Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Second Conversation

Assignment 2 : People and Place

Down - select stages two and three:

Stage two:

Spending time studying a diminishing number of photographs is not something I’ve done a lot of and there is something that I would like to say about each of these photographs that didn’t get to the next and subsequent final round. I’ll limit the comments to a selection and attempt to explain the process I’ve gone through.
As I said in my previous entry the constant narrative that I searched for in the selection process was that of “conversation”; I searched in the original set for conversations of varying types, literal, metaphorical, private and internal. I was also aware that I needed to bring as much to the final selection as the assignment required, which included activity explanations as well as “telling moments”.

The second round cut starts with one of the final shots of the whole series, the “curtain call”. As the players take their place and bow to the applause of the audience we can see (or not, as the case may be) different conversations taking place. This first shot, taken with a flash attachment, on the left has two conversation taking place in the row of players and a third one with the audience and the players. Some of the players are “in position” whilst the others are “poised”. The audience is at one with themselves applauding the stage. The reason it was culled is that to better depict the final bow it would be more appropriate to have the actors as one with the audience. The other curtain call misses the applause as this shot was taken without a flash and the audience is in the dark, though some detail is present in the blurred hand-clapping, it isn’t strong enough (and the cast seem a bit disorganized as well). I hadn’t used flash for any of the performance or the rehearsal period, using it only at the last moment on the last performance I went to.

Jean and Pat in conversation – connected at eye level by the visual contrivance behind them works well I think, Jean’s expression and Pat’s attentive regard also helps. I had deliberately included Pat’s reflection in the mirror behind (I have used the mirrors a few times in this assignment as devices in composition), but I think on this occasion it detracts. I also think that the foreground figure would have made this photograph more telling if it had been inclined to Jean’s expressive profile. Mike, who was "technical" (lights and sound) along with Bradley, for this show enjoying both a pre-show drink of bubbly (a group tradition on opening night) and a conversation with someone; it is the fact that it is a “someone” that it has failed at this stage – the image is unresolved. It must go.

Conversation's that are either ill-defined from a compositional perspective or where the conversation appears unresolved and therefore not really amplifying the assignment call as well as photographs that, well, simply don't make the grade compared to later ones.

A complex conversation, the females intent on each other, whilst the male is portraying an "informant" to the viewer. This could be taken as two differing humours, I don't know what either set is smiling about, but there definitely seems to be two conversations at two levels going on here. On the right we can see clearly the conversation on view. This greeting an "embrace" between old friends, intimate and private, it could possibly be a word from the one on the right of the picture to the other, it is almost certainly a kiss. If the "kissee" had been more in shot then maybe it might have moved forward!

Getting changed. There isn't a changing room as such, the players get changed when and where they can. This show has a minimal set of costume changes, so there is little room for embarrassing moments, though in other shows decorum and tact need to play a significant part in the proceedings... I wanted to have some costume moments in the series. This one with Dave and Ken pre-show has them in conversation whilst donning the role. The shot on the right has a young person in one conversation via the mobile 'phone and as a mute correspondent in another conversation as the older person looks down on her. If there had been more tension in the photograph it might had made it further forward.

These two are in an animated conversation, ignorant of the rest of the world; but the shot is relatively placid and without a great deal of energy. Whereas there is a lot of energy in Jeff's profile as he prepares for his first entrance on opening night. I did two shots here - see later, and this one is worse in terms of blurring. There is motion blur around his head as he gets himself in the right state of mind for his entrance. Different players have different routines to get themselves across the boundary. I decided to talk about this particular shot as there is a nice allegorical statement about focus and blur, state of mind and approach to the entrance. The notes that surround him are the Stage Manager's notes. I think it portrays a good sense of tension, but this didn't make the cut as I think a better one did.

Third round cut before moving to the final phase I realised I needed to cut more to make the assignment number requirement.

I was torn with this image on the left. Karen and Sharon involved in a private conversation. Karen graphically telling some part of the story and appearing to demonstrate with her hands under her bust; I think the link at this point with the production is helpful as Sharon holds the script towards the viewer. There is an intensity in Karen’s eyes and Sharon doesn’t need to be in focus, I feel there is enough of her in view (although out of focus in the main) to know that it is a conversation and between two people. There is a shot that I took moments after that I have chosen which is why this shot flounders at this stage. Another attempt at a make-up shot. This time the action is even more intimate, the application of lipstick with both the player and the make-up artist in focus and both caught in a reasonable composition. Hands on faces, hands close to lips, the player’s eyes on the process in front of her. Not many people get this close.

These two were the last to go. I was reluctant to chop the Make-up shot as I had reviewed the photographs from the first night and vowed to make an improvement. I decided to move in closer for these shots, to capture the intimacy and the connection better. This viewpoint make it difficult to get a visual connection between the faces of the two, but this one - discarded after it's twin shot below - seemed to offer most. There is a steady focus on Ken's face allowing the movement of the powder brush to do it's work, so there is physical connection, but maybe because the eyes are closed (for very good reason) it didn't make enough of a connection with the viewer and so failed at the last. This is disappointing as I wanted a make-up shot in the final down select and failed. The other last minute rejection has Pat and Jean in conversation. Pat in flow, engaged at eye level and fully in focus - on safe ground as it were, whilst Pat, out of focus is in abeyance in this shot.

Which leaves the final assignment selection


  1. You're pruning some good ones there. I'm particularly taken by the one of Sharon (hand under bust and intensely engaged) and the penultimate image. I'm looking forward to seeing the final selection.


  2. Thanks Catherine. Yes, the last round of the down-select was difficult; this kind of editing is new to me. However I posted the assignment off yesterday and my tutor now has it. I have now posted the assignment onto the blog as a hostage to fortune! Thanks for looking.
    I'm looking forward to following your P&P journey also; don't be scared of people most of them are very polite and will try and accommodate, I find only close family difficult - Alison hates it!