151MC: Considering Presentation Methods

The overall presentation of my images are important. Looking back on the lecture we had in November last year called ‘Considering Presentation’ it reinforced how important the overall presentation of my work is.

The lecture brought up the work of the German Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer and his work on Horizons. Simplified, Gadamer proposes that different people have different horizons and ways of viewing things because they all have different backgrounds, knowledge, educations and therefore attitudes. This can create bias and prejudice and affect the way in which a person receives and reacts to something. Within photography this can split into the artist and the viewer.

The artists has a different horizon to the viewer. They have an extensive knowledge of their own body of work and an agenda. Whereas the viewer only has their own memory, knowledge and experiences. Therefore in order for me to convey my message it is important that the presentation method I choose reinforces the communication of this theme or message.

Important things to consider with my presentation:

  • Title of body of work
  • Image titles
  • Artist statement
  • Accompanying text
  • Paper size/type
  • Borders
  • Sequencing and arrangement of images
  • Overall presentation manner

For the final presentation of my images I am considering making a book.  One option is making this book myself. In order to do this I have began researching into different binding techniques, different paper types and how to use InDesign to create the book.

Japanese Stab Binding

There are many variations to this binding technique and each of them produce a different effect. One of the variations I have been looking into is called hemp leaf, it is more intricate than the simple ‘noble’ pattern however I think that it makes the book look more expensive and higher quality therefore I am considering using this binding technique.

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Hemp Leaf Pattern (image 1)
Nobel Pattern

This is the basic Japanese Stab binding technique. Although it is much simpler than the hemp leaf pattern I believe that this will still work well with my body of work as my images are reflecting the organic nature of the land. I want the overall appearance and aesthetic of my book to look natural and not overly gimmicky or on the other hand too stark.

Paper Types and Size

I want my book to be able to be held closely so the viewer can get up close the images and interact with them, therefore creating an intimate viewing experience. If the book was any bigger than A4 I believe that this would be experience would be lost and the images would be less impactful. By creating a book it will allow my audience to view my images for a longer period of time and in a less formal manner. This is something which would not happen if I were to display my work in a gallery.

The paper is also an important element in the presentation of my book. I want the overall quality of my book to be high and long lasting. Therefore the paper should not be thin and not tear easily. The paper I aim to use should be anywhere between 140 and 180 gsm and should have a matte finish. After looking at many photo books I believe that the matte finish to the images makes it appear more natural and this is something I want my book replicate.

In addition to this in order to draw attention to the images and the issues I am raising in my work I want the overall layout of my book to be minimalistic but also not too stark that the images look out of place.

I looked through a number of books to get inspiration for the style of book I wanted to produce and the layout.

Design Devision

One of the books I found while researching into different paper types used in photo books was a book called London by Xenia McBell who documented London. The idea behind the small size is that it reminds the viewer of a journal and something they would keep in their pocket when travelling. The way the images are laid out make them resemble post cards. This allows increased flexibility in the reading process and due to this freedom the book becomes an interactive object and actively involves the viewer. This concept is something that I would like to include in my work, not necessarily the rotating of the pages but the size of the images and the border around them.  In addition to this, the images are printed on thick matte paper.

Another book I am taking inspiration from is We Make the Path by Walking by Paul Gaffney. The way the images are laid out and the size of the white border around the images varies a lot throughout the book. The use of double page spreads, full bleed images all adds to the way in which the images are viewed. The use of blank pages also creates a break and allows the viewer to consider the previous image more. Again this is something which I will take into consideration when designing my book.

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151MC: North York Moors further research

Before I photographed the North York Moors I conducted research into the main issues effecting the biodiversity and threatening conservation. This helped me focus on which areas to photograph. Pressures for change/land use

Disadvantages

The increase in visitors for recreational uses has had many negative impacts on the landscape due to the way it is used and managed. One of the main management techniques is the burning of heather in rotations of 7 to 25 years. If they were to stop burning the heather it would eventually turn back into woodland. This woodland would then allow species of plants and animals to return back to the moors and therefore increase the biodiversity and the newly formed ecosystems will become sympathetic to the landscape again. At present the tree cover is limited and only in isolated pockets and by letting the woodland grow again it would reconnect old habitats and reduce fragmentation.

The burning of heather moorland also causes important peat bogs to dry out, increases the acidity level in rivers. Other effects include raised soil ­temperatures, an increased risk of flooding and higher silting of water courses.

Advantages

However it is important to also look at the other side of the argument and understand the advantages of burning the heather. During the burning and cutting process traditional rural practices are used and in this respect it keeps these traditions alive and still in practice, without these they could be lost forever. Also the use of burning the heather reduces the need for heavy machinery which could damage the landscape further and increase our carbon footprint.

By cutting down the degenerate heather it will be able to regenerate quicker and in turn this quicker regeneration leads to less exposed peat soils and therefore habitats will return to the area quicker. In some cases the surrounding area is also burnt if it has a high risk of catching fire.

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151MC: Development of ideas and third shoot

After speaking to my lecturers about my ideas and getting feedback from students in my class during the formative feedback session, I have reworked parts of my project and further developed my ideas and shooting process. One piece of feedback which helped clarify the part of the assignment I was struggling with the most was the issue I had with shooting at many different locations. I was unsure whether including images from lots of different areas of conservation around the UK would be effective or if it was best to focus on just one area and narrow down my research into one particular area.

The feedback suggested that I focus on one area of conservation and use this as an allegory for the problems which other conservation sites are facing on a national scale as well as wider conservation problems which are occurring on a global scale.

Another piece of feedback which helped greatly was that people thought the images I have been producing are strong and they felt that the warm tones in my images gave connotations of global warming.

Taking this feedback into consideration I decided to have my next shoot at the North York Moors. This location is rich in different landforms, scenery, biodiversity and different types of land use.  The park encompasses two main types of landscape, areas of green pasture land and then purple and brown heather moorland. The two kinds of scenery are the result of differences in the underlying geology and each supports different wildlife communities.

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For this image I wanted to try and show how humans have built a road through the sheep’s natural habitat and that they would not have to cross the road if we did not build the road that runs all the way through the moors. The landscape and the sheep juxtapose the road and I wanted to emphasise how out of place it looks.

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This theme of showing how humans have altered the national park and left scars on the landscape and in this area of outstanding natural beauty led me to photograph the evidence of human presence on the landscape. I photographed areas of land which have been worn down by walkers, hikers, cyclists, motorists and even farmers.

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Another aspect I wanted to photograph was the heather moorland which the park is most famous for. This heather is burnt off in rotations of 7 to 25 years to prevent it from moving onto the next part of it’s succession and reaching it’s climatic climax in which it would turn back into a woodland. By burning the heather it creates habitats for Grouse which are then shot in the hunting season and it also provides an suitable environment for recreational activities such as walking and hiking. The burning means that the moorlands are a mosaic of different aged Heather and burnt areas where the fires have scorched the land. In the process this has also destroyed many other species of plants, animals and habitats.

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151MC: Second Shoot

After my first shoot I then went to photograph Raucby Warren in Lincolnshire which is a nature reserve and area of special scientific interest and the surrounding areas where conservation teams are replanting trees. This site contains some of the only remaining limestone grass heath within Lincolnshire. However next to this site runs a main road and a active railway line. I planned to highlight how close the site was to the man made infrastructures and show the contrast between the nature and urbanisation.

Below are contact sheets from the shoot and the images I feel turned out the best.

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I like some of these images and think they work well with my theme  however I do not think they are strong enough to stand on their own without accompanying text and do not provoke the reaction that I want. I believe that this is partly due to the choice of location and because I have shot this during winter, there is no greenery to emphasise how this is a thriving ecosystem. Consequently, the images convey a message of desolation and unfruitfulness. Therefore for my next shoot I am going to choose a new location.

In addition to this,  I feel like the angle in the image of the train track does not show the area of conservation, to me it does not convey the message I am trying to convey in my work. However I do like how the point of view draws the viewer into the image, this is something I could experiment on further.

Personally I find that the images which are shot head on are stronger as it does not try and trick the viewer, it tells them how it is and creates a greater sense of truth within the image. This is something I will try and incorporate into my other shoots.

151MC: First Shoot

After deciding on my locations I set off to photograph the nature reserves and conservation areas. I wanted to be able to show what manmade features have been put in place within the reserves, what work has been done and also how we has humans are still developing within these protected areas or around them.

Here are some contact sheets of some of the images I took on this shoot. For these images I visited Whisby Nature Park in Lincolnshire which is just outside the city of Lincoln. Being on the edge of the city I found it interesting to see what development was taking place within the park. When I was walking round the park two things in particular caught my attention. The electricity pylons running through the lake and wetland area and the railway tracks and cycle paths which were being built through the park.

The images below try and explore this theme and highlight my point.

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Access to the bridge on the south side of the railway has been designed to protect the valuable oak wood and scrub by using the old gravel pit ramp. The habitat here is important for Whisby’s nightingales, a regionally important population in Lincolnshire. It also helps to reduce the visual impact of the bridge by the screening of the existing trees. Another ramp is planned to be planted with gorse to replace the lost habitat.

As you can see from the map above a railway track runs all the way through the park. When showing the images to my lecturer he said that perhaps photographing this alone would stand as an example for how humans are still taking over nature in areas of special interest and conservation. If my images were strong enough this could be a possibility. However at this stage I wanted to gather a range of images which were slightly different interpretations of my theme.

I also wanted to show the types of environments which were in the park and how the land was being used to create habitats for plants and animal species. These are some of the images which I feel turned out the best from this shoot which reflected this.

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151MC: First Shoot Location Ideas

Knowing that I wanted to go back home to Lincolnshire to photograph some of the conservation projects there I started researching into small and large scale conservation projects and what the main aims are behind the projects.

The locations I am interested in visiting the most are the following:

  • Whisby Nature Park – This park offers a wide selection of habitats from lakes, wetland, woodland, grassland and also man made areas such as bird hides. It is also a popular tourist attraction and an educational site which many schools in the local area visit. I want to see why it attracts people there, how being located near a city effects the wildlife and conservation projects and also I want to see if the development of the railway line through the park has impacted the park ecologically as well as visually
  • Wilsford & Rauceby Warrens – This is a small scale ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ and part of the site is owned and managed as a nature reserve by the Lincolnshire and South Humberside Trust for Nature Conservation. Again an active railway line is included within the site and I wanted to see how the man made interacts with the environment. This site contains the only remaining limestone grass heath within Lincolnshire. The loss of this grass and soil was due to land being converted into arable land for farming.
  • Roadside verges – The California Plantation is located near Rauceby Warren on the south side of the road. The verges of the county together form the largest remaining tract of semi-natural vegetation. Intensive agricultural practices, along with increased industrial and housing development, have threatened the survival of wildlife and wild places. The verges are therefore of great importance in providing a reservoir of plants and animals.

I used google maps to get a rough idea of the area before I visited so I could plan what type of images to take. It is evident that the road runs straight past the nature reserve.

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  • Lincolnshire Lime woods –  The Lincolnshire Limewoods area covers 61 square miles however I plan to visit Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve as it is closer and contains a collection of 13 woodland Sites of Special Scientific Interest. There has been lottery funding for the area and the main aim of the project was to plant new woods and create new habitats which would join up the remaining ancient woodland.  One of the main reasons I want to visit this area is that I am interested in how these woods have been shaped by human management for hundreds of years but how now they have become fragmented due to agricultural intensification.

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151MC: Stephen Vaughan – Ultima Thule

I began looking into the work of Stephen Vaughan and in particular his series titled Ultima Thule. In this series of work Vaughan explores the connections between geology, history, archaeology, memory and the constant urge for humans to explore and alter unknown territory. One of the themes which is apparent in Vaughan’s work is the transformation beneath the surface and being concerned on one level with the scrutiny of these natural phenomenas. These images were made in Iceland, a country which is rich in tectonic activity which has left many volcanoes, fissures, glaciers, geysers and steaming sulphurous pools.

One of the main reasons I found this series so interesting was the background to the images and the overall aesthetic of the images themselves. As a viewer I found it helpful to have a small piece of context provided for the images. Also being told that the images were made in Iceland allowed me to visualise the surrounding landscape and understand how these images only represent a small portion of it. I also really like the muted tones and colours in the images. It makes the overall appearance of the series stronger, this is something I will need to consider when selecting my final images and how I would order them if I was to put them in a book.

I really like how Vaughan has photographed these landscapes and the tones and colours within the images. I want to aim for a similar aesthetic and point of view for my images. In a way they are almost documentary style, they show the scene how it is and give the viewer enough information to work out part of the context but not enough so it isn’t impactful. In order to fully understand his series I needed the accompanying text so this is something I am going to include in my own work.

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