Saturday, 30 April 2011

Useful links

I thought I'd add a couple of links which I have found useful.  The Adobe forum I've found to be helpful in finding solutions to problems as well as keeping up to date with letest versions.  Being a Canon user, the EOS link is a place I check to keep up to date with firmware updates.  Its rather strange that those updates are only known through the Japanese site for Canon and nowhere else!  The links are in the side panel.....

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The relationship between points - some more photos

I have been taking so many photos this last weekend for the various exercises in this part of TAOP, that I omitted to consider these two which I shot on Monday.  The first are two windows in the side of a "Post" mill.  It seems that this mill is the smallest remaining Post mill in Essex - it was built in 1756 and is in the rather picturesque village of Finchingfield.  I confess to having a soft spot for mills and maybe see a project brewing around them.  Anyway here is the photograph:

Mill windows:  ISO 200 100mm f18 1/200
Here I find that the lower window is the dominant point, not only because it is slightly larger, but also because I took the photograph at an angle and the weather boards have a slope from right to left, leading the eye to the lower of the two points.

Eagle Owl:  ISO 400 300mm f5.6 1/640
Eagle Owls are my favourite bird of prey and I have been fortunate to have been able to fly them on several occasions.  Here the points are the eyes and quite clearly the left hand point, in the bright area, is dominant.  Having said that, the eyes are extremely dominant in this photo and I have left it as shot - uncropped - hence I consider them valid as points.   

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Exercise: The relationship between points

This proved to be a rather challenging exercise.  As noted in the text for this exercise, it is not quite so easy to find normally occuring situations where there are two points.  These were very much "found" situations, though for two of the photographs I did look specifically for that opportunity to arise.

Below, I have provided three such situations and in all three of them there is unequal balance between the points, with one being substantially more dominant than the other.  In two of these, the larger point was dominant, but in the third, the dominance was much more due to the positioning within the frame and also other factors within that frame.

Cows:  ISO 100 47mm f5 1/320
Here the cow is definitely the dominant point, primarily due to size.  The suggested movement and the visual lines draw the eye to the calf, which is the lesser point.

Light spots:  ISO 1600 70mm f7.1 1/100
My visit to Castle Hedingham provided this pairing.  Both of the light spots are in the lighter part of the frame, so the eye is drawn there looking at them equally.  However, there is a difference between the two, and the more "solid" spot of light has become more dominant.  The eye returns to that spot, refusing to linger for long on the lower, split spot.

Picnic:  ISO 400 130mm f5.6 1/1000
Here I found that tight groups of people become points.  I was hoping that this effect would happen, when I viewed the picnic area from a window near the top of the tower at Castle Hedingham.  I found that the group at the top of the frame was initially dominant, however, the lines in the grass seem to act as a pointer to the lower group and it seems difficult to get back to the top group.  The lines provide downward movement in this photograph.  

Monday, 25 April 2011

Exercise: Positioning a point

Following an examination of a number of previously taken photographs, this exercise called for taking three photographs where there is a single point positioned differently in each.  For each photograph I have drawn in the division and the movement on the smaller of the two images.

My submission for this is below:

Daisy:  ISO 200 105mm f7.1 1/125

Here there is strong movement from the much darker area in the bottom right through to the lighter area in the top left where I positioned the daisy (and attendant bee).  The flower is positioned close to the edge and this gives strong movement to the photograph.

Elk:  ISO 400 105mm f4 1/125

Here I positioned the subject centrally in the frame as shown by the division lines.  The elk was a wooden, almost two-dimensional "sculpture" which I came across in the woods at Marks Hall in Essex.  As such I considered that it was apt for the subject, the "point" to be central.  However, there is a secondary frame created by the trees which I have drawn above and this seems to reposition the point to a lower, off-centre position.

Castle window:  ISO 1600  28mm f5.6 1/30

 Taken in Castle Hedingham, this, I consider to be the strongest image of the trio.  A point of light seems to be a very powerful "draw", but also in this photograph this is reinforced or strengthened by the use of the diagonals which lead to the window.  The point is positioned slightly off-centre and this provides the movement and depth to the image.

Project: Points

Points are described as being the most fundamental design element in a photograph.  This ranges from a single point and how it is positioned within the frame through to multiple points and the relationships between them. In the first exercise I am looking at single points as a design element and in the first instance, looking at some of my photographs which I had taken prior to this course.

So, what might constitute a point?  My thoughts on this are that probably anything might constitute a point; its the relationship between the subject and the frame or the "whole" which determines whether something is a point. In the course notes, the example of a stone barn is clearly large, but its the relationship between it the rest of the frame which makes it a "point".

Some easily definable points:
  • a "point" source of light - the sun at sunrise or sunset or a light bulb or a church window;
  • a point by virtue of colour contrast, where a small part of the image is in a contrasting colour to the rest;
  • duck/s in a pond.  There might be multiple objects, but in a close group, which become a point due to the relationship between them and the overall image;
  • as in the text, a boat on the sea;
  • a detail, such as a keyhole in a door.
I found that the more I thought about this, the wider the scope of the definition of a point.

The project calls for a review of some prior images, so I searched some of my collection and selected the images shown below:

Barcelona Square ISO 200 35mm f20 1/160

In the first of these images which I selected the point is a couple sitting on some steps in the square.  The eye is immediately drawn to the two people, helped also by the diagonals created by the pavement. 

Beach:  ISO 200 50mm f18 1/160
Here I was drawn by the lady in the bright pink blouse with her child.  She stood out for me and this is the image which resulted.  The eye is drawn to the subject and helped again by the tyre marks in the sand which lead the viewers eyes to that point.  Being close to the edge of the frame seems to strengthen that "pull" towards the subject.

Chicago wall:  ISO 400 28mm f9 1/250
 This is a portion of a very large wall - being the side of a typical old Chicago building.  The large poster, which seems small in the image, immediately draws the eye.  Some of the structural detail in the wall is very linear and this helps in drawing the eye to the poster.

Castle chess:  ISO 200 85mm f16 1/160
 Taken in the grounds of Framlingham Castle was this giant chess set.  I had considered several different positions for this, but this one was the most successful.  Even though there is a square patch of grass in the way of the natural eye movement to the chess set, the high contrast black and white of the chess set overcomes that hurdle and provides a strong focus.

Bangkok window cleaners:  ISO 200 300mm f14 1/125
 In this image, the "point" is in the top left and just happens to be at an intersection of different lines in the structure of the building.  The positioning towards the edge of the frame, really seems to draw the eye strongly towards it creating a dynamic in what otherwise would be a pretty static composition.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Exhibitions in London - scuppered by National Rail

I had hoped to go to the exhibitions of Hoppe and Ida Karr this weekend, but National Rail have decided to shut a large pat of the train line into London and I really don't feel like spending an additional 2 hours on the return journey to London.  I will try again in two weeks time, when, I hope, there will be a normal rail service!  This now gives me more time to devote to getting on with the course work.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Photographic Exhibitions

This weekend and next, I hope will be busy for me photographically.  This weekend I am planniing to go into London to see the Hoppe and Ida Karr exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery - this time I promise to write up some feelings about the exhibitions in this blog.  The following weekend I am planning to spend some time in the East End of London and go to one of my favourite venues - The Whitechapel Gallery.  At the moment they are hosting an exhibion of work by Paul Graham.  I googled him and came up with this archive -

The photographs there have real soul - my favourite set is "A1 - The Great North Road".  They brought my memories of that road to life.  Perhaps there is something of Don McCullin in there.  McCullin is one of my lifetime inspirations - check out his book "Homecoming" if you can.  That book, post-Vietnam, is one of the darkest but also illuminating views of England.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Assignment 1 Finished at last

Finally I have completed the first part of TAOP and the first assignment - all on the blog and being uploaded onto the OCA web site.  Its time to contact my tutor and let her know that at last the material is ready!  Hopefully, the next part will not be quite so painful, however I am sure that work will continue to intrude and not allow me to progress as quickly as I would like!  The last few months have been absolutely frantic with many weeks spent away from home and weekends becoming very precious!

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Transparent / Opaque

For this I had been looking for frosted glass to provide the concept of "opaque" and managed to find the opportunity to show the contrasting pair in one image with frosted writing on a window providing opaqueness and the rest of the window allowing, through its transparency a glimpse into the shop!

Transparent and Opaque:  ISO 1600 75mm f8 1/30

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Straight / Curved

This pair of contrasting images was probably easiest to think of!  I had them in my mind right from the beginning, the problem being finding suitable subjects!

A stack of scaffolding poles presented themselves and I could contrast this by the shot of the banister rail while looking down at the curved staircase.

Straight: ISO 1600 45mm f4 1/40

Curved: ISO 800 16mm f7.1 1/30

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Still / Moving

I had travelled to London with my camera seeking to find some other subjects when I realised that the movement of people on the concourse at Liverpool Street station, provided me with the perfect opportunity to show both the concepts of still and moving.  Indeed, one of the photographs utilised stillness on the part of some people to give the impression of movement by others!

Still:  ISO 800 24mm f5 1/80
There was a wonderful moment when everybody around me seemed tostop and I managed to grab the shot!

Moving:  ISO 100 24mm f22 1/2
Looking down onto the concourse, I found endless possibilities - all I had to do is wait.  I carefully balanced my camera on the railing and adjusted setting to give me plenty of movement.  I decided that using a tripod or even a monopod would be asking for trouble.  This was one of the best of the sequence which I shot - enhanced by the single person in the red coat and the pair in the top left.  The traces of people moving across the concourse provide an almost ghostly quality, but, to me give a strong impression of movement. 

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Light / Heavy

I wished to show weight through an ingrained concept, hence I photographed an elephant which is something all of us equate with great weight.  I did try, though, to be somewhat less obvious!

Heavy:  ISO 800 300mm f11 1/160
"Light" proved to be somewhat more troublesome and I was about to give up on this pair of contrasts when an opportunity arose to photograph some street performers who were "blowing" giant bubbles!  In my mind I wanted to show something which was lighter than air and this fitted the bill:

Light:  ISO 200 16mm f10 1/160

Assignment 1: Contrasts - High / Low

"High" is an interesting concept which had me looking in the wrong direction for quite a while.  The reason being was that it is easy to confuse high with tall.  Tall buildings and other structures did not, to me, convey height.  I eventually found what I was looking for - some workmen washing windows on a tall building from a cradle suspended from the roof.  I needed to convey this height and at the same time not to lose them into insignificance.  My method, in the end was to crop tightly in a narrow crop which exaggerated the height and at the same time ensured the figures were still visible in the cradle.

High:  ISO 200 300mm f16 1/125
 Returning to ground level, I wanted to show flowers at ground level as this, to me immediately suggested the concept of being "low".  The opportunity arose a few weeks ago with snowdrops growing in local woodland.  Here I added to this concept by including the trees in in the background.

Low:  ISO 400 24mm f11 1/100

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Diagonal / Rounded

The world seems to be full of diagonals, both explicit and implied.  In this case I elected to go for the explicit diagonal which was presented to me in the structure supporting a water tower at the steam engine centre.  This to me was just a wonderful structure made up of almost inter-woven girders providing endless diagonals. 

My contrast to this was a feature in a swimming pool in Majorca which to me immediately suggested rounded.  Both the post were rounded, but they are also arranged in a curve giving, to me, an even greater suggestion of "roundness".

Diagonal:  ISO 100 96mm f8 1/100

Rounded:  ISO 100 58mm f13 1/100

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Continuous / Intermittent

Having already taken photographs of somewhat more obvious subjects such as road markings, which frankly just did not inspire me I came across this opportunity at the fishing part of Port de Soller on the West cost of Majorca.  Taking a relatively low viewpoint, the ropes and nets seemed to stretch continuously way into the distance.  Curiously, it was only during editing that I noticed this photo could qualify as a dual contrast with the floats intermittently attached to the net rope.

I did not have to look far for something which also described intermittent to me - the bollards which are used for tying the mooring lines from the boats.  These provided an intermittent line along the edge of the quay.

Continuous: ISO 200 24mm f20 1/80

Intermittent: ISO 200 105mm f16 1/125

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Broad / Narrow

To me, the concepts of "Broad" and "Narrow" almost automatically lead me to think of wide roads and the narrow streets where very little light gets in.  Broad, to me also gives me the impression of wide open spaces and plenty of light.  Narrow, on the other hand, directs me to something where you are hemmed in and there is little room to move.  Looking for these qualities, I captured them in Palma which had that precise contrast:

Broad: ISO 1600 24mm f9 1/60

Narrow: ISO 1600 50mm f8 1/15

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Assignment 1: Contrasts - Black / White

Although I spent quite some time gathering together the images for this assignment, I am now pulling them all together here and describing what led me to take these photographs for this assignment.

Starting off this journey with Black and White.  I had some time ago earmarked a photograph I had taken during a course on wedding photography as one which would ideally represent white, however, I found that finding a suitable contrast kept defeating me.  I had in my mind a chimney sweep, but this was going to be somewhat difficult to achieve so I searched for coal as a suitable substitute.  One of my more recent trips in search of suitable images for various parts of the assignment, led me to a local steam engine restoration centre - at last, a supply of coal!  So for this first pair of contrasts, a bride and coal:

Black: ISO 200 105mm f 6.3 1/160

Photographing a black subject is not without challenges and I ended up with adjusting exposure and contrast in Lightroom in order to arrive at a photograph which had some life.

White: ISO 400 105mm f4 1/50
To match the monochrome of the coal, I decided to change the photograph to black and white, particularly as I felt this would enhance the whiteness associated with a bride.

Exercise: Cropping

I struggled to find suitable photographs for this exercise - at least those where a crop would show a different perspective or a fresh view from the original.  What I have ended up with is a number of photographs which are being cropped, I believe to improve their impact rather than to provide a fresh view.

In this image, I felt that the subject (the cocktail shaker and glass) was not strong enough, with too many distractions, so I cropped as shown to produce the image below.

Overall, I think a stronger image has resulted.I looked at cropping further, but as the photo was taken in quite low light, a significant amount of noise started becoming apparent.

The next image I took because I liked the greens of the lady's blouse being "reflected" by the green of the limes.  Again, through cropping, I am looking for a stronger image.

The crop has removed extraneous parts of the photograph creating a cleaner image.

In the photo above, the image was not really finished in my mind and again, the tighter crop has dramatically improved it.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

end of this week

Well that's the end - I'm feeling rather disappointed that I did not get everything completed this weekend - the technology is so slow!  I have cropping and Assignment 1 waiting to be posted - well that's for next weekend!

Struggles with this blog!!!!!

If anybody can help me, I'd be very grateful - I really am struggling to get the formatting correct on this blog, but it is taking hours to get absolutely nowhere!  All the pictues below were nicely aligned in the editor and now...................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Aaaaaaaargh!!

Exercise: Vertical and horizontal frames

This exercise was tremendous fun.  I repeated this in several locations and the results shown here are a selection from the many and varied shots taken.

The lessons learned here were that:
  • vertical orientation need not be restricted to portraits or subjects which have a vertical pattern in them;
  • portraits shot horizontally work equally well;
  • there is a need to re-position in many cases for the photograph to "work";
  • vertical orientation seems to provide depth, whereas horizontal gives breadth - this is clearly demonstrated in some of the pairs of shots;
  • for close up shots, like those of the wheels from the steam engine, the vertical orientation gives more impact and provides for a better crop.