Part four – Resolving and promoting your publication – Final edit

 Final edit and editing for different contexts

(Creativity, presentation and outcomes)

I am always updating my research and shooting new work for my current project as it is constantly evolving and expanding. Because of this doing a final edit is difficult. In this post I will include my latest ‘final edit’ though this may change in a few months when I put on an exhibition at the local library in Baldock. I am still unsure of the exact amount of images I will use in my show as I am still in discussions about this. I think 12-16 is around the right figure. The photographs will be 24″ x 20″ and 20″ x 16″ in size, mounted on foam board without frames.

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An unknown number of tribesmen were killed during the Battle of Wheathampstead in 54 BC. It’s thought British losses would have been significant as it led to the surrender of the Celtic tribes in Britain to Julius Caesar (Gallic Wars).

Looking at this photograph gives me a feeling of tranquility and peace. Such a stark contrast to the bloody event that happened here nearly two thousand years ago. It reminds me a little of Roger Fenton’s The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855. Fenton’s photograph would have been taken not long after the battle happened as he evidenced the cannonballs littering the valley. My image shows no such evidence apart from the physical scar on the landscape itself of the deep defensive ditch. After reading the title I imagine a viewer might ponder the bloody battle that happened here and historical consequences of Julius Caesar’s victory. It is one of my favourite images from a new batch of work I made for my project, not just because of the way it looks but also because of it historical significance.

 

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Hundreds of Vikings were slaughtered including King Guthrum II (King of the Danes) during the Battle of Tempsford in 917 AD (Britons, Saxons and Vikings).

It’s interesting how the mind works and how memories effect the brain. Although not intentional my photograph looks quite similar to an image made by Joel Sternfeld, for his On This Site project. Central Park, north of the Obelisk, New York, 1993 is a photograph made at a place where young girls body was found. The light in Sternfeld’s image much like mine is very beautiful natural side lighting. I was attracted by the contrast and texture the light produced on the tree truck. I struggled for a while to find the right balance but I eventually found what I thought was the best composition by locating the tree in the first third on the left of the frame. I love the way that the light falls on the leaves on the right hand side of the scene. For me this perfectly balances the composition. I was enjoying using my new wide angle lens which is probably the best I have every owned!

 

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Hundreds of Vikings were slaughtered including King Guthrum II (King of the Danes) during the Battle of Tempsford in 917 AD (Britons, Saxons and Vikings).

Not much remains of the Viking castle which once stood here, but the moat is still clearly visible and a bridge that crosses it. I wanted to evidence the remnants of the castle in my photograph after making another more abstract image. The early evening light created some strong contrast which was tricky to control but made the photograph much more dramatic! Symmetry was key to the success of the composition together with the dramatic lighting. Symmetry plays an important part in many of Paul Seawright’s photographs that he made for his Sectarian Murders and Fires projects. Made during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Island, Seawright visually documents places changed permantly by tragic and violent events much like my own work. Seawight’s images are often complemented by long descriptive titles, sometimes quite graphic in their detail. At the start of my body of work I started to do this but soon realised it was quite controversial. Later on I revised my titles to be less graphic but kept the essential information.

 

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An unknown number of soldiers and civilians were killed during the The Siege of Hertford Castle between the 12th November – 6th December 1216 (First Barons War).

Taken at the same location as the last image, I wanted to make a less abstract photograph and show a little bit more detail of the castle walls. The combination of a weathered and aged man-made structure and the natural beauty of the overgrown vegetation makes for an intriguing  juxtaposition and reminds one of the passage of time. This passage of time takes the viewer back to the time of the siege at Hertford castle. This photograph reminds me of Angus Boulton’s mysterious landscape photographs of abandoned Soviet military complexes. His book Restricted Areas includes several such images although the ruins are from a much more recent era. His historical documents like mine remind the audience of the fragility of regimes, empires and governments. All will cease to exist eventually and the remains will be reclaimed by nature.

 

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An unknown number of soldiers and civilians were killed during the The Siege of Hertford Castle between the 12th November – 6th December 1216 (First Barons War).

Bart Michiels’ book The Course of History was a massive influence for me during the later part of this course. I greatly enjoyed Michiels’ more abstract renditions of historical battlefields. His project much like mine concentrates on places effected by violence many years ago. Passchendaele 1917, Goudberg Copse, 2005 is a stunning example of his more abstract photographs which combine beauty, colour and repeating patterns. My own photograph is beautiful while remaining descriptive. The original castle wall is still visible although nature appears to be reclaiming the space around it. I wanted to capture the various textures and colours of the plants surrounding the wall. Keeping the whole image sharp from foreground to background allows the viewers eye to wander around the scene and take in all the details. This image looked great when printed as a large 24” x 20” velvet matt print for my exhibition.

 

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On 15th June 1381, Corpus Christi College in Cambridge was attacked. The college itself was burned and many royal officials were killed. (The Peasants Revolt, 1381).

I have always admired the way that Walker Evans would photograph vernacular architecture in simple but effective way. He would often compose the scene looking straight on at the main subject. His precision and craftsmanship would always shine through and he could transform a fairly ordinary setting into something quite special. His book American Photographs has many example of this. Although he worked mostly in black and white, towards the end of his life he started to experiment with instant colour film. At Corpus Christi College I was instantly drawn by the strong perspective made by the cut grass. It leads the eye towards the front of the building which is lit by the late afternoon sun. It brings out all the details of the building perfectly. The small sign in the bottom left of the image acts like an anchor and also adds a little bit of textual information (a bigger print reveals what it says). I feel that this photograph perfectly depicts the college and the composition is made stronger by the symmetry of the building and the shapes found within the scene.

 

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On 15th June 1381, Corpus Christi College in Cambridge was attacked. The college itself was burned and many royal officials were killed (The Peasants Revolt, 1381).

I have always admired the precision and craftmanship of Thomas Struth’s photography. He normally uses a large format camera mounted on a tripod and he carefully composes his images. His early black and white work concentrated on street scenes and architecture. His photograph Prinzipialmarkt, Munster 1986 is similar in some ways to my own photograph of Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. A street scene where the architecture dominates, it makes the people passing by seem almost insignificant. But the people do give a scale and a historical reference. I wanted to convey a feeling of timelessness, and sadness in my photograph. This place was attacked and burned during the peasants revolt and knowing this information adds intrigue and forces the audience to contemplate the trauma that happened here many years ago.

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150 men were killed during the 1st Battle of St Albans on 22nd May 1455 (Wars of the Roses).

This road was barricaded during the battle and bloody struggle continued here as soldiers attempted to breakthrough it. I made the most of the strong perspective created by the road and building to the left. Throughout this project I have refrained from ‘beautifying’ my images by using Photoshop. I wanted to create photographs which depict a place as they are in a documentary/journalistic way. I want to see the real place not a fiction. I think this ethic comes from when I used to used analogue cameras exclusively and make prints in a darkroom. I also kind of enjoy little unexpected punctums that so often litter photographs. It’s these unexpected details that I enjoyed so much when I viewed Guy Tillim’s Grand Hotel, Beira, Mozambique, 2008 and his other large scale prints at the Constructing World’sexhibition in the Barbican Gallery in 2014. Nadav Kander’s Project Yangtze, The Long River which was also featured in the same exhibition also displays these little details that I find so fascinating.

 

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150 men were killed during the 1st Battle of St Albans on 22nd May 1455 (Wars of the Roses).

‘Late photography’ does not normally include a lot of movement or people featured in the image. Being a busy market town it was hard to avoid people in St Albans town centre, but I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the people and the achitecture. I decided to compose the image in a similar way to my Corpus Christi photograph and used the people walking through the scene to add colour and hint at the modernity now present in this ancient city. I set up my tripod and then took a number of frames, trying to balance the composition as the people passed through. I liked this image the most because the woman in the bottom right corner adds a vibrant colour accent with her bright red jacket. What fascinated me here was how little the town centre had changed since the War of the Roses. The movement of people in the scene reminds me a little of Henri Cartier Bressen’s work and the way he would balance a scene with people and archetecture.

 

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6000 men were killed or injured during the 2nd Battle of St Albans on 17th February 1461 (Wars of the Roses).

According to my research the clock tower seen in this image was the location of some fierce fighting with bowman killing many soldiers as they tried to navigate the narrow street to the right. Again this image juxtaposed architecture and people in St Albans city centre. The woman in yellow added a subtle colour accent to balance the clock tower. I spent about an hour in this one spot and made many images until I felt that I had captured one with the perfect balance. The flat lighting works perfectly to emphasis the details in the buildings in particular the brick work of the clock tower itself. Stephen Shore was the master at photographing urban landscapes when he made his book Uncommon Places in the 1970’s. He would use a large format camera mounted on a tripod and take great care in making his photographs. Every lamppost, kerb, building, and signpost would play a part in his intricate compostions, colour as well would further enhance his imagery.

 

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More than 3000 men were killed or injured during the Battle of Northampton on 10th July 1460 (Wars of the Roses).

After I frustrating couple of hours looking for the best vantage point in the Northamptonshire countryside my eyes fell upon this stunning scene of large old oak trees backlit by the early evening light. I made a few pictures instinctively, carefully metering on the trees themselves to avoid under exposure. I wanted to make sure the texture of the tree trunks would be clear because this is an important part of the scene as well. I’m not sure of the exact age of the trees, but it is possible they were sidlings around the time of the battle. The three trees balance each other in the scene and create a strong triangle (I remember studying this in year one). I get a strong feeling of depth in this photograph, a common compositional tool used by landscape painters for centuries. The lighting was tricky, but the rays of light breaking through the foliage of the trees create a painterly feel which is quite beautiful. Simon Norfolk’s photographs of ruined landscapes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan also made good use of beautiful lighting and echo the look of traditional landscape paintings.

 

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More than 3000 men were killed or injured during the Battle of Northampton on 10th July 1460 (Wars of the Roses).

I saw the long grass blowing in the wind and it reminded me of pictures that I had seen of historical World War One battlefields in Belgium and France. I wanted to create a minimalist feel with my photograph with a dynamic created using the rule of thirds. I love the minimalist work of Andreas Gursky and I was in awe of his exhibition that I went to see at the White Cube many years ago. What I think is important in work like Gursky’s is that they are expectionally sharp and show huge amounts of detail. These details however tiny become fascinating to the audience when large scale prints are seen, for example in a galley space. I wanted my own image to be very sharp and I believe I was successful. The individual blades of grass become a repeating pattern across the bottom third of the image. The line of trees in the mid ground underlines a grey cloudy sky which somehow evokes a melancholy somber feeling that reminds one of a terrible event that once happened there.

 

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An unknown number of men were killed or injured during the Battle of Maldon on 10th August 991 (Britons, Saxons and Vikings).

For this photograph I was definitely aiming for a painterly effect. The composition is dominated by the sky, a metaphor for heaven perhaps? Turner’s paintings come to mind, although nothing specific. I’m aware that Turner used to love the light of the South East coast (not too far from Essex) and it was this beautiful early evening light combined with the winding causeway that really makes this scene come alive. The causeway was crucial for the making of this image not just as compotisional tool, but because of its historical use by the Viking’s during a decisive battle with the Anglo Saxons. To emphasise a strong perspective I made sure the causeway started in the bottom right corner of the frame. It then effectively leads the eye into the rest of the scene, the island and eventually the sky.

 

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A 27 year old man was shot and killed in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire on 28th September 1990.

Another one of my original photographs made on a film camera. The former garage seen here is the likely place where a young man was killed and I wanted it to be central in the image. The composition is minimalist with beautiful early evening light creating a painterly effect. The drum scanned film has created a very sharp and detailed landscape image. The long grass blowing in the wind draws the eye into the scene. Zooming in on the digital image or looking at a larger print reveals huge amounts of visual information. I enjoy looking at the larger print and studying all the little details. I feel like I have drawn subconsciously from the New Topographics for this photograph (researched while completeing level two landscape). Frank Gohlke’s Near Crowley, Texas, 1978 has a similar feel about it although the building is much more prominent in Gohlke’s image. Alec Soth’s Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home, Dyess, AK, 2002 also looks familiar but with less dramatic light.

 

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78 unnamed people died in a barn fire in Burwell, Cambridgeshire on 8th September 1727.

Shot on film and drum scanned, the detail and clarity in this photograph is abundant. This image demonstrates how a landscape can change dramatically over time. This location was originally much more rural looking and at the top was a large barn that burned down. I think the winding road and curb make a strong perspective while the lamp posts, telephone pole and wires create some interesting vertical and diagonal lines. I really like how the telephone wires stretch out diagonally across the top half of the image. Actually quite subtle, it might not be obvious to the causal viewer. Since completing the level two landscape course I very much enjoy photographing urban landscapes. The New Topographics have been a massive influence on my work. English villages often have a quaint mixture or rural and urban which gives an artist lots of subjects to include in an image. It’s hard to ignore Stephen Shore’s influence on my work here.

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A teenage girl was murdered in Midsummer Common, Cambridge on 24th August 1876.

This is one of my favourite prints from my original body of work. Made using a medium format film camera it exhibits a painterly quality and a moodiness that hints at the subject matter. The composition effectively uses perspective and rule of thirds. The late afternoon light is beautiful and creates good texture and colour in the vegetation. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between urban and rural provided by the traffic lights and lampposts to the right and the trees and grass to the left. Eugène Atget’s Hotel de Sens, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, Paris, from the early 1900s is a great example of perspective being used to enhance a composition in an urban setting. Also the curious lack of people in my own photograph made in Cambridge somehow mimics Atget’s photograph made in Paris.

 

 

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