Field Trip Review – Granton & Newhaven

Date created – 12/03/2019

Starting intentions. I knew the possibilities of finding many “quirky juxtapositions” in this area of new build set against decaying and abandoned constructions, often separated by fences. These features appeal to my liking of quirkiness and my objections to anything that tries to restrict the “right to roam”.

This example shows, what I presume are drainage pipes, with rather amateurish protective covers, that reminded me of judges’ caps. Perhaps these judges had been buried for committing some crime themselves?

The new flats look down upon them, disapprovingly.

In the same area were these sad, abandoned Christmas trees surrounded by rubbish. Again, the flats appear to be looking down upon the scene.

More ironical juxtapositioning!

I had 2 cameras with me, one set to record in colour but with a B&W viewfinder. I found this an interesting and useful tool as, since moving to digital 16 years ago, I have lost the ability to perceive how a colour scene will render in B&W.

This image is another following my “parallel lives” and “right to roam, denied” themes.

Next, I’m not sure whether the geometry of this image would have struck me quite so strongly if it hadn’t been for the B&W viewfinder. The colour version is far more confusing.

I wanted the central post to split the screen but the slight bend to the right is disconcerting. I fixed that in Photoshop as, I believe, 3 perfect verticals will make for a stronger image than the reality.

Yes, this may not be reality, but it does now represent what I wanted to convey about the geometry of the scene.

Moving further away looking for more of a narrative than just geometry this scene resulted.

Now the lighthouse has become a character. It is looking out, searching for a better future, away from its derelict environment.

In this example I did not spend long enough thinking about depth of field whilst on-location. The foreground fence is slightly blurred. Does this help with the message about the lighthouse wanting to escape? Or would the fence being sharp have emphasised its ties to the current location and the impossibility of escape? I have not decided yet.

The next composition was to look at the possibilities of the square format. For me, here, the B&W version has neither the strength of geometry nor of narrative to make it work. However, the muted reds and greens of the colour image do provide an attractive combination and a calm mood.

Such a picture is far more reflective of my own emotions whilst on location than delivering a narrative or an abstraction of shapes.

Did moving further back enhance the effect? Possibly. The wider view certainly increases the sense of isolation, with the empty foreground. Again, this is reflective of my own mood at the time.

Note – such “isolation” is, for me, associated with a sense freedom rather than being a negative term, implying being alone.

Moving on to Newhaven.

This is a scene I have taken before and is inspired by a Robert Adams style of banal, new build, “tract houses”. Hence the B&W, as per Adams’ images.

It works as a copy of that style.

However, I find this, muted colour, version better at capturing my own mood at the time.

The colour seems to make Fife, in the distance, recede and become far less important. Therefore, the image is more centred in the foreground and the viewer’s own location. The colours of the vegetation also emphasise the winter timing, which is much less noticeable in the B&W image.

The final image of the day was taken as another comment upon man-made restrictions to movement. Here it is caused by the razor wire and the fences around the lighthouse. I was aware at the time of trying to deduce the depth of field so as to focus on the nearby razor wire and thus emphasise the inaccessibility of the lighthouse beyond.

However, the depth of field was still too great to achieve my intentions. I should have checked more thoroughly at the time.

Ironically, I did take a second image with a very large depth of field. This did not work at all as it focuses attention on the details of the constructs and not the intended narrative. If the lighthouse had been further out of focus its inaccessibility would have been enhanced.

Conclusions

  • I’m still not spending enough time, on-location, thinking about what I am trying to do – reviewing and getting it right. For example:
    •  final image, I should have gone for much less DoF to emphasise the razor wire but not the lighthouse. To be honest narrow DoF is not a tool I use often, and I need much more practice with it. This will only be achieved by understanding exactly my intentions, at the time, reviewing my images more closely and thinking about how to achieve them.
    • These images were all hand held or with a monopod. I should have used a tripod. This would have slowed me down and freed up my hands for changing lenses and to spend more time reviewing images.
  • Tried B&W in viewfinder – useful!
    • Helped confirm the first lighthouse and its geometric potential.
    • It did not stop me capturing colour images that also worked, sometimes better!
  • One-location, one subject, and just a few minutes apart, yet 3 quite different types of image at Granton lighthouse!
    • Narrative, Geometrical and Reflective images
    • I need to recognise these differences, at the time, if I am to use the knowledge to improve my images. Again, more time thinking.
  • Overall – I do need to spend more time thinking but NOT ahead of making the first, intuitive, images. My intuition for a composition is a strength. Therefore I should make the first images quickly, with the minimum of thought, then review, determine my intents and attempt to strengthen the image.