Spot the Difference | Week 1: Segues In Time | Surfaces and Strategies | Lesson/Research |

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Repeat Photography

How can repeat photography help me think about my project in a different way?

Since I am already investigating forms of repeat/rephotography I can say that I am using it to view and record the visual impact each image can give the user when compared side by side, very similar to the works of…

Toshiya Watatanbe – Thereafter.

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I found Toshiya’s fork to be very inspiring, I can see that he is very good at composing the second image to the same as the initial image taken. However, from my previous efforts of rephotography, I noticed that he too struggled to get the second image 100% identical to the first, which is something I found challenging.

Bottom left corner. (White stripe)

To the right. (Distance between the pole and the edge of the photograph)

It is a challenging task but Toshiya pulled fantastic results with overall precision. I especially like extreme differences he managed to capture over time. Here the first image to me looks abandoned, like the apocalypse, however the second one amplifies that feeling due to the greenery growing across the path, but cleverly, whether this was done with intention or not, the weather contradicts the image. The first being a dismal, great overcast, rather fitting to the apocalyptic scene. Whereas the second image displays a bright clear blue sky, somehow giving more life to a more empty scene than the first.

Micheal Marten – Sea Change

Again, similar to what I have been working on, it was nice to see someone practicing this near to me (Clifton bridge). These two images display fine precision in composition, and would have been much more challenging as they involve water.

The first pair of images would had been difficult to take, not only as the first image would had involved being on a boat, positioning the boat and keeping it still, but to my knowledge, the mud in the second image is as lethal as quick sand. I am struggling to figure out how he achieved this shot in its position. This distance from the lens to the pole had no reference points as any that he could or would have made would of changed position due to the nature of the mud and completely covered in water anyways. My guesses are that he had to judge by eye whilst looking at his camera or laptop. I have sent Micheal an email inquiring about the methods he had to implement to achieve these images.

I received a response from Micheal…

“Hello Gerry,
Thank you for your email and interest in my photography. I’m happy to hear my Sea Change work is being used at Falmouth.
Attached is a fairly long article I wrote about Sea Change for the Camera Obscura photography blog. It explains the origins of the project and, in the second from last paragraph, describes  how I went about taking two photographs 6 or 18 hours apart from the same position and with the same framing.
As you suggest, my Avon tidal pair would have been impossible from a boat – or standing on the mud as I’d have been underwater for the high tide shot! I took the photos from a corner of river bank that obtruded into the stream, so was safe from drowning or other perils!
best wishes,
Michael
Michael Marten Photography
25 Blenheim Crescent
London W11 2EF

The second pair of images reference points (explained in my Thailand project development posts/ informing contexts) are limited. The wall and stair way would had been hard to define as they are completely covered, leaving the only useful reference point being the ledge to the bottom right of the image, making sure it is angled correctly would had been crucial. I think it would be interesting if the pair of images were displaying in which the second image only is displayed to the view first. This would leave a rather simple image, which may leave the viewing to think what is this? What am I missing here? Then revealing the second image after to reveal what was beneath the water, giving the first one much more meaning once knowing its purpose. This is something I may try to do – rethink through the way in which my rephotography can be presented to deliver a greater impact.

What can I learn about my subject by recording it over time?

I was going to say the more time, the bigger the difference. But the time the distance doesn’t have to be long to make a difference. It could be a simple and day and night, or even 5 minutes to capture change in a photograph. But Lalage Snow is once example how couple of months and events can create very distinct visual differences.

Lalage Snow – We are not dead

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I think the text from the subject strengthens the subtle visual differences in the subjects face. Not only that but the facial expression matures as his Alexanders service plays out. This kind of experience can’t be bought and the photograph here does not lie. You can see the growth in his eyes. What I find about this pair of images in particular is the fact he looks healthier at the end of the timeline. As I said, time is the photographers partner in this method of photography, but in this case, life experience played a strong role too.

I think that repeat photography can be viewed and used as a type of visual time research when the same subject or location is photographed several times over a length of time.

There are also other practical uses for repeat photography such as camera traps.

Do I have an agenda that rightly/wrongly influence how my images are viewed?

I can understand why some photographers may think it looks easy at first glance because on paper it is just shooting the same image twice or more. But there is much more to it than that… I think anyone who has tried this themselves will experience and know of the challenges associated with this method of shooting. The positioning, the timing, the patience required to perform the exact shot a number of times successfully. Time is the photographers partner in this method, gifting him or her with subtle or extreme differences. A game of spot the difference.

Rephotography

Have I ever referred to existing images in my practice? If so, how was the experience and what did I learn from it?

If I am to enter an area where I know has been heavily photographed already, I am instantly turned off. I want to go somewhere where hasn’t been discovered. I don’t like the idea of replicating what someone has already done of a location that has already been seen over a thousand times. But what I do like however, is the challenge to take a well known area but somehow from a different perspective like the impressive work of Micheal Hughes – Souveniers. As stated in my project proposal, I know this is difficult as I believe many compositions (especially a meisho) have already been attempted which is why I want to experiment with Ariel views and the editing aspects of photography. When visiting a location, I will go to Instagram to scout over the photos taken by photographers in that area (places tab) to gain inspiration and to see what I can do differently. This leads me to discover new photographers in the area whilst observing their observations, such as, when you type in the Bath Abbey, a number of different representations of the Abbey will show up…

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And these results aren’t even scratching the surface.

Did it play a role in how I view images and photography today?

By observing fellow modern day photographers, it has enabled me to learn different ways images can be taken and edited, therefor it feels as if I am learning along side them, in a community. But from my memory I can’t recall just one single image that altered the way I view photography onwards. I have referred back to my old portraits to see what I originally intended to seek when taking photos of my subject, I use to ignite a passionate spark inside.

So, I decided to search photographs that changed photography. These are the two images I found most interesting…

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Edward Weston’s Excusado, 1925

“Weston famously spent a week experimenting with light and rearranging the angle so that he could prove that even a Mexican toilet bowl could be beautiful behind the lens of a camera. Photography should not have to rival painting but should be respected in its own right, he believed.”

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Wolfgang Tillmans’ Concorde, 1997

“The first artist working with photography at the center of his practice to have won the Turner Prize, with this series of concorde pictures. It marked the triumph of the idea over the beautiful – or the beautifully photographed – object, in photography.”

How could rephotographs be adopted and/or adapted in my project?

I am already draw to this technique as I love to compare the differences between two similar images. I will be exploring as many methods as I can through out my project. It is all explained in my project proposal.

Could I rephotograph contemporary images instead of old ones?

A trick question I believe, but yes, absolutely.

Re-enactment

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What could re-enactment offer my project?

One could argue that every photo is a re-enactment of some kind. Whether it be staged or just still life. The photo records life and gives us the opportunity to look at time again as it has passed, re-enacting life. But when talking about a planned and prepared staged shoot, I have thought of many. I wish to re-enact emotion flowing through portraits depending on their environments and scenarios. I don’t however plan to re-enact a particular event which has already happened, but rather make up my own.

Where is the artwork in my own project?

For me, there is artwork in the evolutionary process of the project. Hopefully to give the viewer a different perspective from their own, or to see things that they haven’t seen before. I wish to find a balance between making something look interesting, but also having some meaning to it. I want to make these meanings or roles very visually apparent. I don’t know how to explain it, but that pleasurable feeling one feels when they first look at a photo they are naturally drawn to, that feeling is what I want i’d like to achieve.

So far, for my portraits, I see the artwork in their physical characteristics. Maybe the viewer wants to know more about the person by their facial expression or is even in some way attracted to them.

For my symmetrical photos, for me it is not only seeing the difference between two images at a different time, but seeing patterns which can be made that would never had been seen if the two images hadn’t been symmetrically put together. Each pattern is unique and can be done with almost any photograph, it fascinates me.

Finally as my project moves on I will be experimenting with new types of cameras (If I can afford it) and will go the extra mile with my editing. Meaning visual characteristics or roles amplified through photoshop or light room. I not only want it to be visually pleasing to the eye but I wish for the viewer to be able to relate in some way to what is being portrayed across in the image.

Do I have control over that process?

The artwork depends on the viewers reaction, it can be a positivity reaction, or a negative one. They can find it interesting, or uninteresting. Having knowledge on the process of how the image are made to reach the final outcome through editing and the stages that are required to physically shoot them may add depth to the images meaning and overall impact. I have control over what I want to achieve and the responsibility to take the steps towards getting what I want photographed, but wether it will turn out exactly the same to how I had envisioned is out of my control.

Segues In Time

What strategies will I use in my own project?

Aside from what I have written in my project proposal layout. This weeks presentation introduced to the works of Byron Wolfe…

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This image gave me the idea to, when practicing my negative edits, to edit half the image itself as opposed to using two images, this may leave interesting results. I could have a portrait in a dark scene to the right of the photograph in a negative edit, whilst the left of the image remains in colour.

Or I could put my use of negative, or any other methods of editing I decide to use to represent an emotion the same way as Sergey Larenkov for her Ghosts of WWII series. This is a strategy I am just figuring out I could practice as I am writing this.

Has anyone done something similar? If so, how did they do it and in what context?

Aside from Sergey, I looked up to see if any photographers have tried the half negative technique, I found this photographer..

Borut Peterlin – Wet Plate Collodion photography in the morning at 4C (39F)

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This is a form of ambrotype

“I had never heard of the ambrotype (from the Greek for “immortal impression”) photographic process until quite recently, but it seems to have been a very popular medium in the middle decades of the nineteenth century — cheaper than the more famous daguerrotype, and with a level of pictorial detail and richness of tone that I find really appealing.” – Benjamin Been

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As I am sticking to digital through out my project I will be using photoshop to achieve this look.

Can revisiting their work help me learn something about their work?

Yes, especially if I can get in touch with the photographer themselves.

Can it help me see my own work in a different way?

It can help me see ways to improve my technical photography skills whilst sparking new ideas that may be triggered by viewing their work. In short, inspiration.

Viewing Toshiya Watatanbes and Micheal Martens work showed me that the changes in rephotography can be very well planned, such as Martins sea changes. Meanwhile Toshiya proved that investing in the right location where a big alteration occurs over a period of time can reveal very effective changes.

If I do find myself standing in a someone else’s shoes, what impact does that have on me?

It offers an opportunity for growth. To strengthen ones weak points, areas of photography that they are less invested in therefor as a whole, gain a more expanded view on the medium.

Forum

 

Reflection

I felt this lesson I could relate to the photographers displayed in the presentation as very similar techniques to what I have been practicing and it was interesting to see the execution of others. It was very enjoyable. I am thinking to the future and how I can make things even more different that what we have already seen, but still keeping messages with context involved.

Thanks.

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