People and Place

Friday, 12 October 2012

Diamond Jubilee Weekend

The latest version. Punchy, shorter and closer to my aims.

I have expereienced problems uploading to vimeo.  The format seems to change.  I'll try and resolve this with vimeo.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Another Edit of Diamond Jubilee Weekend.

My tutor suggested I allow more time on each image for better viewing, suggesting 3 seconds on each image.

I think this has made the piece too long.  It is now losing the fun of the weekend I am trying to portray.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Assignment Five

The Assignment:
Decide on a notional client with the proviso that the subject is people and/or the places they inhabit.
Choose the kind of client and how the images will be used.  Write yourself a brief. Accompany the brief with the images and a short written assessment that includes:
the 'client briefing' you have given yourself
a statement of how you set about planning the photography
how well you succeeded, including the difficulties and opportunities you encountered that you had not anticipated at the outset.
The Client:
My notional client is an on-line life-style magazine.  The magazine presents articles on travel, fashion, food, entertainment and culture.  The magazine readership is mostly women between 35 and 60.
  The Brief:
The editor of an on-line women's magazine has requested images suitable for the web that show how the public celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration.
They want:
The Photographer captures the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee Weekend events. Steer away from traditional images and concentrate on the crowds and capture how people are reacting to the event.
The requirements are: *
·        to produce a piece suitable for a web based magazine. 
·        to be presented as a photoslide/photofilm no longer than 3 minutes (images will be discussed jointly with the client making the final choice in the images to be used). 
·        the work will be provided in video format on a CD/DVD at 1080p and in compressed format no larger than 100MB for a web page. 
·        all images will be retouched if necessary in order to achieve the maximum quality desired. 
·        all images are the copyright of Mo Greig and will be released to the client for the agreed use. Any re-use requires the permission of Mo Greig. The project is undertaken as an independent contractor and not as "work for hire".
*NB: in the real world this brief would also include a clause detailing the payment details. As this is a study exercise I have omitted such a clause.
The Jubilee celebrations I intended to shoot took place over a weekend, there were three events I planned to shoot. 
  1. The flotilla on the Thames.       
  2. The concert in the Mall in the evening      
  3. The carriage ride from the palace to Westminster. 

The known challenges I faced were:
·        Reshooting - not possible 
·        Weather - heavy rain was forecast  
·        Security - very tight  limited access to many areas 
·        Crowds -  expected to be huge and therefore likely to make it difficult to move around. 
·        Equipment - I intended to take extra lens and equipment to cater for the weather so I would therefore need assistance with transporting and security.
In order to meet these challenges:
·        Shooting - I would take a lot of photos with both a wide angled lens and a zoom lens to enable close up portraits, detail shots and shots that would give a sense of place. I would take as many images as I could focusing on people who were dressed up and generally having fun.
·        Weather - I had plastic bags for lenses, a cover for my camera, two umbrellas and friends to assist me.
·        Security - The day before I checked where the barriers were being placed so I could ascertain where I would have limited ability to move around.
·        Crowds - plotted a spot along the Thames and arrived very early
·        Equipment - Organised friends to assist me
The flotilla:
I had a map of the route, a timetable and I gathered as much information as possible from the Internet, newspapers and radio broadcasts about the security restrictions that was available to the public.  From this I knew that the bridges crossing the Thames in London had bag checks and were also limiting the size you could carry.  In addition most were only allowing moving foot traffic. Meaning you would not be able to stop and take photos.   My friends and I had secured a spot inside a bus shelter close to the Thames.  This gave us additional shelter from the rain and made it more secure for me to leave my gear with my friends to look after while I went off to take photos.
The day's proceedings were slow and drawn out and as people arrived dressed and ready to party they were happy to be photographed and I was able to move freely among the crowds.
 The concert:
For the concert in the Mall my aim was to get photos of the crowds down the mall and I hoped to get close enough to one of the stages to get crowds and performers. 
I had picked a couple of high spots where I would be able to get a couple of shots with a long lens, however when I got there security had closed those areas off.  I tried to make my way down the mall but the density of the crowds and the way the crowds were controlled prevented me from getting as close as I would have liked.  A news photographer who was trapped in the same place as I was had a ladder which enabled him to get above the crowds and an even longer lens.  I did try and negotiate a couple of minutes up his ladder but was unsuccessful. 
However there were giant screens all the way down the Mall showing the performers and those in the Royal box. I timed one of my crowd shots to capture Prince Harry on screen as my shot to give a sense of place and event.  My window for taking shots was limited by the amount of ambient light.  A flash was not going to be useful for the long shots I was after.  It was a different crowd with not much variation in reaction so only a couple of shots were required.
The Carriage Ride
I planned to get as close as possible to the front of the crowd to get shots of thousands waving flags and close ups of "enthusiastic individuals". 
Security was tighter for this event than the previous two.  I hadn't anticipated that the police would use kettling for crowd control and I found myself trapped in a small area that I couldn't get out of.  After several attempts to get out of the situation I gave up and looked for photo opportunities within the "kettle".  Disappointed "fans" were only too willing to pose for portraits.  This enabled me to get portraits of children which in many circumstances can be difficult.  
One of the best images I got here was the girl in her royal outfit sitting on her father's shoulders.  Both were very upset at being locked out of any vantage point to catch a glimpse of the Queen.  Asking them to pose helped reduce their disappointment and gave me a portrait I might otherwise not have been able to take.
Working in a different media for the first time was challenging.  My approach was to use the same principles of a photo essay of beginning with an establishing shot, having mid shots and detail shots and a suitable finishing shot.  I created a sense of movement by zooming in and out as well as fading into the next image.  I found it is even more important that there is a sense of continuity between the images for this type of presentation. 
I also realised I was going to need more than the 10-12 images we had been asked for.  I kept it as short as possible, but felt it really needed the 22 I have settled on.
Having got the images I was happy with I then set about adding the audio file.  To begin with I wanted to have various crowd noises over the top of music.  This didn't work.  It just sounded noisy and messy. For the music  I decided it should be something that was associated with the Jubilee. My first choice was the "Sing" by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band.  This was just too cheesy.  I finally settled on one of the new versions Handel's New Water music that was written for the Jubilee.
My brief was to produce a short photofilm that captures the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee Weekend events. To steer away from traditional images and concentrate on the crowds and capture how people are reacting to the event.
I had created a brief that would allow me to explore a new way of presenting work, something I had never done before and taking me outside my comfort zone. I knew this would be a risky option and that it might not come together. 
I am satisfied that I have captures the spirit of the weekend and that I met the "client brief".  It is the first time I have created work in this format so I still have much to learn.  I think the style fits the subject and putting this together has given me confidence to tackle something more ambitious next time.

The images in the photofilm can be viewed here:
The contact sheet can be viewed here:

A higher quality file of the photofilm can be downloaded here:

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Learning the Software.

The big challenge was learning new software.  I had never put together a photofilm and didn't have any software to do it.  The first step was to research what was available, then download trial versions and test them to see if they would do what I had in mind.

The first package I tried was soundslides plus.  The frustration with this package was that the photos and audio are imported separately.

  I used audacity for the audio and found it very good.  I learnt how to cut an audio track so it doesn't end abruptly. I learnt how to take sections from different tracks and make a mixed track.

Putting then together separately is difficult and not ideal as you have to keep changing one or both until the sounds match the right image.  My idea was to have music and bits of the crowd cheering woven together.

I then looked for software that enable both photos and audio to be edited within the same package.  I settled on proshow gold.

For the music I looked for something that had relevance to the event. My first choice was "Sing" by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band. 

I had recorded some of the crowd sounds on my mobile phone.  I tried blending these together. It didn't work.

Sing is just too cheesy and after you've heard it half a dozen times you find yourself screaming "no i can't listen to this one more time".  My sound recording was too noisy.  I learnt from a professional sound recorder how to read the sound waves very much like a histogram on a photo.  My sounds were outside the acceptable range and so the sound was distorted and also unpleasant on the ear.

My attempt of a multi recording here:

I decided I was being too ambitious and I would be better just picking one track of music that was relevant but easier to listen to.
"On July 17th 1717 George Frederic Handel premiered his composition Water Music after King George I requested a concert to be performed on the River Thames"
Various artists were commissioned to produce their version of Handel's water music for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  I chose one of these tracks to go with the photos.
I played around with the order of the photos and changed a couple of photos as well as the order. I put the man raising his hat at the end as it this is similar to a gesture of saying goodbye and seemed a more appropriate position for this photo.

Getting there.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Trying to do the photoslide in one software and make a soundtrack in another and then put them together has driven me crazy.  I think I have been too ambitious in putting too many components together.  I have started again with Proshow Gold which lets me put the images and sound track in the one program.

I've played around with a variety of sounds and overlaid them but I think it is all just too much.  I had recorded sounds of the crowd cheering on my phone but when I put them into the project they just sound like dreadful noise.

I have also now learnt how to read a sound track.  Like a histogram on a photo you can go outside of a a good sound and get distortion that is not pleasant to listen to.

I also put too many different music tracks in and it just sounded like I was trying to put everything I had into the project.

Also important is deciding how long the photofilm should be.  I have spent hours looking at slide shows and youtube clips to help me decide on the optimum length.  For me 2-3 minutes seems to be long enough.  Any longer and your audience loses interest.  I have opted for approx 21/2 minutes. 

Several variations later I'm now happy with my selection.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Tools

Having now decided on the content of my assignment I now needed to find the tools and learn how to use them.

I emailed contacts from the workshops I had done to ask what software might be suitable for this project.  My list included:
  • windows soundslides
  • soundslides plus
  • audacity
  • proshow gold
  • adobe premiere
My learning notes below:

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Preparing for Assignment Five

I had planned for sometime to do an exercise with Global Generation for assignment five.  GG is an organisation that uses alternative methods of teaching.  I have taken photos for this group several times over the past 18 months, many are on their website.
I contacted Jane with to see if there was a session coming up that I could photograph.  There was one group meeting that week, which she said I could photograph.  It wasn't hugely successful for a number of reasons.  First it was pouring with rain which was incredibly limiting as outdoor pictures make up a big part of the environment.  Secondly there was an official film being made so I had to take second place.

Jane and I discussed the problems and she suggested a new group meeting for the summer school might be a better option and I would be able to have more time and better access.

Following the recent workshops I had done on documentary and photofilm I had decided that I wanted to explore this genre for my final assignment.  The assignment requirements are open enough that I feel this media will be acceptable.

I spent a couple of  days photographing the kids and recording them reading their work.

I felt confident this work was going to work well.  Jane was also keen to use the work.

I discussed the outline of the project with my tutor when he rang me to discuss assignment four.

He told me I would be required to have release forms from each of the kids for him to accept this work.  I discussed this with Jane who told me this was wrong and also totally impossible.

At this stage of this course I'm not prepared to take on a battle so I decided to change the subject matter.

My main focus is the method.  What the content of this assignment is is not very important.  Having decided I want to do a photofilm I really want to focus on acquiring the skills and knowledge to do this.

During the Queen's Diamond Jubilee I went out to take photos with a specific outcome in mind.  I realised that the security surrounding the event was going to make it extremely difficult to get close enough for photographs that included any of the "official party".  I have on previous occasions photographed boating events on the Thames and know that the pictures you can take from the banks of the Thames are not going to be very interesting.  Add to that the huge crowds and the awful weather, I realised that a different approach was required.  I decided that I would try and capture the "emotion" of the day.  My focus would be the crowds.  My idea was to think of an on-line publication that would show the "British spirit during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee".