Assignment 3 The Decisive moment
The subject chosen for this assignment was “Moments along Sheik Zayed road”. This road is the main highway in Dubai. The construction of the road began in the 1970’s and it has developed from a 4 lane highway to a 16 lane highway in places today. It travels through the majority of the Emirates and it encompasses all the progress the U.A.E has made to date.
My idea was to invert the concept of the decisive moment and try and push my creativity. In the documentary, Henri Cartier-Bresson ‘Just plain Love ‘, when asked ‘What the eye seeks out’ he said ‘A Question Mark ‘. This influenced my change of idea from the traditional street photography, chasing the candid moments with people to abstract movement images of the Iconic landscape where I live. As stated in a previous post ‘Notes on Assignment 3’ I was influenced by Hiroshi Sugimoto ‘Theatre’ and ‘Seascape’ series also Stephanie D’Hubert images, the echoes and points series on her website were insightful.
Timing is always a factor when taking images and I wanted to explore this and try and produce a set of images that worked in a different way to the traditional idea of the decisive moment. The image taking and producing has moved on since Henri Cartier Bresson wrote’The decisive moment’, we have colour images , digital cameras and photoshop. The city architecture has changed dramatically from close lively neighbourhoods to isolated efficient housing blocks with no character, peoples behavior has changed with the obsession with mobile technology. People don’t personally interact as much as they used to because they use social media. Therefore the definition of the decisive moment has had to incorporate more types of photography to become valid in this modern day and age.
The stratergy was to visualize the journey along Sheik Zayed road, to show the buildings in a different way. I chose to use slow shutter speeds to achieve this because I wanted to see if I could still recognise the Iconic buildings in the images. Our view is always conditioned by recognition, we only see what we know and if we are not open to interpretation we see nothing.
I took images whilst travelling at speed and my aim was to show the movement with an abstract quality as the landscape changes during my journey on the Sheik Zayed road during the day and night. A collection of decisive moments, a collection of memories which were influenced by several Metro and car journeys up and down the road over 6 years.
The first four images were taken during the day. I travelled the length of the Dubai Metro Green Line, Rashidiya to Jebel Ali. I knew I wanted to get images of the skyscrapers as well as the iconic buildings, the metro runs parallel with high rises one side and the Sheik Zayed road the other side.
The objects along the track for example parked cars, lampposts, windscreens and people driving in their cars all reflected the sun to form bright white wave lines. The manicured landscaping around the slip roads gave a rich green colour which blended into the yellow of the sand and this needs to be seen in colour to be appreciated. Living in a desert I am automatically drawn to green in an image as it is soothing on my eyes.
The four night images were taken whilst driving down Sheik Zayed road in a car at a lower viewpoint than from the elevated metro. I wanted these images to show a different dynamic to the day images. In Dubai the night time is still busy with shops open till well past midnight, Dubai could be nicknamed the Las Vegas of the Middle East with all its flashing signs and lighting paraphernalia draped over palm trees.
Even though all the eight images are linked by locations and are slow shutter speeds images, I think each image individually represents a different view along Sheik Zayed Road which has not been seen before. My Camera is a Canon 600D with a 18-55mm lens. I used a ND32 filter for the Day images and processed the images in Photoshop, minimal cropping and altering curves.I have submitted 8 High quality photographic prints and are on route to England for my Tutor.
What worked well
The overall results I am pleased with. I enjoy shooting light trails and slow shutter speed images. I googled and searched for images of Sheik Zayed road on Flickr as part of my research and I couldn’t find any images that were taken like this. So for me, I was feeling my way through it. Another bonus is that I have found somewhere acceptable to print off my images and there is nothing quite like seeing your images in print.
What didn’t work well
My time management was shockingly bad for this assignment and this part of the course. I had a book launch, visitors and generally things kept on sidetracking me. I can manage to take the images which for me is the enjoyable part but the writing up of my notes should get more of my attention.
Internet based research is the only research I can do and that is limited to what the internet provider deems as acceptable according to their culture. There are only 4 book shop companies here is Dubai and they are expensive. The public libraries are mainly in Arabic in the area where I live but at least they provide a quiet area for study.
Improvements for the future
The day images could collate with the night images more specifically and I could possibly do more images of the areas surrounding the Sheik Zayed road. To improve stability I could use a tripod but I doubt I would be able to get a tripod on the metro, I could definitely look at a small one that could be fitted to the dashboard of my car.
Demonstration of Technical Skills
I believe I showed some technical skills as I shot in Shutter priority and manual in some images. I used a ND 32 Filter and altered my settings accordingly. Some images have blur due to motion, my camera was hand held, some of the Night images also have spots on them I have purposely left these in, it was a car journey after all and the view was through a windscreen I didn’t want to pretend otherwise.
Quality of outcome
In the images I have explained my thought process and the reasoning behind capturing the decisive moments on the journey. I have put together 8 images Day different from Night , each image different from the next but all related by time.
Demonstration of creativity
I could of played it safe and gone with a traditional route of street photography using fast shutter speeds when it came to representing ‘The decisive moment’ but I wanted to try something new and different and invert the concept to represent the views on a journey with slow shutter speed which I think I have achieved.
I’m always trying to improve the context part of my learning log, I feel it is where I am falling short and ties in with my time management skills when studying. My written learning log will be submitted when complete and hopefully there will be an improvement as I progress. See the next post for scanned copies of written learning log entries and contact sheet selections with regards to my assignment.
For further information on Sheik Zayed Road see links
This link is the full documentary version of Henri Cartier- Bresson ‘Larmour de court’ which is 1hour 10mins instead of five separate parts.
Stephanie D’Hubert is an OCA student and is referenced in Project 2 A durational space.
Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer who explores time exposed images