Structures A Photographic study exploring the theme of structures by Bill Hodgson

To work through this study scroll down:

Because of a prolonged illness, I was unfortunately forced to drop Photography A-Level after 9 months of studying it. This meant that I left this project half completed when I left school. Since leaving school I have returned to this project recently, and looked further into the formal elements of art as well as experimenting with dry-point print, animation and manipulating my images in photoshop.

Initial exploration into possibilities of "Structures"

I began my structures research by looking at this card packaging, as I thought that these uniform structures created quite abstract shadows and shapes. I think that some of these pictures are quite interesting and I like how on some of the images you have to look twice to realise what your looking at.

Initial Response to the theme:

Shape? Colour? Form?

(my images)

I began by looking at well established abstract photographer Laszlo Moholy Nagy. I looked at Nagy because he is a celebrated abstract photographer, who's sole focus was on portraying huge (simple) structures in a new/different way. I am comparing these two images because I think they have a lot of similarities and are basically trying to show the same thing. Their aim is to make the familiar feel strange.

A comparison of my work along side a piece by laszlo Nagy

I liked how Nagy used repetition and the unexpected perspective and subtle use of tone, I thought the use of line that tracks your eye up to the man on the balcony was interesting and the fact that he is distorted and the way the shadow has hidden his identity is really engrossing. I didn't try and replicate his work, but i did feel like there were lots of similarities in my response, such as the use of line, tone, shadows and the mystery that all of these things lead to in an abstract manner. I liked the way in which he used tone so I experimented with different levels of tone and shadow in the grid below:

Selection of his abstract Photography.

Whilst looking into Nagy's abstract photography I came across his abstract paintings, where he uses line, shape and colour to create abstract geometric paintings.

Two geometric paintings by Nagy.

After looking into a few of these paintings I decided to bring one to life, and modernise it. I did this because Nagy was known for the integration of technology into the arts. I made a short animation, by exploding one of his paintings.

Experimenting with tone, darkest= top left, Lightest= bottom right. (moving from side to side)

The first image is the darkest of the selection. The shadows take over the image. and the highlights are really interesting because of how infrequent they are. To the right, the second darkest, and the shadows are less dramatic but the highlights are much more prominent. The third image was the best from the selection in my opinion, I felt that this image is the best in terms of tone and the contrast between the shadows and highlights, and is very interesting. Nothing is bleached out in the image, and instead the interesting edges and sides are highlighted. In the other two images the images have begun to become bleached out, so therefore looks distorted and un-focused (dull)

After initially brainstorming some ideas for the title 'Structures', I decided to experiment with the title 'Barriers', in every sense of the word. I want to look at physical barriers and what they are made up of and how they are effective at controlling where we as people go and move, but I also want to look into social barriers, and therefor current affairs. I believe this might lead me onto topics such as immigration and how our society (British) is becoming more and more closed and less welcoming to the outside world and there issues.

Formal elements of art:


In these two brainstorms below, I have carried out some initial thinking into the title "Barriers":

These pictures were inspired by one of my featuring themes, barriers. I thought this location was firstly very interesting but I also thought that because lots of barriers/gates and fences are manufactured there but are not necessarily used. So therefore they technically have no power at all.

Began to look into different ways in which other photographers have explored the theme "Barriers".

I also began to look at components that make up a physical barrier like the wood in a door, or a lock on a latch. I found that these images were really interesting, firstly because of the harshness of the wood and cracking paint on these doors. But also the way in which all barriers are made up of lots of different components. I also realised that Lots of barriers do not physically stop you from going somewhere but they do stop you mentally, for example a sign or plastic fencing.

A short exploration into barriers as well as other structures, I found interesting to the eye. I also began to think about the formal elements of art I had researched, such as texture, line and tone.

Mixture of images(Tring Canal Yard) Barriers

These contact sheets show the editing process I went through in choosing the above images, I looked for which images portrayed the theme of "barriers", and also looked at all the different interesting textures/colours.

The Screenshots below show my frequent technique of editing my images. I believe this enhances the photographs to make them more interesting and to give them a deeper meaning. I do not completely change my photographs but i do adjust the colour and tone levels to heighten and increase the photo's allure and attractiveness. Below you can see the levels graph, this is easily adjusted and changed to change the levels of shadows and highlights.

Above the image (bottom right) also shows a fraction of all the different tools I can use to edit and create my images.
Physical Barriers: Gates, locks, fences

The images below, are barriers and gates from around where I live. These physical barriers actually stop you going somewhere, the first half of these images are raw/un-edited images, I chose to show these images like this because I believe the sunlight's colour is brilliant, the images have really interesting shadows but I think in colour the shadows and highlights that the natural light has created is lost.

Therefore I decided to experiment with Desaturating the images and adjusting there tone and contrast. After seeing the before and after images I believe strongly that when in B+W the shadows and highlights are much stronger and therefor the shapes and components of the barriers are much more pronounced, because of this the images are much more interesting.

Both coloured originals and B+W images of physical barriers, that stop people going places.

This small study is a B+W study on the differences and similarity of a natural barrier (hedge) and a man-made barrier (metal fence), I wanted to look at how in both cases the barriers are made up of patterns, abstract or uniform. I liked the way in which the barbed wire and the smaller vines are quite similar. However i think these images are originally quite boring (due to dull weather conditions and poor lighting) and therefor over edited.

B+W study on differences or natural and man-made barriers.

My next step in this project was to look at the social and physical barrier at the point where the land ends and the sea starts, (our barrier against the rest of the world) I looked at how the rock formations are shaped and changed by the sea's erosion and how the land is slowly losing the battle.

Images from Cornwall Trevone bay April-2017. I wanted to show the point where the sea meets the land as it is one of the most important Physical barriers in the world.
Mechanisms & Machinery, Hemel Hempstead paper mill:

These B+W images are of the Hemel Hempstead paper mill. Frogmore is the oldest water powered paper mill in Europe and has been making different kinds of paper and cards since 1895.

When I visited this paper mill, I thought that the massive machines that were used/ are used to make the paper were incredible, I found the scale and how everything was connected was fascinating, it was like one big human body/structure. with all the cogs and wheels contributing to different factors of the finished product.

I desaturated my images because; firstly the colours were not that interesting as well as the fact that the mill itself is completely lit by natural light, and therefore I found that the shadows and highlights outlined the machines and components to the mill in a much more interesting way.

The section of the mill that I mainly focused on is no longer in use and I found it very eerie that the water wheel was the only component still moving and working. In terms of my title "Barriers", the mill resembles the initial steps we took at a society to bridge/breach the 'barrier' of easy communication to the rest of the world.

Although this view/opinion could be made about this study, The truth is that the opportunity to visit this site came about and once there I believed that the images that the structures and complex machinery created very interesting and intricate shapes and therefore images. So consequently it is less to do with my current title "Barriers"

Frogmore paper mill -April/2017

After researching Lazlo Maholy Nagy I moved to look into some more abstract photography, as well as still keeping in mind my there of structures. Out of the images ive taken this year, these pictures of this twisted part of fencing metal, defintly is the most interesting to me, I love how even though it's solid steel, and a very strong/firm structure, because of the shape and effect of line in the images, it comes across as some sort of liquid and abstract group of never ending 3D lines.

Tring canal yard- November 2018

I wanted to experiment with this image in a different way, and experiment with a different medium, but use this image as a bass. I decided to try out using Print.

Drypoint is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family, in which an image is scratched into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle". The method is practically identical to engraving.

I did a day course on dry point printing, and created 4 prints all with altered tones, and levels of abstractness, using different amounts of ink and changing the way I applied the Ink to the plate.

I think this image is the most interesting out of the four. This is because of where I have directly rolled ink onto the plate with different/ wider rollers and used generally more ink there is much more negative space and the lines all lead to the black,I like the way the vines/ plants are not too obvious aswell.


Bill Hodgson

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