- Jon Longworth
The Tide Is Coming In - Technical Exploration
have gone through quite the creative roundabout when developing work for my current project, from photographing buildings in a more commercial way, with a much larger focus on capturing the buildings in their entireties, which I accomplished through the use of a wide angle lens, to then shooting almost entirely with a 70-300mm Nikkor lens. The difference in lenses creates two pieces of work that feel very different visually and aesthetically.
The former, which like its name suggests, captures a lot more within its frame, allowing the building to often be shown in its entirety. However, with a project like this that aims to create a heavier emphasis on the smaller characteristics of these locations, sometimes capturing the whole building can lessen that level of impact.
There's a term used in the gaming industry called checkerboard rendering, in which a game that wants to run at 4K will only render around 50% on any given scene. It would render the important things like character models or items, but anything that was a lesser focus like backgrounds, they would simply be given a filter that would make it look like it was running at 4K without actually diverting the power towards rendering it. I see this as a similar thing with capturing full buildings. Whilst you can see the whole building in shot, there will be parts of the building that attract more attention than the rest, which to me, stops the viewer from absorbing the full character of the building. So by using a 300mm lens, it in essence runs 'the full 4K experience'. By closing that proximity between the building and the camera it allows for a greater sense of intimacy to allow the viewer to properly appreciate the work that has gone into the buildings by really seeing all the little features that make up the whole.
Something that I feel works technically in the projects favour is because of the varying eras of buildings in and around Huddersfield, the project as a whole doesn't stick to one aesthetic. Lots of the earlier buildings have been captured with a much heavier emphasis on soft lighting and prioritising the brickwork, whereas some of the more modern buildings have darker tones with more industrial feels. This was important in portraying, as by doing so, it really encapsulates within a few images how Huddersfield as a town is constantly morphing and adapting to fit with the times, creating a wild collaboration of art movements that represent its social climate.
Like stated before, I think the use of a longer lens definitely works in the projects favour. By scaling up these images to fill more of the screen, it doesn't just blow up the size of the buildings, but the light that is interacting with it as well. So by increasing the scale of this light, I think it works better in conveying certain types of mods. As well as this, by zooming in, it stops the images from representing easily perceivable shapes, instead treating it more like a microscope observing cells. The images break these buildings down almost to a level of abstraction by reducing them to shapes that, as viewers, we might not automatically perceive to be buildings.
As well as this, throughout the project, I often swapped between using my DSLR Nikon D3300 and my medium format Mamiya RB67. I often used the RB67 on shooting the older, more classical Victorian era buildings of Huddersfield. Whereas modern buildings have more of a sleekness about them, in which they try to see new ways in which they can occupy their space, I often find the older 19th century/early 20th century buildings to be monoliths that have the sole intention of filling their space with large grand and imposing features. The RB67, with its larger 6x7 sensor helps to capture that idea, as it can shoot a much wider amount of content within its frame. That is one of the reasons I shot buildings so sparingly on my medium format, as I found a large amount of the buildings around town to not fit that mindset, thus leading to photos that felt wasted, as they didn't match with the style that I wanted to convey. This is why the Nikon D3300 is used so frequently throughout the project