Saturday, 18 June 2011

Paul Graham, Whitechapel Gallery

Visited the Paul Graham exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery today – my second visit, which allowed me to think about why I liked the photographs I picked out the first time.
The set Troubled Land are, at first glance, not particularly interesting – fairly banal landscape shots – but then you notice the key details: the British flag, the soldier running across the roundabout, the Republican procession. You have to search out these details – they are not placed in the composition in such a way that your eye immediately fixes on them, and they are tiny details in the context of the overall frame. In the case of the procession, even when you do notice it (and it is positioned where two diagonals meet) you have to read the caption to know what it is. You can tell yourself that everything is normal – the significance is in knowing that it's not, and what those symbols mean.
The first time I saw A1 – The Great North Road they reminded me strongly of Martin Parr, but the second time I felt that they were a much more affectionate set of photographers than that would imply – particularly the portraits. He frames the subjects with great sensitivity, using the architecture - however mundane – in a way that gives them dignity. The colours are more subdued, not as harsh or gaudy, and the light is much softer than Martin Parr's. Another thing I like about this set of photographs is the way that Graham using line – the strong diagonals in photographs such as 'Lorry Driver', 'Interior, Blyth Services', 'Bible, Driver's Bedroom' and 'Interior, Rainton Services' give the images an energy which belies the subject matter.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Exercise: rhythms and patterns

Rhythm is created by the pattern of the oars and the perspective - the eye is led along the diagonal across the picture.

The ends of the logs in this stack create an irregular pattern, and tight cropping conveys the suggestion that the pattern continues beyond the frame.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Exercise: Real and implied triangles

Real: a triangular subject: this photograph shows a real triangle in the sky, created by crossing plane trails

Real: a triangle by perspective converging towards the top of the frame:

Real: an inverted triangle, converging towards the bottom of the frame:

Implied: still-life, apex at the top:

Implied: still-life, apex at the bottom:

Implied: three people in a group

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Exercise: curves

In this photograph, the shape of the bridge and its reflection creates a strong curve which forms a frame for the scene of the sunlit boat house.

The curved structure in this image leads the eye into the frame towards the odd leg on a stool.

The bend in the river echoes the direction in which the boats are travelling, and emphasises the movement.

In this image, the curved wall and the curved shadows on the floor lead the eye round to the two figures leaning against the wall.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Exercise: Multiple points

Set up a still life using between 6 to 10 compact objects to examine the relationship between the points.

For this exercise I've used a selection of buttons; trying to arrange them in a fashion which did not look obviously contrived. It was surprisingly difficult, especially because at the beginning, when there were only a small number of objects, it was impossible not to see implied lines between them forming clear shapes. It was only when there were more than about six or seven objects that it became possible to overlook the lines. Even so, at the end, I could link all the objects on display to all the others through lines or shapes.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Exercise: the relationship between points

In this photograph, the duck is the most prominent object - it is bigger, more centrally positioned, and they eye seems to be drawn to it from the other object.

The red object seems the most prominent in this photograph; although the green is larger, the eye tends to 'read' from it to the red object.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Exercise: diagonals

This photograph illustrates how diagonals will form from parallel lines going off into the distance towards a vashining point. The train, the platform, the benches and the rails all created strong diagonal lines.

This photograph was taken behind the finishing line of the Brighton marathon. I wanted to show the long line of trucks which had been used to transport the belongings of the runners from the start line. The way they recede into the distance is designed to emphasise the sheer scale of the operation.

In this shot the diagonals in the sky create a sense of drama.

This shot was taken just before the finishing line. I've used the road markings and the railings to create diagonals, which link the runner on the left to the strether on the right, both clearly travelling in the same direction.