Friday, April 22, 2011

Assignment 5: First Thoughts

Now that Assignment 4 is on its way to my tutor, I turn my thoughts towards the final assignment.  The Assignment offers complete freedom of subject simply specifying a personal project.  I am not entirely happy with this, I prefer a closed rather than open task, however it is what it is!

A successful submission needs to demonstrate two things:
  1. That I can apply all that I have learned from the course
  2. Artistic development
For the former I need to produce a set of images that reflect good workflow, combination of colour and monochrome, and a judicious use of manipulation to improve quality and perhaps message.  For the latter I need to demonstrate (to myself especially) that my skill in developing a concept and delivering entertaining or challenging work has made a step forward.

To date my focus in the course has been the development of skills in portraying the urban environment, primarily from a landscape ethos.  I have consciously taken this route as I expect my next step to be the Landscape Level 5 course.  I am using this course to develop skills that will be useful later on.  With this in mind two subjects present themselves as possibilities for this assignment:
  1. The Legacy of the Olympics: Munich hosted the 1972 Olypmpics, famous for Mark Spitz and infamous for the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes.  However, the facilities created 40 years ago are still in constant use and are a much loved part of Munich's landscape.  A photographic study of the arenas and housing would make for an interesting and challenging assignment that aligns well to the upcoming London event.  I just hope London is able to enjoy its legacy as much as Munich
  2. Shadows of Evil: Munich is a very beautiful city with a very liberally minded population.  This was once very different, in the 1930's the city was the origin of the greatest evil yet to plague the Human race.  All over the city there are reminders of this past and its affect on the city, from the monuments of the Nazis to the mountains of rubble from bombed out buildings, you cannot escape from the negative legacy of Hitler and hist party.  The challenge in such a study would be to present a coherent and meaningful set of images, many of the places once frequented by the Nazi party are now erased.  However, the city still has shrapnel holes in buildings, ugly Ack Ack towers, and strangely just around the corner from where I live is the house that Hitler bought for Eva Braun to live in!
Both of these concepts interest me very much, I have already worked up some ideas for the Olympics as part of People and Place

Both of these ideas are high on my list of future projects and would work well in the Landscape or Social Documentary courses respectively.

An alternate and one I am strongly drawn to would be to return to Underwater Photography.  When I first set out with the OCA my goal was first and foremost to improve my compositional skills when shooting whilst Scuba diving.  This is most likely the last opportunity for me to see how my skills have improved in the context of the courses, Underwater Imagery might work as Landscape, but Social Documentary of Shrimps is not likely to fly.  

In two weeks time I leave for a two week diving vacation in Northern Borneo, expressly to take photographs.  We will be diving the Sulu Sea between Borneo and the Philippines, an area renowned for Macro subjects, but also offering some wide angle potential, especially some of the larger sharks, such as Leopard and if very lucky Whale.  At the end of my Art of Photography course I used a similar diving trip as a narrative, this time the goal would be much more towards the fine art side.

I will in any case publish a Blurb book to document the trip, this time I am intending to produce something more in the David Doubilet line than my usual photo narrative.

I am very serious about underwater photography, although this is now not so much an obsession as it has been joined by any number of other photographic quirks.  My kit consists of two Canon EOS 40D 10MP APS-C sensore cameras, a 60mm Marco, and 10-22mm zoom.  I can also use a 100mm macro, but I find this is too long when used with a crop sensor camera and have the option of using my 17-40mm zoom (good shark lens).  All of this is housed in an Ikelite Acrylic housing with flat port for Macro, Dome port for Wide angle, and a pair of TTL 125J Strobes.  This is me with my kit annoying a pair of lion fish

I feel this would be a better test of my progress and a return to my photographic roots, the risk is that Underwater Images are not always viewed as art.  Then again, making them into art might be the challenge.  I have never processed into Black and White and also much of the colour management in this course could be applied very nicely to the often irritating colour castes in underwater images.  As a parting shot here are a few of my own favorite underwater images.  Question is, can I do better?  I am sure I can!

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