Monday, 19 March 2012

Cloudy Weather and Rain

Exercise Part 1 - 4-6 images

The first part of this exercise is to compare images taken of the same scene in both sunlight and cloud. The white balance in camera should be sunlight/daylight in all the images and any differences in camera setting noted.

There can be a marked difference in the strength of colour and light between a sunlit and cloudy day. On a cloudy day the clouds act as a diffuser and even out the light. This soft even lighting results in reduced contrast in the image which will usually allow more detail to be visible in the shadows.

Image 1 - cloudy/Image 2 - Sunlit
 As you can see from the images above Image 1 - taken with cloud cover - has less contrast than the image taken in direct sunlight. The light is even and some would say flat. The cloudy image is cooler and I feel less saturated. Both images were taken on Aperture Priority at f/9, ISO250. To compensate for the lower light levels and as I had selected a fixed aperture, the shutter speed in the cloudy image was longer at 1/320sec compared to 1/250sec in the sunlit image.

In this second set of images the most obvious effect of the change in conditions is the effect on the tone and colour saturation.
Image 1 - cloudy/Image 2 - Sunlit
Image 1 - taken in cloudy weather - is cooler and has deeper shadow areas with very little detail visible. This may be partly due to the angle of view. In terms of camera setting however they are identical which I hadn't expected. Both taken on Aperture Priority f/5.6, ISO100, shutter speed 1/45sec. My only explanation for this is the latitude that the wider aperture has allowed in  terms of capturing the available light.

Exercise Part 2 - 3 images
The second element of this exercise involves taking a few images on an overcast day. In this first example my aim was to capture the vibrant colour of the flowers and avoid any distracting highlights in the background or shadows beneath the flowers. The overcast conditions also have the benefit of showing the deep saturation of colour in the flowers.
f/3.3, ISO 250, Shutter speed 1/250sec

In this second image the overcast lighting has accentuated the texture of the sandstone. There is just enough directional light to show some shadow and accentuate textures but the diffused light means that the shadows are also softer and less pronounced. The shadows in this image are there to serve a purpose and are not intended to be a noticeable element in the image.

I like to take images with strong graphical elements when the weather is overcast or cloudy as these make stronger images when converted to black and white. In this particular image I wanted to show the solitude at the beach on a very cold day.

Exercise Part 3
The final part of this exercise involves taking images in the rain, not something I do very often but when I do it's with the aim of catching kids in wellies or bright umbrellas to brighten up an image. Other times the sunshine after a rain shower can create some opportunities.
Aperture Priority - ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/750sec
I tend to work in aperture priority and in cloudy weather or rain the exposure times are generally longer. In some cases I might use a tripod but generally to keep the exposure times manageable for hand held images I increase the ISO or adjust the aperture in camera. Luckily the camera I use, a Nikon D7000, has one of the best high ISO performances so this is not too much of a compromise.

I've made a note to myself to photograph more wet weather this year. One thing I can be sure of is that there will certainly be plenty of suitable days.

Time Issues

OK. I need to get my act together. I  was aware from previous student comments that Assignment 4 for TAOP was long and took a fair bit of time to complete and that's something I'm beginning to run short of.

I'm running perilously close to taking the 2 full years to complete TAOP and I had planned for 18 months. I hoped to be on my second course by now. I'm learning a great deal from the course and don't want to sell myself short by not giving it my best but have spread myself a bit thin in terms of my photography time.

As a member of the RPS I am also working towards my LRPS and also as a member of  St Andrews Photographic Society I am working on images for inclusion in competitions both internal and external. This year is the first time I have entered any external competitions and I have had some success with 2 images in particular :

Doll Face
Doll Face has been accepted for exhibition at:
Port Talbot International Salon 2011
Bebington Salon of Photography2011
Vale of Evesham Annual Exhibition 2012

Winter Pavilion
Winter Pavilion has been accepted for exhibition at:
Dingwall Open National Projected Image Exhibition 2011
Port Talbot International Salon 2011
Bebington Salon of Photography 2011 - Commended
Southport Open 65th Annual Exhibition 2012
Vale of Evesham national Exhibition 2012
and was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Scottish Photographic Federation club championship 2012.

On top of this I am also involved with some fellow photographer friends in the Pittenweem Arts Festival which has been running for 29 years and is a showcase of work from both Scottish and International artists in all art forms, sculpture, painting, photography etc. The festival is held in the very picturesque Fife village of Pittenweem at the end of July. They also run workshops and it was at one of these last year that I met the professional photographer David Graham and undertook a photography course with him and several others on "Documenting the festival". David Graham's work has been accepted for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery in 2009 and 2010 and he established Changing Ideas Organisation which raises funds to "support and develop the use of photography in humanitarian campaigns." The website can be found here

Visitors to the Arts Festival come from far and wide to view the artists work and many are from overseas so the images I produce for this event are again totally different from my work relating to the OCA. Visitors want to buy "postcard" scenes from the area not a digital art image or street photography.

Now, I can hear a few comments like - "but a good photo is still a good photo". Yep, I agree but it won't sell at Pittenweem and I can't afford to print images that don't recoup the cost.

Recently a fellow student of the OCA made a comment relating to the Royal Photographic Society which particularly irked me. The comment went along the lines of  - being a member meant you had to conform to "camera club style" photography and that the RPS presented itself as an exclusive club- "RPS bashing" I think I called it. I can only assume the individual has never been to see the RPS in action. The standard of photography is great. They encourage many of the things we are being taught about learning from past masters, developing your own style of photography, sharing and learning from peers and tutors with vast experience. Why does being a member of the RPS and also learning with the OCA and taking part in a local camera club have to be mutually exclusive?

If I hadn't been involved in Pittenweem Arts Festival I doubt I would have met David Graham and learnt from his photojournalism experience. If I hadn't been a member of the St Andrews Photographic Society I wouldn't have been inspired to enter National or International competitions which have boosted my confidence and allowed me to show a more creative side to my photography and if I hadn't started a course with the OCA I doubt I would have attended the Royal College of Arts degree show in London this year and viewed the work of Nadege Meriau who photographed bread in a whole new light. Literally.

My involvement in all of these things together is expanding my photographic learning and skills and surely that is a good thing. It may not suit everyone but it suits me.

Now. If only I could find another 5 hours in a day? !