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I was made redundant from my role as a Senior Claims Negotiator in the City of London.  Although I had worked in Insurance for 20 years, I became disillusioned with the industry, and it became apparent that I wished to pursue another path. 

I have always enjoyed taking photographs and had an eye for detail, which I was able to capture on the old point and shoot digital cameras.  However, it was during a holiday to Iceland that my interest in photography really started.  Partly due to my husband and I being competitive and wanting to take the best photograph. I found that although I was able to take ‘good holiday snaps’, I was unable to capture the essence of Iceland, reflect its incredible beauty and ever changing scenery. 

Once we returned I took an online photography course, which I completed and was awarded a Diploma in Photography.  The Diploma was based on theory alone, with no practical work being submitted.  Following this course I continued my interest in photography, through mainly taking photographs of wildlife and pets.  I found that the more I learnt how to use the different settings on a DSLR camera together with the post production of RAW files in Lightroom, the more I was able to convey the scene at that moment in time.  This has culminated in me wanting to take my photography to the next level, through learning different styles and genres.


Philip-Lorca DiCorcia Continued

Because my idea for the Assignment has changed and I now plan on taking photographs of people on the fairground rides at Carter’s Steam Fair I decided to revisit Dicorcia’s work. After reviewing his photographic series ‘Heads’ and seeing the way he picked individuals out of the crowd, I felt that his work would be a good guide/inspiration to the way I want to capture the fair.

My initially researched Philip-Lorca DiCorcia for Project 1 The frozen moment and my research for this can be found here https://emma519041.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/philip-lorca-dicorcia/

Igor, 1987

Fig. 1.

In this image you can the motion blur of another train passing out of the window telling the viewer that they are not static, but rather on the move.  The colour of the seats compliment and highlight the goldfish in the clear bag of water that the main subject of the image is holding.    The subject of the image is sitting down and is composed on the left half of the frame.  It appears that DiCorcia has taken this image using a wide angle from knee height as the angle has distorted the size of the subjects hand in comparison to the other and face.  There is a slight fish eye effect to the image linking it back to the goldfish.

New York, 1993

Fig. 2.

Dicorcia has used two effects to allow the subject of this image to stand out.  The first being the shallow depth of field separating her from the street she is walking down and passers-by.  The second is the colour.  The street has a grey colour with the people walking around in subdued coloured clothes allowing them to blend more with the street.  Whereas the subject is wearing a white coat and has orange hair bringing her to the forefront allowing her to stand out from her surroundings.  Looking at the image it looks like Dicorcia has used a flash which has gone off as the subject passes highlighting her left side bringing more clarity and vibrancy to the colours.


Fig. 3.

When viewing this image, the shadows don’t appear to correspond with the subject on his bike.  The shadows in this image fall right to left.  However, the subject is fairly evenly lit with a light halo around him from behind, which makes me wonder if DiCorcia has lightened the shadows on the subject to enhance him and bring more separation from his surroundings.  This is something that I will need to consider and see the effect on my images if the light isn’t good enough.  Will I need to bring the shadows up on the subjects due to the shade created by the roof of the rides?  If so, I need to keep in mind that this creates noise within the image and I will need a fine balance between the shutter speed, exposure and ISO.

DiCorcia has used a slow shutter speed on this image to create the motion blur of the bus coming down the road and the two people walking away down the pavement.  The composition of the photograph takes you from the main subject, who is brighter than the rest of the image, down to the crushed can of Coca Cola.  The pop of red from the can against the grey of the pavement stands out creating a path via the white curb to the two people walking away.  I am then taken out if the tunnel to someone riding a bike with a red jacket following the white curb edge.  The yellow of the taxi brings you back into the tunnel and onto the bus as your focus shift to move back forwards to the main subject of the image.  This has created a great tension within the frame keeping you in the tunnel except for a brief glimpse out into the open with the rider before being brought back into the tunnel by the taxi.


Fig. 1.
DiCorcia P
(Accessed 8 June 2019)

Fig. 2.
DiCorcia P
New York, 1993
(Accessed 8 June 2019)

Fig. 3.
DiCorcia P
(Accessed 8 June 2019)

Exercise 3.3 – What matters is to look


Find a good view point where you can see a wide panorama. Start by looking at the things closest to you in the foreground. Then pay attention to the details in the middle distance and then the things towards the horizon. Now try and see the whole view together, from the foreground to horizon. Include the sky in your observation and try to see the whole visual field together, all in movement. When you’ve got it, raise your camera and release the shutter.

After reading the brief I decide to go to Amersham and walk down from Amersham-on-the-Hill towards Old Amersham to find a good viewpoint overlooking the historic market town. Half way down the hill I stopped at the edge of a wheat field. I felt that this view would create a good image with depth to it.

View of Old Amersham

1/10 sec, f 22, 48mm, ISO 50

I set my camera up on the tripod and used the internal spirit level to ensure the horizon was level. I then stood back and looked at the view I wanted to capture. I set the tilt and focal length to capture the full scene I was looking at.

I decided that wanted to use a slightly slower shutter speed to capture the movement of the wheat in the foreground. It was quite a blustery day and the breeze was creating waves in the wheat, which could be seen in the immediate foreground. It was also a cloudy day, but patches of sunlight were rolling down the hill in the horizon towards me. I decided to wait until the sun hit the house in the foreground coupled with a breeze moving over the wheat before taking the photograph.

I feel this image has come out well. There are two different paths in the image that run parallel to each other that draw your eye across the image.

The first path draws your eye down the fence line to the house highlighted by the sun. From there you are then taken to the tree line next to it, leading onto the turret of the church. From there the curvature of the hill leads your eye up to explore the fields leading to the horizon and from there onto the sky.

The second path is formed by tractors path in the wheat field. This line takes you eye down to the tree line at the bottom of the field, across to the village and the house in the foreground. From there you pick up the same path as above taking you to the fields on the horizon.

Once you’ve explored the hillside you are drawn up to the sky which moves your focus forwards with the clouds as the detail gets larger bringing you back to the foreground.

When setting my Whites, Black, Highlights and Shadows in Lightroom, I decided not to dehaze the far hills. I thought that the haze helped with the separation of the two hillsides creating a more defined line of the curvature of the first hill.

1/20 sec, f 22, 24mm, ISO 50

I walked further down the hill and looked across the wheat field and down the valley for this image. Due to the undulation of the land I again set the camera up on the tripod and used the internal spirit level to ensure I had a straight horizon.

Again I wanted to capture the movement of the wheat in the breeze together with the details of the cloud moving across the sky. I waited until there was a breeze and partial blue sky before taking the image.

I feel that this image has also been successful. The movement of the wheat draws the eye in. The faint shadow of the cloud slightly off center in the wheat field draws your eye to the meeting point of the two hillsides. From there you are taken up to the clouds, which bring your focus forward, back to the foreground of the wheat field. In this image the shift in focus on the clouds is more subtle than the image above.

Project 3 What matters is to look

There are many opinions on the Decisive Moment. 

As highlighted in the OCA course book Wells is of the opinion that we have moved away from statement photography and moved towards dislocated moments that don’t reflect the greater meaning. 

In Pantalls review of The Present by Paul Graham, he highlights that Grahams has managed to capture the antithesis of the decisive moment and has captured the mundane average street view of the contemporary world that it has become an indecisive moment.  Pantell goes on to say that Grahams photographic series pose a question ‘what do we look at when we look at a photograph?’  (Pantall C 2012) Pantall suggests that the images don’t contain a question, but are a question within themselves.

When reading Zouhair Ghazzel’s essay on the Decisive Moment, she is of the opinion that at the very meaning of the decisive moment doesn’t seem to be pretentious as it could be about anything ranging from ‘any object, moment, event, and body’ (Ghazzel Z 2004).  However, Ghazzel feels that an order to the images is required ‘to reduce the flux of images to their most relevant one’.  Therefore, there is a fleeting moment in time that cannot be repeated and can only be captured by the lens.  It is a unique moment that tells its own story of what happened in the lead up to the image and what occurred after.

In the vemeo videolink provided by OCA, Cartier Bresson explains that the majority of people don’t look at the image they are capturing and just press the button.  He goes on to explain that when this is done the gaze is missing a question.  Henri Cartier-Bresson believes that images are about a conversation and this conversation will not be captured when you just press the button without your gaze seeing the question. The Images are about the geometry and form firstly and foremost, then you think about the light.

I tend to agree with Ghazzels opinion and Henri Cartier-Bressons opinions that the Decisive Moment, must contain a question.  It should allow the viewer to see in their minds eye, what just happened prior to the shutter being released, capturing that moment in time combined with where it led directly after.  If the image doesn’t hold a question or that fleeting moment to pull you in then I feel that it is more a form of a snap shot.


Ghazzel Z
The indecisiveness of the decisive moment
(Accessed 7 June 2019)

Pantall C
The Present reviewed by Colin Pantall https://www.photoeye.com/magazine/reviews/2012/05_17_The_Present.cfm?
(Accessed 7 June 2019)

Exercise 3.2 Trace


Try to record the trace of movement within the frame. You can be as experimental as you like. Add a selection of shots together with relevant shooting data and a description of the process.

For this exercise I chose to experiment with various sources of moving light. None of which I have ever taken before using a DSLR.

1 Sec, f 8.0, 70mm, ISO 64

I took this photo of a firework looking out of my lounge window. The camera was handheld, although I was leaning on the window to help keep my hand steady.

5 Sec, f 3.2, 34mm, ISO 100

I set my camera up on the tripod to take this image of light painting using a torch. I set the camera on a wide angle to allow me to move around. I think in principle this came out well but the image could have been made more interesting through the use of different coloured lights on the multiple exposure setting to overlap them.

5 Sec, f 4.5, 48mm, ISO 100

The light source used for this image was a sparkler being rotated by my husband. Again I used a tripod to capture a sharp image on a long exposure.

Multiple exposure 3 x 2 Sec, f 2.8, 48mm, ISO 48mm

The image above also captured the movement of a sparkler but in a slightly more complex symbol. However, this image was captured using the multiple exposure setting with the camera set up on a tripod. I set three lots of two second exposures for each side of the triangle. I did this as it is a more complex symbol and would require a longer exposure time, and I did not want the light to show the static person moving the sparkler.

6 sec, f 22, 70mm, ISO 33

For the above image, I took inspiration from Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographic series ‘Theatre’. I set the camera up on a tripod and set it in front of the TV. In order to capture a longer exposure than I had managed so far I turned the ISO to Low. I took a photograph of an advert on TV, that had writing scrolling along whilst the subject of the advert stayed still except for moving his head. I like the result of this image because it has a form of chaotic movement to it. This has been created with differing legibility combined with the vertical blur of the writing illustrating movement, whilst the faint details of the face creates a ghostly feel.

I have found this exercise quite difficult. The D850 is sensitive to light and therefore to take photographs on a slow shutter speed I have had to take photographs when it is dark. I could have overcome this through the use of ND Filters if I had them.

Project 2 A durational Space

We are asked to consider whether the shutter can create psychological drama in an image.

I researched some of the recommended photographers in the course literature, which can be found here https://emma519041.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/project-2-a-durational-space-research/

Following my research and looking at the images focusing on this technique, I would agree that the shutter can create psychological drama.  This can be captured in many ways and there is no magic formula to this.  Drama can be created within an image by using a slow shutter speed to capture the movement of an object.  The reverse is also true that a fast shutter speed can capture a split moment of something leaving you in suspense. 

Another good example of the shutter creating psychological drame is Richard Billingham’s image below from the series Ray’s a laugh.

Untitled, 1995, from the Ray’s a Laugh series


In this image the psychological drama has been created by the cat being in mid-air leaving you wondering how did it get there?  Was it thrown?  The subject’s hands are directly below the cat.  Did it jump, if so where from?  Where is it going to land?  This together with the subject’s reaction and recoil from the cat in mid-air creates tremendous drama and leaves you wondering about the lead up and what happened after.  The photograph is also taken at a slight angle making the image appear to be a snap shot.


Fig. 1.
Billingham R
Untitled, from the Ray’s a Laugh series
(Accessed 7 June 2019)