Dipping into photography

My ‘perceptual consciousness’ is literally buzzing with learning stuff today. I’m writing this a little late tonight as I’ve just got home from a photography course at The Artworks in Halifax. More about this another day as I’ve yet to process all the information which is competing for my brain space at the moment. Oh, I will just mention though that on the website link above you’ll see that there’s a photography exhibition coming up very soon.

However, I do feel that the two photography courses I’ve done at The Artworks: Beginners and Intermediate, although I like to call the last one the ‘Not quite such a beginner course,’ have been true examples of experiential learning. I’m using Tom Boydell’s definition here, ‘ the learner is involved in sorting things out for himself’ through consciously generating cognitions, affects and conations. I identify with Boydell giving the student some responsibility, especially for the why, the purpose. I also just love the image of ideas as non-physical realities, flying about inside one’s mind and how this confusion is the very essence of the learning process. I’ve written before about troublesome learning spaces. I admit to being seriously confused by the buttons and menu systems on my DSLR camera. It’s taken me  8- 10 weeks to learn focussing, and this isn’t a reflection on the tutor or the course, it’s just that I needed experience and time for it to become internalised and part of me. Paul had lesson plans and objectives for each session, but as we began to share our images we discovered photographers, art, how to see beauty in images and developed the confidence to go out and take photographs. I’m sure we learnt far more through our meanderings and serendipitous conversations than he’d initially identified in those plans!

The goals set have been invaluable; week 1 let’s go out and take some photographs and then come in and share the one we like the best. How scary is that? It’s the first week! The homework that week was off the scary scale: take 36 photos. But guess what, most of us did! The following week the homework was to take just 1 photo. I know what you’re thinking “Simples,” but we were expected to explain the composition. The thing is that most of us have done our homework and, may have 3 photos to display in the forthcoming exhibition. Imagine that. After just 12 weeks! This has been a course where we’ve had a sharing and supportive climate. We look at each other’s photos every week and my fellow students and Paul see things in them we haven’t seen ourselves. We can be critical, but there’s always a reason for a photograph not quite ‘doing it,’ and we are beginning to see why.

I think we all ‘tuned in.’ Paul, created a climate where he knew and sensed what was needed. We ‘tuned in’ to Paul.

Oh! I mustn’t forget to mention coming across Fibonacci’s numbers. Paul did warn us that there’s a lot of maths in photography.

I realise I need to include a photo or two now, so here you are.

Media City_          Market St fashion window


As today is the first day of my learning challenge I’ve been anxious about not learning anything and therefore not having anything to write about. I needn’t have worried.

I’ve just stumbled upon Johannes Itten’s table of contrasts which formed a major aspect of his Bauhaus foundation course. It’s said that his theory of composition was rooted in one simple concept: contrasts. Contrasts between light and dark, shapes, colours, and even sensations. His intention was to ‘awaken a vital feeling for the subject through a personal observation.’ In thinking about contrasts his students were ‘to experience them with their senses, objectivize them intellectually, and realize them synthetically.’ The process for this was three-fold:

  1. Get a feeling for each contrast without thinking of it as an image
  2. List ways of putting this sensation across
  3. Make a picture.

In my current photography course I’m taking photos of people, often in busy streets or markets.  I’m wondering if the contrast here is the small moment of stillness captured when an individual is looking at my camera and the business of the street or market context. Using Itten’s contrast table perhaps it’s a ‘still/busy’ contrast. Thanks to the folk at Bolton markets for this one.






I’ve also learnt that my local Tesco store stocks these sweets from my childhood. Barratt seems to have morphed into Candyland but the best thing is that they don’t seem to be smaller!