Tag Archives: Part 5

Exercise 5.3

For this exercise I decided to photograph the journey of my local bus service, called the ‘Amberline’.  It takes a 6.5 mile route between my local pub in a sleepy village and Derby City Centre.  I decided to walk the route, taking a photograph at each and every bus stop along the way.

I selected a 43mm f1.9 prime lens on a full frame body.  This allowed me to travel light and keep to a single focal length for consistency.  The 43mm lens was chosen as it provides a very natural field of view.

The time of year fitted the ‘amber’ theme very well and so I sought to include as many autumn leaves as possible in the shots.  I also toned the images with a warm effect, heightening the autumnal tones / amber theme further and looking like a 1980’s ‘Instamatic’ camera style.  I took time to explore each bus stop looking for interesting facets – some are bent, some shelters have interesting community notices pinned inside them, giant Remembrance Day poppies and laylandii conifers squeezing against the glass in their quest to grow.

The initial image contained an image of a but for context along with the single word ‘Amberline’ as a title in the same font as the bus itself.  Images titles were all taken from the timetable, quoting the minutes past the hour that the bus arrives (it is an hourly service).  The last image shows the gps points for the images plotted on a map.

Starting out in the centre of the city, the route takes us past urban parks and Derby’s industrial centre – Smith’s clocks being world famous at one time.  It is interesting to note the transition into rural countryside before the traces of people begin again in the outlying villages.  But stops now seem less frequent and linked to pubs, churches and doctors’ surgeries, indicating the changing role of the bus service from leisure time, urban work transport, recreation and finally as a rural lifeline for outlying communities.

1_Corporation St 35 mins past the hour

35 mins past the hour


2_St Pauls Church 36 mins past the hour

36 mins past the hour


3_Chester Park 38 mins past the hour

38 mins past the hour


4_Alfreton Rd 38 mins past the hour

38 mins past the hour


5_Haslams Lane 39 mins past the hour

39 mins past the hour


6_Pektron 42 mins past the hour

42 mins past the hour


7_Croft Lane 44 mins past the hour

44 mins past the hour


8_A38 Island 45 mins past the hour

45 mins past the hour


9_Derby Garden Centre 45 mins past the hour

45 mins past the hour


10_Duffield Road 46 mins past the hour

46 mins past the hour


11_Queens Head 47 mins past the hour

47 mins past the hour


12_Morley Lane 48 mins past the hour

48 mins past the hour


13_Alfreton Road Windy Lane 48 mins past the hour

48 mins past the hour


14_Bottle Brook 48 mins past the hour

48 mins past the hour


15_Westley Crescent 48 mins past the hour

48 mins past the hour


16_The Chase (opposite) 49 mins past the hour

49 mins past the hour


17_Armoury Cottage 49 mins past the hour

49 mins past the hour


18_Fox and Hounds 50 mins past the hour

50 mins past the hour


19_Fox and Hounds (opposite) 50 mins past the hour

50 mins past the hour


20_Sunnymeade 51 mins past the hour

51 mins past the hour


21_Coxbench Keepers Cottage 52 mins past the hour

52 mins past the hour


22_Sandy Lane 52 mins past the hour

52 mins past the hour


23_Smalley Mill Road 53 mins past the hour

53 mins past the hour


24_Church St Coach and Horses 53 mins past the hour

53 mins past the hour


25_Horsley Churches (Opposite) 54 mins past the hour

54 mins past the hour


26_Horsley Churches 54 mins past the hour

54 mins past the hour


27_Horsley Road 90 55 mins past the hour

56 mins past the hour


28_Woodhouse Road 56 mins past the hour

56 mins past the hour


29_Hunters Arms 57 mins past the hour

57 mins past the hour


30_Highfield Road 58 mins past the hour

58 mins past the hour


31_Alfred Road 58 mins past the hour

58 mins past the hour


32_Meadow Court 59 mins past the hour

59 mins past the hour


33_Windmill Avenue on the hour

on the hour


34_Arthur Medical Centre 1 min past the hour

1 min past there hour


35_Old Oak Inn 2 mins past the hour

2 mins past the hour


36_Amberline route

route map


Final thought: it was quite easy to feel rather silly and self conscious taking photos of bus stops! But once I’d decided on a clear idea it was easier to be ‘on a mission’ and focus on the job at hand.  Something to think about the next time I feel awkward photographing strangers.

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Research Point 2

As you’ve seen, there are many examples of photography that avoid the use of the human figure in order to communicate truths and stories about humanity. Do your own research into areas you’ve been inspired by in this project; delve deeper into the areas that interest you. Continue to think about how this might inform your own practice. 


As people, we constantly leave imprints on the landscape that betray how we live our lives.  These can be very revealing.  Forensic scientists analyse this in a quest for evidence and to build a profile of a suspect.  Evidence of human activity can therefore say as much about who we are as our facial portrait does.  For example: photographs of the mass graves of war victims, the plans and weoponry used can all reveal more about a despot dictator than any portrait ever could.

While photographs of our actions can reveal a lot about us, so can images of items that we own.  Klepuszowska highlights the importance of mundane items in the lives of others.  Using shallow depth of field and a plain back background, Living Spaces draws attention to these items invoking a sense of isolation for these older people.  Is something we regard as unimportant is suddenly portrayed as very important in the lives of others we feel humbled.  The viewer develops a sense of connection to their plight through this contrast.  For this to work the items must be capable of attracting the empathy of the viewer, not obscure items.

http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/artist-members/penny-klepuszewska/

Accomplished portrait photographers frequently talk of connecting to the real person behind the mask of a smile, aiming to reveal something about their personslity.  While there are many exellent examples where this is true, any single portrait image can only ever hint at one aspect of character, never revealing the full persona,  Alongside detecting character, attitude and demeanor, our actions and possessions say a lot about who we really are.

In On Photography, Sontag points to Irving Penn’s 1975 commissioned portraits of celebrities where he presented images of their cigarette butts.  Speaking about another photographer’s work, Szarkowski commends that so much of someone’s personality can “be coaxed from subject matter <that is> profoundly banal” (Sontag, 1979. p137)


Darren Jones

Darren Jones’ approach is to make a still life out of the things we take away with us on a trip.

72ATimeandaPlaceDarrenJones

http://www.artists2artists.net/photo/darren-jones-a-time-and-a-place-2011-various-elements-variable

Jones’ work raises questions of what is really important in our lives.  Going on a trip is when we have to be ruthless, packing only essentials in order to travel light and adhere to airport baggage limits while still wanting to be comfortable.  Here we can see his priorities condensed, distilled and beautifully arranged.  If someone asked for a list of our most important items how many of us would say toothpaste?

The items have been arranged like flowers or other delicate, precious items, befitting of their relative importance while staying away from home.  It makes for a slightly incongruous arrangement overall.

I’m keen to explore this idea deeper: contents of bags, car gloveboxes, bedside reading choices, crockery, shoes, finger nails and doorways all potentially offer insights into who we really are.


 

André Kertész

Kertész arguably created one of the photographic world’s most iconic still life images with ‘The Folk’ in 1928.

phaidon-55-page-23-1.jpg

Here an everyday eating utensil has been seen in a clean, minimalist way that highlights the pleasing form of the folk while in no way attempting to make an abstract form of it. It is, simply, what it is – readily identifiable as a folk resting against the side of a bowl.  I note that the apparent simplicity of the image belies the effort that went into setting it up, painstakingly arranged so that no shadows overlap confusingly.  Both item and shadow are independendly distiguishable as folk and bowl.

There’s a quiet sadness, in this as well as other work by Kertész, which fascinates me: the bowl is apparently empty; a dark shadow features prominently;  there’s no evidence of a dinner guest at the table.  I read from the Phaidon website that Kertész was a ‘deeply reserved‘ man who ‘often spoke of the lack of close contact with other artists‘.  He had fled twice – from his home in Hungary and then from Paris in the war – so perhaps there was a sense of never being settled in a place called home, entirely at ease.  Is his personal sense of loneliness what we can really see in this image?

http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/articles/2014/august/05/the-melancholy-life-of-the-amazing-andre-kertesz/


 

 

 

 

Reflection Point

Reflection point

• Where does that leave the photographer? As storyteller or history writer?

• Do you tend towards fact or fiction? 

• How could you blend your approach? 

• Where is your departure from wanting/needing to depict reality?

 

Make some notes on these questions in your learning log.

———–
 
The camera can be used to cover a wide specturm of content from story to historical,including a mix of the two.  At one end of the scale the camera can record the past with a degree of reliability – such as Eugene Atget’s portrayals of 19th century Paris. But even here there is selection rather than objectivity – history is said to be written by the victor, so can it ever be reliable?
 
The typologies of the Bechers probably get closest to authentic history due to their objectivity.
 
But the camera is a great storytelling device.  Eggleston and Shore – along with Frank and many others – curated their own images to recreate the story, the narrative, of how they felt everyday life was for people in Memphis or an other US town.  
 
The photographer always records a moment in time, a historical fact captured from that moment on.  Allowing ‘am here now’ to become ‘was there then’ (Barthes) indefinitely. Something that really did exist at a point in history.  But it can be influenced by storytelling before and after pressing the shutter, by arranging, posing, cropping, framing selectively to create a narrative.
 
Im not sure why photography comes against such scrutiny as to whether it provides a true historical account or not.  Historical novels and costume dramas never seem to suffer this and are widely accepted.
 
My personal work often tends towards fact rather than fiction.  But this raises the suggestion of being able to introduce more storytelling in order to expand the scope of areas I can explore.  Assignment 4 was an historical account of the places i frequented as a child, blended with an attempt to tell the story behind Thomas’ poem – and inspire the viewer to create their own story too.
 
The departure point for me is an ethical one of not wanting to deliberately mislead with the camera. Untruths are fine in photographic storytelling as long as people know thats what they are.  But nobody – not even Donald Trump it seems – wants to see ‘fake news’.