352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Second “Blurring” Experiment

As you may have seen, on Thursday 22nd January 2015, I decided to take out the Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7, and Canon 5D Mk II for a test shoot to allow me to decide which of the cameras I was going to use for my project (please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Test-Shoot One (The Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7 and Canon 5D Mk II, Blurring and Double-Exposures)”). Although I underwent this test-shoot to primarily gain an understanding as to which equipment held more practicality and photographic quality for my project, I also decided to experiment with a couple of techniques (including deliberate blurring ad double exposures) due to the research I had undergone regarding Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Works” and Pictorialism (please see my blog posts entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Academic Research” and “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”). Within the reflection of this particular test shoot, in regards to the techniques that I had briefly experimented with, I also said that, although I agreed with what David Moore suggested (in the group tutorial – please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 3 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Moore, and a Self-Learning Workshop)”) regarding photographing the landscapes in a more documentarian style (rather than a creative style as, although I am looking into the past through the use of the landscape, I am still documenting them in the present), I may plan on revisiting these techniques further along in the development of my FMP (as the project was very much in its early stages at the time).

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, including the “Blurring” technique, in order to see if, through the development of my project, it had suddenly become an appropriate technique to use for my FMP (through it’s symbolic referencing to an individuals fading memories), and that I could therefore use it 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)

Below you can find the notes about the “Blurring” 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:

 


 

Equipment:

  • Canon 5D Mk II
  • Canon EF 24-105mm lens
  • Tripod
  • Sekonic L-308S Flashmate (light meter)

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 on 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.

 


 

Methodology:

The methodology of this experiment was relatively simple and only really required me considering a couple of different variables throughout the use of this particular “Blurring” technique. However, below I have included bullet-pointed information regarding some of the factors I considered:

  • As you will see from the images that have been included below, throughout this experiment, 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
  • Also, 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, throughout my research into Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Works”, I noticed that the landscape images included within the Pictorialist movement that he selected tended to vary in the type of landscape that they captured, and I therefore wanted to experiment with this in order to see if I could apply it to my FMP
  • Throughout this photographic investigation, I also experimented with a variety of different “blurring levels” in order to see if they changed the atmosphere elicited by the photograph
    • Starting off with a focal length of 1m (on the blurred photograph of the red tree), I decided to use this as I thought that the longer focal lengths made the image too sharp and the shorter focal lengths too blurred
    • As I moved on to the more expansive landscapes that I photographed throughout the shoot, I then realized that the best focal length to place the camera on was 1.5m as, due to the fact that it was a sparser landscape, meant that there was less detail in the image that resulted in the merging of landscapes aspects on a shorter focal length (and as suggested above, the higher focal lengths created images that were too sharp for the technique)
    • Now, although I should probably have experimented with different focal lengths for each of the shots, I decide that I wanted to keep the focus on a setting that was easy for me to identify in the scale provided by the camera because, if I were to use the technique for my FMP, I would have wanted each of my photographs to have had the same level of blur
  • Finally, for the editing of these images that I had created during the experiment, I simply decided to open them up in Photoshop in order to crop, straighten, and slightly adjust the levels of them
    • This is because, I wanted to create an image that would allow me to successfully analyze the use of the blurring technique, without distracting me in terms of incorrect technical aesthetics

 


 

Experiment Photos:

Contact Sheet:

Second “Blurring” Experiment Contact Sheet

 

Final Photographs:

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After-Thoughts and Reflection:

After taking the time to experiment with this particular blurring technique again, in order to see if it had become a more appropriate photographic style to incorporate into my FMP through the projects development, I personally feel that, similar to the reflection I offered on the original experiment, that I want to create the more documentary style landscape images rather than the artistic creative images. This is because, although, as suggested above, this technique could be used to represent the concept of an individuals fading memories (which I am briefly looking at within my FMP through the fact that I am returning to different locations to trigger the recollection of these personal memories), I 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 an photographic aesthetic that represents the documentation of the now. I therefore feel that, once again similar to the previous reflection regarding this specific technique, 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.

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