New Forest Research – The Forest & Livestock

In preparation for my trip to the New Forest, where I will be producing a selection of my equine and experimental shoots, I have decided to focus a research piece on the Forest and it’s inhabitants.

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Most notably, my trip is due to take place from the 26th-29th May 2017, which falls within the release bracket for stallions into the Forest. The date set for the release this year was the 15th May, with all stalllions to be removed by the 19th June. Fifteen animals have been released for breeding, spanning across a wide variety of Forest sections. This allows a large number of mares to be covered without conflict between the stallions. Furthermore, with the trip scheduled in the Spring, the equine gestation period of eleven months also indicates a likelihood of youngstock from last year’s breeding season. These factors pose added risk when exploring the Forest, since the horses are excitable and protective. Whilst I consider myself to be well-versed in equine body language, I have not experienced working with semi-feral horses previous to this, so I am wary that I may not achieve a large number of successful outcomes.


Stallions Released 2017 (Name – Location):
Lucky Lane Warrior – Busketts
Cameron Luck of the Irish – Acres Down
Halestorm Branston Pickle – Hilltop
Sandhole Whispering Grass – Penn Common
Portmore Thunder Cloud – Wilverley
Sway Scrumpy Jack – Setley
Brookshill Brumby – East Boldre
Woodfidley Top Gun – Balmer Lawn
Haywards Impressionist – Backley
Knavesash Gold Fever – Withybeds
Skywalker – Ogdens
Lovelyhill Hendrix – Linford
Bakeburn Benny – Wootton
Bull Hill Major – Stoney Cross
Limekiln Brigadier – Matley/Ipley

Visitors of the Forest are encouraged to remain a reasonable distance from any animals, due to safety reasons, as they are, whilst owned, left to live ‘wild’. Therefore, most of the livestock may have feral tendencies and react negatively to human interaction. However, communications with a series of locals indicate that certain areas of the Forest are frequented by humans more than others, which implies that the livestock within the section are accustomed to humans venturing into their territory, and are more tolerant. One of these sections is called Appletree Court, located in Lyndhurst, and is the most local part in relation to where I will be staying. My research above also indicates that this year no stallions have been released here.

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Although the horses and other livestock are allowed to roam and live freely, agisters monitor the Forest to ensure the safety of the animals. This includes helping injured animals, due to road incidents among other causes, and humane destruction of an animal where necessary. It is well known that within the Forest, the animals have right of way. Despite being regulated to the concept of cars due to ongoing traffic, the animals have a complete disregard to the dangers of cars, and so drivers must be vigilant to ensure the safety of equines and cattle. Additionally, the agisters ensure that the owners, the commoners, of the livestock roaming on the Forest are meeting welfare requirements, and also maintain and construct stock pounds for use in the pony round ups, which it is also their duty to arrange.

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The round ups, also named ‘The New Forest Drift’, occur in the Summer and Autumn, and in these periods every equine is placed into one of the several pounds. These occur to remove foals for weaning, and to health-check the animals on the Forest. If an animal does not appear to be healthy, the owner of the equine will be required to remove it until the animal reaches a satisfactory state in which to be released onto the Forest again. Animals who have not been previously branded will also receive this at this period, with their commoners’ unique letter. Finally, the tails are cut into distinctive shapes which indicate which part of the Forest they belong in.

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Catherine Dashwood

Dashwood focuses her attention on pet portrait photography, particularly working with canine subjects, but also lightly venturing into equine photography. Based in Lymington, Catherine is in the center of the New Forest in Hampshire, and she states on her website that “we are so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country enabling us to have some spectacular backdrops”, which she is always keen to take advantage of.

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The shallow depth of field within the majority of these portraits suggests that a zoom lens is being used to achieve a softened surrounding for the sharp, well focused animal subject. To further this cause, the saturation in much of Dashwood’s work appears to have been reduced slightly post-production, and a slight vignette applied to tone down the edge of the images, drawing the audience to the light that is inevitably focused upon the dogs. Catherine made reference to Photoshop during my discussion with her, and although alternative programmes may also have been used, I expect this is her primary editing software.

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After speaking with Catherine, I learned that her technique for capturing dogs in motion was to throw a ball. However, since capturing the animal without the ball in their mouth had an increased aesthetic advantage, she would frequently have someone throw the ball towards her from outside the frame, causing the dog to chase it and therefore approach her, running for the toy.

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I like the aesthetic that Catherine achieves within her work, perhaps because it is closely related to that of my own photography style. Furthermore, whilst I have typically ventured into pet portraits within the studio, and often liked the effect achieved by myself and those that I have researched within the studio setting, I feel that Catherine’s work is exuberant and filled with personality. This is important when photographing beloved pets, since their owners cherish the work in which you offer them, often longer than they are allowed to cherish their pet.


 

Catherine Dashwood Influenced Experiment

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I decided to extrapolate the technique of desaturation, by removing all colour besides that of the halter worn by the donkey. This was to draw attention to the colour, and therefore my subject, whilst removing the distraction of the greenery, building and donkey within the background.

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I feel that this experiment was a success, as the dark former donkey appears enhanced now that the richly saturated, colourful background is removed. However, the red of the halter I feel adds character to the portrait and draws attention, whereas the completely greyscale image appears dull and uninteresting.

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Peer Assessment – Progress of FMP

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My final project is based on the creation of a series of installations, whereby a collection of images are used to form an overall picture for the audience.


I have conducted research in preparation for the manufacture of the installations, regarding the use of thread in Lorena Cosba’s work. Whilst she uses it within her photographs, the artistic effect can tie in well with my own use for the material, and give an impression towards the impact it should have on my piece.


I have also conducted an online survey, collecting data preparing myself for working with a variety of animal behaviours. The collected data is also available broken down into individual responses over the period of the questionnaire, offering direct insight toward individual animals.


My previous photography within this field has offered some strong results, therefore I am confident that I can use these skills in order to capture a wide range of images that can be effectively presented within an installation piece.

Furthermore, I have arranged a trip to the New Forest in order to shoot a large portion of my photographs for this project, as well as having communications with private owners of pets and horses that may be willing to have their animals photographed.

Weekly Review : 01/05/17-07/05/17

Monday: 

I launched a survey using surveymonkey.com, asking my audience questions related to pet behavior and the ways in which they, as owners, manipulate the actions of their pets in positive ways. This survey was shared via my social media channels, providing an insight into a wide variety of training techniques. Whilst most suggested food was a positive reinforcement technique that they used with their pets, several suggested simple commands and/or toys. It also became apparent that a home shoot is better suited to cats, whereas dogs are typically much more adaptable and may feel more comfortable within the studio setting. However, due to the selection of variables within my data collection, I will be carefully selecting where to photograph individual animals based on their unique traits, as gauged when discussing a shoot with their owner.


Tuesday:

I spent the morning phoning several potential clients, including members of my family and social groups. However, unfortunately the availability of both themselves and I do not correlate, as well as a lack of studio availability. Therefore, I have decided to post publicly using Facebook as a host for my advert. This allows a wide range of people within Harlow and it’s surrounding areas to consider myself for a pet portraiture shoot.

Additionally, I have begun producing a website using the popular host site, Wix. While the developments I have made on the base of my website is positive, I have concluded that I would like to develop the aesthetic further.


Thursday:

Today I created a technical research piece, focusing on the use of thread within the work of photographer Lorena Cosba. This research has indicated that the use of brightly coloured thread has a positive impact towards a piece rather than detracting from the attention of the installation. Therefore, I have decided that a coloured thread will be used to suspend my final outcomes within the installation rather than fishing wire or an alternative substance.

Lorena Cosba

Due to my interest in working with suspension for my final outcomes, I decided to look into the effects of a variety of materials, such as threads, and their impact when presented within my piece. I decided to focus a piece of research on Lorena Cosba, since she regularly incorporates red thread into her photography pieces, often attached to printed photographs.

Genealogical trees.

Interestingly, the thread really draws attention to the photos. In this scenario, where they may be detracted from with the accessory of a human body, the bold red thread draws the audience up the walls to the printed images. This however leads me to the summary that I may need to create experiments to discover if my own pieces will recreate this response, as my installations are the focal point and therefore the thread may impose on the impact of my work.


 

Almohadas en las que oir el mar.

Alternative work by Lorena Cosba includes overlaying and time lapse. This is of interest to me due to the work with transparency, which is relative to the materials I will be working within my installation (acetate). Cosba’s overlays show a variation in saturation levels – whilst one is very bright in colour, the alternative is almost greyscale. Although in this piece I feel the vibrancy of colours is attractive, I maintain that my final piece should be at least primarily black and white, as the overwhelming array of colours may cause disruption within each installation.

Nagasaki.


 

Lorena Cosba Inspired Experiment

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For this experiment I decided to incorporate the use of thread into a photograph, by using stitches that followed a significant shape. Within this image there is a golden tone, which is the only real colour aside from black and grey hues. Therefore, I selected this colour for my thread, tying the stitches into the photograph itself rather than selecting an obtrusive colour in the way Cosba frequently does.

The fine golden thread is almost lost within the piece when looked at as an overall photograph. Despite this, when looked at closely the stitches add a subtle, pleasant texture to the outcome. This allows an interesting effect in the form of an installation, as the thread may appear almost invisible from a distance, yet portray a soft, intricate detail when viewed up close. Since an installation piece is intended to draw an audience to look closely, I feel that this experiment was a success and conclude that thread is an appropriate binding material for suspension purposes, as it can appear both subtle and bold, with various colours offering a wide range of effects. This is illustrated both within my experiment and Cosba’s pieces.

FMP: Pet Survey

I will be conducting a survey to be completed by various pet owners, in order to decipher how to manipulate the behavior of my canine and feline subjects. This research will offer me an enhanced level of control whilst photographing, resulting in a higher likelihood of a successful shoot.


 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JQ2W39W


 

Summary:

My responses to my survey have suggested that cats are predominantly friendly and relaxed, yet quiet. An individual responded to my survey, “its a cat.. They don’t listen”. However, another owner suggested that they have a highly personal connection with their feline companion that allows them some influence into the cat’s behavior, which implies that in contrast to dogs, an owner present may be helpful during the shoot.

Motives for specific behavior include specific petting that the individual pet enjoys, such as face rubs and playful headbutting – specific petting locations included the face, ears and chin. Five out of fourteen responses suggested their cat responded best to petting, while the other nine were food motivated. Survey responses recommended ‘Dreamies’ and ‘Pounce’ treats were favored by their felines.

The best ways to provide a specific reaction from cats were said to be audible and physical commands. It is important to remain calm and inviting, and consider using their name and treat and/or petting reinforcements, as suited to the animal.

On the other hand, dogs have been described as friendly, excitable and energetic. Although this suggests lack of idealism for photographing, the responses in regard to training were more positive than those regarding cats. An increased level of training is expected to be beneficial during photographing periods, and all respondents claimed their dogs were at least ‘somewhat’ obedient.

Canine subjects are more susceptible to treat motivation than cats have been suggested to be, and an individual states that their pet is trained to perform commands efficiently without expecting a reward. Specifically, this person says they point to the floor and tell the dog ‘down’, to which the animal responds. However, a large number of those responding to the survey suggested their pet required ‘bribery’ to perform commands, including treats and occasionally toys.


 

Survey Results:

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FMP: Action Plan

Already Completed: Proposal & Mind Maps/Mood Boards


Week Commencing: 01/05/17

  • Research – Pet Behaviour
  • Arrange Pet Portrait appointments, including studio bookings.
  • Technical Research – Incorporating Thread (Relation – Suspension).
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 08/05/17

  • Technical Research – Equine Photography
  • Test Shoot 1 – Equine
  • Conceptual Research – Installations
  • Research – David Hockney
  • Two Artist Responses – Mood Boards in response to artist, relating to feelings.
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 15/05/17

  • Conceptual Research – Forming a Visual Bond (Abstract)
  • Conceptual Research – Forming a Visual Bond (Pet Portraits)
  • Test Shoot 2 – Cat (Home Shoot)
  • Test Shoot 3 – Dog (Studio Shoot)
  • Presentation Case Study
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 22/05/17

  • Research – New Forest
  • Technical Research – Pet Portraits and Post Production
  • Trip to the New Forest 26-29 – 2-4 Equine Test Shoots.
  • Final Shoot 1 – Dog(s)
  • Final Shoot 2 – Cat(s)
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 29/05/17

  • Final Shoot 3 – Equine(s)
  • Final Shoot 4 – Equine(s) – if required.
  • Final Installation development.
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 05/06/17

  • Final Outcome Production
  • Project Evaluation
  • FMP Website Development

Deadline: 13/06/17

Final Major Project: Mind Map & Mood Boards

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Summary Mind Map


Equine Concepts & Considerations:

  • Macro – details include eyes, muzzles and textural details.

to consider: due to the nature of an installation featuring a multitude of images, some photos may appear insignificant and unappealing until situated within the composition. These especially include partial photographs, whereby something of interested is cropped in half, such as an eye, as well as hair texture and manes etc.

  • Tack – additional detail and variety can be achieved by including photos which incorporate tack.

to consider: tack will certainly cause the overall piece to appear disjointed and may detract from the overall effect. However, it may also add depth and intrigue, especially within individual images that appear to represent nothing more than a patch of hair.

  • Location – a variety of locations can be considered whilst working with equines, and arguably the most effective when shooting small aspects of the horse is the studio. However, I do not currently have the available facilities for an equine-based studio shoot.
  • Motion – a wide range of movements can be captured across the spectrum of equine photography, and whilst working with an installation concept, it may benefit to refrain from using a wide selection of movements within one piece. However, again, this may add interest and diversity to the installation.
  • Breed – across the spectrum of breeds are an array of sizes and characteristics that may disconnect when pieced together to create an overall image. For example, two photographs featuring one small head and one large one, may not present well together. It would be interesting to capture a variety of colours and breeds within the installation, though, to promote that sense of diversity.
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Equine Mood Board

Photographers to Research:

  • Lindsay Robertson
  • Emily Hancock

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My Equine Photography:

curtissayersphotography.com – Portfolio

First Year FMP Series


Pet Portrait Concepts & Considerations:

  • Macro – details include eyes, muzzles and textural details.

to consider: due to the nature of an installation featuring a multitude of images, some photos may appear insignificant and unappealing until situated within the composition. These especially include partial photographs, whereby something of interested is cropped in half, such as an eye, as well as fur texture etc.

  • Collars, Harnesses and Accessories – additional detail and variety can be achieved by including photos which incorporate accessories.

to consider: accessories (including collars and harnesses) will certainly cause the overall piece to appear disjointed and may detract from the overall effect. However, it may also add depth and intrigue, especially within individual images that appear to represent nothing more than a patch of fur.

  • Location – a variety of locations can be considered whilst working with pets. However, my research suggests that the most efficient way to photograph cats is at home. Dogs offer a wider range of scenarios, including home, location and studio based shoots. Pet owners often seek location shots in order to capture the essence of their pet, although studio photographs are also highly desirable.
  • Motion – a wide range of movements can be captured, including a vast array of tricks when working with dogs. However, whilst photographing cats it is unlikely to capture more than a sitting or lying cat.
  • Breed – across the spectrum of breeds are an array of sizes and characteristics that may disconnect when pieced together to create an overall image. For example, two photographs featuring one small head and one large one, may not present well together. It would be interesting to capture a variety of colours and breeds within the installation, though, to promote that sense of diversity.
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Pet Portrait Mood Board

Photographers to Research:

  • Catherine Dashwood

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My Pet Portrait Photography:

Final Major Project: Proposal

For my final project, I have decided to focus my attention on portrait photography, particularly pet portraits and equines. These shoots will incorporate a variety of specialisms, including macro and fine art photography. Previously on this course, I have focused projects on horses and their body language as well as portrait photography featuring dogs. I hope to develop my abilities in what I consider my strongest field in photography, as well as use this project as an opportunity to interact with a potential client base (local pet owners) and enhance my interpersonal skills when working with strangers.

My intention is to create a series of photography installation pieces, in which multiple photographs are suspended to create a formation in which one overall image is perceived by the audience. I plan to create a trio of installations, covering the themes of horses, dogs and cats, that can be presented as a collection or individually without losing impact. Whilst my subject remains a comfortable scenario for myself, this artistic presentation will stretch my abilities, using proportion and anatomical knowledge to create a realistic outcome.

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Anette Messager

In order to complete the project to the best of my ability, I will be producing a variety of research pieces, including photographers, installation artists and expanding my knowledge of the animals I intend to photograph.

I will be communicating with pet owners to distinguish the ways in which they gauge reactions from their pets. This includes common training techniques as well as traits unique to individual animals, that may be impractical to use with another animal. This, whilst not directly in correlation with photography, is important information for me to achieve the best results when working with unfamiliar animals, and develop my skills in communicating with pet owners whilst preparing a shoot. This is particularly important for me in regards to working with cats and dogs, where I am not so well practised as opposed to horses, which I regularly work with.

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Previous Equine Body Language Research – First Year FMP

Lorena Cosba incorporates 3D effects, using materials such as thread to add texture and depth to her photography works. Due to the suspension nature of my piece, it could be an interesting concept to explore using a variety of media, as well as incorporating them further into my work similarly to that of Cosba’s pieces. Furthermore, the nature of printing on acetate means that my outcome will be printed in black and white, therefore using colourful materials may be obtrusive to the overall outcome. I would like to explore this theme, and conclude whether the effects are negative or enhancing.

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Lorena Cosba

My images will be printed on acetate, rather than photographic paper, which will cause the piece to be transparent. This ability can be used to offer a variety of viewpoints, or simply to create depth within the formation. The effect of acetate, I find, is much more complementary to installation work as opposed to 2D presentation, therefore this seemed an ideal project to experiment with this medium. When printing on acetate, high contrast printing is most effective, therefore the potency of my overall outcome is highly dependant on photographs with tonal depth and non-distinct backgrounds that will not interfere with the composition. These effects can be heightened or manipulated in post-production, using Photoshop, as well as in presentation using backlighting to create a lightbox effect.

Light has the capacity to empower an acetate-based piece, as demonstrated in the work below, created by Matt Ritsman. Matt produces a variety of work using photographs printed onto acetate and layered, which he typically presents as a 2D piece over a light source. While this can enhance colours and details, when the light is particularly close to the image it can appear overexposed and lose depth, as seen below using strip lights. The effect has been used within the piece as an artistic strategy, however I would like to avoid this side effect of using light in my own installations.

‘Light Box Romance’ – Matt Ritsman

‘Plastic, Light’ – Matt Ritsman

Additionally, I will create experiments to deem whether I would like my photographs within the installation to be inconspicuously suspended using nylon thread, or boldly contrasting using alternative materials, such as coloured threads or string, as inspired by Lorena Cosba.


With such a practical-based project, I will require an expansive range of experiments throughout. These will test my photographs’ compatibility with the presentation style, as well as materials and presentational techniques. Factoring these into the project adds substantial time and cost, however I feel that creating small tests will benefit the final piece, reducing risk of mistake or misjudgement regarding the manufacture process of an installation.

Further risks are induced within this project due to the inclusion of animals, whereby a variety of risk assessments (for studio based work) and source of models can cause delays in shooting. To minimize these risks, I will be preparing shoots in advance, whilst simultaneously performing research and experimental tasks throughout the planning process.

Once I have settled upon models and arranged my shoots, it is important that I allow long enough periods within the studio for my animal subjects to become comfortable within the studio setting and with me. Previously I have struggled to acclimatize dogs with their surroundings in the studio, and so if I am able to settle a meeting with my clients before shooting in order to get to know the animals, this will reduce their anxiety with me whilst shooting. Alternatively, I may attempt home-based shots or location shoots, based on the judgement of my clients.

In order to review my final outcomes, I will seek feedback direct from the owners of my animal subjects, regarding their views and opinions on both the individual outcomes from the shoot and the installation pieces. As a unique presentation in terms of a pet portrait, it would be interesting to determine if this is of interest to the target market. Furthermore, I will ask for reviews on my service as a photographer, and whether they would select me for future work or refer me to friends, as these factors are relevant to me as an aspiring pet portrait photographer.

Throughout the project I endeavour to amass a variety of shoots, featuring a range of individual animals, which will be gathered into contact sheets and presented here on the blog. Conjointly, I will be photographing my 3D experiments, the purpose of which being to refine my final installations, and presenting them digitally as a record of my progress.

My installations will feature in the end-of-year exhibition which will exhibit my concluded presentation choice, which is particularly important due to the 3D nature of my proposal. Research will be undertaken to ensure that I have selected the most efficient presentation, and I will photograph my exhibition piece in order to review the success of this.


Macro shots may be of great use for my installation, where small parts of animals are captured to collectively build a larger image. This piece was successful as a standalone photo, whereas a less interesting part of the body may be insignificant due to lack of point of interest, when presented without the additional support of alternative images within my installation piece. Despite this, it important for me to focus images on alternative parts of my subjects, as collectively they will add value to the eligibility of the final outcome.

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When photographing individual animals, using surroundings can be an effective device to enhance the photograph or add personality. This shoot was client based, and using the stable door gave them direct relevance to their pony and his daily behaviour – something that has great value when capturing personality within an animal for a client. In contrast, this is impractical for this project due to the composition aspect, whereby distracting surroundings within one photograph may not harmonise with surrounding images and disrupt the overall outcome.

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A studio setting is of great value when photographing pets, as the control over lighting and backgrounds reduced the variables within the situation, allowing the photographer to concentrate on their subject. I have previously experimented widely with studio based shoots, and conclude that I will be using those experiences within my final project. However, whilst I have previously liked to shoot animals on a black background, I will be featuring a white backdrop for this particular project. This is because, when printing on acetate, the background will remain clear, allowing the ink that defines the animals to contrast more forcibly.

As a development to the focus of backgrounds, I will be photographing widely using a shallow depth of field. This will be helpful throughout the post production process, allowing me to easily distinguish areas which I would like to crop or digitally remove from the image before printing to enhance the focus within my subject. This is illustrated heavily within the image below, where a shallow depth of field allowed the background to dissolve, highlighting details as minor as the spider web draping between parts of the elaborate sculpture.

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Bibliography

http://mattritsman.com/#art

Final Triptychs

My first final triptych is focused on the town park and Harlow bandstand, which is now for the most part in disuse. This location has been a large part of my life, due to it being one of the largest open spaces within the town. Throughout my childhood, it hosted the most frequented playground, and from then onwards became a route to secondary school. Since then, it has been a place for social interactions and photography, as well as fitness and recreation.

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First Mock Up

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For my second mock up, I focused on light. I decided I wanted to capture a variety of themes, including community, nature and travel. In order to create a successful triptych following these themes, it was important to find a commonality among the three, which I concluded to be light. These concepts are valued to me as throughout my life I have been encouraged to embrace or celebrate them, and have therefore grown up with them.

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Second Mock Up

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For these shoots, I experimented with the concept of having my models facing the camera with obscured faces.