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/

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Exercise 17 – The users viewpoint

The task for this exercise is to choose from two or three buildings designed for a particular activity, and attempt to capture the area from the users point of view. This could be with the use of focal length and various viewpoints, either low or from a different angle.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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This image is taken from the inside of a University. The close crop to the left makes the viewer wonder where the stairs lead to, and what may lay behind the archway. I waited for some time for a person to walk down or up the stairs but no-one came through. The image was converted to B&W to bring out the strong lines and shades only B&W can show.

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At first glance this image may seen like any normal front living room, but after a closer look the first thing that appears different is the furniture and decor is old. As the eye leads up the stairs we can see a person sat on a chair. Is the owner of the house, apartment, or a guest? The low viewpoint helps the eye scan into the image and then up the stairway. This si in fact a museum situated on the Wales, England border. I had to wait for some time for other visitors to leave the room so I could get a clear shot. However I couldn’t do anything about the lady on top of the stairs, but later thought this would make an interesting addition to the shot.

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A normal stairway? Maybe not. We can see the pictures on the wall are very old and in fact are antique. Taken in the same museum home as the previous photo, this is a stairway leading up to the main bedrooms. The old wooden carved banister leads the eye down the stairs while taking in the large pictures of what seem to be family members of the household from time gone by. Where do the stairs lead down to, and what is on the next level leading up to the left side? An old wooden chest on the stairway makes you wonder what may lay inside and what treasures maybe hidden, if any. Again I had to wait some time for the stairs to become clear of foot traffic. I found a high viewpoint looking down the stairs worked better than standing at the bottom looking upwards.

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This is a stairway taken in a small village in Wales, which is a residence area into a set of apartments and houses. The bright red stairs leads the eye up into a series of doors, with each set of stairs taking the person to separate levels. I like the colours of the red stairs and blue door which seem to compliment each other, and the large red balcony on the top seems to balance the red stairs on each side of the frame. I thought of taking this shot from front on, but I liked the lines of the steps from this angle better than a flat shot. A low shot would have made the converging verticals too severe so I remained at eye level for this one.

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This shot taken in a gallery shows a lot of negative space, which leads the eye to the person situated in the background of the frame. The eyes are helped into the frame with the wood grain of the floor, which brings the eyes onto each statue piece and then finally onto the framed pictures on the wall. I would have liked the person in the shot to be not so central, but the figures in the picture on the left of the wall help the viewer to look back in to the frame as they seem to be looking at the person walking. One wonders what the central statue piece is on the floor, is was in fact a figure of a dead horse.

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Taken in some office buildings, I waited for my friend to walk by while I placed the camera in a low position on the floor. I didn’t have a camera with a tilt up screen as I was using a Canon 5DMK3, so I set the camera to what I hoped would be a medium DOP at F11 in the hope it wouldn’t focus on the floor nearest the camera. I took a few shots as the two people walked by towards the doors ahead. I positioned the camera so the black squares on the floor would lead towards the figures walking.

Conclusion:

An interesting exercise and at times found the viewpoints hard to decide on. I was sometimes unsure if I would be able to take images of something that was situated outdoors, such as the shot of the red stairs, but after looking at some other students images this seemed to be acceptable.

 

Henri Cartier Bresson review

I’ve known of Henri Cartier Bresson of course before I started my OCA degree, but never took a closer look into his work until I came across a BBC documentary on then history of photography. It was only then that I saw the famous work of this french artist who lived form 1908 until 2004.

His most famous work maybe well know for his book The Decisive Moment, were he takes  some of his best work from around the world into 126 images, and was printed in 1952.

Bresson’s book  The Decisive Moment

After looking through his images its clear to see they are both artistic, with many images having people jumping which I saw as a common theme. They are also sad and violent, with images from war zones around the world, both with images of people after and even during death.

Breton makes the statement  “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms that give that event its proper expression.” Thes fraction of a second can be clearly seen in a number of images, again from the famous image of the man jumping the water, to the asian photograph of people seemly getting shot, and with one even looking like he has an arrow in his chest. 

Bresson apparently never cropped his photos, he believed that all of the image in camera was ‘the decisive moment’. ‘For the rest of his life, Cartier-Bresson’s approach to photography would remain much the same. He made clear his disdain for the augmented image, one that had been enhanced by artificial light, dark room effects, even cropping. The naturalist in Cartier-Bresson believed that all edits should be done when the image was made. His equipment load was often light: a 50mm lens and if he needed it, a longer 90mm lens’.

His images are dark, punchy, with very high contrast, and one of his comments was intact “You know William, colour is bullshit”. His Leica camera with only two lenses made it easy for him on the street, as well as situated in war zones. No heavy equipment to carry and always ready for the unexpected shot.

His images of people from all ages appeals, from the young playing in the streets to the old, poor and at the end of life bring emotion into the picture. He seems not to care almost for the risk of getting the shot, which brings the questions ‘ Does he ask for permission before taking the shot? Is it posed, or is the non posed shot really posed? How close to real life did it really look? Did he get the kids to play in the street or was it luck?

He truly was a master of People and Place.

Henry Cartier Bresson

Henry Cartier Bresson

 

REF:

Henry C. Bresson [Accessed 27 05 16]

https://steidl.de/Books/The-Decisive-Moment-0516515559.html  [Accessed 28-05-16]