Posts tagged ‘london’

November 5, 2013

Exercise: Rain Magazine Cover

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p181 is to create a magazine cover on the subject of rain. Here is mine:

Rain cover

I did take this other image at the same time but I think the one I chose it better. Rainy london.

Alternative Rain

September 25, 2013

Exercise: Outdoors At Night

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p152 is all about photographing at night in the city centre. The aim of this exercise is to explore the variety of lighting effects and colour in artificial light. To include in our list of image were the following:

  • A floodlit building (where the lights are hidden)
  • A brightly lit storefront
  • A large interior such as a shopping centre
  • And a view of a busy road where we can create light trails of the car lights rushing by.

The view skyline would look much better at dusk where there is a hint of light in the sky however I usually go home before its dark at this time of the year or I’m out for a reason until it’s full dark – this time I was at the David Bailey and Bruce Weber exhibition. Although having said this – London has so much light pollution it is never really black anyway.


Closed Tube

The Tower

City lights

City Lights

The Gherkin



Lit Walkway

Triangles & Lights

Office Block


Outside seating

Liverpool St Station

Busy Street

Empty Street






Shopping Mall

Liverpool St Station

Liverpool St Station

Upturned Spotlights

Shiny building

September 24, 2013

Olympus Image Space @ The Loading Bay

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This weekend Olympus was doing a very special event to celebrate the launch of my camera‘s big brother the EM1. I went along to the free workshops and they were a great chance to try out some types of photography I’d never done before. Studio lighting with a model and Indoor urban performance photography. And there was a photographic exhibition on in the space – Women of Iceland by Gabrielle Motola. It was especially good given that the current chapter I’m doing for TAOP is ‘Light’. Here are some of the shots I produced.

Studio Lighting with Damian McGillicuddy:

Damian basically set up the lights and talked up thought the choices he’d made and why he’d set the lights up like this. He had two FL-50r speed lights (with some sort of little lighting sock on them so they didn’t light up the white columns they were next to) behind the model for a back/rim lighting. The main light was another FL-50r behind a soft box into the models face from the side. He then got the model to stand ‘like an innocent little girl’ which to be honest given what she was wearing I found a bit creepy. I got her to do the same pose to see if I could get similar photos to Damian but she looked so sad that when Damian was busy with something else I got her to be a bit silly – which she seemed to enjoy – doing aeroplanes 🙂 Here are the photos…

Setting up – I wanted to take a few shots when no flashes were going off and I actually really like these:
Setting up

Damian’s assistant Matt took the light meter readings – all the flashes were on manual mode:
Matt taking a light meter reading

I took this shot before I changed to square format. You can see that they’d moved one light a bit so they ended up slightly asymmetric, maybe its ocd but I really wanted to go over and change it!
Wide shot

On Damian’s advice I set it to square format (thinking I’d be able to choose the crop again later since I’m shooting raw, but for some reason it only showed me the square format in LR and I could get back to the original, not doing that again, I’d prefer to crop in LR if I’m going too):

You can see the light flare in from one side where the light was nearer on one side that the other – it does look quite cool but I would have preferred it if it was intentional.

Aeroplanes 🙂

Urban Performance Photography with R. Cleveland Aaron.

We actually arrived just as one session was finishing – with some cool acrobats doing flips etc but I wasnt standing in the right place for this one. I really wished we’d been there for the whole session with them. As much as the next session was really good, I have less than zero interesting in football.

Urban performers Urban performers

Our session was with football freestyler Colin Nell. He was very talented. If you like football tricks. They work better in video than stills though.

Football freestyler

Football freestyler

I did get to test the ISO capability of my camera though because downstairs it was very dark – only lit by those LED lights so to get a reasonable shutter speed with my not so fast lens I was up at 4000!!

Here is a 1:1 of a portion of that image with no noise reduction on it – ouch:
High Iso 4000

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

I switched to video which worked much better to capture his actions:

We then went upstairs for another round with a bit more light (thank goodness)! Where Colin demonstrated the same stunts with a hat, a tennis ball and lastly a golfball. He finished off by catching that one in his mouth – eek.

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

As talented as he was (and he was very skilled, not one ball came bounding over to the photographers) I still would have preferred to be watching the previous people backflip.

Women of Iceland Exhibition by Gabrielle Motola.

More infor about this in my paper log.
Women of Iceland Exhibition

Here is another review of this event.

September 23, 2013

David Bailey & Bruce Weber Private View

by Suzy Walker-Toye

‘Everyone is an artist’
David Bailey

To celebrate the new Nokia Lumia 1020 phone, Bruce Weber & David Bailey each took one around Harlem. Mike & I went to the private view of the resulting exhibition: Bruce Weber x David Bailey by Nokia Lumia 1020

“For this project, old friends David Bailey and Bruce Weber spent 24 hours in Harlem, New York to capture the spirit of the area using our newest phone, the Lumia 1020, which has the most advanced camera capabilities of any smartphone ever made. The 41 MP camera with optimised image stabilization means it captures images of gallery-worthy quality. “

Reflecting the content of the exhibition the event had a New York theme with American-style canapés, free wine and several chaps with Lumia 1020s to play with. There was also a choir & some girls doing fingernails.

‘It’s the new folk art – digital photography’
David Bailey

I very much enjoyed myself and used my own phone (not a Nokia shhhhh) to document the evening.

‘It makes u relook at things u take for granted ‘
David Bailey

Here are some of the Bailey & Webber photos in situ at the exhibition and some general photos of the event:

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

My Husband

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

People at the event

Split out phone

People at the event

People at the event

Head phones for listening to the videos (below)

My Husband

The event

Some videos:

Other reviews for this event:

August 8, 2013

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain. Part 1.

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This exercise (p146) comes in 3 parts. The first is a comparison between sunny and cloudy weather for three types of scenes, the second is finding opportunities for best using the diffuse lighting that comes by overcast weather and the third is rain. This post covers part 1 only, part 2 & 3 to follow shortly.

So, for part one we are to take a street scene, a building and people, shoot them (with the WB set to sunny) when the sun is out and when the sun is behind clouds and see what the differences are.

Firstly, two photos of a building (these are straight out of camera with no adjustments in LR).
Building under cloud
ISO 200, f11 1/250

Building in the sun
ISO 200, f11 1/500

Theres an obvious difference in exposure (1 stop) but also the building under cloudy weather is much less warm in tone despite being shot with the same WB. The contrast is higher and the shadows are deeper in the sunny photo.

Secondly a street scene,

Cloudy street scene
ISO 200 f8, 1/200

Sunny street scene
ISO 200 f11 1/320

This time there is a larger difference in exposure: 1-2/3 stops. The overcast photo looks very dull and flat compared with the sunny one. Again you see the sunny one is warmer in tone.

Lastly, people, they didn’t hang around so long in the sunny area so I have different sets of people walking through the same area.

People lit when the sun is behind clouds
ISO 200 f9 1/200

Person in the sun
ISO 200 f11 1/400

This again was about 1-2/3 stops difference in exposure (by the way I was using this nifty little stop difference calculator here). This time we see that the cloudy one is nicer because the people are squinting less against the sun. There are less harsh eye-socket shadows in the cloudy photo too (although it was still quite bright). And although the buildings seem less warm the peoples skin seem ok in colour in both photos.

June 23, 2013

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013: Study Visit (15th June)

by Suzy Walker-Toye

As soon as I see any study visit that I can get to in London I sign up for them. They are great. They allow students to go to exhibitions they may not have gone to and bounce ideas off each other. Having said that, as this one drew near and I did the pre-reading (see links at the bottom of this post), I started to not really look forward to it. The day came and I’d convinced myself it was going to be a huge disappointment. Why? Well a couple of reasons, one, the reviews linked to from the pre-reading didn’t really sell it as very interesting and two, it was at the photographers gallery. I haven’t been to the photographers for a very long time (in fact I’d never been to it at its new location) but each time in the past I’d always come away feeling disappointed that the photography on display was poor/dull/unpleasant/uninspiring, take your pick. So I’m very pleased to report that I thoroughly enjoyed this study visit despite all the odds. Whether the photographers gallery has just got better at picking photography or I’ve become more questioning of what “interesting” photography actually is, I’ll leave to the reader to decide 😉

The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize is an annual prize of £30,000, which awards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012.

The exhibition was curated over the top two floors, 4 & 5 of the photographers gallery. It didnt seem to make any difference which you saw first so I’ll introduce the nominations in the order I saw them in the exhibition, floor 4 Mishka Henner & Chris Killip, then floor 5, Broomberg & Chanarin and Cristina De Middel. I think the things that really turned around the exhibition for me were the interviews with the artists (short videos which you could listen to on headphones on the 4th floor) and chatting with the tutor Simon. He challenged us to think about what is relevant for photography today. I’ve managed to find the interviews on vimeo so I’ve included them here for reference.

Mishka Henner – No Man’s Land (Exhibition)

Mishka Henner is nominated for his exhibition No Man’s Land at Fotografia Festival Internazionale di Roma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (20 September – 28 October 2012). No Man’s Land presents google streetview images of prostitutes from all over europe to a soundtrack of birdsong from the various regions.

See this on vimeo here.

Mishka Henner, Carretera de Fortuna, Murcia, Spain, 2012 Mishka Henner, SS98, Cerignola Foggia, Italy, 2012

Mishka Henner, Contrada Vallecupa, Colonnella, Abruzzi, Italy, 2011 Mishka Henner, Carretera de Gandria, Oliva, Valencia, Spain, 2011

Despite Simon playing devils advocate and challenging our attitudes, I think most of the students agreed that this was the worst nominee, although the most controversial and therefore the most debated in the context of the study visit. Many of us were confused by the message in this one, and I think when you see the video above, this is because the artist isn’t coherent on what the message really is. Some students thought that he’d done this simply because he could get away with it, the “emperors new clothes” of photography. Some students didnt like it because it isn’t photography. It’s technically appropriation and curation of googles images and some amateur birdsong recordings. Many of the conversations were around the copyright implications of this one too. There were some students who were fine with the use of the google images, in fact one student mentioned going to Yosemite:

“Do we really need another photo of Yosemite? This guy using public domain images to express his vision instead.”

Whether he took the photos or not isn’t the problem I have with this work. My issue with it is that it isn’t an original idea to use google street view so if you are going to do it you should have a good foundation, a solid concept. It just seems like he’s jumping on the band wagon. The write up on the wall suggested that the work highlighted issues of surveillance and voyeurism, all well and good and so the work does, but is that something the curators of the photographers gallery felt compelled to write up there to give the work a bit of gravitas? Why doesn’t he express that in the video interview?

In the video, he was mostly talking about the process of the how he did the work he presents and not the why. He goes into more detail than you would think about the google process of image capture. He says that he uses forums where they talk about sexworkers but “he’s not really bothered about what their motivation is”, he just gets the coordinates of the girls to plug into google. He even says “there is no narrative underpinning to this work”. He’s interested in the sequence of images, how they happen every 5m etc and the possibility that they’d go on for ever. He tacks on the parallel that this hints at the oldest profession in the world but it seems like an afterthought. Some tiny way of explaining why he choose prostitues rather than just for the controversy that this might elicit. However, the tutor brought our attention to an interesting last comment in the video talking about the volume of an issue, is he hinting at the broader issue of surveillance and voyeurism? For me it didn’t hang together nicely, too many unresolved questions, fuzzy explanations and something smelt fishy about his motivations.

Chris Killip – What Happened: Great Britain 1970 –1990 (Exhibition)

Chris Killip is nominated for his exhibition What Happened – Great Britain 1970 –1990 at LE BAL, Paris (12 May – 19 August 2012). What Happened – Great Britain 1970 –1990 presents a series of black & white street photography images of working people in the north of England.

See this on vimeo here.

Chris Killip, Youth on Wall, Jarrow, Tyneside, 1976 Chris Killip, Boo and his rabbit, Lynemouth, 1983

Chris Killip, Helen and her hoola-hoop, Lynemouth, Northumberland, 1984 Chris Killip, Rocker and Rosie going home, Lynemouth, 1984

For me this was the least interesting to talk about in terms of the prize. Beautiful street photography, but I was left wondering why this had been nominated now? These images are 20-30 years old and have probably been in many exhibitions that would have been eligible over the years. The only conclusion I could come to was that there context had come back into public focus with the death of Maggie Thatcher. When I mentioned this to the tutors they seem to think this was likely and didn’t offer any competing explanation.

The video interview less interesting to me than the others probably because the work is self evident. There doesn’t need some grand explanation of the concept. Straight street photography from a bygone era which is pretty much what he says. A couple of interesting thoughts about these came up during our chats in the exhibition & over coffee, for example: does this style of photography still have relevance today? And it was interesting to see that Killip was immersed in local culture & known by people when he took these photographs (and, that he actually took these photographs!) This gave different side of photography than other nominees. I was also interested to note that floor four seemed to present images as fact, real historical documents (bring up photography as truth arguments) and were both based from exhibitions whereas all the next two, from floor five, play with fact & fictions and were presented as books. Clever and subtle curation on the part of the photographers gallery there to present different facets of the prize. As to the first question, yes, I think street photography will always have a place in contemporary photography because people will always want to document what other people are doing now and we love looking back on what was done then. I think the beauty of street photography only comes with time when the now passes into history and we can look back on it as then. In 30 years time, street photography taken today will be that much more exciting than those taken in 30 years (if we’re still using cameras and not some other whizzy gadget) will be to the people looking at it.

Winner: Broomberg and Chanarin – WAR PRIMER 2 (book)

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are nominated for their publication War Primer 2 (MACK, 2012). And this entry won the prize.

War Primer 2 is a limited edition book that physically inhabits the pages of Bertold Brecht’s 1955 publication War Primer. Brecht’s photo-essay comprises 85 images, photographic fragments or collected newspaper clippings, that were placed next to a four-line poem, called ‘photo-epigrams’. Broomberg and Chanarin layered Google image search results for the poems over Brecht’s originals in 100 books.

See this on vimeo here.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Plate 12, 2011 Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Plate 23, 2011

I first came across the two winners when I blogged this early last year: what is conceptual photography. I found this an interesting continuation of their ongoing quest to explore how war is imaged and what the “truth” is. Also interesting to note that while the other students were disputing Mishka Henner’s right to be nominated for the prize with google streetview images they were strangely quiet about this one, which is also essentially found images appropriated for the artists own message, as was the original book. In this case though, there is a real message which is I think the crucial difference. The original book depicted found war images and expanded and explained them with mini poems and captions. The new images, silkscreened over the top of the originals extend or play with the poems and you can see hints of the original images beneath.

This project deserved to win (despite my preferring the the Afronauts – see below), the parting quote from the video above says its all…

“There is a moment that gets photographed and it is a moment of somebody suffering, and then that moment is turned into a photograph and then that photograph becomes a piece of currency that is then distributed around the world”

You just have to look at p51 of their book for just one example and there are many others. You can download your own copy of the war primer 2 free here.

Cristina De Middel – The Afronauts (book)

Cristina De Middel is nominated for her publication The Afronauts (self-published, 2011).

In 1964, after gaining independence, Zambia started a space programme in order to send the first African astronaut to the moon, the Afronauts blends fact and fiction with beautiful photographs.

See this on vimeo here.

Cristina De Middel, The Afronauts, 2012 Cristina De Middel, The Afronauts, 2012

Cristina De Middel, The Afronauts, 2012 Cristina De Middel, The Afronauts, 2012

This entry was my favourite. The tongue in cheek nature and playing with fiction and reality are what really attracts me to this. Its so creative and original. This injects some much needed fun into series of academic nominations. What is ‘real’? This is an analysis on truth in photography, and I think draws parallels with the winners who are also talking about photography as an inaccurate document which need interpreting with the ‘poems’.

“The pictures I was taking for newspapers were not true.”

My favourite image is the one that appears in the video at 02:00 of the man dreaming of the space race with his eyes closed and all the cut out stars behind him on the crumbling wall. Since this is her first book I am again wondering about how the nominations get chosen? How does a first self-published book get ‘seen’ to be nominated? It would be interesting to find out more information on how that side of the prize is worked out. Although she is entered in a number of other prizes. The photographers gallery blurb had this to say:

In addition to personal projects, De Middel has worked for publications such as Foam and Esquire, as well as various NGOs. Her work has been recognised by the National Photojournalism Prize Juan Cancelo (2009), Fnac Photographic Talent (2009) and the Humble Arts Women in Photography Project Grant (2011). She was a finalist at Open Call Guatephoto, Guatemala (2012), the winner of Photo Folio Review at Recontres de la Photographie, Arles, in 2012 and returned there as a participating artist this year. She was also a finalist at FotoPress, La Caixa, Spain this year.

The Afroanuts iPad app is available to download via and I really enjoyed going through her projects and features on her website.

Previous winners of the prize are listed here.

Here are a few other write ups from the visit that I found online, I haven’t read them all yet but I look forward to going through them when I have some time:
We Are OCA

ps: if anyone reading this is the lady or gentlemen who were taking photos of me while I was with headphones on listening to the interviews I’d love to see how that came out so please get in touch 🙂

April 20, 2013

Exercise: Colour Relationships

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p114 is in two parts. Part one is to produce photos with the following colour combinations and ratios:

  • Red & Green, Ratio 1:1
  • Orange & Blue, Ratio 1:2
  • Yellow & Violet, Ratio 1:3

I decided to make this into a little set (click them to see them larger)…

The second part is to use colour combinations that appeal to me. I’ve noticed that I tend to go for colour combinations that include blue or yellow or both.

December 9, 2012

Seduced by Art: Study Visit

by Suzy Walker-Toye

On friday I went to the National Gallery to see the exhibition Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present

as a study visit with the OCA. Its a great exhibition and you should go and see it. If you do, dont forget to check out the extra photographs dotted about the main national gallery gallery spaces.

Study Visit

We had an excellent lecture beforehand and I’ve written up my review on the exhibition in my PDF learning log (Part 2, 7th Dec entry) but there were a number of videos in the exhibition so I needed to blog. I especially enjoyed these two…

“An Ode to Hill and Adamson, 2012” by Maisie Broadhead and Jack Cole

“Big Bang” by Ori Gersht

November 20, 2012

Exercise: Rhythms & Patterns

by Suzy Walker-Toye

On p99, the last exercise for part 2 is of patterns & rhythms. Photos with Rhythm lead your eye in a pattern to a beat. And for photographs with patterns your eye can imagine the pattern continuing on out of the frame.  Following on from yesterdays post these photos of rhythms & patterns are also all from central London buildings.

There are quite a few so I’ve put them into this clickable gallery, click the images to see larger. As you can see there are some triangle influences here too…

my favourites are #1 and #9. Next to do is the assignment for this section.

November 19, 2012

Exercise: Real & Implied Triangles

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The section on shapes end with an exercise on real & implied triangles (p92). Does anyone else think of the Eddie Izzard sketch about Darth Vader eating triangular food? No? Just me then. Ok, so I went for a walk in Central London to take photos to cover this, the previous (with the Batman building) and the next exercise. As it turns out I really enjoyed taking photographs of bits of buildings! I thought they’d look better in black and white but as usual I just couldn’t part with the colour for most of them.

The one above is triangletastic, looking up into a triangular section which is reflected in the shiny windows causing even more triangles. The one below is part of a construction saw I saw on the walk to work (one of the few here not from the south bank).

The one below is also looking up and if I had been shooting with a wider focal length would have made a giant triangle so this one is an implied triangle with little real and reflected triangles in it too.

This is another looking up one, I thought the negative space of the sky made an almost implied triangle but there are other triangles by perspective in it too.

The one below is another from the 1/2 finished building. In this one the inverted triangle leads your eye down to the little worker men at the bottom. I should have taken more time over this one, the men are a little close to the edge of the frame for my liking but it was touch and go for getting to work on time at it was. This is why you should never take photos in a hurry.

And now for something completely different….

The last part of the exercise very clearly states that it has to be a photo of 3 people arranged in a group such that their faces (or bodies) make an implied triangle. Well luckily for me it did not state 3 living people! Here is a family portrait from the Acme Family Portrait Studio of my kitchen table:

October 27, 2012

Prix Pictet 2012: Power – exhibition overview

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Following on from my previous post on our recent OCA study visit to the Saatchi Gallery, I said then that I would keep my review of the Prix Pictet exhibition private unless I could get permission to use the photos from the exhibition publicly. Well the good people at granted me access to a press pack in order to write my review including photos with permission & credit, so thanks guys.

So first a little about the point of the exhibition… according to the Saatchi Galleries press release:

“The mandate of the Prix Pictet is to use the power of photography to raise public awareness worldwide to the environmental and social challenges of the new millennium. Launched in 2008 by the Geneva- based private bank Pictet & Cie, the Prix Pictet has rapidly established itself as one of the world’s leading photography prizes. The Prix Pictet has two elements: a prize of CHF 100,000 awarded to the photographer who, in the opinion of the independent jury, has produced a series of work that addresses most powerfully the theme of the award; and the Commission, awarded by the Partners of Pictet & Cie, in which a nominated photographer is invited to undertake a field trip to a region where the Bank is supporting a sustainability project.”

The winner was Luc Delahaye with his “Various works: 2008 – 2011” and the following three were shown in the gallery space on nice big prints (© Luc-Delahaye © Prix Pictet 2012):

I deliberately didn’t read anything about the competition or the short listed artists before the study day. Yeah, I know it was recommend but I wanted to know my true feelings about the work presented before it was clouded by outside influence. How else will I learn if my inner assumptions & attitudes are really valid opinions on art or if I’m being subconsciously subtly nudged in a direction by something I’ve read? On the visit, for each artist I’d look at the work & think about the theme (Power). Then I’d read the little blurb about the work & reassess. The work in the first room of the exhibition really hammered the theme home which was encouraging.

On the whole I’m pleased with my original thoughts but for some of the more conceptual work I did need the blurb the really understand what I was seeing and how it fit into the theme. Most times the deeper context made the work even more interesting. However, in the case of the winner (above) I just don’t get it. So much so, I came back home and went on the website to try and understand what I’d missed and why he’d won for this theme above all the other shortlisted artists. I still don’t get it. The work isn’t a result of one series and although some of the work fits the theme, the images feel too disparate and unconnected for me to understand why he won. Some powerful images to be sure, such as the tanks in the dusty street in “Ambush, Ramadi”, the first photo above, and the chaos reining at the “132nd Ordinary Meeting of the Conference”. But what of the other one displayed in the gallery: door to door. I don’t get what it has to do with power, or sustainability. Who is that random man, why does he have a bandage on his finger, what is he going door to door for? It caused only frustrating questions for me, perhaps due to my woeful lack of knowledge of world events? It seems as though I’m not the only one though (which made me feel slightly better). Sean O’Hagan of the guardian doesn’t agree with the winner either:

If I was to pick my favourites of those short listed I’d have to say the oil slicks & the board rooms, Daniel Beltrá and Jacqueline Hassink. For me the aesthetic of the photo plays a large part in a successful photograph. I know that sounds silly to say because a photo is a visual medium but in so many of the top competitions clever ideas & natty concepts win out over the beauty of the final image. To me, a truly great photograph has both. A slick concept but a boring looking image just does not do it for me. Maybe that makes me critically underdeveloped or too sensationalist but I guess that’s what this art of photography course is for to develop my critical palette. So bearing that in mind here is my run down of the images from this show, with my favourites first of course!


Daniel Beltrá – Series: Spill (© Daniel Beltrá © Prix Pictet 2012):

This guy would have been the winner had I been choosing… They are so hauntingly beautiful and emotionally provoking. Maybe I’m bias because they hit me where it hurts (the ocean! See my other blog: Memoirs of an underwater photographer). They abstract the catastrophe of the oil spill, they don’t even really look like photographs, more paintings when on display in the gallery. Once you realise what you are looking at you feel a wave of shame & guilt that you could find them so attractive. Easily the best photos in the show in my opinion. Plus I although thought these fit the theme very well on many levels  (mans power to devastate nature, power in for form of oil, the sustainability of the fossil fuel industry etc etc).

This is the artists statement:

Series: Spill
“The oil-stained, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico swirl in my mind’s eye like a grotesque painting.

I worked off the coast of Louisiana during the spill, where approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf waters. The resulting photographs were taken from three thousand feet above, giving perspective to the environmental devastation below.

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 crewmen and injuring 17, becoming the world’s largest marine oil spill. More than 600 miles of coastline were affected and show lingering signs of oil and dispersant. Layers of crude are still spread thick on the ocean floor, radiating far from the wellhead site. Scientists have determined that up to 75% of the oil from BP’s disaster remains in the Gulf environment.

The Spill series is a first-hand account of this tragedy, and reveals our society’s obsessive dependence on petroleum. Every day in the United States, we use four times the volume of the oil released into the Gulf.

“Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy,” says the U.S. Department of Energy website; this statement has become an ironic metaphor for our current culture of consumption.

We live in a finite world, yet treat its resources as if they were infinite. We pollute the ecosystems we depend upon for survival by pursuing food, fuel, and industry in unsustainable ways. In trying to harness the power of Nature we instead unleash it with dreadful consequences, failing to heed the sobering lessons of the past.

Our knowledge and ingenuity could give us the power to realise and implement a sustainable future. ”

Daniel Beltrá.

My second favourite shortlisted artist was Jacqueline Hassink for her series Arab Domains: (© Jacqueline Hassink © Prix Pictet 2012):

This series focuses on Arab women business leaders, aiming to reveal a different reality to the stereotypical images of Arab women often seen in the Western media. These women permitted Hassink to photograph their office boardroom tables and their dining tables at home. I found these fascinating, not only for promoting powerful women from traditionally male dominating socialites but seeing two sides of peoples lives – the public and private, the work and home. This is one of those instances where a natty idea and a beautiful photograph collide. What I also really liked is beside each photograph there was a little bio of the women of the following format: Nationality, Primary Residence, Date of birth, place of birth, religion, martial status (and dependants), position, industry, revenue in a particular year, date of the photo. Just factual information but it coloured how you perceived each space.


Edmund Clark – Series: Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out – © Edmund Clark © Prix Pictet 2012:

Photographs with a strong political agenda usually leave me a little cold, what do you think? Here is the artists statement for this series…

Series: Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out
“The continuing existence of the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay symbolises the imbalance of power that is the Global War on Terror. Since President Bush claimed the authority to indefinitely imprison anyone deemed an ‘enemy combatant’, hundreds of men from all over the world have been shipped to Guantanamo. Many have been imprisoned for years, subjected to interrogation abuses and denied fundamental due process rights. A handful were driven to suicide. It is in the daily process of their incarceration that the exercise of absolute power over the individual is most clearly seen. Every detail is controlled: whether a detainee is allowed toilet paper, mail or a pen, or whether his cell is in constant light or darkness. A man deemed non-compliant can be moved hourly from cell to cell or kept in solitary confinement; one who refuses to eat will be strapped to a chair and a tube forced down his nose. Of the 779 men detained, six have been convicted by military commissions. Despite President Obama’s pledge to close the camps, 171 remain incarcerated with little prospect of release or trial. Working under military censorship, this series explores the spaces and objects of power and control at Guantanamo.”
Edmund Clark.

However having come home and re-reviewed the images (and the rest that weren’t shown in the gallery) they have grown on me as a set. They are much more clean and ordered that you’d expect and everything is so bright, which is especially creepy given the title of the series.


An-My Lê – Series: 29 Palms – (© An-My Lê © Prix Pictet 2012)

This series of (practice) war photographs frame a tension between the vast natural landscape and its violent transformation into battlefields. It depicts the United States Marines preparing for deployment, play-act scenarios in a virtual Middle East in the California desert. However I think they would have been much more impressive if they had been printed up super large. They were taken with a large format camera and would have been stunning. I don’t think the display of them on screen or in the gallery really do them justice.

Rena Effendi – Series: Still Life in the Zone – (© Rena Effendi © Prix Pictet 2012):

Focusing on the long-term effects of the nuclear disarter at Chernobyl this powerful series of images bring us a glimpse into the lives of the people who live in the area. Here is the artists statement which sums it up better than I ever could…

Series: Still Life in the Zone
“Twenty-six years after the disaster, the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident are both visible like scars and invisible like air. While access to the area surrounding Reactor #4 is restricted with barbed wire and police checkpoints, more than 200 people – mostly elderly women – inhabit the 30 km area around it, now called the Zone of Alienation. These women survived the famine of Stalin’s blockade, Nazi occupation in WWII, and only days after the worst nuclear accident in the world’s history chose to return home. “A pigeon flies close to its nest! Those who left are dying of sadness…” – explains Maria Vitosh, one of the survivors.
Focusing on still life images – victuals, household items, relics of the disaster – I use the prism of Nature Morte to portray both the long-term effects of this nuclear catastrophe, and the power and persistence of the human spirit in the face of devastation. I am also fascinated by the earth’s ability to teem with life, not long after annihilation. The death-infused lives of the Chernobyl women, as seen through objects from their daily life, personify the promise and paradox of power – in reference to the dangers of nuclear energy and the awesome human will to survive. The story of Chernobyl turns Nietzsche’s dictum on its head – that which makes us stronger can also kill us.”
Rena Effendi.


Mohamed Bourouissa – Series: Périphérique – (© Mohamed Bourouissa © Prix Pictet 2012):

Unlike the photos about peoples lives that I’ve listed so far from the other artists – this series actually features photographs of the people themselves. The artists statement explains…
Series Périphérique:
“‘What I am after is that very fleeting tenth of a second when the tension is at its most extreme. We have all known those imperceptible moments when the tension seems more violent than the confrontation with the other . At that extreme point where anything could happen, or nothing.’ Mohamed Bourouissa has produced a number of works exploring social reality, working within contemporary urban environments to explore the stereotypes surrounding geographical and social spaces. Périphérique is a series interested in the territories and issues of the suburbs in France where he grew up. A burnt out car, a playing field, a cafeteria, a housing project, a concrete slab – all become a theatre in which groups where meetings bring forth ambiguity, disquiet, a latent dormant violence which comes with no actual sign of violence . Often considered to be the violent border of progressive society, Bourouissa places these suburbs in the field of art, treating them as a visual, conceptual object. His photographs reference historical paintings thus rendering them deeply connected to art history, and places the subjects in the vernacular of the French Revolution, each scene working to address the reality of the prejudices within society. His pictures are staged like cinema shots and are rich with references to painters such as Caravaggio, Delacriox, Gericualt and photographers such as Jeff Wall and Garcia di Lorca.”


Guy Tillim – Series: Congo Democratic (© Guy Tillim © Prix Pictet 2012):
Politics in the Congo – here is the artist statement:

“In modern times, the territory that has become known as the Democratic Republic of Congo began by being the object of imperial expansion and colonial dominion.􏰁The nature of these conquests set the tone for the calamities that have followed: the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko and civil war. The recent UN-sponsored elections are undermined by mistrust. These images trace some aspects of the individuals and institutions that have been in power in the Congo.”


Joel Sternfeld – Series: When it Changed (© Joel Sternfeld © Prix Pictet 2012):

I really liked this series, its such a great idea and the images really bring the point home… Joel explains here in his artists statement why everyone looks so shocked and appalled:

“In November of 2005 I went to Montreal, Canada to attend the 11th United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Like most Americans at the time I was confused about the subject. Even though I considered myself to be a landscapist with an abiding interest in seasonality, and even though I had clipped articles about the possibility of “global warming” from the newspaper since 1989, the information and disinformation surrounding the subject left me, and the American public with a vague sense of discomfort about the subject but little to help formulate a concrete understanding. Those were the days before Al Gore had published An Inconvenient Truth.
What I heard and saw in Montreal shocked me as nothing else. I went there wondering if climate change existed but most of the twenty thousand delegates were already considering the possibility that it not only existed but was about to become irreversible. I took photographs of the participants at moments when the horror of what they were hearing about ecological collapse was most visible on their faces.
To match the sense of anxiety and urgency seen in these faces I created a text culled from newspapers and journals and presented in the form of wire service transmissions. It was meant to provide a chronology of climate change as it had occurred in the previous twenty years—in the thinking and predictions of scientists and climatologists; in the actions of governments and non-governmental organizations, and in the landscape where dramatic events were increasingly occurring.
By the title: When it Changed I also meant to refer to the possibility of a hopeful turning point. In the past few years increasing recognition of the danger has lead to many positive responses across the globe to confront humanity’s greatest challenge. If these efforts are successful then this current period will be the time when the essential human—earth relationship changed.”

Robert Adams – Series: Turning Back (© Robert Adams © Prix Pictet 2012):

These images on Clear cutting (a controversial forestry practice in which most or all tree in an area are uniformly cut down) I personally found a little underwhelming. The prints were very small and they were situated right at the end of the exhibition right by the exit. Its a bit of a shame since deforestation is an important issue for sustainability:

Philippe Chancel – Series: Fukushima: The Irresistible Power of Nature (© Philippe Chancel © Prix Pictet 2012):

This series of images were of a fairly standard documentary style depicting the devastation wrecked by the tsunami and outbreak of nuclear contamination around Fukushima. I liked the way these were presented, with the area maps beside each one.

Carl De Keyzer – Series: Moments Before the Flood (© Carl De Keyzer © Prix Pictet 2012):

Last but not least, I really liked the photos in this series, they made me smile. They took a serious subject like climate change and rising sea levels and almost added an “Evan Almighty” take on it. Here is the artist statement:

“It seems to be an accepted fact that the sea level will rise dramatically before the end of the century as a result of climate change, partly through the fault of us, humans. Prognoses vary from a few decimetres to a few metres. Moments before the Flood is a visual, photographic investigation into how Europe is coping with this difficult-to- gauge threat. The coasts of Europe are the areas in which the repercussions of this threat will be felt. This is the zone in which the mainland no longer feels as “main” as it once did, where the Old World is foundering and where the future is a threat to the past. The coast is the question mark of the mainland. And that’s what makes it such a fascinating subject for photographic research that tries to depict uncertainty. This project doesn’t just focus on a possible future hazard; it also takes in the various forms of coastal protection in Europe throughout history and how today Fortress Europe copes with other swells and floods.
The 65,000-kilometre-long coast of Europe is dotted with useless coastal defences from bygone days. Many represent enormous investments in materials and man-hours, but most never served any purpose, either because the “enemy” didn’t show up, or, when the enemy did appear, the construction proved hopelessly outdated.
Is Europe prepared for the possible dramatic rise of the sea level and to what extent will its efforts eventually prove futile? Eventually the threat was not so serious, or was it perhaps because we were so well prepared for it? To a great extent, this research programme is all about this latent tension, the incapacity to define just how real a threat actually is and how efficient are our defences against it.”

well done for making it all the way through my rather long review. I hope you enjoyed reading about it and I urge you to go and see the exhibition in person if you are able at the Saatchi Gallery although tomorrow is the last day so be sure to hurry! Please don’t use any of these images from this post – they are all copyright the artists and Prix Pictet 2012.

October 20, 2012

“PRIX PICTET ‘POWER'” Saatchi Gallery Study Visit

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Today I went on another OCA study visit to the Saatchi Gallery. This time to see the Prix Pictet results. Unless they get back to me about a press pack I’ll be leaving my review private for my tutor.

So after we finished looking around the prix picket exhibition, while the others were finishing off Ashley and I popped downstairs to the little black jacket exhibition. I really enjoyed this one. If you have a chance to go to this you should. If I was going to take fashion photos I’d love for them to be like this 😉

Also worth checking out on the top floor is the Jon Rafman: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View.


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July 15, 2012

“Out of focus” Saatchi Gallery Study Visit

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I went to the Saatchi Gallery group study visit yesterday to see the Out Of Focus Exhibition. Yes, thats me in the image above captured by Mike when we went back in after the study group had left – click the image to go to his website. As the first study visit I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a large group of 23 students & 3 tutors. We each got OCA badges so we’d be able to recognise other members of the group as we toured the gallery which worked well and we all chatted about the photos on the way around. It might have been nice to have name badges as well though because I have actually no idea of who anyone was because hardly anyone said their names.

As we went in I picked up an exhibition guide because the information on the wall by the photos was almost non existent, pretty much photographer name, print type and title. It gave some nice context when the work wasn’t self evident. As I went through I’d look at the work. Then read the guide and re-view the work. This way I got my first gut reaction, then my informed reaction before I formulated an opinion. For each one I then marked in the guide what I thought. I have put this guide in my paper logbook for reference.

The following were the highlights in my opinion:

Gallery 1 was Katy Grannan’s photos of random people in San Francisco and it was a good set of work with which to start of the exhibition as theres a lot to consider about it. In fact we had a rather lengthy dissection of it afterwards when we all had coffee (kindly paid for refreshments too). I had mixed reactions to the work, some I thought were amazing portraits but for some I thought she was not portraying the subjects at their best (and that’s putting it kindly). For each though, their personalities shone though for better or worse (for them). Also although they were all against a white wall they weren’t all against the same white wall. There were subtle differences in the wall to bring out different aspects of the photos, for example one was all chipped & broken with an angry looking punky woman, one had subtle graffiti and a big hairy, burly looking man who’d look at home on a Harley, some had the light hitting it from a different angle for more texture. One in particular, the woman’s hair was over her face (so she really was ‘anonymous’ – the title of them all) but all the textures were emphasised, the swishy material of her skirt, the fluffyness of her fur stole and the harsh light bringing out the texture in the wall.

Gallery 3 – don’t miss the amazing black & white collaged maps of Paris, Toyko and New York by Sohei Nishino. I could have spent hours looking at those. And the faces in the rocks of Matthew Day Jackson’s work. I couldn’t discern all of them. One of them especially looked like a UK electric plug more than a face.

Gallery 6 – look out for the first two by Ryan McGinley – tiny naked figures in incredible landscapes.

Gallery 10 was dominated by a triptych of mosaics (by Mat Collishaw) of horrible things happening (which is best viewed from the viewing platform above so you can see all three), however them gem for me in this gallery were the two photos by Noemie Goudal. Look closely at what you are seeing.

Gallery 12 – if I was going to be a street photographer I’d like to do something like the work of Hannah Starkey. I love her bold choice of backgrounds where the figure if incidental but integral to the photograph.

second floor lobby: Berndnaut Smilde – Nimbus II and underwater still from a commercial shoot by Phoebe Rudomino.

Also of interest the google photography prize on the top floor and the amazing oil installation by Richard Wilson on the lower ground floor – unfortunately they’ve closed the access to the viewing area which gives you a little vertigo trip when you stand right at the end (I suspect too many people were getting oil on themselves), but you can still get a good view of the work.

I only got around to seeing up to half of gallery 12 before we all trooped off for coffee but I went back in afterwards with my boyfriend to see the rest of the exhibition and the google prize. I really enjoyed my study visit and I urge anyone who isn’t sure to take the plunge and go on one! I’m also very glad that not many people took a camera, there only seemed to be one guy constant taking photos of everyone, hopefully he’ll edit them savagely and only show the super flattering ones (if any)!

July 14, 2012

Lunchtime walkabout

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I went for a walk yesterday lunchtime across Southwark bridge. I didn’t realise how close to the Tate I am so I’ll have to pop in there more often. I walked all the way to the Golden Hinde. Who says I can’t take a shipwreck on land?

The dynamic range from sky to land was very high when the sun came out so on the bridge on the walk back I tried the HDR pro app where it takes two photos – one light and one dark, and blends them for you. Here are my two views from the bridge:

June 27, 2012

Exercise: Positioning the horizon

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This exercise (p57) is all about how your choice of horizon placement affects the photograph. I couldn’t quite find an unbroken and clear horizon but I got up as high as I could and took these shots of the London skyline horizon with my iPhone. I tried to pick a cloudy day so they wouldn’t blow out too much. but the even then the dynamic range of the camera wasn’t good enough.

The photo above shows a very low horizon placement that emphasises the sky as the main element of the photo, which in this case it isn’t really an interesting enough sky to justify that.

With the placement in the middle both the sky and the land has equal weighting. In this case the main interest is in the thin strip buildings in the middle. I would be tempted to crop out the boring looking roof top in the bottom section of the photo.

In this one there is not much sky at all and the foreground building really isn’t interesting enough to justify this horizon position.

The photo above isn’t part of the exercise but it seemed a shame to go to the roof of one new change taking photos and not get a shot of St Pauls. As you can see for the exercise I deliberately didn’t include St Pauls because it breaks the horizon too much.

Again, I can’t seem to go to one new change and not take a version of this shot. As the sky is always different it always has a different feel to it. This one is nice and moody.

June 26, 2012

Lunch break Walkabout

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So theres a London festival of Photography on this June – who knew? I didn’t see any adverts about it anywhere. So at the end of June I see the link. Figures. Since there’s still this week left of June I made a mission to see at least one exhibition. Luckily the Frederick Wilfred exhibition of London Photographs is in the Museum of London (until 8th July), which despite being only minutes from my office I have never been to. For shame. I went yesterday lunchtime. The exhibition itself is only small, less than 10 photos but it was lovely to see the old views of London. I especially liked the one with the butcher staring out at the photographer past all the meat in his shop window.

My tutor sad I should try some street photography, so on the way there and back (and cheekily inside the museum) I took some shots with my iPhone.

Make Love Not War:
As I came back I saw a bunch of dressed up Army guys with massive guns crossing the road, called Love Lane. I wanted to get both the sign and the group of men in the shot.

Museum of London:
The architecture around the museum is quite nice, this view of the museum is from the foot bridge over the road. I like all the zigzags lines and many block shape windows. Pity the iPhone blew out the sky, but it was pretty sunny.

Inside the museum they had this amazing 1930s Bronze lift that used to be in Selfridges. This part of it caught my eye.

There were quite a few little school parties of kids all being taught about our great cities history. These guys are learning about the time before the Romans got here.

GuildHall Flags:
They were having some fancy todo at the guildhall (I asked someone and thought thought perhaps a flag was being raised). All the preparations were out, ambulances, union jacks, microphones, chairs for the old folks etc etc. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the main event as I had to get back to work.

Anyway, I hope to bring you more lunchtime wanders. You never know I might even get to more of those exhibitions this week!

June 20, 2012

Exercise: Focal Lengths from different view points

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Continuing the Focal lengths project, the exercise on p49 is designed to show perspective distortion. When trying to take the same photo with two different focal lengths (I used different levels of zoom) we see the distortion quite clearly.

First the telephoto. I zoomed into this doorway on the Guildhall buildings in central london. This is taken at 95mm and notice the lines are straight:

I walked forward until I could get the same (or as close to it) view through my lens at 18mm. Notice the distortion of the perspective:

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