Monthly Archives: February 2017

Reflection

Reflecting against the recommended criteria, I have the following observations:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

For this assignment I tried a variety of styles in order to get differing depths of field, however my final shots mainly have a shallow depth of field. Whilst composition wasn’t always perfect in the original shot, the use of Photoshop enabled cropping to improve on the original framing.  A variety of shooting positions were used to vary the viewer’s perspective.

Quality of outcome

I feel my assignment gives a good balance of the technical aspects of my shots, alongside my observations of the shots.  I feel I’ve given more thought to the camera setting required for the shots I was after, but sticking to a wide angle lens meant that I felt a lot of my images were unusable for final images due to distortion of vertical lines. Taking additional lens may have rectified this.

Demonstration of creativity

 

Variation in approach to the shots during the day and exploiting the light to add interest has led to more creative shots. A series has been created using two shots from each shoot at different times of the day. This creates a story starting with entering the site in the morning to experiencing the interaction between plant life and the ruins, to leaving at dusk.

Context

The context of these images is very much around being creative – the opposite of the Google image search I did of the site where stock images made the site look flat and uninteresting. My images aim to capture the spooky isolation of the site together with the nature that surrounds it and continues to give the site life and hope.

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Languages of Light

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission.

  • Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.
  • Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
  •  Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment. Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your ‘process’ (the series of steps you took to make the photographs). Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link in to your own work. Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria. Write 500–1,000 words.

Include a link (or scanned pages) to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor’s comments.

I had several ideas for this assignment. I thought about re-visiting Exercise 2.3 to show some further examples of music photography with artificial light at the same venue but a different musical group. I’d been disappointed with how Exercise 4.2 had turned out with the light not varying enough throughout the day, so I considered photographing the deer at Wollaton Park (which I used for Exercise 2.6) but once I started working again, finding time to re-visit at different times of the day to capture the varying light became difficult.

Then, one morning on my drive to work, I noticed the outline of some church ruins through the trees. On Googling the site, I found out the ruins were of Old Annesley Church. The church was built in 1356 and fell into disrepair after its use was discontinued in 1942. The church is Grade 1 listed and an Ancient Monument.

Images I found of the ruins online all looked flat and uninteresting – how one would expect a stock image of the site to look. I was keen to take on board the observations of the coursebook in that we have an expectation of how a subject should be photographed and creativity comes from looking beyond the obvious. Whilst I couldn’t do as Chris Steele Perkins did with his photographs of Mount Fuji as the background to everyday events, I was keen to photograph the ruins and the grounds in a more original way.

Whilst on a mound by the side of a busy road, the site is desolate and its remoteness attracts antisocial behaviour. On my visits I was alone, it was drizzling with rain and I found the site creepy and I didn’t want to stay there too long.

I took my Canon 5D Mkiii and a Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens. I knew the site was relatively small and I wanted to capture as wide an image as I could of the ruins. My first visit was around 1pm on a Sunday in February and the light was as bright as it was likely to become. As recognised by Eugène Atget, there’s a greater quality to the light at this time of day and minimal shadow. I took a variety of shots at eye-level and crouching to get different perspectives.

On returning at 5pm, I just caught the final light of the day – however, a bit too late to catch the ‘golden hour’ of light. I didn’t take many images as the light was dropping very fast and I was already having to use a high ISO to capture anything.

I didn’t get to return to the site for the early morning shots for a few weeks, but I eventually got to the site on a non-raining day at 7.45am. The sun was low causing a lot of glare.

Due to being alone at the site on each occasion, none of my images contain any people. The absence of the presence of humans in the shots adds to the desolate nature of the depiction of the site.

Whilst the photos weren’t taken chronologically on the same day, for the purposes of presentation, I’ve put them in chronological order – starting with early morning, going through to nightfall in order to tell a story of entering the grounds to leaving later in the day.

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Image 1-Entering the graveyard. Focal length 35mm, f/5.6, 1/50s, ISO 400

Here the rising sunlight throws a beam of light down the path toward the entrance. The image was composed so that the curve of the railing and the steps leads towards the light. The light reflects off the railing and the damp steps highlighting the curve further whilst the treads with no light on them are a black. The light falling on the snowdrops towards the top left of the image creates a white line in front of the trees and gravestones in the background.

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Image 2: New life. Focal length 35mm, f/4.5, 1/50s, ISO 400

Daffodil bulbs are sprouting showing that even amongst the deserted grounds, new life grows year after year. A close, low perspective allows the daffodil leaves and immediate foreground to be in focus whilst the gravestones, tree and church wall in the back ground are out of focus – almost as if they’re incidental to the photograph. The shot has been cropped so that the daffodils are seen in the bottom right of the image initially before the eye is drawn to the distant shadows in the bright light

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Image 3. Only moss grows on the old church walls. Focal length 35mm, f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 160

Here a dead weed growing from a crack in the church wall is composed as centre of the shot – its wispy skeleton leaves in focus (as is the moss on the upper part of the wall) whilst the evergreen trees and window shapes in the distance are out of focus. A similar weed creeps into shot from the right-hand side.

annesley1pm_stephaniewebb_329a2162Image 4: Light from both sides. Focal length 35mm, f/2.8, 1/200s, ISO 160

This old window frame with its missing stained glass and broken shaping has the light from outside shining from behind the leaves from the tree, and light from behind me illuminating the decaying internal wall in a way that would not have been possible when the church had a roof. The shot is composed with the window centred to highlight the in-pouring light.

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Image 5 Desolate grounds. Focal length 16mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 6400

Here as dusk heads toward darkness, the gravestones are hard to make out and it’s only the trees and the church ruins which are obvious to he viewer. The photo is composed so that the tree is centre of the image as if its ‘arms’ are outstretched beckoning the viewer forward through the spooky abandoned graveyard.

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Image 6: Sihouettes at dusk. Focal length 35mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 6400

This image is taken from below the wall boundary of the grounds. The shape of the cross memorial stone, together with that of the gravestones, the church ruins and the tree create a beautiful silhouette against the blue light. The tree’s overhanging branches looking as if they’re protecting the ruins from further decay.

The series of shots achieves the objective of demonstrating how the light differs and changes the appearance of the site through the day. The theme of how nature continues to grow around the decaying man-made ruins creates a sub-story. The combination of different shooting heights (below site level, crouching and at eye-level) and different focal lengths used in the shots show the site from less usual angles. The composition (and cropping) of the final shots has been considered in order to add interest by best framing of the subject matter, with the available light being exploited to frame or highlight the subject matter and its immediate and distant surroundings.

I considered converting the shots to black and white to give a harsher look to them, however, colour helps to demonstrate the effects of the rising and falling light throughout the day as well as helping to accentuate the interaction between nature and the ruins.

Contact Sheets 7:45am

Contact Sheets 1pm

Contact Sheets 5pm

 

References

http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/annesley-old-church/hintro.php [last accessed: 29/09/2017]

http://www.chrissteeleperkins.com/books/fuji.html [last accessed: 29/09/2017]

 

Exercise 4.5

Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.

Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt.

Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots. In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.

I chose to Google images of cars. The following screengrab is my result:

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The thing I noticed with these images is that they vary from being purely the car with no background, then there are a few shots of cars on the road, and a couple with people in the car. Apart from the images with people in the cars, the cars were whole cars. The images with people in only showed part of the car.

I took my Canon 5D mkIII and a Tamron 28-75mm lens with me to Tesco car park where I took a few shots of my car after doing my shopping as the store was closing.

Aside from demonstrating that my car needs cleaning!, my shots show only part of my car – concentrating on either the angles of the construction of the car, or composing the car with the Tesco store in the background in soft focus.

The images with short focal length – eg of the badge and the Hyundai name quickly go out of focus – in fact not all of the Hyundai name is in focus.

My shots differ from the ‘classic’ images of cars in that they are not trying to sell the car, more trying to show its angles or it in context of its surroundings.

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Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour to light an object in order to reveal its form. For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such as an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object. Man-made or cultural artefacts can be fascinating to light but they also contain another layer of meaning requiring interpretation by the photographer; this exercise is just about controlling the light to reveal form. You don’t need a studio light for this exercise; a desk lamp or even window light will
be fine, although a camera flash that you can use remotely is a useful tool. The only proviso is that you can control the way the light falls on the subject.

Take some time to set up the shot. The background for your subject will be crucial. For a smallish object, you can tape a large sheet of paper or card to the wall as an ‘infinity curve’ which you can mask off from the main light source by pieces of card. You don’t need to use a curve if you can manage the ‘horizon line’ effectively – the line where the surface meets background. Taking a high viewpoint will make the surface the background, in which case the surface you choose will be important to the shot.

Exposure times will be much longer than you’re used to (unless you’re using flash)
and metering and focusing will be challenging. The key to success is to keep it
simple. The important thing is to aim for four or five unique shots – either change
the viewpoint, the subject or the lighting for each shot.

Add the sequence to your learning log. Draw a simple lighting diagram for each of
your shots showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the
key light and fill. Don’t labour the diagrams; quick sketches with notes will be just
as useful as perfect graphics. In your notes try to describe any similarities between
the qualities of controlled lighting and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots
from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3.

Completing this exercise tied in well with a Portrait Photography Workshop I participated in. This workshop helped me understand how to build up the lighting for a photograph one step at a time. During the workshop we learnt several techniques, and I’ve chosen my favourite sequence from that day.

Image 1 – model in position

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Image 2 – white background, flash coming from top left-hand side as you look at the photo. The model’s chin and the right-side of the image are under-exposed.

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Image 3 – light is added below by the model holding a white light-reflecting board to light up her chin. Her hair to the right of the image is still dark.

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Image 4 – a flash is added for the right-hand side of the image. The lighting is looking a lot more complete.

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Image 5 – a white board is added to the right-hand side of the image to complete the lighting set up.

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Image 6 – between shots – model holding white light-reflecting board

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Image 7 – Final version of the portrait. Cropped version of image 5, however, for the perfect portrait, editing of her lipstick and stray hairs would be necessary.

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Exercise 4 – Project 4

Rut Blees Luxemburg’s work is especially interesting as she not only captures the many aspects of artificial light at night, but uses unusual angles to give a different perspective (Vertiginous Exhilaration, 1995) to add an air of mystery . Her use of lights in reflections of a puddle for the Cockfosters tube station, makes an everyday sight interesting, whilst in In Deeper and A Girl From Elsewhere, her use of depth of field and shutter speed captures the feeling of movement in the liquids.

http://www.photoforager.com/archives/rut-blees-luxemburg

Brassai’s series of photos Paris by Night, are a beautifully composed set of images using the available light to highlight key parts of the main subject matter. The graininess of the images adds to the authenticity of the images and the subjects they are portraying.

http://www.americansuburbx.com/2011/08/interview-brassai-with-tony-ray-jones.html

Sato Shintaro’s use of the time between dusk and dark to photograph neon lights before it’s dark produces a series of images that are clear and vibrant with coloured light filling the frame.

http://sato-shintaro.com/work/night_lights/index.html

This research has helped me understand that ‘night’ shots don’t have to be shot in the dark, in fact at dusk can be more useful to avoid large areas of black in the shots. Graininess from high ISO can add value to the image, but as with any photography, composition is key.

 

 

 

Exercise 4.3

Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’ in a short sequence of shots (‘beauty’ is, of course, a subjective term). The correct white balance setting will be important; this can get tricky –but interesting – if there are mixed light sources of different colour temperatures in the same shot. You can shoot indoors or outside but the light should be ambient rather than camera flash. Add the sequence to your learning log. In your notes try to describe the difference in the quality of light from the daylight shots in Exercise 4.2.

One of my hobbies is photographing live music. Occasionally I shoot at Bodega Social, Nottingham and I often have difficulties dealing with the light there – particularly for some of the bands who only have back lights and smoke effects. Dystopian Future Movies are one such band. An additional problem is that the main light source tends to be front centre stage, so a band where the guitarist and bassist both perform towards the sides of the stage means even less light on the performers.

All images were shot with my Canon 5D Mkiii and a Tamron 28-75mm lens on settings 1/80, f3.2 ISO 6400

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In this first image of the whole band, the rear moving lights are converging on the drummer making him invisible. Meanwhile the bassist on the left would almost be a silhouette if she didn’t have a white shirt and white bass. The lead singer/guitarist has her face and hair highlighted with her long black skirt blending int the background on the right. dystopianfuturemovies_stephaniewebb_329a0469

In this image the moving lights are all crossing to the left of the image leading to the right side of the drummer’s arms, hair and hat being lit. The light also accentuates the metal of the cymbals and drums.

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Again, the lead singer/guitarist has her face and hair highlighted with her long black skirt blending into the background at the bottom and right of the image. The lighting at the back produces an almost halo effect to her hair.

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The lack of available light meant shooting at a high ISO and as a result the images are quite grainy. The main light source being behind the performers leads to interesting highlights in the photographs – such as for the guest guitarist’s hair in this final image, whilst the rest of him is virtually a silhouette.

The natural light observed in Exercise 4.2 was very different. For a start, although it was a dull light due to the weather conditions, it illuminated a much larger area – the lights in this exercise are directed at specific area, and their colour adds interest to the shots. The direction of the artificial lights highlights particular area of the shot – eg the drummer’s arms in the second shot, and the guitarist’s upper body and guitar in the third shot.

To summarise, directional lighting can add interest – whether that be natural light or artificial. Whilst lighting at small gigs can be difficult to work with as it has the challenge of not being consistent, the effects can be worth it.

Exercise 4.2

In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day. It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk. You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata. In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.

I tried this exercise on a few days, but each day I chose was overcast and the light did not seem interesting to photograph – limited shadows and reflections. My final attempt was on 6 January 2017. All images were taken from my doorstep with a Canon 5D Mkiii and a Tamron 28-75mm lens.

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Image 1 – 07:58. f/5.0, 1/100s, ISO 3200 28mm

In this image, it is still dusk. the light is minimal and the car in the car park’s headlights are bright.  I didn’t adjust for colour balance.

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Image 2 – 09:05 . f/7.1, 1/200s, ISO 400 28mm

An hour later, it’s daylight, but not very bright. It’s clear it’s going to be another overcast day with dark clouds.

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Image 3 –  09:55. f/8.0, 1/320s, ISO 400 28mm

A little brighter now, but not much. A thinning of the dark clouds next to the flats shows a brighter piece of light coming through.

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Image 4 –  11:17. f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 400 28mm

The clouds are thinner now, allowing more light. There’s a reflection of the light on the roof of my car in the bottom right of the frame.

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Image 5 –  11:59. f/3.2, 1/1600s, ISO 400 28mm

Cloudier skies leading to less light again.

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Image 6 –  12:52. f/8.0, 1/0s4, ISO 400 28mm

This shot is over-exposed, so shouldn’t really be included. You can see the mini leaving the car park has headlights on as it was still quite dull and dark despite being an hour after midday.

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Image 7 –  14:04. f/8.0, 1/60s, ISO 400 28mm

Possibly the brightest it got all day. Still no shadows, but a few light reflections on the roof of my car and the silver car opposite.

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Image 8 –  15:01. f/8.0, 1/60s, ISO 400 28mm

Dark clouds again as the light drops further.

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Image 9 –  15:52. f/2.8, 1/160s, ISO 1000 28mm

The sun is setting and it’s starting to get dark. I didn’t adjust for colour balance.

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Image 10 –  16:54. f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 6400 28mm

The sun has set. the only light coming from street lights, security lights and residential windows.