Exercise 2.9 A Night Portrait

Brief: Photographing at night represents a challenge for the photographer, particularly for making portraits. The low light means either having to increase the ISO, which could introduce grain to the image, or using long exposures that will cause blur. Most photographers would use flash carefully balanced with ambient light and a slight increase in ISO. Here, you’ll use all the methods at your disposal: High ISO (3200 and beyond), flash and long exposure. Photograph a model of your choice. You’ll need a tripod for the long exposures, and your model will have to stand as still as possible. Exposures can be several minutes long so there’s bound to be some blur, but this can be visually effective in itself. Make a full length portrait. But also use flash, high ISO and street lights, aim to create three finished photographs, although you’ll need to make many more than that to ensure success.

 

I will begin with my final three developed photos and then talk through six photos that demonstrate my learning in relation to the techniques.

Exercise 2.9 A Night PortraitAbove – Not a full length photo, but I like how the light from the iPhone has lit up Nicks face. Developing was completed using the Lightroom adjustment brush to reduce the light reflecting from the phone onto Nicks hand, a quick export to Photoshop meant that I could reduce the red light that was behind his head, reflecting from a phone charger which was plugged into the far wall.

Exercise 2.9 A Night PortraitAbove – The two lights provide a little hint that the guitar player was in the street, and I have reduced their exposure slightly. He was under-exposed so I have increased the exposure upon him, again using the adjustment brush.

Exercise 2.9 A Night Portrait

Above – The movement in the lights of the tree and the players hands are effective, although the movement in his face makes this a poor photo. However I like the background being more visible in this photo. It was taken at 1/3 sec, F9, ISO 320 and with flash. I wanted to include some of the background and had experimented with shutter speed and aperture to get the result close to what I wanted (the PDF of all of the photos that I took can be seen here). I have slightly decreased the background and foreground exposure.

EXIF Data – Left – ISO 320, 1/80, F4.5 – Right – ISO 320, 1/80, F5.6 – Both shots made use of built-in flash – The aperture is the important factor here. The wider F4.5 means that there is more light in the foreground, and I think that this makes it clear that the flash was used. The background appears similarly visible in both photos, although the exposure on the guitar player has decreased with the change in aperture.

 

EXIF data – Left – ISO 320, 1/3, F9 – Right – ISO 320, 1/100, F7.1 – Both shots made use of built-in flash – The longer exposure on the left photo captures movement, and combined with the aperture allows for background light. This means that we can see some of the buildings across the other side of the river. Although I widened the aperture for the second photo, the large change in shutter speed has removed the majority of the background light. This has the effect of highlighting the guitar player. It evidences that a photographer needs to be aware of how they want to make their image, and that it’s not simply that a wider aperture means more background light. Aperture and shutter speed (along with ISO) work together as a triangle to make an exposure. The guy was kind enough to let me take many photos of him so that I could try out different settings.

 

EXIF data – Left – ISO 640, 1/50, F1.8 – Right – ISO 200, 4, F2.2 – Both – no flash was fired – The ISO is related to how quickly the camera sensor responds to the light that hits it. The digital calibration is based upon traditional 35mm film, where an ISO of 100 reacted more slowly to light. This meant that the light would have to rest upon it for longer to get a similar exposure than a higher ISO film. However, the longer the light is on the film, or in this case the sensor, the better the quality of colour and less grain is produced. conversely, the higher the ISO, the faster the reaction to light, but less colour information is connected and more noise (grain) is produced.

The photo on the left has a higher ISO, and despite having a much quicker shutter speed, has captured a lot of the light in the background. A very quick reaction. The second photo makes use of a four second exposure and an ISO of only 200. There is a huge difference in background light collected.

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Exercise 2.7 People in Light

Brief: Take a series of photos of the same person in different kinds of light. Do this over a few days or so, certainly on more than one occasion. Aim to make at least nine photographs and mount them in a grid.

Grid

It has taken me a while to complete this exercise as I needed to wait until I was visiting friends. The majority of the photos were taken on the same day, Although the PDF’s have other photos that were taken on different days.

Having explored the effects of lighting as earlier research, and preparing for painting with light, I decided to focus on different coloured lighting. I prefer the results where I have under exposed the shot because the light highlights the face. When reviewing the PDF’s it is apparent that blue does bring out texture and therefore adds some character to the individual. Red and orange can make the skin look burned, although the very pale orange (immediately before the yellow, does provide a soft finish.

Could I use this type of lighting in the future? If I were completing some events photography with an amateur dramatics group, or with gothics at Whitby Abbey, or if I was creating a model portfolio where character and drama were important requirements.

I would very much like to complete this exercise again at Whitby Abbey, although I would need to work on my set up.

My equipment involved a tripod, remote shutter release, coloured shot glasses, gels, two torches, and black paper to create small snoots. Holding the gels to the torch was difficult and the snoots did not create the laser type light that I wanted. They provided a general coverage of light rather than direct and specific. I do not know how to improve upon this at the moment and any ideas would be gratefully welcomed. I experienced difficulty with holding the torch and snoot, whilst trying to activate the shutter. Previous elements of the course helped me to make use of shutter speed, ISO and aperture so that I could work towards the more focused light that I was looking for.

The mobile phone shot, photo two, is good. The light is very focused, and suggests that a small, rectangular light source, gels and diffuser, close to the model, could well be a way forward on improving this technique.

Exercise 2.12 – Pixel Painting

 

Steaming Happy – by Richard KeysExercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

This has been a lot of hard work, over two days, a lot of fun, a lot of frustration – and you know what? I am a happy bunny. Photoshop is definitely required for this kind of exercise, it can’t be done in Lightroom. Creating art with multiple images, converting to PNG, free transform, layer mask, warping, hiding the layer mask and then revealing with the paint brush – its something that I am not very skilled at and find frustrating. However, I have done it. I’ve read magazines, watched YouTube tutorials, and here is the final result after around 17 hours of work.

Working with layers, moving them, putting them in the right place is something that I have improved at, as has using the background eraser tool so that I can blend layers into each other, such as the train and the bridge coming out of the bottle.

Photos for first draft

Step one involved a free transform of the train (above), the quick selection tool and eraser. I created a larger canvas so that I could rotate the train so that it pointed slightly upwards. My initial plan was to create a scene where it was leaving the tracks and beginning to fly. The flame involved – menu select > colour range, then the add to selection and mousing over the desired colours, messing around with the fuzziness so that I got the edge that I wanted, then take away from desired colours so that I could eliminate the background. Once I had got the flames I tidied up the background with the eraser, saved as a png, then copied the png into the train picture. Free transform, warp, persective, and placed them where I wanted them at the front of the train. The flowers were done via the same process.

First Draft

Exercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

This morning I got my watercolour pencils out, and drew the viaduct, and photographed it (along with the bottle). I processed them in Lightroom using the adjustment brush tool, increased the exposure and the whites to maximum, sent them over to Photoshop, quick selection tool, delete the background, and then save as png files, and copied them into the first draft. The background eraser again was useful, and I reduced the hardness of the brush, so that I could slowly brush them into the bottle.

Photos for second draft

The sky was the more complicated part because it involved using the layer mask. In the first layer I changed the curves because I wanted a little contrast in the clouds, once I had finished this I pressed Ctrl J – to copy the layer. Then dragged the mask into the rubbish bin and created a new mask for hue and saturation. I love the colours. Following this I tried to use a brightness and contrast mask, but it didn’t work out.

Second Draft

Second-Draft

The flames look out of place and their lines are too sharp, so I decide to tidy them up. I have tried to use the Photoshop render clouds filter on a previous occasion and I did not like the result. The process is – menu layer > new > layer > then press shift f5 to create a fill layer, change the contents drop down to 50% grey and set the opacity to 50%, press ok.

**Go to the menu filter  > render > clouds. Menu edit > free transform, you can now change the profile, size and shape of the rendered clouds so they are in the position that you would like them. However, if you now right-click on the render clouds you are given other options, so that you can warp, distort and change perspective.

Next its menu layer > layer mask > hide all – and this means that you can now use the white paint brush to slowly paint in the clouds where you want them. It doesn’t really create clouds, but I have seen others use it to add mist to landscape photos with very good effect.

Photos for third draft

The clouds didn’t work for me (yet again) so I opened up a photo of a steam train, cloned the sign out, erased the background, so that all I had left was steam, then converted to png, and copied it into draft two. Then instead of render clouds, I used the same process (from **above) but with the steam. Brushing it back in took a while but it was worth it. I managed to reduce the harsh lines of the flames, and have the thicker part of the steam at the front of the train. I also cloned out the white line between the train and the viaduct, and spot healed marks on the neck of the bottle.

Third Draft

Exercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

The sky is very grainy and I would prefer it to be smooth. I went to menu filter noise > reduce noise, and in the drop down I changed the strength to ten and the reduce colour noise to 56%, returned back to the menu filter > blur > blur more, and then brushed that over the sky layer. I then repeated the filter blur process. The file has been saved as a psd so that I can go back and change any part of this piece of art in the future, but have also also saved it as a JPEG. Before saving a creative piece of work that has layers as a JPEG, you need to go to –  menu layers > flatten image and then ctrl alt shift and s to save for web (save for web embeds the colour profile).

 

Steaming Happy by Richard KeysExercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

 

 

 

Review – Nick Knight OBE

Nick Knight (1958)

Dolls, SHOWstudio 2000Fig. 1. Dolls (2000)

Initial Thoughts:- Bold, colourful, model, overpainting (digital or oil?) I think the overpainting is done with paints, on top of a photo, then uploaded and enhanced. Creative, mix of beauty, softness, brash and rough. The paint is slapped on, not without care, but the clothes have been roughly painted, other than the scarf, which is quite delicate. I both like it and dislike it. I find it beautiful and ugly, and I think that’s the point. Knight raises the question about beauty with this photo. What do we think is beautiful? Why? It’s a real smack in the face question about whether I, the viewer, sees beauty as only being skin deep.

 

Isabella Blow Fashion Galore Catalogue, Somerset House, 2013Fig. 2. Isabella Blow (2013)

Initial Thoughts:- My gosh. This is so clever, soft and delicate. Digital manipulation. The pixel painting has created a curtain type effect and this makes it appear that Isabella is partially in front of and behind a curtain. The colours are gold, red, black, grey (silver) and orange and they work well together, they compliment. They way Knight has manipulated the image makes the model look incredibly skinny, more so than what she is naturally. Her body is twisted and in profile, whilst her head and neck is just slightly turned. The pixel painting has not added anything new to the photograph. Instead there is a smooth smudging of what is already there. Linear marks. Other-worldly. It evokes thoughts of hovering between life and death, and says to me that the balance between the two states can be quite beautiful and precarious. A slight breeze and she moves beyond the curtain in either direction.

 

TR-NIKN-000179Fig. 3. Louis Vitton (1996)

Initial Thoughts:- Heroin chic, Photoshop colour replacement brush, elongated figure, her clothes hang off of her, her pastel turquoise skin has been over-painted, and is not a result of lighting. I strongly dislike this photo. It reminds me of illness, of anorexia, of substance misuse. It appears to me that Knight is making a political statement against the so-called beauty of the heroin chic era/model/look. This photo was made in the heart of that era. Pretty beautiful or pretty ugly is the question that I feel that I am being asked. It also feel like this photo is deliberately made as a parody, a piss take, a reaction against the trend.

Knight does not believe that photography is or has ever been a medium of truth. Photography is always a creation between the participants i.e. the photographer and the photographed.  Although on first viewing of his site, all of the models appear to be thin, and beautiful, he has photographed people of all ages, and sizes, ethnicity and disability and he believes that all people are equal. He tries to push and challenge himself with his photography, and this includes the challenge as to what is beauty really? As for digital manipulation, he sees this as being a step forward. Photographers have always enhanced and manipulated their photos, but the digital ages makes this more easily possible. He says “Photographers aren’t machines that have no feelings and no opinions, they’re storytellers; they manipulate the reality in front of them to tell you something interesting about it – and that holds true of everyone from Diane Arbus to Helmut Newton.”(Frankel, S; 2009).

Knight is a very popular fashion photographer, and this is because he is both complimentary and conceptual, and he has an extensive CV. He founded SHOWstudion.com in 2000, and this is an online, interactive fashion studio, with many creative collaborators. He has also directed music videos for Bjork and lady Gaga (famousphotgraphers.net; 2017).

Illustrations

Figure 1; Knight, N; 2000; Dolls; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2007)

Figure 2; Knight, N; 2013; Isabella Blow; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Figure  3; Knight, N; 1996; Louis Vitton; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

References

famousphotographers.net; 2017; Nick Knight; Online AT: http://www.famousphotographers.net/nick-knight (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Frankel, S; 2009; The Fabulous World of Nick Knight; Online AT: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/the-fabulous-world-of-nick-knight-1809790.html (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Robertson, E; 2017; Nick Knight “I commit with my heart and soul”; Online AT: http://the-talks.com/interview/nick-knight/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Wikimedia Foundation Inc; 2017; Heroin Chic; Online AT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin_chic (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Exercise 2.11 – Split Contrast – Part 2

The brief for the exercise is at the bottom of this post.

Having tried my prefered Lightroom technique for part one, I have now followed the instructions for the Photoshop process, which is outlined in the brief below. Photoshop and layers are something that I find quite technical and complex, so I don’t make as much use of it as I could do. I tend to use it to tidy up photos that I have developed in Lightroom, such as using the clone, heal, brightness and contrast tweaks.

This development process felt very awkward, and why on earth does the brief ask us to create a black and white layer? Yes this is good if you intend to keep your photo black and white, but when keeping an image colour then the black and white layer hides the damage that you are doing to your colours. My first attempt was with the black and white layer, the second is without, next comes the “without” alongside the photo that I developed in Lightroom, and my final image is where I have cloned and combined image.

Exercise 2.11 Split Contrast I tried to follow the instructions as to the layer mask and using the black and white brushes, but I wasnt successful. I didn’t mask out the buildings on the layer that I darkened, and I overused the dodge and burn tools in the sky. Once finished I removed the black and white layer. So not nice Richard. Please try harder!

Exercise 2.11 Split Contrast For this attempt I did not use the black and white layer, and developed the photo in colour. Instead of using curves adjustment layers to darken and lighten, I used levels. I find the curves a whole lot easier in Lightroom, and Levels in Photoshop. Am I weird or what? I was much better with the layer mask along with the hide and reveal brushes. Not perfect but I do find the sky quite appealing, if a touch blue.

Do I have a preference between the first photo (Photoshop) and the second (Lightroom)? I prefer the sky from Photoshop and the foreground from Lightroom.

Here is the final photo in which I have cloned the sky from Photoshop into the foreground of Lightroom.

Final

 

Brief: Split contrast is another darkroom technique that’s much easier to achieve in the digital domain. Use it to add drama to your pictures or to correct problems in exposure, for example an over-exposed sky over a correctly exposed landscape. You’ll need a good image editing program like Photoshop to do advanced work like this because it involves using layers. Choose a photo to work on that has a bright sky like the image below. Make the photo black and white, as this emphasises the tonal differences in the image. If you use a Black & White Adjustment Layer, you can delete it later to return the image to colour. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and increase the contrast, making the dark tones darker and the highlights brighter – as you learned in Part One. Rename this Layer ‘High Contrast’. Select the Layer Mask and use the Brush tool to paint black paint (black subtracts your change in contrast from the image). You can also lower the opacity of the brush to paint shades of grey that will let some of the contrast through the mask. Add another Curves Adjustment Layer and make the image darker. Also change the Blending Mode of the layer to Multiply. Select the Layer Mask and paint black paint everywhere you want to not be affected by this darkening layer. In the image opposite, it’s almost all the image but the sky and the figure. Note here that the area on the horizon has not been affected by the increases of contrast or darkening. In other words, the picture retains its contrast in some parts but it’s increased in others. You could use this to make one part of the image high contrast and the other low contrast. This could help with a photograph that includes, for example, both an interior scene lit by diffused artificial light as well as an exterior lit by strong sunlight. The Dodging & Burning Layer (this is a non-destructive way to dodge and burn): Create a new layer, then choose Edit> Fill> and choose 50% Grey. Change the layer blending mode to Overlay. Change the brush opacity to 20% or less. Now use both black and white paint on this layer to dodge and burn, brighten and darken the image. If you want, delete the Black & White adjustment layer to return the photo to colour. You can only master techniques like these through practice; use some of your old photographs as practice material.

Exercise 2.11 – Split Contrast

Brief: Split contrast is another darkroom technique that’s much easier to achieve in the digital domain. Use it to add drama to your pictures or to correct problems in exposure, for example an over-exposed sky over a correctly exposed landscape. You’ll need a good image editing program like Photoshop to do advanced work like this because it involves using layers. Choose a photo to work on that has a bright sky like the image below. Make the photo black and white, as this emphasises the tonal differences in the image. If you use a Black & White Adjustment Layer, you can delete it later to return the image to colour. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and increase the contrast, making the dark tones darker and the highlights brighter – as you learned in Part One. Rename this Layer ‘High Contrast’. Select the Layer Mask and use the Brush tool to paint black paint (black subtracts your change in contrast from the image). You can also lower the opacity of the brush to paint shades of grey that will let some of the contrast through the mask. Add another Curves Adjustment Layer and make the image darker. Also change the Blending Mode of the layer to Multiply. Select the Layer Mask and paint black paint everywhere you want to not be affected by this darkening layer. In the image opposite, it’s almost all the image but the sky and the figure. Note here that the area on the horizon has not been affected by the increases of contrast or darkening. In other words, the picture retains its contrast in some parts but it’s increased in others. You could use this to make one part of the image high contrast and the other low contrast. This could help with a photograph that includes, for example, both an interior scene lit by diffused artificial light as well as an exterior lit by strong sunlight. The Dodging & Burning Layer (this is a non-destructive way to dodge and burn): Create a new layer, then choose Edit> Fill> and choose 50% Grey. Change the layer blending mode to Overlay. Change the brush opacity to 20% or less. Now use both black and white paint on this layer to dodge and burn, brighten and darken the image. If you want, delete the Black & White adjustment layer to return the photo to colour. You can only master techniques like these through practice; use some of your old photographs as practice material.

 

OK – To be honest I find this whole process easy and more intuitive by using Lightroom. It’s quite straight forward – grad filter, adjustment brush and global adjustments. A simple process. Simple I say. However, I would like to learn the Photoshop technique so I will practice that on a photo later.

Here are my light room results. The first photo is the original and the second is the developed.

Exercise 2.8 – Fill Flash

Brief: Flash isn’t just useful to illuminate a dark scene, but to bring out a foreground subject with a flash that is balanced with ambient light – be that sunlight or artificial light. You can see many examples of fill-flash in Martin Parr’s photographs at www.martinparr.com You can use an on-camera flash or an external flash for this exercise. Take a subject – a person for example – and frame them against the sky. Make sure the sky is either a cloudy sky or the most intensely blue portion of the sky – on the opposite side from the sun. Put your camera into Manual mode and activate the flash. Flash units usually give you different strengths of flash output: minimum, medium and maximum, for example. You may want to experiment with these later, but for now use medium. Take a photograph of the subject and review it. Is the person’s face too bright and over-exposed? Is the background sky too dark? Now balance these two elements. At slower shutter speeds the background will become lighter. At fast shutter speeds, the background will be progressively underexposed (darker). To change the illumination on the subject use a combination of flash output and aperture (f-stop) to darken (close aperture) or lighten (open aperture) the foreground subject. The balance is achieved because the flash will illuminate the f/g subject by the same amount whatever the shutter speed. But the shutter speed will change the b/g.When you have a balance you like between the subject and the background, take a short series of pictures varying your position from close to distant. You’ll need to make adjustments to the aperture or flash output strength when you change the distance between you and the subject due to light fall-off.

This has not been easy for me to do for a couple of reasons. I don’t have any one to model for me, and I have not used flash before. It took several times of reading the brief, and my camera manual to understand how to use the flash. This is something that I will continue to practice.

The instructions in the brief are quite clear now that I have gone out to practice, but whilst doing so I found it tricky. I do find it awkward to ask people to model for me becuase of the anxiety that I experience, and I am not good at talking with people once I have asked them. Because of this I don’t think that I put people at ease. Maybe I am being a little hard on myself, there were some people who were easier to ask than others, and easier to talk to as well. In fact, those that agreed to have their portrait made are interested in my studies and become quite engaged. It wasn’t easy to remember whether I wanted to change the shutter speed or aperture or both, and whether I wanted to lighten or darken the background or the person. But its practice.

This gent was wonderful, relaxed, easy to talk with. I took a set of photos and we chatted for a while, he laughed, and this brought out the cheeky side to his character, so I re-shot him. He is my pick of the bunch.

This first series was practicing with changing the shutter speed to allow more background light in. I didn’t adjust the aperture because I wanted to see how shutter speed affects flash photography. The aperture was f7.1 for each photo, shutter speeds were 1/250, 1/125 and 1/80. These don’t work as photos, but if I had stepped down the aperture to f11 or slightly beyond then they would have been more correctly exposed.

 

The following were all 1/80 sec, and I changed the aperture so that it affected the amount of flash allowed through to the subject. By reducing the aperture size the background lighting is also reduced. The apertures were f11, f16 and f22.

 

This is the better photo. Better exposure, and more relaxed following the laughter. ISO 100, f22, 1/80.

Exercise 2.8 Fill Flash (22 of 29)

 

For the next series, the first three photos were all f6.3, and the shutter speeds were 1/25, 1/60 and 1/160.

In the following the shutter speed was 1/160, and the aperture was f9 and then f13. I prefer her smile on the first photo (below) when compared with the above, although the exposure for her face is better in the third photo above.  I think the first photo below would look good if I had shot it at f9 with a shutter speed of 1/100. All of the photos on this blog have been through Lightroom for camera and lens calibration and then exported to reduce size, with no further changes. I needed to explore and understand the effects of the technique rather than develop the photo.

 

Side lighting

One of the great benefits of fill flash is that you can reduce shadows and improve exposure, to gain a more balanced skin tone,when a person is lit from the side. For this set I adjusted the aperture and shutter speed to try to create balanced lighting. However, I didn’t account for the fact that a waiter was serving to the left of and behind me and this created different shadows in each photo. If I concentrate on the face then I am aware that although one side is more brightly lit, the shadow is reduced on the opposite side of his face when I have the exposure right. I am ignoring the middle photo with regard to balanced lighting on the face, as the shadow eliminates the side lighting. Data is:- f9 1/50, F9 1/100 and f13 1/100. The f13 in the third photo is better for the face, but the shutter speed could do with being a bit slower to lighten the background. The background is very distracting, however, he was sitting down having coffee with his wife, and I am very grateful that he allowed me to interrupt.

 

Back lighting

Having a subject back-lit can make it easy to create good subject exposure because the flash is the primary light source. That said, sun spot/flare and over exposed background then rear their ugly heads. For the next set I adjusted aperture and shutter speed to try to gain the correct exposure.  f11 1/250, f9 1/160, f7.1 1/160 (photo three would work better with a darker background i.e. f7.1 1/250).

Summary

From reviewing these photos, it is noticable that the background lighting is gradually increased or reduced with changes to the shutter speed. With the altered aperture the increase or reduction is more significant. I need to practice this exercise frequently until I become accustomed to changing both aperture and shutter speed so that I can alter the foreground and background lighting in a manner that is appropriate for the scene I want to shoot and the effects I want to create.

Exercise 2.10 – Dodging and Burning

Brief: Dodging and burning is one of the most widely-used darkroom techniques: Dodging refers to lightening a part of the image. Burning refers to darkening a part of the image. These techniques are useful because they allow you to subtly improve the lighting and shadows in a picture. In extreme cases dodging and burning can be used to totally rebalance a composition and remove unwanted distractions by darkening them to black. Take one of the night portraits you made. Open it in Photoshop. The dodging icon looks like a lollipop. The burning icon usually looks like a small hand with thumb and forefinger in a circle. Identify which part of your photo is the most important point – usually the face in a portrait. Use the dodging tool to lighten it so that it’s the lightest part of the composition. If the face is already too bright, dodge other important details that you want to bring out, or go straight to the next step. Identify which is the background of the image. Use the burning tool to darken your background plus any elements you want to be less visible. Continue to use the burning tool to darken any areas that detract attention from the portrait, e.g. something bright or vividly coloured in the environment.

I have not taken the photos for the night portraits as yet, so I have used the dodge and burn on another recent photo. For this exercise I have used Lightroom rather than photo shop. The Lightroom adjustment brush has presets for burn -.30 exposure, and for dodge +.30 exposure.

Original

Exercise 2.6, Near nd FarI like the sun on the houses in the background, but the people and the foreground is too dark, and I wanted to darken and add some blue to the sea.

Dodge

Exercise 2.6, Near nd FarI used the adjustment brush with the Auto mask on, and brushed over the couple, the wall and the paving, pressed the “o” key to get a colour overlay of the affected area, then used the erase brush to tidy up the edges where I had gone slightly into the sea.

Burn

Exercise 2.6, Near nd Far I have again used the adjustment brush to burn into the sea, and to add a touch more blue.

Final

Exercise 2.6, Near nd Far

For the final photo I have straightened the horizon, burned into the sky and increased the saturation as well as reduced the temperature.

Picture Analysis – The Conversation

The-Conversation-Alahua-FL-2006 Fig. 1. The Conversation (2006)

Write a visual description of the photograph above using short phrases and descriptive keywords.  The four key elements you should describe are: facial expression, posture and gesture, clothing, location. What do you associate the women’s dress with? Are you making any other associations? You may be confused by this photograph because it throws up visual signs that appear to be ‘in the wrong place’. Can you pare down this photograph to a series of signs? For example, where do the women look like they originate from? What does their costume, jewellery and make-up say? What about the building in the background? Does it look ancient or contemporary? Does this photograph seem posed to you? Perhaps it is reminiscent of images by nineteenth-century photographers like Henry Peach Robinson or of painters like Raphael. The photograph is from a series called Constructing the Exotic. How does this title resonate with the photograph? Do the women look contemporary? What do you make of their poses? Have a look at the whole series at www.michaelbuhlerrose.com. How does viewing the whole series affect your reading of this particular image?

Four women sitting on the grass appearing to be engrossed in a conversation. Three other women sitting or standing around some wooden stairs leading from a prefab building. The women are in bright coloured clothing, which appears to be from south-east Asia. The clothing could be described as traditional or national dress. The women in the foreground create a leading line towards the centre of the photo, this then draws the eye  up to the three women on the stairs. There are trees and shrubbery in front of the building and trees behind it. Although the background is quite messy, the bright clothing that the women are wearing keeps the focus upon them. The three women in the background do not appear to be involved with each other, the one on the step is scowling, the one standing in front of the door is gazing towards the camera, and the third is facing her with her hands on her hips. I have not spent a lot of time travelling south east Asia, but the trees do not look native. I would hazard a guess that the photograph was taken in the UK.

The four women at the front of frame appear to be quite natural in the expression and conversation, but the three at the back look staged because of their posture. Six of the women are caucasian, the other is brown and possible from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia??? This would suggest that the photo is staged and the women are not wearing clothes that are their own national dress. However, the world is a multicultural place, I know of many white English people who were born and grew up in Asia.

I am going to say that the photo is staged. With the conflict between different postures, the apparent location, the national dress and skin colour, and the fact that the photo is from a series called “Constructing the Exotic”.

I have just had a look at Buhler-rose website and he says “In these images western women who were raised either within the Indian subcontinent itself or simply born into its socio-religious heritage become, in one sense, the ‘other’.”

Here are a couple of photos that I have looked at as comparisons with regard to the traditional dress.

Andi AndreasFig.2. Asmarandana Dancers (2017)

These dancers are wearing Indonesian dress. The clothing is similar to the Indian dress in The Conversation, more important for me is the posture. Their hands specifically are held in a pose that would come from traditional dance moves. The Indian women from The Conversation are not.

Bharatanatyam-1_1Fig. 3. Bharatanatyam Classical Dance (Eshita Picture)

There are many forms of traditional Indian Dance, and Bharanatyam is possibly the most traditional of all. The clothing that the woman is wearing is similar to that of The Conversation, but she has a more authentic feel, and the bracelets, the henna on her fingers and the henna tattoo on her feet leave me with that impression.

Buhler-Rose may have photographed women who were either born or raised in the Indian continent and culture, but they have a westernised feel despite their traditional dress. They may be having a break from dance lessons, and would therefore be relaxed, their hands would not be held in a mudra, but I am left with a feeling that they are not as immersed in the Indian culture as Buhler-Rose suggests.

Illustrations

Figure 1; Buhler-Rose, M; 2006; The Conversation; At: https://news.syr.edu/2014/03/new-geographics-features-photography-of-michael-buhler-rose-56929/ (accessed on 23/11/2017)

Figure 2; Adreas, A; 2017; Amarandana Dancers; At: https://andiandreas.hk/2017/11/07/asmarandana-dancers/ (accessed on 23/11/2017)

Figure 3; Bharatanatyam Classical Dance (Eshita Picture); At: http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-dance/classical/bharatnatyam.html (accessed on 23/11/2017)

Exercise 2.8 – Fill Flash

This exercise is about understanding when and how to use fill flash, and understanding how to manipulate lighting in doing so. The brief says “You can see many examples of fill-flash in Martin Parr’s photographs at http://www.martinparr.com”

How do you spot when a photographer has used fill flash? To be honest I think this is something that will come with time, and I do not feel very competent with this at the moment. I have given it a go, but I feel that the most important thing right now for me is to practice. I have spent a couple of days reading about and practicing using the flash on my camera, and I now need to get outside and find some people to practice with.

Here are three attempts at seeing how Parr has used fill flash.

PAM2017001G02288Fig.1. Gift shop in the Museum of the Revolution (2017)

1 – The mans upper arm is slightly shiny, although there is a shadow upon his shirt below the arm, there is no shadow falling on the table at all. This suggest the whole scene is has diffused lighting, and the shadow has been cast by the flash.

2 – It appears as though there is a narrow light source, the flash, reflected in the mans glasses.

3 – Good natural day light from the rear. This does not mean that there is not another light source, but what ever other source there is is not creating shadows.

PAM2017008G00840 Fig.2. Moschino. Milan Fashion Week. Italy (2017)

1 – Reflection from the flash.

2 – Light drop off, suggesting that the room was dark, and the aperture was small.

PAM2014012G12595 Fig.3. Lincoln College Ball (2016)

1 – The strong purple light suggests that the ball is dimly lit.

2 – The faces of the couple have good lighting and skin tone, with some reflection on the womans arm.

3 – The shadow shows that the mans arm is lit from the flash on the camera.

Illustrations

Figure 1; Parr, M; 2017; Gift shop in the Museum of the Revolution; At: https://www.martinparr.com/recent-work/ (accessed on 22/11/2017)

Figure 2; Parr, M; 2017; Moschino. Milan Fashion Week. Italy; At: https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/fashion/martin-parr-people-watching-in-milan/ (accessed on 22/11/2017)

Figure 3; Parr, M; Lincoln College Ball; At: https://www.martinparr.com/recent-work/ (accessed on 22/11/2017)