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Documenting my Uni life

November 11, 2010

Sincere apologies for my lack blogging of late, university life is so much busier than I had anticipated. The work load, while enjoyable, is pretty demanding leading me very little time to sit down and devote a few moments to my blog. As ever I’ll try to write as much as I can, but for now I figured I’d just bring you all up to date with my first couple of months at University and bring your attention to a few of the photos I’ve taken along the way.

One of our main units this semester is Documentary Photography or to give it it’s official name ‘The Photograph as Document’. Throughout the first half of this unit we were given a series of weeklong mini projects designed to help us prepare for the main ‘Stranger Project’. I’m just starting this larger project now, whereby we need to follow and document the life of someone we have never met before – hence the stranger part. We’ve got to do a minimum of 5 shoots and try to capture their personality and life in a final 15 shots which we’ll present to the year. Eeeekk! How scary!

This whole unit is a little daunting, from our introductory lecture we’ve been thrown in the deep end. While terrifying it’s really helped to shape me as a photographer and helped me to develop more confidence. So, what were the 3 mini projects then?

1. ‘Street Photography’

Aim: Produce portraits taken of strangers in town, they must explore different techniques (consent, non consent).

Final images:




Street photography was really difficult; it took me a good hour to pluck up courage to ask people if I could take photos of them. It seemed like a total invasion of their privacy, and wouldn’t be something I would enjoy happening to me. However the people asked were all very polite and helpful, as most people are here and it really helped to build my confidence and would certainly be willing to try it out again.

2. ‘Getting In’

Aim: Produce 5 images taken within a local space that you aren’t usually allowed in. Use contacts, ring and visit places in order to gain access.

I gained access behind the scenes at the local newspaper.

Final images:

‘Getting In’ was much better than I expected it would be, once I had arranged access the actual shoot was really fun, and a very interesting experience!

3. ‘Points of View’

Aim: Take photographs around town that embrace different points of view and perspectives. In addition to this at least 3 of your shots must include the use of flash.

Final images:

‘Points of View’ was great fun, a friend and I went round town at dusk and just experimented with using flash to create eerie scenes and getting used to the different effects, like directional, fill in and  bounce flash.

There are some more images taken during the course so far on my flickr and i’ll continue to keep this album updated with any university work throughout the year,  if you’ve got some time please take a look.

The verdict..

September 25, 2010

So the votes are in, which print did you all choose for me to have on my university bedroom wall?

And the winner is……

Photo 1 !!

©Lou Johnson

Yaay! Lots of bright colours for my wall. However the results were pretty close so I’m also going to get the second placed photo at one stage too (maybe not immediately..).

Photo 5

©Lou Johnson

I’ll let you all see the finished print once Photobox send it to me. Eeekk! How exciting, my first piece of university post!

Thank you to everyone who took the time out to read my post and vote, it’s much appreciated!

I’ve never been very good with decisions..

September 20, 2010

…Which is why I want you all to help me!

As you know, I moved to university last week, and I’m sure you all know that feeling of trying to make a new bedroom feel just as ‘homey’ and welcoming as your last one. Well I’m struggling.  I’ve got all my stuff in it, laptop, a fruit bowl, ipod dock etc.. but there is one problem.. the walls. They’re painted brick, no plaster, so as you can all imagine they don’t exactly scream ‘homey’. I came up with the idea of getting one or two of my favourite f1 prints printed to A3 or larger and hanging them on the walls, but due to my restricted funds I can’t afford to buy many. This poses me with a bit of a dilemma, which photograph should I get printed? I’ve taken loads in the last year or so and choosing my favourite F1 related shots is hard at the best of times, so I need your help. I’ve chosen a few I wouldn’t mind getting printed and want you to cast your vote as to which one you want me to get. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Photo 1

©Lou Johnson

Photo 2

©Lou Johnson

Photo 3

©Lou Johnson

Photo 4

©Lou Johnson

Photo 5

©Lou Johnson

I’m gonna order the print tomorrow evening, so you have until then to make up your minds!

New Beginnings

September 20, 2010

Woah, I did it, I moved to university. All the struggle with Alevels, university interviews and exams is over and I’m currently living what I fought so hard to get. I’m an actual university student! I’m sure part of my still thinks that I’m going back to school soon, after 15 years I’ve broken free from the mundane repetition of a school week and I’m finally starting to settle down to learn about something I’m really interested in. Fresher’s week is over and we can now knuckle down to some serious photography study. We’ve completed our mobile phone project (a photo which sums up our first feelings about going to university – photo below) and got our semester time table, eeeek!

©Lou Johnson

So what next?

Well, we’ve got our first and only mini, non marked, project based on Carte De Visite photography. Our brief details we’ll need one colour and one black and white print, giving us the perfect opportunity to profect both types of dark room techniques and learn about how a typical project can be set up. I’ve done my research which included finding my own Carte de Visite photographs of my own family ad shooting two rolls of films. It’s safe to say I’m eager to get started for real with our first project ‘The photograph as a Document’  –  it’s going to be awesome! I’ll try to keep you all updated with the happenings of my life at uni and what I’m learning photography wise.

I’ve finally got a darkroom at home too, so I predict much more analogue work from me for a bit!

A Taste of Independence

August 14, 2010

Last month was a bit of a step forward in my life. I officially finished school, marking the close of 15 years of my life and as cheesy as it sounds the opening of one huge, new and daunting chapter. Okay it’s a bit exciting too. Next week I get my A level results and with them a clue about which direction my life will take. Uni.. or gap year? Obviously I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my university place but we’ll see. Uni seems like such a huge leap from where I am now, thank goodness most people go through the same thing!

While last month marked the end of my school life it wasn’t all bad. I got to go on two holidays! (yes I count Goodwood as a holiday). Aside from Chichester and the festival I also found myself going on a mini adventure down to Devon with two of my oldest friends. Just the three of us, no parents (unless you count their aunt whose house we stayed at), looking out for ourselves. To be honest we all just needed a break, to get away from Kent and everything, just to relax and be somewhere else. I’m making such a big deal out of this because it was almost a taste for future life, no parents, teachers etc.. we could just be ourselves, being independent… and you know what? We survived, and even had a great time. We could do what we wanted, cook what we liked and just have a laugh. No Alevels no.. nothing. Just us and their Aunt’s dog Jed. The perfect break.

It wasn’t the typical ‘let’s fly somewhere, go get drunk every single day and maybe get a tan’ teen holiday.. cause well.. we just wouldn’t enjoy that, although a tan would have been nice. It was quiet, we went for long walks, explored some of the local villages and towns and just relaxed. We’re not really the partying type.

I’m not going to share with you a day by day account of our holiday because a lot of our time was spent reading or just wondering around enjoying the view. Instead I’ll share a few photos and a few highlights of the trip.

Totnes Tudor Market

© Lou Johnson

Yep that’s right Totnes has a market where everyone dresses up in Tudor costumes. At first it was pretty surreal seeing people buying anything from jewellery to meat from Tudors but we got used to it, children from the local school even gave a demonstration of a traditional Tudor dance. Not what you expect to see every day!

Greenway

© Lou Johnson

Home of the famous Agatha Christie we took a taxi boat across the river Dart to explore her grand abode and the interesting art installations within the grounds.

© Lou Johnson

As a great lover of tea the idea of mugs hanging from a tree which gently ‘clinked’ together in the breeze is an appealing one, I wonder if mum would notice if used some of her mugs…

© Lou Johnson

.. what does this remind you of? It reminded us of Alice and Wonderland, what a beautiful old,  rather large clock!

Plymouth Aquarium

© Lou Johnson

I love aquariums, it’s something about the bright colours, and the calm I associate with water just makes them such an amazing place. They can be a great place to take photos too!

© Lou Johnson

Aren’t Jellyfish awesome?!

© Lou Johnson

Living by the beach

© Lou Johnson

We were staying in the little seaside town of Bigbury on Sea, and wow it’s beautiful. The flat had the most amazing window in the lounge overlooking the sea. I could have watched the wind surfers, fledgling seagulls and incoming rain storms (yep it rained …alot) all day.

Of course living that close to lovely sandy beaches meant we just had to go for a walk.. and a bit of a paddle.

© Lou Johnson

Even the dog liked it.

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

Burgh Island

© Lou Johnson

Burgh Island (another Agatha Christie connection – not planned I promise..) is only accessible when the tide is out and you can cross the causeway, but if you even find yourself in the Bigbury on Sea area you really must climb the Island. We wondered down from the flat on our last day and headed across the causeway and up the Island. It didn’t take long, and the views were magnificent.

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

The Sea has got to be one of my favourite places to visit, where ever I am.

Stonehenge

© Lou Johnson

We decided to break up our long 6 hour journey back with a stop off for lunch at the mysterious Stonehenge in Wiltshire. While it’s a great place to walk around and from an artistic point of view there is plenty to inspire you, but other than that it was a tad disappointing. My first reaction was ‘oh.. It’s smaller than I thought’, in reflection I’m not sure what I was actually expecting. I’m not sad I went at all, it’s one of those places I think you should try and visit but I’m not sure I’d make an effort to go there again.

© Lou Johnson

There you are, a little glimpse at our holiday. If you want to check out more of my holiday snaps they can be found on my flickr.

My Own Goodwood Test Drive

August 13, 2010

This is my last Goodwood 2010 related post, I promise. This time I want to take a closer look at a camera I was privileged enough to have an experiment with.

You’ve probably seen the advert on TV, or read a review on the internet but in case you missed it – Panasonic have launched and brand new camera. The Lumix G2 is marketed as being;

‘the world’s first compact system camera with touch-screen controls’

Well it’s all very well and good being the world’s first touch screen D-SLR, but is it as good as they say?

Panasonic were so proud of their new camera they teamed up with the Daily Telegraph and various events/places around Britain to give the public a chance to ‘road test’ the Lumix for themselves. Of course being a keen Snapa and never wanting to pass up an opportunity to try out a new camera I was delighted when I saw this on the Telegraph website the weekend before we headed off to the festival.

‘The Panasonic event will allow visitors at the Festival to hire a Lumix G2 digital camera free of charge for a couple of hours to try to capture the best images of the day. There’ll be plenty to choose from so feel free to take as many photographs as you like. Whether your subject is the latest supercars of one of the many celebs or racing drivers who attends the festival, you’ll have plenty of space on your 2GB SD memory card.’

The chance to hire over £600 worth of new camera for free?! Brilliant!

It took us a day, but we tracked down the Lumix stand eventually – although by the start line it was pretty small and tucked out of the way, almost lost amongst the mass of stalls and flags. After exchanging some details and a quick demonstration the camera was mine.. well for a few hours anyway! Armed with my usual Nikon D70s round one shoulder and now the Lumix I felt ready to start our day at the festival. The Lumix came with a 14-42mm lens which made it the perfect compliment for my Nikon with it’s 70-300mm lens. The perfect camera set up for a productive day.

As we started to walk towards the F1 paddock and the other side of the track I was still fumbling around with the settings and getting used to the UI which was pretty easy to get to grips with. Everything is very self explanatory and within a few steps I took the following test shot…

© Lou Johnson

Excited by this new gadget we rushed off to look for some more exciting subjects (yes.. F1 cars.. )  as you’ve probably already noticed from my other posts, I rather like taking photos of the cars as they return from the hillclimb. When we got to the paddock the cars had already gone out so while waiting for them to come back I wondered around trying out the camera. Here are some of my better shots,

© Lou Johnson

While the first shot is ‘straight out of the camera’ this second one has been edited somewhat just by turning down the saturation of all but the reds of the photograph.

© Lou Johnson

I then tried out the macro settings for the camera capturing the following…

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

I was really impressed with both the lens and the camera’s capability to adjust so quickly and how easy it was to set up the shot with it.

Before we knew it the cars were coming back and we lined up ready for the cars. Once the cars had pasted I turned and and started to quickly make my way through the crowd bumping into Nico accidentally, as he tried to quickly finish signing autographs and head out of the paddock. I don’t mean bump into the crowd surrounding him, no I mean him. I quickly grabbed the Lumix and pressed the ‘Intelligent Auto’ button before snapping a shot or two of him.

© Lou Johnson

I was so thankful to have the Lumix on me at the time. I usually carry my smaller digital Nikon bridge camera (Nikon P90) for such occasions but having a fully capable, light DSLR with the smaller lens made the world of difference. I suddenly realised exactly why F1 photographers carry more than one camera with them! The ‘Intelligent Auto’ button helped me get the best shot possible for the conditions and I didn’t even need to think about it. Okay that’s not exactly what all photographers need, but sometimes photo opportunity appear without time to fiddle around with settings. Sometimes you just want to not have to think about it – and that’s what this enabled me to do. Great idea, thanks Panasonic.

Getting over my meeting with Rosberg I headed over to Karun and Sam Bird at the Williams awning and got to try out another feature – the adjustable screen.

© Lou Johnson

To get the best angle I lowered the camera and tilted the screen up so I could compose the photo properly. This is a feature I’m used to on my Nikon P90 and it’s perfect for these situations where either you’re trying to look over or through the crowd, where the only clear air to place a camera is a position in which you can’t see what you’re shooting. I simply tapped the screen and it took the photo for me – how cool!

The Lumix also allowed me to get a bit closer to the main display,

© Lou Johnson

The two hours passed very quickly and before we knew it we had to wonder back down to the Lumix stall to return the camera. I didn’t even get a chance to look at some of the features or have a proper play with the new gadget but the shots I did get were incredibly fun to take. While the touch screen made for easy navigation of in camera settings and tapping the screen to take a shot is awesome I’m not sure how much of a difference it made. The weight on the other hand was a much more notable difference. My D70s is pretty old now, and because of this also pretty heavy – but most Dslrs are. The Lumix on the other hand was small and very light I hardly noticed it on my shoulder and had I not been trying to be extra careful with it (I didn’t want to break it or anything!) I would probably have forgotten it was there. I’m incredibly impressed with Panasonic, both for the camera and their attendance at the Festival. What a perfect environment to try out a new camera for free! Oh and they let me keep the SD card too!

While I’m not sure if I’d buy the camera after just the two short hours, aside from the fact I don’t need a new camera, I’d certainly not hesitate to recommend it to someone who is either looking for a nice DSLR with a great auto function, or someone who is looking for something really simple to get to grips with. It’s not quiet ready to challenge anything Canon or Nikon can produce, but Panasonic have got alot closer with their latest camera.

I’ll leave you with the Panasonic video about the Lumix and just why it’s so great.

Don’t judge a car by its livery

August 8, 2010

I’ve already written about my experiences at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, but there was one particular part of my weekend I didn’t mention. I felt it needed its own post.

As you know I went to Goodwood with Lukeh, both being Brawn fans you would like to think that we’d both be overjoyed that Mercedes decided to bring and show off the BrawnGP001 again this year. Brawn GP brought their car and had it on static display last year to allow fans to get that little bit closer to the beautiful creation that was leading the Championship.

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

Just seeing it in static display knowing it would be racing a few weekends later was brilliant, and we both spent around half an hour just staring and marvelling at the car in all its white and yellow glory. This year, however,  the team brought the car along to run up the hill (seeing as testing rules allowed them to run it as it wasn’t the current car) you’d have thought this would have been the ultimate experience for any Brawn fan who didn’t get the chance to actually see it race. Well it would have been, except for one tiny detail, it wasn’t white and yellow… it was grey.

© Lou Johnson

It was bound to happen, new team, new drivers, and different sponsors, why wouldn’t you use your new livery? It would be a useless way of promoting your team, right? I’m not sure what I really expected, part of me knew this would happen the other part was hoping they’d have brought the Brawn in full livery and their Mercedes as a static display, just as a way of showing off both.

While disappointed I still loved having the Brawn there and knowing that beneath all that silver paint was the car we’d loved so much last year. A new lick of paint can only do so much to the car, you could still visibly see what it was, but out of the two of us Lukeh seemed the most annoyed.

It got me thinking, what were we so annoyed about? The fact it didn’t look the same or that it seemed like Mercedes were trying to hide the memory of the team? Surely a livery is just a livery, it doesn’t matter that much does it?

Well, yes, I think they do matter. It’s the liveries people tend to remember more, for example back at the start of the season many were very happy at the return of the green and gold lotus livery, similarly many hated the distinguishable ‘cream egg’ Renault livery and the ‘earth dreams’ Honda stickers. Liveries divide opinion and create conversation amongst many more people than a new aero part might (unless we’re talking about flexi-wings or some new innovation of course). Liveries are important for photography too, during pre season testing several Formula 1 photographers expressed their dislike for certain cars as they were incredibly hard to shoot. Liveries do matter.

I’ll admit, despite this, each time Nico drove the Brawn past us and into the paddock I did get goose bumps, it’s such a pretty car – you just can’t ignore beautiful rounded nose and that Mercedes engine is something very special, but I couldn’t help thinking that it had lost something… of course that might be because Jenson wasn’t driving.

I’m interested, what do you think?