Thursday, 28 October 2010


Exercise - 3 photographs

The object of this exercise is to review 3 of my own images and suggest an alternative image by cropping the photograph and give my reasoning behind the selected crop.

All three images were taken with with my Canon 400d and 18-55mm kit lens. This first image was taken at Tentsmuir Forest in Fife. These fungi were perfectly formed and growing from a tree stump. The whole group was no larger than a 10p piece so ideally I would have liked a macro lens to get in closer. This is the original image taken at f/5.6, ISO 400 at 1/60th sec.
Original image
The suggested crop indicated would remove the areas in the image which are overly bright and distracting. These are the brightest white areas at the left of the fungi and the extreme upper right corner which is overexposed. The crop also places the fungi centrally within the frame and the proportion taken up by the tree stump in the lower right corner is mirrored by the size of the empty space in the opposite upper left corner.
Suggested crop.

Final image.

This second image was taken at York Railway Museum. In this instance it was not possible to get any closer to the engine as there was a 4ft perspex screen and floodlights protecting the exhibit. The original shot was taken at f/5, ISO 400 at 1/5th sec. Ideally an aperture of f/11 or above would have been better but this would have led to a longer exposure time and the shot had to be taken hand held.
Original image.
Possible crop.
 The final image cropped and rotated. The image that I would have liked to have taken in camera had it not been for the physical barriers.

Final image.

This third image was taken on a holiday in Cyprus. The image shows a local farmer and his goat herd who were some distance away from the road where we were travelling. Taken at aperture f/16 and speed 1/500 sec. This image is similar to the example image given in the teaching notes. 
Original image.
Possible  crop.

Cropped image.
The image was cropped to remove the sky which lacks any detail and the foreground which was cluttered and distracting. This crop definitely makes the image more interesting and makes the goat herd the obvious subject of the image. Before the crop it was just an image of a scene which included goats, trees, sky and field.

These are only 3 images that I looked at regarding this exercise but I had several more in my picture files which would benefit from the same treatment. Sometimes there are good reasons why an image is not framed correctly "in camera" as in the second image due to the physical obstructions but more time spent studying a scene before taking the picture can't hurt.

Focal Lengths and Different Viewpoints

Exercise - 2 or more photographs

The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate the effect a change in viewpoint and a change in lens can have on perspective. I have taken two photographs of a car I spotted in a local car park to demonstrate the results.

The first image was taken on a Canon 70 -250 lens at 60mm. It shows a fairly normal perspective of the car although it is slightly closer than the "normal" view as our eye would see it.

Image 1. f/11 60mm.
  In the next image which was taken with a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens at 18mm there is a clear change in the perspective.

Image 2. f/11 18mm.

The wide angle lens has exaggerated the size of the front of the car and it now appears much broader. The front of the car is more prominent while the background has shrunk in comparison. The linear perspective has also been affected by the wide angle view.

If you imagine a line drawn along both wings of the car from the bottom corners diagonally towards the top of the car, the diagonal is much more pronounced in image 2. This image has a much stronger presence and the impression given is that this car is nearer to the camera. The exaggerated linear perspective gives the image more depth.

Focal Lengths

Exercise - 3 - 10 photographs

This exercise involves taking a series of photographs from a stationary position using different lenses to study the effect focal length can make to an image. The following images were taken on a very cold and blustery day at St Andrews beach. The lenses I used for this exercise were a Canon telephoto lens with a focal length between 70-250mm changing to a Sigma wide angle lens with a focal length between 10-20mm.

This first image was taken with the Canon 70-250mm lens at 214mm.

The same lens at 96mm.

This next image was taken at 74mm on the Canon 70-250mm lens.


As the focal length of the lens gets shorter you can see the angle of view getting wider. This next image was taken at 55mm.
 Then changing to the Sigma 10-20mm lens for a much wider view below. This image taken at 20mm.
I have moved to the right of frame slightly for this image as the waves were lapping at my feet - but even if I hadn't moved - if you compare this image to the first image at 214mm they could have been taken at totally different places. The change in lens to a wide angle lens has totally changed the feel and style of the image.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Explore on flickr

I have fallen behind with my exercises and also my assignment!

Despite thinking about the blasted thing every waking minute, time just gets in the way. I'm really enjoying this course and if nothing else it's also making me think about my style as a photographer. There are many photographers both historic and current, amateur and professional whose work I appreciate and all have varied genre.

I still don't know what my 'style' is - but I have recently uploaded a picture to flickr which has made it into 'Explore'. It happens to be an image that I am using for assignment 1 of TAOP - curved.

No pressure now of course to take another 15 images that are as good!  However, had it not been for the exercises in the course it's not a picture I would have probably taken. Think there's a lesson to be learnt there....

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Positioning the horizon

Exercise - 6 photographs

In any image with an unbroken and clear horizon the frame can be divided in a multitude of ways, but there are probably 5 or 6 obvious positions within the frame to place the horizon. Top, middle, bottom and half way between each.

When there are no other obvious points of interest in a scene where to place the horizon becomes even more important and can even become the most important element within a scene. This exercise explores alternative positions for the horizon and the following images represent what I feel are the most distinct positions.

A very high horizon.

In this example the horizon is set high in the frame. Without an interesting foreground element the image is unbalanced and the foreground detail that there is is distracting. This image doesn't work for me. The scene is empty and lacks interest. In the second image the horizon is slightly lower but the same problems apply.

With the horizon high in the frame and an expanse of water in the foreground there is a feeling of space in the image, however there is little else of interest. In the next two images the horizon is set low within the frame. This works better in this case because there are interesting details and colour in the sky. Although with the horizon set very low in the frame you begin to lose the cloud formations at the top of the frame.

Horizon very low in frame.

More interest in the sky with a lower horizon.
According to Michael Freeman in "The photographer's eye" the composition of an image with the horizon positioned centrally within the frame is static, not dynamic. To me this means it will lack any element of risk.

Centrally placed horizon.

In the image above, the sky is interesting again because of the cloud formation and colour but the foreground lacks any interest. Where the horizon is placed in an image obviously depends on the scene being viewed and the elements within the composition. Some thought should be given to this at the time the image is taken. What works in one scene may not work in another.

For me the image that works best for this scene is the "normal " placement of the horizon that conforms to the "golden ratio", purely because the foreground needs to be minimised to allow the interest in the sky to dominate the image.

Most appealing horizon placement for this particular scene today.