Thursday, 17 February 2011

Thinking about Assignment 2

This week I have been thinking about the images I would like to assemble for Assignment 2.
These are due to be with my tutor by mid April and so far, unlike Assignment 1, I am on track to achieve that date for submission.

I have found this section of the course much easier. Perhaps easier isn't the right word, I have certainly found I have been much more decisive about which images to use for the exercises and seem to have settled on an idea for the assignment and stuck with it this time. At least I learnt that lesson from Assignment 1!

With this in mind I took a trip to Edinburgh Old Town this week and came home with quite a few possible images for the assignment. Black and white and street photography are something that I have had a urge to experiment with for a while now and this is the ideal opportunity to combine the two - although strictly speaking the street photography won't be concentrating on the people in the street but the graphic elements of the streets. I've also invested in Lightroom as I'm told, by those who know better than me, that black and white processing using Lightroom gives better results. I would dearly loved to have used my old Pentax film camera with some Ilford back and white film for the images but due to lack of use the shutter has seized and unfortunately it's not worth repairing. I've also upgraded my printer to an Epson R2400, which I got second hand, and had to replace all 8 inks.

So that's a day return train ticket to Edinburgh, Lightroom, a printer, inks, Oh.... and now that I've put Lightroom on my PC I need to increase the RAM. I was going to eat this month but that will have to wait.....expensive hobby this photography, but never mind, the pictures are coming on a treat.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Exercise - 4 photographs

Diagonal lines in an image have a greater sense of movement and although they can be found occurring in man made structures or occurring naturally, they are also easy to create by changing the camera angle or camera lens.

This first image is straightforward and shows diagonal lines created by a man made object. In this case a pedestrian walkway.

In the image below, taken with a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, the horizontal lines of the railings each side of the footpath recede into the distance. The linear perspective is enhanced by the low angle of view and the lens used. This has the effect of turning what normally would be horizontal lines into diagonals. The effect of the diagonals in this case is to enhance the feeling of depth in the image.

Similarly by changing the angle of view with a standard lens or simply cropping an image, diagonals can be created as in the example below.

Image 1

Image 2
Image 2 has a greater sense of movement than an image of a lone vertical or horizontal tree would have. The examples so far have all had a diagonal that crosses the frame completely. This next image has only partial lines. Although these are not completely diagonal do they have the same effect on the image?

There is definitely a contrast between the angle of the shadows and the frame edges which encourages a sense of movement in the image. If the shadows had been horizontal along the bottom of the frame they would have had the effect of adding "weight" to the bottom of the frame but also of cutting off the image at that point. Vertical lines would have been strong lead in lines but also static.  
There are other examples of diagonal lines within the course notes which are also incomplete. If I had the chance to take this image again I would have taken it from a lower viewpoint so that the lines continued further into the image.

The following are links to further images which show strong diagonals.

 Kertesz,Andre Fork 1928.

Abbott,Berenice Manhattan Bridge 1936.

Laughlin,Clarence John The Dynamics of Cylinders 1946.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Genius of Photography - DVD Episode 1 - Review

The Genius of Photography - Fixing The Shadows

I have been unable to get a copy of The Genius of Photography by Gerry Badger in book form so decided to watch the DVD instead. The DVD is split into 6 episodes with the first episode - Fixing The Shadows -  looking at the distant history of photography and its development into the popular form it is today. 

The DVD opens with a view of a Paris street present day and compares this with an image called "Meudon" taken in 1928 by the photographer Andre Kertesz of the same scene. The image can be seen here -
It is remarkable how little has changed during this time. Obviously there are no longer steam trains and peoples clothes have changed but the houses, street and railway viaduct are all the same. What is remarkable is the timing of the picture. The stream train crossing the rails overhead, the man in the foreground carrying a parcel, all coming together at the right moment and eluding to the reason why some photographs show true genius.

The DVD then continues with a look further back in time to the 1830's when both Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre were attempting to create a process for fixing an image. Henry Fox Talbot created the first shoe box sized camera using silver nitrate paper negatives. He called this camera "mousetrap".  Louis Daguerre's process fixed an image on a mirror plate producing a single image only. This is one of the reasons that Fox Talbot's process became more popular. Examples of both type of image were shown on the DVD which really helped me understand their place in the history of photography.

The narrative continues with the experimental images and the study of movement by Eadweard Muybridge. 
Then the introduction of commercialism in photography by the production of Carte de Viste which became a global phenonemum.

There were a couple of photographers mentioned in the DVD which, although I have seen their names mentioned in previous books for this course, I am not overly familiar with and will look into further e.g Felix Nadar a french photographer who is described in the DVD as the "Andy Warhol of bohemium Paris".

The development of the Brownie camera by George Eastman's Kodak Co. revolutionised photography by bringing it to the masses. The Brownie sold for $1 and was originally intended for children. The first prints by Kodak cameras were circular which is one of the hundreds of little snippets of information that I picked up whilst watching the programme. 

As an introduction to the history of photography this first episode covers a lot of ground and provides plenty of information and I would recommend it to fellow students on this course particularly if they are new to studying photography.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Lines - Horizontal and Vertical

Exercise - 8 photographs.

The purpose of this exercise is to study both horizontal and vertical lines as they appear in an image. These can be lines formed by a solid structure or shadow or even by objects creating implied lines in an image. According to the course notes the most successful example of a line within an image is one that draws the viewers eye.

Horizontal Lines
Image 1

In the image above the stone wall creates a solid horizontal line which is reinforced by the people sitting side be side along it's length. There are other elements within the frame which enhance the horizontal line. From left to right there are points of interest which hold your gaze.

These start with the service box with the can on top on the left. Your eye then moves along to the man's outstretched arm, along the 3 people to the bag and cups which continue, filling the gaps, and extend the line to the right hand edge of the frame. Although horizontal and vertical lines are considered to be less active than diagonal lines or curves, this image provides a pathway for the viewer to follow and is probably less static than some other examples.

Image 2 

Unlike the first image the horizontal lines in this image only partially fill the frame. However, the clear, uncluttered background ensures that this is the most prominent element in the image.

Image 3

This image is an example of an implied line. Although the flag poles themselves are vertical and could have been used as an example of vertical lines, I don't think the vertical is the most obvious element in this image. The horizontal line that is created by connecting the row of flags is much more prominent.

Image 4

There are several potential points of interest in this image although there is also a strong horizontal element in the stairs.

Vertical Lines
Image 1

Vertical lines formed by 2 standing figures.

Image 2

A strong vertical line created by groynes at Aberdeen beach. Although there is also an element of horizontal lines the vertical is far more prominent and leads the eye into the frame. This line has a strong sense of direction from the bottom of the frame to the top.

Image 3

Again in this image there are both vertical and horizontal lines. The vertical line of the fence is more prominent due to it's lighter colour.

Image 4

This image of a telephone box is another example of a vertical line which dominates but only partly occupies the frame.