secret places/secret spaces - personal investigation

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  • 1. SECRET PLACES,SECRET SPACES by Iona Kelly

2. INTRODUCTION When studying my AS course in photography last year, and reflecting on my favourite projects throughout that process, I realised that I loved taking photos of landscapes (and fine detail within those landscapes). The photographs I produced when focusing on those elements were the ones that I felt were the most interesting images and the photographs that I had the most fun whilst experimenting, editing and analysing. With those ideas and themes in mind, I started brainstorming themes that I could relate to the type of photography I enjoyed for my Personal Investigation. Some of the ideas I came up with included Out of the Blue where I would focus on the blue elements of landscapes. Another idea was rural, focusing on the rustic, traditional areas around Jersey. Finally, after many other ideas, I came up with Secret Places/Secret Spaces. My plan throughout the course was to develop this idea of secrecy and take photographs of hidden areas and the objects and places no-one notices. I also wanted to highlight secret details that are obvious and mundane to everyone, but especially the smaller details that made them mysterious; transforming the obvious to something quite secretive. The photographers I have decided to primarily focus on for this investigation, I believe, all contain an element of secrecy within the frames of what theyre photographing and they portray my chosen theme effectively. The first of the photographers Ive researched is Walker Evans. I found Evans work when researching on the MoMA website where I was drawn to many of his various collections. I focused on those that are close ups of barriers and empty urban landscapes as I felt that barriers related to something secret and mysterious and so did empty urban areas as theyre normally bustling with people. My second photographer is Rut Blees Luxemberg. I chose Luxemberg for the use of her lighting, as I was inspired by the way she photographed various areas in dark locations. Both photographers have massively inspired me for my Personal Investigation and I feel that each photographer, in their own way, relates to my chosen theme of Secret Places/Secret Spaces. 3. WALKER EVANS Walker Evans, best known for his work documenting the Great Depression, was an American photographer. Literate, authoritative, transcendent was the goal for Evans photography and what he wanted his pictures to represent. He took up photography during the year 1928 around the time that he was living in New York and his most heavily influential photographers included Eugne Atget and August Sander. His most well known work of the Great Depression was photographed using a large format, 8x10-inch camera. After becoming an editor for Fortune magazine in 1965 he became a professor of photography at Yale University School of Art for graphic design. Between the years 1973 and 1974 he did another large series of photographs using a Polaroid SX-70 camera. As he became older and suffered poorer health he had to stop using the more complicated equipment when photographing. The majority of his work is exhibited permanently in The Metropolitan Museum, New York. ! 4. The first photograph I came across when researching Walker Evans was this photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge. What really attracted me to this photograph were all the overlapping lines creating no sense of a visible direction. There are so many lines within this photograph, all crossing over each other that the photograph can take you in any direction that you want it to. The metal railings of the bridge create a strong contrast to the road, making them really stand out; the fact that they create defined Xs within the photograph implies this sense of privacy and almost barricade to the road. The metal structure in the bottom right hand corner is a very similar shade to the road, making the metal railings stand out even more. These are parts of a bridge people rarely get to see making it appear even more secretive. ! 5. This is another photograph of Walker Evans that I particularly like. It was taken in 1928. I love the shadows within this image; theyre very prominent within the photograph creating a really effective contrast with the white wall and the negative spacing of the floor between the shadow. This contrast is illuminated even more through the use of the gate and the negative space behind the railings as well as the unlit left side corner. The photograph appears to follow the rule of thirds, making the gate the main focus of the image. What I liked most about this photograph was the sense of privacy created within the image; you have the gate almost hiding something and you want to know what this is, exaggerated by the fact that you cant see what is behind it. The shadow creates another sense of privacy as the shadow appears almost as another gate and this overlaps onto the main gate. ! ! 6. Evans also took this photograph in 1928. I love how the natural light coming from behind Evans has created this bright light upon the gate causing it to become the focus, not only because of the rule of thirds but also because it is illuminated more than other aspects of the image. Again we gain this sense of secrecy within the image as the gate is the prominent aspect of the image and its stopping anyone from going in. The negative spacing again, behind the gate, creates this feeling of mystery. I like how the photograph has a lot of building structure involved within the image making it even more obvious that the gate is supposed to be the main aspect; this is also made clearer due to the fact that the majority of the buildings are covered by a shadow. The image of the building appears two dimensional due to the way the light falls on it, changing our perception of the image as we know that, in reality, it is three dimensional. 7. When taking photographs for this Personal Investigation I went to an urbanised area within town. There were lots of railings, which I photographed in various ways with direct influence from Evans. This was one of my favourite photographs and the first photograph of Evans used in this essay directly influenced it. I love how there are many lines within this photograph, however, differently to Evans, theyre all going in the same direction. This doesnt take away from the crowdedness that I liked so much about Evans own photograph as the lines are made up of various elements. The original lines are the gates, these are then reflected very vividly within the puddles and also create the wide shadows which appear almost like sun rays across the floor. The fact that the main subject of this photograph is the gate creates a secret place, as it was barricading off an area that the general public dont have access to and I wanted to create this sense of no entry illuminated more than once within my photograph, which I feel I have done. I decided to make the photograph monochrome like Evans as I felt that the contrast made the different elements of the photograph stronger and more defined. The glare from the direct sun within the photograph really add to the textures of the ground, which on their own have faded lines, as well as creating stronger definition of the shadows. I only decided to photograph the bottom of the gate as I didnt want the distractions of what was behind the gate to interfere with the direction of the lines as they spread towards you and make the barricaded, secret effect more prominent. 8. This image of mine was taken in a German WW2 bunker and, again, I was heavily inspired by Walkers first photograph (taken in 1928) within this essay. The source of light is coming from behind me, creating this line of light directing you to the gate. I like the shadows created from the lack of light. The light creates another shadow of the gate on the flooring behind the gate itself, this emphasises the prominence of the gate. The rope that is also illuminated by the light source adds more texture to the image than the grainy texture of the floor. I was highly influenced by Evans image of the gate as I liked the use of shadows within his image and wanted to replicate the same sense of secrecy within mine. The tunnel of light focuses your attention on the main aspect of the image and I did this by making sure that the lighting was hitting i t d i r e c t l y. I e d i t e d t h e photograph to have a sepia tone to make it appear more vintage and to emphasise the effect of the lighting. After the island was bombed on 28th June 1940, Jersey was occupied by the Germans. They started to build bunkers around the island as protection from the Allies. These bunkers also became part of Hitlers Atlantic Wall which, was a line of defence works that ran from Norway to the Spanish frontier. Hitler ordered that these bunkers were built to be impregnable fortresses and the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied. The bunkers are underground and the lighting is very dim making them even harder to photograph. These bunkers arent open to the public often and I felt that this added to their sense of secrecy. 9. This image I took in the ancient Greek city, Ephesus, in Turkey. I was really inspired by Evans third image within this essay. I especially like the deep shadow cast over the majority of the gate, which is the opposite to Evans photograph. The shadow causes you look at the gate more than the rest of the image because it contrasts so much with the marble surrounding it. I think the little bit of light highlighting the bottom of the image works really well in initially drawing your attention to the photograph. Similarly to Evans image there is the darker shadow in the left corner, in his photograph he had lighter sides of the image. This helps to draw your attention even more to the gate as you match the shadows together. I used a wider depth of field and the rule of thirds to make