Exercise: A single figure small

As the brief for this exercise specified, planning to achieve this kind of shot was difficult and I had to wait for the opportunity to appear. Since starting Part Four of the course, I have kept a camera on me more regularly and have taken to working through the exercises in the module simultaneously rather than chronologically. That being said, I did have the opportunity to grab a few shops that utilised the distant figure in the frame. I was particularly pleased with the first example (see below). The figure is distant enough to be anonymous, although the context is clear and there is a clear narrative to the image. The composition is also quite interesting in that the figure is placed off centre and the clear contrast between the white railings in the foreground and the array of greys in the background.

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I concluded the images at the second location (also on a footbridge) are less successful. I aimed for a similar style and angle (black and white + looking through foreground railings) but opted for a slightly different composition.

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Tilting the frame works to some extent by adding a sense of movement to the man walking, introducing some visual tension.

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Whilst compositionally and stylistically the images are interesting, I don’t think they are quite as effective as the first image in fulfilling the brief. Firstly I was perhaps too close to the figure and so the sense of place is lost for the viewer. There is also no clear visual narrative – the viewer is left guessing the nature of the place and how the figure is interacting with it. As an exercise it was interesting to experiment with composition and proximity to the figure, and the conclusions reached from the resulting images are lessons I will take into the upcoming exercises and assignment.

Exercise: A single figure small

Effie Paleologou “The Front”

As a follow up to my previous post on Effie Paleologou’s small exhibit in the V & A, I decided to explore the photographer’s work in greater detail.

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Paleologou’s photo series of Hastings (from an exhibition entitled “the front”) immediately grabbed my attention for its gritty urban characteristics. Her images transform the familiar to something abstract and alien, challenging the viewer’s perceptions of the urban landscape at night.

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A number of possibilities occurred to me. Perhaps the photographer is creating a window into an alternate timeline that exists under our very noses. Are the images suggesting that we overlook our surrounding environment? Another possibility is that the images present to us places “we do not belong. It as if we are coming to spaces that have just been left, as if the action had literally just moved on elsewhere, seconds before we arrived”. (Kent, 2000, P.5)

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The latter idea certainly holds currency when observing the images. The use of artificial light (similar to her series ‘Mean City’) and deep shadows create a menacing and profound use of space. Whilst we see sand on the beach, it is really all about the possibility of space – the light and shadow simply adds tension and suggests to the viewer a feeling of “imminent danger”. (Kent, 2000, P.4)

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What is most impressive about this series is the photographer’s take on simple subject matter and delivering a complex visual narrative. The images are not distinguished by their technical prowess, on the contrary, the photographer’s approach is clearly intentional. The creative use of light and shadows and the angles/perspectives used on subjects as mundane as puddles of water and lonely street lights are really what make this series stand out. These are techniques and approaches I may take forward for assignments later in the course and for further personal projects.

Effie Paleologou “The Front”