14 Sep 2011

Assignment 4 - Tutor Assessment

I certainly didn't have to wait long as my tutor was delightfully prompt and emailed his comments the very next day.

I am delighted to say that my choice of the wine glass as a subject was well received and the views that I took of it fulfilled the criteria for the assignment.  That was a big worry for me as I am never sure just how 'safe' to be when interpreting a brief.  

He thought that all the images had a high quality commercial feel to them.  This is a most interesting comment and I take it as praise since it comes from a professional photographer.  He appreciated my blog post explaining how I achieved (or should I say 'cobbled together') the setups and thought it a good idea to have tethered my camera to a laptop to better assess the success of each image. 


This was thought to be a clean shot shot just below the level of the top of the glass showing its depth and conical form.  It was thought to be slightly too perfect and the question was asked, 'was this cut in half down the centre and mirrored?' The answer was NO, just a lot of painstaking fiddling with white reflective strips to achieve the effect but my efforts were partly wasted as he would have preferred a little asymmetry instead.

This shot would have benefited from a slightly faster shutter speed to freeze the liquid and the background needs a little dodging attention at the top of the frame as it has lost a little light.


My tutor wasn't entirely convinced of the concept of the flying glass and thought that a night sky or cityscape might have been more fitting for a cocktail.  However, he appreciated the production of the image and how, with a glass, it is possible to apply whatever colour you want.

This was thought to be a sumptuous abstract but it was suggested that perhaps the cocktail stick and olive might have been better included in this shot to give a better idea of what it is... good point!  However, he liked the approach.

These images were dealt with as one subject. He liked the fact that in the first I demonstrated that glass has pretty much no texture but in the second that there is some if you look for it.  He thought it interesting that I didn't resort to using reflections to demonstrate texture.

FORM 1/2
In these, my tutor praised the coloured shadow shot as it demonstrated control with a wider frame and the pool of light created another luxurious image.  Having the glass completely filled made it a more sculptural object which he appreciated.  The diffracted light in the second image was also praised and I was glad that I didn't make the mistake of desaturating it to get rid of what might have been an annoying distraction.  He also liked the wobbly reflection of the soft-box showing that the glass was not mass-produced and something of quality.
He conclusion stated that this was a really good quality assignment working with a notoriously tricky subject.  And in that one sentence all the hassle of the past week of photography felt worth it!

So chuffed but with a tight schedule I must get on with the final chapter of TAoP as time flies and I have a lot to do!

13 Sep 2011

Assignment 4 - Light

Part 4 has been a long section with some testing, difficult and time consuming exercises but it has been most enjoyable despite that.  One of the problems has been that I have been limited to doing the Assignment at home, whereas I usually get opportunities to shoot most of my work whilst I am away,  Since I get relatively little time at home, with family life also taking priority, it has been hard to find the hours. 

Despite my whining, my Light Assignment is done and can be found here.

I wait to be judged and while my tutor looks at my work I will be wondering at my choice of subject.  I might have gone out on a limb by choosing a clear wine glass.  I hope that my tutor doesn't think that this has prevented me from fulfilling the objectives of the assignment but I found it a challenge that was hard to resist.  Glass is a notoriously difficult thing to photograph so I hoped that if I could do it well I might get some small reward for making the attempt... or not!  Only time will tell.

The technical aspects were intriguing and I got a lot of help from textbooks including 'Light, Science and Magic' by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua.  I relied on a lot of back lighting be it from a soft box, snoot or the sky, as front lighting tended to come back at the camera revealing every tiny spot of dust and finger mark.  I used black and white reflectors to move light as well as black and translucent sheets of perspex.  My soft box was most useful and I used my hi-key background as a huge soft box for some shots.

Here are a few of my setups.

The glass against a black background was fairly easy.  The light source is the lastolite hi-key background which was good as it gave a large area of light to get around the background card that I was shooting against.  I had two small white cards either side of the glass and a large white card under the camera to put stripes of reflection on the glass which helped to give depth to the shot.  I was shooting tethered to my laptop so that I could examine the images in detail straight after they were taken and move things around as required.  The computer also helped as I could display the camera's live view which made accurate focus a lot easier.

Shooting the shadow image in a pool of light was also relatively simple.  I use a snoot to provide the illumination and filled the glass with weak squash to give colour to the water I used.  The hardest part was achieving the right angle for the shot so that unwanted reflections or distractions didn't spoil the image.

The close up of the base with the logo DARTINGTON was a hand held shot using a macro lens.  I wandered around looking for a suitable background and light angle to get the word lit and give some background interest.  Holding the glass at 90deg to the sky put the light through the edge of the base and then I held the glass near a flower to give the colour.  The base acted a little like a lens and it kept the edge of the petals within the rim giving a slightly surreal effect that I liked.  The hardest bit was manhandling the camera in one hand with the glass in the other... that camera isn't light!

 Shooting against the sky needed a bit of bamboo and cotton thread.  Once the glass was suspended I added the Gin and olive and then waited for a nice bit of sky to wander past.  Of course the thread had to be removed post production but that was about all that needed doing.

 Getting the overhead shot needed the long arm of my Uni-Loc tripod and a sheet of translucent perspex with the light below.  Once everything was in place I filled the glass and started shooting.  The uncorrected tungsten cast of the modelling lamp was just about the right shade to match the liquid.  Being a hand made glass, the imperfections showed up nicely as dark rings around the bowl.

Getting the 'splash' shot needed lots of practice at pouring water.  I set this up outside with a conventional soft box behind the glass and then threw water into it, firing the camera at an appropriate moment.  The flash duration was, of course, a lot faster than the shutter speed and being the main light source it froze the action despite having the camera at only 100th sec. As can be seen, my first efforts splashed onto the soft box so that needed cleaning and moving a bit further away!

All in all a fun time with the lens cap off and I do hope that my time and effort wasn't wasted.  I must plough on as I have the final Assignment to complete before the end of November and time waits for no man.