After the completion of my dissertation on “The Provocative Landscape” in BA3a, I realised there were many other areas I had not really talked about. Hence I wanted to address them in a post here. This is still relevant for my research.

Dubai’s man-made islands

One area was that man-made islands or landscapes could be one of the points that relate to the provocative landscape. In a Travel+Leisure article, author Danielle Berman talks about Dubai’s Man-made Islands, which were meant to pique tourism and expand Dubai’s coastline. The mastermind behind these massive projects was the United Arab Emirates’ prime minister and Emir of Dubai.

Perhaps the most recognised of the bunch, Palm Jumeirah is aptly shaped like a palm tree, consisting of a trunk and 17 fronds, and surrounded by an almost 7-mile-long crescent-shaped island which is home to many luxury hotels and resorts that dot the archipelago). A process called land reclamation, which involves dredging sand from the Persian and Arabian Gulf’s floors. What is provocative about landscape was that the sand was then sprayed and “vibro-compacted” into shape using GPS technology for precision and surrounded by millions of tonnes of rock for protection.

The World (another Nakheel project) kicked off in 2003, and consists of around 300 small islands constructed into a world map. The stunning image of the man-made archipelago was taken by an astronaut far above our Earth on the International Space Station. It shows the World Islands development sitting in shallow waters just off Dubai’s coast but never got to be completed.

Phenomenon in landscapes 

Another area was the signs of a phenomenon in landscapes. In Jon Hilmarsson’s iconic image of the Aurora Borealis above Iceland resembles an iridescent angel glowing in the night sky. It was regarded as a controversial image that caught the media’s attention and eventually made it to a book by Fiona Finn – “I believe”, where she discusses the various and different religious signs that have been seen in pictures.

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In Jon Hilmarsson’s iconic image of the Aurora Borealis above Iceland resembles an iridescent angel glowing in the night sky. It was regarded as a controversial image that caught the media’s attention and eventually made it to a book by Fiona Finn – “I believe”, where she discusses the various and different religious signs that have been seen in pictures.

It seems, provocative landscapes could also be from a religious point of view, as though a sign from the heavens. Of course, this is just one of the many examples out there and the chances of encountering such phenomenon are very rare.

Thinking back, this is something which I had not thought about at the time of writing my dissertation, and I thought this might well be an exciting topic to talk about which I think seldom talked about the photographic world.

Video Showreel

The purpose of having a digital showreel is more relevant for digital media such as cinematography, advertising, animations, visual effects, etc. Almost all of the references I have come across were non-photography related. As a digital photographer as well as a multimedia designer, it is the norm to have both physical and digital portfolio in the Singapore industry, to show that the one’s versatility in both mediums. The thing is not trying to be a jack of all trades, but more importantly, to show one’s versatility in both mediums. In my case, it was of how I can use a different platform to compliment another medium, photography.

References

Andrey Nikolaev’s portfolio of cinematography, CG, color grading, and a bit of directing reel.

ScanLAB Projects are the UK’s leading provider of large scale 3D scanning, capturing precise, beautiful digital replicas of buildings, landscapes, objects and events.

Showreel by Photographer & Retoucher MCGRORY was more photography related, but more focused on retouching aspects.

My showreel

So far most of the photography related showreels looked more like a powerpoint slideshow (case in point: McGrory showreel) and it didn’t look professional to me. I  was influenced by those digital media showreels and wanted to see if I could get a better outcome by marrying visual effects to photography. Hence, I started about this showreel project during the Creative Brain exercise in Year Two, in which I had stated that I would use it as the base template to work on.

For this project, the photographic images were still the main focal point and yet part of the video. I wanted to retain the same complex structure of the visual effects, as though a complex network of creativity which links all of my images together. Compared to my earlier attempt, I had more images to showcase this time and the main motive behind was to compile my best images from my assignment works into the showreel. This was a video showreel I made as part of my promotional package and I intend to put it onto video sharing website & social media platforms, and more importantly, my website.

 

The Process Challenges

Like my earlier attempts in After Effects, the visuals consists of many layers of effects. The easy part was to replace the previous image contents with my own images. I wanted to include portraitures and some still life images, this was to have the commercial appeal rather than purely landscape and cityscapes.

The difficult part, however, was to pull the scenes much longer requires more layers and to animate the camera movement seamlessly across each visual. After adjusting the camera layer around the 3D space in After Effects, I can’t immediately view the effects of one scene because the contents were too heavy to render out in real time. Instead, for every adjustment made I had to render a video out to check for camera movement issues.  Hence its a bit like trial and error where each scene may take up to full 72 hours to correct the problem; imagine how long ten scenes would take!

The next phase was to edit the video in sync with the music tempo in Premiere Pro and re-render them again as one final piece. This was the workflow which took me a full two weeks to complete the first preview. The music I used was Ryan Taubert’s “Honour” which I had bought the license to use.

 

Aftermath

I showed the finished result to people, and the majority of my classmates thought it was cool. However, some people thought the effect visuals were distracting. the camera movements at some point were a little too fast to be able to enjoy the images. to some which I agree because controlling the camera movement was pretty darn difficult.

I am happy with how much effort it took me to produce the showreel, but as I continue to strive for excellence in quality, I might change some of those images as the music was 2.5 minutes long and they don’t quite stand out a lot to keep the viewers interested. Some advice I received were that some of my older works didn’t fit well in it. As for other improvements, I might consider tweaking the colour palette to my blue and purple theme in alignment with my original self-promotional plans. In the interest of time, I would probably update this again sometime after graduation.

Developmental Process: Pandora’s Box

This series was based on the research done in BA3a, of conceptual artists and sculptors who have used mirrors in their works, as well as the influence of images and films who of Iceland. I decided to expand the series in tandem with the Allenmanstretten series. That is, I brought the mirror cube out to Iceland for a spin. In this post, I discuss the developmental process of how these imageries were achieved, in chronological order.

Preparation

There were many things I could not execute due to severe logistical constraints. Hence I took more of an experimental approach, in the sense if it works, it works. All these starts with the preparation of the mirror cube.

Contrary to popular believe, getting the mirror cube to Iceland was relatively easy because I was using the regular self-adhesive mirror tiles bought from Wilko, which was used in other photography projects earlier on. I  had only used 4 tiles to build the cube, as I want it to be as light-weight as I could carry, and also the lightest configuration I could lug around when I’m there. I only needed to show the sides where it would be photographed. It was necessary to ensure that it was packed comfortably into my check-in baggage. The other item I needed to bring along was duct tape. I would borrow scissors from the hostel staff.

IMG_6036

Equipment-wise, I used 5D MKIII and 16-35mm lens for all of the shoot for this series. I had the 5Ds as my second camera but it as meant for the telephoto lens. I didn’t plan to switch up my equipment because I didn’t want the elements to dirty the camera sensors if I had to change them on the ground.

The Iceland Trip

While packing these mirror tiles were relatively easy, setting it up was actually “difficult”. Firstly was because I arrived at my hostel in Reykjavik and I was immediately brought out to catch the Northern Lights. I didn’t have the time to unpack and set the mirrors, though I really wished I had. I didn’t know what to expect from the northern lights and I’m kicking myself for not setting up the mirrors. Secondly was because I was out the next day and I had to drive on to my next destination on the following day and then spend a night out in the car. It was exhausting and I didn’t have the chance to set it up until I was almost leaving my first hostel outside Reykjavik.

It was a good weather with plenty of the sunshine and blue sky, only a little windy. I wanted to seize the chance to set up my mirror cube for a couple of test shoots if I could. I went around the vicinity to scout for location and found a pile of gravel stone that might work in front of the mountain ridges. The idea was to find a stable, high ground vantage point. As I did a couple of test shots, the wind picked up and the mirrors kept falling. This became an early indicator that my cube was too light and not really suitable for shooting in the rugged terrain. So I moved on.

On post process, I felt that many of the shots from this scene could have worked well if I set up the mirror tiles properly. It seems bits of its interiors can be seen. Also, there was one frame where I thought it might have been able to work out better if I spend more time shifting my camera angle and the mirror cube to a more symmetrically and that the reflection of the mountain peak would become more prominent in the image.

I managed to get my cube up again much later when I had reached Vestrahorn in Hofn, due to my travelling schedule. The problem was, I was hit by a blizzard storm whilst driving towards Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon at night. As it was my first time experiencing such condition, I was both physically and mentally drained from the intense drive. I had only get on to Vestrahorn the next day after a full day’s rest at Hofn area.

While at Vestrahorn, I had a rough visual idea how I wanted the image to look like. It was cloudy that day, and I had recced the area until it was almost sunset and went out to try my luck. On the ground, the lighting conditions became more terrible. I came out of my car and set up my cube while other visitors were looking at me like I’m the mad Asian guy. At that point it didn’t matter to me which particular spot was the best since the landscape was so vast, I just randomly plot the cube at different positions and decided on the best stable composition before shooting. However, The lighting conditions were quite terrible and I didn’t like that the black sands were sticking onto my mirrors when I place them on the ground. I only took two exposures and immediately deemed it a failure.

It was only when I got back home for post process that I realised how wrong I was and I should have taken more exposures and explored much more while I was there. Do I call this a lucky shot? No, obviously there was some compositional planning before I took the image and I’m well aware of the unevenness of the mirror cube which I had to straighten it out before the shoot. But I’m still kicking myself for capturing only two exposures in this location.

The next location was at the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. This was on my way back eastwards towards Reykjavik, I just had to give the glacier lagoon a visit before I leave. However, the weather never improved. In fact, it got much wetter and colder with the intermittent pelting of tiny ice hail but not to the point of a snow blizzard. It was really frustrating that I had not been able to do much for this series as it was extremely challenging. At that point, I decided to “brave the storm” and see how it turns out.

There were a lot of small icebergs that were washed up on the shore. I spent a bit of time figuring out the best way to fit the mirrors and again, I picked a random spot, further away from the main tourist crowd. Everyone came to see the icebergs with their cameras, and I was the only schmuck who carried the mirror cube and cameras out. I did get many odd glances, but at leat one of the visitors thought I was trying something weird but interesting.

With the terrible weather, nothing looked great on my camera.  I went on to figure out if I could fiddle with the bits of ice and arrange them into a more “compositionally-pleasing” manner. And that was it before the rain came and I had run all the way back into my car.

The next one was done on the next day, my second last day because after spending the whole afternoon at the glacier lagoon, it took me almost 5 hours of drive to reach my last destination at Laugarvtan before heading back to Reykjavik. I reach my hostel at 12 midnight, exhausted. By this time it was the end of my Iceland journey and I was hell-bent on making these mirror cube series work by hook or by crook.

On my second last day, it got bright and sunny. I found a stable platform with vantage point. This was an ideal place to set up my mirror cube. I carefully aligned the cube with the straight path below and experimented with various height and angles. I was more careful not to reveal the mirror interiors this time. I took brackets exposures hoping one of them might work. A couple of visitors came by at different times and found the mirror cube to be strangely amusing until i explained to them it was meant for Uni work.

During the last week of the Easter break, I had the chance to head out to Thetford forest for a walk. I decided to take the mirror cube out for a walk. It was a huge forest and I didn’t know where to start. I just pick a random part of the forest, along Brandon Road and did a couple of shots. However, the motivation to push and explore just wasn’t there.  I thought somehow it just didn’t have the same feel as I did back in Iceland. Perhaps I was trying out a “Finn Beale” style; perhaps it was because of the cloudy weather which gave a soft diffused lighting in the woods that I felt it didn’t work for me. Or perhaps it’s just “Finn Beales” style wasn’t cut out for me.

on post process, I thought cross-processing would fit the mood of the image, but still, I didn’t quite like it. Maybe it’s a little too green, I don’t know.

 

Post Process

_MG_5437Edit_BA2On post process, heavy editing wasn’t required. Though I could have cleaned out some of the details out the foreground but I liked the mess of details to be authentic. Just the usual method of opening up shadows and decreasing highlights and that was good enough.

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1. This image is a result of blending three exposures together. I didn’t really had any visual concepts of the end results, after blending the images together with some adjustment curves. I thought it was nothing much.

2. I then applied the detail extractor filter in camera Effex pro to push more details out of the camera raw, and the pro contrast filter to compliment the amount of raw details being forced out. This is when the image truly pops out. Then I did a bit of colour adjustment to remove the colour cast and clone out some unwanted details and repaired the mirror edges to make it neater.

3. Then I did a bit of colour adjustment to remove the colour cast and clone out some unwanted details and repaired the mirror edges to make it neater.

Conclusion

Bringing out a mirror cube out for the shoot, it was quite a fun experience to work with. It’s something I would not normally do when I shoot landscapes as it was more of me trying my luck and see how it turns out. Have I got any failures in my shoot? definitely yes, I did in fact considered most of it a failure on the ground because of the ideal weather condition and timing at the location did nut turn to my favor, however the some of the images turned out to be surprisingly strong after post processing that I actually want to kick myself for not continuing it when I was on location. With those images, I could easily say I got lucky but was it a lucky shot? I think no. Sure the landscapes were magnificent, to begin with. The rugged terrain is still considered an exotic place for many people. The weather condition may be unpredictable. However, I still accessed the situation on location and tried to make full use of the time while I was there. I experimented with camera angles and composition in hopes to increase my chance of successful shots. Not all was lost and some of the images turned out good unexpectedly.

This series has enabled to me to learn that I could plan my shot as much as I want with all the concepts and ideas and visuals built in my head. But there are some shots that come naturally from constant experimentation and when I least expected it. It’s a bit like “the decisive moment”. Although I did not achieve the vibrant colourful visual which I hoped to get out from, but it does fulfil the “provocative landscape” research I had set out to explore. I think I could still bring the mirror tiles back to Singapore after graduation and try it out with cityscapes. Combine it with my vivid approach in photography and perhaps I might get interesting results with it over there.

Part of our requirement during my Arts diploma course at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) was to study the various contemporary art movement. For the first two years of my three-year course, we had a small segment of Art history lesson where we went through the different periods of arts from Prehistoric arts to contemporary art movement to South East Asian Art. At different points of time, I was given the Impression movement to study and present, and then the Romanticism movement for a thousand-word report. This was about 9 years ago.

The Impressionist  

As I learnt about the Impression movement, I came to learn about the french painter Claude Monet, one of the forerunners of the Impressionist movement. He was the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term “Impressionism” was derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.


Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant)

Monet’s ambition of documenting the French countryside led him to adopt a method of painting the same scene many times in order to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons.


The Cliffs at Etretat, 1885


La Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877

I was particularly drawn into Monet’s landscape paintings. It was there that I became fascinated by his winter paintings (partly also the exposure of some BBC documentary series about the movement around the time of studying him). One of his famous winter painting was The Magpiean oil-on-canvas landscape painting. The Magpie is one of approximately 140 snowscapes produced by Monet.

The way Monet created the magpie as a focal point in the composition leads our eye to the bird through contrast and through repeated lines of movement in the fence’s shadows. The brushwork is masterful, as he uses the brush to show light, shadow and what remains of snow on narrow branches of trees.

The Magpie is a masterpiece of Monet’s early style, more Realist than Impressionist. There’s a sharp differentiation between light and shadow, though the shadows are mainly blue and not grey.  Dark footprints in the foreground add a bit of mystery, but more than anything make us think of the rawness of nature’s beauty with only a hint of human intervention. He is still using black which may have added just the right amount of contrast.  If we could not see the energy of his brushstrokes, a viewer may think the painting’s quality so good that it could be a photograph.  The whites are bright enough, though, that you’d almost want to wear sunglasses to look at the painting.  The Magpie appears to work its special magic by depicting what may be the day after a night of snow.


Floating Ice near Vertheuil,

By 1880, Monet’s paintings were gradually becoming more and more abstract.  He became less concerned with structure, depth and perspective and more about colour, pattern, vibration.  In the Floating Ice near Vertheuil, was one example. It was not only about the weather and how light effects the colour, but Monet was also very concerned with patterns, as his brushstrokes looked like dabs of paint, just quick impressions.

All that I have learnt from the research of Claude Monet’s paintings was also further emphasised by my lecturer’s advice in painting lessons during my foundation year in my diploma course (we were exposed to a whole range of art mediums), where white isn’t white and black isn’t black; there is aquamarine in white and amber brown in shadows, etc. It seems that my lecturers at the time were trying to help me see how the artist sees and to use my eye to see an Impressionist’s vision of the world. Studying these snowy landscapes had also given me an impression of the European landscape, locations of otherworldly and unique places which cannot be found in Singapore. It made we want to visit such places when I get older.

At another point in time, I had to research about the Romanticism movement for my thousand word essay during my diploma course, particularly Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Between 1810 and 1820, Francisco Goya produced a series of images entitled “The Disasters of War” were extremely gruesome as it depicted many scenes of death and destruction. This set of prints were created, largely believed as a protest against the violence during the uprising of the 2nd May 1808, or Dos de Mayo 1808. This lead to his later period which culminates a series of dark paintings he painted as frescoes, disillusioned by political and social developments in Spain, where he lived in near isolation until his death.


The Second of May 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes, Francisco de Goya,1814.

About Romanticism

Romanticism (1800 to 1850) was characterised by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as the glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. The movement emphasised intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublimity and beauty of nature. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, but also spontaneity as a desirable characteristic.


Winter Afternoon, Hans Gude, 1847

In northern Europe, the Early Romantic visionary optimism and belief that the world was in the process of great change and improvement had largely vanished, and some art became more conventionally political and polemical as its creators engaged polemically with the world as it was. Many Romantic ideas about the nature and purpose of art, above all the pre-eminent importance of originality, remained important for later generations, and often underlie modern views, despite opposition from theorists.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, c.1818.

As the beginning of the Romantic movement created a new interest in the landscape, practitioners included the German artist Caspar David Friedrich, who depicted remote and wild landscapes and was one of the first artists to portray winter landscapes as austere, forbidding and desolate. He idealises an uninterrupted nature, highlighted by creating excruciatingly detailed art. The emphasis on nature is encouraged by the low horizontal lines, and the preponderance of sky to enhance the wilderness; humanity, if it is represented, is depicted as small in comparison with the greater natural reality.

His winter scenes were solemn and still. Based on direct observation, Friedrich’s landscapes did not reproduce nature but were painted to create a dramatic effect, using nature as a mirror of human emotions. His aim was a reunion with the spiritual self through the contemplation of nature, paralleling Romanticism’s validation of intense emotions such as apprehension, fear, horror, terror and awe. Awe in particular – experienced when confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities – drew Friedrich’s interest, as seen in his idealised portrayals of coasts, forests and craggy mountains.  Most of his winter landscapes were plein-air depictions of winter scenes, using the quality of grey winter light to create the special winter atmosphere.


The Cross Beside The Baltic, Friedrich, 1815. This painting marked a move away from depictions in broad daylight, and a return to nocturnal scenes, twilight and a deeper poignancy of mood.

Another painter well known for using the plein-air technique was American landscape painter, Frederic Edwin Church, perhaps best known for painting large panoramic landscapes, often depicting mountains, waterfalls, and sunsets He also sometimes depicts the dramatic natural phenomena that he saw during his travels to the Arctic and Central and South America. Church’s paintings put an emphasis on light and a Romantic respect for an extraordinary yet natural detail, using romanticism, and luminism in his paintings.


The Icebergs, Frederic Edwin Church, 1861


Aurora Borealis, Frederic Edwin Church, 1865

The iconography of the Aurora Borealis painting suggested personal and nationalistic references. The peak in the painting had been named Mount Church during Hayes’s expedition. Aurora Borealis incorporated details of Hayes’ ship, drawn from a sketch he brought back upon returning from his expedition. Contrasting with his earlier works The North and The Icebergs (1861), the intact ship highlights Hayes’ achievements in navigating this space, as well as the state of the nation in navigating this contentious historical moment. Presenting the ship’s safe passage through the eerie experience, Church suggested optimism for the future with a tiny light shining out from the ship’s window. The Aurora Borealis is considered by some scholars to be best understood within a wider polyptych or multi-paneled grouping; the meanings of the paintings multiply in relation to each other and the harrowing period of American history during which they were created.


Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866.

The Aurora Borealis was associated with Rainy Season in the Tropics (1866) for two reasons. First, the two paintings marked the completion of the arctic-tropical sequence created with The Heart of the Andes (1859) and The North is also known as The Icebergs (1861). These pairings drew together popular attention on the exploration of the arctic North and the tropical South. The second association between Aurora Borealis and Rainy Season in the Tropics was established through their compositions and “in their luminosity,” where each suggested a “renewed optimism in natural and historic events.”*

*Kinsey, Joni L. (1995). History in Natural Sequence: The Civil War Polyptych of Frederic Edwin Church. Redefining American History Painting, Patricia M. Burnham and Lucretia Hoover Giese (eds.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. pp. 172–173. ISBN 0-521-46059-X.

 

Why This Matters?

Studying these various art movements such as Impressionist and Romanticism have influenced my early practices in landscape photography with a certain pictorialist approach. The paintings from these masters have given me an impression of what the European landscapes could be like, therefore shaping my photographic practices and the preferential visual to dramatic landscapes and snowscape terrains, as I have subconsciously tried to emulate these art styles into my landscape photography.

References

http://artvent-artventures.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/monets-paintings-of-snow.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_landscapes_in_Western_art

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caspar_David_Friedrich

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_Borealis_(painting)#cite_note-Kinsey-6

Update 1: 29.04.17
Update 2: 06.04.17
Update 3: 13.05.17

Over the past two years, I have acquired some experience in photographing from Singapore bustling cityscapes to Iceland’s snowy mountainous landscapes. I have taken a wide variety of landscape photographs and I know what I look for in an image. It comes as no surprise to me that I have developed the eye to select the image for processing and I know how to pick the best images out of the batch after every photo shoot and give it a narrative context when I publish on my facebook page.

About curating my Images

However, one thing I still struggle today was to curate my photographs into a series. All the while I have been doing was to curate my images into the sort of a-photo-a-day thing and sorting them into a series was something which requires more time and effort.  A lot of advice I have had was that I do have a good collection of images and I needed to narrow it down much more. Cutting down from 50 to 9 or 10 images. I found this to be extremely difficult, because of these challenges:

    1. For these familiar places (in Singapore or locations I often passed by), I usually have a particular approach, from concept to post process. I would have formulated a particular approach in my head and only capture it that way. Hence, each image was created visually strong because there was an aesthetic direction. To cut them down would take a considerable amount of time to think through, depending on what factor or element I’m looking for.
    2.  For these unfamiliar places (usually locations I’ve visited for my first time), it would be difficult to use the first approach. To give it a different context would be more challenging since I take these photos because these scenes were of an interest to me in the first place. I would polish the images first and pick later. To fit them into a different context just doesn’t do any justice to the greater amount of images I have taken in the first place.
    3. The fact that we are being asked to narrow down our images to a top few selection and fit them into a series, but then what outlet could these “unselected” images end up in? Is there a platform to showcase them?

As I brood about curating my images for my portfolio works, I realise that there are actually different ways I can go about in curating them for different mediums. I guess the important thing was not to show every single image in every single medium but to strategically choose which images could go into which medium. For example, I would select certain images for large prints and certain images for postcards, etc.

Hence in this post, I discuss my thoughts and developmental process in curating my images for different platforms, including photo competition.

Website Homepage

For portfolio websites, images on the homepage need to be the best of the best. It needs to represent what I love doing as well as the services I can do. At some point, I struggled with this because I have images that fall between commercial and fine art spectrum. The images I submitted for BA3a was a strong portfolio of images I did, but not all of them were suitable for my website homepage. Some advice was that they should be a coherent series, but I argued that if I were a commercial photographer, I need to show as many skills and service as I can. Moreover, my photographs were visually strong as a single image with narrative context. It was difficult to string them together as a series since I have a particular style, a style that was native to me prior to my university enrolment.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 20.03.17 copy

In the end, the way I decided the images that best represents me to be put on the website were based on these factors:

  1. That more of my images were leaning towards the “fine art” side, but I wanted to be a commercial photographer, specialising in landscape, travel.
  2. I have a particular style of vibrant colours and structural elements (images that I was exploring a different direction of would not be considered)
  3. I’m looking for that element of detail over the horizon.

Hence, images that did not meet these criteria were not put up.

Portfolio Print

The challenge of choosing images for my portfolio prints was that it has to represent me and my photographic style. Initially, I tried fitting them into a series, but I didn’t feel it worked out well. “Pandora’s Box” and “Allenmanstretten” were examples that I could fit my images into a series but my native style was not reflected well. This took me a while to figure out the element I am looking for. But eventually, I abandoned the idea of fitting them into a series and pick images based on my measurement of strong visual impact.

Since I will be based in Singapore after graduation, I naturally picked three images from my pre-enrolment to the university course that best represents me. The rest were images I have captured over the many locations I have visited over the past two years. The first collection, as one might call a series, is one that is true to my native style: vibrant colours and high detail elements. The second collection was less vibrant and more of the opposite direction I have explored over the past two years of my course. Other images that were somewhere in between were not impactful enough and did not make it into my top list of images for portfolio prints.

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Postcards

I initially want to print all my thumbnail proofs as postcards. I figured that since I shoot a lot, it made more sense to me to make them into postcards and sell them away if not needed than to print the whole bulk just for the sake of photo proofs. That would be quite a waste of money. So I laid out my images which I thought were postcard-worthy.

After visiting a few of the print companies, I eventually found Saxon Print, who was able to produce what I need. However, the catch was that the minimum requirement was eight copies of 16 unique images for almost a hundred quid. Due to this limitation, I now have to reconsider instead, the images for postcards.

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 17.09.47 copy

This became my top selection for postcards. I have selected 9 images that were not from the portfolio print collection with a mixed of images and sort of categorised them into four quadrants. Another reason I choose this way was because I could to sell them away.

  1. Top left quadrant were of cityscape images.
  2. Top right quadrant were images of mountainous locations.
  3. Bottom right quadrant was more of non-landscape images that were more experimental and
  4. The bottom left quadrant were landscape images that didn’t quite make it into my portfolio collection.

Untitled-3

After discussing with James Smith on 1 to 1 tutorials, I eventually changed the bottom right quadrant and settled for this arrangement.

Online Store prints

Images that sell were of a different entirety to picking images with strong visual elements. One criterion for picking images to sell was that it has to have enough details to look good on prints.

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AOP Student photo Competition

For the student category in the AOP photo competition, there were three main categories that we could choose to submit: landscape, still life, people. strangely there were single images and no series. I looked at past year winners and wanted to wait for the AOP Open Category, but it would be too late by then.  I had a few contenders for submission, namely pandora’s Box and Rough Cut. Again, I struggled a bit in defining where my submitted images should end up in.

Pandora box was a series and it could be defined as landscape, or still life, depending on the perspective. The Rough Cut was more experimental and more towards landscapes. The crucial thing for me was to put my images strategically and not to put all my eggs in one basket, as to put all of them into landscape category and hoping one of them would come through. that would be quite a waste of money. Instead, considering that it was individual images submission, I could spread out my photos and include portraiture images as well.

Places

Things

People

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It was a tough decision in choosing what images to send for competition. I also didn’t want to send in a proper landscape as many of past years entries looked more like the experimental types. In the end, I submitted two images for ‘Places’, two images for ‘Things’, and one for ‘People’. I don’t know how it would turn out against the other entries, but I’m just entering to try my luck out. Five images, £40 for the gamble.

Update: 

The email finally came and I didnt get selected for the AOP student exhibition.  I  was a little disheartened by the unfortunate news that my works were not good enough though I am quite curious what kind of images got through. Perhaps I was too naive to think about my choice of images. Perhaps those proper landscape images might have been a better choice. But anyway, i dont wanna let it affect my concentration. Let’s move on. 

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Free Range Exhibition

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My initial proposal for the Free Range exhibition was to exhibit a large good one. I prepared a series of images and let them choose one image that they thought could be the one. Instead, they advised that it would be better for me to exhibit more images. In the end, this was the order of images they proposed.

Afterthought

The main reason I find this a difficult process was because although my market will eventually be in Singapore, I am submitting my works for a British audience which have a different emphasis in photography. The dilemma was that if I select my works one way, it wouldn’t work the other way. Should I choose one side or should I choose both sides? My solution is to find the flexibility in both worlds.

Conclusion

Curating images was a good exercise as it trained me to be much more critical about my selections of works through countless revisions and constant self-analysis, as well as advice from others. Identifying the problems early meant I have more time to figure out a solution. I now know how certain images fit together in different contexts based on the certain elements I need to look for and understand why some don’t fit well. Yet the skill of rearranging the flow of images are another area I need to hone and of course, this takes years of experience.

Analysis: Print Consideration

Some thoughts I had for my prints were that I wanted my final prints to highlight the contrast of vivid colours and structural style effectively. There should be a smooth tonal transition from shadows to highlight. I had the preference for Lustre or semi gloss over Matt as I thought that would suit well with my photographic style. I had three considerations of paper types and had them test printed.

Baryta Fine Art Paper Vs Photo Rag Paper

Baryta paper enables rich blacks, wide gamuts, great contrast and sharpness, and smooth tonal transitions on my images. It also has that bit of texture on the paper. PhotoRag paper were the ‘regular’ paper we use to print for our submissions. The Oyster Lustre finish is the perfect combination for my photographic style. I have tested both the Baryta Fine art and Photo Rag paper, I realised I still liked the photo Rag paper more. The fact that we often print them for submission kind of give the idea that it’s cheap and of low quality. But actually in fact quite the opposite (at least for me). In addition, I don’t have to spend more to purchase separate paper as that will cost more money for me. Hence, I decided to stick with Photo Rag paper.

Metal Print / Infused Metal Print

This print process uses Dye Sublimation to print onto metal plates. This is what I wanted for my final exhibition images.

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Free Range Exhibition Proposal

29th June – 5th July

 

Free Range is the platform for showing the best works. Since I would not be staying in the UK after graduation, the aim of showing my work is not about getting future work in London, but rather to get myself noticed. This work needs to be of the highest quality yet realistically achievable and on a reasonable budget. In consideration of my landscape photography style, which is a focus on vibrant colours and structural contrast, I have developed a general preference towards lustre and gloss finish. I have found that infused metal prints could be the best representation of my work. Hence, I intend to exhibit one landscape image in large format metal print. For contingency plans, I am considering Acrylic print and Hahnemuhle Oyster Lustre paper as alternatives.

Potential Market Audience

After graduation, I may not be able to carry the metal plate back home, due to its bulkiness. Hence, I am also keeping the option open, of selling the print away for a profit. Potential buyers could be art collectors or corporations looking for quality fine art prints. 

Limitations

I have been shooting on full frame cameras, these images would not be able to compete in the medium format range. The ideal quality for full frame would be 24×16, or A2 equivalent. 

Dimension Reference

Size Width x Height (mm) Width x Height (cm) Width x Height (cm)
Maximum 2000 x 2000 mm 200 x 200 cm 78.74 x 78.74 in
A0 841 x 1189 mm 84.1 x 118.9 cm 33.1 x 46.8 in
A1 594 x 841 mm 59.4 x 84.1 cm 23.4 x 33.1 in
A2 420 x 594 mm 42.0 x 59.4 cm 16.5 x 23.4 in
A3 297 x 420 mm 29.7 x 42.0 cm 11.7 x 16.6 in

 

Proposed: HD Metal Prints

Infused metal prints can make colours extraordinary vibrant and the depth of coating gives the contrast in photos a luminous quality that no paper can achieve.

Specifications

Print type:       Dye Sublimation
Paper:              Aluminium Metal
Dimension:       33.1” x 46.8” (A0 equivalent)                        .           24” x 16” (A2 equivalent)
Mounting:       Float Mount
Frame:            None
Budget:           min £265.95                                        .           min £85.95

Reference

https://uk.whitewall.com/photo-lab/alu-dibond/hd-metal-print

Proposed Alternative (1): Acrylic Print

Specifications

Print type: Ultra HD Photo Print Under Acrylic Glass
Paper: Kodak Metallic
Dimension:      33.1” x 46.8”   (A0 equivalent)           .      24” x 16” (A2 equivalent)
Mounting: Slimline Case with Aluminum Rails        .     Slimline Case with Aluminum Rails
Frame:            None                                                   .           None
Budget:           min £375.95                                        .           £98.95

Reference

https://uk.whitewall.com/acrylic-photo-print-ultra-hd
https://uk.whitewall.com/photo-frame-acrylic-print-aluminium-case

Proposed Alternative (2):  Giclee Lustre Print

[Spectrum]

Print type:       Giclee Print, Lustre
Paper:              Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 gsm
Dimension:      33.1” x 46.8”   (A0 equivalent)                 .                 24” x 16” (A2 equivalent)     Mounting:       Dibond with subframes
Frame:            Wooden Frame                                   .           + £30
Budget:           min £374.44                                        .           > £50

 Reference

http://spectrumphoto.co.uk/giclee-prints

[Metro]

Print type:       Giclee Print, Lustre
Paper:              Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 gsm       .
Dimension:      48” x 36”         (A0 equivalent)             .                 24” x 16” (A2 equivalent)
Mounting:       Classic                                                 .           Classic
Frame:            Wooden Photo Frame (outside)            .           Floater Mount? (outside)
Budget:           £90 ++                                                 .           > £150

Reference

http://www.metro-print.co.uk/products/fine-art-giclee-prints/prices

In-depth Development: Utopian/ Dystopian World

I loved Chinese New Year gatherings. As an international student living abroad, it is those occasions where we would invite other students to come together for a hearty meal around the table and talk about our uni works and the subjects we were concerned about in our craft practices. I went on to share about some of the initial challenges I faced as I wanted to collaborate with as many artists for my next project, but were faced with conflicts in our schedules and that reviewing my archive took a while due to my large collection of images.

I had the opportunity to meet up with Fahim, a year two visual Effects student where our discussion developed into a possible collaboration between Visual Effects and photography since they all fall under the same Multimedia spectrum and thus share some similarities. The idea of Utopian and dystopian world stems out from the research for my dissertation on The provocative landscape and wanted to explore it with other like-minded artists. I was considering how landscape photography can be alleviated into something greater and his insights about images of landscapes were used as a source of references and inspiration by artists in game environmental concept designs; another area which I have never considered at the time.

Fahim proposed the idea of using my photography to create a moving image piece with 3D Matte painting techniques. In the sense, I head out to shoot the images as I would normally do and he would assemble the useful assets to build a moving image in After Effects and Premiere pro. Fahim was able to find suitable images from my Scotland and Iceland trips and work things out. We agreed to go for an utopian-fantasy-esque approach for our collaboration project. Other challenges include compositing the elements together seamlessly in photoshop and with manage camera movement works in After effects.

One prime example of the matte painting technique was the visual effects of “The Avengers” by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), where scenes were constructed using 3D animations and video footages.

References

For our project, I was looking at Filip Dujardin’s structures in landscapes and his style of digital manipulation, as well as Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs – The great Unreal collection. They form part of my research on provocative landscapes. Meanwhile, Fahim was looking at the matte painting works of Jacek Irzykowski and Stoimen Dimitrov

 

As far as communication is concerned, we managed to communicate professionally and periodically to work out solutions and meet the challenges we faced. The wealth of assets I was able to provide was due to our constant rapport in understanding each other’s needs and limitations in our crafts, as well as the research both of us has done to inform each other’s works

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After-Thoughts

(This work is still in progress)

Although this was my only successful collaborative project, I have discovered there are other fields of industries where landscape imagery can be relevant (other than car adverts) – the game industry in areas of environmental concept designs, as well as the movie industry. As game artists and visual effects artist have exemplified using references of elements of landscapes to build an imaginary landscape, it is possible to interpret a provocative landscape in the form of a utopian/dystopian world.

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Check out Farhim’s side of updates about this project here.

Industry

In regards to the Singapore industry, game design and Visual effects companies are more prevalent there than car advertising. There is  LucasFilm and there is  ILM branch in Singapore. These are the prominent ones.

Singapore doesn’t make cars (in fact the government has been trying to discourage the rise of vehicles by increasing its value to an exorbitant amount and introducing various methods to discourage new drivers from buying one).