THE THING ITSELF NICOLE SCHARTZ

After considering and listing my interests as described in The Thing Itself*, I eliminated all but these three categories: nature, architecture and magic. (For clarification, when I say magic I mean a feeling of wonder and enchantment, not having supernatural powers.) For this illustrated essay, I chose to photograph the Marjorie Allen Powell Chapel at Powell Gardens. With said subject in mind, I used John Szarkowski’s** five characteristics that define photography to enhance my description and knowledge of the phenomena. Those five characteristics are: the thing itself, the detail, the frame, time and vantage point.

“In a sense (he) was right in giving more credence to the camera image than to his own eyes, for the image would survive the subject and become the remembered reality.” -John Szarkowski

I assembled this series of nine photos into what Adobe Spark calls a “glide”. It reminded me a little of the Photosynth extra credit assignment we did for this class, as their combined sequence feels like one is actually walking through the chapel.

THE DETAIL

“The function of these pictures was not to make the story clear, but to make it real.” -John Szarkowski, on pictures taken of World War II not conveying a story without extensive captioning.

A subject can never be described in words as well as it can be seen by one's own two eyes.

E. Fay Jones, the architect who designed this chapel, studied under Frank Loyd Wright. You can see Wright's influence in Jones' "simplicity of construction, use of native materials, attention to crafted details, and seamless integration of building to site. In his own work, Jones reached new and original architectural conclusions with the innovative vertical use of glass and a strict awareness of the role of interior and exterior spaces of light."*** 84 of the 129 projects built from Fay Jone's designs are in Arkansas, his home state. He is most known for Thorncrown Chapel, which was voted one of the most important buildings of the 20th century by the American Institute of Architects.

The Frame

This photograph was taken of the ceiling inside the chapel. I love it's simplicity of line and shape and how it gives me a sense of wonder and smallness. I don't think I would feel the same way about it if I cropped it to be asymmetrical or zoomed in to include any more detail. When it comes to framing a photograph, I really liked this tip about prime lenses from Lukasz Palka: when the photographer gets used to shooting particular focal lengths, "it’s possible to visualize the framing of a photograph before looking through the viewfinder."**** He had a lot of great technical advise that I found relevant to modern photography when it comes to "the fleeting decisive moment". I ordered my first 55mm prime lens after completing this project so I can get better acquainted with that particular focal length in the future. My current starter lens is a 28-300mm, and sometimes I can get a little overwhelmed with zoom options so I'm really excited to really dig into one focal length for a while!
“The central act of photography, the act of choosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge — the line that separates in from out — and on the shapes that are created by it.” -John Szarkowski

TIME

I went to this chapel to photograph it four times over the course of this semester, each time taking something new I learned about my camera and my subject with me. The next two images were taken first in late-Summer and again in mid-Fall. I think it's interesting to see the evidence of different seasons while the chapel stands vigil through their change.

"And while pursuing this experiment he discovered something else: he discovered that there was a pleasure and a beauty in this fragmenting of time that had little to do with what was happening..."
"...It had to do rather with seeing the momentary patterning of lines and shapes that had previously been concealed within the flux of movement." -John Szarkowski

VANTAGE POINT

I love how this vantage point demonstrates the effect of light coming all the way through the building from the other side and how the shape of the glass above the door perfectly mimics the shape of the roof. This building contains 2,550 square feet of glass on all four walls and in the ceiling.*****

"Much has been said about the clarity of photography, but little has been said about it's obscurity." -John Szarkowski

The end.

Thank you for watching!

*http://www.billjayonphotography.com/The%20Thing%20Itself.pdf

**John Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966), 2-8.

***http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=447

****http://petapixel.com/2016/03/17/photography-series-decisions/

*****http://www.powellgardens.org/architecture

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Nicole Schartz
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Nicole Schartz

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