Exercise Variety with a low sun

Brief

This is an exercise to demonstrate some of the advantages of shooting when the sun is low. Obviously, there is no sudden moment in the day when the sunlight switches between low and high but, as a guide, the sun is low within about two hours of sunrise and sunset, except in winter when it stays low for much of the day. In summer, this may not be a convenient time to go out shooting, but the results from getting up really early can be very rewarding.

You can choose any subjects for this project, but they must be in sunlight. Take as many pictures as possible, but aim to produce four as a final result, as follows:

  • frontal lighting, with the sun behind the camera, striking the subject fully. Thelighting effect should appear intense, and any shiny parts of the subject will reflect the sun. You will probably have to be careful to avoid including in the picture shadows thrown by you and the camera
  • side lighting, with the sun to the left or right. More or less half of the subject will be lit, half in shadow. You should be aware that the shaded parts of the scene will affect the exposure reading; in other words, beware of overexposure
  • back lighting, Shoot towards the light. Depending on whether the sun is in view or hidden behind the subject, the exposure may be difficult to predict, so bracket the exposures as described in Project: The intensity of light. If the sun is not so low and is very bright, don’t look directly at it – even through a viewfinder – as this can damage your eyes
  • edge lighting, This is a special condition for shooting towards the sun, in which the sun is outside the viewfinder frame and the edge of the subject is lit. This is not a common type of lighting and you may have to work hard to find it. If you choose a small or movable subject, you could move it into position against a shaded backdrop because a dark background shows up rim lighting more clearly. If in doubt, bracket your exposures. (Edge lighting and rim lighting are not the same thing. Rim lighting is an effect created where back lighting creates a rim of light around the subject, e.g. a ‘halo’ effect around a person’s head, separating the subject from its surroundings.)If you can, complete all these pictures on one occasion. There is a tremendous variety of lighting, and you can capture this variety by changing your view point. As a bonus, at close to the same time you can also shoot sunrise or sunset, and twilight.

Equipment

All the images in this set are taken using the same equipment: Canon 5D MkIII Canon 70 – 200 f/2.8L IS USM Handheld

Results

Frontal lighting

Frontal lighting

I took this shot with the sun more or less behind me.  The image produced is quite flat, due to the lack of shadows.

 

Side lighting

Side lighting

This image was taken with the sun on the left of the subject. The image is more interesting than that taken with frontal lighting, due to the addition of the shadow.

 

Back lighting

Back lighting

With the sun placed clearly at the rear of the shot and by using main subject, church in this case, to block the light, the whole subject appears as a silhouette.

 

Edge lighting

Edge lighting

The sun is placed just out of shot, giving the straw bale more of a highlight at the top and left than with the image taken that is side lit.

 

Reflection

I think I should have taken a stronger picture for the Edge lighting image. The sun is not near enough to the edge of the frame and as such looks too similar to the image that is side lit. Overall, it it useful to note how flat the image is with the sun positioned behind the camera.

Assignment 3: Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

A thoughtful and well presented assignment. An excellent set of considered and good quality prints. Your decision to use a square format is admirable and in this instance has given a cohesiveness to your presentation and assignment, well done. The link to Dropbox for the hi-res files works well. This assignment is quite difficult, as you note, finding naturally occurring colours that meet the assignment criteria is time consuming and will be complicated further by many colours being ‘broken’ or desaturated and muted by weathering. Overall you have done well with assignment 3, there is a lack of theme and coherence concerning the subject, of which you comment upon,  although you have partly offset this by submitting a cohesive set of prints. A good mix of found situations and arranged images which demonstrate understanding and learning developed from the module and in most cases your images achieve successful outcomes.

I note that three images were taken in July and August which suggests they are from your library rather than taken specifically for the assignment. This is slightly disappointing as two of them are among your strongest images, 5 and 10,  this does weaken the submission.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity 

Colour harmony through complementary colours

Image 1. A well seen and fun image that has captured a great expression. The main colours are complementary and you are correct in explaining that the muted yellow balances well with the more vibrant purple even though it is not in the classic 1:3 ratio. The crop includes a lot of negative green space above the musicians and removes the banjo and trumpet detail? The trumpet in particular is cropped too tightly and starts to fight with the frame edge, possibly cropping it out would lend more ambiguity to the image. This image was taken in 2005 so should not be included for formal assessment as it goes against the requirements for only using images taken during the OCA course.

Image 2. Good choice of complimentary colours, You observe the classic balance of 1:1 between these two colours but that will only apply to pure red and green, as in the colours used and indicated by your sketch. The muted colours here will still approximately obey this rule as they are both muted by a similar amount. Interesting experiment with depth of field and this does focus attention onto the hole. This then becomes a single point dominating the composition. You touch on this in your annotation but the annotation needs expanding to demonstrate learning from previous modules. Do include references in your annotations to Goethe etc. to underpin your learning ‘evidence’.

Image 3. Well seen red and green, what let this image down is the blue of the ladies jacket as it introduces a third colour into the composition which is detracting from the two complimentary colours. The overall warmth of the bricks and gold contribute to the complimentary colour palette. The green scarf is a bonus and even the bottle label has some green. This may have required further waiting for the decisive moment to occur, and the lady in blue to disappear out of frame? Good use of symmetry and precise camera work.

Image 4. A well observed detail, the complimentary colours are very broken and muted so Goethe’s theories regarding percentages will not really apply in this instance. As well as blue there is a strong evidence of green, again muted. Overall the restricted colour palette of the image is pleasing, the muted tones balance well and the square format and technical aspects are excellent here.

Colour harmony through similar colours

Image 5. A strong image and an excellent use of colour harmony through similar colours. Here you have strong saturated colours so Goethe’s principles will apply. The red dominates the image much more than his suggested 2:1 ratio for this colour combination. Your sketch uses some artistic licence in representing the colour amounts! You do not mention this in your own evaluation or perhaps could have commented on how warm colours may ‘advance’ and be more attention grabbing while cool colours will often ‘recede’. This is very obvious in your print as it has an almost 3D quality. The image was taken in August which suggests it may be not have been specifically shot for this assignment?

Image 6. A well seen detail that captures the lovely patina of the metal surfaces. The muted reds and oranges produce a well-balanced and harmonious image, well done. Technically very good with an appropriate use of shallow depth of field.

Image 7. Good use of controlled flash light to create a focal point within the composition. Here the yellow is fairly saturated although slightly muted, while the green is very dark and the darkness is masking any saturated colour. With this combination the suggested balance of 3:2 is not happening. You mention this in your evaluation, so perhaps you should not have included the image as it is not strictly meeting the assignment criteria. This would have been excellent blog material with the explanation as to why you did not include it. I suggest re-visiting this one before formal submission.

Image 8. Good detail and a well seen combination. Again you comment upon this not being the best ratio between colours, in this instance it would have been fairly straightforward to have cropped (still using the square format) some of the yellow so the more acceptable proportion of 3:2 was achieved. I would look at re-cropping this for formal submission. Do remember to document further any work on your assignment as this is much appreciated by the assessors and shows commitment and learning.

Colour contrast through contrasting colours.

Image 9. A very clean, simple and graphic image which demonstrates this principle. You have strived to achieve the 4:3 suggested colour ratio but remember this is based on both colours having the same saturation. Here the highly saturated orange is slightly dominating the muted green. Good control of light. No mention of several points in your composition, a missed opportunity to demonstrate learning for assessment! So do remember to refer back to past modules when annotating if appropriate.

Image 10. A really well seen composition that uses the colour palette very effectively. Your annotation is excellent here as you really get to grips with the principles of colour balance including the effects of ‘broken’ or muted colours. If you could work on your other annotations to this level then that would really lift the assignment. Excellent to include the references and citations. The submission becomes diluted however as the image was taken in July suggesting another one of your library images rather than specifically shot for the assignment.

Image 11. A lovely image and well balanced composition that makes excellent use of the square format. Both yellow and blue are diluted  which although these are contrasting colours the image has a restrained subtlety that is very appropriate for this image. Good annotation again, Well done!

Image 12.  A simple image well observed and recorded. Your annotation is appropriate here and picks up on the muted colours. The use of flash to create shadow and some form is subtly and effectively controlled. Within your evaluations try and get into the habit of using some of the terminology associated with visual arts. So the 3D nature of this subject would be ‘form’, whereas flat 2D areas would be ‘shape’, the fourth module concerning light explores this.

Colour accent using any of the above.

Image 13. Interesting use of texture and colour, as you point out the yellow is very muted and possibly not strong enough to be classed as a colour accent. This term is more usually applied to a colour that dominates a small area of a composition due to its contrast or strength of colour in relation to surrounding colours. The usual example would be a grey damp street scene with a red post box in the distance. This would allow the post box to become a single point dominating the composition due to colour accent.

Image 14. A somewhat confused annotation here. When working with colour accent the suggested Goethe ratios will not really apply as in many ways you are going deliberately against these principles to allow the accented colour to dominate the scene. The similar colours of orange and yellow will not make a good combination for strong colour accent as they are too close. This is more of an example of using similar colours but then, as you point out, the ratio is wrong.

Image 15. This is much more successful in demonstrating colour accent and you very appropriately mention composition and design principles within your annotation.

Image 16. Another well constructed image that effectively demonstrates colour accent. Elegant composition with a touch of humour. You mention deliberately going against Goethe’s principles which is relevant so I wonder why you tried to use them for image 14? Good to cite Eggleston here, his images would be seen rather than arranged although his use of colour is appropriate.

A good conclusion which hits the nail on the head really! The assignment has a bit of a rushed feel to it, some images appear to be old shots which add to the lack of a cohesive set of images. Overall though you demonstrate an understanding of the colour principles outlined in the module. I would advise re-working some annotations and re-visiting a few of the images before formal assessment.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

As mentioned above some of your annotation mentions previous learning and are reflective while others could be expanded. You mention:

I did, however, choose to compose each image with a square frame in mind, which I discovered added a more pleasing feel to many of the images.’

Expand on this, why a more pleasing feel?

Your exercises are detailed and you include some reflective thoughts, be wary of simply copying artwork as all you are doing is recording an artist’s work and thoughts which leaves little interpretation for you as a photographer.

Although your exercises are technically OK and you are ticking the box for the learning required the images are mostly technical and would not really stand on their own as interesting images. A useful rule of thumb to use is to consider if you would be happy to include them as part of an exhibition, would they look OK hanging on the wall in a gallery? This will require an investment in research, thought and time which will push you much more as a photographer. You do not necessarily have to approach all the exercises from this perspective.

Do include some research images within your blog, if concerned with possible copyright issues then just have a link to the source of the image. Allow the research to start to inform your own work in terms of style and direction, you should be undertaking the research before you work on an assignment, retrospective research is useful but it will not help to plan and inform your current assignments.

Your scrapbook is developing well and has some interesting material in, do keep this going.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

No real evidence of looking at the work of Pete Turner and Eggleston apart from a brief mention and reference. As well as my above suggestions for research did you look at the work of Ernst Hass as mentioned by Freeman in the module?

Your book list is growing, try and balance the technical with some concerning aesthetics, Journals such as the BJP and the Source Photographic Review website may help here. If possible try and attend some of the OCA study visits as these will help you in looking at and critiquing photography.

http://www.bjp-online.com/          http://www.source.ie/

For some research concerning use of light combined with your interest in advertising photography have a look at the awards section of Graphis Magazine. The magazine covers graphic design, product design and photography.

http://www.graphis.com/schools/

Also consider looking at how the Dutch Masters school of painters influence how photographers use light today.

http://www.essentialvermeer.com/dutch-painters/twenty_dutch_masterpieces.html

Levin Rodriguez has produced a series of still life and portraits based on the Dutch Masters use of light:

http://levin-rodriguez.artistwebsites.com/art/all/pronkstilleven-ostentatious+still+life/all

Hendrik Kerstens has a huge body of work devoted to photographing his daughter in the classic Dutch style: http://www.hendrikkerstens.com/

Erwin Olaf has some still life and portraiture based on the Dutch school: http://www.erwinolaf.com/

William Lingwood and Tessa Traeger are both food photographers that use light very much in the Dutch Masters tradition.

Pointers for the next assignment

Make sure all images are taken during the OCA course and specifically for each assignment.

Re-visit some annotations and images.

Allow more time for planning and shooting the assignment

Undertake much more visual research of critically acclaimed photographers and emerging talent and allow this to inform your own work.

The next assignment is concerned with light, try not to get too involved with the technical concerns, although important, let the aesthetics shine through!

Use relevant names for your images and make sure your prints have the image name on.

My comments

John is quite right that I was a little rushed trying to finish the assignment. As such I borrowed some of my library images instead of taking fresh pictures. I’ll avoid that in the future as it’s “false economy”!

I’m pleased John liked the square format as a way of providing some cohesion, although I clearly need to stick to a theme for the entire set of photos.

It’s useful of John to point out in Image 2 that when both colours are muted, Goethe’s ratios still apply, and that in Image 3 I should have tried to keep just the target colours in frame to make for a stronger piece.

John noticed that I used a little artistic license in Image 5 suggesting that the ratios where 2:1 in order to fit with Goethe, In reality they were probably more like 4:1, but the picture still works and I should have stated that.

John notes in Image 9 that the highly saturated orange of the Tic-tics dominates the picture as the green Tic-tacs are more muted. I’m not so sure of this, simply because the green Tic-tacs are also brighter than the orange.

I’m delighted that John liked Image 11 as I would say it’s probably my favourite shot and certainly the one I enjoyed shooting the most.

Following John’s suggestion, I had a look at the work by Enst Hass. I must say I am very impressed with the quality of his work. His use of the colour wheel ratios is obvious in many of his pictures, as is his use of multiple layers in his landscapes.

I also checked out the work by Levin Rodriguez and his amazing replicattions of the Dutch Masters through the use of still life photography. It makes me wonder how close to the original sets Rodriguez’s sets are.

My main take-away is to allow more time for planning and shooting the assignments and to conduct more research into critically acclaimed photographers prior to commencing a shoot.

Exercise: Higher and lower sensitivity

Brief

Take similar shots at both normal and high sensitivity. Choose a situation which is marginal; that is, where the mixture of light level and subject movement or depth of field is only just possible, for instance, a busy street market on an overcast day. Shoot first at normal sensitivity (for example, ISO 100), then change to higher sensitivity (for example, ISO 400 or ISO 800). Did the change make shooting easier? In particular, were there photographs that you could not take successfully at the lower sensitivity but were possible at the higher setting? Higher sensitivity is certainly a convenience, so why bother to use a setting that is slower? Compare the two kinds of image close up (enlarge the digital view on the computer to 100%). Look in two kinds of area in the picture – those that are smooth, with little detail and neither particularly bright nor dark, and also in the deep shadow areas. What is the obvious difference?

Equipment

All the images in this set are taken using the same equipment: Canon 5D MkIII Canon 70 – 200 f/2.8L IS USM Handheld

Results

ISO 100 0.7s f/22

ISO 100 0.7s f/22

This image  is clearly affected by the vibration caused by my hands over the period of the 0.7s exposure. The grass at the top of the frame doesn’t show as much vibration as the grass and mud at the bottom of the frame.

 

ISO 1600 1/20s f/22

ISO 1600 1/20s f/22

The imager is fairly crisp here as the higher ISO has allowed the exposure to be taken at 1/20s.

 

ISO 100 1/6s f/2.8

ISO 100 1/6s f/2.8

Again, this image is affected by hand vibration as it was taken at 1/6s. Only the foam appears to be affected though. The smooth areas of the image do not show the camera shake.

 

ISO 800 1/45s f/2.8

ISO 800 1/45s f/2.8

A vast improvement is noticed at 1/45s, in particular in the foam area. The smooth areas do not appear any more crisp. The problem with the higher ISO setting is that it introduces noise to the image. Some of this can be corrected to varying degrees in post production, but I tend to avoid going above ISO 3,200 on my 5D MkIII as I’ve never been a fan of noise. I would rather use additional camera support, such as a tripod or bean bag or fence to allow for a lower ISO rating.

Reflection

It appears to be the higher contrast detailed edges that are impacted by camera shake, more so than the smooth areas. Most modern DSLR’s handle noise very well at the lower ISOs, so at the lower levels it is not an issue. Sometimes higher ISO ratings are required as it’s more important to get the shot in focus and with little or no camera shake than it is to eliminate noise altogether.

 

 

Exercise: Measuring exposure

Brief

For this exercise produce between four and six photographs which are deliberately lighter or darker than average, and say why in your written notes.

Now take five or six different photographs, of any subject, but for each one make five exposures, arranged around what you have measured as the best exposure. The first should be one stop darker, the second half a stop, the third average, the fourth half a stop lighter and the fifth one stop lighter.

When the photographs are ready to view, look first to see whether or not the central exposure is, as you would expect it, what you wanted. Next, which, if any, of the other exposures are also acceptable? Depending on the subject and the kind of lighting, you may find some differences. With some pictures, the darker and lighter versions are not right; with others, all five exposures are, in their own right, perfectly acceptable. Silhouettes often work at a number of different exposures. You might be surprised to find that you prefer a slightly lighter or darker result than you had planned.

Equipment

All the images in this set are taken using the same equipment:

Canon 5D MkIII
Canon 70 – 200 f/2.8L IS USM
Handheld

Results

Part 1 – deliberately lighter or darker exposures

 

-1 stop

Image 1: -1 stop

I exposed this image taken a reading from the grass and reduced the exposure by 1 stop. This darkened the upended tree stumps to create more of a frame for the scene.

 

+1/2 stop

Image 2: +1/2 stop

I increased the exposure by 1/2 stop to brighten this little chap’s fur to help him stand out a little against the grass.

 

+1/2 stop

Image 3: +1/2 stop

The little was dropping a little and was becoming overcast when I took this shot, so I brightened the leaves by increasing the exposure by 1/2 stop.

 

-1 stop

Image 4: -1 stop

The light was quite appealing here, and I wanted to create a greater level of contrast and increase the silhouette affect of the squirrel, so I dropped the exposure compensation by 1 stop.

 

Part 2 – Multiple exposures

The average exposure is quite acceptable for this image. However, I wanted a stronger silhouette, and as such the -1/2 and more so the -1 exposures give a better look to the image.

 

The average exposure I feel is the best of the images, although +1/2 is also acceptable.

 

The average exposure is ok, however, -1 is a stronger image due to the almost completely black silhouette.

 

The York city walls on a fairly dim day. Whilst the average exposure is acceptable, I think the +1/2 exposure brightens the scene slightly and provides a better result.

 

Superman crashed his mini into this garden. I prefer the average exposure for this pictures.

Reflection

Exposure compensation is a feature that I have been using for some years, although I was a little surprised by some of the above pictures. Clearly the average exposure is not always the best choice. I normally tweak exposures using Lightroom, however, I think it’s best done in camera where possible.

Assignment 3: Colour

Brief

In this assignment you will show your command of colour in photography, being able to find and use different colours in deliberate relationships. You should be able to identify at least two kinds of colour relationship.

  • Complementary (colours that face each other across the circle)
  • Similar (those near each other, as in a cool or warm range of colours)
  • Colours spaced about a third of the way around the circle: very different from each other, but not quite complementary. Blue and red are an example, as are green and orange. This kind of combination has a strong contrast, and you might even consider them to clash with each other. Using colours with this kind of relationship is not particularly

    harmonious, but is certainly eye-catching.

  • A fourth kind of relationship is when one small area of colour sits against a much larger background of another colour as a spot or accent.

Take about four photographs each (16 altogether) that illustrate the following colour relationships:

  • colour harmony through complementary colours
  • colour harmony through similar colours
  • colour contrast through contrasting colours
  • colour accent using any of the above.

Try to vary the subject matter, including both arrangements (such as a still-life) and found situations. In arranged photographs, you will have the advantage of being able to choose objects and settings that have the exact colours you are looking for. Uncontrolled situations are rather more difficult, and demand more careful observation. Make use of both lighting conditions and filters to help create the colours, but not in every photograph. To accompany these photographs, make notes about the ways in which the colour works in each image, and make a sketch for each to show the balance and movement.

Equipment

All the still life images in this set are taken using the same equipment: Canon 5D MkIII Canon 100 f/2.8L IS USM Manfrotto 055 tripod Elinchrom BRX 250 with Elinchrom Portalite 66x66cm – Key light Large reflector All found images were taken using the same camera, however, with a Canon 70 – 200 f/2.8L II USM lens and handheld.

Results

For this assignment, I began following a theme (dereliction of the river Hull), however, due to family commitments and time constraints, I have had a take shots whenever I have had the opportunity. It was more important for me to maintain the momentum of the course at this time. I did, however, choose to compose each image with a square frame in mind, which I discovered added a more pleasing feel to many of the images.

Colour harmony through complementary colours

 

Image 1

Image 1

Image 1a

Image 1a

My first image uses primarily yellow and violet. They do not appear completely balanced as the ideal proportions should be 1:3 respectively. The yellow jacket is a little more in the shade than the violet jacket, and as such assists in muting the yellow, creating additional balance. Image 2Image 2

Image 2a

Image 2a

This image was a play with a narrow depth of field with a 100mm macro at f/2.8. The hole in the leaf adds a little additional focal point for the eye to drift to. Whilst there is probably more red showing, the red:green ratios are approximately 1:1 and as such create balance an harmony. For this image I also used a polarising filter to increase the levels of saturation in camera.

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Image 3

Image 3a

Image 3a

The first shot I took of this scene just had the doorway and the globe plants. By good fortune two pedestrians walked into the frame wearing a green scarf and a red scarf.  Again, there is probably more red in the composition, however, balance is restored slightly due to the extra flash of bright green in the bottom right-hand corner of the frame.

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Image 4

Image 4a

Image 4a

For my fourth complimentary colour image, I have focussed on the blue and orange ropes attaching a boat to a mooring point. The ideal proportions for orange and blue are 2:1. The image is slightly out of balance, although the blue I feel is marginally brighter than the orange rope.

Colour harmony through similar colours

Image 5

Image 5

Image 5a

Image 5a

With this image we have a warm colour, red and a cool colour, violet. The violet has a faintly red hue and thus compliments the red lighting. This produces a harmonious, pleasing photograph.   Image 6Image 6

Image 6a

Image 6a

The oranges and reds in this image are fairly muted and are various hues and in some areas blend from one colour to the next. These are very subtle, quieter tones. As they are next to each other on the colour circle, this works well and does not contrast.

Image 7

Image 7

Image 5a

Image 7a

The greens in this image are both soft and muted, in particular in comparison to the bright yellow of the autumn leaf. And yet, they produce a definitive harmonious feel to the image., due to their neighbourly position on the colour wheel. The image is not well balanced due to the large quantity of yellow coverage, compared to the green. I flash lit this picture using a diffused Canon 580EX in order to darken the background a little to give give a feeling of sunshine. The flash was held off camera to the right.

Image 8

Image 8

Image 5a

Image 8a

Once again, this image has a large area of yellow, both pale and also bright regions. The small amount of green produces a feeling of imbalance. The more pleasing proportions would be 3:2, yellow:green.

Colour contrast through contrasting colours

Image 9

Image 9

Image 5a

Image 9a

For this still life image, I used a single Elinchrom BRX 250 strobe with 66x66cm softbox. I placed a 1m diffuser panel to the right and used a small telescopic mirror also to the right to lighten up the box further. I tried to get slightly more green in this shot to create a pleasing balance. The ideal ratio being orange:green 4:3. I feel the balance worked well, and was easy to produce, being a still-life.

Image 10

Image 10

Image 5a

Image 10a

This shot produced an interesting effect in that Goethe’s colour ratios did not apply. The ideal being red:blue 3:2. The reason for this is that the red is a muted colour, both desaturated and slightly less bright than the blue, which in comparison is very bright. As Freeman (2007, p.122) states, “in general, muted colors can offer more subtlety and a quieter, even more refined pleasure”. This certain seems to be the case with this image. The lightness of the blue in comparison to the red adds to the level of contrast between the colours. Turner (2001) uses a similar muted red and blue combination which produces a similar balance with the same 1:1 ratio that I used in this image.

Image 11

Image 11

Image 5a

Image 11a

Whilst this image is quite simple, it is also one of my favourite images that I have ever taken. I used my Canon 70-200 2.8 II lens, which particularly at the long focal lengths produces a beautiful bokeh and is also incredibly sharp. You could describe the golden straw as a muted yellow, much of it with a low level of brightness. The ideal proportion of 9:4 yellow:blue therefore does not apply in this photograph, as the blue is quite bright and at least as bright as some of the yellow. I would consider the colours contrast well and creates a balanced image.

Image 12

Image 12

Image 5a

Image 12a

I particularly like the muted tones in this image. The surface area of the red compared to the blue follow Goethe’s ratios quite closely; 3:2 red:blue, in particular due to the similar levels of luminance and saturation. I used a strobe above and to the left of the paint tank to create a 3 dimensional feel to the image, which may have otherwise appeared flat.

Colour accent using any of the above

Image 13

Image 13

Image 5a

Image 13a

This image, a rusty drainpipe, has an accent of yellow, albeit fairly subtle due to both the muted tones and the gradual blend between the yellow-brown-green transitions. The yellow and green being similar colours on Goethe’s colour wheel, creates a feeling of harmony in some areas such as the yellow paint and the green leaves. However, some areas of yellow actually contrast with the dark patches of paint., which creates more tension and interest to the image.

Image 14

Image 14

Image 5a

Image 14a

In my tutor’s feedback for the last assignment, he suggested that product photographers purchase vast quantities of fruit in order to find perfect specimens. As this was not a paying commission, I must confess to cheating a little through the medium of Lightroom’s clone brush. I used a BRX250 strobe, 66x66cm softbox and a 1m white reflector to light this subject after digesting much of Lightright by Joe Lavine and Brad Bartholomew. I have not quite applied the 9:8 yellow:orange ratio here, and perhaps the image  could be improved by exposing more of the oranges. Or perhaps additional lighting could have been applied to the oranges in order to improve the colour balance. The image still has a reasonable level of harmony, due to the similar tones of the fruits and their neighbourly positions on the colour wheel.

Image 15

Image 15

Image 15a
Image 15a

I was struggling to find a red accent on a green background until a frog kindly leapt across my path into this pond. I did have the fleeting thought that it was my long suffering tutor in disguise, helping me out once more! Learning from my earliest exercises on single point positions in the frame, I composed the shot with the leaf near the upper left edge to create a sense of dynamic tension. I feel that the red does not actually compliment the green in this picture as the green is so much brighter, but rather they form a more stark contrast. This is possibly made more the case due to the additional contrast between the leaves and the dark water.

Image 16

Image 16

Image 16a

Image 16a

For my final image, I created a very simple still-life composition using the idea from the diagonals exercise, with the two opposing diagonals creating a sense of motion and dynamism. The pen also creates an implied nose without there being one drawn. The picture deliberately goes against Geothe’s ratios in order to create a great degree of contrast between the pen and the pad. This is given a similar feel to an image by Eggleston W. (unknown year) .

Reflection & review against the assessment criteria

In assignment 2 I became too hung-up on the use of my new strobes. I have made particular effort with this assignment to stick to the objectives.

Demonstration of technical & visual skills

As stated on the brief, I have taken a mix of shots including found compositions and arranged compositions. My tutor suggested on my last assignment, to consider  keeping to the same frame dimensions (portrait/landscape, square, etc), if it felt right to do so. I decided that for this assignment I would do just that, so all images are taken in a square format. All images were in fact composed with that in mind. Looking back, none of the images are particularly technically challenging. I think my focus on keeping to the objectives and keeping things simple has made this the case. I am going to make it one of my requirements for future work to include some more technically challenging shots. I did find it rather difficult to discover naturally-occurring and man-made “found” shots. I therefore pushed myself to come up with the majority of my images as found situations.

Quality of outcome

The lack of time to keep to a single theme has let me down a little. Although the use of a theme is not strictly part of the brief, this would have improved the cohesion of the set. That said, I am pleased with a number of the images (5, 10, 11 and 12) as I feel they are both strong and very close to the requirements of the assignment.

Demonstration of creativity

I am going to concentrate here on the images that I find to be the strongest and as such demonstrate the most creativity. Image 5 – this picture is of Magna, a converted steelworks, now a children’s activity centre. I have used the perspective and leading lines from the floor light, railings and to emphasise the lines from the tank and upper beam of the factory to trail off to the right. A sense of harmony is created through the use of red and violet/purple and I think they work well in the square frame, particularly as the top centre purple L shape (rotated CCW 90 degrees) itself provides two lines that form part of a square. Image 10 – whilst this is a very simple photograph, I was pleased to spot that that the upper parts of some of the rods contained blue and the lower parts contained red (handles). The colours work well to provide a sharp contrasting image and again, the composition works well in a square format, even breaking the two-thirds rule. Image 11 – I was pleased with “slice” appearance of the bale of straw that is in focus, through the use of a very wide aperture at a long focal length to create the shallow DoF. I also dramatically improved my use of noise reduction and sharpening by watching a few videos on the use of these techniques both using Lightroom and Nik software. This was one of my images that appeared to be exempt from Geothe’s ideal proportions. Image 12 – There are a number of aspects to this image that I find quite appealing.  As can be seen from the shadows of the flaking paint, the light was above and left a little of the tank. The strobe I used here created the extra level of contrast through the use of shadows. The picture balances well both from a colour perspective and also from the position of the various paint peelings and rust spots.

Context

For this assignment as recommended by my tutor, I did some reading around Turner P. (2001) and Eggleston W. (Unknown year). Eggleston’s work was particularly of interest for this assignment as his images are so vibrant and his use of colours obvious. I read about these two photographers retrospectively, however, future assignments I will research prior to commencing taking photographs to gain some influence and ideas.

References

Freeman, Michael, (2007). The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press Turner P. (2001) Orange Wall and Wave. [Online] 2001. Available from: http://www.peteturner.com/Walls/images/08.jpg [Accessed: 8 November 2013] Eggleston W. (Unknown year) Faulkner’s Missisippi. [Online] Available from: http://www.egglestontrust.com/images/monographs/faulkners_d.jpg [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Exercise: Colours into tones in black-and-white

Brief

 Arrange a still-life containing blue, red, green and yellow objects and a grey card. Make only one exposure (in which the grey card should appear as a mid-grey, so check that the exposure gives this effect). The rest of the project needs your processing software, such as Photoshop.

Create five monochrome versions as follows. For the neutral, filterless version, simply accept the default settings for the sliders. For the ‘red filter’ version, raise the brightness of the red slider; also experiment with lowering the brightness of other sliders. For the ‘yellow filter’ version, brighten the yellow slider and experiment with lowering the brightness of other sliders. Do the equivalent for ‘green’ and for ‘blue’. Alternatively, choose the appropriate preset filter from the options available.

This exercise is a taste of how understanding colour and putting it to work in black- and-white imagery gives a powerful tonal control, and allows you to emphasise certain objects in a scene while suppressing other.

Equipment

All the images in this set are taken using the same equipment:

Canon 5D MkIII
Canon 100 f/2.8L IS USM
Manfrotto 055 tripod
Elinchrom BRX 250 with Elinchrom Portalite 66x66cm – Key light
Large white reflector

Results

Image 1 - In colour

Image 1 – In colour

This first image is in full colour with the 18% grey card. The following shots were all white-balance adjusted against the grey card.

 

Ima1

Image 2 – straight conversion to black & white

The image was converted to black & white with no other colour adjustments made.

 

Image 2 - Red brightened

Image 3 – Red brightened

The image was converted to black & white and the red luminance increased to maximum. As a result, the red ‘h’ appears brighter.

 

Image 3 - Blue brightened

Image 4 – Blue brightened

The image was converted to black & white and the blue luminance increased to maximum. As a result, the blue ‘s’ appears brighter.

 

Image 4 - Green brightened

Image 5 – Green brightened

The image was converted to black & white and the green luminance increased to maximum. As a result, the green ‘i’ appears brighter.

 

Image 5 - Yellow brightened

Image 6 – Yellow brightened

The image was converted to black & white and the yellow luminance increased to maximum. As a result, the yellow ‘f’ appears brighter, but also the green ‘i’ which contains yellow.

Reflection

In image 5, whilst I was not anticipating the green ‘i’ to change in addition to the green ‘f’, after a moment or two, I realised it was due to the yellow that is contained in the green plastic. What was more surprising, however, was that image 4 (blue) did not alter the green ‘f’. I assume this is the case as the green ‘f’ is mostly yellow in colour.

 

 

 

Assignment 2: Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

A very good presentation once again. A small point but helpful when submitting your work for formal assessment, do include a digital document (Word Doc. included with the digital images) with your blog URL on as it will save the assessors time (and me) if a clickable link is included.

A cohesive set of images with a common theme, although well planned and executed there are some issues. This module and assignment is very much concerned with the photograph and the elements within the frame that are seen by the photographer and or arranged by the photographer in the design of the final image. The making of the image in fact (your own observation!). So although it is good practice to comment upon the technical considerations and experiment with lighting techniques ultimately it is the composition we are interested in. Light and control of light occurs later on in part four. Try not to over complicate your image making process with too many challenges, for example here your experimentation with light may be slightly misplaced as you have been considering too many variables. In the introduction to the module Michael Freeman attempts to illustrate this point by suggesting undertaking the assignment using black and white to avoid further complications within the design process that working with colour can introduce. For example your comments concerning colour on the web images show understanding but are not that relevant for this assignment and distract from the main observations which should concern composition.

Although your images are valid from the design perspective and demonstrate knowledge and learning from the module it is however less challenging to build images from separate elements rather than ‘see’ them occurring and make them occur by changing your viewpoint and lens focal length, here you have a fixed viewpoint and focal length and then construct the scene around the camera position, quite a different approach.

Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.    

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Image 1 – Single point dominating the composition.

Simple graphic style image that demonstrates this principle well. You say that placing the green grape in the corner creates a ‘more dynamic feel’ – we need to know why does it? What have you learnt from the module that has informed this decision? Think about scale here, the green grape is larger than the red grapes and causes some tension because of this. As the image should be concerned with composition your concerns over food photography techniques are interesting but not valid for this assignment as this indicates you are considering too many variables that will ultimately dilute the content.

Image 2 – Two points.

Good simple composition that allows this principle to work well. Tonally the chopping board colour blends well into the background which helps the two points to perform. ‘The grapes are placed away from the centre of the frame to reduce the feeling of a static image.’ Again is there a source from your learning that will underpin this decision?

Image 3 – Several points in a deliberate shape.

As Freeman discusses and illustrates in the handbook it is creating a ‘random’ yet visually balancing quality to a collection of several points that is often quite difficult to achieve. Here you create an organised shape which is generally a much easier process. I agree with your comments concerning the wood grain as it overcomplicates the image, possible a simple white background would have been more effective.

Image 4 – A combination of vertical and horizontal lines.

Here you are concerned much too much with food photography technique and post processing at the expense of the composition. The simple graphic lines you have made tick the box. You need to consider the underpinning of the image more – why are you shooting this? The technique and post production are somewhat irrelevant at this stage as it is the composition and framing that is important.

Image 5 – Diagonals.

This simple graphic image works really well at demonstrating the use of a diagonal element. You have created a strong dynamic quality here which suggests movement allowing the eye to travel through and across the image. This image is also much more successful in demonstrating ‘several points in a deliberate shape’ – The cheese crumbs are well balanced and pleasing.

Image 6 – Curves.

I like your choice of the various curved props, the positioning of these elements is working well and this image starts to have a very natural look to it, so the composition is successful. What may have helped is the human element, in image 5 your cheese crumbs indicate and introduce to the narrative a human element, here the composition is quite sterile. A small cut piece of the ring with some crumbs would introduce this. Tonally the wicker chair is too bright and distracts, a tone heading towards the cutting board may have been less distracting.

Image 7 – Distinct, even if irregular, shapes.

A natural looking composition that does exploit the underlying principle, also the use of crumbs looks well balanced based on the several points principle.

Image 8 – Implied triangle no. 1.

This image has some real triangles as well as implied triangles, it is over complicated, especially the large single point with stretch marks which dominates the composition (hole in the cheese) which is not pretty!

Image 9 – Implied triangle no. 2.

Your choice of subject of real triangles has a subliminal quality, an approach that is often used by advertisers and would come under the area of ‘semantics’. So your implied triangle is an actual triangle which in this instance is not really adding to the composition, although the lines created by the wedge are diagonals which are helping to introduce a dynamic quality.

Image 10 – Rhythm.

You have successfully created a natural rhythm with this image, the repetition of the overlapped shapes leads the eye through the frame. For me the simplicity of the background works and yes slightly less light on the lid – preferably a subtle gradation which would help with leading the eye into the frame.

Image 11 – Pattern.

Repetition, Symmetry and pattern. A simple image which exploits these criteria. Not particularly challenging though.

Your included prints are of a good quality and have a considered impression and consistency. Possibly slightly too light a tone on the ring of cheese left edge.

I have just returned from a seminar with the renowned landscape photographer Michael Kenna, his exhibition which is on at the Brindley Arts Centre in Runcorn is a beautiful example of consistency in presentation. He prints quite small prints as he likes his audience to get close to the images so they feel an intimacy when viewing them. He has printed this way for many years now which means he can exhibit prints from 20 years ago alongside more contemporary images and they hang together beautifully. An interesting perspective on quality, consistency and how the viewer interacts with the photographs, well worth a visit.

http://www.thebrindley.org.uk/exhibitions/

Thanks for supplying the hi-res tiffs. I would convert these to 8 bit versions to save space and image loading times. 16 bit is good to work with but when your image has been adjusted and no further work is required then it can be delivered as an 8 bit to save bandwidth, disc space and load times. You are working in the ProPhoto colour space, which I guess is how you export from Lightroom? Be careful as this large colour space can be problematic when sending images to printers etc. It is good to work within this space due to the large colour palette available but not all printers and monitors will work with the content available. So save a master 16 bit in ProPhoto but convert to AdobeRGB for general use and sRGB for web use and some online lab use such as Photobox or Blurb Books. Never convert a small colour space (sRGB) to a larger colour space (ProPhoto) as banding or solarisation will occur, fine to go from large to small though.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Your reflection is self-critical and relevant and is demonstrating good learning and a development of confidence which is excellent. However you lose sight of the point of the assignment, it is not concerned with your lighting abilities it is concerned with composition and your ability to see and control the elements within the frame. You do not comment on these at all. Your exercises are well documented, do not lose sight of the main reason behind the exercise, for instance you are commenting about the lighting more than the composition, stay focussed on the main issues.

Play and shoot much more with your images for the exercises, the rhythm image is just one image, the posts have a certain rhythm but they become lost in the background and the rhythm becomes diluted. Perhaps returning at a different time of day would have helped to isolate them more, fog or mist can do this in a landscape image. So shoot more and experiment more. Include contact sheets on your blog. Be wary of over processing of images at this stage, we are interested in seeing and looking much more than lighting technique or image processing and manipulation. Be wary of using ‘Photoshop’ borders around images, they may look nice but they do not demonstrate how your photography skills are developing. This type of border was often used by photographers who were keen to crop in camera and the film edge was included in the print to illustrate this aspect and to give the image artistic integrity. Adding this afterwards via post production does little unless you can justify why you have made this decision.

Your single point images within the exercises are great, especially the red illuminated wall and the microlite.

Start adding some thoughts and critical comments to your reading list and gallery visits. Watch out for OCA study visits they have a few in the Bradford area.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

As you have gone down the food photography route then I will make a couple of comments. When shooting food at macro levels then you have to decide what and why – Is the shot to be a beautiful advertising image for Marks & Spencer – If so then the food will generally need to be perfect, no cracked green grapes! It would not be unusual to have 10 bunches of grapes to choose just one or two heroes. Cut marks in the cheese need to be strong and deliberate and form part of the composition, not small and incidental as this will distract and have no role within the image. Or is the image a fine art, still life composition where you perhaps are shooting ‘real’ food with blemishes, cracks, warts and all!.

Last month’s BJP has a portfolio illustrating a very interesting take on food photography, highly original and a thought provoking narrative.

http://www.lorenzovitturi.com/a-dalston-anatomy/

Pointers for the next assignment

  • When planning the submission consider the final format for your images. Does it matter if each image is cropped differently? Should they all be portrait or landscape? Does it matter? If staging an exhibition of controlled still life images it may be preferable to have a consistent approach, if shooting a magazine article then portrait and landscape images may be required.
  • Think about reflecting on the feedback and publishing some brief comments on your blog. I suggest you add some comments concerning composition to your reflection for this assignment.
  • Do not give yourself too many challenges within the assignments, consider what the assignment wants you to do and achieve and then approach the assignment with that as the main goal and outcome.
  • Do not over process or manipulate images at this stage in the course, we are much more concerned with the process of looking and seeing in the camera. The stack of slates image is a great example of seeing and not requiring any further work. As Freemans suggestion if this had been shot in B&W the distraction of the green would not occur.

My comments

John noted that I had kept to a theme for this assignment. Something I had failed to do on Assignment 1. He remarked about possibly sticking to the same frame dimensions (portrait/landscape, square, etc), if it felt right to do so, which I need to consider at the time of composition.

I focussed far too much off topic, on the lighting, rather than the primary aim, which was composition. I realised this at the time, but could not help myself! Point noted.

John mentioned an exhibit by Michael Kenna, whose work seems familiar. Beautiful images and very different to the kind of landscape images I create. Worthy of further study.

John made some good points about my use of colour spaces. I need to work out a filing system for saving the images with the different colour spaces. Perhaps add sRGB, AdobeRGB or ProPhoto to the file names.

I need to avoid using borders on my images, unless I can justify why I am using them. Quite right, the two images I used frames on, it adds nothing to the effect.

I need to ensure that I do not over-process my images, something that I have a bad habit of doing outside the course.

Summary points

  • Consider keeping to the same framing dimensions
  • Keep to the objectives
  • Make occasional references to sources that underpin my decisions
  • Keep the compositions simple
  • For the exercises, shoot more, experiment more & use contact sheets
  • Do not over-process images

 

Exercise: Colour relationships

Brief

This exercise is in two parts. The first is to produce one photograph for each combination of primary and secondary colours, adjusting the distance, focal length or framing when you shoot so that you compose the picture to the proportions listed above — or at least close to them. Finding these combinations will not necessarily be easy, and adjusting the proportions even less so.

For the second part, the rules are not so strict. Produce three or four images which feature colour combinations that appeal to you. They can be combinations of two colours or more. The objective here is to demonstrate that there is no single ‘correctness’ to complementary colours. But you should be aware of any imbalance in the combination and study its effect. Write this in your learning log for future reference. As discussed when looking at balance, the slight tension that comes from imbalance can often be more interesting than perfect equilibrium. What is important in this course is that you are aware of it and can make use of it in your own work.

Equipment

All the images in this set are taken using the same equipment, except for images 5 & 6 that were taken with a Canon 200 f/2L:

Canon 5D MkIII Canon 24-70 f/2.8L IS USM All images were taken hand held

Results

Part 1

 

Image 1: Red/Green 1:1

Image 1: Red/Green 1:1

This image appears indeed to demonstrate the 1:1 ratio balance of luminance, although the shoes appear a little brighter than the green, I think in part due to the shadows on the grass.

 

Image 2: Orange/Blue 1:2

Image 2: Orange/Blue 1:2

Again, this image demonstrates that the 1:2 ratio of orange to blue balances the picture well and being opposites in the colour wheel are complimentary colours.

 

Image 3: Yellow/Violet 1:3

Image 3: Yellow/Violet 1:3

Clearly, as this this image demonstrates, you do not need much yellow in a photo when the other main colour is violet. The ratio is 1:3 yellow/violet in fact as Freeman (2007) states.

Part 2

 

Image 4

Image 4

In this example, the yellow clearly dominates the image. It does not appear well balanced due to the additional brightness of the yellow over that of the pink. Just looking at the shapes, there is a balance, but the eye has to include both in its assessment of the image.

 

Image 5

Image 5

The colours in this image are primarily orange and green and are split approximately 1:1. The image appears well balanced due to the orange being a little less bright than the green. If they shared the same level of brightness, the orange would appear more dominant.

 

Image 6

Image 6

This image is made of green, red and yellow and appears to be dominated by the yellow and to a slightly lesser degree, the red. Whilst the yellow consumes about a third of the image, the extra brightness of the yellow over the green creates the dominance.

 

Image 7

Image 7

Here the petals take up about a quarter of the frame. The colour chart does not include grey, so I thought it would be useful to see the effect. This is a tricky one to evaluate as the petals go from light to dark. I would say that the gravel appears to dominate the image due to its lighter appearance. This would probably not have been the case if the petals were more consistently bright.

Reflection

Whilst writing up this exercise I had a look through my library and noticed how few of my images contain strong, bright patches of colour. It makes me think that a lot of my images are rather dull. Further work needs to be done to incorporate strong colours and shapes into some of my future shots.

I was rather disappointed with my shots for this exercise. Some of the images appear a little rushed. Indeed I was struggling to find a natural occurrence of yellow and violet, so Image 2 is a little boring. In fact Image 7 is rather dull too. I appear to have lost my mojo whilst doing this exercise, feeling that my photography is not improving. I have a landscape shoot on Friday, hopefully coming away with some shots for the next exercise, so we’ll see if that perks me up.