The Art of Photography

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

ISO - Higher and Lower Sensitivity

I thought about when it might be essential to use a high ISO and trundled off to the British Museum. In this situation you can't use flash or a tripod.  I set my shutter speed to 1/30 which is about as low as I can go without any sign of camera shake.  Then set the apeture to f4, the widest possible with the lens I was using.  To get an acceptable exposure I needed to go to ISO 1000.  This image is below.

To highlight the difference the four images below are all taken with a shutter speed of 1/30 and aperture f4. Moving from left to right the ISO used is: 200, 400, 800, 1000.  I have cropped a section of each image and magnified 100%.  Noise appeared in the shadow part of the image using ISO 1000, but the lower ISO is unacceptably under exposed.  I printed a copy of the image at 1000 on A4 paper.  I think it is perfectly acceptable.  There are times when this is your only option.  Dance photographers are very often using very high ISO's.

Trying to capture birds in flight is difficult.  The lens I was using (24-105) is not the best for this type of shot as I have found that it does not perform at its best at the fullest zoom (used in these shots).  However this exercise is about ISO which are demonstrated below. Below are sections of an image magnified 200%.
The first image shutter 800 - aperture F8 - ISO 1600.
The second image is Shutter 40 - Aperture F8 - ISO 200.
In the top image I was able to capture the birds in flight by retaining a high shutter speed and sharp aperture (although focus is not great).  The cost is the black of the birds, a lot of noise with reddish banding.
The second image the birds are lovely and black but the very slow shutter speed has made the image blurry.  So both images have faults and both have advantages.  Choices as to what you want most out of the image need to be made at the time of taking the picture.

I looked for a situation when the only real option was to use a high ISO.  I was photographing birds and squirrels in the shade under trees in the middle of the day.  I wanted to keep my aperture at a level that would keep the image sharp.  I also needed a fast shutter speed to freeze the action.  This only leaves an adjustment in ISO.  I needed to go to ISO 1600 to achieve this.  I have magnified the section of the image with the squirrel by 200%.  Although some noise is introduced to the image I find this totally acceptable as I managed to get a sharp action shot freezing the squirrel mid-leap.

Shutter speed 320 - Aperture F8 - ISO 1600

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Conceptual Art

Last weekend I went to the art carboot fair. Always fabulous stuff at this event.  Conceptual art is on my mind at present. reading Tony Godfrey's book, re-reading Susan Bright's book Art Photography Now.
At the fair an artist (just finished her MA) had a box that contained strips of card grouped in 13 strips, of conceptual statements.  Yours for just £2.50.
My 13 statements are:
  • It's so foundation
  • It's not turning me on
  • It's such adolescent work
  • It's very Shrigley (had to google to see who Shrigley is)
  • I love how the piece works in the space
  • This work is very clever
  • It's so Louise Bourgeois
  • This work is very playful
  • I would prefer if there was less of it
  • Its mere form and presence are pure justification for its existence
  • This work leaves me wanting
  • It almost ticks too many boxes
I'll keep these in mind over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Exhibition - Tracy Emin

Sometimes I find Tracy Emin's work too self absorbed but this exhibition is great.  Pushes all the buttons. She's not about making you feel good about anything but about confronting issues that mostly we'd rather not talk about.  I loved the pieces about teenage sexuality. The double standards for boys and girls.  How men take advantage of vulnerable girls. Vulnerability is not confined to shy and naive. Precocious teenage girls are just as vulnerable.
Her short films are particularly brilliant.  Didn't know she had this talent in her portfolio of skills.
Her methods of dealing with feminist issues ought to be part of teenage girls school studies.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Measuring Exposure - part 2

 For part two of measuring exposure bracketing exposures either side of average metering were taken.  For my group average metering was perfectly fine, although in most of the images I preferred the shot over exposed by a third of a stop. My images are similar types of pictures which would account for this.  In the coming weeks I will experiment with different subject matter to see what preferences that will produce.

This scene was outside the range of my camera.  Average gave the least amount of burn out and loss of shadow detail.  However I prefer the image of over exposing by a third of a stop. This gives more shadow detail even though a bit more loss in the cloud highlights occurs.  Ideally a graduated filter would be used to enable this scene to be taken without loss in the cloud or shadows.

For this group I think the average metering produces the best result.  Over exposing the petals start to burn out and the pink petals lose some of the vibrant colour. Underexposing and detail is lost and the image looks too dark and a bit flat. T

Although over exposing by two thirds causes some of the sky to be burnt out, it still is the better image than the correctly metered centre image.   This is largely because the range of the scene is outside the dynamic range of the camera.  In this instance I have to choose, will I lose detail in the shadow area or highlights in the sky area.  Over exposure, I think is the better choice here.

Centre Image correct exposure either side under and over exposure.  For this series I think I prefer a third of a stop over exposed for the building but prefer the sky at the correct exposure.

The centre picture is the correctly exposed, the images to the left underexpose by steps of one third.  to the right the images over expose by steps of one third.
The day was actually a really black sky just moments before it rained. The images over exposed look as though they are getting closer to correct exposure. This was an interesting set as without context to realise how dark and foreboding the sky was, the correct exposure looks under-exposed. With context to show the 'real weather' under-exposing a third of a stop gives more drama.
I think this set shows how important context is when deciding on your exposure.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Concepts - My Journey to understanding.

The light just went on. I am starting to understand what my tutor is trying to tell me.
Play with images and ideas in order to portray a specific meaning. Stress the meaning of your idea even if viewers don't 'get it' to begin with. Focus on your ideas.

Measuring Exposure - part 1

Two examples of over-exposing:

Evaluative metering for teddy on white linen made the white linen look grey. (see image on the left)  Why? Because the camera's metering system is exposing for mid grey. So where a large amount of white dominates the frame, white will try and expose to mid grey.  To ensure the white is really white I have over-expose by a full stop. (see image on the right).

Camera metering for this image is not ideal.  the dynamic range is outside the camera's capability. I have a range of about 6 stops with my camera. This scene is closer to 10. The amount of very bright sky meant that my camera's metering was going to give me a silhouette. As I wanted detail of both the structure and the men I over-exposed the shot by one and a third stops.  It meant the sky would be blown out but it was a bright uninteresting sky that was not going to add anything to the image.  Ideally the shot would be better taken in better lighting conditions.  Late in the afternoon for example, when the contrast is not so great.  The image is really quite flat.  However there may be occasions when you don't get another opportunity to take the picture and so you have to work with the existing conditions.

Two examples of under-exposing:

For this image my camera's metering system would give me a nice bright image.  However what I wanted was the sunlight shining through the smoke to be the feature of the image and the man to be almost a silhouette. I didn't want to lose all the detail in him but was prepared to lose a significant amount of shadow detail, but not lose any highlight area.  The adjustment was going to be more than two stops, so I chose all manual settings enabling me to select shutter, apeture and ISO that would give me this image.

Image shot darker than average. I under-exposed by 1 stop.
Camera metering exposes for mid-grey. Selecting the camera's average exposure would result in the horses looking grayish. Certainly not the black that they are.  I wanted to retain as much detail as possible but make the horses appear black.  I therefore calculated that an adjustment of a full stop would give me a nice blackness in the horses.  I did lose a small amount of detail which I have highlighted in blue.  I found this amount of lose of detail perfectly acceptable. The areas lost had nothing of any importance in them and were dark shadows.  Moving up a third of a stop while showing those spots within the camera's range meant I lost depth of colour where I really wanted it.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Printing Course

Yesterday I did the Epson print academy course. Have tested my new knowledge today.  Combined with the calibration of my monitor, I am now getting prints that look good.
Understanding print profiles, the difference between perceptual and relative colormetric profiles has made a world of difference.
I found the following link which gives lots of great detail about colour management, colour spaces and colouspace converstion.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Exhibitions Books and More

I really need to find a better way of getting my thoughts into one place.  I have several notebooks, sometimes I manage to write a few reasonable notes in them.  Mostly though they are scratchings that mean nothing to anyone but me. I will dive off to an exhibition when I should be doing something else I'll be inspired by something or someone but don't know how to explain why. Yet this journal is supposed to do all this in a succinct way. I'm failing big time.
OK, tonight I am going to jot down some ramblings or I'll never catch up with everything.  in the recent past I've seen Paul Graham's work at White chapel gallery.  Loved it.  I could really identify with his comments regarding the lawn mowing man.  Something along the lines of: I went to photograph the landscape but it was boring and I found the man mowing the lawns way more interesting. I could hear myself saying something so very similar.
I had an impromptu visit to Paris. When one is offered a ticket on the provision you go within the hour. Well of course I'd go, even though it was only for the day. What did I do. Lunch with one of my friends and two galleries.  One of the galleries is my favourite. Jeu de Paume. This time I saw the work of Claude Cahun. Well that just blew me out of my cotton socks. I rescheduled my remaining hours and spent them there. (so often that happens to me at this gallery) What an amazing woman.  She questioned everything. Sexuality (her own and others) a true resistance french person (not one who claimed to be so after the event) totally eccentric, and photographed everything in her life. I am blown away by her.  An amazing list of friends. The art set of Paris. Not sure me dancing naked in cemeteries in London is a good idea in 2011 though.
Back in London, I made  a quick visit to the Estrick Gallery and saw the work of Ida Barbarigo and Zoran Music. Some I liked some not so much. Loved all the photos though.
Bought Johnnie Shand Kydd's book 'Crash'.  Great portraits. Often though I think if you have important friends to photograph you're more than half way there.
Bought a great magazine at Gare de Nord - Images No 46 - feature article on Martin Parr.  His images contain everything I have learned to date. Shapes, design, colour. The man is brilliant. I love his work. Serious but humorous. He captures the very essence of Englishness. I so want to do that in my work here.
Have just committed myself to s show and tell next week for my work to date around Kings Cross as part of the London Villages Project.
This is a thought dump the kind I write in my notebooks and then I panic followed by a pathetic attempt to put some structure or order into what I am doing. (nothing that would ever be approved my my structured ordered partner) c'est la vie.
The concept of an online journal is interesting as it should somehow be structured and sensible, yet that is not how I would ever write in a notebook journal. That would always be ramblings. When I cooked  (for a living) my ramblings created my most magnificent dishes. Not sure that transports to photography though.
Blah dy blah.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Conceptualising Assignment 3

My tutor has suggested I try and use more conceptual ideas in my presentation of assignment 3. After my initial tearing my hair out trying to fathom what I should/could do and hours more reading and researching, I'm hoping I'm on the right track now.
I have looked at lots of work of conceptual photographers. Most of which I don't like.  I have been reading some interesting debates on artists who appropriation work is based on taking a photographer's pictures and making them into art.  Is this stealing another artists work?  The same argument was used about Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Cans.  However I also read an article that explores the notion that a documentary photographer appropriates reality for the purpose of the artist.
Yikes this is too much for me.  The Internet probably makes the whole debate null and void.

Conceptualising complementary colours:
I have tried to stay as close as possible to the complementary colour relationship as determined by Goethe.

My conceptual presentation of contrasting colours.
With this group I have taken out all distractions except colour (especially the last two which are simply patches of colour. Now all we are dealing with it the relationship of colour. (I have gone into more detail in the previous post for the assignment).

My conceptual presentation of colour accents:
Reducing the structure of the background colour but leaving the colour accent of the image exactly as photographed, it now truly emphasises just how dramatic and important to the image that small amount of colour is to the overall relationship.