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Photography Project The Tale of the City In January 2013 Penguin books plan to re-design the front covers of a number of classic titles with a focus on a contemporary and innovative approach. You have been invited to submit 3 final photographs that will be judged by a panel of creative experts including Martin Parr, Sophie Calle and Stephen Gill.

Idea 1: So for my first idea I want to make something unexpected and different. Basically I want to make it stand out from the crowd. I believe that if I am able to achieve this then when the book (The Tale of the City) is placed on a shelf, it will appear to be much more appealing than the other books surrounding it. Initially what I want to do is take my set of 6-8 photographs and then develop them into something unusual and interesting. What I plan on doing is making a sort of collage out of my photographs. I want to create something in Photoshop where I have combined my photos and made it clear that they are in a collage form. I will do this by taking my initial photographs, editing them and finally cropping them to the appropriate size. Once I have done that I will place them on a blank document and create my collage.

Jennifer Blakely

Jennifer Blakely is a photography artist that uses the technique that I want to explore in various pieces of her work. I mainly like her work because I find it very creative how she has gone out of her way to find objects that look like letters. It is a great use of photo manipulation on her behalf.

I would like to do something like this but not so similar that it looks completely the same. I believe that in my work will reflect the work of Jennifer Blakely in it, however I would like to make my technique unique. What I plan on doing is taking my set of photographs and creating a collage. I want to manipulate all of my building pictures so that when I come to making the collage they will spell out ‘The Tale of the City’. I intend on taking sections of each photo and combining it with others. After that I will stick all my designated letters onto one large piece of paper to spell out the book name.

Sharon Elphick After thinking carefully about what I want to do I now realize that the work of Sharon Elphick may be more appropriate as I start to take my photo’s. This is because she has done a collage, which is definitely something that I would like to explore. I also believe that it will look really effective as my photographs are going to be of dramatic buildings and these will stand out well against each other. I think her work is successful merely because I think she has put a lot of effort into her pieces, as well as this I think that because she has taken so many photos of similar buildings but in a different colour it makes the piece a whole lot more attractive and means that it will catch the eye of a viewer. I think that because of the reason I just stated (the colour etc) it makes the piece visually striking and something that someone would stop to look at that. Going on that point at first glance it may take a while for an audience to decipher what the piece actually is. This work by Sharon Elphick is a definite inspiration for my work as I now know what I want to take my photos of. I basically want to do what she’s done, however I want to use more modern buildings in my pieces as, in my opinion, that will make the piece much more visually striking for an audience.

My photographs At this point in my project I have been going out and taking photos. As my brief is about a book called ‘Tale of the City’, I thought it ideal to visit the city of London. I aimed to take pictures of typical city scenes, such as Canary Wharf. I want all of my pictures to have something unique about them, so to accomplish this I have tried to visit buildings in London which are different from the rest. For example I photographed the Shard (the tallest building in Europe) and the City Hall. I thought these kind of buildings were perfect as they each had something individual and unique. I want all of my buildings to look fairly modern. I think maybe taking some of these shots at sun down will be effective as all of the buildings will be lit up, however I do not want to make it too dark as the buildings may be hard to see. Another issue I have just stumbled upon is that taking the photos when its getting dark means my ISO will have to be higher, having a higher ISO could result in some of my pictures being slightly blurry but thankfully this has not happened to my photos.

Photo 1:

Photo 1 analysis: •

So here is my first picture that I have taken in London. I took this picture at roughly 4pm so it wasn’t too dark and on this building I was actually aiming for it to be quite light. I took it in the Canary Wharf area and it is exactly what I was looking for, it has all the aspects of modern day London. Although I don’t believe it reflects a true stereotype of London, it does give a realistic impression to a viewer of what London looks like in the 21 st century.

Basically what I have done to edit it is sharpen the picture up. When I first took the picture I think the ISO may have been a little too high as it came out a little blurry but I managed to sharpen it up by playing around with the contrast and saturation etc. I also cropped the image as I felt there was a little too much going on in the background and my main purpose in taking the photograph of this building was that I only wanted the building in it, as it fitted in well with the brief. I didn’t want to play with the colour too much but as you may have noticed the picture is slightly blue. I have done this on purpose just to emphasise the intensity this building brings. I definitely think this picture will work with my idea as I can cut out certain sections and manipulate it in a way so that it will combine with my other photo’s to spell out ‘ The Tale of the City’.

Photo 2:

Photo 2 analysis: •

Here is my second photograph. This was taken at the same time as my other photo at roughly 4pm. It has been taken of the ‘Citigroup Building’ in Canary Wharf along with another glass structure in front of it. Overall I think this was one of my favourite photos purely because I like the reflection of the buildings in one another. I think it has the potential to be included in my project, however my only concern is how I would be use it to spell out a letter. However I do not want to rule it out of my project as I believe it has been a very successful shot. One way in which I could use it is if I cut out smaller sections to make up a letter.

I edited this photo again by cropping it. As you can see there is a small section of a crane in the bottom right. I would have completely gotten rid of this however I felt the picture lost its touch when I removed such a chunk of the building. After cropping I turned it black and white. I think this was the right move for this particular photo as it emphasises the reflections within the glass.

Photo 3:

Photo 3 analysis: •

Here is my third photo, like my other two I have kept it in the same location and just photographed a different building. This photo was taken a little later and on a slightly higher ISO so when I edited it was essential that I made the picture as sharp as possible. I did consider cropping but having the building by itself made if appear somewhat lonely. Obviously the middle building is the vocal point but I did purposely try and capture the buildings on either side. I do plan on using this building in my project as it can be so easily experimented with. I also plan on using the building to the left.


I felt the need for cropping in this photo wasn’t particularly necessary as when the photo was originally taken I had planned exactly how I wanted it to look. So basically when I edited it what I did was just sharpen it up. I then tried to shadow the surrounding buildings thus making the tower the vocal point of the picture and this made it stand out better against the opposing structures.

Photo 4:

Photo 4 analysis: •

This is my fourth photograph taken of the Mayors Building or City Hall. I mainly chose to photograph this as it has a very unique shape. I took this photo when it started to get dark so that the lights within the building were able to make an impact to the viewer. Unfortunately because it was so dark I had to increase the ISO which has made this image slightly blurry to the naked eye but not at all noticeable upon looking at it. I now realise that it may have been a better idea to take the picture with the flash on or when I was closer to the building as this was taken quite far from the actual building. This building will be perfect for making up letters due to its curved shape.

I edited this picture by cropping it quite a lot. I originally took the photo from Tower Bridge and there was a lot of foliage etc. in the background which I felt was essential to remove as I wanted to focus on the uniqueness of this building. As you can see in the background there is the shard and some other buildings but I didn’t want them to catch too much attention so I upped the blacks to make them less noticeable (this is because I don’t plan on using them in my collage) and to add emphasis to the City Hall building. I also think that editing the blacks made the building look better as it made the lights look brighter and make the building slightly clearer overall. The only issue I have with this photo is that the flags are in front of the building. I understand that these aren’t very noticeable but it may complicate things when it comes to making the collage. Apart from that I am very happy with this photo.

Photo 5:

Photo 5 analysis: •

Here is my fifth photo. This was again a photo I had taken from Tower Bridge in London. I felt that this was the best place to take my photos of certain buildings as it meant I was able to get a full shot of the building in question. By the time I had taken this photo it had become very overcast, I though at this time I could include the surrounding buildings as the light of them stood out against the sky.


I edited this photo by turning it black and white in photoshop and I slightly cropped it. When I first took this picture there was a lot of light coming off the building from surrounding lights and the light within the building. I felt it would be better to turn it black and white as it was dark at the time and was a very dark surrounding area so I now believe it looks better with the black and white effect.

Photo 6:

Photo 6 analysis: As you can see here I have again taken a photo of City Hall in London, except this time I have gone much closer to the building to take my photo. I wanted to get quite a few shots of this building in particular because I really liked itscurved edges. This building is going to be very good for making up lots of letters. I also thought that the layers of the building were very effective. I still took this photo whilst it was quite light so that I was able to capture all the detail involved in the building. When I took the picture the lighting was perfect for what I wanted to capture. I didn’t think there was much I could do with this photograph editing wise as I was relatively satisfied with it. The only issue was that the ISO may have been a little too high which made the picture slightly blurred so basically all I did was make it a bit sharper. I also brought the blacks up a bit to add emphasis to the layers of the building and so that they were easier to notice.

Photo 7:

Photo 7 analysis: This is the seventh photo I have taken. Although this is not a recognized building within the city I think it was essential that I took some photos where you can see a lot of reflections. Another reason I took a photo of this building is because I thought the lighting was really good. At this point I was aiming to take photos where there would be a lot of light bouncing out from the buildings. Overall I think that made it much more noticeable and eye catching. I edited this photo by bringing up the blacks. Like in some of my other photos I wanted to bring the viewers attention to the light rather than to the building itself. I also sharpened it up because it was a little blurry. I’m not currently very sure how I’m going to use this picture in my project but I am sure it will be possible to cut up to make it suitable for my project. I do want to use it as it is one of my favored pictures.

Photo 8:

Photo 8 analysis: Here is my final photo that I took when out in London. It has been taken from the bottom of the shard when it was dark. I wanted to take this photo because I really enjoyed the obscurity of this building. I also wanted to get a shot of the surrounding sky. I think that the light from the building itself made the clouds look so much more dramatic. Also the colour of the sky was a really nice navy, which I thought looked very appealing. I didn’t crop this photo mainly because when it was taken I had already zoomed in on the section that I wanted to capture. I also didn’t want to make it black and white as I believe it would take away the emphasis created by the sky. I did touch up the blacks merely because I wanted the darker panels on the building to look more striking. I believe I now have enough black and white images as well as that of colour to create my collage.

The Development Here is a collage that I have actually made by printing out my photographs and then sticking them on some black card. I have made an actual collage here and now plan on using this as an inspiration for the work I’m going to do on Photoshop with my photo’s.

Final Pieces Analysis: I am very pleased with the pieces I have created in Photoshop as they would appeal to someone as they are visually striking for an audience. Throughout these 8 pieces I have cropped various areas of my initial edited photos and then created a collage consisting of 12 crops per piece (excluding piece 7 which is 9). In piece 8 however, I have cropped areas of my other 7 collages to create another collage. I think these have been really effective and definitely portray the work of Sharon Elphick. Obviously I have displayed the previous pieces in a landscape form so that it fills the page, however when put onto a book it would return to a portrait form.

Idea 2: Now that I have completed my first idea it is time that I move onto my second idea. What I plan on doing for my second piece is look at reflections in buildings. In the modern era skyscrapers are considered as something new and would be regarded and thought of when you think of a city. As I have already done an arty technique for my first idea I think it is time that I develop my skills in photo-shop and create something that stands out. My plan is to photograph the center point of Canary Wharf and use the layer mask technique to put a reflection over the top. I think this will be effective as it will look like the building is fading in the background and the image will all blend together as one to hopefully create something rather eye-catching.

Stephen Cook

Here we have a painting done by the artist Stephen Cook. I want to explore his pieces of work as I noticed that he has paid attention to reflections. I want to try and find more paintings like this so I can get a better understanding of what reflections look like when being applied in an art way, with paint. I don’t actually plan on using paint in my project I just think looking at these pieces of work will benefit me for when it comes to doing my final piece.

My Photographs I have been out visiting London looking for the perfect pictures to represent the idea that I wanted to do. As I had already been to Canary Wharf for my first idea, I thought I should go there again as I had a good knowledge of the surrounding buildings. I want to focus solely on the windows and make it my top priority to capture as many reflective images as possible. I want to make sure that I have something that I can capitalize upon in my project and hopefully all the photos I get will be put to good use. All the following photos are in landscape form but were originally taken portrait.

Photo 1:

Photo 1 analysis: This is my first photo. Throughout this idea I am going to be taking various photos like this which include reflections. I think this particular photo has gone well because I have done a close up shot of some window panes, with the reflection of a canary wharf building which can be seen in the background.

Photo 2:

Photo 2 analysis: This is an extremely visually striking photo. The way the building has been reflected within the glass is very unique and makes it very appealing. For this reason I think this is one of the photos that I want to be using in my final piece. I will however analyse my other photos before I make a final decision.

Photo 3:

Photo 3 analysis: For my third photo what I wanted to do was capture something that an audience would recognise within the reflection. For this reason I have reflected the image of St Pauls. As well as this I am combining the themes of new and old within this photo.

Photo 4:

Photo 4 analysis: I personally am really fond of the reflection in this photograph as the colour is very manipulative. We are shown a combination of silvers and blacks (I slightly brought up the blacks in Photoshop). I think this combination of colour works really well and adds contrast to the piece. I have also brought up the shadows which I think makes it an overall more warming piece.

Photo 5:

Photo 5 analysis: This is probably one of my favourite photos. The colour blue makes this photograph really attractive. Like the previous photo I have brought up the blacks and the shadows, I also slightly adjusted the brightness. The only issue I have with the photo is the light on the left hand side. I feel this is slightly ruining the piece but when making my final pieces I am sure I can crop it out.

Photo 6:

Photo 6 analysis: In this photo I have combined the use of modern buildings, older buildings and nature. This is probably not the greatest photo and was more of an experiment, but overall I am satisfied with it as it represents what I had in my mind.

Photo 7:

Photo 7 analysis: Now I am starting to finalize my photos I realise this photo is really good. I have still managed to catch the reflection of another building in the window panes to the right, whilst I have still managed to reveal part of another building, which has been concealed the two buildings in the foreground.

Photo 8:

Photo 8 analysis: In this photo I really wanted to capture something else in my reflections rather than just other buildings. So here I have focused my reflection on the sky and the clouds, whilst still somewhat capturing some buildings in the lower end of the photograph.

The Development I have decided that the developments I am going to create in Photoshop will be where I combine my various photos so that they are visible through one another. I am going to be using the layer mask tool within Photoshop to create my various pieces and I will hopefully create some pieces that will be very effective.

Evaluation Overall I am very pleased with how this project has gone. I have managed to create some pieces which I believe represent my artist in my first idea. I have also developed my photoshop skills which is something that I can carry forward into future projects.

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