Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Assignment 4 - A sense of place - the final selection

Firstly I was overall very satisfied with the strong selection of images I had been able to produce. These ranged from shots that captured a more 'decisive moment' than I had been able to produce previously, to a couple of shots that were influenced by other photographers. I saw Greenwich as a very rich, diverse borough, with the people within it mirroring this. I tried to capture this variety of both people and place. In the process I tried to show the viewer of the publication some of the character and range of (some well-known and others not so well-known) places with the intention of showing the borough as an enticing place to visit; but in a way that was more complete.

   I have included the shot I was most pleased with technically first (number 7). It was also the shot that I had been heavily influenced by another photographer in my preparation for the assignment. I looked closely (as can be seen in the previous post - Reconnaissance!) at the photographer Thomas Struth. I was most impressed by the expressions on the faces of the people looking at famous art and I think this obviously showed in my image of the Painted Hall as the visitors were all gazing intently upwards at the fascinating art on the walls and ceiling. I was also pleased with the symmetry and sense of size replicated in the photograph of the hall. I managed to show off some of the details of the walls and ceiling behind the visitors as well as capturing their expressions while staring up at the ceiling above.


   The next shot (number 8), which I felt was almost mandatory to include was a photograph of the Cutty Sark. I felt it was mandatory because Greenwich has such a deeply vested history in shipping and obviously the Cutty Sark is the most iconic feature of Greenwich in terms of this history. I tried to photograph it in a slightly different way though. This included photographing it at the time of day of sunset with a moody sky and Canary Wharf catching the last of the light in the distance. I also chose to include a person walking in front to add a sense of scale of the ship as it helped to show how massive it was. I chose to include a working man (wearing a high-visibility jacket) in this image to contrast the usually tourist-filled popular space. This was because it differentiated it from the usual tourist/brochure treatment.


   Third, with (number 9), I wanted to concentrate on another side of Greenwich, which while not as famous as the Cutty Sark, was an aspect of the borough that was refreshingly different. This was namely kite-flying at Blackheath and it required some patience (for a windy day and present kite-flyers) to take. I eventually got an occasion when there was both and managed to capture a shot that was slightly humorous but also more importantly showed a potential peruser of the travel publication a different side to Greenwich.



   I mentioned while I was researching the area for the assignment that I stumbled across some photographic opportunities and this fourth-selected photograph (number 10) is one that I thought was particularly effective. It showed off Greenwich Market from an unconventional viewpoint, namely through a mirror on sale at one of the stalls. I thought it showed off well the vibrancy of the market and it was the kind of oppportunist moment Helen Levitt might have tried to capture (well that was where I got the influence to take the picture from anyway).


   One photograph I could choose easily to be included was a photograph of a girl playing around in one of the fountains on the way to the O2 Arena (number 11). The O2 Arena was obviously visible in the distance and the girl was captured decisively jumping around in the fountain. This was one of my favourite photos as it had clear context (the O2 Arena) and was fun to look at - especially with the low viewpoint emulating the user's (girl's) viewpoint.


   The final photograph (number 12) was at Greenwich Park and offered a view of people relaxing on the brow of a hill in the park overlooking Canary Wharf. It was a sunny day and so the colours were vivid but what I liked most was the way the lying people were placed in a manner that led the eye to the horizon and the view of Canary Wharf. This was (in my eyes) similar to Tina Barney's 'Sunday New York Times' (1982) where the people seemed to be 'placed' conveniently so the eye was led somewhere of importance. In the 'Sunday New York Times' photograph the eye was led to the table containing the Sunday newspaper, whereas in my photograph the people within it (especially those on the left) led the viewer's eye to the horizon. This was, of course, by chance but I thought it corresponded with a statement written about the 'Sunday New York Times' photograph in the book Train Your Gaze by Roswell Rangier (2007): 'Her method is a combination of chance and choreography.' In my photograph the chance factor was the fact I waited until the man on the right walked into a suitable position (in the sunshine and facing the camera) to create a contrast to the people on the left who were in the shade and facing towards the view.

   If I had had more time I would have waited for a more windy day for the Blackheath kite-flying photograph, which might have made a more impressive array of kites being flown and so a better choice of kites from which to photograph or even a wide shot of all of the kites to show how big Blackheath was.

   Another change I would have made would have been to have taken maybe more (or more interesting people) in the Cutty Sark photograph. However I was very pleased with the moody sky and the way the setting sun caught the buildings in the far distance as I had mentioned earlier, which would have been difficult to replace. Also the fact that I didn't end up including what had been I felt a successful technique in using motion blur in some of the exercises leading up to the assignment was a bit of a shame. I know I used it for one of the Greenwich Market shots that I didn't choose for the final selection but maybe the Cutty Sark photograph would have been a candidate for using this technique as well.

   Altogether though, there wasn't much I would change and considering I found it a bit difficult to choose which photos would make the final selection I felt it was a strong group of images for the travel publication.

   If I had been simply taking the photographs with no end-result in mind there would probably have been less variety as the 'intelligent, thoughtful' part of the brief made me think more widely. Also perhaps I would have taken the shots with less context apparent and concentrated more on the people rather than both people and place.

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