The Art of Photography

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Exhibitions - Project based

Two exhibitions I've seen this week that have made a big impact on me in terms of the powerfulness of a good project.
The first is Anders Ryman's work 'Rites of Passage'. A fantastic open air exhibition on near City Hall (Riverside). Seven years he spent on this project, travelling around the world, witnessing and photographing all sorts of rites of passage.  They are incredibly powerful images, but also what a powerful subject.  Something everyone can relate to no matter what culture or country you live in. You can relate to your own, even laugh at some of them.  Others though can make you feel decidedly uncomfortable. To have taken the pictures he has he has to have spent quite a bit of time with people and gained their trust.  In one shot he has to be inside the grave! (It was a reburial).

The other exhibition 'Words of the Century' at the October Gallery by photographer Jimmy Symonds.  has produced has created 10 hand-made artist books for each decade from 1900. He researched new words from each year, reducing the list until he finally produced this exhibition of one new word or phrase from each year illustrating it with a photo. Examples are 'avant-garde' , 'cloning', 'down-turn'. Again several years have gone into this project. It is a really strong body of work.

Seeing these works a few days apart (while I am trying to think of my own project for assignment 5) I am so aware of how a well researched and good subject matter make all the difference to the final work.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Softening the Light

This exercise to take two pictures of a still life. One with the light diffused and one with the naked lamp.
The picture immediately below is taken with a naked lamp placed facing from the bottom left hand side angled down toward the still life.  The result is: dark shadows in top left had side with no detail. Very log hard shadows. The centre of the jug is very bright. I had to take a couple of shots to ensure this area was not burnt out.

Naked Lamp
The second image taken with exactly the same set up but with my new softbox to diffuse the light has softer more evenly distributed light. The dark shadows from the first image are now visible.  the shadows created by the light are much softer and smaller.

Diffused Light

Conclusion:  The diffused light is more pleasing, however the naked light does give a sense of drama that I rather like. I don't like the harsh shadows.  I will experiment to see if a second light would soften the harsh shadows but keep the dark edges to the image.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


Ok I've now reached the point where I have to do something about photographic lighting. I knew this was a point I would reach and have been doing loads of research. Where I have arrived is: I have saved enough buy a really good light a bravo 1000w quartz halogen for £179. I already have a light stand. I cannot believe the price of a soft box! About the same price as the light.
So I have to make one.
I can do this.
The idea came.  Tinfoil trays. So a trip to Robert Dyas.  2 sets of large trays @ £1.99 each 1 set of flan dishes @ .99p duct tape £4.19.
Joining the trays wasn't as easy as I thought. Tape didn't work. Stapling didn't work. I must have something that will work. Filing clips! Perfect. Strong and metal. Yeah!  Then I pulled them into the flan dish. took a couple of goes but I had these tiny clips in my scrapbooking box that secured those. A sturdy frame has now been created.  popped down to the corner store for a roll of tinfoil .59p wrapped that around my structure.  Fits perfectly on my light.
Now to diffuse.  I have bought a couple of sheets of gel @ £3 each. I attach them with little paper clamps at the top. then back to my scrapbooking box.  I have small 'sticky hoop & loop pads' I use a combination of these and paper clips to attach the gel.
Result:  OK
And: it is kitset, I can take it apart and put it back together.
Total Cost: £12.75

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Outdoors at Night

An exercise in looking at various lights at night time. Artificial lights come in so many colours and generally you will get several different lights in the one place, making it very difficult to get the colours right. Although the various colours can be the main objective of the photo as in light trails.
  • a floodlit building
Taken as the sky was starting to get black. Auto white balance. As the night gets darker you lose more and more detail in the area not lit by the floodlights.  I prefer the light when the sky has gone a rich blue after sunset and just before it is totally black.

  • a brightly lit store front
With street lights and store lights and traffic lights the best results for this image where achieved by using auto white balance. Situations with so many different colours of light are best shot in RAW and adjusted in post processing.  Although the camera's awb does a reasonable job.

  • a large interior with many people
Taken in the evening with no natural light. Auto white balance and fluorescent white balance gave the best results for the concourse of this railway station.
white balance = auto
white balance = daylight

white balance = tungsten

white balance - fluorescent
  • A raised view looking along a busy road

Taken in the evening from a pedestrian over bridge. All with a shutter speed of 8secs aperture F11. I have changed the white balance to see the effects. From the top going down Auto WB, daylight and fluorescent.  AWB gives the most realistic colour but not are perfect for all the colour.  Given the range of various colours my approach would be to shoot awb and adjust in post processing as different parts of the image require different adjustments.

Monday, 8 August 2011

L.I.P. Workshop

Did a great workshop on Saturday on Hampstead Heath. Our brief was to take a portrait of a stranger and get their name. A photo essay of up to 6 pictures and a seires of up to 6 pictures.
I chose the ice-cream van.  This is my portrait and essay.  The day was fun and we learnt a lot from one another as well as the facilitator. (Brian)
Get close up and detail but also get a wider picture that gives you context. I'm not feeling quite as worried now about assignment 5

Friday, 5 August 2011

Technical Problems

Days and days have been consumed with rebuilding my laptop.  New motherboard (second time) reloaded windows. Slowly getting everything back on and working. Screaaammm. Can do without these kind of problems.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Dance - Carlos Acosta

Saw Carlos Acosta and Zenaida Yanowsky at ENO on Friday.  I love dance and this was fantastic. I am including it here on my learning log as what particularly wowed me was the lighting. The piece choreographed by Russell Maliphant with lighting design by Michael Hulls I especially loved. The way the lighting isolated Carlos's muscles just capturing the edges. How did he do that? I found my self studying the lighting through the entire production.  I made a couple of very rough drawings of lighting I want to try out as part of assignment 4.