Assignment Five – The passing of Mr Lee Kwan Yew

This is the final assignment for Digital Photographic Practice. My outlines for this assignment can be found here and here. I have produced a PDF which can be downloaded and viewed via this link.

Here are the final images for the assignment with a short caption under each.

Cover

Cover

People start to gather at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after hearing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death. Mourner's flowers of condolence mingle with the 'get well' cards and balloons.

People start to gather at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after hearing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s death. Mourner’s flowers of condolence mingle with the ‘get well’ cards and balloons.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s omnipresent image keeps a watchful eye over Singapore's future generations at SGH where he was cared for until his death.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s omnipresent image keeps a watchful eye over Singapore’s future generations at SGH where he was cared for until his death.

The grief of the older generations was palpable.

The grief of the older generations was palpable.

Still turning a profit in the Central Business District shortly after his death.

LKY still turning a profit in the Central Business District shortly after his death.

Messages of strength in the ever extending lines of people.

Messages of strength in the ever extending lines of people.

The organisation of the massive numbers paying their respects soon turned in to a military operation.

The organisation of the massive numbers paying their respects soon turned in to a military operation.

Signing the book of condolences at Tanjong Pagar GRC (Group Representation Constituency). Mr Lee Kuan Yew led this constituency throughout his political career until his death in March 2015.

Signing the book of condolences at Tanjong Pagar GRC (Group Representation Constituency). Mr Lee Kuan Yew led this constituency throughout his political career until his death in March 2015.

Media interest grew as the week progressed.

Media interest grew as the week progressed.

Mourners file past The Fullerton Hotel with it’s flag at half mast.

Mourners file past The Fullerton Hotel with it’s flag at half mast.

Long lines of mourners shield themselves against baking heat of the day.

Long lines of mourners shield themselves against baking heat of the day.

…..and by night. Some waiting for up to twelve hours to pay their last respects.

…..and by night. Some waiting for up to twelve hours to pay their last respects.

Mourners pay their last respects at Mr Lee Kuan Yews's home GRC, Tanjong Pagar.

Mourners pay their last respects at Mr Lee Kuan Yews’s home GRC, Tanjong Pagar.

 

Reflective comment

Given that the subject matter came to me somewhat unexpectedly, it seemed to cover most of the bases that I set out in my criteria.

Workflow

The workflow was challenging as I was also working during this period meaning I was getting home each night and off-loading my Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) images and my work images. This meant needing to be very organised. I needed not only to transfer my images from card to hard drive but also to back up that hard drive so I could format each of my cards to avoid confusion in the days ahead and when I reached the end of the mourning period.

Images from work and college were well in to the thousands by the end of the week, so this part of my process was crucial.

Seeing like my camera

From this point of view I wanted to let the camera/lens lead the types of images I wanted to capture. Knowing that light, or lack of it, was no boundary I was keen to show the week’s activities through the day and night. I have used a certain amount of wide angle to try and put myself and therefore the viewer ‘in to’ the picture. I feel that some of my images are slightly more challenging (to the viewer) than in previous assignments and exercises and hope this comes across in the series. But I also hope that this challenge makes them more informative.

Monochrome

I was immediately aware that I would be able to shoot for a monochrome finish as the subject suited it both visually and metaphorically. I tried to use the abundance of light difference there often was (both day and night) to create contrasting images that would engage the viewer on more than just an aesthetic level.

As per my brief, I spent longer shooting. I spent as much of the week as I could shooting to take in the full range of areas and people that I could find.

In reviewing the final photographs against assignment three there is quite a difference in style. I have stopped worrying a s much about the technical clarity and instead am looking more to the story telling clarity and seeing the bigger picture both with the lens and metaphorically.

Real or fake

In shooting for monochrome I would clearly be manipulating these images post-shoot. As much as I would like to say they have not been manipulated too much it is difficult (again) to say what is too much. Just as when the photographer puts the black and white negative in the carrier of the enlarger and has to decide how many seconds of exposure to give, I too have to decide on myriad different scenarios for how my black and white images should look. I have tried, with notable success, to use only a neutral filter and in most cases, only adjusted for highlights and shadows in the images.  I have kept the images within Lightroom and used the arbitrary basic controls to adjust the images. This was tough given that I wanted to achieve consistency of the final black and white images.

I feel I have successfully told a story of the week. I feel there is a real historical value to recording these photographs (in deed if not in actual fact). My only downside to the series was that I was unable to cover the funeral cortège that took place at the end of the week. It would have been a fitting punctuation to the series but unfortunately was not to be. Maybe another concern would be to find the truly individual moments in amongst the thousands of other photographers all doing the same thing. Obviously the nature of photography dictates that each image is unique, but with circumstances being the same for most of the photographers, it stands to reason there will be many similar images out there all shouting for attention. My concern is that mine fall within that gamut.

The assignment showed me overall that it is the time and place one finds/puts oneself in that matters and not (necessarily) just the images. I am happy with the resulting series but happier at having stuck with the original brief instead of curtailing it but not sticking it out for the week. New opportunities continued to present themselves throughout the week and missing any of them would have changed the look and feel of my final series.

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