Mission: Submission Pt II

The second part of my module was around Black and White Film Photography as well as using the Darkroom to process the films and make the prints. In the colour darkroom there is no light whatsoever apart from the few seconds from the Enlarger, then it’s paper into a dark plastic bag before heading off to another pitch black room to put the print into the processing machine. In the B&W darkroom though it’s a bit more visible and with the Red Safety Light it feels a little easier to get the job done. It’s still like magic when you watch the paper with the latent image on it go into the developer and the image appears and you feel more connected to the process. Well I did anyway.

For black and white the brief was “The Path Is The Journey” so I set out with my cameras to record some photos that might fit the bill. I personally like contrasty images with lots of bright light and dark shadows, if you’ve seen Fan Ho’s work you’ll know what I like.


This first image was taken in the Barbican centre from a balcony and the bright sunlight outside coming in through the door created the long shadows of the door jambs and the two people walking through. This is one of my favourite images of the year as it’s a very noir, cinematic image to my eye and looks like it could be a panel of a double page spread comic book story.

The facelessness of the people mean it could be anyone at all, the black and white tones means it could be someone evil or good, or even someone inconsequential as many people feel. The detail in the top of the windows is nice but not something the casual viewer notices as they’re mostly taken by the wider image.


The photo was taken on my Canon A1 with Ilford HP5Plus film and was a tricky image to capture but of the other images at the same time I chose this one with the figure’s foot being slightly off the ground as he walks in. I also used this image with some comic book captions on it for a Cyanotype experiment which can be seen in this linked post. it came out very well.


Now I read that back it sounds religious and the photo featuring two people heading up a concrete staircase in the Barbican Centre could represent two human beings on an adventure that leads them up this stairway into heaven, hell or even just the next section of their lives. I’m reminded of the Jacob’s Ladder verses of the book of Genesis but I’m an atheist so I don’t know where that thought pattern comes from.


The structures around the figures are really the subject of my image, the concrete, brutalist architecture with odd angles, textures and light fittings. This, to me, shows the strange pathways that we will all travel along in our short journeys to get to the end i.e Death. The angles of the stair rails and the roof beams are what attracted me to the scene and I made three photos here with my Bronica ETRS 645 and a roll of Ilford HP5Plus 400ISO 120. The one photo I chose has the figures slightly blurred due to movement and less recognisable details.

The image was a late entry into my final five for the Black & White and I had a masked pedestrian descending some stairs in Shrewsbury but the high contrast look just wasn’t there and I felt it didn’t fit with the other four images.



This image shows a person jogging across the elevated walkways of the Barbican centre. Whist this walkway has some light and shadow in main areas, the white tiled walls also seem to feature tiny shadows and light areas throughout the whole photo.

The subject traversing through the scene is seen with a face unlike the other four photos. However, the face is partially covered by a baseball cap and the shadow cast by the peak of the hat. It’s reminiscent of Jason Bourne trying to move quickly from one place to another whilst remaining unseen and inconspicuous as if this person could be an international spy on a reconnaissance mission or returning from carrying out a Polonium or Novichok poisoning.

The character in the image might be one of the other characters from another of the images submitted, and this is the escape route used to move between parts of the area. The character is also elevated by the walkway being high above the ground and whilst I had other images showing the levels beneath, none of them seemed to work. This one with the large dark part at the top seems to imply that I made the image from a concealed position like I was a spy, a voyeur or a super secret photographer.


The image titled “Direction” was made whilst in the Noguchi exhibition in the Barbican Centre and his work “Jungle Gym” seemed to be sending out a message to my camera lens as I was capturing the wonderful silhouette of a person walking through the space.

The arrow on the artwork was pointing to the silhouetted figure as if directing them to travel on a specific bearing.  The shadows of the silhouette also please my eye and the strange paper lantern artwork to the left of the frame seems to be blocking the character’s exit from the frame or something otherworldly that she is about to interact with.


Another reason I was attracted to shooting this image were the reflections on the shiny gallery floor surface and the shadows cast by the subject and the artworks. Taken out of context this image makes very little sense and I like that it’s abstract in that sense but it also shows someone faceless heading along a path chosen for her by the universe or her own free will.

“Red Corner”

This image was a carefully set up shot from high up on a staircase down through a gap above a stairwell where I’d seen people walking through. It was a pain to print in the darkroom but it came out well eventually and I am exceptionally happy with it. This is my favourite photo from the whole academic year.

It’s called Red Corner because of the walls creating a corner above the walking subjects, were red and orange in colour but I thought that it would make for a subtly different tone in a black and white image.

“Red Corner”

The subjects of the photograph are framed in what appears to be a floating collection of negative space in a claustrophobic manner and it could be the last image captured of a child being abducted, a father and child going to the cloakroom or heading off outside to the rest of the waiting family. Looking at the image like this is having an illusory effect on me and makes it almost appear that the couple of figures are on a shiny marble tower which drops off into an abyss if you go too far. Much the same way the corner of a ceiling and two perpendicular walls can sometimes start looking as though it’s reversed, if you stare at it for too long. (Just me? Ok then)

Strangely, my final five submissions for the Black & White module all emerged from different visits to the Barbican Centre in London where I’ve spent upwards of ten hours wandering around with my cameras since September ’22. The vibe of the place and the brutalist architecture gets my creativity flowing and I love it there.

Poetry Alert

The poem below was written whilst looking at all of the images together on a wall and the emotions that emerged from that experience. My use of language to describe art is not as advanced as it hopefully will be after this course of study. Using poetry is my way of helping some of my emotional contents spill onto a page.


Step from light to shade,

From day to dark.

Traverse  the contrast barrier,

From positive to negative.

Ambulating diverse routes,

Experience luminance inversion.

Moving from plain sight,

To skulking secretion in shadows.

Destination blackness.

Bob Griffiths 2022

That’s it for this post, the next will feature my submissions for the Digital Photography Module.

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