Friday, March 30, 2012

Assignment 2 - Elements of Design

This section of the course has been fascinating. I have unconciously been looking for shapes in my photography without realising it, in particular lines and curves. Some shapes however I never really paid much attention to like triangles and I particularly struggled with rhythm and understanding the concept here.

When it came to thinking about this assingment I decided not to use the subjects suggested because as soon as I started thinking about shapes and different types of line the female body strang to mind immediately. This isn’t a subject I have any experience photographing so it was a challenge from the outset. I like a challenge though so I was not to be deterred. From asking around I found a friend who was willing to be my muse and I went through the list of effects and made notes on my ideas for each one beforehand. I also left some time to experiment on the day and see if any positioning made shapes that I hadn’t considered beforehand. I finished up selecting 18 photographs in the end which I hope is ok as the brief said 10-15. I wanted the results to show the amount of thought and preparation I put in to this project though. I converted all of my shots to black and white using photoshop elements 9 and experimented with the RGB and contrast.

Single Point 1 - I had the belly button as one of my first ideas and I positioned the model so that the shadow would play nicely across her stomach emphasizing it further. I think of the whole series this is in my top two favourite shots and funnily enough it was the first one I took after a couple of test shots to check camera settings and lighting.

Single Point 2 - This was almost an afterthought towards the end of the shoot and I deliberately wanted a slightly blurred out of focus feel to contrast to the sharpness of Single Point 1. I used the whole hand as one point here although later on I used the individual fingers as points. This shot has an ethereal quality and it links in nicely with the Rhythm shot telling a story. In Rhythm I had the model look as if she was a dead body and Single Point 2 suggests to me she has been wounded and is sliding down the wall, trying to hold on and stay present.

Two Points 1 - I went for the obvious by using the breasts/nipples, but I do like this shot, in particular her far breast with the lovely play of shadows around the nipple. Again I used a slightly out of focus effect to give it a more artistic feel rather than a medical or pornographic one which I was worried about with such a focus directly on her breasts. Again it has that slightly dead feel that runs through a lot of the pictures (I like a bit of morbid and unsettling!).

Two Points 2 - This was another spur of the moment composition from playing around on the day. I wanted something a little less obvious than using her breasts/nipples. I like that as well as two points you feel a sense of lines, diagonals and pattern too.

Multiple Points 1 - This was the hardest idea to convey just using the body. I originally had the idea of doing something with the palm of the hand and the fingers jutting outwards towards the camera in a claw like pose, but after experimenting I just wasn’t happy with how the shots came out. It was time to think more abstract. I thought why not use the femal body as a single point rather in the shape rather than all of the points at once. I found some tables and using the model made a square/diamond shape with her nicely lit up. I’m still not sure I’m 100% happy with the final results, but I do love the light on her legs, feet and arms and how their shape is straight like the leg on the tables making her fit the overall theme of the shapes Also the curves on the tables fit with the shape of her head.

Multiple Points 2 - This was more the initial shot I had in mind, but I think I prefer Multiple Points 1 as it’s less cluttered. This was the most interesting shape we could come up with after experimenting on various different hand positions and it was very difficult finding one that had as much of her arms out of shot as possible. There is the shape of the crossed fingers and that of the circle and the thumbs pointing away from each other.

Lines 1 - I love the shapes and shadows in this shot. There are the vertical lines of the arms and back plus long shadows. There are also vertical lines made in the markings on her knuckles. Horizintal lines were made using her hand and fingers placed on her arm which also created a horizontal shadow across her body.

Lines 2 - Another set of vertical and horizontal lines formed using her legs and crossed arms. The line between her breasts is another vertical line as are her downward pointing fingers on her right hand.

Diagonals 1 - I wanted to use her legs for this show and spent some time playing with the angle and the focus. I took some where her shoulder wasn’t visable which looked a bit strange as she looked like an amputee. I got her to point her feet as well to make sure the diagaonls went all the way from the top of her legs to the tips of her toes. I also wanted a bend at the knee to give as many diagonals as possible. Her shoulder also makes a nice diagonal in the corner as well as the shape of her ear as seen from above. I put the focus on the top of her head and shoulderto try and give the feeling that she was sitting with her legs dangling below her when in reality they were straight out on the floor.

Diagonals 2 - Another perspective this time I empahsized the slope of her shoulder and chin. There are also diagonal lines formed by the bend in her neck and I also asked her to bend her knees and have them as seconadry diagonals pointing away from the main ones. I would be intersted to go back and try this again without her legs in the shot in hindsight and see if it makes more or less of an impact.

Curves 1 - So many curves are apparent here. The main curve is her back but there also also the curves around her ribcage and stomach and the suggestion of her breasts in the far last of the frame. I tried a few close up shots of just the curve of her back, but in the end I preferred this wider version as it had more curves for the eye to feast upon.

Curves 2 - A bit obvious, but it’s obvious for a reason! I got her to arch her back even more to really emphasise the curves further. I also tried a few slightly different variations with less curve of her buttocks and without the line down the middle. I settled on this as it has the added curve of the line from her back all the way down her legs. I also really like the simple lines near the top of her far leg which are vertical curves going against the horizontal main curves.

Shape 1 - I used the hands to make shapes on her body. I had heart in mind from my planning and after experimenting with a few others (circle, rectangle and other random ones) this was by far my stand out favourite. I upped the contrast in elements to really bring out the folds in the blanket and markings on her hands. I thought this gave it a lovely texture.

Triangles 1 - Funnily enough this was the other area I really struggled with along with Multiple Points. I felt like everything I tried was too literal and the aim was to show implied triangles not real ones. This leg position has the feel of triangles between the leg, knee and feet. Perhaps if the second foot had been out of shot it would have appeared more implied than real.

Triangles 2 - I had a second attempt at forming triangles and thought this shot of her nose and eye worked nicely. The nose itself with the shadows has a distinctly triangular feel and the empty shadow to the left of it is also triangular in shape. There is also the implied triangle from the eye to the nostril and back up the bridge of the nose.

Triangles 3 - This was my final effort at making implied triangles. This time I made sure not to close the gap between the bent arm, hand and shoulder. This makes it less literal and more implied. I put the focus on her hand to give leading lines as well and made sure her fingers were all straight and in line with her arm.

Rhythm 1 - I had this idea in advance. I wanted the pattern of the metals lines and stairs to lead your eye to the dead seeming model on the floor. I also added in curves with the DJ booth to the left of the vertical lines. I got her to pose using shapes as well and used the shadow to emphasize this even further. There are diagonals, lines, triangles, points and curves in her body which I think pulls together all of the previous photos making it a cohesive narrative and project.

Pattern 1 - I had the idea of using something net or lace and projecting light through it to create a shadow pattern on the body. I had a look around a few charity shops before finding a lace table cloth with a flower pattern in it. I asked my model to hold the cloth away from her body and I balanced on a chair shooting downards. My original idea had been to use her back as my blank canvass, but she had quite a large tattoo so I switched to her chest. Along with Single Point 1 this is my other favourite from the whole day and it came out even better than I imagined it would.

I wanted to be careful that my photos had a fine art feel to them rather than anything more obsence and I believe I have achieved this throughout the collection. I tried to keep the emphasis on form like Weston which I read about in “The Photograph”: “Here the body is equated with underlying natural form, seen as though a shell or a hill, the emphasis being on the play of light and the texture of the skin.” (Clarke, G 1997 Oxford History of Art : The Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press) I also spent some time studying Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography to get more ideas on how to use design in photographs. I tried to convery my ideas without the need for words much like Cartier-Bresson. From the introduction written by Jean Clair “There are times when one would like words to have the lightness of images, to settle on things with the delicacy of a feather... Hardly has a word been formed than it is weighted and tips the scale. Never exactly right. Always a little too heavy for what it has to say.” (Cartier-Bresson, H 1998 Europeans. London: Thames and Husdon). Hopefully again I have achieved this in my photographs for this assignment on design.

Project Rhythm and Pattern : Exercise Rhythms and Patterns

Pattern wasn't difficult to understand or to photograph. Rhythm on the other hand took a bit more thought. I think I've grasped the concept but trying to explain it to my husband proved a little difficult.

DSC_0175 : Pattern - A shot of brickwork on the pavement in the town centre. They form a distinct pattern made up of diagonals which links back nicely with the previous exercises. I was careful not to get any benches or feet etc in the shot.

DSC_0176 : Rhythm - The straight vertical lines of the back of the truck lead your eye nicely to the snake slithering across it. You then follow the snake to it's head and end up at the forked tongue. Your eye goes from top to bottom and then left to right.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review : Europeans - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 232
Format : Non Fiction, Photography
Reason for Reading : Course Reading Material

This book was recommended to me by my tutor before getting started on the second part of my course (Elements of Design) and as soon as I started going through the images I could see why. My studying has been focusing on lines, shapes and patterns and all of these photos are filled with these ideas. Beginning with an introduction by Jean Clair, he sums up the collection as "a closely woven portrait of Europe after the war: accumulated ruins and the marks of hunger and woe on people's faces still appearing very clearly." This is certainly the case for many of the photographs, but there is also a sense of abandon and joy to be found as well. The best to describe this is simply to show you some of the photos from the collection.

This was taken in Rome, Italy and shows instantly HCB's grasp of design and the play between light and shadow (a theme that crops up in many of the photos in this collection). He times his shot perfectly with the girl running through the patch of light on the ground, illuminating her and drawing your eye in despite her only being a small object in the frame.

Another of my favourite shots taken of a Guard of Honour at a ceremony commemorating Leningrad's liberation in the USSR. The line of the guards and in particular their feet really stands out and I love the shapes. Your eye is really quickly drawn to the young girl in the bottom left, peeking out and holding flowers. The flowers are dropping and form a curve against the straight line of the guards giving the picture a sadness.
Possibly my favourite of all in the collection is Aquila, The Abruzzi taken in Italy again. The mixture of curves and lines is really striking here both between the man made stairs and fences and the women and children. There is also a line of men in the background parallel to the far metal fence. This really does capture a moment for me when everything seems to come together all at once. His patience must have been astounding!

Highly recommended to anyone interested in either photography (particularly street photography) or design. I have printed out some of my favourites which I have put in my notebook to use as inspiration both now and in the future. Interestingly when I was in Italy last October in Bologna, I stumbled across an exhibition of his which I spent a few hours looking around. I didn't know who he was at the time and hadn't started formally studying photography yet, but I did recognise some of the pictures from the book from the exhibition. Funny how life is symmetrical at times.

Project Shapes : Real and Implied Triangles

Real Triangles : This was easier to do than I expected. I haven't really made a point of noticing triangles out and about before. Lines and curves yes, but not really other shapes. Once I did start looking though, it seemed there were triangles everywhere just like the diagonals, curves and lines.

DSC_0169 : Trianglar subject is the top of a roof above a shop and gym.

DSC_0170 : Upward Triangle I made from the top of a building near the tram stop which added in diagonal lines as well. I pointed the camera upwards to emphasise the shape.

DSC_0171 : Inverted Triangle I made by pointing the camera down and at an angle where the road went down an incline. It's very close to the real triangle, but I didn't spot it until a week afterwards walking home one afternoon on the opposite side of the road from usual. I used the brick wall post to form the near side and the line at the top of the incline forms the third side.

Implied Triangles : I found this difficult as I am not very experienced taking still life photographs posed like this. I tried to use different subjects for the two posed triangles to keep things interesting.

DSC_0172 : Upright Triangle made of poppets with some in focus and others out and gazing off mysteriously. I also shifted the angle so it wasn't straight on to try and make the shot a bit more interesting.
DSC_0173 : Inverted Triangle made of books and a computer game. Reading is a big hobby of mine as is playing computer games so I combined them with my love of photography.

DSC_0174 : Group picture of a family (mine) sitting down to dinner and saying grace beforehand. This was the easiest of the three pictures in this exercise to take and came the most naturally to me. With the three of them they form a lovely triangle with their arms.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Project Using Lines in Composition : Exercise Implied Lines

This is a sketch of the lines in the two photographs in the exercise. The right is of the bull fighter with the red line being the strangest form the top right to the pole to the back of the bull. There is also the line of the man's body and the second pole. The right sketch shows the main line as the eye line from the man to the direction the two horses are looking. There are secondary lines of the man's body and those form the horses heads to the bottom of their legs.
Three photos I have taken and underneath a picture with the implied lines in it.

DSC_0167 : Eye Line from the girl to the snail
DSC_0168 : Leading extension line of the path going towards Stonehenge

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Project Lines : Exercise Curves

I feel like these all show a sense of movement. The first gives the effect of spinning even though it is stationary. The second and fourth lead your eyes to follow where the lines are going. The third makes you want to step forwards and start walking down the path and see what's around the corner.

DSC_0163 : Structure in the local library
DSC_0164 : Markings on the road
DSC_0165 : Curved path leading down Box Hill
DSC_0166 : Railings on the way in to town

Monday, March 26, 2012

Project Lines : Exercise Diagonals

After doing the previous exercise it was much easier to start spotting diagonals. Now all I can see when I go out is lines!

DSC_0159 : Roof beamsDSC_0160 : A wooden fence
DSC_0161 : Ripples in a lake
DSC_0162 : Telephone wires

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Project Lines : Exercise Horizontal and Vertical Lines

I took this exercise quite literally and had fun looking for vertical and horizontal lines. I tried to mix up the different types of lines as suggested in the notes.

DSC_0151 : A set of draws in my kitchen

DSC_0152 : Lines of wicker making up a bin

DSC_0153 : Painted stripes of a zebra crossing

DSC_0154 : Brick work in a cafe

DSC_0155 : A path and trees in nature

DSC_0156 : Lines of a radiator

DSC_0157 : The back of a bench in my town centre

DSC_0158 : The pattern of lines on my tabby cat (Loki's) tail