Friday, 18 May 2012

One concept, two outcomes

So this is a sort of experiment.  In the previous post there was an interesting discussion about the use of digital manipulation and the use of composites in photography (thanks to all for your interest). Following on from this, I have decided to rework one the images I submitted for Assignment One, as part of the Domestic Sublime series. You really need to view them large which you can do by clicking on the image I think. It is the same concept in both images but different execution. The first image is the reworked image using composites and digital manipulation, and the second is a 'performative' image taken with a large format camera, as per submission for assignment one for Landscape.

Image 1: reworked image
Image 2: original submission for assignment 1

As I have only just finished putting the top one together I will probably need to leave it for a few days to consider its merits. I will also not elaborate on the concept either for now or my preferences. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed having a go at this, even though it took hours and hours, and my eyes are raw from dryness...I must forget to blink when I'm concentrating!!

Anyway, I will come back to this soon and welcome your views in the meantime.  


  1. I always find I end up with severe tensions in my shoulders and arms when doing serious manipulation. Got to learn to relax into it.

    I think there are some technical issues with the reworked image - the scale doesn't seem right in the children behind the first one - I think they all need to be smaller. The front child may be a bit too large in relation to the tree also, but I'm lesssure about that. I can see how the manipulation lets you develop your ideas more - the seat belts and those chairs (not sure whether they are children's car seats or game seats - but maybe the possibility that they could be either adds to the narrative). To me this revisited picture asks questions about how we care for our children, and whether we over-protect them and so restrict their ability to explore and take risks.

    The first picture I find more ambiguous and personally I prefer it, partly because it leaves a little more to the imagination, and partly because it has quite a different sense of space and atmosphere. I wonder if the manipulation/non-manipulation debate has to be either/or - perhaps you could have some images which were wholly or mostly unmanipulated and some with greater or lesser degrees of manipulation, as necessary to develop your ideas?

  2. Its funny because the first image is closer to my intentions by a long stretch, but perhaps there is less room for narrative for the feels more 'graphic designeree' than photography perhaps. With regards the either or manipulation or not, I think I would struggle doing half way house...I either want to go down that route the whole hog, or find an alternative route. It has also got me thinking about my ideas in general and how best to present them and which routes would be best suited. By that I mean we are all studying photography, but why photography and how much can we mix the different types of art and then which formats we use. But anyway, back to this...I like both images for different reasons and can't make up my mind yet. Thanks Eileen.

  3. Interesting whaqt you say about the top picture being much closer to your intentions - I do recall when the first set were posted that the bottom of the two above (this is getting very confusing - may have to give them names ; -)) seemed somewhat different from the rest of the set - more ambiguous and with fewer narrative clues. So I can see what you mean.

    It is difficult when you are groping towards something you can't quite see - I feel like that with some of the pictures I have been taking recently also. I hope to share some of those soonish. Best of luck with this work Penny - it really is a very interesting project.

  4. ...'interesting' it may have been once, perhaps...I've totally lost sight of it now or why I'm bothering. Think I need to lay it fallow for a while...frustrated having not arrived at a point where I feel satisfied to progress with it. Think I need to stop thinking, start with a blank sheet and empty mind and see if I arrive back here or not. Anyway, I look forward to seeing your forthcoming images Eileen.

  5. One concept , two outcomes is exactly how I see this Penny! The first image is "denser" (for me), it proposes greater possibilities for narrative interpretation - there is a lot going on, but ultimately doesn’t deliver, and this is very likely to be my lack of a sufficient visual vocabulary. However, I can't seem to find a central axis to the image to pin anything to it; for me there are too many points to it, and therefore, whilst I seem to feel/want a greater narrative possibility the imperative I feel to satisfy that need detracts me. It certainly works bigger (they both do, but for different reasons) - and maybe an even bigger print of it would help it further - I suspect you worked on it on a 23+" screen? The second image is at first more naturalistic, no concerns over light values or exposure levels here. Whilst I searched for an explanation in the first image because I felt there needed to be one, due to it's (for me) complexity; the second image didn't appear to demand it of me. Rather I was content to explore the image in a much more relaxed way. The composition is clearly constructed - as is the first - but the Liverpool supporter (what great taste!) whose engagement with the viewer is sufficient to draw me in and examine the image as a whole. The second image's ambiguity is clearer – forgive this non-sequitur – and all the more satisfying because of it.
    They both have a great deal of potential for me, but I have a propensity for the carefully constructed/staged image which draws me to the second of the two outcomes.

  6. Thank you John for the detailed response. The concept is indeed 'busy' and I chose to rework this one as I thought this 'business' would best highlight the differences in the two approaches. But the final images are too busy, too cluttered and too complex, so the second image as you say is far 'easier' and more relaxed on the eye than the first. It is also more ambiguous and in my mind didn't succeed in communicating my concept. I'm sure your visual language vocab is fine John...if it doesn't deliver, I haven't made myself clear.

    But this does beg the question about how important is it that my intention comes across. Or is ambiguous okay? Do our images need to be explanatory and has the image failed if it is intepretated entirely differently? Or does it not matter if people make their own intepretation? Or is it most important to communicate what you want to say in the way you want and be damned with how it is received. Again, I'll go away and have a think about this.

    I think the danger with composites is perhaps 'over-controlling' the elements to the point at which they look contrived. The art must be to 'return' it to how nature intended without the viewer knowing. But I'm still not convinced you can.

    Yes, it was a 27" screen.

  7. Apropos your second paragraph. I think ambiguity is absolutely fine, however the complexity of the ambiguity needs to be in terms of the concept of the image rather than the component parts. In the first image, the range of question marks - potential punctuation points in the image - were for me too many. The second image relied on significantly fewer which is why I felt it was more compelling.
    In a general sense I suppose the trick is to generate a series where the general direction of the ambiguity, as depicted in the images, directs the narrative or maybe leads the viewer to a place. And therefore, it is knowing the place that you want the viewer to be led to, as you start to construct the series; and that is something that I think you have in your head with the "Domestic Sublime" series, if I'm not mistaken? Having the destination is probably more than half way to achieving the goal I would have thought. Stick with it, don't push it and I'm sure it will come of it's own accord.

  8. Thanks John...the more I think I understand, the more I feel at sea...I grasp the land and realise its a sod of loose know what I mean... Will consider what you say further. Cheers.