One way of describing it is, that a Pecha Kucha is a very basic narrated PowerPoint presentation, 20 slides, each 20 seconds in length.
Because it was the latest assignment for the MA in Photography that I’m now doing, and it took such a long time to complete that it seems a waste not to do something with it, so here it is.
From the lecturer:
I would like you to plan a walk through your town, city or local area, perhaps linking creative hubs or places of interest. You should spend time considering your route and planning your journey carefully. Your walk should give an insight into who you are as a creative individual, highlighting some of your key interests. It should also be an exploration of your professional environments and your local creative businesses.
I chose one of my favourite locations in Berlin, the Tiergarten, a huge wooded park right in the center of Berlin.
The background images are from the walk itself and the circular images my thoughts about the walk, the city, and my key interests, particularly in regard to creativity.
It wasn’t easy to cram it all into 400 seconds and still make it coherent, and of everything the narration itself was the most problematic and caused me more stress than everything else put together.
The remnants of a childhood stutter mean that it took me over 12 hours to record just 6 minutes of narration, and even then it was full of mistakes, so I’ve replaced it with a version by Fiona, my Mac’s Scottish English voice.
Welcome to this, an almost scientific experiment, to rate a series of 18 images according to how curious they make you feel about them.
There are no right or wrong answers, in fact most of them will be lucky to arouse any curiosity more than a yawn, and will therefore deserve no rating, but that’s the whole point of the experiment, to determine at which point curiosity is aroused – and your opinion is important.
Go through the image-gallery very quickly, an instinctive rating is just as accurate, and give each image a rating between 0 and 5 stars and leave comments as you feel appropriate.
Unfortunately you are required to be a and to participate, but I’ve tried to make it as painless a process as possible.
Until now I would always have described myself as a street-photographer, but here in Germany street photography is becoming ever more challenging, not only are the laws and rights to privacy here relatively strict, which severely hampers publication, but there is also a lot of misinformation around as to what is, and what isn’t allowed: more info
So . . . there I was disillusioned with street photography, yet again, and so I went hunting around on the internet looking for something else to channel my energies into, when I came across a video on YouTube from Don Giannatti:
I then watched a few more of his videos, and I liked his style and down-to-earth approach to lighting, and the way he described them I found that I easily understood lighting concepts that had until then always been a bit of a mystery, so I decided to take part on his 8-week online course, and I’m loving it, I’ve learnt so much.
I can’t recommend him highly enough, he’s opened my eyes to a whole new world of photography.
The brief was to find a textured background and a contrasting object to photograph against it.
And what better than a piece of old green glass shot against some old wood I had lying around?
Actually, everything looked fairly anaemic until I put water in the bottle as an experiment and some of it dripped out onto the surface of the wood, I instantly recognised its potential, and then spent the next hour and a half getting the water to look right.
Back and side lighting can be counter-intuitive, because the impulse is always to light directly from the front, but lighting from the back casts lovely shadows into the foreground which become compositional elements in themselves.
I originally had an old apple with a withered skin to use for this project, but again it looked underwhelming, so I grabbed my evening meal of Mediterranean salad with white bread and carefully arranged it under the lights.
Lighting power tools isn’t as easy as you would first think, especially, if like me, you choose something as challenging as a white sewing machine shot against a white background.
I learnt more about lighting with this subject than I would ever have imagined, as everything was amplified, the margin for error was extremely narrow, and there was simply no-where to hide, every mistake stuck out like a sore thumb, and I had to spend an inordinate amount of time eliminating them.
Getting up really close and personal with food, capturing the textures so that you can almost taste it.
I went to the local supermarket and bought a variety of foods, but eventually chose the bag of pistachios, I poured them into a bowl, twisted the M4/3 30mm macro lens onto the camera and started taking images, and although they superficially always looked good, the shallow depth of field always left one or two nuts ever so slightly out of focus.
But this type of photography has to be perfect, so I got out my DIY C-stand – a cheap microphone stand from Amazon – and shot it directly from above, almost like a flat-lay.
Believe it or not, I really struggled with this topic, I couldn’t think of anything, I spent hours going through everything in my mind, until by chance my eye landed on this old wooden box sitting in the corner of the room gathering dust.
I cleaned it down, gave it a good oiling, but it still seemed a little mundane, so I bought some special paper to photograph it against, and filled it with glass marbles to give it some visual interest, but I almost regretted it, because the shiny glass surface of the marbles reflected everything, especially the lighting I had previously setup just for the box.
It wasn’t ideal, but I did learn a lot.
Week 7: Small, hard light – shadow play
Although I had struggled the week before, this idea came to me almost fully formed within 10 minutes of the week’s topic being unveiled.
I had recently thrown away an old disco mirror ball, but had kept the spot-light it came with, I quickly re-purposed it into a primitive snoot and cut myself a cookie out of a sheet of paper to represent a window frame, I found a small glass at the local flea-market, filled it with water and red food colouring, took a cutting from the ivy growing in the garden, and spent the next few hours putting it all together in a pleasing composition.
I did very little editing, I pressed the enhance button and desaturated the background in Photoshop to emphasis the colours.
Obviously it is a little different to what I had originally imagined, but very nice it all is too.
Week 8: One large soft light
I originally thought that I had a fantastic idea for this assignment, lemon tea and biscuits shot from above, so I went to the shops and bought myself expensive French patisseries, and a fresh lemon.
I spent hours setting it all up until I had what I wanted, I then edited it all in PhotoShop until it was as good as it gets, but it was only when I was about to upload it that I noticed, that someone had done something very similar the week before, and I have no wish to be accused of visual plagiarism, so . . . back to the drawing board.
Luckily though, this idea came straight to me the morning after, almost in a dream, and it contains an element of visual humour that the lemon tea never had.
All in all, I’m very pleased with the result.
That was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my photographic journey, I learnt so much, it’s changed the way I think about light and lighting, I can only recommend it.
I am so thankful that I stumbled across Don Giannatti’s video on YouTube all those weeks ago, and I’m especially grateful to Don himself for taking the time to arrange and organise all this, thank you.
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