ASSIGNMENT FIVE: MAKING IT UP

Nicola South        Student number: 514516

SUBMISSION – ASSIGNMENT FIVE

MAKING IT UP

Construct a stand-alone image of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to make a series, elaborating on the same theme.

As the culminating assignment for the course you may wish to draw upon skills learned from Parts One to Four – using various forms of narrative, using yourself as subject matter, telling stories and reading images. The only stipulation is that you produce work that has been controlled and directed by you for a specific purpose. Remember to create a story with a specific context like the artists you’ve looked at in Part Five. This means you need to have an artistic intention, so a good place to start would be to write down some ideas. This could then form the basis for a 300-word introduction to the piece. You may find it helpful to draw storyboards to help you visualise your ideas.

The aim of this assignment is to use props, costume, models, location, lighting, etc. to contribute to the overall meaning of the image. (Use flash/lights if required but available light is fine as long as it is considered.)

If the narrative is to be set in a different era then the elements of the image must reflect this. Also consider the symbolic meanings of objects and try not to be too literal in your approach. For example, don’t automatically use red roses in a love scene but try to be subtle in your ideas to obtain a more true-to-life scenario.

For this final assignment, you should also include an illustrated evaluation of the process you went through to produce your final image(s). Include snapshots of setting up the work and write about how you felt your direction went, how you found the location, props, etc. How did this process affect the final outcome? Write around 1,000 words in total (including your 300-word introduction).

A SUPPER

IMG_7806 LR crop final final db.jpg

Image 14: Exposure 0.4 sec, Aperture f/9, ISO 200, Focal length 18mm.

INTRODUCTION

I have continued a theme that appeared in other Context and Narrative assignments, domestic tension; my reflections on this theme engaged me fully with those assignments. The tableaux that I’m using to express this came to me immediately, as mealtimes are often stressful in our house. Following a spoiled meal I often resolve never again to cook a special meal, thus the title “The Last Supper” came to mind. I researched Da Vinci’s version of painting, along with other’s and thought it would be interesting to borrow some of its visual symbolism, motifs and choreography to add interest and emphasis to my modern tableaux- vivant.

My overall inspiration was Jeff Wall’s realistic set constructions, and subtly dramatic rather than cinematic lighting, to encourage acceptance of “tableau photography as an imaginative blending of fact and fiction, of a subject and its allegorical and psychological significance” (Cotton, 2015 p52). Lottie Davies shares his compositional devices, leading viewers round the story, I resolved to use this; I was also stimulated by her narratives of memories. Tom Hunter’s classically inspired modern scenes encouraged me to continue with my own fabrication of the last supper. The work of Frances Kearney and Hannah Starkey offered me the notion of obscuring faces to increase ambiguity, and Crewdson’s aesthetically pleasing but disquieting work gave me much to strive for.

For this constructed reality I wanted to achieve the look of a fabricated theatre stage, but with a rich seductive aesthetic, despite some disturbing detail. It is a narrative of memories, reshaped and refabricated to the minutest detail, as “What counts for us in the memory…is ultimately not its reference to the ‘objective facts’ of a particular moment but its capacity to act as a founding myth”. (Lottiedavies.com, 2017). The props are the clues to the implied disturbance – the punctum. I want the reader to notice the deliberate way the photograph is set up, and realise their significance.  I hope that it the pictorial narrative in the image provides an ambiguous drama that will also carry some viewers narrative as well as my critique on part of an everyday life.

Link to research in learning log: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/a5-research/ 

References:

Cotton, C. (2015). The photograph as contemporary art. London: Thames & Hudson.

Lottiedavies.com. (2017). Lottie Davies [online] Available at: https://www.lottiedavies.com/PROJECTS/Memories-and-Nightmares/2 [Accessed 24 Jul. 2017].

PROCESS AND EVALUATION

The process:

Subject: A supper, with the context of a tense mealtime. Some motifs, parallels and symbolism borrowed from Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”.

The-Last-Supper use 1.jpg

(Learningtoeat.com, 2017)

the last supper  use 2.jpg

(Artbible.info, 2017)

Location: The dining room striped out and reshaped. I removed extraneous/distracting objects not essential to the meaning of the image. I experimented with different angles to shoot the table; I had originally intended to shoot it front on with the wall running behind and have an empty chair on the camera side of the table (as in Da Vinci’s Last supper), but it was ultimately more aesthetically pleasing  taken from a corner angle with teak door panels as a backdrop. I began with a chair on its side but thought it was too obviously disruptive. I spent ages on setting a pleasing angle for the shoot, eventually shortening the table to compact the three place settings and fill the frame more effectively from the diagonal.

Props: Table and chairs. Settings for a meal: slate mats, napkins, glasses, wine bottle, dipping oil, bread board and knife. The placements of these objects was critical for each place setting. I tried footwear placed by the washbowl, but removed it as it cluttered the scene and wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. I experimented with different places for the dropped napkin, wine bottle and bread, both to layer and lead the viewer’s eye around the image and to balance it.

Symbols: Red wine, bread, spilled salt, washed feet, shawl, trilogy, and shocked reactions.

Actors: Before shooting knowing that I would only have my actor for short bursts, I set up and decided on everything that I could. I took practise shots of what I thought he should do; on involving him I asked him to interpret my ideas as his own but he naturally adopted the pose I had suggested with the addition of holding the wine glass. I had more problems performing myself and then released him whilst I took practise shots of what was effective for my role before continuing with the shoot. I decided to obscure our faces to add ambiguity but ultimately that was only partial.

Lighting: I went for subtle rather than dramatic in keeping with my intention to show a constructed reality. I had some ambient light from one wall which is all windows, though thankfully it was a dull day.  I invested in another Speedlight, a 60 cm softbox and an umbrella and stand. I used the soft box as my key light to light my male actor, and switched between using the other Speedlight on my camera with a diffuser and bouncing it off of the ceiling and reflecting into the umbrella on the stand as a fill light; Pre-shooting I spent a long time experimenting with these, the power and the placement.

Lighting diagram:

lighting 1500.jpg

The shoot: My camera was on a tripod and with a remote timer to trigger the shutter on a timer, giving us time to compose ourselves between shots. I reviewed images between shoots several times and then reshot to improve lighting, or resolve other silly mistakes like leaving my notes on the table. I was limited in the amount of shots I could take with my actor which I found frustrating as my search for perfection increased each time I reviewed the images, whilst his tolerance and cooperation decreased.

Post processing: When reviewing the mages I was conscious not just of the slightly changing positions of the actors, but also any reflections, shadows, and the quality and quantity of light. I didn’t do much post production work on the image I chose, preferring to keep the lighting slightly low and not to mess with the slightly green hue given off the glass table and the walls. I did make some further small adjustments post feedback as detailed in my feedback notes.

Evaluation

It was a new experience directing a scene, and a large proportion of my time was given to the preparation. I was glad that I reviewed images whilst shooting and then adjusting as I continued.

The final outcome was affected most particularly by the one variable that I could not completely control, my actor, and thus I had to settle for less than what I considered was perfect. I did spend a few hours in short burst shooting and had many images to choose from. I guess were I a professional photographer paying an actor I would have had more control over this variable.

These contact images illustrate the process of setting up the shoot and some of the changes that I made before I began:IMG_7726.jpg

References:

Artbible.info. (2017). The Last Supper. [online] Available at: http://www.artbible.info/art/last-supper.html [Accessed 9 Aug. 2017].

Learningtoeat.co. (2017) The last supper [online] Available at: http://www.learningtoeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/The-Last-Supper.jpg [Accessed9 Aug]

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

 

 

 

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ASSIGNMENT 5: MAKING IT UP

Niki South             Student number: 514516

Submission – Assignment 5: Making it up

“The Supper”

TUTOR REPORT: Tutor report OCA Niki South 514516 Ass 5

MY REFLECTIONS ON FORMATIVE FEEDBACK

This feedback was by google hangout followed by a brief report.

I was particularly pleased with my Tutor’s feedback this time by video and then written. He has been a hard task master, constructively critical and technically a perfectionist, which has been very good for me. I felt that I had been on a long journey this course and that my work on this final module pulled together the huge learning that I had been through over the last year.

STRENGTHS HIGHLIGHTED

  • Understanding of symbolism.
  • Understanding of art history and contemporary practice.
  • Extensive research and my learning log.
  • Careful construction of a tableaux, including the direction of the actors.
  • Commitment to learning about off camera lighting. I had initially thought to avoid shooting this assignment inside, as I was nervous about using off camera lighting; I am very glad that I challenged myself, bought new equipment, experimented with it and have opened new exciting doors in my photography.
  • Technical improvements in my photography. I have looked back to my last photographic assignment (assignment 3) after which my development areas were: lighting, being aware of shadows and reflections and how to overcome them, and awareness of colour balance. I am pleased that I have improved on these areas with the photography for this assignment.

AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT

The areas we talked about were for possible post production work although these were suggested as possibles not essentials at all:

  • To eliminate the light switch above my head in the image. How did I not see this myself? Now it has been pointed out it is a huge irritation and distraction and will have to go!
  • I could tone down the right side of the image and the back of the chair slightly, not essential.
  • I could brighten the door a little, not essential.
  • Should I have used less salt? I did wonder this myself, though I also did want it to be obvious.

MY LEARNING POINTS

These I have taken not only from this assignment but from the wisdom shared by my tutor generally and the learning that I want to take onto my next course myself:

  • To continue to tackle challenges head on to broaden and accelerate my learning.
  • To continue my learning with off camera lighting.
  • To remember to look very carefully with another’s eye, especially a technically trained eye to spot weaknesses and areas for correction.
  • Continue to compose with some ambiguity.
  • To read and research broadly and learn from the great photographers.

REWORKING THE ASSIGNMENT

  • Reprocess “The Supper” to eliminate the light switch.
  • To experiment with lightening and toning down small areas of the image. I need to look very carefully at the image again and ultimately determine whether I prefer it aesthetically as it is or with some changes, going through the exercise will be useful even if I decide to leave these areas as they are – After some experimentation for my submission image I brightened the open door side of the image very slightly, to balance the tone across the image.

Link to learning log: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/a5-learning-log/

This mind map summarises the narrative of my brainstorming and planning contained in the learning log.

 Planning brainstorm:

mind map prep final.jpg

 

 

ASSIGNMENT FIVE: MAKING IT UP

Nicola South        Student number: 514516

REFLECTIONS AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

  • I believe the image is well composed and balanced.
  • I have meticulously arranged the props to give visual cues to the narrative.
  • I hope that the image is aesthetically pleasing, I chose the colours of the clothing to contrast with the harmonising colours of the décor.
  • There is clarity through most of the shot.
  • Working with my new lighting kit (soft box, umbrella and multiple speedlights) was a technical learning curve. I was careful to consider reflections and shadows. I was aware of the colour balance and made choices about it post production. I am pleased with what I have achieved, although I am well aware that I have a lot to learn to improve these skills.
  • I believe that the image shows that I have good visual awareness.

 Quality of outcome: 

  • In my choice of theme and the way that I have presented it I have used much learning from this part of the course, in particular my research of relevant photographers.
  • By choosing a theme which has a context in common with other work in Context and Narrative I hope that I have strengthened my message/meaning.
  • I believe I have combined the presentation of a disquieting moment with an aesthetically pleasing image which viewers may linger over.
  • I have used the props and furniture to layering order to lead the viewer around the narrative.
  • My introduction should communicate how I have conceptualised my ideas to the reader.
  • I hope that I have provided links between a contemporary situation and the visual motifs of a classical painting

Demonstration of creativity:

  • I took a personal risk working with this theme.
  • My concept of linking a classical painting with my modern narrative using some of the symbolism was creative.
  • I have blended fact and fiction in a creative way and hope it leaves something to the viewers imagination.
  • I had to be inventive when directing the actors, including myself.
  • I believe that I have shown that my personal voice is emerging.

 Context: 

  • I have researched beyond the coursework and used this research to build my own practice.
  • I have thought critically about the learning points my research has raised.
  • I have moved my learning and research beyond photography to the wider context of classical painting.

ASSIGNMENT FIVE: MAKING IT UP

Nicola South        Student number: 514516

Assignment five

DRAFT

Making it up

Construct a stand-alone image of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to make a series, elaborating on the same theme.

As the culminating assignment for the course you may wish to draw upon skills learned from Parts One to Four – using various forms of narrative, using yourself as subject matter, telling stories and reading images. The only stipulation is that you produce work that has been controlled and directed by you for a specific purpose. Remember to create a story with a specific context like the artists you’ve looked at in Part Five. This means you need to have an artistic intention, so a good place to start would be to write down some ideas. This could then form the basis for a 300-word introduction to the piece. You may find it helpful to draw storyboards to help you visualise your ideas.

The aim of this assignment is to use props, costume, models, location, lighting, etc. to contribute to the overall meaning of the image. (Use flash/lights if required but available light is fine as long as it is considered.)

If the narrative is to be set in a different era then the elements of the image must reflect this. Also consider the symbolic meanings of objects and try not to be too literal in your approach. For example, don’t automatically use red roses in a love scene but try to be subtle in your ideas to obtain a more true-to-life scenario.

For this final assignment, you should also include an illustrated evaluation of the process you went through to produce your final image(s). Include snapshots of setting up the work and write about how you felt your direction went, how you found the location, props, etc. How did this process affect the final outcome? Write around 1,000 words in total (including your 300-word introduction).

A SUPPER

IMG_7806 LR crop 1500.jpg

Image 14: Exposure 0.4 sec, Aperture f/9, ISO 200, Focal length 18mm.

INTRODUCTION

I have continued a theme that appeared in other Context and Narrative assignments, domestic tension; my reflections on this theme engaged me fully with those assignments. The tableaux that I’m using to express this came to me immediately, as mealtimes are often stressful in our house. Following a spoiled meal I often resolve never again to cook a special meal, thus the title “The Last Supper” came to mind. I researched Da Vinci’s version of painting, along with other’s and thought it would be interesting to borrow some of its visual symbolism, motifs and choreography to add interest and emphasis to my modern tableaux- vivant.

My overall inspiration was Jeff Wall’s realistic set constructions, and subtly dramatic rather than cinematic lighting, to encourage acceptance of “tableau photography as an imaginative blending of fact and fiction, of a subject and its allegorical and psychological significance” (Cotton, 2015 p52). Lottie Davies shares his compositional devices, leading viewers round the story, I resolved to use this; I was also stimulated by her narratives of memories. Tom Hunter’s classically inspired modern scenes encouraged me to continue with my own fabrication of the last supper. The work of Frances Kearney and Hannah Starkey offered me the notion of obscuring faces to increase ambiguity, and Crewdson’s aesthetically pleasing but disquieting work gave me much to strive for.

For this constructed reality I wanted to achieve the look of a fabricated theatre stage, but with a rich seductive aesthetic, despite some disturbing detail. It is a narrative of memories, reshaped and refabricated to the minutest detail, as “What counts for us in the memory…is ultimately not its reference to the ‘objective facts’ of a particular moment but its capacity to act as a founding myth”. (Lottiedavies.com, 2017). The props are the clues to the implied disturbance – the punctum. I want the reader to notice the deliberate way the photograph is set up, and realise their significance.  I hope that it the pictorial narrative in the image provides an ambiguous drama that will also carry some viewers narrative as well as my critique on part of an everyday life.

Link to research in learning log: https://nkssite2.wordpress.com/category/a5-research/ 

References:

Cotton, C. (2015). The photograph as contemporary art. London: Thames & Hudson.

Lottiedavies.com. (2017). Lottie Davies [online] Available at: https://www.lottiedavies.com/PROJECTS/Memories-and-Nightmares/2 [Accessed 24 Jul. 2017].

PROCESS AND EVALUATION

The process:

Subject: A supper, with the context of a tense mealtime. Some motifs, parallels and symbolism borrowed from Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”.

The-Last-Supper use 1.jpg

(Learningtoeat.com, 2017)

the last supper  use 2.jpg

(Artbible.info, 2017)

Location: The dining room striped out and reshaped. I removed extraneous/distracting objects not essential to the meaning of the image. I experimented with different angles to shoot the table; I had originally intended to shoot it front on with the wall running behind and have an empty chair on the camera side of the table (as in Da Vinci’s Last supper), but it was ultimately more aesthetically pleasing  taken from a corner angle with teak door panels as a backdrop. I began with a chair on its side but thought it was too obviously disruptive. I spent ages on setting a pleasing angle for the shoot, eventually shortening the table to compact the three place settings and fill the frame more effectively from the diagonal.

Props: Table and chairs. Settings for a meal: slate mats, napkins, glasses, wine bottle, dipping oil, bread board and knife. The placements of these objects was critical for each place setting. I tried footwear placed by the washbowl, but removed it as it cluttered the scene and wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. I tried different places for the dropped napkin, the wine bottle and bread, both to layer and lead the viewer’s eye around the image and to balance it.

Symbols: Red wine, bread, spilled salt, washed feet, shawl, trilogy, and shocked reactions.

Actors: Before shooting knowing that I would only have my actor for short bursts, I set up and decided on everything that I could. In preparation I took practise shots of what I thought he should do. When I involved him I asked him to interpret my ideas as his own but he naturally adopted the pose I had suggested with the addition of holding the wine glass. I had more problems performing myself and had to release him whilst I took practise shots of what was effective for me in my role before continuing with the shoot. I had decided to obscure our faces to add ambiguity but ultimately that was only partial.

Lighting: I went for subtle rather than dramatic in keeping with my intention to show a constructed reality. I had some ambient light from one wall which is all windows, though thankfully it was a dull day.  I invested in another Speedlight, a 60 cm softbox and an umbrella and stand. I used the soft box as my key light to light my male actor, and switched between using the other Speedlight on my camera with a diffuser and bouncing it off of the ceiling and reflecting into the umbrella on the stand as a fill light; Pre-shooting I spent a long time experimenting with these, the power and the placement.

Lighting diagram:

lighting 1500.jpg

The shoot: My camera was on a tripod and with a remote timer to trigger the shutter on a timer, giving us time to compose ourselves between shots. I reviewed images between shoots several times and then reshot to improve lighting, or resolve other silly mistakes like leaving my notes on the table. I was limited in the amount of shots I could take with my actor which I found frustrating as my search for perfection increased each time I reviewed the images, whilst his tolerance and cooperation decreased.

Post processing: When reviewing the mages I was conscious not just of the slightly changing positions of the actors, but also any reflections, shadows, and the quality and quantity of light. I didn’t do much post production work on the image I chose, preferring to keep the lighting slightly low and not to mess with the slightly green hue given off the glass table and the walls.

Evaluation

It was a new experience directing a scene, and a large proportion of my time was given to the preparation. I was glad that I reviewed images whilst shooting and then adjusting as I continued.

The final outcome was affected most particularly by the one variable that I could not completely control, my actor, and thus I had to settle for less than what I considered was perfect. I did spend a few hours in short burst shooting and had many images to choose from. I guess were I a professional photographer paying an actor I would have had more control over this variable.

These contact images illustrate the process of setting up the shoot and some of the changes that I made before I began:IMG_7726.jpg

References:

Artbible.info. (2017). The Last Supper. [online] Available at: http://www.artbible.info/art/last-supper.html [Accessed 9 Aug. 2017].

Learningtoeat.co. (2017) The last supper [online] Available at: http://www.learningtoeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/The-Last-Supper.jpg [Accessed9 Aug]

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

 

 

 

SUBMISSION : Assignment four

Student number 514516     Nicola South

SUBMISSION

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Write an essay of 1,000 words on an image of your choice.

The image can be anything you like, from a famous art photograph to a family snapshot, but please make sure that your chosen image has scope for you to make a rigorous and critical analysis. 

  • If you choose a well-known photograph, take time to research its context – the intentions of the photographer, why it was taken, whether it’s part of a series, etc. Add all this information into your essay to enable you to draw a conclusion from your own interpretation of the facts. 

It’s not enough to write an entirely descriptive or historical account of your chosen image. You must use the facts as a means to draw your own conclusions about what the picture means to you. You may wish to apply what you’ve learned in Part Four regarding translation, interpretation, connotation, signs, punctum, etc., but be sure you get the definitions correct.   

Follow thought associations and other images that relate to the discussion, directly or indirectly. Look at the broader context of the image and its background and specific narrative as well as your personal interpretation of it and what thoughts it triggers for you. Follow these associations in a thoughtful and formal way. Allow yourself to enjoy the process! You may write about personal connections but ensure you express yourself in a formally analytical and reflective manner. 

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

bourke-white_margaret_6_gandhi_india_1946_L_large (1)

Gandhi at the spinning wheel. Margaret Bourke-White (1946) (Gallery M, 2017)

Essay:

Who is the real subject Gandhi or the spinning wheel? 

The photograph was selected as I have a personal connection to it, having visited the exact spot it was photographed twice. This essay will deconstruct the image to uncover its meaning, as well as the intentions of the photographer. Much of the reality of an image can be redefined by a photographer so the truth of it may be “naive and illusory (for though the lens draws the subject, the photographer defines it)” (Szarkowski, 2009:12). It seems that “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled” (Berger, 1972:7), however through analysing the formal contents and their contexts it will be possible to show the invisible meanings hidden within the image and expose whether it is the spinning wheel or Gandhi that is the subject of the photograph.

Translation

The signifiers (material elements) denoted in this photograph are: A spinning wheel, a seated bald or shaven man reading papers wearing a dhoti, floor rugs, a window and white walls. The frame is divided into two areas, the spinning wheel and the figure with the room behind it. The eye is drawn in by the prominently placed spinning wheel and led across diagonally to the top right of the image through the seated person up to the bottom of the window frame. The image is monochrome, grainy with strong contrast, though with a range of tones. The photograph is variously titled Gandhi at “his” spinning wheel or “the” spinning wheel, informing us both of the person’s identity and the foreground object.

Interpretation

So what do these objects connote (mean)? To move to this next level of meaning this it is vital to understand what Barthes terms the studium, the cultural, political and social meaning (Boothroyd, 2015) behind the photograph. There are four main contexts to explore, Gandhi, the spinning wheel, Bourke-White and their relationship to each other.

Gandhi (1869-1948) born in India, trained as a lawyer and developed a personal philosophy of anti-materialism and abstinence, living out his idea of truth force, powerful but non-violent argument (Von Tunzelmann, 2012). “Swaddled in just a shawl and a dhoti, with a long thin arm clutching a long thin staff, Mahatma Gandhi had quickly become the most recognisable symbol of anti-colonial protest” (Keay, 2010:484). He promoted the charka (domestic spinning wheel) as a symbol of penance, self-reliance and non-violence saying “We cannot visualise non-violence in the abstract. So we choose an object which can symbolise for us, the formless” (Gandhi, n,d, cited in: Tribuneindia.com 2017).

The American photographer (1904-1971) began her career photographing industrial architecture with “dramatic use of perspective, light, and shadow on hard-edged industrial shapes, to create photographs that merged fact with the potent language of abstraction” (Johnson et al., 2005:589). She became a renowned journalist for Fortune and Life magazines demonstrating “her singular ability to communicate the intensity of major world events while respecting formal relationships and aesthetic considerations” (Handy et al, 1999:209, cited in: International Center of Photography 2017). She used heavy lighting for industrial subjects which “was obvious in many of her portraits which often looked staged” (Jeffrey et al, 2008:102). Bourke-White photographed Gandhi as part of an assignment covering the prelude to the partition of India.

             Welding-tire-rims-International-Harvester-Chicago-IL-1933             stalin.jpg                      (Monroegallery.com, 2017)                      (Bourke-White, 2017)

The relationship she had with Gandhi is key to unlocking the signified (invisible meaning) in this image. She was described as becoming “a friend to – as well as a close chronicler” (Time, 2017a). She realised “to understand another human being you must gain some insight into the conditions which made him what he is” (Bourke-White, M, 2016:1746). Passionate about machines she notes “some of his opinions I found difficult to reconcile. One was his opposition to industry and scientific agriculture” (Bourke-White, 2016:3715). However she understood that spinning was completely bound up with his identity (Anon, 2017a).

When shooting she had to observe his rules, he disliked bright lights, be silent and learn to spin herself beforehand (Anon, 2017b). She shot unsuccessfully without flash, then her third and last attempt with flashbulb worked “In the end, she came away with an image that became Gandhi’s most enduring representation” (Iconic Photos, 2017), unusually without his staff and shawl. Curiously this image was not used in that May 1946 life article, but in a tribute to him following his assassination (1948) titled “India loses her great soul…a stirring visual eulogy to the man and his ideas” (Time, 2017b).

The context above reveals meaning in the image: the symbolism in the spinning wheel, the tidy room representing cleanliness and order, Gandhi reading newspapers signalling connections with the world, daylight alighting mystically on Gandhi’s head. The punctum that disrupts the rest of the narrative in the photograph is the spinning wheel; “Once we have discovered our punctum we become, irredeemably, active readers of the scene” (Clarke, 1997:32). Gandhi was a cunning man (Keay, 2010), but the vantage point was of Bourke-White’s choosing, “If the photographer could not move his subject, he could move his camera” (Szarkowski, 2009:126). She gave prominence to the spinning wheel, and interestingly a separation from Gandhi. Interpreting these actions enables us to find the signs and overall meaning of this image.

Conclusion

In any image “the primary frame of reference remains the subject of the photograph (although this in itself can be problematic)” (Clarke, 1997:30). Bourke–White herself admitted “only you would come with just that particular mental and emotional experience to perceive the just telling thing for that particular story” (Bourke-White, 1972:1756). We know “the photographer’s way of seeing is reflected in his choice of subject” (Berger, 1972:10); drawing on the visual gestalt- of the picture” (Shore, 2007:110), and the Intertextuality (background), I suggest the Spinning wheel is in fact the primary subject of this image. It is the wheel that provides the personal connection to other elements in the photograph, revealing its meaning. Whether Bourke-White was simply drawn to the industrial shape of the wheel and pursued her natural style by placing the shadow on it to give it dominance, or whether she intended to illuminate its symbolism, only she could tell us. Whichever, the power of this image to me is her photographing of the spinning wheel.

(1035 words)

References: 

Anon, (2017a). [online] Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/margaret-bourke-white-gandhi-spinning-whee [Accessed 4 Jul. 2017].

Anon, (2017b) Influential photographs: Ghandi at his spinning wheel 1946 by Margaret Bourke-White. [online] Available at: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/64710-influential-photographs-gandhi-at-his-spinning-wheel-1946-by-margaret-bourke-white [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Berger, J (1972) Ways of seeing. London. Penguin group.

Boothroyd, S (2015) Context and narrative. Open College of the Arts. Barnsley.

Bourke-White, M. (2016). Portrait of Myself. Kindle edition. San Francisco, UNITED STATES: Lucknow Books.

Bourke-White, M. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White. [Photograph] [online]Foto-post.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: https://foto-post.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/margaret-bourke-white.html [Accessed 4 Jul. 2017].

Clarke, G. (1997). The photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gallery M. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White | Biography. [online] Available at: https://www.gallerym.com/pages/margaret-bourke-white-biography [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Gandhi (n, d) Cited in: Tribuneindia.com. (2017). The Tribune…Sunday Reading. [online] Available at: http://www.tribuneindia.com/1999/99aug15/sunday/head2.htm [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017

Handy et al (1999) Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography. Cited in: International Center of Photography. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White. [online] Available at: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/margaret-bourke-white?all/all/all/all/0 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Iconic Photos. (2017). Gandhi at the Spinning Wheel. [online] Available at: https://iconicphotos.org/2009/05/07/gandhi-at-the-spinning-wheel/ [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

Jeffrey, I. and Kozloff, M. (2008). How to read a photograph. London. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Johnson, W., Rice, M., Williams, C. and Mulligan, T. (2005). A History of photography. Köln [etc.]: Taschen.

Keay, J. (2010). India. London: HarperPress.

Monroegallery.com. (2017). Master Photographers. Black and White Photojournalists. [Photograph] [Online] Available at: http://www.monroegallery.com/photographers/detail/id/1865 [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Shore, S (2007).The nature of photographs. 2nd edition. London. Phaidon

Szarkowski, J. (2009). The photographer’s eye. The Museum of Modern art. New York.

Time.com. (2017a). Gandhi: Quiet Scenes From a Revolutionary Life. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3881206/gandhi-rare-photos-of-the-pioneer-of-nonviolent-civil-disobedience/?iid=sr-link9 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Time.com. (2017b). Gandhi and His Spinning Wheel: The Story Behind an Iconic Photo. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3639043/gandhi-and-his-spinning-wheel-the-story-behind-an-iconic-photo/ [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Von Tunzelmann, A. (2012). Indian summer. The Secret History of the End of an Empire. Kindle edition. UK. Simon & Schuster ltd.

Bibliography

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2156064/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Barthes, R (n,d ) Camera Lucida in: La Grange, A (2013) Basic critical theory for photographers. Uk. Focal Press.

Barthes, R (n,d) Rhetoric of the lmage [online] Available at: https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Barthes-Rhetoric-of-the-image-ex.pdf (Accessed 2 Jiul.2017)

BBC News. (2017a). How Gandhi’s last day was photographed – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-40435892/how-gandhi-s-last-day-was-photographed [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

BBC News. (2017b). Rare pictures of the last 10 years of Gandhi’s life – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-35259671 [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

Bourke-White, M. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White | ND Magazine. [online] Ndmagazine.net. Available at: http://ndmagazine.net/photographer/margaret-bourke-white/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Golden, R. (2013). Masters of photography. London: Goodman.

Nehru, J. and Khilnani, S. (2004). The discovery of India. Penguin Books; London.

Time.com. (2017a). A New Way of Seeing Indian Independence and the Brutal ‘Great Migration’. [online] Available at: http://time.com/4421746/margaret-bourke-white-great-migration/?iid=sr-link4 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017

Time.com. (2017b). See the Classic Cameras Used by LIFE’s First Female Staff Photographer. [online] Available at: http://time.com/4355162/margaret-bourke-white-cameras/ [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Time.com. (2017c). ‘Great Lady With a Camera’: Margaret Bourke-White, American Original. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3735284/great-lady-with-a-camera-margaret-bourke-white-american-original/?iid=sr-link7 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.

 

ASSIGNMENT FOUR: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Nicola South              Student number: 514516

TUTOR REPORT: Tutor report OCA Niki South 514516 Ass 4

MY REFLECTIONS ON FORMATIVE FEEDBACK

STRENGTHS HIGHLIGHTED

  • Extensive research.
  • Powerful analysis.
  • Use of a personal connection.
  • The image chosen for the essay.

AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT

  • Include more on the composition, my thoughts about it.
  • My tutor suggests that I could have mentioned the way the eye is directed to the main subject, and that I should comment on the light hitting Ghandi’s head spiritually; however re-reading my essay confirms that I have written about the way the viewer’s eye is drawn across the image, and described the “daylight alighting mystically on Gandhi’s head”. I think unfortunately he must have missed these comments, although I accept that I may not have been obvious enough about how this directs the eye to Gandhi. I could have been more explicit however about the image following the rule of thirds.

MY LEARNING POINTS

  • Remember to consider and comment on whether and how an image could be improved when analysing and reading a photograph.
  • To use my learning from this part of the course on reading photographs as I go forward.
  • As my tutor suggest to carry on learning from “the greats” to take my own practice forwards.

POST FEEDBACK ACTIONS

  • Reread the essay, to check whether any changes are needed, though my Tutor suggests I should submit it as it is. Having done so I concluded that I should submit as it is, especially as I found that I have covered the composition points he mentions apart from the rule of thirds (I thought to go back and insert this but decided it would be rather obvious!).

Link to learning log: https://wordpress.com/post/nkssite2.wordpress.com/1917

This mind map summarises the narrative of my brainstorming for the image: https://wordpress.com/post/nkssite2.wordpress.com/2079

mind map prep

 

 

 

 

 

Part four: Reading photographs Assignment 4 draft

Student number: 514516      Nicola South

A Picture is worth a thousand words

REFLECTIONS AGAINST ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

  • I spent much time reading around the technical, and semantic terms it was necessary to understand for this assignment- I believe that I understand them and have demonstrated this.
  • I tested my visual awareness and observational skills when learning how to read photographs and when reading my chosen photograph.
  • I would guess that the compositional skill needed in this assignment are in the pulling together all of these thoughts and material in a coherent manner
  • I am sure that I should continue to read widely to broaden my knowledge of these areas
  • It will be very interesting to use these enhanced skills when I visit my next exhibition. I am sure the exhibition notes that I wrote in this part of my coursework would have been much shaper if I’d viewed it before working through this section of the course.

Quality of outcome: 

  • I hope the content is both broad and relevant.
  • I believe I have applied the learning from the exercises and coursework whilst shaping and writing the essay and been discerning in my choice of material.
  • I trust that I have communicated my concepts clearly.

Demonstration of creativity

  • My imagination was needed both when choosing the photograph for the assignment and when reading the photograph, as ultimately there are assumptions to be made.
  • I believe that my interpretation of the photograph was original and unique and this was shaped from thinking laterally around the evidence and being imaginative.
  • I hope that my Personal voice is beginning to show in my analysis of the photograph.

Context:

  • I spent a lot of time researching the background before I began to draft the essay and have published a summary this research on my learning log.
  • I believe that the critical thinking and reflection that I did on this image shows in my analysis of the photograph.
  • I did talk to others about the image, non- photographers which was useful, however it may have also been useful to talk to my peers about my ideas. I have just joined an OCA photography group who meet monthly and this will add to my reflective process.

 

 

 

 

Part Four: Reading photographs Assignment four draft

Student number 514516     Nicola South

DRAFT

Assignment 4

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Write an essay of 1,000 words on an image of your choice.

The image can be anything you like, from a famous art photograph to a family snapshot, but please make sure that your chosen image has scope for you to make a rigorous and critical analysis. 

  • If you choose a well-known photograph, take time to research its context – the intentions of the photographer, why it was taken, whether it’s part of a series, etc. Add all this information into your essay to enable you to draw a conclusion from your own interpretation of the facts. 

It’s not enough to write an entirely descriptive or historical account of your chosen image. You must use the facts as a means to draw your own conclusions about what the picture means to you. You may wish to apply what you’ve learned in Part Four regarding translation, interpretation, connotation, signs, punctum, etc., but be sure you get the definitions correct.   

Follow thought associations and other images that relate to the discussion, directly or indirectly. Look at the broader context of the image and its background and specific narrative as well as your personal interpretation of it and what thoughts it triggers for you. Follow these associations in a thoughtful and formal way. Allow yourself to enjoy the process! You may write about personal connections but ensure you express yourself in a formally analytical and reflective manner. 

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

bourke-white_margaret_6_gandhi_india_1946_L_large (1)

Gandhi at the spinning wheel. Margaret Bourke-White (1946) (Gallery M, 2017)

Essay:

Who is the real subject Gandhi or the spinning wheel? 

The photograph was selected as I have a personal connection to it, having visited the exact spot it was photographed twice. This essay will deconstruct the image to uncover its meaning, as well as the intentions of the photographer. Much of the reality of an image can be redefined by a photographer so the truth of it may be “naive and illusory (for though the lens draws the subject, the photographer defines it)” (Szarkowski, 2009:12). It seems that “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled” (Berger, 1972:7), however through analysing the formal contents and their contexts it will be possible to show the invisible meanings hidden within the image and expose whether it is the spinning wheel or Gandhi that is the subject of the photograph.

Translation

The signifiers (material elements) denoted in this photograph are: A spinning wheel, a seated bald or shaven man reading papers wearing a dhoti, floor rugs, a window and white walls. The frame is divided into two areas, the spinning wheel and the figure with the room behind it. The eye is drawn in by the prominently placed spinning wheel and led across diagonally to the top right of the image through the seated person up to the bottom of the window frame. The image is monochrome, grainy with strong contrast, though with a range of tones. The photograph is variously titled Gandhi at “his” spinning wheel or “the” spinning wheel, informing us both of the person’s identity and the foreground object.

Interpretation

So what do these objects connote (mean)? To move to this next level of meaning this it is vital to understand what Barthes terms the studium, the cultural, political and social meaning (Boothroyd, 2015) behind the photograph. There are four main contexts to explore, Gandhi, the spinning wheel, Bourke-White and their relationship to each other.

Gandhi (1869-1948) born in India, trained as a lawyer and developed a personal philosophy of anti-materialism and abstinence, living out his idea of truth force, powerful but non-violent argument (Von Tunzelmann, 2012). “Swaddled in just a shawl and a dhoti, with a long thin arm clutching a long thin staff, Mahatma Gandhi had quickly become the most recognisable symbol of anti-colonial protest” (Keay, 2010:484). He promoted the charka (domestic spinning wheel) as a symbol of penance, self-reliance and non-violence saying “We cannot visualise non-violence in the abstract. So we choose an object which can symbolise for us, the formless” (Gandhi, n,d, cited in: Tribuneindia.com 2017).

The American photographer (1904-1971) began her career photographing industrial architecture with “dramatic use of perspective, light, and shadow on hard-edged industrial shapes, to create photographs that merged fact with the potent language of abstraction” (Johnson et al., 2005:589). She became a renowned journalist for Fortune and Life magazines demonstrating “her singular ability to communicate the intensity of major world events while respecting formal relationships and aesthetic considerations” (Handy et al, 1999:209, cited in: International Center of Photography 2017). She used heavy lighting for industrial subjects which “was obvious in many of her portraits which often looked staged” (Jeffrey et al, 2008:102). Bourke-White photographed Gandhi as part of an assignment covering the prelude to the partition of India.

             Welding-tire-rims-International-Harvester-Chicago-IL-1933             stalin.jpg                      (Monroegallery.com, 2017)                      (Bourke-White, 2017)

The relationship she had with Gandhi is key to unlocking the signified (invisible meaning) in this image. She was described as becoming “a friend to – as well as a close chronicler” (Time, 2017a). She realised “to understand another human being you must gain some insight into the conditions which made him what he is” (Bourke-White, M, 2016:1746). Passionate about machines she notes “some of his opinions I found difficult to reconcile. One was his opposition to industry and scientific agriculture” (Bourke-White, 2016:3715). However she understood that spinning was completely bound up with his identity (Anon, 2017a).

When shooting she had to observe his rules, he disliked bright lights, be silent and learn to spin herself beforehand (Anon, 2017b). She shot unsuccessfully without flash, then her third and last attempt with flashbulb worked “In the end, she came away with an image that became Gandhi’s most enduring representation” (Iconic Photos, 2017), unusually without his staff and shawl. Curiously this image was not used in that May 1946 life article, but in a tribute to him following his assassination (1948) titled “India loses her great soul…a stirring visual eulogy to the man and his ideas” (Time, 2017b).

The context above reveals meaning in the image: the symbolism in the spinning wheel, the tidy room representing cleanliness and order, Gandhi reading newspapers signalling connections with the world, daylight alighting mystically on Gandhi’s head. The punctum that disrupts the rest of the narrative in the photograph is the spinning wheel; “Once we have discovered our punctum we become, irredeemably, active readers of the scene” (Clarke, 1997:32). Gandhi was a cunning man (Keay, 2010), but the vantage point was of Bourke-White’s choosing, “If the photographer could not move his subject, he could move his camera” (Szarkowski, 2009:126). She gave prominence to the spinning wheel, and interestingly a separation from Gandhi. Interpreting these actions enables us to find the signs and overall meaning of this image.

Conclusion

In any image “the primary frame of reference remains the subject of the photograph (although this in itself can be problematic)” (Clarke, 1997:30). Bourke–White herself admitted “only you would come with just that particular mental and emotional experience to perceive the just telling thing for that particular story” (Bourke-White, 1972:1756). We know “the photographer’s way of seeing is reflected in his choice of subject” (Berger, 1972:10); drawing on the visual gestalt- of the picture” (Shore, 2007:110), and the Intertextuality (background), I suggest the Spinning wheel is in fact the primary subject of this image. It is the wheel that provides the personal connection to other elements in the photograph, revealing its meaning. Whether Bourke-White was simply drawn to the industrial shape of the wheel and pursued her natural style by placing the shadow on it to give it dominance, or whether she intended to illuminate its symbolism, only she could tell us. Whichever, the power of this image to me is her photographing of the spinning wheel.

(1035 words)

References: 

Anon, (2017a). [online] Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/margaret-bourke-white-gandhi-spinning-whee [Accessed 4 Jul. 2017].

Anon, (2017b) Influential photographs: Ghandi at his spinning wheel 1946 by Margaret Bourke-White. [online] Available at: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/64710-influential-photographs-gandhi-at-his-spinning-wheel-1946-by-margaret-bourke-white [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Berger, J (1972) Ways of seeing. London. Penguin group.

Boothroyd, S (2015) Context and narrative. Open College of the Arts. Barnsley.

Bourke-White, M. (2016). Portrait of Myself. Kindle edition. San Francisco, UNITED STATES: Lucknow Books.

Bourke-White, M. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White. [Photograph] [online]Foto-post.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: https://foto-post.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/margaret-bourke-white.html [Accessed 4 Jul. 2017].

Clarke, G. (1997). The photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gallery M. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White | Biography. [online] Available at: https://www.gallerym.com/pages/margaret-bourke-white-biography [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Gandhi (n, d) Cited in: Tribuneindia.com. (2017). The Tribune…Sunday Reading. [online] Available at: http://www.tribuneindia.com/1999/99aug15/sunday/head2.htm [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017

Handy et al (1999) Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography. Cited in: International Center of Photography. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White. [online] Available at: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/margaret-bourke-white?all/all/all/all/0 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Iconic Photos. (2017). Gandhi at the Spinning Wheel. [online] Available at: https://iconicphotos.org/2009/05/07/gandhi-at-the-spinning-wheel/ [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

Jeffrey, I. and Kozloff, M. (2008). How to read a photograph. London. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Johnson, W., Rice, M., Williams, C. and Mulligan, T. (2005). A History of photography. Köln [etc.]: Taschen.

Keay, J. (2010). India. London: HarperPress.

Monroegallery.com. (2017). Master Photographers. Black and White Photojournalists. [Photograph] [Online] Available at: http://www.monroegallery.com/photographers/detail/id/1865 [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Shore, S (2007).The nature of photographs. 2nd edition. London. Phaidon

Szarkowski, J. (2009). The photographer’s eye. The Museum of Modern art. New York.

Time.com. (2017a). Gandhi: Quiet Scenes From a Revolutionary Life. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3881206/gandhi-rare-photos-of-the-pioneer-of-nonviolent-civil-disobedience/?iid=sr-link9 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Time.com. (2017b). Gandhi and His Spinning Wheel: The Story Behind an Iconic Photo. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3639043/gandhi-and-his-spinning-wheel-the-story-behind-an-iconic-photo/ [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Von Tunzelmann, A. (2012). Indian summer. The Secret History of the End of an Empire. Kindle edition. UK. Simon & Schuster ltd.

Bibliography

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2156064/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Barthes, R (n,d ) Camera Lucida in: La Grange, A (2013) Basic critical theory for photographers. Uk. Focal Press.

Barthes, R (n,d) Rhetoric of the lmage [online] Available at: https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Barthes-Rhetoric-of-the-image-ex.pdf (Accessed 2 Jiul.2017)

BBC News. (2017a). How Gandhi’s last day was photographed – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-40435892/how-gandhi-s-last-day-was-photographed [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

BBC News. (2017b). Rare pictures of the last 10 years of Gandhi’s life – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-35259671 [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].

Bourke-White, M. (2017). Margaret Bourke-White | ND Magazine. [online] Ndmagazine.net. Available at: http://ndmagazine.net/photographer/margaret-bourke-white/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Golden, R. (2013). Masters of photography. London: Goodman.

Nehru, J. and Khilnani, S. (2004). The discovery of India. Penguin Books; London.

Time.com. (2017a). A New Way of Seeing Indian Independence and the Brutal ‘Great Migration’. [online] Available at: http://time.com/4421746/margaret-bourke-white-great-migration/?iid=sr-link4 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017

Time.com. (2017b). See the Classic Cameras Used by LIFE’s First Female Staff Photographer. [online] Available at: http://time.com/4355162/margaret-bourke-white-cameras/ [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Time.com. (2017c). ‘Great Lady With a Camera’: Margaret Bourke-White, American Original. [online] Available at: http://time.com/3735284/great-lady-with-a-camera-margaret-bourke-white-american-original/?iid=sr-link7 [Accessed 30 Jun. 2017].

Please note: Any images by other photographers used on this site are accredited and are being used for personal research and educational purposes only.