Saturday, 28 May 2011

Steep Learning Curve

Last week I got a fab new camera. Not that there was anything wrong with my existing Canon 400d but, you know how it is, it's your birthday and you agree to go halves with hubby if he'll buy you it etc. etc.

So I now have a shiny new Nikon D7000. It's great. Only downside is in changing brands from Canon to Nikon I need to learn how to use it all over again and the manual is 3 inches thick. I should have probably decided to get a new camera before I started this course not half way through but anyway I have and today I went out with some friends from the St Andrews Photographic Society to shoot portraits....something else I don't know much about.

What a day. A local model came along for the shoot and was very patient with the beginners like myself in the group. My new camera is now set up exactly as I want it and I never once had to look at the manual. I learnt a fair bit about portrait taking too which seems to have grabbed my interest at the moment.
Nicola Boyter
None of this has helped me complete the exercises for part 3 of TAOP but the upshot is I'm still very enthusiastic about the course and my minds buzzing with things I want to try and ideas for little projects. There's still so much to learn. I don't want to rush through this course and not give it my best effort but I can't wait to get it finished so I can get onto the next one. Oh dear...I think I've been bitten by the bug.........

Monday, 16 May 2011

Control The Strength of a Colour

Exercise - 5 photographs

How colour affects a photographs composition is complex. Our perception of colour is not only visual but stimulates an emotion depending on our experiences associated with that colour. Some are obvious and familiar to everyone e.g. red represents danger or heat, others may be more personal e.g. the colour of a loved grandmothers favourite flower.

Colours are also perceived differently depending on which other colours are within the same image.

The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate how the strength of a colour is affected by exposure in a photograph. Each image is taken from exactly the same position and with the same lighting. The only difference between the images is that the camera settings have been adjusted to change the exposure. In this instance the increments are from 1 stop over exposed to 1 stop under exposed. The middle image has the average metered reading.

1 stop over exposed
0.3 stop over exposed
Average exposure setting
0.3 stop under exposed
1 stop under exposed
Even with the exposure settings changed in each image the hue remains the same. The colour is still green.

What has changed is how bright or light the colour appears. The more over exposed the image the lighter the colour and the more under exposed the darker the colour. The brightness also affects how saturated the colour appears. Underexposure gives a deeper saturation to the colour and vise versa.

The teaching manual goes on to ask which of the three colour qualities of hue, saturation and brilliance you can change at the time of shooting without moving the object or changing the light falling on it?
Well, if I understand the colour theory correctly, all three can be adjusted. Brilliance and how saturated a colour appears can be changed by altering the exposure of an image, whilst a colours hue can be altered by changing  the white balance in camera on a digital camera or by using coloured filters on a film camera.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Assignment 2 - Tutor Feedback

This week I received my tutor feedback on Assignment 2 - Elements Of Design. His comments were on the whole positive and I am delighted. That's not to say everything was perfect but all the thought and effort that went into it seems to have paid off. Earlier in my blog I commented that I was particularly enjoying this part of the course and that was perhaps because I tended to use strong design elements in my images anyway and my tutors feedback seems to echo this.

When I submitted my first assignment I was a little concerned that the standard of printing of my images was below par but since I have been using my new Epson printer I am much happier and my tutor has commented that my prints are good in that respect and are well presented. The use of black and white for this exercise was also a good choice.

Technically with the possible exception of one image (Rhythm) the pictures are all good. The images for A Single Point and Rhythm are his favourite, although Rhythm needs a slight boost in contrast.

Single Point
Diagonal was probably his least favourite. While "well composed" and "interesting " it didn't have a strong diagonal feel for him. I'll need to mull that over for a while before I decide what I want to do with that image, if anything, for the final assessment.
I seem to be doing well with my blog although he has suggested looking at artists across all media and not just photography and to try to develop a more self critical approach to my work. That's something I do but not generally for public consumption on here. A lot of self criticism goes on in my head and I find it quite difficult to explain my thought processes in writing. There's also a fear element involved. Are my pictures even good enough at this early stage to consider doing the full degree? Why do other students seem to understand all the mumbo jumbo arty speak and be able to reflect on it in their blogs and I need a dictionary just to read one chapter of Susan Sontag's book? If I comment will I say something stupid?

I like looking at other artists and students work in both photography and art. I find it inspiring. I know when I like something and when I don't but can't always explain why. I'm hoping that this will develop along with my photography and realise that self criticism is as much a part of the course as the photography. Its all part of the learning process.

I'm almost ready to start Part 3 of the course which is - Colour. There are just one or two pictures to upload for the exercises and Part 2 is complete. Assignment 3 has to be with my tutor by July 1st and I'm determind to meet the deadline again.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Rhythms and Patterns

Exercise - 2 photographs

As an element of design rhythm and pattern are similar in the sense that both are a form of repetition. The difference between them  is that rhythm encourages movement of the eye across the image whereas pattern is more static and is most effective when it fills the frame as the assumption is that it continues beyond the edges of the frame.

Rhythm suggests movement and activity and works best when there is a natural break in the elements, otherwise the picture may become predictable and boring.

Examples of Pattern
Man made pattern

Pattern with the helping hand of mother nature.
In both of the images above pattern fills the frame. The pattern is haphazard although my feeling is that the consistent textures and colours help to hold the picture together. Every stone is unique but there is repetition in the colour and form. According to John Hedgecoe in his book - the Art of Digital Photography - "Pattern often occurs in nature..." and "The repetition of forms and shapes is probably the simplest of the five elements to both understand and exploit." In this case the elements he is referring to are tone, form, shape, texture and pattern.

Example of Rhythm

As an example of rhythm this image has the "optical beat" suggested by Michael Freeman in his book "The Photographers Eye" and moves the viewer from the front of the image towards the back - however with this particular image the missing element is a focal point to maintain our interest. In order for rhythm to be effective in an image there needs to be an element that attracts and hold the viewer's attention otherwise, like the image above, the outcome is boring and predictable. Again as we tend to read from left to right the rhythm works best when it travels in this direction across an image but this doesn't have to be the case and it can also travel in a vertical direction.

Although the rhythm image above is not a great example I feel I have a better understanding of both pattern and rhythm following this exercise.