Thursday, September 17, 2009

Completing the First Chapter

First 5 projects completed, the course is now firmly part of my life and the experience is very positive.  Apart from the fact that the projects require me to take Photos, frequently of subjects I would otherwise ignore, the amount of walking and cycling I am doing looking for good subjects to shoot is doing me the world of good. 

Although the first 5 projects were essentially exercises in utlizing the basics in exposure control, they still meant a new way of looking at subjects and so I enjoyed the work.  In the mean time I have extended my bookshelf a little with a few of the recommended texts and a few other books that caught my eye, Amazon must love the OCA.

I divided my purchasing between modern "how to" books focused on elements of photography likely to help on the course and critiques/picture books with historical work to learn from.

I bought a couple of books by Bryan Peterson, to add to "Understanding Exposure" that was already in my bookshelf:

Learning to See Creatively, Bryan Peterson (2003)
Understanding Shutter Speed, Bryan Peterson (2008)

I like the style of the books, lots of images an straightforward text explaing how the images are created, good for learning, but also very insprirational.

Two slightly more involved books, again on a similar theme are:

Photography and tge Art of Seeing, Freeman Patterson (2004)
Within the Frame (The Journey of Photographic Vision), David duChemin (2009)

I got the chance to read the first couple of chapters of the first book, very thought provoking, really challenges how you take photo's and how to look at the world.  As an example he suggests leaving your camera next to the bed and then as soon as you wake in the morning take 5 photo's from where you lie/sit and then 5 more as you walk to the bathroom, my wife was not so impressed.  The idea is to free the mind of preconseptions and look in a fresh way at the world around you.  This will be next on my list of books to read.

Other than these I bought a few texts with historical photo's and critiques:

Looking at Photographs, John Szarkowski (1973)
The Photographers Eye, John Szarkowski ( 1966)
the photograph as contemporary art, Charlotte Cotton (2009)
How to Read a Photograph, Ian Jeffrey (2009)

These are more challenging and will take a while to work through and spend the time needed to truly assess the images and form a view.  As I work through the course I plan to comment as I complete a book and share my learning. 

So many books and much to learn, but very happy so far and starting to make some good progress building ideas around the first assignment.

My final thought here is about the role that photography plays in our lives.  Photographic images are so pervasive, walking around any urban environment it seems almost every wall or window has a photo in it trying to sell something.  The following advert made me think:

Apart from being very badly Photoshopped (the shadow from the biker is at an angle to the shadow from the cafe) it is a very carefully crafted image that a professional photographer spent much time to create.  However, it is also a very sinister image, portraying smoking as cool and laid back, still legal in Germany, banned in the UK.  Art of Photography it is not, commercial Propaganda is the thought I have.

This course is making me look more critically at the world around me and the way that photography is used for good and bad.

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