Archive for the Project work Category

Selective processing and prominence

Posted in Project work with tags on November 15, 2010 by Judy Bach

The final exercise of the course! I can’t believe  a year has gone by since I enrolled for People & Place . This exercise, funnily enough, is not about the actual taking of a photograph but altering it digitally to adjust the importance of people in their surroundings. I really do not do too much post manipulation, but as my confidence has grown using Lightroom & Photoshop , I have started to “dabble”  with my images more frequently, and quite enjoy it . I shoot Raw so therefore can make as many versions of the same images as I have the time and inclination to do so. My chosen image for this exercise has been digitally altered in Lightroom by  increasing  exposure and adjusting the tonal scale using the Tone curve control. I exported it to PS as a 16 bit Tiff file to adjust Levels, brightness and contrast, then finally sharpening and printing before saving a Jpeg file for Web use.

Although there is not a great difference between the 2 images I can see how the slight adjustments have subtlety altered the balance between people and place. I do not take many panoramic images, something I have struggled with throughout the course, preferring more closely composed images. The people in my first version almost blend into the beach, they are dark figures against a dark background, the Mount and the deep shades of the evening sky dominate the picture, the figures are incidental. By increasing the exposure and adjusting the tonal curves the dark tones of the beach and sky are lost making the walking figures more prominent. The deep hues of the sky created by the setting sun have been lost, this also detracts the attention from the setting somewhat. Digital manipulation,  used in an understated way, has altered the focal importance of what was already in the frame.

Version 1.

F11         1/4 sec    ISO 400           @17mm            Shade WB

Image 2.

+ 1 stop exposure.

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Adjusting the balance between person and space

Posted in Project work with tags on November 15, 2010 by Judy Bach

I was not too sure how to approach this exercise , the brief is a bit ambiguous, “produce two images using the same general viewpoint and composition, varying the balance of attention between the person (or people) and the setting they are in” Pg 47 Photography 1: People and Place Open College of the Arts . Should I be trying to take them on the same day , one after the other? Or perhaps on different days altering the general viewpoint of the same place? Another consideration is how can I use the same composition but alter the balance? Focal length is an obvious consideration  when trying  to alter the balance in the frame, but surely if the focal length is  changed the composition is therefore altered! Oh dear my brain refuses to comprehend what must  surely be glaringly simple.   Scale within the composition is what I should be considering rather than concerning myself with the nuances.   Reading it again I  decided that it was better to take the two images one after the other , this enabled me to practice framing quickly and to try and alter the balance between person and place.

A major hindrance when photographing people is that they are unpredictable, once the shutter is released what is captured only represents a fragment of time, once passed the moment is gone.  Thinking back to all the previous projects and exercises they are all leading up to this point in the course , all the strands are coming together to put into practice how to photograph people and the places they inhabit with as much visual variety as possible.  To achieve diversity focal length, framing, and viewpoint, all need to be considered, at the same time as predicting what will happen in front of the camera, quite a skill to try and accomplish! I have chosen to show two examples, the first using differing focal lengths from the same viewpoint the second using the same focal length but altering the balance by waiting for my subject to get closer to me.

Example 1.I took the following two images using a 28-75mm zoom, both were taken from exactly the same viewpoint within a couple of minutes of each other. The shorter focal length obviously includes more visual information about the place than the longer one . A zoom lens is useful and versatile in a situation like this and it is difficult to change lenses quickly. Far differing focal lengths, for example a very wide view of 10-20mm compared to a 200-300mm from the same viewpoint would be far more effective to alter the balance  between person or place in a situation like this.

F9      1/100        ISO 200        @ 28mm        Daylight WB

 F14       1/100             @ 75mm         ISO 200           Daylight WB

Example 2.I spotted this old man climbing up a hill in Penzance and took the first image as he walked towards me. The second image was taken as he got closer to me. My viewpoint remained unchanged but the balance was altered simply by him physically moving towards me, and required just  a quick click of the shutter as he approached and turned to face me.

F7.1       ISO 200       1/60         @ 35mm

Making figures anonymous.

Posted in Project work with tags on November 15, 2010 by Judy Bach

I thought this exercise sounded easy at first but on re-reading it realised it meant capturing not only unrecognisable people but  including the place they were in. I had actually gone merrily around just snapping the back of peoples head’s etc ! I think it is actually is intended to help you start  thinking about creating an image that includes people but who are not the most significant part of the image. The place is the principle subject but people are necessary to show its extent, how it is used by them, acknowledging their existence within the area. I felt easier photographing people , trying to make them anonymous,  than I have often felt at other times during the course, the subjects were, usually, unaware of me and my camera. I noted that the images taken for Exercise 19 created anonymity , therefore what is the difference between the 2 exercises? I feel perhaps the former exercise was  to start to consider framing, where to place a single figure to create the most dynamic image. Robert, my tutor, advised me to try and create more panoramic images,  this exercise will help me expand on that skill ,  to help show  the  essence of a place. However for the first image of this exercise I did not heed this advice.

Scale For exercise 19 the figure was a mere accent, hence can a larger silhouetted person in the frame still create an image that is primarily  about the place ?   The location of the image below, a beach, is obvious and even though the figure dominates the frame he is unrecognisable. But is it more about the person than the place? It creates perhaps a feeling of the contemplative mood of my subject and how he  relates to being here but I also think it fails to draw the viewers attention to the scale of the place but more on the subject , it is not a panoramic view.  The area behind the subject is too underexposed  to see the built up Penzance area.  Hence I feel for these reasons the image fails to be primarily about the place but more about the figure inhabiting it.  

F8         1/1600         ISO 200        @28mm        Shade WB

Figures smaller in the frame . My next image is a bit more successful , this time I have kept them smaller in the frame and in silhouette by shooting towards the sun. The expanse of Penzance can be seen behind them , the scale of the area immediately more noticeable than my previous image.  Once again I am unsure if this image is actually about the place , as instructed in the exercise brief, but once again more about the human inhabitants? Are the figures of less importance than the place? I think that both are needed to make sense of how this place is used, but which plays the subsidiary role? I think scale, once again, is the answer , a more panoramic view of this scene would alter the balance between person and place, placing the emphasis firmly on place.

 F6.3          1/2000           ISO 100       @ 28mm       Shade WB

Small and Many. How I wish I had taken a wider angled lens with me when I took the image below.  Because I only had my 70-200 lens with me this is the shortest focal length that I could use. The figures are certainly anonymous, each occupied in different activities on the beach, and is more about the place than any individual person. I think this image does show how the space is used , but I can see how much better a panoramic view would have been to show the scale of the area. Taken from a high view point I was interested to read about the work of Andreas Gursky whose “signature vantage point” creates images of places  “made up of tiny constituent parts” and where “we are not being asked to interpret the individual experience of the place”     Charlotte Cotton,  The photograph as contemporary art ,  new edition, Thames & Hudson, London 2009.

+  See Reading section re Andreas Gursky, photographer of Place. 

F10             1/250                 ISO 100          @ 70mm            Daylight WB

Facing away. The image below is an attempt to include people but by shooting from behind to keep the focus on place not person. However the three individuals in front of me were so distinctively dressed for a day at the British seaside they do perhaps  create a bit more interest to be paid to them, detracting somewhat from  keeping them anonymous!

F9       1/320           ISO 100          @ 38mm           Daylight WB

The following image works better,not really a panoramic view though.

F8                    1/1000         ISO 200            @ 51mm          Shade WB

Busy traffic

Posted in Project work with tags on November 15, 2010 by Judy Bach

As much as I wanted to try and take some take interior shots I have limited myself to completing this exercise out of doors. My first series of images for this exercise were taken in Penzance on Mazey day, an annual charity event. The streets were packed and this was an ideal occasion to try and show just how busy the streets became. I  used different focal lengths, and in an attempt to show the business  of the day I have filled the frame with people. Thinking back to exercise 12, close up and involved , I felt brave enough to use a 28mm focal length as I walked through the town and did not feel too self-conscious. I feel the atmosphere created by Mazey day helped, the weather was beautiful and people were enjoying the unique mood of the day. All of the images show how packed the streets were, but I do feel the wider angled views help re-create the way if felt to be part of a large crowd. However not all of the images really demonstrate what the function of the streets was that day: a charity carnival.

A wider view would have really improved this first shot to include more of the street and the surrounding crowds.

84mm

F4        1/500            ISO 100        Daylight WB   

 70mm

F6.3        @ 70mm

28mm

F9        1/500                ISO 200                 

 

F4            1/500             ISO 100     

A greater depth of field would  improve this image.

F5

 Not great examples  but the wider angle involves the viewer in the scene. It is not really obvious exactly what is happening in the streets.

 

F7. Its quite difficult to walk and shoot straight at the same time!

 F5.6

This image includes the surrounding buildings, not well composed though. I really needed to spend more time looking through the viewfinder to get the best composition, but this was quite difficult due to how busy the streets were that day. There were steps further back behind me but there was no space to stand , this would have perhaps given me a better vantage point to look down and along the street. A much wider view would have improved this shot, 28mm was the widest lens I had that day.

The Causeway & beach. Marazion.I spent some time just watching visitors trekking across the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. When the causeway is open the Mount is accessible on foot , I photographed the trail of people as they crossed the pathway. Out of season this pathway can often be quite deserted with just a few people crossing, but the image below give an indication of the function and how busy the crossing can be.The snaking line of people create a curved line leading the eye along the pathway to the mount. The figures get tinier further along the line and are unrecognisable. A more panoramic view including all of the mount would improve this composition, showing the true scale of the mount in contrast to the tiny figures below it on their modern day pilgrimage. 

F11         1/250        ISO 100      @ 59mm        Daylight WB

The previous exercise concentrated on just placing a single figure in the frame, this one involved including as many as possible to show the busy nature of a place. My examples are not particularly  adventurous and a wider more encompassing view would give the images greater scale, this I feel is the lesson to be learned and what my tutor has encouraged me to try and do .Large panoramic images are my nemesis, I must really try and think SCALE SCALE SCALE!

A single figure small

Posted in Project work with tags on November 6, 2010 by Judy Bach

The main consideration for this exercise is where to place the figure in the frame  to create the most active image. Returning to Marazion out of season a few weeks ago gave me more opportunity to take this type of shot than had been practical in the summer months when the area was full of visitors. The beaches and surrounding areas were relatively empty and it was just  a case of watching and waiting for the moment to arise. Patience was needed as the brief for the exercise stated “a single figure”,  but more often than not if I spotted a lone sole walking along they were inevitable joined by others as I was poised to grab my shot!  Scale is another consideration—how small to make my figure in the frame? The aim of this and the next few exercises  is to show how people interact with the places they inhabit and I can only show this by using a wide angle of view. One of the points Robert, my tutor, made following my last assignment was to try and focus less on details and more on wider views. Therefore this first exercise will be good to try and put this into practice.

1.

F8        1/8000         ISO 200           @ 70mm           Shade WB 

I tried to keep my figure relatively small and walking across the frame, problem is the horizon is not straight! I also feel the figure is actually a bit too close to the centre of the frame and would have been better kept more to the left hand edge of the frame, capturing the image  before the person actually got to this point . Quickness and decisiveness is really needed before the moment has passed to get the framing and composition correct, something I need to practice and concentrate on.

I decided to use Shade WB to enhance the tones of the image below even though it was still relatively light. The figure is in silhouette as I was facing the sun, hence the high shutter speed. There is nothing in this image that gives any clue as to the identity of the human subject in the frame. He/she is obviously at the seashore but any other details, such as type of clothing, that might help identify this stranger and what they are doing there are missing.

2

F13        1/5secs        ISO 400       @ 17mm            Shade WB 

Taken @ 6.45pm in October just as the sun was setting.I don’t usually take many landscape pictures, preferring people rather than place, but am enjoying this exercise combining both.This is my widest lens , I wanted to try and convey the sense of space surrounding my lone figure. I used a tripod, I still hate them, but it was essential when shooting later in the day. My poor husband was my trusty assistant, as usual , setting the tripod up and making sure it was level (quite difficult from where I positioned myself). I feel this image works better than my initial image, although though the figure is still not right at the edge  it is walking across the frame towards the viewer, not away, as in the previous image. 

The figure is still unecognisable in this image, the clothing can just be made out,  again there are no real visual clues as to what they are doing there, except walking. Is he/she going home after work, are they a tourist, or something else ?But is my figure perhaps not that noticeable because of the similar tones of the clothing and beach?

3.

F8         1/500           ISO 800         @ 70mm          Cloudy WB

 I have tried to use contrast and scale for this image. 

I framed this so the surfer is at the same point in the frame as the beginning of the island behind him. I feel this helps create movement across the frame as the eye moves along and up towards the lighthouse on the island. His clothes and the surf board clearly indicate what he is doing in this place, but again his identity is hidden by the scale of the image. What this image shows I feel is the link between the surfer and his surroundings, how he is using the space.

4.

F5.6         1/160               ISO 400                @ 35mm 

I feel the figure is much too small in this image, nearly invisible despite the tonal contrast. Looking closer at this image on my computer screen I also realised it was not a lone figure, there are tiny dots further away who  actually other people! However this image does show the vast extent of the place .

5.

F9            1/320              ISO 100         @ 200mm        Daylight WB 

Taken during the summer months this man looked as he was walking on water! One of the rare opportunities I had during the summer months of obtaining a single small figure in the frame. The figure is placed centrally in the frame, I am really unsure if this composition works or not. I keep looking at it and can’t quite make my mind up. A centrally placed figure should create a static image but by  keeping the island behind my subject in the frame the composition is not symmetrical and this I feel helps create a sense of movement across the frame.

6.

F8       1/500          ISO 800              @ 200mm           Cloudy WB 

I think this composition works reasonably well . The dark figure contrasts with the background and is placed at the top of the frame. The expanse of beach to forefront and the small figure help reinforce just how vast this area is, even though I have used a narrower angle of view than for my other images of the surfers. It would be interesting to have been able to have taken the same composition with a very wide angle view,  including far more background information, and compare the two images. However I like the empty space the composition creates.

Conclusion

Panoramic photographs are stunning to view but prior to commencing this course I much preferred portraiture. However I have found this exercise surprisingly pleasurable, even if my images are not particularly spectacular I have enjoyed taking them. One of the personal  joys of doing an OCA photography course is not just what I learn technically but of discovering new ways of visualising  my surroundings , I feel this is just what this exercise has done. I certainly would not have included an unknown person in any of my (few) landscape images prior to the course, but can see how it helps demonstrate how people interact with place: exactly the aim of this course.

 I do struggle making larger scale  images, and this is something I perhaps really need to address.  Is this due to my widest lens being 17mm, which on my camera equals approximately 25mm, and therefore any images I take are not as panoramic as they could be? Or is the reason more to do with the fact that I do enjoy observing the more smaller  details around me, ones that do not get noticed or overlooked?  Small details I felt would be overlooked  in any image on a larger scale but as this exercise has shown me a small figure , seemingly un-important, can create quite a visual impact .

 I have put a prime wide angle lens on my “wish list” for Christmas—-I will have to remember to be good!

How space changes with light

Posted in Project work with tags on August 11, 2010 by Judy Bach

Looking at the effect light has on space

I completed this exercise on holiday, when I had the luxury of being able to return to the same spot more than once, another advantage was the longer summer nights. The Gwelva, in Marazion, (see exercise 17)   is great for just gazing across Mounts Bay at any time of the day but by evening the light is softer, more subdued, with golden tones if you are lucky. My first 3 images are actually terrible, boring ,and not well composed, but I was trying to demonstrate, and see for myself, the difference  light can make to how  space is perceived. The 3rd image is saved somewhat from being too awful simply because of the tones.The top landing of the Gwelva is itself rather ugly, just a concrete seating area, the light later in the day beautifies the space, making it seem different than during the day. The whole essence of this space is the view from it, not the beauty of the seats, the light later in the day changes the whole ambiance of the image.

F4           1/1000           ISO 100            @28mm    Daylight WB

F4           1/800             ISO 200           @ 28mm   Shade WB  

F6.3         1/640            ISO 200                 @28mm        Shade WB

Looking at the affect light has on  colour. 

More images taken from the Top Gwelva landing looking down towards the bottom landing area. I wanted to capture and compare how light alters a space, and how the tones  create this. I took my images at midday and then later in the evening when softer, quieter, tones were created by the low sun and evening light (I was lucky with the weather) . By day this can be a very busy area but by the evening it’s use as a boat landing area has finished for another day and often quieter pursuits take place, I wanted to utilize the light to enhance this calmer mood and contribute to the final image. Light alters the colour spectrum throughout the day, often not perceived as much by the human eye, which is adept at adjusting quite quickly. The WB setting alters how the camera records tones and what setting to use is also important to consider if colour is integral to  how a scene is intended to be represented. (One big advantage of shooting Raw is if a mistake is made at the time of shooting at least the WB can be adjusted if needed) I like to use colour aesthetically, and find colour theory fascination, I hope to expand on this in assignment 3.

More people in the shot below would help show the business of the area , but the colour of the sea, and the  stoned landing are interesting to  compare to the  image taken later in the day

F6.3         1/320           ISO 100       @ 70mm         Daylight WB

Evening light/ The light has a soft golden glow, creating warm tones, that I feel add to the calmer, more contemplative, mood of the image below. 

F8          1/400              ISO 200              @ 47mm             Shade WB

The user’s point of view

Posted in Project work with tags on July 7, 2010 by Judy Bach

Spaces/rooms/buildings often have multiple users, and how they use the space will  therefore  be varied. When taking my photographs I tried  to consider these different facets , and how each user utilizes it individually. 

The Minack theatre in Porthcurno Cornwall is an outdoor theatre built into the cliffs overlooking a bay. It is a spectacular setting for performances , both for audience and actors. Additionally daytime visitors can wander around the impressive space that comprises the Minack. 

http://www.minack.com/                                 http://www.minack.com/dayvisitors/history.htm

 It is easy to take many photographs here, but how to show it from the users’ point of view?  Viewers of a performance are going to have a different viewpoint and observe their surroundings with a different perspective than perhaps a daytime visitor. The actors who perform here will obviously have another totally different point of view. I went to an evening performance and also returned later the following week as a daytime visitor to try and capture images that express a visitors viewpoint. Trying to capture an actors’ angle was more tricky, I had to try and think more laterally.

Being in the audience meant sitting on the outdoor terraces that surround the stage. From a users of point of view how well you could view the performance depended on how big the person was sat below you! Additionally the view beyond the stage is part of the scene enjoyed by the visitor, and therefore another aspect to consider including in the frame. Hence my photographs depict what I (the user) could see from where I was sat. Including people in my photographs is sometimes, I feel,  integral to understand the space from a users viewpoint. But does this make the images more about the people using the space rather than the space/building itself? As this is how a Minack theatre user views, and experiences,  performances  I feel it justifies their inclusion in the frame. If I had taken photographs of the stage, minus actors and the surrounding spectators, this would give a false representation of the users (my) point of view as a member of the audience that night. 

From a practical point of view photography was allowed but no flash, as the performance ran from 8-10pm I needed a reasonably fast lens and chose my 28-75 F2.8. I have got a couple of faster F1.8 prime lenses but wanted the versatility of a zoom .  As this exercise was about the space/building I did not take my longer lens, but regretted this as I really would have liked to get some close up shots of the performers’ on stage, even at 75mm it was impossible from where I was sat to do this. It was also difficult to keep taking pictures and enjoy the performance at the same time. Another problem was the gentleman sat in front of me to the left, he was quite tall and was also  taking photographs that he kept reviewing , I kept trying to see what he had caught!

F5.6          1/100                ISO 400   @ 28mm            Shade WB

F5.6             1/30                 ISO   400   @ 30mm

F5.6             1/160               ISO 400     @28mm       Custom WB @ 6881

Returning to the Minack the following week for a daytime visit I realised how different even an individuals perceptual experience can be of the same space/building .  With no performance taking place I was able to wander around the theatre that the previous week had been full to capacity with an audience and actors. Although busy there were far fewer people around than had been at the  evening performance.

The wonderful view across Porthcurno  is the obvious thing a visitor notices when first arriving but the most  striking initial visual feature to me, and what I chose to photograph to  represent a daytime users perspective, was the view from the top of the rows of stairs  cut into the cliff side that the visitor must use to look around the theatre  . I hate heights , the visible emptiness of the rows of seats somehow heightened the expanse and steepness between the top and bottom of the space that is the Minack theatre. The previous week with the seats occupied I was not too concerned about the height , or my safety. I was far more cautious on my return visit——–no people to break a fall! Below are  2 images taken from the top of the theatre.

 F8            1/320             ISO 200           @ 28mm     Daylight WB

@ F10

The image below was taken from the stage area looking back up towards the top of the theatre, this is also the view an actor on the stage must see, with an audience filling the seats it must be quite an experience acting on such an unusual stage.

F10            1/400           ISO 200        @ F10

The Gwelva landing is in Marazion, Cornwall, a space consisting of a seating area at the top and via steep steps for reaching the boats that ferry to and from St Michaels Mount at high tide The seating area is  also popular with visitors and locals alike for simply sitting and watching the world go by. I have tried to show both of these varied aspects in my images, trying to capture them from the users viewpoint. The Gwelva can be reached through a passageway from the main street in Marazion, and also at low tide via the beach. The view overlooking the Mount is breathtaking making this a very popular space to sit, contemplate, and enjoy a Cornish pasty whilst doing so. I visit Marazion at least twice a year and was here for 2 weeks in June hence it was easy to keep returning to this space to photograph it. The seats at the top of the landing are often very busy during the summer and although most visitors have cameras I felt uncomfortable sometimes taking photographs of them, I preferred to return later in the day when it was quieter with fewer people. If the tide is high enough the boats arrive at the landing space down below the seating area and this is a great vantage point from which to take photographs  of the boats and their human cargo arriving without being too conspicuous.     

The images below are intended to represent the viewpoint from the seating area of the Gwelva. I took the first three photographs whilst sitting on the benching area to try and recreate how the space is seen from this perspective. Taking images this way did not produce the most attractive viewpoint, but  I wanted to capture a view that conveys what is seen when simply gazing, without too much concern about the beauty of the place.

F8       1/320            ISO 100       @ 75mm

F6.3        1/640           ISO 200         @ 28mm

@ 47mm

I wanted to show another aspect of how people use the Gwelva landing.  Arriving by boat at the landing point must be quite daunting for some users. The step from a boat onto the bottom Gwelva landing is quite steep and looking up towards the seating area from the boats the distance must seem even more exaggerated .This is the aspect I most wanted to capture.As I did not use the boats myself I took the images below from the top landing looking down towards the boats as they ferried passengers back and forth. I concentrated on trying to get images that show the occupants of the boat looking towards the landing space, possibly thinking how well they would be able to negotiate getting of their vessel. A better viewpoint would obviously have been from the boat itself looking up, but I decided trying to photograph and deal with a boat were too much (I feel seasick just watching boats). However the images  give an indication of how this space is used.

F7             1/400                ISO 100              @ 70mm

F9            1/500                 ISO 100                      @73mm

F9      @ 73mm

The image below, taken when the tide had gone back out, shows the view from the bottom of the Gwelva landing looking back towards where the boats land and passengers alight. Not a spectacular image.

F9          1/320            ISO 100          @  28mm