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.

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