Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such
as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log
and note down the similarities you find between the images.
Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special
attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make
the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing.
Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill
Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory
shots. In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images
source images of the same subject.
I chose to search “cars” on Google because it’s a broad term which could return a wide variety of results. As it turned out the results were very similar:
The deep dark workings of Google are not particularly relevant to this exercise but I was struck by the homogenous nature of the images; they are all of new cars, shiny cars, cars dynamically positioned and photographed in the studio, many being on white backgrounds ready to be dropped into composite images. Nothing like the real cars which constitute the overwhelming majority of examples. I assume that there are many more images of this type online than there are of my elderly Picasso.
That screenshot may be considered to represent a style of car photography which is designed to emphasise the aesthetic appeal of the shiny, purposeful modern vehicle. But the images are intended to imply much more than that; they suggest all manner of rewards and benefits for the aspiring owner. Driving a vehicle like this will surely fulfil all the aspirations of the (male, for such they generally are) prospective purchaser. Family life will be joyous and stress-free. Lesser individuals will gaze enviously as the sleek shape takes effortless charge of the outside lane. Customers will eagerly await its arrival, keen to place unfeasibly large orders; promotion to divisional manager must surely follow.
I was interested in the contrast between this and the inevitable destination just a few short years later so I headed to one of several ‘Vehicle Recycling Facilities’ in my area, chosen to exploit a relationship I have developed there through nursing a number of elderly vehicles well beyond their natural life.
My creative input to this exercise involved a different way of looking at cars, one which is not often encountered. At first I planned to seek evidence of occupation by owners and families and I was indeed able to do this, but as the shooting progressed I became interested in the rather abstract reflections still to be seen in what remained of the windows.
Here are the contact sheets (click to enlarge, then zoom in with your viewer):
I chose to shoot landscape format and the occasional portraits represent moments of forgetfulness. I could have cropped to match but decided not to use them anyway.
Here’s my initial selection:
I’ve selected this image as my personal choice from the exercise:
There is a lot going on in this photograph and it can sustain a longer than normal gaze. At first it appears confused and somewhat abstract but as elements become identifiable I feel that it does work in telling a story. I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of the mirror reflection at the middle right edge, showing the detritus from hundreds of previous vehicles on the soil. The plastic container is a bit of a distraction but I decided to leave the scene as-found.
All made with an Olympus OM-D E-M1, exposure details are captioned on the images. I used a ‘legacy’ 28mm f2 Kiron lens which equates to 56mm (35mm equiv). This allowed me to control the plane of focus to my preference. I might as well sell the precious Olympus “pro” zoom because I rarely use it. In fact I did have a go with it at this location (the images show the f no in the caption) but I didn’t like the flat, technical appearance. Some of the interiors were quite gloomy but once again I was able to make shake-free exposures at slow shutter speeds thanks to the IBIS. OK, enough geekery already.