Project 3: The beauty of artificial light – Exercise 4.3

Exercise 4.3

Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’ in a short sequence of shots (‘beauty’ is, of
course, a subjective term). The correct white balance setting will be important; this
can get tricky –but interesting – if there are mixed light sources of different colour
temperatures in the same shot. You can shoot indoors or outside but the light should
be ambient rather than camera flash. Add the sequence to your learning log. In your
notes try to describe the difference in the quality of light from the daylight shots in
Exercise 4.2.


When I first read this exercise I wasn’t quite sure how to attack it. I had my Nikon D7200 set to manual and ISO to 800. I used a wide aperture to get shutter speeds fast enough to get acceptable shots handheld. Firstly I tried some shots indoors handheld and then some from the end of my road on my tripod. Examples are shown below:

I was fairly pleased with results shooting in RAW, and setting white balance to fluorescent which gave pleasing results straight from the camera which required minimal post processing.

Thinking about the exercise I was taken with the idea of the loneliness of takeaways during midweek and thought that I might prove to be a good subject. During this shoot I used my tripod and toyed with narrower apertures for greater depth of field knowing that this would require longer shutter speeds. I selected a local parade of shops that offered a variety of takeaways. I took a few test shots to ensure I was on the right track, before getting into better positions for the shots proper. The results are shown below:

Each shot required minor adjustments to aperture or/and shutter speed to get the shot right. Getting this right as best as I could in camera meant (like my test shots) a minimal amount of post processing.

I was very pleased with the final shots and felt that I had been able to get the white balance right, also the voyeuristic look I had planned for with the takeaway views.

Comparing this exercise to exercise 4.2 we can see that:

  • The quality of light with natural light will vary depending on factors such as time of day and weather. While artificial light such as above is of a fixed quality.
  • With natural light you will need to change your shooting position to vary how light appears on your chosen subject. With the artificial lighting  of the shops the way the light falls is constant and consistant, this is very important to the way the takeaway advertises to its customers.
  • Shots using natural lighting are limited from dawn to dusk. While artificial lighting shots can be taken during the day, but are better taken late evening or night.

 

 

 

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Project 2: ‘Layered, complex and mysterious…’ – Exercise 4.2

Exercise 4.2

In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day. It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk. You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata. In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.


For this exercise I decided to take images of a rather large tree close to my home. I looked at the online tool ‘The Photographers Ephemeris‘ to see which direction the sun would rise and set. The results are shown below.

TPE Monday 17th Oct 2017

Monday 16th October 2017

I decided to take images at 2 hour intervals from about 07:00 to about 17:00. I used my Nikon D7200 with 70 – 140mm lens and set on my tripod in portrait orientation. The camera was set to:

  • Manual mode
  • ISO 100
  • Focal length 48mm
  • Aperture f/4.5 – f/5.6
  • Shutter speed varied to attain balanced exposure

The weather forecast was supposed to be mixed due to the aftermath of hurricane Ophelia. The results of the images are shown below:

Lightroom (_PRT7982.dng and 5 others)

From all the images it can be seen that the quality of the light changes through the day. My personal favourite of the set is tha one taken at 17:08, after the wind cleared the sky and provided a warm and fairly soft light.

Natural light is a beautiful thing but can as this experiment shows be moody and unpredictable. Whilst wonderful images can be obtained but these are at the cost of time, energy and potential (probably regular) disapointment. But it is probably the unpredictability of this form of light that attracts certain people who revel in the results of a cocktail of cercumstance no matter how well planned.

Please note: In the image taken at 15:17 had sky had pinkish/orange hue which was due (I found out after) to debris in the atmosphere caused by hurricane Ophelia.

Reference

The Photographer’s Ephemeris (2017) Sunrise & sunset information for Monday 16th October 2018 [Online App]. Available at http://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=51.335694,-0.788661&center=51.3358,-0.7902&dt=20171016211900%2B0100&z=18&spn=0.00,0.01 (Accessed 15 October 2017).

 

Project 1: Exposure – Exercise 4.1

Exercise 4.1

1. Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes. Photograph a dark tone (such as a black jacket), a mid-tone (the inside of a cereal packet traditionally makes a useful ‘grey card’) and a light tone (such as a sheet of white paper), making sure that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus). Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.

You might be surprised to see that Histogram 1the histograms for each of the frames – black, grey and white – are the same. If there’s not much tonal variation within the frame you’ll see a narrow spike at the mid-tone; if there is tonal variation (such as detail) you’ll see a more gentle curve. If you find the tone curve isn’t centred on the mid-tone, make sure that you have your exposure compensation set to zero. You may see an unpleasant colour cast if you’re  shooting under artificial light, in which case you can repeat the exercise using your monochrome setting (a light meter is sensitive to brightness, not to colour).

This simple exercise exposes the obvious flaw in calibrating the camera’s light meter to the mid-tone. The meter can’t know that a night scene is dark or a snow scene is light so it averages each exposure around the mid-tone and hopes for the best. But why can’t the camera just measure the light as it is? The reason is that a camera measures reflected light – the light reflected from the subject, not incident light – the light falling on the subject. To measure the incident light you’d have to walk over to the subject and hold an incident light meter (a hand-held meter) pointing back towards the camera, which isn’t always practical. If you did that each of the tones would be exposed correctly because the auto or semi-auto modes wouldn’t try to compensate for the specific brightness of the subject.

2. Set your camera to manual mode. Now you can see your light meter! The midtone exposure is indicated by the ‘0’ on the meter scale with darker or lighter exposures as – or + on either side. Repeat the exercise in manual mode, this time adjusting either your aperture or shutter to place the dark, mid and light tones at their correct positions on the histogram. The light and dark tones shouldn’t fall off either the left or right side of the graph. Add the shots to your learning log with sketches of their histograms and your observations. Switching to manual mode disconnects the aperture, shutter and ISO so they’re no longer linked. Because they’re no longer reciprocal, you can make adjustments to any one of them without affecting the others.

Histogram 2


  1. I performed this exercise in my workplace that has daylight equivalent lighting using grey card from the back of a note pad, white paper and black card used for binding documents.The results are as follows:
Grey Auto

Grey card using aperture priority

White Auto

White paper using aperture priority

Black Auto

Black card using aperture priority

As the brief predicted the histograms for the three images are all close to the mid tone values. Also as can be seen the images for the white and the black are more grey than their true colours.

  1. The exercise is repeated with my Fuji X30 in manual mode. Below are the same three images with adjustments made to shutter speed (whilst maintaining constant aperture of f4 and ISO 800) to adjust exposure to correct for camera metering:
Grey Manual

Grey card using manual setting adjustment zero stops exposure

White Manual

White paper using manual setting adjustment +2 stops exposure

Black Manual

Black card using manual setting adjustment -2 stops exposure

As can be seen the manual adjustments to exposure produce results with truer colours. Therefore one has to be aware of the limitations of the cameras light metre in these type of situations, and to use the histogram as a tool to guide you towards correcting the exposure to produce a correct image.

Assignment 3 planning part 4

Notes on the Decisive Moment

Above is a link to a copy of my hand written notes that have have made with regard to my change in direction to this assignment.

Please see my blog entry Arrrrrrggghhhhhhhh for further details of my feelings of frustration with this assignment.

A synopsis of these notes is that I have been exteemly unhappy with my initial ideas and work so far for this assignment and have now opted to use a film camea with black & white film and to limit myself to 36 shots.

I am off to London next Saturday (30th September) an intend to use my film camera during this trip to get my Decisive Moment images. From these I will get my contact sheets and images for this assignment. Get is submitted and reflect on tutors feedback with regard to reworking it.

 

Arrrrrrggghhhhhhhh

I am going to have to step back before I can move forward.

Deep sense of frustration and antipathy towards my photography and how it fits in with my studies.

Things are not working, and I am unable to find the decisive moments I need for Assignment 3. I feel like a rabbit who has gone down the wrong burrow. I need to retreat and explore an alternate route to get back on track.

Issues and events in my work and life are clearing giving me chance to refocus and work towards rekindling my studies in earnest.

Study Visit : Gregory Crewdson – Cathedral of the Pines

I must admit a certain amount of excitement in my looking forward to this study visit to the Photographer Gallery in London to see Gregory Crewdson’s Cathedral of the Pines. Up until then I had only seen his work in books or online, and had been very impressed. For an artist credited with massive image work I felt that you had to be able to view it in person to be able to really appreciate his work.

This is the first time that The Photographers Gallery has devoted all 3 of its gallery spaces to one artist. This is I think a great statement of respect to Crewdson’s work.

After meeting up with OCA Tutor Jayne Taylor and the rest of the group in the ground floor cafe we proceeded to the galleries with the plan of meeting back at the lobby for 13:00. Most of the group started at the gallery on the 2nd floor, while I decided to start at the 5th floor and work my way down.

All the images appeared to be approximately the same size around 3′ high and 4′ wide. This I felt worked well for the size of the galleries allowing a good initial viewing distance of 7′ to 8′, allowing the viewer to drink in the images. Though the pictures have such attention to detail that one is invited and drawn closer to inspect further in an attempt to decode their meaning. On closer inspection each image has a wonderful painterly quality.

Crewdson’s masterful productions are more akin to a film production that what most people would call photography. In each image the lighting is so balanced and there is nothing in the frame that Crewdson doesn’t want there, it is almost like a single frame of a film frozen. What results is a puzzling vignette left for the viewer to decipher.

My overarching impression of the collection that everyone in it seems to be emotionally detached, a nothingness that is neither happy nor sad. The scenes have the appearance of a form of still life or memento mori, where the entire tapestry of the unfolding act (including the humans) form the elements of the still life.

There is a considerable amount of nudity or partial dress, principally in the women in the images. Whether this stems from a sense of the confidence of isolation, lack of observers, expressing uninhibited personal freedom, expressing vulnerability or just plain not caring at all. These decision seem to be left for the viewer to try and figure out. Kind of jarring at times and with no guidance, one wonders if the nudity is just gratuitous.

Interaction between the protagonists within the scenes is clearly not there, and even when physically close each seems to have their own focus of attention. These people are charged with an emotional detachment, lonely but not lonely, sad but not sad, like empty vessels. Those scenes where it hints of some kind of intimacy or sex, there seems to be no happiness, joy or excitement.

As I mentioned earlier you are drawn into the details within the image searching for clues to make sense of the tableaux. There are plenty of them, for example; a dusty handprint on the thigh of a sleeping man in ‘The Pickup Truck’, a wooden crutch under the bed of ‘Father and Son’, plus numerous visibility of prescription drugs, underwear and other hidden treasures.

Once we had all viewed the collection we decamped to a pub near Carnaby Street, the Red Lion. Here we discussed as a group (for about an hour) the exhibition and the questions it left us with. This was a very valuable part of the study visit and everyone felt able to participate.

In conclusion I want to say that I enjoyed this collection very much and thoroughly recommend it to anyone. These study visits are important as we get a chance to interact with fellow students and peers under the guidance of an OCA Tutor. I look forward to more study visits like this one in the future.

The Blue Project – Contact Printing Frame

I designed a plan for my contact print frame using Visio. In order to make this split screen contact print frame I need the following:

  • Glass Sheet 13″ x 19″ (A3+) (edges dressed so that they are not sharp)
  • 2 x Sheet MDF (15mm) 13″ x 9 1/2″
  • 2 x Blass Flat Hinges 3″ x 2″
  • 1 x Rubber Sheet (3mm) 13″ x 19″ (A3+)
  • 4 x Metal Spring Clips 4″

Contact Frame Plan

So far I have ordered and received the rubber sheet and spring clips. It is my aim to source the glass, MDF and hinges from a local hardware store. Once constructed this frame will be able to accommodate paper up to and including A3 in size.

The Blue Project – Cyanotype Requirements

Experimental Photography – A Handbook Of Techniques has been a great source of information relating to creating sensitizing solutions for relating various solar photogram and contact printing methods. This includes creating Cyanotypes which is my intended medium for this particular project.

In order to try this method  I need the following:

  • 8oz (227g) of Ferric Ammonium Citrate Green
  • 8oz (227g) of Potassium Ferricyanide
  • 3 x 500ml Amber Bottles (Solution A, Solution B & Sensitizer Mix)
  • 600ml Glass Beaker
  • 200g Electronic Scales
  • Glass Stirring Rods
  • Plastic Funnels
  • Foam Brushes
  • Working Trays (probably use takeaway / food tubs)
  • Art Paper
  • Matt Postcards
  • Storage Box
  • Light Proof Bags (for the papers once sensitized)
  • Gloves (Nitrile) XL
  • Distilled Water
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
  • Contact Printing Frame (will make)
  • Source of Ultraviolet Radiation (Sun or possibly a 2nd hand UV Sun Lamp)

I have ordered the above and most has already arrived and now together in a decent sized plastic storage box. I am constructing a split contact printing frame using the plans in the book. This frame will be able to accommodate paper up to and including A3 in size.

Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals used in this process are shown below:

Ferric Ammonium Citrate Safety Data Sheet

Potassium Ferricyanide Safety Data Sheet

Hydrogen Peroxide 3% Safety Data Sheet

The Blue Project – Introduction

Whilst stuck on Assignment Three I have been musing over, researching and doing some work towards a longer term project that may well take a great deal of time (and energy) beyond EYV.

I have been taken with the idea of producing cyanotypes for quite some time and have been researching into the methods and technical details of what is required. I have found a great deal of useful information online and have sourced a rather excellent book:

Experimental Photography – A Handbook Of Techniques

Thames & Hudson

ISBN-10: 0500544379

ISBN-13: 978-0500544372

This book covers the chemistry and techniques of most early sensitizing and development methods including Cyanotypes.

My idea for this project centres around:

  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Self Harm

Blue being a colour strongly associated with the above, I thought that Cyanotypes would be a good medium to reinforce my project theme. These items could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Razor Blades
  • Knives
  • Pills
  • Rope
  • Belt
  • Train Tracks
  • High Point
  • Car Exhaust
  • Gunshot
  • Drowning
  • Fire
  • Crash
  • Electrocution
  • Poison

Assignment 3 planning part 3

For my second planning visit I utilised the anticipated settings I outlined in Assignment 3 planning part 1

These settings outlined below were how I set my Nikon D7200 with Sigma 10-20mm lens:

  • ISO 400 – 800
  • f/5.6 – f8
  • 1/500s
  • Lens 10-20mm (15mm)
  • Hand held
  • Multiple shots

The link to the contact sheets for my 2nd scouting visit is below:

2nd Scouting Visit Contact Sheets

I must admit to being somewhat disappointed with the results. My aim in using the wide angle lens was to try and encompass the majority of the junction so that the status of the traffic lights could be seen as well as the junction activity. Whilst I could see the junction fairly well the action and activity was too small to be useful. I need to use a longer focal length and concentrate on a smaller part of the action for the images to be worthwhile.

Also on reflection I may need to try a few different areas of pedestrian congestion around the Waterloo Station area. This may necessitate a 3rd scouting visit, before I can get any useful images. Although I work close to the chosen area work is always manic, but I must make the time.