Friday, 28 March 2014

Photography Lesson - 'Sea Change' Michael Marten

Photography Lesson - Tide in tide out a la' Michael Marten.

Resources - easy access to a water way that is affected by the tide
Analogue or digital cameras
Projection/Display methods
AG magazine Winter 2008 issue No.50

This is a series of lessons designed to be introduced and worked on over a series of sessions producing outcomes that identify multiple learning outcomes, meeting multiple assessment criteria.

Session 1: Research - Image Analysis and deconstruction.

In this session the students are introduced to the use of Hard-copy journals, in this instance AG magazine Winter 2008 issue No.50. Again, I would use this to reiterate the points made here in the introduction. The work that they'll be looking at, is the work of Michael Marten, if you conduct on-line research there seems to be very little in the way of research that you would be able to use in an academic scenario other than this link here...  Deemed suitable because it's a national newspaper and the article written by and or at least, edited by Sean O'Hagan. There is also this link here which again is a national newspaper but, if you check out the writers linkedin profile it's not of the same calibre as the Sean O'Hagan who is well respected critic and writer on the subject of photography. But the Daily Mail link does appear to have superior images which you might want to use within their work.

In the session, I would present at least two of the articles from the above - certainly the one that has come from the hard-copy source (AG Magazine) and distribute these in class.

The Task  would be for the students to look at the images and read through the articles and start to make sense of the work. They would be expected to record what is in the images and then start to analyse the images and the article in more depth, deconstructing the images and making observations with regards to how visual language is used within the images. By the end of the session the students should have written the basics of a research piece, using quotes from the articles that establish what the images are about and who the target audience might be. Look here for the prompts that can be used in the deconstruction/analysis of the text and images.

The Students in their *own time should then go on to search out a selection of Martens images and add them to the written material. It may also be a good idea to supply at least one example within the lesson if your resources allow for it just to get the project under-way.

*This may be possible in lesson if your college/school/university has ready access to PC's or Mac's linked to colour printers.

My own approach -

I would have pre-printed high quality laminated images printed to A3 size in class. I would issue these to the students and break them up into small groups of 3 or 4. I would set each group a separate task relating to making sense of the images...

Group 1 - Looks at... Image aspects; colour; light; composition;
Group 2 - Looks at... Content, subject, meaning, metaphors, what is the work about?
Group 3 - Looks at... Equipment, format, camera, quality
Group 4 - Looks at... Target audience, usage
Group 5 - Looks at... What can be taken from the work to use in your work
Group 6 - Looks at... Genre, influenced by, in the tradition of

They would have 20 minutes to discuss the images and write on a large piece of paper their findings and one of the group would be designated the role of presenting their findings to the rest of their class. Others within the group would be given roles such as scribe and time - keeper.

As the presentations are made I and the students would make notes about what points are being picked up on and observed. I would transfer my notes to a white board.

The students would then take that shared info and then use the image analysis/deconstruction prompts here to write up their response and that would be the basis of their research.

I would then encourage them to improve or bolster the work further in their own time adding images and maybe look at similar work (Eye on the Thames by Jonathan Bayer) or Jason Orton's work and compare.

Session 2 -
  • Reflect on the research and image analysis
  • Plan the shoot

The follow-up session would be to reflect on the session above and the work done since. They would reflect on the useful-ness of the different methods of research, primarily looking at whether they thought the Hard-Copy resources were superior to the internet information?

The students would reflect on the work using the Gibbs Reflective Practice model looking to write somewhere between 300 - 450 words. At the end of the cycle there is the 'Action Plan' section. Use this to write up and discuss how they will approach the practical aspect which would be in the next session.

I allow 10 minutes for each of the sections within the Gibbs cycle approximately, but I would extend the 'Action Plan' section and discuss this as a group, writing up on the white board what it is they feel they need to consider when shooting the images in the next session. We would discuss how their cameras need to be set up, light in consideration with the possible light scenarios and white balance, files sizes and type, field of view and lens focal lengths, shutter speeds, ISO, metering issues etc.

Session 3 - Briefing and Shoot

For us, the location is only 10 minutes away, so we meet, quickly assess the light discuss the impact of the light and then we'll walk down to the beach targeting 4 points primarily. Each view will be slightly different and we're likely to focus on having jetties in the foreground of the images. Each student will shoot a minimum of 4 scenes, making notes of where the shots were taken and the focal lengths used. Additional notes will be made as to helping re-establish the compositions on the 2nd visit.

Post session 3 -

In their own time students will print off contact sheets and produce at least 4 images or more. Additional annotations might be made and the images will be presented in their folders ready for the next session.

Session 4 - Reflection using the Gibbs method

By now this is coming together as a mini-project with many of the components that the students will be assessed against. The final touch would be in session 4 where the students would be required to reflect on the recent activities and learning using the Gibbs reflective practice method again.

I generally do this over a period of an hour or so, setting 10 minutes to respond to each of the prompts using a clock. Some of the prompts over-lap when they write it up and some demand more writing than others, so having done this a few times they adapt to the hour long period and spend longer on some sections knowing that they can make up the time elsewhere.

Session 5 - Second shoot (Tide in opposite state)

Again in their own time the images would be printed and presented in their workbooks along with contact sheets and annotations if deemed necessary.

Session 6 - Final Gibbs reflection

The final Gibbs reflection would be in more depth looking at what they have learned from the experience, has it given them ideas, do they agree with Marten's own rationale for his images, where might they take this basic idea and develop it further. More discussion could happen around the rationale for Martens images?

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