Assignment 2.2 Amend: Aldeburgh Great Escapes

Aldeburgh is a busy but very small sea-side town on the Suffolk coast. In many ways it epitomises quintessential ‘Englishness’ with a mix of the ‘genteel’ and ‘cultured’ with more raucous upper class beer drinking, fish and chips by London escapees as well as day-tripping from nearby Suffolk villages, towns and cities like Ipswich and Colchester.

It is also a favourite sun and sea breeze escape from Cambridge for us – only 1-2 hours by car and convenient for short motorhome holidays at the campsite and day trips in winter with a sunset on the way back. It also has a thriving art and book community and potential market outlets for my own work.

In Assignment 2.2 I focused on Photography, revisiting some photographs that had accompanied sketchbooks for Illustration courses. I looked at how the processing and technology of capture of images can be further manipulated in digital processing – Lightroom and ColoFX – to create different interpretations. And starting to look at narrative sequencing as draft Photobooks and Slideshows from Lightroom.

Assignment 5.1.2 Aldeburgh Great Escapes revisits the carnival image series and sketchbooks, looking at storytelling of different perspectives on Carnival in different media:

  • Carnival Colour: Aldeburgh 2017 is a Photo Essay on colours – pushing Martin Parr processing further in Nik Viveza and sequencing as an on-line narrative.
  • Carnival People: is different black and white selection from the same image series where the focus is on emotions and character – somewhere in-between the Northern documentary of Shirley Baker and the brash New York street photography of Bruce Gilden.

Assignment 2.2 Amend – Aldeburgh revisited: Shutterscapes

Aldeburgh had been the subject of a number of earlier projects for Illustration courses:

  • 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’

But I was not happy with most of my sketches or work for these earlier projects.

For Assignment 2.2 Shutterscapes I chose the photo series, not only for a more light-hearted approach to ‘Englishness’, but also a way of starting to explore approaches to narrative. Working with colour and lightness was an uplifting change from my normal preference for the ‘black and edgy’ from Assignment 2.1 Bridge.

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.

1: Carnival colour

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.

With these very colourful images I was aiming at a Martin Parr saturated style. I processed them in Lightroom only, experimenting with tonal and colour settings and sharpening and noise reduction.

The images on the right were selected and sent to Shutterstock as the most interesting for content and – my first images submitted – they were all accepted.

See Shutterstock Aldeburgh gallery.

The first three images on the right were sold on Shutterstock, and the last was judged by my tutor to be the best.

2: Aldeburgh Great 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.


Aldeburgh Great Escape Lightroom Slideshow

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.

I then experimented with using Photoshop and/or Nik ColorFX filters to produce images that used the grainy and altered colours for artistic effects. The images below were accepted for Shutterstock.

IPhone snapshot series in Lightroom slideshow

Aldeburgh Morning Light selected images Lightroom Slideshow

Assignment 5.1.2: Great Escape Revisited again

The aim of this assignment is to produce professional outputs from the best photographic images. And also explore other possibilities in different media: sketching, drawing and painting in physical and digital media and moving image.

1: Carnival Colour: Aldeburgh 2017

My strongest work in Assignment 2.2 were the Carnival photos with the focus on ‘English quirkiness’ and colour style inspired by Martin Parr. I revisited these photographs to create a Photo Essay of 20 core photographs that I thought best represents different aspects of the carnival.

I also submitted the first two images to Cambridge Camera Club to see it they were suitable for the exhibition. But people thought that although they were good for documentary, they were too busy for Exhibition photographs. The first image was too confusing – the chaos of being pulled in different directions by dogs and shouting being the point of the photo as documentary. The second image they thought was problematic because the streamers were in front of the woman’s face.

  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 1
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 2
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 3
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 4
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 5
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 10
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 6
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 7
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 8
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 9
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 11
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 12
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 15
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 14
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 16
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 13
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 17
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 18
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 19
  • Carnival Colour Aldeburgh 2017 20
Further creative exploration

Given the feedback from the Cambridge Camera Club that the very colourful Carnival photographs were too confusing, I started to experiment with different versions of selected images using the Creative Prompts in different digital software. So far I just tried Topaz Studio and different crops to focus in on different people and elements of the scene (annotation needed). Although the Topaz AI plug-ins are extremely useful for professional image enhancement, the Topaz Studio filters are quite blunt instruments compared to the DxOFX. But they are quite interesting as very quick ways of exploring more extreme distortions as the basis for more focused creative treatment in physical media or Photoshop.

I am aiming to experiment further with these images to learn more about Corel Painter clone art brushes that will give me much more control and possibilities – planned for over the summer when I have a proper digital art work station.

2: Carnival People: Aldeburgh 2017

As I was going through editing the colour images I thought I would see how they might look in black and white. I was quite surprised how different things looked. Very busy images were often simplified, and the focus was very much on peoples’ expressions and emotions rather than being drowned in colour.

I am also interested in black and white because it makes people look more anonymous. The images are not like the portraits they take on their phones. So potentially less ethically sensitive?

I decided that these would make a more interesting Photobook. Inspired by Shirley Baker’s work on the North of England and Bruce Gilden’s bold flash street photography of New York.

Aldeburgh Great Escapes:

I will not be able to revisit Aldeburgh again before assessment of this module because of continuing COVID uncertainties in what is an extremely crowded place throughout the summer. The 2021 Carnival and other events have been cancelled.

However from 2022 I am aiming to photograph more events of this type, but with a focus on ‘Englishness’ – mix of quirkiness and real attempts at inclusion in middle class sensitivities of the town. I would particularly 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 Great Escapes: Sketchbook Diary

Aldeburgh had been the subject of a number of earlier projects for Illustration courses:

  • 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’

Aldeburgh is a really easy and interesting place to do life sketching. When I was sketching at the carnival in 2017 people were extremely friendly, without being intrusive. And particularly in relation to capturing responses of children, it is much more socially acceptable to sketch than to photograph. Aldeburgh Carnival also provides a good outlet for my work – stallholders are always looking for publicity.

For Illustration 2 I had started to construct different narratives, collaging scans of my sketches to explore compositions, perspectives and colour options in Procreate on my iPad. But I need to sketch on location to really capture the feeling and life and that will not be possible in the timeframe of this Module.

Carnival the Movie

I have a lot of video clips of Aldeburgh Carnival that I started to work with as part of Illustration 2. Experimenting in Adobe Premiere with different effects. These were not at all successful as the Premiere Effects are too blunt an instrument.

But as part of my work on Visual Research Module and Moving Image module I have been developing skills in rotoscoping and animation. I am planning to use existing and new clips and audio to develop a short, evocative movie.