Michael Collins – Visiting Artist

I attended a lecture by visiting artist Michael Collins. He works mostly with 5×4 format plate cameras, and creates incredibly detailed images of landscapes and industrial areas using glass plates to take the photographs. This process takes a lot longer than standard film to develop however, and costs a lot more altogether. Things that would normally be difficult to photograph, due to their complexity. but because he uses the 5×4 format, the images are so detailed they become amazing artefacts. The images are printed large sized (around   6ft by 5ft at times), and displayed in galleries so that people viewing them can get up close and examine every area of the photograph. To begin with when you first view the photos, they look as if they are just ordinary cityscapes or even topographic style set ups. It’s when you begin to examine the images more closely that you realise they are something more than that. Below are some of my favourite pieces of his work:

My favourite image out of the images above, is the one titled “North west from 56th St. 2009”, which is of an area in New York. I like how there are a mix of buildings in this shot, and the taller skyscrapers are cut off at the top of the frame. This makes the viewer focus on the smaller buildings below. I would like to view this image in a gallery, as I would be interested to examine the minute details of the scene. I also like how the

Collins spoke about some of the images that he showed us, saying that one of the most difficult things with this type of photography was getting access to some of the areas. He told us an anecdote about how he visited a steelworks, after spending a lot of time and effort applying for access to take photos. he said once he arrived, the steward told him he couldn’t photograph anything with steam in frame or any furnaces, which are some of the main parts that he wanted to photograph. So in some cases it can be difficult, but in others (such as his images of the Hoo Peninsula) he said he simply made himself known to the locals or people working on the land and they let him photograph all day.

I really like these images, because they show incredibly detail of areas that people wouldn’t normally look at. He has also managed to make industrial scenes and cityscapes look beautiful, which really adds to the feel of the images. I would like to attempt to photograph images that are similar to this, or at least using a 5×4 format so that I can utilise the detail that these cameras can take.


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