Now on my third OCA course, this is the assignment that’s taken me the longest. I worked through a few different concepts but found that either they didn’t offer enough narrative possibility (Imber), enough interesting photos (Lacock private vs public), enough interest (fabricated Lacock lace archive), or two sufficiently different “sides”. I ended up working in a domestic setting with net curtains (the nets became apparent as a useful device when I photographing in Lacock). I bought short lengths of some of the Lacock nets and constructed a small set in my north-facing kitchen with the net on a length of dowel, supported by my flash stands. I wanted to look at how sometimes we/I have what we aspire to and proudly show to the world, but sometimes we end up with a different aspect that is often hidden behind our metaphorical nets but may well still be more visible than we think. I didn’t use actual window sills because I thought the net was more important than the window, and also the lighting became very difficult to control.
I identified areas in my life that had two “sides” to them; more than I anticipated. I did about 4 different shoots trying out different compositions/technical set ups. I sought feedback via my blog, the OCA discussion group and OCA Thames Valley Group. My final shoot used a 100mm macro lens with the near object close to the curtain and the far object pushed back from the curtain. I worked in Aperture priority mode of 2.8 for the near objects and either 2.8 or 4 for the distant objects depending on depth of field requirements. I tried to keep the net recognisably in focus across both sets. I mainly used manual focus, especially important for the objects behind the curtain. I used a tripod for consistent framing in each pair, though I accidentally introduced inconsistency in a couple of crops. Post processing was auto settings, removing sensor spots and selectively using the enhancement brush in LR to lift contrast, clarity and saturation in the second of each pair.
Contextualisation is proving difficult. I keep leaning towards to photographers who have worked with windows, despite this work having no windows in its final version. I think it’s the net curtain that provides a strong suggestion of looking into a private space through a window. Sharon’s Boothroyd’s work “The Glass between Us” provides portraits taken at dusk, of strangers in their homes, taken through unobscured windows with their consent (Cotton, 2014). A peer, Holly Woodward, commented that my work made her think of Nigel Shafran’s Washing-up series. This is a set of still lifes of his kitchen sink and the adjacent window. His work doesn’t look staged however (Cotton, 2014) but mine was staged. His work is taken inside with the window suggesting the outside, whereas most work that I’ve seen with windows is taken from the outside, looking in. But both are about domesticity, the small glimpses of domestic detail, and I feel as if that chimes with what I’ve tried to show in my work. Other window work that I considered as relevant was Shizuka Yokomizo’s Strangers (also residents photographed through their windows in the dark) and Jennifer Bolande’s Globe, where she photographs globes that she saw on windowsills, from the outside and often from a very long distance away making the globe tiny in the frame in the same way that the earth is tiny in the solar system. I wonder if perhaps I should be looking at still life work, or absented self portraiture, to complete the contextual puzzle where my work will fit.
Cotton, C. (2014). The photograph as contemporary art. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, p.32, 120-122.
Sharonboothroyd.com. (2017). The Glass Between Us : SB. [online] Available at: http://sharonboothroyd.com/index.php?/the-glass-between-us/ [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].
Contact sheets follow.