My Story: Bully Beef and Bayonets

 

 

 

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© 2017 Step Short  http://www.stepshort.co.uk/gallery/

Storytelling, a category in photography with many styles of showing their narratives, I only had been given 9 weeks to create a project so I did a lot of thinking of what could realistically be possible to make within this amount of time being given, the best solution for myself I thought would be making a project about my local town of Folkestone and its history since it is not only a space that is easily accessible without too much stress of a  negotiation, but also that space regarding its history that can be a project being experimented or developed with multi media including elements I was highly successful with in my “its a strange world” project.

MY STARTING POINTS

I began to establish myself by walking around The Folkestone Leas and Harbour and took a few photographs along with two videos, one video recorded a voiceover coming from a speaker underneath a memorial bench sending a emotional letter to his family before he would travel to France while the image on screen was the camera underneath the bench filming the grass bellowing in the wind. I first noticed this bench while I finished filming around folkestone for my first few practice shits in my “its a strange world project” giving me the idea to come to this space in the first place.

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My foot from a floor point of view beside the speaker making the audio of the voice a fair volume

I thought this audio would be useful for further development regarding the combination of Folkestone in its current state and historic past however, this particular unit of storytelling was scheldueled to be developed into publication so this way of working I thought at first could a risk of being in a predicament.

Image of the Folkestone Artworks statement 

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screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-19-51-48  The poetic quotation down The Road of Remembrance in Folkestone 

This second video I made was myself walking down The Road of Remembrance filming a wide installation of what looked like to me a poem made out of broken cement with random texts forming into one speech of a something from a soldiers diary as I imagined. The issue was just like the previous mistakes I was making with the camera in the “Its a strange world” project, this mistake was the camera being too shaky making the text difficult to read. Using a GoPro camera on a selfie stick which keeps an image more still with smooth movement may be useful as I had learnt in the “strange world” project but I was slightly concerned about the GoPro’s lens as it cannot zoom from one side of the road to another. However on second thought or look at this video, I experienced something  instead of a typical capture of evidence of what was something that was barely bright and readable which made me think of my real experience exploring around Folkestone looking for shades of the war past being barely visible as trees and bushes would grow over them for example.

My first few photos around Folkestone

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When walking around the Leas of Folkestone down towards the harbour, I ideally tried to look for some areas or monuments that I could possibly use for experimenting with the historic images like the marching men in the first image above for example (I was thinking a few collage pieces at first).

Overall the practicing interested me much more than I expected, I ended up taking pictures such as the pebble beach with footprints scattered around the areas making me think of the soldiers journey towards France, An empty flower display ready for it being replanted for the summer having its poignant message and a Road of Remembrance which once was gave a clear view of the harbour below but is now obscured by overgrown trees. Beside the other pictures I took of the road and monuments near by such as the poppies on the fence across the Road onwards towards the Leas and the Step Short Memorial Arch, I photographed the Folkestone Harbour which had been constructed for residents to walk along the train track across the bridge which would be a shortcut towards The Rocksalt restaurant on the other side which was erasing out more history of the site.

POEMS

With the awareness of my work being publicised in mind, I needed to put my creative skills to the test on how I would style my book which would support the work, I tried looking at the “Keynote” application on my Mac which contained a series of themes much like the principles of Microsoft Powerpoint.

Screenshot of Keynote choose a theme menu layout

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I ended up selecting a theme called Leather Book which I thought that fitted the dramatic experiences of the World War the most. I intended to copy a few famous war poems into the Keynote leather book theme and redesign the font of the poem bringing out a more authentic style. Once I finish the style of the poems, I was thinking of using it as a background image for my book so I could add in a photograph making the entire page look like a photography book in a diary/documentry style giving viewers a more clear understanding to what the narrative is portraying.

Once I found a famous poem (example being “Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon) I copied the text and changed its font on the the leather diary to a more war like handwriting style. When creating a new page on the layout, it showed a brighter material which resembled the insides of the leather book style. I much preferred the dark brown layout since it felt more investing in terms of it being a background like I intended which is less of a distraction when viewing the work being placed on the layout.

Keynote screenshots with Sassoon poem written in an authentic like text with leather diary/book theme

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The second style I created was made with a theme called “Photo Portfolio” which didn’t have much of a difference in comparison to the leather book style, the only difference I could notice was that the creasy background was black. The theme itself was quite as decent as the brown layout because the background had an interesting effect of shades of lighting all over the black leather surface which I thought could symbolically be a dramatic shadow further guiding the narrative. However, it did have its slight flaws regarding the rather modern looking stitching on the left but despite this, the main central part was plain and simple enough for me to estimate.

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I looked back at the John Mcrae poem and preferred the positioning of the text since the image overall had less awkward open spaces in the corners (despite his name and poem title with a different font which I eventually changed into the same one as the poem), so then I went back to the Sassoon poem and tried the same position. During this part of the development I noticed that the text on the second slide (being the insides of the diary theme) the text looked blurry which I assumed was a handwriting effect which I found satisfying.

Second version of the Keynote Sassoon poem (both on first & second slide)

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Remembrance Hill written by my father

 

POSTCARDS

I looked around my house though my parents vintage collectables and came across some postcards, I wasn’t sure if they were reproductions or real, but either way they look very unique to make a note of something that could potentially be a good page background for my book which I intend to create dramatically. The main aspects I was intrigued with the most was the authentic colours and style of the ink markings, the bright brown/sepia toned materials did have similar levels as the background colours in the Keynote presentations containing the poems, but as for the fonts and post card layouts, there was more to be invested in along with imagination of what images could be placed on them to tell the narrative of feelings during a world war.

IMAGE MANIPULATION 

During this “Storytelling” unit, there was a workshop day where I practiced using Adobe InDesign to create and package a book design, I didn’t quite have many of my own images to insert, so I decided to add a couple of war photographs in to show some research. The front cover showed an old image of soldiers walking up the Remembrance Hill while a photograph I took of the same location with a similar composition was in the background showing not only a transition but an entire image itself out of two combined images (which was almost like a collage). The image clearly showed a lack of development, but it was an interesting start to my work development as it had some decent feedback from a tutor and friends in terms of how I had established my style of working.

Front cover of a practice book/Indesign folder (the first title I thought of was Folks at war) 

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COLLAGES

When having a collection of some historic images of soldiers, Folkestone, war icons, art etc, I had tried experimenting with them along with some photographs I took around  Folkestone and the Shorncliffe cemetery in Cheriton. It was difficult to find the right images to merge but the style of working was at least a decent establishment for myself in terms of developing found photography with current images.

The road of remembrance image on the top left didn’t quite have a correlation with the other historic images in comparison to the other two images since it looked rather random or untidy. The other images which were the Leas flower display memorial and trees beside the cemetery had a more clearer understanding by having more of a stronger narrative by having elements such as colour in terms of solider clothing with the trees and similar looking photographs of the space and composition.

 

THE CEMETERY 

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One weekend on early February, the snow started to spread around certain parts of England including Kent, I went out to visit a cemetery in Cheriton and took a few pictures. The snow was a really good element to the space as it really gave me an experience of emotional respect to it along with the sounds of wind blowing in my ears as a soft background to the silence.

SYMBOLS/METAPHORS 

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These photographs were rather different than the previous lot as I was also capturing things that were not quite associated with the cemetery such as trees, a lonely bouquet of flowers laying in the snow behind a monument wall and footprints. The image of the trees had a dark greenish/brownish color that made me think about the uniforms of the soldiers standing in neat lines before they would march on, the flowers were alone and away from the cemetery being barely seen and left behind, and a gravestone with footsteps leading towards an almost hidden message. This style reminded me of the photography of Robert Frank that would not only observe what is easily recognized by an American culture.

 

BLURRED IMAGES 

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Blurry images I initially thought it would be ideal for a background display leaving space for texts like poems or personal thoughts written in a diary like sense, however, I had also thought about the collage works I was making with the Folkestone Leas photographs and possibly having a more sharper yet fragmented images of the past placed over the blurred image which can tell a symbolic narrative or my own prejudice of how I see both the past and the indifferent current of today.

STILL LIFE RIFLE PHOTOS

WWI deactivated Lee Enfield and bayonet on bed blanket  

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Deactivated WWI Lee Enfield close ups 

 

Symbolic parts of the rifle 

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My family had been collecting authentic antiques for a few years so I thought about what I could photograph for this narrative continuity. I found one of my dads antiques which was a deactivated WWI Lee Enfield rifle with bayonet and tried to photograph it in my dads bedroom, the reason being was because the sun was shining though the windows dramatically which I thought was a good source of light for photographing the rifle. Sunlight to me is more cinematic than studio light equipment, it changes every few unites bringing this beauty of a flow of multiple shades of light like a peaceful river highlighting its subjects creating something more than just a bedroom with a rifle inside, this makes me aware of when to release the shutter as capturing the right light was just as important as selecting the correct shutter speed and aperture to bond with it. The rifle close up with this light around it in the photographs  made me imagine the hell the machine of a weapon must of gone though.

The Rifle (with bayonet) in its original form

The trees from the cemetery merging with with the rifle 

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BULLET CEMETERY 

Still Life shots of bullets on green folder covered in flour 

In this shoot, I tried to recreate the scene of the graves at the cemetery I photographed on the snowy morning, and here I grabbed some old war bullets and lined them up on some card, then I sprinkled it with some flour using a sieve. The first images didn’t quite work as the cushions in the background were a distraction so I used one of the black shelves for my old living room TV stand to cover them up. The shoot worked fairly well and showed some creativity towards the development of the project.

WATCH, DIRT AND BARBED WIRE STILL LIFE SHOOT 

practice shot with a strange light/white balance

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Favourite images during the shoot 

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For another shoot I thought would be ideal for my war themed book was another still life styled shoot. However, this time I tried to think of some new ways of using the objects along with light, in this shoot, I grabbed my cat’s litter tray and refilled it with some dirt/soil. I then found another object in my families war collection which was a pocket watch plus my dad gave me some barbed wire he found in a shed. Once I had my items I put the tray full of the items on a table in my conservatory and took some close up shots during the night using my iPhone torch as the light which I thought was convenient for a miniature “studio like” light. The development went very well (after changing the white balance settings) and stood out much more than the rifle images since there was more of an atmosphere, the images overall had an amazing balance of light and colour along with the compositions making the images look like they were taken in an eerie space which slightly made me think of the movie like stills of Gregory Crewdson despite our differences in photography development.

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Shane by Gregory Crewdson 2006 

barbed wire and dirt shadows through edge of red tray 

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This shot was taken after the main shoot, I put the tray down in the kitchen and realised the kitchen lights were highlighting some shadows on the blood red tray edges which brought out another indexical image in relation to war which in my perspective was like a war version of the characteristic styling of the 007’s gun barrel blood effect.

George Lazenby as 007 in  “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” intro 1969

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ADOBE INDESIGN

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This workshop was a little bit like the workshop I had earlier where I made a practice cover of my work with the marching soldiers on the hill as my a5 sized cover, only this time I had  more photos to add into my row of pages plus I was learning how to create a row of files that would be useful for book design for the future such as custom fonts logos etc, I looked at my work overall and realized that they were rather a mess together so I needed to be aware of simplifying my development into one project/ photoshoot and my favorites so far was the cemetery, rifle and pocket watch photoshoots.

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THE 2ND RIFLE SHOOT & A BANDAGE 

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This shoot in regards to the rifle regarding the previous shoot I did in the bedroom was much more consistent, the background was less of a slight distraction as it was having a more simple background which was more compatible. Like the photoshoot I did with the clock, I tried using some extra props that would give a little more of a story to the image since the rifle alone would occasionally look like something for sale, the images in this photoshoot overall looked more interesting as the lighting was more dramatic since I was in a conservatory  space containing a strong amount of balanced sunlight.

The poppies in this shoot were roughly hand drawn and colored in on a cotton ribbon of some sort. I used the tray of dirt from the watch shoot and covered an old military uniform in dirt covering up its details with its arm wrapped with the cotton material with the poppy drawing leaving only the corporal stripes and shades of the drawing to represent the last few days of the war.

Once I gathered a series of favorite images from the shoot, I edited a few of the poppy images by changing the color balance on the image leaving certain areas that correlate to the war which I ideally created for the poetic and diaristic book which barely reveals the past.

Color Balance settings on Photoshop CC

CAPTURE ONE 

https://www.phaseone.com/en/Products/Software/Capture-One-Pro/Highlights.aspx

Capture one is software much like Adobe Lightroom allows photographers to enhance their images, its commonly known of its handling skills on the color of RAW images, unlike Lightroom the software contained a color picking tool that simply chooses a color which then gave me access to tweak the saturation of that chosen color in just a few steps which I found extremely useful.

test shoot of RAW photography on outside location 

 

 

POWERPOINT STORYBOARDS/BOOK TEMPLATES

Dummy sketches 

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My rough storyboard/sketch of book templates 

 After having a mini series of photographs within this one project, I needed to find out ways of bringing the lot together by developing a book design template, for starters I established by template using Powerpoint Presentation which initially had a quantity of 16 pages. I then tried adding a few more pages as most book publishing businesses generally accept a minimum of 20 pages along with a different cover as the first few I made were rather too basic and needed a little more characteristics of the war.

Once I dealt with these issues, the book overall looked much better as the colours on the pages were more authentic looking  instead of plain white, and more poetry was also added into a few pages as there were a few empty spaces between some photographs.

For my cover photo I browsed across the internet searching for images of tinned beef as my title mentioned the war slang of “Bully Beef”. Once I found an image, I took it to Photoshop Elements and used the clone stamp tool to paint over the original brand logo and replace it with my title with a suitable font along with my signature.

Book cover

 Image source: media.iwm.org.uk

old paper background source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=173865&picture=old-paper-3

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INDESIGN BLURB BOOK CREATOR 

After the rough storyboards were made, I needed to professionally establish my book template using Adobe Indesign. I visited a book self publishing website known as blurb which I found very useful as it had a feature called “Adobe Indesign Plug in” which was an application I could download within my Indesign and start sending off my book once converting the Indesign files to PDF files, one PDF file would be the pages and the cover image for the other.

Firstly, there was my template which was resized to appropriately fit the size of the book I chose in the Blurb book creator settings. 

 

When setting up the pages, I thought a double page spread would look better as my images would loose a majority of quality when reduced, also the photographs did have quite a few dark tones.   

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Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.25.54   The Blurb Book Creator settings located on the bottom of the File listScreen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.26.11

Once I had the Blurb Book Creator, It gave me two document files named Pages and Cover after my book title, I was slightly curious if I had to move my “BOOK resized”pages file that I already had from one document to another but when linking it into the pages section on Step 3, the PDF preview was exactly what I was expecting, so I simply excepted it and moved onto my Book Cover document, I then realised the book cover image of the tin of beef needed to be erased from the pages document and placed onto the cover document.

Book Cover document provided by the Blurb Book Creator app with cover Image on the right side representing the front cover  

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 The layers were essential for this part of the process as the instruction layers are not shown when the Indesign file was converted to a PDF, so I needed to make sure my cover image would be in the “your design goes here” section. 

THE BOOK

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The book arrived with smooth quality as A4 size was much better for the images along with a displayed double page spread layout to bring out their true qualities, the inside 26 pages were printed on matte paper to also enhance the highly contrasted photos, resizing the images on Adobe Indesign would of had an outcome of a series of dark images with the poetry doing most of the work which was not what I intended. The book also had a white border on the edges following a grey introduction that corresponded to the outside default colours of the book cover making everything suit each other than just the war poetic story.

With the images being on a double page spread, the poetry had been placed in all kinds of compositions which realistically needed their compositions to not only be visibly read but also in a composition where the text wouldn’t cover key aspects of the photographs which should prevent the war experience expressionism within the flowing story as the pages turn.

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