151MC Creative Digital Practice – Assignment 1.

The grade will be 75% of your final grade

Building on the disciplines already developed, working with analogue technologies in 150MC, this module will be looking at developing a creative digital practice, supported by an efficient digital workflow. During the term you will be given skills instruction to support your technical development and academic lectures and seminars to support your understanding of where digital practice is currently situated.

You will be looking at the thesis in classic and contemporary photographic texts
which layout specific ways of considering and making sense of photography. You will need to be familiar with these texts. The seminar groups will be an opportunity to discuss, dissemble and make sense of them.
The chapters you will need to read are grouped under the headings of classic texts, photography and evidence, Photographys other histories, Photography and the future (see the reading list on the moodle homepage for full chapter reading lists). Within your seminar groups you can decide which area you are interested in concentrating on and researching around.

Choose the argument in one of the texts read to frame the perspective of your practice, and link it to one the topics areas below. You will need to produce either a physical book (artefact) or a digital book for your final submission that link the text to the topic, with between 12 – 18 pieces. You can use your own words to situate your argument and ensure all your research and development is reflected on your blog.

Please note, part of the marking criteria is your research. You should be transparent in your research, the development of the project and contextualise your viewpoint, ie be aware of the bigger picture how that assimilates to your argument. Ensure that your experimentation and project development are documented on your blog.

Eating disorders

American Culture in the UK

The freedom of the press

City regeneration

The occupy movement

Ownership and property

Initial Ideas.

To begin with, I struggled to think of an idea to work with by having to choose an appropriate theme, how I could approach it and also link it to an ideal text. My initial instinct was to go with Eating Disorders as this has many difference ways in which it can be explored however after focusing on the hidden lifestyle of a model and pressure to look good in 150MC I felt I would like to work with something different. My 2 main ideas to work with:

  • The freedom of the press – similar to the idea of working with the pressure to look good, my idea for this theme was to photograph a model in the style of  fashion magazines then to use photoshop manipulation to make them appear thinner/improve the appearance of their skin. I have had previous experience with trying this before therefore felt it would be achievable but time consuming. With this idea, it relates to how the press often abuse the right of what they print and do have such freedom to edit these pictures so greatly which are then published. I could also link my idea to the book Fred Ritchin: In Our Own Image – A Pixellated Press (1999) which explores the development of digital manipulation and how it is changing things so we see them differently to what they actually are.
  • City regeneration – there are a great number of cases of city regeneration over the UK, but one local to myself is in Birmingham where they regenerated the canal basin. The area is now attractive and interesting with a great number of bars and restaurants there. I could link this idea to the book Sontag, S: Platos Cave in On Photography who explores how photographs are seen as easy reading, a useful way to portray information. They have a great number of different uses and in this case can be seen as evidence.

I decided to go with my City Regeneration idea for my assignment. I am often drawn to using people when shooting – which I would have done if i had chosen to work with The Freedom of the Press, however I wanted to try something more challenging. Therefore I decided to work with photographing buildings and structure. Often I can find this difficult, as there are a number of ways in which buildings can be photographed but its important to capture them in a certain way to actually make the photo interesting. I could have chosen to photograph in Coventry as it was closer, however I felt Birmingham has more options and the canal basin would be an interesting place to work with.

What is City Regeneration?

city (noun)

     1. a large or important town.
regeneration (noun)
     1. act of regenerating; state of being regenerated.
regenerate (verb)
     1. to effect a complete moral reform in.
    2. to re-create, reconstitute, or make over, especially in a better form or condition.
    3. to revive or produce a new; bring into existence again.
Regeneration as a whole is seen as a general improvement through development. Regeneration projects are designed in order to improve a certain environment in a number of different of aspects such as housing and transport access, dependant on what they can do or what they can create. All projects have social, economic and environmental positives but also negatives. They have a huge affect on the future of an area and how it can attract tourism and business, as well as creating further opportunity – whilst it also reflects upon the past and what the area loses. It terms of city regeneration, this is where regeneration has an effect on ‘a large or important town’ therefore influencing the social, economic and environmental factors even more.
   – Job opportunities.
   – Improved tourism.
   – Restaurants/bars increased income.
   – Pleasing to the eye, modern.
   – Office opportunities = growing businesses.
   – Improved transport networks.
   – Houses.
   – Increased space for activities.
   – Cost.
   – Older/valued buildings can be destroyed.
   – Lost history, ‘character’.
   – Pollution.
   – Possible traffic.
Brindleyplace – Canal Basin Regeneration in Birmingham.
Birmingham is currently undergoing ‘The Big City Plan’ in order to regenerate the city centre. For a place which already attracts a huge number of people, with a great range of businesses, shopping centres, restaurants, bars and clubs as well as huge transport networks, homes, places of history and education, there are still many plans to improve the overall  appearance and usage of the city centre. The first steps of regeneration began in 1950s/60s where a number of buildings began being destroyed in order to make way for the ‘concrete jungle’. This was to include ring roads in order to improve transport networks, tower blocks for growing businesses and shopping centres to improve tourism and income.
Another first for the regeneration was the decision to improve the areas which remained untouched post World War 2 like the canal areas. This where Brindleyplace began. Named after James Brindley, a canal engineer, the regeneration process began in 1994 and to this day has grown greatly with a number of places of interest including restaurants and even a hotel, whilst surrounded by huge event venue the National Indoor Arena and a number of buildings to host businesses. After ownership by a number of developers and money paid into the scheme, the land value was over £25 million by 1995. 1 to 11 Brindleyplace are a number of buildings making up the area, from apartments to retail units. There is also a number of public squares surrounding the buildings. The development also included the NIA and today’s well known National Sea life Centre. Overall the area of Brindleyplace had a hugely improved appearance and public accessibility, creating the environment in which the City Council hoped for.
Before, 1993.
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After, 2009.
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Images taken from http://www.brindleyplace.com/wp-content/uploads/The-History-of-Brindleyplace.pdf.
Today, Brindleyplace is a bustling place to be both day and night. Whilst it thrives through restaurants and entertainment, it also holds the yearly Dragonboat Festival attracting a number of competitors in order to support a charity, whilst showing a number of artists work in the Ikon Gallery along with much more.
Inspirational Photographers.
Mark Power
From photographing the fall of the Berlin wall, Mark Power’s photographic career began here. With beginning hesitations of becoming a photographer and turning to another profession, following an encouraging hand from a friend Mark has gone on to shoot a number of different projects. One of these includes ‘Dome’ from 1997 to 2000, where he was given permission to photograph the making of the Millennium Dome, under the condition that he was payed to do so. The images he shot went on to create the photo book “Superstructure”. This work is inspirational through how his work shows the development into an incredibly well known place – “its transformation from toxic wasteland to architectural icon.” (http://www.markpower.co.uk/projects/DOME). This work is inspirational to my own because it shows change, an improvement of an area which is what city regeneration is all about. It shows the progression of the project and takes you through the journey of it being built – an approach I want to take in my sequencing, creating a journey. He photographs the structure, which is key when photographing the buildings as working with the shapes and lines is key and something I need to include in my own photographs.
Picture 12
Picture 4
Edmund Sumner 
Edmund Sumner began his photographic journey in 1995. An architectural photographer from London, he has explored different structures and places throughout a number of projects commercially, culturally and more. He produces work for a number of people and magazines, whilst travelling around the UK, Europe and Japan creating an ever expanding, interesting portfolio. His work is inspirational to my own through the aspect of focusing on architecture which is greatly incorporated into city regeneration. Often regeneration involves the building and development of a number of different structures. The way in which he captures architecture in his images is creative and intriguing. I am particularly inspired by his picture of a structures reflection in water as I could incorporate this sort of idea into my own shoot as I am shooting next to the canal. It shows architecture in a different light because it changes the textures in the image and works well. His images can be quite busy but often feature a great amount of detail to focus on.
Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 01.29.26
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Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 01.29.32
Edward’s own blog can be seen here: http://edmundsumner.tumblr.com
Tom Manley
Tom Manley is both an architectural and urban landscape photographer. His work explores various places in Glasgow focusing mainly on change. His work has featured in a number of galleries whilst also winning a competition. His urban landscape images work interestingly because in them you can see the contrast of old and new, for example the image with the trolley and rubbish in the foreground, separated from the new building in the background. The contrast in the photo itself works really interestingly and reflects his approach into investigating “how places change over time and the forces that bring both positive and negative change to the environment”. (http://tommanleyphotography.com/urban-landscapes/) Although his work does not immediately link to city regeneration, I think it is interesting to explore how he captures change in one image, and I can take this idea and reflect upon my own work showing the end result of city regeneration and how it looks now.
Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 02.15.14
Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 02.15.28
Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 02.15.34
Tom’s own blog can be see here: http://tommanleyphotography.com/category/blog/
Sze Tsung Leong
Based in New York, Sze Tsung Leong has photographed a number of collections of images focusing on landscapes and buildings. With a BA and Master’s degree, Sze has gone on to have his work shown internationally through a number of galleries and had his first photo book published in 2006. The project ‘Cities’, which Sze began in 2002, is what I find inspirational as “depict a wide range of urban formations throughout the globe”. (http://www.szetsungleong.com/cities_index.htm). The work touches upon the idea of city regeneration but on a large scale. His images contain a huge amount of detail dependant on the place he has photographed each telling the story of the place and allowing the viewer to imagine what it would be like – something in which I would like to achieve through the sequence my images.
Further Ideas.
After researching a number of photographers and exploring how I could develop my idea further. I have decided to focus on the buildings which surround the canal of Brindleyplace rather than the ‘squares’ and I have decided that I will do both a day and night shoot. The idea in which I’m interested in is whether we see things more in the day or night. Do the lights which lead us through the night and highlight these buildings and attractions as a result of city regeneration, affect what we see and what we ignore, and how we interpret things? Have we been led in a way in which we should only see the things in which we are drawn to, the things that are lit up at night? It will be interesting to make this comparison to see whether you can see more detail and information in the daytime photos, and see what the eye is drawn to in the night images. As well as this, I will also be photographing the older/more run down areas in which I am photographing incase I chose to make the comparison of the old and new. This would make an interesting comparison to compare the new, modern look of city regeneration to the history of the place or possibly the more neglected areas, showing that despite the efforts and money that goes into city regeneration we may never possibly eliminate all the less attractive areas of the cities. Nearby to Brindleyplace, where I have researched and am focusing mainly for my shoot, I am also planning to photograph nearby areas with the Birmingham Symphony Hall and the new library which is currently being developed. These are also important aspects which will work with the city regeneration theme as they are both examples of redevelopment in order to approve the appearance, place and facilities available. I will also be exploring the area of the Custard Factory, were there are a number of shops but surrounded by quite a run down area in case I want to go for the old/new contrast.
Sontag, S: Platos Cave in On Photography.
Pages 3 to 24 – initial summary points.
  • What photographs are
  • What they do/how they influence us
  • Different uses of photographs eg. Evidence
  • The argument of art vs truth – photographs are more of an interpretation
  • Popular uses of photography by everyone eg. Memories, weddings
  • Interesting fact of how a family with a child twice as likely to have a camera (sociological study in France)
  • Tourism photography reflects insecurities of a new a place – relates to work ethic (stop, take photo, move on – an act of work)
  • Everything has the right to be photographed
  • Photographing someone explores them in ways they may not have necessarily thought before
  • More interested in the shot of the past rather than what is actually in the shot (history)
  • Photographs = easy reading. Way to portray information
  • Photographs hide more than they tell – we don’t actually accept reality.
  • Can never be used for political or ethical purposes as it is used for so many other things (again reflecting on reality).

Sontag explores the important aspects of photography through her writing such as the simple things like what photographs are. They can be highly influential dependant upon there purpose and they can portray many things. They can contain stories, emotions, facts and much more. She suggests how photographing someone explores them in ways in which you may not have thought before – the freedom to explore with photography and the different approaches, techniques and styles allow us to express emotion and feelings in a variety of different ways. We can define a place, a person, an object. There are a great number of things in which photographs can be used for, for example evidence. This is a first point in which my work relates to Sontag’s writing as my images can be used as evidence of what Brindleyplace looks like after regeneration. It also links to her further point of how people are interested in the history of the shot – by looking at my images of the ‘new’ Brindleyplace it can cause the viewer to imagine what the place would be like. She also explores the idea of art vs truth which I think is an important aspect of photography – through my assignment, my photos explore the truth of a place and it’s people – but what makes it art? Does the ‘eye’ of the photographer make it art, or the composition? Or is it simply evidence? Sontag expresses that photographs can never be used for political or ethical purposes because they are used for so many other things – this could also suggest that we cannot use them for that purpose simply because of the ways in which people would read the photographs differently and the interpretations which would be made. She says photographs are make easy reading, a way to portray information. I am linking this point of interpretation to my idea of shooting at both day and night – at night, do the lights in which highlight our surroundings draw us to the things we should see? With city regeneration having a new, aesthetically pleasing image, are the lights used to only highlight these aspects and ‘forget’ the rest? My images allow the viewer to have their own interpretation and this relates back to Sontag’s point of how we cannot use photographs for certain purposes.

Choosing images & sequencing.
Shoot 1 contact sheets – day time.
ContactSheet-001 ContactSheet-002 ContactSheet-003 ContactSheet-004
I feel this shoot was fairly successful leaving me with a good number of images to choose from. It was interesting to explore Brindleyplace and experiment with different shots. The area was very modern with interesting buildings and structures, making interesting images with the various lines and geometric shapes.
Shoot 1 possible images.
These were the images I selected from the shoot in which I considered possibilities for my photo book. While my main focus is city regeneration, I also considered some images of the older buildings in order to create a contrast however after further consideration I decided to use the ones which represent my theme best and create an interesting sequence of photos and to therefore fit with ideas in relation to the text I have chosen.
Shoot 1 final images.
I have chosen 8 images to include in my photo book first as well as the ‘Brindleyplace’ photo to feature on the front cover. I feel this will work well because it will introduce the viewer into the place and photos they are going to see before even opening the book – giving the idea of taking them on a journey/tour around the area.
Shoot 2 contact sheets – night time.
ContactSheet-001 ContactSheet-002 ContactSheet-003
I had a few problems with this shoot to start with simply because of how dark some of the areas were that I was shooting in, despite using a very slow shutter speed and wide aperture this still wasn’t enough meaning some of the buildings I wanted to shoot did not work very well in photos. However in the lighter areas of the canal side with the restaurants and attractions, I was able to get some good shots. I really liked working with the different lighting because it lights up photos in a way you cannot capture in the dark. Photographing by the canal side I was also able to capture some interesting reflections in the water and highlight the texture of the water ripples which makes a nice contrast to the contrast focus on buildings and their geometric appearance. I was not able to capture a very good photo of the library for example which I have chosen to feature in my book from my day time shoot, however I was able to get include an image of the symphony hall luminated by a cool, calm purple colour along with The Birmingham NIA – a hugely popular place which adds character to Brindleyplace. I think although shooting at night caused limitations to certain things I couldn’t shoot as well as I’d hoped, it allowed me to broaden my scope and capture photos of things which worked better at night rather than day such as the image of the bridge which is lit neatly by lights. I think a simple image like that works really well as it highlights subtle detail in the way I am trying to explore how light influences what we see. By being able to photograph different things, it has created a greater contrast of images and more interest to what is at the canal basin. Although I am pleased with most of the images from this shoot, I did have problems using such a slow shutter speed as without a tripod, motion blur from holding the camera itself meant often the images were not as sharp as they should be.
Shoot 2 possible images.
These were possible images which I chose to consider for my photo book from my night shoot. Most of this selection contains duplicate images as there were a few options of each, and I wanted to limit them down and compare them to see which I liked best. Although they are quite similar, they have subtle differences which I think can affect in how you view an image such as the composition and framing. I also considered a street shot with cars to show the human activity at night and I like how the slow shutter speed has blurred the movement of the car, however I felt this image did not fit the theme as well as my others and did not work in a sequence with the others.
Shoot 2 final images.
Again I chose to feature 8 photos from my night shoot to feature in my photo book. This means there are an equal amount of day and night but they create a great contrast with their content.
I found the task of sequencing my photo book enjoyable by being able to experiment and visualise how my photo book would look and what images would go well together. By drawing my photo book plan out by hand, I was able to see how many pages I needed, whether I wanted my photos placed on the page with plenty of space around them or whether I wanted certain images to bleed. I also could see where I wanted my text and if i wanted to put two photos on a double page spread, or just the one. Images that I left on their own I wanted to create more focus on them as a single image whereas where I decided to feature two on a double page spread meant they could work well together and give a greater amount of information.
City Regeneration – Photobook.
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I decided to make my photo book the standard size of 5.25 x 8.25 inches as with my book featuring a number of portrait images which I wanted to bleed, I think this size worked better than a smaller, square book. Despite the design being quite big to handle, I think the front page is inviting as it is kept simple with a photo, title and name however the photo draws you in. With the name of ‘Brindleyplace’ appearing on the cover this immediately introduced the viewer to the place they are going to see, essentially inviting them to sit down with the book and enjoy the journey. I used a black background as this worked as a better contrast to the daytime photos because they are quite light. As well as this, the black background works a lot better with the night images because it adds to the theme of ‘night’ and doesn’t distract you away from the image. It causes you to focus solely on the lights in the image as essentially these are what ‘light up the page’. I decided to sequence my images by beginning with the day time images followed by the night images – the night images signify the end of the day which also reflects the journey through the book and reaching the end.
Critical Reflection.
The aim of my assignment was to explore the idea of City Regeneration and relate this to the text of Sontag, S: Platos Cave in On Photography. The project overall was very challenging, especially the elements of considering how to turn your images into a photo book and relating ideas to the text. Despite this, I feel reading the texts has broadened my knowledge and opened me to more ideas with my assignments. The extract of text was quite easy to read and digest, with the main points of photography can be used as a source of evidence. I used this as my main basis for my project – using my images as evidence of city regeneration. As well as this, I feel my photos also demonstrated the different points made in the book such as being interested in the history of the shot. What I liked about this assignment was experimenting with a theme that I am not so comfortable with and photographing a place rather than people. I found this hard to work with but I feel the images I have come out with to make my photo book worked well. I having the chance to work with Adobe InDesign, as well as sequencing my images and organising how I would like the layout of my book to be. At first I had hesitations of how my project would turn into a photo book and what it would look like, however I am fairly pleased with its appearance. I like the journey that I created from the day photos to night, however if I were to do the photo book again I would look for a different way to approach this journey rather than from one straight to the other. I feel the digital photo book worked better in this instance to fit with the ‘modern’ aspect of city regeneration – today a lot more people are online to view the book. By making it digital, it is also more easily accessible. However, I do feel it could work as a physical photo book because it would invite the reader to sit down and enjoy it. With my night shoot, you can see a few people about in the pictures. At first this could have affected them negatively, but saw how people bring life to the place and shows how the city regeneration of the area has lead to tourism. Despite being happy with my night photos I did have problems initially with shooting in such low lighting conditions. If i were to do this again, I would shoot at dusk rather than night – this could also result in some nice lighting in the skies to make my images more interesting and calm. I would also use a tripod to reduce the motion blur in photos if I was again using a slow shutter speed as this can really reduce the sharpness and effectiveness of an image. Moreover the night shoot was successful as I feel it achieved the point I was trying to explore – does the light that leads our eye through the photo affect what we see? Yes, as apposed to the day where we can explore ourselves and focus on the subjects/main focal points in the image. If I were to approach the project again, I would have researched and visited more places, expanding further and creating more comparisons and contrasts of city regeneration in the UK.





















~ by victoriasimkissphotography on March 7, 2013.

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