Friday, 26 November 2010

Assignment 1

Contrasts - 17 photographs

This assignment involves taking 8 pairs of images which reflect visual contrasts and aim to show the essential differences. The exercise is based on the theory of composition put forward by Johannes Itten in the 1920's at the Bauhaus in Germany and was originally intended as an art exercise but has been adapted for photography.

The 8 pairs of contrasts I have chosen are light/dark, straight/curved, still/moving, transparent/opaque, liquid/solid, many/few, rough/smooth and continuous/intermittent. The final image has to show a contrast in one image.

I have decided to send the images for assessment mounted and in print form but have included them in my blog for your comments. These are the first 2 pairs.
This image was taken with a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens at 10mm. The camera was set to Aperture Priority - f/16 to allow sharpness from front to back. ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/30th sec. I also used a polarising filter to accentuate the blue sky and clouds.
Post Processing
I cropped into the foreground slightly to emphasise the long straight path and make the railings form a diagonal towards the distant vanishing point. The vanishing point of the path is set at approximately a third of the way into the frame horizontally. This was also the reason I chose to use a wide angle lens and take the image from a low viewpoint as it has exaggerated the linear perspective of the pathway and street lights.



Taken with a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens at 12mm. As tripods and flash photography are not allowed within this building the image was taken hand held. The camera was set at Aperture Priority at f/11 to aim for sharpness throughout the image. ISO 400 with a shutter speed at 1.3secs. With the aperture any wider than f/11 the shutter speed was too slow to allow a hand held image even with the ISO at 400. I was reluctant to increase the ISO any further as the resulting image from my camera would have had a lot of noise.
Post Processing
I cropped the handrail on the right hand side of the image which I felt dominated the area and distracted from the curve. The handrail shows a strong curve which is mirrored by the lighting along the stairway and the stairs. The centre of the tiled floor is placed as close to a third of the way into the frame horizontally as the image will allow.
This image is of a street performer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was taken with a Canon 55-250mm lens at 250mm. The Aperture was f/8, ISO 100 and shutter speed 1/400sec. I chose this image to represent light rather than white because of the feel I created in post processing. The image to me is light and airy and has a soft ethereal feel to it. The softening of the hair and background add to the feeling of lightness.
Post Processing
The image was cropped to give a head and shoulders view of the artist. In Photoshop I them used layers and various blending modes to removed the distracting background and apply a soft light overlay to give a high key effect and create the mood of the image. In contrast to light is.....
Again this image is of a street performer at this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was taken with a Canon 55-250mm lens at 79mm.Aperture f/5.6, ISO 200 and shutter speed 1/800sec. In contrast to light above I was aiming for a dark and moody feel for this image.
Post Processing
In Photoshop the image was cropped to give the same head and shoulder shot of the artist. Then the background was removed and a texture layer used to provide a harder edge to the image which I feel makes the image appear moody and dark. The artists expression also affect the mood of the image as in "Light" above the artist has a gentle smile whereas in "Dark" the artist has a harder expression.

Anyone with any comments or suggestions on these images is welcome to post them here.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Vertical and Horizontal Frames

Exercise - 20 photographs horizontal & 20 vertical

For this exercise you have to take a variety of images in a vertical format. They can be of any situation or subject. The exercise is then repeated with the same images taken in a horizontal format.

The purpose of the exercise is to show that most subjects can be photographed vertically as well as horizontally with a little bit more thought and that taking images horizontally is a matter of habit. It will also show a tendency to place the "weight" of the main subject lower in the frame and to naturally seek out tall subjects to suit the frame.

All of which I have to agree is true. I did find myself looking for tall frame filling subjects and scenes which had enough interest both vertically and horizontally to make an image work.

These images are a few examples of the 40 taken for the exercise.

Swilkin Bridge St Andrews

Clubhouse 18th Green  - St Andrews Old Course

St Andrews University Students

St Andrews Seafront

Dysart Harbour Fife

University Student
Pitenweem Harbour Fife

Dysart Harbour Low Tide

St Andrews University Quad

Decaying Tree Tentsmuir
According to Michael Freeman in "The Photographer's Eye" there are 3 main reasons why we tend to shoot images in a horizontal format. The first is that camera manufacturers find it easier to produce cameras for horizontal use and that it would be difficult to design a camera for horizontal and vertical use. The second is that photographers find it more comfortable to take picture horizontally as turning the camera vertically is less comfortable and so rarely do so and thirdly, to me more obvious, is that as we have two eyes and binocular vision so we tend to see horizontally and therefore it is more natural.

Now, I can see how all of that is true except I would say I take just as many pictures vertically as horizontally. In fact I have been forced to take more images horizontally by these exercises than I would normally and even looking at the images I have already taken for Assignment 1, I can say that at least half are in the vertical format. Not quite sure why I am doing this especially if Michael Freeman's assertion that most photographers rarely do this is correct. I think I use this format subconsciously but maybe in future I should give it some thought.............

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Happy Days....

Am I happy today or what!

 Just got my new computer monitor which is fab. It's like being at the pictures and I can actually see my photos in full at a decent size for once. No more peering at the screen or viewing different sections at a time. Going to make editing pictures much easier...

And on that subject, I have decided to print my images for Assignment 1 to about A4 size and mount them together as contrasting pairs. I think I must be the only person sending off prints to their tutor - everyone else seems to sending by e-mail or on disk. It has taken me longer to do it this way and it's more expensive but I personally prefer to see a picture in print. Completed light/dark - straight/curved - and transparent, rough and intermittent. 
Now, just got to finish the rest .................never seem to have enough days in the week!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Graham Clarke - The photograph

The Photograph - Book Review

This book was included with my course notes when I signed up for "The Art of Photography." It's not the easiest of reads especially if, like me, you haven't done any formal studying for some time or studied art or art history before. You'll probably find yourself re-reading pages or even chapters several times until you understand the text.

The chapters are well organised starting with "What is a photograph?" which gives a short history of photography starting with the first "heliograph" by Joseph Niepce in 1826 and them continuing through the decades until 1990 and includes images by Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Man Ray.

The introduction goes on to establish a distinction between amateur and professional photographers i.e. "between photography as an art (with the stress on individual creativity and expertise), and the photograph as a mass- produced object."  Is the author suggesting by this that only professional photographers can produce "art" ?  I think there would be many amateurs who would disagree. However he does go on to explain that in the history of photography "as few as 200 photographers have determined the terms of reference and the frame of meaning for the history of the photograph." 

The remaining chapters of the book are divided into the different genres of photography e.g. The Landscape, The Portrait, The Body photography and gives examples of how each area has developed with critiques on various photographers who have influenced the subject.

Many of the photographs contained within the book are instantly recognisable although the analysis and critique by the author may be harder to understand. The style of writing is very complex and academic - this book is not a who's who of photography and you're not necessarily going to agree with the authors viewpoint on all the images. 

The two most salient points of the book for me were that " we must remember that the photograph is itself the product of a photographer "  and that "...the photograph is, in the end, open to endless meanings."

Image reproduced courtesy of Bridgeman Education.