Final Major Project Evaluation

As this part of the course draws to a close, I thought it would be good to reflect on my Final Major project as a whole.

The purpose of this subject was to show that we can, individually research and define a creative project, plan it and complete it in good time. We were then to work together as a team to host an exhibition of our final work.

Initially I found it quite difficult to define the project that I wanted to work on and then when my tutor was off work and unwell for a few weeks I was hesitant to move forward until I had received an ‘ok’. After that though I felt like I got really stuck into it. As always, I loved the taking photos part and struggled to keep on top of the theory. I really enjoy reading and writing but given the option of reading or taking photos, taking photos will get my vote every time.

Being disciplined about the theory was actually a valuable lesson for me to learn. Researching other photographers and reading about other theories will help me to define and plan future projects.

I was able to plan my project and even though I didn’t tick things off and check it as regularly as I might have done, I stuck to it fairly well. I was finished in good time and felt un-pressured leading up to the final exhibition and the final hand-in.

Not everything went according to plan. I did have a few issues with the weather but as I built extra time into my project plan it didn’t matter too much. I had planned to take the landscape images on film and I did take a few, and I don’t really remember making the decision to not use film, I think I just saw the quality of the digital panoramas and the project evolved naturally in a digital direction. I had to re-do ‘Boat Building’ as I had taken it from a slightly wrong angle but that was simply an inconvenience and not a problem.

Working with the rest of the class to host an exhibition was a much harder task than completing the project itself. There were a few of us that were keen to make it the best exhibition that we could and a few that were less enthusiastic and didn’t come to many of the classes. It was difficult making decisions that everyone was happy with and as everyone was a bit strapped for cash and no one really wanted to do any fundraising there was a lot of compromising that we needed to do.

This year I had set aside £300 as a budget for the final show and I was able to stick to this – just. My photos were twice the size of everyone else’s and cost more than double that of everyone else, coming it at a whopping £250 for three double A0 sized prints. This allowed me enough room to pay for name stickers and to cover the costs of delivery, proofs and postcards for everyone on the understanding that they would pay me back their share (to date, only half have done that).

I think it worked out ok in the end. Some did more work to the exhibition preparation than others but I think the final show looked very good, everyone’s images worked well together and those that have been to see it have been very positive about it. I may even say that it has been successful!

There are only a couple of things that I think could have been done better. An allocated classroom should be a minimum requirement for any class but a mix up early in the year meant that there were several weeks that we would arrive and not know where the class was being held and then when we were finally allocated a classroom, without a large screen, other students were coming and going, often noisily, to use the computers in the room. It was ok in the end but it wasn’t ideal. Personally, looking back, I am disappointed that I didn’t do more research, as I was reading I kept going off at tangents and there are so many more areas I could have covered and it would have been good to cover more Constable locations, pressure of work and other activities are the only excuses I can give for not doing more.

 

 

 

Through doing this project I have learned a lot that I didn’t know about John Constable and the practicalities of shooting landscapes and panoramas in particular. I have discovered new photographers that I hadn’t heard of before and I have also grown in confidence. I have applied for an arts grant using knowledge gained in this module to help me define and plan the project I want to do.

I have also learned how to do a few more things with Photoshop. I was disappointed last year that we hadn’t learned any Photoshop techniques so this year I spent just a couple of hours with Nathan who taught me how to do the tasks that I needed to do in order to complete this project. In doing this I have learned Photoshop principles that has enabled me to go on and learn other actions that I didn’t previously know about.

Big thanks must go to my tutor Andy Gillatt and to Nathan Pidd who have both guided and encouraged me through the course so far.

I don’t think this is the end of my Constable project. I have enjoyed it very much and  I plan to follow this exhibition with more Constable locations and to create a tourist map/leaflet or perhaps even a mobile phone app that can be used around Flatford to show people the painting locations, then and now. I plan to continue adding to my blog after my coursework has been marked so I will be able to show followers how I get on with this.

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Exhibition Reflection

I am very pleased with the way that the exhibition began. With our display being in the reception area of the college and because we wanted a large open space for people to walk around the team overseeing the HSAD degree show agreed to use it for staging the opening speeches. It did mean that when we arrived, the television screen and our table had both been moved so that a small stage to be erected but we had a quick shuffle about and put them where we were happy with them. We also removed all the tables and chairs from the common areas so that people had the necessary viewing distance needed to get the best view of our images. I was disappointed to see that one of the group had brought in their own table and moved their postcards and pen portrait away from everyone else’s and put them by their own work, this wasn’t what we had a agreed as a group and simply highlighted that they were doing their own thing. We decided to leave it and not cause a fuss at this stage, finally adding a vase of flowers to the table that held our own postcards. Then we were ready.

People were looking around our photographs while they were waiting for the show to open and I could already hear some positive comments.

The show was opened by Douglas Dunn, a poet that studied at Hull University and wrote a book of poems about Terry Street, the street that he lived on while he was here. He is now a professor at St Andrews University in Scotland. He spoke some very encouraging words and then an actor read a couple of his poems before visitors were encouraged to visit some of the other exhibition areas.

I hung around the photography area for about an hour, talking to some of the people that we had invited and generally chatting with visitors. I received some great comments about the exhibition in general with many saying that they hadn’t seen such a strong collection of images at a degree show in a long time and that the large sized prints really showed the photos off at their best quality. A few people had written in our guest book and their comments were also very positive.

Personally, all the comments I received were very encouraging and supportive. People were saying how great my photos looked on the wall and remarking at the detail in them. I did think that maybe a copy of the original painting nearby would have given the photos more context so that they would have required less explanation but perhaps I will do that if I exhibit them again anywhere. I also wondered if I should have had the explanation about my own work next to my photos but in the end I agreed with our decision to not do that and to let people see the work, make their own mind up about it and then come back to it if they wanted to.

I had brought some family along to see the show, including my brother, a tour guide for the National Trust who volunteers around Flatford and encouraged me throughout the course. He was very taken, particularly with The Hay Wain and has offered to purchase it. I think a loan may be better with a promise to return it to me for short periods if I arrange to exhibit it in other places.

I was very pleased to see Roland Gift, singer with the Fine Young Cannibals walking through the degree show even if no one else on the course was old enough to know who he was! One of the group had invited Peter Levy, presenter and reporter at Look North to see the show and he seemed to be pleased to call in after his broadcast.

Before people began to slope off there was time for a few quick photographs of most of the group together for almost the last time.

I had hoped to pop in and see the Year 2 exhibition and another exhibition that launched at the HIP Gallery but I was talking with people so much that I didn’t have time. I went instead to meet up with some family for a celebratory supper feeling quite pleased with myself!

Later on Facebook, I received another string of positive and encouraging comments from people who had not been able to attend the launch event. My work was also among some that caught the eye of one Twitter journalist. I feel quite proud of what I have achieved.

 

 

 

Final Major Project Reflection 21

We were planning to meet up and check on the exhibition photos on Tuesday but a job interview meant that I couldn’t make it. It was just as well because by the end of the day the batons for my images were still not ready. I understand that the wall panels we are going to be using for the exhibition were filled, sanded and touched up with emulsion but that is all that was able to be done at the time.

I offered to go in on Wednesday instead but thankfully my tutor offered to quickly glue the batons on my prints in order to save me a journey over to Hull. I replied with a swift ‘whoo hoo’ when I received a message to say that they were done and drying. I instead spent the day catching up on this blog and proofing some of the pen portraits that the group had written about themselves for display at the exhibition.

This is the group information that Anete and I wrote between us. “BA (Hons) Photography is a three year journey for students of Hull School of Art & Design to learn all aspects of photography, develop their skills using a wide range of equipment and facilities, and seize the opportunity to work with potential clients, demonstrating their talent to businesses in Yorkshire and beyond. The group has worked collaboratively, taking up work opportunities offered through the college and some created by themselves including working with Hull Kingston Rovers, Alan Johnson MP, VVVintage clothing shops, Beverley Races Season Opening, Garthwest, Freedom Festival and others. During the third year seven students have worked towards this Final Major Project, taking up a variety of projects that interest them and develops skills they began to learn in earlier years of the course. They group members have worked together as a team to host this final exhibition and they hope you will take away a Lasting Impression of their photographs.”

And this was the information I wrote about myself “I am a student studying BA (Hons) Photography at Hull School of Art & Design. I have an interest in many different types of photography but particularly travel documentary and wedding photography. Throughout the course I have taken every opportunity to gain hands on photography experience and have particularly enjoyed working with KCFM, Hull Kingston Rovers and Garthwest. For my final major project I have explored the works of John Constable and compared his beloved Essex countryside then and now. I have used panoramas, each containing at least 20 digital photographs stitched together, to give Constable’s original and most famous paintings context. In the future I plan to create further Constable panoramas as a personal project.”

Unfortunately a little later on Wednesday I received a phone call to say that my prints were too wide for the space allocated. I wasn’t sure what to make of that as I am sure we had measured properly. I offered to go in on Thursday and spent the evening with lots of things going through my mind about what could have happened and what might have gone wrong.

On Thursday the panic was over. I arrived at college, chatted the situation through with my tutor and we agreed that although it was tight there was just enough room and the images would still look good. Several of the images were up already and looking really good, making me more excited about the show.

To hang the prints I measured 41.5cm down from the top of the wall panels so that the batons would align up with all of the other batons on the other prints in the room. There was a slight problem with this as some of the wall panels were a slightly different height to others. We also didn’t have access to a spirit level when we started as other people around the college were using them all and we couldn’t rely on using the baton to create a straight line as it was quite flexible along the length. In the end we measured, adjusted the batons using our eyes, secured it loosely while we hung the photo from it, then adjusted it where necessary before securing it properly.

Two of my prints are hung very close together. It is not ideal but I think it does give the space some impact. I have hung the prints in the order that you would walk around Flatford, beginning with The Haywain, moving on to Boat Building and over the bridge to the view of Flatford Mill.

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Anete, Erin and I were there with a couple of our lecturers and by the time we finished almost all of the prints were hung to perfection. We were still waiting for one print belonging to one group member who had chosen to have a last minute photograph printed. It still wasn’t there by the time we left and with 24 hours for the glue to dry on the batons she was leaving it very late indeed. Unfortunately we were unable to hang her other prints for her in case this print didn’t arrive for whatever reason and she would have been left with a gap on the wall.

The postcards had arrived on Wednesday and while we were there on Thursday we were able to help set up a table and display them along with our written information about ourselves and our work. We also pulled out our guest book from the exhibition that we did last last year and set that on the table too.

Chatting to Erin and Anete, they are happy/sad about the exhibition. It marks the end of their three years at Hull School of Art and Design and a step out into the unknown. As I have studied part-time this year I will be back in September to complete my dissertation so it isn’t quite over for me and I can simply look forward to the degree show. We have talked about the graduation and I hope to be able to attend but of course I won’t be marking my graduation until next year when I hope that at least one or two of the class might come along to support me.

Talking of my dissertation, I have spoken to the tutor that will be supporting me through that piece of writing and have arranged to go and catch up with her later this month. We can go through my statement of intent again and see if it is still what I want to do and whether there is much that I can do before September.

For now though, I think I should just relax and get ready for tomorrow night!

Final Major Project Reflection 20

This week we have been getting ready for the exhibition. Most of the prints have arrived and we couldn’t wait to unwrap them and have a good look at them. I’m actually very pleased with the way mine have turned out. They are very large – the size of two A0 landscapes joined together and the clarity on them is very good. I think that Ditto 4 Design has done an excellent job with the printing.

 

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Made with 360 Panorama app for iPhone

When I arrived, the rest of the class were sitting together in the college reception area waiting, for I don’t know what. They had heard that the tutors were in a meeting

We started today by manoeuvring the prints from the college reception through to a large room where we could lay them all out. Once unwrapped and laid out and lots of mutual flattery and encouragement had been exchanged we began to measure out where the batons were to go. Laura and I did the marking and measuring, working on one print together across a large table while another couple made small etch marks in the back of the prints that would enable the glue to adhere better. Others helped to organise the prints and move them around, using white gloves, so that we could keep working on the table.

While this was going on, someone from the woodwork department was making some split wooden batons from MDF – a rectangle of wood, fitting just shy of the width of the image, that is cut along the length at an angle. One side is adhered to the print, the other side is secured to the wall forming a long ‘hook’ that the print can be dropped into. Another baton is secured at the bottom of the photograph to ensure that it hangs straight.

We again etched the side of the baton that goes against the print to help the adhesion then we used a wood glue to carefully secure the batons to the prints. We had to work quickly and carefully as we only had a few minutes to slide the baton into the perfect position before it dried. We then had to leave it, weighted down, a full 24 hours to fix permanently.

We finished most of the prints, only mine were left unfinished. The longer batons that I need will not be available until next week.

It was a good day and I think we all worked well together, which after all the back and forth that had previously happened on Facebook made a very nice change. Our tutor seemed to be really pleased with the way our final prints looked as a collection so that was encouraging too. I’m feeling quite excited about the exhibition now and look forward to seeing all the photographs hanging on the wall.

Self Promotion for Photographers Update

Since discovering Society 6 and writing about it in my previous post Self promotion for Photographers I have come across two other sites that I think compete very well.

Zazzle is a UK site  which means that ordered items can be purchased in pounds sterling and delivery times are much quicker. It has a huge range of products, much wider than Society 6 although some looked a bit tacky when I uploaded my photograph to them. It covers everything from t-shirts and cushions to usb sticks, guitar picks and headphones. On this site, you upload a photograph once but then have to load it onto each item you want to sell individually. It took me all evening to put my photograph on a range of products and by the end I was getting very bored, and being very selective about what I items I created.

These are a few of the items available on my Zazzle shop.

Redbubble is a similar website that is based in USA and in Australia. It has a good range of products that compares well with Society 6 but is not as diverse as Zazzle. What I like about this site is that you can upload an image once and it will automatically be placed on all items that it is suitable for. All you need to do after that is click through the items and ensure that the image is positioned perfectly. I uploaded a photograph and had a range of 41 products ready in less than an hour.

All three sites require photographers to promote their own products. The sites themselves draw a certain amount of traffic but there are so many artists on there that your items are easily lost. Although all sites allow you to link to your social media sites Redbubble is the only one that seems to provide html code that allows your online shop to be dropped into your own website.

I chose Redbubble to create a number of items that would compliment the images that I will be showing in my final exhibition. I will promote them on social media and see if anyone shows any interest in purchasing them!

 

Brief History of Panoramic Photograpy

The word panorama is attributed to Robert Barker (1739 – 1806) who coined the word from the Greek word ‘pan’ meaning all and ‘horama’ meaning view when describing his paintings of Scotland.

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Barker is said to have made a fortune showing a panorama of London as if painted from the roof of Albion Mills in a purpose build circular building in Leicester Square. It was more than three meters in length.

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Barker’s London panorama of 1792, from the top of the Albion Mills.

These panoramic paintings became incredibly popular for a time with panoramas displayed in many major cities. Notable artists include Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

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Long View of London from Bankside, a panorama of London by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1647.

and the Russian artist Franz Roubaud (1856-1928) who created great circular paintings or cycloramas of battles which were viewed from the inside.

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Panorama of Moscow battle in 1812 (or Battle of Borodino). Created y Russian painter Franz Roubaud in 1912. Panorama is installed in Moscow Poklonnaya Hill Museum. Only part of the panorama is shown in the image.

I understand that around 30 of these 19th Century panoramas can still be seen today. One of the oldest being Wocher Panorama of Thun in Switzerland.

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By Tobikuehn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
‘Moving panoramas’ were created by scrolling the painting in front of viewers.

Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) took panoramas to another level by developing the diorama theatre. Audiences would sit in a theatre to view a large painting created on several sheets of linen that was transparent in places, then as light was manipulated using mirrors and shutters the image would appear to change. After 10 or 15 minutes, the audience would rotate to view a second or even a third painting.

Daguerre went on to develop his well documented photographic technique and some of the earliest panoramic style photographs were created by placing two (or more) daguerreotype plates next to each other, carefully moving the camera after each exposure.

The image below is of Nashville, Tennessee created from two daguerreotype plates taken by George Barnard in 1864.

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1864 George Barnard albumen silver print; US Library of Congress

George Barnard is also known for taking panoramic landscapes for the Union Army during the Civil War. These would have been very useful for army officers making plans for their next attack but making the prints would have been very difficult as all plates were prepared, exposed and negatives developed in the field. Prints would have been made back in the studio where they would also be trimmed and mounted into a panoramic spread.

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View from the top of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. February 1864, George Barnard albumen silver print, US Library of Congress

Slightly earlier in the 1840, William Henry Fox Talbot was doing something similar with Calotype photographs.

The image below is taken at Talbot’s studio in Reading, west of London in 1844 and consists of two salt prints. I understand that is Talbot in the middle of the picture operating the large camera.

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Reproduced from the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television collection, by courtesy of the Science and Society Picture Library

Eadweard Muybridge created an impressive 13 photograph panorama of San Francisco in 1878. Each print is captured over four or five hours on wet collodion negatives. Each print was attached to a sheet of paper and all of the photos attached to one long sheet of fabric nearly 18′ long.

It is interesting to note that just 30 years before this photograph was taken San Francisco was a small town of no more than 1,000 people until James Wilson Marshall found gold in 1848.

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There were lots of problems with this collage technique of panoramas. Odd distortions can occur and people can appear more than once in the photograph or even appear with limbs missing.

The problem was that originally cameras had a narrow field of view, perhaps 25-40 degrees but later cameras began to be manufactured specifically for taking panoramic photographs These were either swing-lens cameras where the lens moved sideways while the film remained still, or 360 degree cameras where both the lens and the film moved around.

The earliest record of a panoramic camera is from a patent in Australia in 1843 for a hand crank-driven swing lens panoramic camera awarded to Joseph Puchberger, a chemist and Wenzel Prokesh, an optician. It still used daguerreotype plates but they were 19 – 24″ and the lens was able to cover a 150 degree arc.

Friederich von Martens (1809-1875) a German, living in France developed the Megaskope Camera in 1844. It was similar to that of Puchberger but used curved daguerreotype plates and later wet collodion emulsions on curved glass to help minimise distortion.

In 1857 a patent was given to an M. Garella in England for a rotating photographic instrument. Instead of just the lens moving, this camera pivoted through 360 degrees while inside, a sensitive plate moved in the opposite direction to the camera.

Several panoramic cameras followed in quick succession. Thomas Sutton invented this camera in 1858.

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And this was closely followed by Johnson and Harrison’s Pantoscopic Camera in 1862.

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Victor Albert Prout invented a panoramic camera in 1865 and we have previously mentioned Camille Silvy and the panoramic camera that he invented in 1867 to name just a few.

Silvy’s innovative design used a sensitive sheet that gradually unwound from a spool and passed through the camera. In 1881 a flexible celluloid photographic film invented by Hannibal Goodwin made this process even easier and in 1884 when George Eastman’s roll film became commercially available swiftly followed by the Kodak camera in 1888 photography became available to the masses.

With the invention of digital photography and home computers photographs are now stitched together to create sophisticated panoramas in no time at all. Many cameras and even mobile phones have an in-camera panoramic capability and freely available Apps can perform the most sophisticated manipulations that the likes of Robert Barker couldn’t even imagine.

This image was created using an app called 360Panorama by Occipital.

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