20th June 2014

I never thought it would be this challenging!  Not the photography, but the technology of setting up a blog and recording the exercises!  I have had enormous difficulty uploading photographs into My Collections on the OCA site and I don’t know if I am doing something wrong, if my software, hardware or server are the problem, or if it is a passing glitch.  Either way, I have wasted hours trying to get it to work. 
On the positive side, I have been trawling through other students’ learning logs and as a result I am both inspired and daunted by what I have seen.  It has however, given me a much better idea of what can be achieved and what is expected which has been valuable as I realised that I was more motivated by visual impact than on clarity and information dissemination.  In particular I was inspired by the Log set up by Lucy http://lucyslearninglog.wordpress.com/about/# which seems to be to be an exemplary Log in its clarity, content and lay out and a piece of work that I wish to aspire to without plagiarism.  As a result I have ditched my original theme and set up the same theme (Origin) as Lucy used. 
Helpfully, Lucy’s Log contains some hints, tips and guidance on the technology that she used, but whereas she seems to have sailed through it, I am struggling to follow in her footsteps.  I spent 5 hours setting up a number of pages of exercises that I had completed, saving them as I went along as I thought, but after one click which unintentionally sent me onto another screen, on returning to my work I found that it had all disappeared never to be seen again.  This is all a challenge that I had not foreseen when signing up for the course, but I will not be beaten.  It feels like trying to launch a kayak into a rough swell on a beach only to be constantly beaten back by the surf and making no progress.  What keeps me going is the knowledge that once I get past the rough swell, I will be able to make real progress and enjoy the ride.  How I long for that time!
In the meantime, I have been thinking more deeply about the whole subject of photography.  Working on this course has got me thinking more about the broader aspects of the subject, and the different reasons that people take photographs. 
There are those who are wanting to use photographs as educational or inspirational material to pass on to others the sense of awe or wonder that the photographer experiences.  Examples of such photographers are Ansel Adams http://www.anseladams.com/ who’s spectacular landscapes show a mastery of light, composition and detail, Eric Hosking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hosking  a pioneering wildlife photographer of the mid 20th Century and Edward Weston http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Weston, an important American 20th Century photographer, all of whom felt deeply about their subjects and wanted to capture and pass on something of what they felt.  
Others use photography as an art form and use the technology to explore possibilities and to push the boundaries of their creativity in order to create something more than a pure reproduction of the subject.  Artists such as Man Ray  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Ray who telling is quoted as saying “I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions.”  ( see   http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/man-ray/prophet-of-the-avant-garde/510/), Alfred Stieglitz  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Stieglitz  an American photographer who did much to make photography an acceptable form of art, and Robert Mapplethorpe http://www.mapplethorpe.org/portfolios, whose highly technical and visually striking images of subjects such as the human body, statuary and flower studies are seen as some of the defining mages in 20th Century art.
Many photographers use the medium to capture images of life and environments either as a pure historic record of a transitory existence or in order to capture dramatic events as a record to inform, educate and influence.  An example of the former is Edward Curtis http://www.edwardscurtis.com/ , whose striking photographic images of native Americans during the 19th Century are an invaluable record of the times and the peoples, and of the latter is Don McCullin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_McCullin, a contemporary British photographer who has travelled the world to record wartime and impoverishment where it occurs. 
The categorisation of photographic work and the photographers who create them is fraught with difficulty and debate as it is often the case that neither fit readily into one box or another.  Man Ray, for instance, could equally be described as an artist who was capturing a record of life as it was happening at the time, and many have described the work of Ansel Adams as fine art as well as a record of landscapes.  What is clear to me at this early stage of my exploration of the subject is that the diversity of styles, techniques, subjects and inspirations employed by photographers is as rich, personal and vital as that in any other medium and that the appreciation, understanding and impact of the resulting work is a matter for the individual viewer at the particular time that he/she is observing it. 
I will explore this more in later shares as I believe that it is an important consideration not only for my appreciation of photographs and photography as a whole but also as a route towards the development of my own work.
—–   o0o   —–

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