100. 24-70mm lens at 35mm

Fig. 3 Southsea Fort Lighthouse – 1/400 at f/9, ISO 100. 24-70mm lens at 35mm

In the photograph of the lighthouse on the Tudor fort at Southsea in fig. 3 there are three lines or groups of lines and each appears to influence the image differently. The strong silhouetted lines from left to right are very powerful and lead us quickly into the lighthouse. There is a weaker and less angled pair of diagonals running from right to left and meeting at the same point but they catch the eye because they are brighter. Finally the two sides of the lighthouse converge to give a sense of height. Because the convergence is not dramatic we know that the lighthouse is not especially tall so these lines have acted as a measure. The rule of thirds is also in play so everything draws us to the lighthouse as the subject and then up the lighthouse to the green top.

Fig. 4 Southsea Fort Lighthouse - 1/400 at f/9, ISO 100. 24-70mm lens at 35mm

Fig. 4 Southsea Fort Lighthouse – 1/400 at f/9, ISO 100. 24-70mm lens at 35mm

I processed the lighthouse in black and white as shown in fig. 4 to test whether I reacted any differently to the two versions. The monochrome version is more graphic in design and seems to be as much about different and strong shapes as it is about the lighthouse but I found it difficult to find a tonal balance that gave me the strong whites that are such a feature in the colour version. I had to use a mid-tone grey for the sky to allow the lighthouse to stand out. I find the colour version a more pleasing design.

Fig. 5 Old House in Aldershot - 1/100 at f/8, ISO 110. 50mm prime lens.

Fig. 5 Old House in Aldershot – 1/100 at f/8, ISO 110. 50mm prime lens.

In fig. 5 I found a subject where there are opposing diagonals mixed with verticals and horizontals. The dynamics of multiple diagonals can become chaotic but clearly this does not happen when they point towards a single and central point. I wanted to bring out the sadly, dilapidated state of the building and have therefore intentionally left the image with quite a dark feel to it. I have used shadow and highlight adjustment to bring out the structure of the door. My interpretation of the role of the diagonals in this image is that they create a frame for the passerby, lead us to the door of the building and divide the frame between the man and the building.

Fig. 6 Old House in Aldershot - 1/100 at f/8, ISO 160. 50mm prime lens.

Fig. 6 Old House in Aldershot – 1/100 at f/8, ISO 160. 50mm prime lens.

In fig. 6 there is no passerby and I have used a portrait crop to bring in more of the building. the diagonals are less prominent and it seems a generally to be a much less dynamic image.

Fig. 7 Winchester Cathedral - 1/80 at f/14, ISO 25,600. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

Fig. 7 Winchester Cathedral – 1/80 at f/14, ISO 25,600. 24-70mm lens at 24mm

The columns in Winchester Cathedral provided an ideal subject to show the power of converging diagonals to create a sense of height and scale. The use of a wide angle lens and a deep DoF exaggerates the scale of the columns in both breadth and height. The small section of roof gives the viewer a point of reference for the height of the column and tells us that we are looking up.

Fig. 8 Boris Bikes - 1/125 at f8, ISO 560. 24-70mm lens at 58mm

Fig. 8 Boris Bikes – 1/125 at f8, ISO 560. 24-70mm lens at 58mm

I took this photo of Boris Bikes in London last year but wanted to include it as fig. 8 because I think it is a photo of a diagonal or of converging diagonals.  Rather than the lines leading us to another subject the line of bikes is the subject.

Assignment 1 Contrasts

The first assignment asks for eight pairs of images that express the extremes of different qualities and one that demonstrates contrast in one picture. We are told not to lose sight of the fact that we are aiming to produce 17 interesting images.

My original thought was to create 17 images around a single theme but this quickly proved to be too restrictive so I aimed for pairs that complimented and related to each other. I wanted each image to have value in its own right but to work better because it was part of a pair.

It is quite clear that the assignment is asking for images to be conceptualised and then sought out and captured. This in itself is a lesson in how large a gap exists between the idea and the end result at this stage in the course but it made the assignment challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

Contrast in a Single Image – Black and White

Fig 1 - The Dark Angel - 1/100 at f/9, ISO 100, 105mm prime lens

Black and White – The Dark Angel – 1/100 at f/9, ISO 100, 105mm prime lens

The Victorian section of the Aldershot Military Cemetery is a place of decaying grave markers, monuments from a time of great certainty where, even in death, the rulers of Empire expressed a black and white view of their place in this world and the next. Rudyard Kipling, a man of his time, wrote:

“Blesséd be the English and all they make or do.

Curséd be the Hereticks who doubt that this is true!”

I liked the contrast of the discoloured and nearly black angel against the statue of Christ in the background that is still predominantly white. There is an irony that time and weather is slowly creating a black angel where once a whiter angel stood and will, in time, do the same to the statue of Christ.

Rather than using the, perhaps, more obvious choice of processing in black and white I made the decision to present this as a colour image which better captured the light in the trees and made the angel more distinct against the background. The intent is to move from dark to light, from black to white.

I wanted to capture the Gothic feel of this statue and of the graveyard in general and have therefore processed the image leaving the angel quite dark. I chose a tight frame to capture the upper third of the statue to focus on her sad face and selected an angle that encloses Christ in the triangular space created by her wing.

HIgh and Low

Fig 2. High - 1/100 at f/3.2, ISO 100, 24 to 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

High – The Standing Tower – 1/100 at f/3.2, ISO 100, 24 to 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

Fig 2. Low - 1/100 at f/3.2, ISO 100, 24 to 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

Low – The Fallen Tower – 1/100 at f/3.2, ISO 100, 24 to 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to capture high and low. I was helping at Sarum Academy in Salisbury on the day the old tower was scheduled to be demolished and spent the late afternoon waiting for the digger to prepare the site by raising the rubble platform to a suitable height. For the final sequence I chose a low angle to maximise the sense of height. 

In high the last part of the old Sarum Academy is about to fall, the mechanical digger has just touched the tower and the first pieces of debris are falling. The tower has been a been a local landmark for decades, placed as it was, on a hill above the largest housing estate in Salisbury. The staff and pupils saw this as an important moment in their history as one of the last remnants of the run-down old school made way for the new academy.

In “low” the tower is falling. A cloud of dust is rising and the bricks are tumbling towards the camera. It is a symbolic moment in the politics of education, an old school brought low by the development of an ambitious new academy.

Earlier in the afternoon there had been sunlight on the site and the tower was lit by a warm evening light but by the time they were ready to bring down the tower the site was mostly in shadow. For these images to work the tower and the machine had to be isolated and stand out so I used a touch of HDR toning in Photoshop to sharpen the contrast and the outlines of the bricks and then created a mask to leave the machine in colour which I then de-saturated to avoid too great a contrast.

I am pleased by the sharply defined bricks, the choice of mixing black and white with colour and the overall composition but a little disappointed that the cloud of dust raised in low makes the sky look quite different to high without it being obvious as to why. Overall I like the fact these images capture a piece of local history.

Light and Dark

Light - 1/80 at f/14, ISO 6400, 16 to 35mm lens at 16mm

Light – The Junk Room – 1/80 at f/14, ISO 6400, 16 to 35mm zoom lens at 16mm

For light and dark my idea was based the idea that these terms are often relative. I wanted two subjects with contradictory attributes so that light existed because of dark and that dark was exhibited by the inclusion of light.

The junk room in light is a gloomy corner of the props warehouse at MC Motors but I have endeavoured to focus attention on the light or lights. There are four sources of light, natural light coming from a dusty skylight in the adjoining space to the right, the star, the paper lantern and the small hanging light. Each is a different temperature and therefore a different shade so there is a also a mix of reflected light in play.

Dark Font - 1/20 at f/2.8, ISO 6400, 24 - 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

Dark Font – 1/20 at f/2.8, ISO 6400, 24 – 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

The dark font is in Salisbury Cathedral and, from the right angle, acts as a mirror capturing reflections of the brightly lit wooden bust and other artwork.  I spent a long time waiting for a moment with no one in the frame but then chose this image with two visitors by the bust because they contribute a sense of scale to the image.

Following the idea of dark being relative I needed a subject where the inclusion of light told the viewer that the scene was dark. As modern cameras deal so effectively with poor light, note the ISO of 6,400, we sometimes need to include a bright light to explain that we are in a dark place.  An example of this is regularly seen on televised cricket where the director will show the bright lights in the hospitality boxes to explain how dark it has become in the middle.

Few and Many

Few - 1/125 at f/6.7, ISO 100, 24 - 70mm zoom lens at 40mm

Few Locals – 1/125 at f/6.7, ISO 100, 24 – 70mm zoom lens at 40mm

You can guarantee to find people sitting on the steps of Teramo Cathedral regardless of the weather and I felt this image worked well, for few. Three couples and a single in front of the huge wall sitting on the broad steps.  I like the balance of the people and of the linear steps against the high wall. I know that I am drawn to symmetrical images but there is just enough irregularity here to make the composition work.

Teramo is a small provincial city on the east coast of Italy in the shadow of the Apennines. Very few tourists ever visit here so the subjects are pretty well guaranteed to be local which explains why, even on a sunny afternoon they are all wearing coats.

Many - 1/200 at f/5.6, ISO 100, 24 - 70mm zoom lens at 65mm

Many Tourists – 1/200 at f/5.6, ISO 100, 24 – 70mm zoom lens at 65mm

The other side of the country in Rome you can equally guarantee people at the Trevi fountain and if the sun is out there will be a crowd. I left a little piece of empty space in the bottom right to give a hint of context and to show that the front row were sitting on a wall.

Few asks the viewer to think about a small number of people and wonder what each little group is doing, they are quite distinct and doing something different. Holding hands, making a phone call, chatting and sitting alone. On the other hand many has so much happening you are asked to view the dynamics of the crowd, people videoing, taking photos above their heads, showing their photos to each other, chatting, just sitting, coming and going, drinking, eating and just looking. A real tourist scene.

The less obvious contrast is that no self respecting Roman will visit the Trevi fountain when the tourists are there. There may be some Italians in the photo but you can reasonably assume no one is a local.

Much and Little

Much Graffiti - 1/125 at f/6.3, ISO 5600, 24 to 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

Much Graffiti – 1/125 at f/6.3, ISO 5600, 24 to 70mm zoom lens at 24mm

The South Bank is famous for its ever changing, fast evolving and constantly replenished graffiti. To such an extent that I considered using this for “continuos” but it was hard to think of a pairing without it becoming too tenuous. Whenever I have reason to be in London I come here as, in the space of a month, the whole place will be refreshed with new street art. Banksy would be sprayed over in a week.

In much this artist was working on a new piece on one of the larger walls. I used a very high ISO rather than flash as I wanted to capture the shabby look, balance and depth is achieved by including the different walls and the big puddle. The fact the artist was hidden beneath a huge hoodie amused me, it is as if being incognito is an essential element of his art despite the fact that nobody cares about who does the graffiti here.

Few Graffiti - 1/125 at f/14., ISO 4000, 16 to 35mm lens at 35mm

Few Graffiti – 1/125 at f/14., ISO 4000, 16 to 35mm lens at 35mm

Is graffiti a noun? Can you say few graffiti ? I’m not sure. To pair with much graffiti I wanted a wall that was worth photographing in it’s own right and that had a small amount of street art. I found it on the other side of London at MC Motors which is where I also found the light junk room in light and dark.

In my day-to-day work, MC Motors is a wedding venue but its main role is as a studio that is hired out for fashion shoots and TV shows. The owners also own the venue for Dragon’s Den and I think somewhere’s next model was filmed here last year. The props are brilliant but it is the decaying paint on many of the walls that makes it so popular with photographers.

I selected this subject because it seemed that, at some point in the past, someone had cared about this strange little painting being here and had tried to remove it which was a further contrast against the South Bank. I framed it right down at the bottom to show as much clean wall as possible with the drawing significant but not dominant.

Camilo José Vergara was part of the inspiration for this pair of images. He clearly sees documenting graffiti as a way of documenting social trends and the fact the authorities leave the South Bank as a live art gallery is, indeed, a sign of the times, quite unthinkable even twenty years ago. The other Vergara influence was to leave the artist’s plastic bag in much. I better understand that this type of untidy detail is a key part of the scene.

Rough and Smooth

Rough Wheel - 1/60 at f/6.3, ISO 100, 24 - 70mm zoom lens at 36mm

Rough Wheels – 1/60 at f/6.3, ISO 100, 24 – 70mm zoom lens at 36mm

As discussed in my research I visited the Milestones Museum at Basingstoke twice in the course of this assignment thinking that there would be a number of industrial images in the final set.

In the end rough wheels is the strongest and the only industrial image to make the cut. I wanted to emphasise the rough surface so used a diffused flash gun on the floor underneath the wheel to throw the light across the surface to create deep shadows and highlights. I took a whole series of photographs but chose this composition because of the balance provided by the cogged wheel and its teeth which provided a second type of rough.

Smooth Discs - 1/60 at f/3.2, ISo 100, 105mm prime lens

Smooth Discs – 1/60 at f/3.2, ISo 100, 105mm prime lens

Because rough wheels was all about texture and lighting I needed a complimentary pairing that relied on the same elements. I chose these DVDs positioned one in front of each other to offer a similar composition. Because smooth discs had to be about texture and light I used a small LED light from the left and a hot-shoe soft box from above and to the right. This has emphasised the smooth surface and all the reflections (or are they refractions?) have changed the look of the subject and hopefully emphasised the smooth surface.

Rough and smooth are tactile characteristics so, without the ability to touch the subject, I had to use light to show  that these were rough and smooth surfaces.

Diagonal and Rounded

Diagonal Arial Dance 1/1600 at f/4.2, ISO 400, 70 - 300mm zoom lens at 70mm

Diagonal Aerial Dance 1/1600 at f/4.2, ISO 400, 70 – 300mm zoom lens at 70mm

Rounded Tumble - 1/4000 at f/4, ISO 250, 70 to 300mm zoom lens at 70mm

Rounded Tumble – 1/4000 at f/4, ISO 250, 70 to 300mm zoom lens at 70mm

These two images are selected from a series taken using a trampoline and an energetic young relative who was happy to try and create the required shapes. A very fast shutter speed was used to freeze the moment. Diagonal has captured her at the top of a leap and in a ballet-like pose. Rounded was a little harder to achieve but the close crop has focussed on her rounded shape while she is in the process of turning round, of becoming rounded.

Moving and Still

Moving Cyclist - 1/125 at f/2.8, ISO 360, 24 to 70mm at 24mm

Moving Cyclist – 1/125 at f/2.8, ISO 360, 24 to 70mm at 24mm

The moving cyclist was captured on the edge of the graffiti zone on the South Bank. Taken whilst in mid-air performing a stunt and into the light with a flash gun to fill in the shadows. The artificial light adds to the sense of frozen action but, for me, the picture is made by the spectator on the left. This was taken with a wide lens but I have cropped to balance the cyclist with the spectator.

Still Skateboarder - 1/100 at f/8, ISO 640, 24 to 70 zoom lens at 35mm

Still Skateboarder – 1/100 at f/8, ISO 640, 24 to 70 zoom lens at 35mm

The still skateboarder was taken in Aldershot. I have left the framing very wide and cropped for width rather than using a 3:2 image to enable me to emphasise the empty bus shelter backed by the white windows and to show him as a isolated and rather lost little figure. His spiderman-like shirt and batman-like hat make him look very out-of-place.

Curved and Straight

Curved Poppies - 1/100 at f36, ISO 2500, 105mm prime lens

Curved Poppies – 1/100 at f36, ISO 2500, 105mm prime lens

I have written up the shoot that led to these Remembrance Day images.

I planned to use poppies for curves and expected to use the wreaths rather than the individual flowers. In the end I liked this near-macro photograph which is a quite abstract representation of the commemorative symbols and full of curves. I wanted there to be strong contrast within the image itself which I feel emphasises the shapes and increases the abstraction.

Straight Poppies - 1/100 at f6.3, iSO 100, 105mm prime lens

Straight Poppies – 1/100 at f6.3, iSO 100, 105mm prime lens

For straight I had planned to use the lines of wreaths on the memorial. However, I watched the wreaths being laid out by three military policemen. They were laid out in reasonably straight lines leading up to the memorial, the intent being that the people laying the wreaths could collect their wreath and place it at the base of the war memorial when they came out of the church service.

This sergeant was not happy with the ‘straight” lines and kept returning to make minor adjustments until he was satisfied that they were parade ground perfect. I felt this act of straightening was an expression of everything he stood for. His military desire for order and neatness, his pride in the job he had been given and the importance he placed on honouring the fallen in a manner that he believed they would understand. Straighten that line soldier!

To end as I began with Kipling:

“You may talk o’ gin and beer / When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere, / An’ you’re sent to penny fights an’ Aldershot it;

Straightening poppies is indeed to “Aldershot it”.