Project Journal 25/08/10

We are a little low on numbers today, but this actually works  in our favour initially the group was going to split in two and each half would have worked on a separate project, instead we work as one and everyone gets more time with the tutor to ask questions and get help.

Task 1 – Time to get Technical

We start the day with a quick recap of yesterdays work and then get knee-deep in technique. Mark helps the group get to grips with Aperture and Shutter Speed with that aid of this little gem of a diagram.

A simple diagram to help understand two quite complicated parts of photography

Once we break down the jargon and get cameras in our hands everything starts to make much more sense and we set about catching moving objects, playing with depth of field and seeing how we can use focus to get many different effects. Check out the gallery.

These techniques are extremely difficult to get right and it is quite clear that it’s frustrating a couple of people who can’t quite get the shots they want but with perseverance and a little bit of help from the other group members everyone starts to get the hang of things. What is really great to see is the group  are not just learning from Mark but from each other, everyone is willing to give someone a hand or run them through the techniques. Great team work makes for a great project, well done guys.

Task 2 – Our first public shoot

We take a trip down to a local community  garden, The Calthorpe Project, where they run session in the summer holidays for young people and adults alike. They kindly agreed to let us take some shots of some of their users, as it’s the summer holidays its always difficult to predict just how many people would be at the centre but we figured its worth a shot.  It’s a grey miserable day and so numbers are a little on the low side at the project as well. However, they do have a lovely mother and baby group who are kind enough to let us take some shots of the little ones walking, talking, crawling and getting covered in paint. Here are a set of pictures that the group selected  as their favourites.

A massive, massive thank you to Nicky and Teresa for letting us come down and use the centre its great to see the community spirit and organisations helping each other out is alive and well. And a massive ‘thank you’ to all those beautiful babies and toddlers and their wonderful mothers and carers for providing such lovely models, pictures are on their way to you.

Task 3 – Know your enemy – Photoshop

As a professional photographer Mark is very quick to point out that not all Photoshop/airbrushing has to be seen as negative. If you want to lighten a picture or reduce the exposure these are great tools to do that, just like if you want to add a graphic or heighten special effects. The software that performs these tasks is often seen as the bad guy but it goes beyond that, it’s the people who use the tools and distort our ideas of reality that are at fault.

This is a perfect example of what we are talking about. One the left is the UK poster for 2004’s  King Arthur, on the right is the US poster. As you can see there are some massive differences.

Firstly the colour is much brighter and pops more in the US poster, it’s more dramatic and eye-catching. Which isn’t such a bad thing!

However, the enhancement of her chest  from an A to C cup is completely unnecessary which has made this example one of the leading images in the battle against airbrushing.

We get into a very deep conversation around airbrushing and it appears the room is completely divided on some issues;

“I buy these magazines because I like the glossy images, they can be really beautiful.”

“I thinks changing colours etc is fine but stretching people necks and giving them massive boobs is mental, it makes everyone look completely fake.”

“People who look like real people like you and me are much more beautiful, people in magazines has no flaws, imperfection, the things that make us unique and special.”

But on other issues they are united;

“If it goes too far and affects people health then its wrong!”

“If they are going to do it [airbrushing] they have to make sure it’s clearly marked that we will never achieve that look/style.”

Mark focuses the group back on track and we have a little experiment with Photoshop techniques that can reduce exposure, add a little light to dark shots, change the colour to black and white and adding a couple of effects.

There is an unsaid agreement that these are the only tools we will use and that any other touch ups are out.

Task 4 – Lets talk about our bodies

When we come back after lunch we spend a few minutes just discussing exactly what we want to take pictures of for the exhibition and the mosaic.  We discuss that the project has to expose four key areas of discussion;


that young people have about their body image so we set about finding key questions we can ask to other young people to reflect these key areas. These are the questions generated by the group.

  1. Can you show me how you feel about your body?
  2. What is your favourite pat of your body and why?
  3. What is the bit of your body you like the least and why?
  4. If you would change one part of your body what would you change and why?

They also agree that they need to take a head shot and a long body shot of each person they interview.

With questions set the group now move on to their first interviews and shoot of people related directly to the main subject matter of the project. Using all the skills they have gained over the last few days to create interesting and dynamic pictures.

With very little time on our hand to find models we pounce on the One KX staff team to help us out, all of which said NO!! – You know who you are!!

Luckily for us the Youth Provision Volunteers in the building have no worries in giving us a helping hand. That doesn’t mean they are any less nervous about having their pictures taken so we put them at ease very quickly and begin  shooting.

Here are some of the shots we took during this session.

Being completely honest the afternoon is a little rushed and running around trying to grab models didn’t help the situation, it all feels a little less thought out that some of the other tasks. This is a reflected a little in the work produced, a calm learning environment really does make a different.

“The afternoon felt a little hectic and I thought especially when they were taking pictures for the project people were not taking the considered pictures that they had been taking in other exercises. They got some good shots all the same but just snapping away leaves that down to luck sometimes. All the group have got a real grasp on using a camera and are producing good work I want that to carry all the way through.” – Mark Sherratt

A tip for the group from Mark:

“Guys please take your time, its good to get a number of shots to choose from but consider each shot. Check your framing and composition first and foremost then use your others skills.”  – Mark Sherratt

Every day is a school day and today we learnt loads both students and facilitators. I have made sure that we will get that calm environment back to help learning and  make sure we all slow down a little and get things just right.

This entry was posted in Aperture, Final Exhibition, Mark Sherratt, Photographic Techniques, Project Journal, Shutter Speed and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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