Week 7: Senses of Place

Basic Black and White Photography with Matthew Swarts

James Casebere.

Emmet Gowin.

Stephen Shore.

Robert Frank.

Gregory Crewdson.

Walker Evans.

Abelardo Morell.

Edward Byrtynsky.

Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Andreas Gursky.

Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Thomas Struth.

Joel Sternfield.

Frank Gohlke.

William Eggleston.

Robert Adams.

Lois Connor.

Richard Misrach.

For Next Week

Download and review the slides from this weeks’ lecture: arts1810-senses-of-place-slides

Explore the contemporary online exhibition “Looking at the Land” by Andy Adams of Flakphoto.com

Read about Robert Adams’ recent retrospective exhibition.

Read about Andreas Gursky.

Expose at least one roll of film in which every negative evokes a sense of place or describe a landscape, real or imagined. If you chose to deal with the real world, you must leave the perimeter of campus. 

Develop, edit, and print 4-6 of your best images for critique in class next week.

Things to consider:

  1. What does “place” or “landscape” mean to you? Think about the variety of work we looked at in class and consider your imaginary framework for beginning this problem.  Does it feel comfortable or confining? Like James Casebere can you conceive of a new (and possibly quite liberating) approach to the idea of place?
  2. Consider how Walker Evans and Robert Adams used the places they photographed to make work that was actually in large measure a portrait of the people who created or inhabited these spaces.  Can you find places or objects that tell similar stories?
  3. Landscape photographs are traditionally still and meditative images.  If this bothers you or seems boring, come up with an alternative!  How would you photograph, for example, the motion of a place?
  4. Remember as always that your pictures are largely driven by light. Get in the habit of being a student of the light in front of you.  How can you move your camera or your body to see things differently?  Have you considered several different views of your subject, perhaps at different times of the day, on different days, at night, etc?
  5. Emmet Gowin has written that every photograph is in some sense a self-portrait. How do you see and make use of this fact about photography in relation to images that depict a landscape?
  6. Think about how Richard Misrach and Andreas Gursky were able to include people in their landscape photographs.  They did so in ways that often implied a certain symbiosis between the figure and the place.  How would you make photographs of this kind of relationship?  How much of the equation would be “formal”?
  7. Consider making a panoramic photograph by combining several prints from different negatives in a way that extends your visual possibilities.  Follow contours,  horizon lines,  branches of trees,  expanses of grass, etc and connect portions of the landscape from print to print.  Do you have to follow the arrangement that occurs naturally in space,  or can you take liberties to re-order the world in interesting ways?

Burning and Dodging in Printing

Most negatives require additional printing techniques during the exposure of the photographic paper to arrive at a well-balanced final print.  Burning in photographic printing is the addition of exposure to localized areas, and is usually accomplished by utilizing a homemade burning card (a simple piece of opaque cardboard with a hole cut out in the center.) When a negative prints with certain areas too light, you may want to burn in those areas by placing the burning card above the easel during additional exposure with the negative in the enlarger.

A simple piece of opaque cardboard with a hole cut out in the center will make a perfect burning tool.

A simple piece of opaque cardboard with a hole cut out in the center will make a perfect burning tool.

You can see where you are adding exposure as the image of the negative will be visible on the top of the card. Some stubborn areas of some negatives will require considerable additional exposure to print correctly. As you learn this technique through experience, it will become easier to judge just how much additional exposure is necessary.  Conversely, you may need to dodge (or hold back) exposure in areas of your negative that print too dark. A simple dodging tool can be constructed from a small (one to two inch) circle of opaque cardboard taped carefully to the end of a wire (a coat hanger will do!).

Dodging tools may be constructed out of coat hanger wire and cardboard shapes taped to the end of the wire. By waving them above areas of your print that require less exposure, you 'hold back' those parts of your negative from printing too darkly.

Dodging tools may be constructed out of coat hanger wire and cardboard shapes taped to the end of the wire. By waving them above areas of your print that require less exposure, you ‘hold back’ those parts of your negative from printing too darkly.

By waving the dodging tool above your negative during exposure, you will be able to hold back areas in the print from getting dark too quickly. Again, the trick to using these tools will become apparent as you try them in the darkroom, but the essential thing to remember is to keep your hands (and the burning card or dodging tool) moving during the exposure, as this will prevent hard edged shapes from appearing on your final print. Experienced printers know how to delicately add or subtract exposure by using these tools, and you will too!

As an example, here is an image from the infamous fashion photographer Richard Avedon, with areas of the print that require burning and dodging marked clearly with plus (+) signs and minus (-) signs for burning and dodging, respectively. The numbers next to these symbols indicate the additional time necessary for those areas. It's a good idea to draw a map like this on the back of your prints so you can refer to them later when you need to reprint.

As an example, here is an image from the infamous fashion photographer Richard Avedon, with areas of the print that require burning and dodging marked clearly with plus (+) signs and minus (-) signs for burning and dodging, respectively. The numbers next to these symbols indicate the additional time necessary for those areas. It’s a good idea to draw a map like this on the back of your prints so you can refer to them later when you need to reprint.

If you are confused about printing techniques in general, please review the video linked below, as it explains basic printing methodology and burning and dodging techniques.

Artist Spotlight: Andreas Gursky