Intro to Observing (Learning by Doing)

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September 14, 2011

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Intro to Observing (Learning by Doing)

The picture is taken on a beach without any plantation around except the distant forest. In the picture, there are ten people; three people are submerged half-way in the water and two of them are facing the opposite direction of the camera. In the foreground, a man is kneeling down on one knee, dressed in a pair of black trousers, a white shirt, a white straw hat with a black ribbon on it and a pair of black shoes and socks. The man is kneeling in front of two women who are standing side by side.

The man is holding a rope on the left thigh of one of the women, who is dressed in a short black sleeveless dress with white broad stripes. A pendant is visible on her on her chest; she has a white headgear and is barefooted. The man seems to be measuring the distance between the dress’ hem and the knee. The other woman next to her is dressed in the same kind of dress, though tightly hugging to her hips unlike the other woman whose dress is loosely hanging on her hips. The second woman is wearing a belt that she is holding onto. Additionally, she is wearing a black headgear decorated with flowers on it and has a pendant around her neck. The women are looking at down at the man as he places the rope on the first woman’s thigh, and the second woman stands next with her right leg in front as if waiting for her turn. The rest of the audience comprises of young boys, dressed in vests and pairs of old looking shorts. The boys are looking at the activity happening between the man and the women. The boys seem curious as clearly seen by the one standing behind the two women crossing her arms while leaning on a post. Except for the man, the others are not in shoes and the boys seem to be distracted from what they may have been initially doing in order to concentrate on the man and the two women.

The picture seems to have been taken in an early period before the availability of colored cameras. This rationale can be supported by the activity in the photo, as a time when wearing short dresses was new and people had mixed reactions towards them and therefore the man’s actions in indicating the women’s indecency. From the picture, one can conclude that the photo was taken on an average day as the individuals’ evidence beach activities as a form of recreation. The man is elderly and seems to be rich from his dressing and the consideration that the rest of the people do not have shoes. The weather appears to be hot and sunny day since the people are dressed in light clothes and ready for a swim due to the temperatures. Note that, the women too are ready for swimming as evidenced by the headgears.

I approached the analysis through first observing the setting in order to create an acquaintance with the mode of activity before according my subjective inferences and conclusions. In addition, there were elements in the picture that guided me during the observation such as the boys and women clothing, as well as the water catchment. The exercise necessitated an in-depth form of investigation inclusive of the activities, participants and the camera focus areas. To acquire inferences given, I had to place myself in the setting and apply my imagination towards deciphering the message given.

The most difficult aspect of the exercise was the description of the setting, especially with regard to artistic terminologies. Additionally, the picture was taken in black and white, and therefore identifying the venue as a beach was not easy. Through the exercise, I observed that I am a patient observer; I did not rush into conclusions without taking enough time to observe the picture. In addition, I was keen to assess various perspectives and explanation for a given action. For instance, during the first observance, I only identified nine people instead of ten. With the second observance, I was able to acquire the full number of participants. I have learned that observation is both an active and detailed process, requiring multiple forms of analysis before informed conclusions are attained. I also learnt that pictures are a form of story telling and communication that preserves a given occurrence through time.

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