352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Todd Hido’s “Roaming” Experiment

As you may have already seen in the previous three blog posts (entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Second “Blurring” Experiment”, “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Second “Double Exposure” Experiment” and 352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Leeming and Paterson’s “Impressions” 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 Todd Hido’s “Roaming” work (please see in the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”), the main piece of inspiration that I gained from his work is his particular use of expressive distortions in order to create images with a unique aesthetic, which, similar to the work of Leeming and Paterson, 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 “Roaming” 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)
  • Large glass plate
  • Water
  • A glamorous assistant

As suggested in the previous three experiment blog posts (for “Blurring”, “Double Exposure” and “Impressions”), 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.

 


 

Methodology:

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 technique that Hido used throughout his “Roaming” projects (shooting through a car window that was usually tinted with water and dirt). 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 the “blurring”, “double exposure” and “Impressions” experiments, throughout this investigation, I only decided to use this technique in 5 different locations
    • This is because, as briefly mentioned in the previous three experiments, I wanted to complete this “Roaming” experiment in the late afternoon/evening with relatively cloudy skies in order to try and capture the photographs in similar natural conditions that Hido used throughout his collection (for more information, please see my blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”)
    • This therefore meant that, 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
    • 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, once again, similar to the “blurring”, “double exposure” and “Impressions” experiments, 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, although Hido mainly photographed pathways and roads in order to symbolize the concept of a journey, as suggested in the previous experiments, because 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)
  • Now, as briefly mentioned above, for this particular “Roaming” experiment, I was unable to “copy” the technique used by Hido (shooting through a car window that was usually tinted with water and dirt), and so had to come up with an alternative methodology that could provide similar aesthetics within my images
    • For this particular technique, I therefore required an assistant to hold a large glass plate in front of the camera (that I borrowed from university), whilst also pouring water onto the glass screen, as I focused the camera and captured the images
    • Although you may not be able to see this from the contact sheets I have included below, this particular technique was very difficult to master and resulted in my assistant and I having to experiment with a large number of factors (including the angle of the plate, the height from which the water was poured, and where to focus the camera) as each of these aspects created completely different aesthetics within the images
  • Once we had agreed on the angle of the glass plate and the height in which the water was poured from, however, the most difficult aspect that we had to consider was, as suggested above, the focusing of the camera
    • At the beginning of the experiment I originally focused on the landscape in the background but then, as I continued with the shoot on the first location, I persuaded myself that the technique in which Hido used focused primarily on the water running down the windshield
    • Deciding to alter the focus of the camera onto the water that was running down the glass, I then shot each of the other locations using this particular focusing technique, and it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the images that I had created (alongside Hido’s) that I realized my original focusing (where I focused the camera on the landscape) was actually the technique that Hido had employed (rather then the one that I used throughout most of the photo shoot)
    • With this being said, although I had technically used the incorrect focusing technique throughout most of the experiment, as I was conducting the experiment, I also found it very difficult to try and focus on the (incorrect) aspect of the shot as, due to the constant movement of the water on the glass plane I had to try and focus the camera on the water patterns that were being presented to me – this therefore made it very difficult to create a consistent collection of photographs which, admittedly, may simply be due to the technical mistake I made throughout the experiment
  • Finally though, for the editing of these images that I had created during the experiment, similar to the “blurring”, “double exposure” and “Impressions” 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 “Roaming” technique, without distracting me in terms of incorrect technical aesthetics

 


 

Experiment Photos:

Contact Sheet:

Todd Hido “Roaming” Experiment Contact Sheet

 

“Incorrect” Photo Gallery:

 

Final “Correct” Photographs:

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After-Thoughts and Reflection:

As you have seen from the explanations I have included within the “Methodology” section above, as well as the photographs included within the “Experiment Photos” section, when looking back over the images that I had created for this particular experiment, I personally feel that there are only a couple of images that successfully captured the aesthetics of this particular technique, due to the use of incorrect focusing during the conduction of the experiment. Focusing primarily on these successful shots, however, similar to the reflection I wrote discussing the previous “Impressions” 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).

However, with this being said, and although the photo shoot was relatively unsuccessful in the images I created (not only in terms of the focusing mistake, but also in terms of the natural conditions that I attempted to incorporate within these images – briefly suggested above), I personally feel that this experiment has still provided me with enough insight in order to make and informed decision regarding the exclusion of this technique from my FMP. This is because, although I greatly appreciate the aesthetics that this technique creates (when it goes right!) I personally feel that this technique is not appropriate for use within my FMP as, although it could be used to briefly represent the fading of an individual’s memories, I feel that this technique focuses more on the methodology behind the project and more greatly represents the concept of an individuals blurred vision (particularly as the viewer can pinpoint the fact that the camera is gazing through something). Similar to the reflection I wrote for the “Impressions” experiment, I also think that the images that I created from the “Blurring” technique better represent this concept of the fading memories.

Nevertheless, as previously suggested in the “blurring”, “double exposure” and “Impressions” 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.

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