Greater Than The Whole

For our ‘Greater Than The Whole’ task, we were given the following brief:

“Produce a cumulative portrait of a structure that cannot be readily portrayed in it’s entirety in one frame”.

As a class, we threw around a number of ideas, such as  photographing families, cities, and panorama’s, over a period of about 10 minutes. During this 10 minutes, David Hockney’s photo-collages popped into my mind, and was later introduced to the class by Jonathan Worth, our tutor.

David Hockney is an English painter, photographer, print-maker, stage designer, and draughtsman, who started his photo-collage project in September 1982 where he took a series of photographs of the same place and stuck them together to make a larger image.

On Friday 17th February 2012, I was lucky enough to buy a ticket to his artistic and photographic exhibition at London’s Royal Academy, and so could see, first hand, the scale of these huge photo-collages.

My attempts of representing this brief and showing David Hockney’s influence are shown below with a short critical analysis of each. All of my photographs were taken with my Canon EOS 600 D camera and 18-55mm lens and were put together using Microsoft Publisher. As you can see from the images below, I have kept a white border around each photograph to enable the viewer to see how many photos make up each photo-collage. David Hockney originally used white borders but by the end of 1982 decided that he preferred the absence of them.


The photographs within this photo-collage were taken on the ‘Auto’ setting  of my camera; this is why, as the viewer can see, some of the photographs are slightly different colours. I personally feel that this coloured version of the Cathedral is more effective than the black and white one as  the colour plays a huge part in contributing to the overall ‘crazy’ atmosphere.

For these photographs within this photo-collage, I put my camera setting onto manual and used my recently acquired skills of the light meter to determine the shutter speed and the aperture (ISO 100, 1/125 seconds, f/4.5). That is why, in contrast to the previous photo-collage, all of these photographs are of a similar tone. This photo-collage easily feels more eerie than the previous. The general structure of the photo-collage twinned with the monochrome scheme makes the atmosphere feel more disfigured and scary, rather than crazy.

This particular photo-collage was also taken using the manual setting on my camera and the light meter (ISO 100, 1/125 seconds, f/5.6). I personally do not feel that this photo-collage is as strong as the other two, merely because the photo-collage’s work better with natural landscapes. This is because, within a landscape there are many aspects for the viewer to consider and the photo-collage enables them to criticise each aspect in turn. Whereas, with a photo-collage of an individual statue, there isn’t as much for the viewer to look at and study so the use of the photo-collage feels wasted and pointless. The bottom half of this photo-collage is also underexposed which limits the detail on the statue that the viewer can physically see.

This final photo-collage was also taken on the manual setting of my camera with the use of the light meter (ISO 100, 1/125 seconds f/10). This particular photo-collage of a statue is more effective than the previous, but still not as effective as the landscape collage’s. This collage elicits a very emotional atmosphere which is heightened by the personal touch of the statue within the photos. This photo-collage, for me, is too regular and could be improved by angling the photographs slightly.

After completing the previous four photo-collage’s, I then decided to go out and take three more landscape photo-collage’s as, as I stated before, it is the landscape photo-collage’s that are more effective.

For these three joiner’s, I still used my Canon EOS 600D camera, but I experimented with the Photoshop CS6 software by using the Automate Photomerge tool which meant that the software automatically placed the images in the correct position. I decided not to use a white border around each of my images as this shows more of my influence from David Hockney. The following photo-collage’s have not been edited and are the raw collage that the software interpreted.

For this specific photo-collage I used the light meter to decided the aperture and shutter speed on an ISO of 800. This photo-collage could have been very effective if the Photoshop software managed to link the three sections together, however, after trying many different strategies, this just wasn’t possible. I feel that this photo-collage would have been one of the most successful as the overall effect that a photo-collage gives, would have emphasised and represented the modern and lively student lifestyle that is around today. As the Photoshop software struggled with piecing this together, I decided to go back to the manual way of things (please see photo-collage below).

This photo-collage was very difficult to create due to the fact that ‘The Hub’, as a building, is very architecturally complex and so I struggled in piecing together the right pieces.

This photo-collage was also taken using the light meter with an ISO setting of 800. I feel that this photo-collage is relatively successful in the fact that it is, so far, one of the most well presented photo-collage’s. However, as the viewer can see, the building in the background is very overexposed which limits the overall religious atmosphere that I was trying to elicit by having the cathedral’s cross as the detailed focal point.

This final photo-collage was also taken with an ISO setting of 800 and the use of the light meter. This is easily the most successful photo-collage that I have created as the images within it are almost perfectly aligned. The perspective in which I took this image also gives the photo-collage a sense of depth which draws the viewer into the image itself. The colours within the images are also very natural yet colourful in the sense that it grabs the viewers attention. The sky in the background is also slightly over exposed but this is a minor point as it doesn’t take up much of the photo-collage.

After experimenting with the Photoshop CS6 software, I then decided to use it for my first two landscape photo-collage’s as I feel that this would make them more successful. Below are the four final photo-collage’s that I find are very successful and that I am most proud with.

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