Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016

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After attending the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ exhibition at the Arnolfini in Bristol, I was inspired to go out and shoot some things of my own. Experiencing images in a material object, with imaged presented as a physical installation has allowed me to fully appreciate the beauty within the medium of photography! Here are a selection of my favourite images…

‘The alley cat’ by Nayan Khanolkar

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-21-48-16Technical Specifications: Nikon D7000; 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 lens at 21mm; 1/20 sec at f7.1; three Nikon flashes; Trailmaster infrared triggers; custom-made housing.

Observations: This image was achieved through careful use of set up, lighting and tonality were accomplished through the use of a motion trigger which set the flash, consequently, illuminating the leopard adding a mysterious allure.  This image was shot with a wide aperture meaning that depth of field was minimal, subsequently, achieving all-around sharp focus. It is interesting that within this composition that 3 separate flashes were triggered, this acted to carefully light the composition meaning that this image set up was highly controlled to create tone, contrast and shadow adding to the overall effect of the photograph. [Winning Image]

‘Requiem for an owl’ by Mats Andersson

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Technical Specifications: Nikon D4; 300mm f2.8 lens and 2x extender; 1/160 sec at f5.6; ISO 400.

Observations: I particularly enjoyed this image due to its immense tone and contrast was achieved through the large/extended focal length used(300m). The telephoto lens would have been fully extended and manually focused on the owl which created the strong depth of field. The sheer control and meticulous construction of this image aided its overall appearance. I feel this image exhibits a highly aesthetic composition due to its focus, zoom and construction. The moon is blurred but visible in the background, this would have acted as the main source of light when photographing. The aperture value is set to both f2.8 and then f5.6 when shooting this setting acted to widen the size of the lens iris which compensated for the fast shutter speed which subsequently allowed more light to enter the iris. This was particularly important due to the time of shooting being at night (lighting is very limited). Although, the ISO setting was at a fairly low value meaning that sharpness was optimum whilst minimising image loss/grain. The black and white saturation excentuated the melancholy and tonal variety within the image.

‘Spiralling sparrows’ – by José Pesquero

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-21-52-03Technical Specifications: Nikon D810; Helios 44 58mm f2 lens; 1/250 sec at f2.8; ISO 80; remote shutter release.

Observations:  This image was achieved through a variety of conditions and techniques. Firstly, it is interesting to mention that the photographer is capturing the sparrow’s movement by shooting directly into the path of natural light. This is reflected by the visual aesthetics present within the compositon along with the miminmal light sensitivity of the ISO value of just 80. The aperture value is wide, allowing large amounts of light to enter the iris which created the illuminated and tonal disparity of this photograph. As the placement of natural light passes directly through the sparrow’s wings, this subsequenly illuminates and freezes their movement/motion. Another crucial element of this image is its incredibly fast shutter speed, (1/250 sec) this allowed little light to enter the iris which compensated for the vast and direct amount of natural light whilst also freezing and blurring the Sparrows motion which creates the surrealist and fanstatical appearance. The archetypal feature that is fundamental in creating the visual aesthetics and effect of this photograph is down to the use of a legacy lens (Helios 44) which is largely responsible for the circular motion and textured appearance of the background that surround the sparrows.


For a while now, I have been interested in working with wildlife and nature, this trip to the Arnolfini inspired me to go out and shoot some video footage from a local attraction that Swindon is home to. In this instance, just the act of witnessing a photographic installation had an immense effect on my personal reception of the photography and my engagment and reception of the experience. I often feel that (although digital photography is great!) the compressed and digitized nature of photography today greatly detracts from photography as a medium. Increasingly, we consume images on a screen, they are quickly glanced at or taken for granted without little thought or contemplation whereas when you are attending a photographic installation you are invited to spend time with the images and truely reflect, engage and ponder them. This was a fundamentally important experience that has re-invigorated my experience of photography as a medium and an artform.

Prelminary Shoot at Coate Water

Welcome back! Today, I began another semester by attending an exhibition housed at the M-Shed in Bristol. I also grasped the opportunity to begin shooting. However, it was an incredibly miserable and dreary day with little lighting a very poor visibility (giving my images a strong melancholy atmosphere hence the choice of black and white!). I didn’t shoot with any particular theme in mind other than thinking about places and how they are constructed to communicate age and narrative hence why I shot some textures as well as general photography. I felt that the black and white appearance of my images enabled me to capture a dramatic but dream-like depiction of the Docks. Some of my images are deliberately blurry which acts to accentuate this. Bristol Docks are a very picturesque area to shoot in and it was a shame that the weather and lighting let this shoot down slightly. However, I feel that overall my images dramatically encapsulate my area as rustic and aged whilst also capturing the temporal narrative space bestows upon its visitors.

In class, we also discussed research methodologies by examining photographers different investigative approaches to their works. We were all designated a particular artist to research, creating timelines that illustrate their processes. This was a helpful task as it enabled me to gain a better understanding of how to approach a photographic project/investigation rather than just picking a subject and photographing it on a surface level.

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This semester, our focus will be around ‘Spaces’ and ‘Places’, today we began this discussion by examining the concept of public, private and liminal spaces by paying particular reference around the Bristol area. We focus on the Docks, an area of strong cultural heritage that features many social, cultural and economic standpoint.

I managed to shoot some images this week that relate to themes and ideas that arose during the class discussions and weekly core readings. For me, these images relate to themes and ideas that encapsulate and explore ‘backstage’ spaces. I returned home from university only to discover my partner’s mother was half-way through a marathon baking session. As a result, the kitchen was askew with dirty pots, pans and knives; constructing a perfect scene that encapsulates the taboo, dirty and incomplete but realistic/mundane nature of daily living. Within traditional interior photography, scenes are immaculate, perfect and surreal in appearance. These images completely contrast this idea whilst also photographing a scene that implies human drama when it’s not actually depicted in actuality.

Reading Questions – Interior Design

1.What are the places (buildings, interiors) that you associate with social, cultural and economic power?

  1. Banks, Housing societies/councils
  2. Schools, universities
  3. Court Rooms
  4. Churches, mosques
  5. Government Buildings, such as the houses of parliament, white house etc.
  6. Television/media institutions such as the BBC

2. What other ‘liminal’ or ‘non-places’ could you think of, other than those mentioned?

  • Cars, Trains, Planes, Busses
  • Shops, Bookstores
  • Cafes, Bars
  • Staircases, Corridors
  • Schools, Educational institutions, Staff Rooms etc

3. Look out for / Collect photographs of backstage, behind the scene places. Analysis what the fascination of these images is…

  • I have photographed…

4. What are the places that mean the most to you?

  • The area in which I grew up, by ‘mean the most’, I refer to places that I have experienced both happiness and tragedy within. However, these places are still important to me due to the past and its influences on my life.
  • Examples include… previous schools and the surrounding areas due to fond memories created with once-close friends.
  • Towards the end of my education, I felt that I rediscovered my own identity, establishing a close network of friends and feeling fulfilled within my own abilities.
  • Despite sharing moments of happiness, it is important to mention that this also marked the closing of an era but also new beginnings.

5. Sites of most happiness?

  • I don’t feel that I could accurately pin down a particular place of happiness due to a lack of an area/place purely being associated with happiness.

6. A place or places you find unbearable?

  • Home, where I grew up and where my father resides. It is difficult to return and remain there due to a variety of complex reasons but, generally, it is connected with negativity and sadness or discomfort. For example, despite struggling with various different issues when growing up, I still shared multiple pleasant memories. Although now when I return, due to the deterioration of my father’s health and general condition, the area acts as a sore and unpleasant reminder of how time changes everything and how the past merely exists as a memory, what once was, is gone… and won’t return.

Further Tasks…

  • Collect photographs of backstage, behind the scenes places.
  • Photograph interiors that suggest or imply human drama which is not actually depicted directly.

References:

National History Museum (2017) Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016. Available from: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/gallery/2016/adult.html [Accessed 18th January 2017]

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