Saturday, September 18, 2010

Assignment 3: Narrowing Down

Having spent the last three weeks on a mission to explore and photograph as many buildings/space as I could I am slowly starting to form an idea of what might constitute my submission for assignment 3.  I have now completely rejected the idea of a single lens, single style approach; the subject matter is too diverse and I think this would be more appropriate as a methodology for assignment 4.  I have thus gone in the opposite direction and selected buildings and associated photography with variety of expression as the goal.

I have also tried to resist a natural desire to create architectural photographs and as such most of my photographs will emphasize human activity and occupation rather than dramatic perspective and structure.  There will still be an element of architecture, necessary to illustrate the spaces I have chosen, but more limited than I would naturally select.  I suspect that I am currently drawn towards a modernist style of thinking, desiring to create a clean almost perfect looking world, with limited contamination by humanity.  However, not yet properly understanding the major movements in photographic art and theory, I will reserve judgement on this.

This blog entry is thus a summary of the previous 16 entries, limiting my selection of buildings/spaces to 7, and with close to the requested number of images per building.  There is still much work to do, both in editing and potentially photography to improve/change some of the images.  A problem I have had in the past has been a tendency to overwork projects, sometimes to the extent that the final result is less than I started with.  Attention to detail is important to me, but I also need to develop understanding of when an image or concept is at its optimal development point.

The Pinakothek der Moderne

This is the first of two art museums that I am including at this stage, I may include both at the risk of them being to similar, however, these include the best images I have taken thus far for this assignment.  The advantage of such spaces is that they are architecturally significant and that people interact with the exhibits in a meaningful and relatively easily photographer manner.

My first image is an unashamed architectural shot designed to show the size and scale of the building, but also the  way that people have colonized what is in effect a sun trap:

Once inside the museum, most visitors will head down to the basement area to get rid of coats, ruck sacks and perhaps to hit the facilities.  The staircases are dramatic and exist in an area where there is constant traffic.  This has enabled me to capture an image that includes multiple people but also shows the light and space in which they inhabit

The next two images are about how people interact with the exhibits in the museum, in this case a large bac klit frame containing objects designed by Luigi Colani.  This throws the people into silhouette and emphasizes gesture versus personality

The first of these two provides a better overall view of the exhibit and the different ways in which people are observing it, however, the second image captures better the interaction, almost presenting the two children as part of the exhibit

The Brandhorst Museum

The second museum has a very different character and yields quite different images, the first is again very architectural, taken using a tilt shift lens to preserve perspective, however, I have very deliberately ensured that there are people in the frame to add proportion and show how the building exists within the surrounding environment

The next image is inside out to the one above.  Within the museum are areas where people can sit and contemplate what they have seen.  This area is just behind the window seen in the above photo and overlooks the overall museum complex.  I like the strong contrast between the bright world outside and the dark inside, exposing and then processing this image was not easy

My final image from the Brandhorst is a reversal of the images of people interacting with exhibits above.  This installation by Damien Hirst is a huge cabinet comprising rows of tablets on mirrored shelves with a mirrored background.  I think the intent of the piece is to see your reflection against the 1000's of pharmaceuticals you will consume in your lifetime.  What it also presents is an image from within the art work of people observing, including inevitably the photographer.  This photograph might be possible without including me, perhaps by combining two separate images using a lateral shift in a lens, each taken from left and right of the piece.  However, I like the idea of the photographer being part of this work

Munich Cathedral

This is a difficult building to photograph, the sheer size makes finding a usable perspective difficult and the lack of light makes hand holding a camera a tough ask.  What I am drawn to in this church is not the architecture, but the people and the sacred nature of building.  The first image I have chosen tries to capture a persons quiet reflection after she has lit a candle, perhaps to remember someone she has lost.

Another similarly lit image, although using artificial light this time, is the following taken in the crypt.  I was very much taken with the selective lighting of the cross and noticed that as people walked through the crypt they were occasionally illuminated by an overhead spotlight.  I sat for around 30 minutes just waiting for someone to enter the light.  I wanted to balance the light on the cross with an individual picked out in the gloom, almost as if the light of heaven had picked them out for a moment

I may leave it at this, neither shot captures the building, but both capture the sacred nature of the space and the thoughtful way in which people interact with it.  If I have to select another image I would try to contrast the private spaces above with the massive volume of the interior and how it dwarfs the people inside.  The following is typical, but I may need to go back and work a better image.  perhaps something early in the day when few people are present

The Fünf Höfe

Moving from spiritual to consumerism, my next subject is a large and very elegant Munich shopping center.  Within this space I want to capture the colour of the shops coupled with the flow of people through the structure.  This image shows the largest of the open spaces filled with moving people.  The image is a slow shutter and is not the sharpest, however, I do not believe that pin sharp images are needed every time.  This picture is designed to show movement and colour

Within the arcade I also wanted to capture people stationary, in the following case eating. I am not sure about the quality of the image, although it has interesting colour and structure, worth a risk

As a shopping center is about shops, following are a couple of images of store fronts.  I have deliberately allowed space in front of the shops and deliberately included passers by, again to capture the business of the space, avoiding too much architecture

The final image is taken in another of the 5 "courts", this one dominated by a massive spherical sculpture hanging above the shoppers.  Again I am including people across the frame, although this time the shutter speed is high enough to avoid blur.  When I look at the photos of people that I take these days I am shocked at how many have a mobile phone attached to the ear

The Hofgarten

This is not a building as such, but a space defined by and including buildings.  This formal garden has too many different uses to illustrate here.  My treatment is focused upon the people rather than the buildings, although this first image is designed to capture the overall environment, a simple but atmospheric image

Tourism, plenty of that in Munich.  These two people, maps in hand, walk through rows of purple and white flowers.  Not sure about this one, it shows the formal structure of the gardens interrupted by visitors, but perhaps to snap shotty

In the center of the formal gardens is a small temple that provides a great location for busking, good acoustics and cover from the weather.

This rotunda also provides a good location for wedding photographs, although this photographer seems not too pleased at the number of other people present, especially someone pointing a camera at him and his couple

Finally large areas are covered in fine gravel and attract people playing Petanque.  In both of these images I have very deliberately tried to include the surrounding buildings to place the players in context

Not so sure about this space, some of the images works very well, but I am not sure if I am capturing the nature of the space

Muenchener Freiheit Subway Station

The challenge with this location is not finding photographs it is editing down to the 2-4 needed, there is so much material within a small area and the recent dramatic internal makeover creates strange images.  However, first of all this is a space for catching trains, the following shot is another with slow shutter speed that emphasizes movement.  This one has the added advantage of the stationary group in the right of the frame waiting for the incoming train

A key purpose of a station is to move people to and from trains and I think the stair cases have to be part of any coverage.  The following photograph tries to capture the flow of people from a recently arrived train

A key design element in the station is that every ceiling is mirrored, even in the entrance area where shops are sited to sell food and drink to travelers.  The next photograph is a bakery showing the vastly varying lighting within the station.  I used a gray card and colour checker to profile my camera during this shoot, white balance could be anywhere

The final two photographs in my current selection for this building emphasize the reflections in the station, but also try to pick out a single traveler within this huge space.  I am not sure which of these I would use.  the first contains a little too much empty space, whilst the latter has a poor perspective

The Olympic Tower

The observation deck of the Olympic Tower offers a helicopter view of the city of Munich and enable dramatic photography on the right day, however, overhead shots are not the goal of this project and so in the next 4 photographs I am trying to illustrate the building rather than the view.  Having said that a key element of such a building is to provide access to that view:

Looking back up the tower presents a different perspective on two guys enjoying the view.  This images strength is symmetry slightly broken by the people in the frame

Looking along the viewing platform, this image is dominated by curves and strong shadows.  In processing I tried to releive some of the shadow, in fact the more I look at this it is partly the structure of the shadows that create the photograph

Finally get in and out of the limited space on the platform requires two very crowded lifts

Closing Comments

I am now at a point with this assignment where exploring more structures and spaces will not improve the quality of the submission, I now need to spend some time reviewing the photographs in this collection and deciding which to keep, reject or improve.  I plan to submit my final version at the end of September, in two weeks time so I have time to reflect and work a little more. Munich just got a lot more interesting with the start of the Oktoberfest, meaning that we now have an average of extra 500,000 visitors each day.  The city will be packed with people, most of whom will get very drunk at one stage or another, good food for a hungry camera.

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