Digital Photography: Weeks 5 to 13

I have been busy studying Digital Photography but have been terrible at continuing to blog my journey. Below is a recap of what I have completed in weeks five to thirteen and the assessments along the way.

Week 5

In week five, we explored how to digital process photographs in Photoshop and using the all-important Camera Raw.

This was quite eye-opening, as I had spent many years modifying jpeg files in Lightroom, without a lot of consideration of quality and the context of the post-processing I was doing!

Learning how to process images properly, make lens corrections and improve the overall expression of the photos was a great experience.

I found that it was still necessary to not manipulate the original photograph beyond recognition. A lot of the creative and technical decisions were made for a reason, and you don’t want to lose them altogether. Post-processing is a powerful tool to enhance the narrative and assists to translate the meaning of the photograph.

Assessment 2: Signs of Life

Three weeks were dedicated to working on assessment 2: Signs of life. Throughout this period, I devoted time to planning, shooting, re-shooting and processing the images. I created a digital workbook to document my process and extracts are included below.

Result: I was pleased with my grade on assessment 2, receiving 93%.

Week 8

In week eight, I journeyed into the world of image analysis. Unlocking the meaning behind images and how the creator has used specific techniques to translate their message.

Image 1: Bed, Tenant Farm House, Hale County, Alabama by Walker Evans, 1935

“In this black and white photograph, we see a bed pictured in a wooden room. The bed is in the corner and slanted towards the side. It’s a simple frame with dirty sheets. Above the bed there is a gun on two hooks, the firearm is upside down. The structure of the room is covered in wood panelling that is crooked and what appears to be a window is covered in different boards.
The black and white compiled with the harsh shadows around the bed create a dark, forboding dynamic. The crooked lines of the timber and the placement of the bed also enhance this with a sense of despair and displacement. The bold shadows around the bed, create an almost surreal image as if the bed is superimposed there.
Before looking up the artist and further information on the photograph itself, I wanted to share some judgements about the context.
By looking at the title and date of the photograph, I know that this photograph was created in the United States in 1935. This was a harsh time and the living conditions in the room, paint a picture of struggle, poverty, isolation and perhaps even death.
Walker Evans (1903-1975) was an American photographer who specialised in documentary photography. His work was heavily influenced by the great depression and of capturing the ordinary life of the people during this time (Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004).
This further context of Evans and his ideology of capturing ordinary life add a new dynamic to the image, especially when viewed with images captured at a similar time. We can assume that this is not staged, that the photograph is raw, in the sense of the life and scene that it depicts, and that this is not an abandoned or isolated room, it is a home lived in, under extremely trying conditions.”

Image 2: Deer (Jessie and the Deer) by Sally Mann, 1984

“In this black and white photograph, we can see the back of a truck with a dead deer and a young girl standing next to it. The girl is wearing what appears to be a Ballet or Tutu dress, is smiling and seems normalised to the scene. In front of the deer is a white bucket, which can be assumed contains blood.

Drawing heavily on the contrast been the darker and lighter tones, the image of the girl is the lightest element which stands out against the deer. You’re drawn to the girl and guided to the presence of the deer, which creates a complex emotional response with a feeling of a loss of innocence with the girl pictured so close to ‘death’. The position of each primary element (girl, deer, truck and bucket) use a rule of thirds to add an essence of balance.

Deer by Sally Mann was part of the series Immediate Family which documented the lives of Mann’s children as they grew. The provocative imagery often depicted her children naked or in peculiar situations (such as the first image of Jessie with gnat bites). Woodward (1992) describes her work revolving around the elements of ‘factual documentary and contrived fiction’.

By examining the context of the photograph and the way Mann photographed her children, there is a broader insight into the work and the series it belongs to. Mann has used confronting imagery of the dead deer and the girl to invoke a strong emotional response. It has a sense of danger because children and hunting are not usually associated in the same scene. It blends in well with her styled use of fiction and documentary to showcase a moment in time which tells a confronting story.”

Week 10

In week ten we looked at the extraordinary world of portraiture by analysis an image and creating our own photographs.

Knox Rocket by Natalie Nowotarski

“Natalie Nowotarski is an Australian photographer inspired by travelling the world and incorporating her love of food and cooking into an extended artistic pallet. Her photographs reflect on her passion for the old, decayed and weathered, showing “what is beautiful, yet ugly, the dark and the light” (Natalie Nowotarski, 2019). Nowotarski has a portfolio that combines portraits, culinary and street photography. In each of these images, you can gauge a sense of her inspiration. There are sharp details and darker exposure techniques which highlight the focal points and translate emotion and meaning.

In Knox Rocket, 2018 (shortlisted for the 2019 National Photographic Portrait Prize) the photograph of a young boy reflects on her statement of youth and lost innocence (National Portrait Gallery, 2019). The child is pictured centrally in the frame and shadows are cast over most of his face. He is shirtless and his hand is resting on the side of his face. His expression is relaxed as if reclining on a lounge or seat. Nowotarski has added depth to this photograph by the use of shadows and sharp focus on the eyes. We see a child, but the darkness that elopes them, adds a sense of uncertainty, which connects to her conceptual design.”

Assessment 3: Past/Present & Future

For the final assessment, I devoted many weeks to the conceptualisation, experimentation, shooting and processing of my images. It was a very personal journey, which required me to evaluate many facets of my life. In the end, I decided to represent my struggles with mental illness. I also created a digital workbook and extracts are included below.

Weeks 11 to 13

Throughout weeks eleven to thirteen, we looked at human-made environments, documentary and landscape photography. Each of these possessing a vital part of photographic practice and the ways imagery can be used to express meaning and present the world around us.

I will be posting a recap of my thoughts for the class when my final grades are in.

References

Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2004. Walker Evans (1903–1975). Retrieved from https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/evan/hd_evan.htm

Woodward, R B. 1992. The Disturbing Photography of Sally Mann. The New York Times, pp. 006029. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/27/magazine/the-disturbing-photography-of-sally-mann.html

National Portrait Gallery. (2019). Knox Rocket – National Photographic Portrait Prize. Retrieved from https://nppp.portrait.gov.au/nppp-finalist/knox-rocket/

Nowotarski, N. (2019). Knox Rocket [Image]. National Photographic Portrait Prize. Retrieved from https://nppp.portrait.gov.au/nppp-finalist/knox-rocket/

Nowotarski, N. (2019). Mysite | About. Retrieved from https://www.natalienowotarski.com/lifetsyle