Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Thoughts on Assignment 3

Thinking about what I am going to do for the monochrome exercise has been very interesting with my mind jumping from one idea to another. Flicking once more through some of the B&W photography books borrowed has helped. Some have better images in than others, while the bulk of the books themselves seem to be more about the production of the images rather than choosing suitable topics. So many things can successfully be converted into black and white as long as they fulfil the main criteria of being a good image in the first place. Obviously the previous exercises have shown that when considering subjects for black and white conversion you disregard colour, can be aware that you can post process and “abuse” images more in B&W and consider more in the way of form, shape and even abstraction.

 In “Creative Black and White Photography Advanced Camera and Darkroom Techniques” © 2003 Bernhard J Suess Published by Allworth Press, it was interesting to note that “Among all photographers—professional and amateur—black and white accounts for less than 10 percent of the photos that are taken”

A question asked is “How do you know when the shapes and forms in your black and white composition will be effective?” and the answer given is “The best way to pre-visualize the impact of shapes on your photos is to practice separating form and function. In other words, try to forget about the subject matter of your photo as you abstract a composition from the shapes in front of you.......I try to invent humorous stories about the objects. If I can succeed in inventing plausible alternatives, then it is very likely that I can sit back and “cancel out” both this everyday world and my invented alternative.”

Important things to consider....

• The graphic content of the image is clearer without the distraction of colour.
• A great contrast is being presented between darks and lights.
• Shadows play a big role in the image.

Bearing these in mind I think I want to explore the use of light/shadows, reflections, maybe High and Low Key and try and incorporate humour or some kind of “recognition” within the image linking it to a well known phrase or saying. I have seen quite a few images where the comparisons have been texture or pattern and I would like to see if I can steer away from this and play with shadows and light. This is why I think I am leaning towards still life again, where I will have more control over the lighting conditions and composition.

Another book I found very interesting was “Mastering Digital Black and White, A Photographer’s Guide to High Quality Black-and-White Imaging and Printing” Amadou Diallo c 2007 Thomson Course Technology, which opens with a selection of the authors own images. Fine examples of black and white imagery concentrating of form texture,light, pattern and composition.

Within the book Diallo includes interviews with Chester Higgins (photographer) , Paul Roark (fine art photographer specialising in landscapes) Roy Harrington  (photographer and print maker),  Jean Miele (photographer) Alex Forman (photographer), Jeanne Greco (designer) and Philippe Dollo (photographer). I have had a quick look at all their websites and noted those that I think I shall investigate more, for example Chester Higgins has a wide variety of B&W images as does Paul Roark, Philippe Dollo's
New York, the Fragile City has very grainy images all suggesting movement.

His comments with regards to the final portfolio was also interesting; “At its core, the portfolio tells a story to your audience. Like all satisfying stories, this narrative should have an arc that compels the viewer to turn the page. Now that a selection of images has been made, it’s time to look at how they fit together to create a unified whole.” (p332)

Photographers I looked at for inspiration were.....

Carl Kleiner for his humour and different outlook on everyday objects. The way he combines elements and the composition.

Nils Jorgensen again for his humour and amazing timing. Although not still life and not always black and white the way he composes his images to take advantage of the humour is brilliant.

David Chow for simple composition, use of light and plain backgrounds.

and also

Robert Mapplethorpe  whilst most may immediately think of his nudes and controversial S&M imagery Mapplethorpe had a varied portfolio of flower and statuary studies as well as childrens portraiture. Once again his use of light, shadow and composition is amazing whatever his subject.

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