I'm very annoyed that I have no way of realising my project brief without the University being open. But even though this is happening i'm still going to have to complete my ideas/ project so that I can move on in my mind. It is going to cost me more and more to finalise, I know I can get to the end and how I will go about it. I simply need to keep outputting my photographic and written work to keep articulating and to keep on top of things.
What I need to do now.
Develop the rest of 5x4 images left in dark slides. (£60 roughly)
Scan it all in (£30 roughly)
Print them out ready for exhibition and to be laid into book format (£90 roughly)
Create book (£40 roughly)
I also need to keep writing about the photography I am working on, technically and subjectively. This will help situate the project within it's own context and should logically bring forward some sort of resolution. For this book I want to create a link between myself and perseverance.
Because of the local and national advice and 'emergency legislation' which has been implemented because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of Gloucestershire is closed yet again, this means that I cannot return, borrow, develop, scan, research, or do much at all with my project as I rely on what is provided. I would urge anyone who pays for anything to use it properly, meaning use it all, make the most out of what is provided. From the perspective of the University they should expect every one of their students to be asking for everything they provide right?
John messaged me asking how I was getting on... I asked to see some of his latest work and ill send mine over too. The next day we had both reviewed each others work and had some feedback to give each other. Doing this was good because I don't think either of us get many people reviewing our work voluntarily.
So after doing the photoshoot at Dave's house I had more motivation, I felt I had a better understanding of the Large Format equipment, I can now frame quicker, I feel more in control of it all.
A couple of weeks or so before this shoot I had the idea of creating an event where I can get people together, under one roof, to make use of the equipment I have the chance to borrow from university. This equipment creates the quality i want to see, it also gives me something new to grasp, the next level of my photographic practise / technical understanding. It is something that others will want to know more about, it's not just a camera or a photoshoot, this event will be a traditional portrait shoot, doing it properly.
So I had the idea to contact Kingsley and Sal, the ones who have recently started to rent an old guitar shop/ studio in town. These two guys are very open with creative ideas, so I messaged them with my project idea and they agreed to lend me a space for a day for £30, from 12pm till 9pm.
My idea was simple, to set up my camera equipment in the corner of a room with a black backdrop and one studio light / flash with a soft box attachment. I wanted to be able to create something rather than nothing, and with all these lockdowns it seemed that I wasn't going to be able to create anything as I work physically. But I said fuck it and went ahead with my idea whilst I could.
I Created a Facebook event as seen above, the event detailed everything, what I want to actually do, how I want to do it and where it will take place. In the end I had about 7 people turn up, all at different times throughout the day and all in line with the latest Covid-19 guidance and legislation at the time. The people I invited were people I feel kind of close to, they are people I have met over the past 4 years of living in Cheltenham, each one of them was either a music producer, a rapper, graffiti artist, but everyone of them to me stands out to be an everyday hero. People who work hard and sacrifice their time for others.
On the day, the equipment set up was nice and easy, the first person came along at about 3pm, I met and greeted them, showed them the equipment I was using, had a little catch-up and showed them where to sit and how to sit for this traditional photograph. Everyone was very easy going, many of these people I have photographed before, some quite a lot of times. Before I took the shots I would take a polaroid which synced to the studio flash unit, this gave me a good idea of what the images will look like, it also made the interaction between me and the subject more comfortable as they had something to see and to take home with them, luckily these people still value polaroids and loved receiving one (not everyone had one taken as I only had like 5 left).
I took 16 exposures throughout the whole day, I took portraits of each person individually, some people in a pair and a few group shots at the end as some people stayed a while so this was possible. Each shot was completely different. Different sizes, clothing, different colours, each shot was understood, composed and exposed as well as possible.
I feel there are still people and photographs that I need to create using this equipment, some people could not make it and some people didn't want to be in a small space with people outside of their bubble. So there will be a shoot two at some point.
I am happy with how the whole day went, everyone got on well, the photographs felt meaningful and looked really really professional when I was composing. I just need to develop the film and scan it all in and we will be able to see it on this page soon.
Below you can see the backdrop, camera and flash set up. Nice and simple. 2 photographs for each individual and a few others for group shots and one was fogged I believe.
These are in chronological order.
My favourite photograph is the third one above. I loved the framing with the speakers as a background, it creates nice patterns, contrast and adds the connotation of music into the image. It is sharp on the eyes, it has extreme tilt shift focused on that front eye and it had technically and objectively fallen into place very well. We both felt this shot was going to be the one. This is the one I will print in the darkroom.
Large format photography with JPDL. (Jean Pierre) - A spoken word performer, rapper, and recently father to a boy.
Jean Pierre (Dave) invited me round when he found out that I was creating photographs using a Large Format Camera. Dave is always someone who gives up his time for me so I make sure I have the time for him as often as I can. He was off work for the whole day so we had plenty of time to talk, think and compose photographs within his house. When I first got to his, he made sure to express how nice his coffee was, and that he had to make me one, it was lovely.
We then talked about what we had been doing during the past 6 months as we last saw each other near the beginning of the first lock down, discussing feelings and the struggles of recent life. Dave's wife has just had a child in November so he was extremely tired but expressed his joy for the new born. (Reginald 3rd) He showed me round his house and suggested we set up the LFC in the spare room with all of his work on the walls and with posters from past events he has been involved with. We discussed quite a bit more before we started to take any photographs. As always, the photograph is a product of interaction, conversation and thought.
We discussed how Covid- 19 has in a way brought people so close together, in that it has brought about arguments and problems, but that has also had a positive effect because it's like we have been able to over-come and adapt to problems much faster than usual. It seemed like the year 2020 was condensed to 3 months. We discussed how artists like himself who work a lot in the event world locally, have had most of their work cancelled because of the 'emergency legislation' put into place to close venues, pubs, and to limit the movement of everyone, ultimately slowing down the work flow of the individual and the independent artist, or the local business and allowing for the more established business and authority to take more control of the world over the ideas of protecting the National Health Service.
Dave discussed how 2020 has also been one of the best years of his life, he managed to stop smoking cigarets after about 20 years, he has just had his first child and has moved into his first house with his wife. So it has been quite different for everyone really.
I would think and compose the photographs whilst he is talking on his sofa in the room with all of his posters on the wall. I would simply look through the glass, and direct his position slightly. I would adjust the light to that it is the right brightness, in the correct place so that there was a catch light in his eye but also not too harsh or too close.
I took Dave through the whole process of the what this type of camera is, how it worked, and what every movement I was doing with each piece of equipment was, testing the light with a metre, testing that the flash would fire when I have cocked the lens and I fire it and focusing etc etc. Doing this created the relationship between Me, Dave and the camera as something to present himself to when the time is right, consequently there is attention between Dave and the camera. He is conscious of what is going on and is just as excited to try and make a nice photograph as I am.
So we had both become comfortable with what the camera is, how long it takes to compose and to take a shot. For the last shot we decided to move his table and stack his speakers on it to create a wall behind his head. This added a nice pattern to the edges of the frame, but more importantly this added the connotation and the denotation of music within his and my own life. When we set the shot up and I composed it I was so excited to take the shot. I did all kinds of tilt shift with the lens and threw the focus in all sorts of layers, but made sure I was still sharp on the front eye.
The results will be posted in a separate article in series. I took 4 exposures. Each one was successful and I felt them as worth taking.
For my Final Major Project I intend to go back to what I love about photography, the hand-made processes that are involved in creating negatives but also photographic prints and a final bound book that they will be stitched into. I intend to create 6-10 images using black and white large format film and a ‘Cambo’, large format camera. I will focus on portraits, full body and mid shots, within an open space, most likely outside on the street or hopefully inside the subjects own spaces. With more limited access to places and people during this global pandemic I will simply ask people I think will be up for it. I think I want to capture people I have met in the past 3 or 4 years in Cheltenham, people that I look up to, so professional musicians and mostly, artists. I can think of loads of people to photograph, lets just hope that the are fine with restrictions etc… These people are visually quite expressive which is good hopefully it will become layered but also relevant to the situation we find ourselves in today. I want the subjects to express themselves however they want and to play with the idea of a professional photograph. The reason I have chosen to go back to using film and changing my idea is because I simply feel that I enjoy all of the processes that comes with it, as opposed to working with digital. But I also feel that this project is more possible for me to achieve, with a much better physical portfolio/ archive at the end of it.
I intend to create the images on ILFORD MULTIGRADE ART 300, size: 11x14 inches. Which I believe from experience is the real deal. I have already met and arranged to start creating a hard-back-book out of wood and leather with a woodworker in cheltenham (for free), which will have a wooden sleeve that the book slips into. It will be hand stitched using either a Japanese style or one taught to me by the workshop owner. I intend the photographs to be executed well within the given scene, the negatives exposed well for a good print, the prints to look and feel like my best work yet, and a hard back book that respects the material and represents the quality and professionalism that goes into the creation of the work inside. I think the wood for the book will be something that isn’t too expensive but will last, looks nice and is strong. Maybe Mahogany or Pine, not sure yet… I want to engrave a title and make a motif for it too. I’m not sure if there needs to be much writing but I might include notes and documents made along the way.
I aim to create 1 photograph a week from next Tuesday, maybe break for a week over Christmas then finish in January. Print it all in mid Jan. Create the book over 2 weeks and finish it all within a month, ready for submission end of Feb. This will be tough work that requires a lot of planning and consistency But I am committed to it. I just pray the university doesn’t close the darkrooms in January. I am excited and ready to get stuck into some very nice work.
I will write as much as I can on my blog, also research notes, photographs and inspiration, my progression and my whole process along the way. I will try and make the writing relevant, clear, interesting and make sure it is presented well. (nice paper too).
Day One (3 hours 15 mins of filming at pirate studios, cheltenham. 2 hours editing) 5 hours, 15 mins logged.
Today I have been assigned to work with DJ Fallow and Grime and Hip Hop vocalist Griz-O, both from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK.
Location: Pirate Studios Cheltenham.
Meet: 15:45 - 19:00
Equipment: Sony A7III + 50mm lens. Canon A1 + 28mm lens, + Ilford HP5 +.
Weather: Sunny all day with strong light.
Aims: Create 10 photographs on Canon and Film 3 minutes of video footage to use towards 30 minute documentary.
Editing: Create folder with all material to be used in documentary. Get Premier Pro again by signing into University account on my laptop. - Create initial file for documentary + save onto laptop and in material folder. (have 2 copies)
Evidence 600 Hours.
Proposal of 500- 800 words by 23rd September.
Main Research Period between September and January.
Deadline Wednesday 3rd March 2021.
Initially I proposed to carry on my current work but go the extra step of shooting colour portraits, on 5x4 sheet film in the streets with recording artists, producers, and music professionals. When the time came, Lockdown happened and the whole world was acting in response to a world-wide pandemic, resulting in countless complexities, one of which is not having access to anymore equipment from uni. This whole situation lead to a lot of doing very little and watching tv for a while, and I had to continue my uni work somehow. So I bought a GoPro Hero 7 to start creating footage of my bike journeys and skates with the other half, I was pleased with the quality but It has me wanting to do better and to be able to use uni's equipment because I know that is what I needed. The audio wasn't great but I used it anyway as this also lead into editing skills and understanding the frame even more in terms of ratio and screen resolution etc etc.
So I have created one film using the GoPro which is where I first test out the interview style with Dave, (JPDL) the footage was flickery and the frame rate was all messed up, this was a result of the wrong frame rate settings and a default as the lights were old yellow tubes and were not giving off the best quality. I used this footage anyway as it was the best I got from the time in the studio.
I arranged a few days ago to create some video work with Grizz-O. We both were unsure what exactly we were going to attempt but I had a vague idea for an interview, straight to camera style short documentary. Something to be creative with and to help each other out.
We met up Sunday 27th July, I had the Sony a7III with a 50mm lens, I was also shooting the odd frame with my Rollei 35S as usual, there will always be some film made from every event of shoot I attend. We met at Cheltenham bus station and talked for a while about recent news and family, we then eventually walked to Sandford park where we started creating footage.
Sandford is a lovely place because it's relatively quiet, it's teaming with wildlife and is well landscaped so it is aesthetic for the footage.
We decided to basically sit under a huge Wisteria where we had a nice natural woodland-green reflected into scene from all the plants around. The sun was trying to push through the clouds but was fluctuating a little. But this did not mean the colour was hard to edit in post.
The lighting was spot on for me, Grizz-O was comfortable and he could be very open with me even with the camera. So I just let him speak for 5 minutes and filmed a couple of takes, I chose the best one where he doesn't mess up and he says his points clearly.
I spent about 10 hours editing this new video on Premier Pro, I managed to source an unreleased track from Grizz-O himself after we created the initial footage which has been used to create a beginning to the video.
I am very happy with this interview attempt and it has really given me hope to buy my own Sony A7III becasue I know this is what I need to start creating long term documentaries. Thank God I've managed to get hold of something to use, lockdown has holted so much of my flow it's been really annoying.
The Visual quality if way beyond my expectation, as well as the sound quality, it is amazingly clear and there is not much background noise, to be honest it is nice to hear the birds and card going past every now and then, it gives it that bit more grounding.
Under the mask: episode 1
Today I left my house with my camera and Rode Mic in my bag, I was cycling through the HoneyBourne Line and I stumbled across Graffiti artists Farai and Slazz. I hadn't seen Slazz in a while and we caught up for a few minutes. I am always in relatively close contact with Farai so it was great to see them both doing some new Graff pieces on the walls.
When I got there they were pretty much finished for the day, Farai was putting on the last bits, and I started getting some video footage of what was going on. Thinking of B roll and possible background shots that can be overlaid over interview footage and audio, cutting in-between. I love the smell and the colours of the tunnels, these people really give you an experience when it all happens.
I was using the Sony A7III with a standard 50mm F/1.8 with a Rode Mic for good audio quality and reach.
There wasn't much background noise so you can hear the clanging of the cans and the spray paint leaving the nozzle, its is quite immersive when captured right. The lighting in the tunnel was probably the brightest I have seen it, the sun was blaring down from both sides, creating a nice soft light all the way through resulting in minimal shadows.
I have uploaded a few shots I took and some raw footage that is completely unedited.
The intention of this footage is to add to my large long term documentary video project on Artists in cheltenham. Graffiti will definitely be a chapter.
"We common mortals can see neither our own eyebrows, which are so close, nor heaven in the distance. Likewise, we do not see that the Buddha exists in our own hearts".
Now that I have a short edit put together (my editing skills are shoddy at the moment) I can start to see information that is missing, how the first parts are starting to build up and possible narratives. I need to focus on Dave a lot more, get some proper interview footage, (good quality sound and visuals) this could be him explaining in more depth his work, the people behind the scenes, to big up people who don't usually get heard. Connect the whole picture, and show it how it is. Because for me life is magic and these films i'm going to make through out my life will explain this.
I have known many many people for quite some time in Cheltenham and have made amazing friends here. I have the opportunity everyday to meet up and to create work with these people, they are all happen to be creative somehow. But the question is; as always, what is important enough to create work on, together?
Lockdown is obviously the talk of the town right now and it will be for a while. So how are people coping? well many are enjoying their time out of work, many are picking up new hobbies, (cycling, photography, skateboarding, growing plants etc) people have more time to get their creative work outputted, and more time to themselves and family. This is very beneficial for the people who are motivated, who have access to places that allow them to create quality material and work.
So, my next focus for the documentary will be to interview people with a concentrated focus on voices of people, to find the power in each individual, simply through the voice and simple imagery. For me this is a nice place to start because it abstracts the world to the quality and cancels out the background noise of life.
I want to create powerful work. I want to use Dave (JPDL), Victor, DJ Fade, and a few others to create some high quality sound and visuals. I feel that I can do really well if I spend a few weeks on each person, one at a time. I will use the people in life that are powerful to me. Griz-O. Dave, Beth (Grove) etc etc. I know who they are.
From the first little bit of footage I have been capturing, I already see possible narratives. I feel I should focus on refining the interview techniques, I need quality sound and visual equipment, the GoPro just isn't enough, so i'm going to buy myself a good microphone/ zoom mic/ Rhode etc.
Zoom Microphones are cool, they are a bit too much for me for what I need to do. I need something that is simple, relatively cheap and strong.
Rhode Mic's seem perfect, I have used them a few times and they do an amazing job, the quality it pretty dam good for interviews even outside in a bit of wind. They are £50 or so which is nice. Lightweight, durable and it looks good.
The camera I need would have to be digital, full frame, predominantly made for filming. Sony seems best for me, I've used them, they are easy, lightweight and amazing sensor quality. The best combination I have used is Sony A7 with a Voightlander 28mm F/1.9, the depth is just right - wide open.
Ill have to get this kind of set up soon if I want to progress into digital after university. (ill have to get it anyway as they are closed).
So during The time with Pav and Dave, I filmed on my GoPro throughout a couple of days. I then used Premier Pro to put together the clips so that the main interview footage would run throughout the background, and used B roll to bring in context and to build it up and slow it down.
I also used a sound track that was made during the project I was filming. The soundtrack and the sound in general are not great, I was only using the GoPro mic and no external aid. I am still editing this video visually and acustically.
As you can see below the editing bar is not looking that complex just yet, I am already feeling happy about how it feels and looks, but I am going to create some more footage, I might re take the interview so that I have some better audio and better footage as there is an interlaced flicker because of the lighting in the room and becasue my Frame Rate was too fast, I should be using 30FPS inside from now on.