Archive for the Assignment 4 Category

Assignment 4

Posted in Assignment 4 on December 15, 2010 by Judy Bach

Ready to post Assignment 4 .

After much deliberation my assignment photos and written work are finally ready to post. I have had reservations about whether to submit this or start all over again.  However on reflection I realise that as I had carefully  planned how I was going to tackle the assignment I needed to have  confidence with my ideas and if I have made mistakes I can learn and reflect on these. Working to a particular order is constrictive and can show a biased or unbiased view of the world, this is entirely dependant on the individual photographer. However what is so exciting about photography that no two people given the same assignment will produce the same body of work. I am prepared if necessary to redo the assignment again if Robert feels I have completely messed things up. I hope not though, in the real world of photo assignments this is not an option!

The place I have chosen for my assignment is the small section of Mounts Bay facing St Michael’s Mount. Against the backdrop of one of Britain’s most picturesque settings daily life passes by. Even at the height of the tourist season Marazion’s  beach area becomes much quieter later in the day. The area has an air of slowness about it with no hustle and bustle. I find the place quite unique ,  a place for reflection and contemplation. I wanted to capture the everyday pace of life here, the unhurried, and often solitary, activities of the local people .

My great-  great grandparents, great grandparents, grandparents, and father were all born and raised in Marazion, Cornwall. I have no living family left there now and was brought up in the Midlands. However I often return there to visit and feel an affinity with the place, I love photographing there. I had some concerns prior to starting the assignment. Could I be objective enough? Would my love of the place affect how, and what, I chose to photograph? Places change throughout the seasons and to get to know the essence of an area  you need to keep returning,  or live there. I  visited three times this year, but more frequent trips would have created greater opportunities to observe, and photograph, local life. The area is largely reliant on tourism, being much busier during the summer months .This assignment is specifically not about tourism, therefore I really needed to think carefully how to photograph my chosen place to try and show  what it means, and how it is used, by those who live and work there.

Whittling the  assignment down to just 6 photographs forced me to be really selective when choosing not only what  to capture in an attempt to demonstrate what I see as the essential character of Mounts Bay, but to also try and show  the inhabitants in an unbiased way .Furthermore for  these few images to be cohesive I felt there needed to be a connection between them. The sea  provides both work and leisure for the people of Marazion and this is what I feel creates the link.

I have found the assignment especially difficult, possibly I  made it even harder for myself by choosing such a restricted area, but this also gave me a challenge:  to try and show a very limited area with visual variety.

I have used  muted tones for most of my images. I usually like bold saturated images but following advice from my tutor Robert re oversaturation I have purposefully chosen softer, quieter, hues. Additionally I feel these help convey the mood I am trying to demonstrate, the sense of tranquillity and  solitude that exist here. Getting inspiration from Joel Meyerowitz I have tried to use the setting and light  to my advantage to imply the mood of each image .” The coast , people on the beach, and objects in the shadows are among his preferred subjects——-Waiting for dusk or “bad” weather also allows him to perceive the intrinsic value of colours, their “noise” ready filtered” pg 172 Icons Of Photography The 20th Century Prestel Publishing Ltd London 2005

Deadpan photography is used to portray people or place with neutrality, an individual photographers’ thoughts or feelings about their chosen subject are unreadable. I have briefly discussed my thoughts about this in my journal but feel I need to expand on this as I still find the concept difficult to understand completely. As a photographer, I alone, choose where, and what ,I will or will not , include in the frame. Focal length, viewpoint , and lighting all influence the final photograph and help create the image I personally  visualise  . My assignment does not show the town or buildings of Marazion behind Mount’s Bay beach,  but simply the bay area facing towards the mount. Therefore my images represent only a very limited area, but still an area used by the local people on a daily basis .

Does this make my assignment about Mount’s Bay more subjective than objective, does it need to be one or the other? Do my photographs only show this area as existing how I see it? I believe its a combination of both, furthermore deadpan photography may be uninfluenced by individual preferences but by capturing  “scenes from a precise angle—–acknowledges the fact that certain angles make the photographer’s perspective (or experience) more evident to the viewer, and others less so.” pgs 98-99, Chapter 3 , Deadpan ,The photograph as contemporary art. Charlotte Cotton,  new edition, Thames & Hudson, London 2009.

I hope I have not made a big mistake by how I have chosen to show Mount’s Bay, and have managed to show in these 6 photographs a  small sense of the place and  the character of the inhabitants. I originally planned to concentrate on the larger West Penwith area, which would have allowed me more scope. However I found the constriction I placed on myself, along with the restriction of choosing just 6 final images a challenging test, interestingly this also helped me to concentrate on the assignment brief. I did have reservations about submitting these pictures and e-mailed Robert to say I would be retaking the whole assignment again as I really felt I had totally approached the assignment the wrong way. However on reflection I realised that as I had carefully  planned how I was going to tackle the assignment I had to have  confidence in my ideas and if I had made mistakes I could learn and reflect on these. Working to a particular order is constrictive and can show a biased or unbiased view of the world, this is entirely dependant on the individual photographer. However this is what is so exciting about photography, no two people given the same assignment will produce the same body of work.

Link to set on Flickr


F7.1       1/1000         ISO 400       @ 70mm         Cloudy  WB

Mid afternoon October.Out of season the local boat men, who ferry passengers to and from the Mount,  spend much of their time watching, and waiting, for customers. This is their livelihood, they are dependant on the seasons, and the weather.Trade was slow the day I took this image, it is a quiet time of year. Additionally the weather was dull and drizzly with a flat grey sky ,exposing correctly in this type of light can be quite tricky . The lighting creates quite a flat composition with no visual drama, but I feel it helps convey the mood of the man as he watches and waits for his next passenger.  Quite possible there will be no more custom that day, he can only stand and stare out towards the viewer. The only significant colour in the frame is the boatman and his boat, which helps draw the eye towards them, an anonymous ferryman , only recognisable by his clothing and the Cornish flag on his craft. I kept the boat small and reasonable low in the frame, I wanted the expanse of sea and the area of Penzance behind the boatman to dwarf him, he is insignificant , nature dominates and dictates this man’s day. I took other pictures that day of him,  varying the composition and changing the balance in the frame, but felt on reflection this image worked the best. The time of year helped as the boatmen are kept busy during the summer season, I wanted to show another aspect of their working day, the slowness and solitude it can entail.

 Gone Fishing

F5.6            1/500                ISO 200                 @ 70mm             Daylight   WB

June , early evening after a cloudless hot summer day with blue skies.A more preferable times to shoot during the summer, the midday light can be harsh, creating unwanted shadows.I noticed this man fishing from the rocks close to the sea edge as I walked along the beach. I just loved his face and the character in it, he has a weathered look a lot of the local men have.  I knew I wanted a closer rather than distant view of him, and although I had a 70-200 lens on my camera and could have taken his portrait from a distance I really wanted to engage with him. I approached him and asked if he minded me taking his photograph, he was rather surprised but agreed as he turned to face at me. I took just 2 shots, the second being the better as he made direct eye contact with me and gave me that charming smile! He returned to his fishing, how I wish I had been able to keep taking a series of shots to give me more time to compose better in the frame. Deadpan images are undistorted by emotion or personal bias, the photographers personal feelings about their subject are unreadable, they are impartial and non-judgemental . I engaged with my subject and got the direct but friendly eye contact I wanted, I consciously chose how to frame therefore I feel this a subjective portrait of a person  previously unknown to me. But after reading “The subject’s reaction to what is happening which includes their resistance, their ambivalence  about this brief break in their routine , becomes the portrayed ‘fact’. We guess—-what it was in a person’s demeanour that intrigued the photographer” pg108  Charlotte Cotton,  “The photograph as contemporary art ” ,  new edition, Thames & Hudson, London 2009,   does make me consider the possibility the man I photographed influenced his portrayal more than I considered.

Mount’s Bay rowing team.

F7       1/500              ISO 200           @ 200mm          Shade WB

June, early evening.Mount’s bay boating club is based in Marazion and the members can often be seen practicing in the bay. The longer focal length isolates the rowers in the frame, I took 3 shots , this closer framed image and two wider views, but preferred this one the most. As I have chosen a rather restricted location for my assignment the name visible on the side of the boat provides a vital visual clue to the place my subjects inhabit.

Time and Tide

F8             1/500             ISO 800         @ 70mm           Shade  WB

October at 5.30pm the light was soft  and low with the sunset due at 6.20pm but still bright enough to shoot hand held with a higher ISO. The light enabled me to capture the reflections of the surfers that help make this my favourite image of the six submitted for the assignment.A major consideration when choosing this area for my assignment was trying to choose what, and how , to photograph in a non tourist way. Surfing is a way of life for many of the young (and not so young) inhabitants of the area, this is how they  use the bay, therefore I feel justified in including at least one image of the local surfers. I took quite a few frames of them as they walked in and out of the sea but this was the best shot of the day.  I  cropped the image slightly post shutter to place my surfers nearer  the edge of the frame and add emphasis on the empty space around them .  Any individuality is lost but their presence displays just one of the varied ways this place is used.

Rush hour

F 11          1/4 seconds           ISO 400                @ 17mm          Shade  WB

Altered in Lightroom increasing  exposure and adjusting the tonal scale using the Tone curve control, exported  to PS as a 16 bit Tiff file to adjust Levels, brightness and contrast, then finally sharpened and printed.October, early evening.I placed my tripod above the beach area and took bracketed shots as the sun gradually went down.  I would not have included the figures in the frame if I had been taking this picture, which is essentially of the area surrounding St Michael’s Mount ,  without an end result in mind.This is as busy as the bay becomes later in the year, and dog walking along the beach, banned during the summer season, becomes permissible.Using motion blur  helps to create a sense of speed and busyness, I decided to subvert this slightly as I wanted to reflect on how this place, so busy during the summer months , is transformed later in the year. The passing figures appear almost dreamlike as they drift across the frame, I hoped to capture a sense of the tranquil atmosphere of the evening as they enjoy some leisure time at their local beach.

The Mount’s Bay Duck

F4            1/2500          ISO 200         @ 22mm               Cloudy WB

Evening, early November.This amphibious vehicle (the Duck) is used to transport essential supplies and staff to and from the Mount. It provides an essential service for those whose livelihoods are dependant on the Mount itself. I stood next to the vehicle to take this photograph as the driver, who seems quite insignificant, prepared for his next journey across the bay.I like the ray of sun leading to the Duck across the bay , I feel it helps create movement around the frame as the eye is caught firstly by the vehicle and then lead further away to take in the expanse of Mount’s bay behind.

The images below are the ones I rejected for the final assignment, the instruction was to capture about 12 good publishable images to choose from.