Monthly Archives: May 2012

Last Orders

prints? check
tape? check
scissors? check
screwdriver? check
ladder? check
measuring tape? check
business cards? check

eeek, hold on, where are my postcards???

Right, we are nearly there, the exhibition will be set up from tomorrow, and I am getting my kit together. While college supplies the little “sundries”, we have to bring the hardware in. And other bits like business cards and postcards in case we want to put those out.

Which reminds me that I should give the postcards a quick airing here. I was a bit late in my order this time round, but made use of the fast track order on Vistaprint. The 7-day-express order was over-punctual and made it to me within 5 days of ordering. As usual, the quality of it was perfectly adequate. What I really like about them is that you get a free b/w print on the back of the postcards, making them look really professional and also making them usable as replacements for business cards. 

I re-used my book cover design for my postcards. That was actually done for laziness as it was a smaller file to upload than the original printed composite. 

 Bring it on.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Alright, submissions are in. Exam has been sat. Time to breathe? No! Now the final push is upon us. We are gearing up to our graduation show. The culmination of three years’ worth of critical evaluation, practical experience and theoretical instruction. *um*
As mentioned previously, I had no idea really how to present my final work. Another weakness of mine? Nah, not necessarily so. I am ok when it comes to presentation despite not being a graphic design person. But I have seen enough exhibitions to know what works and what doesn’t.
Now, I initially settled on my project for two reasons: I am interested in interior photography and can see myself working with the speciality, therefore I wanted a project that would force me to expand my (technical) knowledge of interior photography and simultaneously allowed me to build a portfolio with images from that area. Secondly I had finally come to terms with the fact that I am no fine art photographer but have more of a documentary style. Hence I wanted a proper non-art project in order to do what I do best. And I wanted to use the large format camera. Oh, that’s three reasons. 

Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*… no… *Amongst* our weapons… Amongst our weaponry… are such elements as fear, surprise… I’ll come in again. (Thank you, Monty Python!)

 The trouble in the end was that there were more photos to use than space available at the exhibition. Cos what is the point of a comparative study of canteens if you only show three out of nine??? It was actually the cover design of my book that gave me the idea of using a grid composite as my exhibition work. And thus I finally present my hard work; literally drenched in blood (from scratching my shin on the LF camera), sweat (from carrying the gear around) and tears (from making silly mistakes that demanded re-shoots)… 

The images are at the printers’ and being printed as we speak write. All that remains now is to keep calm and carry on. Exciting times… 

A Word on Editing

That is my word on editing.
Could have also said: “Thank Cod, it’s over.” But that would have been four words. 
Seriously now, editing is my big red rag! All could be so easy if you didn’t have to edit. I love shooting, but what happens afterwards is just soooo booooring. And it’s not even that I think all my images are perfect and usable. Far from it. I just find that the fun is in the “click” not in the “pick”. 
Anyhow, needs must, and I have developed a certain process for dealing with this part of the work in progress. And an essential part of it is the tangible elimination process. For which I print out my images cheapo cheapo by way of a photo kiosk in the local chemist. (For my Hollywood filmstills the images came out exactly right – 8×6″ glossy. Pretty sharp. But didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Leave the limbs for later when the final edit has to be printed!)
With the images printed – and I didn’t limit myself there; I printed everything that I felt was actually usable as a final image – I then got the background out that the images were going to be displayed on and played with them there.
Yup, an old curtain is the backdrop…
First step is to throw everything on the backdrop. Then you sort them thematically – all portraits of person A, all stills of the strangulation, all full length portraits of person B etc. And thus the fun begins – a proper look at which image has the best lighting, which perspective works best. The difficult bit really is to find the required number of images and be consistent in terms of quality. Nothing stands out more than the one sub-standard image in a row of otherwise acceptable pictures. 
In this case I also had to take into account whether the images were landscape or portrait orientation. Bummer – that’s something I tend to forget when shooting and therefore do not necessarily shoot the same set-up in both orientations. In the end I managed to get my eight images and finalised my story-board.
Phew – I am so happy editing is over…


I get sidetracked so easily. There I was, editing for my Hollywood filmstills the other day, when all of the sudden I had the great idea that my display/presentation needed a poster to go with it. Fair enough – but I launched into a great big graphic design side track… 
I guess I am really just fooling myself that what I am doing is really necessary. One should be finalising the edit, print the images, prepare the album and experiment with the presentation. And yet I distract myself with making a movie poster for my imaginary film that my project provides the stills and promo pics for. Those film posters really got me inspired and so I started playing in Ps to get a painted effect onto one of the images that I had taken. I came up with a whole storyline, basically, invented names for the supposed actors (maintaining my models’ privacy) and director.
The gif shows the development of my poster. I had settled on the teal background gradient at first because it seemed to complement the skin colours of the sitters. But it is actually quite a cold colour. Also, since I was presenting this on my gold fabric backdrop, then the teal doesn’t really work very well. I tried it with a gold-ish colour instead and that worked much better, I think. 
I am actually quite happy with my poster, even though the paint effect is not really strong enough, methinks. But to spend even more time on it seemed a bit OTT. Never mind that I then spent even *more* time making this gif *dooooh*…

Mock Displays

Would you like a glimpse into the other project I was working on for college. It has already long been handed up, and interestingly – it turned out to be such fun to produce!!
Once the edit had been done, that is. Editing is usually my big weakness – I find it extremely hard to settle on the required number of shots and can not see the wood for the trees when it comes to quality of my own images. Presentation, however, is something I am pretty quick and decisive on. 
In the case of this project I had been trying to recreate 1940s film stills. The result was actually really good – well, in my own humble opinion that is… 
The plan was to show these images in the context where they would have sat years ago. I am probably an old fogey for being able to remember (and being old enough) that I know these display cases that used to be outside the cinemas in my youth – you know, sort of pinboards behind glass, in which the cinema owners pinned stills from the film on show, along side promotional posters and pictures of the film… Very old-school and nostalgic. But heck, retro is all vogue!!!
Firstly, though, Sonja had to make a suitable backdrop for the display – all shiny, luxurious texture it was meant to be. More or less on a whim I picked up a piece of A1 foamboard at the printers’, not even knowing whether it was suitable, and then played around with it at home. I looked through my drawer of material and crafts stuff and found an old curtain that was actually shiny gold!!! Perfect. So I basically just covered my foam board and then pinned the pictures onto that with proper pins. Aner here is the result of the Swedish jury:

The poster takes centre-stage and then the stills are arranged around the poster. I should really also add a little printed sign that says “film showing at 8 pm” or something like that.

Ah such fun. I loved this project. And maybe there will be more to come…

Book Making

I am not veering into betting here, but as part of my course I am currently maing a book as part of my submission to college. Or rather – I have already made my book. It is finally here, the book is here. I was getting rather nervous. Tomorrow is hand-in and I have not got my hands on my submission yet. This afternoon I checked the tracker and could not believe when I read that the status was “delivered”. I had only come home about an hour beforehand and there was nothing on the hall table. But then I just found it downstairs in the hall. *phew* The accountants must have taken it. 

The book is nice with its sleeve and I like the size of it. Slightly disappointed by the lacklustre colours, though – Hm, I may be overly critical. The colours on the last two pages actually do pop quite nicely (should’ve put that canteen in the book earlier on…)

Book design is actually quite easy these days. You can find offers of varying quality and – subsequently – varying price levels all over the internet. Especially the cheaper offers are good enough quality to use for a print-up of holiday snaps or a little book present. If you want a professional look and feel, I would advise you splash out and get it done by a service that offers a choice of papers and sizes rather than the usual “one size/paper fits all”.

I really like my cover design. And I am thinking to myself that I might actually present the work at the exhibition like that. Just one large image, photo printed, dibond. Also, am thinking that I would love to use this as a postcard for the exhibition. Must get that done asap.

But worst of all, though: OMC – I have just spotted two stupid silly akjgqasxxao TYPOS in my artist statement which prefaces my Blurb book. In Bridget Jones’s words: “F*********************ck!!!!”
Will I get the “non-native speaker” allowance? Too late to do anything about it now, but I am very, very disappointed with myself.

Semiotic Armitage Part 4

Why, hello, Mr Armitage, are you still there? Let’s get up close and personal with my favourite villain/hero/spy/romantic lead. What does RA’s pose tell us, when scrutinized the Barthesian way? What does the pose denote and connote in this image? 
On the surface we see a man leaning very relaxed against the handrail on the wall. He has his right hip jutting out a bit, his left leg angled in a casual way. This contrasts slightly with the arrangement of his arms: They are folded across his stomach, making his shoulders slope down. He looks straight at the camera.

The body

His pose tells us “I am relaxed, I am at ease. I do not mind being looked at by the photographer – and by any other viewers of the image subsequently.” He is not quite honest, though, because his body language also tells us that he is hiding something – the folded arms hiding the belly from view, a typical gesture of defense and shyness. However, coupled with the casual leaning against the wall the folded arms do not come across as a sign of defensiveness. It is more a sign of comfort.

Assuming that no element of the image is coincidental (the photographer is obviously more professional than I am when on assignment *hahahaha*), we can draw some conclusions here: The sitter is in no hurry, he has time to pose and stand idly while his picture is being taken. He obviously has no boss breathing down his neck, asking him to come back to work immediately. So despite being put into an industrial setting he is not a labouring man but more likely someone who works independently.

The thumb

A special little look at the sitter’s left hand. This is visible in the shot – and very much so. The white skin tone stands out very clearly against the dark blue of the shirt and particularly the slender left thumb is drawing attention to itself because it has been spread off the rest of the hand and is pointing upwards. Essentially, this is a “thumbs up” and connotes a positive attitude of the sitter, at his most subconscious.

The face

Hehe, I could just say “The face… is perfect.” But I won’t drool senselessly here, that doesn’t befit the serious tone of this academic exercise. The sitter is looking straight at the camera. His mouth is closed. There is the hint of a smile as the corners of his mouth curve upwards just the tiniest bit. There is more friendliness in his eyes although they are narrowed just a tiny bit, belying a fraction of suspicion that the sitter may have. The stare of the eyes appears slightly piercing – but is not entirely unfriendly. The right eyebrow of the sitter is arching up slightly higher than the left, giving the impression of an ironic smile. That fits nicely with the narrowed eyes and the tiny smile.

Sitter A is obviously slightly detached from his experience here. He plays along in the game that is “Photoshoot with Joe McGorty” but he is maintaining some distance from it all, keeping himself in check. He is not giving himself over entirely but is communicating with his ironic stare that he is still in control: “This is not me. This is me being photographed. Something I would not usually do. But I am enduring it here because I have been asked to. It doesn’t bother me – I am confident and comfortable. But if it ends, I won’t be sad either…”

And what about Barthes’ myth? Yes, it is here, right here. And it is not something that we generally like. It is the myth of beauty, youth and looks that can kill. The image reinforces that looks matter in this world: People who keep themselves in shape and who have been blessed with dashing good looks will rule. They are the ones in power. But maybe that is also because power and beauty seem to be allies that seek each other out and mingle in an everlasting vicious circle: “I am good looking therefore I have power. Power makes me look good. I am good looking therefore I have power. Power makes me look good.  I am good looking therefore I have power. Power makes me look good.” Ad nauseam…

Really quite annoying, isn’t it? We don’t just fall for it, we buy it. Every day. With every image we look at. And as photographers we are also complicit in this myth-making exercise. Despicable? Ha! We haven’t even looked at styling and photographic techniques. Get out of the game NOW or follow on to the next post, coming soon!