This post will be updated as I work through A4. It is based on exercise 4.3 for which I photographed a red telephone box in Calne.
I used an OS map to identify phone boxes and then did daylight recces to check that the box was still there and the light working. Actual shots were fitted in with normal commitments where possible or otherwise I would just pop out at night with my tripod and remote release. I kept notes as I went and uploaded photographs to lightroom as I went.
Here’s a cut and paste from my box log on Evernote.
Options are to take straight shots of box in landscape, to consider the differing uses of phoneboxes eg phone, tourist information, defibrillator, mini library (appealing but a bit Sunday supplement) or to abstract/macro slightly and concentrate on the light and the box itself. This latter is the one appeals, but I will take landscape type shots as well.
Need to get all the shots before the clocks change. Need to get lots of shots (see A3 feedback), need to remember hi-vis and sturdy shoes for layby shots.
Start looking at research. There was less research for this one, compared to what I’ve done for earlier assignments. Most people know what a phone box is, especially those who grew up with them. Also, the Nick Turpin work on night buses gave me a very clear idea on what feel I wanted the final images to have, and I honestly didn’t feel as if I needed much else, or if adding more research would improve the final work.
I decided to concentrate on functional red boxes that contained both a working phone and a working light. I photographed details, not landscapes. I wanted to emphasise the light, the red. It became apparent that there’s an ecosystem supported by many boxes – insects, snails, mosses, weeds, brambles, strange green things growing through the paint on the inside of the ceiling. One evening shoot was a complete write-off – the first, beautifully lit box had no phone inside and therefore didn’t meet my criteria, and the second, in a layby/bus-stop on a busy road was over-lit from the traffic. The door had jammed shut and the photos just didn’t work.
About 3/4 of the way through photographing boxes I put a draft set of images up on both my blog and the OCA critique board. I took the comments on board, reshot some images, and decided in some cases to keep the original or at least not change it much. I removed one image that a tutor said reminded him of amateur work. After reviewing my newer work I returned to contact sheets of early shoots and found some images that I thought would work better. Reshooting is actually quite hard – there are different kinds of dark, and the red paint can turn orange or purple at the wrong time. Plus it never seemed to be raining when I needed it too. I’m trying to resist the temptation to over-do this work, it is so delicate and fragile and the set is easily unbalanced with too heavy a touch.
George Tice – link provided on OCA board – mono image of an isolated illuminated box in New Jersey. So beautiful but hard to reproduce here – so much clutter and street lighting around boxes. Layby box could work but would have to be late as the road is so busy there.
I emailed the Avoncroft museum who house the National Telephone Kiosk Collection and asked if they could put me in touch with anyone who could answer some questions on the lighting in boxes. They were very helpful and put me in touch with Andrew Hurley of the Collection who was kind enough to answer my questions over the phone. I was keen to get a bit of background information about the light and the boxes.
My selection process is still something I need to work on. I tend to work in lightroom, flagging the images I want to consider, then using a combination of star ratings and tags to narrow the selection down.