Saturday, 29 September 2012

Assignment 2: Elements of design

The purpose of this assignment is to display an understanding of the various graphic elements explored throughout the chapter and exercises. I really enjoyed working through the exercises, and I think I've become more visually aware as a result. Things I struggled to pull out of scenes at the beginning now leap out at me. Which can be a little disconcerting!

One of the suggested groups of subjects was 'Street details' which I chose as I love to roam the streets with my camera, hunting out shots. I stretched the definition of 'street' a bit to incorporate my local indoor market as it's a rich source of interesting images (and near work so handy for lunchtime shooting). It was suggested for this assignment to avoid situations which appealed because of their colour, so I have chosen to present the photos in monochrome.

Single point dominating the composition:

Although there are several light sources in this shot that could potentially be classed as points, I think it's fair to say the 'left turn only' sign dominates the composition.
Canon 5Dii 50mm f.2 1/500 iso500

Two points:

I like the contrast between the blown highlight of the streetlamp, and the dark patch of exposed brickwork.The shadow of the pole on the wall adds depth to the image.
Canon 5Dii 50mm f.4 1/25 iso500

Several points in a deliberate shape:

I was inspired by the talk the artist Mishka Henner gave at a study event I attended in Leeds to 'appropriate' this mural by a local gastropod artist. Judging by the way it ends rather abruptly I'm not expecting any litigation.
Fujifilm X100 35mm f.5.6 1/125 iso400

A combination of vertical and horizontal lines:

The entrance to a high street shop, shot at dusk to allow the architectural lighting to stand out.
Fujifilm X100 35mm f.2 1/240 iso400


Again shot at dusk to allow the artificial light from the interior to contrast strongly with the dark exterior.
Canon 5Dii 50mm f.4 1/4 iso100


I think this is quite a dynamic image with the curves sweeping through the frame.
Fujifilm X100 35mm f.2.8 1/125 iso200

Canon 5Dii 50mm f.2.5 1/50 iso250
I also decided to include this, which as well as featuring several strong curves, works on a much deeper level. It's difficult for the mind not to wander when presented with such a decontextualised symbol of loss. That it's on a staircase takes on a significance.

Distinct, if irregular shapes:

This took some head scratching, but I'm happy with the irregular shape formed by these lights.
Fujifilm X100 35mm f.2 1/1000 iso400

Implied triangles:

Sometimes you see a shot coming, and the pleasure when it falls into place exactly as you'd hoped is incredible. I doubt I could have staged this any better.

Canon 5Dii 50mm f.2 1/125 iso500

The power lines of the railway on the left of these converging lines add interest to the composition.
Fujifilm X100 35mm f.4 1/2000 iso400


I experimented with a tighter crop for this, but decided it was balanced better by including the packets of tights.
Canon 5Dii 50mm f.3.5 1/50 iso320


I like to think of this as a recession era version of Andreas Gursky's 'Prada I' (1996). If any art collectors are reading this, make me an offer.
Canon 5Dii 50mm f.2.5 1/100 iso100


This assignment was a very productive experience for me, I've learnt to see with more awareness. 
I'm fairly happy with the work I've produced, I think it's more consistent than my previous work which was flagged by my tutor as something to watch. It was also suggested I try and use light more effectively and I think I've succeeded in using it to enhance my images.

I've still got a long way to go regarding my time management but I don't think that's had much of a negative affect on my work this time.

I'm very much looking forward to the next assignment, which is Colour. I've been shooting pictures for it alongside the work I've done for this project, and I'm really pleased with some of them. It'll be interesting to see if any of them make it into my final selection for the assignment.

Exercise: Rhythms and patterns

 Canon 5Dii 50mm f.5.6 1/125 iso100

Canon 5Dii 50mm f.5.6 1/50 iso500

Exercise: Real and implied triangles

Real Triangles:

A subject which is itself triangular (alright, it's technically a pyramid but hey, from this perspective it's triangular!):
FujiFilm X100 35mm f.8 1/550 iso200

A triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame. I shot a symmetrical version of this by looking straight up the building, but I prefer this more dynamic version:
FujiFilm X100 35mm f.11 1/125 iso250

An inverted triangle by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame. I spent a long time trying to think of something other than looking up at ceilings or the sky between buildings but drew a blank and went for this rather obvious shot:
FujiFilm X100 35mm f.4 1/600 iso400

Implied Triangles:

A still life arrangement to produce a triangle with the point at the top:
Canon 5Dii 43mm f.4 1/13 iso800 flash bounced off ceiling

A still life arrangement to produce a triangle pointing down:
Canon 5Dii 63mm f.2.8 1/60 iso800 flash bounced off ceiling

Three people forming a triangle (or is it four? who knows!):

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Exercise: Implied lines

I think the implied line of vision in this photo is very strong and makes for a well balanced image despite the unconventional framing.
 FujiFilm x100 35mm f.4 1/1000 iso800

The lines along the top and bottom of the windows on the left converge to point strongly to the single window on the right.
FujiFilm x100 35mm f.2.8 1/400 iso800

Exercise: Curves

I enjoyed this exercise, although I found it challenging finding interesting curves.

FujiFilm x100 35mm f.4 1/2000 iso400
FujiFilm x100 35mm f.2 1/600 iso800
FujiFilm x100 35mm f.3.6 1/200 iso320
FujiFilm x100 35mm f.5.6 1/20 iso200

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Exercise: Diagonals


L-R: The fairly wide angle lens used increases the effect of linear perspective to create the strong diagonals.
This shot of army trucks utilises choice of angle and perspective.
The shadows were captured at their strongest and most angular.
The diagonal legs frame this shot perfectly.

Exercise: Horizontal and Vertical Lines

Horizontal Lines:

L-R: Looking down on these leaf-strewn steps, I chose to compose the picture so that the lines ran horizontally across the frame.
The lines of the brickwork, the kerb and the road markings reinforce each other.
I spotted this shadow at the point it was exactly in line with the base of the building.
I think the tautness of these fence wires is conveyed well in this image.

Vertical Lines:

L-R: I think despite the conflicting horizontal and diagonal lines, the vertical drainpipes are the strongest element in this shot.
I liked the simplicity of this cornflower.
These worklights make for a striking image when underexposed to remove everything else in the frame from view.
The strong vertical line of this vehicle door balances well with the other elements.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Exercise: Multiple points

This was an exercise in positioning several small objects in a still-life.
I was mindful of my tutors advice to make better use of light, and waited until the sun was quite low to create shadows which help to give the poppy heads shape.

Exercise: Positioning a point

These photos demonstrate the three classes of point position;

Centre, which although static, is often used by photographers seeking a 'snapshot' aesthetic.

Off centre, this is the most commonly used composition, as it is dynamically interesting while being balanced.

At the edge, which normally jars visually, but is sometimes justifiable, as in this image where the security camera has an implied line of sight which helps balance the frame.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Exhibition: Various - The Great British Public

White Cloth Gallery, Leeds, 28/08/12

This was a great exhibition, showcasing the work of several photographers, previously shown at the London Festival of Photography.

I was particularly inspired by Zed Nelson's 'Hackney: A Tale of Two Cities', a fantastic collection of images demonstrating the disconnect between old and new Hackney. It really inspired me to start seeing my photos as more than single images and to try and create coherent bodies of work. Also the fact that Nelson had lived in Hackney all his life demonstrated that one doesn't always have to look very far for inspiring subjects.

While I was at the gallery I got talking to the attendant who turned out to also be doing a photography degree. She told me about lots of interesting events planned, including an open crit session run by one of the tutors from her course. I'm looking forward to getting involved in as much of what they have to offer as possible!

Exhibition: Peter Dench - England Uncensored

White Cloth Gallery, Leeds, 28/08/12

I didn't take to this work at all really, I found it quite unpleasant. It's difficult not to compare Dench with  Parr, and for me this comparison does Dench no favours. While Parr shows us his subjects and allows us to make up our own minds about them, Dench leaves us in no doubt as to his opinion on his fellow man, which is invariably pretty low.

Perhaps it is unfair to judge this work in this way, although the program notes cite Parr as an influence so maybe not.

Exhibition: In the Blink of an Eye

National Media Museum, Bradford, 15/08/12

This was a rather fleeting visit, being more of a family excursion than a study trip, but I saw a few interesting works. The exhibition was concerned with the relationship between both photography and film, and movement.

Part of the exhibition demonstrated photographers attempts to freeze time, from the methods used by early photographers such as Roger Fenton to hold people still for long enough to be sharp in the long exposures necessitated by the technology of the time, to photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Egerton's work making visible events that are too quick for the human eye.

Perhaps obviously, another section showed the use of slow shutter speeds to show movement, I liked Roy Robertson's 'Fulcrum'.

The exhibition featured the prototype of Tim Macmillan's 'Time Slice' camera - as featured on the BBC's 'Tomorrow's World':
I was interested in the possibilities of using multiple cameras to take simultaneous photo's of a subject from different angles.

I was very pleased to discover that as a student I can make appointments to see any part of the museums 3.2 millions photograph collection. Now I just need to think of what I'd like to see!

Exhibition: Sarah Lucas - Ordinary Things

The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds - 11/08/12

I visited this exhibition after reading reviews in the Guardian and Aesthetica, so I arrived with some idea of what to expect. 

It was as humorous, and in places crude as I had expected, but I was surprised by how beautiful her Nuds series is. In these sculptures, the Ordinary Things are tights, stuffed with cotton wadding. From such base materials Lucas creates wonderfully evocative pieces. I am interested in exploring the art (or alchemy) of creating beauty from the mundane.

Exhibition: Karolina Szymkiewicz - A Study of Dance

Leeds Art Library, 23/08/12

This was an exhibition of drawings rather than photography, but I really liked the way the artist had depicted movement in her drawings. It tied in well with the In the Blink of an Eye exhibition I'd seen at the NMM with it's explorations of movement.

The drawings were the pencil equivalent of using slow shutter speeds and flash to show movement but still have a pin-sharp subject. It was the first time I'd seen movement portrayed this way outside photography, and it got me thinking about trying to capture dance in a similar way. I also like the idea of combining photographs with pencil drawn movement.

Part of the work was displayed in an Artists Book, I was interested in this as a concept.

Thoughts: Why am I doing this?

I thought it would be valuable to me, both now and further into my studies to attempt to articulate my reasons for taking this course. However at the time of writing I'm finding it very challenging!
The obvious answer is "To become a 'Better' Photographer". While this is not untrue, it is not the whole story.

I think at the moment, the most important thing I hope to gain from this is a direction in which to take my photography. I like to think I've got a reasonable 'eye' for a good photo, and while I enjoy taking aesthetically pleasing photos I find myself seeking something more rewarding.

What this 'something' might be is proving the challenging part, the part that I hope this course helps me answer.