The Art and Technology of Field Photography Author(s): Herbert M. Cole and Doran H.

Ross Reviewed work(s): Source: African Arts, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Aug., 1985), pp. 46-55+98-99 Published by: UCLA James S. Coleman African Studies Center Stable URL: . Accessed: 10/03/2012 17:23
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neither of which is discussed here. casting. 46 . In this article we discuss photography in the field as a skill in which art and technology merge. BACKLIT SHOT OF A FLAG DANCER HIGHLIGHTED THE SUN. and the audience. village. ROSS V irtually every traveler to Africa today-whether government employee. Fine photographs bring texts alive. the farm. their instruments. well. It is also a skill that has. photoBY 2. or researcher-arrives armed with at least one camera. scholars. WHEN THE KODACHROMERETURNS FESTIVAL. or gathering place. ANOMABU. or textile. little preparatory attention is given to illustrating one's work with quality imagery. Furthermore. and we suggest some ways to maximize the aesthetic possibilities. for a later special issue of this journal. a confounding or delightful element of luck (Fig. However object-oriented one may be. but better still to hear it while seeing images of the musicians. COLE* DORANH. Important too are the environments: landscape. photo technology is changing rapidly. audience. in part because of the widespread assumption that cameras record things objectively. and protect them. one wants to know the African setting of a figure. The Aesthetics of Data Gatherinlg While most students heading for their first field experience are reasonably well prepared in the techniques of interviewing and other aspects of verbal and observational data-gathering.The Art and of Technology Field Photography HERBERTM. Many African arts are nonportable. they are available to us only in photographs or drawings (or descriptions): architecture. 1974 SCENE FANTEAKWAMBOFESTIVAL. and the myriad personal arts. and moreover. wall painting.ONE OF THOSE RARE PLEASANTSURPRISES ONE SOMETIMESGETS MONTHS AFTER THE PICTURE HAS BEEN TAKEN. films. staff. an eye blessed with a memory. 1974 FROM BEING PROCESSED FANTEATRANBIR BY 1 THE LOW CAMERA ANGLE AND SLOW SHUTTER SPEED NECESSITATED THE UMBRELLA OVERTHECHIEFS HEAD HAVEBLURREDTHERIGHTHAND HOLDINGTHEGLASS YET BOTH THE BLURRED HAND AND THE CHIEFS EXPRESSION ENLIVENTHIS LIBATION GOMOA. ritual. We first address the processes of picture-taking. GHANA. that neither really works without the other. the camera is often a crucial extra eye. In America and Europe these days photographs are taken for granted. and other gear to take. They also record unique. from an affective point of view. And while we write as fieldworkers primarily for other researchers. what is said here may well be obsolete in a few years. It is fine to have a tape recording of music. any still photograph does far less than cinema or video. photography is nevertheless taken for granted. For students. and how and when to use them. perhaps. dress ensembles. for neither alone will tell the whole story. at least as mementos of foreign and exotic places. In fact. Indeed. Carving. we are well aware of their limitations. Ideally we will all return from Africa with superior verbal and visual documentation. and other creative processes require photo documentation in addition to notes. Yet it is obvious that artistic and technical aspects of photography are interdependent. lights. further dialogue on the subject is welcomed. irreplaceable experiences that take their place in history. these are subjects. and photographs. I Many will find what follows simple or self-evident. THE RAINBOWEFFECT WAS FORTUITOUS. tourist. If all this is self-evident. the interior of a house or shrine. In setting forth these notes. because all of us have returned from research trips with less than a complete visual record. Everyone realizes the artistic potential of photography. Other fieldworkers could doubtless add many helpful suggestions-we hope they will-or take issue with some of our proposals. check them for accuracy. Graduate programs tend to accord rather low status to photography despite the fact that visual records of fieldwork are crucial to research in all the arts. 2). it nevertheless bears repeating. festivals. occasionally. Although it is hard to imagine studying African arts without photo documentation. superior in motionpicture media-are profoundly better in still photographs than only in written description. and the serious travelers who read this journal. since they grow out of our own experiences as research art historians. as they are. Masquerades-again. weaving. In the second half of the article we focus more specifically on technical and practical matters such as what sorts of cameras. we hope that anyone using a camera in Africa will find some value here. that is. GHANA. ABODOM. Dance notations pale beside sequence photographs of steps and gestures.

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we can sometimes accept the discomfort of intruding-we hope without disturbing the natural course of events-and occasionally even use our stranger status to advantage. tell the best story. BUT FIGURE4 INCLUDESAN IN-PROCESS BASKETAND A CLEARER. Luck. and also I may not get the picture I want! Planning a photographic strategy improves the chances for good results. 1980. are accustomed to posing for photographs. activities at dusk or otherwise poor light. bring Africa most alive. The first rule is work. BECAUSE OF THE WOMAN'S 3 & 4. you have to be ready for them. among other possibilities. And while all good cameras come with guarantees. FANTE SALTPOND. Do not procrastinate. Practicing photography for African fieldwork. Look through the pages of several AfricanArts. 6.GHANA. Not all of them do what their ads tell us they will. twodimensional images. Strong images are often not the result of the easiest picture-taking situations. "I'll certainly see this again. By taking TOP. unposed workers or dancers. GHANA. NANUMBA. more often. for example-has unforeseen segments but is still largely predictable. and with the best lighting. BIMBILA. too. indoor situations with and without people present. A second basic rule is to photograph something the first time it is encountered. Sometimes our reluctance stems from anxiety and the often hard emotional work needed to open up a situation for photography. A WOMAN IN SIRIGU. especially if we expect to see the same thing several times in the future. self-conscious posing. Many Africans. Places of entrance and exit for actors can be identified. may be more effective. discover when we get back to see our pictures for the first time. Finding an appropriate balance between that and getting the desired shot is never easy. ODAMBEAFESTIVAL. Consistently effective photography is the result of careful planning and creative thinking. THE DARK GREEN BACKGROUND OF THE PALMS SETS OFF THE COLORFUL PALANQUINAND UMBRELLA. and perhaps when the light is better. Understanding the difference between successful photographs and those of lesser quality-shot by oneself or by otherscan make a big difference in what we are able to bring home or. or from a building top or vehicle roof. In many African contexts a foreigner with cameras is allowed to be closer to action or to important participants than local people are. This greater access carries with it a greater likelihood of skewing an event by one's presence. maskers are best in mid-action. All too frequently the second opportunity never comes and the fish get away. and movement can be learned in advance. manufacturers' tests notwithstanding. FIGURE 3 HAS MORE HUMAN INTEREST. technically perfect. along with varied vantage points that enable the researcher to record the activity as thoroughly as possible. Yet we all know the difference between an underexposed or out-of-focus masquerader and a dramatic picture. Varying the camera angle. Close-ups of people require not only their cooperation but also a certain boldness because of the psychological discomfort that stems from getting close to a subject. Assessing practice rolls critically can save a lot of grief later. The researcher's presence and his effect on African people-his hosts-are delicate issues. National GeLife.PROFILEVIEWOF THE WOODEN LADDER. 48 . If your choice is for unposed situations. Automatic cameras do not automatically take good pictures. receiving your money back for technical malfunction and many lost rolls of film will not salvage six months of research void of fine photographic records. Then." and all of us have come home without some of these pictures. whether good or bad. The artificiality and stiffness of much field photography stem from taking too much time to set up and shoot. reluctant subjects at close range. At least two practice rolls should be shot of action contexts. for example. Particularly since the advent of allegedly fool-proof automatic cameras. CIALSCARIFICATION. priests or chiefs when making a sacrifice. but ones shot from a kneeling or prone position. BOTTOM. It is virtually impossible to be inconspicuous. crowds or parades. dark skins. with or without a camera. Speed in camerawork (which comes only from familiarity with the equipment and practice) is especially critical when photographing people in action or at close range. An active event-a masquerade or ritual. as we discover when someone unable to read a picture holds it upside down. and pushed the right button. NORTHERNGHANA. means taking pictures that best simulate conditions to be encountered. 5. some researchers expect to return with pictures that will serve their purposes well simply because they have had film in the camera. BOTH PICTURESWERETAKENCLOSE ENOUGH TO DOCUMENTTHE FAFACEAGAINSTTHE LIGHTER 1976. personnel. EXPRESSIONAND THE CHILD. and some are out of whack when they leave the factory. COMPOSITIONADDS INTEREST AND THEASYMMETRICAL THE UNFORTUNATELY HIGHCAMERAANGLE DIMINISHES A THATCHARACTERIZES CHIEF THESENSE OF ELEVATION CARRIEDON THE SHOULDERS OF HIS SUBJECTS. that causes the audience to catch its breath in admiration. THISSTOP-ACTIONDANCE SCENE GIVESA GOOD IDEA OF THE FLOWING ROBES OF NORTHERN GHANA BUT WOULD HAVE BENEFITED FROM A SLOWER SHUTTER A SPEED CREATING SLIGHTBLURRINGOF THEDANCER S DRESS. see which photographs have the most sensitivity or punch. formal shots are not always very telling. carvers while carving. shooting from unexpected places. whether with a new camera or a familiar one. Pictures are taken at eye level conveniently enough.graphs are created. Often we are inclined to say. just as you have to move in on a subject if you want a close-up. location. Admitting that. is far less often a factor than many would have it be. Asking a third person to divert the subject is a remedy for stiff. Much about its timing. artificial. 1976. and including significant foregrounds tend to return interesting photographs. and other publications to ograVphic. If I stand far away I may not disturb anyone. often the resulting images lack important detail and a sense of immediacy. Though it is always easier to shoot from a distance. it is simpler not to take pictures. but frontal. pointed it. Know your camera and practice with it before going to the field.

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Still. incidently." Obviously it is best to be present at an event that would take place anyway. Often we can be correctly accused of exploitation for our own purposes. ONE SHOWN IN FIGURES 7-9. Marilyn Houlberg's front-on portrait of a titled Yoruba woman is superb not just because of the camera position but because of the very close in-camera croppingthe bold selectivity and exclusion of unnecessary details (Fig. is often why especially fine pictures result. focus. probably from several angles. or more shots of each significant actor. economies. For a great many situations. Most of us will probably intrude upon the lives and values of the people to some extent if we hope to return with good data. Few of us are able to live in a community long enough to be accepted totally. these additions will be a miniscule percentage of the total expenditure for an African trip. the best-lit pictures will be made within two to three hours of either sunrise or sunset. RESTINGWITHHER GRANDCHILD S AND SMOKINGA LONG-STEMMEDPIPE. Breaking rules. studying what makes a particular composition unusual. a photograph we show or illustrate over and over? Composition is not an especially easy subject to discuss but is no less important for that. are rather short-sighted. Sideand sometimes back-lighting.: A- I . say. NORTHERNGHANA. Pictures work for a great many reasons. THE INCLUSIONOF PEOPLE GIVESA SCALETO THEBUILDINGS. do so. For lectures or publications we often have to prepare photo essays of varying length that are best put together with a range of imagery from the general to the specific. most thingsbuildings and people. clarity of the main subject against the background. Authenticity decreases whenever a ceremony or scene is set up for us or "commissioned. often gets dramatic results (Fig. Camerawork requires as much or more sensitivity to those we hope to photograph as it does to technical or artistic concerns. vivid and convincing. If you promise to send or bring back a picture. for example-are shown in their most flattering aspect. 1972. Ideally there will be a logical flow from one photograph to another and thus a sense of completeness and unity even if only three or four illustrations are used. camera angle. 10). objects or people peripheral to a desired subject can be included to dramatize it or lend interest (Fig. a few panoramic. even opportunities. BOTTOM RIGHTD SCENE IN A COMPOUND NEIGHBORINGTHE 10. THE PICTURESEEMS POSED BUT IN FACTWAS NOT 1976 50 . and often they will be expected. even foolish. A number of good "how to" books address this and other dimensions of photography as art. action shots need more space in front of the actor than behind. all of which work toward a more interesting group of images. sometimes on both) lead the eye into the picture (Fig. THE SENIOR WOMAN AND OWNER OF THE COMPOUND A REPAINTING SECTIONOF OUTSIDEWALL. 8. 13). certainly the entire compound or a large part of it is needed. is disturbing to many Africans. patient. probably forever. especially those with cameras. a wall painter and her art as is needed to get the single effective picture. ?ale30hF _l%. 6). the opportunity has been lost. shutter speed. equally balanced ones (Fig.AND THE IT CHILDANIMATES 1972. and foregrounds. If one takes six. Taking only one or two pictures of important things increases the risk of discovering when the contact sheets or slides are examined. sometimes several months later. such as sculptured doors or textured walls. that a critical shot is missing or inadequate. This is the very least you can do. IT GIVES INFORMATION ABOUT LIFEINTHEAREA. Informants' fees or gifts should be considered. Some things to keep in mind: the main subject should be dramatized. being sure to check exposure. returning too little to those who make our work possible and are in fact the reason for it. backgrounds. particularly when subjects are in motion. GENERAL SHOT OF ATOYUURE COMPOUND IN SIRIGU. assum- ing one has a from several positions. The presence of aliens and strangers.2 There are many ethical choices in field research that can translate into artistic choices. including a person (unposed) is an instant corrective. It is probably best to have ten or more rolls above what one feels one needs or can afford. and sometimes repeated explanations to our hosts. asymmetrical compositions are usually more arresting than centered. so choice-making must involve careful. 14). close-up foreground framing devices (usually desirable on one side. and a continuum of pictures: some very close. Taking along too little film or being overly stingy in shooting it. With the light source at a low angle. perhaps two or three will be successful in content and impact. When the scale of a building is not evident. THEWALLSON THESIDES HELP TO FRAMEAND LEAD ONE INTOTHE PICTURE. or event. Again one can look at books of fine photography. NORTHERNGHANA. though the latter is considered a rule-breaker. broken rules are overridden by other strengths. it may be necessary S TOP. and other aspects of composition. BOTTOMLEFT9. you also automatically vary light sources. preferably without placing it in the middle of the frame. The same creative thinking is required to frame and dramatize even a short sequence on. A raked light is best for reliefs. having checked in advance with its directors or sponsors. Composing a series of pictures of a discrete situation or event is closely related to composing individual photographs. by then. Ai 7. ABOUT EIGHT PICTURES WERE TAKENOF THIS SCENE. oblique angles of people or buildings tend to be more revealing than straight-on frontal ones. 8). Lighting is an important consideration.BrraaaBa sa a D. 7-10). How many of us have but a single photograph that makes a visual point convincing. eight. action. In the field the photographer needs to study opportunities and assess the local situation. By the same token many subjects are best seen with side or three-quarter-front light than that which is straight on. with camera or without. other choices among the infinite variety. A NANKANSEWOMAN IN ATOYUURE COMPOUND IN SIRIGU. others at middledistance.1972. not to mention successful photographs. If one is continue the concentrating-to example-on wall painting (Figs. strong or subtle.

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Michel Huet.1981. namely an understanding of what they can and cannot do. While photography in the field can be considered the creating of recordsarchives to be explored later and at the gathering of greater leisure-and visual data. 12). climate. inattention to details. emotion and value. or both? If it is taken out. the amount of film or time available. even by blurring. If one sets out-with only one unfamiliar camera. MIJIKENDA.NOTETHE LOSS OF QUALITY FROMWHICHTHE PRINTFOR PUBLICATION NEGATIVE FIGURE11. We try to bring back the images that are going to say the most. They can tantalize and draw a viewer into a subject and. and other plagues. or do I stop action? Do I photograph a figure inside its shrine or ask that it be taken outdoors and thus out of context. back up or move forward? How many angles or details should I take? What we do is dictated by the importance of the piece or the ceremony. vicariously. and the budgets of all journals are limited. UNIVERSITY GHANA. The need to use slides in lectures. ERNIEWOLFEIII. useful text and hundreds of fine pictures. and admitfor illustrated tedly indispensable talks-involves a rough 10-20% loss of image quality (Figs. Second. FILM NATURAL LIGHTON KODAKPLUS X BLACK-AND-WHITE (ASA 120). We are doing more than merely taking notes with a camera. THERITUAL FOCUS OF THISSCENE. A SIGN OF CHIEFTAINCY. 11. and sometimes such stimulus has helped rekindle local interest and keep these arts alive. Color is far more expensive to reproduce. Pictures can be evocations and even poems about mood. PHOTOGRAPHBY MATEMBENI. OF LEFT:11. very few journals or books publish more color than black-and-white. Each choice provides different data that can be gathered as long as we remain aware of the camera's possibilities. The unalteraAN TOP: 13. process. Fundamental too is the camera's instruction manual. While remaining sensitive. YORUBAWOMANWEARING IPAGBECEREMONIAL HEADTIEWITHSEVEN TASSELS. catching a bit of new information with each frame? Do I show something looking up at it or down. HIGHTHIS RELATIVELY SYMMETRILIGHTS. Surely most Dogon masking performances at Sanga in recent years have been staged for outsiders. environment. the more successful ones work to keep them at bay.THEN CONVERTED INTO A BLACK-AND-WHITE WHEN COMPAREDWITH WAS TAKEN. The options are nearly endless if we remain flexible and open to new possibilities. Art Bulletin.. to our audiences. 52 . The average issue of AfricanArts has at least twice as many black-and-white images. pictures can provide glimpses of the center. where the truth lies. Gert Chesi among them-but the fact remains that 35mm single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) with are the through-lens light-metering most popular and practical (small. GIRIAMA KENYA. With photographs we can get into and around the corners of African arts and their custodians or owners. Two may be cited: Kodak Guide to 35mm Photography (1984). Many volumes exist to instruct us on all aspects of photography. many of the best-respected journals publish no color (e. PracticalProblemsin Field Photography While the foregoing has stressed artistic concerns. no matter how good or expensive-to keep a mere record. All photographers have to accept doses of bad luck. whose visual and other values we largely share. and Upton and Upton. What are often called "record" photographs-implying a quick.1973. especially scholarly ones without advertising to increase revenues. is a selective. The focus here is on some of the more common problems encountered by field photographers. converting color slides-everybody's favorite. AKAN FOROWA. into Africa.and possible to salvage a waning artsay a masquerade-by encouraging its principal organizers and actors to perform it. prove that SLR cameras are more than adequate to our tasks. with a brief. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARILYN HOULBERG. The splendid 35mm images by Carol Beckwith. less than that can easily result from laziness. critical documents that no one else will ever have the opportunity to duplicate. Taking pictures thought-involving activity that betrays our biases and interests. for it gives specific potentials and limitations. LEGON. especially for teaching. however more dramatic and revealing it may be in the lecture hall. obviously these depend upon an informed use of cameras and films. a far weightier and more richly illustrated book with a comprehensive if basic approach. Metropolitan Museum Journal). CALCOMPOSITIONHAS GOOD DEPTHOF FIELD. what will its background be?3 Do I kneel down or stand on something. Photographers are constantly making choices that affect their results to the point that a photographer's style is frequently as recognizable as that of a sculptor or painter. artless. Photographs can be discoveries and dramatizations. lightweight) ones in use today by researchers and professionals alike. or casual approach-are in fact.AND SILHOUETTES. True objectivity does not exist.g.WHICHIS THECOMMEMORATIVE SUBGROUP.. 1985). PHOTOGRAPHTAKEN IN 12. For traveling exhibitions the UCLA Museum of Cultural History has enlarged 35mm transparencies into 8' x 12' mural photographs with remarkable clarity. RIGHT: THESAME OBJECTAS IN FIGURE11. It therefore makes sense to approach photography less as a necessary and perhaps distasteful task than as an art or at least a practiced skill. This is the "bad luck" we hear about-how a roll of film was washed in the Levis pocket or how it was inadvertently left out in the broiling sun. show and mean the most. has led many researchers to slight black-and-white photography in the field. it can obviously be more. IJEBU REMOAREA. BUT PHOTOGRAPHEDON KODACHROME64 COLOR TRANSPARENCYFILM.AND THE TO ARMS DIRECTTHE VIEWER'SATTENTION RADIATING SCULPTURE(KIKANGO). Many of us have commissioned carvers or painters so as to record their processes. First. Do I shoot one frame from an obvious angle or explore the subject from several positions. We cannot afford to be slaves to color imagery. NIGERIA. sometimes in being peripheral to a subject. INSTITUTEOF AFRICAN STUDIES. often reproduced in double-page spreads. we have to seize opportunities and occasionally create them. BACKLITSCENES CAN OFTEN PRODUCE DRAMATIC SHADOWS. with a vertical format or a horizontal one? Do I attempt to catch a sense of motion. in field situations. among many factors. Photography (3rd ed. Formats larger than 35mm-usually been used with great 21/4" x 21/4"-have success by many professionals-Rene Gardi.BOTTOM:14.

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5 While sacrificing some image sharpness. Until color film became widely available in the 1950s. These short-focallength lenses also minimize the effects of camera and subject movement in situations where the photographer is apt to be unsteady or is focusing on action sequences. GOMOA DAGO. With two matched 35mm camera bodies. with up to a three-stop exposure latitude. again a wide lens provides a broader view. has other benefits as well. Recording with both cameras not only saves the frustration of lesser imagequality and the expense of conversion. Further. Choices have as much to do with per- 54 . but as a basic rule. one for color and one for black-and-white. 1975. a zoom lens with an adjustable focal length (e. Be sure the cameras are clearly marked so you always know which type of film you are shooting. Taking two preferably identical cameras to the field. Shooting architectural details. Arts has seen a great many color Africani slides unacceptable for publication. one for color and one for black-and-white. but a wide-angle lens (28mm or 35mm) and a telephoto lens (100mm to 200mm) can maximize photographic opportunities. 35mm-80mm. a lens greater than 200mm should not be hand-held without some form of bracing (and lenses over 400mm should be used only with a tripod).FANTEAKWAMBO and processing costs of black-and-white are less than half those of color. Most obvious is the assurance of a backup if one camera malfunctions or gets dropped. THIS WOULD MAKEA DAZZLINGCOLOR PHOTOGRAPH. is facilitated with a long lens. Third. Shrine ensembles with their attendant sculpture are frequently housed in cramped rooms and cannot be recorded in total without a wide-angle lens.. WITHFIVE DIFFERENTPATTERNSOF MULTI-HUED CLOTH. These can be held in check by using a high shutter speed when possible.l~lL? _ iW. In many cases one cannot get close enough to a subject without disturbing events. One can use a telephoto lens to address opposite problems. Black-and-white films are more forgiving.WHICHARE IMAGEPREVENTSTHECLOTHFROMCOMPETING THIS BLACK-AND-WHITE NEVERTHELESS. telephotos are good for portraits. enabling the photographer to obtain candid images without intruding on the subject's space. A wideangle lens is often needed in architectural photography to document a whole building. Both raw film '- I- \ "-Ir. Because of the zoom's complexity. This greater flexibility helps protect against improperly set exposures or a faulty light meter. FESTIVAL. The magnifying properties of long lenses. 15). or stepped on. color transparencies are more difficult to expose correctly. by virtue of the very removal of color. a choice of interchangeable lenses is an important consideration. GHANA. a lens hood should always be used in bright light to prevent flare or ghosting.4 One can also move quickly back and forth between cameras with lenses of different focal lengths to increase the variety of views. and it is equally useful in more intimate surroundings. After eighteen years. the world was content with black-and-white photography. it gives the research scholar twice as many images to choose from.ble scientific fact is that fine color slides do not translate into fine black-andwhites very often. come in a variety of combinations. such as the roof line of a mosque. "W 15. or 80mm-200mm) provides additional flexibility in precisely framing an image. with no black-and-white alternative to substitute.g. most who use two find the extra cost amply repaid. having a margin of error of only one-half stop. In markets or festival situations. It allows picture-taking from balconies or second-story windows. providing varied camera angles and a bird's-eye view of activities. WITHTHEFACES. however. A long lens brings the action to the camera and helps fill the frame. It is almost impossible to have a camera reliably repaired in Africa. and many will argue that it does things. where dense crowds often prohibit the photographer from establishing sufficient distance between camera and subject. that makes it a separate and very important medium (Fig. tax one's camera-holding skill because the negative aspects of both camera and subject movement are amplified. Hence the argument is strong for taking two cameras to the field. wet. Granted a second camera increases initial expense. THE REALSUBJECT OF THIS PHOTOGRAPH. especially from an artistic point of view. In addition the two cameras can be used to cross-check exposure readings to ensure agreement. which can be substituted for both wide-angle and telephoto lenses. The standard 50mm or 55mm lens provided with most cameras will handle at least 75% of the work. Zooms. and double-shooting as much as possible.

as it is widely favored by publishers for its warmer colors and more saturated reds and yellows. THE LATEDR.) Two basic points should be films made about their low-speed (Kodachromes) and high-speed films (Ektachromes). 16. using the standard 50mm or 55mm on the other. obviously a greater percentage of fast films will be required. It should be remembered that Ektachrome (not Kodachrome) film speed can be doubled with special thus Ektachrome "push-processing". Since slides are needed for lectures and since publishers uniformly request transparencies if printing color. or other small objects. slower films that produce finer-grained images are preferred. documentary situations would probably be better served by using a flash. Film choice is another problem area for many photographers. though. a macro (sometimes called micro) lens or supplementary close-up lenses are essential. In brightly lit situations the slower film should be selected. used for prints. HE WAS ALSO A MASTER PHOTOGRAPHER AND LONG WHO. sm % <'^? . BECAUSE OF HIS WARMPERSONALITY TRUSTOF RESIDENCEIN THE FIELD. adequate for all but the dimmest natural light situations. for general purphotographs-that poses. The amounts and types of film taken into the field are determined in part by what is being studied. color negative film. The latter are cheaper and screw onto the end of a normal lens like a filter. (Remember to mark any pushed rolls. If one expects many rituals or festivals that occur at night or in dimly lit interiors. 400 can be shot at ASA 800. Akan goldweights.WAS WELL KNOWNFOR HIS EXTENSIVE STUDIES OF CAMEROONART AND LIFE. FON OF BALIIN A CAP AND GOWN OF HIS OWN DESIGN. 1 !1 1 ~ k"~~i' . We recommend a ratio of three to Continued page98 on OF TOP.WHOTOOKTHESE PICTURES.*i sonal preference as with fieldwork demands. provides a sharper image and is more convenient because it can be used for both close-ups and average to infinity is.BOTTOM:17. While there are many fine brands of daylight film on the market. We recommend at least four types: low-speed color (ASA 25 or 64) and high-speed color (ASA 200 or 400). the fact is that most North American researchers depend on Kodak products.) While Kodak also makes an Ektachrome 800/1600 Professional film that can also be boosted. low-speed black-and-white (ASA 120) and high-speed black-and-white (ASA 400). PAULGEBAUER. (The above ASAs are based on Kodak film. however. For this reason many prefer to substitute a macro lens for a normal lens on one body. For the average fieldworker.--Am-^ %>^I -* - .HAD THECOMPLETE THE PEOPLE. A macro lens. If a researcher is concentrating on studies of jewelry. should be ruled out. WIVESAND CHILDRENMOURNINGTHEDEATH A TIKARCHIEF. One should have a variety of films.CAMEROON.

Similarly. fully coherent movement. . He doesn't sufficiently consider the problem of distribution and audience. and perhaps confusing. Gabriel skirts some fundamental problems of aesthetics. But Gabriel offers very little documented proof as to the results of such revolutionary efforts. Such generalizations have only narrowed the scope of empirical investigations of Third World cultures" (p. Yet the realities of present economic and political circumstances have sapped these programs. Later on. The critique of his efforts was a product of a turbulent era and did not take into account the simple fact that he is entitled to make films in the style of his choice. With most manually adjustable cameras. a shutter speed is selected and the light meter indicates the correct lens opening. Latin America. should not be evaluated on the basis of such a problematic work as The Mad Masters (Les Maitres Fous). what about scholarly viewing and study? What about documentary or "ethnographic" films made by Europeans. taking two additional exposures of the same scene. It is an ironic confirmation of his basic thesis that these ideas on a popular cinema are contained in a rather prohibitively priced book. in general. Italy or France. fast films. The author touches on intra-Third World relationships without clarifying these influences. with less forgiving color films. Nevertheless. After checking. As Gabriel points out: "New developments in cinema do not take place in a vacuum. RobertCancel Untiversity of California. and indeed this is often the case. All of these efforts are important. proverbs. contributes to nation-building. We are told that Jorge Sanjines has taken his films to the Quechua Indians who form the target audience. If we eliminate operator error and camera malfunction.) For the purposes of this paper we assume that everyone understands the workings of his camera's built-in light meter. banned at the time of France's colonial collapse. The only way to assure oneself of properly exposed photographs is by bracketing exposures. The fact remains that. 1980). They offer detailed views of African societies and help explain some of their complexities. Gabriel opens the door to unnecessary inconsistencies. it is nevertheless possible to find shared experiences and objectives" (p.merica. Shutter speeds should be checked at a professional repair shop before each trip into the field. we must conclude by the many poorly exposed photographs crossing the desks of African Arts that photographic conditions in Africa are generally abnormal. the cameras are set up to expose film properly under normal conditions. also a Westerner. A politically activist cinema that focused on anti-colonialism was pioneered in the 1960s by cineastes like Godard in response to French and later American imperialism in Vietnam. where a profitable nationalized industry. fearful of wasting film. A. if the Chinese dislike Antonioni's film. 3).their invaders. 1973) or !Nai: The Story of a !Kung Woman (John Marshall. especially for nonliterate people isolated from the centers of political decision-making. Although there may not be a unified. songs. which denounced the theft of African art objects and their placement in European museums? It would be difficult to fault such films for being too general or for perpetuating exotic or erroneous images of the societies. How can these results be duplicated? What can be done to improve the conditions of distribution and exhibition in the places where "the people" must be reached? Appendixes A and B provide some of this information in the documented manifestos and joint communiques of Third World filmmakers at conferences. 57). proves stingy to a fault. His concern over anthropological generalization is ironic given his own persistence in grouping peasants from Africa. especially in the faster ranges. and most of them have had partial success. The relationship between the culture of one country and another. Exposure is a combination of shutter speed and lens opening. and exhibitioneven the best films will not reach their audiences. but the average tourist or researcher. the author makes but a few and only partial attempts to consider this in depth. forthcoming from Crossroads Press). While the topic may be covered in the author's book on African cinema (TheDeveloping African Cinema: An Introduction. such as White Man's Country (Koff and Howarth. Whether his efforts are considered a romanticized anthropology or Eurocentric effort at explicating African cultures. With all three of these systems as well as with fully automatic systems that select both shutter speed and lens opening. or China into a homogeneous class. perception of time. shoot a few rolls in a variety of circumstances with and without flash to confirm the camera's reliability. with little recourse to specifics. An "aesthetics of liberation" is necessary. a German film on the invasion of Normandy? Similarly. Automatic cameras may have either aperture priority or shutter priority exposure systems. though Westerners see it as sympathetic. He doesn't mention specific tales. there is certainly more than a little merit in films such as The Lion Hunters (1965) and Jaguar (1967). For instance. but he passes too quickly over the experience of Algeria. Moreover. (Unfortunately this admonition seems like a bad joke to Africanist researchers. Gabriel merits attention from scholarly and activist artistic circles. it would have been helpful to look at African film industries to illustrate the problems of a "national cinema. the Third Cinema continues to enrich itself with the theoretical and aesthetic concerns of contemporary thought and scholarship. one at a stop over that indicated by the light meter and one a 98 . However. Tanzania and Mozambique use film for education in a nationalistic and entertainment framework. who also takes his films to the masses of his country. long considered a "friend of China. how would any outsider's film be evaluated by a nation caught in the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution. Exposure bracketingis a simple process that involves. Antonioni. distribution. or practices. based on activist or locally derived self-images? What about films such as Alain Resnais's Les StatuesMeurentAussi." Gabriel discusses the Cuban film industry to a degree. This study is a valuable introduction to the concerns of activist and relevant cinema in the Third World." was invited to make his film. It is not uncommon for shutters to slow down in older cameras. tells us they spark discussion and new awareness. Unless funding is available for the three areas of the industryproduction. While recognizing Fanon's concern that new cultural entities should build on the older indigenous forms. Cinema is indeed a powerful weapon of information and motivation. or that of individual Third World filmmakers with one another. born of a revolution. is often complicated and vacillating. it does suggest that such efforts are significantly different in intention and audience from the products of "third cinema" practitioners. however. . Placing Third World film into a wider world context of styles and intentions might have tempered the often prescriptive nature and rigid categorization of the commentary. Though Gabriel acknowledges their language differences.San Diego THE ART AND TECHNOLOGY OF FIELD PHOTOGRAPHY Continuedfrompage 55 one for slow vs. Third Cinema practitioners find a common bond with progressive or Left groups il. The influence of contemporary trends in cinema on Third Cinema is obvious. the kinds of films espoused by these filmmakers and described by this study will be the same productions that are banned in the nations where the peasants can most benefit from them. But is there no room for these types of cinematic studies in the Third World?If not for peasant consumption. and commonly held traditions. he refers to "folk" culture. for that matter. One ubiquitous note on film care bears repeating: keep both exposed and unexposed film out of the heat as much as possible. Professionals routinely do this even in highly controlled studio situations. Built-in light meters should also be tested. While this point is arguable. poor exposures are the single major problem plaguing fieldworkers. that great spasm of activism by now long since repudiated? Gabriel notes that "sociological and anthropological researchers have been limited to generalized surveys of Third World peoples . but it will not go far if the films are not being produced. But how is this different from a Japanese film made about Hiroshima? Or. What were his observations and the results of his effortsbesides the government ban on the films? Ousmane Sembene. suggesting that "FirstWorld" cineastes cannot adequately capture Third World concerns. But proclamations do not provide enough insight into actual results of screening films for peasants. Jean Rouch.

of a twelve-year-old chief who had died the previous year. and all-a narrower aperture will increase depth of the field. however. the in-camera meters can be checked against the exposure tables in most film instruction sheets. Whether shooting a building or a small sculpture..g. and the tripods that make them effective add vet another burden to the fieldworker EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST FOR FIELD PHOTOGRAPHY Camera body A Camera batteries Camera body B Flash batteries Normal lens Low speed color film Macro lens High speed color film Low speed black-and-white film Wide-angle lens Telephoto lens High speed black-and-white film Zoom lens Cloth backdrop Lens hood Camera manual Filters Flash manual Film information sheets Light meter Flash Tape recorder Flash synchronization cord Blank tapes Recorder batteries Tripod Cable release Head cleaning supplies Camera straps Tape measure Lens tissue Notebook Blower brush Pens 99 . If there is a discrepancy in readings both cameras can be checked against an independent light meter to determine which one is malfinctioning. Assuming that the workings of the flash are thoroughly understood by the user (again a careful reading of the manual is needed). with excellent negatives and prints made quickly in the field. All that is required is that the flash be held a foot or so above the camera and slightly off to the side. One technique dealing with lateral movement is frequently overlooked. of course. achieved with a slower shutter speed. Although more convenient to use. and it brought tears to his grandfather's eves. it is best to roll such cloth so as to minimize distracting folds. (Most automatic cameras have a switch that allows this. We recommend that lenses over 200mm1 not be taken to the field. for posed photographs one can move up to the subject to take a reading with the in-camera meter.g. then they release the shutter. to sense their import. ] 1. or similar contrasting backgrounds. no substitute for careful study of one of the better photography manuals. for example. while often not practical in situations involving action. One recurring lighting circumstance in Africa that troubles most metering systems involves photographing dark skins against a brightly lit sky. 6). this will permit a photograph with a slower shutter speed (e. Selective blurring through the adjustment of either the aperture or shutter speed is often critical to producing an effective image. he went with several color prints made from Cole's 1972 slides. blur the background. if the intent is to record the total ambience of the dance-background. The problem can be corrected by opening the aperture (f-stop) accordingly and thus overriding the in-camera meter. since the available "context" of these objects was sometimes onlv storage boxes. Extremely dark shrines or nighttime events often require the use of artificial light. Maximizing depth of field. 3. One fundamental rule of focusing is called the rule of thirds. a whitewashed wall. along with the amount of light available. but this in itself evokes a sense of movement even if the action of the subject is firmly stopped. For black-and-white photography this is much less critical. As using a flash-synchronization as the flash is pointed at the subject its long automatic features will function. may advance to the point that color is used more often than black-and-white. Focusing a camera seems like such a basic issue that most people take it for granted. If holding the camera with one hand and the flash with the other proves difficult. 5. and give our work full meaning is even more important. As a very general guide. a camera-mounted flash has two major drawbacks: a tendency to flatten the subject and to create severe shadows when the subject is close to its background." For example. 2. and to know their strength and centrality in the lives of people who create them and value them most.. we must address the problems and equipment at hand. Both fortunately and unfortunately these unique situations seem to occur all too often in Africa. Low-light situations can be dealt with in part by high-speed films. if you want to separate the performer in a masquerade from the audience behind. In reduced light situations. when it seems warranted an initial two-stop bracketing will generally guarantee results. Alternatively. A camera-mounted automatic electronic flash is the standard method for handling these circumstances. shutter speed controls blurring due to lateral movement. is not always desirable. The solution is to close the aperture a stop or so or to take an independent reading and adjust exposure accordingly. Now. but unfortunately it may be the wrong part. and camera and film developments will doubtless occur. is to come back with more than casual records. in bright sunlight the correct shutter speed at ft6 is 1/ASA of the film (e. The point of it all. but may seem somewhat artificial and static (Fig. keeping the subject in the center of the frame. Stopaction photographs made with a fast shutter speed can be quite dramatic.g. In this case the in-camera meter will tend to overexpose the pendant. The reverse situation exists with bright or light objects photographed against a dominant dark background (e. The slight blur of a masker's moving arm or leg. Obviously the intent of the photographer as well as personal aesthetic preferences determine the choice. a larger aperture (lower f-stop) will help by blurring the background. Another major problem in field photography concerns the use of a flash or strobe. and the only way to ensure documenting them is to bracket. On the other hand. One. This often results in a photograph that is partly in focus.creating an image that might not otherwise be gotten. When in doubt bracketing will ensure a quality photo. their pervasiveness. The return of this and several other pictures to Anomabu helped facilitate research in that community. When Ross began research among the Fante of coastal Ghana in 1974. a silver pendant against dark skin).stop under. If possible. Creating pictures that breathe life into our texts.. More natural three-dimensional lighting can be achieved by removing the flash from the camera and cord. however. one should not focus on the very front of the subject. or at least not enough of the whole. 1/125 of a second instead of 11500). We would argue that both photographs should be taken. but again both types of photography should be attempted. which can help determine the depth of field (the part of any picture in focus). can be used to take a reading off the subject for a more accurate exposure. was the only picture the family had. of course. In these situations most cameras will generally produce a photograph that underexposes black skin against a dominant light background by as much as one or two stops. 4. A performer moving quickly at right angles to the camera can be slowed down on film or stopped by panning the camera. For once-in-a-lifetime situations additional bracketing at two stops over and under the meter reading is suggested. Publishing technology. audience. we took plain colored cloths against which to shoot isolated objects such as Akan sword ornaments and jewelry. may convey more of the dance action than a figure frozen in space. but rather a third of the way back into it. Alternatively. difficult to hand hold. dramatize our lectures. One can also increase the depth of field in any picture by using smaller apertures (higher f-stop numbers). Fine photography enables us and our audience to learn about and appreciate African arts. Returning with high-quality photographs is gratifying in its own right. but even the fastest films have their limitations. an assistant or even a bystander can be enlisted.) An independent light meter. and particularly no substitute for practice in the noncrucial atmosphere of simulated field-situations at home. one technique can be employed to improve these pictures dramatically. Kodachrome 64 film would be exposed at 1/64 of a second at tf6). Working together in Ghana. While the aperture controls blurring in front of or behind the point of focus. Instant (Polaroid-type) pictures may become more versatile. For many scenes it is preferable to eliminate visual background "noise. Panning will. Many simply turn the focusing ring until the image looks sharp. Generally the range of focus will be about a third in front of the point of focus and two-thirds behind it. They are cumbersome. These notes are sketchy.