A3 The Decisive Moment

A3 Brief

Introduction

A set of six images each of which is a decisive moment of light and shadow helping to create a letter which can be viewed as a whole to make up the word ‘MOMENT’.

Process

Originally I had tried to capture light and shadows on buildings trying to find a peak visual effect, but came up with the idea of ‘writing out’, so to speak, the word moment thanks to an earlier (failed) idea of using letters to write out something for my A1 project.
This idea was then substantiated by research into some contemporary artists notably Shannon Ebnar as well my own work into Cartier-Bresson.
To find these letters hidden all around me, I had to simply walk around to see what would jump out at me. Some letters were easier than others, and it has taken a long time to get a satisfactory selection together due to trying to create a homogeneity between both the thickness of the letter (stems) and the visual relationship between the actual individual photos. My thoughts were very much focused on the final effect of the letters together (as well as the individual photos themselves). I found by pre-visualizing the images (and the final effect) it became easier to try to find them in my surrounding.
All of these images have been elaborated in Lightroom and there are specific notes under each image regarding my processing.

Technical Considerations and Equipment

I mainly used the 40-150mm zoom (80-300mm Eq) relying on its ability to flatten and help create the desired 2D effect for my letters.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 (MkI)
Olympus 14-42mm (28-85mm Eq) and 40-150mm zooms (80-300mm Eq)


The Decisive Moment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shot 1 – M   (1/1600 at f/5,0, ISO 200, 40mm (Olympus M.40-150mm)
This is a shadow created by the grill that is used for the other M shot in this series (shot 3). I cropped this heavily to encase the letter within the frame. I wasn’t concerned with image quality as the letter is still represented well, I believe. I used the temperature level in Lightroom to add a different colour (from a dull beige to this more vibrant blue) with the idea of creating a type of colour structure to the final collective image (being blue to start and blue to finish – as can be seen from the second contact sheet below, last thumbnail).
This is a decisive moment in the sense that I came across it at a particular moment after having already taken the grill in focus and then spied the shadow on the adjacent wall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shot 2 – O    (1/400 at f/5,6, ISO 200, 42mm (Olympus M.14-42mm)
Trying to find the letter O was surprisingly more difficult than I had expected. Possibly due to my more angular vision and diagonal addiction. This shot was taken with my smaller zoom and then cropped heavily. A definite decisive moment as I was in a hospital and had already been reproached and asked to refrain from taking pictures within the hospital ward, before claiming this image. Risky, but worth it, as I had found it very tricky to find an O with the right thickness to work in harmony with the other shots/letters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shot 3 – M   (1/1600 at f/5,5, ISO 200, 140mm (Olympus M.40-150mm)
As with shot 1 this is a grill/gate used on a window at a school I work at. This shot is focused on the metal bars as opposed to the shadow of them as with shot 1. I cropped this shot tightly to bring out the letter. As with shot 1 I have used the temperature bar in Lightroom to emphasise the beige wall/light in the background with some added orange filter and colour to the right as it was very pale. Blacks/shadows were added to charge the bold contrast between that soft background bring the letter to life.
Is this a decisive moment? Apart from the fact of thinking it was hence the capture, there was the added crucial moment of grabbing this shot in a school corridor between lessons, so yes, it is, I believe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shot 4 – E   (1/400 at f/4,4, ISO 200, 25mm, Olympus M.14-42mm)
Restricting myself to the square crop once again brought its pros and cons. Finding an E that fit snuggly into the square was challenging to say the least. The square working as a structure within which to create the word moment, was less forthcoming when it came to keeping the thickness of the letter stems/strokes uniform. With shot 4 I saw the letter hidden within this ceiling structure but had to work hard to slot it into the square crop. Here I used the clone tool to ‘extend’ the horizontal bars of the E towards the right of the crop. I had to do that as the E just wasn’t easy to find on its own, so that could also be classed as a decisive moment: the decision to intervene, so to speak. Is this cheating?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shot 5 – N   (1/1640 at f/4,0, ISO 200, 40mm, Olympus M.40-150mm)
A hot afternoon walking around produced little reward, the decision to pop in to see a friend on my travels proved to be decisive as his table revealed this shadow on his wooden floor. A lucky catch, but arguably a fine example of a decisive moment. I had to flip this image in post production, but saw it there and had already flipped it in my mind, so no cheating here really.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shot 6 – T    (1/1600 at f/4,0, ISO 200, 140mm (Olympus M.40-150mm)
When I first saw this building I thought I could capture an E from it. After some struggling in Lightroom I saw the T pop out. Surely a decisive moment, or rather a series of decisive moments from the seeing, capturing, and ultimately the post production revelation as it were. I rotated this image anticlockwise and added some blues to bring out the tiles and seperate the white structure from them bringing the T to life.

Conclusion

This assignment has proven itself to be extremely challenging and very thought-provoking as to what constitutes a decisive moment within the realm of photography. Choosing to move away from the accepted street photography view of the decisive moment and searching for an original take on it (at least for myself) has opened up many creative avenues and questions: Should we just conform to the collective psyche of what the decisive moment has come to represent? What are the benefits of thinking beyond that? What’s in a word (or words)? How can we do things differently and yet remain relevant?
My decision – decisive in itself – to use the word moment plays with the fact that each moment/image I have chosen to include also forms that very word which they are related to, has allowed me to experiment with and push the boundaries of the concept of the ubiquitous decisive moment. After all, it is just a way, not the only way.


Sources

Whitney.org. (2016). 2008 WHITNEY BIENNIAL. [online] Available at: http://whitney.org/www/2008biennial/www/?section=artists&page=artist_ebner [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). Me and the Decisive Moment. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/me-and-the-decisive-moment/ [Accessed 10 Aug. 2016].

Baker, H. (2014). Top 10 Collage Artists: Hannah Höch to Man Ray. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/3318/top-10-collage-artists-hannah-hoch-to-man-ray [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). Assignment 1: The Square Mile, brief and preliminary ideas. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/oca/ [Accessed 10 Aug. 2016].

Pem.org. (2016). PEM | Joseph Cornell: Navigating The Imagination Launch Page. [online] Available at: http://www.pem.org/sites/cornell/# [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Web.archive.org. (2016). SAAM :: Interact. [online] Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20070225054532/http://americanart.si.edu:80/collections/interact/slideshow/cornell.cfm [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Contact sheets

A3 CS1A3 Cs2ii
The photos as a sequence

A3 complete image 1

 

A3 – The Decisive Moment, preliminary ideas and thoughts

A3 Brief

 

To be honest, my first thoughts were divided between: oh no, not this decisive moment (DM) crack again, vs Hmm this should be easy, the street photography element, easy to do right? Well, both of these thoughts bothered me, why not do as the brief suggests and think outside the box (did I just use that expression?)?; the idea of light, a scene coming together in a visual peak moment really appealed to me. So I started jotting ideas down in my notebook(s) letting my imagination run away a bit, but trying to keep both the task and the assessment criteria in mind, easy to do, right?
Once again the (creative) freedom that can be inferred from the brief, that of not having to tell a story, not having to keep with the HCB/Winogrand idea of the DM, and the fact that times of day, light, landscape (anything really) all have their own DM when you actually think carefully about it, made it harder to formulate any coherent idea (as can be seen from the myriad of thoughts, notes here:

A3 notes 1

“I suppose I could justify ANY moment as being decisive, couldn’t I?” Yeah, probably. Not that simple though, and I needed to solidify, direct my energies into something a bit more concrete…

That was beginning to happen, I was honing in on using (my ever-present love/fixation with) shadows/architecture as I always look to do. One of the future tasks from this course looks at taking a series of pictures of a subject at different times of day (Ex.4.2) and I thought that would be a nice idea for this project.
Whether or not I am clinging to a sense of feeling safe by sticking with what I know, or whether I am simply using what I seem to be able to do reasonably well, that remains to be seen. Hardly a mistake to use one’s strengths is it? Assuming it is actually a strength.
As long as we think through it, be aware of it, and equally do not refuse to at least try something new, right? Besides, I am still at the start with all this, so a certain lack of wild experimental development on my part is understandable, is it not? (Although the opposite could well be said too!)

I was also reading a lot of different books (not just for this assignment, but more for myself and the general understanding of photography) and found some lovely examples, perhaps not of the omnipresent DM, but of some more contemporary uses of photography using sculpture, words, letters, semiotics as it were, which, I have to say, I found very exciting and stimulating (and still do).
Finally finishing Cotton’s book (Cotton, 2009) I then had time to go through it again, making some notes and looking for inspiration, which I’d say I definitely found in Chapter 8 – Physical and Material (pp219-49). From Christopher Williams’ very personal, fairly ambiguous, narrative to  Sara VanDerBeek’s idiosyncratic sculptures and finally to Shannon Ebnar’s photography as a language of visual signs which I found refreshing and not as alien to me as one would expect probably thanks to my own love of language, psycholinguistics, and the spoken word?
A more solid, tangible thought spang to mind when looking at Ebnar’s 2010 work “Agitate”.

A3 notes 6
Shannon Ebner, Agitate, 2010

I thought I could adapt her idea, although far less sociopolitical in essence and effect. I thought of creating an acronym, or simply spelling out the words DECISIVE MOMENT. That really didn’t work and just went round in pleasant circles (and was more shots than the 6-8 limit from the brief):
Moments
Often
Magically
Exist
Notwithstanding
Trepidation.

Whatever that means!
There was more. This was probably the best of the rest, but felt (and still feels) stilted, and too contrived. So I dropped that idea for a more visual construction of the letters with the hope of capturing shadows appearing to form letters that spell out MOMENT (had to drop the DECISIVE thanks to the 6 to 8 shot limit); each of these shots would obviously need to have been taken during some sort of DM of their own…

I started looking for letters everywhere, but they had to be created by a critical alignment of shadows, light, glimpses of architectural fragments to formulate the letters I was looking for (being M-O-M-E-N-T, see contact sheets below). Slowly, I began to build up the letters I needed although had some real trouble with N and O (some sort of subconscious negation you could say).

Looking on-line and in my books I started noticing more sculptural work from photographers/artists (which has developed into some personal projects I am currently working on – soon to be blogged). Artists such as Man Ray’s photomontages as well as Joseph Cornell’s intriguing constructions.

But it was  Ebner’s work that resonated (and still does!) with me and the research for this assignment. The idea started to take shape:

A3 notes 3
Second additional idea: road sign

Final idea
Then, almost out of the blue and additional idea started to jump out at me: the idea of putting the 6 shots and mounting them on to a road sign: to create a fictional road name of Moment Way. I really liked the way I could play around with the idea of the DM being just a WAY of photographing and not the ONLY way. The idea of adding graffiti with some sort of
statement regarding (my take on) the decisive moment, I was thinking something along the lines of  “THE DECISIVE moment IS JUST A way” (graffiti in BOLD capitals)

A3 notes 4

 

A3 notes 7

 

 

A3 CS1

A3 Cs2ii


Sources

Whitney.org. (2016). 2008 WHITNEY BIENNIAL. [online] Available at: http://whitney.org/www/2008biennial/www/?section=artists&page=artist_ebner [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Baker, H. (2014). Top 10 Collage Artists: Hannah Höch to Man Ray. [online] AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/3318/top-10-collage-artists-hannah-hoch-to-man-ray [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Pem.org. (2016). PEM | Joseph Cornell: Navigating The Imagination Launch Page. [online] Available at: http://www.pem.org/sites/cornell/# [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

Web.archive.org. (2016). SAAM :: Interact. [online] Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20070225054532/http://americanart.si.edu:80/collections/interact/slideshow/cornell.cfm [Accessed 5 Aug. 2016].

An Interview with Mitja Kobal

Interview with Mitja Kobal, May 2016

KB: Your work with structures is wonderfully dynamic as are your sweeping rich landscapes. I also notice that you sometimes use ND filters (I think?) for the sky (especially with “The Island”). Why do you do that? To help the eye focus on the subject better, or just because you like the effect or to mix things up a bit?

MK: I use hard ND filters to mix things up a little bit yes. With landscapes I use them for two reasons: a) with heavy dense filters I get rid off people, cars and all the possible ‘noise’ in more crowded areas; b) ND filters are able to lengthen exposure times dramatically ie. 5min by the clear sunny days when otherwise exposure would be 1/200s. With that you can add sense of time in the photographs like passing clouds, rivers and everything moving instead of being just frozen. As for me that adds a bit of ethereal feel to the landscapes.
I use ND filters that can block up to 16 stops of light. With these filters though, the big problem is leaking light in the camera and white balance. So you need to be careful to cover all the possible light leaks with black tape (viewfinder, inputs) and use a black matte cloth to cover the lens except the actual front of the lens.

KB: Your “Women” series of portraits are very beautiful. I noticed that most of them are incredibly crisp, whereas there are three of four that are softer (I prefer these ones!). How come? Why did you choose to do that?

MK: As for women portraits, I am still developing that field, that’s why such a variety. I like both styles wide aperture or closed one. Sometimes I do it to get rid of the background, other times just to add some softness. I should edit that section more carefully.

KB: The “God’s in Heaven” series is simply amazing! Such tension and thick BLACK images: glorious – and for me at least – ambiguous work! Mitja, I’m a fan of ambiguity, but there are times when it’s inappropriate, wouldn’t you say? Should a photograph always clearly communicate something (how can it not?) to the viewer? How much is the viewer’s interpretation of a photo important and vital? And when is it not? For example, the caption (from your website), “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world” seems incredibly sarcastic/ironic? – a feeling of entrapment here with this set, just incredible! Should the photographer always leave a suggestion of intended meaning through a title (or lack of one) or a short statement about it?

MK: Haha, well, depends on how we express ourselves. I always want to give the viewer room for his/her own interpretation. Sometimes, with a series mostly the title is pretty much just a gentle guidance. I like poetic way of looking at the images or series of them. I do a lot of commercial work, which I hate but you gotta survive. I mean I love shooting anything, but my personal work is where I enjoy the most, create images you can dive into, not just: here is a picture of a cat. I was professional dj for over 10 years and was really into music, instrumental music. I always hated anything with vocals because of too much directness and I don’t like that. I prefer to create my own world when listening to a song/track. A track name was enough, and the better, the more imaginative the title was the better.
The deeper you go the more complex photography becomes. I tried many different techniques and got moderately skilled in few of them. That gives me many more options to do it as I imagined.

KB: Your jewelry and accessories shots have a gorgeously shallow DoF. What are you shooting with? How much post processing do you do? Or are the shots sent off to someone else for that?

MK: Jewelry was mostly shot with canon 5dmk2, 35mm lens at f/1.4 or 70-200 at f/2.8. I do all the post edit on the images by myself. I used to do a ton of post processing, a bit too much many times. Now getting bit more closer to reality. For commercial photographers I don’t mind if post is outsourced, but fine art and non commercial stuff should be the work of the author, I think. It’s like Rembrandt bought a brush do a sketch where things must be and the light and give it to someone else to actually paint it. From what I know photography was never just a shot taken with the camera. But also long hours in the darkroom. These two parts can’t go without one and another.  There’s never a ton of images in that area. However, if the photographer is just too booked to do that, then there’s no other way.

KB: Is photography an instinct, a feeling, as Cartier-Bresson said? Or can we learn to take photos?

MK: I agree with that saying. No huge, best or latest camera will do it for you. Your vision is the photograph. The Camera is just a tool, and better it is the better easier/precisely your vision will be accomplished. The post production is essential as well as having tones and feeling that are there to give worth to your vision.

KB: Where does photography stand in contemporary art today? Is it stuck in the delightfully wacky world of advertising? What’s new? 

MK: I consider myself moderately a newbie in photography. Seriously I’m into it last 4-5 years. I think with digital age there is loads of digital bs on the web. Everything changed from photography, painting and music. Nowadays everybody can do it. There’s billions of ‘artists’ on the web and music. That brings billions of images or music that are not worth the time, but also a lot of exquisite and absolutely amazing art. If you can filter it wisely you find these golden boys and girls. For that you need time and passion. This is the reason I quit music, as I don’t have enough time to go through all the noise to find good artist or tracks.

KB: I noticed that you use a few social networking sites. Do you think that social networks are diluting the art of photography, or creating more artists? Are social networks the death of photography, or a kind of rebirth? 
Or have they simply created a new branch of photography, or better, a new kind of photographer? (I find it quite hard to use the term “photographer” when thinking about social networks! But what else can we use? “Egotistical photography users”?)

MK: Social networks, at the start I signed in to flickr, which I used mostly for my blog…then to others for the feedback and exposure, not so much for the ego but to get feedback, whether what I do is good or bad. At the end you see comments are mostly one word thing. I stopped using all social networks but Instagram which I only started not so long ago, I kept my Facebook page also…I have to delete all the old ones, as they are of no use. The far best and serious is Lens Culture network. They are serious about their online gallery and network. It’s a proper photographers’ network with portfolio reviews by pro editors etc..
I think curated online galleries are the only place to go if going somewhere online except for your own website. Instagram is also a good place I think. I have discovered some pretty cool stuff there. Other galleries are there mostly to feed the ego.
End


Mitja Kobal is a professional freelance photographer currently based in Vienna, Austria.
Specializes in architecture | portrait | industrial photography.
Also a regular contributor to “Getty images”.

www.mitjakobal.com
kobal@mitjakobal.com

Mitjakobal.com. (2016). Mitja Kobal photographer. [online] Available at: http://www.mitjakobal.com/81766/works [Accessed 23 Apr. 2016].

LensCulture, M. (2016). Mitja Kobal | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/mitjakobal [Accessed 23 Apr. 2016].

A2 Tutor Feedback and comments

Tutor feedback re my Assignment 2: Collecting – Barriers, with my comments in blue.

Formative feedback

Student name Kevin Byrne Student number 515574
Course/Unit EYV Assignment number 2
Type of tutorial Audio-Visual Was it?  

  

Overall Comments

This is an impressive submission. You’re making excellent progress on the course and there is evidence of a continuing high level of engagement not only with the set exercises and assignment work, but also proactive and independent reading and research.

The accompanying text for the images is maybe a little too long, however, for a highly conceptualised piece of this kind where the images do not offer a straightforward interpretation, I prefer the detail.  I think as your work develops, you’ll probably want to let the images speak for themselves: certainly, you’ll want the viewer to be challenged by what they see.

Your self-evaluation/reflection provides a very good insight into the thinking and development behind the work. I agree that each category for this theme could have been explored independently – projects for the future.  In this set, I like the way you have used the central theme to explore how radically different interpretations arise and allows you to set aside any preconceptions and work with (seemingly random or ‘tenuous topics’ as you call them) subject matter as it presents itself.

I had a chuckle at your comment ‘Robert Fludd dropping in for a dark chat..’,  hovering between alchemy and science; I wonder what he would have made of Malevich and Ad Reinhard’s ‘dark matter’? Ha, I was so tired but so taken with it all that I just couldn’t go to bed!


Assessment potential

Assignment 2

 I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.   

 



Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

This theme, then, ‘Borders’, allowed you to explore the aims of the brief the additional challenge of the unexpected subject from the broad interpretation.  This works very well indeed, and you have considered and employed a range of techniques and variations with lens’ – not something you would do as a matter of course, but good to know the parameters for future reference. Why is that? Why is it not a ‘matter of course’? The mages are fully supported by some in-depth research, much of which is directly related to the assignment work.  It’s really good that you had a chance to interview Gianluca Cosci and make reference to his work here.  I was frustrated by not finding enough information about him and his work and after noticing how insightful his existing interviews on his website were – I thought that it would be a good idea to see if I could get some answers from him directly! It was a wonderfully pleasant exchange – and much longer than the posted interviews but we both agreed to keep the interview relevant to photography on our respective blogs/sites. At time of writing (20/05/16) I am in ‘conversation’ with about ten photographers/artists and it is simply mind-blowingly stimulating! The square format is an interesting choice, uniformity and formality in presentation, but also a barrier – as any frame – in itself. Yep, that’s what I thought too (as mentioned in the A2 notes and evaluation) – although I did have a massive Peter Panic-pants moment when I read about how we should “…keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence to the series.” when regarding lens choice/technique – Arghhhh! But then calmed down when I read elsewhere: “..as there are no right or wrong answers in a visual arts course”. So there.

Image One : Blue Railings works for me, perhaps in a different way as a viewer, where the barrier is the amorphous/unknown soft focus wall produced through low depth of field, through which I view, like a narrow portal, the environment beyond. There’s a claustrophobic feel to this shot, as if it encloses the viewer in this foreground field of blue.  Rotate 90 degrees to the left and it’s a futuristic corridor, right out of Tarkovsky. Never heard of him – but have now, cheers! – and interesting as the original of this shot was exactly like that (this shot has been rotated 90° clockwise!). Oh, hang on – how come I never mentioned that in my rambling comments? Must remember not to let something like that slip again – although we can clearly see this in the contact sheets, and it’s not like I was withholding information from the powers that be or anything, just slipped my mind till now, so great! 

Image two: Don’t:  There’s an amusing irony through the symbols, and the shifting background blur could be linked to a hastily taken shot to defy the ‘barrier’. That’s true! Nice way of seeing it, a way which I hadn’t noticed!  The image feels a bit sparse, as though – and this is just my subjective response – it needs a bit more context. You mention chromatic aberration a couple of times in your notes – are you using the RAW plug-in Photoshop to reduce this in post – makes a big difference?  Is there a similar option in Lightroom?  Have no idea, don’t dance with PS but flirt with LR; might be worth looking into to see if there is something on LR – although I have an older version, so doubt it. And when all is said and done – the reason I notice aberrations is that I tend to use the 50mm prime wide open which just invites chromatic oddities – and it’s not all that much of an issue either really: I suppose I was just thinking out loud with some of the comments to the photos and could probably snip that out to make things a tad tidier/slicker? Hey, I’m new to all this, so I’m allowed to mess up, and it would be weird to not actually mess up wouldn’t it? Fact is, I started to look rather too critically at some shots; this analysis of my photos is a new and slightly unnerving thing for me which I’m not totally comfortable with just yet – due to it being a fresh new skill to develop? So, I reckon I’m allowed to waffle a bit too, surely? And besides, thinking of the dozen or so books that I’ve got my head into at the moment I can clearly see that nearly all of these writers have visited – and probably stay periodically at Waffleville.

Image three: Tribal Mentality.  Lots of ways to interpret this as you say, physical barriers, religious restrictions, the ‘caging’ of Mary and her separation from Jesus, the distance between the camera and the poster. It works well.  VG reference here to Bratkov. Ha, came across his work in Cotton’s book – and, to be totally honest, I thought it was a pleasant coincidence and a pretty tenuous connection for the inclusion on my part. Still, we could say that that was a demonstration of creativity, can’t we? No, that IS actually what I am saying. Improvements…remove the slice of car roof – even a crop, but then you’d lose the format? Yeah, why not leave it in? I quite like the subtle anchoring or – with fear of waffling too much myself here – a glimpse of modernity scraping away at this oh-so-tedious of ancient games (meaning idols and worship and all the rest of it); the present day Gods chipping away at the old – making their presence felt, forever challenging? Dunno, something like that.

Image four: Language Barrier:  I think the strength of this image is its relationship with your work and interests in language. The concept works very well, with the superimposition of the Indus script creating a second level of meaning and yet retaining a sense of mystery in its connection to the lower text.  IT is on the dark side, although there has to be a balance between the two layers and this will inevitably soften the detail. The ‘improved/revised’ version works better for me, with the old parchment feel increasing the sense of mystery and ambience, and yes an edge, to show that this is a document would enhance the shot. So if I put this in for assessment then I’ll switch the images and must remember to also adjust the text accordingly.

Image five : Stop: is a much more literal interpretation even though it uses the heavy ‘Stop’ sign/symbol.  Our daily lives are full of these barriers and restrictions and I often wonder if they are a genuinely controlling force, something that weighs us down.  The composition is good where you use the diagonals and the repetition of the sign.  I might have lowered the DoF a little more to create a greater impact and definition on the first, foreground sign. Yeah, true: I did try that – as you can possibly see from the contact sheets for censorship (first three pictures) – although I much preferred the interplay with the visual co-text of the urban view with all its details; their inclusion is relevant and necessary I believe. But then, the suburban context makes the sign feel like more of a controlling intrusion.  I love that phrase, ‘oppressive corporate reality of the cityscape…’

Image six: Skin Deep:  Very good use of selected depth of field to produce a narrow horizontal focal plane. This is always a good way of composing subjects, which appear random, continuous outside the frame and have no real fixed focal point. The angle also helps, with the diminishing size of the crazing along the vertical plane.  As you say in your notes, it could be skin… the ambiguity, the mystery, draws in the viewer. That 50mm beauty at F/1.8 again…

Image seven: Take Your Pick.  I like this very much, and the context of barriers creates an unspoken or unresolved narrative for each individual viewer.  Where you suggest a greater context – a whole range of options (and that’s a future project), I would leave it as it is and invite the viewer to add their own. Some additional light – even pulling the chairs forward a foot – to capture that side lighting and separate them from the background might help.

Image eight:  X4.  It takes a while to wok this one out.  Even without the notes, there is a disturbing undertone to the shot – the plastic glove on the extended hand, the hooded figure (make or female – hard to tell from the shot?), the odd, suspicious or slightly nervy expression of the woman to the left, and then this great L shaped element framing and dividing the figures.  With this kind of work, the composition can be a bit messy; we’re not looking at art but incident, and this works very well. I agree with you about the endless fascination with the ‘decisive moment’, too many people seem to spend their (photographic) lives looking for it.  Interestingly I remember the images that I missed more than the ones I got, and that has led me to leave my camera at home on some occasions, or to leave it hanging there on others while I have the luxury of looking. Interesting. Yeah, when I tell people I’ll be off to see the Northern Lights one day – I usually find they all say: “Yeah, of course – bet you’ll take loads of pictures of it, won’t you?” How wrong could they be? If I ever get up into that wonderful northern part of the world I will indeed take my camera gear with me, but it won’t be to watch the Aurora – that needs to be seen with my eyes and mind to the sky…nothing else. I would call it slightly perverse to even think about covering my eyes with a camera while that gift from the sun was going on, wouldn’t you? Like people who look at their phone screen while filming an event instead of actually looking at it with their own eyes!!
Well, regarding Cartier-Bresson, I’ve enjoyed my time with him recently, but kinda had enough of him for a while, so I’m not gonna start repeating myself again here with things I’ve already gone through (but would love your thoughts on the two blogs I wrote about him?)

Your very self-critical, a good thing while you’re exploring and developing your own photographic voice, but I would say there are far more positives here than negatives. Well, thanks, that’s great to hear! Thing is, not really having much experience with self-evaluation (regarding photography) I wanted to be pretty thorough and experiment – for want of a better word – with being critical and analytical (trying to stay within the framework of the assessment criteria of course). I was trying to put myself in the shoes of someone else – use a different voice – so to speak. Wasn’t easy. But quite liberating too, I suppose. I look forward to doing it again!


Coursework

Frozen Moment – well constructed exercise with vg research references. Really good work with shutter speeds for Movements. Very good reading and commentary throughout – Sugimoto, Diaz et al, Holdsworth’s work is extraordinary.
Would really love to have a more in-depth feedback about some of these exercises.

Research

I’ve discussed aspects of your research elsewhere, but note again that your independent study is exemplary – especially the interviews you have undertaken and published in your Blog that reveal a different side of your professional and intellectual curiosity. I think this is obviously the best paragraph of the whole feedback :) well chuffed and happy! Thanks a lot! I am genuinely loving this OCA adventure!

Learning Log 

See General Comments

Suggested reading/viewing

Street photographers, I’m sure you are already familiar with: Trente Park (New! Thanks!); Gary Winogrande among many – here’s an article about Eisenstaedt:
http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1206.html

The course notes recommend you look at the work of the practitioners from Project 3. Done did!
The scope is much wider and you can determine which aspect of the DM you would like to explore.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

The next assignment is “Decisive Moment’ –  maybe (referring to your Blog entry about this concept) you could explore an alternative position?  Let me know when you begin to explore a linking theme. I started about a month ago with some preliminary ideas (all in my notebook) which I am still working on… Exam time at my schools/college so have a little less time for the next 4 weeks, but I am on it all the same. Just. July, Aug I will give the final parts of this course my 100% attention.

Feedback via Google hangouts is becoming increasingly popular. If that’s something you feel would be constructive, then perhaps we can try this for A3 – let me know. Yeah, I’m sure it could be positive, why don’t we give it a try?

Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment: written or video/audio.
Written is much better for me.

 

Tutor name Russell Murray
Date 14 May 2016
Next assignment due Please remember to include a date here, even for Level 3 students, and even if it is nominal – it is helpful for HQ. Ah, ok, cool – I certainly will.

23/05/16
Just had some feedback from my tutor regarding my comments, and he recommends that I keep my comments to a more formal register. So, something else to remember! In my defence (not that I really need to defend myself here – but just to clarify), seeing as this is my blog and post assignment, I just thought that I would informally voice my views and thoughts – I’m pretty sure (even considering how silly I usually can be) that I wouldn’t have used this tone if I were submitting these comments with the assignment for formal assessment. I’m not that much of an idiot.

Ramblings 6

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Floating – 1/800sec at F4/0, ISO-200, Olympus 40-150 mm at 40mm


This Decisive Moment Crack.

Well, it is starting to bug me.
I mean, it’s not that I find it uninteresting, unimportant or anything, more that it just seems to be overly worshipped. Cartier-Bresson’s legacy is here to stay – as the myriad of publications attest – but I am sure that the humble man himself would probably throw a fit regarding the seemingly obsessive idolization of it.
This coming together of elements to create a decisive moment within the frame has its attraction, we cannot deny that, but has it become a cliché? Is it time to realise that there is (and has been since his time) so much more to photography than just a culmination of elements and the story it tells or implies?

Besides, Cartier-Bresson didn’t invent the concept of the decisive moment – it has been around in art for centuries as Bate notes in his Documentary and Storytelling chapter from his 2016 book Photography (pp68-9) with the fascinating concept of the “pregnant moment” or peripetia. And not all of Cartier-Bresson’s photos have that (possibly misunderstood, or misapplied) use of the decisive moment anyway, such as the untitled 1931 shot of a cardigan hanging up on a line (Galassi, 2010, p82). Many of his early shots were decidedly non-decisive, as were many of his later portraits. Clarke (1997, p207) also notes how, “His oeuvre, extensive as it is, escapes definition in terms of any single genre.“.
I also agree with Szarkowski (2007, p11) when he reminds us that the decisive moment “…has been misunderstood; the thing that happens at the decisive moment is not a dramatic climax but a visual one. The result is not a story but a picture.
As Sean O’Hagan mentions, in his Guardian article of 2014, this modern take on the meaning of the decisive moment would be more appropriate to someone like Garry Winogrand:
The decisive moment has come to mean the perfect second to press the shutter. In this context, it might be better applied to, say, Garry Winogrand or Joel Meyerowitz, photographers who pounded the streets in search of the right convergence of light, action and expression rather than patterns and geometry.”
Totally.
And apart from the fact that the 1952 English title of “The Decisive Moment” for his French book Images à la Sauvette is misleading: a more accurate translation of ‘Images/Pictures on the Run‘ better captures Cartier-Bresson’s life through and up to that period – there’d been a lot of running from his family, Europe, imprisonment (Papageorge, 2011, pp30-33) – and would have been more appropriate. And who knows, today we might have been speaking about Cartier-Bresson’s “running images”, or “fugitive captures” if not for that translation.
Yeah, probably not.

I’ve never been convinced that there is only one key moment in photography anyway; it sounds absurd to me. There are clearly many moments depending on the subject, the photographer’s aims, equipment, fortune (Cartier-Bresson so famously highlights ‘it’ as always being “luck”), camera vision – photographic eye or whatever you want to call it. Cartier-Bresson had an incredibly intuitive and gloriously perceptive ‘eye’ (as well as mind) and I believe that is why this decisive moment worked so well with his type of photography (not forgetting – as Bate points out (2016, p89) – his art tutor, André Lhote’s artistic conception of instantané and the impact that must have had on Cartier-Bresson too). Possibly the whole sociocultural feeling of America from the Roaring 20s onwards, and Europe in the 30s 40s also had that ‘decisive moment’ in terms of optimism and seizing the present and creating your future which clearly exploded, so to speak, post World War Two. Maybe Cartier-Bresson was simply lucky in being around at that crucial time in Western society too, and not just lucky with many of his shots?
That we use his 1932 Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare photograph as the very epitome of his decisive moment is also quite ridiculous seeing as he admitted on more than one occasion that the shot was “luck” and that he couldn’t even see the man leaping “I couldn’t see a thing through the viewfinder.” (Henri Cartier-Bresson, L’amour tout Court). How wonderfully annoying that that lucky photo of a critical moment has been used to describe and exemplify the premeditated decisive moment, I think Henri would have loved the irony here.
Still, I won’t be at all surprised if we find out one day that he was just winding us all up about how “lucky” he’d been (Gare Saint-Lazare) or that he “never took that shot” (the guys in the tree and the crowds waiting to see Gandhi), or he “just held up the camera and shot away” (as in the Cardinal shot); whether this was due to an anti-intellectualization, or dislike of the glorification of his work, or more from a spirit of mischievousness, we’ll probably never know, but I know which one I want to believe

I’m glad that the concept has moved away from the classic street photographer application and has been applied to a larger area within the multifaceted world of contemporary photography. The decisive moment isn’t just a well composed black-and-white candid street shot (although that still permeates the photographic psyche), it can be many other things in today’s climate too; I’m thinking along the lines of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Head series, which clearly has a decisive moment, or rather a candid fraction of a series of moments, and yet is quite removed the Cartier-Bresson effect. You wouldn’t get the two photographers mixed up, put it that way; also Jeff Wall’s Passerby has its own decisive moment, but again, it is a very different effect to Cartier-Bresson’s; I believe, a much more foreboding tension as opposed to the more dynamic, graphic tension of Cartier-Bresson (as well as being an example of tableau photography).
In fact, if we think of many other contemporary photographers working today, they are a long way from Cartier-Bersson’s decisive moment, and artists such as Esteban Pastorino Diaz working with slit-scan cameras creates decidedly “un-decisive moments” with his ultra long negatives with their many instants and moments, as pointed out by Higgins (2013, p68), and also here.

So, yes, I do believe that there is a decisive moment, but that really does depend on what and why we are photographing something or someone. I prefer to see things as a constant series of moments and moods blending, repeating, creating themselves anew, in constant movement – something that we can indeed freeze, but never really tame, and possibly something we shouldn’t even try to.


Sources

Papageorge, T., Core Curriculum – Writings on Photography,  Aperture Foundation Inc, Honk Kong, 2011

Galassi, P. and Cartier-Bresson, H. (2010). Henri Cartier-Bresson. New York, N.Y. : Roma: Museum of modern art ; Contrasto.

Cotten, C., The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 2004

Higgins, J., Why It Does Not Have to Be in Focus – Modern Photography Explained, Thames & Hudson, London, 2013

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

Szarkowski, J. (1966). The photographer’s eye. New York: Museum of Modern Art; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y.

Bate, D., Photography: The Key Concepts, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016

O’Hagan, S. (2014). Cartier-Bresson’s classic is back – but his Decisive Moment has passed. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/23/henri-cartier-bresson-the-decisive-moment-reissued-photography [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Magnumphotos.com. (2016). Magnum Photos –. [online] Available at: http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2K1HZOL1RCQFDG&POPUPIID=2S5RYDO4W5P&POPUPPN=24#/SearchResult&VBID=2K1HZOL1EER26Y&POPUPIID=2S5RYDO4W5P&POPUPPN=24 [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Moma.org. (2016). MoMA | Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Head #10. 2002. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/philip-lorca-dicorcia-head-10-2002 [Accessed 13 May 2016].

Tate.org.uk. (2016). Jeff Wall: room guide, room 9. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/jeff-wall/room-guide/jeff-wall-room-8/jeff-wall-room-9 [Accessed 13 May 2016].

Vimeo. (2014). Raphaël O’Byrne. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/user31746159 [Accessed 9 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). An Interview with Esteban Pastorino Diaz. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/an-interview-with-esteban-pastorino-diaz/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). A Durational Space – Project 2: Ex. 3.2 – reading and prep.. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/a-durational-space-project-2/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). Cartier-Bresson: L’amour de Court. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/cartier-bresson/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Me and the Decisive Moment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A Decisive Moment seen recently – 1/800sec at F4/0, ISO-200, Olympus 40-150 mm at 40mm


This Decisive Moment Crack.

Well, it is starting to bug me.
I mean, it’s not that I find it uninteresting, unimportant or anything, more that it just seems to be overly worshipped. Cartier-Bresson’s legacy is here to stay – as the myriad of publications attest – but I am sure that the humble man himself would probably throw a fit regarding the seemingly obsessive idolization of it.
This coming together of elements to create a decisive moment within the frame has its attraction, we cannot deny that, but has it become a cliché? Is it time to realise that there is (and has been since his time) so much more to photography than just a culmination of elements and the story it tells or implies?

Besides, Cartier-Bresson didn’t invent the concept of the decisive moment – it has been around in art for centuries as Bate notes in his Documentary and Storytelling chapter from his 2016 book Photography (pp68-9) with the fascinating concept of the “pregnant moment” or peripetia. And not all of Cartier-Bresson’s photos have that (possibly misunderstood, or misapplied) use of the decisive moment anyway, such as the untitled 1931 shot of a cardigan hanging up on a line (Galassi, 2010, p82). Many of his early shots were decidedly non-decisive, as were many of his later portraits. Clarke (1997, p207) also notes how, “His oeuvre, extensive as it is, escapes definition in terms of any single genre.“.
I also agree with Szarkowski (2007, p11) when he reminds us that the decisive moment “…has been misunderstood; the thing that happens at the decisive moment is not a dramatic climax but a visual one. The result is not a story but a picture.
As Sean O’Hagan mentions, in his Guardian article of 2014, this modern take on the meaning of the decisive moment would be more appropriate to someone like Garry Winogrand:
The decisive moment has come to mean the perfect second to press the shutter. In this context, it might be better applied to, say, Garry Winogrand or Joel Meyerowitz, photographers who pounded the streets in search of the right convergence of light, action and expression rather than patterns and geometry.”
Totally.
And apart from the fact that the 1952 English title of “The Decisive Moment” for his French book Images à la Sauvette is misleading: a more accurate translation of ‘Images/Pictures on the Run‘ better captures Cartier-Bresson’s life through and up to that period – there’d been a lot of running from his family, Europe, imprisonment (Papageorge, 2011, pp30-33) – and would have been more appropriate. And who knows, today we might have been speaking about Cartier-Bresson’s “running images”, or “fugitive captures” if not for that translation.
Yeah, probably not.

I’ve never been convinced that there is only one key moment in photography anyway; it sounds absurd to me. There are clearly many moments depending on the subject, the photographer’s aims, equipment, fortune (Cartier-Bresson so famously highlights ‘it’ as always being “luck”), camera vision – photographic eye or whatever you want to call it. Cartier-Bresson had an incredibly intuitive and gloriously perceptive ‘eye’ (as well as mind) and I believe that is why this decisive moment worked so well with his type of photography (not forgetting – as Bate points out (2016, p89) – his art tutor, André Lhote’s artistic conception of instantané and the impact that must have had on Cartier-Bresson too). Possibly the whole sociocultural feeling of America (and Europe) in the 30s and 40s also had that ‘decisive moment’ in terms of optimism and seizing the present and creating your future which clearly exploded, so to speak, post World War Two. Maybe Cartier-Bresson was simply lucky in being around at that crucial time in Western society too, and not just lucky with many of his shots?
That we use his 1932 Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare photograph as the very epitome of his decisive moment is also quite ridiculous seeing as he admitted on more than one occasion that the shot was “luck” and that he couldn’t even see the man leaping “I couldn’t see a thing through the viewfinder.” (Henri Cartier-Bresson, L’amour tout Court). How wonderfully annoying that that lucky photo of a critical moment has been used to describe and exemplify the premeditated decisive moment, I think Henri would have loved the irony here.
Still, I won’t be at all surprised if we find out one day that he was just winding us all up about how “lucky” he’d been (Gare Saint-Lazare) or that he “never took that shot” (the guys in the tree and the crowds waiting to see Gandhi), or he “just held up the camera and shot away” (as in the Cardinal shot); whether this was due to an anti-intellectualization, or dislike of the glorification of his work, or more from a spirit of mischievousness, we’ll probably never know, but I know which one I want to believe

I’m glad that the concept has moved away from the classic street photographer application and has been applied to a larger area within the multifaceted world of contemporary photography. The decisive moment isn’t just a well composed black-and-white candid street shot (although that still permeates the photographic psyche), it can be many other things in today’s climate too; I’m thinking along the lines of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Head series, which clearly has a decisive moment, or rather a candid fraction of a series of moments, and yet is quite removed from the Cartier-Bresson effect. You wouldn’t get the two photographers mixed up, put it that way; also Jeff Wall’s Passerby has its own decisive moment, but again, it is a very different effect to Cartier-Bresson’s; I believe, a much more foreboding tension as opposed to the more dynamic, graphic tension of Cartier-Bresson (as well as being an example of tableau photography, which – by its staged nature – is inherently a decisive moment).
In fact, if we think of many other contemporary photographers working today, they are a long way from Cartier-Bersson’s decisive moment, and artists such as Esteban Pastorino Diaz working with slit-scan cameras creates decidedly “un-decisive moments” with his ultra long negatives with their many instants and moments merging into a temporal/spatial mosaic, as pointed out by Higgins (2013, p68), and also here.

So, yes, I do believe that there is a decisive moment, but that really does depend on what and why we are photographing something or someone. I prefer to see things as a constant series of moments and moods blending, repeating, creating themselves anew, in constant movement – something that we can indeed freeze, but never really tame, and possibly something we shouldn’t even try to.


Sources

Papageorge, T., Core Curriculum – Writings on Photography,  Aperture Foundation Inc, Honk Kong, 2011

Galassi, P. and Cartier-Bresson, H. (2010). Henri Cartier-Bresson. New York, N.Y. : Roma: Museum of modern art ; Contrasto.

Cotten, C., The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 2004

Higgins, J., Why It Does Not Have to Be in Focus – Modern Photography Explained, Thames & Hudson, London, 2013

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

Szarkowski, J. (1966). The photographer’s eye. New York: Museum of Modern Art; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y.

Bate, D., Photography: The Key Concepts, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016

O’Hagan, S. (2014). Cartier-Bresson’s classic is back – but his Decisive Moment has passed. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/23/henri-cartier-bresson-the-decisive-moment-reissued-photography [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Magnumphotos.com. (2016). Magnum Photos –. [online] Available at: http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2K1HZOL1RCQFDG&POPUPIID=2S5RYDO4W5P&POPUPPN=24#/SearchResult&VBID=2K1HZOL1EER26Y&POPUPIID=2S5RYDO4W5P&POPUPPN=24 [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Moma.org. (2016). MoMA | Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Head #10. 2002. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/philip-lorca-dicorcia-head-10-2002 [Accessed 13 May 2016].

Tate.org.uk. (2016). Jeff Wall: room guide, room 9. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/jeff-wall/room-guide/jeff-wall-room-8/jeff-wall-room-9 [Accessed 13 May 2016].

Vimeo. (2014). Raphaël O’Byrne. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/user31746159 [Accessed 9 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). An Interview with Esteban Pastorino Diaz. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/an-interview-with-esteban-pastorino-diaz/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). A Durational Space – Project 2: Ex. 3.2 – reading and prep.. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/a-durational-space-project-2/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). Cartier-Bresson: L’amour de Court. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/cartier-bresson/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].

An Interview with Jesús Joglar

Jesus 1
Winter Solstice


Jesús Joglar on his love for ‘solargraphy’ interviewed by Kev Byrne early May 2016.

KB: Jesús, on your website you say that ‘Pinhole photography makes you think before shooting‘, In what way?

JJ: Usually what you know of a given pinhole camera are its characteristic data like the f/value which is determined by the focal length and the pinhole diameter and the format of the light-sensitive material being either paper or film. Pinhole cameras don’t have a built-in light meter to automatically measure the lighting conditions or a viewfinder to help you when framing your photographs. This means that you need to make some calculations about the exposure time and carefully point your camera so you frame what you try to get in your photograph. Also the “shutter” is a bit different from those usually found in lens cameras.

KB: Interesting! This capturing of photography without using a viewfinder/screen is fascinating. A lot of luck and surprises I’m sure! I understand that Esteban Pastorino Diaz also does that too – as he recently told me in an interview. So, Jesús , this style is obviously a very long way away from the snapshot, right?

JJ: Oh, indeed. By definition a snapshot is “an informal photograph, especially one taken quickly by a hand-held camera”. The f/number of a pinhole camera generally has a value around 100 or bigger and, of course depending on the film (or paper) speed, the exposure times are longer than those of a lens camera. This means that the camera has to be firmly placed to avoid moving it while opening the pinhole to let the light go in (unless you look for that effect on purpose).

KB: F/100+? Amazing. So the exposure times are clearly longer than normal photography, but what other differences are there?

JJ: In addition to what is stated above, geometry is a very important characteristic of the a pinhole camera. In common lens cameras the film is a flat surface in front of the lens. Pinhole cameras can be made in very different shapes being a box the simplest one. But they can also have  curved plane focal planes or being cylindrical with the pinhole in the lateral surface or even in one of the cylinder bases (what will make an anamorphic camera). All of these “variables” make pinhole cameras a different way of looking at photography and increasing immensely the creativity potential.

KB: Yes, I agree – it seems to reveal amazing views of the unseen universe that surrounds us (as Michael Wesely has done), truly amazing stuff! Sorry, going back to the first question, can we infer that you believe that most people subsequently do NOT think before pressing the shutter release?

JJ: Not at all! Of course most people think a lot before making their photographs. My statement is not a criticism on the use of lens cameras, either analogue or digital ones. I also use both kinds of cameras too. What I mean is that a viewfinder and a built-in lightmeter helps you to make pictures in an easier and quicker way than with a pinhole camera.

KB: Ok, I see what you mean. In your bio you say that a workshop in 2009 changed your view of photography. What exactly did you discover in that workshop that changed everything for you?

JJ: The main thing I learnt was the fact that the photosensitive paper exposed for very long time using a pinhole camera (as it is used for recording solargraphs) was able to produce an image without the need of the developing process. That means that the silver halides present in the gelatin emulsion of the paper react with the light photons yielding some silver complex salts of different tonalities that can be seen under dim light conditions and scanned to a digital file and post processed with the adequate software.
This was something difficult to rationalize for a chemist like myself. It was only after I had read some old photographic texts that I realized that silver halides coated on paper under different conditions showed a characteristic behavior under different light sources. [See, for example: J. M. Eder The Chemical Effect of the Spectrum Scovill Manufacturing Company here, New York, 1884.]

KB: That’s great, thanks! The processes and stages that create these dreamy visions of other worlds must be quite difficult, I imagine. Could you explain a little about what exactly you do with pinhole, or solargraphy?

JJ: If you talk about solargraphs, the process is not difficult. Solargraphy is a specialized form of long exposure pinhole photography that registers the sun trails as a consequence of its apparent movement related to the earth (known as “ecliptic” – as you can see with some of Wesely’s work). The image is created using home-made pinhole cameras (usually tin cans, 35 mm film canisters, etc.) charged with photosensitive paper and fixed to some point for a period of time.
It consists in applying long exposure times, from one or more days up to months or even years. Over these very long exposures the photosensitive material placed inside the camera registers changes in the tonality of the emulsion as the light strikes it, both directly from the Sun or by reflection from other elements. Initially white or yellowish depending on the paper used, it gives rise to an observable image without the need of any chemical treatment (development and/or fixing). The image looks like a geometrically inverted (that is, upside down and left to right) negative presenting different brown, ochre or red tonalities only visible under a red or faint light to avoid it gets foggy.

KB: That sounds simply amazing!

JJ: It is! Once the exposure is done and the cans are collected I use to open them in a room with dim light to scan the image. You don’t need to develop nor fix the image, simply digitize it with a scanner to obtain a digital file and process it as you would do with any other photography. The idea is that the scanner makes a single pass over the image without stopping to avoid lines due to the scanner light. This is related to the computer memory, the software and the resolution of the scan. For me, the most interesting part of this process is that, when removing the paper from the can with a subdued light, the image is already observed. I imagine that, when the photons strike the emulsion, in addition to the silver cations whose electrons are excited thus jumping to higher energy levels and yielding some silver complex salts. On the other hand, the gelatin, which is a partially denatured protein, that is, an organic chemical compound containing some mineral salts and water may also have some effect.
Another important feature of the picture is that it has a brown, ocher, reddish hues. . . i.e. have color (not black as elemental silver) and the quick scan (in RGB mode) and invert the negative to positive, the colors of the solar traces and the surrounding areas are observed. Can you imagine the feeling of seeing a photo on black&white photographic paper and get a color image? It is spectacular!

KB: Beautiful. So interesting, Jesús ! A real return to the science of photography, its former chemical origins, right?

JJ: Absolutely! By the way, remember we were talking about Hiroshi Sugimoto, well a few days ago I visited here in Barcelona an exhibition of his! The works present here were Seascapes, Portraits, Theaters, Dioramas and Lightning Fields. All of them outstanding!!! I had not seen in person anything from him before and I was amazed of the quality and the different concepts he worked on. Some time ago my wife asked me about the possibility of making some pictures in cinemas with my pinhole cameras and I told her that it was a good idea but we were only to see a white screen and maybe the chairs and the movement of people while watching the film. I am thinking in this possibility now as Sugimoto’s work was done without people on the shows. Let’s see! [Jesus recently (mid June 2016) added a Sugimoto inspired shot – here]


Bio

Jesús Joglar is a scientist working in the field of organic chemistry and biocatalysis. He started to make photographs in the “analog era” using his father Contax II camera and, since then, he has been faithful to this way of making photographs.

He discovered pinhole photography by chance. Pinhole photography makes you think before making a picture and that’s the most rewarding way of making photographs.

In 2009, on the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, he attended to a workshop, in which he discovered a different way of doing pinhole long exposure shots. Everything since then has changed his way of looking at photography. He got hooked!

His main body of work lies in the field of pinhole photography and a sizeable portion of Jesús Joglar’s photographic practice is devoted to solargraphy, a specialized form of lensless photography that records the sun as it moves in continually shifting arches across the sky, resulting in thrilling images and new insights about the world around us.


Sources

Itchyi.squarespace.com. (2016). The Longest Photographic Exposures in History – The Latest – itchy i. [online] Available at: http://itchyi.squarespace.com/thelatest/2010/7/20/the-longest-photographic-exposures-in-history.html [Accessed 10 May 2016].

Kev Byrne 1971. (2016). An Interview with Esteban Pastorino Diaz. [online] Available at: https://kevinbyrne1971.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/an-interview-with-esteban-pastorino-diaz/ [Accessed 10 May 2016].

light through a hole. (2014). Winter solstice [Happy New Pinholing 2015]. [online] Available at: https://jesusjoglar.net/2014/12/21/winter-solstice-happy-new-pinholing-2015/ [Accessed 10 May 2016].

Sugimotohiroshi.com. (2016). Hiroshi Sugimoto. [online] Available at: http://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/ [Accessed 10 May 2016].

light through a hole. (2016). light through a hole. [online] Available at: https://jesusjoglar.net/ [Accessed 10 May 2016].

Flickr – Photo Sharing!. (2016). Jesús Joglar. [online] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/trasiegu/ [Accessed 10 May 2016].

Facebook.com. (2016). Facebook. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/trasiegu.trasiegon [Accessed 10 May 2016].