Friday, 11 May 2012

1 week, 7 photos

In contrast to the digital side of my outcome (previous blog post), the analogue portrayal produces far more considered photographic pieces. This was done to represent how analogue photography is always limited by the number of exposures in a film, dissimilar to digital where enormous amounts of images can be taken in succession. Therefore people are more particular about what is worthy of a picture, likening to Kodak's 'moment' photography of a more selective approach.

I decided to take a single chosen picture each day, which represents this considered approach, contrasting against my depiction of the current state of digital photography. This gives a small insight as to my activities of the day, rather than less rationally deliberated photos that depict a more detailed yet rigid account of my day. The pictures are in black and white to represent the tradition and heritage around analogue photography.

1 week, 24 photos a day

To represent how digital photography, particularly of late with compact and phone cameras, is becoming about documenting the activities of our everyday lives I captured a period of my life on my iPhone. Digital photography utilises the accessibility and instantaneity of its format, enabling people to take quick images and share them online in seconds. As a result photography in this respect means people are becoming less considerate of what they take pictures of and capture a variety of shots of their day to day life, simply because they don't have a limited amount of photographs available to take (as opposed to film). This allows people to use photos as another means of communication, for instance rather than saying 'eating a delicious cupcake at Hummingbird,' the person can simply take a picture of that cupcake and share it online. Resultantly people are beginning to accumulate a vast collection of online photography, baring more resemblance to a story documenting their lives than occasional the photographic 'moment' as originally described by Kodak.

I decided to capture shots on my phone for a week, taking 24 photos each day relating to the number of hours in a day and 24 exposure film. I wanted these pictures to be taken at regular intervals or certain time slots of whatever I was doing, removing the decision from me of when and what to take photographs of, reflecting the notion of snap shot photography of everyday events (as mentioned above). I decided to take these pictures half-hourly, 09.00–20.30 as it covered the main breadth of the day.

Below are the pictures from each day.

Presentation format

When considering the how people's photographs are shown through websites such as flickr and Facebook, are they really being enjoyed or appreciated in the best means?

Once a film is finished in an analogue camera it is developed and usually all of the photographs printed. Leaving us with a nice but small physical collection of images (24/36). Whereas with digital photography we will often take in excess of 50 photos of a single night out and the next day upload them online, where they can only be appreciated as a collection as thumbnails on screen or larger as individual shots. The issue being that the photos are always limited by the size of the screen in which they are displayed. Of course digital photos can still be printed but are they still digital when printed? The same can be said for film photographs, are they still analogue when scanned in on screen?

What I'm am really questioning is is not so much the photograph, as of course a film photo would have been captured on an analogue camera, but it is that final presentation of it that questions its honesty. Is a digitally displayed film scan paying justice to the format it which it was originally shot?

There is always a sense of nostalgia to printed photographs, due to the tactility of the print and the physical interaction with it as an object we have a deeper more personal engagement to the image than we would as pixels on screen.

I feel there is a certain honesty to the process of analogue photography when the developed negatives are exposed, and it is simply through the use of light that the image was captured and printed. If scanned and printed digitally it seems dishonest to how the photograph was recorded. Likewise with digitally shot photographs I like to have the occasional shot printed but more often than not I just refer to the entire collection on screen. When these images are printed they somehow feel less truthful to how they were originally captured, going from RGB pixels to ink on paper, and that the format doesn't justifiably reflect the method of photography used.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


This video is 1 of 3 short films created by Rick Mereki, Tim White and Andrew Lees. Commissioned by STA Travel Australia the three of them document their 6 week journey around the world. The video is compiled of a series of short video clips of continual movement between locations. To me it works as an example of how photography or in this case videography can be done and shared anywhere. These platforms allow the user to document their experiences and share it as a story to with the world. It demonstrates to me how photography is so easily accessible and is practically possible wherever you are. Through these quick shots you soon gather a sense of their journey and build up a sense of their experiences. Although intentionally depicting the different locations they visited, it is reflective of how photographs of ourselves are taken so frequently that they capture a sense of our general living (drinks at the pub, nights in with friends...) not primarily specific events (birthdays, graduation...), where in fact we are documenting our own living.

Monday, 16 April 2012

1 Second Everyday

I came across this video on Vimeo, where the videographer documents a year of his life (age 30), having time off from work. As you can probably guess by the title he does this by recording a second of his life everyday, revealing small snippets as to his social identity and behaviour. Here you can start to see regularities such as cycling, drinking with friends and working on his laptop. This concept of snap video clips links in with mine of a 'story' through photography, as through the collation of images or in this instance clips, you can start to visualise a film of seemingly unattached and segmented events.

What becomes difficult in this video through the eyes of the cameraman, is what second he should film everyday? Does he randomly choose that period of time, does he wait for a more significant event to take place in his day, or film a selection of seconds and opt for what he feels is the best one that day. As with my previous test video, I would like to aim to develop it further and over a longer period of time using a regular intervals to photograph. Taking the decision away from me of what to film in order to create a more honest documentation.

His video is also made possible through the accessibility of technology, where the shots are predominately filmed on his iPhone, with a selection of other clips captured with a small range of digital cameras (Canon 7D to GoPro HD). In some cases utilising iPhone apps to create desired effects for certain shots. What makes this video more exciting is that he plans to continue this project for the rest of his life.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Film slides

When shopping in Brighton I came across a box with a huge pile of film slides where i had to buy a selection. I found them strangely enticing where they don't work as a picture in their own right, such as to hang on the wall, but are still very desirable physical objects. This highlighted to me the attraction to analogue photography and how the object, even the film, creates a far greater sense of a precious possession than pixels on screen ever will. Personally i find these slides more attractive than actual prints of the photograph, seeming that much more fragile and original. Especially being someone else's film it feels like a sneaky insight into their life. 


I set myself the task of photography myself wherever i was every 10 minutes, to great a portrait sequence of myself with changing backgrounds to represent how digital cameras are making photography more accessible. This test was made using just my iPhone camera, over a period of 4 hours. The idea was to show that you can start to get an idea as to a person's social identity by seeing what they're doing and where they are, portraying how digital pictures can be taken in such large quantities and so quickly that they are leading more and more towards moving image and film. Through document myself at regular intervals and the different locations I'm situated in you start to build up a image of the type of person I am, especially if captured over a long period of time.

This was just a quick test so i did forget to smile when i took the pictures!

Social Identity

As mentioned in the previous post photographs nowadays are so popular and uploaded online so frequently that they almost become a story or disjointed film depicting a person's events. This is what I aimed to explore through my first test video. Here I have collected all my tagged Facebook photos and ordered in sequence, revealing how others can easily pass judgement towards my social identity. However, one clear factor I discovered when reviewing the pictures is they all largely revolve around time spent with friends or nights out. Photographs of me and my family barely appear showing how the two are separate through the social site, showing how the site or certainly in my case predominately revolves around use with friends.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Does the photographic 'moment' still exist?

Kodak based their photography around the idea of capturing the 'moment', in the sense of those times you want to cherish and remember. Analogue played a big part in those moments being special or 'one of a kind', since you only had a limited amount of photographs available to capture, with film you had to choose the best to photograph. Nowadays with the accessibility of photography and the potentially limitless amount of photographs we can take, is that 'moment' lost?

Virtually everyone owns or has access to camera, be it an SLR, a compact or a camera phone... People are forever taking pictures, it has gone from a rarity and special occasion to have your photograph taken to something we take for granted. We generally have a camera of some form on us at all times, as a result we are no longer in search of that 'moment' but rather an opportunity. I don't mean to negate digital photographs as we do all have ones of special occasions but so many of them are of seemingly unimportant scenes. We all use photography as a method of documenting our lives, Facebook becomes a prime example, featuring a variety of images from drunk nights out with friends, to a yummy plate of food we just ate for dinner. 

Photography becomes a social means of communicating, telling others something about us and what we have been up to. Sadly through social sites, I struggle to take a photo without thinking I must upload this. Making that 'moment' no longer a prize possession that you'd happily reflect on alone but a way of showing off. I find that photography currently is about the telling of stories, no longer a few special photos but a vast collection of the events of our lives. 

The reason for this is photography no longer involves any skill. With current technology anyone can point a camera, on an auto setting, and take a nice enough image. This evolution means what once involved a great deal of knowledge and ability, is now so simple toddlers are capable of taking photographs. I'm not suggesting they could operate an SLR to great effect, but they are perfectly capable of capturing an image. Therefore I do find labelling these types of photos as photography unfair as, the user has done very little work other than point and shoot (purely relying on the technology), undermining the efforts done by professional photographers, suggesting what they do is one and the same.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Tacita Dean's Turbine hall film

The Turbine hall at the Tate Modern has recently been hope home to Tacita Dean's homage to film, as she see's it as a soon to be extinct medium. Her film shows the possibilities of editing 35 film, and the true craftsmanship that painstakingly goes into the eventual reel of film. Working alone and compiling shots together by hand, using traditional techniques to mask in overlays.

Dean is in no way against digital film but doesn't want to see it eclipse a much loved possibility of film-making. Currently analogue film's use is arising again through young artists. Is it not possible for these two platforms to co-exist, where practitioners at least have the choice to choose between them. The Soho Film Lab was the last UK practice to still print 16mm until its new owners Deluxe, terminated immediately its production in mid-February. This was apparently done as it was no longer being used by the cinema industry, but it through them that the industry is able to print 16mm film, by stopping it they are giving the industry little other choice than that of digital.

It is down to the lack of trained professionals who can handle analogue film that is resulting in it's steady 'phasing out.' As shown with Dean's Turbine piece, who came across a potentially serious issue in the cutting of the film, where white flashes would be seen between each frame projection of the film only a short while before installation at the Tate Modern. A professional negative cutter from the UK, Steve Farman, had to recut Dean's film and then drive over night from the Amsterdam studio back to the UK to pass the film onto the Tate Modern's curator. This highlights the current loss is technically trained professionals, as if they continue to decrease (Steve Farman being the last negative cutter in the UK) then future for analogue film truly is looking bleak.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Fake or forgery?

Photographers and agencies have become known to manipulate images to that all important sensational shot, securing sales to the media. One particularly well known example was from 2008, where a doctored image of 4 Iranian test missiles below (top) was 'captured' and featured on a variety of news sites and internationally sold newspapers. Supplied by the Agence France-Presse, who claimed they obtained the photograph from Sepah News, the image includes a fourth rocket covering up a grounded missile (that apparently failed during the test). The inclusion of the extra missile dramatically improves the composition and leads to a more exciting shot for media sites and papers to run with.

It wasn't until the following day that another photo (bottom) was released, revealing only 3 missiles launched at what appears to be the exact same view point.

Below are images taken by Brian Walski, a Los Angeles Times photographer. the photograph is of a British soldier in Basra overlooking a Iraqi civilians while under hostile fire. The top photo is the manipulated result of the two below, merging the commanding pose of the soldier and the man clutching a young child.

Walski clearly altered the image to a more powerful composition, which was published as the front page photo. However, his alterations were noticed by some of the journalists and Walski was later confronted a sacked after confessing to his modifications.

Although Brian Walski deserved to be fired for his actions, his photograph although dishonest didn't alter the content to any great significance but ruined he reputation and credibility as a photographer. His dismissal was met with great criticism by Pedro Meyer, fine art photographer and author. "They (the LA Times) have fired someone for doing a professional job in trying to come up with a better picture, the same way that any of their journalists polish a text so that it reads better and is succinct. (why should a photographer be deprived of doing exactly the same that other professionals are doing on a daily basis as long as the information is not distorted?). The only explanation I can find is that by accusing the photographer and attempting to portray themselves as publishing 'unmanipulated' news, they are seeking to conceal the factual reality of their biased and one-sided presentation of the overall news. That seems to be the more important issue at hand."

I can only disagree with Meyer comments, photographers especially journalist/media photographers have a responsibility in supplying true images of actions and events. We don't expect, nor want, to be mislead by adapted photography that produce a more interesting shot, although the alteration in this instance was more innocent than others it ruins the trust between photographer and viewer. As Meyer put it 'journalists polish a text', but they do this through choosing quotations to include not shifting words around to create a desired comment. Photographers can touch up saturation and enhance colour and lighting, to an extent, to produce a crisper and more aesthetic a photo, but not pick and choose elements to include to produce a better image to depict a scene that never existed. As put by Frank Van Riper in an article in response to the manipulated image and Meyer's statement, 'news photographs are the equivalent of direct quotations and therefore are sacrosanct'.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Is it real?

As mentioned in the previous post digital footage can be edited so to suggest a better or more exciting narrative. This is no different with photography, the media has surprisingly frequently included whether manipulated images whether intentional (commissioned photographers) or unintentional (submitted by photographer alone). There have been many great examples of this as long as photography in the media has been around. 

Below is a picture of civil war generals from 1865, where one of the commanders wasn't there for the original shoot (bottom) and was later added into the composition (top). 

Another example is through the below image of Stalin. He was known for removing enemies out of his photographs. On the right a commissar was later removed after falling out of Stalin's following. This reminds me of the dictatorship present in George Orwell's 1984, where passages of text from books and articles are continuously updated so as to present information in the favour of 'the party', rewriting history to be as they saw fit and beneficial. People were left (although not allowed) to question what is/was true, where on occasions their memory contrasted to the (supposed) written fact. 

Some occasions are somewhat more innocent than others, with no real misleading intention. Whereas others take advantage of the naivety of the viewer and our trust in photography and the media. The following photo was virally spread through emails and online. The image combines two photographs one of a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter by Lance Cheung and the other of a Great White shark by Charles Maxwell. As can be determined by the background the helicopter was shot in front of Golden Gate Bridge, where Great White sharks are commonly (never) seen. Perhaps ironically the photo of the shark was actually taken in False Bay, South Africa. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Videography – film or digital

Here is a film demonstrating a comparison between analogue and digital footage.

The video is clearly very biased towards film as the better 'more beautiful' medium. It brings up the interesting point, that digital can easily be edited and offers a simple means of adding effects or filters. However, in this case they aren't done for any desired result other than for showing a sample of what can be produced digitally. This highlights how easily amateurs are able to create videos of their own, through the use of rather childish effects. This undermines digital film by seemingly saying 'look at some the cool shit we can do...' through chucking on a variety of absurd and random effects. In turn it highlights the questionable truth in film, showing how footage can be altered to give or convey a desired meaning. The poor, heavy overlay of music for the digital footage immediately unsettles the viewer causing them to further dislike the already bewildering array of digital styles. Compared to the soothing music played over a selection of calming analogue shots of nature. Already the editor is manipulating the viewer to conform to their view of film over digital.

I myself am not against film as a medium but see this video as a prime example of the 'honesty' of any type of video. The editor has chosen or created particular footage to get across their opinion, through an unfair and rather absurd comparison. Digital clearly does provide the possibility to further alter the truth of recordings, by the ease at which they can be edited. Most people nowadays own or have access to software to apply effects and edit footage to their liking, ruining it's original documentation to their own version of the 'truth'. It could be as simple as modifying the colour or the cuts between certain clips, that convey the narrative in a different way to how it was when initially recorded.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The fall of Kodak

Kodak's former vice president Don Strickland, gave the reason was to why he left the company in 1993, "We developed the world's first consumer digital camera but we could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the effects on the film market... a huge opportunity missed." It was the next, seemingly inevitable, transition that meant Kodak can now only be remembered in the history books. As other companies such as Canon advanced forward into high end and commercial cameras for amateurs and professionals, Kodak still held on to what they knew best – film. 

Kodak made what they refer to as the first digital camera in 1975, that took black and white photographs. Kodak never truly pursued this technology to any great extent or capitalised on the future market. All too soon Kodak was left in the wake of other photographic companies and their technological advances. Digital really was becoming the future, through the evolution of computers, laptops, tablets and televisions, cameras needed to keep up with the flow of this digital progression. This resulted in the public purchasing cameras to document their own occasions and not just professionals and the media. 

"No-one wants to be in the low-end compact camera market any more. Other, more profitable, camera makers are gradually pulling away from this market,"  – Chris Cheesman, of Amateur Photographer magazine. This is particularly true of modern day, where predominately everyone owns a camera phone becoming an instant replacement to cheap compact cameras. People always have their phone on them and offers instant access to the image with the ability to upload to sites (such as Facebook) especially on smart phones. This left Kodak trundling around in the footprints of their other competitors as they developed digital photography. 

Quotes from