Assignment 4- A Sense of Place

Imagine that you are on an assignment for an intelligent, thoughtful travel publication that is demanding a considered, in-depth treatment. Aim to produce sufficient images on a specific location to fill, say, six pages. This would mean about six final images as chosen, but at least twice this number of good publishable images from which to make the final selection. Aim to show the character of the place and of the people who live there with as much visual variety as possible.

Prior to beginning this assignment I did a lot of research into street photography, and how photographer’s approached capturing people in their environments. I got some great inspiration from photographers such as Laurent Roch, Chema Hernandez, Rui Palha, Alison McCauley and Ed Peters. These photographers opened my eyes to the array of styles in this one genre of photography. Using bold colours, single anonymous figures, strong shapes, silhouettes and interesting subjects and activities are all varying ways of creating a strong image in street photography. I did further research into photographer Andreas Gursky whose large-scale prints are truly something to behold. These dramatic images conveyed a starkly different feel to the previous images I had researched. The mass crowd of people, appearing like ants in the frame create a distant view of the human species in its environment. All these varying photographer’s approaches provided me with a wide-range of knowledge on approaching this assignment.

I was excited when I first read the brief for this assignment. I had the perfect location in mind, and chose two adjacent seaside towns in Northern Ireland called Portstewart and Portrush. Both these towns are teamed as the one resort, commonly known as “The Port”, and one simply cannot be visited without the other. Portstewart contains the long promenade, ice-cream shops, children’s play park, and beautiful views. Whilst Portrush contains the amusement park, the marina, and equally beautiful views also! On a typical day out to this resort, one would tarry between the two towns all day; thus I felt that I could not simply capture one town without the other.

I was aiming to capture both the serenity and the beauty of The Port, as well as the activities that are available here in peak season. I captured the images over two separate days in order to ensure that I got a good variety of shots. I used my canon 650d along with both a standard and telephoto lens, as I have learnt previously that both these focal lenses have different strengths and weaknesses. I approached this beautiful location, aiming to look at it from a different perspective than normal. My tutor suggested that I needed to begin looking at my photography with an eye for not ‘how’ I made the photograph but ‘why’ I took it. She also suggested that my assignments were making me less reactive and more reflective. Therefore, I decided that I needed to be more instinctive when capturing my images for this assignment. I researched and planned carefully the type of images that I wanted to capture, and then when I arrived at the towns I was completely prepared and let my instinct and reactions take over; hoping to produce creative and unique shots. I simply took a seat and waited to see what activities I spotted. I repeated this process around the area, watching and observing people in their own activities, and I am very happy with my finished results.

Had I been taking these images with no end-result in mind, I would probably have captured more of the scenery of the area, and of the town, marina and general views of this beautiful location. However, as it was for an article, I wanted the images to be especially eye-catching and interesting; not simply ordinary images that didn’t really capture the essence or character of the people and the place. Therefore, in all my finished images, my aim was to show the beauty and character of these little towns, the people who live and visit here, and the activities that they carry out here.

Upon completing this assignment, I had a finished selection of 12 images. Out of these I had to choose a final six images. Therefore the images below simply did not make the grade. I love all these images, and there is nothing specifically wrong with any of them. However I had to make some tough decisions and select my final 6 images carefully.

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Below you will find my final six images for this assignment, ordered in the way in which they would be displayed in the travel publication magazine.

PAGE 1- I knew that I wanted to capture this beautiful town from a clear high point in order to show the whole town in all it’s beauty. I drove for a long while looking for the perfect viewpoint to do this seaside town justice. Finally I came across this mountainside view which was perfect! I captured several exposures, using a shallower depth of field than normal, with an aperture of f8 in order to capture every single detail. I knew immediately when capturing this specific exposure that this was the shot I would use. The dark figures to the bottom left of the frame create a nice illustration that show this town in use. The cars lined up the streets of the Port show this town on one of it’s slightly busier days- emphasising the bustling tourist aspect of the area. In editing, I converted this image to black and white as this provided me with more control over the dramatic sky. I was able to adjust the RGB sliders to increase the impact of the sky, and produce a more dramatic image. I love the contrasting elements of this photo; with the busy traffic and cars lined up the streets, compared with the two lone figures passing by and the peaceful surrounding scenery. It really sums up the different elements of the Port perfectly.

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PAGE 2- I then moved into the very centre of town to capture the action! The Port is the perfect spot for older people to visit, and they are scattered everywhere eating ice-cream, walking hand in hand with their spouses, and mostly, parked on benches like this old couple! Therefore it seemed fitting that I included an elderly couple doing just this in my final images. I really enjoy capturing older people, and so I was chuffed when I noticed this humorous old lady wearing a bright pink hat that covered her eyes, making her tilt her head to see over the rim! I wanted to capture them candidly, so it took a few shots from the side of the couple before I finally built up the courage to get a shot from the angle I wanted. Just as I was about to capture the shot, the old lady turned and looked at me; peering over her bright hat once again! It was then that I pressed the shutter and was left with my perfect shot! I love the humour of this image, and really wanted the central part of the shot; the bright pink hat, to be evident. It was this that first drew me to the couple, and so I felt that it needed to stand out in the image. Therefore, I decided to place the whole image in black and white, leaving just the lady’s hat in colour. I was very pleased with the finished result of this image, and it truly shows the character of the people who live in this sea-side resort.

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PAGE 3- It was now time to move on to the real action of this resort; Barry’s Amusement Park. The main attraction in this little park is this ride; The Big Dipper. Therefore, I decided to include this attraction in my final images. I waited for just the right point; the best and most thrilling part of the ride; hanging upside down on the large loop. It was then that I captured this shot. I used a wide-angle in this shot to give the image context in the form of the lit up sign, and other tracks that form this ride. The excitement and again, the tourist qualities of this sea-side town are highlighted through this shot of the Big Dipper.

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PAGE 4- As Barry’s is such a huge element of this resort, I felt that it was only fitting to get a more close-up example of the excitement and fun that it brings to the visitor’s of the town. The bumper cars are another extremely popular attraction at this amusement arcade. They are great for everyone, allowing some friendly competition as friend’s and family all try to bump each other’s car. This is followed by much laughter and fun. It was this exact moment that I wanted to capture on this attraction. Therefore I stood and watched this couple, waiting for that moment of action, where everything comes together for that one perfect second to produce that great shot. This was an important element that I discovered in my research into Street Photographers. Finally that perfect moment arrived, as the husband bumped into his wife, and her face filled with life and excitement. This image alone sums up the excitement and the thrill of the Port, showing it’s appeal for all ages.

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PAGE 5- My next selected image was of the children’s play park. This is another central area of the Port, and so it simply had to be included in my final six images. Thus far I have shown how the Port appeals to the elderly, middle-aged, and teenagers. However, I have yet to show any children in my publication. This lovely park looks over the ocean and is a beautiful place for parents to bring their children to play. We see in the image that there are many parents here with their children, pushing them on the swings, helping them up the steps to the slide, and even going on the sea-saw with them! This is another huge aspect of the heart of this community. I used a wide-angle in order to show as much of the area as possible.

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PAGE 6- This is my favourite image of the set, and so I saved it for last in order to finish off my selection strongly. The sun was beginning to set on the town, and the sky had turned a bright orange. I thought I had finished shooting for the day, and was packing up when I noticed this young girl walking along a wall, forming an amazing silhouette, even to my eye. I quickly got out my camera, (remembering my tutor’s advice about being more reactive!) and captured this shot. The whole resort of Portrush and Porstewart is surrounded by stunning ocean, and this is the heart of these little sea-side towns. The fresh sea air, and distant sound of splashing waves hits any tourist the moment they step out of their car. Therefore it seemed only right to finish this selection with an image of this glistening ocean being appreciated by the people who live here.

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I really enjoyed this assignment, and am beginning to really love the rawness of street photography. The naturalness of capturing people in their daily lives- totally unaware of the camera is truly something to behold. I have learnt so much about street photography through my research, exercises and assignments throughout this entire module, and hope to continue capturing this style.

Below you will find an image gallery for easy viewing.

 

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