RAF Upwood is a former Royal Air Force Base near Peterborough in England, it was opened 1917 and closed in 1994. It currently stands mostly intact and is a hot spot for graffiti artist and urban explorers alike, however the hangers and runway are currently still used for industrial purposes.
RAF Upwood was opened by the royal air force base in 1917 to be used as a based for aircraft used in the on going war (world war one.) Initially it was just a runway but hangers and small buildings were added in 1918, Upwood was closed in 1919 and returned to the local community.
In 1934 the RAF announced a large expansion and Upwood was part of this, in 1936 the construction of two large hangers began to accommodate two bomber squadrons with room for a third. IN 1937 the first squadron arrived at Upwood adopting both Fairley Battle and Avro Anson type aircraft.
The beginning of World War Two was uneventful for the base and the squadrons based there however it was attacked twice, once in 1940 and again in 1942 killing one person. The end of the war was more eventful as in 1944 the base received a squadron a Lancaster bombers, these bombers took part in a number of bombing operations on Germany’s capital Berlin.
After the war a number of squadrons came and left but In 1960 the base was changed into a radio station, the base was then changed again in 1964 into a training centre for the RAF, it remained a training station until the late 1970s.
In 1981 Upwood was taken over by the United Stated Air Force who turned the base into a satellite station to support near by RAF Alconbury, finally in 1986 the base received a multimillion dollar medical facility to provide out-patient services to American military members. With the end of the cold war in 1991 the station was closed permanently by the USAF.
Donald Weber is a Canadian photojournalist born in Toronto 1973, he has worked on many projects but his main bodies of work focus on the effect of world power. He has worked in many countries but he has an acute fascination with nuclear power and the effects it can have, because of this he has visited the most famous nuclear accident sites such a Chernobyl and Fukushima multiple times.
Weber likes to focus on the affect world power has on the people, he has done multiple projects working with the local people of Cherbobyl in Russia to see how the 1986 nuclear disaster not only affected the environment around the plant but the local residents of nearby villages. In some cases he has lived with the locals in their homes, this makes his images extra powerful as they start to become personal to the viewer as it feels like we are immersed in this experience.
I really like Weber’s work, the way he makes the images feel so personal to the viwer is something I would really like to try and caputure in my own work, I want to viewer to have an emotion response to the images and I think Weber’s work does this brilliantly.
I had two initial ideas for my Final Major Project; to either produce a series of abstract commercial images that play with the viewers eye or to produce a series of documentary images documenting urban spaces and the people that go to them. I have decided to go through with my documentary idea.
I think the documentary idea is better for many reasons; firstly I think the idea is more focused and has a real purpose. Secondly I am really fond of the final outcome idea of having a book along with an editorial piece. I also think that whole process of having to take and print the images makes them feel like more of an accomplishment and I think that will reflect in the final book.
I didn’t chose to go ahead with the commercial photography idea for one main reason, i struggled to find a real purpose for the images and this would have caused many problems down the road when I would have to write about the images.
Danila Tkachenko is Russian visual artist and documentary photographer currently based in Moscow. Tkachenko was born in Moscow in 1989 and has lived there ever since, he studied at the Rodchenko school of photography and multimedia where he gained a degree in documentary photography.
Tkachenko is currently working on a project called ‘restricted areas’ where he travels to the USSR’s ‘hidden cities,’ to find what has been left there. He shot this series on medium format film which compliments the background of the images perfectly; the snowy ground fades perfectly in with the grey sky which immediately brings our focus on the subject on the images. Tkachenko enters some of the worlds most contaminated places to get these photographs he is aware of the danger and states ‘People live their lives not far from these places, so I couldn’t allow myself to be afraid of contamination.’ This is why I feel that Tkachenko is a tradition photojournalist as he puts himself in seriously harmful situations to expose something most people don’t even know existed.
I love Tkachenko’s work I think his work is exactly the kind of thing I want to produce for my own project, I love the scale of his work and how he brings up a matter most people didn’t even know existed. I also think the way he shoots these images brings a real aspect of beauty to things that are considered really destructive.
Corey Arnold is an american fisherman and photojournalist currently based in Portland Oregon, Arnold documents his time at sea as well as the lives of his fellow fisherman, this makes his work feel really personal to the viewer as the people in his images are all his close friends and colleagues.
Arnold shoots only digital images and he does this using both DSLR’s and waterproof cameras, he documents his many trips on commercial fishing boats and tries to document the hard lives of the people working on them but he always shows how enjoyable the job can be and the what the workers do on their down time.
I am a big fan of Arnold’s work, I love how personal it becomes to the viewer by following the people on the trips, I like how natural they images become as the people in them aren’t posing, he documents their normal lives I would love include this aspect of Arnold’s work in my own work.
My aim for this project is to produce a series of documentary images along with a editorial piece documenting abandoned urban spaces and the people that go to them. My main Inspirations for this project with be photographers; Don McCullin, Antonio Jaggie, Corey Arnold, Danila Tkachenko and Donald Weber.
I hope to present this work by having large A3 prints mounted on the wall along with a book with all of the photos as well as editorial piece explaining the images as well as information about where they were shot. I want to experiment with the different types of mediums that can be used to shoot this series and make my decision on which one is the best one for this project, I will use both black and white film and colour film along with digital images and make my decision based off of this experimentation.
For my FMP I want to shoot a series of documentary photos within abandoned place, however I have only ever shot on a digital format. I wanted to see what the best way to shoot my series was, so on a trip to a derelict RAF base I took two film cameras one loaded with colour film and one with black and white as well as a DSLR.
I have predominately worked with digital cameras whenever I have visited these places I love how versatile they are and the range of shots you can get from them. Its also easy to switch between lenses as well as equipment, such as flash triggers and timers. Another advantage of using a DSLR is the ability to see the photo right after you’ve taken it so you can retake it if its needed. I will shoot the majority of the images on a DSLR as it is the easiest medium to shoot on and get the photo you want.
I had never worked with colour film before until the trip but I’m glad that I tried it out as I love the stylistic photos that it produces, the vibrancy of the photos is perfect for the images that I’m shooting. The photos also feel similar to the photos you can find on the internet from when the base was open, this makes it good to compare the photos from before and after the bad was open. However because the photos are shot of film you can’t see the photos that you’ve shot until after they are printed meaning that you don’t know what you’ve shot or even if the films been exposed at all. College doesn’t have the facilities to print colour film which means the process is not only expensive but I can’t control how the final images looks. I love that you can pick up the photos and look through them, I love this hands on approach to be involved in my final presentation.
Black and white film is very similar to the colour film but it has a very different style. This project takes large inspiration from photojournalist Don McCullin he shot all his images on black and white film using a 35mm camera, I love the grainy texture the film gives off and I love this about my own black and white pictures. Another positive about using black and white film is the control you can have when printing the images this is something that separates this from colour film. Like colour film you can see your pictures until the film is developed, there are also a range of things that can go wrong when developing film exposing the film to light and ruining the film.
After experimenting with all theses mediums I think its too hard to just shoot on one of them so i’m going to shoot across all of them and use the best images from all three to create my final body of work.