Saturday, 26 March 2011

Assignment 2 - continued

These are the remaining 6 images for the assignment on Elements of Design. They represent:
  • A combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • several points in a shape
  • distinct shapes
  • at least two implied triangles
  • rhythm
A combination of vertical and horizontal lines.
Aperture Priority f/8 ISO200 1/15sec
Several points in a shape. 
Aperture Priority f/11 ISO200 1/40sec
Distinct shapes. 
Aperture Priority f/8 ISO200 1/250sec
Two implied triangles.
Aperture Priority f/8 ISO200 1/500sec

Aperture Priority f/8 ISO200 1/500sec

Aperture Priority f/11 ISO200 1/60sec
All the images have been printer on Epson gloss photo paper to A4 size and backed with card, so now all I need to do is type up the accompanying notes and post the assignment off to my tutor. I hope to have it in the post to him by Wednesday this week which is a minor miracle considering that I was weeks overdue sending off Assignment 1. Fingers crossed the rest of the course goes so smoothly. Your comments on the images are appreciated.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Assignment 2 - Elements of Design

Assignment 2 - at least 10 photographs.

Assignment 2 concentrates on incorporating the theory of design into a set of at least 10 images taken of one type of subject. These are the first 5 images in the Assignment all taken in the streets of Edinburgh and produced in black and white. They show the following effects:
  • single point dominating the composition
  • two points
  • diagonals
  • curves
  • pattern
 A single point dominating the composition.
Aperture Priority f/5.6 ISO200 1/800sec
Two points.
Aperture Priority f/11 ISO200 1/320sec

Aperture Priority f/8 ISO200 1/320sec
Aperture Priority f/8 ISO400 1/60sec

Aperture Priority f/8 ISO200 1/50sec

The images above were all taken using a Canon 400d camera with either a Canon 18-55mm, 55-250mm or Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens. Adobe Lightroom was used in the conversion to black and white.
I am particularly pleased with the images representing curved and pattern for this exercise. If anyone would like to make any suggestions for improvement or comment on these images, good or bad, please feel free. This is the first time I have used Lightroom so I may have missed a few "tricks" in processing.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

More on 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.

Project - Shapes

Shapes it would appear can be anything. An outline or enclosure, real or implied, regular or irregular. 
The only "rule" seems to be that the more regular the shape the stronger an element it is within a composition.

Real and Implied Triangles

Exercise - 6 photographs

This exercise involves producing 2 sets of triangular compositions in images. One using "real" triangles the other implied triangles.
  • Real - find a subject that is triangular (it can be a detail of something larger)

  •  Make a triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame.
Use of a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens from a low viewpoint exaggerates perspective to form a triangle.
  • Make an inverted triangle, also by perspective.
Low viewpoint and use of Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens inverts a triangle by perspective.
  •  Implied - Make a still life arrangement of 5/6 objects to produce a triangle.

  • Make a still life arrangement but so that the triangle is inverted.
  • Arrange three people in a group picture to make a triangle.

Why use shapes in design?
Symmetrical shapes in an image can help balance an image and make it more pleasing visually. Similarly triangular shapes have three distinct points or corners which, being an odd number, are also more pleasing to the eye.

 The shape(s) within an image also have a relationship with the frame which can be harmonious or natural e.g. in the case of horizontal shapes within a horizontal frame or create tension by contrasting with the frame e.g. in the case of a strong diagonal shape or zig-zag within a rectangular frame.

Composition of an image is a process involving many elements which are edited, either consciously or subconsciously by the photographer, to create a pleasing image. Using shapes in the design is one small part of the process.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Implied Lines

Exercise - 2 photographs

This exercise is divided into 3 parts.

Part 1 involves looking at the two photographs below and finding the implied lines. If one direction along a line is dominant this is marked with an arrow.

Dominant Lines
The first image of a bullfighter is fairly straightforward. The strongest implied line for me is in the direction of the bulls movement which is extended by the bullfighters cape. There is also a curve extending from the top of the bullfighters cape down to the curve in the sand which leads out of the frame. These curves together form an "S" shape. Although the bright colour of the cape is a strong focal point the movement suggested by the bull is stronger therefore more dominant.

I found the second image much trickier. There is a sense of direction coming in from both sides of the frame as both the walking figure and the horses are moving towards the centre of the image. This is accentuated by the tilt of the horses body and turned heads. In this instance the horses movement feels stronger than the man as the horses are larger in the frame so their direction of movement feels more dominant. With this image particularly I have changed my mind several times and this confirms one of the points raised by this exercise in that you can only encourage a viewer to look at an image in a certain way. Inevitably people will interpret images differently.

The second and third part of the exercise is to perform the same analysis on my own images showing examples of implied lines, an eye-line and the extension of a line or line that points.

Image 1. Multiple eye lines.

Image 2. Single eye line.

Both of these images show examples of an eye-line. The painters in the images are static but your eye automatically looks to where they are looking directing your attention to the same point. This implied line directs you to look at another element within the frame. If these lines are diagonal or curved they are more active and suggest a greater sense of movement. In Image 1 there is a much greater sense of activity due to multiple lines.

Image 3 . Row of points
  This image shows a row of points joining together to form a line. An example of your eye jumping ahead to complete the line and also incorporates an eye-line with the man looking out of the frame. In this case you can't see where his gaze ends so the viewer is left to wonder.

Image 4. Direction of movement
 With an obviously moving subject your eye keeps moving into the direction of travel extending the line.

According to Michael Freeman in his book The Photographer's Eye the eye-line is the strongest form of implied line and is a very important design element in an image. An implied line within an image encourages the viewer to see different elements within the image which in turn gives it a sense of movement and activity.

Using an implied line can also be used by a photographer in an attempt to control how elements are revealed within an image.This makes the image more interesting for the viewer.

Monday, 7 March 2011


Exercise - 4 photographs

As with the previous exercise on diagonals, curves can be used within an image to add direction and a sense of movement. Diagonals move through the frame from point to point and like straight lines are relatively easy to create by altering your viewpoint. A diagonal line dissects an image. It is a strong, hard graphical element within the frame that purposely leads the eye directly through the scene. 

Curves on the other hand, although also adding a sense of movement and direction, can be weaved together to create a change in direction and encourage the eye to pause as it travels through the picture or in a certain direction. Curves are difficult to produce by altering viewpoint alone. Most will be "real" although not necessarily an object. They can be created by changes in light and shade e.g. in a landscape. Curves are softer, smooth and flow through an image. 

Image 1
Aperture Priority. ISO 200, 1/15 sec at f/11.
This image of an old back wynd in Edinburgh Old Town shows a strong curve from the bottom left of the image to the top right. In this respect it also acts as a diagonal which I hadn't realised until now but feels softer and has a slower pace through the image than a diagonal would have. 

Image 2
Aperture Priority. ISO 800, 1/13sec at f/16.
Technically this image is not very well executed as it is poorly focused and over/under exposed in places but it demonstrates a curve well. As your eye travels along the curve you notice first the stained glass windows then travel up to the circular ceiling.

Image 3
1/320 sec, ISO 400 at f/14.
These curves have been formed by the sea eroding away the layers of a rock.

Image 4
Aperure Priority. ISO 400, 0.6 sec at f/11.
In this final image multiple curves create a far greater sense of movement. In all four images above the curves have been a strong visual element in the image and have been obvious to the viewer. I need to remember that curves can also be implied in an image in the same way as multiple points can become straight lines or other shapes and for future reference try to create images which still meet the brief but are less graphic in style.

Diane Arbus - Exhibition

Exhibition - Art Gallery Aberdeen

Whilst on  a visit to Aberdeen this week I went to see the Diane Arbus Photography exhibition in the Artists Rooms at the Aberdeen Art Gallery. The Artists Rooms are jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland and this exhibition has a broad selection of her work, mainly from the 1960's.

Many of the images shown at the exhibition can be view here. Signature images from her life's work included in the exhibition are Twins, Child with a toy grenade in Central Park, NYC 1962, and A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y.1970.

The body of work at the exhibition is fabulous but I was disappointed with the lack of information on her personal life or how she became such a well respected and influential artist. So I have come home with a taste to find out more and done a little research which I will share here as who she became as an artist is inextricably linked to who she was as a person. 

Diane Arbus (pronounced Dee-Ann) was born in 1923 and sadly committed suicide in 1971. She is regarded, in just about everything I have read, as one of the most original and influential American photographers of the 20th Century. 

Her parents were hardworking Jewish immigrants and her father managed a fur store in Fifth Avenue, New York and they lived on Park Avenue. Diane herself is quoted as saying in interviews that she had a privileged upbringing. 

At 18 Diane married Allan Arbus (who went on to be an actor in M.A.S.H - yes really...) and he was already a photographer. They supported their family by being fashion photographers. Diane did the styling and Allan took the photographs. It was her husband who bought Diane her first camera and in 1956 they had their first photo included in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. I say their because they always took joint credit for the images. By the 1960's Diane had moved away from fashion photography into portraiture and was beginning to develop her own distinct look. Her images, always square, became more artistic and were rather unorthodox for portraits. Apparently she would spend hours even days with people until they dropped their guard and became more relaxed with her. Many of her professional portraits were published by Esquire and Harper's Bazaar.

It was during this time that her own private collection of images was developing and the portraits of people in the streets and those "on the fringes of society" were taken. Many of the images show circus performers, what she calls "midgets" and "retards" again her words not mine and transvestites. It is mainly these images that make up the exhibition.

The photographs are beautifully taken. There is definitely a distinct style to her work which is a cross between documentary and portraiture. 

 I'm sure that in 1960's America there would have been nothing shocking in the images or the image titles but in the 2010's use of words like "retard"  in a title is outside of what is now morally acceptable. I can't help feeling as I wandered around the exhibition that this is clouding my opinion of the images. Were the images originally intended to shock or just show the normally unseen? Whichever it was I bet the titles themselves would have been unremarkable in the 60's.

As far as the images of physically and mentally disabled people are concerned do we even have the right to take these pictures? Who gives consent for the people unable to do so themselves? The "normal" person? What's normal? Is it because these people are rarely seen that they are regarded as different?

Should we just accept that these are "record shots" of the unusual people that Diane Arbus would actively seek out to be different or is there a deeper meaning coming from her own personality in that she didn't regard herself as "normal".  Suffering from depression she had her own unseen affliction and is said to have missed the attention of her parents as a child because they were working hard at being successful.

This is a very thought provoking exhibition which shows a comprehensive range of Diane Arbus images. If you get a chance I would highly recommend it. I'm sure I will be returning to her work again.