29 Nov 2009

Thinking about Contrasts assignment

Spent a good while on the phone yesterday chatting to my tutor Jesse.  He has got me thinking about how to approach the first assignment.  He suggested that I should try to make each pair of photographs more than their combination... as he said, try to make 1+1 equal 3. So, no individual and simplistic interpretations of the word clues, but an attempt to indicate a situation or thought with two contrasting images.  Hmmmm....

I sat doodling in my field book last night and tried to come up with some ideas.

Two people, one quite large and one Petit.  Eyes directed in appropriate directions as if they were looking at each other's face.  Not a cut down the same photograph but perhaps separated by a door with the guy outside clutching some flowers and the girl dressed for a night out.  Or perhaps in different rooms by telephones waiting for them to ring.  Light/dark gives me the idea to shoot the same striking object, an ornament or suchlike with two lighting conditions, one front lit against a dark background and the same shot back lit against a white background.

Hard/Soft gave me the idea of a round, soft backside with a red line across a cheek contrasted with a portrait shot of a male hand holding a thin cane or riding crop.  The obvious link being sexual dominance in an SM situation.  Need to find a willing backside which won't be easy!  Strong/weak gives me a chance to put another slant on relationships between the sexes with pictures of two hands.  A slender, weak female hand held up defensively and a strong male fist about to strike.  In addition, this contrasts between the previous shots as well, going from sexual dominance to domestic violence.  Solid/liquid automatically makes me think (as I am sure lots of other people have thought) of ice and water.  Perhaps continuing a theme of relationships through the assignment I might try to show a failed marriage proposal.  An engagement ring frozen into an ice cube in a drink being a suitors attempt to propose, with the same ring in a puddle of water after a refusal.

Straying from that theme of relationships, Narrow/Broad might be shown as a narrow stream and a broad river, the link being a small toy boat floating down one and into the other.  I remember this from the title shots in a strange Austrian kids programme that I watched when growing up!

My biggest hurdle is not going to be ideas but having the facilities to shoot them as I need both models and a studio!  I might have to keep thinking! 


28 Nov 2009

Project Focus

This part of the Introduction deals with depth of field.

The depth of field is the area in a photograph that is acceptably sharp.  This can be a small or large area depending on the aperture chosen.  There is only one distance in a scene that the camera lens can perfectly focus on.  All other points display a circle of confusion at the point the light falls onto the film or sensor.  Small circles of confusion can be acceptably sharp depending on the amount of photographic enlargement.  Large circles of confusion appear out of focus.  As the camera aperture is reduced in size the path of the light narrows as does the size of the circles of confusion, hence with a small aperture more of the photograph is in focus.

The exercises demonstrate the relationship between the size of the aperture and the depth of field.  Firstly by photographing with a set, wide open aperture and differing focus points.

 Close focus point, f1.4, 1/2500, 50mm.

Middle focus point, f1.4, 1/2000, 50mm.

Distant focus point, f1.4, 1/2000, 50mm.

These first 3 photographs, taken with the same wide aperture of f1.4 all display a narrow depth of field.  The most narrow is the first where the focus point is the centre of the closest grave stone.  Here the depth of field is only a few inches.  In the second photograph the focus point is a more distant stone which throws the close foreground and the background out of focus, whereas the final shot has all of the foreground out of focus with the middle area sharp.  In the second two photographs the depth of field has expanded from a few inches to several feet as the focus of the lens approaches infinity.

This second exercise has a set of photographs taken with the same focus point and differing apertures. 
Set focus point, f1.4,  1/2500, 50mm.

Set focus point, f 8.0, 1/100, 50mm.

Set focus point, f 16, 1/25, 50mm

This second set of 3 photographs has the same focus point, the edge of the small grave stone in the foreground.  The shots are taken with a reducing aperture ranging from f1.4 to f16.  In each shot it is evident that the depth of field is growing to encompass more of the scene until the final photograph has everything in the photograph at an acceptable level of sharpness.

The scene chosen has objects near and far to demonstrate clearly the areas of sharpness.  A narrow depth of field has the advantage of isolating an area from its surrounds, bringing the subject of the photograph out of the clutter.  It can also add depth to the photograph that is missing when everything is sharp and has equal dominance.  For this reason my preference for a particular shot is the very first of the two sequences (Close focus point, f1.4, 1/2500, 50mm.) which has the closest grave stone in focus and the rest of the shot blurred.  This shot gives the large headstone prominence allowing me to admire the pattens and colours of the lichen and the stone mason's art.  The rest of the graveyard is still there and the lines of stones lead the eye to the main subject but the observer isn't confused as to the point of interest as everything else is blurred.  Without the narrow depth of field several similar stones would fight for dominance leaving one in doubt as to where I wanted you to look.   Had I been taking this shot without the need to demonstrate the point of the exercise I might have closed the aperture one stop to bring the whole of the left stone into focus.  I would have also stepped back a couple of feet to avoid cropping the oval cut into that first stone.    

Notes:  The location is a disused church and church yard in West Liss, Hants.  It was shot at 11am when the sun would be to the SSE striking the grave stones, which are orientated E-W, at an oblique angle to cast shadows across the faces bringing out the carving and imperfections of the stone.  The bright light cast nice hard shadows and made it easy to see the differences between being in and out of focus.

26 Nov 2009

Photography 1. The Art of Photography. Introduction.

I like the tone of the writing and it all makes good sense.  I think I know my camera well and can find my way around it without any problems but can see the sense of making sure.

Exercise: Focal length and angle of view.
I have always assumed that 50mm was the standard real life size for a 35mm format but tried this exercise anyway.  I was a little surprised to see that in my viewfinder real life size is more like 70mm.  Of course the viewfinder may not be translating the image 1:1 and as I need varifocal glasses to correct for both long and short vision defects... one of the curses of age, my eye may not be seeing 1:1.  A quick look at the Spec page of the manual shows that the viewfinder has a magnification of 0.71x(-1 dioptre with 50mm lens at infinity).  I don't understand all that but I do realise that an image size multiplied by 0.71 will appear smaller to the eye which probably explains why I need  70mm of telephoto to bring the image size up to real life.  I'm not sure that this is a particularly valid exercise anyway as it is the image that the sensor sees that is relevant, not what the viewfinder produces as many cameras, mine included, will alter the image slightly.

I don't think I will actually print off 3 A4 shots of my living room just to see where I have to hold the paper to simulate the size of the real thing.  I feel that it goes without saying that the wide angle shot will show things smaller than life (an effect that has killed at least one person... ask if you want to know more) so I will have to hold a print closer to my eye than a 50mm or telephoto image.

Just testing

Ok... it is time to play a little to see how I can configure this to suit my needsI'm going to try embedding and then uploading a couple of pictures to see how they look.

Not sure how flexible this is in positioning but easy enough to get in from Flickr, now to try downloading one directly.

That seemed to happen Ok!  I guess I can make this work so on to something more real.

Study material here!

That was quite quick.  A box of tricks through the post and a heap of questions to be answered.  I have introduced myself to my tutor and scanned the information but already I am a bit unsure of how to proceed.  Should I try to make this my logbook or start a paper one?  Can I put the scraps of interesting visual stuff into a blog in the same way I would in a real work book?  I guess I shall have to experiment.  I was hoping to keep away from printing and posting physical photos but it seems my tutor wants paper assignments... I hope not.

21 Nov 2009

Starting the course

Just enrolled. With all that is going on, will I have time to give this course enough attention?  Time will tell.  I am not too worried about the quality of my photography but more the esoteric nonsense that is banded about when discussing someone's work.  Will I loose interest because I find it hard to see some missing element of emotion that a photograph is claimed to possess?  I'm not confident.