Assignment two’s images and write up

Auschwitz – Birkenau. Unseen and un-photograpahble?

1
Image 1
3
Image 2
2
Image 3
4
Image 4
5
Image 5
6
Image 6
7
Image 7
8
Image 8
9
Image 9
10
Image 10

This context for this assignment is unseen and un-photographable. Every image also contains reference to numbers. The numbers of people who were unseen, literally and figuratively, for many years during and after the second world war in the extermination camps at Auschwitz. I feel the narrative is self-explanatory and I feel that the images do not need a caption or a title. A picture paints a thousand words for me with this set.

Image 1 represents a place that was one seen and for thousands, never experienced again. This is the place of selection, of Life or Death. Photography was banned here in the second world war, although there are a number of images that have survived.

Image 2 shows a suitcase left behind, after selection. The name of the victim, their date of birth and their status as an orphan are clearly written in white. This was one of many such cases that were packed when the Jews were deported. It would be contain Heinz’s possessions which would be stolen after selection and his death. Judging by his age, he would have been murdered almost on arrival.

Image 3 illustrates 9 bunk beds. Each bunk held up to seven inmates. There was no heating and the temperature swing experienced at Auschwitz, was from -30 degrees Celsius to +40 degrees Celsius. Note the brick work floor. These bunks are where hundreds of thousands of people lived and died and the majority of photographs taken of this area of the camp are mainly after the camp was liberated.

Image 3 places some further context into the human loss that occurred there. Over 800,000 pairs of spectacles were discovered after liberation. The Nazis exported many more back to the Third Reich, for use by the German population and army. This image shows only my selection, of what is an unimaginably huge pile of glasses, which survived, in spite of the Nazi efforts to destroy what was left prior to the camp liberation.

Image 4 continues the narrative of the human element, with hundreds of thousands of shoes which were stolen from the inmates. I was drawn by the colour of the two main shoes in the image, although the other shoes tell their own story, by the drabness

Image 5 is of some portable gallows that was not visible with the naked eye at the time I took the shot. I was drawn by the light of widow and the leading lines in the image. It was only afterwards when viewing this image on my laptop that I noticed the gallows. Maybe death was light at the end of the tunnel for some of the inmates who were tortured so much.

Image 6 shows a number of the Zyclon B gas canisters. This poison was the tried and proven main method of killing in Auschwitz. There are thousands of these stacked up. I was drawn to this image due to the light, colour and the skull and cross and bone symbol. The word GIFT drew my attention in an ironic sort of way.

Image 7 is a small crematorium (comparatively to Auschwitz II) that was used to dispose of the bodies of the inmates. The place had an unforgettable heavy and odious atmosphere and I remember tears rolling down my face whilst photographing this.

Image 8 shows the effects of the Nazi cruelty and how this affected whole swathes of families. I came across this image in a Jewish cemetery. No more words needed.

Image 9 is one that I believe shines some light and some hope on such a tragedy. The image is of a memorial to the victims of Auschwitz and the Ghetto in Krakow. The light illuminated one of the figures really well for me and I feel this image is balanced by the photographs of inmates in the background and the apparent face on the right-hand side of the images. Is there hope that man will never do this again?

These 9 images are but a small fraction of the ones I have taken in Auschwitz and I believe they show the narrative of photographing the unseen/un-photographable. The project was set up over a long period of time and I am grateful to the curator (Wanda) of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum for allowing me to photograph the un-photographable. I am going back in the next year, to complete further work.

The images have been taken with a variety of settings and cameras, with ISO cranked up to 3200 at some times and as low as 100 and having to shoot through glass, barbed wire, prison bars, and a barrage of tears.

I have never had such a project before. This was amazing and I cannot remember having felt under such stress when photographing. It was the most emotional day of my life.

I am sure you will agree the narrative is strong within the context of the Nazi’s final solution.

I dedicate these images to the gentleman who accompanied me and my wife on this journey. He was a prisoner in Auschwitz when he was four years of age. His mother was there too. They were in separate barracks! It is amazing that we found the hut where is mother was incarcerated. Hut 17C. This gentleman was an Austrian-Jew. It is incredible that he survived, as over 90% of children were murdered within two hours of arriving in Auschwitz.

“MAY THEIR SOULS BE ETERNALLY BLESSED”

This quote was taken from image 8 above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment Two Planning part 3

Here are some iPhone shots of a number of books I have bought and read prior to my visit. There are also a couple of tickets to museums that formed part of my research. Please note this is an ongoing project and I will return and learn more.

Page 4 of the book which is immediately below states “photographing in Auschwitz-Birkenau museums is strictly forbidden”.

img_1005.jpg

Below are a number of online resources used in my research and all appear in my references list.

Auschwitz-Birkenau (2017) Auschwitz-Birkenau, Available at: http://auschwitz.org(Accessed: 01/04/2017 – onwards).

Below, L (2017) Auschwitz The Holocaust Photos, Available at: http://www.deathcamps.info/Auschwitz/ (Accessed: 01/04/2017 – onwards).

Sawicki, P (2017) Auschwitz The Holocaust Photos, Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.763453 (Accessed: 01/04/2017).

Pitogo, H (2014) Auschwitz The Holocaust Photos, Available at: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/nazis-auschwitz-man-named-wilhelm-brasse.html (Accessed: 01/04/2017 – onwards).

 

Assignment Two Planning part 2

What kinds of subjects can be classed as unseen?

  • drug addicts/alcoholics/drop-outs
  • socially deprived people
  • food banks
  • the poor
  • the sick
  • the disabled
  • police brutality
  • minorities
  • abuse
  • mental health
  • Christianity
  • the truth
  • unbiased photographs
  • concentration camps e.g where some of this is off-limits to the public
  • faith
  • the past
  • my mother

How do you go about photographing the unseen.

  • research the subject
  • see how it has been done before, it is has and think how you will do it in your style
  • apply for permission, be honest, be open and be prepared to accept rejection
  • believe in what you want to do, so others will have your conviction
  • pursue your dream with vigour
  • highlight the benefit of your project to the owner/person responsible
  • be confident in what you want
  • have an understandable goal that others can see and understand

Assignment Two Planning part 1

This is a project I have had on the go for many months and now is the time to use this for my degree. I feel this also fits in with Peter Mansell’s views regarding his own studies.

There were 2 choices for this part

  1. photographing the unseen
  2. using props

The choice was easy for me. Photographing the unseen was the way forward.

Below are some crib sheets used prior to writing up the assignment. All shot on the hoof with my iPhone.

Below is my letter of authority from the Curator of the Auschwitz museum, granting me permission to photograph the un-photographable. Oswiecim is the Polish name for Auschwitz. The name Auschwitz was given to it by the Nazis as Oswiecim was too hard to pronounce!

Letter from Curator
Permission to photograph the un-photographable.

Tutor feedback

Formative feedback

 Overall Comments

Great to be working with you on your CAN module, well done for submitting the first

assignment and making an encouraging start. We discussed your submission and

learning log in a Google Hangout tutorial on 19/04/2017. Key points discussed are

summarized below through a combination of Tutor and Student notes.

Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by

formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more

people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for

assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you

study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put

your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit

Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment

requirements.

 

Feedback on assignment

 

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of

Creativity

• Portfolio box presentation adds a professional touch and protects prints from damage

• Prints were consistent in treatment (borders, colour balance, full frame, as in no

inconsistent cropping of ratio) – maintain and keep furthering your attention to detail.

• Ensure presentation fits with your intentions – images were meant to be viewed in

pairs – send them in that order

• Experiment with printing and the pairing idea, may be place side by side on a

panoramic ratio paper, would be ok to fold for tutor to see as long as explained, for

assessment however, you might want to invest in a flat sleeve. Also consider paper stock

when folding and where you score the paper to avoid crumpling or creating an untidy

seam.

• Consider labeling prints on reverse, we discussed details and formatting, keeping

simple and building consistency and an identity.

• Captions – be consistent and check captions for the second set (industrial) as these

are all the same at present

Images:

• I think your inspiration for this work is interesting, coming from literature and your

previous work (could you have perhaps included some of Braggi’s words from the book

Everytown? Any particular phrases or statements that stood out to you or inspired

specific image or subject choices?)

• I can see your intentions with focusing on the contrast between the rural and

industrial, as this is clearly very evident in a place such as Rotherham with it’s industrial

history. Your contact sheets show your exploration of various sites, which for you

epitomize the contrasts the area has to offer. You’re also considering materials, surface

and function in these images, for example we get to see the contrast between brick and

metal, between stone walls and wire fences. However, if hoping to refine the work

further, I’d suggest experimenting further with the placing of the contrasts and

similarities within each pair. What else could you do to assert your own views or

ideological position on these contrasting environments? Is the industrial taking over or

‘more powerful’ than the rural in Rotherham in your opinion? How are they at odds with

each other? Are there any other ideas which could run as undercurrents through the

work? Also – are there other ways to bring pairs together, not just in the subject matter,

the top line composition elements and colour? E.g. could you subtly show vehicles in the

rural, vehicles in the industrial? Paths and roads in the industrial, desire lines or

ploughed crops (creating a pathway through a field) in the rural OR make the similarities

in the images even more alike, to really emphasise the differences… could walls or roads

be in the same place, lead the same way, within the frame and buildings or objects

framed with the same depth or placement?

• This obviously would take more time, and potentially more time than you have here,

but would be the kinds of considerations that I think would translate well into any future

project and approach to an assignment. I would say that potentially the pairs could do

with being more alike, in terms of composition/perspective and environment in order to

make those subtle observations and the intention even clearer.

• Lastly, whilst the introduction of the fences in the very close foreground works in

terms of offering variety, immersing the viewer in the experience of the industrial site,

consider whether they are jarring with the rest of your style of landscapes and what the

contrast actually is that they are offering. For example if you had managed to get in

closer for Failed Corn or fill the frame with foreground stalks, as if it were a fence or

barrier, could that have worked paired with Hellaby Industrial Estate image 1?

 

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Spend some time before the next assignment working on the navigation of the blog and

assigning posts to the appropriate places. On the surface this is shaping up well, but the

lack of drop down menus will slow viewing down and make it very difficult to find all the

evidence of the full breadth of your work.

On blog under assignment heading use sub-titles eg assignment planning & research,

initial submission, reflection and rework.

Continue to use the Harvard Referencing System for citing images, quotes and

illustrations. http://www.oca-student.com/content/harvard-referencing-system-1

 

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

• It More independent research and analysis of images beyond that which is presented

in the handbook would have benefitted this assignment.

• Dawn Woolley’s posts on adverts are strong examples of the structure and depth to

which we can analyse images, their context and potential meaning. Here’s the first

one in the series: http://weareoca.com/photography/looking-at-adverts-1/

• When conducting independent research, avoid excessive quantity over quality. Spend

time identifying relevant work and prioritise artists, which directly relate to chosen

subject matter, ideas or technical approaches you are experimenting with. Develop a

consistent depth of analysis throughout – if it helps, set yourself a baseline

framework, so that you always cover key areas of analysis.

 

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

• Look to see if it is possible to remove the ‘older posts’ button at the bottom of each

page, this seems to occur after only a few posts and is better if viewers are able to

scroll for longer, looking back over past posts without having to click onto new pages

this frequently.

• Differentiate between independent research and course material content – we

discussed ways to do this, including placing assignment-specific research within your

assignment planning drop-down menu and coursebook related exercises and research

points within coursework.

• Add further evidence of editing process and decision-making; eg document print

selection with photography of prints laid out in various sequences etc. Where books

are reviewed, take photos of pages of interest or open spreads that illustrate your

points or opinion

Suggested reading/viewing

 

Context

Explore sources such as those below, to discover the work of other photographers in

addition to those in the course reading list. Join mailing lists, follow social media

platforms to hear about events, developments and discussions in photography.

European Prospects – http://europeanprospects.org/artists

– visual database of European photographers nominated from institutions and

experts from all over the continent.

Conscientious Extended – a great resource, particularly to help think more about

photography and communication, rather than just as a means to create pictures.

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/

The Guardian’s photography pages:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/photography

Hotshoe International: http://www.hotshoeinternational.com

Source Photographic Review: http://www.source.ie

1000 Words Photography online magazine http://www.1000wordsmag.com

Photomonitor: http://www.photomonitor.co.uk

British Journal of Photography: http://www.bjp-online.com/

Image Makers, Image Takers (publication) by Anne-Celine Jaeger

http://www.thamesandhudson.com/Image_Makers_Image_Takers/9780500288924

Introduces you to a wide range of photographers working across a range of genres,

interviews with them regarding technique and major projects

You mentioned being drawn to ideas of the unseen and health – consider what defines

something as being unseen? This doesn’t have to be literal, but a catalyst for your

imagination… what about under-representation and marginalization, people, things or

issues that are ‘unseen’ in society or ignored.

Martina Mullaney – Turn In (photographs made in night shelters and homeless hostels)

http://www.ffotogallery.org/martina-mullaney-%E2%80%93-turn-in

http://www.yossimilo.com/artists/mart_mull/press-mart_mull.pdf

Peter Granser – Alzheimer (be sure to also read the introduction)

http://www.granser.de/alzheimer.html

Mishka Henner – Dutch Landscapes, 2011

http://www.mishkahenner.com/

Also, you could consider that which lies behind a façade, whether of a person or a

building or site…Edgar Martins – Time Machine

 

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

Try to put in place at least two or three developments outlined above when researching,

planning and producing Assignment 2. Try to conduct any re-work and uploading of

additional planning notes for A1 as soon as possible and try to have all content from the

initial submission is uploaded/tagged appropriately so it can also be checked at A2.

Own notes from tutorial

I have compiled a list of the main points from my tutorial. I am going to make amends going forwards and will not retrospectively change my blog. I want to do it this way as I want to demonstrate and evidence my learning.

  • assignment due 12th May
  • tutorial planned for 24th May at 2030
  • images were received in a well wrapped package and printed to a good standard
  • my images were meant to be viewed as pairs – send them in that order i.e. the order they are to be seen
  • experiment with printing. May be a pair side by side on a panorama (OK to fold but explain to you why they are folded)
  • label my prints on the reverse
  • my prints were consistent which is good, maintain consistency of prints
  • project 3 on my blog was too lengthy. Highlight one/two images and then reduce size as assessors will not have time to scroll down a series of large images
  • try and remove “OLDER POST” tick box from blog if possible (not yet found a solution)
  • on my blog under my assignment heading use “sub titles e.g. assignment planning, submission, research, reflection and rework
  • my learning log duplicates much information. Where practicable eliminate the need for duplication
  • when doing independent research, do not go for quality over quality. Look at more select artists and make comment and written reflection where possible.
  • differentiate between own extended research and course research
  • prioritise what artists I study
  • marry up prints with captions e.g. my industrial set all have the same caption
  • show editing choice e.g. spread of 6×4 images on a table. snapshot this and include in blog
  • show my assessment work for EYV as a post prior to submitting next assignment
  • use OCA forums
  • my prints were acceptable submission

Assignment one reflection

This is the first assignment where I have used my own printer. I have printed the images on A4 matt paper and the prints are slightly darker than I would have liked, however they are still of an acceptable quality. I have allowed an equal border round the images so they can be easily handled without the image actually being touched. The size of my prints allows the images to be compared side by side and does give the feeling of the “two sides of the story”, which I have created. I am not sure if I like the matt finish and will use Gloss for my next assignment.

The assignment was planned in advance by searching the internet for the boundaries of S66 and where would give the the two different sides of the story and a complete juxtaposition.

On reflection it may have been more interesting to have more people in the images, however there was no one around in the rural settings and at the industrial estate, I was subject to some unwarranted abuse! I can cope with the verbals, but I did not want my camera damaging.

I am pleased with my final selection of ten images and the choice of keeping them in colour has added to the narrative.

Thinking about being a “thinking photographer” is interesting and something that has crossed my mind before, but this has never been a conscious part of my workflow. It now is.

Part one has given me the opportunity to view many different artists’ work and their styles and this is evidenced by my comprehensive reference list. I have particularly enjoyed looking at the work of Sander, Parr and Paul Seawright’s work. Some of this was familiar and some was not. The number of hours spent on this section has been immense and more than more previous course, Expressing Your Vision.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this part and have learned so much e.g. how captioning can change an image, as in Seawright’s work, how context can affect how we read an image, how to think about the photographer’s (political/personal) perspective in taking the shot etc.

I am looking forward to starting part two.

Assignment one

Two sides of the story

 

First side of the story – Rural S66

1-20170403
New growth
2-20170403
Failed corn just outside Thurcoft
3-20170403
New shoots near Hellaby
4-20170403
Braithwell farm
5-20170403
Braithwell farm and some local housing

Second side of the story – Industrial S66

6-20170403
Hellaby Industrial Estate
7-20170403
Hellaby Industrial Estate
8-20170403
Hellaby Industrial Estate
9-20170403
Hellaby Industrial Estate
10-20170403
Hellaby Industrial Estate

I have gained my inspiration for this project predominantly from two sources. Firstly, a book written by Julian Baggini, entitled “Everytown” and secondly my first assignment from my Expressing Your Vision course,  entitled “The Square Mile”. I will now provide the context to the above narrative of my ten images.

My home is in Rotherham and my postcode is S66 1WG. This very postcode was used by Baggini, a philosopher and author, for the basis of his afore-mentioned book. S66 1WG, is geographically and demographically,  the middle of Britain. So Baggini set out to enjoy and explore life living in my area, which he did for six months. His aim was to establish what it is like to live in an average town in Britain (what it is to be typically British) and compare and contrast his new home, to his usual and familiar life, of living in Bristol. The Square Mile exercise also made me think about what is on my door step and how this can be photographed and explored.

The Square Mile theme has been expanded upon to cover S66, which is really the Hellaby ward for electoral purposes and is much wider than one square mile.  In S66 there are a number of contrasts, rich/poor, elderly/young, dead/alive (due to a number of local cemeteries), black/white, male/female, schools/public houses, industrial areas/country side, people/empty spaces etc.

Photographing in an around my town attracts some interesting comments from its’ people, mainly abusive, but some inquisitive. Rotherham’s background is somewhat tainted by a number of issues and distrust from the general public, recently centring on the child abuse scandal, for which it has gained national notoriety, On this shoot, I have been sworn at, spat at from a lorry and stopped and asked what I was doing by a farmer’s wife.

I have decided to present just two sides of S66, Rural and Industrial. There are five photographs in each set. The story behind each set is intended as a juxtaposition to the other, one set documenting wide open green spaces, the other being closed down by steel fencing and a general feeling of industry. Which is the real S66?

I have kept the images in colour, with very little adjustment post production, other than the odd slight crop and a tweak of the shadows. Both series were shot on the same day and not in the order as they appear my final selects. Some of the selects are out of chronological order as I feel they work better that way. I believe the images work as two distinct sets of five images, and I also feel that each image contains its’ own narrative.

The reasons for the sequencing is as follows ; –

  • I have viewed the set as contrasting pairs
    • Pair 1 Both images contain strong lines. Rural has a strong leading line, leading the viewer into the field to the church in the distance, where as industrial one has vertical lines applying a prison like feeling inshore contrast to the rural image.
    • Pair 2 Both images contain strong verticals and a similar amount of spring blue sky. However the signs that can be read in both images are very different.
    • Pair 3 Green is the predominant colour of both images. Green of the grass against the green of the disused tug and the green weeds which are over growing it.
    • Pair 4 Both images are filled with blue and green. One contains rural machinery in a rural setting were as the other has industrial machines in an industrial setting.
    • Pair 5 Both images contain some sort of storage. The hay bails in the rural image and the chemical/refuse storage in the industrial setting. The rural image is showing a wide open view, where as the industrial image is framed by the factories fence. Note that both images do contain some sort of fencing/walls but there is a distinct difference in the way both work and are photographed. The rural image has nearly all of it in focus, compared to the industrial one, which only has a portion of the fence in focus, making you search the image for what it contains.

My contact sheets are in chronological order and my final edit was chosen after much reflection on which images to choose.

Having recently read a book on the work Martin Parr, I feel that there has been some influence from his later (colour) style and may be from the work of William Eggleston.

The images were shot from a different variety of angles and heights. All images were taken with a Nikon D750 and a 24-70 f2.8 Tamron lens. No filters were used and all images were handheld.

Contact Sheets

Contact sheets-1Contact sheets-2Contact sheets-3Contact sheets-4