Assignment 1: Encountering Culture (Initial Shoot)

For my initial shoot for the assignment I took out the 35mm Pentax K1000. Having previously used the camera I was familiar with how to use the settings and I was able to predict how the images would turn out. I decided that by using a 35mm it would give me more flexibility when shooting as it is more compact and portable compared to the medium format cameras and this was important because I would be walking to all of the locations. Also because I would be photographing a wide range of subjects and I only had a short period of time to do so it would also be more time effective to have 35 shots available per roll of film compared to the 12 shots I would get on a 120 film. However before I started shooting with film I decided to take a few test shots on my DSLR on the black and white setting to see how the images are likely to turn out.

After doing this I then shot in black and white film (ISO 400). Although the Pentax K1000 had a built in light meter I took out a handheld digital light meter so I could get a more accurate aperture reading. Before I went to develop the negatives in the darkroom I used the Nikon Cooscan to scan the negatives in digitally. From here I was able to get a rough idea of whether the negatives had been processed correctly. I experienced a problem when rewinding the film which meant I had to temporarily open the back on the camera to realign the film. Therefore the first few shots of my film were exposed, however these were only test shots so it did not affect the rest of the images. Satisfied that my film was useable I then went onto produce a contact sheet in the dark room.

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For my first shoot I decided to focus on areas which show signs of urban decay and neglect, highlighting how as a society we continue to let areas get into this state and we continue to leave it untouched. In turn, by photographing the graffiti I began to notice a pattern. The graffiti only appeared in these types of areas and in the modern/regenerated areas of the city there was no sign of graffiti or land pollution, this made me question if people’s attitudes to dumping waste and vandalising were effected by the area in which they live. If these areas were redeveloped would this still happen due to the attitudes of the people living there? or would the throw away culture change?

From the contact sheet I saw that there was a number of useable images which could potentially make my final 10 images. I chose the strongest 3 images and enlarged them. For these images I used an exposure time of 14 seconds and the contrast on the enlarger was set to 2.5.

Scan 2

Although I like this image and the angle it is shot at I am going to revisit this area again to try and photograph it from a different perspective. Although I feel the building works barrier adds to the ‘untouched’ atmosphere of the image I would like to see what it looks like not in the shot and how this effects the overall appearance of the image. I believe that it makes the image look slightly cluttered.

Scan 1

Scan 14

Scan 11

Although the test prints turned out in focus and neither too underexposed nor overexposed, I feel that they do look a bit grey and are lacking contrast and clear shadows and highlights. Therefore I will reprint them and experiment with a higher contrast setting on the enlarger. I believe that the images work well with what I am trying to portray in my work, the viewer is able to see enough of the subject matter in the frame to get context. However it makes them think more about what lies beyond the frame – just like in Eirik Johnson’s work.

In my other shoot I am going to experiment more with photographing different areas and different subjects such as items of rubbish and discarded objects.

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Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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