Research - Interms of what and where you photograph

Discussion in 'Talk About Anything Photography Related' started by Ian Grant, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    In a separate thread (here) we touched upon researching in terms of pre-planning where and what we photograph.

    How we go about this will vary enormously but with the advent of Google Earth/Google Maps and street view we have quite powerful tools (as mentioned by Alan in the other thread).

    Because I shoot Industrial (Archaeology) landscapes I'll usually read books on an area's history, use first or early Edition 1" to the mile and 2½" to the mile maps of the area, modern OS maps as well as some in between (usually pre-WWII), and often much older maps in addition. For one large body of work in the Black country I compiled all the information into a large Vector map image file (using CorelDraw) and I can turn on and off various layers building up a pattern of how the area evolved. This wasn't the original plan but became key to my work when studying Industrial Archaeology at Birmingham University).

    I started by just marking areas on enlarged copies of various maps with highlight markers, cross referencing to an A-Z and modern OS map. The Vector map is really just and extension of that for more academic research.

    It would be interesting to hear how others work.

    Ian
     
  2. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Ian, I meant no disrespect by my flippant comment in the other thread. It sounds to me like your work is technical and, can I say, documentary in nature. I'm sure this style of photography requires significant research.

    Mine, on the other hand, is simply what I observe in the areas either near or fairly close to where I live. Tools like Google Earth, Google maps (street view), etc, allow me to see an area without having to actually go there; saves a lot of time and expense! iPhone apps enable me to determine the path of the sun at various times of the day. Again, saves time. Is all this necessary? Of course not, but years ago I spent quite a bit of time just wandering around and not being productive. Not that that's a bad thing! :)
     
  3. YorkshireBloke

    YorkshireBloke Member Registered User

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    Hi,

    My potential technique (as I haven't got off my arse yet :rolleyes:) is to use software tools to work out the angle of the sun for landscapes and only shoot what "says" summat that I believe in.

    The images I admire most are more than beautiful: they are meaningful. Wether very meaningful or meaningful to a wide audience is a matter for debate but aiming for meaning is vital TO ME.

    That may well sound pretentious: I hope my eventual images will vindicate what I mean. :confused:

    For what it is worth I think many of the images on this and other forums DO "reach towards meaning". Linking the disused industrial buildings to the landscape as Ian's images do, and making an emotional response is really valid I feel.

    20 such images might deplete my appreciation, a bit like loving the singles off an album but not getting the other songs?! :D

    Robert
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I didn't think your comment was flippant, how can I as I use Google Earth myself these days :D

    You raise a point about when work becomes "Documentary", it's something I discussed with friends over 20 years ago. One thought my works was, the others didn't and I don't. It's a fuzzy line but we don't think of Fay Godwin, John Davies, Jem Southam etc as being documentary photographers even though their work is project (exhibition/publication) based documenting aspects of our landscape. To me documentary work has quite a tight adherence to the chosen subject matter, it's telling a story with images, but good documentary photography can also be art, Don McCullin is perhaps one of the best examples.

    Back in the 1990's I saw a large retrospective of Don McCullin's work at the RPS's Octagon gallery in Bath (long gone) and remember on my second look around over-hearing two obviously "Club photographers" discussing his composition of quite a harrowing shot, They'd entirely missed the point that the message in the image was in this case far more important than composition, I can't remember the exact image but it was of quite a horrific scene, and no wonder he called his book "Sleeping with Ghosts".

    Ian
     
  5. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    There used to be a debate about the difference between reportage and documentary photography, conducted as though it mattered. One of them tended to show the black edges of the frame in their prints, but I'm blowed if I can remember which.
    A conversation about Mr McCullin's composition might seem heartless (and had I been there, I might have thought the same about the clubbers) but his ability to compose an image under intense, even unimaginable pressure is one of the things that makes his work so extraordinary. I recall a snippet of his account of lying in a ditch under heavy gunfire, and being careful to get out the Weston.
    I can also recall visiting a different exhibition where some of his images were very large and wondering how they had managed to produce such sharp, grain-free prints from 35mm negatives. Missing the real point again, of course.
     

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