As a general rule I prefer black and white photography as I feel it adds more emotion to a picture. I have mentioned previously on here my dislike for HDR photography as I feel it looks fake and heavily saturated.
Well, all of this changed when I found the work of William Eggleston. Eggleston is widely credited with increasing recognition for colour photography. His eye for colours is incredible, and his simple compositional style is enviable. He takes everyday objects and photographs them against their surrounding colours. Many of his exterior photographs are shot during the ‘blue hour’ – just before sunrise or sunset, one of my favourite times for colour photography.
I was amazed at the richness of colours he produced, considering post editing was so basic back in the 1970’s – he did this solely through his camera set up. Some of his shots are so vibrant they almost have an HDR feel to them, only they appeal to me as there is still a presence of light and dark and shadows.
What appealed to me most was that his work appeared to be very current. The bold colours, the sometimes abstract subjects, it could be the work of today. I also love the fact that some of his subjects appear mundane – it really does go to show that you can make art of anything.
Here are just a few examples of his everyday objects/subjects and colour work.
For this exercise we can either choose a still-life approach, or a larger scale shot. I chose the still-life and am required to take any book I like and make a suitable illustration using several elements.
Having research other fellow OCA students I found it was very common for people to choose fiction books, most of my home reading jumps from photography, to crime novels, to Marilyn Monroe books…I was at a loss!! The only other books are cookery books….so I decided on illustrating one of my favourite books: ‘Chinese Food Made Easy’ by Ching-He Huang.
A simple still life using some of the most fundamental ingredients for Chinese cooking. For this shot I used my photographic studio with natural light (positioned next to large window) and used a reflector to the left hand side.
As a quick example of how it may look with text on, I threw together a very basic idea with photoshop:
Imagine a magazine cover on one subject:rain. You have the entire cover space to work in, and you should produce a single, strong, attractive photograph that leaves no one in doubt about the subject.
For this shot I wanted to try to make it eye catching and interesting. I was trying to avoid the cliched ideas of photographing puddles, or street lights reflected in wet pavements etc. The topic of rain in itself is fairly dull and boring, so iI wanted to try and create the opposite.
I think this picture fills the brief – it’s strong and attractive, and all the people i’ve showed it to and asked ‘what do you think of’ have all replied with rain.
I enjoyed this exercise. It was a beautiful sunny day outside with no cloud whatsoever, so this shot was 100% set up. Using my camera settings I was able to make it feel fairly grey and cold, but without reducing the colour of the fruit or their umbrellas.
For this exercise the idea is to find symbols for a number of concepts, and add a short note saying how I might use them in a photograph. The subjects are; growth, excess, crime, silence and poverty.
I think the most common idea for growth would be a plant; perhaps from seed, developing into a flowering strong plant/tree. Another example could also baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult, elderly person. Relating to business – you could use a simple ‘idea bubble’ above a single head, and then multiply a) the number of heads, and b) the number of thought bubbles.
Relating to the current obesity problem, excess could be shown as an overflowing plate of food, or a ‘muffin top’ waist hanging over the top of trousers (mainly for women, for men it could be the ever so popular ‘beer belly’)
The obvious one for crime would be something like handcuffs or police tape. Perhaps broken glass or a burglar/security alarm.
Silence could be a mute symbol found on TV’s and sound systems. I think the most popular example is probably a finger held against closed lips.
This is definitely the most thought provoking subject. Poverty could be illustrated through an empty bowl, someone begging, a cardboard made home, slums and malnourished person or animal.
For this exercise I am required to produce one photograph in which it can be seen that something has happened. As a suggestion, the handbook mentions photographing something that is broken or emptied.
In planning possible pictures I was inundated with options!! Evidence of action appeared to me almost everywhere – an empty plate, a tyre mark in the road, an empty crisp packet, freshly cut grass, a stubbed out cigarette butt and so on. I wanted to find something that was a bit more meaningful than the examples above.
The initial evidence of action is that someone has passed away, the secondary evidence of action is that the grave has been damaged; albeit through nature rather than vandalism.
My tutor advised that I research some contemporary flower photography that goes against the grain and is not a cliche. He introduced me to the work of David Axelbank – www.davidaxelbank.com (Still life for flower work)
What a simple yet amazingly effective way to photograph flowers; at night time! The dramatic black background really draws out the colours of the flowers, and his precise use of flash is fantastic. I had never thought to photograph nature at night, but this is something i will DEFINITELY experiment with. Flower photography is done to death, but this nocturnal twist is captivating and intriguing.
Another photograph that caught my eye is ‘The Weeds Of Wallasey’ by Chris Shaw. It has a very grungy edge to it, using high contrast, strong flash, and also photographed at night. The industrial silhouette in the background adds to the grunge feeling while the weed is fully lit in the foreground. The combination of these settings an objects results in a very modern and contemporary shot. I really like the idea of photographing nature/flowers against an urban/city backdrop.