In this final assignment imagine that you are about to illustrate a story for a magazine. You have a cover to illustrate, and several pages inside (create between 6 and 12 images – you can choose). Even though there may be no text, you should write captions (of any length) to explain and link each picture.
The cover picture will need some of the techniques of illustration that you have been experimenting with. The picture essay will be more of a narrative. This means that, as you will be using several photographs to illustrate the main body of the story, you will have the opportunity to spread the load of the story telling among them. Different images can deal with different aspects of the subject, or you might choose to nsert a linked series of photographs that show something happening in sequence. Remember that some of these photographs will be seen together on the same pair of pages. You can use this to set one image off against another, sometimes the juxtaposition of two appropriate images can be telling.
Any theme which has a narrative element could be a suitable subject for this project. … Remember that a narrative will contain the element of time – hours, days, weeks or maybe even just seconds.
I have had the idea of photographing Finn Slough ever since my friend mentioned this unique place to me around the time I was busy with Assignment 2. I had never been to the place, had no idea what to expect and just put it on the backburner. While I was working towards Assignment 4 the idea of shooting in this location really started to percolate with me and I decided to do a bit of online research into the place.
Finn Slough is really off the beaten track, not a tourist destination at all and I was actually surprised to learn that many people who have lived their entire lives in this city have absolutely no idea that this place exists. The information I found on it was scant to say the least. Just a a historical write up on a couple of sites and one or two blogs I came across. I have included a map of the location as a reference, but this is not part of my narrative. It is simply there for a bit of context.
I have omitted EXIF data under the photographs as they do not form part of a narrative. However, the information is available here in a table for references purposes. For the same reason I have not provided a commentary on each image as I have done in the past. If it is necessary, then I’m happy to add it. I have included a PDF of the images below and have been cognizant of Clive’s remarks in the OCA fora that it is best to keep the layout simple. I am not a graphic designer, nor a layout expert, so I am taking that advice on board.
My post processing was mainly confined to highlight, shadow and contrast adjustments, a little bit of clarity and vibrance, setting of white and black points and lens corrections and of course sharpening.
a memory of how things were
In the 1890’s a group of Finnish immigrants came to the city of Richmond and settled at the junction of what is now called No. 4 Road and Finn Road. The immigrants initially worked as loggers and coal miners while they were saving up money to buy land that had access to the mighty Fraser River so that they could fulfill their goals of becoming fishermen.
Richmond is an island that is below sea level and at that time the dykes were all hand built. The land where the Finns initially settled was close to the Fraser River, but not situated next to it. However, houses had to be built on pilings due to the levels of the high tide where the levels of the river would rise and flood the farmlands.
The Finns eventually moved next to the river to what is now known as Finn Slough. The Finns needed places to store their gill nets and built net sheds next to their new houses on pilings.
By 1910 more Finns and Scandinavian immigrants had settled in Finn Slough. The second wave of immigrants was not as wealthy as the original settlers as they had fled the repressive regime of Russia in poverty stricken Finland. As a result they were not able to buy large parcels of land and many either slept on their boats or in the net sheds.
The settlement originally comprised of about 70 dwellings, but has dwindled to about 30 in present times.
Finn Slough is a swampland and has been designated as a wetland, with some of the dwellings being situated on the nearby Gilmour Island. The residences on Gilmour Island are accessed by a drawbridge and access to the houses is via a boardwalk that has been built over the swamps.
What is left of Finn Slough today is a memory of how things were1, but more importantly it is now an example of how a community can self regulate itself and co-exist with nature in harmony.
The PDF version of this narrative can be seen here. The wide image (A reminder that the past has caught up with the present, as a Seaspan ferry boat …) is intended to be a double page spread.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills (materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills)
My equipment used for this assignment were my 18-55 mm, 55-200 mm and 70 – 300mm lenses and tripod. I have tried to use elements of all previous assignments in this assignment, from contrasts to elements of design, colour and lighting. I did not use any artificial lighting in this assignment, but relied on natural lighting. I was able to varying my exposure times as I was shot just prior to and during sunrise on one day, so used long exposure during these times. It was a bit nerve wracking standing and moving in the dark on an old narrow bridge with no railings, the boards of which were dotted with holes just the perfect size for a tripod leg to fall through.
Quality of Outcome (content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas)
I am rather pleased with my set of images. Ideally, I wish that I could have submitted 15 images for the narrative, as I feel that certain key elements would have been more clearly interpreted. Finn Slough is a place that has a lot of story to tell and I did have to leave some good story telling images out. What I wanted to illustrate right from the start was the difference in appearance of this location during the tides. I have therefore, repeated an object, namely the Eva boat in high and low tide settings as the low tide image with the thick mud was what I most wanted to convey and this vantage point was the only one that really lent me that opportunity. I did find that with each visit to Finn Slough, new ideas popped up, not to mention new material to shoot. I chose not to apply a linear approach to this narrative as I think mixing up the low tide, high tide, sunrise and afternoon shots create more of an engaging dynamic to the narrative and lends a bit more mystery to the story. As mentioned above, I have been mindful of Clive’s comments in the OCA fora and his advice given on Flickr to keep the presentation simple. I am not a journalist or graphic designer so have chosen to follow his advice on this and have kept my narrative’s layout very simple. I think my narrative’s text and captions reads well and have tested it on a few colleagues to see if my idea was communicated.
I have come to enjoy my online learning blog and I think it has come along quite nicely. I am still struggling with the physical log, trying to remember to carry it with me, but I have mainly been using it for inspiration images that are copyrighted which I can’t replicate on the online blog along with study notes.
Demonstration of Creativity (imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice)
I have tried to show the location in all its facets, at low tide with the muddy swamp land dotted with skunk cabbages and grass and at high tide when the waters of the Fraser River push new life into the Slough.
I feel that this set of images (as well as the other 370 odd images I took at this location) is probably one of my most cohesive assignments. I visited the location on four separate occasions at different times of the day and during different weather patterns so I was able to experiment with different natural lighting conditions. I would have liked to shoot from some other positions along the river banks, but due to access restrictions and swamp shrubbery I was not able to do that. I did engage with one of the residents for quite a while and asked whether I could make a portrait of her outside her quirky house, but unfortunately she declined and did not want to be photographed.
Looking back over the course of this past year, I can see that my photography style has changed and is maturing. I have begun to insert myself into my work as can be seen in the narrative exercise at the beginning of Part 5.
Context (reflection, research, critical thinking)
I have touched briefly on my research into the subject of Finn Slough in my introduction and my research items are listed below in the bibliography. I also made sure to research the tide tables so that I had a clear idea of when high and low tides were on the days that I went to shoot. As it happens these tables also provided sunrise and sunset times, which was a very handy tool.
I was very pleased that I was able to attend more exhibitions during the time leading up to this assignment than in previous ones. The exhibitions that I attended were:
- “We are all continually exposed to the flashbulb of death” – The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg
- Christos Dikeakos: Trouble in Paradise
- Victor John Penner: Artists Depiction and Artist Talk by Ian Wallace
- Ross Penhall – Accidentally on Purpose
- Marten Elder – Perceptual Renderings at the Equinox Gallery
- Wayward at the Winsor Gallery
- Inside Out: Colin Smith
- Pictured Windows – Equinox Gallery
Due to the Capture Photography Festival there have been a few good documentaries on TV on photography which I have watched. I have only reviewed one thus far:
I did an online course on Narrative Photography which I found rather useful in that various workflows were explained in some detail:
The photographers that I researched for this assignment were:
I am extremely grateful to David Hlynsky and Alan Henriksen who both gave me permission to use some of their images for my reviews and also for their encouraging words to me.
I feel rather as if I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind during this assignment. I have been so busy going to galleries, taking trips out to the location, doing research and plodding through Sontag. I even usurped two walls in my office and put up my photographs so that I could “live” with them during the edit down process. This actually proved to be quite useful as colleagues would stop by my office to look at the photographs and pass comments, some of which were quite helpful. It’s with mixed feelings that I come to the end of this course, The Art of Photography. Sad because it is the end of a long road that was both enjoyable and frustrating at times, yet happy and eager to move on to the next course and new discoveries.
1. Dorrington, David A Small History of Finn Slough [online] Finn Slough Heritage and Wetland Society http://www.finnslough.com/
2015 Tide Table for Steveston, British Columbia for fishing [online]. Available at http://www.tides4fishing.com/ca/british-columbia/steveston [Accessed 9 March, 2015]
Finn Slough. [online] Biodiversity of Richmond, British Columbia. Available from: http://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/richmond/city/finnslough.htm [Accessed 30 March, 2015]
Finn Slough Heritage Area Online Heritage Inventory [online] City of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada http://www.richmond.ca/plandev/planning2/heritage/HeritageInv/details.aspx?ID=167 [Accessed 30 March, 2015]
Freeman, Michael (2012). The Photographer’s Story: The Art of Visual Narrative. Lewes, England: The Ilex Press.
Ho, Megan (2013) Visit Historic Fishing Village Finn Slough [online] Inside Vancouver. http://www.insidevancouver.ca/2013/08/05/visit-historic-fishing-village-finn-slough/ [Accessed 30 March, 2015]
Short, Maria (2011). Basics Creative Photography 02: Context and Narrative. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA.