Part 4 - Assignment

Assignment 4 - Final selection

This assignment asks for a dozen photos of a place that could be used in a sophisticated travel magazine. The aim is 'to show the character of the place and of the people who live there with as much visual variety as possible. Variety should include a variety of subject matter and of scale.' In this blog I'll go through my first selection and explain why I'm choosing for a particular image.

I want one of these to be the establishing shot that can be used as a spread over two pages. In this shot there has to be an overview of all activities that take place and give a sense of separation from the city, the mosque and the beach. At first I thought the one where you can see the boats go out and the widest angle would be best, but looking at it afresh, I choose the final one that is a bit more close up, but shows much more of the activities and people in detail. I have worked on the light and colours a bit more so that the eye is not drifting off so much to the upper left corner where it is the lightest.

In the next images you can see the main entrance road to the village. In the back is written 'Allah is Great' and the sign of the moon and star that is also in the Senegalese flag with white rocks  in the sand. I like this set up, because it shows their pride for their country, love for their religion and traditions of the village. The people in the images represent again the types of things that are done in Ouakam, the work that is being done and sense of community. The village of Ouakam is quite innovative, they have invested in a storage and freezing facility for their fish, a good system where tourists pay for photographing and filming and as you can see in the image, they have lamps working (not always) on solar system.

Comparing these images when they're small I can see that the one on the left has the best composition. The woman praying on the left, the one with a basket and the kids with the bike make a triangular shape, creating depth and let the eye go round the image. There's a nice balance between the green dress of the lady in the front and the reddish sand in the back. 

I have taken a few portraits of fishermen and people preparing their nets. There are a few that are more formal and upfront, in others you can see the men at work. Since I'm delivering for a magazine, I want to add a few that have a good variety, but still there are some decisions to be made on the composition of some.

This man didn't mind at all when I asked him if I could photograph him. I love the proud look in his eyes and how his red jacket stands off from the whitish back ground. I find it difficult to choose which image to take, the first one shows some of the little huts where the fishermen keep their things, on the other hand, his expression isn't as in the other images. Thinking about it, the context isn't really not as important as the look on his face, so I'll choose the middle image, but crop it a bit more.

The next series of portraits are one of a fisherman who had just returned and showed a beautiful fish he had caught. 

The most obvious choice is the right one. Here all the focus goes to the fisherman and there is not a lot of distraction around it. I did want to show the other images though, because it gives a sense of the the vibe that you feel when the fisherman return from the water. They're bringing in their gear, you can still see part of the trousers on the line, the paddle and the other fisherman picking up his bag. Again, I like the sense of pride and the contrast of the rain coat and the white wall. 

Women are a always quite a pain to photograph in Senegal. They always get angry or ask a ridiculous amount of money if I ask them if I could take a photo of them. So whenever I get the chance to photograph them from behind, I will! Here you can see a lady and a couple of ladies waiting for the fishermen to return, so they can start cleaning the fish. Or maybe they're just taking a rest from their extremely busy lives.

I prefer the photo on the right. There's so much going on. There's the contrast between the lady sitting with her dress hanging loosely off her shoulders, the little rabbit on her handbag and the guy on the right, waving at the fishermen and people in front of her talking together. It breaths the tranquility that I always find there, but on the other hand the buzz and excitement of what today's catch will be.

With the next sequence of images I'd like to show how I got to the point of getting the image I had in mind. I saw the sign on the wall and liked how the colours contrasted with the blue of the sea and how the power lines worked towards the composition. Then the two boys walked by and I waited for them to get to the right spot.

In the final image, I cropped the part of the shack and water bottle away, to get more focus on the sign and the two boys. 

In the next set of images I want to show the leaving of the pirogues from the beach. It looks beautiful from above, seeing them getting ready to leave, talking to each other and waving at each other.

Especially from this angle I want to show the movement and make sure the composition brings enough dynamics. I tried a few different focal lengths, but realised that the longer the focal length, the more I get a real feel of what's going on in the boats. On the other hand, the photo on the right shows how the boats are heading onto open sea, they are waving at the people on shore and it shows the movement of sailing out. Because there are more photos coming up from the beach, I choose the wide angle one.

Here we see a few images of men cleaning their nets. I took these images with a long focal distance, compressing the view of the ocean and isolating the men on the foreground.

To be honest, I think this set of images is the least of all. But I do want to add an image, because it shows the way they cooperate and I like the colour combinations. Composition wise I choose the middle one, also because there's movement and water drops from the nets. The men make a nice triangular shape and the colours of their coats match the nets and the floaters.

In the next set we see a shack that you can rent for the day. I love the colours and the way they have used bottle tops to decorate it. 

At first, I wanted to choose the photo with the owner of the shack, but his head is too dark and at the time I felt too shy to ask him to stand somewhere else. In the second image you get a good idea of the football goals and all the equipment you can rent, but I prefer the 2nd and 3rd, especially because of the bottle caps, that give the shack such a happy atmosphere and show the creativity and ingenuity of the owner. Besides that, the sign is much more visible and you get more opportunities to see the details. My preference goes to the second on the left, because here we can see the fisherman in the back standing up, balancing the image better.

Here are two images of a man who repairs nets. He was sitting there very quietly and not at all unhappy to be photographed. In the meantime he asked whether I lived in Dakar, was married, if not, would be interested in marriage and the usual getting to know each other questions in Dakar. I was just circling around, trying to get the best composition and placement of the fish and his toes.

I like this image most. The guy has a nice expression, there's movement of his hands and the frame is filled with interesting things, making the viewer go from one corner to the other and discovering new details all the time.

The next image shows a girl taking a break on the beach. I took this photo because I like the little story it tells. You don't often see women or girls relaxing, let alone on the beach on their own. It was early in the morning and I just wondered what had happened before, how come she already needed this moment of contemplation. She had taken her shoes off, sat down next and taken some time to just look at the sea. 

I took a few images in a row, and it took me some adjustments in focal length to get the composition I wanted. My preference goes to this one, because there's a slight part of her eyes to be seen, which shows better that she is gazing at the sea. In the final image is a pelican, which is a bit distracting and in the other image her arm is not on the sand, which makes it less relaxing.

As a final image, I want to add one picture that shows the colourfulness of the place and was thinking of one of the four below. I chose the one of the pirogues, the fishing boats that are each unique in its colourfulness and things that are painted on them. The boats lined up make such a beautiful, typical Senegalese sight.

Assignment People Interacting with Place - First selection

Here's the first selection of about 300 images that I took in Ouakam. I have used different cameras, one really old Canon with a 70 - 300 mm telelens and my Nikon D700 28 - 70 mm, that I use for the bulk of my images. When processing the images I realized that the Canon was still in JPEG mode and therefor it was a bit difficult to change the colors. So most of those images were not suitable because of the loss of quality. However, there are enough images left.

With this selection, I have selected the images that together bring diversity, show the overall atmosphere and the individuals who work or live there. The village is a place that evolves around prayer, fish and sports and I wanted to highlight those elements and show the individuals response. 

Assignment 4 - Description of the essential character of the place

I have been a terrible student this course. First of all, it has taken me way too long to finish it, second of all, I haven't really worked on the exercises and assignments in chronological order. So especially with the last 3 assignments whenever I was at a certain place, I would think of different exercises and assignments for which I could use the photographs. In between I have been working on a lot of other jobs and that's why some of the work I'm submitting now was already photographed over a year ago. But I did have the course and exercises in mind when photographing and I won't have time to do it again, so I will submit them after all. Besides that, I'm happy with the work!

For this assignment I chose to photograph the fisher's village of Ouakam. I have come here often to photograph, mainly because the people don't get angry and the scenery is gorgeous.

For this assignment I will try to show the atmosphere that you can feel when the fishers go out, the repairing of the nets and the building of the boats. There's a little community of people who all work together to support the fishers and the sell of fish. On the other hand, Ouakam beach is a place where local people come to pray, relax and do sports. This combination of relaxation and hard work brings about a very special ambiance of which the people are proud. 

I have taken a few shots from up on the cliff and the car wash you pass before entering the fishing village. This car wash is already part of the Ouakam community and a good example of how the Senegalese can turn a simple shack in a really fascinating place through their painting and use of colours. From there on, I want to show the craftsmanship of the fishermen and the people who build the boats. My main goal is to bring variety between the scenes and portraits and show the interaction between the place and its people and how they shape each other. In taking the photographs, I have tried to use the concepts taught in the previous exercise and will bring variety in the type of images.