Sunday, 18 September 2011

Planning for Assignment Five

You may already have heard of the Egremont Crab Fair or if not, I'm sure you'll have heard about or seen pictures of the gurners.  Well, I am intrigued, this seems to be no ordinary country fair. The first one was held in is one of the World's oldest fairs and has a number of very ancient events too such as the 'greasy pole' climb and the parade of the crab apple cart. But probably its most famous event is the World Gurning Championships. The fair and its unusual events sound beautifully eccentric to me, in a very quirky British way. So I have asked permission to photograph the gurners.

I'm hoping not to tempt providence here, but the plan is this, I would like to take a black and white portrait of each gurner, gurning and another of each gurner, not gurning, preferably head-on with eye-contact, although I'm not sure how feasible this will be. I have seen images by Jane Bown and this image by John Angerson that I particularly like. The event goes on well in to the night so light conditions will be extremely challenging and I know my camera is deficient in such conditions.  However, I do have a couple of relatively fast lenses and I do have an excellent speedlight flash which I have complete confidence in.  So there you have takes place in just under a in the meantime I've time to practice shooting in low-light conditions. My attention will turn to finalising the assessment stuff such as tweaking my critical review which I should have done months ago, fine tuning my images for assessment and forging forward with the portfolio. I will write a separate post on the portfolio soon. An essential element of assignment five (which incidently is to create a photo-essay) is the planning. The idea is this:


Location: Egremont Crab Fair
Date: 17 September 2011
Event: World Gurning Championship
Permissions: no unauthorised photography. Have written and been given authorisation 
Concept: a series of straight faced competitors and a series of gurning competitors
Aesthetic: to be black and white, and ideally I would like to go for low key, wanting to avoid distractions behind or different colour lights. See my practice shot below (my husband will not thank me for this!!). I think mono will draw out the lines, tensions and features of the faces when gurning. This was taken with flash -2/3, shutter speed 1/2000 and F3.  I really do not want these images to be blurred.

Concerns: I have no control or idea what the lighting will be like.  It is indoors and I suspect relatively dark. But I am anxious about this. To get a low key image may therefore be impossible. However I would like ideally to make an A2 poster with all the gurners, a bit like the one below. Again, sorry hubby!!

And then a similar poster with the faces straight. Again, whilst I have been given permission, I'm not sure whether it will be feasible getting the straight faced photos. I suspect I'll be photographing what happens rather than staged portraits. So will have to play this one by year.


  1. Wow - sounds a fascinating project. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this comes out.

    With redards to the use of flash in challanging situations, there is lots of useful advcie on this blog. I have found Neil's advice, and the 'black foamie thing' (- look for it on the site £1 from craft shops) invaluable on many occasions. For your kind of project I think Neil's blog more useful than Strobist because he writes so much about using a single on-camera flash and how to make that look natural and not unpleasant. I am sure you don't need much advice - the picture above looks great - but I do find this site a great resource generally.

    Best of luck!

  2. Thank you Eileen. I had checked out Strobist but Neil's blog is new to me. The evening was one of most extraordinary nights I've ever been involved with - very funny!! Will upload some stuff shortly.