'This Is War' Exhibition at the Barbican

I went to an outstanding exhibition at the Barbican last week exploring the subject of war; a subject that I have a great interest in. 'This Is War' covered 3 main gallery exhibitions: Robert Capa At Work; Gerda Taro: A Retrospective; and 'On The Subject of War', containing imagery from Omer Fast, Geert van Kesteren, Paul Chan and An-My Le.

Of especial interest to me was the work of Capa, a photographer who I have [rightly] admired since I picked up a camera. A retrospective of his work was the first photobook that I ever purchased and I have since obtained some of the original publications of his work (eg, the edition of Life magazine that published the images of the D-Day landings, one of which is shown above). There are hundreds of websites and blogs discussing Capa's work, so there is little point in adding to them with what would ultimately be inferior comments to what has already been written; but suffice it to say, the Barbican exhibition is worthy of the visit and helps to place the significance of Capa's work within the annals of war photography.

Of other worthy note (for me) is Geert van Kesteren's work, published in 2 books: 'Why Mister Why' and 'Baghdad Calling'; the former already a classic and the latter destined to become one. I constantly review images from both Iraq and Afghanistan (from those taken by both military and civilian sources) and van Kesteren's work has such an energy and honesty that it stands out above the rest. The influence that his 'fly on the wall' documentary style has had on my own work is huge; it gets to the very heart of its subject and is something I hope to emulate.

The Barbican are presenting a comprehensive series of talks over the coming months (until the end of Jan 09), which I hope to attend and comment upon. They will undoubtedly be a huge source of inspiration.

OCA - A Walk With My Human

I have been working on a new project for my OCA Creative Arts degree (exploring the presentation of a 'Persuasive Document'). This project explores what my local landscape would look like from the eyes of my dog. All too often we ignore the specific detail of a place (especially in the countryside, where our eyes are drawn to the beauty of the landscape as a whole) and I wanted to capture the essence of this detail through an animal that is thorough in his approach to exploration (and my dog is a very 'nosy' animal).

Through research into how dogs see, I shot the images in colour, but then converted them to black-and-white, whilst leaving any shades of blue remaining within the shot (dogs do have slight colour-vision, centred around shades of blue). I also shot the images in as wide an angle as possible (24mm on the lens that I have) to take into account his increased field of vision. I shot the images from my dog's point-of-view, thereby being close to the ground, extremely close-up to the subject and often 'tilted' to simulate the way he would move his head to explore what he found.

Whenever he stopped at something specific, I photographed what he was 'sniffing' out. In this way I hoped to capture not only the detailed sights of the countryside, but also aspects of smell (which drew my dog to the images taken), thereby creating a journey that is both visual and olfactory. It also enabled the decision-making aspect of when to take a photograph determined by my dog; ie, when he decided there was something worth stopping for, then I took a picture.

The shot at the top of this post was one selected from 8 that I chose for the Project, taken on a single walk in Sandringham; however, I intend to take the study further and explore this concept in greater depth.