Monday, 7 December 2009

Exercise 14: An Organised Event

It has been a while since I last posted, due to a number of reasons. One of which being a very busy period sorting things out for my photography business, but also because I've been looking for a possible event I could photograph for this. However weather, and the time of year have been against me, so I've decided I will do the write up about the folk festival I shot for the last two projects which I did also photograph with this project in mind.

I have shown a fair summary of the folk festival over these two exercises, from the movement, colour and of course the dancing in the first two wide angle shots, along with the slightly quirkier side with the morris dancer waiting outside the fish and chip shop in the third of these. I also feel the shots in the standard view exercise really show some of the individuals at this event. However I will add one more shot to the mix and that is below:

I feel this image shows the popularity of the event a bit more than the others, with the crowds on the far side of the morris dancers, and the way the morris dancers are just dancing anywhere on the streets, with here next to the post office, just on the pavement outside. It's certainly one weekend of unusual activity in Tenterden, and it does attract many people to come and watch.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Exercise 13: A standard view

The next exercise was to use a standard focal length for street images. For this I used my 50mm f/1.8 lens. Despite being my cheapest, I love this lens, as the creative possibilities with the shallow depth of field are endless, and I love being forced to move myself to compose, it makes me look for different images than I would otherwise. I took these photographs at the folk festival in my local town again.

The image above was taken during the parade in the folk festival. I thought this was a fairly quirky portrait, despite being noticed by the subject in the image, I feel it works well as an image, displaying the dress well, and capturing him looking into the onlookers as he walks down the high street.

This is the second image I chose for this exercise. These were street performers at the folk festival, musicians to accompany the dancers. While another photographer was with these people they had stopped playing for a minute while she tried to get them to pose for the shot she wanted. Whilst she was doing this I saw the opportunity where these two musicians were casually moving, but created a great composition in front of me, so I quickly grabbed the moment to show both the drummer and the other musician (not sure what the instrument is called!) together in their unusual dress (even for morris dancers!).

I really like the above image as it captures the dancer in perfect focus in the dance, staring straight ahead, but with an expression that denotes the internal concentration. The dancers in the background mirroring her moves also add to the picture, and give a good sense of the movement of the dance.

I enjoyed using this lens in street photography. I felt it was more me than the wide angle lens, as it gave a very good perspective on what I saw at the event. It also allowed me to identify individuals, but still show some of the scene they were in.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Exercise 12: Up Close and Involved

When I saw this exercise, I knew it would be very challenging to get up close, so I waited for an event where I felt more comfortable to do this sort of photography, using the wide angle lens. Below are a selection of images from the Folk Festival in my local town.

Although above is not strictly "up close" I felt it was a shot I couldn't resist taking. To see one of the morris dancers, in full dress casually leaning against a wall outside of a fish and chip shot. I felt standing back just a bit with my wide angle lens (sigma 12-24, on a full frame, so it is an extremely wide lens). I felt showing this in context with the fish and chip shop was the only way that it would work.

These dancers were dancing right in front of me. I was near the widest to fit the entire scene in. I felt this captured the atmosphere and movement in the dance very well, as I was so close, I almost felt a part of it myself.

Again this is a very wide angle shot. I deliberately took it so you could see the police car in the background as it added a bit of contrast to the image, with the men in bright white, traditional morris dancers, waving their hankies about, while the police stand on and watch.

It was uncomfortable to be so close to the people when taking the photographs, its completely the opposite to the telephoto, as it is impossible to stay unnoticed. I don't think I handled this as well as the telephoto project, but am still reasonably pleased with the images I did capture.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Exercise 11: Standing back

For this exercise I was in my local town of Tenterden. I used my small compact camera to help stay unnoticed, and as this had a powerful telephoto zoom, it was ideal for the job. Below are the four best images I took on the day
I think the four images above display quite a wide variety of actions, at a number of different locations. I found the actually challenge of taking the photos was tough. Despite the distance the telephoto lens gave me from the subject, sometimes it was still difficult to stay unnoticed. However the focal length gave a very good opportunity to isolate the subject from the scene, making it ideal for picking out individuals and small groups, which shows in the images that I finally settled on.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Exercise 10: Moment and gesture

For this exercise my comfortable situation was a round of pitch and putt with a few of my mates (first one I lost in a while as well, must be because of my attention was focussed on the photography and not the golf!). I thought this was the ideal situation to both capture people's emotions (we do get quite competitive) and the sense of timing with the ball being in the right position etc.

The above image I thought was a good capture. It shows the concentration of the player lining up his putt, but also the interest of his fellow competitors in the background. I think this image is succesful due to the position of the various points of interest in the frame.
I liked this shot which was actually taken on the final hole of the course. The player shown was putting for the win, and you can see in his face, him trying to exert his will on the ball to make it go in the hole. I thought this was a great shot that summed up the tension and competitive nature of the moment

Above we have the key moment in the game. Up to this hole (the 6th of 9) there was 1 shot between the four competitors, but above Tom sinks the putt to gain 2 shots on everyone else and the emotion showed. I think the timing and the framing of this shot were successful being able to capture the height of the celebration, but also the disgruntled opponent in the background

This was the final hole and the final shot of our round. The player taking the shot already new he could only finish second, but I thought the shot itself was good timing, with the ball just dropping into the hole, not the only shot I got like this, but certainly the best as each of the competitors is looking at the ball as it drops into the hole.

I enjoyed this exercise, it was a good way to notice the opportunites for interesting shots, practice the timing, and learn to read where there is the potential for emotion, action, and drama to occur, and be ready with the camera to capture the moment as and when it occurs

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Exercise 9: A comfortable situation

I thought I would try this exercise at a cricket match I was playing in for my local club. I often photograph the players as they are batting, whilst I myself am waiting to bat, so I thought I would try and capture a bit of the atmosphere too. I got three photographs below that I feel capture some of the atmosphere of the local cricket club.

Above is a picture of our groundsman, he was looking just past me. I was a bit uncomfortable with this photograph as although I was around people that are used to me being with a camera, I was not used to photographing them in close proximity. This I felt led to a bit awkward framing of the shot, and I haven't quite managed to get the groundsman, his pint, and his pipe in quite the right positions for my liking, as I really wanted these to be the focus of the image, and the end result is a little bit messy. However I quite like the personal connection within the photograph as it appears he is looking at the camera, and hence the viewer of the image.

Now having spent a bit more time in the situation, with my camera I was feeling more comfortable, and so were my teammates, allowing me to capture this moment, the classic batsman waiting for his innings, slightly nervous, and trying to relax, hence the cigarette in hand. I also like the way the man padded up is looking out towards the action, obviously taking a keen interest, whereas his teammate is playing with his fingers, looking away from the action, obviously not with so much of a personal involvment yet. I think this is a much better capture, once I had settled into the situation better and relaxed, and my teammates relaxing more helped as well.

This I was even more comfortable taking, being more distance between me and the action, and the photograph being taken would not even be noticed. This is the same batsman as who was padded up just returning to the pavilion after getting out. This is the contrast of emotions in a cricket match, the outgoing batsmen, downbeat after his innings has come to a premature end, and the new batsman, full of nerves and anticipation, yet trying not to show any of it as he heads out towards the pitch. I think my timing is good here, getting the two batsmen as they passed, but my position could have been further to my left, to seperate the batsmen heading to the crease, from the celebrating fielders in the background

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Research: David Bailey

Now for me, with the first project being on portraits, there is only one photographer I can look at. There are a number of excellent portrait and fashion photographers, Guy Bourdin (who I researched in a previous course), Annie Leibovitz, Cecil Beaton, Harry Peccinotti, but with having worked in a camera shop, and being a photographer, there is one name I hear all the time: David Bailey. The customer's favourite in the camera shop "I'm no David Bailey or anything", or the conversation on someone discovering I'm a photographer "oh so you fancy yourself as a bit of a David Bailey then?". If there is one man in photography, who could himself be considered a celebrity, it is certainly David Bailey.

David Bailey first took up photography when he was in his national service with the RAF, after the appropiation of his trumpet, he looked for other creative outlets, and bought a Rolliflex camera. Later he was determined to follow a career in photography and also bought a Canon Rangefinder camera, and he became a second assistant to David Ollins. His career took off while he was a photographic assistant at the John French studio when he was contracted as a photographer for Vogue magazine.

David worked himself to become what is probably recognised as the first "Celebrity Photographer" along with Terence Donovan who he worked with. David himself summed up his appeal very well; "The pictures I take are simple and direct and about the person I'm photographing and not about me." This really underlines David's sense of a portrait. He really looks to do more than just take a photograph, he looks to capture the essence of a person, or at least make the viewer of the photograph connect with the person in the photograph in some way. Again Bailey states; I don't care about composition or anything like that. I just want the emotion of the person in the picture to come across.... to get something from that person."

David Bailey as so many portraits to pick from, spanning many different types of person, every one is individual, there is no "photographic style" as such when it comes to Bailey in my opinion at least, there is just a varied assortment of very personal photographs, and I think this is where his appeal stems from. One of his most controversial images is that of the London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray:

This image portrays the Kray brothers exactly how you would imagine them to be; tough and confrontational. Bailey has manged to get the exact expressions to portray this from the two brothers, but also created an odd juxtaposition between the two, to create an unease about the photo.

This is another exquisite image by Bailey, he's taken a famous person (Jack Nicholson), got him into a fun pose, but only that controlled the light extremely well, to really mould the face. This is another key feature in Bailey's photographs. With his photographs of men he usually uses strong directional lighting, to pick up every line about the face, and gets them to pull strong fun poses. With women it is usually softer, less harsh lighting, to really give a soft, beautiful look to the skin. I shall post two more pictures below to emphasise this, the second being a self portrait by Bailey, which is just an excellent image of himself.

Unseen Vogue (edited by Robin Derrick and Robin Mur)

Monday, 29 June 2009

Exercise 8: Varying Pose

So for the eighth exercise, the last before the assignment, I was looking at poses. Again Emma agreed to be my model. I started off with a basic sitting pose, all the shots I took for this are shown here:

Generally this was an appealing pose. It's quite a casual look and is flattering. Below I will discuss the more sucessful variants of the pose

This is a very casual look, with the one leg on the sofa, and one dangling off. There are nice shapes and lines created through the body, and with the head turned, it also shows off the neck well and flatters the face. The hands could be improved, I think it may look better if the arms didn't cross over, and I think the second foot possibly should be visible, but apart from these, I really like this pose.

This is another casual pose, but I do not feel it is as successful as the first. Here a bit too much of the body is hidden and it feels a little awkward, the hands should be bought forward a little more to be more visible, and again not cross over. I also think I should have positioned the second leg on top of the first so both feet are visible again.

Here I feel the hands are much more successful, with the left hand pressing lightly against the cheek, so it doesn't create pressure on the skin, it looks rather graceful. The right hand round the leg possibly could be raised a bit more, so the line of the arm can be followed better however

This is just an extension of the previous pose, turning the head to the right has shown off the hand more. The fingers would look better if they were curled less, but apart from that the turned head has added to the feel of gracefulness in the image.

Next I headed down to one of my favourite settings, Dungeness, for a couple more poses, shown below:

For me I think the last image is certainly the most successful for the crouched pose. It's very casual, and with it being square on, very personal image. Both hands are visible and relaxed, and the whole body forms a very good shape. The second image is probably the least successful with the hands not particularly visible, and the general pose just looking a little awkward, the legs aren't quite angled right. the first and third images work well, but again I would probably look for a bit better placement of the hands.

Next I moved on to a standing pose, against a rather interesting abandoned building

The first of this set, the body is rather awkwardly twisted, and it doesn't quite feel right when viewing the image, twisting the body more towards the camera in the second image has worked well, however the hand on the wall would probably look better if pushed out further from the body so you could follow the arm. The third pose is very good, creating good lines that aren't too straight with the bent arm and the bent leg. The fingers are well placed, and it just looks very easy and natural.

The fourth and fifth photos are with Emma standing straight on to the camera. Both these work well, but in the fourth photo I feel Emma's left arm could be positioned slightly further away from her body, as it just is covered up a little to much. The last image is very casual, and easy on the eye, with the legs just spread shoulder width apart, and the thumbs in the pockets with all the fingers visible, it looks a very natural pose.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Exercise 7: Focal Length and Character

Now I moved onto the focal length project. I was using my Canon 24-105 IS L lens (on a 5d MKII, a full frame camera, so no crop factor is applied), so I took three shots, one at 24mm one at roughly 70mm, and one at 105mm. I decided to do full body shots, otherwise I would have been extremely close to Emma on the wide end of the lens:

This is the shot at 24mm, it has exagerated features that are close to the lens, such as Emma's legs. In this pose it doesn't work so well, is not particularly flattering, but if I was trying to emphasise the height of a model, shooting from low with a wide angle lens with really accentuate a models legs, and could be used to great affect. It also shows a lot of the background and Emma's surroundings, so would work well for showing the environment as well in a portrait. It also requires a fairly close working distance between photographer and subject, making it uncomfortable for the subject, often showing up in the photographs with slightly awkward poses.

This is the shot at 70mm. It is flattering, gives a very natural perspective on Emma, and Emma's features are very much true to life. This is very much a good focal length for a general portrai, giving very much a true to life view, if not slightly giving a flattening effect to the image. It also gives a good working distance between photographer and subject, not being too far apart, but far enough that it is easy for the subject to relax into a pose.

This was shot at 105mm, and it is a lovely focal length for a portrait. It has a flattening effect on the image, so all the features of the face are very appealing to the eye (no exagerating nose sizes like the wide angle does). It also gives a narrow field of view behind the sitter, so if there is a small area of attractive background (as there is here), it can really help make that part of the portrait. Overall this is my favourite focal length, because of the flattening effect it provides, though I would probably use it more for head and shoulders portraits because of the distance between the subject and the photographer require for a full body portrait is rather large.

Exercise 6: The best of a sequence

So I continued with my same model for this project (thanks Emma!) As I moved onto best of a sequence. I continued with a location I had used before, the back of my garage, as this also gave something for Emma to lean against whilst posing, making it easier for both of us. Below is a sample of some of the shots from the series I took:

This is at the end of the series. At the time I generally felt the expressions got better as the session went on, as Emma relaxed into it better, got the general idea I was after better too, and so did the poses. There were the odd anomaly where I caught Emma mid expression change, but generally those were my feelings. I chose to stop shooting with this last shot, because I felt I had acheived the best shot I was going to from the session with the last shot, and felt that it was best to finish on a high.

I have already sorted the images above, and already scraped the "not good" rated images (about 8 in total, mainly capturing with blinking eyes, or mid expression change). From above there are about 5 acceptable images, 6 good images, and the single best image being the last one shown, and shown larger below:

I felt this was the best image, as Emma had truely relaxed into the shoot at this stage, she is looking at the camera, with a lovely smile on her face, and her eyes are fairly wide drawing the viewer into the picture. Her pose is also very good, it is very relaxed, and aesthetically pleasing. Overall I think it is a very good result to obtain from the sequence of pictures.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Exercise 5: Eye-contact and expression

I moved onto exercise 5 and this time I got my friend and fellow photographer Emma to pose for me ( This time I was looking at eye contact within a photograph.

The first photography has direct eye contact with the camera. This gives a very personal feeling to the photograph, and combined with the very warm smile in this image, gives a very friendly, welcoming feel to the photograph

This next picture had emma looking up and slightly away from the camera. In my opinion I do not think this photograph works as well because it is slightly unflattering, with a lot of the neck on show, and the eyes are slightly less prominant in the picture, removing the personal connection.
Now side on is far more flattering, still looking slightly up, but the facial features are well presented, with the nose not breaking the cheek line. It gives a very classical feel to the image as well, and is less personal. It gives more of a feeling of capturing a moment in time rather than a posed portrait as well

Probably my favourite of the four photos, this one is looking to the side, but not up, instead looking straight. It again gives that classic, less personal feel to the picture, and the facial features are flattened slightly by the angle. I personally like a mix of images of straight on, looking at the camera, and turned away, looking away from the camera. Both have different feels, and both are images that work. Looking away from the camera needs to be controlled more carefully, for example the nose not breaking the cheekline, as this can look rather odd, but both posed right are portraits that I like.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Exercise 4: An active portrait

So yesterday I moved on to the active portrait exercise, and for once, I wasn't using my brother as the model. My friend, Chantal, is at university studying English and Philosophy, and she is aiming to become an author so I couldn't think of a better subject for my active portrait than Chantal, and to produce a "writer's portrait".

For this portrait, I sat Chantal at my desk with a few stragically chosen books (by Chantal) and a pad of paper and a pen and just asked her to write something, anything, that would get her to relax and into a natural writing pose. Whilst she started this, I set up the two lamps and allowed her time to settle, before looking for the best angle for the shot. I then waited for the right expression, and took a few shots as her expression changed. Below is the result of the shoot:

I am very pleased with this shot, the two lights were set up with one to Chantal's left, picking out her hair on that side and spilling into her face, and lighting the table somewhat and one on her right to mainly light her face and body, and the scene in general. I think this shot captures a natural writing pose, it is from a good angle where Chantal is clearly the subject of the picture, and she, and her writing, jump from the dark background.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Exercise 3: Experimenting with light

So I moved on to the third exercise the next time I had some free time. I had arranged for one of my friends to pose for me, but she had something else come up, so my brother had to suffice again! (just kidding, thanks Rob). The first image (below) was lit using window light on a cloudy day alone:

This is a fairly soft, but nice modeling light. It is reasonably directional, but just generally from the right hand side of the picture as it was a large window. It creates shadows on the left hand side of the nose, and face, and under the left hand side of the chin. It is appealing light, and models the face well.

Next I used the same light source, but I've added in a silver reflector on the left hand side of the picture to bounce light back into the face.

This is a very soft even lighting, with just enough modelling, but very few, and very soft shadows. This is very flattering lighting, and is a light I would use quite frequently with female sitters, as it gives a very soft look to the skin.

Next I used the blind to cut out the natural light and resorted to a flashgun. This light was bounced off the wall and the ceiling behind my head

This is an interesting lighting, it creates soft shadows under the chin, dimples in the cheek, and around the eyes. This isn't perfect, and would work better if a bit more light reached the eyes, but mimics daylight lighting quite well with the directional lighting from above.

Next I utilised some desk lamps I had laying around. This had one lamp directly behind the head, and one behind and to the right (looking at the photo)

This lights the narrow side of the face, causing the side of the face nearest the camera to be in shadow, and creates a rim light on the hair. This is a fairly dramatic lighting. This could maybe benefit with a bit more light reflecting back into the shadow just to lift a bit more detail from it, but this sort of lighting would be good for maybe a writers portrait as it is dramtic, and almost creates that dark work room sort of look.

The last shot I went for a shot with flash again, this time off camera and direct, from below and slightly to the left, using a fairly narrow beam

This has created a very harsh light, a very dramatic light, with very hard shadows on the left hand side of the face and nose, and a lot of the hair disappearing into the background. It creates the appearance that the sitter is almost emerging from the unknown. It does emphasise any imperfections on the skin though, so has to be used with care.