For some reason, I’ve found part 3 amazingly difficult. If part two fell into shape around my day on Flotta, this all felt remarkably unfocussed somehow. I was taking pictures – some for the exercises; some which could be considered for the assignment – but none of this seemed to cohere into a theme or to even to start showing the way towards one.
I have now got the pictures for the exercises, I think, but I still need to make a final selection and write them up. I have a set of photographs edited and printed for the assignment. Yet somehow it all feels a bit wooly. However, I think if I press on and do the writing, submit the assignment and write up the exercises, start on part four and carry on reading and thinking, it may all become a bit plainer. An optimistic reading would be that any sort of learning involves stepping into areas of uncertainty and that the way I feel about this now is simply a sign of progression. I shall therefore try to be optimistic and assume that I am still progressing…
Anyway, buoyed up by David, my tutor’s, feedback on my second assignment, I cracked on with part three. I’d generally felt comfortable with colour, and there weren’t many exercises. Surely this should be relativeIy straightforward. So, I quickly took the pictures for Exercise 1 and began to build up a selection of dominant colour pictures for Exercise 2. I began seeing things which would possibly work as part of the assignment and started to take pictures.
At this point, I started trying to reconcile the course notes’ instruction to:
Try to vary the subject matter, including both arrangements (such as a still-life) and found situations.
with my desire to try and develop a coherent theme for this exercise. Not easy.
I came up with 4 subsets for the pictures I would take: at night; on public transport; Walthamstow; fruit and veg as still lives. It almost came together…
But then I had a weekend in Glasgow and managed to take some pictures that seemed better than the ones I’d taken previously but they didn’t fit into the categories; and I hadn’t managed to set up and take the still lives, despite spending a long time in the greengrocery aisle in Sainsbury’s wondering about colour rather than recipes; and certain colours and combinations of colours were proving easy to find (it’s amazing how much orange and blue there is out there) while others were really quite elusive.
At this point, I sort of ground to a halt in terms of completing the assignment, although I continued taking pictures. Some things though began to stand out.
Orange rainwear/hi-viz bibs make a good highlight:
It’s relatively hard (but not impossible) to isolate natural colours, if you’re in a city:
It’s even harder to narrow down the number of colours that are in the frame into something you can classify in the terms of the assignment:
I also began to realise that something was altering the way I took pictures in London. In Orkney, on holiday, I’d been comfortable with the location; Assignment 2 bears this out. London, on the other hand, is a place I haven’t quite worked out how to photograph yet. This may be changing. Certainly, I hope it is.
Orkney has occupied enough of my head – there are views that are burnt onto the inside of my skull somehow, like the stretch of hills beyond Finstown when you round the shoulder of Wideford hill on the road to Stromness. I am aware of how much sky there is above me. I “know” what it is I’m looking at.
I don’t think I have ever quite reached this point in the 17 years I’ve lived in London (I’m not sure if I managed it in Glasgow either). However, this may be changing: the pictures I’m taking now in London are less tightly composed; there is more context around the isolated detail I might have been content with earlier; I’m possibly more comfortable with finding a composition that suggests what lies outside it than I was before. All this is progress.
And so, for the assignment, I think the unifying theme can be no more narrow than “In passing” or “This is what I see, when I think about colour around me”. The things I’ve been reading or looking at are changing what I notice and how I process that. I’ve come up with 16 pictures for the assignment and they may not be perfect; they work however, and I like them all to a varying degree (some are really super, I think). Anyway, time to offer up a final sixteen. Time to move onto the next part of the course…
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