Assignment 3- Buildings in Use

Assignment Brief- Choose five or six buildings and for each produce between two and four images that describe effectively and attractively the way in which these spaces are used. You can choose to include people in the images, or not.

Write a short statement in your learning log demonstrating your understanding of the function of each building, the way in which it was designed to achieve that, and how well you believe it succeeds. In addition, describe how you initially set about showing the important features of each building photographically.

I found this to be the most difficult assignment thus far. Capturing how buildings are used is not something that I have had much practice with, and so I was a bit daunted upon initially reading the assignment brief. Therefore, my research for this assignment was even more imperative, and definitely gave me a lot of confidence upon approaching shooting. I researched photographer Gregory Crewdson, taking note from his unique approach which enabled him to turn everyday scenes into eerie and sinister images. The great thought and planning that went into each individual photograph Crewdson captured was an element of his work which I was in awe of. Consequently I applied this learning to my assignment by paying special attention to carefully planning and composing each image with the upmost care. I balanced this research out with contrasting photographer Martin Parr. Parr is possibly not the obvious choice for a photographer whom one would expect to research for an assignment on buildings in use. However I love this talented man’s work, and learnt a great deal from his images taken which all show superbly how buildings and spaces are used, specifically his images taken of British holiday resorts; from chip shops to hairdressers. His emphasis on a great angle of view, short focal length, and interesting subject matter are all aspects of Parr’s work which I have implemented into this assignment.

Sheep Shed Farm Building

-History, design and effectiveness as a useable space.

This specific building is a farm shed in Yorkshire. It is relatively new and was built in 2000 to house sheep and lambs. The old building had to be knocked down and replaced due to the lack of space for the budding flock and their new-born lambs, as well as the severe winter storms which it simply was not strong enough to withhold. Therefore in 2006 this new building was built. The space works extremely well in enabling the farmers to shelter both the sheep and their lambs together in the winter. After the winter months, the sheep then get sheered for their wool, which is bagged and sold on in large bulk. Some of the lambs are allowed to grow up to have the same purpose as their mothers, whilst others are sold to be slaughtered for lamb meat. This is quite a harsh and unpleasant idea, as I remember feeding lambs at this farm from a very young age. However, farms are predominantly there to produce food for human’s to eat, and this unfortunately needs to be done. The large expansion of space is divided into approximately forty separate pens for each individual mother and their offspring. We also see the space is large enough to create a big enough entrance for tractors or quads to enter easily. The aisles are also a good size to enable the farmer to easily walk down each aisle to access and feed his sheep. The whole building is covered with hay to ensure comfortable bedding for the sheep. The sky lights along both sides of the ceiling provide an abundant amount of light for the animals and the farmer. In conclusion the space is very effective as a usable space to house sheep and lambs in the winter.

-Methods used to show the important features of building, and exposures and techniques used. For this set of images I decided to shoot from the angle of the animals that the building holds. Therefore, I shot from a low down perspective in all three images. This gives the feeling that the viewer is actually experiencing the images from the users point of view. I got the entire building into the frame in both image one and two in order to fully show the size, shape and architecture of the space itself, and thus give a better idea of how it is used. In image three I captured the animals that use the space, with their heads stuck out of their pens eating straw. This clearly emphasised how this space is used to house, feed and shelter sheep in winter months.

(ISO 400, f5.6, 1/1000)

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Cow Shed Farm Building

-History, design and effectiveness as a useable space.

This building is a farm shed in Yorkshire. It isn’t terribly old, and was built in the 1990’s to house cows and their calves in the winter months. Most of these are dairy cows, and are used to produce and sell large quantities of milk from the farm. Others are bulls, which are mated with the cows to produce calves. This enables the farmer to grow their herd and build their business further. The space w0rks well in achieving what it was built for. The building is divided into about twenty large pens, all used to hold around fifteen cows each. The space is plentiful, with the aisle down the centre being large enough to drive a tractor and quad through. The large centre aisle is also used to parade the herd of cows to the milking parlour each evening; and so therefore this wide pathway is a necessity and works extremely well. The sky lights in the roof succeed in providing the building with plentiful lighting for both the animals and the farmer. The strong architecture of the building frame protect the animals well by creating a sturdy shelter from the elements of the winter months.

-Methods used to show the important features of building, and exposures and techniques used. For this building I used similar techniques to the previous set of images. Again I captured the images from the perspective of the animals that use the space. I photographed two images that clearly showed the entire building; thus giving a nice wide angle to demonstrate the full size, space and structure of the building. In image one the wide angle is used to show the full outside of the building, and a snippet of the inside. We see a cow being revealed through the shadows of the inside, thus beginning to illuminate what this building may be used for. I included the cow feeders in the frame as well in order to build up an idea of use further. Image two again uses a wide-angle to clearly show the indoor space in full. We are now beginning to get a strong idea of the usage of the space, and can clearly see that cows are housed here. Using a wide-angle to set the scene into context; showing both the subject and the space in which they are using is a technique which I acquired from my research into Martin Parr. Images three and four again further cement the usage of this space, by providing a close view of the creatures in their environment, the wide aperture teamed with the close proximity to the subject works in focussing solely on the main subject of choice. Image four shows this well by focussing on the cow, yet blurring the pen to the forefront of the frame. This works in showing the context of the space, whilst still focussing on the main subject; hereby highlighting how the animal is contained in this building.

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Coffee Shop

-History, design and effectiveness as a useable space.

This coffee shop was established and built in 1973. It’s part of a garden centre in a local town called Maghera, and is Northern Ireland’s most dynamic destination garden centre. The coffee shop is confined in a separate space in the garden centre itself and is a spacious and pleasant area to eat either breakfast, lunch or coffee. The space is made up of a large seated area with both sofas and chairs to choose from. There is also a large counter display which shows all the foods available, and is the area used to queue and pay for foods. This is a very efficient area as it is split into different sections; beginning with collecting a tray, choosing a drink, ordering food, and finally paying; the latter three all being served by a different member of staff. This creates a very competent space which flows seamlessly with minimum confusion and waiting. There is a separate area for collecting condiments and cutlery which furthers the efficiency of the ordering process. The area is brightly lit, spacious, clean and serves superb food. This creates a very successful and effectual space which meets it desired usage well.

-Methods used to show the important features of building, and exposures and techniques used. I took inspiration for this set of images from my research into Gregory Crewdson. The very ‘ordinary’ feel to the images mirrors Crewdson’s style, as he creates scenes of everyday life in a very technical and organised way. Again I captured the images from the angle of the user; which in this case, was myself. The images are shown in chronological order, showing how the space is used from start to finish, creating a strong narrative. Firstly we see that the customer must queue up in order to place their order. The focus is on the food that they must choose; and so I focussed on the counter food in the first shot; blurring the people in the queue. Secondly, they must select the food they would like, and so I captured a simple cake for this shot. Thirdly, they have now paid and need to collect condiments and cutlery before taking their seat. I focussed on the butter in this image as I felt that this was the most used condiment, and so would be the focal point of this area. Fourthly, they take their seat, eat, drink and have a chat. For this final image I captured this lady chatting with her friend, looking rather depressed. Again we see Crewdson’s style coming through in the slightly dismal feel of the image. In framing the image, I chose to include a cup and teapot in the forefront of the frame to set the context further. However the wide aperture used ensures that the subject is the main point of view.

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Church

-History, design and effectiveness as a useable space.

This local church is called Lecumpher Presbyterian Church, and was built in 1859. It is a beautiful small country church with a faithful congregation that attend every Sunday. The minister is Rev Currie, and it is his perspective in the pulpit area which I am using to capture the images. The pulpit in the Presbyterian Church is placed at the front raised up and to the centre of the church to symbolise the importance of God’s word. Therefore the space is very effectively laid out to show this particular belief. The large pulpit provides a nice amount of space to hold the minister and any person that is called to read or pray in the service. It is simply equipped with a seat, lectern, bible, and microphone, making it a very useable space to preach from. All these factors result in a very effectual space for it’s given purpose.

-Methods used to show the important features of building, and exposures and techniques used. For this set of images, I was aiming to capture the church from the minister’s point of view. For image one, the focus is on the pulpit. In composition I framed the image straight on in order to show clearly the shape and structure of the pulpit. The straight-on perspective also works in forming a nice triangle in the frame which creates a pleasing balanced effect. Image two is more focussed to the minister’s perspective, and the shot is focussed on the most important part of the pulpit, and the church as a whole; the bible. In editing, I adjusted contrast on my selected area of focus, and increased the brightness to highlight the text further. The use of the space is beginning to take shape, and this is finished nicely with the final image of the view from the pulpit. The focus is on the microphone; the key to the minister being heard whilst preaching and instructing the congregation. The wide framing sets the image into context by showing the inside of the church in the background; further emphasising what this space is used for.

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Bacon Factory

-History, design and effectiveness as a useable space.

This building used to be the Lovell and Christmas Bacon Factory. This building was destroyed by a fire in June, 1998. This had a great domino effect; “The recession in the pig market was made worse when in June 1998 one of the largest pig processing factories in Northern Ireland was destroyed by fire.(1)” The horrific fire completely destroyed the building and thus removed one of the few spaces to slaughter pigs in Northern Ireland; resulting in the premature death of many young pigs due to overcrowding in farms. The factory is now an eerie and slightly unnerving empty corpse. The complete destruction of the factory is evident, and I have aimed to show this devastation in my descriptive images that now show how the space is completely unused and barren- thus completely unusable.

-Methods used to show the important features of building, and exposures and techniques used. The eerie qualities of these images reflect the style I researched in Gregory Crewdson’s work. This abandoned burned down building has absolutely no usage, and that is what I was aiming to show in these shots. I felt that this provided a nice contrast to the rest of my assignment images; as instead of showing how it was used, I was aiming to show how it was not used. I felt that this gave me a good challenge. The sheer emptiness and turmoil that has followed the fire is evident in the images below. I added a blue filter in editing in order to create a slightly sinister and creepy feel to the shots. Image one clearly shows the full building in the frame, which displays the barren nature of the space nicely; with broken windows, overgrown surroundings and rubble forming prominent features in the frame. Image two builds the suspense of this building further by simply showing a door slightly ajar. I exaggerated the black shadows in Photoshop in order to emphasise the desolate qualities of the space. The destruction is evident in the peeling doorframe; the focal point of this shot, which shows effectively how damaged this building is. The final image reveals the most about this building’s uninhabited, bleak nature, showing the inside of what was once a first aid room. Broken glass, remnants of ceilings and debris is scattered all over the floor of this space. All these images captured show just how useless and barren this space is.

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I learnt a great deal from this assignment, as it was so far out of my comfort zone. Capturing spaces is an element of photography which I have not really carried out prior to this assignment. I found that I prefer capturing portraits and street photography as opposed to capturing buildings in use. However, I feel I learnt a lot from my research and work for this assignment, and the steep learning curve was a great challenge in opening my eyes to different genres of photography.

(1) BBC NEWS (1999), Northern Ireland: A Pig Farmer’s Tale, Available from:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/09/99/farming_in_crisis/443598.stm [Accessed 14/06/13]

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