Mindful Photography – Week 5 – Inspire

This week I had to read a passage/chapter/short story of creative writing or a poem/song lyric. After absorbing the reading/listening  I was instructed to pick 6 – 10 words then create 3 – 5 photos from whatever these words brought up.

Initially I thought of Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham – the deep dark wood, the open road, Spring, Toad Hall but it all seemed a bit easy for me – too literal then I listened to a couple of albums by Van Morrison. However nothing popped into my mind photographically-wise except there was a line whirling around  in my head, ‘I don’t understand the things that I do.’ Eventually I remembered the rest of the song.

Drift Away was written by Mentor Williams and has been recorded by many artists – I first heard it in 1972  by Dobie Gray and have sung that line ‘I don’t understand the things that I do’ many times to myself. The song has a deep emotional effect on me – I find it profoundly sad, full of hopelessness, a cry to be released from this world. I googled other people’s reactions and all that I’ve read feel the song is about the ability for rock and roll to be a protective blanket to be lost in, an uplifting song so I’m out of kilter; I hear it as an unrequited plea to be given the beat, to be freed…. I want to get lost yet somehow never manage to be.

Day after day, I’m more confused
Yet I look for the light through the pourin’ rain
You know that’s a game that I hate to loose
And I’m feelin’ the strain, ain’t it a shame

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away

Beginnin’ to think that I’m wastin’ time
I don’t understand the things I do
The world outside looks so unkind
Now I’m countin’ on you to carry me through

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away
Yeah, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away

And when my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
And when I’m feelin’ blue
The guitar’s comin’ through to soothe me

Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me
I want you to know I believe in your song
And rhythm and rhyme and harmony
You help me along makin’ me strong

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away
Give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away

Oh-ho, ah-no
Give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock n roll
And drift away

Hey, hey, hey, yeah
Give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock n roll
And drift away

Na, na, now won’t ya
Won’t ya take me
Oh-ha, take me

Here are the results for this week. Ironically I never found my image for ‘I don’t understand the things I do’.5inspire3Day after day, I’m more confused5inspire2Yet I look for the light through the pourin’ rain5inspire1The world outside looks so unkind
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Free my soul……and drift away

I’m trying not to manipulate my images post production so haven’t achieved the moodiness I’d had in my mind.  Strangely when I printed analogue film part of the art was done in the dark room so I don’t know why I have such a resistance to digital manipulation!

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Mindful Photography – Week 4 – Be

I found this week’s assignment difficult as it was ‘to represent emotion’. I attempted to focus my mind on an emotion – I sat in my small back garden absorbing what was happening around me; the sun was bright, a few birds were singing and voices drifted over the wall from the alley. I noticed a bright splash of a pink flower (we had been advised not to photograph flowers and I wanted to avoid any cliché).  I felt safe and content but that was tinged with a tweak of anxiety as I knew I had to take some images to evoke what I was feeling. So my emotion turned into frustration as I searched for my images – the harder I tried the worse it was so in the end I gave up and just took what caught my eye. I could be lazy and say it’s up to the viewer to put whatever emotion they like onto the images. 4Be1 4Be2 4Be3 4Be4 4Be5 P1000335

Mindful Photography – Week 3 – Explore

This week the assignment was to let go of the concept of what makes a good or bad photograph – to deliberately take out of focus, under exposed, over exposed and badly composed images. Ironically I then had to select 5 of the ‘best’ to upload for my tutor to comment on.

I was frustrated by the limitations of my camera (yes, a bad work-person always blames their tools!) but, because it’s a compact, it’s impossible to focus manually. I tried focussing on a near object then taking a distance shot without success – I tried capturing a sense of movement by using a slow shutter speed but I ended up with over exposed images or ones too dark to see. I need to practice more with the settings so they become second nature to me.

I’ve been looking over some notes I made when I used my DSLR – I had a greater aperture range, a greater shutter speed range and could manually focus which enabled me to achieve a wider range of images. But I have the challenge of working with what I have now.

The day was sunny but before I left to carry out the assignment I noticed my paper coffee cup on the windowsill.

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I’ve not submitted this one but like the ambiguity of the image and the materiality.

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Shooting into the sun produced a colourful flare but again this wasn’t presented.

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I spent about an hour with the swans – changing the aperture and shutter speed which resulted in many dud images – either so over exposed there was nothing to see and conversely too dark. I was looking at the form of the negative space of the dark water against the white plumage but the birds moved so fast as they ate the food I’d enticed them with it was difficult to take a considered shot.

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This image has been improved by placing it against a white background as the edges have all but disappeared.

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In spite of me not wanting to post edit my work I have cropped this image as there was a distracting beak to the left.

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I was trying to capture the movement of the swans necks as they thrust their heads under water but I never managed to get the slow shutter speed I needed to correspond to the exposure. I’ve a lot to learn.

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Without the other images this one is the most confusing – I think it would be better presented in portrait rather than landscape.

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Mindful Photography – Week 2 – Ground

For this week’s assignment the rules were:-

  • Body scan your camera – for aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I am at last (after several photographic workshops) beginning to have a glimmer of understanding the relationship between them.
  • Take about an hour for this assignment.
  • Select an area approximately 50 meters by 50 metres.
  • Familiarise yourself with the area – where the light is coming from, how you can move within it to gain different focal points.
  • Take 24 images without looking at them after shooting – there must be no deletions – regard the task as if using ‘film’ – that is analogue.

I found this week difficult to complete. I walked about my neighbourhood on Wednesday afternoon but couldn’t find any thing that ‘told a story.’ I came home in despair.

The next day I knew, due to time constraints,  I had to take my 24 shots. In spite of the forecast promising sun in the morning it turned out to be one of those days filled with  a flat grey light with no shadows or contrasts.

I was meeting a friend for lunch; I walked through the park with the hope of completing the task before the appointed time. All I could see was cliché after cliché so soon placed my camera back into my bag. After an hour and a half of delightful, fun-filled conversation my friend took me on a tour of her studio and as soon as I saw the outdoor space I knew I’d found my place to shoot the 24 images.

Here are the five I submitted for the assignment.

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The space was a chaotic riot of colour and random objects – I wanted to capture the essence of the place with this photo.

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It was a freezing cold day and the hot tropical backdrop against the bare-branched tree made me smile.

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I’m learning. learning, learning….I was disappointed as the colours appear so flat here. I don’t wish to enhance any of my photos post production during this learning stage; instead I think I should have increased the ISO.

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When I first saw the subject matter of this photo I had to look closely as I couldn’t work out what I was seeing. I wanted to keep the wall in the frame to add to the containment but did take another photo in landscape without the wall.

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This is my favourite – the acid green ridged lines reaching to a sharp point in contrast with the soft natural vegetation.

Mindful Photography – week 1 – See (Colour)

I was given a new digital camera for Christmas so thought the best way to move me off auto mode would be to take a course. I need the motivation of some sort of structure and this 10 week on-line one run by Lee Aspland of Potential seems to be ideal. I can work at my own pace, within each week, and go back to the tutorials  whenever I choose.

Firstly I need to absorb the 4 stage seeing practice so it becomes second nature to me; here is my interpretation of the practice.

1) Be in the moment – be aware of the surroundings, what can be heard, seen, smelled, felt. Take a few minutes to absorb them.

2) Walk around, looking but not deliberately framing an image, wait for something to catch you eye then stop.

3) Just be with the experience, don’t force any thoughts, just note what you are thinking.

4) Imagine the image before you take it, how are you going to capture the essence of what captured your eye, do you need to move? Then use the camera – take the image and move on.

The first assignment was colour, Lee suggested to take an hour over it. I’d been thinking about what I could photograph during my walks around the city but realised that maybe I was framing an image too much. Also, when I looked on the website where we have to up load our images to, some of my ideas had already been used.

This morning the sun was out but with promise of rain later so I thought I better get going. As I was walking down the road I was captivated by the neon pink salwar a lady was wearing. I explained to her I needed a photo showing colour and her outfit was perfect. I was concious that I couldn’t spend too much time arranging my image – not an ideal composition.

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I walked on slowly, just looking and being mindful I was in the city and saw a row of bollards with bright red bands. I didn’t want to take lots of images – I want to move away from whittling down 100 pictures to two or three good ones so I spent a little time finding my view point.

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Having seen the green cones with the red bollards it wasn’t long before the green of the recycling bag against the vivid red door begged to be photographed.1see3

Red was in my vision now – I was seeing flashes of it everywhere. The photo of the bicycle lamp was difficult to take as I had to put my camera through the railings and couldn’t see the image on the screen – I was shooting blind.

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The red of the phone box was seductive so had to be recorded , again with a touch of green of the playing fields in the background.

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No great images here – none that would stand up on their own. But I’m pleased that I took only ten, within an hour. I found it difficult to separate ‘being in the moment’ and ‘setting up’ the shot.