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C&N Part 1: The photograph as document

Page 3b - Exercise 1.2

Back - Fuji Fuss

Preamble - Project 1, Eyewitness - Exc. 1 - Project 2, Photojournalism - Project 3, Reportage - Exc. 2 - Project 4, The gallery wall – documentary as art - Exc. 3 - Project 5, The manipulated image - Exc. 4 - Exc. 5 - Upsum

C-B and surrealism - irony - Late photography - McMurdo - Meyerowitz - objectivity in citizen journalism - Pickering - Rosler - Sanguinetti - Seawright - street photography

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Exercise 1.2

Find a street that particularly interests you – it may be local or further afield. Shoot 30 colour images and 30 black and white images in a street photography style.
In your learning log, comment on the differences between the two formats.
What difference does colour make? Which set do you prefer and why? [2] OCA, Photography 2: Context and Narrative, p. 33

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[31Dec19 14:43] I shot this exercise today. I have a few points to make before I look and the results (that is literal: I have not yet looked at the output).

1. I was in danger of overthinking the exercise. If it been an assignment, I would have had several runs at at — I had in mind (i) my local High Street, (ii) King's Road and (iii) Camden. Before 10 o'clock this morning, I had no intention of working on this today, but I needed to go shopping, realised that I should be making progress and took my camera.

2. I think the exercise, as stated is strangely conceived. It is only possible to "Shoot 30 colour images and 30 black and white images" if one is using a mirrorless camera with EVY and a monochrome setting, otherwise the viewfinder or backscreen image is in colour. (Well, that's the case with my kit, anyway - maybe other cameras differ.) Perhaps it means "with a black and white mindset". I used an XT2 set to Acros simulation, taking Raw and Fine JPG and intend to choose 30 images then compare the same 30 images in colour and note my evaluation of the last part of the question.

3. My methods are not well suited to street photography. When I see a subject to photograph, I stop, do something with my walking stick (lean it or dangle it) take up the camera and take the shot. A Peak Design camera clip on my bag strap speeds the process, but it is not slick and it is not unobtrusive. This is why I am better suited to contemplative architectural shots than impulsive, elusive shots.

These were my thoughts before going out this morning. I learned another later.

31 Dec 19
Box A
Reluctant subject,
31 Dec 19

I disapprove of street photography. It is furtive and patronising and tends to be condescending in effect even if not so in intention (which brings us back to Emily Thornberry in Rochester).
People turn away if they do not want to be snapped and, importantly, I believe it is their right not to be photographed if they so choose, so irrespective of my obtrusive technique, people should not be photographed surreptitiously. There are, of course, exceptions to this and I'm sure that they will be explored elsewhere in the course or in a subsequent one.
One of the first individuals I photographed this morning was an oldish chap on a bench. I tried a few shots unnoticed, then thought better of it: we had a chat about cameras (he was particularly interested in cine film cameras and happened to be sitting near the site of what was once a camera shop that we had both used.) At the end, I asked for his permission, took a couple of photographs and showed him the results. But that is not (to me) street photography, it is an outdoors portrait. By contrast there should be an image of a lady smoking outside Boots [confirmed, now fig. A1]. She saw the camera and turned away - that is when the intrusive nature of street photography, until then an impression, became real to me.

[6Jan20] It would appear that I am beginning to agree with Susan Sontag more often than when I started the course. Sontag is quoted (p.14 of On Photography) by Olivier Richton his essay Thinking Things, published in Where is the Photograph [21, p.75],

to photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed Sontag, quoted in Where is the Photograph [21, p.75]

I would not say that is always the case, or even mostly the case, but it may often be the case with street photography.

[6Feb20] I was interested and gratified to learn of Fuji's travails with the promo-videos for the launch of the X100V. One shows the intrusive approach of Tatsuo Suzuki and public reaction has resulted in Fuji withdrawing the video. Petapixel reports [i] ,
Fujifilm found itself in the middle of a heated debate about ethics and street photography yesterday, when one of the promo videos it released for the Fuji X100V sparked outrage among a certain segment of the company’s fans on YouTube. The video has since been taken down…
Some styles of street photography—most notably Bruce Gilden’s highly-aggressive style, which makes [Suzuki's] seem tame—have always been contentious. But as cameras become more widespread, social media ubiquitous, and privacy concerns more intense, people’s reactions to this kind of photography have only become more severe. Petapixel [i]

Here are the black and white images, 30 selected from 81 taken.

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Box B
C&N Part 1 Exercise 2,
30 black and white images,
Eltham High Street, 31st December 2019

And now in colour.

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Box C
C&N Part 1 Exercise 2,
the same images in colour,
Eltham High Street, 31st December 2019

Turning now to the last of the questions posed, 'What difference does colour make? Which set do you prefer and why?', this has already been touched on in the course, where it was noted that this writer is of an age to regard black and white news photography as normal. A B&W image needs to be intrinsically more interesting to catch and hold the viewers' attention than one in colour. This 'interest' can be one or more of subject, composition or treatment and, of course, also depends on the individual viewer's personal response to those stimuli.

In my view, many of the images taken for this exercise work just as well in colour as in B&W.
The padlocks (B1, C1) benefit from addition rust detail in colour.
Kenny's Pop-In (B7, C7) needs the additional interest of colour both on the shopfront and the joggers.
The postman's trolley (B15, C15) and the tomatoes (B25, C25) benefit from colour, though I prefer the asparagus (B26, C26) in B&W.
The shop contents (17, 19 & 21) need colour.
On the other hand, the shots featuring individuals (4, 11, 20, 23, 27 and 30) on the whole, I prefer in B&W, though not 13, simply for the vehicles' brake light.
For the remainder, it was such a dull day with a uniformly grey sky that there's not a great deal of difference.

This is, of course, entirely subjective.

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C&N Pt.1 Exc.2
Contact Sheets, 31 Dec 19

Exercise 2 - Local References

(i) Cade, D.L. (2020) Fujifilm Pulls X100V Promo Video After Backlash Over Photog’s Shooting Style [online]. Available from [Accessed 6 February 2020].

(rn) author (year) title [online]. website. Available from url [Accessed nn January 2020].

Page created 08-Nov-2019 | Page updated 19-Nov-2020