Create a set of between six and ten finished images on the theme of the decisive moment. You may choose to create imagery that supports the tradition of the ‘decisive moment’ or you may choose to question or invert the concept by presenting a series of ‘indecisive’ moments. Your aim isn’t to tell a story, but in order to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, whether it’s a location, event or particular period of time.
After researching some photographers I decided that I wanted to try something different to the usual street scenes for this assignment. Coinciding with this assignment I discovered that a traditional steam fair was going to be in the area. I thought that this would make quite a different and challenging setting for my assignment. I wanted to create a photographic series capturing peoples reactions and expressions in an unusual but fun scenario. After walking around the fair I decided that I wanted to concentrate on the reactions of people on the Waltz.
Although my original location changed the overall concept stayed the same. I wanted to pick out people from the crowd. I found that Philip-Lorca DiCorcias was very influential to me in this photographic series. Similarly he took the concept of street photography down a different path choosing to concentrate on the individual rather an entire street scene. His work had an intimate voyeuristic element to it. The individuals he photographed were unaware their image was being captured leaving them unguarded with a natural expression reflecting their personality and inner thoughts.
This type of street photography is in contrast to that of Henri Cartier Bresson, who tended to capture images of groups of people behaving naturally rather than picking out an individual. However, both photographers tried to make themselves merge into the background allowing them to capture peoples natural behaviour, rather than the subject being aware that they are being photographed which naturally leads to the subject posing.
Although Henri Cartier-Bresson and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia tried to stay unnoticed when capturing their images I took a slightly different approach. Because this event was a family event and there would be a number of children around, I decided to take on board something that Don McCullin highlighted in his exhibition at the Tate. Don McCullin would ensure he was noticed by his subject prior to taking their photograph as a way to obtain their permission.
‘… he nevertheless describes having sought approval from his subjects, ensuring that he was close enough to his subjects that they knew they were being photographed; even trying to look them in the eye to gain their tacit permission.’ (Mavlian, 2019:15)
Having this in the back of my mind I made myself obvious to the people on the rides as they got on. I did this so that any parents or teenagers may approach me and ask for their images/images of their children to be deleted. However, I didn’t feel that being obvious in this situation altered peoples reactions once the rides started due to the speed of the ride combined with their adrenaline and excitement.
In order to capture the images I was looking for, I remembered Philip-Lorca Dicorcia saying in the Youtube video we were directed to watch in our course literature, that he set up his focal range and then waited for people to enter the focal range in order to capture the image. This is something I had taken onboard. Prior to the ride starting I set the focal range with a high shutter speed and then released the shutter when a cart entered the focal range. To enable me to do this without changing my focal point I used back button focus.
One thing that I had not realized on the day was that the in camera Noise Reduction had been switched off resulting in the images containing more noise in the shadows than anticipated. When processing the images I was only able to increase the shadows by a fraction in Lightroom as it was altering the skin tone. However, I was able to increase the shadows in Photoshop allowing me to maintain the skin colour.
Fun at the Fair
Whilst I do not feel these images are as successful as my previous assignment I believe I have managed to achieve what I had set out to capture and have obtained some good images.
As discussed previously when processing the images I struggled slightly with bringing up the shadows and reducing the noise. This is due to the in camera noise reduction being switched off in error. Although I restricted the ISO to ISO 2000 normally the D850 can handle a higher ISO without too much of a problem. This mistake challenged my processing skills and I learnt a new way to increase the shadows in Photoshop without damaging the skin tone too much, which is a useful skill to learn.
If the steam fair had been in the area for longer I would have spent more than one afternoon there focusing purely on the Waltz. This would have allowed me to review the images at home enabling me to to pick up on any errors, for example the Noise Reduction being switched off, and to see where I could improve when I returned.
I took a large amount of photographs during this assignment. I did this, so that if the images from the Waltz didn’t come out how I envisaged I would have images from various rides to use. Due to the limited time I had I was acutely aware that this was a one time opportunity to use the fairground for the scene of my assignment and I effectively created a back up photographic series.
I found the light quite challenging as the daylight ranged from bright sunlight to very dark cloudy overcast light. The artificial lighting on the Waltz was created by warm incandescent lighting in contrast. I wanted to capture the effect of the warm lighting on the ride so I decided to set my white balance to midday sun without any clouds using a grey card. I feel that this has come out well without making the skin tone of the subjects too yellow/orange.
Overall this assignment has been quite challenging for me. I have not used shutter priority on the D850 before and struggled with the lack of control I have had with the aperture not allowing me to choose the exact depth of field I would have liked and envisaged for my image.
I have made a significant improvement in my confidence when it came to photographing strangers on the street. However, I still have a way to go before truly start to relax.
Contact Sheet – Waltz
Tate Enterprising Ltd