Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Assignment 1 Contrasts : Tutor Feedback

Copied and pasted from my tutor's feedback :

Overall Comments

This was a good first set of images submitted Katie and certainly makes a
positive start to this module.

This thematic set demonstrates a close attention to detail which is a positive
first step to successfully completing the module. Although it may not
necessarily apply to you, based upon the range of subject matter included in
your assignment submission, one point I do generally always make to new
students, is to try and stress the importance of shooting ‘new’ work for both
the project and assignment work from the outset. From your submission, it
looks like you have afforded considerable time and effort to the production of
this work, for which you should be commended. Please try to continue this
good practice and avoid the temptation to ‘shoe-horn’ in any existing imagery.

As this is your first assignment submission, there are no previous feedback
issues to reflect upon at this point in time.

A small point by means of continuity, I would perhaps suggest you try to keep
all your final prints the same format / size if possible. This just adds to the
weight and consistency of a themed body of work.

Eventually the work will be required to be submitted for Summative
Assessment at the end of the module and it is at this point where individual
prints are beneficial, with supporting ‘learning log’ documentation. By way of
a tip, when you do submit prints for assessment, always try to avoid stacking
un-sleeved imagery together without placing something between each print
[IE: tissue] as if anything has inadvertently soaked into the paper mount, they
can stick and spoil the image.

Try www.silverprint.co.uk for acid free high quality polyester archive sleeves.
These offer both good archival protection to the work whilst also avoiding any
hampered viewing of the prints. They are also a uniformed size to ensure that
continuity when viewing as a set.

Feedback on assignment

As already mentioned, this was an interesting set of well exposed and
focused image pairings in the main. The first pair of images work well
together but perhaps may have benefited from being a similar size as
mentioned previously ? I thought they were both well composed with the
subject matter taking up most of the frame and the subjects also loosely
related to one another which did help. I’d advise in future though to perhaps
rename the actual files ‘Strong.jpg’ & ‘Weak.jpg’ to avoid any confusion. Also
maybe try to spellcheck and proofread any text to ensure clarity and that it
actually makes sense etc.

Again, the next pairing may have worked better if they had been related in
some way, which is actually a criticism I find throughout the assignment.
I can’t fault them in terms of technique, but just thought if you wanted to
display ‘Hard’ as a Roman stone arch, then maybe ‘Soft’ could also have
been architecturally inspired but perhaps moss covered ? I like the shots
but struggle to see a link jump out … especially when the scarf doesn’t
play a major role in terms of the overall picture element. The same applies
to the next two images which although do correctly as described IE:
demonstrate ‘Moving’ & ‘Still’, are just not related in anyway, to encourage
the viewer to make the contrasting assumption. For the ‘Moving’ image, more
control can often be obtained by keeping the camera still [on a tripod perhaps]
and just leaving the shutter open so as to record the moving subject blurring.

With the ‘Many’ versus ‘Few’ images, I can see what you were aiming for
in terms of girls legs providing the ‘two stripes’ but this is such a tenuous
link I just wouldn’t have been able to establish this upon the visual evidence
alone ! The next shots of ‘Liquid’ and ‘Solid’ work much better as an image
pairing even if the latter is perhaps a little dark and underexposed. The
next pairing I found curious as the light appears to be heading from the
same direction in both images, even though it perhaps may have illuminated
the subjects better if it had been directed from the front. I liked the way in
which you had composed the image of the poppet and just wondered what
thought processes made you decide to position this to the right of a landscape
orientated image ? Again, I did find it quite difficult to specify what the
contrast actually was here and would have been lost without your annotation.
I think your work possibly needs to be more ‘literal’ in order to get across your

The last two parings work well enough with a strong link between the ‘Curved’
versus ‘Straight’ images. This may also have worked as a contrast if you had
stuck with the architectural details for both images.

Lastly, the story behind your final image was very interesting as the image
alone worked well and was quite abstract. The image was also a little ‘flat’
I thought in terms of tonal contrast and may have jumped out more if you
had increased the highlights slightly ? Also your writing here is relating to
technical specifics which will become more evident the more you discuss and
annotate your work EG: ‘thinking about where in the frame looks best for what
I am photographing’ translates to ‘compositional consideration’ etc.

One additional positive point to make about your work is that in most of the

images there is very little ‘dead space’, which is so often found in the early
stages of photographic practice – prior to any theoretical compositional
considerations being either learnt or absorbed. Remember that effective
photography equals Technique + Composition. Good or acceptable technique
is arguably the first prerequisite for ‘good’ photography, but this alone will not
make a ‘good’ image. Image making must be complimented by composition,
not just technique. We all use very similar technical equipment to make
images, so composition is often one of the best ways in which a photographer
can express their individuality and personal feeling in communicating their
thoughts and ideas.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your blog appears to be developing nicely with some interesting research and
test shots included within the various sub-sections.

You do have quite a reflective approach to your note taking which will
help you during times of self-critical evaluation. Always try to maintain
an ‘academic’ level within your writing and start to cite references [Harvard]
of what you have read surrounding the issues and practices. EG: When you
read about the work of Cartier-Bresson [suggested below] reference him in
your written work and even perhaps quote him directly. This will help when
you develop a research methodology further through the programme and
obtain the all important ‘Critical Position’, which I will talk more about.

It is so important at this level of study, for you to try and to develop your
creativity, thus the testing of any technical skills, will always be more
rewarding if you look for something that is also visually appealing and

It is also advisable to always try to keep the blog strictly to module related
activities rather than posting unrelated materials onto it. You can always set
up another blog for personal use etc.

Suggested reading/viewing

Cartier-Bresson, H.2004:The Mind’s Eye.1st Ed. New York. Aperture Publishing

ISBN-13: 978-0893818753

Cartier-Bresson, H.2006: Europeans. London. Thames & Hudson

ISBN-13: 978-0500281222

Journals – Source Magazine / Portfolio

Follow Up Work

The term ‘composition’ has been mentioned in your feedback and I cannot
emphasise its importance enough at this level of study. In order to help
and support you making appropriate compositional decisions [IE: what you
choose to include and exclude from the frame, prior to taking the image]
you must closely study the work of other practitioners and in particular the
work of the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Try to understand
why his images seem to work so well from a compositional perspective.
He is generally considered a past ‘Master’ at this and has written some
excellent texts in relation to what he calls the ‘Decisive Moment’. He was
very particular with how he composed an image within the camera view finder
and claimed to always print his images ‘full frame’ with a trade mark ‘key line’
surrounding each print to emphasise this point. [See his images below] I have
listed two of his publications with the ‘Suggested Readings’ section and think
you might benefit from reading about his approach to image making, also
looking closely at his practice.

I generally recommend Cartier-Bresson to students who have completed
the first assignment and are about to embark upon the second one
called ‘Elements of Design’ as his work will inspire you in relation to this
project – you should get a lot out of it.

Also, I note from your blog that you recently attended a wildlife photography
exhibition at the Natural History Museum which was excellent to see.
Please try to attend as many photographic exhibitions and shows as you
can in the coming months. These might range from museum curated large
retrospectives to smaller group based shows held within your local area.
I can’t stress how important it is to know the photographic field and as
mentioned above, and be able to critically position your practice in relation
to this field. This is only possible by physically going out and viewing the
work, then pausing to reflect upon what you have seen and perhaps trying
to evaluate it via a short written piece. You can then include this in your
workbook or blog etc.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Steampunk Photography and Thoughts

056/366 - Steampunk Art by Rhinoa
056/366 - Steampunk Art, a photo by Rhinoa on Flickr.
I went to a Steampunk event at the weekend and of course took my camera. It's funny, I'm not usually shy but as I was dressed in my regular scruffy jeans and everyone else looked so fantastic I felt really self conscious. I missed the good light outdoors by the time I plucked up the courage to approach any of the people. The light indoors was shit and I don't have a decent flash (or really know how to get the best of my on camera flash yet), so I upped the ISO and made the best of it.

This was one of my favourite shots of the day. I loved his costume and his relaxed pose. I'm still learning the basics of Photoshop Elements, but I wanted to give this a Victoria vintage feel. I converted it to black and white, upped the red and decreased the green and blue as well as upping the contrast. I then tried adding grain to give it a slightly fuzzy aged feel and this is the end result. Being picky there are a couple of things I don't like (the light in the window on his left being the main thing), but overall I'm impressed it came out looking so cool. I will spend some time this week processing some of the others in a similar style and try and make a montage.

I also had my first go at a studio shoot through meetup. They had a fairy tale theme which I couldn't resist with two models (Sleeping Beauty and Wicked Queen) in two different sets. One was more for portrait work with a black background and the other a scene with an upturned bath and apples. I was super nervous and sweated buckets (possibly because I've been ill also), but did learn a lot. One thing is its really hard to get a shot of the model against the background balancing all the elements. A lot of shots I love the model but due to the angle I used you can see the walls either side of the backdrop. Also in some my shadow got in the way. I had a lot of fun though suggesting poses to the two lovely models and I have lots of ideas and ways to improve for next time. The next step will be processing the images which I may ned to get some guidance on to get the effects I want.

I still feel like I'm at the bottom of the learning curve, but that I'm learning and increasing my knowledge every day. Whether its a new setting on my camera, a new technique, new photographer or just a new experience shooting. Each time I pick up the camera I get more excited and want to make this my profession full time! I even put makeup on my husband tonight and did a mini shoot in the hallway with his new top hat. It's interesting as I always thought I was crap at taking pictures of people and wasn't interested in it, but now it seems to be what I do best and I love it. It's been something I've been trying to practise and I think it's paying off.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011

Last weekend I went to the Wildlife Photography Exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. It's the third one I've been to now and as usual I found it left me feeling part depressed and part inspired. Depressed as I always so amazed and humbled by the fantastic photography and I get down on myself feeling like I will never be as good. Inspired as I think sod it, I want to push myself and do better and one day get something worthy of exhibiting or at least entering.

The below picture won the award for 2011 and shows pelicans covered in oil. It sums up the issues with pollution without needing any words to describe it which is part of the appeal. It was taken by Daniel Beltra as part of the photojournalism section. It's interesting that this one was chosen at a time when environmental issues are so important and publicised in these current times. Some of the other photos were better (although how you define that is subjective), but this packed more of a punch making it a clear stand out winner.

This was one of the shots that really stood out to me in the insect category. I love the simplicity. It was taken by Adithya Biloor who saw the branch and spent hours waiting for an insect to alight on it. Finally an ant did for a few moments and they were able to snap this excellent shot. It's about the beauty in the simple shapes.
The only thing that I didn't like was it was super busy and there wasn't really space to properly study and enjoy the photos or make notes. I am so glad I went though as the exhibition is due to finish in another couple of weeks and it is one that I look forward to each time it is on.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Photograph - Graham Clarke

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 247
Series : Oxford History of Art
Format : Non Fiction, Photography
Reason for Reading : Course Reading Material

This is my first text book since starting my photography course with the OCA. I know it seems daft, but I haven't really paid much attention to the discipline of photography besides actually taking pictures. This seems such a massive oversight on my part and I am doing my best to start making up for lost time. In this regard this is an excellent place to start. There are over 120 photos by a wide variety of photographers with many more referenced. Lots of further reading is needed and inspired.

It covers all the bases with chapters on how photography got started, landscape, the city, portraits, the body, documentary and fine art photography. There is also a chapter on how to read a photograph which I found incredibly useful and it's something I am working on and trying to start putting in to cohesive words why I do or do not like a particular photograph.

The one section that was really difficult was the section on documentary photography. I need to think about my personal ethics here. I am not sure I could distance myself to whatever was going on around me to take photos and not want to get involved and help out. In particular photos like "People to be Shot" by Robert Haeberle where he asked the firing squad to pause so he could photograph four adults (three women) and two children before they were killed in Vietnam. Everyone has their own levels of what they can accept and these pictures are very powerful, I'm just not sure I could be the one taking them. It is important to challenge peoples ideals though and the pictures in this section have stayed with me the longest after finishing reading the book.

This is definitely a book I will come back to and refer to as my learning and studies continue. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to make a serious start in photography.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photographer Friday

Being a bit oblivious to famous influential photographers I only just came across Diane Arbus whilst reading The Photographer by Graham Clarke. She was born in 1923 and committed suicide in 1971. She started out with her husband working in fashion photography contributing to Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar among others. They are quoted as never liking the fashion industry and in 1956 Diane quit to move into her own projects. She developed her own style of square black and white portraits and one of her most well know if of two identical twin girls below.

The title is Identical Twins, but it's only when you start really looking that you start to see all the differences between the two. From their expressions to the way the one on the right holds the bottom of her dress.

This picture is A Naked Man Being a Woman. Arbus spent a lot of time photographing minorities and people often overlooked by the "normal" population such as drag queens and dwarves. She spent a lot of time building up personal relationships and often took many photographs of subjects over a number of years. This is something that really appeals to me, seeing how the years affect different people and professions.

Assignment 1 : Contrasts

I can't believe I have reached the end of the first part! I was so excited to get started, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to commit much time what with working full time and having a husband I barely get to spend time with so when he is around we try to do stuff together. It was actually easy to find or make time though as I have enjoyed doing the course so much so far. I do feel like a lot of the pictures I have taken for the exercises have been pretty crappy. I'm hoping that part of it was just because it has been exercises to introduce me to my camera. That does sound like an excuse though so I will make a point to make my pictures more exciting moving forwards.

On to the contrasts :
This is strong and weak. The dragon is a strong animal and the lovely bold colours emphasise it's strength as well as the open mouth post. Weak is the little baby monkey being cradled in his mothers arms. His expression shows his weakness nicely as well.
Soft and hard here. You can see the fluffy tendrils around the edges of the scarf enhancing the feel of the soft material. The arch is hard as it is made of stone and has been there since Roman times. You also have the background soft looking leaves around the scarf and the hard concrete beneath the arch.
Moving and still. My friend is running and I choose one of the blurry shots from the shoot we did to really emphasise the movement as she runs past the railings and buildings. Still is not only subjects that aren't moving, but sculptures which capture them still in time for eternity. My friends legs are moving in contrast to the open arms and palm of the statues.
Many versus few. Many stripes of the zebra's coat as opposed to one anime girl! She only has two stripes (her legs) in effect.
Liquid and solid show the effect of the different states of water and ice. The goose is kicking up the icy water really showing the liquid, moving aspect of it as opposed to the snow which looks static and solid next to it.
A large monument which fills the frame and even goes outside the frame. The poppet is such a small sculpture which only takes up a tiny portion of the frame. The position of the two subjects in the frame is what really emphasises the contrast here.
Intermittent slats of the bench with the spaces in between can be compared with the organ pipes which are a continuous set with no gaps. The sun and shadow are also intermittent in the first shot versus the continuous colours and tones in the second.
Curved versus straight. The church tower is so straight, it almost leads straight up to god (if you are religious). The pillars up the side and brick work are all straight lines. The shape of the windows all point straight up also. The eagle stands with curved wings on a curved golden ball. His beak is also curved.

A picture to sum up contrast : This was something I thought about for a little while. I went to an anime and manga convention and was hoping to find my subject there. There was a couple who did cross playing (they dressed up as their favourite anime characters but the girl dressed as a male character and her boyfriend dressed as a female character). I thought this would make an excellent contrast, but the light was pretty terrible and I couldn't get a shot of them I was happy with. Instead, this picture came about sort of by accident. I had been in town not long after the snow and had been and walking home. The bottom of my jeans soaked up a lot of water (I wear then too long and they drag along the ground a bit) and dirt from the street so whenI got home I hung them up over a doorframe to dry. Later that evening I was passing on my way to the bathroom when I noticed the bottom of my jeans was glistening and sparkling. Turns out they were encrusted with salt from when the pavements had been gritted. I thought it would make a really interesting photograph so I took a couple.

The pictures didn't quite convey the contrast I was looking for so I changed it into black and white. That really made the white salt stand out against the dark background and I'm really happy with it. The contrast of the regularly shaped salt crystals with the jagged edges of the jeans also contrasts. You also have a natural substance (salt is sodium chloride a basic element) stuck to a manmade one (the denim). Overall I'm really pleased with the pictures I chose and I have learnt more about setting up the picture before taking it. It's all about timing and thinking about where in the frame looks best for what I am photographing. There is no one size fits all by any stretch of the imagination. I'm looking forward to making a start on part two.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Project Cropping and Extending : Cropping

I choose five shots in the end and on the left is the original with the cropped version to the right. In some it's just taking out some of the background and making the subject more central and dynamic, but the one of the zebra I wanted to just look at the pattern of it's coat. In the one of the three dancing girls, I decided to just keep the girl on the right as she had the best light and was the most interesting to look at.

I find I don't take a lot of pictures of people if left to my own devices, so I wanted to include a couple here. I'm still trying to find my niche, but am having lots of fun trying out new things and always looking for different subjects. I can be lazy when it comes to taking images, taking them with too much clutter and thinking to myself that I can crop it later. I'm trying to get in closer now and rely on getting it right in camera without any process with regards composition. It also helps push me to try different angles and compositions at the time and look at things in a different way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Project Frames Shapes and Sizes : Exercise Vertical and Horizontal Frames

I did this exercise in two different churches in Croydon (the town where I live) on two different weekends. The first four are in St Michaels and the rest are from what is nicknames Croydon Parish Church. I didn't like enough of the first shoot to use them all, so had another go around. For each show I composed them based on portrait/vertical orientation and then recomposed for the landscape/horizontal orientation. I'm not sure I felt restricted to trying to shoot only tall subjects, but I know that I do tend to take way more horizontal shots than I do vertical. It was good to challenge that view and think outside my regular box. Looking back over them, turns out there are a number with the weighting in the bottom half of the frame (0094, 0102, 0104, 0108 and 0122 are just a few examples).

Vertical :

Horizontal :
DSC_0094 - DSC0133.

Something I am doing on Flickr is taking a photo a day and I think that I will challenge myself to take the next five daily photos in vertical/portrait orientation to keep challenging how I see life through the viewfinder.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project Dividing the Frame : Positioning the Horizon

Another chance to take advantage of the snow. I did originally do this exercise at the top of Box Hill, but it was really misty and the horizon wasn't a straight line so I did it again a week later using a field with a strong line of trees. The trees make the horizon really clear despite the similarities in the colours of the sky and snow covered ground.

DSC_0088 - DSC_0093
The sky is far too dull to work in the last two, but if it was more dramatic I can see it looking really cool in another situation. Likewise I don't think the horizon bisecting the centre of the photo works either. The first three to me work best as compositions and unusually I like the first one best. Perhaps it just because I like snow and we so rarely get it here (we only had one day of snow this winter which was bizarrely in February). The tree line at the top suits the dull and moody colours.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Project Dividing the Frame : Exercise Balance

I ended up picking 7 photos in the end, but after the first 3 it was really difficult. I had fun drawing the pivot diagrams showing balance and scanned the drawing into the computer and posted it below. The easy ones to pick out were DSC_0022, DSC_0024 and DSC_0081. The metronome has the appearance of two prongs giving it balance and the Liberty building has the obvious double white stripes. Then the two buildings are duplicate shapes of each other and balance. On closer examination I spotted the balance between the road and the flower bed, the two smaller roof tops, the two different coloured dancers and the dancer in the middle of the circle of people. They are all pretty simple compositions too like the text in the exercise says "In general, the simpler the composition of a photograph - that is, the fewer and more distance the elects - the more obvious the balance will be".

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Project Focal Lengths : Exercise Focal Lengths and Different Viewpoints

I took these shots on the top of Box Hill where there was an abandoned or lost scarf that someone had hung up in a tree in case the owner came back and took pity on it. In both shots I focused on the 72 number on the bottom of the scarf. I filled the frame with the scarf and the tree it was hanging from in both shots as both had some depth (also there are the trees and wooded areas in the background).

DSC_0086 : Taken at 200mm focal length from a distance (F6.3)

DSC_0087 : Taken at 17mm walking much closer towards the scarf (F3.5)

The extra detail in the second shot taken at 17mm gives the impression of being closer than the shot taken at 200mm. You can see more of the fluff of the wool and more of the moss and grain of the bark. The different in aperture also makes a difference in the feel of the two photographs. The first throws the background out of focus which gives it more depth and more of the feeling that you are further away (again this may be the way I perceive it as I am short sighted).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Project Focal Lengths : Exercise Focal Lengths

I had two goes at this exercise again and used two different lenses taking shots at ten different focal lengths. The first time I did the exercise at Kelsey Park looking out over the icy lake to the geese meandering under a lovely wooden bridge. The second time was overlooking the South Bank, London Eye, parliament buildings and Big Ben. I thought it was about time I mixed up my shots and took some at night time. Personally I like the second set of photos more and it was fun trying slightly different compositions.

DSC_0066 and DSC_0076 were at 17mm
DSC_0067 and DSC_0077 were at 21mm
DSC_0068 and DSC_0078 were at 28mm
DSC_0069 and DSC_0079 were at 35mm
DSC_0070 and DSC_0080 were at 50mm
DSC_0071 and DSC_0081 were at 70mm
DSC_0072 and DSC_0082 were at 100mm
DSC_0073 and DSC_0083 were at 135mm
DSC_0074 and DSC_0084 were at 200mm
DSC_0075 and DSC_0085 were at 300mm

Of the different shots I prefer different focal lengths between the two sets. Of the Kelsey Park set I like the composition of the 300mm shot and of the South Bank pictures I prefer the one at 50mm where it has part of the London Eye and all of the other buildings. One is a wide angle shot and the other a telephoto showing that both work well in different situations.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photographer Friday

Sam Cooper has caught my eye recently being featured in a couple of magazines. His main website is here and he also has a Flickr page here. He takes pictures of extreme sports mostly skate boarding and roller blading. His speed lights are an essential part of his kit as the majority of his shoots are at night. They are also all urban shots with the skaters using everyday urban objects as props. Part of why he has been so successful and accepted is he is a rollerblader himself and this is the culture he is a big part of.

Here are two of his shots that I really like. This shows a rollerblader caught in the middle of a jump. He often uses a fish eye lens (it seems to be a style of extreme sports photographers) and it works really nicely here. The hint of colour really plays up the urban angle of the shoot. The shot is taken from close to the ground giving the appearance of even more height to the jump making it look even more extreme and frankly cool! Another lovely bit of composition is the the railing nicely bisects the windows and follows the squares and rectangles on the side of the building and the lines of the steps.

Another night time shot but this time no action. Here the bladder looks like they are contemplating their next move and jump and is about to get going and give it a go. The light here is lovely with the figure, grass and red boots nicely lit up. It also looks like he's sitting behind a starting line on the bench.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Project Looking Through the Viewfinder : Exercise A Sequence of Composition

I took a total of 30 photos for this exercise and had three different sets of sequences. It was Chinese New Year recently and I went to the parade and celebrations in London which is the largest celebration outside of Asia. From my first vantage point of the parade I couldn't get any decent photos as it was super busy, so once it had completely passed by me I ran around to further along the line and was able to watch the whole thing again. I knelt on the gravel the second time which really hurt my knee, but I was much happier with the end results.

The first sequence of pictures (DSC_0036-DSC_0045) I took were of the Chinese dragon starting off the parade. The first shot is pretty crap with a persons arm in the way. From there I tried to get closer and focus in on the front of the dragon. The third shot was working a bit better, but I felt that it would look better from the side to show the length and the movement that the children were doing with it. It was twisting and turning on it's sticks and constantly being moved. The next five show different takes on this where I was trying to get the right shot of the movement with the head of the dragon in the shot as well which was harder than it sounds. Especially trying to figure out where to focus and only having a limited amount of time to do it. DSC_0043 is the best and the final shot I took in this sequence, but the dragon's head is slightly out of focus still annoyingly. The final two shots I experimented taking shots to eh head of the dragon. Once from front on and the final shot from the side. The front on shot is more dynamic, but it was so difficult to get a clean shot as it was still super busy. Of the dragon head shots the final one DSC_0045 is my favourite just as it's less cluttered and really stands out against the dark background. It's the sharpest of the series and the colours really pop.

The second set of pictures I took (DSC_0046-DSC_0051) were of two of the dancers, in particular the lady in green. I didn't have a great deal of time to take these so I didn't end up with a shot I was 100% happy with sadly. The first shot shows the dancers approaching but is framed terribly with too much clutter. I moved closer to the middle of the road to take the second shot, but it's still too cluttered. The third and fourth I zoomed in a bit closer and tried to get the dancers to take up the whole frame. This was where I really noticed the lady in green and the way she was dancing so the final two shots are close ups of her alone. You can see her face in the first but there is still some clutter in the shot with the other dancers food. In the final shot it's better composed but she is looking down so it loses the impact.

My final set of shots (DSC_00520DSC_0065) were of the martial artists. These guys were great to watch and began with an adult, then a younger guy and then the youngest of all. My aim here was to get a great action shot. The first four are of the adult male with the first two not being very interesting where he is getting ready to do a move. The third he was showing off some positions which still wasn't very exciting. Shots four and five he is in the air doing some kicks. The first one isn't very well composed with a lady's camera phone in the way. The second is a much better shot, but I felt I could do better as the crowd don't look too impressed. DSC_0057-DSC_0059 show a young male doing moves with a stick. The composition is improving and the crowd are starting to get more involved and excited by his actions and movements. I was still trying to move around at ground level and balance keeping the focus on the performer and their movements. DSC_0060-DSC_0065 are my favourite shots of the set. The big was the youngest of the performers. DSC_0060 he was getting ready to start his routine, 0061 is getting more exciting and complex and 0062 he looks like he is falling backwards on to the floor, but in reality he is springing forwards. The action is just what I was looking for, but the crowd isn't quite right so I persisted for a bit longer. For the final three shots I got as close as I could while he finished his routine. The final two are my favourites though because as well as the awesome action the crowd look completely delighted. In DCS_0064 the lady on the left is clapping and has a massive smile on her face and in DSC_0065 everyone is intent on taking his picture or clapping. Plus it's better composed with the boy in the middle surrounded by a completely captivated audience. I was finally happy with the last shot which summed up the whole spirit of the show.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Project Looking Through the Viewfinder : Exercise Object in Different Positions in the Frame

I had a couple of goes at this exercise and couldn't decide which set of pictures to use. There is nothing to say you can't do an exercise more than once, so I figured why not use both sets. The first set I took at Kelsey Park in Beckenham. It was the day after the heavy snow here and most of the lake was still frozen. I had a great time taking shots of Canada Geese as they flew from the small patch of water over and onto the ice parts. They kicked up a lot of spray when they landed. The second set I took was of a ladybird poppet statue which is red and black against the grain of our wooden kitchen table.

These are my first two shots without really thinking about the composition too much.


The second set here is with the subject in the far right of the shot.


The third shot is of the subject a little way off centre.



The final shot has the goose or poppet in the centre of the frame.


Interestingly looking at the two sets I prefer different orders. Goose shots from most favourite to least in terms of what I think works : 29>31>28>30. Poppet shots from most to least favourite : 34>33>32>35. I like the goose all the way off to the right so you can see the full spray and it gives it room to travel forwards into. With the poppet, a little off centre works best for me and with it looking off to the left it makes more sense to me to have more space on that side. Having the subject at least a little off centre makes it stand out more against the background. The unbalance really works I think.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sorry for the lack of updates

My broadband has been down all week so I'm a bit behind now on my learning log and will have to miss Photographer Friday this week as it's too difficult to post pictures here using my phone. Been enjoying taking lots of photos in the snow and finally got some decent ones of a robin at Box Hill. Also I'm still slowly reading (and enjoying) The Photograph by Graham Clarke. The landscape chapter was interesting and looking at what story the different photographers are trying to tell with their compositions. Halfway through the chapter on the city now which I hope to complete this weekend.

Anyway, hopefully back properly soon. Have a lovely weekend students and bloggers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 6, 2012

Project Looking Through the Viewfinder : Exercise Fitting the Subject to the Frame

I set out into London to look for a subject for the photo. I ended up around Oxford Circus tube station when I spotted this beautiful tudor style building which I had never spotted before. It was really unusual amid the modern glass buildings and chain stores so I used it as my subject.

DSC_0022 : This was the first picture I took from the end of the road without really thinking about it. It's pretty crappy with all the people and the ugly lorry and van parked in the way as well as being hidden by some of the side buildings.

DSC_0023 : I moved closer to the building, walking down the street, trying to fit the building into the frame so it filled it completely. You can see more of the detail on the building exterior with the wooden balconies around the first floor.

DSC_0024 : Taken as a close up of the writing Liberty. Here you can't see any edges of the building and I love the word Liberty with the double white stripes and window squares.

DSC_0025 : Take two on fitting the building to the frame with a different perspective. It gives a better representation of the depth of the building and the shapes. The idle section really stands out from the set back flanks which can clearly be seen in this shot. Also you can start to see the pub style sign on the front.

From looking about a bit, although it looks like a beautiful pub it's actually a department store (boo). Quite a posh one at that with some very stylish clothes. If only I had the money to shop there.
DSC_0026 : Another take on fitting the building to the frame. You can see her the golden boat on the top (I assume it was called Liberty and that is what the building is named after). The five chimney stacks also are nicely in the top left corner.

DSC_0027 : This is the final picture which shows the building in full with a bit more of the environment around it. You can see some of the other buildings at the far left just about in a more typical brick London style. The sky was really overcast making it look pretty much white as a backdrop.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Project Focus : Exercise Focus at Different Apertures

For this exercise I used the slats on the back of a park bench. I used spot focusing on the nearest flat with the bird poo running down it! I balanced the camera on the arm of the bench as I still haven't got a decent tripod. It's at the top of my list as soon as I have some money to buy one.

DSC_0019 - Aperture 2.8f
Here you can see that the slats nearest to the camera only are in focus. The first one definitely and the second is mostly in focus. The later ones as well as the flowers by the furtherest arm of the bench are out of focus and blurry.

DSC_0020 - Aperture 11f
The majority of the first half of the slats are in focus. The flowers are a lot clearer but still not completely sharp.

DSC_0021 - Aperture 22f
There isn't too much difference between this and the previous picture. It's slightly sharper but still not completely in focus. The plaque is not focused in any of the pictures, but this gives the most shallow depth of field.

I like playing with depth of field and I still prefer the first picture where the foreground is focused and the further points are out of focus. I just like the effect I guess. It isn't always appropriate to use all of the time, but it's still one of my favourite effects and it's so simple and easy to use.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Photographer Friday

My secret passion is watching America's Next Top Model. I've always loved the creative photoshoot ideas and seeing how the photos came out. It taught me about angles, finding the light introduced me to fashion photography. I'm not really a girly girl so never really looked at fashion magazines growing up so this was the closest I got. Another thing ANTM introduced me to was the awesome Mike Rosenthal. He seems to have always shot the most interesting and quirky shoots. Two that really stand out were when the models had to be different carnival characters. One was a young girl body with an old lady's face, another had an elephant nose, siamese twins and a cannibal girl in a cage. The second shoot that I adored was when the models all had to have killed each other in different ways. One was drowned, another strangled, a third stabbed and a fourth poisoned.

Maybe I'm just morbid, but I think these pictures mostly speak for themselves. Experimenting with opening my eyes again though here it's the body language as well as the light falling on the models leg making it look immensely long despite being trapped in a relatively small cage. Her hands grasping the bars make her look even more like a predator than the body by itself.

The makeup here is so cool. The bruising around the collarbone is really great as well as the model's pose. The set up with the toppled bottle pushes home the message of poison. Then there is the smoke and colour of the whole thing that gives it a sickly look. Despite being dead there is also a great shot of the models eyes.

The light here along the models body is stunning before you even get started on the post and setup. I want that hat she is wearing! The vintage elements are all working really well together here as well. Despite the elephant nose she still looks incredibly beautiful.

Another great post and makeup. Again she looks dead but you still get a good shot of her eyes. The angles of her legs are great and her colouring and styling looks really vivid next to the discoloured and dirty looking bathroom.

On his website there are a lot more shots from his editorial and advertising campaigns that he has worked on as well as some celebrity shots. There are some lovely ones of Johnny Galecki (most recently seen as Leonard in The Big Bang Theory) where he is smiling and laughing. I'm not sure if they were posed or not, but they look really natural and make him look like a really down to earth, relaxed, fun guy to spend time with which surely is the idea.