Assignment 2 – elements of design

This Assignment is entitled “Elements of Design”, meaning the individual graphical elements which together comprise a photograph. The individual elements are the 2-D forms that appear in any photograph (Freeman, 2007); for example, points, lines, implications etc. We were encouraged to divorce ourselves from the content of a picture and dissect it into its individual graphic elements. Each of these individual elements was considered throughout ‘Part two’ and the assignment encouraged me to take each, one at a time, to evidence my learning and understanding, in one photo.

I was asked to take a photo to show each of the following:

  • Single point
  • Two points
  • Several points in a deliberate shape
  • A combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • Diagonals
  • Curves
  • Distinct, even if irregular, shapes
  • At least two kinds of implied triangle
  • Rhythm
  • Pattern

I was asked to decide upon a subject matter to focus my photography, so I decided to choose ‘street detail’.

After my first assignment I was encouraged to further my learning by expanding my investigations into other artists. In response to these comments I made a concerted effort to visit more exhibitions of interest to me, evidence my learning in more reading, and discuss work with fellow photographers.  

I made an effort to try and see a breadth of different styles of photography, which I believe important whilst I am still trying and find my own ‘personal voice’. I thought gaining experience and learning from all styles of photography would prevent me from putting the blinkers on and prevent learning from other styles which I would not immediately believe of interest to me. For example I discovered a very interesting aerial photography gallery on Cork Street, London, called ‘Flowers’, which showed work by Edward Brtynsky. His photos managed to create a sense of surrealism in sometimes very plain subject matter, mostly from an aerial perspective. The curator assured me there had been no tinkering with the final images to create the almost abstract ‘painted’ imagery.

Flowers Gallery

Flowers Gallery

I then ventured to a wildlife exhibition with particular focus on the African animals from the Masai Mara. This took place at the Atlas Gallery on Dorset Street, London. The exhibit was called “Across this ravaged land”, by Nick Brandt. He managed to not only create stunning images, but his own particular voice and style was to dictate an atmosphere, whereby he created a stormy mood in his photos, touching on the melancholy of murder and struggle in the hostile conditions. His ability to portray an emotion and mood and instil it in his audience, I found as impressive as the images themselves.

Nick Brandt

Nick Brandt

The Photographer’s Gallery, Ramillies Street, London exhibited selections which showed a more artistic and personal perspective on photography, particularly from photographers like Jacques Henri Lartigue, Janine Antoni, Elina Brotherus, etc. Personally, I didn’t like the different projects on show here; they were very base, and fairly haunting, which is not of particular interest to me. However, this does not mean you cannot learn from them. I found the “project focus” theme here very interesting, for example I was impressed with the passion and dedication to follow the life of one mother for years, through times of joy and tragedy. It demonstrated the dedication of one’s life to something passionate to them, and showing the patience and obsession with one subject. This is probably something which I would not like to get into, but is almost an extreme of a ‘project focused style’ of photograghy that does appeal, particularly in a Martin Parr esque approach. An area which I am being drawn to, which I believe I am finding a passion for, is street photography with particular focus on people. Martin Parr is a renowned expert in this area, and he demonstrates a lot of project focused photography. This may be a direction I go in.

Photographers gallery

Photographers gallery

I visited the Martin Parr and Tony Ray Jones Exhibitions in the Science Museum, which seemed of particular relevance with my chosen Assignment theme. Both photographers, but with their own individual style, manage to create a breadth of emotions: humour; empathy; sadness; a sense of place; and many more. Like a good comedian they present to you something you have empathy with and can associate with, while making you smile. This I believe is one of the hardest skills in photography. This is something again that really appeals, after all we are sociable animals, and there is something innately interesting in viewing the lives and situations of other people than perhaps other subject matter.

Martin Parr and Tony Ray Jones

Martin Parr and Tony Ray Jones

Similarly I found the two galleries in the V&A museum very interesting, particularly in the contrast between the temporary gallery on show and the Parr/Ray Jones style of photography. The gallery at the V & A showed photographs of posed situations, mainly with human subject matter, and it was interesting how this style did not appeal to me at all. Having come out of a superb gallery detailing ‘real life’ and capturing beautiful moments, and then visiting a posed gallery where subjects were placed and told to act in the photos, I found myself untouched. These posed photos seemed to lack the energy, drama and emotion abundant  in Parr’s and Ray Jone’s work. These were a half way shop between moments, and portraiture, and they fell short of both, for me.

As long as you remain open minded I believe you can gain something from all gallery visits, even if you don’t like the subject matter, or the style of photography, even if the result is just to cross off styles which you know now you do not want to pursue. For me, though, I learnt a lot, and in particular from Parr/Ray Jones’ work.

My photos incorporating the individual graphical elements

1) Single point

Single point

Single point

The single point needs to be small and contrast to its surrounding. It is more effective if it is set aganst a plain background. Also it is important to justify to yourself the placement of your ‘point’. For me this is the only place this point could be positioned. This is due the angle of the sign. The sign faces to the bottom right, and it felt most comfortable to have the sign facing the rest of the frame. The ‘point’ is best set to the edge of the frame , so there is no distraction behind it; the eye will tend to move from the sign to the foreground due the way the sign is facing, and anything beind the sign will be wasted in that dynamic. This image for me is not a strong image, but does bring together two parts of my life and personality. I love my football, hence being on a Wembley tour in the first place, but I am also a Scientist working for a chemical pesticide company, and we sell the product that was sprayed on this pitch.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 105 mm, ISO 200, f 16, 1/15

2) Two points

Two points

Two points

This is Florence at Bockett’s farm watching some pig racing. Her costume and the balloon was very photogenic all day, so I took hundreds of shots. The “two points” may not be small in the frame, but there are two distinct points here: the ballon and Florence. I believe they work well together because of the complimentary colours and shapes. I composed the image so both points were at the edge of the frame, to provide balance, which I think is required as to not iduce tension in the image. The direction of Florence’s gaze, towards the balloon, also creates a ‘relationship’ between the two. A look of interest and excitement on her face is matched by the sense of celebration that the balloon offers. 

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 24 mm, ISO 200, f 5.6, 1/200

3) Several points in a deliberate shape

Several points in a deliberate shape

Several points in a deliberate shape

This image could have been used in the ‘implied triangles’ section, but I decided tha because of the number of identical points (capsules) that it has, it just as easily fit this brief. Obviously, the deliberate shape is a triangle, and this is created by zooming (105 mm) to the top section of the London eye, rather than taking the whole, which is very diffcult anyway without incorporating a distracting element into the frame. I kept this in colour because I liked the contrast of the red capsule aganst the others; it just added an extra element to the picture, not too distracting from the desired, implied, shape.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 105 mm, ISO 100, f 14, 1/200

4) Horizonals and verticals

Horizontal and Vertical

Horizontal and Vertical

The lines

The lines

This photo was taken in the Natural History museum. I had seen a photo I liked by a friend (Neil Bryars) of the interior of an art gallery. He managed to get a superb back light that presented the people in the foreground as strong silhuoettes. His image contained much greater drama than mine. However, I am pleased I managed to replicate it to some extent, and I believe does show vertical and horizontal elements of design. The image below the original shows the implied horizontals here (less obvious than vertical) as yellow lines, and the verticals as red lines. The verticals are created mostly by the people (strengthened by being silhuoettes) and the rotating doors, and their panels. The horizontals come from groups of people being in the same planes, therefore their heads and feet in the same plane, imply lines. Similarly the top of the door panels and windows fill the frame further with horizontals.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 32 mm, ISO 800, f 4, 1/250

5) Diagonals

Diagonal (using implied line)

Diagonal (using implied line)

This diagonal is fomed by the use of an off-centre perspective and an implied line. The image is of the shadows of a row of beach umbrellas. The homogeny of the umbrellas, maintain a linear perspective. I angled the shadows so that they were off centre, to fulfill the criteria of a ‘diagonal’, as most diagonals appear as part of a view point (Freeman,2007). The line is obviously not continuous, and I used learnings around the ‘implied line’ in this shot to demonstrate my understanding of some other elements of design discussed throughout the second chapter. Again I thought black and white provided no distraction from the main graphical element of design. I used a wide angle lens and close view point, to accentuate the line.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 24 mm, ISO 200, f 9, 1/320

6) Curves

Curves

Curves

This is an image of a staircase in Seville. I like the way the curve is carried on and accentuated by the unusual curved design of the roof structure; as Freeman (2007) states: “curves are inherantly more attractive when they undulate”. The staircase has two curves and this is continued by the roof. The steps provide some resistance to the other very non linear components to the image. As a graphical element I think this is a very strong image, where it is dominated by curves, particularly in black and white, where any distraction is removed. Again I used a wide angle to exaggerate the curve. 

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 24 mm, ISO 400, f 10, 1/200

7) Distinct, even if irregular shapes

Irregular shape

Irregular shape

I found this particular task very difficult. It is much easier to see shapes and regularity. To try and dissasociate yourself from a design and focus on something that essentially has no shape or regularity, but still has some sort of visual appeal, is not easy. Most man made objects have som regularity and shape at there core, particularly in architectiure. It seems that nature provides that irregularity more commonly. Because of the difficulty In finding something relevant, this is not a favourite photo of mine, but hopefully fulfills the criteria of the task. This is an image of the underside of a bridge with the reflections of the water (nature providing the irreglarity) below. In this photo, because of the the light and wavey lines in the reflection and the contrasting  curvature of the bridge, means shape does not play a  predominant role in this photo. Conversion to black and white strengthens the attention to the reflection.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 40 mm, ISO 200, f 13, 1/30

8) At least two kinds of implied triangle

Implied triangle 1

Implied triangle 1

The implied triangle here is present in the stance of the boy. His legs are wide apart, as I captured him mid stride. His upper torso is very upright, emphasised by his backward glance. The background is very plain, a red garage door. All points strengthen the implied shape. I kept in colour as I likd the colour contrast, and the vibrant red door. I don’t believe this distracts from the shape, as the boy is dominating the image.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 75 mm, ISO 400, f 6.3, 1/400

Implied triangle 2

Implied triangle 2

This is another photo that demonstrates my newly formed interest in images and scenes containing humour or intrigue, of a street photography nature. In this shot I noticed a couple taking a photo of the V&A in London. I first wanted to capture the image with the camera’s lens replacing the husband’s eye as a bit of humour. Now though, I think the image is made by the unusual positioning of the man, looking more like a sinister stranger, than a  relative. The dark jacket and big nose and grimace make him look like a ‘Bond baddy’,and the intrigue is strengthened by the fact we can’t see his face. The enjoyment I got out of this was that it complied with a quote by Martin Parr, seen on his personal poster below, whereby he likes to “create fiction out of reality”:

Martin Parr

Martin Parr

The implied triangle in my photo lies within the shape created by the lady’s arms, as she reaches up to look at the live view on the back of her camera. I made this black and white as the colour added nothing to the photo, and I believe black and white works better to maintain that sense of macabre.

To me this is my first photo that is to some extent defined by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment”:

“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

This may be overselling my photo somewhat, but I was pleased how quickly my eye, brain, and camera technique worked together in one moment to captue exactly what I wanted to capture. This is perhaps one of the first times this happened, and from it, came great satisfaction.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 100 mm, ISO 200, f 7.1, 1/200

Implied triangle 3

Implied triangle 3

A lady being searched in London, outside a store. Obviously the implied triangle is created by the three women. This relationship is strengthened by the direction each is looking,  creating an anticlockwise momentum, keeping the eye moving in from point to point. This encourages the eye to move in a triangular shape, through the frame. This makes use of the implied line through vision, which makes the viewer curious and gives strong direction in the image. This triangle is different to the other two as it has the apex at the bottom of the frame. This is a less stable form (Freeman, 2007), but does not mean it is less effective.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 73 mm, ISO 200, f 7.1, 1/250

Photographers that I have come across that use implied triangles well, include: David Alan Harvey, Alex Webb, and Josef Koudelka. These are all street photographers, that I noticed have not only used people to imply a triangle, but also filled the frame with the subject matter to balance their pictures. Something I may look to work on .

9) Rhythm

Rhythm

Rhythm

The rhythm in this shot is created by the rowers from left to right. They are captured performing the same stroke, and the rhythm is found in the repeated sequence of head-to-hand-to-oar-to-back-to-head. This repeated sequence, and sense of rhythm is emphasised by the sudden interruption of the sequence by the drummer at the far right of the frame. It is also a nice touch that she was creating a rhythm with her drum to maintain the rhythm of the rowers, as part of a practice row, for the ‘Kingston Royals’. Hopefully this composition and crop creates a sense of rhythm heard and felt as spectators.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 105 mm, ISO 100, f 5, 1/1000

 10) Pattern

Pattern

Pattern

This pattern is a collection of ceramic plant pots hanging from a wall. The pattern is fairly irregular, in that there is little symmetry in the frame but because the pots are very similar in shape and design, they form a distinct pattern. I purposely composed the shot so that the pots appeared to extend beyond the frame. The colours of the pots are vibrant so I left them in colour.

Lens: EF24-105 mm f /4L IS USM

Settings: 32 mm, ISO 400, f 4.5, 1/15

With my ever increasing interest in street photography, and those shots that include people, I found a personal note from the late Tony Ray Jones’ particularly interesting. Below is a picture from a display cabinet of his personal thoughts, jotted down in a very personal and accessible tone:

Notes from Ray Jons

Notes from Ray Jones

Ray Jones describes ways to improve his photos, with great modesty, which is all the more endearing to us amateur photographers. To see such a great photographer make notes like you would make on the back of a scrap of paper, is somewhat inspiring. From this note, I found a lot very useful, but from a technical point of you I noticed he writes “shoot 250 sec or above”. I look back over the images above and there are a couple of photos that are shot at 1/200 sec. I feel I got away with it in these images as there wasn’t much rapid movement, but I will look to keep to Ray Jones’ rule in mind in the future, particularly when prowling the streets for people photos.

I was similarly drawn into the selection process by which Ray Jones chooses some photos over others, disregarding photos which to me looked very interesting. Below is only a small sub section of a huge wall showing his ‘contact sheets’ where he goes through a process of choosing the best image for the final print. Henri Cartier Bresson described working through contact sheets like:

“going down to the cellar and bringing back a good bottle to share”.

I was suprised how many of the photos were of such high standard and how may photos were taken of the same scene. I found it really interesting why he chose certain images over others. To me it demonstrates the need to take lots of photos, obviously whilst maintining focus on the desired outcome, and then take time to consider the most impacting, and the image that shows your desired outcome most accurately:

Ray Jones selection process

Ray Jones’ selection process

The red pen circles the final image choices.

Personal thoughts

Now to my own personal thoughts. I really enjoyed theis assignment, mainly because I was pleased I was able able to identify and translate dynamics from a ‘real life’ form onto the 2D photographic form. It made me much more aware how shapes, contrasts, tones and relationships all play their part in what makes a photo a good photo with high impact. I am now able to identify a lot of these elements in other’s photos, and can now appreciate the effort they have gone to, to incorporate them into their work. I will certainly have these learnings in the fore front of my mind as I continue on my journey.

Furthermore, I really enjoyed shooting a lot of these photos in black and white. This format really appealed to me, and made me realise how, and why, black and white can really enhance certain photographs. To me it seems, for now anyway, that unless there is a reason to have an image in colour, it actually  may be beneficial to remove any distraction from the frame, and enhance the graphical elements, by making it black and white.

Interestingly, I found that it was sometimes difficult to isolate one graphical element from another in certain photos. For example the image below, I took to describe an implied line for one of the exercises. It was essentially my interpretation of the image on page 82 from the course book. However, when analysing the photo, it became very clear to me this photo could have been used to demonstrate ‘diagonals, ‘rhythm’, and at a stretch ‘horizontas and verticals’. It just goes to show many graphical elements compose a photo, and sometimes the intended strengthening of one, may also be unintentially demonstrating other strong element of design, as a result of many being inextricably linked.

Inextricably linked graphical elements

Inextricably linked graphical elements

Personal Review

I was asked to review how I think I have done against the assessment criteria, of which there are 4:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I believe I fulfilled this criteria well, using existing and new and learned techniques, from both research and the Exercises in Part 2.

I certainly used my observational skills to isolate the key individual graphical elements for the exercises. I believe my creativity allowed me to choose an array of subject matter, whilst staying in the broad theme of ‘street detail’. I managed to convey this in the form of people, structures, objects and nature. I used an array of colours (used as B+W when appropriate), tones, styles etc., and hopefully demonstrated the use of appropriate equipment and camera settings. I was also very pleased I was able to further my learning by visiting many interesting exhibitions, and hopefully I have been able to demonstrate some of my learning.

Quality of outcome

I think I certainly have documented my work in a coherent manner, being able to express my thoughts in an informative and clear way. I also believe I have managed to convey my visions and thoughts in each part of the process. I think I was able to express all techniques, decisions, and researched knowledge in a concise and clear way.

Demonstration of creativity

I certainly feel I have been creative and shown experimentation; whereby I tried my hand at a range of types of photography as described above. The difference I am seeing in myself from this Assignment compared to the last is that I am being to find a keen interest in certain styles of photography and certain subject matter. I am beginning to find my own personal voice in this area with increased interest in ‘people’ and ‘moments’, and am really looking forward to homing my skills futher.  

Context

Again I found it hard to relate some learnings from books and online research to the context of the assignment, but I did do a lot of work outside just taking the photos, and hopefully this became more apparrent in my gallery visits. Again I worked to learn from books, exhibitions, personal communications and websites. As I say it is hard to include these references into the log without appearing to contrive their inclusion.

I am still loving the course, and now I have invested in a Canon 6D, which should hopefully further improve the quality of my work while I try and step up to the next level. I have been keen to put my work along side others on the internet to understand where I sit amongst my peers. Both Flickr and 500px are very good sites for this.


Assignment 1 – contrasts

Assignment 1

The first assignment of the course was focused around contrasts. I was asked to choose 8 pairs of contrast titles from the list in the course book, which had originated from Johannes Itten’s core composition principle of contrasts which he taught his Bahaus students in the 1920’s (Freeman, 2007). Itten’s intention was “to awaken a vital feeling for the subject through a personal observation”. He set up two projects: one being the pairing of photos that contrast with each other; and the other was to combine the two poles of the contrast in one photograph. Therefore the final and 17th photo was to be of one pair of contrasts in one photo.
This assignment is not assessed, but is a very good way to track my progress, and benefit from any comments, positive or critiquing. I fully intend to put as much effort into this assignment as I will in the future for those that are assessed. This is relatively easy, when I thoroughly enjoy going about with my camera trying to fulfil exercises. This exercise, due to its non-restrictive subject matter, allows the creative juices to flow, and it is easy to get out there and start composing.

I was conscious to not be too literal with this assignment, and was keen to express the contrasts in a more creative form. The image must sing out what it is created to portray. Even though being creative is a large part of photography, there is little point in me being too obtuse so that a viewer cannot obtain the message that was meant. However, I do not want to contrive the photos so much and be too obvious with the approach, as I think that shows a lack of imagination. The image should instil the feeling in the viewer, meant by photographer (me in this case), or I believe the image has failed in its task.
I was conscious also to explore a number of photographic techniques to further improve the essence of the images, where possible. I wanted to not only call upon my variety of lenses and techniques I knew anyway but also techniques I had learnt on the course so far, through the exercises, and further reading. Hopefully I can demonstrate this in the assignment.
I did not know whether the best way to tackle the assignment was to take pairs that were in some way related, or to demonstrate the contrasts by photographing totally unrelated subject matter. I believe the former restricted me somewhat, but perhaps would be an ideal. Therefore, I have a mixture of both in my pairings. I still don’t know whether when the assignment was created if the students were expected to have related subject matter for their pairings. I hope it doesn’t matter.

Pair 1
After glancing briefly at the assignment details when looking ahead, I had this pair of contrasts in mind for weeks before taking the shots. I knew what I wanted to photograph, but wasn’t sure the best way to express (compose) the images. After having done the exercises, I knew exactly how I would express the contrasts, as I had discovered new techniques that would enhance the subject matter. After all, this is what I believed the main point of this assignment. I saw it as a way to utilise a variety of learnt techniques and photographic styles to enhance the meaning of a subject, where necessary.
The first pair I chose was ‘pointed/blunt’. I took these photos where I work in a Research centre, which has a variety of building shapes and building materials.
The first image is below.

Pointed

Pointed

This image portrays ‘pointed’. This is of a glasshouse at about 8pm on a summer’s evening. I decided to use a learnt technique, whereby I used a telephoto lens to compress the perspective of the pointed regions, to make their presence more significant. So I made a decision to switch from my general purpose lens and use my long focal length lens to accommodate this technique. This lens allows me to fit in a long row of multiple identical points, and stack them back to back, and make them stand out. Using a wide angle lens, would have distorted the angles and I would not have been able to obtain a compressed perspective nor a linear row of points. I decided to use a narrow aperture to keep most of the glass house in focus, as I think a shallow depth of field would have detracted from the impact of having a long row of points all in focus.
A second learnt technique, around composition, that I tried to use was to fill the frame as much as possible. For this exercise I thought it was important, and particularly for this contrast, as if you can give the impression of the ‘points’ bursting out of the frame or continuing into the distance at either end, then you have to some extent created a feeling of infinite ‘points’, as the viewer does not know where they start or end.
I used a further technique to enhance this. I could not fulfil the aforementioned task perfectly, so I needed to crop a little to remove background distraction from another building, and to move the points tight to the frame’s edges. I feel this was a good use of cropping, and was not something I could have done when composing the photo; the angles would not allow me to photograph the image as seen. Having said this, the level of cropping was minimal.
I decided to lay the top of the glasshouse, i.e. the points, near the top of the image, simply because I found the internal lights from the glasshouse and the reflections more interesting than the sky, and it gave further feel of the ’bursting at the frames edges’, which I was trying to create with the two ends of the row of points as mentioned.
Overall, I am happy with the first attempt and I feel it certainly hi lights the shape that I was trying to portray. I could have perhaps cropped in to make a letter box shape of the row of points, but I want to try and keep 2:3/3:2 format where possible, and I don’t think it would have worked; the points, as with any perspective, get smaller, so there would be unwanted areas in the photo.

Lens: Canon EF70-300mm IS USM f4-5.6
Settings: 200mm, 1/50 sec, f11, ISO 400

The second image portrayed ‘blunt’.
‘Blunt’ was the polar contrast of ‘pointed’, at least in Itten’s mind anyway. As was intended from the outset, I wanted to photograph my ‘blunt’ image at my work site as well (as it had caught my eye for weeks, not because I’m lazy!), and my subject was less than 200 yards from the ‘pointed’ glasshouse above. This contrast pair was one example of photographing a similar subject matter to express the contrasts, rather than using two unrelated subjects.
This image is of two rows of ‘crop tents’, again set up for research purposes at my place of work. Ideally, I would have used a telephoto lens to employ the same technique as before, to compress the perspective of the rounded/blunt roofs of the tents. However, due to the elevation of the ground the tents are on, and because the tents are arranged in linear rows that created a square shape, I couldn’t position myself for that ‘telephoto’ shot. Instead I had to get myself to a further elevated spot to look down on the tents, and used the most telephoto length I could get away with, to pack in enough of the rounded roofs, and to get some compression of perspective.

Blunt

Blunt

Again I wanted to use a narrow aperture, to keep everything in focus.
I also was able to use the path in between this row of tents, to lead the eye into the picture. The path leads the eye through the frame and out the other side, while the eye flicks back and forth at the obviously rounded/blunt shapes, as if you were walking that path with your eyes.
I decided to convert to black and white, as I believe the colours were not adding anything to the image, and were only acting as a form of distraction from the shapes, which were the main purpose of the composition.
Again I decided to crop a little to remove some untidiness, and fill the frame. Having the tents extend beyond the edge of the frame gave a greater sense of number seeming to work again with this image. I kept a third row (appearing in the right of the frame) in the image, again to give a sense of infinite identical rows of tents.
In hind sight, I think I would have lowered the ISO speed to 400 and opened the aperture a little, to improve resolution. I am not sure at the time why I chose these settings! Again this is something to be more aware of at the moment of composition. I don’t see why I couldn’t have used the same settings as the glasshouse image (f11, ISO 400), the depth of the image was certainly not greater, and therefore not requiring a narrower aperture to keep more in focus.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm, f4L IS USM
Settings: 45mm, 1/50 sec, f16, ISO 800

Pair 2
This pair was less planned. Not to say I didn’t intend these photos to be used for this purpose, but I hadn’t considered the subject matter for weeks. They came to me at the moment; which is a key part of photography, particularly street photography, where one must make decisions on a shot in split seconds.
The second pair of images was ‘large/small’. For ‘large’, I wanted to portray an image of something overpowering, all consuming, and almost threatening, due to its size, and in contrast, something of the opposite in ‘small’. For ‘small’, I wanted something small in essence, but made to look small by its surroundings, whether that be tone, colour, or objects. More on ‘small’ below.
For ‘large’ I decided to choose, as my final image, the silhouetted row of trees at Crowthorne Wood in Surrey. Again the time must have been about 8pm on a summer’s evening, the light was fairly bright; a sunny evening. I describe this, so you are aware that I tried to manipulate the light to create the final image I have. I wanted to get low, use a wide angle lens and darken the trees against the sky, so that I could use different techniques to create the feeling of being overpowered by these enormous trees.

Large

Large

 I wanted to use a low angled shot with a wide angle lens to make the subject more imposing and overpowering. Therefore, I decided to switch to my very wide angle lens from my general purpose lens, and use the widest angle I could (10mm, or with my sensor with a crop factor of 1.6, about 16mm).
To obtain the effect of the silhouetted trees in this light, I used spot metering and exposed for the sky, which rendered the foreground dark, but kept the detail in the sky.
I think silhouetting the trees really makes the photo. Having any detail in the trees or foreground, would detract from the image as a whole. For the eye to stick on details in the foreground, would take time from when the eye should be scoping the shape and outline of the imposing trees. I also think having the silhouette makes the trees more menacing, which fulfils my initial remit of using something threatening due to its size.
I particularly like the fact that the trees from trunk to top span the length of a spectrum of colours in the sky, from light (of day) to dark (of space), implying a greater sense of size.
Hopefully by being a bit creative and using some simple photography ideas and techniques I could take something simple like a row of large trees and make them much more imposing than they actually were.
I would love to have been able to take this image with a fish eye lens, as I know this would have added to the feeling I have touched upon. Sadly not a lens I have in my bag.
Lens: Sigma 10-22mm
Settings: 10mm, 1/640 sec, f11, ISO 400

For ‘small’ I wanted something obviously small in stature or design, and more fragile, and whilst still being the central focal point, not imposing at all. The photo I ended up choosing was actually not composed especially for this exercise, but the subject matter (a child) was in my head as one idea of many that would be suitable for ‘small’.

Small

Small

This was a recent image, taken on my Dad’s Birthday, when we went to see my brother and my niece (the child), and I snapped this shot when we went for a walk by the Thames in Kingston. I waited for her to wonder into the shade under the trees to avoid the harsh sunlight, so there weren’t any harsh shadows created on her face. Luckily when she entered the shade she was not yet bored of her toy and created more bubbles for me to capture. A fast shutter speed (1/1000) allowed me to capture the bubble cutting across her face, something I was aiming for. If I am honest I wanted to get a big bubble covering her whole face, but children aren’t that consistent or predictable, so I had to settle for the mouth and nose!
As I say, I hadn’t composed this shot specifically for the ‘small’ contrasts, but when looking back over these the following day it struck me this would be a great antithesis to the ‘tall’ trees. The thing that struck me about this image was her innocence and vulnerability. This in part comes I think from the fact she is alone in the image, and appears like a vulnerable child in a wood. To complete the antithesis could this be the same wood (for all intents and purposes) as photographed in the ‘tall’ image?! Maybe that’s going too far.
My impact in the final image which was specifically for this exercise was in post processing. I played a little with the final image, in that I darkened the background slightly and added a vignette, so that it looked like it was swallowing her up from behind, and it balanced the tone and colours of the other half of the image.
I also saturated the image slightly to bring out the colours in the dress, so it stood out a bit brighter, against the fairly dull background, to make her sit less comfortably in the frame.
I must finally add, thank you to Florence for looking seriously miserable (!), so that it makes her look, even though she is playing, a little uncomfortable with where she has come to reside.
All in all, I hope this vulnerability enhances the fact that she is of ‘small’ stature, and suitably fulfils my ‘small’ part of the contrast pair.
I believe the image could perhaps have been improved by finding something to gain elevation and look down on Florence, in the hope it may have the opposite effect of lowering my angle when shooting the trees. Also it may have been good to reduce the focal length and take part of the large tree she was next to into the frame, to give some perspective of her height, and she would also have appeared smaller still in the now wider angled composition.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 84mm, 1/1000 sec, f4, ISO 100

Pair 3
My third pair was taken during a Photography Social organised by work colleagues. This particular venture was out in Windsor, near where I live. We had a topic of ‘green’ to aid our photographic creativity.
At the end of my 2 hour stroll with my general purpose lens, I came across a powerful statue of a soldier near Windsor Castle that struck me as a powerful image for this exercise. I thought this statue to me represented everything British heritage is all about, and therefore thought sat well as the ‘strong’ half of the contrast pairing of ‘strong/weak’.

Strong

Strong

The detail in the statue was very good and intricate, but I wanted to examine all possible angles to portray the feeling of strength, the best. I decided upon taking a shot from behind, as it had a feeling of the viewer being protected, not attacked by a soldier (which had a gun in his hand). From this position (unbeknownst to the viewer) the soldier looked down one of the main roads of the city, and it seemed a good position to shoot from, as it consolidated my feeling of protection I had been looking for.
However, instead of capturing the street in the view, or indeed having detail of the carving of the statue I thought picturing the statue against the sky had a greater impact as an image.
Finally I made the photo black and white. This just seemed to slightly improve the tone of the image, and also send us back in time, to re connect with when soldiers were photographed in black and white.
My only gripe with this image was that I shot it at f4 and his head is not completely sharp. How frustrating! Yet another example of my poor planning. I believe I possibly spent most my thinking planning the composition, and time restraints meant I was rushing to get the shot.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 58mm, 1/15 sec, f4, ISO 200

My next image was a retrospective choice for ‘weak’; meaning I did not take this shot with the ‘weak’ contrast in mind. I took this photo the same evening as I took the soldier, and when scanning through my images, I realised that this could work for the ‘weak’ concept when directly compared to the strength of stature of the soldier. This is not to say that I believe homeless people are weak, I wouldn’t be so crass or derogatory, but there was something of a juxtaposition that stood out, when you see the pride and honour in the statue, and the hopelessness and humility of the homeless person with their head in their hands.

Weak

Weak

Another reason I was keen to include this in the assignment was because it demonstrates a technique I have recently become familiar with and enjoyed using; the ‘shoot from the hip’ technique.
Three weeks ago got in touch with my brother’s friend, Gavin Dickson, who is a professional photographer, and in the past has worked as a chief photographer for a lucrative local newspaper. A lot of his work comes from capturing people, and the moments that exist at a split second, that are very difficult to capture when it is obvious you are taking photos. If people are unaware you are photographing, then you have two benefits: you are more likely to get a more natural and exciting shot, and you have less interaction, be it aggressive or not, with the subject matter. Gavin says: “when I’m out and about, I photograph very quickly from the hip, as I’m walking past people. My eyes and mind are in unison, eliminating the majority of people but seeking out others to photograph”. This sums up the benefits of ‘shoot from the hip’; time isn’t spent fiddling with camera settings, where moments are lost, but the eyes are focusing on the world around it, and the finger snaps away as the brain registers something of interest.
Now there are draw backs to shooting from the hip, and I certainly managed to encounter most of these! I found it very difficult to compose the image well, often cutting the subject in half, or standing to close, or too far. I also found that a lot of the shots were out of focus. Now I am aware that my image is out of focus, and I even find it difficult to find the point of focus in this image, but I really don’t think it matters at this stage. To me it is all about trying new techniques, and Gavin also says, “capturing the moment is key…..I would prefer to have a less sharp image than miss the perfect moment”. I am not afraid to put an out of focus image into my blog, as I really believe the concept is more important. The use of f4 severely reduced my chances of getting the subject in focus. I had set my camera to shutter priority, and had put the exposure compensation up two thirds, so I presume that had caused the aperture to increase to f4. Again this doesn’t worry me too much, as Gavin says “there are as many misses as hits”, so you are bound to get shots where you don’t quite get it right. I’d like to contest Gavin’s statistics though: I’m still waiting for my “hits” on ‘shoot from the hip’ street photography!
Since having a great day out with Gavin three weeks ago, I have used the shoot from the hip technique much more, and I am improving slowly. But most importantly I have developed a love for street photography, although I am a little loathe to use that term, as to me I mean people photography, and the term ‘street’ sounds a bit restrictive. Gavin’s passion rubbed off on me. He introduced to me the likes of Martin Parr, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Joel Meyererowitz, and many more. The way they can capture moments to provide a social commentary I find incredible.
I thoroughly recommend the DVD and book by Gerry Badger; the Genius of Photography, it is very informative, particularly in terms of street photography and social commentary.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 73mm, 1/200 sec, f4, 800

Pair 4

When first reading the assignment and doing a brainstorm on potential images for different contrast pairings, the first image that I settled on was the one below for ‘continuous’. I was keen to have a slow shutter speed night shot of traffic, and the red or white lights of the car, spanning the frame, would be the line that symbolised ‘continuity’. What was left to decide was the location, and back drop.
When out at Windsor on my photography social I decided Windsor Castle would be a great back drop, with the statue of Queen Victoria in front. It would also stand to symbolise the continuity of the monarchy to add some strength to the image. Also when I looked closer at the shot later, I noticed Queen Victoria with a small staff in her hand, and I thought it looked like she was casting a spell, with the white light cutting in front of her. Obviously something I cannot claim I had planned!

Continuous

Continuous

I chose a fairly middle range aperture, as I was aware that at a certain point the quality of image is lost through light diffraction at narrower apertures. However, I needed a narrow enough aperture to keep the majority of the scene in focus. I tried multiple shots, with different shutter speeds, but settled on 8 seconds that got me a good line, from one end of the street to the other.
I am not entirely happy with the end result, in that above the main line of light, are some messy extraneous light patches that lower the quality of the final shot. I wonder what might have removed these unwanted strands of light. What I think the image does demonstrate though is a bit of creativity, using another style of photography and technique that I think captured the brief of the contrast.

The best night shots of this kind I have discovered doing my research are by Brett Weinstein.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 24mm, 8 sec, f11, ISO 100

For the opposing contrast, ‘intermittent’, I wanted to relate it to ‘continuous’ in terms of subject matter. So I wanted to keep traffic as the main theme. I was keen to use traffic lights, or pedestrian crossing lights to symbolise intermittent, i.e. the ‘stopping and starting’ of traffic; whether it be vehicles or people. Ideally I wanted to do another night shot, where I would include the traffic lights, and perhaps the continuous line of movement coming to a stop by the lights. However, I found this very difficult to manufacture. So I decided to take a day shot. The resulting image (below) is of a pedestrian crossing.

Intermittent

Intermittent

To maintain the connection with the other image, I managed to find another statue of Queen Victoria in London, and so included her in the shot. Not only did it keep a correlation between the images, but also symbolises the intermittency of Royal reign as Queen Victoria was one of many heads of monarchy, and this was in contrast to the image of Windsor Castle that demonstrates the continuity of the monarchy; a mainstay in our heritage.
The picture for me is far from perfect, but as a photo as part of a theme and the contrast pairing, it does work. Martin Parr was once asked, which was his favourite photo, and he said it was a “ridiculous question….I think about my photographs in terms of sets and projects, rather than individual images” (Kim, 2012). This is not to say that it means the quality of the photo is unimportant, but it does mean that sometimes the theme of the photo can be more important than the technical side of the photo, as it is part of the bigger picture.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 105mm, 1/400 sec, f13, ISO 400

Pair 5

For the ‘many’ part of my ‘many/few’ contrast pair, I returned to my work site. Here we can see a row of trolleys outside another glasshouse. I was wondering around with all the contrast pairs available to me in the assignment, and when I was walking past these trolleys I stopped and looked back, and suddenly realised that there was a long line of identical trolleys that would be perfect for my ‘many’. But what would be my best way of portraying ‘many’ rather than just pointing and shooting.

Many

Many

I decided to photograph the wheels rather than the trolleys themselves, as there are four times as many wheels as trolleys, and one side had two sets of wheels per trolley. It also allowed me to create a new and more interesting angle, as I had to lower myself to capture the lower part of the trolley. When I got down that low, I realised I could utilise techniques learnt in the exercises, whereby I could fill the frame more tightly by angling the lens, which is why the shot is at an angle. Also it allowed me to fit the path in that ran alongside the trolleys.
I wanted to have the trolley’s wheels leave the photograph at one end of the photo, so it gave an essence of continuing out of the frame, so I left the image un cropped, with the two nearest wheels half in shot.
I decided also to use a narrow aperture, so that most of the wheels were in focus, as I thought this was important when trying to portray the concept of ‘many’. I also used my telephoto lens to compress the perspective of the wheels and legs a little.
I think my favourite thing about this photo is the angle, and that was purely created by just lowering my stance and filling the frame as much as possible with trolley legs, but conscious to have the sky and glasshouse in the background to give the trolleys a sense of place.

Lens: Canon EF70-300mm IS USM f4-5.6
Settings: 100mm, 1/30 sec, f16, ISO 800

For ‘few’ I decided to use a recent photo from Almunecar in Spain. The image is of the beach, early evening. A few young lads decided to start skimming stones at the beach front.

Rather than make my way closer to zoom in on the activity, I decided to stay my distance, using a wide angle. This kept the landscape in the frame. It was a really nice night, and it had been a misty day, and some of that mist had remained. It provided a kind of ethereal touch to the mountains, with the sun dropping below the mountains to the west.

Few

Few

I love the way the sun silhouetted the few trees on the mountains through the mist, which provided a tonal contrast with the rest of the image. The true essence of the image though lies in the ‘few’ boys which sit well central in the lower part of the frame.

I decided to have a minimal amount of beach in the photo, as the sand was very dark against the backdrop, and the mountains were so important in having the impact I wanted.

I particularly like the actions of the four boys, where one is picking up another stone.

I think the distance and angle of the image from the central focal point, and the vastness of the surroundings that really help to emphasise the demonstration of ‘few’.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM

Settings: 24mm, 1/160 sec, f13, ISO 100

Pair 6
For this pair I wanted to not only contrast ‘straight’ with ‘curved’ but also to contrast rural with urban; after all we can find shapes, patterns, and designs in all walks of life.
The first image is of a field of wheat. The tram lines created by the tractor were not only straight, but continued into the distance towards the horizon. I took this image early evening, when the light was quite low and coming from the left, which added a lovely colour and contrast to the field’s tones. This light also created greater contrast in the tram lines, providing greater emphasis.
I decided to place the tram line in the middle of the frame, to lead the eye in from the centre. To place the line to the side would have shifted focus from the contrast theme and making it less obvious that these lines were straight.

Straight

Straight

As with most landscape photography it is important to have most if not all the image in focus, so I used a narrow aperture. I used the widest angle on the lens I was using at the time to fit in as much of the tram line as possible.
I took many images of the same scene, with the horizon in different positions. However, I settled on this one as it pushed the horizon away from the ‘rule of thirds rule’ and up to the top of the frame. I thought this positioning of the horizon provided over emphasis of the foreground, of which we have more interest in with the theme in mind.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 24mm, 1/25 sec, f13, ISO 200

I moved then to an urban setting for my curved image. Wondering around London there are lots of possibilities, particularly in the shape of many buildings. However, I settled on a simpler idea, as I think it really captured the essence of the theme, and within one image there was ‘double’ curve due to the human interaction with the subject.

Curved

Curved

The picture is of a spiral staircase outside, and due to heavy use, a smooth curve has been carved out in the centre of each step, which created the double curve. The thing I really like about this, is that the shiny area worn out captures the light greater than the rough area, and therefore there is a greater contrast between the two parts, resulting in a fairly abstract curve almost superimposed on the curving staircase.
I also really liked the metallic blue colour of this staircase, and so left it in colour, rather than converting to black and white.

Lens: Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM
Settings: 50mm, 1/80, f4, ISO 200

Pair 7
For my penultimate pair of images, I chose ‘moving/still’.
Again London was my location for these two images. For ‘moving’, I wanted to capture the motion in either an over ground or underground train, as this is a fundamental part of everyday life in our busy capital.
However, it is possibly too easy to capture motion of a train, so I wanted to get the right backdrop/setting. I initially started to try and capture motion from within an over ground train, shooting from within the carriage and making the outside life blur, as it passed me by. However, this didn’t provide me with a feeling of London life, as I wasn’t able to capture a famous landmark. So I decided to find my way to the London Eye, and have that as my main focal point.
So I then just had to position myself so I could incorporate the London Eye in the photo, with a moving train, in front of it. So below is the resulting image.

Moving

Moving

I really like the contrast of the bright colours in this image, exaggerated by the movement of the carriage. I think I managed to successfully capture the movement, while retaining a steady hand to keep the London Eye as in focus backdrop (aided by the image stabiliser in the lens).
I still can’t decide whether the metal structure detracts from the photo, but I imagine it without it, and I don’t think it would work as well. I still like the image, so there must be something that the steel beams add. Others may disagree, but that’s what’s so nice about the subjectivity of photography.
I tried cropping in to remove the London Eye, and have the train framed by the steel structures, but again a sense of situation was lost, so decided to use my original un cropped version.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 24mm, 1/15 sec, f22, ISO 100

For ‘still’, I chose a statue as my subject matter. I was on a Wembley tour in London, and chose to use the famous statue of Bobby Moore as my ‘still’ contrast.
Once I had decided on the subject matter, I moved around the statue taking multiple shots from different angles, with different focal lengths, and different apertures. Obviously as I moved around the statue, due to a bright day, the images looked very different.
I found it difficult to decide upon using either a silhouetted image or one with lots of detail, hi lighted by the sun. In the end I decided on the latter, just because I liked the quality of the detail in the carving.

Still

Still

When deciding upon my final image though, I found this much easier. I wanted to concentrate on the foot and the ball, as the foot is trapping the ball, keeping it ‘stationary’, so I left out most of the statue from the composition. I thought I would make use of the fact this wasn’t an action shot but one of a stationary pose, emphasised by the trapping of the ball. So in essence not only do we have a statue, but we also have a footballer who has stood on the ball, which one of the only moments in a football match when a player would render the ball motionless. This therefore provided a double meaning to my contrast.
My only critique of this image is the background, which unfortunately looks like an office block. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the angle to get the famous arch in the background, or have no background at all.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 80mm, 1/200 sec, f7.1, ISO 200

Pair 8

For my final pair I decided upon ‘rounded/diagonal’, as I was planning to walk along the Southbank in London and thought this would provide me with a huge amount of choice for this contrast pair.
My initial thought process was to capture a rounded building or object. However, to my surprise I found my image in human activity.
I came across an eccentric character building sand castles on the small beach section along the bank. I started shooting the man from the side when I saw his unusual activity. But from this angle it didn’t provide me with the interesting view point to move away from the ‘holiday snapshot’. So I moved closer to the subject so that I was leaning over the ledge looking directly down on his ritual. From this angle I managed to capture something much more creative.
From this angle I was able to capture the image that I was really pleased with. He was washing bowls with his bucket, which really complimented the ‘roundness’ of his sailor’s hat. Each of the four main objects of the image had the same shape and were horizontally parallel providing an essence of the circularity from my bird’s eye view.

Rounded

Rounded

I really like this photo, as to me it highlighted the use of finding the best angle to capture the most creative image, rather than discovering a scene and just shooting it as you see it.
My only critique of this image is the fact that the depth of field was so shallow (f5.6), as a result of my shutter speed priority of 1/640, which I felt I needed to maintain the sharpness of unpredictable human movement. If I had manually set the shutter speed and aperture, I think I could have had enough light (with a slower shutter) but also a depth a field which would have put all four circular objects in focus.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 105mm, 1/640 sec, f5.6, ISO 400

For ‘diagonal’ I decided to use Hungerford Bridge on the Southbank. This bridge has great angles in its structure. Initially I shot the angles of the bridge from below, isolating the supporting parts, but it didn’t have a sense of place, and as a photo wasn’t interesting enough.
So I decided to shoot my image on the bridge and include people in my image, to give that sense of place. I managed to maintain the ‘diagonal’ theme but also make the image more interesting.

Diagonal

Diagonal

I like the way the main focus of the image is still of the structural parts, due to not all the crowd being in focus. If the crowd was all in focus it would have taken the focus from the interesting angles in the bridge. I also really like the fact that the man leading the pack is out of focus, I think it really adds to feeling of how busy the bridge is and the movement of the pack over the bridge. I think in this instance, improved focus would have added a static feel to the shot, which I think would have detracted from it somewhat.
Again I converted this to black and white, as for me this photo just worked better when all the parts were of the same colour, with no distraction from the colourful crowd.

Lens: Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM
Settings: 105mm, 1/400 sec, f5, ISO 100

Final image

Before now the contrast pairings have been in the form of two photos, each demonstrating an individual contrast. For the final and 17th image I was asked to take one photo which contained both contrasts.
I was wondering past a sanctuary in Eton and saw some atmospheric and photogenic lamps lit early evening. This reminded me of a Rene Magritte painting whereby he used surrealism to portray a street at night with streets lamps lit, but above the roofs the sky was bright, as if it was middle of the day. This inspired my shot. Because of the high light levels in the evenings at this time, the sky could easily have been midday light, but the lamps were perhaps on timer, and I’m guessing around 6pm they come on. In the shade of the trees, the area surrounding the lamp actually appeared dark. So I had the opportunity to recreate the Magritte painting, where the sky was bright and below the tree line, it could easily have been late evening.
My final image is: ‘light/dark’

Light and Dark

Light and Dark

I decided to use my 50mm prime lens for this photo, as I wanted to create a very narrow depth of field, so the lamp was crisp, but the background was blurred out. I thought this would make the image more interesting than having a narrower aperture and everything in focus. I love this lens for its creative capabilities with regard to depth of field, made possible by having a potential aperture of f1.4.
When I got home after taking this image, I searched out the painting I had been thinking of by Magritte. I hadn’t seen this painting for at least ten years, but it just came alive in me when taking the photo. I must have liked it when younger, and it had decided to linger at the back of my brain. I think this just demonstrates you can research, and have an interest in, all forms of art and it can provide you with ideas and creativity in other forms.

Below is the painting of Magritte’s which I refer to above. This is entitled: Empire of light II (painted in 1950).

Empire of light II, Rene Magritte

Empire of light II, Rene Magritte

I like to think that maybe I was subconsciously picturing that Sanctuary’s church-like building in my photo as the copy of the similarly shaped structure in Magritte’s painting. Bit farfetched though I know! But I was amazed how similar the street lamps were, as in my memory of the painting these weren’t street lamps, but small house lamps outside a front door. Luck would have it though, our lamps are very similar! What a great project theme though: reconstruction of art through photography. To me it demonstrates that the different forms of art need not be separate, most (perhaps not all sculpture) are focused around the composition of a subject, and must consider light, colour and tone amongst other things. Magritte decided to play with light to add that surreal element to his paintings.

Lens: EF 50mm f1.4 USM
Settings: 50mm, f2, 1/1000, ISO 200

 

Personal Review

I was asked to review how I think I have doen against the assessment criteria, of which there are 4:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I believe I fulfilled this criteria well, using existing and new and learned techniques, from both research and the Exercises in Part 1. I used these techniques to alter my composition, being interaction between myself and my observations of my surroundings. I tried to utilise an array of techniques rather than stay within my comfort zone. I hope I managed to document this by putting these techniques in context.

Quality of outcome

I think I certainly have documented my work in a coherent manner, being able to express my thoughts in an informative an clear way. I also believe I have managed to convey my visions and thoughts in each part of the process. I think I was able to express all techniques, decisions, and researched knowledge in a concise and clear way.

Demonstration of creativity

I certainly feel I have been creative and shown experimentation; whereby I tried my hand at a range of types of photography. These were helped by showing interest in different styles, by proactively seeking out advice through colleagues and friends, and taking part in various clubs and spending days out with professionals. I am not sure I have yet to find my personal voice, but I am certainly finding myself drawn to many styles of photography, and some more than others. At the moment Im at the beginning of my journey and believe it will take time to stamp my personal style on my images.

Context

I certainly researched but it is probably not so apparent in the Assignment. I found it hard to relate some learnings to the context of the assignment, but I did do a lot of work outside just taking the photos. I found my research in the form of books, exhibitions, personal communications (which were vast), and websites. I also watched a lot of documentaries online and purchased DVDs. As I say it is hard to include these references into the log without appearing to contrive their inclusion.

I believe I had positive and critical reflection of my work. I am not afraid to hi light weaknesses in photos and my shortcomings, which I think is important in photography, otherwise you wont encourage yourself to improve.

I have found the journey so far very interesting and all consuming!

 

 

 


Exercise 13: vertical and horizontal frames

It was suggested that up until now most of the photographs during the course had probably been taken in a horizontal format. This is probably true, and possibly because a horizontal format allows more of the surroundings to be in the frame, and most of the images I believed to suit this format better. Perhaps I may have been wrong, as this exercise was used to demonstrate that ‘you can make most scenes work vertically’ (course manual). I was interested to see if I felt this was true for my approach to photography at this stage.

I was asked to choose compact locations, so I could photograph the same scene twice. I was asked to take my next 20 shots vertically, then was asked to take every shot just taken in the horizontal format.

Below are a few of the examples of the photos I took:

I believe up to this point, I had used the horizontal format as my default, only ever switching to composing vertically when photographing something tall. It seems clear to me, when looking at the above pairs, that you can compose a similar image vertically or horizontally, with a very similar outcome, and not lose the impact of the setting by switching from horizontal to vertical format. As suggested in the course manual, I did find myself looking for tall or vertically upright subjects (e.g. trees, buildings, people) to compose vertical images, but I dont do the same for horizontal composition. I dont tend to look for horizontal objects (e.g. cars, fallen tree trunks, low lying buildings), to compose horizontal images, I tend to fairly subconciously shoot images in the horizontal format only switching to vertical if encountering something tall and upright. This exercise has taught me to not go into a scene with a default setting (i.e. horizontal) but compose the image after some thought, maybe even taking both formats, as at the moment it seems some of the scenes I believed worked best as horizontal pictures, do seem to work just as well, if not better as a vertical picture. Having said that, sprawling landscapes certainly seem to lend themselves to a horizontal composition as the eye wants to “scan from side to side” (Freeman, 2007), but I will consider both before presuming anything.

Freeman (2007) suggests I may be shooting horizontally more naturally because: 1) of “ergonomics….turning the camera on it’s side is not as comfortable”; 2) because our “binocular vision means we see horizontally”; and 3) because “3:2 proportions are often too elongated to work comfortably in portrait composition”. Freeman (2007) also makes a key point, demonstrating that balance can often not be resolved in an image when forced into a vertical frame, when the subject is not a placed vertically. Similarly, sometimes when trying to balance a subject that doesn’t lend itself to a vertical frame, in a vertical frame, a less desirable object may be dragged into the it.

NB. All these images are shot in the 3:2 format, which is the classic 35 mm frame.
NB2. The first three pairs of photographs are taken using my Canon EF IS USM 24-105 mm f4.0. The final pair are taken using a Sigma 10-22 mm f4.0-5.6.


Exercise 12: positioning the horizon

For this exercise I was asked to find a view point with a reasonably interesting landscape and obviously a horizon. I was then asked to take a sequence of photos that placed the horizon in different positions in the frame; from top to bottom. I was then asked to write a short note on each image and the effect the placement has, and also to note which one I preferred and why.

Horizon at top

Horizon at top

With the horizon placed at the top, clearly more of the sea and less of the sky is visible in the image. It was a sunny, clear day, so the sky didn’t have any character. The foreground contained some breaking waves, which provided some drama, in an otherwise fairly boring image.

Horizon in the middle

Horizon in the middle

With the horizon placed in the middle, it is a very static composition, and really doesn’t have the breaking of the waves in the foreground, or any interest in the sky (that would have added another dimension, if it had any detail).

Horizon low

Horizon low

With the horizon placed at the bottom of the frame removes most of the character of the sea, and gives more prominence to the sky, which has no graphic value. Perhaps if the sky had more character this image would have worked better.

I must admit this is one of my least favourite set of images for the course, but I had limited time to take the horizon shot, and have to move on with the course. If I have time in the future I may revisit this exercise. Neither the sky or the foreground have much appeal to me, so it is difficult to choose a favourite image. Hovever due to the energy in the image derived from placing the horizon near the top, I would have to say that this is my favourite of the three.

I did find this exercise useful however, particularly when reading the chapter in Freeman’s (2007) ‘The photographer’s eye’ where he describes making a decision on the placement of the horizon based upon whether you believe certain parts of the scene more compelling than others: “if there is some distinct feature in the foreground, this will encourage a higher position for the horizon”. On the other hand if the “skyscape is dynamic, this might argue for a very low horizon”.


Exercise 11: balance

I touched on balance in Exercise 7, which I thought was an important aspect of why I preferred the placement of the main subject in certain positions in the frame. This exercise is not dissimilar.

I was asked to take 6 photos that I had already taken, and decide how the balance worked in each one. I took the direction as using 6 photos from my back catalogue of images, as taking 6 from those already taken on the course would be few and far between and fairly repetitive. I may have been wrong! Either way the exercise is the same.

I was asked to identify the weight of the ‘objects’ (e.g. colour, tone, points, etc.) in the image by sketching a rectangle around them. After this I was aksed to sketch a weighing scale next to the image to idenitfy the balance in each photo.

Below are a selection of images and their respective weighing scales:

Freeman (2007) talks of two types of balance: one being symmetrical and one being dynamic. I believe this image is just about in balance, and certainly would be a dynamic balance, in that the weights of the two objects are unequal. However, due to the closeness of the heavier weight (the boat) to the fulcrum of the weighing scale, it creates visual balance, which is offset by the smaller object which spans most of the other side of the scale. Freeman states : “a large object can be balanced by a small one, as long as the latter is placed far enough away from the fulcrum”. I believe this image just about conforms to this rule, but it is certainly a close call. I think perhaps the fact that the top half of the boat ‘object’ is not solid and you can see the sky, contributes in some way to eleviating some of the weight on the right hand of the scale.

Again this image is in dynamic balance. The larger object on the left is closer to the fulcrum than the object on the right hand side, which is the smaller object. Due to the dull tone of the image, with little colour, there is nothing else to take away from this state of balance attributed to by the two objects in the foreground.

This image is a good example of symmetrical balance. If a mirror was placed vertically down the centre of this image then it would not look too dissimilar to the current one. In this image the scale is in perfect symmetrical balance. Note that when this balance is so ‘tight’ that the smallest difference on one side of the scale would upset the balance in the image. For this reason I cropped the the bottom of the photo, as it had a dark object in the green pond on one side of centre. I did this before thinking of this exercise, so intuitively this must have aggrevated me in someway, and it must have been that subconciously I did not like the upsetting of the balance that it caused.

To me this image is in balance, even though the sketches may not demonstrate this. I think this is just due to the fact that by using a rectangle to sketch objects I am assuming the object fills the rectangle, when it simply doesn’t. For example the rectangle around the goal is not filled with the subject matter; the shadow of the palm tree is a very intricate shape, and certainly does not fill the rectangle. I think the goal and shadow are well balanced by the mountains and sea in the background; from where the sand meets the sea to the horizon created by the mountains.

The final two images are very similar, in that they use perspectice to perhaps balance the photo. Both coincidentally use light in the form of candles/bulbs as the objects of interest trailing into the distance. Does perspective in this sense, i.e. a row of similar objects, always create balance (as long as there is nothing else upsetting it)? It seems that the object nearer the camera is always going to be balanced by the smaller objects further away from the camera, as there are more of them.

Even though here we are almost discussing balance as the holy grail of photography and something that we should aim for, I am very concsious that this simply isn’t the case. Freeman (2007) states: “If we accepted a definition of good photography as the creation of images that produce a good, calm, satisfying sensation, then the results would be very dull…..an expressive picture is by no means always harmonius”. I also like that Freeman (2007) describes the poles of image composition are “symmetry” and “eccentricity”, and there is certainly a place for both in photography.

I found this exercise quite difficult, firstly in finding photos that didn’t just have a single object in the photo, but also in identifying the ‘objects’ in the image which should be placed on the scale. Having said that it has opened up a world of ideas to me in terms of considering composition. So a lesson well learnt.


Exercise 10: focal lengths and different viewpoints

Again for this exercise I used my Canon EF 24-105 mm f 1/4L IS USM, as it has a suitably diverse range in focal lengths. I was asked to find a scene that had enough space in it to allow me to take one photo with the most telephoto setting (105 mm) filling the frame with the subject, and then being able to move in on the subject switching to the widest angle (24 mm) until the subject filled the frame once again. This suitably demonstrated the difference between moving closer to the subject and staying where you are like the previous exercise and starting with the wide angle and ‘zooming’ in with the telephoto setting.

These two images to me made me consider how you choose your ‘type of shot’ with respect to telephoto or wide angle. Both settings are extremes of a continuum, and when compared, do quite obviously set the subject in a different perspective in relation to its surroundings. The two images do have a different feel.

The first image, the telephoto shot, makes the subject stand quite dramatically in its surroundings, as the telephoto setting compresses the perspective, bringing the background closer to the subject. This concept I had seen in photos but had not understood how it was achieved. I know this is not the most dramatic of images, but it does touch on this concept. Something I know I will be trying to use in the future.

The second image, the wide-angle setting, makes us feel like we are interacting with the subject, and it is towering over as. This is achieved by the different perspective we are now allowed to see. We see more of the hull of the boat, and less of the cabin; almost like a ‘fish eye’ view! It makes the boat sit much bigger in its surroundings, and has more dimension than the flatter feeling I get from the first image. Having said that, of the two, I much prefer the telephoto image, as it has an element of abstract to it, whereby the boat seems like it’s been cut out of the sea and plonked in the trees, out of it’s normal context, a result im sure created by the compression of perspective.


Exercise 09: focal lengths for cameras with variable focal lengths

This exercise was based around how focal length makes differences to your photo.
I was asked to choose a a subject and take photos from the widest angle and then switch to the longer focal lengths and take further images of the same subject. I removed the intermediate images from the mid range focal lengths from this blog, as I am sure we can imagine the sequence in between, from wide angle to telephoto length.

For this exercise, I used my recently acquired Canon EF 24-105 mm f 1/4L IS USM, as I could switch from the 24 mm wide angle through multiple focal lengths to end on the most telephoto setting of 105 mm. I have posted two separate images below, as I couldn’t decide between them. They both however show the same result.

As described in the course, the telephoto image shows a ‘magnification’ of the image, whereby the focal point appears closer and the relationsip between different objects in the scene is the same. This is not the same as moving closer to the subject matter. You can see the effect of moving closer in the next exercise; a very different outcome to ‘zooming’ in.