Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Continuing Working at the ideas

In an attempt to stop me going rusty and to have me continue to learn the skills from the TAOP course, I have gone back and looked over the exercises and using them as a loose basis I created a brief for myself.

In this case I wanted to have another try at the lighting exercise and have a go at a combined dark field and edge lighting experiment.,

I setup the softbox behind a piece of A4 black paper which was clamped to a lighting stand a little in front of the softbox.

 Brandy Shot
D80, Aperture f27, Speed 1/180 sec, ISO 100, 145mm (35mm Equivalent 217mm), Matrix Metering Mode, Flash White Balance, tripod mounted, 55-200mm, Single Studio 180W Flash head with softbox.
Dark Field Brandy

I am pleased with the colouration of the brandy and that the curviture of the inside of the glass is shown by the small amounts of defracted light within the glass itself.

Large Brandy Glass
I then moved on to a larger glass, one which was almost as wide as the piece of black paper once it was composed on the table.

D80, Aperture f27, Speed 1/180 sec, ISO 100, 95mm (35mm Equivalent 142mm), Matrix Metering Mode, Flash White Balance, tripod mounted, 55-200mm, Single Studio 180W Flash head with softbox.

Dark Field Goblet

I converted it to black and white and then used photoshop to adjust the saturation colour on the glass to give it a very slight blue hue as I wanted to show the bowl shape of the glass.

Crystal Glass 
Again I changed glasses, this one was slighly smaller, but it had the one advantage of being cut crystal. This allowed the light to reflect around more within the glass as the crystal cuts helped to deflect and disfuse the light.

D80, Aperture f27, Speed 1/180 sec, ISO 100, 105mm (35mm Equivalent 157mm), Matrix Metering Mode, Flash White Balance, tripod mounted, 55-200mm, Single Studio 180W Flash head with softbox.

Dark Field Crystal Both Sides

While I was pleased with the glass and the light effect it produced I was not too happy to see that a lot of the table below the stand and the glass was being reflected up into the bottom of the glass. Next time I will have to place down non reflective black card to stop the reflections and to soak up some of the bounced light.

Crystal Glass Single Side

I adjusted the glass and the lighting stand holding the black piece of paper a little and then had another go at the crystal glass, this time I wanted only to capture one side of the glass.

D80, Aperture f27, Speed 1/250 sec, ISO 100, 105mm (35mm Equivalent 157mm), Matrix Metering Mode, Flash White Balance, tripod mounted, 55-200mm, Single Studio 180W Flash head with softbox.

Dark Field Crystal Single Side

Using the slightly faster shutter speed meant that with the adjustments I photographed the glass capturing only the light refelecting from once side. I was really pleased with this image.

What I learned
At the end of the shoot I looked over the images and ditched quite a few as I was not fully happy with the performance of the lighting; I have overlooked the power of the lighting and had set it too high forcing me to change ISO, speed and Aperture because once I started shooting I forgot that I could adjust the lighting power down even further. I did however get a few images that I was particularly happy with, including the single edge of the crystal glass.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Ansel Adams: Born Free and Equal
Josef Albers: Interaction of Colour
Eugene Atget: Paris
Steve Bavister: Lighting for Portrait Photography
John Berger: Ways of Seeing
Karl Blossfeldt: The Complete Published Work
Clement Cheroux: Portfolio of images by Henri Cartier Bresson
Graham Clarke: The Photograph
Charlotte Cotton: The Photograph as Contemporary Art
Edward S Curtis: Native Americans. A portfolio of images published by Taschen
Magdalena Droste: Bauhaus
Steve Edwards: Photography. A Very Short Introduction
Michael Freeman: The Photographers Eye
Reuel Golden: Masters of Photography
John Hannavy: A Moment in Time. Scottish Contributions to Photography 1840-1920
John Hedgecoe: The Photographers Handbook
Roger Hicks/Frances Schultz: Still Life and Special Effects Photography
Fil Hunter/Steven Biver/Paul Fuqua: Light. Science and Magic. An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
Johannes Itten: The Elements of Colour
Ian Jeffrey: How to Read a Photograph
Tony Mendoza: Ernie. A Photographers Memoir
Steve Mulligan: Understanding Composition. The Complete Photographers Guide
Museum Ludwig Cologne: 20th century Photography
NPG: Vanity Fair Portraits
Bryan Peterson: Understanding exposure
Phaidon: The Photo Book
Phaidon: Century
Prestel: Icons of Photography - The 20th Century
Man Ray: A Portfolio of images published by Taschen
Susan Sontag: On Photography
Sara Stephenson: Light from the Dark Room
John Szarkowski: The Photographers Eye
Taschen: Photo Icons 1 & 2
Thames & Hudson: Magnum Photos
Thames & Hudson: The Great Life Photographers
Edward Weston: A Portfolio of images published by Taschen

just some of the influences!

I would just like a moment to note some of the photographers and artists whose work has an influence on me and who I had discovered as part of the Art of Photography Course.
Ansel Adams – I came to his work quite late, I enjoy looking at his landscapes and I can be lost in the composition for hours, but it was his work capturing the life of Internees which really captured my imagination, his portraits are perfect and work well as a narrative as well as a capture of space and time.

Edward Weston – I have always loved the indoor work on peppers as Weston has captured the shape, contours and contrasts of the subjects in simple but impressive monochromatic images.

Alexander Rodchenko – When I first encountered “Portrait of Mother “ by Rodchenko I was very impressed, with one single image he has shown his influence on film makers and on designers. His use of composition and rhythm in a image have had a great influence on how I see shapes and patterns.

Rankin – Rankin’s’ monochromatic portraits remind me of the production and promotional images created by many Hollywood photographers of the 20’s 30’s and 40’s. I have always been fascinated by this style of portraiture and the creative work that these photographers produced for Time Magazine and Vanity Fair.

Jack Vetriano – I has always liked his work but I have at time struggled to understand what he was presenting. Thanks to the course I now have a better appreciation of his work and some of his portraitures have had an influence of me.

Edward  Curtis – I found some of Curtis work at the start of the course and his simple monochromatic images made me want to see more of them and to examine his work.

Roger Hick and Frances Schultz – their work together in the production of advertising images has had an influence on me as it has taught me to little on the lighting requirements and skills needed to create these images.

The number of images and pieces of work and their artists which have influenced me is a very long list. Thankfully to the teachings of the course I have found a greater appreciation for art and artists than i had before. I know enjoy looking at art and being able to start to understand the representation and with a simple understanding fo colour theory and composition I can now start to understand why some images are more striking to me than others.

Following a Narrative

One of the images I came across when studying up on Narrative was by Ansel Adams, the image itself was insightful and in one single frame told the story. I then started to follow this up and find more images regarding this subject and its place in history and before I knew it I was reading a book by Ansel Adams called “Born Free and Equal” which details life for Americans of Japanese descent who were interred in camps during the Second World War. While reading this book I discovered another photographer whose images I was impressed by, this photographer was Toyo Miyatake an internee and official camp photographer. Miyatake had studied by Edward Weston, another photographer of influence to me; due to this discovery am I now searching for more of Miyatakes work.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Assignment 5 – Applying the Techniques of illustration and narrative

What: The brief of this assignment was to show the command of illustration and narrative by producing a magazine cover and article
Where: Final Location – The Botanic Garden in Edinburgh
When:  Single Day – Just after the storms had finished on the east coast of Scotland.
How: First of all I made sure that I fully understood the brief of the Assignment by rereading the text. The then thought about what kind of article and images I wanted to produce, I spent a few days on line at the National Library of Congress of America looking at scanned copies of books by Edward S Curtis on Native Americans [1], Ansel Adams books and images of Americans of Japanese descent who were interred in America during World War 2 [2], I also looked at scanned images and articles at [3] and two articles on Military Working Dogs at [4].

Looking at these gave me a few ideas to work on and also a lot to think about regarding the producing of images and how these photographers had an influence on me.

I had originally gone to the garden to do a social documentary comparing the botanic garden and the council owned park right next to it, as they are vastly different to each other. However I did not like the images that I produced of the park and I could not get a good comparison of the two locations. I then decided to document the Botanic garden as a location of interest as it an unusual place located in the heart of the city; again I had problems not only due to the fact that some of the gardens facilities were either closed or not working and also due to the fact that due to my limited mobility I could not get to all the locations within the Botanic Garden.

I then went round the garden again and noted the many differences in the buildings dotted around the location, I then decided to work on the idea of the evolution of the garden as it moved into the 21st century very much like the National Museum had done when it reopened a month earlier.

I was surprised to find when I started to dig, how much the garden had changed and evolved just at this location.

The evolution of the botanic garden

D80,Aperture f/13, Shutter Speed 1/90 sec, ISO 640, 70mm (35mm equivalent 105mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Cover - Light through Palm Leaf 2

In 1834 the tropical palm house which is now the smaller palm house was constructed to house a number of tropical palm trees; each of which has been culled when it reaches the roof of the palm house to make way for the smaller trees. Sections of previous palm trees are kept just outside the entrance of the palm house for the public to examine.

D80,Aperture f/13, Shutter Speed 1/125 sec, ISO 640, 18mm (35mm equivalent 27mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Smaller Victorian Palmhouse
In 1858 the temperate plam house was constructed beside the tropical palm house  to contain temperate palm trees and is to date the tallest in Britain.
D80,Aperture f/19, Shutter Speed 1/180 sec, ISO 640, 27mm (35mm equivalent 40mm),Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Victorian Glasshouse

Part of the redesign was to reuse to original stone benches which now use temporary displays of flowering plants which would normally be kept out of public view in the research and support areas.

Here a pale rose is nestled amongst a collection of citrus plants all of which are sheltered in the shadow of a large palm tree. 
D80,Aperture f/13, Shutter Speed 1/90 sec, ISO 640, 52mm (35mm equivalent 78mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Pale Rose
The temperate palm house is now under maintenance to keep it in good condition. Glass that was broken in the recent storms is being removed by hand before being replaced with identical glass which is becoming harder to source.

D80,Aperture f/6.7, Shutter Speed 1/1500 sec, ISO 640, 34mm (35mm equivalent 51mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Repairing Window following Storm

In 1960s it was recognised that the original Victorian palm houses were in poor condition. It was decided that they should be restored to good condition and that 10 new glasshouses were to be built completed linking all the houses together. In 1967 this was completed and the new houses held a collection of plants in different environmental conditions.

D80,Aperture f/4 , Shutter Speed 1/750 sec, ISO 640, 18mm (35mm equivalent 27mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Water Lilly House

The radical design of these new glasshouses allows for maximum internal area as the entire structure is supported on the outside.

D80,Aperture f/6.7 , Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec, ISO 640, 105mm (35mm equivalent 157mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 105mm lens

Front Range

The main elevation  the new glasshouses is called the Front range providing visitors with a pleasant, quiet space. The planting and is regularly rotated to provide continuing interest.

D80,Aperture f/6.7 , Shutter Speed 1/3000 sec, ISO 640, 105mm (35mm equivalent 157mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 105mm lens

Hornet Feeding

In 1876 the gardens acquired the area surrounding Inverleith house. This was at first used as a home for the regius keeper and his family.

D80,Aperture f/19 , Shutter Speed 1/180 sec, ISO 640, 27mm (35mm equivalent 40mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

Inverleith House Art Gallery

It also has undergone several incarnations and between 1960 and 1984 was the founding house of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It is now an internationally recognised art gallery and it houses a continuous rolling programme of temporary exhibitions.

The landscape surrounding Inverleith house has been reworked and landscaped to create a view looking south out towards the rest of the city silhouetting the castle, St Giles and St Andrews Square.

D40X Converted to IR, Aperture f/9 , Shutter Speed 1/1600 sec, ISO 800, 35mm (35mm equivalent 52mm), Pattern Metering Mode, CustomWhite Balance, Hand Held, 18-70mm lens

View Over Edinburgh

The garden itself which has now grown to an 80 acre site is constantly monitored by the staff and researchers to ascertain the condition of the plants, from pine trees to alpines. The horticulture staff maintains the garden to ensure the plants are in good condition
D80,Aperture f/6.7 , Shutter Speed 1/4000 sec, ISO 1000, 105mm (35mm equivalent 157mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 105mm lens

Purple and Yellow

In the last five years the garden has undertaken another evolution when the west gate buildings were cleared and the construction of a new entranceway was started. The John Hope gateway was opened in 2009 not only as the new main entrance for the public, The building also houses other facilities including an improved Shop, education room, a Real Life Science Studio, permanent and temporary exhibitions, interactive media, plant sales and Gateway Restaurant

The gateway was named after Professor John Hope regius keeper of the garden from 1761 to 1786 who was responsible for unifying the differentiates sites into the first botanic garden at its original site on Leith walk.
D80,Aperture f/22, Shutter Speed 1/45 sec, ISO 1000, 15mm (35mm equivalent 22mm), Pattern Metering Mode, Daylight White Balance, Hand Held, 11-16mm lens

West Gate Entrance


It was a bit of a problem to begin with as at the start none of my original ideas worked out or when I went to scout locations they images I had planned to take just did not work out. I was pleased to find that I just did not start banging off with the camera taking hundreds of images in the hope that I would get something workable. I took my time and planned and replanned on the day when things did not work using the original plan as a structure to work from.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Taking time

While looking over the coursework for part 5 of the course I decided that I would take two weeks annual leave from work and just apply myself to the coursework dedicating myself to the course completely. At first I did not think that this was going to work and that I would be left at the end with a lot of Assignment 5 to do. Happily however I can state that on the very last day of the two weeks annual leave that I have managed to complete the coursework in a steady state without rushing or making compromises to the work I produced. 

Exercise 47 - Rain

What: The brief of this exercise was to show the understanding of illustration by producing an original image for a magazine cover which demonstrates the subject of rain
Where: In the house
When: During the two days of storms
How: First of all I had to do was to reference some book and magazine covers and get an idea of what to avoid when coming up the subject of rain.

At first I wanted to produce an image of someone walking across the road at a set of crossroads where I could capture the silhouetted figure under an umbrella while the rain socked building could be seen going off into the distance using the perspective from the crossroads. However as the wind was so strong I could not find a position in my chosen location where I would not be buffeted by the wind and where I could catch someone using an umbrella, it appeared that umbrellas were not in use due to the very high winds.

I then thought about shooting out of a first flooe window into the dark night, placing a remotely fired flash on the ground floor below. I believed that the rain drops would be light up from below with the flash and this would produce a nicely light image of the rain. However the flash I am using has developed a fault and would not trigger correctly or produce a flash of the correct intensity. SO I had to rethink the idea again.

While at home I remembered an image I had taken a long time ago which had received some good reactions from friends and relatives. I then tracked down the original file and decided that I would like to use the concept to produce a new image

The original image produced in 2005 using one of my first proper point and shoot digital cameras.

I waited during the stormy days until there was a moment when it was not too dark and that the rain was light enough not just to streak down the window. I then just shot a few frames in different directions out through the glass until I was happy with the background of the image.

D80,Aperture f/22, Shutter Speed 1/3000 sec, ISO 3200, 105mm (35mm equivalent 157mm),Centre Weight Metering Mode, Cloud White Balance, Hand Held, 105mm lens

Rain V2

I used cloud white Balance rather than shade as I could not get the right colour representation from either shade or auto white balance.

I then gave the image a title to look like a magazine cover and then a couple of lines of text as you would normally get on a cover.

What I learned

I learned from this exercise that sometimes a plan just does not work out and that you have to be flexible with your ideas. I quite enjoyed the exercise as it was a task where I had to exercise my imagination and come up with some concepts and the second part was the exercise in producing and photograph to a set specification.