Assignment 5 : Making it up

Assignment 5 : Making it up

My first idea was to use the landscape to re-visit work done for Art of Photography on fairytales and their meanings. This foundered when the weather became so windy and wet that I decided indoor work would be better, especially as I had now gained more confidence in dealing with flash lighting through attending two day Workshops and then acquiring a new set of lights. I kept thinking back to Part Three when I had portrayed a dialogue with my alter ego (wearing a wig) that I had not pursued because, at the time, I couldn’t imagine what we might be saying to each other.

During my reading and research for the Assignment I had become quite absorbed by the work of Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson. The large scale photographs, produced with the use of a production crew, actors, special sets or locations and considerable post-processing work, are impressive. Their concepts are different – Crewdson’s deliberately cinematic evocation of small town life in America and the violent impulses which may lie beneath, and Wall’s aim to portray a moment in time, as seen through his imaginative eye, rather than through historical or social reality. Because everything is stilled in their images, frozen in a limbo between moments that have never actually existed, their subjects appear more like automatons, gazing blankly into space.

I have continually queried whether narrative, a story, can be contained within a single image as opposed to a series. The photograph I analysed for Assignment 4  proved that it can – through its composition, use of perspective and light etc and with only a short photographer’s statement. I enjoy looking at Wall’s work but have to confess that, despite reading and listening to a lot about his process, I have to search hard to find a narrative. On the other hand, despite my initial resistance, Crewdson’s use of light, together with the numerous interviews where he explains his thought processes, pushed me further into the more introspective state of mind that I experience as a year comes to an end. I think it was this that contributed towards the creation of my Asssignment image. My description of the way I approached the Assignment is here .  I wrote a list of threads I wanted to carry forward from earlier in the Module and will write further when I reflect in a separate piece how I think I have met the brief of the Assignment.


I am much taken by the concept of the “uncanny” where we see a world that resembles ours yet appears to have been replaced by a substitute. With this photograph I aim to depict a moment in time in a domestic setting. Real people in a real place but constructed to convey something unseen. My hope is that there is enough of an ‘open’ narrative to interest the viewer and evoke a response.

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Technical aspects

I have described the path I took to the creation of this photograph in an earlier post here  . A image of the flash placement is below

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It was a simple set-up with the lights almost equally balanced – power 3 on the left on myself, and power 2.5 on the right on my husband. The lights were angled towards each person and at around a 4 feet distance I wanted to have more light on myself , having one of Jeff Wall’s earlier photographs A Woman and her Doctor 1980-1 in mind. This was presented as a transparency in a light box and I do think that, in this sense, pre the computer age Wall was ahead of the back-lit computer screen in bringing light to images. I realised afterwards that the woman in that photograph was wearing a pale, plain top and that makes a difference to the lighting (which is why I wore pale tops in the later photograph experiments, referred to in my previous post). The photograph was shot at 41mm focal length and tightly framed with the camera on a tripod about 8 feet behind the lights which were around 4 feet in front of the subjects. The RAW original showed some evidence of the flash in the window and the healing brush was used in PS. I reduced clarity on the faces, but only very slightly. There was some adjustment of light and shadow to lighten the tree and brighten the ornaments.

I think the process worked, given that I am still fairly new to dealing with flash lighting and the initial work required to balance the light achieve the effect I am seeking. I want to say thank you as well to my husband, Jeff Banks who was a very willing technical assistant and subject.

At this stage, I will write no more about the meaning of the photograph for me  but will return to this, together with a reflection on how I met the assessment criteria, in a further post.