Category Archives: Week 10

Photography for everyone

by Lin Ding

“The story of popular photography is largely the story of one man, George Eastman, and the company he founded, Kodak. He not only produced the first reliable point-and-shoot cameras, he also devised a system that meant ordinary people no longer had to worry about developing and printing the film. When you finished your roll of film, you simply mailed your camera to Kodak. Back came your pictures, along with the camera reloaded with new film. Eastman’s marketing slogan was ‘You press the button, we
do the rest’ (Buckingham, 18).”


When I was little, I remembered that my parents using point-and-shoot cameras (compact cameras) for snapshots of family events and vacations. This kind of camera is portable and easy to operate. For a long period of time, I thought the word “Kodak” meant “photos” because my father would bring me photos with the word “Kodak” on them. I like using cameras, for they help me record the moments I wish to last, the people I wish to remember, and the views I want to share with my families and friends. For me, photographs have become part of my life. The information carried through photographs has long influenced my tastes and my points of view. Photographs are in fact one of the most important media that help me to see the world, learn new knowledge, and explore other cultures. Just like the missions of Life magazine:

“To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things—machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work—his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed. (Peres, 193)”

Nowadays, the most common photographs I have seen are advertising photographs. This category of photography has its purpose of selling the products by creating desires for new potential customers towards their products, thus in these photographs, the message is clear and there is zero distance between the consumers and the products. Take one of the recent perfume advertising photographs I have seen as an example. In this series, photos were shot by So Me, a Parisian graphic designer using digital cameras. These photos were to be posted online and also printed in newspapers and magazines. The perfume in this photo is described as “in a zesty and sensual scent” and the story behind the photos is that “after a night out in New York, the It-girl meets up with her blouson-clad girl gang for a highly-charged dance-off with a group of boys”.

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Photographed by So Me.

A young and beautiful model with cigarettes, neon lighting decorations, and “no bras” slogan at the background, these convey the attitude of the product and the campaign. These symbolic elements also make the photos cliché, in terms of perfume campaigns. I googled “perfume campaign” and all the advertising photos were all in a similar style, and the poses/makeups make the models look the same. There is a photograph look just like the photo shot by So Me.

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Photo source: Better Franke in See by Chloe perfume campaign photographed by Fabien Baron

It looks like “sexy” is an important element or theme for perfume advertising photographs. Consumers are attracted by the information of sexy expressed through the photograph and the producer believes that this attraction can lead to desire, which eventually opens their purses or wallets. Sometimes, the theme of the perfume photograph does not have to be related to the fragrance itself, as long as the model is beautiful, sexy, and attractive, as well as the setting or her overall look (it-girl look) makes her confident/important, people would buy the product.

Another branch of photography is journalistic photography. Before the smartphones have emerged, I used to see journalistic photos every day through daily newspapers. These photographs are visual information, which completes the reports and serve as evidence of the reports. I would look through the newspapers and carefully read the part I am most interested in. What helps me to do the decision? The pictures on the paper!

There years, the air quality in China became a huge topic and a lot of reports concerned with this issue. This is an example of the photos that would be shown on related pages.

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Photo source: A woman wears a mask during her morning exercises in Fuyang, Anhui Province, on January 15, 2013, from The Atlantic.

In the article “How Climate Change Covered China in Smog”, the author uses this photo to show the terrible air quality in China and how it affects people’s life. The digital camera features one woman playing Taiji in the morning. From the picture, I can roughly measure the distance between her and the friend behind her. It is not a long distance, but you can barely see the shadow of the friend behind the second woman. If they are learning Taiji with the first woman, they would not be able to see clearly about her movement. Most importantly, they are all wearing masks, which make you uncomfortable during the exercise. This is how this photograph expresses the information: the air quality in China is really terrible and it has affected people’s daily life. From my point of view, a good journalistic photograph should be accurate, direct and informative. People can trust the information from the photo, the information conveyed by the photo is clear and direct, and people can know more about the report through the detail in the photo.

Documentary photography is the one I enjoy the most. Peres defines it “directly related to popular social life”, and the documentary projects generally “focus on social reality and human life, informed by the strong feelings of the photographer” (195). What I love the most for this type of photograph is that I can hear different points of view from the picture, I can experience the feelings the photographer recorded in the picture, and the theme of the photo is closely related to people’s life and special events. Documentary photographs can be artistic and personal.

As part of contemporary art practice, photography has its artistic value. The act of artistic creation happens before the photographer making an observation – framing a moment through the lens – which shares “the corporeal nature of performance and body art” (Cotton, 21). The viewers cannot see the whole performance but the image as the final presentation. I find the series of “Bread Man” very interesting. In this performance, the Japanese artist Tatsumi Orimoto (born 1946) hides his face under a sculptural mass of bread and then performs normal everyday activities. Some passers-by ignored him and some were amused by his strange look. During the performance, he respects people’s willingness and resistance to breaking with their daily routines in order to interact with him and to be photographed. Here is a portrait photo of him and his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

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photo source: Bread Man Son and Alzheimer Mother, Tokyo, 1996.

The bread guise is a way of stepping out of daily routine yet the contents of the photographs are daily-routine-based. The interruption of daily life blurs the boundary between normal and strange. I guess this can be part of Orimoto’s point of view for this project.

I also want to share a photo recording and expressing personal feelings. Below is a photo shot last week in the exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors. I took this photo with my digital camera, trying to remember the feelings as I first came in the mirror room that I feel I was embraced by thousands of lights. As I turn around and look around, I feel dizzy and then my fear comes up for I kind of feel lost for where I am and I lose the sense of time and space. Although I was only allowed be in the room for 20 seconds, I feel that I have been in there for a long time. Before I go into the room, I do not know what I will do in the room (if I do not take pictures) when I am in the room, I feel that I have the ability to do everything in it. However, it is overwhelming and I can hardly think of one thing to do in the room. So I take this photo. It reminds me of a lot of things, like the dream I used to have, the night view of my city, and a broken computer screen.

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Untitled, by Lin Ding.


Citations:

Buckingham, Alan. Photography. New York: DK, 2004

Cotton, Charlotte. The Photograph As Contemporary Art. Thames & Hudson: London, 2014.

Meyer Robinson. “How Climate Change Covered China in Smog”. The Atlantic. Mar 21, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/how-climate-change-covered-china-in-smog/520197/.

Peres, Michael R.. Focal Encyclopedia of Photography. Elsvier, 2007.

“Poison Girl, 7 Results”. Dior Mag. Retrieved from http://www.dior.com/diormag/en_hk/suggest/poison-girl.

The Picture of Dior Perfume Campaign is retrieved from https://www.vikinora.ru/novosti/dior_poisin_girl_new/.

The evolution of photography: a matter of give and take

It is well understood and accepted that the medium and materiality of any artwork plays a vital role in our interpretation and understanding of the visual. Our experience of an oil on canvas, a charcoal drawing, a lithograph print, and a photograph all vary greatly. However, what characterizes and differentiates these different mediums are not only the materiality of the final product, but also the process through which these works were produced. Different mediums make available different opportunities for production and make unavailable other opportunities. For example, a oil-on-canvas painting had to be reserved for artist studios until the late 19th century when a change in the medium – the invention of the mass produced tube of oil-paint – allowed artists to go outdoors and execute their oil-on-canvas paintings more quickly and with more mobility. The process of lithography places a limit on the variation of color and texture that the materiality and medium of production allows. The short history of photography is one that has evolved rapidly, and with each successive advancement, the medium and materiality of the process and the product change, and with these changes artistic qualities are both lost and gained. Early Daguerreotype photos produced one-of-a-kind images that were incredibly labor intensive, but highly detailed and precise. The process of production determined the scale at which the image could be produced (Daguerreotypes were very small), determined to some extent what could be captured (the process took time and the equipment necessary was not easily transportable), and determined the very way in which the subject matter would be captured (with intense detail, monochromatic color, and with careful attention to light, matter, and shadow).

daguerrotype-portrait

If we look forward a few decades in the history of photography, the process, medium, and materiality of photography changes drastically. At each incremental step, the process of production – both the artistic labor of the artist and the scientific labor of the chemistry – becomes increasingly obscured and abbreviated. The widely available Kodak camera — beginning with the Brownie — transformed the way that the artist and the viewer engaged with photography. In a brief period of time, the camera became much easier to transport and much less expensive to buy and produce, the final product became based on negatives and not one-of-a-kind photographs, and it became easy to capture tons of images anywhere and anytime (and so the attention paid to each individual image was lost). The viewer’s relationship with photographs changed significantly: the intensely personal precision and individuality of each image was lost, the intimate scale of each image and the value placed on each photograph was lost, and the scope of what could be captured on camera expanded drastically. Because the cost of the camera and the cost and labor of each individual image decreased, the possibilities for what could be captured and when expanded dramatically. The artist’s relationship with photographs also changed: the artist was no longer as intimately tied to the artistic and scientific process and to the materiality and medium of the photograph. The artist no longer had to place as much emphasis on each individual image, and the artist was now free to capture images with greater ease. The mere scope of who and what could be photographed, and where and how they could be captured expanded unimaginably.

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Jumping ahead in history and looking at the way that we experience photography today, the pervasive availability of cameras, photographs, and digital platforms through which photographs are shared and reproduced have radically redefined the artists and the viewers relationship with and performance of photography. The artistic element of photography and the materiality of the art and science behind the final product has been largely obscured, and these changes in the process have important implications for how artists perform and create photographs. Whereas photography was once a laborious and highly involved artistic medium, in today’s world we can question whether a photographer is necessarily even an artist. The availability of photographs in technological online platforms has further obscured our relationship with the process of production. Now we can capture a photograph and view the image without ever understanding or engaging with the materiality of the medium. Our culture has no doubt gained a great deal, but might we also question what has ultimately been lost?

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The Power in a Photo

        Wanyu Zhang


“Light makes photography. Embrace light, Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”    – George Eastman

There are lots of aspects we can talk today about the Camera era and photography as one kind of art. Even just go through the questions from the syllabus instruction, I’m going to breakup those questions into the photos and photographers that I want to know more and admired for long time to illustrate my answers or personal interpretation for their work.

Felix H Man

Before we start, I want to clarify what it’s photojournalist as an occupation from my point. Photojournalist needs to be qualified several things, the most vital one its they need to understand the context and use their own “weapon” to capture the best moment can related to the news story. When the audience look at the photo even without any verbal or words report, they can almost know what’s going on via photo itself. And this is the most powerful part, the photo can speak, deliver the same or even more strong emotion to the viewer. L.2002.34.66Felix H Man was one of the first photojournalists and he remains one of the great too. His photojournalist career begun from 1920s when this occupation was in its infancy. I was surprised by his work from the Picture Post – the photojournalist magazine published in UK from 1938 (UK’s equivalent LIFE magazine), screen-shot-2017-03-28-at-9-17-41-amalmost all the photographs in the very first 1938 issue were taken by Man. He managed the photos as well as provided the story, to combine an eye for a story with an ear for one. The photograph from Man I want to introduced called “Mussolini Giving orders to Teruzzi, Commandant of the Fascist Militia” Another coincidence or important turning point for a photojournalist is the great occasion or we can understand like the time he lived is part of historical moment. It’s not everyone has the chance to take photo of Mussolini at the height of his power. However, as a world famous political figure, Mussolini gave the chance to Man and that’s become one of the most newsworthy photo, the classic win-win scenario happened. Though this gelatin silver print photo we can find the expression and get message from Mussolini and he acknowledged existing official images of himself it’s political meaningful too. Obviously, this series photos of Mussolini has the unique social and iconic functions, to “humanized by presenting him in a daily routine (see more from “A day in the life of Mussolini”) I think the amazing part of Man which was the reality taken form the flow of actual events, no stages or posed at all.

Matt Stuart

When technology of camera developed, the skill of the photographer and people’s attitude also gradually improved to another level and stage. Personally, I’m interested in the street photography this specific kind. It’s a fascination with people and the way they live their lives is always attract me. So, I want to highlight a great street photographer Matt Stuart from UK and he was recently become the member of Magnum too. I like how he illustrates the city he was born and lived, because when I mentioned Felix H Man I said the historical moment can make a great photographer, however in people’s daily life there are not many historical moment happens and the common life is the main melody.screen-shot-2017-03-28-at-10-22-00-am

“ I can’t hide behind lights and technology, I am reliant on a small camera, patience and lots of optimism. But what I get in return is the chance to make an honest picture which people know immediately is a genuine moment and which hopefully burrows deep into their memories.” I think this quote from Stuart described the street photography perfectly. The great photographer always “quite” when he/she captured the moment through their lens. Stuart use Leica MP with a 35mm F1.4 lens at the most time, the classic street photographer lens, as a film street photographer at this era and can keep this high quality it’s rare, from the interview of Stuart we can find out the answer. It’s absolutely from the long term self-training, 21 years experience shooting on the street, at least 3 rolls a day. screen-shot-2017-03-28-at-10-21-24-am

Stuart’s photos do not have much caption, I always feel surprised and impressed when I go though his street photo at London. The moment he found it’s blow my mind, i know it’s the daily life based photo shooting. However, when you see the details from his photo, you will find the “hiliraious” moments all the time and never feel boring. it’s a vivid mirror of London but not in a cliche way. The iconic London red it’s everywhere from his gallery, seems familiar but never repeatable. The details symbol it’s the message he wants to deliver to his audiences, exactly a token he created of his city.

Wanyu Zhang   

I recent works on my personal website to collaborate the photos and other works I have done from lastscreen-shot-2017-03-28-at-11-19-35-am serval years. Basically, I think the power of photo it’s become more and more “solid” and more socialized. When the camera and came function of cell phone becomes super approachable to our life, it seems everything can be “imaginary”. We adapted photos as part of dairy to recored our life and even we do not have to write a lot. It’s almost change the way we used to be. “When considering the genres of personal snapshots, consider how most of our personal everyday photos (especially smartphone photos) are repetitions of clichés and stereotyped performances (like what’s posted in social media): what does it mean to use photos as tokens of social rituals?” to answer this question I do not agree with the stereotyped performance this point, because I think the photo we choose and take it’s very instant emotion expression instead of the regular performance. And the social rituals part it’s very depends, sometime people love to show their life to public or their friends and then they  post, but of course there are lots of people wants to keep their privacy and we should respect too. But I have to say the social rituals now it’s kind of blurred within the boundaries, especially when people used actively  “poster” equal to many things it can be annoying trend too. ( it’s hard to explain by words but I can explain this during the class)

Some of my favorite photographer website links as below:

Why we make photographs?

Zhihui Yu (Yvette)

“The expression ‘to take a photo,’ in the sense of recording a photo image with any kind of camera……We have another expression, ‘to make a photograph’, which implies that a photograph is an intentional artefact, something composed, something requiring an intervention with a human-designed technology, not a slice of nature already there just waiting to be taken”

——Martin Irvine

We are now commonly regarding photography as a format of art, and can represent unique and illustrate the exact existence of certain things. “…… the nineteenth century desire to explore, record and catalogue human experience, both at home and abroad, encouraged people to emphasis photography as a method of naturalistic documentation”. There was a conflict and concern that whether photography would replace portrait or painting at the very beginning, while as we can see photographs becomes more and more “ubiquitous” in all kinds of format.

Not only because of the enhancement and perfection of photographing technology and equipment, but with the exploitation and intensification of photography’s social function, people intended to transfer their lens from home to abroad. I myself love making photographs, and I am interested in visually representing something in as many ways as possible, to reach as many fields and as many different forms as possible.

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“I wanted to photograph clouds to find out what I had learned in forty years about photography. Through clouds to put down my philosophy of life – to show that (the success of) my photographs (was) not due to subject matter – not to special trees or faces, or interiors, to special privileges – clouds were there for everyone…”

—— Alfred Stieglitz

Photography can be a representation of love. Photographers usually conduct their affection and communication with their lovers through camera lens. The series of ‘O’Keeffe’ by modern photographer are a series of photograph masterpieces that illustrates extreme romance and tenderness. Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946) was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form. O’Keeffe was the muse Stieglitz had always wanted. He photographed O’Keeffe obsessively between 1918 and 1925 in what was the most prolific period in his entire life. During this period he produced more than 350 mounted prints of O’Keeffe that portrayed a wide range of her character, moods and beauty.

And in this specific photograph, O’Keeffe looks like a sound statue with a downward sight and upward hands, which forms a movement of visual reverse and make this image full of tension and strength. Her gesture shows power and calmness at the same time. And from this photograph, we can feel the strong intimation and connection between the model and the photographer, O’Keeffe gave Alfred her total trust, and simultaneously, Alfred devoted his love and energy to the her when ‘making this photograph’.

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“If you are interested in mass communication, then you have to stop thinking of yourself as a photographer. We live in a post-photographic world. If you are interested in photography, then you are interested in something — in terms of mass communication — that is past. I am interested in reaching as many people as possible.”

——Tim Hetherington

This photo was shot some day in September, 2017. And as we can see from it, there is a soldier rest in Restrepo, wearing his uniform. It won the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year on Feb. 7th, 2008. And the comment that given by the board member Gary Knight was “This image represents the exhaustion of a man – and the exhaustion of a nation”.

Authenticity and making a picture authentic is obviously important in documentary photos and journalism photos. I was totally impressed by this photo when I first saw it, when you look deeply into the soldier’s appearance and facial expression, you can feel the exhaustion and darkness even from this picture. For me, that is the magical power and uniqueness of photograph. Thanks to its authenticity, you can feel ‘the reality’ and ‘the realness’ regardless of time, space and language differences.

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This is a random photo I download from the internet after I typed in ‘snapchat photos’ on google. With the development of technology and these photo shooting applications, there are more and more people prefer taking their selfies utilizing this kind of apps rather than regular cameras. We can see the girl in the photo, who has a pair of big and bright eyes, with cute pink blushes on her face, and when she opens her mouth, there’s a rainbow coming out of it.

Like Eastlake predicted, “……photograph is a democratic means of representation and that the new facts will be available to everyone.” (Liz Wells, Derrick Price) We are nowadays all available of tools to ‘take a photo’, however, we are so much used to this kind of technology in our daily life and usually simply regard it as a tool to capture our daily routine rather than the beauty around us. And this is the problem of social media and socialized photography that we need to consider.

 

Reference:

  1. Alfred Stieglitz (19 September 1923). “How I came to Photograph Clouds”. Amateur Photographer and Photography: 255.
  2. Wells, Liz, ed. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Excerpts.
  3. Martin Irvine, Introduction to Photography and the Optical Image. Communication and Technology Program, Georgetown University.
  4. Lister, Martin, ed. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2013.

 

 

 

Portraits and Selfies – Ojazz

The post-photographic era of image production is unique, in that it preserves the “aura” (to use Walter Benjamin’s loose terminology) of photography, while being almost wholly removed from the analog photography process. Martin Lister, drawing from Raymond Williams, describes it as a residual form of culture (pg 6). The digital photographic image is not photography as it has historically been, but the cultural form has been preserved. In this entry, I would like to explore how the portrait as a photographic form has evolved through different eras of photography.

Working Title/Artist: Gustave Le Gray Department: Photographs Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1854 photography by mma, DP161909.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 6_10_09

Delaunay, Alphonse. Gustave Le Gray

The above photo of Gustave Le Gray was taken in 1854, right before the era of “Cardomania” took off (Buckingham 15). Cardomania refers to the takeoff of celebrity portraits in the 1860s. They would involve elaborate studio backdrops and clamps to support the back and neck as subjects sat for great lengths of time during the exposure. This is a special moment in photography because it was a paper print made from a glass negative. Gustave Le Gray conceptualized the callodian process that replaced daguerrotypes and calotypes that used wet glass to create negative images from which paper prints could be made, though its invention and implementation was credited to Frederick Scott Archer (Buckingham 11). In the portrait, Gustave is making kind of a goofy face while he smokes his cigar. In contrast to the my Snapchat images later, the backdrop of the portrait makes this much more a portrait style of photography.

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Comparing that to this image of Britney Spears is not too different. I couldn’t find much about the technical aspects, but I wanted to discuss the difference in composition. Britney Spears, teen (at the time) pop star, is a fascinating amalgam of hyper-sexualization, adolescent innocence, and media representation. The documentary Merchants of Cool goes into the market research that led to the development of two major archetypes in the mid-90s MTV resurgence: the mook and the midriff. The mook was the male jackass character, like Tom Green and Steve-O. The midriff was a hyper-sexualized and young woman characterized by innocence. Britney Spears rise to fame needed the collaboration of many actors, including the record label, booking agents, music video producers, and TV networks. All parties worked to reinforce a complex media image of Britney Spears midriff character, including journalists. The above Rolling Stone magazine cover from 1998 shows exactly this with the article headline “Inside the heart, mind, and bedroom of a teen dream.” Photography here reinforces the media image of Britney Spears, and is very much a constructed set, kind of like Gustave Le Gray. The portrait plays a much different role in capital pursuits, as the portrait works to reinforce an image that is prevalent throughout several mediums. Photography exists in an elaborate, complex, and rich media network.

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The above images were taken in the Snapchat app. It’s a social media app that lets users take photos to send to friends. When someone receives it, they can view the image for a duration of time (up to 10 seconds) set by the image creator. After that, the image is deleted and gone forever. Users can also create a story, and in this way, the images/videos can be added to a feed in which the image/video temporarily remains (24 hours). The two images above are much more candid. The one with the star ceiling is from when I was home for spring break and my friends who received it would be privvy to this context before looking at the image. Or for those who’ve been to my parents’ house, they would pick up the context while looking at it. The other photo has a caption, an affordance of Snapchat. It shows a moment in which my cat interrupted my studying. The content of the photo images in this context is much more candid than the other two images. I wouldn’t necessarily say they are portraits, but rather “selfies.” Selfies exist in a dialogic model with self-portraits, but that smartphones have cameras built into them are what led to the selfie type. There’s an immediacy and candidness to selfies that are missing from traditional portraits.

When the photograph is remediated through software, the medium of photography gets closer to the semantics of language. Each tokenized use of a photograph doesn’t represent the photo’s ontology, but its use in a specific context. Our language possesses a unique capacity for infinite generativity – that is an unlimited number of combinations (thereby an unlimited number of meanings) built from a limited number of words. As photographs move into the realm of software and the idea of the “original” or “authentic” becomes less significant in the world of photographic images, the syntax of photographic images grows. In Martin Lister’s words, the digital photograph is “fugitive and transient” (pg 8). What a particular photo means depends on the context in which it is used. Of course, we are not there yet. Licensing of images does clearly define an original in a lot of cases within the social context of the internet and social use of an image. However, because the “original” image was probably edited from its own original, we already see a move in the direction of a language-like photography. Furthermore, language still contains the issue of plagiarism.

In thinking about how the original photographer or maker of a photograph cannot control the settings of a user’s screen when looking at a digital image, each token of the photograph has to function as a prototype. We can still consider the photograph, how different colors contrast with other colors within the photograph, whether its composition is of high quality, and if we like it. It’s still a photograph – but we can’t think of it as the exact same photograph as the “original” (if there is one). It’s not like a painting that remains the same collection of matter. It’s a collection of machine code that has to run through a machine and be represented on a pixel grid. The actual “matter” of the photo is built on a circuit of electricity that runs through a pixel grid and sends a message of what color each individual pixel should display. It in itself is already an impression of an image. The only way we can consider it the same as a painting is if we consider a painting’s composed of atoms as analogous to the pixel circuitry of a digital image.

References

Buckingham, Alan. Photography. New York: DK, 2004

Lister, Martin. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2013.

Merchants of Cool. Dir. Barak Goodman. Frontline, 2001. Digital.

What have we lost when we “take a picture”?

By Ai-Ling Wu


“Taking a picture” has become one of the critical approach for us to interpret or record the reality in the digital age. Whether a memorable journey, a birthday party or other important moments in our real life are transformed to digital information, pixels and codes on a 2D screen which “can be moved around the world at high speed, it is a quantifiable, it is a commodity that can be traded in and it is separable from its instantiation in a medium (it is detachable from its substrates)” (Lister, 2013). The photography is the medium during this transformation. Is it only a technology which allows us to perceive, document or present our real life more conveniently? It’s definitely not. “Traditionally, photography has been studied as one of a number of kinds of object, each in relative isolation: most frequently as a form of visual representation, but also as a technology of mass reproduction and hence sociological significance, or as an object of social and anthropological interest” (Lister, 2013). Next, I’m going to discuss the “true value” behind the photography by analyzing three photographs from different social context. More importantly, I want to think about what have lost during the evolution among these three photographs.

lady-of-shallot

The Lady of Shalott by Henry Peach Robinson (1830-1901). 1861. Albumen print from two negatives, 12 x 10 in. (30.4 x 50.8 cm.). Unsigned. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas (ace. no.964:057:068)

ophelia

Ophelia (1852) by John Millais

Since the early 16th century, camera obscura, the predecessor of photography, has been used by artists to project a 3-D view of the world onto flat surfaces for tracing, thus helping them master the difficulties of perspective and proportion (Buckingham, 2004). The photography technology served as a “secret tool” to improve the presentation of paintings at the beginning. However, it became a composition of art works in the 19th century. The Lady of Shalott (1861) by Henry Peach Robinson in this week’s reading is a great example to illustrate how an artist incorporated the photography in the painting and created a composite picture. The photograph is unique for it is the only known photograph that illustrates this subject so popular in painting and book illustration. The photograph “borrows from both Tennyson’s poem and Millais’ painting of Ophelia from Hamlet. Many of his photographs were multiple prints. He would first sketch the picture he wanted to make – just like a painter – then separately photograph the individual components. Finally he would combine the cut-out figures, masks, and backgrounds and make one large contact print” (Buckingham, 2004).

The Lady of Shalott is a representative work of composite photography in Victorian Times.  “Meanwhile, a whole industry was born, mass-producing photographic cards and prints, and manufacturing albums, frames, and cases. It was boom time for almost anyone who wanted to set up as a professional photographer” (Buckingham, 2017). Composite photography was derided as artificial on one hand and as a precursor to Dada photomontage. But it is important to understand this peculiar and particular method of literally “making” an image, in its own cultural context. Victorian composite photography has its charms and those charms, as dubious as they may seem today, and can be understood as a step towards the idea that a photograph could be a work of art. Besides, composite photography which assembled multiple photographs into one print, solved many of the problems that dogged wet plate photography with its inconveniently long exposures (Willette, 2015). In my opinion, it also can be recognized a predecessor of Photoshop which can combine parts of different images as a integral new picture.

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Kevin Cater, The vulture and the little girl (1993) (Source from The Unsolicited Opinion)

The second photograph The vulture and the little girl (1993) is one of the most influential photojournalist photo in the 20th century. When this photograph capturing the suffering of the Sudanese famine was published in the New York Times on March 26, 1993, the reader reaction and not all positive. Some people said that Kevin Carter, the photojournalist who took this photo, was inhumane, that he should have dropped his camera to run to the little girl’s aid. The controversy only grew when, a few months later, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo. In July 1994 he took his own life, writing, “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain. (Neal, 2017).

The socio-cultural functions of the photograph not only represent the fatal famine, cruel war and poverty in South Africa to the international world but also raised the debate over when photographers should intervene. This photograph is a very powerful medium for journalists to show the “truth” in our world. It is more powerful than hundreds and thousand of words which gets the audience to comprehend and see with their own eyes the dire situation that Africans are facing. Furthermore, it symbolized the social and political issues of Sudan. The civil war is mainly what was causing the severe starvation in Sudan, which is portrayed in the photo, since it was driving people away from their homes, which is where their food sources were  (Struck 1993). This single photo of one child does an excellent job of summarizing the immense distress the entire country was enduring. The photograph creates many dialogues with the audience. The harsh reality in the photograph stimulated the profound thinking of the audience about serious social, political and economic problems in South Africa and the ethical issue of photojournalism. Besides, the photograph may become a strong motivation for people who want to change the situation.

monet-2

La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume),1876, Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926),231.8 x 142.3 cm (91 1/4 x 56 in.), Oil on canvas 

The third photograph was taken by my iPhone when I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The large-scale painting and its Japanese elements caught my attention. ” Monet created a virtuoso display of brilliant color that is also a witty comment on the current Paris fad for all things Japanese” (La Japonaise). I post it on my WeChat Moment which can be seen by people who I know in my real life. The painting has been transformed into pixels and codes on my smartphone and transmitted to my friends. I added a filter to the picture and changed its exposure which are based on my own interpretation and aesthetic. The photography is more like a recreation of the original painting as well as a certification which showed that I have been to the museum and appreciated the Monet’s art works.

During the transformation and transmission, the real size and color of the painting have been lost and distorted. The time I spent on taking pictures may be more than the time which was spent on appreciating the original work. For the audience, the texture, size and the surroundings of the painting are lost we they see my digital picture. For me, I lost my attention to the original painting. “While we are clearly in a world where we can simulate and extend all older media through a single kind of machine, the computer and its software(s), we are surely a long way from being in a state where we have one metamedium” (Lister, 2013). The meta medium derives our feelings and senses of the reality to some extent. It can be applied to the former photograph I discussed. The viewer of the composite photography of The Lady of Shalott cannot willingly suspend disbelief and imagine that he or she sees the Lady on the river. Rather, the viewer sees a model lying in a boat merely pretending to be the Lady of Shalott. The photograph exemplifies the limitations of photography as an illustrative medium. The audience of the The vulture and the little girl can not have the same feeling as Kevin Cater who sees the scene with his own eyes.

Meanwhile, true value of photography can be displayed by these three photos. Photography is “‘one of the great emblematic artefacts of modernity’ (Tomlinson 2007: 73). It provides more possibilities for us to interpret and record reality. It allows us to create a imaginary world like Robinson does. It expands our horizons and preserve our moments permanently.

 

  1. The Lady of Shalott by Edmund Joseph Sullivan (1869-1933), http://www.victorianweb.org/photos/robinson/2.html
  2. Composite Photography in Victorian Times, , 2015, http://arthistoryunstuffed.com/composite-photography-in-victorian-times/
  3. Starving Child and Vulture | 100 Photographs | The Most Influential Images of All Timehttp://100photos.time.com/photos/kevin-carter-starving-child-vulture
  4. How Photojournalism Killed Kevin Carter, Leslie Maryann Neal on March 12, 2017http://all-that-is-interesting.com/kevin-carter
  5. Struck, D. (1993). A harvest of death: Famine stalks Sudan Civil war brings ‘nightmare’ for millions. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 21, 2012 from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-04-21/news/1993111111_1_southern-sudan-civil-war-happening-in-sudan
  6. Alan Buckingham, Photography. New York: DK, 2004. Excerpts.
  7. Martin Lister, ed. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2013.
  8. La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume) http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/la-japonaise-camille-monet-in-japanese-costume-33556
  9. Tomlinson, J. (2007) The Culture of Speed, London, Sage.

 

Photographs and their context_Jing

Photography was a major carrier and shaper of modernism. (Wells, 21) For Non-Western areas, the role photography plays were especially important. When Photography was first introduced to China in the late 1800s, many Chinese villagers were suspicious and afraid of cameras, believing it could “steal their soul”. Decades later, photographs spread the whole country and every major city has studios in which ordinary Chinese Families could take their portraits in. Now, photographic imagery comes to permeate contemporary communication.

Working Title/Artist: Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife Department: Photographs Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1936 mma digital photo #DP109611

Working Title/Artist: Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife
Working Date: 1936
mma digital photo #DP109611

This famous photo, Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife was taken by Walker Evans in 1936. The Medium is Gelatin silver print. “Gelatin silver prints had displaced ALBUMEN prints in popularity by 1895 because they were more stable, did nor yellow, and were simpler and quicker produce.” ( Baldwin and Jurgens) The glossy print surface became the standard for fine art photography in the twentieth century. The higher gloss papers first became popular in the 1920s and 30s as photography transitioned from pictorialism into modernism, photojournalism, and “straight” photography. (BHH Photo) It was the time, photographers were able to use commercial silver gelatin papers in their own dark room.

I first saw this image in MOMA and the sorrow and shyness on the woman’s face caught my eyes. Even not familiar with the context of this picture, I bought a postcard of this Photograph. Now I know Walker Evans is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. (Met Website) The genre of the this photograph belongs to documentary or photojournalism. One of the central principles of the documentary aesthetic was that a photograph should be untouched, so that its veracity, its genuineness, might be maintained. (Wells, 49) Although Evans was assigned to demonstrate how the federal government was attempting to improve the lot of rural communities during the Depression(Met Website). This pictures just distil the essence of American life from the ordinary. It’s not about ideology agenda. This photo belongs to a series of photos about three families in Alabama. “AS a series, they seem to have elucidated the whole tragedy of the Great Depression; individually, they are intimate, transcendent, and enigmatic.” (Met Website)

the_falling_manThe falling man,r Richard Drew, Associated Press, 2001

The second picture I chose is Richard Drew’s the Falling man. The photo, taken in the moments after the September 11, 2001, attacks, is one man’s distinct escape from the collapsing buildings, a symbol of individuality against the backdrop of faceless skyscrapers. It is an iconic picture which has come to represent the tragedies that occurred on that day. AP is one the biggest news agency in the world and their journalists are always at the scene of the big social events. Another example is the recent awarded image of Turkey assassin. When we read a photograph, especially a journalism photograph, we basically stare at the only moment the photographer captured which may not provide the context and background of the whole story. Looking at “the falling man”, we feel it is breath-taken and heart-broken, it’s not only because the man in the image but also we are acknowledged of the context of 911 Event.

Also, in this case, the medium of the photographs is important. The earliest forms of photography such as the Daguerreotype would have been unable to capture an image such as the falling man as they required hours of exposure to the subject.[i]

However, just because the photograph captures reality does not mean that it is accurate. I found this image is restrained but many readers of that time still find this picture is “disturbing”. The falling man represented the “jumpers” of the 911.  Jumpers in the sense that their deaths were not suicidal they were. We would suspect whether the photographs like the falling man are enough to represent or epitomize an entire group of people? Although the new technology may blur the boundary between professional and citizen photojournalism, I think there are more ethical issues beyond the journalism photos relying on the professional judgments made by the photographers.

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I took the image at Rodin Museum in Paris. The marble sculpture captured in the photo is Rodin’s famous masterpiece the Kiss. It’s difficult to define the genre of the picture. This may belong to the still life photography but the main function of this picture is to document my presence of the Museum. Nowadays photographs “are as much an expression of the photographer’s feelings for the subject as they are a reflection of the subject depicted.”[ii] I took this picture to post on my Instagram. Before I took this particular piece, I already set the lyrics I hope to post on my Instagram to match this scene. It takes me some time to find the perfect angle to take the stratifying scene.

“With the modern camera, optics has been associated with and with the projection of three dimensional (3D) onto two dimensional (2D) space.” (Irvine) Comparing with paintings, sculptures are in three dimension which provides the viewers more. space for expression and creativityThe photo I took was a view of one perspective. If I change the angle of the view, we can see different stories. In this picture, it tells about the museum context of this sculpture but  not tell my the aesthetic perception. “The view of ‘the middle brow art form’ in the millions of family and personal snapshots taken every day, records of highly ritualized events, poses, contexts, views.” (Lister)

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[i] “Photographic Review: Context within The Falling Man Series.” Camera Historica. N.p., 17 Jan. 2012.

[ii] Hostetler, Author: Lisa. “Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) and American Photography | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

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References:

Wells, Liz, ed. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Excerpts.

Gordon Baldwin and Martin Jurgens. Looking at Photographs: A Guide to Technical Terms, Revised Edition. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009.

Martin Lister, ed. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2013.

The Daguerreian Era and Early American Photography on Paper, 1839–1860.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

 

 

Lens-based Culture


– YinYing Chen

“Photography, accordingly, depends not only on its technology or the way it ‘looks’ but also upon our historical, cultural and psychic investment in it as a way of seeing and knowing” 

                                                                                                                                     -Liz Wells

The history of photography can be traced back to as early as the 1820s, when the French inventor, Joseph Niepce first realized the dream to capture an image permanently. However, it was not until Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotyped image to the public in 1839 that the photography really gained popularity among the public (Buckingham 2004, 8). The medium of daguerreotyped images are copper plates coated with silver, and the images were fragile. In addition, the image-producing process was extremely complicated and unreliable. Therefore, in contrast to our perception of photographer today, “a photographer in the 1840s was more like a laboratory chemist than an artist”, as Alan Buckingham (2004) notes it (9).

Given the nature of  daguerreotyped photography illustrated above, the pictures were often perceived as ” mirrors with memory”, which were carefully protected and decorated in frames and cases (Buckingham 2004, 9). Then, the exposure time became shorter, and the images became more detailer and sharper. With the launch of Kodak’s Box Brownie in early 1900s, camera became more affordable, and before WWII photos ultimately turned to be mass-produced objects( Buckingham 2004, 18).

In the discourses surrounded photography before 1940s, there is a significant shift from “scarcity” to  “mass”, which also signifies the dramatic socio-cultural change of the time. In the earlier age of photography, photographs represented the symbol of social status, which were used to demonstrate the luxurious lifestyle of the affluent (Buckingham 2004). As Victorian studio sprang up in the urban areas, mass-producing photography was boomed as well. The subjects of photography were mostly private subjects, with portrait at the kernel of early photography. It is intriguing that, as an interface for personal purpose, photos of that time reflects the ideology of modernity, which values private subjects found in the voluptuous life of the bourgeoisie over religious or allegorical themes of the ancient time. Entering the 20th century, photos gradually traversed the realm of the private, and the commodification of photos accelerated. Photos were incorporated to newspapers and magazines. The age of image-based culture we live in now was thus unveiled.

The prevalence of color photos from the 1970s then again reshape our ways of seeing and knowing (Wells 2015, 70). In addition, with the popularity of affordable color printing, photography, television and movies from the 1970s, visual elements becomes more and more important and turns to be main focus in our culture. Brightened up with colors, photos hence can capture a fleeting moment or a historical event more completely. The camera participates in our major life events from the moment we are born, including birthdays, commencements, anniversaries and so on and so forth. Furthermore, the camera also act as a historian to record the essence of cultures. For instance, in the picture shown below, the Taiwanese  photographer, Shen Chao-Liang documents the dazzling “transformer-style” stage trucks for all kinds of performance in front of the temples, a culture tha is dying in Taiwan.

A photo from the "Stage Series" (2006-2011) by Taiwanese photographer Shen Chao-Liang.

A photo from the “Stage Series” (2006-2011) by Taiwanese photographer Shen Chao-Liang.

 Furthermore, in the major historical events since 1970s, the camera acts as a crucial witness in war-torn areas, civil right movements, crises, tragedies and disaster stricken regions (Wells 2015, 65). More than words, a nice shot of photo can travels thousands mile away to deliver a story in a much more powerful way. In this regard, photographs  as well as photgraphers ( photojournalists in particular) get more and more involved in the construction of the history and our worldview (Wells 2015, 68). It is intriguing to thinks about how our perceived reality is actually filtered under other’s lens, because as Liz Wells ( 2015) suggests it ”  [Photography] affords us a position, an identity, a sense of power.” (70)

“Phan Thị Kim Phúc”, taken by the Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Ut in 1972.

“Phan Thị Kim Phúc”, taken by the Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Ut in 1972.

Less than 200 years after the invention of photography, digital images saturate the fabric of our everyday life. The smartphone makes the images ubiquitous and mobile, and it creates new social rituals, such as taking appetizing food photos before enjoying them (Lister 2013, 2). Unlike non-digital photos, digital images are rendered into binary codes and thus do not have to exist in fixed or tangible forms. Moreover, they are often networked. Therefore, a digital image can easily travel from a medium to another medium, and a platform to another platform.

The discourse centered around digital images are paradoxical in many ways. They are massively produced and widely circulated, while the picture takers often claim the pictures are personal and genuine. They are consumed as fastfoood, but we often hail them as the interfaces to  demonstrates our styles. When browsing through photo-sharing platforms, we are swamped by the overproduction of photos to show off tempting foods, vacations to foreign countries, fancy clothes, museum visits and the luxurious lifestyle. Photo-sharing platforms turn to be a battlefield for attention. The repetitions of clichés, which are often the best attention grabbers,   manifests ” photography as mass ornament”, as it is illustrated by Siegried Kracauer (Lister 2013, 9).  Look at my own photo archive, unsprisingly, many of them are also the repetitions of clichés and stereotyped performances. This says a lot about how we are conditioned to our lens-based culture.

My photo archive (Tokyo)

My photo archive (Tokyo)

My photo archive ( Porto)

My photo archive ( Porto)

 

References:

Alan Buckingham, Photography. New York: DK, 2004. Excerpts

Liz Wells, ed. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Excerpts.

Martin Lister, ed. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2013.

Making a Photograph: A Crafted Artefact in the Social Discourse

People take photos almost at every time and everywhere. A snapshot of the cherry blossom in the spring, a record of the family gathering during a traditional festival, or an artistic photographic work for the exhibition…… “Making a photograph”, which conveys people’s multiple feelings within specific contexts, essentially reflects that a photograph is intentionally created by human rather than just captured from nature. “‘to make a photograph’, which implies that a photograph (in any medium) is an intentional artefact, something composed, something requiring an intervention with a human-designed technology, not a slice of nature already there just waiting to be ‘taken’.” (Irvine, 3) Therefore, we can often understand and be impressed by the multifarious photographs, which are ubiquitous in our daily life, e.g. in a photo collection, the photography exhibition or on the newspaper. However old they are, we can still interpret some feelings from the tokens of representations.

The Scene, Focus and Lens of the Photograph

Working Title/Artist: Young Girl with Portrait of George Washington Department: Photographs Culture/Period/Location:  HB/TOA Date Code:  Working Date: 1850 photography by mma 1994, transparency 1A 8x10 scanned and retouched by film and media (jnc) 5_5_09

Working Title/Artist: Young Girl with Portrait of George 

The photograph Girl with Portrait of George Washington is a work of Daguerreotype, which is typically “exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each highly polished silver plate is a unique photograph that, viewed in proper light, exhibits extraordinary detail and three-dimensionality”. (The MET) The dim light of the photograph exactly makes the whole scene seem to be serene and sort of mysterious, and the audience may easily focus on the contents of the photograph. However, the daguerreotypes are also pretty vulnerable in that they are easily damaged from abrasion or by chemicals from tarnishing (Baldwin and Jurgens, 18), and are constraint due to the single color and dim light interface.

Looking at this photograph, I would find it interesting that I would unconsciously follow the girl’s views to stare at the iconic portrait of George Washington. After that, I would notice that the focus of this photographic work is the girl (light on the girl was much brighter than that on the painting), whereas the portrait of George Washington as the background is kind of blurred. The photographer probably adjusted the focus, lens and aperture so as to capture this photograph. Additionally, we only see the girl’s side face, but still we may wonder what the girl was thinking when she gazed at this portrait, and what her identity was. Therefore, the audience are naturally appealed by this daguerreotype photograph.

Special Moments Captured in News Photos

452111168

It seems to be hard to define which genres the news photos belong to, and news photos of almost all types are captured on the spot to spread the first-time, first-hand news within the shortest period, especially for the accidental news. “The photographs have become information.” “The different kind of information that photographs have become had been laying in wait for some time.” (Lister, 8) The news photos convey information and cause attention in the natural and visual way, so that people are usually more directly impressed by the news photographs.

This is a photo from gettyimages. It was selected into the collection of 20 most memorable photographs. I was immediately caught by this collection merely because I’m a crazy fan of the Germany Men’s Football Team and I recognized this photographs recorded the great moments when this team won the champion of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The two people in this photograph are the midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and his teammate, the forward Lukas Podolski. (gettyimages) They were taking a ‘selfie’ after winning the victory in the extremely difficult extra-time match. The photographer blurred all of the background and only made the focus on the two football players as well as close friends, capturing their excited expressions in such a natural way. Interestingly, the theme of this special photo collection is about the long-lasting friendship between Schweinsteiger and Podolski along with the news that Bastian Schweinsteiger wrote an emotional farewell letter to his former teammate and close friend Lukas Podolski who was retiring from the national football team. (gettyimages)

I always enjoy browsing those featured news photos on the different websites, especially for the sports news. Going through the photo stories gives me a sense of authentic feeling as if I were on those significant and memorable occasions. “The simultaneous ‘it was there’ (the pro-photographic event) and ‘I was there’ (the photographer) effect of the photographic record of people and circumstances contributes to the authority of photographs.” (Wells, 19)

Daily Snapshots – Tiny but Memorable Moments

1

This is a funny photograph from my iPhone and I took it when I stayed in the AirBnb during my trip to San Diego. I found a specially designed chess in the host’s living room so I borrowed it to play. I’ve never seen such chess designed in traditional Chinese style, then I put all of them in the right place, took this photo and spent a whole night playing this chess with my friend. This was just one of the tiny but memorable moments in my daily life, but I’ll keep it in my photo collection since I believe I could hardly find another copy in the US, even in China!

For the personal daily snapshots, the so-called “genre” may rarely exists, or rather, they are merely a record or “document” of life. “The terminology is indicative: the Oxford English Dictionary definition of ‘documentary’ is ‘to document or record’.” “Accepting that digital photography and digital imaging are now major industries contributing within print and online media, when assessing the significance of particular pictures we take into account image-making contexts and purposes.” (Wells, 18) In the digital age, we have more chances to take photographs and capture the memorable tiny moments of life, and as the social medias are widely spread and increasingly popular, those snapshots will be posted online to share with friends as a tool to communicate with others and express feelings. What’s more, some brands may also advertise and raise campaigns with snapshots so that people are easy to perceive and accept them.

 

Source:

  1. The photograph work from the website of the MET:

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/37.14.53/

  1. The news photograph from gettyimages:

http://www.gettyimages.com/album/a-look-back-at-a-very-special-friendship-bastian-schweinsteiger-writes-an–b7wfpE8o8UeeJy-ashFHvA#germanys-midfielder-bastian-schweinsteiger-and-teammate-forward-lukas-picture-id452111168

  1. The photo from Yingxin’s phone
  2. Lister, Martin, ed. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2013.
  3. Wells, Liz, ed. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Excerpts.
  4. Gordon Baldwin and Martin Jurgens. Looking at Photographs: A Guide to Technical Terms, Revised Edition. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009.
  5. Alan Buckingham, Photography. New York: DK, 2004. Excerpts.
  6. Martin Irvine, Introduction to Photography and the Optical Image. Communication and Technology Program, Georgetown University.

Landscapes Over Time // CC

I did not know how to start this so I googled photography quotes, here is one of them:

“Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.”
Anonymous

For the post this week I utilized two of the websites you provided and a photo I took myself. I did not just choose three random photos to talk about, I wanted a common denominator that gave them each a context for comparing. Even though they are of different places, all three of the photos are landscapes. I decided on landscapes for two reasons: 1- I think landscape photos are interesting because nature is not known to change in an instant, these places will look the same for many years to come. 2- Because this change is not common, I feel like it will be easier to focus on the differences of the photographs over time.

screen-shot-2017-03-27-at-11-42-23-pm

Devil’s Canyon, Geysers, Looking Down (1868-70) Carleton E. Watkins

The first photo is fairly dark, and what is actually steam in the photo somewhat resembles a glare at first glance. According to the Met’s website, the photo was cited in a Hand-book of the Pacific Coast. The process that must have occurred if this photo was to be in a book would have been much longer than what we would go through today. This photo is a literal glimpse of the Devil’s Canyon from sometime between 1868-70. The light shown in the picture was the same light that was captured by the shutter and reflected on a piece of glass inside of the camera to create an image (plus a few more steps). The point is that this photo is a physical copy of that time- minus the color. This leads me to my next photo…

Villefranche-sur-Saône (1984) Raymond Depardon

Villefranche-sur-Saône (1984) Raymond Depardon

When looking for my second photo, I wanted to find something that still had to be developed. Like the photo above, the light shown in this photo is also the light that was captured in the shutter and used to create an image onto a piece of film. Unlike the photo above, this photograph is on color. Also the development process was a bit quicker and multiple copies were possible, but the editing process (if there was one) was not quick at all. For the context, this photo is one in a series of photos taken by Depardon showing what life is like in rural France. The photograph was specifically taken with artistic support.

The view from my parents house (last sunday) Me

The view from my parents house (last sunday) Me

This last photo is also a landscape. What makes it different (besides location) is the fact that this photo is digital. There was no shutter capturing the light when I took this photo on my iPhone 6 the other day. This photograph is made up of pixels. This enables me to send it to my parents via text message instantly, throw a filter over it and post it on social media, or photoshop something ironic in the background. I am able to make infinite copies of this photo and this photo can exist on multiple interfaces almost instantly.

Version 3 Version 4Version 2

Looking at the difference between the first photo and the last photo shows a drastic difference. One is created through a chemical process and the other is created through a program. Photography has always been important to art & culture. I find that looking at how it has developed over time this week was very interesting and I am looking forward to seeing what everyone has to share in class.

 

*Links to photograph’s webpages are embedded onto photo.