Tutor Feedback – Assignment 5 People and Place on Assignment

I had received my final tutor report for the last in this module for People and Place at the end of April, but family loss and other work issues has put me behind my studies, and thus the final upload on my tutor report.

For this last report I was very happy to read my tutor seemed very pleased with my final assignment. The comments were very positive and I had written in my last reports that I thought many of the previous reports were a little too criticising without enough context of what needs to be done to improve the work overall. But this last report was very different.

My tutor states my learning process and analysis has improved and that my route of thinking has come along leaps and bounds. This was very pleasing to read after the other four assignment feedbacks made me feel very ‘flat’.

I have tried to encompass the suggestions my tutor has made with the inclusion of contact sheets, even though I feel at times this is a lot of extra work when I could be using that time for better blogs and material. The learning log has also received good comments as well as my critical essays, with a note saying based on my geographic location (Dubai) I have done well to capture the images in the way I did, under difficult circumstances.

So this concludes my last blog for People and Place and all that remains is the formal assessment to the OCA for grading. I have learnt a lot during the time spent on People and Place and it has pushed me well and truly out of my comfort zone, and put me insituations I would normally walk away from. I glad I didn’t and I think the module has made me a more rounded photographer.

Thank you.

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Assignment 5 – People and Place on Assignment

So this is the last assignment in this project of People and Place. Its been a long haul and one at times I have found very challenging. Taking images of people in the city of Dubai can be difficult, due to the cultures and often very sensitive nature of the region, with different beliefs and views on cameras with regards when, where they should be pointed.

But, for this final brief we are asked to perform the following criteria:

First decide on a notional client. Choose the kind of client (newspaper, magazine, text book publisher, advertising agency, television graphics, etc.), the purpose of the assignment (educational, informational, promotional) and how the images will be used (to illustrate a story, to sell a product etc). You choose. You then need to imagine what the basic brief would be, which will mean thinking from the other side of the fence — what someone commissioning a photographer might want. Write yourself the brief so that you can refer back to it. Having assigned yourself the brief, you now need to complete it. You need to submit between 8– 12 photographs. Accompany the final images with a short written assessment.

This should include:

• the ‘client briefing’ that you gave yourself

• a statement of how you set about planning the photography

• how well you succeeded, including the difficulties and opportunities you encountered that you had not anticipated at the outset.

It took a while for me to decide what I could possible take images of to cover this topic, and while one of my first thoughts was to cover part of the old town of Dubai, I knew this would be a time consuming mission and based on my type of work I was concerned I would have trouble covering all the areas i would have included, and some of this would be purely negotiating the traffic so again this would limit me to weekends, and I don’t often get weekends off.

As I was deciding what areas I could cover I came across an advert for the up and coming cycle event in Dubai called the ‘Tour of Dubai’. This consisted of the worlds top cycle riders covering parts of the emirates over a four day period. Based on this I know the challenge would be how to cover a broad area of the event that the so called client may ask of me, should I be a designated press photographer of sorts.

So the client brief would look something like this:

  • Cover a wide area of the event, including behind the scenes.
  • Include action shots.
  • Include images of the top riders including the winners and leader.
  • Include images of before, during and after the event on any given day.
  • Capture images of at least one winner crossing the finish line.
  • Colour and/or black and white images can be used.

This years Tour of Dubai (2017) is a road cycling event that takes place in Dubai between 31 January and 4 February 2017. It is the fourth edition of the Dubai Tour and is rated as a  2107 UCI Asia Tour. A total of 16 teams would participate which includes a team from UAE, the hosting country. The very best of riders from around the world will be taking part, which big prize money on offer to the overall winner.

This event would be hard to cover due to the various locations and the limited time I would have to cover the event. On the first day I went down to the start, which included all teams in preparation for day one of the five stages, each one totalling a distances from 109km to a full 200 km per day for stage 3.

Based on my brief I was keen to get some images of work going on behind the scenes both from riders, spectators and mechanics. The event has a massive amount of ground support, along with local companies such as Audi cars, who supplied all vehicles for the event, and local bike riders who volunteer to act as camera support bikes, not to mention the large amount of the volunteer local supporters who help in road assistance, police and civil defence support. Being a helicopter pilot for the royal air wing and specialising in aerial camera filming, I also had a hand in arranging our aircraft for the live TV camera work, of which I personally flew myself filming this event two years ago, so I know first hand what goes on before and during the event from the organisation aspects.

For this I intend to use my Sony A7KKi with either a medium focal zoom such as 28-75mm, or another more varied zoom I have which is a 28-250 zoom. This last option would give me more options for wide and long shots without the need to change lenses, and thus getting more opportunity to capture action shots.

So before going onto my final selection of 8 to 12 images, lets take a look at the images I did not select, and a brief explanation with a few as to why I dint add into my final 12 images. I am trying add these contact sheets at the suggestion of my tutor.

(click any image to enlarge)

Contact sheet 1:

[235], [236], [237], [238], [239], [240], [241], [242]

Above are the first examples of some images I thought about entering, but left out for individual reasons.

From top left to right:

The image of the police cars shows some of the support offered for the race. Dubai being Dubai, only here do we have super sports cars as police cars. These cars were actually used on the race showing the lead throughout the course for each day, followed by police motorbikes, TV cameras etc.

The support cars all have each individual bikes for each rider, and each car has their own team name for easy identification. I decided to use an image of someone working on a bike as a replacement.

The close up of the bike shows the latest technology offered on the bikes, from electronic gearing with some even having bluetooth which requires no cables between front gear change levers and rear gears.

The image of the riders placing the number tags on the shirts was replaced by another shot in the final set which shows a close up. According to my tutor I need to get closer at times…so I did.

The next two shots show images while I followed the race in a support car, which someone organised for my from race protocol. These both looked the same and although they show action, I felt there was a little too much of the riders being covered by car doors, motorbikes etc.

Finally the last two shots shows a rider getting fresh water, but due to the shutter speed he could have almost being standing still, and the last shot of the bike again show technology of what the latest bikes have to offer.

Contact sheet 2:

[243], [244], [245], [246], [247], [248], [249], [250]

Top left to right:

For these images the first two shots show action, but I felt due to the lighting and distance from the riders they were a little weak photographically. The second shot is too far away with too much distraction in the foreground with the safety barrier.

I wanted to show images of support from the crowds. And for the event there was a lot of support. People came from office blocks and houses to cheer the riders on. But one was taken from a fast moving car which was support for the riders, so it is a little blurred, the second was showing camera crew and organisers during the first day finish line, but I felt the image was all together too busy with not enough focus and lacking foreground elements.

A light hearted look at the people and the professionals, with a quick selfie shot and the presentation area in the background. I actually like this shot but thought that with only 12 images to choose from, this one just didn’t quite make it, but I do like it.

The next image shows the winner of the first day, Marcel Kittel, receiving his prize on the presentation stand. I felt it was a good enough image as it shows the people and surroundings, but felt it was a little too far away with Kittel being very small in the overall frame.

The next to last image shows the post race brief. I know this but decided the image could be taken anywhere, and didn’t hold enough weight and was a little too static.

Lastly the image of the two pro riders was going to be used as a mention to the sport, in that it cannot proceed and run without the help of all the sponsors. Many sponsorship names can be seen on the back of the shirts of all rider teams, but I decided to leave this one out mainly because of not seeing the faces of the riders.

Contact sheet 3:

[253], [254], [255], [256], [257], [258], [259], [260]

Top left to right:

Another selfie shot, but this one was taken with what would turn out to be the overall winner, Marcel Kittel. This was taken during Kittel spending time at his sponsors vending area selling bikes and riding kit prior to the start.

Next is Mark Cavendish, one of the strongest sprint riders in the world, and hails from Isle of Man. I didn’t use this image as I would have liked Mark to be wearing his helmet, and the background is too distracting.

The event holds different prices with money within the event. Such prices and awards include sprint distance races, youngest rider, big of the mountain and others. These were the line up of this years shirts and each colour represents a certain award for the winner, and they are presented with the shirt at the end of each day, and the awards can move from rider to rider. Whoever wins can wear that coloured shirt the next day of racing. This was not used as it was not that interesting on its own and needed a rider wearing or being presented.

A UK Tv presenter from a popular Youtube channel called GCN, interviews a rider before the race. Not a bad shot but the other selections are better i felt.

The next two images on the bottom left show Mercel Kittel getting ready and adjusting his kit before the start of day 3, and another with him talking to Mark Cavendish on the start line. I like both images but again I had to decide on a final 12 and left these out.

Lastly is a shot I was thinking of using of the two team riders talking pre race tactics, and the official of the start ready to drop the flag. Both not used for the feeling of better images available from the final selection of 400 plus images taken over the 2 days I was able to cover the event.

Below is my final selection of 12 images for this assignment, or as it were for the client in respect to the brief I would have should I be doing this for a magazine, newspaper publication etc. I felt I could have submitted more than 12 images, as I feel with such a wide range of different shots possible a selection of 12 only may not be enough. Of course everyone would pick a separate set of 12 and the final choice would be the clients, and not mine. I would submit more than maybe 50 of the best shots and give the client time to choose the best 12 for whatever purpose they would see fit, based on the final choice of media it would go to.

(click any image to enlarge)

Main selection of 12 images:

[261]

This is freestyle cyclist Vittorio Brumotti doing what he does best, world record holder in freestyle stunt bike riding. Just prior to the professional racers signing on for the race, Vittorio shows the crowd just behind me his amazing ability and stunts that can be performed on a road bike. In 2012 Vittorio Brumotti got the Guinness World Record for having climbed the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, on bicycles, in exactly 2 hours and 20 minutes. [8] In the same year he was awarded the Prize to the voice against waste in the ninth edition of the Golden Leggio (ref: wiki). Here he gets the main presenter to lay down while jumping over him from a standing start, he then carry on the jump down off the stage which was about a 6 foot drop.

[262]

A new addition to the pro circuit this years sees a team entered from Abu Dhabi, representing the UAE. The team will make its race debut at the People’s Choice Classic criterium on January 15 and then ride the Tour Down Under, which begins a couple of days later on January 17. Britain’s Ben Swift will lead UAE Abu Dhabi along with Ulissi Meintjes. During the pre start of every race is a presentation of riders to the public, along with a signing of the officials board. On the right of the image the Tour of Dubai trophy can be seen, representing a modern shape of a wheel made in silver.

[263]

Preparation is a big part of any race event, and the Tour of Dubai is no different. Here we see one of the pro riders pinning his race number onto his shirt. They collect the race numbers just before the race and then put them on the shirt using safety pins. I always thought that this would be done in advance by some part of the support team, while the riders relax, but it seems all of this preparation is in the hands of each individual rider. At first I thought about submitting this image as a black and white, but decided to leave it in color as too much details seemed to be lost without colours. In the centre of the body we can see the heart rate monitor, which gives vital data to the rider and also to the support crew, which can help during the race and be analyzed afterwards with software.

[264]

I thought hard about weather I should submit this image, but I wanted to include an image which depicts the bikes, as these are the major part of equipment that each rider uses. These bikes are state of the art technology and can cost in the region of 15000 pounds and above. I race ironman triathlons myself and I can appreciate the technology and design features that go into each bike. Here we see the supply, or support bikes on top of one of the team cars at the start, with the Dubai palms in the background. Should a bike fail during the race, the support cars are close at hand to each rider of the respective team, and bikes can be replaced in a matter of seconds, so not losing too much time on the race and being left behind the other riders.

[265]

Support and maintenance of these expensive machines takes skill and understanding of the needs of each individual rider. Each team has a number of mechanics who can take a bike apart, put it together and make the slightest adjustments to rider position, wheel choices based on type of riding conditions for the day, as well as daily maintenance and repair. Here we see one mechanic check the true spinning angle of the wheel to ensure nothing is left to chance that could cause a failure, and to ensure the bike runs at optimal speed and performance. State of the art carbons composite materials are used both on the wheel rims and the bike frame, and a set of wheels can cost over 3000 pounds for 1 set.

[266]

Before the start of each race all the riders have the photo session and also need to sign the race board as proof of arrival. A rider cannot race without the signing of the official competitor board. Here a rider from Italy, number 45, steps up to the race board to make his mark. For this shot I was in an area closed to public art from official photographers. As I had contacts with race organizers, I managed to get behind the board during this signing process. The crowds can be seen behind watching the other riders arrive on stage which also requires the ‘signing in’ on an official book.

[267]

While waiting during one of the race starts, I was up close to Marcel Kittel, who became the overall winner. Here we can see the focus in his face as he prepares his kit, and gets his radio mic set up inside his shirt. The riders have two way radio communication with the race team who follow in the support cars. Information can be relayed such as race stats, leaders, or if assistance if required for the rider.

[268]

Here we can see the riders pushing hard up a hill section which goes through a marina area. In front is one of the strongest bikes sprinters in the world Mark Cavendish. Other teams follow close behind as the weaker riders try to catch up. This is a grueling sport and many riders may not finish the race. This could be because of the environmental conditions such as heat, strong winds or mechanical failure of the bike. Teams try to stick together and help one main strong rider based in each team to cross the finish line. This is done for a major part of the race by protecting the strong rider, such as here, then allowing the strong sprinter to cross the finish line.

[269]

I was fortunate enough to get a ride in one of the support are on day one of the race. These cars follow the riders and assist in changing bike, flat tires etc during the race. The cars are also responsible for carrying the food which the riders require during the race which can normally last between 3-4 hours. Here not long after the start, we can see the riders all close together breaking through the pack of support cars. I happened to look back to catch this image which shows the riders close together in teams, and trying to gain an advantage by drafting, thus saving energy by protecting themselves behind the riders in front. This drafting technique is common in pro cycling.

[270]

This action shot was shot in the desert area of Dubai, while the riders came around a fast corner. I was still traveling in the support car, but as the car stopped, I jumped out and ran across the road to get this shot. Although the images does not really show the speed, these ridders are approaching 40 kph. I left the shutter slightly low in order to try and capture some movement of the wheels and legs, giving a sense of speed. I was too far away to use fill flash.

[271]

Due to the nature of the sport, the riders cannot stop during the race for any breaks such as food. Therefore the support cars will supply food, and the riders will also take small amounts of energy bars and water on the bikes and in shirt pockets. Here I was riding in the support car and I leaned across the driver to get this shot of these two riders in the chase, all the while still taking time out to get some energy into their bodies. Despite the high physical efforts needed to sustain 45-55kph its important to try and get replenishments into the body to carry on to the finish without the risk of running out of energy.

[272]

This is what it all boils down to. Crossing the finish after over 3 hours of all out effort, and all the while being chased by approx. 100 other riders behind, all trying to cross the finish line for the grand price. This was taken on day one, and this final sprint would take place for another four times indifferent locations across the UAE, and the final winer of the  whole event would be based on the quickest time overall. Here Marcel Kittel crosses the line, and he does so again three times to take the overall winners trophy. Behind Kittel we can see the world strongest sprinter Mark Cavendish in the black kit trying the pass Kittel, only to be beaten by a few feet. Often the finish can be so close it would require a photo to decide the winner. I thought about making this image closer to the winner crossing the line, but I wanted to include the overall atmosphere of the fins inline which includes spectators, cameramen and the other riders fighting for the finish-line.

Conclusion:

This concludes my final assignment for People and Place. As part of the closing brief, the OCA notes mention the following:

 State – How well you succeeded, including the difficulties and opportunities you encountered that you had not anticipated at the outset.

My whole approach from the start was to try and include images giving a view and feel of both the main event, and behind the scenes. The sport of pro cycling is a team event and one which requires a mass of support for many areas. I have included both the riders, in profile and during race conditions, as well as the support crews who help make the riders reach the finish-line. The images submitted are also intended to try and show some of the characters of the sport, who are the best of the best, and the dedication and effort required to compete.

I found the images hard to capture, as its a type of event you only get one chance to get. The riders travel at such speeds during the race that it is not only hard to get the image due to road closures etc, but due to the vast amount of kilometres the riders cover, once they pass your camera lens it could be too late to catch them up for other shots. One of the reasons for this is all public roads are closed for the riders so there is no way to overtake and stop on the side of a road and retake another shot.

I was very lucky to get invited into a support car which was not planned, which allowed me to have multiple chances to get images of the riders. This also allowed me to travel ahead of the race pack at times and gets images such as the race finish, as the support cars are allowed to follow the riders on the same roads without issue.

I have tried to cover a large cross section of the event, as the brief would have suggested, which includes images of the start, preparation, during and after the race, as well as what happens as part of race preparation that the public may not normally see. I would have liked to include more images but as the brief was for 8-12 images I have tried to cover the clients needs in all of the 12 images submitted.

I found the use of having the camera switched on and ready to fire a great help, as an event like this would not allow a photographer to be turning the system on and off, as the image would simply be lost by the time the camera was ready to take a picture.

Finally I am happy with the images and have included them in sequence to act as a sort of story or narrative, which takes me onto my next assignments, and to help the viewer see an event like pro cycling unfold from beginning to end.

Thank you.

Ref:

https://www.dubaitour.com

http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/dubai-tour-2017/

http://www.steephill.tv/dubai-tour/

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vittorio_Brumotti&prev=search

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/uae-abu-dhabi-team-reveals-its-new-colours/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/38844632

http://cvndsh.com

 

Review of Contact Sheets by Sidewalls Magnum Photos

As one of my current tutors suggestions, I was asked to take a look at Sidewalls Contact sheet website for inspiration on supplying how contact sheets are, and have been used in the past. The website  here  http://www.widewalls.ch/buy-magnum-contact-sheets/ reminds me of the film days, when I myself shot on a Nikon F3 and Brinicba ETRS-i mdiim format camera during my LRPS course, which I never managed to complete at the time due to travel and work.

I was interested in the contact sheets of some of best past photographers of our day. On the website it mentions the following :

‘If you’re a fan of analog photography of Magnum photographers, these will be your lucky seven days. Only in the week between November 23rd and December 1st, 2015, you will be able to see and buy prints of the original Magnum contact sheets, created by the agency’s most notable photographers. Moreover, your purchase will support a charity, as 50% of net profits from the sale will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the occasion the first Seasonal Benefit. A total of thirteen Magnum contact sheet prints are currently available over at their store, at a discount price of $175 each. Among them, we can find some of the iconic moment immortalised on filmstrip of Elliott Erwitt, Werner Bischof, Eve Arnold, Martin Parr and Guy Le Querrec.’

And another section quotes:

‘In the age of digital technology, filmstrips, darkrooms and analogue cameras became almost completely obsolete, and these prints give us an exclusive insight into famous photographers’ visions and the way they worked their path towards the capturing of the perfect image. We witness how a large part of a photographic work usually never leaves its contact sheet, as only a couple of the best pictures from it actually get to see the light of day. A sort of a visual diary of their creator, the prints contain editing marks and selection comments, as a sort of a “behind-the-scenes” and a complete narrative of some of the most famous shots in contemporary photography, told through a filmstrip sequence.’

I feel with the age of digital we do not have the chance to see what is never used and discarded on the digital darkroom floor. One issue I find hard with digital and when asked to produce a contact sheet, is without seeing how certain images could have been changed, it would take a lot of time to manipulate images and show hoe changes would be made, as opposed to the actual pen markings on a film based contact sheet which can be easily identified.
Sample contact sheet from http://www.widewalls.ch/buy-magnum-contact-sheets/
magnum contact sheets contact sheets photographers sheet books print images email edition book search hudson history history history thames contact book contact story best digital

Left: Thomas Hoepker – Muhammad Ali, 1966 / Right: David Hurn – The Beatles, 1964

Reading further on the website it later gives examples of other contact sheets of famous photographers and even now offers the option to purchase some of these never seen to the public contact sheets such as the following states:

‘The Decisive Moment of Magnum Photos

Still of an immense importance in the world of documentary photography and photo reportage, Magnum Agency was founded in 1947 by leading photographers in the field, such as Robert Capa, David Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger. One of the first photographic cooperatives owned and administered entirely by its members, Magnum has covered some of the most important events of the 20th century, developing an extensive image archive still updated on a daily basis – there are approximately one million photographs in both print and transparency and over 500,000 online as we speak. The Agency specialized in catching pure moments of truth, following the notion of “the decisive moment” introduced by Cartier-Bresson. In today’s world, where photography often lies, Magnum photos bring us back a reality we’ve slowly started to forget. You can buy Magnum contact sheets on the official store website. All Contact Sheet Print orders will be shipped starting December 9th.’

I certainly wouldn’t mind getting some of these contact sheets if i was able, but I wonder what costs this would bring, how long they would last and how these would be presented, i.e., closed case, open to finger prints etc.

Another aspect of the contact sheet is it really cannot lie. What you see is what you get, or in this case what was taken, true and without edit. See this other site: http://www.widewalls.ch/photography-lies-featured-article-february-2015/

I will try and supply again a contact sheet of some of my discarded images for my last assignment 5, but it will not be in the form of markings made on print which I rather miss.

Ref:  http://www.widewalls.ch/buy-magnum-contact-sheets/

http://www.widewalls.ch/photography-lies-featured-article-february-2015/

Tutor feedback – Assignment 4 A Sense of Place

I received my tutor feedback a short while after completing assignment 4 ‘A Sense of Place’. I found the comments constructive, but at the same time a little lacking in encouragement. This is the forth feedback I have had with the same tutor and with other tutors I have had a lot of positive feedback, as well as constructive critique, but I feel too often on these 4 assignments I receive only what I am doing wrong, or what could be better. I rarely read what photos have been well taken and composed and why they are good, I only receive feedback on what images could be better.

My location is Dubai, and in this country at times we are asked to take shots which can be a little sensitive in this region, then I am asked to get a little closer to the people and in certain circumstances I have been lucky even to get the shot at all. Even just pointing a camera at people in this area can be a big challenge and I wonder if sometimes in the feedback this is overlooked.

I am asked to include a contact sheet of the images I decide to discard. In this particular report it is suggested to include all the images I took of some fisherman as an example. I took around 30 plus images in this case, and to include all these images I feel is a little overkill. I am asked to edit a particular picture with ropes across some Dhows which was one image I did not include, but Im not sure why I would spend the time and effort to edit a picture I have no intention of using. This can be very subjective but I submitted a contact sheet of what i thought was relative. I fully understand the purpose of a contact sheet so my thought process can be available, but I feel its not clear how the contact sheet is expected. When looking at other students work I see positive feedback and my work is no different in most cases, so it can be confusing what is expected at times.

My tutor asked what I was trying to get across in tone particular image submitted. The answer is a broad section of what Dubai has to offer, and the type of varied people that live in Dubai. I could spend a whole year taking images of the vast variants in this city and I would still find more areas I could cover. One suggestion would be to limit my area and focus more on one aspect, this maybe true and could be another approach, but the assignment was submitted based on my feelings at the time and I cannot go back and do the whole assignment again. I will however add a comment on this image in question.

Some images have been suggested to edit a little such as the following:

  • Image 225 has a lamppost in the frame which is distracting, and I agree this is in need of a retake or PS removal.
  • Image 226 of the large indoor aquarium needs to be closer. I can and will crop this to make it closer.
  • In image 227 I am asked what I am trying to communicate, The answer is the broad spectrum of architecture, from the most expensive hotel in the world, the been landscaping and the waterways all bringing a landscape that in essence is built in the middle of a desert…I think its quite something.

As a final note, I take all the comments from all tutors as help and constructive, but at times I feel it would be good to include what is a good photo and why, rather than just what could be better and why it falls short.

Assignment 4 – A sense of place

This will be my submission for assignment four in People and Place, ‘ A sense of Place’. I have thought hard about the criteria and brief for this assignment which states the following: 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.

I live mostly in Dubai but I travel quite a lot. My first thoughts on this project was to shoot at a location ‘other’ than the one I live in, but taking my camera away with me at times can be difficult due to the job I do. So the only way I was going to get this assignment done was to submit the required images from Dubai.

I was a little confused at first about the difference of a ‘thoughtful publication’ and a ‘tourism promotion’! After some research and I understood these images were not required to be full glossy type images that would appear on a front cover, but I think to be more on the ground and in the streets types of shots. Street photography maybe, but certainly images that are going to show character and as its mentioned in the brief, to show and give a feel of the people also. Dubai is full of tourists so I need to be careful I don’t over emphasise the tourist side but show more of what Dubai has to offer.

The current weather here has been rather poor, with very high winds bringing with it low visibility. I have waited for over a week to try and allow the weather to change, but this time of year here the changing of the high to low temperatures are causing warm and cold air around the ocean to bring with it 30MPH winds. The other issue here is that the winds bring with it sand from the desert so visibility does get very low. So I cannot delay any further as I am already behind, so I will have to concentrate on maybe closer up shots, interiors and maybe some night images if the wind drops enough later in the day.

Without going into too much detail some brief history can be found here: https://www.dubai.com/v/history/

The cultural differences here are huge. Many types of nationalities reside in Dubai, I think well over 200 types. At first I thought of maybe having these numerous cultures part of the theme for my images, but it was proving too difficult and I knew I would have road blocks trying to get into certain areas such as mosques, and having to be careful of taking images of local woman (and men at times) which can be highly frowned upon if not done very carefully. Its getting better here over the last 10 years or so, and Dubai has become very westernised, but one still has to be careful when it comes to pointing a camera at people and in certain locations without causing issues.

Having finally decided of the type of approach I would take, which was to remove myself from taking any glossy images and/or of locals in part of respect, below is a contact sheet of my final selection of images:

Contact sheet:

The images above are my final selection of 12 images, and not in any order. Below is my selection of the 6 images I short listed but decided not to submit , with a short explanation why.

Short listed images:

[219], [220], [221]

-EDIT- Based on tutors feedback, this image of the fisherman was deemed too far away. It was suggested to get in closer. As I was unable to capture the same image again, I have cropped the image to bring the figures into the frame.

[219] – The first image of the fisherman I thought was a good indication of life in Dubai. The buildings in the background also add the the sense of place in the image. But I had selected another image with a similar feel which I thought was a better option.

[220] – I liked this image of the dhows and the view of the people in the boat making the water crossing on the Dubai Creek. But I felt their was too many distractions with the ropes crossing in front of the image and the figures in the boat too small.

[221] – This image of the Dubai landscape I thought of using as the opening shot, making some suggestion in the write up of Dubai waking up early morning and moving on from their with a story. However I felt the lack of people in the image and the fact the buildings are situated quiet far away made me decide not to submit. Although as an overall picture of the Dubai landscape I thought it worked well.

[222], [223], [224]

[222] – I thought this image showed the feel of Dubai, and how busy the creek area gets in the day. Although the wooden barrier and post was too much of a distraction, and I wanted to get a closer feel of the people which is in my final selection.

[223] – Very similar to image [222], this was another option but the faces were too dark. Yes I can bring these dark shadows out in spot production but as the other image I wanted to get a closer feel of the people and faces.

[224] – This came in close to the final selection of 6, and the comments would have been that Dubai is a haven for sporting events. These are the world champion cycling team from Italy and were here for a major race. This was during a training day shortly before the main event. I decided not to use this on my final selection as the background was a little boring, although it is desert it could be in any location and I wanted to remain in the city of Dubai.

Final selection:

[225]

Dubai was basically desert not such a long time ago when compared to other cities around the world. This area now has a metropolis of buildings, golf courses, residence buildings, office blocks and even a metro line. Its hard to believe that just 15 years ago, this was all desert. I was living here then and used to drive passed this area and I was still 15 mins drive away before I reached any buildings within the downtown area of Dubai. Its hard to image how much the city of Dubai has progressed in such a relatively short space of time, and this can be seen almost at every turn. The image was taken also taking into account one of the recent exercises which was a single small figure, as can be seen with the two golfers on the green to the right of the images on the lower third. An interesting fact is two of the tallest buildings that can be seen in the centre image are the worlds tallest office block, and residence block in the world.

[226]

Dubai is a major tourist attraction. It does have oil, but the supplies will soon be reduced within the next 100 years (predicted). The government and rulers of Dubai had a wonderful vision to attract tourist thus bringing in income from another source. The tourist industry now is one of the largest in Dubai with millions of visitors per year, and Dubai Intl airport is now the busiest airport in the world for major destinations in and out of the city. One of the largest attractions in Dubai is indoor shopping centres. Due to the heat in the summer which can go above 50 degree cent, most of the shopping areas are indoors and air conditioned. This shopping mall is called Dubai Mall, and has the largest indoor aquarium in the world. This is a 10 million-litre tank at the Dubai Aquarium with more than 33,000 aquatic animals and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks in the world. It also has 140 species of sea life and has several ways to experience underwater life, starting with a stroll through a 48-metre walk-through tunnel. It’s a complete fish-eye view, with sand tiger sharks and stingrays swimming overhead. The Dubai Mall I believe is currently the largest shopping mall in the middle east and the third largest in the world.

-EDIT- This image of the aquarium was originally further away from the people and aquarium. this image has been edited based on tutor feedback to bring the whole image and people in the frame closer. This is the original image below.

[227]

Dubai is situated on the Persian gulf, and this opens up many options for building and waterways close to the sea. This is an area called Madinat, and has many shops and food outlets, cleverly covered with palm trees and hotels to give a pleasing feel. The water is brought in from the sea and the landscaping is idyllic. People can walk around the waterways, take an Abra ride, shop, eat and take in the sights of an old type arabic souk (market). In the background we can see the only 7 star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab hotel, along with its own helipad 750 above the ground. Another use of a small figures can be seen on the left and right of the image.

Tutor feedback notes additional comment – This image is intended to show how diverse Dubai really is. We can see a combination of waterways, green landscaping, shops and eating areas and the worlds only 7 star hotel in the background the Burj Al Arab Hotel…all from what was only a short while ago barren desert.

[228]

Keeping with the water theme, both residents and visitors can enjoy the waterways and open sea for all types of water events from boating, both private and for hire, skiing, jet ski rental, cruising and dining etc. Many residents own expensive boats and yachts which are based in the marina and the water is a major part of Dubai residents and visitors for recreation and spare time. The weekend here is Friday and Saturday so the seas are full of craft during the weekends. These added man made waterways have been a magnet for architects and the construction of buildings and high-rises. Dubai is a open book for designers of such buildings like the ‘twisty’ building which is Cayan Tower (“The building’s twisted shape reduces wind forces on the tower and channels the wind in such a way that its forces are unable to organise themselves,” quote Ref: National Newspaper) and other high rises and office blocks.

[229]

So what about the people? Population of Dubai is currently around 2.67 million. From this around 80% are of Indian or Pakistani origin. From this around 92% are expatriates. The country is built on manual labour to the most part. You will see these workers on the building construction, road construction, serving in shops, petrol stations etc and these are what we could call the worker bees of the city (I mean that in a nice way). Temperatures in the summer can be very hot and Dubai has a temperature limit that allows workers to stop outside activities when it gets to a certain temperature limit, this is to protect the safety of the workers. During the off days again usually a Friday and Saturday, the workers will congregate around many parts of Dubai, one of them being Dubai Creek which is in the old town of Dubai and were many of these workers reside. The main source of income for Dubai started around the creek in the 1830’s as a pearl fishing village and remained so until the 1930’s after the recession. The workers will remove the overalls and be happy to take time to see the sights, drink arabic coffee or sweet tea and wear a nice shirt or local dress while enjoying time with friends. The creek is still used as a major import/export area and a busy hub as can be seen with the Abras or water taxis bringing passengers and tourists between the two sides of the creek.

[230]

I had mentioned in one of the biggest forms of income in Dubai is tourism. Nothing can be seen as an example than in the shopping malls and beach locations. Land is at its prime, and this area is not far away from my first image of the gold course, which 15 years ago was all desert as i mentioned. I remember coming to this area and camping on the beach. Not such a long time ago they were two hotels on this beach, one behind were I’m standing and another about a kilometre ahead of the camera view does the beach. Now we can see a small beach area with towering high-rise buildings which are mainly all accommodation blocks and apartments overlooking the beach. Many of the beaches have now been taken over with construction of hotels and large high rise buildings making beach areas limited. This area is known as JLT Jumeriah Lake Towers and is about 4km of beach front, shops, apartment blocks and hotels. This image was taken on a week working day, so come weekend it would be hard to find any spare area of beach, especially in the winter when the temperatures are bearable. This is one of the most popular spots for beach goers and visitors who like to take in the sun, sand and water and all Dubai has to offer.

Conclusion:

The final brief of this assignment is to write down what we thought of our assignment from the following questions:

What did you set out to achieve, including a description of how you see the essential character of the place?

I wanted to stay away from the glossy type photos of a magazine as what was also mentioned in the brief, and try and show another side of Dubai from more of a person that lives here and also the residents of Dubai, and what it may feel like to I’ve here and not as a visitor. My images were not to be heavily post processed at the risk of them looking slightly boring and plane, but the intention is to show Dubai from a ground level view and not glossy and glitzy.

How well you think you succeeded, including opportunities that were not available to you because of lack of time or access?

I have tried to show a good cross section of Dubai from the people who live and work here, to the offers Dubai has fro both visitors and those who may live and work here. I have included both old and new parts of the city giving viewers an overall feel of the city. I would have liked to maybe include some other recreational aspects of what Dubai has to offer such as camel racing, horse racing and what the desert has to offer, but this would mean more travel and I wanted to remain in the city, and again not include the glossy aspects of Dubai. I would have liked to include locals in some of my images but this can be a sensitive issue here at times, so out of respect I refrained from doing this.

How you might have approached the assignment if you had simply been taking photographs with no-end result in mind (meaning an article to be published)?

Given the choice I think I would have gone for the more glossy type of images. I feel that my submitted images are not types you would see in any high gloss magazine, but this was the brief we needed to stick to. Dubai has a lot to offer both in terms of locations in the city and out in the open spaces such as desert and even further out in the mountains. I would have submitted some images which would include night, and maybe a slow shutter image to show movement either in a night shot or other daytime shot with moving clouds or similar.

Finally I found the subject matter of images hard to conclude as I am more used to taking images that would be seen on postcards, or images of the many interesting buildings that Dubai has to offer. I think I have met the criteria of the brief and shown a good selection of images that show the people and place of Dubai that wouldn’t be first apparent in many of the other publications or personal images of visitors who would focus more on the tourist attractions of the city.

No heavy post production was made to the images, which I think adds to the real life feeling and removes focus from how the image looks, to more of what the image is about.

This concludes Assignment 4 – A sense of place.

Onto Assignment 5 People and Place on Assignment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ref:

http://www.dubai-info.org/en/facts/history

https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/madinat-jumeirah/facilities/souk-madinat-jumeirah/

https://www.emirates.com/english/destinations_offers/discoverdubai/aboutdubai/dubaihistory.aspx

http://blog.raynatours.com/5-interesting-facts-dubai-creek/

http://www.visitdubai.com/en/pois/dubai-aquarium-and-underwater-zoo

https://www.dubai.com/v/history/

http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/property/dubais-twisting-cayan-tower-named-among-worlds-best-new-skyscrapers

Jonathan Gainer photographer – review

I have been looking at one or two workings of some of our locally based photographers here in Dubai. One such suggestion was a company called ‘Surface Photography and Films’, which is run and owed by a gentleman called Jonathan Gainer (see link here http://www.dubai-photography.com/#mi=1&pt=0&pi=1&s=0&p=-1&a=0&at=0

The company takes images and was as video, mainly using a Drone looking at the site. They have a wise arrangement and cross section within their portfolio of Dubai, and I was surprised to read in the bio that Jonathan is originally from Missouri in the USA. He has travelled and worked in Berlin, London, Italy and Russia just to mention a few location. He also speaks 4 languages.

I liked his his cross section of images ranging from aerial to reportage. He has some excellent images taken in China on his reportage section, and the images come across with subtle colours and very good use of bokeh. One which strikes me is of birds (pidgeons) filling the frame, and close ups of weathered faces such as an old man and lady. See here: http://www.dubai-photography.com/#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=6&p=11&a=0&at=0

Some other images include the building of skyscrapers in Dubai which comprise of both buildings and the workmen who are on site. It shard to know from the images if these are commissioned or he has taken these as a by product while on site with the man focus being the construction of the building itself. I think at time s astute use of off camera flash has been used but with good effect and not over powering the images.

Some other images include a combination of real and rendered images, which according to the site have been manipulated in New York. It will be interesting to see how these renders come out in real life once complete.

I will look again at some of the images of interiors and exteriors for ideas for my assignment 4. Jonathan’s are very crisp with again good use of fill in flash or other lighting, with good use of steel and glass making the pictures high key.

His site and portfolio can be found here:

http://www.dubai-photography.com/#mi=1&pt=0&pi=1&s=0&p=-1&a=0&at=0

Exercise 23 – Special processing

The aim of this exercise was to use one image and then using digital processing methods, make two new versions of the image. The first of these has a greater prominence, the second image with less prominence for the subject.

(click on any image to enlarge)

[216]

This is the original image.  The image has too many distractions with people close to the main subject as well as a distracting background with the people standing.

[217]

With slight manipulation, the image now is very flat. Still no cropping so the image still has the main distractions as above. The face is very dark and the histogram looks very flat and dark when viewed in LR CC.

[218]

Now with some small adjustments to the highlights and shadows, we can see the main focus of the lady is now full frame. All distractions have been taken away and a slight vignetting has helped focus the eye on the subject and darkened the background. More manipulation could have taken place by removing the bag in Photoshop but I decided this was enough to meet the requirements of the brief.

 

 

Exercise 22 – Balancing figure and space

For this exercise we are asked to take 2 photographs using pretty much the same viewpoint and composition but varying the balance between the person and the space they are in.

(click on any image to enlarge)

[214]

This image is ok as a single snap shot, but from a composition point of view it lacks any depth and is very flat. Subject is dead centre, and as the saying goes ‘dead centre is deadly’. Also the subject is a little low with too much ceiling and a cut off at he joints, i.e. the knees. This could be improved a lot better for balance both for the subject and location, as we will see in the next image.

[215]

In this second image of the same subject above, we have moved the camera position to add more balance both for the subject in the frame, and to show more of the location including background area. The subject is now placed on the rule of thirds, and the knees have not been cut off at the joint. This image would work either as a close up of just head and shoulders, or a full length shot which could include the feet.The head is directly on the top right third rule and the eyes are drawn into the rear left of the image after looking at the eyes of the subject, this now gives a good feel of where the subject is and the location. The image is not edited in any way for congestion to the first image, other the a change in camera position and moving the subject slightly to the right.

 

 

Exercise 21 – Making figures anonymous

The brief for this exercise was to use certain techniques to photograph a person or persons making them anonymous and less prominent than the area that they are in. The images should try to make the person(s) almost unrecognisable.

(click on any image to enlarge)

[210]

This image does have people and certainly shows a sense of scale. With a closer look three workers can be seen on the building, and in fact form a type of triangle which was pure luck. This image was taken while taking a boat ride within the Dubai Marina area, and this building was being constructed on the waters edge. I have cropped the image slightly to make the figures just visible and taken away day distracting buildings which were on either side of this main one under construction.

[211]

As we look into the image of the fountain, we can see at first the two figures walking into the image on the left side. After a closer scan around the frame we can then see two more people, but covered behind the water fall and some of the seats and umbrella stands. The framing of this image takes the eye into the frame and only after closer inspection can we see the second two people on the bench chairs. This image could be cropped more to remove the two figures on the left leaving only the faded outline of the two people on the right of the frame.

[212]

In this image we see a very nice interior shot of a hotel lobby. With a closer look around the many items such as camels, christmas tree, chairs etc you finally come across a person sat in the rear of the frame which is actually set on the rule of thirds line. The same colour uniform of the person makes them blend into the background, but the person is still visible non the same. I thought about waiting for a person or persons to walk across the room and wait until they are near the arch door in the rear of the picture on the right, but decided it maybe too obvious so I left the final image with the one person sat at the desk.

[213]

For my last image I decided to take this frame of an archway with a very subtle background combined with people having breakfast. The main focus is of course the arch, but again the eye is drawn into the image at towards the rear where the people are enjoying the morning. In some ways the camel is looking into the arch within an arch at the people. Cropping this image I feel would have made the image too flat and would have taken away from the main arch in the foreground.

Exercise 20 – Busy traffic

This exercise is to show people in a busy place. We are asked to take some time in the area we choose, which can be indoors or outdoors. Time should be taken to research the space and how people flow around the space. We can take a slow exposure if needed to show some type of movement in the people.

(click on any image to enlarge)

[208]

This is a busy street in York near an area called The Shambles. You can see how the people are in close proximity to each other, but all have their own agenda be it walking down the street, looking in the shop windows, searching for items in a bag or talking to partners. The tight street forces people to be very close and this in effect makes everyone slow down as rushing in this tight space may not be possible. Adding to this the old street is bending towards the middle which also brings people closer together, making the flow more into the centre part of the street.

[209]

This shot of a York market shows the numerous types of buildings in the area, from old brick on either side, more modern buildings in the car and temporary market stalls. The people in the image have plenty to look at as they walk down the cobble street, from flower markets, stalls and even a place to take a break and have a pork sandwich. The area is very open in the centre, but it can be seen to filter into tight spaces as one enters the stall market area. Thankfully the closed roads will allow pedestrians to make use of the cobble street while taking in the sights. This makes the main flow of the people take to the street before branching into the enclosed stall market.