The first project brief – a surprising journey.

Finally putting pen to paper (or posting documented blogs) to chart my research and development of ideas.  After a weekend of blood sweat and tears fighting with wordpress, its inconsistencies and touchy UI personality, I’m delighted that the very basics of presenting posts are happening, albeit not as aesthetically pleasing as I would wish.

I’m left feeling that the focus of the brief of project 1 “People and the environment” for lense based image making, has actually led to question the very heart of photography in a meandering journey, leading pleasantly afar, to an unexpected place.  Group discussions and investigation has actually pushed me to challenge some fairly basic principles in the medium, some of which I have taken for granted for a very long time.  I suspect these concepts are well established for the group, but for me they are not.  Where to start, sadly not at the beginning…

“People and the environment” – the brief.  Beautifully vague, deliberately broad and discovered fairly quickly, absolutely pointless trying to define.  Do we mean the environment or people or people in the environment, tangible or intangible or somewhere in a varied spectrum between all of these?  Of course it can mean all/some of these things and more, such as human impact on the environment.

In looking at the works of well celebrated photographers, such as Ansel Adam or Annie Leibovitz, something struck me about all their work and indeed all the photographers I follow closely.  My attraction was to photographic artists who’s shots incorporate a high dynamic range (not to be confused with HDR processing) and high contrast images as seen in the classical Chiaroscuro works, or so I thought (e.g. Derek Hudson).  Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinvi incorporated the use of extreme light and dark in some of their works, as categorized in post modern commentary as ‘Chiaroscuro’ such as ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ or ‘Head of John the Baptist’ in the National Portrait Gallery.

A simple google search for the uninitiated will reveal Chiaroscuro still alive, well, and kicking aloud many hundreds of years later by Hernán Piñera and Olivier Bain (

The same conceptual elements are regularly heralded in other art forms (

For several weeks I have been grappling with the dichotomy of the brief on the one hand, with the approach taken behind those images I’m drawn to the most on the other.  Conclusions have poised on the unaccredited quote (certainly not mine) and the technical & creative precipice which awaits me, following –

“Masters of photography are the masters of light and composition”

This appears to be a universal truth for those images I’m naturally drawn to.  As I revisit my research, this same concept is present at each and every turn.

In sum, my research for the brief has lead me to question the core of photography for those I admire and whose images I am naturally drawn to.  Each and every one skilfully craft with masterful use of light, irrespective of genre.  My interpretation of the brief is therefore simplistic, the environment around us, but employing those extreme uses of light seen in so many photographers work, even on my door step: (

4 thoughts on “The first project brief – a surprising journey.

  1. Glad to see you’ve committed both words and pictures to ‘paper’ so to speak. Agreed that the project title is vague enough to allow a wealth of interpretative views…


    • Thanks, my next post is going to touch on that too. The usual composition and content guides of leading lines, rule of thirds, fill the frame, off-centre shots with leading space – all designed to highlight/lead towards subject. What I have found really interesting is skillful use of light (such High range, chiaroscuro and even gestalt) direct to subject as a facet in itself…..


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