Monday, December 13, 2010

Niki Barbati

In this picture the buildings and the sky interact to create an almost abstract image of geometric shapes. the key shape is that of the sky. A slow shutter speed was probably used alone with some serious dodging to achieve the tone and blur in the clouds. A wide angle lens was probably necessary to get a view that includes so much of the buildings on each side. Though it looks almost HDR, I would guess that it is just a lot of dodging and burning based on the light on the edges of the buildings. 

Jason King

This is another photograph that shows that uses a dynamic negative shape to connect the architecture. Here smaller elements are used up-close to act as similar elements as the buildings. The light and the banner both feel as colossal as the buildings and function on the same plane as them. The curve of the light post and the arches on the building relate easily to the ripple of the banner. The corner of the building in the bottom left closes off the negative shape though it remains open on the other side. The sky is slightly gradated which contains the photograph space slightly but it still feels a little too open to me. 

Eric Kim

After seeing Eric's photography, I have started being more aware of the space and negative shapes made by buildings in the city.  This photograph is an especially strong example of how that negative shape can be used to activate the photograph. The titled camera allows the overhang to keep they diagonal zigzag going rather then grounding it as it would if that heavy black line were horizontal. The sky is handled by some subtle vignetting in the upper right hand corner. This gradation of the sky contains the photograph, allowing the eye to continue in a circular motion around the frame.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Matt Weber

Flat photography usually dont interest me but in street photography, I really like graphic element it adds. The shapes of the railing and the mosaic activate the space, balancing each other out. The girl adds the crucial element of interest being the subject. The scuffs on the wall appear to be confetti spewing from her outstretched arm; her upturned face drawing the attention into the picture. Her shape is perfectly balanced by the inclusion of the protruding piece of wall decoration in the opposite corner. 

The dramatic light created by the fog here really makes this picture. The contrast between the soft and swirling fog and the hard edged city seem to pull the human shape between two worlds. The fact that the figure is fully covered by the fog allows it remain some what isolated from the city. The lines from where the street meets the buildings draws the eye into the center as do the verticals above it. The distance from which the picture was taken makes it feel more like an intrusion on a surreal almost ritualistic moment. 

The real strength in this picture lies in the subject, 9/11. However it's unconventional view of the towers shows a side of it not seen from the plethora of after math pictures shown in most newspapers. The inclusion of the children who are completely oblivious to what is happening around them and the mother, forced to ignore it so she can continue taking care of her kids turns the focus towards the affect on the rest of America. The diagonals in the image draw the focus to the distant and muted towers while the contrasts make allow the figures to maintain the center of focus. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ian Smith

The tonal range of this photograph is what really draws me into it. The shades on the hall of the sip, the white of the surf, the details in the sky, every surface has a full tonal range in the textures that cover each surface. compositionally, the photo is basic and strong. The diagonal chain draws the eye in to the diagonal that the axis of the ship makes, perpendicular to that of the chain. The foam on the beach mimc curve of the hull while the clouds balance the ships reflection. Technically the image is eloquent and well refined. Conceptually, there is also a lot to work with. The image of the anchor and the chain both lend them selves to some form of captivity, an idea very appropriate for a beached vessel. The angle of the ship makes it seem like it is almost straining against the chain, fighting to get free. Yet at the same time storm clouds are forming overhead. 

Though this picture is by the same photographer, of the same subject, the image is no where near as successful as the first photograph. The choppy water and blank sky are what really destroy it; the size of the waves take away from the monumental feeling of the other image, while the bare sky bleeds out a lot of potential tension, not to mention the fact that it takes up two thirds of the frame with absolutely nothing. The slightly tilted horizon is just enough to annoy with out really adding anything to the picture. This is what much of Ian Smith's photographs looked like, relatively unimpressive, rather snap shot like. 

Everything that was done wrong in the last image seems to have been done right in this one. The photographer took advantage of the size of the ships to get right up close, turning them into looming shapes. He used the ropes to draw the eye up into the center where the ships meet creating an x shaped composition. The smaller ship on the right and the water line and the water line on the middle boat both serve to continue the horizon that appears only in a fraction of the frame on the far left. The sky is a slight gradient moving from white to a light grey on the right hand side, framing the middle craft. All of the elements are well handled and thought through; there is none of the randomness that destroys of some of his other images.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


To illustrate hierarchy, I plan to use human relationships as shown through gesture and body language.  With the pictures I intend to destroy the traditional thought of hierarchy as all encompassing levels of importance and show it as the intricate micro-relationships that actually make up society.

This first image is a Henri Cartier-Bresson shot. It is easy to assume this is a grandfather-granddaughter relationship because of the protective way the man surrounds her. The direct eye contact and crossed legs show a confidence bordering defiance directed towards the photographer. Doubtless this is brought on be the presence of the man whose hands and legs surrounds the child. Heretically, the man is more important; he is older, wiser, part of the work force, probably the main provider for the family; however the photograph shows him as protective and comforting. These are the type of relationships I want to use to show human hierarch. Though I do not intend to stage my photographs or even allow my subjects to know they are being shot, the photograph still shows the type of relationships I want to portray.

Here, the photographer, Lev Tsimring, captured a far more subtle hierarchy. The relation is between three supposed siblings as the two eldest teach the smallest child to ride a bike. The tallest of the three wraps his arm around the child on the bike as though lifting him up to take him off the bike which is too large, probably a possession of the older boy. There is a clear hierarchy between the three, but the way they are helping each other shows how social relations are used to support and help people.

Handshake by Laurent Roch shows clear hierarchy. The seated verse the standing, the way the man on the left stoops over to sake the other man’s hand, the embroidered hat and the uncovered head, all of these contribute to the feeling that these two are at different social levels. Despite this, the image catches the moment of meeting. In this introduction, their faces show genuine surprise and pleasure at the union, complicating the hierarchy of the positions. It seems to lead to a moment where the seated man stands up to greet the other, symbolically a removal of the previous hierarchy.

Though this picture is about the juxtaposition of the food add and the family Julian Legrand captures the relationships without the conventional use of faces and heads. The relation of the three is made clear by simple body language. The largest figure is probably the father; his wife is to the left and a son with his hand over the man’s shoulder. The lack of heads in this shot is what really draws me to it; this is a technique I may try with my own pictures to focus on the way people orient themselves around each other.

Another Lev Tsimring, this picture is a very comical take on the idea of hierarchy. The expensive looking sweat pants, the loose baggy jeans, and then the canine. It is an easy line up to see hierarchy in an amusing light. As with the last image, the photographer chose to crop out the heads of the people, focusing in on the symbolism of the way the figures are clothed (or otherwise).

The idea of hierarchy is often characterized by a conflict or struggle that establishes that hierarchy. This picture by Richard Ford shows a checkers game by tow people who seem appear to be foils. They are close enough in age that they appear to be well matched competitors. However, they are opposite in build and dress. Their respective dark and light suits seem to mimic the conflict on the board, personalizing the checkers game.

This photograph by Lukas Vasilikos shows a very clear hierarchy: that of the family. The progression of youngsters surrounded by their parents is mimicked in the sign on the shop window of the human evolution. Though the comparison is comical, the family hierarchy is none the less present. In terms of how it manifests its self visually, the parents are shown walking at the front and back of the procession of kids, shepherding them forward.

The correlation between figures here is made by the shopping bags. The photographer, Michael Penn makes the connection between the child and the two adults in the back ground with the triangle of white plastic grocery bags. These forms seem to hint at the bags that they homeless carry their possessions around in. The child seems to be following the example of the figures before him, carrying around a bag too large for him to lift off the ground while still struggling to move forward.

This is another shot by Richard Ford. In this one he shows a clear progression in line of people as their heads steadily get lower in the frame. Although this arrangement appears to be simply lucky placement, the implication is of some social order that reflects the importance of each person in the group. Besides their position, there is nothing to suggest any form of hierarchy between them. They are all of approximately the same age and appear to be off similar economic background, but the placement of the head is such a symbol of authority that the progression overrides all other symbols in the photograph.

Any form of line implies a hierarchy, some sort of order of significance that being shown the apparently organized position.  In this photograph the reason behind the order can only be guessed at. The three standing elderly people appear to be looking down on the seated woman who waits like them next to the street. A fourth figure also looks towards the seated woman; she, however, stands apart from the others, implying a social distance, though not as great as the distance between the three and the figure farthest to the right. The slow shutter speed allows the moving crowd to blur away into the back ground, bringing the visual relation of the four standing figures into sharp focus. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall

Though his work looks candid, Jeff Walls photography is staged. The scene of chaos here, though nor ordinary, certainly does not look impossible. All of it seems to be just lucky timing. It is not the setting or the subject that make this picture interesting, it is the relation between the characters; the way they interact gives implies a level of depth otherwise missing from the shot. This is something that I have been striving for with my peter pan work. and is probably the hardest part of my process. To create this tangible relations and interactions with out making it seemed posed is a lot harder then a shot like this shows. 

In this picture, it is the inclusion the minor, apparently inadvertent details that transform the shot. Though the wet floor and paper boats are an obvious stage, details like the plant, trash in the wastebasket and the open filing cabinet make it appear more candid. The clock and light from the window give an apparent time and setting for the entire thing. Even the name "8th Floor Office Park. 4th February 2009" attempts to add to the documentary facade. All of these are critical details to making a set up like this work. Whether it is with paper dolls or in an office, the details are what transform the stage.

Even though the grave of flowers is clearly the subject here, Wall doesn't resort to simply recording the oddity he has created. He continues to add little details to push the photograph further and further. The absence of people is made up for by the hoses in the back ground and shovels in the foreground imply. Both of these add the element of narrative to his strange flower grave. An intriguing comparison for this photograph is the tree in the grave by Goldsworthy. Both have similar subjects but both are handled very differently. Here, the strangeness of what is seen is elevated by the normality of the setting: everything seems normal, except the grave of water and plants. With Goldsworthy, the creation of the unusual is stressed by the forward approach to the photograph. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Andy Goldsworthy

Goldsworthy's work is certainly some of the most perplexing in photography. Like Skoglund, he creates the subject he plans to photograph which raises the question of whether the photograph or the sculpture is the art. Certainly there would be no photo with out the sculpture, but that doesn't mean the decisions Goldsworhty makes behind the camera dont play a huge part in how the art. Here for example he shoots the structure when the lake is perfectly calm.  Had he shot this an a windy day the ripples would have ruined the effect, destroying exactly half of art work. 

In this image the time of day does not play as big a part as in the previous shot, although it still is prevalent. The grey overcast lighting and use of a eye-level vantage point gives the feeling of a open grave at a funeral. Once again, the camera plays more then a purely documentary role in this shot. It is not simply recording the sculpture; it is utilizing the form to create a new work of art. At the same time, it can't be said that the camera is truly pushed to its limits when creating this. It is more like the camera was used in such away to keep it invisible. 

Here again, Goldsworthy uses the light and angle of the camera to best display the work. The ray of light forces the ice to stand out from the white show in the back ground. Even the dark of the tree bark gives a harsher contrast to the foreground. Though the sculpture is eloquent on its own, the photograph captures the moment when it is literally at the hight of its brilliance. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sandy Skoglund

A lot of the respect I have for artists comes from the effort that goes into their work, and the amount of work that must have gone into an image like this is incredible. I think that most people would have just made one of the cats, tossed it on a stand and called it finished. However Skoglund went through the effort of having this entire image created before she even pulled out the camera. In terms of imagery, I love the chaotic effect that the marauding cats seem to have. The way they interact with the rest of the set makes them appear to be alive and moving. The use of color is also very strong; obviously the colors were not random luck and were deliberately put into the set for a purpose. I feel as though the grey gives the objects a dead look, allowing the cats to be the real life of the shot. 

More cats, though this time, not nearly as successful. Honestly, this one looks like a bad photoshop job. I know that the color of the cats is real because they are the same cats that are in the other shot, but the blue of the world around is probably done with photoshop. Also, the photo doesn't have the same feeling of widespread chaos as the other one. The fact that the cats are all with in the frame makes it seem like you are seeing all of them; it has none of the implied 'more to come' that the other one holds. Finaly, the clutter of the city takes away from the clutter of the cats. It seems almost normal, which is contrary to everything that Skoglund does. 

This image stood out to me because of the apparently natural environment. There is no color manipulation, no posed people, it just seems to be a bunch of large blue leaves in a field. Typical Skoglund stuff. I really enjoy the implied narratives that show up in all of her work. This one for example seems to be leading some where and coming from some where else. Though we can probably see all of the leaves, it seems like they could go on for ever in either direct, "as far as the eye can see" as the title puts it. The use of the borders and grass to cut of the leaves before they end allows for the effect, adding an element of mystery to the already strange scene. These are all elements I am trying to focus on in my own work. As I construct sets, I want them to look like they are part of a larger world and not contained by the frame. I want the mystery of a before and after to show just as much as it does in Skoglunds work.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keith Carter

The beauty of this photograph is found in the use of focus and blur. The hard edge of the hand is just enough to anchor the boy in the bubble while the fraction of a reflection gives the impression of a watery platter form or deck. The way in which the light defines the bubble through the black shape and then turns dark as the edge enters the light creates a truly stunning reversal of tone. The blurring of the image may have been achieved with a lenses baby or tilt focus lens. Shallow depth of field provides the blur that engulfs everything else. Though I find most blur photography cliché, this is an image the inspires me to strive for similar effect.

We have all seen light trails with headlights and airplanes, flash lights and glow sticks, but moths in spot light is a new one. Not only is the idea new and interesting, the execution is beautiful. The swirling of the insects as they are drawn in makes for a much more interesting photo then the straight lines of a moving car, and the way in which many of the insects flap their wings creates a unique bead like pattern. The inclusion of the moon adds a sort of scene setter. This picture makes me want to set up a light and camera on some warm summer night back home and wait to see what I get.

This is my favorite of Keith Carter’s photographs. It used to hang on the corkboard in my high school dark room and would constantly fascinate me. The size of the leafs in comparison with the apparently emaciated children has always caused me to question which really is in front. The light playing through the jar adds to the already mysterious quality that the soft focus lends the picture. The reflections on the water and light in the foliage complete the picture. How the photographer managed to throw the children so far out of focus while still retaining detail in the back ground is beyond me, but it certainly creates an amazing image.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sabastiao Salgado

The tonal range of this photograph is one of the most beautiful I have seen in a long time. The soft quality of the light, the hazy background and the overcast sky, make the atmosphere of the image strangely surreal. The placement of the figures, the eye contact of the two largest and the gesture of the child are really the subject of the photo. The shot is balanced by the figure facing away in the middle ground. Even though the tallest man was notably dogged, the effect is not glaringly painful. All in all, I think this picture is a true mastery of art. 

Yannis Behrakis

The juxtaposition of the poster and the boy, both of whom are looking right at the lens, is what fascinates me about this image. Though the tonal range is slightly washed out by the presence of the window, the bar running through the middle provides enough solid information to get past the blur of the glass and the reflected landscape. The image is segmented in several different ways: the flat poster and the boy, the interior and the exterior, the reflection and what is behind the reflection. All of these devisions create a complexity that is hard to achieve in a picture this flat. 

Dean Armstrong

I think it is the deliberate motion blur that drew me to the shot. At first, I thought it was fog but at a second glance I realized he just has shaky hands. However, I feel it works with the look of the picture. The ancient, timeless structure, the classic sepia tone, it all adds to the feeling of an old photograph taken of some great mystery as two civilizations begin to collide. Were the picture in sharp focus, I wouldn't have given it a second glance. It is the compilation of all the different tools that make this photograph something intriguing. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Architecture is always an interesting part of photography. In photo 1 I used it to achieve abstractions through close ups of reflections, and earlier this semester I used them as the subject of my “Abandon City” series. Here, Caputo uses the building as a backdrop, a stage curtain for his subjects, the two talking women. He arranges the frame the make the figures seem small and insignificant, overshadowed by the size and complexity of the architecture.  However he uses the soft blue shadows and light pink highlights to tie it all together, connecting the pink of one of the woman’s dresses with the pink of the walls and the blue of the second woman’s dress with the blue of the shadows.

Rae Barnes

Wedding and portrait photography is, next to advertisement, is the photography that I have the hardest time respecting.  Not that I don’t think it is an art, but I find that wedding and portrait photography is just too popular. Everyone does it. However, not ever portrait photographer cuts off the heads of their subjects. The fact that Rae was able to show the emotion and connection of this family through simple gesture of their bodies without using their faces is a crucial element to making this picture beautiful. It is far too easy to lean on the expressions on people faces to portray emotion, but a photographer who can show both emotion and relations without the use of the head is truly an artist to be admired.

Arthur Tress

The light illumination the sheet from behind is truly what makes this photograph. It silhouettes the tree and allows the gust of wind to turn it into an extension of the undulating shape of the tree, like a massive unified piece of foliage. The filter used to darken the sky and the flowing sand dunes tie the picture together allowing for interesting shapes from one border to the next. I picked this image because of the use this strong use of light. It is a feature that I strive to achieve in my own work, and one that when present, really makes a photograph.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Abelardo Morell

For this photo project I am using Abelardo Morell's series on Alice in Wonderland as my inspiration. In the series he uses cut outs of the original illustrations to re-illustrate the story. In all of the pictures, books are used as props with in his miniature stage set; pattered cloth is also a common back ground for his scenes. The dramatic light coming out of the book is probably the most important aspect of this image. Having the rabbit back-lit is also key because it allows the white of the paper to  become darker and retain the information within it.

Once again the dramatic lighting sets the tone for the picture. The book also plays another major architectural part in the image. Something new in this shot is the introduction of outside props. The miniature tea set adds to the three-dimensional parts of the set. A small aperture and slow shutter speed gives him the depth of field to view both Alice and the figures closer to the camera.

Of all the images in this series, Morells use of the water and reflection makes this image my favorite. The patterns appearing in the shadows and the light reflection off the surface makes the image come alive in the same way that the light with in the book animates his rabbit hole picture. His willingness to totally destroy his subjects for the picture is terrifyingly successful. Though I would struggle to go to such lengths, his desecration of these books and illustrations have made for an almost magical series.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Steve Chong

This is another simple set up that uses basic camera functions and household objects to achieve a subtly surreal photograph. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the image is the way the selective focus plays with the liquids in the glass. With out this the shot would be just another slow water drop. In the description, the Chong describes how he used corn syrup for its sticky consistency. He also notes that he got up at 3am to have the set ready for the first rays of the sun to enter the window and offer the lighting he wanted. This type of still life is one that I worked with thought out most of high school. Simple set ups and selective focus were my style.  I can not claim that I ever achieved anything this beautiful, but it certainly is reminiscent of some of my early work. 

Though I have yet to find a photo by the Parkeharrison that I don't like, I picked out this image for its relative plausibility. Most of their images are far too elaborate for me to even hope to try something similar. However, the simplicity of this one is what draws me in. Though it is still surreal and maintains the story like quality of their other work, it is achieved through simple props and some motion-blur. the still bird with feathers circling the child's arm are the focus of the picture, but the antlers and moving man mimic the situation, as does the trailing bit of vine or root in the top left corner. The making of this picture could have been as simple as a slow shutter-speed, cloudy day, a fake bird and two actors.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thomas Barbey

Barbey's work is always spectacularly fascinating. In this picture especially, the molding of the two images is beautifully done. Even the paradoxical idea of the river underwater and the proportion shift from people and houses to the pool ladder looks unnervingly natural. Venice really should not fit so easily underwater. I have done several double exposures before, but never anything more complex then overlaying patterns on other images. However, I would love to try more difficult images in future work; probably nothing this challenging, but something that involves more dogging and burning to create the apparent unity of the images, rather then the typical transparent pictures I have done before. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Angel Chiriboga

Though this has no relevance to my current project, I found this image too intriguing not to share. In its own morbid way, it reminds me of the emulation I did of Abelardo Morell. This series balances two-dimensional x-rays in a three-dimensional setting. Though in some of the images the x-rays are hung like pictures on a organic wall, this particular photo has the lungs hanging from a tree as if the tree were the spine that connects the pair of lungs to the forest around it. I love the idea of the photographer walking around the woods with these x-rays, trying them on different trees to see which ones fit. The way in which Chiriboga places the x-rays with their back ground (lungs with the tree, brain with the 420 graffiti, feet walking along the river) shows a true seeking out of the right environment for each image.

Ian Ference

Once again, this picture immediately put me in mind of the chairs I photographed earlier. The soft lighting from the window is even similar to the lighting of my picture. The setting of this shot is also reminiscent of what my recent work has been centered around. The abandoned and decaying building with the leftovers of past inhabitances, the ghost of a presence. Like the chair of John Divola, Ference’s chair is facing away from the viewer. However, unlike Divola, this chair is facing the window as though looking for escape, something its previous inhabitance have evidently already found. In the caption on Ference’s website, the lighting is labeled as moonlight. Ference probably saw the room before hand (unless he just likes walking around abandoned hospitals at night) and chose to come back when the moon was at a place where he could use it to get the type of lighting he wanted for the final shot.

John Divola

After printing my image of the plastic lawn chairs, Divola's series on chairs drew my eye immediately. The use of vignetting gives the light a soft quality. Because Divola chose to turn off the two wall lamps and use two obscure light sources on the ceiling, the over all feel is of a mysterious and surreal setting. The way the chare was placed with its back to the camera gives the impression that we are looking in on something that does not include the viewer. The textural quality of the walls and inclusive depth of field as well are characteristics of the entire series, giving them all their subtly classic feel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010