PHO705: Week 13 Reflection

One to One Preparation (and now for Group Critique)

In preparation for a “one to one” session, a range of portfolio work has been prepared in advance. Beware, if you download the PDF file it is a large size even if already reduced*.

For presentation, it has been decided to screen share in Acrobat page edit mode to give both a visual overview and page by page viewing depending on the zoom setting.

Status is a decision needs to be made to proceed with one theme. of which several are shown.

Probable preference for priority is indicated as

  • sepia landscape & family archive
  • cellular theme
  • abstract with still from newsreel
  • surrealism and other
PDF-trial-v0.3

There is a display of:

  • a scene-setting image of current theme is on page 1
  • sepia ‘Landscape’ prints at the start on pages 2-13
  • a transition from cellular to landscape is at pages 14 and 15
  • the earlier ‘landscape’ style variations are at pages 16-19
  • a venture into the surreal is at various points starting at pages 20-22
  • a family archive crossed with ancestral biology on page 23
  • a theme of ghosts is explored at pages 24-28
  • a non-human variation is on page 29
  • a montage series with newsreel extracted stills begins pages 30-32
  • a lesson learned is on page 33
  • the pan cellular ex cellular series runs over pages 34-40
  • running on to rather surreal examples of work on pages 41-42
  • the cellular continues on pages 43-47
  • the re-use of earlier work is broached at page 47
  • an emergent theme example ‘animal life’ in b&W and colour pages 47-49
  • random elements end the series pages 50-52 with page 52 a caricature

*Learnings at this point prior to the meeting concern the first collection as a PDF and files size being 8x over the allowance. It is the first collection and the solution is to use Adobe InDesign and the save to animated PDF format. This was taught at the university and the subject of an FMP video.

in the transition to professional quality (a lot of the earlier work has been experimental) standardised sizing has been arrived at and needs to be worked retrospectively across the whole image set for display consistency.

PHO705: Assessment Period Reflection

So what has been happing of late?

  • Making new work.
  • Planning going public. (which requires new work)
  • Ramping up the professional
  • Ramping up the quality of work

Overall, an exciting period of practice development.

Concluding, is the intense period of reading and learning putting substance behind research based practice. Going are the days of creating themes in support of project narratives.

For visual language development samples of themes have been created.

  • Father mitochondria layered on mother image (mitochondria as transmitter). Biological markers ready to be layered in next stage.
  • Stills dropped out of newsreel of 100 years ago montaged into project examples
  • Family archive motherline photograph layered with glow image (mitochondria)
  • graphic development of DNA and cellular imagery and text

A rather busy and very worthwhile period indeed.

Three months of work to finish off a professional portfolio of high quality to be taken public Reacquainting with the MA Photography requirements caused a close look at example work created so far.

There were then many ups and downs hinging on the practice of being fully digital in the making. With much time spent in the digital darkroom the methodology was fully re-examined and especially following the digital imaging Symposium at Westminster University.

The Symposium was good and gave access to several key scientists in skincare and medical forensics. For those that know about the project the relevance should be clear. Much was confirmed around the artist’s assumptions of biological science as applied here.

The quality of the work then came under deep scrutiny anticipating cramming a lifework into a meagre 10MB PDF file without undue loss of image quality. The answer is InDesign and the methods documented in the FMP block.

However, any signs of a borderline quality entering the process and the situation will only worsen. Were there signs in current work?

Previous bad experience of transferring to mobile working and lack of connectivity in the Scottish Highlands led to a deliverable quality issue. It was never planned to be like that – the cohort will remember those events.

In an attempt to avoid technical issues deep scrutiny was performed on the work. A solarisation filter is quick to pick up on banding faults and pixelation (not in the original but from processing).

How to resolve this? Some very detailed analysis and comparison trials showed how and where different algorithms broke down affecting an unacceptable number of images.

During the last week of the “break” or so called University Assessment Period, and to which this blog post pertains work continued urgently to sort out technical issues. A number of workshops and external resources were called upon and a growing amount of time was soaked up.

This continued into Week 13. The current blog post is a retrospective. That is how important it was to resolve quality, instigate testing and build a professional approach to practice. Time normally spent learning and researching art and photography began to make way to working the critical methodology during the FMP blocks.

It would be great to have visual examples accompanying this post but for now it is important to continue making and delivering images elsewhere. Return later when priorities resolve.

There has been much catching up to do. After 10 weeks of being slain by the aftereffects of two bouts of flu, it is sad to note the passing of two more family members in the run-up to year-end.

In a way, the losses underline the importance of the project being made complete to pass on to others. The pay-off would be in gathering the technique that others may wish to use with their own, alongside forever unfolding events on a world stage, whether that be a 9/11 or something else.

PHO705: Assessment Period Reflection

The Helter Skelter that is Making (of late)

The research period moved into the making phase within the digital darkroom.

Many up and downswings have been encountered in the making, from renewed optimism to unexpected problems arising that needed to be resolved.

More structured recording of image statuses has now been established on Evernote as a wider body of work has emerged, none of which is entirely satisfactory at present.

Direction around abstract outcomes such as landscapes for some images fell foul of image banding as well as encountering more editing suite false images on the screen versus print.

Being guarded and mindful of this resulted in changes. A solar checking layer is used to detect banding where it might not be immediately visible to the eye followed by a step by step expansion method and 100% viewing (or do and undo merge layers).

And so too, subject matter bias changed in moving to the biology theme with the development of skill in making cellular images alongside associated graphic elements. Maybe too this was an avoidance strategy as avoidance of quality issues which and it led to switching the major theme to and fro ghost/landscape/biology

The methodology has changed through this as methodology currently biases towards forms as Surrealist imagery.

Another branch in the period in between these stages meant conducting a series of trials of merging stills dropped out of newsreel video. That presents challenges with the mixed resolution, edge problems and differential lighting when integrating. Time out was taken to practice overcoming these challenges but as a major wartime theme production has stopped for now. The problems can be tackled with more confidence having gained more practice on different methods. Whether to return to this or not is the question. There are probably too many themes for a book or exhibition and so something has to go. If the biology theme of cellular imagery went ahead then maybe too many similar images result. There is no obvious solution at this stage and so work continues with the numerous themes,

Reading the course requirement for quality scanning and professional making at this level on top of evidencing this does lead towards a situation of panic in these matters.

Thinking through the image merging the experience from the Summer exhibition weighed. Separate archives (of the author in this case) and abstract expressionistic images led to triptych layouts that worked in exhibition but not as a book (the weight of paper in a signature with not enough strength in the stitching. Signatures are complicated, always looking wrong at the earlier printing stage but turn out right, where triptych became unmanageable in the handling and ended up being complex or not practicable as a dummy.

PHO705: Working up the resolved portfolio

This blog post is a mixture of items from artist research through publication planning through to misleading image editing.

Artist Research

Helen Chadwick

Tony Essler

Exhibition

In the next week, the venue and date will be confirmed with the venue owner. The last exhibition, during the summer, was presented to an audience as a learning exercise in preparation for this FMP module of the MA Photography course.

As a learning thing, it was invaluable on all fronts. It is proposed to repeat this form and improve upon areas identified from advanced ‘marketing’, through to the quality of the edit with improved visual language and narrative.

Rather than stand alone as an unmarked work – course delivery is digital, the exhibition will again avoid being a Vanity project and help build the final PDF edit.

Newspaper|Magazine| Book

Having learned to hand bind and having practised by making two books and an exhibition pamphlet, the principles of making have been acquired and will be used to guide the selection of paper medium rather than allocate time to the unmarked making which cannot be handed in.

So printed artefacts will be designed and made but will use a professional service. A candidate service is currently being looked into.

Exhibition printing and mounting can be kept ‘in-house’. A decision will be made on technique, whether or not to do as in the summer surface mount prints on 40 by 50 board. The quality of the craftsmanship can be elevated to archival print mounting using cutouts and non-destructive taping.

The idea is to act in advance and take advantage of the settled decision to use 4 by 5 print ratio at A4. This means the board can be cut-out in advance. The layout is proven to work with the exhibition physical space and a simplified display method and available studio-style lighting which has been further augmented.

The ‘deal-breaker’ is in the image edit. If necessary, any archive image used that has to be landscape 4 by 5 ratio, will break the exhibition layout not just in terms of conformity but spatially – the exhibition needs to sit well within the identified space.

The conformity can be enforced as long as it makes sense and any ‘vital” image may be re-introduced into the final PDF edit.

The main images were previously described as being in an abstract expressionist style, by creating an emotion or feeling. The project has moved ever closer to the abstract surreal.

The abstract surreal is intended to be themed with archive photographs: originals of the author, family archive or images processed from historical video footage.

Image Editing Update

Having fallen foul of an editing software fault during a previous module (Adobe Lightroom Community, 2018), during the break it became necessary to view edits at a Zoom level of 100%. Work saved radically differed from the same image displayed on-screen during the editing process. What you see is not what you get. Variation from intent does represent a problem.

Some research into the unintended change led to an answer online (Adobe Photoshop Community, 2018).

The explanation is that the processing software avoids computer processing load by interpolating any smaller representation. In the current project, this is typically when the evolving image is fitted to screen – do not rely on what you see on screen unless at 100%. This became apparent in making image comparisons of processing Method A versus Method B following last months (December) Symposium on Imaging Science.

Bibliography

Adobe Photoshop Community (2018) Merge Layers fault. Available at: https://community.adobe.com/t5/photoshop/merge-adjustment-layers/td-p/9842482.

Adobe Lightroom Community (2018) Random red blocks appear on images exported through Lightroom. Available at: https://community.adobe.com/t5/lightroom-classic/seemingly-random-red-blocks-appear-on-images-exported-through-lightroom/m-p/10134977.

Innocence (2020) innocence paris. Available at: https://www.innocence-paris.com/fr/.

PHO705: Assessment Period Reflection

This reflection is made during the break otherwise timetabled as the first of three weeks of a University assessment period. No work on the Final Major Project FMP module is under assessment at this time. It is simply a break during which work is able to be progressed.

The activities conducted have been:

  • Guest Lectures and
  • Post-processing photographs.

Guest Lectures

The (optional) lectures watched back are:

  • Christiane Monarchi Part 1
  • Christiane Monarchi Part 2
  • David Moore
  • Guy Martin

The guest lecture by Jim Mottram was viewed last year. These lectures have been very useful and represent a blogging task that competes for a limited resource (time) when working on the priority task of making work. It will be necessary for completeness to return and write up the blog posts. It is interesting blogging this point of view when it is still the break.

Post-processing

The methodology employed is to post-process photographs of healing wounds into surreal/abstract style. Subsequent to this is a choice of theme that is essential to building a narrative.

There needs to be an oversupply of candidate images for various outcomes:

  • Exhibition images (for subsequent edit/reduction for the assessment PDF)
  • Book dummy in particular for a group meeting with a Book Designer.

Progress in post-processing

From the outset, time was taken to make the project a research-based project. This has matured and could go on longer than the permitted time for the course but now is coming together as a whole and so making has resumed.

A mixture of figurative images or images with other referents can be seen here. In these images above the referent relates to themes of ghost, inner/outer space, landscape/seascape/mountainscape.

With research ideas in place, making by intuition took take-off once more. As this progressed, that state of flow that is spoken of returned and a variety of outcomes were generated.

Variations sprang forward as in the case of the mind interpreting the outcomes as weird and eerie then finding this feel worked its way into non-healing as you recognise the characteristics in source photographs that likely produce an aesthetic. In particular, there has been an emphasis on synthesising a project theme of inner/outer spaces.

Also, by expanding reading into the Surreal it quickly becomes apparent how geometric manipulations used appropriately can expand the scope of work produced. There is a personal appeal and education bias here. At present, more general acceptance and a decision to proceed will be down to making more geometric manipulations. The purpose is to stimulate structural interest in the original glow images from the trace of healing and life energy.

Module activity has firmly progressed from ArtSci into digital imaging, and from outcomes into how they arise in the conscious mind supported by a reading of the weird and eerie and of the unheimlich and of place.

Another branch being touched upon is a return to further artist research to aid the positioning of practice amongst contemporary photographers.

In the digital post action, it is necessary to limit change if the image becomes overprocessed. For example, banding can occur. In a project that encompasses the real and the imaginary, there is the analogous of realistic depiction and an imaginary version of the image found to be displayed sometimes on screen.

Artefacts first noticed in some processed images in an earlier module returned to haunt a number of edit in FMP. The previous observation was of fringing, now it was of banding.

Eventually, this was traced to image zoom level affecting how the software adapts. The software creates in effect, fleeting visual outcomes that do not exist in reality when saving a file or printing and image. This seemed quite ‘haunting’ until an explanation was found on a technical forum.

The software maker in its attempt to reduce the processing load for a displayed image that is zoomed interpolates the pixel data and injects impermanent changes. Surreal/abstract imagery developed for the FMP Project can be prone to showing the desired finish but it is not possible to save or print.

It is not just the camera that sees differently to the eye, but now the editing software which is deemed an integral part sees differently to the author The camera never lies can be extended to the editor software never lies?

In defence of the software manufacturer, the product is intended for general purpose use within particular specialisms. The type of processing used for the FMP project is susceptible to showing up the problem discussed. It is especially true where there is an openness towards challenging the computing limits.

Integrity checks are now performed on new images during the making. An integrity check would be defined as confirming what is intended is what you see on screen and what you get as a result. We are used to JPEG saves adding artefacts in performing destructive processing when reducing file size. We are already aware of this. It is more of a surprise to see transitional effects that exist completely within the editing software and then vanishes.

If the effect is desirable and needs to be made permanent, then this involves using a camera to photograph the screen. This may or may not be successful by individual image.

Two checks have been routinely incorporated.

First is to add a curves layer with solarisation characteristic. High contrast shows up transitions and identifies banding. Fringing, by comparison, is already directly obvious to the eye.

Curves solar characteristic makes subtle banding more obvious.

Second, as an alternative is to merge layers – the difference is immediately obvious. If editing layers have to be retained then unmerge once the check has been performed.

Finally, try to work at 100% zoom for the true image or switch zoom to check the render. Full zoom at 100%, however, is usually less desirable than fit-to-screen that allows the overall image to be viewed.

Depending on the aesthetic and theme, some forms of banding are referent of DNA testing and so may be desirable in a print.

Reprocessed Photographs

Some photographs taken before FMP have been reprocessed to use more refined techniques that have been developed.

This increases the variety of source material and is consistent with good ethics given the nature of the subject, healing wounds.

More reprocessing is in progress and as the number of outcomes increases a decision can be made.

Narrative

The decision is pending at present around the visual theme. Adding archive to the mix is felt to really strengthen the presentation making it more accessible to the viewer. One processed image has had a second processed image layer added where the still was dropped out of video footage. The combination works well. There is a judgement needed in such pairings and whilst a second paring was found it still remains at present to increase the stock of surreal/abstract images.