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)

Advertisements

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)

Exercise 2.6 – Part 3

A continuation of the exploration of people both near and far.

Again I am considering what genre of photography the style of image could be used for. This is not about whether the photos are good or not, but how the portrait impacts upon the photo.

With photo 1, I believe this would suit travel photography, some street and also family portraits, although the distance from the camera and the photo is not close enough to really benefit the third example. Often travel photography includes people in order to create an emotional impact that reminds the viewer that they and their loved ones could visit this beautiful place, and highlights the beauty if that place as well. In the second photo the telephoto brings the man closer to the front of the frame, and it also brings compacts the background, and again this could be used for travel photography. If we ignore the background then the position of the man would be useful for street and documentary photography, as well as showing people who are involved with an activity. The final photo is certainly better for formal and informal portrait photography, along with street and documentary. The second photo creates more emotional warmth for me than the others.

The people in the above photos are so distant from the camera that these could not be considered to be portrait photography. However, with the first couple holding hands, and then two couples walking on the beach, an emotional prompt is provided. For me there is a warmth. The positioning of the people could also encourage other emotional responses, depending on how they are involved in activity. They could be arguing, or throwing a ball, or one person walking on their own – throwing flowers into the sea. This means that the people can have a significant impact despite being so distant.

Exercise 2.6, Near nd FarExercise 2.6, Near nd Far

These last two photos are more about aesthetics, beauty and mood, and not so much about the people. If the fence was lower or the camera was higher than the people could have more of an impact. An evening romantic walk with a couple in the right position would make the photo better. I have seen editorial and stock photography that make use of these kind of images.

Exercise 2.6 – Part 2

As I mentioned previously, I do not have anyone to model for me at the moment, so I took these photos of the public on a trip to Whitby. The idea of thee brief is to have one person in differing positions in the frame and to consider the impact upon mood, narrative and visual impact.

Out of these three the first is more appealing to me, and I think this is because there is potential for the couple. There is a sense of beginning, go into and momentum. There are three exits that they can take, although from the way they are walking there are only two that are likely. It has a sense of movement and travel. It has a warmer emotional feel than photo three where the couple are leaving the frame. It does not mean that composing people similar to photo three doesn’t have its benefits, the positioning could represent goodbye’s, the end of a day out, companionship and to some extent even romance. The position of the couple in photo three is visually unattractive, and although they are moving physically (as can be seen by the positioning of their legs, the photo overall doesn’t talk of movement in the same emotional manner that the first two photos do.

The first photo, yuck, not nice, get away from my eyes. It’s a very poor tourist snap. The Abbey is the focus and the people are a distraction. Unless those two men were involved in some dramatic activity then they would have no reason to be in the photo. The second photo is cheesy, but I can still learn from this photo. Being so close to the front of frame, she is imposing, and my eye is also drawn between her and the Abbey so her presence creates some visual tension. Now the third photo I like, sort of. The camera and tripod were both quite low to the ground, and this means that there is more of a draw to the dog. Lower still would have been better, as being on the same level as the dog would have meant a doggy perspective, and with the dog looking at the camera that would have been good. However, the shot is also ruined by the two people standing by the whale bones. That’s street photography hey? No, not quite, because I was taking multiple shots  I had the same frame but with no people in them, so hey presto!!!

Now thats Better!

The position of the man means that he has more prominence in this photo, and with he and the dog both looking towards the camera then there is a touch of drama. The transitional space works well, and along with the other visual clues we can say that we have a man who has taken his dog for walk on the beach and is now going home. They don’t live in the town, but they come here regularly. It’s just a shame that the shutter speed wasnt fast enough to catch the dogs far side rear leg properly.

OK – so what do I say about photo one! Badly composed, have cropped the weather vane off of the top of the whale bones. Cheesy cliché – in this setting. So I will ignore the aesthetics and concentrate on the position of the people. They add some context and interest. The position is good for a full length portrait, and could be used for corporate photography, a wedding group. It would work better for a small group where the brief was to include clothing, but it would work better with a landscape perspective, especially for larger groups. The position of the closest group of people in the second photo would be good for street photography, to catch brief snippets of action where the activity is more important than the people. There is more of a feeling of distance between the people and the viewer, although the fact that they are talking and waiting for the couple walking up to them does create an emotional connection. However, the position of the couple walking up the steps is not good for portrait or activity based photography, unless they are involved with people closer to the front of frame. They would be too distant if they were on their own.

Exercise 2.6 – Near And Far

Brief: This exercise is about depth in the frame. Now you understand depth of field you can use deep focus to photograph a figure in an environment, combining portrait with landscape and emphasising the sense of space. Choose an interesting environment and think about the kinds of clothes your model should wear. If it’s a bright place like a beach, it would be good if the model wore dark clothes. If it’s a dark place like a forest, choose light clothes. The contrast in tone or colour will help the model stand out against the background. Aim to shoot a conclusive series of full-length and head-and-shoulders portraits using a foreground figure or face in front of a background scene plus a foreground space with a figure in the distance – with both areas in focus. If you have a DSLR, the lens may have distance increments that indicate the DoF in feet and metres; this will help you place focus. Place the figure in the edges and corners of the frame as well as in the centre and on the four points of the ‘golden section’. Be careful with your compositions, considering the shapes and lines in the background and how they interact with your model.

 

Currently I am not in a position to use a model for this exercise, so I have chosen a few photos that I have taken over the past year. None of these are good photos, they are practice shots that have been a part of developing my technique. These don’t fit the brief fully. The depth of field is poor. I will go out and complete the exercise without a model, because I would like the benefit of continued practice.

I prefer the second photo here, there is a sense of movement, the framing of the scene highlights the narrow lane and closely knit buildings. There is no intimacy in any of these photos, no connection with the people in them.

 

This series is more useful for my learning. Having been shot at the same location, with a slight perspective change, and having the lighthouse in each photo, means that I can gain more of an insight into how composition alters the understanding of a photo. There is nothing to be gained from the first photo. The couple are too far to the left, and too distant, and there are no points of interest. The lighthouse is left stranded and is rendered as a non interesting object.The second photo has more value. there may not be much of a story, but it is clear that we have a couple going for a coastal walk on a cold day. Their positioning on one of the golden sections and the light house on a third compliment each other. The fog horn in the centre is a distraction and yet it works. It creates a line between the couple and the lighthouse so my eye moves back and forward between them. The lighthouse is now part of the subject, and because of this its beauty can be appreciated. I find the third photo more pleasing though. The lighthouse is dominant and is a symbol of strength and importance, which reflects its former significance. There is more intimacy between my view and the fisherman than there is with the couple in the previous photo. Maybe it’s because I used to fish, or maybe its because he keeps the image maritime. The point of interest for me though is that a photographer can still create intimace between the viewer and the image even with a person far in the distance. The couple are important in the previous photo, but there is no intimacy there, no connection.

In this final photo the group of people are prominent, the head of the man being pointed at is in the golden area, his bike is in the centre of the frame. The viewer has more of an emotional understanding of and connection to this image. It raises a question for me, is this an argument? Is the pointer angry? What has happened on their journey? Is the car a distraction? Who cares. The photo isn’t a promotional photo of a motorbike, it’s the story of these three men and the questions that they raise.

Exercise 2.6