I have occasionally attempted mind-mapping for essay planning, although always hand-drawn so far. I have used this exercise as an opportunity to test-drive a piece of commercial mind-map software. This diagram is my mind-map for a critical essay on Don McCullin’s 1958 ‘Guv’nors’ image.
The software is fairly easy to use – this was my first attempt and there were not many false starts – but not as flexible as I would like. It forces a hierarchical tree, with no obvious way of exploring links between ‘twigs’ attached to different ‘branches’ (my terminology). Where the software scores over paper thought-collection is that it is possible to build-up the diagram over a period of days, slotting-in semi-random thoughts as they occur and modifying the diagram to make everything fit.
Now that the free trial period is over, I will be purchasing the full version and hope to make better use of it over the remainder of my OCA studies.
This image is titled “We’re back!” and is a creation in Photoshop, composited from three originals, assembled using layers and layer masks (which are more tweakable than using the eraser tool.)
Working from the background layer upward:
The background layer is the churchyard outside Stokesay Castle in Shropshire. I applied a radial blur centred on the position of the car.
The smoke behind the car is entirely artificial, created using the ‘clouds’ filter.
The two skulls are cut out from an image taken in the ossuary in the crypt of St Leonard’s church in Hythe, Kent. This image was shot on medium-format FP4, which was partially responsible for the decision to apply a mono treatment to the whole composite.
The Morgan 3-wheeler is in a motor museum in Rolvenden, Kent. It was in a garage, surrounded by clutter. The intricate cutting-out required, including suspension members and brake hoses, was the most time-consuming part of the exercise. I used mid-grey in the layer mask to make the aeroscreens semi-transparent and reveal the skulls. The original number plate was blacked out.
The new registration number, RIP1, was applied using the text tool.
The decision to make a contrasty monochrome conversion was partially dictated by the skulls being monochrome already, partly by a desire to avoid colour-matching and partly because it fitted the overall feel of the image.
Finally, I applied noise layer overall to integrate the slightly different noise levels of three different images, shot with three different cameras.
After deleting the worst of the unsharp images and those interrupted by foreground, I was left with 152 passenger-view images. My long-list selection cut that down to 60, as seen in these contact sheets.
I have short-listed down to 14 images, which I have laser-proofed and will now spend a few days living with, shuffling, staring at and generally agonising over to select 6 or 7 for assignment submission. I am looking for images that show the environment that we are passing through, but detail that the driver has no chance to take in.
Two of my favourite images (the Headcorn tea room and the man selling Mother’s Day flowers) are unsharp, so will be early casualties of the cull. For the rest, I am looking for a balance between detail and wide views, town and country.
When I showed this set to my wife (who was the driver) she said that, other than the man selling flowers, she had not seen any of the things in the images. This is a nice confirmation that the basic concept of the exercise is sound.
The drivers-viewpoint images will be easier to select, given that framing and basic composition are identical through that set. I will look for the images taken closest to the same time as the selected passenger-view.