Monday, April 30, 2012

Project Colour Relationships : Exercise Colour Relationships

I was able to take many of these pictures quite by accident. I visited Polesden Lacey, a National Trust property with the intention of looking at the flowers and taking a couple of shots, but when I got there I started noticing all of the different colour combinations for this exercise. Luckily I don't go anywhere without my folder with the section I am working on with me so I could double check the specifics.




Once I found the colour combinations, it was just a case of putting them in the correct ratios :
Red 1 : Green 1
Orange 1 : Blue 2
Yellow 1 : Violet 3
Two (DSC_0200 and DSC_0202) of the pictures are flowers and DSC_0201 is of a post that had once been painted blue but had orange paint underneath it which came through the areas it was peeling. 

Below are some colour combinations I found that worked well :

DSC_0203 : Orange and Yellow oils

DSC_0204 : Green and Yellow. This is a combination that I keep seeing everywhere now I have started noticing it and it's one that really appeals.

DSC_0205 : Violet and Green. Another common combination and one that I particularly love. Incidentally purple/violet is my favourite colour and green is my husbands so it makes sense to me that they go together so well.

The colours I picked complement each other rather than contrast, but I so enjoy combinations like orange and pinks that are similar but do have a bit of an imbalance. I found this an interesting exercise as I never thought about these combinations of primary and secondary colours. I remember my gran always telling me "red and green must never be seen", but in nature it works really well. Orange and blue is the least appealing of the three. I'm not a fan of orange as a colour but I especially don't like the effect of it next to blue. Yellow and violet look stunning together though.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Urban Ballerina Project

I took these shots at the weekend with model Kayleigh Lush around the Embankment area in London. She is a classically trained dancer and these are taken in the style of the Urban Ballerina Project. The aim of the project is to take pictures of ballerina's in urban settings and only black and white photos are allowed as part of the project. It was begun in New York by Dane Shitagi and there is more information here and here

I used techniques learnt during the second module of this course, Elements of Design, using shapes and leading lines. It was excellent being able to use some of London's most famous landmarks as the backdrop to the beautiful ballerina. I had so much fun working on this for the morning and I really hope to do more in the future with different styling. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Project Building a Library of Colours : Exercise Primary and Secondary Colours

It took me a while to find the right blue and in the end I used a sellotape holder that I have had for so long it even has my name written on it by my mum from when I was a child! That shade of blue is hard to find in nature. I would have used a flower for the red, but I used it for the previous exercise so I varied it with a red bowling pin. The orange is a traffic cone, the yellow some beautiful petals in a bush, the green a clump of leaves and the violet is a coat of mine. For all of these shots I used the auto mode on my camera to take the first one. I then used the manual setting for the second two of each colour and replicated the shutter speed and ISO, just changing the aperture half a stop down and then up each time.

Red :

 DSC_0182 f11
 DSC_0183 f10 - This one looks to me to be the closest to the red in the colour wheel

 DSC_0184 f13

Orange :
 DSC_0185 f8
 DSC_0186 f7.1
 DSC_0187 f9 - This looks to me to be the closest to the orange in the colour wheel.

Yellow :
 DSC_0188 f9
 DSC_0189 f8 - This to me is the closest to the yellow in the colour wheel.

 DSC_0190 f10

Green :
 DSC_0191 f7.1 - This to my eyes is the closest to the green in the colour wheel.

 DSC_0192 f6.3
 DSC_0193 f8

Blue :
 DSC_0194 f4 - This is the closest blue to the blue of the colour wheel.

 DSC_0195 f4.5
 DSC_0196 f3.5

Violet :
 DSC_0197 f6.3
DSC_0198 f5.6 - Of the three this looks the closest to the violet of the colour wheel.

DSC_0199 f7.1

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Local Camera Club

Tonight I went to a local camera club for my second visit. The first had been a talk on composition and this was a competition night with photographs on slides. They were all taken on film cameras and the only editing done (if any) to the pictures was cropping. I grew up using film cameras but haven't shot with one since I was a young teenager. I've never had a chance to use manual settings on a film camera so this was fascinating. Some of the shots weren't to my tastes, but a few really caught my eye. One of my two favourites was a close up shot of a maritime sculpture made from stone. The photographer had composed it beautifully to highlight the shapes and captured the texture of the stone fantastically. My other favourite shot was of a large lake with mountains rising behind it which were reflected in the lake. on the lake in a line were three boats. The shot was taken from low down and looked amazing. It was interesting to hear a judge go through and critique the shots and seeing if I agreed or not with their comments. A different learning experience that was thoroughly enjoyable.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 16, 2012

Project What Makes a Colour : Exercise Control the Strength of a Colour

I took the first picture of a tulip with raindrops on auto mode and then used manual for all of the other shots. I replicated the white balance, shutter speed and ISO and only changed the aperture as requested. I didn't use a tripod so they are slightly different in composition, but I kept them as close to the same as possible. A tiny bit of green crept in to a couple of the shots in the corner, but I didn't want to edit them at all and just used the JPGs straight from the camera.

DSC_0177 : 1/320 f9
DSC_178 : 1/320 f8
DSC_0179 : 1/320 f7.1
DSC_0180 : 1/320 f10
DSC_181 : 1/320 f11

I've hopefully got the different correct between brightness and saturation, but to me it looks like when shot at f7.1 the red of the tulip is more intense and saturated. The shot at f11 is the least saturated and weak in red colour. The shot at f11 is the darkest and the shot at f7.1 the lightest and brightest.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

William Eggleston's Guide - WIlliam Eggleston & John Szarkowski

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 112
Format : Non Fiction, Photography
Reason for Reading : Course Reading Material

At the moment I am studying colour as part of The Art of Photography and my tutor recommended this collection to me to look through. From some other reading I've been doing, Eggleston was a pioneer as in the 1960s colour photography was mostly used only by advertising and publicity companies. Eggleston began to use it in his work and this collection was shown at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. To quote "Photography A Critical Introduction" edited by Liz Wells "His subjects were mundane, everyday, often trivial, so that the real subject was often seen to be the colour itself." I've included the two pictures that stood out to me the most below.

Huntsville, Alabama - I love the pose of the gentleman, casually stroking the bright orange plane. I wonder if he piloted one when he was younger, was he part of the US Air Force or does he just have an appreciation of planes? It's composed with lost of empty space to his left maybe to emphasise his long past as he is now past his youth. It has a sense of nostalgia.

Memphis - A real Memphis belle. Going back to earlier modules this picture is full of shapes (Eggleston did study Cartier-Bresson I believe). There are lines, diagonals, curves and brian;es plenty. Your eye is drawn also to the contrast between the yellow of the wall and her hair with the dark blue of her dress.

Overall I wasn't a big fan of many of the pictures. I'm not sure if it's because they didn't mean much to me being taken before my time of places I haven't visited although that doesn't seem to cover it. The colours were a little dull for my tastes. If you are going to do colour, then do colour! I understand this was a seminal collection so perhaps going through again in a week or two will unlock some more understanding in me. What I did love was the essay by John Szarkowski. I made a note of a few quotes which I hope to use in my assignments moving forwards and it is worth the price of the book for this alone.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Experiments with Colour

I've been spending some time experimenting with white balance over the last month. I've been trying to use it creatively and not using it on auto to see the different effects. These are some photos I took on a Red Riding Hood shoot showing how the pictures came out. The first uses tungsten (shade on my camera). The second uses direct sun and the third cloudy. The fourth uses the selective colour mode on my Nikon D5100 with just the red showing. This is a really fun in camera effect and it works particularly well when used with anything red as it's so vibrant and bright.

Red Swirl

Red Riding Hood

Red Curls


I shoot in raw so I can experiment with the white balance when editing in Photoshop Elements as well and play with the different effects and atmosphere it gives to my photographs. I look forward to trying new effects and seeing what else I can create with colour soon.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Further experimenting with Macro

The weather was lovely in the morning yesterday so I drove over to Polesden Lacey, a National Trust property. I had originally intended to visit an arboretum for the first time, but the traffic was so bad I pulled off a junction early and went here instead. The goal was to start getting some shots for the colour section and practise with my macro lens as it had some lovely gardens. I got some very colourful shots of flowers as well as quite a few photos I might use for the colour combinations exercise, but what I was most happy with at the end of the day was capturing this little guy settling on a branch at head height. I tried to track him (or her) fluttering about but it was far too difficult as his flight was so erratic and fast. He finally settled on a branch and if I hadn't seen him do so there is no chance I would have been able to spot him as well camouflaged as he was with the branch and bud forming at it's tip. I took a few shots getting closer and closer each time as I wasn't sure how easily scared he would be. Turns out not at all and I left with this final shot. What I'm most pleased is that zooming in it's sharp all the way through and I focused on the head and antennae.

Sadly he's not colourful enough to use for this project, but I'm very much enjoying honing my skills in this new to me branch of photography. I'm also thinking about looking into going to a butterfly house and using them for my subject for the assignment at the end of the section. If I can't find all of the colour combinations I could get some models or toy butterflies and mix it up with a few still life shots to round out the collection and keep it on a theme.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Photographer Friday

I just had a chance to look through the new British Journal of Photography (Volume 159 Issue 7799) and the new collection "Infra" by Richard Mosse jumped out at me straight away. The shots are all taken of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the article it says that the situation "is so complex, its accumulative horrors so intangible, photography could not adequately portray or respond." The film Mosse used is called Aerochrome and has recently been discontinued by Kodak. It was developed initially as an infrared film to detect enemies in the Vietnam War. It brings all foliage out in this pink colour and leaves anything else it's normal colour. As expected this has been experimented with by the general public during the psychedelic era and was used on album covers by Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Grateful Dead. After than that, apart from some landscape photographs, it pretty much fell into disuse hence it's removal from the catalogue and production.

It's such an unusual way to photograph the war, but the colours really encourage your eye to look further and see what else is present. Richard originally studied English Literature in Kings College London but returned to study not long after to complete a postgraduate diploma in fine art and then went to the Yale School of Art to study photography MFA. Below are two of the photographs that stood out to me form the Infra collection that I have seen so far.

This is such an alien landscape. The blue river weaving through it really stands out against the grass and bushes. The shapes of the mounds with the tree line on top steps out from the background as well.

The pink highlighting is so surreal when compared with the young man with the rifle. The strange colours really show how strange the whole situation is with him being so young.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

First attempt with Macro photography

I recently purchased a lovely Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens and last week was my first chance to give it a test drive. I stopped off at Nyman's gardens, a beautiful Natural Trust property, to give it a test drive. It took me a few tries to experiment with how close I could get to my subject and still be able to focus and I was amazed at the results. I worked handheld which turned out to be the right choice as I found some interesting insects which don't really stay still!

While walking down one of the flower strewn paths I heard a distinct buzzing sound. The violet flowers were alive with bees. I lay down in the path (much to the confusion of the other people enjoying the gardens) and sat patiently. It took quite a few tries until I managed this shot of a bee feeding. They don't stay still for very long and the garden was very crowded with plants and other insects. It was timed just right to get the bee in focus, with nothing in front of it and the light fully on it's head. I focused on the head and managed to get a shot with his tongue out too. It fits in nicely with my current section of study on colour and I hope to take many more shots of insects.

Assignment Two Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

This was an excellent second assignment submission for you Katie with some strong individual images included with a thematic approach adopted to the work.

The key issues I mentioned within my last feedback report were as follows:

Ensure all photographic work has been specifically shot for the assignment.
Submit assignment with a Word Doc and embedded images.
Maintain an academic level to writing using Harvard referencing
Consider ‘composition’ much more closely and read more around this area – in particular the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Develop your Blog along with a physical journal for research.

I can see that you have clearly taken on board these suggestions, some of which are now actually beginning to come through in both your writing and visual imagery. All the images now look like they have been taken as part of an ongoing project specifically dealing with the problems / challenges set and not looking too disjointed as a body of work.

In terms of compositional considerations you will see my detailed responses within the Assignment Feedback section, but overall I would comment that you are beginning to ‘see’ more now and have even adjusted your viewpoints and camera angles to further improve this aspect of your photographic image making.

I was extremely pleased to note the inclusion of academic referencing within your assignment work now. You may already be aware of this, but the reason why we cite ‘academic reference’ is to demonstrate you have engaged in wider reading of secondary sources IE: Books, Journals, Films, Websites etc. Quoting from, or alluding to these sources to back up the points you wish to make, shows a sophistication of writing and expression, which is what is required at degree level study. By referencing clearly, you can show which ideas are your own and which ideas you have borrowed from other sources [thus avoiding plagiarism]. By relating the work of others to your own, you establish a ‘Critical Position’. The quality of these sources is always very important so forget Wikipedia ! These are just on-line encyclopedia entries by anybody with an interest and don’t hold any academic rigour, scrutiny or peer review. Make sure you are looking at relevant sources and always include the full ‘Harvard’ reference in your bibliography [The same as entries in the Suggested Reading section]. This may sound a bit heavy, but you need to balance the level of practice to theory on a visual arts undergraduate programme of study – you can’t just get away with taking pictures alone unfortunately ! Towards the end of the submission it might have actually been a good idea to quote Weston directly here … he has said many wise words over the years and particularly in relation to the nude.

Assignment Feedback

These were an excellent collection of female nude studies which I felt really took you out of your comfort zone. Generally I think you have probably learnt a lot from this exercise, certainly in terms of trying to construct a workable set of themed images. You managed to include 18 images which was a couple more than the brief required but which did not detract from the final submission. The images all looked correct together, but also didn’t suffer from visual repetition which can often be the case.

It is quite a difficult subject to shoot for the first time and does take a little concentration in order to get over what it is you are actually doing when shooting nudes. The first shot was excellent and I agree with your annotation …. It is actually just light and dark enough to make out the subject matter and can be considered to be lit very subtly … having said this do you think it could have benefited from a little more contrast ?

I liked the second shot of the hand but am a little bothered by it being out of focus though. You do mention that you ‘deliberately wanted a slightly blurred and out of focus feel’, but I think this is very easy to say and actually quite difficult to properly justify and explain …. becoming a very convenient objective after having shot it ! Unless you are using a large format camera which has movable lens and film planes to allow exact control of differential focus, for obvious reasons, I think I’d like all your work in focus for the time being please !

Shot three is nicely composed, but again a little flat / lacking in any highlights? With regards to the subject matter, I don’t think there would be any doubt about the image being confused for a medical representation as it wouldn’t be much use for this purpose to be honest. It is also not pornographic in any sense of the word based upon the context and purpose for which it has been shot. I wouldn’t worry about taking nude photographs as the study of the naked form has been around since the beginning of ‘art’. There is a level of maturity required from all in order for it to be viewed seriously though… thus being way beyond any childish level of scrutiny. I think you have seen the works of Edward Weston particularly in relation to his nudes and would also recommend the work of Bill Brandt.

I liked shot four with the awkwardness of the feet / legs but my attention was really caught by shot five which I thought actually looked quite sinister ! I understand your thinking behind this, but it took me a while to figure out what was happening here ! Moving on through the shots I liked the way some of the poses had actually become quite abstracted with the use of the white flesh against the dark black background. The darkness of the background really added to all these images and helped tie them all together as a series. It also allows all concentration to be focused upon the model without any distractions which really benefited the series.

Diagonals 1 shot was very reminiscent of a Weston nude in terms of the pose and camera position with Diagonals 2 also creating some interesting sections but I would recommend thinking very carefully about your depth of field here with a few of the shots as it might have worked better if everything had been sharp ? Curves 1 was actually my favourite image I think, as it does actually have a ‘landscape’ overtone to it … again though I think it is just slightly too dark with the contrast levels needing tweaking just slightly. [I may be wrong here as I am only looking at small embedded images at this point in time]

The rest of the imagery made good use of artificial lighting with even a display of small triangle of circles in the models eye in Triangles 2. You might have been able to cut out a triangular mask here and tape it around your light source to give a perfect triangular white reflection in the eye maybe ? The other notable image was Rhythm 1 which was very curious in terms of the use of the steel poles, however again I couldn’t see enough of the model here. Pattern 1 was also very inventive and I’d encourage you to try more make- shift solutions to problems like this …it is all part of the experimentation process.

Once again …. Excellent work !

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your Blog has been developing well and you are posting on it regularly now and I’m glad that this is covering OCA / Photographic related matters.

I mentioned in your previous feedback about the need to develop a physical ‘workbook’ – somewhere you can gather thoughts / ideas / research / literature etc … did you have any joy with this yet ? It is possible to photograph entries into this and send along with your imagery / post online etc if this helps ? Just let me know where to find it or include it at the end of your submissions clearly labelled as such.

Suggested reading/viewing

Parr, M.2004:Think of England. London. Phaidon Press Ltd.
ISBN-13: 978 - 0714844541

Eggleston, W.2002: William Eggleston’s Guide. New York. MOMA Press
ISBN-13: 978-0870703782

Shore, S.2004: Uncommon Places. London. Thames & Hudson
ISBN-13: 978-0500542873

Follow Up Work

As well as further considering ‘composition’ I would like you to take a look at the work of the three practitioners listed above called: Martin Parr, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. Parr is a well known Magnum Photographer, so it may also serve you well to try and become acquainted with what the Magnum Photo Agency [] is all about. The other two [Eggleston & Shore] are very important American photographers especially in relation to the use of ‘Colour Photography’ which I think may help you with your forthcoming 3rd Assignment. Eggleston in particular is cited as being the photographer who introduced the art world to Colour Photography, with his ground breaking exhibition at MOMA in New York in 1976. Prior to this, most serious photography had been monochrome.

I hope this is of help to you and look forward to your next assignment.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Review : A Propos de Paris - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 167
Format : Non Fiction, Photography
Reason for Reading : Course Reading Material

Another collection of photography work by Henri Cartier-Bresson. This time all of the photographs were taken around Paris. Some were in the Europeans collection, but most were new to me. The introduction by Vera Feyder read more like a poem than an introductory text which fitted the pictures nicely. It gives a little bit of background about Cartier-Bresson and mentions his "decisive moment" which I keep hearing about.

What I especially liked is that these are not simple tourist snaps. They are well thought out and beautifully composed. In the introduction it quotes Cartier-Bresson as saying "You see, photography is nothing, it's life that interests me. Life, do you see?" which is definitely what you notice immediately form opening the collection. Not as many pictures jumped out as the Europeans collection, but it was still a beyond excellent collection and I have learnt a lot form looking through these over the last few days. Below are two of my favourite pictures from this collection that weren't in the Europeans edition.

Porte d'Aubervilliers (1932) - The young boy looks straight out of Oliver Twist despite being in Paris. Another of his shots that is full of shapes. Lines on the sheds, diagonals of the roof, triangle of his arms and feet as well as the pavement. The light picks up the top of his hat nicely.

Champes-Elysees (May 1968) - The sun is beautiful shining through the flag which is held out so straight by the girl balancing on then back of the bicycle. The bicycle is placed parallel to the broken lines marking the lane. I really like the white of her legs against the dark bike and male.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reflections on Assignments One and Two

I thought it would be a good idea to jot down some of my notes between putting together my first two assignments. I learnt a lot from the feedback for the first assignment which hopefully meant that my second one was of a much higher standard. I haven't yet had the tutor feedback, but when I do I will post it here like last time to refer back to.

Things I learnt from completing Assignment One :
  • Read the assignment and then read it again! - I think I made an error in doing the first assignment as I thought that the pictures used for it had to come from the photographs taken for the exercises. I'm really glad it was unmarked as although I did put a lot of thought and effort into the exercises, they weren't all the most exciting of pictures.
  • Presentation is Key - I don't think it had sunk in yet that I was putting work together that is potentially being submitted towards a degree qualification. I collated my photos for submission in photoshop elements and as it was taking a long time to upload them singly, I put them all together in a contact sheet and used that. It isn't always going to be the quickest and easiest way. I learnt that taking more time and pride in my work is far more important than getting it done quickly. It was also pointed out that it's important to keep prints the same size and format which I tried to do here.
  • Proof Read - I'm still somewhat lazy with my exercises (which I am working to correct), but for my assignment I composed it in Pages and then copied it into my learning log here. That was definitely the right order to go about it as I could spellcheck beforehand. I also went back and reread my completed notes twice before posting here to ensure it made sense. I must endeavour to do this for all assignments moving forwards.
  • Cite References - I have started doing some recommended reading around the course and in the second assignment I made an effort to put in a couple of quotes and reference them (hopefully) correctly. As I read more these reference lists will begin to increase. I also need to start referring to journals and articles that I read where appropriate.
  • Theme - It wasn't something I really tried in the first assignment, but going into the second one I wanted to have a theme running through my photographs. The assignment was about using a single subject type, but I wanted to have a story in my head running throughout which I hope I achieved. This will be really good practise for later projects.
  • Creativity - I really wanted to put my own stamp on this second assignment. It really resonated with me and I wanted to use my creativity and imagination to come up with ideas for it rather than follow the suggestions given in the text.
One point I am still working on is learning the technical terminology to be used for explaining why I chose to include and exclude certain elements, colours, props, backgrounds etc. This is still ongoing and as I continue my reading it will be something that becomes more natural to me.