OCA study day at landscape exhibition at the Ffotogallery in Cardiff 28’th Feb 2014

This was a visit based around an exhibition of landscape photography at The Ffotogallery


The OCA group at Ffotogallery

 John Umney, a fellow student, considers that landscape is bound to have a political connotation!? I wonder if this is so while remembering Burke who wrote about the sublime and was also a politician. After a brief glimpse of the work on show, am reminded of the beautiful and the sublime.
You make the path by walking” is a series of photos referring to a path walked by Paul Gaffney. The book came first and then there was the offer of an exhibition from Ffotogallery. The presentation avoids direct references to where places actually are.
Michal Iwanowski has made a body of photographs around a journey from Russia, Belarus and Lithuania to Poland by foot and bicycle. Based on the diary of a journey made by his grandfather and father from the Russian Gulags. The exhibition title, “Clear of People“, comes from this diary.
The photographs lack the strong contrast associated with much photographic work; this gives them a certain softness and makes them look more like real life.
Tutor, Jesse Alexander, is the author of the OCA Landscape module; Gaffney is a former pupil of his from Newport while Michal Iwanowski studied alongside Jesse.
“With the exhibition rather than the book, one is able to make one’s own journey through the images!” – another pearl of wisdom fom John Umney !??
Both exhibitions are edits of their books but also contain images not in the book.
Michal Iwanowski has a lot of branches in his images! This leads one student, Anna Goodchild, to remember a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke called The Panther …

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Paul Gaffney did not hang photos at same level; this helps to avoid a linear reading of his work and to introduce movement within the reading. Looking philosophically at the path; images reveal different kinds of path. He wants the viewer to follow a certain journey while walking around exhibition. No glass over the photos helps to see them more clearly. Photos relate to the exhibition space.
A couple of photos show an almost lost path; poet Robert Frost “The Path Untrodden”. Pastely colours. In some, texture made by leaves important. Images visually linked yet each one suggests a certain idea or mood. Not a chronological ordering. Contemplative approach. Individual readings of images possible as aspects of the path. In all, he walked about 2,000 miles. Practices Vipassana and found this work as an expression of that. Suggested that making a photo is an interruption to the flow of things. Flatness, harshness to these cold images? No sunlight, diffused light. Book of exhibition still available but no longer from artist. Zen quality. Texture not glazing. Gaffney prervisualised the exhibition space so knew what he wanted to do. First three images refer to an obstructed path.
After seeing the exhibition, we start to look at each other’s work!

Does one expose for maximum detail or for creative effect? I suggest former by metring off highlights rather than going for the ceative effect which can be done later. The tutors however suggest that going for creative effect is better; I can’t help but think that this is a more film orientated approach when the original rather than a copy was sent to the editor! One can of course do both since one needs to retain both detail and one’s impression of how the scene might be seen. Ansel Adams made the allegory of the capture being the score and the finished product the interpretation or performance of that score.

Exercises are about tutors seeing you have done the work; assignments are judged in terms of marks. OCA study days often come around to discussing the way the system of learning works.

Level 2 more intellectually challenging than technically demanding. Exercises are tasks that need understanding but do not expect great results; they support you in your practice of photography. Processing a RAW file is a skill that needs learning but not a part of the written course as software keeps changing. There are a lot of technical online tutorials to help one with this part of the learning process.

The WOW factor in photography. Capitalist model of photography encourages this as images need instant appeal to sell themselves to the customer.

OCA course about exploring photography and not getting too bogged down.
Two new photographic courses at Level 1

OCA course has become more academic but then photography itself has become more conceptual. Theoretical considerations can be overwhelming yet have their place.

Show my Somerset Levels photos (the others seem more interested in this than the possibility of Western Tibet) and explain that it a landscape project rather than a social documentary approach focusing on people … it shows images of the flooded Somerset Levels followed by rephotographs of the same locations when the water has gone and Spring has come. There is feedback …

aesthetically appealing, beautiful images but serious theme underlying 

REF Simon Norfolk beautiful seascapes with unsettling captions … 

images don’t need people; avoid cliched “Points West” images 
what about photographing the mundane effects of flooding? not really part of what this project is about but a possible approach is to photograph the after effects of the flooding as well as the same landscapes in the Spring/Summer

OCA course about groups of images rather than the singular image

John mentions Michael Ackerman who uses film thereafter creating books

captions need to relate directly to the images and reflect their meaning


One thought on “OCA study day at landscape exhibition at the Ffotogallery in Cardiff 28’th Feb 2014

  1. Pingback: OCA study in Wales | Progressing With Digital Photography

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