Saturday, 28 November 2009


Rachel asked us to discuss our developed idea and show our work in progress on Friday. She gave me the names of two artists who did some projects on manikin. I will check them up a little bit later. I found other classmates did very thorough research work, such as what the background of the issue is, who else did similar projects, etc. I plan to get my research going further next week.

I developed the third film with a surprising peace of mind. Everything flowed so naturally. It was successfully developed. I am quite happy about it. This is the film shot last Sunday. Then I printed contact sheets and selected quite a few frames to print on resin. I now have a very clear approach – to select the manikin that looks real. I printed around 20 frames and then filter the ones that look artificial. I finally shortlisted around 10 shots for final 5 fibre prints. The printing was fast but there are always white speckles etc. Hopefully I could handle them in fibre printing. This second film shot for manikin has better shots than the first. I think it is because after the first roll, I streamlined my format and criteria in selecting scenes. I think I have covered most of London area. It will difficult to spot more manikins in London at the time being. Hopefully I can finish the project with these two rolls of film.

Monday, 23 November 2009


(Piccadilly, London 2009)

After the printing last Friday, I would like to use similarly gorgeous looking female models portrait for the project. I went to central London on Sunday and planned to re-shoot on portrait layout rather than landscape. Torrential rain poured down heavily. I was lucky to be in my car and shot a few in Piccadilly. I am always fascinated by scenes in rain especially behind wet glasses. Anyway, formalist now should not occupy my mind; it is the conceptual aspect that should arrest my photography. I made a long walk observing and looking for the right dolls to shoot. I made a few shots eventually before it got dark around 3:30pm.

I had a tutorial with Ulrike last Friday. She tried to enlighten me why I am doing the project of the dolls, what my philosophy is, what I would like to convey to viewers. I am still contemplating these issues. Originally I just wanted to show the real side of the artificial world constructed by commercial world. I wanted to show another side of reality. The look of the dolls in my photos needs to seem real. I am not quite sure if I have achieved this on Sunday’s shooting. At the same time, I need to explore the thoughts behind the project idea.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


We were instructed to choose studio, tutorial, or darkroom on Friday 20th of Nov. I chose tutorial and darkroom. Bought print paper resin and fibre.
I was nervous again in dark room. I needed to develop the Ilford Pan F 50 shot during the last 2 weekends. Fortunately my colleague teamed up with me. She’s so good and well prepared with all parameter data jotted down. Developer/fixer/stopper/water/agent/dryer = 8/1/6/20/0.5/15. Successful!
Then I rushed to printing room as I really needed to get one or two proper fibre print for the project. Submission time (mid Dec) is approaching. I never printed any proper one last time though not for the project.
After examining the whole roll, I started from the one taken in Next. Tester on resin first!
3.5 contrast, 1's interval, 5.6 aperture, seemed 2's proper exposed. When blowing up this frame, I mistakenly used 11 aperture, but the resin paper print looked fine. There was a hair like blemish on the face so I dedusted the film accordingly. I did a tester on fibre and concluded 2.5's for the exposure. After exposure, developer/stopper/fixer/water/dryer 2/1.5/6/30/15, the print looked fine. (Fibre print scan.)
I then tried to print a contact. Never did right in the past! Using the same parameter, I exposed, but it was over done. Again, tester first. I found that exposure time need to be bit shorter than the blow up therefore I adjusted 1 stop aperture. By chance I adjusted the height of the light and exposed at the same condition. Failure again. Because this time light was higher, under-exposed! Anyway, eventually did it right.

I tried to find the 2nd fibre print for the project so I did a few resin printing first. I finally decide to print this one, as it seemed has similar atmosphere with the previous one. (Resin print scan.)
Using the same parameter, I exposed on a fibre. God! Wasted. It was under exposed and the shades around nose area does not come out properly. For every frame, even in the same roll, I need to do a tester! Now I understood! I then adjusted one stop aperture and printed another one. Fine this time. The dryer was broken. I had to keep it in the darkroom for drying when I left hence I couldn't scan it today.

I stayed in the printing dark room for more than 3 hours till 19:35. It was rewarding this time with a few properly printed photos, though I am still nervous. The lessons I learned:
1. Contact printing and film printing parameter are not the same. Same condition, contact need less time.
2. Fibre print need more exposure than resin one.
3. When height of light changes, tester!
4. For each frame even from same roll of film, tester!
5. Fibre and resin, of course, tester for each!

I noticed that the Ilford Pan F 50 grain is really small. When I used magnifying glass to focus, it was hard. As the photos I took are dolls made out of plastic in shopping windows, if I had printed with proper exposure, then the texture of the face would appear very obvious and spectator can tell instantly it is a dummy doll rather than a real people. I under exposed, then the face's texture is not obvious and looked reasonably real at first glance. In the future, if I would like to get the full texture, I need to proper expose or even over do a bit. Anyway, I am happy that I under exposed the photos and it gave a good black and white contrast as well, which added a little dramatic ambience to the scene.

For these two shots, the first boy doll is a little spooky maybe because of the lighting and obviously it is artificial. For the second lady doll, it looked real at first glance, then it get recognised it is artificial. I would like to produce a series that could fool spectator at first sight at least, so not quite sure of the boy doll one, though I really like it personally.

(Camera: FM3A; Lens: Nikkor 50mm 1.2)

Monday, 16 November 2009


(Westfield, London, 2009)

(Hammersmith Station, London, 2009)

Shop Windows
The weekend was not productive at all technically speaking. I couldn’t find enough shop windows with good real like models. Following up the thematic consideration, I come up with the following theme ideas:
Kids - portraitures of boys and girls, the innocence.
Fashion ladies - cool and gorgeous girls, the beauty.
Blurred - soft blurred focus to create real but dream like atmosphere.

Not enough bill boards in London as well. I have been considering to shoot from an angel where few people notice in daily life. However, Stephan Gill’s works are so original that I found it is so difficult to supersede. I observed quite a few billboards but has no clue how to shoot as the billboards are now electric controlled, neat, tidy and efficient. Everything is covered well so one can see nothing from the surface but the normal panel, which is difficult to create tension or contrast to the colourful advertisement showed. I took a smiling face out of a rum advertisement in Hammersmith tube station. I originally thought to shoot many smiling faces and use the advertisement name as the title, but couldn’t find enough smiling faces. The smiling faces are not generic picture language in today’s advertising environment, it seems.

Friday, 13 November 2009


(Group Work: Alex, Michal, Peter, Silvio & me; London 2009)
(Sitter: Michal; London, 2009) - My first trial 'heroic'

(Sitter: Michal; London, 2009)- My second trial 'heroic'

Our assignment was to take 5 shots portraiture in studio single light (modelling, spot, softbox, controlled by Elinchrom Classic 3000) by Hasselblad with Polaroid. Alex, Silvio, Michal and Peter in my group. The five themes are sinister/mysterious, soft even beauty, heroic, classic and backlit. Equipment not that complicated than it seemed, though I was still bit nervous. I directed the heroic one.

I had been considering which one of the absence/presence idea to follow so I printed contacts and showed to Ulrike. She verified what I expected. Sometimes, I have some thoughts but in vague and not sure, and it is nice to get someone’s comment to strengthen those ideas. Yes, she said that human/nature idea was quite literal which I thought exactly the same. She seemed kind of prefer that shopping window project, well, it is my favourite as well. However, I really need to make some theme. She suggests I might need to get cooperation from shop to make the model more real. This is something dodgy. How can I get help from Harrods?? Regarding the billboard traces, she thinks there is potential. The camera one, it is too literal now – with many photos of camera, though the topic ‘surveillance’ is quite a good one with space to explore. I am really grateful for her comments which are like some light in the darkness. Next step is to improve the current shooting.

For human/nature, scrap it. Lucky that I scrap now otherwise have to go to Canary Wharf to take urban landscape tomorrow, unlucky spend hours last week shooting rail roads and Richmond. For window, need to develop some theme and make it more real. How? For billboard traces, need to find another angle to go beyond the common visual experience. For camera, really need to make it more conceptual not taking literal cameras of cliché. Hard! Tomorrow need to shoot, but tonight has no clue what to do. Seems all previous plan need to be changed. How to go beyond the meaning is the key to photography!

Thursday, 12 November 2009


(Regent St., London 2009)


(Sheen Common, London, 2009)


(Kings Cross Station, London 2009)


(A4, Chiswick, London 2009)

BACK DATE - 20091106

BACK DATE - 20091030

BACK DATE - 20091020

BACK DATE - 20091016

BACK DATE - 20091012

BACK DATE - 20091008


I am always reluctant to new things especially technology. I prefer a primitive life style as it gives me more time and space to enjoy the end rather than the means. However, as time goes by the world around permeates through me slowly, I come to realise that my ideology is changing. I decided today to use this 'magic medium' to jot down my thoughts on the fleeting moments of fragments of my life. It is my visual diary, starting from 2009 in London, England. It will document my development in photography from scratch to... hopefully.