On top of this, the bad weather on Skye continues, and so my usually disciplined routine of going out, writing in the field, spending time thinking about what I am doing, has been missing from my practice. It is rather a case of snatching photographic opportunities between heavy rain and wind in order that I feel I am accomplishing something.
It seems a while since I have written a Critical Reflection and Review piece on a period of photographic work too and so I need to gather my thoughts. Gillie Bolton spoke of the necessity to not only be reflective in practice but also reflexive. By reflection she means an “in-depth review of events” (2014) p7) and reflexive is a term she uses to ensure that our reflection takes account of and considers and evaluates some of the assumptions we make, the prejudices we might hold and strategies we deploy to take account of these personal and complex elements of our life-world. This leads me to the conclusion that I need to reconsider and develop my critical voice, and this is important not only in my reflective practice but also in terms of writing my thesis. It is something I need to bear in mind, as I enhance and improve the first draft that I am currently writing.
Period 10, Week 1 of my practice on The Edge of the Sea. I am trying to capture the reality of this liminal space between land and sea and the inter-connectedness and ephemeral moments when they collide as the waters continue their tidal rhythms. This week’s practice has been a voyage of discovery as I learn more about the flora and fauna and how the space changes depending on the height of the tide, the position in the cycle of the tide, the wind strength and direction, and the resultant dynamics and movement of the water and perhaps most elusive, the availability, strength, and direction of the sun. This first week of practice has seen neap tides where much of the beach remains uncovered, even at high tide, but this provides its own opportunities of being able to capture the time after high tide when the waters are receding and crashing into the incoming waves. This serves to provide a dynamic space of swirling seaweed and in a gentler swell, surface reflections.
Although I am feeling down with my efforts this week, a review of my images creates a rather more positive picture and while there might not be any “keepers” at this stage, I feel that I have started to become familiar with my new focus and know where and when to return to capture better examples of what I have already produced. When beginning a new project, there is always a sense of excitement and enthusiasm, but it is a learning process of working out what techniques and approaches work and those that are less successful. This is particularly true in trying to capture the patterns, forms, and shapes of the water.
For example, there were technical decisions to make about where to focus – whether to focus, or at least try to focus, on the surface of the water itself, which is no mean feat, or whether to focus on the sand below or the object that might be moving around. Beyond the technical considerations, there were also questions raised as to whether I should attempt to capture and freeze the movement of the swirling seaweed or rather to be more authentic and use a relatively slow shutter speed in the order to replicate the reality of the scene to the human eye, that is unable to see this moment as the camera can, as frozen in time.
There were also similar considerations about choice of aperture and the plane of exposure. In order to get the best view of patterns and light reflecting on the water, the viewpoint is best as high as possible. If, on the hand, the image is taken at water-level view then the patterns become merged and less interesting and the light and luminosity revealing what lies below is lost. However, the result of taking these images from a high viewpoint is that it affects the aperture plane and changes the perspective from what it might be if the camera is parallel to the scene being photographed.
Also, although all photographers are aware of the impact on an image, depending on the angle of the sun, it is fascinating to see how the sunlight, when it appears, affects the colour and clarity of the image. So, lots to think about but it is exciting that I am learning new skills in this new project.
Another reflection about the subject, that is the edge of the sea, is how to capture the reality of this dynamic space. As I recorded in Day 4’s post, I have been experimenting with playing music to attenuate the chattering monkeys of my conscious mind and activating my non-conscious to stimulate awareness. I have done this through playing classical music. There certainly appears to be a tranquility about the images on Day 4 that is not apparent in some of my other work. However, this might be coincidence and so I need to experiment further with the impact of musical activation. There are also some challenges to resolve in respect of the processing of these images. I found it difficult to get the most effective settings in relation to the Lightroom sliders of clarity, dehaze, and texture to replicate the image that I saw in the field. I need to do more work to provide an authentic representation.
Putting “pen to paper” to write this post has allowed me to reflect on my week’s work, and looking back after a few day’s serves to provide me with a more positive sense, and perhaps more realistic assessment of the potential at least, to develop some of the skills, techniques and ideas highlighted in Week 1.
Bolton, G. (2014). Reflective Practice – Writing and Professional Development. London, SAGE Publications Ltd.