Research: Visual Communication

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.33.05 pmVisual communication comes in different mediums and forms, whether it be a moving image or static, painted or photographed visual communication is just that, visual. I do already have a good base knowledge for visual communication due to my previous education of a Diploma in Performance Technology at Unitec however, I wanted to deepen my knowledge and look at it from he perspective of a photographer rather than a stage manager. In order to do this I read several blogs on the subject one of which was Citrinitas who completed a brief post touching on the history of visual communication as it was a topic they were teaching students in Turkey. An interesting point the author brought up was that visual communication has been around since the beginning, it is not a new thing as many people believe but something that was around since the caveman times. The writer also touches on the rapid development of visual communication that occurred with from the scribes of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the medieval book makers. Something that makes much sense to me but I had never really given much thought to.

One of the other things I read while researching visual communication was in fact an article titled How does visual communication work?. I found this article quite interesting to read. This article reinforces the point made not the previous post int hat visual communication is everywhere, it is not necessary to go see a film or visit an art gallery to be communicated with in a visual manner. Tam goes on exploring the ideas of a visual communications designer, whether design is different from art, various approaches to visual communication as a designer and much much more such as where to start as a designer. This article proved to be extremely helpful for me in order to understand visual communication in a capacity as a designer and how it can be manipulated in various ways.

Research: Colour

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 5.19.24 pmColour is something to be used quite carefully when creating an image as even the lack of colour can give a more striking image. Also any different colours have different meanings and associations in cultures therefore when select the colour of items such as clothing or props one must select colours with careful thought. While researching the use of colour in photography and colour theory I read several blogs some of which I found especially interesting. The first of these was on Digital Photography School’s website written by Mitchell Kanashkevich. Mitchell opens with with a very valid point that people often misuse colour, or have it as an after thought as they don’t truly understand it’s significance. Mitchell goes on to explain the significance of the colours in various images he’s capture and how it helps portray a message and emotion. He states his aim in this post is is to change people’s thinking of colour to make it something they thinking about while composing their image rather than an after thought to be dealt with in post-production. Another valid point Mitchell makes is that even the absence of certain colours can help create an effect, or stir an emotion in the viewer.

The second blog I had a look at was on Graphics. This post goes through the fundamentals of colour theory use in photography. Rutter touches on the same point made by Mitchell in that photographers take colour for granted. This can be attributed to the fact that in the past photographers were “capturing the world around them” and doing so on black and white film, or colour film later on. The ability to alter or change colours completely in photography wasn’t even an option, or at the very least extremely difficult to do until digital photography came round giving photographers the ability to properly experiment with colour which is still something that’s in it’s early stages. Rutter goes on to explain what colour is in terms of additive colour, subtractive colour, the uses of primary colour, the various colour theories and which is best practice and much much more. This post was extremely thorough and I found it most helpful in gaining an understanding of colour.

Research: Image Composition

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.43.41 pmImage composition is a very subtle but powerful technique that can help increase the effectiveness of delivery a message through image. To further understand various techniques of image composition I had a look at various blogs on the matter. The first of these blogs was Photography Life. I First read through this blog as it goes through and explains what composition is, as it is always important to know the core meaning of something before completing further research.

First the author explains composition in general terms, how it is commonly a word used in relation with the arts meaning the placement of relevant objects and elements in the work of art. Once this idea is established we move on to what composition is in photography “Simply put, composing an image means arranging elements within it in a way that suits the core idea or goal of your work best”. Continuing on from this idea we read that the purpose of composition is to guide the viewers eye to the core elements of the work much like the goal of composition which is more often than not is to show the subject of the photo in a flattering and aesthetically pleasing manner.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.55.39 pmWith this understanding of what exactly composition is we are able to move on to some common rules in composition some of which I found while reading the following bog post by Digital Camera World. One of the opening sentences of this blog struck me and I found it quite important “Poor photo composition can make a fantastic subject dull, but a well-set scene can create a wonderful image from the most ordinary of situations.” this reinforces the notion made earlier that photo composition is a powerful tool as with the slightest mistake you can ruin a good photo. Here is a list of the 10 rules provided in this post:

  1. Simplify the scene
  2. Fill the frame
  3. Aspect ratio
  4. Avoid the middle
  5. Leading lines
  6. Use diagonals
  7. Space to move
  8. Backgrounds
  9. Creative with colours
  10. Breaking the rules

Their concluding point is something that I really held on to as it ties in so well with the assignment we are doing, photography is ” like a visual language – you can use it to make your pictures pass on a specific message”

Research: Semiotics

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.04.02 pmSemiotics can be very helpful when attempting to deliver a message through an imagery medium as you don’t have words to guide the viewer to the right meaning, though they are heavily underused. As The Brand Tailors explain the core of semiotics lies with consumer psychology therefore there is a need for research into target audiences’ cultures and understanding of ideas, cues and signs. The Brand Tailors continue to discuss the ways in which semiotics can be studied and understood as well as briefly touching on a case study about Nintendo. All this information is important as to be able to apply semiotics you first must be able to fully understand what it is and how it works.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.04.41 pmAfter reading The Brand Tailors blog post I found Sign Salad‘s blog post and found it a good read. Sign Salad’s post begins with a simple and effective explanation on what semiotics is “Semiotics is an investigation into how meaning is created and how meaning is communicated. Its origins lie in the academic study of how signs and symbols (visual and linguistic) create meaning.”. As they go on to explain much of semiotics is routed into our subconscious, “a sign established by cultural convention over a long period of time and which we learn as children, and requires a deal of unconscious cultural knowledge to understand its meaning.”. An interesting point they make is that semiotic signs don’t always have to visual they can be aural as well, something I had never previously thought of but I definitely agree with. Another valid point made was that to fully understand a symbol’s meaning you must be able to know the context in which it is used as having the same symbol in a different context will give it a completely different meaning. With all this in mind I have decided against using semiotics after completing this research.

Research: Image Manipulation

Image manipulation is the core of this assignment and it comes in different forms whether it’s simply re-cropping an image or a complete digital manipulation overhaul. The power of image manipulation can be obvious or more subtle but as McSorely states in his blog post “…editing photos can easily repaint a moment in time to represent something else completely.” So it is always important that when manipulating an image to do so with caution and to not completely loose the core principle of the original image.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 8.58.23 amA starting point in my research was on RationalWIki which has an entire page dedicated to briefly explaining image manipulation and it’s various aspects, history and backlash. I found this really helpful because, as previously stated image manipulation comes in many different forms. Another interesting thing I found on this page was that IM has been around for a much longer time than I had thought. Joseph Stalin would use IM in order to have people completely disappear from images or have them inserted into an image they were never a part of.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 8.41.42 amThe second site I had a look at and found insanely helpful was the before and after section of ELI‘s website. They have short videos of their image manipulation they complete for a given project. The part I loved was how having even small changes but multiple layers makes such a difference to an image as well as changing the slightest thing can change it completely. It also encouraged me and reinforced what we learnt in class that it isn’t till the last second that the image will actually look any good.

Communication Objectives

My intention for my final image is to give the viewer an opportunity to think about what it is they identify as biculturalism and ask the question do you lose your true heritage culture by synthesising your host culture with it?

As seen with many first generation children when they are raised within a culture different from their heritage culture they often shun or reject their heritage culture at a younger age and more likely than not parents will do the same. They often do this in an attempt to make the transition much  simpler and less stressful. However on the other hand their is often  a constant struggle as the first generation child feel forced to simulate the culture they are in on a day to day basis as to not appear different but then once home they are forced to simulate the culture of their parents, of their heritage  as to not show disrespect to their ancestors and heritage culture.

This is seen with the following clip from YouTube of Cambodian American youth in discussion with the camera person: Biculturalism

I would also like to show the growth that occurs within the first generation person as they mature into themselves and begin to look back at their heritage culture a reconnect and embrace it more willingly.

Here’s a youtube video of a TED talk done by  Anna Gricuk that I found really interesting and links well with the idea that I am trying to connect with:

TED Talk