Assignment four of People and Place called for me to take photos for a travel orientated publication. This should be a ‘serious’ travel publication (I was thinking along the lines of National Geographic Traveller or similar) and as such some thought and consideration needed to go in to the final product. The place in question should be an area that I knew well. I needed to produce 6 final images but with double that available for the ‘editor’ to choose from if needs be. I was to show the character of the place and of the people who live there. I also should produce a variety of subject matter and scale.
The immediate place that sprang to mind when thinking of areas that I ‘know well’ in Singapore was Little India. It is an area of Singapore which is home to, unsurprisingly, many of the Indian contingent of Singapore. In the main it is home to Tamil residents and indeed this is how the area grew to prominence from the 1820s onwards. It is one of few areas of Singapore not to have been drawn up by Sir Stamford Raffles and delineated for the use and inhabitation of certain races (Little India: Historic District. (1995). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority) such as Chinatown was. This was due to the the originally drawn up area expanding a such a rate that it no longer suited purpose and Little India developed. As such, especially in the designated conservation area, it has much less of the structure and rigidity of the rest of Singapore.
This made it attractive to me to photograph for this assignment. As well as having a very interesting background it is also a very photogenic area with as I say, less of the obvious organisation and shine of many other parts of Singapore.
One of the things that always stands out to me when walking around the area are the street signs which purport to times past and evoke thoughts of a century past when things would have been very different to today’s area. The main names that stand out are twofold; those that are colonially related and those that are cattle related. The colonial families (Dunlop, Dickson, Clive) settling in the area were drawn, in part, by the race course in the early 1800s. The cattle related names (Kerbau, Buffalo, Belilios) hale from the trade of the Indians who were drawn in by their expertise of trading in the beasts in question. I further focused my attentions by looking specifically at the previously mentioned conservation area. This contained many fascinating and evocative names.
Given the nocturnal nature of Little India’s inhabitance, it would seem a good idea to photograph the area at night. Although normally one might expect to see day time photographs in travel publications, I felt the evening photography would better reflect the nature of the area I was exploring. The locals tend to come out to eat, shop and socialise after work, so it made more sense to see them at this time rather than the tour groups during the day.
This exercise was something of a challenge as I found a lot of my previous exercise images were going to be very difficult to re-process to give my people more or less prominence within them. When I edit in the first instance I choose the images which lend themselves to the task. This means they will already have the light, composition, prominence etc so I need to do minimal post-processing. I have many other images which I could easily do this exercise with however, invariably they weren’t chosen for the task specifically because it was not required in that exercise. So something of an odd exercise this one, meaning that I have had to chose an image I was happy enough to put in to an exercise or in this case an assignment and re-edit it.
So here is the original image as per my assignment post.
My attempts at making the main figure less prominent involved some burning and dodging to reduce the prominence of my main subject. I have left much of the image more shaded with the lower left being slightly dodged draw attention away from the subject. I have burned the face and shirt slightly and reduced contrast in the same area. This has the effect of drawing the eye more towards the luminous graffiti on the shutter.
The last image which should bring the subject to more prominence is below.
I have reduced the saturation and contrast of the graffiti and put the light back on the subject’s face. I have also increased the saturation and clarity in the shirt in an attempt to bring it away from the background. I still think it is lacking in the depth to really achieve this. Possibly the legs need a little more light on them to look natural.
Overall I prefer the image in which the subject is starting to disappear in to the shadows.
The aim here was to make two separate photographs using a similar viewpoint but weighting the two final images differently with regards to the people appearing within them. In the end I opted for a basic technique of using different lens lengths to change the emphasis placed on the people in the images. The first is a photo of a woman on a swing.
I have used a long lens and zoomed in to isolate her. She is on a swing with a lush, green background, shopping bag by her side and headphones in her ear/s (on the phone or listening to music? I suspect the former). Maybe taking a break from shopping or more likely a break from work.
For the corresponding image I stayed where I was and used a wide angle to convey a different story.
We can still see the woman on the swing, but only barely. I have intentionally waited until she is at the same angle as the previous shot for continuity. She is a small figure in red but without the detail of the previous image it is impossible to tell what she is doing (or even if it is a ‘she’). As I open out the scene we can see we are in a town park and that I am, in fact, also on a swing. People are both in transit and taking a break. Maybe lunchtime? Am man in pink sits in the shade with what looks like a spread of food in front of him. People stroll through the park on a path further in the distance. Another is leaning against the wall watching the world go by (or maybe he’s just tired). Two more sit on a bench far right. As I write, I find myself wanting to take a closer look at these characters. I can see them but they are tantalisingly out of reach, drawing me in.