Working With a 5×4 Field Camera

A 5×4 field camera is a large format camera. To use one you have to carefully follow these steps:

  • In a darkroom or using a changing bag, load the film into double dark slides.
  • Fix the camera body onto a tripod.
  • Do not attempt to continue onto the next step without the camera secured on the tripod!
  • Open up the camera so the lens hole is at the front.
  • Ensure that the bellows are attached at the front and rear of the camera.
  • None of the nuts need to be completely undone!
  • Attach the lens and open the aperture.
  • Ensure that the front and rear of the camera are in line and are level.
  • Make sure that the red dots are lined up.
  • Take a light reading with the light meter facing the camera.
  • Set the shutter speed and aperture on the camera to match the light meter.
  • Attach the cable release on top of the lens.
  • Move the lens so that it is approximately in focus.
  • Use a dark cloth and loupe to fine focus the picture.
  • Close the aperture.
  • Do not continue if the aperture is open!
  • Load the film into the back of the camera or load the Polaroid back.
  • Pull out the dark slide and turn it over, then push it back in 1cm.
  • Press the cable release to capture the image.
  • Push the dark slide back into the holder and remove it from the camera.
  • Return to the college, process the film, and print from it.

Lee Miller

lee-millerLee Miller was an American photographer. Born Elizabeth Miller, Lady Penrose in Poughkeepsie, New York on 23rd April 1907, she died from cancer at Farley Farm House in Chiddingly, East Sussex, England on 21st July 1977. When Lee was eight years old, she was raped while staying with a family friend in Brooklyn. Miller was introduced to photography by her father, Theodore Miller. She was often used as a model by her father who had taken many photographs of her nude as a teen. Her modelling career was launched when she appeared on the cover of March 1927 issue of Vogue. For the next couple of years she was one of the most popular models in New York. However, a photograph of Lee taken by Steichen that was used to advertise Kotex menstrual pads, caused a scandal and resulted in the end of her modelling career.
In 1929, Miller moved to Paris with the intention of meeting and working with Man Ray. Traditionally, Ray did not take on students, Miller soon became his model, co-collaborator, and lover. While working with Man Ray, Miller rediscovered a technique called solarisation. Man Ray later became known for this technique.
Three years later, Lee returned to New York where she opened up a studio with her brother, Erik, as a darkroom assistant.
In 1934, Miller married Egyptian businessman, Aziz Eloui Bey and moved to Cairo with him. She continued to take photographs in her spare time, some of which are regarded as some of her most striking surrealist images. By 1937, Lee had become bored of her life in Cairo and moved back to Paris. Here she met surrealist painter, Roland Penrose, who she later married.
When World War II broke out, Miller started a new career in photojournalism documenting The Blitz as an official war photographer for Vogue. From December 1942, Miller was assigned as a war correspondent in the US Army for Conde Nast Publications. She photographed and documented many events during this time, including dying children in a Vienna hospital, the liberation of Paris, the battle for Alsace, Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau, and the execution of Prime Minister Laszlo Bardossy. After the war, Miller returned to photographing fashion and celebrities for Vogue for an additional two years.

Ideas and Concepts – Surrealism

Surrealism is a 20th century avant-garde movement in literature and art, which allowed the release of the creative potential of the unconscious mind. It is a cultural movement, and began in the early 1920s.

Surrealist work can be characterised by featuring:

  • Death
  • Sex
  • Violence
  • Religion
  • Dreams
  • Dark-humour

Surrealism can be described as being bizarre, incongruous, irrational, spontaneous, shocking, dreamlike, and abstracted from reality.

A lot of surrealist work has been influenced by the writings and theories of psychologist, Sigmund Freud. Freud was an Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis who lived from 6th May 1856 to 23rd September 1939. He was known for his interest in the unconscious mind. Influenced by his writings, the Surrealists borrowed some of the same techniques to inspire their own writings and art. They used the belief that “the creativity that came from deep within a person’s subconscious could be more powerful and authentic than any product of the conscious thought”. [1]

Violence is another characteristic of surrealism. There is a lot of violence demonstrated in the silent surrealist short-film Un Chien Andaloucreated by artist Salvador Dalí and film-maker Luis Buñuel. Salvador Dalí was a Spanish surrealist painter and artist. He was born in Figueres on 11th May 1904 and died in Catalonia on 23rd January 1989. Dalí’s manic expressions and unusual moustache have made him a cultural legacy in the bizarre and surreal world. Luis Buñuel was a Spanish film-maker. He was born in Teruel, Spain on 22nd February 1900 and died in Mexico City, Mexico on 29th July 1983. During his career he worked in Spain, France, and Mexico. Un Chien Andalou, or An Andalusian Dog, was released in 1929 and was Buñuel’s first film. The film features dream-logic, violence, and gore. Bunuel stated: “Nothing, in the film, symbolises anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.”[2]UnChienAndalou

Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was an American modernist artist. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 27th August 1890, he died from a lung infection in Paris on 18th November 1976. Ray spent most of his career in Paris. He was an important contributor to the Dada and Surrealism movements. Ray considered himself a painter, however he is most known for his photography and photograms. For a while, Man Ray worked for French Vogue where he met fashion photographer Guy Bourdin in 1950.

Guy Bourdin, born Guy Louis Banarès was a French fashion photographer. He was born in Paris on 2nd December 1928 and died also in Paris on 29th March 1991. At one year of age, his mother abandoned him and he was adopted and raised by Maurice Désiré Bourdin. Guy received his first photography training as an Air Force cadet in Dakar from 1948-49. When he returned to Paris in 1950, he met Man Ray. Bourdin had a few exhibitions and even exhibited once under the pseudonym of Edwin Hallan. He had his first publication with Vogue magazine in February 1955 and continued to work with the magazine until 1987. Bourdin’s approach to fashion photography differed a lot from the other photographers. His approach focused more on the exotic, sexual, erotic, glamorous side of fashion photography. A lot of Bourdin’s models had the same doll-like appearance, with many of  them sporting pale skin, lipstick, and red hair. These elements in the models definitely link to the glamour and erotic/sex components. Also, much of Bourdin’s work is based around a pair of shoes – perhaps he had a fetish for shoes and this is where the ‘fetish’ description derives from. Bourdin shared the same style and taste for controversy as Helmut Newton, another photographer who worked for Vogue.

Helmut Newton, born Helmut Neustädter, was a German-Australian photographer. He was born in Berlin, Germany on Halloween 1920 and died in a fatal car accident in West Hollywood, California on 23rd January 2004. Newton was born to a Jewish family and began his interest in photography aged 12 when he bought his first camera. After briefly experiencing a Nazi concentration camp, Newton and his parents fled to South America in 1938. Independently, Newton travelled to Singapore where he found he could stay, working as a photographer for the Straits Times and then as a portrait photographer. In 1940, Newton moved to Australia after British authorities interned him. He stayed in Australia for 17 years, and in this time changed his name from Neustädter to Newton, married actress June Browne, and set  up his own studio with business partner Henry Talbot. In his 16th year of being in Australia, Newton received a commission in a special Australian supplement for Vogue, which was published in January 1956.
However, a year later he won a 12-month contract with British Vogue and moved in London in February 1957. Newton moved between London, Paris, and Melbourne, working for a mixture of German and French magazines, and Australian Vogue. In 1961, Helmut settled in Paris where he continued to work for French Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. By this point, he had established his trademark style shown by erotic, styled scenes that often featured fetishistic subtexts.




Pigeon GIF

Pigeon GIF

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Winona Ryder GIF

Winona Ryder GIF

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Ideas and Concepts – Equality

Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

Martin Luther King was an African-American activist, humanitarian, pastor, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Born 15th January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on 4th April 1968. King was best known for his participation in the growth of civil rights using nonviolent protesting. He became a civil rights activist early in his career as a Baptist minister. In 1955, MLK drove the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, serving as first president two years later, in 1957. With the assistance of the SCLC, King was able to lead a somewhat unsuccessful nonviolent fight against segregation in Albany, Georgia in 1962, and organised further nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

Charles Moore was an American war photographer most famous for photographing and documenting the American civil rights era that Martin Luther King was involved in. Moore was born in Hackleburg, Alabama on 9th March 1931 and died in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida two days after his 79th birthday on 11th March 2010. One of the first photographs he took was of an argument between two policemen and Martin Luther King in Montgomery, Alabama while working for the Montgomery Advertiser. This was published in Life magazine. From this, Moore travelled throughout the South of the USA documenting the Civil Rights Movement. This is where Moore took his most famous photograph called Birmingham, which shows civil rights demonstrators being attacked by firemen with high-pressure hoses. The U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, said that Moore’s collection of pictures from this time “helped to spur passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”.

The Vietnam War, also known as the American War, or the Second Indochina War, was a Cold War-era proxy war. Proxy wars are wars that result when opposing powers use third parties for fighting each other directly. The Vietnam war took place over 18 years, 4 months, 4 weeks, and 1 day from December 1956 to April 1975. The war covered North and South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Larry Burrows was an English photojournalist best known for his pictures of the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Born on 29th May 1926 in London and died on-the-job along with fellow photojournalists Henri Huet, Kent Potter, and Keisaburo Shimamoto when their helicopter was shot down over Laos on 10th February 1971. Burrows’ photographs were published in Life Magazine in 1965, entitled “One Ride with Yankee Papa 13”.

Philip Jones Griffiths was a Welsh photojournalist who also covered the Vietnam War. He travelled to Vietnam in 1966 working for the Magnum agency. In 1971, Griffiths published a book called Vietnam Inc. with photos that he had shot during his coverage of Vietnam. The South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, criticised Griffiths’ work, remarking, “let me tell you there are many people I don’t want back in my country, but I can assure you Mr. Griffiths’ name is at the top of the list.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was an American politician and 35th President of the United States. He was born on 29th May 1917 and became President in 1961 until he was assassinated during a public parade in Dallas, Texas on 22nd November 1963. During his presidency, the African-American Civil Rights Movement and America’s increased involvement in the Vietnam war occurred.

On 14th October 1962, CIA U-2 spy planes took overhead photographs of missile sites being built by Cuba in the Soviets. The photographs were shown to John F Kennedy on 16th October. Kennedy concluded that the missiles were offensive in nature and therefore posed an immediate nuclear threat. However, he now faced a dilemma, he could either a) have the US attack the sites, but which might lead to a nuclear war with the USSR or b) have the US do nothing, but now be faced with the increased threat from close-range nuclear weapons. On 22nd October, Kennedy dispatched a message to Khurshchev and announced his decision on TV.
The US Navy would stop and investigate all Soviet ships arriving off Cuba, starting 24th October. On 28th October, Khurshchev agreed to dismantle the missile sites, subject to UN inspections. The US publicly agreed to never invade Cuba and privately agreed to remove its missiles in Turkey.

The Cold War was a continuous state of political and military conflict between powers in the Western Bloc (the US with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and others) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact). The Warsaw Pact consists of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union, and Albania. It was called the “cold” war because there was no large-scale fighting directly between two sides, however there were major regional wars in Korea and Vietnam.

A protest is a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.

Conflict is a serious disagreement or argument, or a serious incompatibility between two or more opinions or principles.

Confrontation is a hostile or argumentative situation or meeting between opposing parties.

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical attitude that empathizes the value or human beings, individually and collectively, or placing an individual as central to a concern.

Surrealism Test Shots Proposal

Idea 1

8x10 Adelaide Gazelling - Gazelle Photographic Art Print

For my first test shots idea is to shoot portraits of people and put an animal’s head onto their body with Photoshop. I want to give my images a dark and morbid but dreamlike feel as these are some of the keywords when talking about surrealism.

I researched “people with animal heads” and found an Etsy shop selling black and white photographic prints. These prints have a similar composition and look that I want to feature in my own work.

Charlotte Caron is a French artist who creates similar works in colour, however she incorporates both photographic images and paintings in the same piece of work. Caron only uses the head and shoulders of the model and leaves the hair or ear showing. This way the human and animal blend together rather than the animal head completely replacing the human head.

Donnie Darko is an American sci-fi psychological drama film directed by Richard Kelly which features Jake Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore. The film shows the life and adventures of the protagonist Donnie Darko as he looks for the meaning behind his Doomsday-related visions. At the beginning of the film, Donnie is lead outside by a figure in a rabbit costume named Frank. Frank tells Donnie that the world will end at a certain time in exactly 28 days. Later on in the film, Donnie’s sister’s boyfriend, Frank appears wearing the same rabbit costume as Frank the rabbit without the head mask. At one point in the film, Donnie asks Frank, “why are you wearing that stupid stupid bunny suit?” to which Frank replies, “why are you wearing that stupid man suit?”.

For my own images, I would like to combine the composition of the Etsy shop images with the creepiness of Frank from Donnie Darko. I would like to experiment shooting both in studio and on location to see which gives the better result. In my images I would like to use rabbits and goats as these are oftenly used in surrealist portraits although I would like to use eagles and some other birds as well.

Idea 2

For my second test shots idea is to use the human body to create the illusion of something else. An example of this is Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman’s collaboration “In Voluptas Mors”. They use naked women stood in a formation on top of one another to create the image of a skull. This could be quite difficult to recreate so a more practical option would be to use the silhouettes of bodies to create pictures and shapes, similar to the idea of Britain’s Got Talent 2013 winners Attraction.

Another way of creating shapes with the human body is bodyscapes. A bodyscape is an artistic style where closeup images of the human body create the impression of a landscape. Carl Warner has a series of bodyscapes which resemble mountain ranges or desertland. I think this is a very inventive way of shooting the human body because it shows the human form as something more than a being, it can be a mountain or a horizon. My interpretation of the images could be related to the religious view that our “body is a temple”.Shoulder Hill Valley

I would shoot these test shots in the studio and my models will be wearing black leggings and long-sleeve tops so that they feel more comfortable and so there is less controversy about the images.

Idea 3

For my third test shots idea is to shoot landscapes, buildings, or cityscapes and alter them either on Photoshop or in the way I shoot them so there is a slight sense of something not being right about them. We have already experimented with this sort of thing in class by photographing buildings and editing them on Photoshop discreetly.

Randy Scott Slavin is an American director and photographer who has a series of photographs which he calls ‘NYC Unplugged’ that creates surreal buildings photographs using long exposure and commonly lower than eye-height angles facing upwards. I really like the angle that he shoots this series and the way it creates the perception that the photographer is really small and the building is monumental. I am more interested in recreating the angle of the images rather than the long exposure of the car headlights passing.

To do this I would like to be able to go to Birmingham to take photos because there are lots of tall buildings which would be ideal for this idea.