2.2.1 Wish You Were Here 1: Aldeburgh Revisited

The first set of photographs I chose were from Aldeburgh. Aldeburgh is only 1-2 hours by car from Cambridge and a favourite place for short holidays and day trips in winter. In many ways it sums up quintessential ‘Englishness’ with a mix of the ‘genteel’ with more raucous beer drinking and day-tripping from nearby towns and London escapees. I have taken many photographs for:

  • Illustration 2 Project 2.1 and 2.2 Sketching on Location
  • Illustration 2 Project 4.3 Paper Circus
  • Illustration 2 Assignment 4 ‘On the Edge’

I was not happy with most of my sketches or work for these first two projects. ‘On the Edge’ had focused on experimentation with the iPad and produced some imaginative work that I may take forward in Assignment 5 or later. But it lacked any narrative coherence. So I thought the photo series would be a better place to start, not only for a more light-hearted approach to ‘Englishness’, but also a way of starting to explore approaches to narrative.

The photographs themselves offered different technical challenges :

  • Photo series 1 Carnival Procession were the only images taken with my Canon DSLR and therefore the easiest to edit for colourful effect.
  • Photo series 2 ‘Aldeburgh Great Escape’ were taken with my iPad Pro and were reasonably good quality, but needed a lot of adjustment for jpg artifacting and colour correction.
  • Photo series 3 ‘Aldeburgh Morning Light’ were even more challenging because they were taken on an old iPhone and therefore needed a lot of work in Photoshop.

I also used these series as a way of experimenting (somewhat unsuccessfully) with the Lightroom slideshow module as well as the book module I had used before. Lightroom is good for quick exploration, but far too limited in control. If, based on feedback from a range of sources, I decide any of these series are worth taking beyond the experimentation and Shutterstock stage, then I will work on them further with Premiere, After Effects and/or InDesign as part of my work for Assignment 5.

But I learned a lot about colour processing in Lightroom, and some of the challenges of timing and sequencing. Also they were a good starting point to find out what was an what was not acceptable for Shutterstock. And certainly working with colour and lightness was an uplifting change from my normal preference for the ‘black and edgy’.

I am aiming to photograph more events of this type, but with a clearer focus on ‘English quirkiness’ inspired by Martin Parr. I would also like to do a more documentary work on Aldeburgh around issues of diversity – Aldeburgh is a disability-friendly place and the numbers of older people and people with disabilities is noticeable. There are also an increasing number of people from ethnic minorities. But I would need some time to do this sensitively as I feel uncomfortable/unethical being too intrusive as a photographer.

Aldeburgh sketchbooks


Photo series 1: The carnival procession

The carnival series were the only images taken with my Canon DSLR as RAW images and therefore the easiest to edit for colourful effect. The photos were taken from among a crowd of people lining the street as the basis for illustration rather than as photographs in themselves. They were taken with a telephoto zoom lens and at some distance and when cropped in became too small/soft for Shutterstock requirements. I processed them in Lightroom only, experimenting with tonal and colour settings and sharpening and noise reduction. The images below were sent to Shutterstock as the most interesting for content and – my first images submitted – they were all accepted.

Photo series 2: The Great Aldeburgh Escape

This series was taken with my iPad Pro as back up reference to pencil and ink sketches in my sketchbook. Nevertheless, some of the photos were large enough file size and of sufficiently good quality to edit in Lightroom for Shutterstock.

I started by selecting single image narratives that could stand in their own right as photos to submit to Shutterstock. I then ordered them to make a narrative sequence, trying to do simple captions (not the long descriptive ones required by Shutterstock).

I then experimented with Lightroom slideshow module. Looking at different narrative considerations in different formats in terms of length and sequencing. This is still too long. There is not enough control in Lightroom itself. But useful for very quick slideshows instead of inbuilt Jetpack carousel. It is possible to add the captions, but very limited layout and looked really cheesy. No control over audio. The issue is sequencing, particularly vusally. But limited memory on content. Should the viewer control or not?

And with the Lightroom book module. Here there is much more time. Issue is juxtaposition.

Great Escape Photobook

Series 3: Aldeburgh Morning Light

The third series were photos from a morning walk in July 2015. This is the nearest to a ‘flaneur’ treatment. I had just got my first iPhone with something approaching a reasonable camera – I thought. So I set off full of enthusiasm and the new freedom of being able to take photographs without looking too much like a photographer. I also enjoyed experimenting with the square format that was not possible with my normal cameras. Unfortunately when I got back and viewed the pictures on my pc, the quality was not as good as promised in the iPhone adverts.

Slideshow of my iPhone images as shot showing what interested me and different framings.

Nevertheless, with a little processing in Lightroom they do produce a sort of narrative of Aldeburgh early morning light and life.

The square format could also be interesting as a new digital format book printed at a small size – roughly the size below as a mini-book if I could find a printer.

Aldeburgh: Morning Light first draft (to see book layout change the file to 2 page view in Acrobat Reader)

I then experimented with using Photoshop and/or Nik ColorFX filters to produce images that used the grainy and altered colours for artistic effects. Click on the gallery for annotations of filters and why I used them.

I aim to experiment with this – having looked more at the history of Colour Photography and different film types and styles. To see if I can produce a coherent series.