Cinemagraphs

A friend of mine showed me an amazing cinemagraphs website a couple of months ago. I was intrigued and really wondered how they did it. Just last week, I was shown how to make a cinemagraph and this is my early version of one.

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Recently I had the opportunity to speak to Getty Images Creative director, Anthony Holland Parkin and he spoke about the importance of the moving image in the photography industry. Nowadays, photographers are required to produce both still images as well as the moving image. There are mixed responses from photographers but quite a few are finding new ways to respond to this new trend. Jonas Bendiksen, Magnum photographer, produced a series of still films at last year’s Brazil World Cup. They are really interesting and well worth a watch! You can view them here.

Colour printing

About ten years ago, I learnt black and white darkroom processing and printing. I recalled that I was so fascinated with the process and one thing I loved was watching the image take shape when the paper gets dunked into the developer.

Today, I learnt about colour printing and am so in love with the process – working in complete darkness, changing the colour make up (cyan, magenta, yellow) and then seeing the result on the other end. There is no orange/red light in the dark room. Any hint of light e.g. mobile phone will fog the paper once exposed. It is as simple as that.

The technicality of developing a print requires a lot of patience and time. Colour print seems to have more variables than black and white. Below is what I produced today – giving colour printing a go (with some additional notes).

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You can even get experimental with your final print i.e. pour bleach over the print and see the different layers of colours being bleached off slowly.

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Stay tune for more updates on how I get on with my colour printing!

Second time round to Conflict, Time, Photography

Ultimately, then, when photographs are uncritically presented as historical documents, they are transformed into aesthetic objects. Accordingly, the pretence to historical understanding remains although that understanding has been replaced by aesthetic experience

(Sekula, 1991, p.123)

The quote above is part of a critical debate about documentary photography and one which we were asked to think about when we went round the Conflict, Time, Photography exhibition at Tate Modern a couple of weeks ago when the class went together.

Yesterday, I visited again, starting from the middle of the exhibition where I finished off last. There were a couple of series of photos that really stood out for me, which have the ‘punctum’. One particular series was Hiromi Tsuchida’s Hiroshima collection 1982-95. He photographed articles from the collection at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 37 years after the event. These photos included text which gave a short description of the object and their owners. The physical photo of which they were printed in the gallery context was slightly bigger than A0 size and were gelatine silver print on paper.

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Hiromi Tsuchida
Hiroshima collection 1982-95

Due to the physical size of the print, I found the jacket image quite powerful as it was about human size printed and the imagination of what happened whilst you read the description is one that gripped me.

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Hiroshima collection 1982-95

In the accompanying text right next to the prints, it described the photos like ‘a form of posthumous portraiture’. For me, the sense of calm of the simple images plays with the direct opposite of the historical event, one which we can only imagine. This really brings us back to the Sekula quote above.

Interesting enough, during my first visit, I chose the following photo, Shadow of a soldier remaining on the wooden wall of the Nagasaki military headquarters (Minami-Yamate macho, 4.5km from Ground Zero) by Matsumoto Eiichi as the photo which had the ‘punctum’. This photo was taken approximately three weeks after the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki.

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The photo affected me personally as what I had initially thought was a shadow were actually caused by the heat of the bomb and as these humans and objects was exposed to the blast, ‘the intensity of the explosion had created ‘burned in’ shadows’. This image as compared to Tsuchida’s Hiroshima collection documents the remains of a Japanese guard in its context. The gelatine silver print on paper image is roughly A4 size (315mm x 207mm) and much smaller compared to Tsuchida’s images. It is very interesting to compare how these images were made at different times after the event and how both of them affected the viewer (i.e. me) differently.

One other series of photos taken 99 years after the event which stood out for me was Shot at Dawn by Chloe Dewe Mathews.

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The images were the locations where WW1 British, French and Belgian soldiers accused of cowardice and desertion on the western front were executed. She ‘took the images at the exact time at which the executions took place and as close as possible to the actual date’. If you looked purely at the images without reading the accompanying text next to the exhibited images, you see a landscape photograph. Once you read the accompanying text which states the names of the people executed there, the time and date of execution and the location, the viewer starts to see more in the image through the ‘evidence’ of the text.

Following the exhibition, I checked out the video where Chloe De Mathews talked about this body of work. She mentioned about the relationship of the text and the image which is like ‘stamping the presence of the person back into the empty landscape’, the point she is trying to make. It is the ‘absence that is glaringly present’.

It is such an interesting exhibition and one where you need time to slowly digest and understand the different approaches the different photographers and artists choose to represent conflict.

Finding inspiration from a painting

I made a trip to the National Portrait Gallery one weekend to check out the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition as well as to select a painting for my mini assignment at Uni. There were a couple of contemporary portraits which I was quite engaged with so I decided to check out more details about each painting/photograph before I chose one.

This painting below (extreme left) is a portrait of Pete Postlethwaite by Christopher Thompson. If you study the light, the sitter is top lit using a single light source.

For my studio shot, I used a long and slimmer softbox which is positioned above and slightly in front of the sitter’s head. Jo’s friend was kind enough to sit for this portrait shot. After I did several shots of him, Jo and Franziska also wanted to sit for that shot so I managed to capture them in the same position.

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It is interesting to see the subtle differences in all three portraits which I shot. What we learnt is that a single light source can create beautiful portraits. If I were to do this again, I would position the sitter further away from the background to make the background darker.

Reflections

Whilst editing my photos after my first encounter with ‘Bohemians4Soho’, I wrote down a list of items which I felt were missing from my first set of photos.
I felt that there was too much focus on what they stand for in my initial set where I shot posters, words and display of their protest. Also, after checking out the shots of Mingyang, it was really interesting to see his other perspective/angle and to assess what I was not covering. I also jotted down questions to ask some of people on the second night.

List of items to shoot:
–  Capture space for context
–  Speak to individuals and take portraits

Questions:
– What kind of outcomes are they hoping to get from the developer?
– How long are they prepared to be squatting at the ex-12 bar for?
– Are they involved in Soho prior to their protest? i.e. if they are local artists, shop owners etc?
– Have they been involved in other protests before?
– Speak to neighbouring shops/ neighbours and ask if they support the protest.

It was a very useful exercise to do and I managed to capture some images which I was happier with. Mingyang and I are hoping to edit and come up with a zine soon! Watch this space!

Bohemians4Soho – not over until it is over.

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I kept refreshing hashtag #Bohemians4Soho on twitter last Monday waiting for updates as the protestors were still occupying the ex-12 bar. The #Bohemians4Soho had a community meeting that evening and “Frank Turner playing at 12 bar at 8pm” came up as a tweet.

When we got down to the venue, there was a buzz. People were walking into the building freely and musicians playing at the front door of the 12 bar. It was quite different compared to what we experienced the day before. Their barricade was pushed to the side, the lights were on and a somewhat lighter atmosphere filled the air.

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The community meeting was held in one of the rooms within 12 bar and it was packed. Phoenix (@pheonixrainbow) was one of the activists leading the discussion in the room. On the other side, Dan was being interviewed and 12 bar seemed alive again on a Monday night. A few familiar faces like Mortecai played a big part in the discussions and there were several new faces who were keen to help out on the #savesoho front.

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Mortecai

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Danny, after encouraging the crowd to go on social media to tweet #savetinpanalley

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Pheonix being filmed

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The donation box being passed around to help the squatters

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The night ended with Frank Turner playing and I overheard a woman ranting outside the crowded room going on about how it was “just f****** hipsters here to watch some famous musician and none of them cared about their cause…”

It was a matter of time before the riot police kicked the occupiers out and last Friday, it happened.

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The day started out at the National Portrait Gallery, partly for a small university assignment as well as checking out the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition. After our visit, Ming Yang and I walked about to try and photograph anything that caught our eye.

Nothing quite happened until after lunch when we walked down Denmark Street in Soho. It was a chance encounter at the front of the ex-12 bar and one of the guys, Dan from #Bohemians4Soho came up to say hi and we started chatting about what they were up to. Mordecai, another activist from the group told us about their protest against the gentrification of Soho by the big corporation, Consolidated Development, the owner of the building. Apparently, they have been squatting in the building for about two weeks. There is a Bohemians Manifesto online which tells you about what they stand for.

The group was kind enough to allow us into the Grade II listed building to check it out. Musicians have been invited to play once again in the venue. You can check out some of their videos here and on twitter, check out hashtags #Bohemians4Soho, #SaveDenmarkStreet, #SaveTinPanAlley and #SaveSoho.

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If you have been passing by Tottenham Court Road station, you would have noticed the massive changes around the area.

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Guardian’s report about the protest here.

A trip to Ridley Road Market

About a week ago, university life started again for me. This time in London. The last time I saw the back of university, it was in Adelaide, Australia and almost a decade ago.

For those who do not know, I am studying a postgraduate diploma in photography portfolio development at London College of Communication. Towards the end of 2014, I decided that I was going to spend the new year trying to build a body of work for my portfolio. The choice was between doing it independently whilst having a full-time job or to head to university with a structured outline. There was a lot of back and forth before I came to my conclusion and it was not easy.

I hope that you will continue to follow me on my journey in photography and as part of my university work, my tutor has decided that I should keep this wordpress blog to document my progress. Meanwhile, I will continue to create more images and redevelop my website in the background.

Over the weekend, I decided to organise a photowalk for my fellow classmates to Ridley Road Market followed by a visit to Doomed Gallery to check out ‘New Japanese Photography’. It was a fun day getting to know everyone a little bit better and showing some of the international classmates a new part of London where they have not visited.

Here are some of my images from the day. Tried a couple of times to get portraits of some vendors but was not successful. However, I managed to find a stand where they were selling curtains and decided to hang around to wait for an opportunity. I took about 16 shots, moving around the stand and managed to capture the last one which was my favourite of the day. What do you think?

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Image of the day
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A wedding on the Greek Island of Folegandros

Whenever there is a wedding on the Greek island, it brings such joy and celebration. The whole town gathers in the Chora and joins in the celebration, enjoying the music and dancing until sunrise. Folegandros was somewhere we considered having our wedding but reality got the better of us. This island is just so extraordinary and we were lucky enough to witness this wedding during our stay there this year.

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