Project 1: The distorting lens – Exercise 2.2

Exercise 2.2
Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the
frame in front of a background with depth. Take one photograph. Then walk towards
your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length. Take care to frame the
subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot. Compare
the two images and make notes in your learning log.

As you page between the two shots it can be shocking to see completely new
elements crash into the background of the second shot while the subject appears
to remain the same. This exercise clearly shows how focal length combined with
viewpoint affects perspective distortion. Perspective distortion is actually a normal
effect of viewing an object, for example where parallel train tracks appear to meet
at the horizon. A ‘standard lens’ – traditionally a 50mm fixed focal length lens for
a full-frame camera (about 33mm in a cropped-frame camera) – approximates the
perspective distortion of human vision (not the angle of view, which is much wider).
A standard lens is therefore the lens of choice for ‘straight’ photography, which aims
to make an accurate record of the visual world.


Below are 2 shots I took near the South Bank Friday lunchtime with my Fujifilm X30 compact camera. The pair of images are framed on the sign. They were all taken with:

  • Aperture priority
  • ISO 100
  • f/5.0
  • Fujifilm X30 equivalent 35mm focal lengths of:
    • 112mm
    • 28mm
focal-length-112mm

Tenison Way – Focal length 112mm

focal-length-28mm

Tenison Way – Focal length 28mm

The difference in the view between these two images is striking considering the fact that the subject occupies the same space in the frame.

Project 1: The distorting lens – Exercise 2.1

Exercise 2.1
Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six
shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to
use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)

As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re
moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use:
rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do
it for you. The other immediate difference between the shots is the ‘angle of view’,
which also depends on the sensor size of your camera. Use the sequence to try to
get a feeling for how the angle of view corresponds to the different focal lengths
for your particular camera and lens combination. Which shot in the sequence feels
closest to the angle of view of your normal vision?

Does zooming in from a fixed viewpoint change the appearance of things? If you enlarge and compare individual elements within the first and last shots, you can see that their ‘perspective geometry’ is exactly the same. To change the way things actually look, a change in focal length needs to be combined with a change in viewpoint.


Below is a sequence of 5 shots I took on the South Bank Friday lunchtime with my Fujifilm X30 compact camera. The sequence does give the appearance of travelling through the image. They were all taken with:

  • Aperture priority
  • ISO 100
  • f/5.0
  • Fujifilm X30 equivalent 35mm focal lengths of:
    • 28mm
    • 35mm
    • 50mm
    • 85mm
    • 112mm

Of all the images taken, the image taken at a focal length of 50mm appear to me the closest to normal vision.

focal-length-28mm

South Bank – Focal length 28mm

focal-length-35mm

South Bank – Focal length 35mm

focal-length-50mm

South Bank – Focal length 50mm

focal-length-85mm

South Bank – Focal length 85mm

focal-length-112mm

South Bank – Focal length 112mm

 

 

Project 2: Visual Skills – Exercise 1.4

Exercise 1.4 Frame
The final exercise of this project makes use of the viewfinder grid display of a digital
camera. This function projects a grid onto the viewfinder screen to help align vertical
and horizontal lines, such as the horizon or the edge of a building, with the edge of
the frame. If your camera doesn’t have a grid display, imagine a simple division of the
viewfinder into four sections.

Take a good number of shots, composing each shot within a single section of the
viewfinder grid. Don’t bother about the rest of the frame! Use any combination of
grid section, subject and viewpoint you choose.
When you review the shots, evaluate the whole frame, not just the part you’ve
composed. Take the same approach you used to evaluate the point and line
exercises: examine the relationship of elements to the frame. Composition is part of
form and formal analysis will be a useful skill for your exercises and assignments as
you progress through the course.

Formalism: prioritisation of concern with form rather than content. Focus on composition
and the material nature of any specific medium. (Wells, 2009, p.347)
Select six or eight images that you feel work individually as compositions and also
together as a set. If you have software for making contact sheets you might like
to present them as a single composite image. Add the images to your learning log
together with technical information such as camera settings, and one or two lines
containing your thoughts and observations.


Looking at my cameras manuals I found that both were different.

My Nikon D7200 utilises a 4 x 4 viewfinder grid as shown below:

d7200-viewfinder-grid

While my Fujifilm X30 offer two options: a 3 x 3 or a 6 x 4 viewfinder grid as shown below:

x30-viewfinder-grid-9

x30-viewfinder-grid-24

For this exercise I used my Fuji X30 and the 3 x 3 viewfinder grid. I took two series of images, one within Waterloo Station and the other outside the station area. With each series I focused on composing each image in turn in each sector of the viewfinder grid. Each series shows the full image and highlights the frame concentrated on, then the frame image on its own. I finished each series by composing a picture using each selected image in the position they were originally taken.


Series 1:

station-composite

Station Composite


Series 2:

waterloo-composite

Waterloo Composite


My conclusions to this exercise are to consider the whole field of view within the viewfinder when composing your image. It is easy to be suckered into just concentrating on what is at the centre of the frame and not considering what is happening in the foreground, background or edges of the image.

Project 2: Visual Skills – Exercise 1.3(1) & 1.3(2)

Exercise 1.3 (1) Line
Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. Shooting with a wideangle
lens (zooming out) strengthens a diagonal line by giving it more length within
the frame. The effect is dramatically accentuated if you choose a viewpoint close to
the line.


The images I have taken below demonstrate converging diagonal lines both physical and virtual which give the appearance of depth.

down-to-lynmouth

Image 1: Down To Lynmouth

footbridge-1

Image 2: Footbridge

minehead-station

Image 3: Minehead Train Station

track-down-f22

Image 4: Blackwater Line

west-brompton-cemetery-1

Image 5: Brompton Cemetery 1

west-brompton-cemetery-6

Image 6: Brompton Cemetery 2


Exercise 1.3 (2) Line
Take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space. To avoid the effects
of perspective, the sensor/film plane should be parallel to the subject and you may
like to try a high viewpoint (i.e. looking down). Modern architecture offers strong
lines and dynamic diagonals, and zooming in can help to create simpler, more
abstract compositions.


The images I have taken below demonstrate parallel lines both physical and virtual which leave the frame, promoting a sense of mystery and dynamism.

equator

Image 7: Equator

no-loitering

Image 8: No Loitering

position-closed

Image 9: Position Closed

sea-posts-phone-wires

Image 10: Sea Posts & Telegraph Lines

snail-shell

Image 11: Snails Pace

tower-bridge-1

Image 12: Tourist Rush


Review your shots from both parts of Exercise 1.3. How do the different lines relate
to the frame? There’s an important difference from the point exercises: a line can
leave the frame. For perpendicular lines this doesn’t seem to disrupt the composition
too much, but for perspective lines the eye travels quickly along the diagonal and
straight out of the picture. It feels uncomfortable because the eye seems to have no
way back into the picture except the point that it started from. So for photographs
containing strong perspective lines or ‘leading lines’, it’s important that they lead
somewhere within the frame.


The use of perpendicular lines provide a sense of depth by drawing the viewer; into the distance and out of the picture in the case of images 3 – 6. Where as image 1 draws the viewer down and image 2 leads the viewer up.

While the perspective lines in images 7 – 12, rush the viewer out of the frame, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The eye seeks a way back in trying to make an unconscious connection external to the image back into the frame. Diagonal lines add a sense of action to the image.

Project 2: Visual Skills – Exercise 1.2

Exercise 1.2 Point
The point is the most fundamental design element. It has to be small within the frame and its position is generally more important than its form (see the example of the white polystyrene cup underneath the chair opposite).
(Photography 1: The Art of Photography, p.72)
1. Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts
of the frame. (A ‘point’ should be small in relationship to the frame; if it’s too large
it becomes a shape.)
How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you’ve got it
right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point? For the sake
of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that
the point should be clear and easy to see. As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can
evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.
As you look at the pictures you might find that you’re also evaluating the
position of the point by its relationship to the frame.
2. Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.
Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? If it’s
in relationship to the frame you can place a point in any part of the picture and
the picture is balanced.

You could think about the two parts of this exercise in a different way, as ‘test
pictures’ versus ‘real pictures’. The only purpose for the test pictures is the
exercise: you can analyse them according to the criteria and get the expected
answer. But ‘real’ pictures are not so easy to analyse. What are the criteria for
‘relationship’? (We’re hoping that you’ll shoot the rest of the exercises in this
course as real pictures, not test pictures!)
As you review your photographs, observe the way your eye ‘scans’ the surface of the
image. Note how:
• a point attracts attention out of proportion to its size
• the eye looks for connections between two points
• placing a point close to the edge seems to animate both the point and the frame.
Print out two or three of your point photographs and trace the route your eye takes
over the surface with a pencil. Then try the same with a selection of photographs
from newspapers or magazines (or the example above). You should notice that each
photograph seems to have its own tempo. Add the traced photographs to your
learning log together with brief observations.


1. Below are three points within images whose frame encompasses the whole image.

exercise-1-2-image-1-centre

Image 1: Central

This point is perfectly symmetrical within the image. However with no other points of reference to other elements to guide the eyes it appears somewhat static and lifeless.

exercise-1-2-image-2-off-centre

Image 2: Off Centre

This image lacks the symmetry of the central point but challenges the eyes to seek balance. Again with no other points of reference to other elements to guide the eye it makes it hard, but this positioning adds a sense of dynamism.

exercise-1-2-image-3-towards-edge

Image 3: Towards The Edge

Further moving the point away from symmetry  increases the sense of dynamism and also the effect of apparent movement. This would be further accentuated if the image contained other points of reference.

2. Linking points and their position within the frame.

exercise-1-2-points

Image 4: Sheep & Horses

In the above image the eyes and mind seek to join points and to make shapes. It also errs towards grouping items of similar shape, contrast or colour. In the above image the eye groups the two horses as a straight line and the three sheep as a triangle. An additional triangle is also created between the two horses and the closest sheep. The two distant sheep also balance with the horses in the foreground. The sheep also denote depth with the difference in scale between the Sheep in the foreground with those in the distance.

Exercise 1.2 Points 2.jpg

Image 5: A Day By The Beach By Any Means

In this image the eye forms a triangle between the cyclist, the family and the seagull. The image is balanced visually by the cyclist and the family. Also narratively between the push bike and the wheelchair. The offset nature of the seagull adds a dynamic element and draws the eyes upward to the sky.

Assignment 2 planning part 4

Texture blending

I thought I would try some of the images I took on Friday blended with a texture layer. I have been collecting a great number of image resources from photo magazines for the last few years, these include a number of textures. Looking through my collection I chose to experiment using the texture below.

texture

I added the texture as a separate layer to several of the station images. I tried several of Photoshop’s blending modes and settled on using ‘Vivid Light‘. This blend process is described below:

Vivid Light

Burns or dodges the colors by increasing or decreasing the contrast, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened by decreasing the contrast. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened by increasing the contrast.

(Incorporated, 2016)

The six images I created are shown below.

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I am pleased with the results and would really value other people’s opinion. I used the same texture and blending mode on each of the images for a degree of consistency. Not sure whether to try a different texture and blending mode with each image. Personally I think that this will just appear rather random and muddled.Further experimentation could be made using a different single texture and a different single blend mode.

Reference

Incorporated, A.S. (2016) Blending modes. Available at: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/blending-modes.html (Accessed: 24 October 2016).

Assignment 2 planning part 3

Hmm… Well I spend few hours at Waterloo and Euston Stations Friday afternoon and used the tube to get between them. There were a reasonable number of people about at each location and less down the tube. I took quite a number of images, but on reviewing them when I got back home I was less than happy. Most were blurred manly down to camera shake and me trying to focus on moving people. Lighting was very mixed and shutter speed increase was a contributing factor. I might have had better (noisier) results if I had used a higher or even auto ISO.

I really want to photograph larger crowds, so I will really have to be there during rush hour. I was also very concerned about getting stopped or quizzed by station staff or security so didn’t make use of the tripod I had with me. However hindsight being a wonderful thing I thought I would check online exactly what Network Rails policy was towards photographers and photography was. I was actually pleasantly surprised and wish I had read it before now. The following link explains it in-depth:

http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/777.aspx

An extract from the information page is shown below which may be of interest to fellow students:

Photography
You can take photographs at stations provided you do not sell them. However, you are not allowed to take photographs of security related equipment, such as CCTV cameras.

Flash photography on platforms is not allowed at any time. It can distract train drivers and train despatch staff and so is potentially very dangerous.

Tripod legs must be kept away from platform edges and behind the yellow lines. On busy stations, you may not be allowed to use a tripod because it could be a dangerous obstruction to passengers.

(policy, 2016)

Now that I know this I could have used my tripod providing I had taken care! To quote Alanis Morissette “Isn’t it ironic!“. Therefore I shall treat this visit as another scouting trip and plan another trip. Though as already mentioned I would see larger crowds during rush hour times. So timing is critical (07:00 – 09:00 and 17:00 – 19:00), and with a larger amount of people even greater care when using a tripod. Also trying different positioning to get more faces and crowds coming towards camera would be better. I know that on the underground tripods are a no-no and only small camera photography is permitted. They may well classify my SLR as a large camera and get all official, so would have to be careful.

I did have a play around with stacking and merging some of the images I took to try to get the effect in the images I wanted. I want to have elements in the composition in focus and others in movement. Not just a slight blur but a stacked blur to really emphasise the movement.

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I may also try blending textures to achieve my desired outcomes.

Reference

policy, c. (2016) Railway enthusiasts. Available at: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/777.aspx (Accessed: 23 October 2016).

William Eggleston Portraits -Study Visit National Portrait Gallery 1st October 2016

On Saturday 1st October I attended the ‘William Eggleston Portraits‘ Study Visit at the National Portrait Gallery in London. This was my first OCA study visit and it happened to be run by my tutor Jayne Taylor. There were approximately 14 of us. It was a real pleasure to meet follow students. One of the downsides of distance learning is the lack of physical contact with ones peers, a meeting like this is most refreshing. A really nice bunch of people studying a variety of courses all in the same boat. Link to the exhibition website is below:

http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/eggleston/exhibition.php

The exhibition is not large, 100 images. These images vary in size from passport sized to several feet across. The variety of content range from early black & white, innovative early use of colour, very large prints and later works of high quality. The arrangement of the display and lighting was somewhat strange and I found myself having to continually move in and out to obtain the best perspective and to be able to read the information cards.

The colour prints were rich and saturated. The subjects generally appeared to me melancholy or even uncomfortable, and rarely engaged the camera directly. I was particularly struck by some rather stunning large low-key portraits that Eggleston created in the 70’s. Also his use of perspective was interesting. From above to make the subject diminutive and vulnerable as in the B&W image of the man in the phone booth or the later colour image of his grandmother framed in the room doorway. From low down to give the subject greater stature as in the 70’s colour images of the fashionable black man standing between the cars and the one of Shelley Schuyler.

Once the group had viewed the Eggleston exhibition we went to the cafe in the crypt across the road from the NPG to have some refreshments and discuss the exhibition as a group. This was a lively and friendly discussion and everyone was able to share their thoughts on the exhibition. Everyone’s views and perspectives were refreshing and valid. Overall my impression of ‘William Eggleston Portraits‘ was a positive one and made all the better for sharing with the group.

We also went to see another display in the NPG ‘Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862 – 1948‘. Link to the exhibition website is below:

http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/blackchronicles/display.php

This was a small but poignant exhibition. I was impressed by the sharpness and quality of the large portraits in the initial hall. They seemed so fresh, that they could have taken yesterday with modern subjects dressing up. I am attending the Brighton Biannual later in the month, and look forward to comparing it to the ‘Dandy Lion‘ exhibition there.

A very enjoyable study visit and look forward to attending more in the future.

V&A Visit – 24th August 2016

As well as going to the Science Museum on the 24th August I visited the V&A Museum (just across the road) to see what they had to offer by way of current photography exhibits. On enquiring at the information desk I was pleased to find that there were a couple of photographic displays;

  • The Camera Exposed – Gallery 38a
  • A History of Photography: The Body – Gallery 100

Both were also free, which was a bonus.


The Camera Exposed

This temporary (23 July 2016 – 5 March 2017) display was a collection of 120 images from a broad spectrum of photographers, with each image containing a camera in one form another. There was no restriction on photography so I took some pictures of the images that particularly drew my attention. These are shown below, with their accompanying display information:

abelardo-morell-infoabelardo-morell

andreas-feininger-infoandreas-feininger

calum-colvin-infocalum-colvin

don-mccullin-infodon-mccullin

elsbeth-juda-infoelsbeth-juda

henri-cartier-bresson-infohenri-cartier-bresson

john-a-walker-infojohn-a-walker

john-french-infojohn-french

judy-dater-infojudy-dater

louise-dahl_wolfe-infolouise-dahl_wolfe

philippe-halsman-infophilippe-halsman

richard-sadler-inforichard-sadler

tim-walker-infotim-walker

timm-rautert-infotimm-rautert

tosh-matsumoto-infotosh-matsumoto

weegee-infoweegee

weegee-2-infoweegee-2

(Victoria and Museum, 2016)

I really enjoyed this display and highly recommended to anyone wanting to see a marvellous display of themed images. The combination of the various photographers inventiveness, creativity and craftsmanship is evident throughout.


A History of Photography: The Body  (Victoria and Museum, 2016) 

This display is held in the V&A permanent gallery and currently concentrates on ‘The Body‘. The gallery introduction is shown below followed by a selection of prints that I liked:

intro

weegee-infoweegee

suzanne-r-dworsky-infosuzanne-r-dworsky

sophie-ristelhueber-infosophie-ristelhueber

rineke-dijkstra-inforineke-dijkstra

josef-koudelka-infojosef-koudelka

john-coplans-infojohn-coplans

herbert-bayerherbert-bayer-info

helmut-newton-infohelmut-newton-1helmut-newton-2

erhard-dorner-infoerhard-dorner

edward-weston-infoedward-weston

carl-fischer-infocarl-fischer

bernard-f-eilers-infobernard-f-eilers

alfred-lys-baldry-infoalfred-lys-baldry

adolphe-bilordeaux-infoadolphe-bilordeaux

(Victoria and Museum, 2016)

Again another very interesting and varied display, and another I would also highly recommend. I am only sorry that my snaps don’t these great images (in both displays) justice.

Reference:

Victoria and Museum, A. (2016) V&A · the camera exposed. Available at: https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/the-camera-exposed (Accessed: 12 September 2016).

Victoria and Museum, A. (2016) What’s on. Available at: https://shop.vam.ac.uk/whatson/index/view/id/2060/event/A-History-of-Photography–The-Body/dt/2016-09-12/free/1 (Accessed: 12 September 2016).

Science Museum Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph exhibition

On the 24th August I was lucky to be on leave and had the chance to visit the Science Museum Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph exhibition.

From the exhibition website information; ‘In the nineteenth century, as the industrial revolution boomed, Fox Talbot revolutionised culture and communications by inventing the negative-positive process, a technique that formed the basis of photography around the world for over 150 years and immortalised him as father of the photograph.

Discover the influence Talbot’s revolutionary technology, techniques and practices had on his contemporary practitioners – Anna Atkins, Hill and Adamson, and Calvert Jones – and see original prints from his seminal publication ‘The Pencil of Nature’.’ (Fox Talbot: Dawn of the photograph, 2016).

The day was warm and the cool temperature/humidity controlled environment of the exhibition was very welcome. The exhibits were displayed in several rooms in a chronological fashion, with the earliest works of Fox Talbot and various contemporaries displayed first.

The pale ghost like early prints from waxed photogenic drawing and calotype negative experimentation seem so fragile compared to the stunning Daguerreotype positives of the same era. Progress through the rooms shows the steady improvement of Fox Talbots repeatable print process via the use of negatives. Also they also include the works of other luminaries producing important works at the same time a Fox Talbot such as, Rev George Wilson Bridges and Rev Calvet Richard Jones.

A selection of images from the book of the exhibition (Roberts and Hobson, 2016) are shown below:

fox-talbot-1fox-talbot-2fox-talbot-3fox-talbot-4fox-talbot-5fox-talbot-6

Overall a very interesting and historically important exhibition. My only criticism was that the lighting on the few Daguerreotypes that were on display were poor positioned and I found that I had to contort myself to view them clearly.

Reference:

Fox Talbot: Dawn of the photograph (2016) Available at: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_visit/exhibitions/fox-talbot# (Accessed: 11 September 2016).

Roberts, R. and Hobson, G. (2016) William Henry Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph. United Kingdom: Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers.