Monday, 31 March 2014

Master Photographer's

Though am using that title, a lot of people will think I am talking about the past masters whom I have mentioned before such as Aleksandr Rodchenko or Robert Doisneau, no I am talking about a little known photographer, whom I happened to have had the opportunity of viewing their work.

This photographer is all about playing with the shadows and the light, using the emphasis on shadow to exploit the light, much the same way as Lee Friedlander used everyday objects to frame his subject matter.

Ray K. Metzker is one of photography's greatest innovators he uses black & white photography to its greatest potential, okay admittedly we have spoken about those photographer's who used colour to exploit shapes, light, tones and composition to great effect. However when you look at the work of Ray Metzker, he certainly makes you think outside the box in much the same way as Rodchenko thought about geometry, shapes and composition.

After all photography was always thought of as an art form by those who had gone before (Edward Steichen) to put a name to one who vehemently always championed that cause for photography to be recognised as an art form.

When I first viewed the work of Ray Metzker, I then understood the lesser liked handle "street photography", as opposed to social documentary. Granted there are those who refuse to accept that term or classification of this photographic art form. Some feel it is not right, however look at the work of Ray K. Metzker then think otherwise.

©Ray K. Metzker
His work is not so much social documentary but an exercise in why we should all look at the world, from a different perspective; his framing is incredible. Yes, he is using multiple exposures, he is manipulating the negative, and he is creating art from several elements of his own works, to create another.

I found his work truly inspiring, then it struck me, where have I seen this style in composition before?

The answer lead me back to Henri Cartier-Bresson I was not in the least dumbstruck, in fact I could see why. The reason I could, was actually through another photographer, namely Harry Callahan another multiple exposure aficionado.

©Harry Callahan
That then got me thinking looking at his work and almost recognising the elements of a  Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph. I realised that studying photography was not just about reading techniques or how to do this or that, it is also about learning to see what is in the photograph. Here we can that the play on the double exposure is a truly unique aspect to Harry Callahan's photographic interpretation of a row of buildings.

I had seen this compositional imprint before as I had said earlier, which tells me something about myself, that is to say am beginning to recognise those key elements of composition from certain photographers, and were their inspiration comes from or who they draw their inspiration from in particular.

Reading the signs

So there it is for all to see, once we do see then we will begin to see it in everything day things, you look at the world from a new perspective, as though you were being born to a new world, where what had gone before was nothing as it seemed. You begin to see differently. 
Henri Cartier-Bresson
©Henri Cartier-Bresson
In this early photograph from Henri Cartier-Bresson, look at the centre of the frame, in fact all the way through the middle of the photograph we see the zig-zag cutting through the photograph in much the same way that Callahan has applied his double exposure in his work. 

Shapes and linear aspect in composition can really make your photography sing to the viewer. You can now get an idea of how to interpret these shapes or shadows into your own work. So I decided to shoot a roll of ISO 400 BW Film in my local city centre, keeping my eyes open for shadows or some kind of play on light that was available, I managed to find a few photographs that I may possibly use multiple exposure in creating a montage of photographs with multiple negatives. 

I will post them when I have collated enough images am happy with to post for such a post on this blog. 

©David Rothwell Photography 2014
©David Rothwell Photography
I find it really useful to ignore some social media sites in favour of a couple of books or exhibitions showcasing some very interesting and educational photographic work. Sometimes I swap and change my film moving from Ilford to Agfa film. I find Agfa film is great for pushing, the very fine grain film, which am sure is ADOX film repackaged (Don't quote me on that). Has a very tight grain structure, and so this makes for some great experimentation in camera. Of course when pushing or pulling film, then develop the whole roll as so. 

In this frame we can see I used the light reflected in the shop window to frame the figure or silhouette in the background, also the guy in the left of the frame with his leg angled towards the ground forces you to view the linear rays of light, he also acts as an anchor in the frame, with his shape seemingly breaking up this very linear composition. 

Another aspect to my photography is this, I enjoy watching videos on the subject, rather namely numerous videos on the art of photography. This show is born of the passion of one Ted Forbes a passionate photographer who enjoys shooting black & white, and incorporating the work of master photographers, such as Vivian Maier


So by viewing the work of master photographers, we begin to see hints to who inspired whom, and repitition in patterns, composition, linear, curves, shapes, tone etc.

May be you could try iimplementing some styles or influences of other photographers into your own work, not be a copycat but to give you some idea, of what it is like to photograph in a certain way. 

Until the next time,