Saturday, 26 February 2011

Assignment 1 Tutor Feedback

I submitted the 17 images to my tutor by email on Sunday 20 Feb and received detailed  feedback on Weds 23 Feb. He gave me detailed critique on each image and made suggestions for improvements.  Most of the faults he pointed out were minor issues which can be easily corrected before this assignment is submitted for assessment at the end  of the course. I have made a list of these corrections  and will make them over the coming weeks.

There are one or two images and  two of the pairs that I will re-photograph. Having received feedback, I think I can make the Blunt/Pointed and Moving/Still contrasts more interesting. Now I have an idea of what is expected, I may submit future assignments as prints. This way, both the tutor and I are looking at the same final image. I'll try printing proofs and see how I get on.

Here is the first of the improvements; I have re-photographed the "Small" image with a ladybird, to introduce a sense of scale. (I achieved this well in the "Large" image) I only managed to get a couple of shots before he flew off but I think this one does the trick. I would liked him to have settled on the black microprocessor chip on the left but he was pretty animated and determined to get away! The exposure details are the same as for the original image.


I have re-shot the "Still" image with a new subject. I have used this this very still water but included a swimming waterbird to add contrast against the reflections in the water:

4981: 1/125s f5.6 200mm ISO200


Again, I decided I could do more with the "Rough" image concentrating less on the sea but more on the consequences and safeguards involving a rough sea.

5898: 1/1000s f5.6 170mm ISO200


"Heavy" also needed slight adjustment to correct the burnt out sky. I was able to adjust the levels in the original file.


My tutor was concerned about the border of the "Light" image, the high key lighting had burned out the background. I have altered the levels in the original file to darken it sufficiently to print with a distinct border.


Using the clone tool in PS I was able to clean up the "Rounded" image


The "Diagonal" image lacked interest so I photographed this pylon from below as a substitute:

9015: 1/200s f7.1 18mm ISO200


"Pointed" and  "Blunt" didn't really work so I re-thought them  came up with the following  images which have some action and narrative associated with them:

7372: Blunt 1/60s f8 35mm ISO200


8845: Pointed 1/200s f5.6 200mm ISO800


Narrow: There was a wheelie bin at the end of this alley that needed cloning out. It was a bit tricky but patience paid off.


Broad: I decided to re-photograph this idea in a different location. I managed to get one gull in the picture and I think this one has more interest and contrast.

6092: 1/750s f9.5 46mm ISO200


Sunday, 20 February 2011

End of Assignment 1 - What have I learned?

The objective of this assignment was to find and photograph contrasts from a list and to produce eight pairs of images showing these contrasts. I soon discovered that it was not as easy as it sounds. From my notes that accompany the images that I have recorded here in my blog you, will see that I had very little planned. I tended to take one half of a pair and then find a contrasting idea. This in turn led to a lot of thought. As a result, my powers of observation have improved. Finally I produced an image which showed both of a pair in one image which I think is very successful.

What could I improve? I have taken over a hundred images to produce the seventeen for this assignment. I need to know when to stop. Almost always, the first or second image I take is the one I will use. Wading through the rest takes up a lot of time. I have spent ten weeks on this first section and far in excess of the 8-10 hours a week. Better planning and organisation is required for the rest of the course.

I have enjoyed this assignment and the challenge. I am becoming more familiar with my equipment and getting more used to using this blog to record my work. I am looking forward to getting the first feedback from my tutor. Then I will know if I am getting it right.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Assignment 1 Shooting Log 19th Feb 2011

I've been working on "Smooth" today. The weather prevents any work outside, it's raining again. I've found my collection of smooth pebbles very useful. I will pair this image up with one of my rough sea images which have suddenly become more appropriate. I have taken lots of pictures with differing backgrounds and arrangements but finally decided on either one of  these two orientations of the same subject:

4581: 1/125s f22 170mm

4583: 1/125s f22 170mm

I started with too many pebbles of different colours on different surfaces and then I remembered I had a piece of polished granite. I placed one interesting pebble on it and the result is less cluttered and has more impact.  I haven't yet decided which to use.
I have now completed my eight contrasting pairs and will start preparing them for submission. They are as follows:
Rough /Smooth

Contrast in one photograph: Straight and Curved – Spinnaker Tower

Assignment 1 Shooting Log 17th Feb 2011

4559: 1/125 f22 80mm macro

"Small" I chose this corner of a circuit board on an old PC hard drive to illustrate small. It has interesting geometric shapes, fine detail and contrasting colours and tones. Shot in the studio with one large softbox at 45° to the left.

The contrast with the ship in the Large image is an engineering one. Ships are some of the largest man made mobile structures on earth. Electronic components are some of the smallest. This is just about as small as I can photograph. I have already addressed the man made vs nature contrast in heavy/light and I couldn't find any insects indoors today.

Assignment 1 Shooting Log 12th Feb 2011: Portsmouth

I only had two definite images in mind when I left home; "Large", one of the cross channel ferries passing through the harbour entrance with a figures watching either from the small beach by the Sally Port or the Round Tower (I went armed with the shipping movements) and the other, a better lit shot of the Spinnaker Tower showing the contrasts "Straight" and "Curved". I knew most of the rest would present themselves as I worked my way around Old Portsmouth and the harbour. I shot about 85 images today, I have edited out those that I definitely won't use but here is a contact sheet of  those that I am considering. (Since producing the contact sheet I have included other images which I discounted at first sight but may now be included:
4462: 1/125s f14 36mm

"Rounded" This close up of the two interlocking rings of the First Fleet commemoration sculpture in Broad Street was an ideal subject as they are rounded in every sense.

446: 1/125s f16 35mm

"Diagonal" When I took this image, I was concentrating on the diagonals of the staircase and missed the roof and gable end behind it. I will experiment with the close crops I should have got with the lens before deciding on this one.

This is the most successful crop for this image, apart from the chimney vents on the white building, there are no significant rounded shapes in the frame. A perfect contrast to 4462 above.

4473 1/125s f16 55mm
"Large"There were a lot of people on the beach and these ferries move quite quickly. There are some useful crops to be made in this series if I want to include people to give the ship scale:

4522:1/640s f6.3 130mm
Alternatively, I've just noticed the guy who was sitting in the window of the tower two hours later when she sailed out again. I'm sure he is totally unaware of the massive vessel behind him which, given its' relative bulk. reinforces the notion of large.
I went with this image for Large because there is a real sense of scale with this huge ship and the tiny girl in the wheelchair. It also leaves you with a question and a possible story.......
                         4481 1/125s f14 44mm                        4485 1/125s f8 22mm
"Narrow" I photographed both ends of this alley and although I prefer the view of the ferry through the first one, in the second, the alley is better lit and the worn flagstones with drying puddles have an appeal. To me, these dark narrow spaces have an "off limits" feel. Although, clearly a public thoroughfare, it is not a route I would choose and  is in direct contrast to the light open spaces and vistas of Langstone Harbour.
                        4487: 1/500s f13 22mm                       4488: 1/500s f11 32mm

"Staight and Curved" I think this illustrates both straight and curved because although the shape of a sail filled with the wind is curved, that shape is formed by the attachment of the sail to a straight mast and taut sheets. I have photographed the Spinnaker Tower from all angles from the ground. 4487 is the best one to show it's massive engineering strength and simple elegance. I have chosen a symmetrical static composition to underline that. I'm not sure how I achieved the colour of the sky without a polariser, possibly a relationship between the angle of the sun and the lens. There has been no post processing at this point. The obliging gull gives  much needed sense of scale. 4488 is a repeat of a shot I took in December in poor light and although an improvement, doesn't have the strength of the other.

4498: 1/25s f32 60mm (ISO 100) (monopod)

"Moving" I was hoping to achieve more blur in this image of the water feature in the shopping centre. Despite altering the ISO to a minimum 100 and using the smallest aperture on my lens, a slower shutter speed resulted in an over exposed image. I don't have a neutral density filter. However I think this is a satisfactory image to show movement.

                        4509: 1/200s f5.6 200mm                    4512: 1/500s f5.6 130mm
 "Still" I chose two views of this boat moored in the Camber Dock to represent "Still". The diagonal prow in 4509 does suggest some movement. I did originally intend to use this for "Pointed". 4512 is more static, both in terms of composition and the fact that the vessel is moored. Although the surface of the water is ruffled by the breeze, the boat itself isn't effected. I suppose the stillness here is in the boat although they both move imperceptably with the tide. The small waterfall does not have a rapid movement but it is constant and inescapable; not momentary like a passing car or boat.

                         4501: 1/250s f8 34mm                         4502: 1/205s f8 35mm
"Tall" With some cropping, 4501 will make a good image for Tall. I changed my viewpoint by walking forward for 4502. I'm not sure what this building is called but it reminds me of a Biro top. It was at this point in the sfternoon that I was approached by two police officers who enquired, ever so politely, why I was taking pictures of tall buildings. I explained; they told me why they wanted to know; I understood and we parted company the best of friends. It seems that Hampshire Police at least, have got it right. Nothing like the horror stories reported elsewhere and I like to hope that  my experience will be that of the majority of photographers.

                         4537: 1/250s f8 24mm                        4506: 1/4s f29 40mm

“Straight” is everywhere you look, these railings, and lines of bricks in the square by Portsmouth’s Garrison Church. I used a very slow shutter speed and small aperture to increase the depth of field for 4506. If I use 4537 I'll need to crop creatively. As well as the brick line, the upright posture of  the statue also says "straight"
                        4460: 1/125s f16 48mm                       4536: 1/125s f5.6 44mm

                               4536: 1/320s f9 cropped

“Curved” I have three images for curved, the contemporary design incorporated into this lamp standard echoes the theme of the curved sail of the Spinnaker Tower. A curved curb and cobbles with double yellow lines in an Old Portsmouth street seem to do the same although unintentional and the  curved seats of the benches by the Square Tower reflect the surface contours of the sea in front of you.

4480: 1/125s f18 44mm
"Intermittant" The vertical concrete pillars and their shadows give a regular intermittant pattern in this image but it is too cluttered to be seen clearly.

4516: 1/200s f7.1 46mm

"Thick" The massive walls of the Tudor fortifications at the Sally Port at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour illustrate the impenetrable nature of "thick" as well as "straight" in a sense of precision stonework.

4535: 1/320s f10 50mm

"Pointed" These three ornamental spikes on railings by the Square Tower are both authoritarian and decorative. I have positioned and focused them deliberately to show their protective function although in reality, the railings are there to stop you from falling from the harbour wall and not to protect the buildings beyond.

4510: 1/100s f5.3 112mm

"Blunt" The wide transom of this tug, which is a purely functional feature of its' design, contrasts well with the opposite end of the vessel, designed to cut through the water at speed. The terms "blunt end" and "sharp end"  came to mind when I saw this tug. The contrasts here are purely physical and to do with shape, although each is related to its' function, symbolic of the railings and a practical working space of the tug.

I still have a few photographs to take to make up my 8 pairs but I am now well on the way.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Assignment 1 Shooting Log 12th Feb 2011: Langstone

"Broad" and "Rough" 12/02/11

The promised sunshine arrived in bucketloads today. I packed up my gear and drove down to Portsmouth.  My first stop was on the western side Langstone Harbour at an old pier where I found some interesting possibilties for "Broad" and an alternative for "Rough" I have made up a contact sheet to summarise what I shot:

I have selected two alternatives for "Broad";   4446 or 4452 and possibly 4450 or 4457 for rough, all will need final edits:

This has good flow through the image, foreground texture and the line of the channel with tonal contrast takes your eye to the horizon, which I placed just above the centre to include the foreground. There is little to do to this, maybe just a tweak to the levels and curves.

This also says "broad " but is dominated by the quay. The figures and the vertical navigation mark give a dynamic balance on the edge of the quay. Their eye line is enigmatic. As they are in silhouette, they could be looking away from the camera at the horizon or across the field of view to the left. Either way, the contrasting edge of the channel take you to the horizon. I will edit out the flare if I use this image.

20/02/11 I have chosen to use 4446 for my Broad  contrast. I needed the mud flats to extend to both edges of the frame and  the channel to cross from side to side to take the eye across the frame and on to the horizon. To exaggerate the effect, a wide panorama may have been effective. This certainly contrasts to my narrow picture, both in orientation and location. See next post.

 I was immediately struck buy the similarity of this rusting bollard to bark on a tree. As it was right on the edge of the quay, this was the only angle I could photograph it from. I may crop this and adjust the levels to see if it makes a good image
More corroded steel, almost smooth compared to the image above but the smaller and more regular pitting of the surface is still rough to the touch. I may see if a really close crop works here.

20/02/11 I abandoned these images for Rough, my roughs seas turned out to be more appropriate and the texture of  4457 was very similar to the smooth pebble I chose.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Assignment 1 Shooting Log 7th Feb 2011

"Light" 07/02/11
I was looking around for something to contrast with heavy and found a small chicken feather amongst my eggs. I tried photographing this with a macro lens against a high key white background but I found it difficult to get the background colour correct and a consistent colour and contrast on the feather. I needed to rethink this one.

                                                      "Light" 08/07/11
A colleague gave me some bigger and better feathers from an old duster. They photographed OK against the white background, this time using my zoom lens but I needed the background out of focus so I could give the impression they were floating, I then hit on the idea of suspending them from nylon threads in front of the backdrop. I could only attach the thread through the shaft of the feather at one end so I decided to photograph three individual feathers, rotate them and make a compound image in Photoshop. The high key lighting effectively burnt out the nylon thread and I put together an image from these three:

This was my first attempt but I had to keep the separate images apart so the borders didn't  overlap and obscure each other. The resulting image looked a bit static and staged.

I went back to Photoshop, did some reading and learned how to make the white background of each image transparent by setting the layer to Multiply. I then re-set the positions of the feathers to introduce an overlap and give the image a base and  appear to be floating gently downwards.

The lighting for this set was identical to the previous "Sour" series. Camera settings 1/125s, f22, 135mm

As a contrast to the mass of a tank, I think this works well, not only by the contrast in the structure of  the two objects (nature vs. heavy engineering) but in the location, i.e. a muddy common and a pristine set.  I have photographed a man made object in natural surroundings and a natural object in artificial surroundings.