Took a trip to the city of Wakefield (after visiting this location all my life, I have come to the conclusion that it feels like an extended town rather than a city, owing to the fact it is not bombarded with skyscrapers. It is a location that feels like it is stuck in a rut and the past. The quality that gives it the status of a city is the fact it has a cathedral. However back to the photography and I really wanted to put what I have learned from looking at Lewis Baltz work to the plate and really look at the city rather than be trigger happy like the shoot in Leeds/Hull. This shoot at Wakefield was around 130 pictures, so much less than previous shoots this year. Seeing/Looking whats in the city without the use of a viewfinder in ones way is very hard to keep concentration levels up for hours at a time, however one can only photograph what one finds however the angles/framing can be crucial to the photograph. And if one cannot get it right on location (which should be crucial to do at the time) a slight alteration may be needed on photoshop, which is certainly relevant on a few images here. I was keen to see if anything had happened to the Leave graffiti on the walls in Wakefield and to my finding it would appear it had been wiped off. Which quite rightly so however 5 minutes away from this graffiti, there was a swastika present on a wall which is quite baffling that this symbol of evil has not been removed straight away. Towards the end of the day, I started to look at the textures of walls in a minimalist way of framing, thus I began think, i can incorporate more of these textures in later shoots. As texture builds up the city in some respect, I think I getting more of an idea how to photograph these locations in a different perspective, thus I think a trip to Leeds/Sheffield again is due in the Easter holidays.
This is the second edit of my project, quite different to the first one I feel. The edit of a project is my favourite part and seeing what images work with/against each other is a process where it is fun/frustrating. After the first edit, one finds sequences that work rather well with each other and thus to try and forgot that and come up with different images to run alongside those pictures can be difficult. As it is hard to break up the sequence. The only problem with uploading sequences/edit to an online blog is one cannot add the white pages in which represent breaks in the work which the artist does on purpose. However there are parts of this edit and the one previously that I feel work quite well.
A technique I learned last year during my final months of my degree was taking the edit/images you have and reducing them to an edit of 20, 10, 5. By doing this if I were to pick an edit to send off, the images chosen serve as a ‘teaser’ like the mini trailer of a trailer of a movie. It serves as a snippet for the project so far. Perhaps I have done my reduced edit too early, but it seemed a fun process to do I must say with the images I have thus far. The images chosen have a minimalist approach to them, much like the Baltz work. To photograph and frame images like this are difficult as one has to really look within the city and be positioned in the correct way, as a inch to the right/left/forward/background for example can have an over riding effect/feel of the picture. Im quite happy with the images selected and look forward to applying this approach to upcoming shoots.
British photographer John Davies is an artist of whom I think I have researched for every project Ive done over the last few years. One can simply look up on his landscape images again and again and reap as much pleasure viewing them then the first time one views the work. In relation to my own practice, getting an understanding for photographing the city in different strategies by looking at artists like Davies and previously Baltz, I can gather inspiration of way they framed their images thus then apply to my own work. The use of layering the image in the frame through Davies work is the beauty of his images, there always appears to be a lot happening in the frame that one must survey in detail.
This is the first edit from all four locations, consisting of 48 images. With nature of the blog, I am unable to put in gaps/blank pages between some of images, which is how I have designed it through the software on Lightroom. I happy with the progress so far and at this point I feel that I am in a good position to continue to shoot then edit and not feel rushed, there is a substantial amount of pictures thus far with much work to go at yet, but for the time being I am in a good position. I will admit there are a few images that I am not happy with that have stayed in this edit but for the time being I am keeping it them as place holders for improved photographs with reshoots most likely.
Peter Bialobrezeskis’ work of documenting a series of cities in the last few years have made for a great number of photo books. Locations such as Cairo, Wolfsburg, Athens and Taipei, Bialobrezeskis uses medium format and long exposures to document the city in a non tourism way, trying to find beauty in chaos in destinations that appear run down and not the safest of places. The images created are executed beautifully and with further examination into the work, one can see/suggest that the images have been shot at night but with the long exposure make it appear that they are in daylight. One can only tell by looking closely at lampposts and viewing that they are on, which would indicate that it is night time. Although I probably won’t be doing shoots at night primarily, one can never say never.
After the Leeds shoot and reviewing the images, my next destination was to visit the 2017 city of culture, Hull. The same formula as the Leeds shoot was to just document everything, consequently the shoot image total was over 600. As I was very unfamiliar with Hull with only travelling to The Deep a couple of times more than 10 years ago, it was an alien location to me. So to just walk and discover what each street presented itself was something I enjoy doing when walking with my camera. Apply psychogeography to the situation I did and photographing alien subjects to me but familiar to the locals of that area. With each shoot I can feel my eye getting stronger and trying to frame more accurately. Im happy with the shots collected with a first edit in the works thus far. Trying to photograph the locations in a different manner and just obviously point out this is Hull/Leeds/Sheffield etc… with this is an old building/this is a new building is the hardest part of the work, but with reshoots and edits, I know I can achieve strong photographs.
After the shoot in Leeds, I was led in the direction of discovering a photographer of whom I was surprised that I had not seen his work before. Mostly associated with the New Topographics in the 1970’s, Baltz photo series document the side effects of industrial civilization in America, focusing on locations that are urban wastelands, abandoned industrial sites, warehouses. His photographs are shot straight with little in the frame, however that is what makes the work so mysterious and interesting to myself. It is an avenue I would like to delve into to document the city and I have already shot a few images that resemble Baltz strategy.
A recent shoot to Leeds on a very cold thursday morning in february proved to be quite a successful shoot of around 350 overall images of documenting a good majority of the city. My main focus was to capture more of the city than the people as for this project I want there to be an essence of human life ever changing then having the humans as the core subject. The following contact sheets are of images that I picked from the 350 that were ‘better’ so to speak, where as the images that are present have made the ‘final cut’ for this part of the project. The beauty of a project like this is that one can reshoot and perfect the images until the the very last moments of a deadline. I want to revisit Leeds as I have a few more ideas and strategies for more accurate photographs for the not so distant future.
The Breathing Factory, a piece of work created by Mark Curran in 2006. Curran spent about 9 months securing access to the site of which he was relived to have gained the access. The photo book of this work is a ‘slow’ read in that one must really focus in on the pictures and not rush it. Every aspect of the project appears well thought out and critically thought out, a magnificent piece of art.
“The Breathing Factory looks at the working environment of the multinational corporation Hewlett-Packard (HP), located on the former site of a meatpacking factory in Leixlip, County Kildare. The site is 2 million square feet in size with almost 2,500 workers and is HP’s only inkjet manufacturing plant in Europe and one of the only 3 such global locations. HP is the largest Information and Communication Technology employer in Ireland and is one of a number of American high tech companies (Microsoft, Intel). Without going through a process of significant industrialization (IDA Ireland), the Irish (agriculture-based) economy has been transformed into a highly globalized, ‘post-industrial’ model.”