This showed a more gentrified slice of my local area and I felt this was where my decision to make the walk as unbiased as possible (by drawing a circe on a map and walking on the perimeter) was proving valuable because it was quite likely I would inadvertently come across parts of my local area which ranged in terms of social status, or how suburban that part was. It was admittedly near another station (so was good for infrastructure connectivity) but there were still signs of how well-to-do the surrounding parts were. This included broad walkways for pedestrians, flowers and then the more notable cafes and restaurants on the left which for me symbolised a sort of gentrification. Traces of a previous time when it wasn’t as gentrified were evident in the buildings above the cafes/restaurants. I included people in the frame so it depicted the area in use and made it appear as lively as I knew it typically to be from experience.
Camera settings for Photograph 10 – Assignment 5 were:
f/9, 1/400, ISO 100, focal length 24mm. Handheld.
Camera settings for Photograph 10b – Assignment 5 were:
f/13, 10 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 24mm. A tripod and cable release were used
I knew this part of the area to be particularly colourful in terms of character, vitality and also street art so when I found the main attraction of this photograph (the mural on the wall) I was inwardly pleased. By offsetting the mural with a typical for me vibrant resident or passer-by of the area I felt I was able to capture a part of this colourful personality of this part of the area. The mural was incidentally ‘looking down’ on the man as he left the shop which for me added an implied line connecting the two, further strengthening their ties as the mural belonged to the shop he’d just left. The fact he’d just left the shop on the left was evident because of the small, brown paper bag in his hand.
Camera settings for Photograph 9 – Assignment 5 were:
f/9, 1/250s, ISO 100, focal length 24mm. Handheld.
By taking away direct human presence in the scene in the night shot (there was no longer a person walking by), the scene for me lost almost all personality as there was no connection between the mural and person. In addition to this, the more muted colours as a byproduct of it being nighttime and the replacement of lifelike representations of cars in Photograph 9 – Assignment 5 as opposed to light trails (the remnants of cars gone by) in Photograph 9b – Assignment 5, the whole scene appeared much more lonely in my eyes.
Camera settings for Photograph 9b – Assignment 5 were:
f/13, 10 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 24mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
In contrast to the last two photographs where I had looked to the sides of the streets for inspiration and subject matter, in this photograph I discovered a scene actually taking place on the street itself. Two people playing football on the street was the setting and while not unique to this area, it still showed a bit of my local area’s personality where the suburban areas were quite relaxed and vibrant.
Camera settings for Photograph 8 – Assignment 5 were:
f/9, 1/200s, ISO 110, focal length 85mm. Handheld.
The street itself was fairly nondescript with mainly the football players adding some dynamism to the scene but by using a quite long focal length (85mm), I was able to compress the perspective so that the football players and the end of the street with signs were visible, adding some extra interest and depth. Although I felt the street was nondescript in terms of interest for me, it still offered an insight into a typical suburban part of my local area for anyone who was from the outside looking in or for people who were from the area but lived in other, less suburban parts.
Photograph 8b – Assignment 5 partnered Photograph 8 – Assignment 5 by being very similar in composition and framing. However, it took away the direct human presence of the football players and added indirect human presence in the form of the more inconspicuous light trails from cars passing by the road at the end of the street.
Camera settings for Photograph 8b – Assignment 5 were:
f/10, 25 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 85mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
This was a continuation of the idea of looking to the side and the side view included another lane, this one more well kept. There were still signs of wear and untidiness present though with the markings on the black door and the litter beneath respectively so there was a suggestion for me of this still being an ‘Edgelands of suburbia’. Instead of somebody walking up the path I included someone walking by the entrance to the path, looking down the path as if to say ‘I was not aware of such a lane and either way I have no reason to go down there!’ The contrast of the man’s blue clothing with the slight orange of the lane’s pebbles/buildings contrasted nicely and I felt added to this supposition.
Camera settings for Photograph 7 – Assignment 5 were:
f/9, 1/200s, ISO 110, focal length 35mm. Handheld.
The accompanying photograph was even more lacking in obvious human presence apart from two factors. The first was the car’s light trails in the foreground induced from the long exposure caused in turn by the settings required for a night time shot with a smallish aperture and low ISO (to maintain image quality in terms of low amounts of image noise). The second was the presence of a yellow dustbin which stood out quite distinctly in the night time and simultaneously served as a reminder of the landscape’s impermanence; (indirect) human intervention had meant the dustbin now appeared in the landscape and so in the photograph.
Camera settings for Photograph 7b – Assignment 5 were:
f/8, 25 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 35mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
This shot was quite important to me for this assignment because it was the first time I happened to look to the side when I was photographing and looking for inspiration on how to photograph the more banal suburbia areas I was now entering. I noticed there were a fair number of lanes intersecting the actual streets. I also noticed a person walking up one of these lanes and (fortunately) had my camera at the ready to take a shot. Although I didn’t put much consideration into how I was composing the shot, it turned out quite well in my opinion, capturing the man as he walked in these, what I would term, a kind of ‘Edgelands of suburbia’. There was nothing particularly unfriendly about the lane; just that it was quite wild and unkempt so to see someone walking back (apparently from work) along it was quite rare I would imagine. The presence of the skip and the overgrown pathway helped add credence to this crossing-places between actual places or Edgelands scene.
Camera settings for Photograph 6 – Assignment 5 were:
f/8, 1/200s, ISO 1400, focal length 50mm. Handheld.
The night time shot Photograph 6b – Assignment 5 required a couple of factors to make it comparable or even recognisable as as companion to Photograph 6 – Assignment 5. The first factor was of course similar composition and framing but the other, more obscure one was to light the scene in a manner that it was possible to see what existed down the very dark lane at all. My somewhat convenient solution was to trip the security lighting mechanism along the lane and use it to light important features at least along the start of the lane. These features turned out to be the removal of the skip since I had taken the daytime photograph and of course the man’s transient existence in the daytime photograph was no longer evident in the night time scene. The setting therefore showed temporal permanence showing the two photographs were linked iconically but only to the degree that the setting was recognisable; other factors in the landscape had since changed.
Camera settings for Photograph 6b – Assignment 5 were:
f/10, 25 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 24mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
I actually attempted this shot twice (on differing days) because I wasn’t happy with the result of the first photograph. For the first photograph I decided on a long exposure to convey the multitude of people creating a hive of activity in Brockley Market, which I was happy to find, fell along the perimeter of my circle walk. I was happy to find this because I liked the vibrancy of the market I was already familiar with and so wanted to create a photograph reflecting this.
However, I wasn’t entirely sure the first attempt worked for the reasons the angle of view was a bit static – not really conveying the intimacy of the market environment and secondly I thought the long exposure was taken from too low an angle to convey a sense of movement in the people who were quite static anyway.
I decided to reattempt shooting Brockley Market on a different day, with a handheld technique, looking to convey some intimacy and vibrancy to the scene, which I knew it possessed. Shooting handheld allowed me to capture more spontaneously and I didn’t think I lost too much sense of activity in this instance without the long exposure. I decided to get some more of the colour of the market in the frame – namely the fruits and by adopting a lower viewpoint (rather than a higher viewpoint which would have been beneficial for the long exposure), I was able to make the scene more intimate. As well as making it more intimate, by ‘freezing the action’ using a short exposure, i could give a better indication of the kind of people who visited the market because their faces and clothing styles were obvious.
Camera settings for Photograph 5 – Assignment 5 were:
f/13, 1/250s, ISO 280, focal length 35mm. Handheld.
I saw it important to include other market stall tops (just visible above the market-goer’s heads) to show that they were indeed at a market as I didn’t want there just to be people and the foreground only present in the frame because then there would have been less context. To add further context, houses were visible beyond the market stalls which indicated the circle walk was approaching more suburban parts of the area.
The night shot was very deserted and devoid of any people in comparison. The only traces of human use were in the faded car parking lot markings and the car park’s lamps. I focused my attention on the tarmac in the foreground more than the houses in the distance so Photograph 5b – Assignment 5 was in keeping with the framing of Photograph 5 – Assignment 5 but also to better show this contrast in use from one day to a typical night time usage.
Camera settings for Photograph 5b – Assignment 5 were:
f/16, 30 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 35mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
I was aware this train station would fall along the perimeter of my walk and so I waited for the time of day when people would be coming back from work. My reasoning for waiting for this time of day was because I wanted to show the numerous amount of commuters coming home from work I knew exited the station at this time of the day. This I felt would give a physical use value to the station which otherwise would have appeared banal and disused.
In my mind I had an ideal where the commuters would ‘fan out’ of the station onto the exit pathway/car park and onto the main street. However, of course it didn’t turn out like this and I had to improvise! The multitude of people headed to the right of the frame but there were a fair few headed to the left too, however not in sync with the ones on the right. Therefore, I composited three of my (handled) shots on top of each other in Photoshop and used the auto-align feature in Photoshop so the land features were lined up. Then I painted in, on the layer masks of two of the three layers, the people headed left onto the background layer similar to Photograph 2 – Assignment 5. I felt this added to the sense of busyness as the commuters headed back from work. Also I used one layer to paint in the people crossing the bridge on its layer mask so that there was a sense of progression from the bridge to the exit pathway/car park and then onto the street. Lastly, I included some trains barely visible in the centre of the frame so the train station was more recognisable (besides there being the station sign also included in the frame).
I was pleased with the end result, as it conveyed successfully what I had envisaged of the train station being in full use, with people spilling out in multitude from packed trains after a day’s work and then going their separate ways.
Camera settings for Photograph 4 – Assignment 5 were:
3 shots composited, all consisting of the following settings:
f/8, 1/250s, ISO 200, focal length 35mm. Handheld.
Despite becoming very busy during the rush hour I knew the train station photographed to be quite a quiet one the rest of the day and this was none more true than at night/blue hour which is what I tried to portray in Photograph 4b – Assignment 5. This showed the more consistent side to the train station which had an alter-ego that only came out during rush hour. Aesthetically because I shot this photograph while the sky was still (just) blue, there was a nice balance in my eyes between the tranquility of nature represented in the blue and greens of the sky and trees respectively and then the oranges in the foreground of the train station where people would normally be walking had there been any present.
Camera settings for Photograph 4 – Assignment 5 were:
f/16, 30 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 35mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
After commencing the circle walk, this was my first actual place that caught my attention along the way that wasn’t preconceived. I noticed it because of the sheer number of builders on the building site to the left so I took a few shots, taking into the account the fact the builders were quite impermanent features of the landscape; they were there to help scape it and yet their work for the day (and indeed on the site itself) would soon be done and then they wouldn’t be apparent around the site anymore. I let the buildings they were working on dominate the composition in order to make clear the site were the main focus semantically. I left with the intention of rephotographing the same scene at night to show the impermanence of the workers on the site and how the activity of the place changed as there Sun went down.
I liked the colours in this shot; mainly consisting of red and yellow, the yellow in particular of the builders’ vests was reflected in the thin, yellow strips of design work above them on the buildings they were working on. This symbolised for me how they were somehow connected to the building visually as well as semantically, because what they were all working on (above) happened to be the same colour as their vests (below). This was a coincidence but I felt it was a nice addition to the aesthetics of the photograph. The rest of the photograph was mainly red which separated itself from the yellow, showing a divide in the different sorts of activity. The sky and buildings in the distance were mostly blue giving a sense of depth to the photograph.
Camera settings for Photograph 3 – Assignment 5 were:
f/8, 1/250s, ISO 140, focal length 36mm. Handheld.
When I returned to photograph the site at night, there were absolutely no builders there which added the main contrast with the same scene during the day. Also there were no vehicles for construction on the edge of the site so altogether appeared to have no physical use value with only a few car light streaks included along the road in the foreground. This lack of physical use I felt was important – people didn’t necessarily have to be present to make a scene appear active but it helped in this situation because without the workers the buildings and surroundings looked very empty.
Camera settings for Photograph 3b – Assignment 5 were:
f/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 35mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
This photograph was a premeditated shot of an observation I had noticed as I frequently walked by this bus stop in my everyday life around my local area. The observation was quite a complicated one and I was very pleased when the observation materialised as I imagined into a photograph pretty much how I had hoped and envisaged it. As well as this I felt the resulting photograph touched upon a topical subject of everybody using their smartphones excessively, which has in my opinion connotations of people in general from what I experience as being ever more immersed in technology and virtual reality – a topic I was keen to visualise. In order to address this I chose to include as many people as I could manage using their smartphones while waiting for the bus; something I had noticed was quite commonplace as I walked by.
So far as executing the idea went, I utilised a technique similar to Photograph 1 – Assignment 5; choosing the best viewpoint. However, I was trying to convey a different message and so the difference of not having the luxury of a high viewpoint available at my disposal was almost problematic. I had already preconceived that simply taking a single frame of the scene when perhaps a couple of people were using their smartphones at the same time would not suffice so multiple frames composited would be my solution. Because the viewpoint I had to adopt was quite low (just above eye level) and it was the inconvenient coincidence that the traffic was quite busy when it was a time of day where there were the most people using their phones, I had to include a composite frame where there was no traffic in order to keep the scene ‘clear’. This was so the message I was trying to convey was lucid. Then, each time I spotted some at the bus stop using their smartphone and there was a ‘clear’ view without traffic of them using it I would take another frame on my camera fixed solidly to my tripod.
I repeated the process of waiting for a person at the bus stop to use their smartphone while there was no traffic for many frames until I was satisfied I had enough frames whereby there were singular figures at their smartphones spread across the frame. I wanted singular figures at different spatial positions in the frame so that the eventual photograph was easier to put together in Photoshop and seemed more natural. Incidentally, I waited for a day with quite consistent lighting (lightly overcast) so that when I composited the frames, the people using their smartphones blended into the scene for each frame, without appearing unrealistic.
I then began the arduous process of selecting the ‘best’ frames of people using their smartphones at different spatial positions in comparison to their composite partners and blending them in to the final composite using layers with black layer masks. I did this by painting the singular figures in with a white brush on the layer mask until they appeared fully in their actual respective layer. The base layer was the scene with no traffic and each layer on top added a figure. As a side note I included a frame where the scene was empty apart from at the front of the side of a bus on the extreme left of the frame. I then painted this in on a separate layer and layer mask. The reason I included this in the frame was to add context: without it the people would have seemed to have been waiting for nothing and the road would have been completely devoid of traffic.
I was very satisfied with the eventual image because after closer examination the viewer could see quite clearly in my opinion the message I was attempting to get across concerning many people nowadays being ‘glued’ to their smartphones; a trait quite evident in my local area too, which I felt was important to try to include in the project – the time context. This for me could also be observed with the colourful squares of the gym’s exterior behind the people using their smartphones; it appeared quite a modern building. Aesthetically, the squares for me somewhat represented symbolically what the people below were looking at in their smartphones: a more colourful, vivid world than the reality around them; hence the apparent concentrated attention these figures were putting into their portals to the technology world.
Camera settings for Photograph 2 – Assignment 5 were:
Many photographs composited, each consisting of the following settings:
f/10, 1/125s, ISO 640, focal length 44mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
I mentioned this photograph was premeditated and it was inspired in part from reading Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord (1994) – (Originally published in 1967). Here are some notes after reading part of this book, which I found very challenging but also left me very contemplative.
Because we spend so much time immersed in the spectacle, does this mean we are actually fully alive? In other words, surely merely looking at something (the spectacle) is not utilising both body and mind and yet the spectacle takes up a large proportion of modern life for Western culture.
Guy Debord (1967) describes the spectacle as ‘fragmented views of reality’, manifesting themselves in the form of images. These images then interrelate to form a ‘separate pseudo-world’. It would be productive if we could interrelate with these images but it seems they are always separate from reality.
If you accept that the spectacle is indeed separate from the real, it very competently succeeds in creating a centre of unity from the real. I found this quite a sobering thought because the spectacle is such a big culmination of our society; it is sad to observe the centre of unity is separate from uniting society.
Virtual reality is a massive part of society nowadays and images play a major factor in governing how we behave. Because it is so readily available it is very powerful and can overshadow the real world; the pseudo-world mattering more than the real and so images are more important than ever. These images are so powerful that they’ve now become a fact in the real world but one that is never tangible. Ironically though the spectacle is the thing we strive for and yet the thing we already have. The reason this isn’t obvious is because the spectacle is more desirable than the real.
This spectacle being more desirable than reality may seem quite backwards or upside-down and in fact the spectacle is so prevalent it is becoming reality in this upside-down world.
Being intangible as well as the dominant force in today’s society, the spectacle shows how cold and numb the real world is, when its rendition is more desirable than itself.
Debord (1967) suggests: ‘[The spectacle] is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity’ form which I inferred that a paradox is formed where because the spectacle is reciprocally present and with society and society is passive, the spectacle autonomously rules society indefinitely.
Unfortunately I have observed in the landscape (not excluding myself) an overwhelming tendency to use the technology and mass social media so much that we almost rely and feed off it without really realising it. Photograph 2 – Assignment 5 for me typified this trend which had consumed much of modern society nowadays to the point where a whole bus stop of people using their smartphones while apparently waiting for the bus is not surprising.
The main way I now see the spectacle is: the spectacle is the (rose-tinted) carrot on the end of the stick.
The night version of Photograph 2 – Assignment 5 appeared quite similar to its counterpart except for a couple of key differences. Firstly it was evident the time of day was night because of the light streaks created by the lights of the passing vehicles in the foreground as well as there being a few sources of artificial lighting present and the colours were slightly more muted. The second difference was that the people were not in cohesion using their smartphones, several only were at it. There were still a fair few people waiting a bus though and I included another bus in the extreme left of the frame to make it clear the main use value of this scene.
Camera settings for Photograph 2b – Assignment 5 were:
A shorter exposure for the people and bus:
f/4.2, 1/15s, ISO 3200, focal length 42mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
A longer exposure for the cars’ light trails:
f/16, 20 seconds, ISO 100, focal length 42mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
Debord, G. (1994). The society of the spectacle. 2nd ed. New York: Zone Books.
This photograph is a prime example of what I would describe as picking a location I know from experience to be picturesque and photographing it from the viewpoint which best showed it off. Consistent with an observation I’ve found to be prevalent in my photography leading up to this assignment, I had a preconceived notion of what I felt ‘“would give the best view”’ – (Watkins, (1858) In. Encyclopedia Britannica, (2013), similar to Carleton Watkins. I then used my pre-visualisation to decide the most appropriate method for photographing it to show the scene meaningfully. This consisted of a long exposure to show the hive of activity apparent (which incidentally wouldn’t happen any other time of the year), and the moving merry-go-round which in my opinion added to the feeling of vibrancy. I adopted a high viewpoint (by standing on the convenient hill above) in order to show this movement better and so coincidentally the city skyscrapers in the distance became visible, adding context to the photograph.
Camera settings for Photograph 1 – Assignment 5 were:
f/13, 10 seconds, ISO 400, focal length 85mm and a 10 stop neutral density filter. A tripod and cable release were used.
I then returned at night to photograph the same scene with a similar composition to show the impermanence of the setting in the daytime. Here the skyscrapers in the distance including Canary Wharf were much more prominent and vibrant in contrast to the park in the foreground which was mostly shadow. This was again in contrast to the activity in the foreground and middle distance in Photograph 1 – Assignment 5, which were full of life and Canary Wharf and its companioning skyscrapers had remained impassive above in the background.
Camera settings for Photograph 1b – Assignment 5 were:
f/13, 49s, ISO 100, focal length 85mm. A tripod and cable release were used.
Encyclopedia Britannica. (2013). Carleton E. Watkins | American photographer. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Carleton-E-Watkins [Accessed 11 Aug. 2016].