OCA Level 3: Body of Work/Contextual Studies

Category: Sketchbook (Page 1 of 3)

Bread: Images/First Shoot

For this first experiment shooting individual slices of bread, I bought 11 white loaves from the supermarket and set about making a number of photographs to see where this could take me. I used a white and black pillow case for the backgrounds and shot handheld aligning the bottom of each slice along the grid line of my camera view finder. Originally I had intended to use a tripod but found positioning each of the slices correctly to achieve consistency difficult. This is something I will need to revisit however if I am to continue with this project as I want to maximise sharpness and detail in each of the shots.

11 loaves of white bread chosen from my local supermarket to photograph

1. White background:

Instantly I dislike being able to see the pattern of the stitching in the background of these and find the shadows distracting. There are also variations in the white balance which effects consistency. This assessment is based on a prejudged idea of wanting the slices of bread to stand out against the background and for this to be plain and lacking in distraction. The downside to this is that the images could appear clinical or sterile. The ‘mistakes’ that I detail above could be a way of negating this and perhaps something that I should not dismiss without consideration. The finished effect will depend entirely on how I choose to present the images.

2. White background – cropped:

Again I feel conflict about whether these are more successful than the images above. My initial though was that they are instantly more impactful, but the more I consider them, the more I start to consider the possibility that allowing the images space to ‘breathe’ could be important. There is also the consideration about how I show variation in sizes of each of the slices which is not evident in these images due to shooting hand held and is further skewed through cropping.

3. Black background:

Presenting the images on a black background is how I imagined they would look before shooting, however, I wanted to experiment with a white background as well to see how the slices of bread looked. These images on a black background here fulfilled my expectations – the tone and texture of the bread is emphasised by the contrasting background which allows the viewer to concentrate on the details of each slice from crust to crumb. The problems of shadows and inconsistent white balance are also negated here.

4. Black background – cropped:

Strangely I find cropping the images here less impactful than the white background – perhaps the lack of distraction with the black background allows the image to ‘breathe’ more as mentioned above.

Initial thoughts on further development:

  • Need to consider how I will be able to shoot using a tripod and ensure consistent composition between each slice for further attempts.
  • Lighting is something I need to think about more. For this initial attempt I used a cheap ring light intended for blogging combined with natural light. If I pursue this project, I envisage photographing many slices of bread which will be impossible to achieve in one shoot as I have here – having a consistent lighting set up will be crucial to achieving consistent results.
  • The eventual presentation of the images is also something to consider – will they be individual or on a grid? Life size or bigger, or even smaller? Again, consistency is the main thing I need to think about.

Bread (1)

Bread lends itself to this project as there is a wide range of products available, from mass produced to hand made and artisan. The process and cost is highly variable for each loaf and I wondered if this would be evident when photographed. The language used in advertising and marketing is also highly evocative and has potential to be used as accompanying text or captions.

For this first experiment, I took some photographs of individual slices and also made some scans. (The bread I had in the house at the time was white bread with sourdough and multigrain batch.)



Further development ideas:

  • Either a plain white or black background could work to remove any distractions.
  • A cloth background over the bread while making scans could help prevent the overexposed areas around the edges of the crust.
  • Lots of different bread slices put together as a grid could work. (Like Penelope Umbrico’s ‘Suns from Sunsets from Flickr‘.)
  • Combining image and text could be an idea, for example, the price of each slice either over the image or as a caption or appropriated text from the packaging in a similar way to Martha Rosler’s ‘The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems‘.

Empty Shops: The High Street

As I brought BoW A1 to a resolution I arrived at the subject of consumerism for my dissertation. For A2 I decided to advance some of the methodology I had used in the previous assignment and begin to explore the retail landscape as it is now. I planned to visit towns nearby and photograph empty shops using my Holga camera. The intention was to begin exploring high streets in the area with the intent of primarily making these images, but also having one eye on how my body of work could progress and advance.

Below are links to separate posts of images from different shops I encountered. I have included both the Holga images and others taken with my main camera and my iPhone. The places visited were: Stanley, Consett, Gateshead, Metro Centre, Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham City:

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