352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Leeming and Paterson’s “Impressions” Experiment
As you may have already seen in the previous two blog posts (entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Second “Blurring” Experiment” and “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Second “Double Exposure” Experiment”), on 11th March 2015, after having a one-to-one tutorial with Anthony Luvera (where he discussed my very static use of the “middle-of-the-road” composition I was using to document the landscapes in the Lake District – please see more information in my blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 8 (Practitioner Talk by John Blakemore and a One-to-One Tutorial with Anthony Luvera)”), I therefore decided to undergo another experiment with four different, “creative”, photographic techniques in order to see if they were relevant to use throughout the creation of my FMP images, and that I could therefore use on the fourth trip up to the Lake District the following day (please see the blog post “352MC Fourth Trip to the Lake District (Thursday 12th March – Saturday 14th March 2015)”). (Please note, the write-ups for the other three experiments have been included in separate blog posts). After researching into Leeming and Paterson’s “Impressions” work (please see in the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”), the main piece of inspiration that I gained from their work is the particular use of creative techniques in order to create images with a unique and dreamlike aesthetic that can be associated with the landscape, which I therefore thought could be adapted for the use within my FMP in order to represent the fading memories that have tinted the landscape that I now experience, and thus providing the reasoning behind the conducting of this experiment.
Below you can find the notes about the “Impression” experiment (including the equipment and methodology that I used), followed by the photographs from the shoot and a reflection regarding the use of the technique within my FMP:
- Canon 5D Mk II
- Canon EF 24-105mm lens
- Sekonic L-308S Flashmate (light meter)
As suggested in the previous two experiment blog posts (for “Blurring” and “Double Exposure”), for this particular experiment, although I had already decided on the use of both the Canon 5D Mk II and the Mamiya 7 for the creation of my FMP images (the Canon 5D to gain an understanding surrounding the correct settings, and the Mamiya 7 for the “official” shots), I decided that I wanted to experiment with this technique solely on a digital camera so that I didn’t waste precious film throughout this self-funded project. However, I knew that if after the experiment I did actually want to use the technique for my FMP, I would obviously, riskily, use the fourth trip up to the Lake District as my experimentation for the technique on the Mamiya 7.
For the methodology of this particular experiment, I considered a number of variables in order to allow me to try and achieve a similar likeness to the main technique that Leeming and Paterson used throughout their “Impressions” projects (the use of movement during the exposure of the landscape image that they are creating). This section therefore simply bullet-points some of the factors I considered, why I chose to shoot in certain ways, and the general technique I underwent on the day:
- As you will see from the images that have been included below, similar to both the “blurring” and “double exposure” experiments, throughout this investigation, I only decided to use this technique in 5 different locations
- This is because, although I originally set out to achieve 10 images from different locations, as I was experimenting with three other techniques throughout this particular shoot, I soon found that it was a lot more time consuming than I had anticipated, meaning that the natural light was beginning to fade in this location (as you will see from Todd Hido’s “Roaming” experiment, I wanted to complete that particular shoot in the late afternoon/evening with relatively cloudy skies, meaning that the other shoots were clearly affected)
- However, although I wasn’t able to achieve the 10 shots I initially wanted, I soon found that, as this was simply an experiment, practicing with 5 shots still allowed me to gain an understanding surrounding the techniques and the problems that came with it
- This therefore meant that, for this particular experiment, I mainly experimented with the main technique that they used (discussed in more detail below), rather than the other aesthetic features they included within their images (including the colour and lighting of the images) as a way of enhancing both the physical aspects of the landscape, as well as symbolizing the emotional and dreamlike aspects associated with this particular place (for more detailed information regarding this specific idea, please visit my “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research” post)
- Also, once again, similar to both the “blurring” and “double exposure” experiment, although I had obviously decided on the use of a “middle-of-the-road” aesthetic within my FMP images (please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Project Development (Using a “Middle-of-the-Road” Technique to Document the Pathways)”), as you will see from the images below, I decided to experiment with different landscape shots including close-ups of landscape features (such as trees), and more expansive landscapes
- This is because, when looking through the “Impressions” work by Leeming and Paterson, I noticed that a majority of their images appeared to depict the more expansive landscapes, but that they also included representational photographs that portrayed more specific landscape features using a closer proximity, and I therefore wanted to experiment with this in order to see if I could apply it to my FMP
- Also, as suggested above, as this shoot included the experimentation of four different techniques, I therefore decided to shoot each of these techniques in the same locations, in order to save time with regards to their successful experimentation (due to the fact that, as stated previously, the light was fading throughout the photo shoot, meaning that I had less time to capture the images)
- As briefly suggested above, I only decided to experiment with Leeming and Paterson’s more dominant technique (their movement of the camera during exposure) rather than their other two (possible) techniques (the use of mist and a possible use of overlays) – for more information, please see the research I conducted on them in my blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”
- This is because, when looking at their work, I personal thought that this particular technique was more successful than the rest in terms of the more creative and abstract aesthetics used which enhanced the symbolism and representational aspect of the photograph
- Also, as I identified throughout their work (focusing primarily on this main technique) Leeming and Paterson used it in one of two ways: the first was a sideways movement, and the second was the use of an up-and-down movement
- Within my research, I then went on to say that the sideways movement creates a wave-like affect that creates a softer flow throughout the image (which can be used as a symbolic reference to the soft, flowing aspects that individuals may encounter within documented landscape), whereas the up-and-down movement creates a more jagged affect which thus harshens the feel of the image (which can be used as a symbolic reference to the harsh aspects included within this particular landscape)
- Within this experiment, as you can see from the contact sheets included below, within each of the locations, I decided to experiment with both the sideways and up-and-down movement (along with subtler movements from the wind), which I could then analyze in post production and choose the images that I thought better represented the particular landscape documented in the image
- As for the technical settings that I used for this particular technique, as you may be able to notice from the contact sheets included below, I needed to briefly experiment with the settings in order to try and achieve the aesthetics of the technique that Leeming and Paterson used
- Within this experiment, I therefore started off with a slightly quicker shutter speed (1/120s and f/16 for it to be correctly exposed) that I soon found was too quick to capture the movement of the camera and therefore create similar aesthetic to that which Leeming and Paterson used
- Deciding to experiment with a much slower shutter speed, I then put my camera onto 1/4s (and f/22) which, although they appeared to be relatively overexposed, captured the movement and aesthetics used by Leeming and Paterson very successfully
- Finally, for the editing of these images that I had created during the experiment, similar to both the “blurring” and “double exposure” experiments, I simply decided to open the images up in Photoshop in order to crop, straighten and slightly adjust the exposure and levels
- This is because, I wanted to create an image that would allow me to successfully analyze the use of the “Impressions” technique, without distracting me in terms of incorrect technical aesthetics
After-Thoughts and Reflection:
When looking at the images that I have created throughout the undertaking of this particular experiment, I can clearly see why I wanted to experiment with this specific technique (because, as stated in my research, I felt that I could adapt the use of this technique within my FMP in order to represent the fading memories that have tinted the landscape that I now experience). I also feel that, the careful consideration of the use of the sideways or up-and-down movement could be used to represent the emotion associated within the memory that I am trying to represent because, as suggested above, these techniques either create a softer or a harsher flow that could be used to symbolize the positive and the negative emotions of the memory.
However, with this being said, although I initially thought that this technique could indeed represent the fading of my memories (that I am briefly looking at throughout my FMP), I personally feel that the angular aesthetics captured within the images take away from this particular concept as it appears to be too calculated and manipulated. What I mean by this is, when comparing this technique to that of the “blurring” technique I also experimented with, I personally feel that the blurred images better represented this concept; this is because, an individuals memories begin to fade without any control from the participant, which I personally feel is represented better in the spontaneous blurred aesthetics, rather than the controlled, angular “Impressions” examples.
Nevertheless, as previously suggested in both the “blurring” and “double exposure” experiment reflections, I also still feel that I completely agree with what David Moore suggested in the group tutorial (please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 3 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Moore, and a Self-Learning Workshop)”): that although I am looking into the past and memories through the use of landscapes (which could be represented by the more creative techniques), I am actually using a present landscape as a gateway to the past and so should use a photographic aesthetic that represents the documentation of the now. I therefore feel that, once again, the more documentary style images would be able to capture this idea of the present landscape better than the creative techniques I may experiment with.