151MC: Workbook and Reference List

As part of assignment 1 I kept a workbook along side my blog. Within the workbook I have put all of my research, development of ideas, articles, tests, contact sheets and work prints. By keeping a physical book it made it easier to keep all of my ideas in one place and it allowed me to show the development of my ideas. Below is a video I made which shows you the workbook.

As well as keeping a record of all of my ideas I also produced a reference list of all of my research.

References

British Film Institute (2008) Manufactured Landscapes [DVD] London: BFI

Burtynsky, E. (2013) Homesteads [online] available from http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/site_contents/Photographs/Homesteads.html [22 January 2015]

Daniel Shea (n.a) Coal Work [online] available from http://www.danielpshea.com/coalwork [28 February]

Greater Lincolnshire Partnership (2012) Local Conservation Sites [online] available from http://www.glnp.org.uk/partnership/local-sites/ [9 February]

Hester, A., Thompson, D., Usher, M. (1995) Heaths and Moorland: Cultural Landscapes. Edinburgh: HMSO for Scottish Natural Heritage

Lincolnshire County Council (2014) Lincolnshire Lime Woods Project [online] available from http://microsites.lincolnshire.gov.uk/limewoods/about/limewoods-project/about-the-limewoods-project/ [11 February 2015]

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (2014) List of Roadside Verges [online] available from http://www.lincstrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/roadside_reserves.pdf [10 February]

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (2014) Whisby Nature Reserve [online] available from http://www.lincstrust.org.uk/whisby-nature-park [10 February]

Lopez, Y. (2014) Paul Gaffney: We Make the Path by Walking book [online] available from https://vimeo.com/81405505 [20 February]

McMichael Canadian Art Collection. (2013) Edward Burtynsky: The Landscape That We Change [online] available from http://www.mcmichael.com/adams-burtynsky/edward-burtynsky.html [22 January 2015]

Moorland Association (2006) Heather Burning [online] available from http://www.moorlandassociation.org/heather_burning2.asp [18 February]

Natural England (2013) Wilsford and Rauceby Warrens [online] available from http://www.sssi.naturalengland.org.uk/citation/citation_photo/1002374.pdf [9 February]

Nature Conservancy Council. (1990) Focus on nature conservation: Nature conservation and agricultural change, 9-41

North York Moors National Park Authority (n.a) Local Development Scheme 2013-2016 [online] available from http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/planning/framework/LDS-2013-2016.pdf [12 February]

North York Moors National Park Authority (n.a) Moorland Reports [online] available from http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/discover/moorland/reports-and-resources [13 February]

Push Collective (2014) Stephen Vaughan Interview [online] available from http://pushcollective.tumblr.com/post/51484880644/stephen-vaughan-artist-interview [2 February 2015]

Stephen Vaughan (n.a) Stephen Vaughan Portfolio [online] available from http://www.stephenvaughan.co.uk/index.html [2 February 2015]

Ted Talk. (2005) Edward Burtynsky: Manufactured Landscapes and Green Education [online] available from http://www.ted.com/talks/edward_burtynsky_on_manufactured_landscapes [23 January 2015]

Travis Shaffer (2014) Eleven Mega Churches [online] available from http://travisshaffer.com/index.php?/books/elevenmegachurches/ [1 March]

Wells, L. (2011) Land Matters. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd

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151MC: Critical Evaluation

For this project I became interested in the UK’s landscape and wildlife and how we are conserving and managing it. Through my wider research it became apparent that there are many environmental issues within the UK that many people are unaware of and I wanted to raise these issues within my work. One of the key issues was the decline in biodiversity and the destruction of habitats due to the clearance of land for agriculture, recreational uses and industrial development. I became interested in how we are dealing with these problems and from here I began to raise questions such as ‘Why are we continuing to develop in these sites of conservation and special scientific interest?’ and ‘Are people are aware of these issues?’. In order for me to raise wider issues and debates in my work I photographed the North York Moors as it is a national park that is heavily managed even though it appears to look natural.

After revisited my lectures notes on ‘What is a Landscape?’ this highlighted the debate of human presence in images and how humans don’t necessarily have to be in the image to show the effects we have had on the landscape. Bodies of work such as Homesteads by Edward Burtynsky and Plume by Daniel Shea also influenced my way of taking images. I am pleased with how my images turned out and how they show the beautiful landscape yet simultaneously show subtle signs of human development.

I became interested in how it is being managed and also the negative impacts it is having on the environment. I believe this passion for wanting to inform people and tell a narrative made my images stronger and prompted me to carry out extensive research into the controversial heather burning process and to conduct interviews to hear the opinions of people who live near the national park.

One area I struggled with was the overall presentation of my work. My original plan was to make the book myself and teach myself the appropriate binding techniques. However having no previous experience in making my own book I became overwhelmed by the technical aspects of it and therefore resorted to designing my book digitally and ordering it from a book printing company. The book is not exactly as I had intended it to be and next time I would like to re-attempt making my own book as this will give me more control of the overall appearance and impact on my audience. I have learnt a lot during this project and feel that my research and development has been thorough and I have learnt how important working it is to make a work schedule.

151MC: Final Project Proposal

Topic/treatment and audience

For my project I am going to be investigating further into the main environmental issues, conservation efforts and also how areas of land are being managed in particular in the North York Moors as this is a national park and is heavily managed. The changes in land use through urbanisation, industrialisation and development has led to many environmental issues, in particular the fragmentation of habitats and decline in biodiversity due to loss of habitats.

My body of work explores how the North York Moors are being managed heavily by humans and how even though the landscape appears to be natural it is in fact semi-natural and greatly shaped by our actions. Within my work I aim to engage people and raise questions about the ethics behind our development and destruction of these fragile and distinct ecologies and habitats and how we are continuing to exploit the natural resources within this area for our own gain, in particular economic or recreational gain. The burning of the heather to provide a habitat for the Red Grouse, which is then shot for game and is one of the main reasons behind many of environmental issues in the moors. The burning of the heather not only impacts on other plant and animal species it also prevents it from reaching its next stage in succession, which in turn prevents it from returning back to woodland. The remaining ancient woodland is also being deforested for logging and to make room for agricultural and gazing land. A never-ending circle of problems then occurs.

We are currently in the ‘Anthropocene’, which is the epoch that began when human activities started to have a significant impact of the Earth’s ecosystems. I intend for this body of work to raise wider questions about how we are managing the land not only in the UK but also on a global scale and how if we continue to develop at such a rapid rate and use unsustainable management practices we will eventually lose the rich biodiversity we once had. In turn we could cause plant and animal species to become extinct if we do not become responsible for our actions. In a way this series will act as an allegory for other

My work will also explore how human presence can be evident in a landscape without there physically being any people in my images. The viewer will be able to see the effect humans have left on the landscape and the remnants of what we have altered.

My final piece will be presented in the form of a photo book, which will be 25x20cm in dimension with a landscape orientation. The book will have a range of different sized images, some being full bleed and others in the middle of the page with a white border. The layout of the book will be based on my research into sequencing and from taking inspiration from other photo books. By producing a physical artefact it will allow the viewer to look closer at the images and spend more time considering the meaning behind them. The book will also include an afterword that will explain my intentions behind the series and the supporting context.

Skills and resource requirements

I need to develop my skills in landscape photography. I am used to taking close up macro pictures of nature however this time I will need to ensure that I fit the entire subject into the frame. This will require me in some cases to use a tripod that is suitable for this. In addition to this I will also need to ensure that I manage my workflow efficiently and make sure I have a well organised filing system. I will be visiting lots of different locations for my shoots therefore in order to provide context for my images I need to know where they were taken and also when they were taken so having an organised filing system will give my project a clear structure.

I also want to develop my ability to tell stories within my work. I want the viewers to be able to engage with the image and use their own knowledge to be able to understand the context of the image further. In order to do this I will be researching further into some key concepts regarding human presence in an image and also reading books such as Land Matters by Liz Wells to help develop my understanding of landscape photography.

As I am going to be presenting my work in the form of a photo book a key part of a photo book is the overall presentation of the images. Therefore I will carry out many experiments regarding the sequencing of my images and also the layout of the book. Any accompanying text will also have to be carefully thought out in order to create the desired effect on my audience and to accompany the images. Too little text and the audience will be left confused whereas too much text and it will distract them from the images, therefore a balance needs to be struck.

In order to print the book in the style that I want, I am going to design the layout and presentation using the software InDesign. Having never used this software before I will have to teach myself and ensure that all the mea­surements are correct so when I come to print the images they will be the correct size.

I will also keep a workbook along side writing blog posts. The workbook will contain all my contact sheets, articles, experimentations, ideas and my thought process throughout the project. It will allow me to show my development of ideas in one place and I believe that by having a physical object it will allow me to include lots of different types of mediums into my research and to easily look back on previous research and work.

Timetable

I aim to finish my project a week before the deadline as this gives me a buffer zone if anything does not go to plan. Due to the locations for my project I will have to do a lot of travelling therefore I will need to allocate time to revisit the areas if another shoot is needed. However due to the distance and time scale I will only have enough time to visit the locations at least twice.

I will also book office hours and attend group and individual tutorials with my lecturer each week as I will be able to tell them about the progression of my project and ask any relevant questions. This will help me ensure that my project is on track and I am making the right decisions in regard to the direction of my project. In addition to this I also need to allocate enough time to get my photo book designed and printed otherwise I will not have a final artefact and will not have met my learning objectives.

  • First shoot – (30th January)
  • Second Shoot – (1st February)
  • Third Shoot and post production editing (13-16th February)
  • Start putting together presentation (decide whether I want to include a video)
  • Start selecting possible final images which I want to include in photo book (16th February)
  • Plan sequencing and layout of images – make a mock book (14th February)
  • Start designing final book layout in InDesign (17th February)
  • Get a test print of page done a print bureau and order book (27th February)
  • Continue to revise and rehearse presentation (5th till the 9th March)
Objectives and outcomes

By the end of this assignment I want to have been able to produce a strong series of images that reinforce and support the extensive research I have carried out on conservation and management issues within the UK, in particular the North York Moors. Also I want to have produced a detailed set of blog posts and a workbook which supports and contextualised my body of work.

I want my audience to feel more informed on these issues and to offer them an insight into the negative impacts management techniques such as the burning of the heather are having on habitats. In addition, I would like them to become more aware of how humans are continuing to develop on land even thought it is under threat or is meant to be an area of conservation.

Furthermore I want to have developed as an image-maker and to become more insightful into wider issues and to also develop my ability to tell a narrative within my images. I also want the way in which I present my final body of work to be to a very high quality and be a book that people want to interact with and to start conversations regarding the issues I have highlighted.

151MC: Primary Research

As well as carrying out secondary research I also conducted primary research when I visited the North York Moors and at Guisborough forest. For the first part of my primary research I asked a number of people who had lived in Yorkshire for most of or all of their lives a number of questions in relation to the North York Moors and its management. I was interested in what people knew about the management and also if they thought that my project would influence their opinion.

Interview 1

Were you aware of the heather burning process? Do you think this is a good or bad way of managing the moors?

“Having grown up on the door step of the moors it was a big part of my life and also my friends and families lives. I know that by burning the heather it creates a better habitat for the grouse which is then shot and I think this is very important for employment in the area. An area which has faced high rates of unemployment due to the decline in industries such as coal mining […] The shooting also brings tourists to the area and creates income for farmers. I’ve heard people say that people pay in the region of £1000 a day just to go shooting there, which is really great for the economy….it also provides food for restaurants and hotels in the surrounding area. Having worked in these restaurants myself I know how important the grouse is to maintaining tradition and also attracting people to the area, it’s definitely something which is an integral part of our heritage. So for these reasons I do think it is a good way of managing the moors because without this then many local businesses and industries would suffer.”

Were you aware of the environmental impacts that the burning has on the heather and the moorland? and were you aware of the process of burning the heather itself?

“I knew that lots of people were involved in the process and that it was on a large scale. I remember seeing the fires and clouds of smoke rising from the moors and then seeing beaters waving flags around trying to get the grouse to fly up so people could shoot them […] I don’t know much about the overall impact on the environment the burning process has but I do know that is burnt in rotations but I’m not entirely sure what this is for though.”

Do you think that the images I produce and the context provided will change your opinion on this management method and the impacts we are having on this conservation area?

“Yes, I believe it would. It would definitely open my eyes to the issues surrounding the burning and also the development in conservation sites. It would also make me more interested in my local area and want to know more about the impacts and what the local authorities are doing about it. In a way it would also affect me emotionally I think. Having been brought up in this area it would be sad to see this beautiful landscape being destroyed by us.”

Interview 2

Were you aware of the heather burning process? Do you think this is a good or bad way of managing the moors?

“I was aware that they burn the heather in cycles and this was to provide nutrients from the new shoots for the red grouse and that shooting is really important for the local economy and also for tourism. One of the reasons I think that it is a good way of managing the moors is because it provides tourism for the area and I think that this outweighs the negative impacts of burning the heather […]  I know that there is a price to pay but because the moors are so vast I don’t think it is such a big problem.”

Do you think that the images I produce and the context provided will change your opinion on this management method and the impacts we are having on this conservation area?

“It think it has the potential to make me view it differently and be more concerned at the negative impacts of the burning and also the development within the national park. However I can also see the other side of the argument […] I understand that by managing the moors in this way it is creating tourism and is good for the economy. I know that the government also have renewable energy goals to be met and due to the nature of the landscape the moors are going to be an ideal place to build wind turbines. I think as long as it’s not too in your face and not directly outside people’s houses then it’s not a big issue. I know people will disagree though and say that it is an eye sore but I personally think it’s a small price to pay.”

Interview 3

While photographing the forest there was a member of the forestry team carrying out the logging and had stopped to harness the horse up. I asked him about what he was doing and I was interested to find out why they were using the horse to log.

“We are using a coppiced method which is a traditional way of managing the forest. This method is more environmentally friendly and makes advantage of how new growths are formed when cut down. The horse is more environmentally friendly and makes less of an impact on the land and habitats compared to heavy machinery. The horse causes little damage to the surrounding woodland and the flora and fauna which makes it more sustainable.” He also told me to check out the British Horse Loggers website for more information on the traditional practices (which can be found here)

Horse Logging

From this research it has made me more aware of how my work could potentially influence people’s opinions and if it was on a larger scale it could be a cause for change. I am not aiming to make a direct political statement within my work, however by highlighting these issues and engaging people in my work it is also raising awareness of wider global environmental issues.

151MC: Daniel Shea – Removing Mountains and Plume

For my research I looked into the work of Daniel Shea, in particular his bodies of work Removing Mountains (2007) and Plume (2009-10). I thought his work was quite similar to Edward Burtynsky and his series Homesteads.

Removing Mountains explores the social and political institutions surrounding the modern coal mining process known as mountaintop removal.This is one of the most destructive and common forms of modern industry throughout world. These photographs show the process of following the industry’s production from start to finish. Shea also spent time talking to the locals and understanding their stories as they struggled with the realities of living in a coal fuelled country.

The follow-up project, Plume, is a photographic exploration of Southeast Ohio and its unusually dense concentration of coal-fired power plants. Plume follows the coal pictured in Removing Mountains up river to Ohio, where it is being burned to generate electricity. The project focuses not only on the coal-burning industry and its historical artifacts, but also the pace of several communities along The Ohio River. The pictures show the looming plant in the background of everyday scenes. To me it shows that we can never escape the industries and human development. Even in rural areas there are signs of the plant, such as the electricity cable which runs above the trees in one of his images. These subtle signs of human development and industry are what I also want to show in my work.

151MC: Presentation of final images

My original intention for presenting my final body of work was in a book which I would of made myself. However after making many versions of the book layout in Adobe InDesign I was struggling to ensure that the book layout worked properly. My original plan for the book was to make it 8×10 inches and for the images to be printed single sided on matte paper. However after speaking to my tutor about this idea he suggested that I try french fold binding and getting the images printed double sided as this would ensure the book opened better and that the images were not all right aligned.

I enquired at the print bureau to see if it was possible to print on the matte paper and also be double sided. Unfortunately I was told that this was not possible and this meant I would of had to redesign the whole book layout as well as getting test prints and final prints before I bound it together. However I had not allocated enough time for a mistake like this to happen and therefore I opted to get the book printed by a third party publishing company.

I designed the layout and sequencing of images using InDesign, before I put the images into InDesign I printed them out and experimented with different parings. I also asked for other peoples opinions on which images they thought I should include in the book. This process was in some ways ruthless as I had shot hundreds of images however I was only going to print a selection of them.

book layout

After receiving the book I was disappointed with some aspects of it.  I opted for a softcover as I did not want the book to feel to un-natural or overly formal. I liked the way Paul Gaffney presented his images for his series We Make the Path by Walking. The cover has a slight shine to it and I did want a matte cover like in his book. In addition, the weight of the book is very light and it is very thin. On the other hand the quality and colour match of the images are very good. If I was to order from this company again I would add more pages and also opt for a hardback cover even if it is more expensive. When asking other people for their opinion of my book they said that they liked how it felt like a mini guide or a case study of the North York Moors.

Below is the final book for my assingment.

234 _1810612 6 _1810621 _1810624 _1810628_1810629_1810630

After looking at many photo books for inspiration for my layout, I found the book Infra by Richard Mosse particularly interesting to read. The context and information about his body of work was written at the back of the book and therefore I decided to do this for my book. It allows the viewer to have an unbiased point of view when reading the book and interoperate the images in their own way. If I gave context at the beginning of the book I feel that it could take away the ambiguity of my images.

In the afterword it reads “The North York Moors are an area of outstanding natural beauty and have been a national park since 1952. While the landscape appears to be natural, large expanses of it are heavily managed by humans for agriculture, tourism and recreational uses. Therefore making many of the habitats semi-natutral, in particular the heather moorlands. The heather is periodically burnt in rotations in order to provide a habitats for Red Grouse, a bird which is vital to the hunting industry. An industry that many farmers rely on for additional income. By burning the heather before it can reach its next stage of succession it creates a plagioclimax and therefore prevents woodland from returning to the moors. The results are a patchwork landscape of different aged heather, burnt vegetation and pockets of woodland. The clearance of the remaining woodland for grazing and agriculture has resulted in great expanses of ancient woodland being lost. This has significantly reduced the biodiversity in the area, destroyed habitats and caused the fragmentation of species. We perceive these areas of conservation to be immune from human development however we are still continuing to exploit its resources and alter the land. Within this book I aimed to show how humans have left their mark on the natural landscape, even in areas of conservation. We are continuing to develop in these areas, which has left the landscape with the remnants of our intervention.”

I have learnt a lot from this experience and for my future projects I am going to consider the final presentation of my images closer to the start of the project as this gives me time to consider many other presentation options.

151MC: Key concepts and debates assosiated with digital imaging in relation to my body of work

After spending time reflecting on my project and revisiting my learning objectives for this module it made me think more about how I have included many key concepts and debates associated with digital imaging into my work. This has also influenced how considered and focused my work is. Compared to my last assignment I believe that my research into wider issues has been more thorough and comprehensive. Many of these concepts are what I have learnt through lectures and debates in seminars, however some are from my own research. Below are some of the key concepts which have influenced my body of work.

New Cameras

Due to advances in technology new cameras are being developed and therefore this has changed the way we make images. Consequently this has caused many debates about photography as a medium. The development of Google Streetview and cameras such as the Lytro and Red Camera are said to be the death of the ‘decisive moment’. Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose book was titled The Decisive Moment, said that “Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.”

However in this digital age we now have the ability to go back through a video or set of images and decide what we want the decisive moment to be. We as photographers are now challenging the very foundation that photography was built on. We are beginning to challenge the deceive moment and becoming image curators as well as just image makers.

Series of work such as Eleven Mega Churches by Travis Shaffer challenged this idea of appropriation (which I previously wrote a post about here) and also the concept of creating images which are not in the deceive moment.

shaffer

Although in my own series of images I did not use Google Streetview to create images I did use it for research and as a tool to find areas of conservation and plan my shoots. It allowed to me look at the site and the surrounding area and look for possible areas to photograph. In addition to this, it also helped me narrow down the locations as I had many possible locations to choose from however due to the time scale I could not visit them all. Streetview allowed me to visit the locations even though I was not there in person which saved a lot of time. Therefore in some ways the use of this technology did influence my decisive moment to some extent. Although it did not determine when I clicked the shutter button it influenced where I went for that decisive moment.

What is a landscape?

At the beginning of this assignment I began looking back through my lecture notes and familiarised myself with the lecture we had on landscapes and what it is really meant by a landscape. In turn this then lead me to read Land Matters by Liz Wells and this then influenced the way in which I photographed the landscapes.

Landscapes come in many different forms and depict natural or urban environments and it can be argued that the human body itself can be classed as a landscape. For example in Elinor Carucci’s work we see the effects of an event on the body, like we would see in a natural or urban environment. The landscape itself can be populated or unpopulated however it is important to note how important human presence is in setting the tone and atmosphere of the image. This in turn directly affects how we view the image and what message we interoperate.

This concept of human presence was something which I wanted to explore further in my work. I wanted to be able to show the human effects on the landscape and how although there are no people present in the image there is still evidence of how we have altered the landscape. In order to not distract the viewer from the studium, I wanted to make the human presence in the images very subtle and present the landscape in a manner which is beautiful. Yet when the viewer looks more closely at the image they begin to see that there is something unnatural about the landscape.

Morgan County, Ohio, 2010
Racine, Ohio, 2010

This can be seen in other photographers bodies of work such as the series Plume by Daniel Shea. The presence of the plant looms over natural spaces and show how they have become part of our daily lives. In turn their presence has become almost unnoticed.