Jane’s Photo Blog

My Post code project features Isleworth TW7

Map for postcode project

Tasks 1.1, 1.2, 1.3

Thursday 18 January 2018

In ‘campaign mood’ I have been writing to TFL to object to their cutting down the greenery growing beside the track of the Piccadilly Line to the west of Osterley station. This has destroyed a wildlife site, and exposed residents to noise and to the view of both the passing of trains and the building of a new school. I decided to take photographs as evidence.

_MG_5131

At 1/80 at f8, there is motion blur and the close by chain link is out of focus.

A wider view, the left photo (1/80 at f8) is overexposed, the right (1/200 at f8), underexposed.

At this point I was distracted by the litter, which has dramatically increased in the neighbourhood during the last year, particularly the fly tipping around the

council bins.  At 1/20 at f11 and 1/30 at f8, I was trying to make the box look bigger, though with a shorter depth of field. Over the Tube line I ventured down another path to find :-

 

My first colourful photos! I got down low to exaggerate the size of the litter. I wasn’t prepared to lie down! Taken at 1/30 at f8, I wanted to show the long trail on the path.

_MG_5160    Taken pressed up against the chain link at 1/25 on f8,  to show the compaction of the felled greenery.

Nearby is an electricity substation. Not pretty but interesting patterns maybe! Both photos taken at f8, the left at 1/100 and the right at 1/60.

Weekend of 27-28 January 2018

Away from TW7 at the end of January, I spent the weekend in Dorset. It was either pouring with rain or very dull, so the ISO crept, at times, up to 400. There were few photo opportunities, certainly no dramatic scenes. Very good to be away from the urban environment.

The first two photos are taken on ISO 400. The mute swan was at 1/100  f5,6, the trees with a distant view of Corfe Castle was at 1/60 f5.6. In a rare moment of sunshine, I took the trees at 1/250 f5.6, the sika deer was at 1/40 f8 and the gloomy view of Corfe Casstle was at 1/30 f8. The first, fourth and fifth photographs were taken using a zoom lens of 300mm.

Thursday 1 February 2018  Better views of TW7 …    Osterley Park

Mostly dull, but sunny intervals!  The first photo, at 1/400 f7.1, is dark but contrasting; others were over exposed. A rare moment of sun for the arching tree photo, at 1/100 f7.1. The view of the lake and the house : 1/100 f8. The birds flying up in front of the house are blurred on 1/125 f8.  Sparkly lake but background too dark: 1/125 f8.

_MG_5488  My attempt to pan the black headed gull, 1/20 f8, failed!

The stone eagle was easier to photograph.

1/125 f6.3,              1/50 f8,               1/30 f8,                     1/60 f5.6

At 1/50 f8, the photo on the left was over exposed, but the right hand one 1/400 f5 was too dark.

Thursday 15 February 2018    The London Borough of Hounslow is building …

The Civic Centre was once fronted by gardens and a landscaped car park. No more. It will soon be knocked down but is already looking swamped by the densely packed blocks of flats.  A tiny flower bed hangs on …

ISO400              1/160 f5.6                              Greener?     1/200 f5..6

Friday 16 February 2018 Playing with my granddaughter. 

Neither the zoom blur photos not the ‘writing’ were taken following the ‘recipe’, but were exposed for 2 secs at f5.6. The final ‘writing’ shot was exposed for 6.4 secs at f5.6.

Sunday 18 February 2018

In Old Isleworth, the juxtaposition of old and new is ever apparent, but those cranes still dominate:

1/200 f8                   1/160 f8                        1/60 f10        1/400 f6.3

The River scene is dull at low tide between the Isleworth ait and the Isleworth bank with Richmond lock in the distance.

1/160 f6.3                                              1/160 f6.3

Fortunately there is wildlife, Egyptian geese, swans and Canada geese, but painful to see them being fed bread, which is so harmful.

1/80 f6.3                                             1/125 f5.6

And more litter:

_MG_5713 1/100 f5.6

 

Friday 23 February 2018    A visit to the camellias in Chiswick House Conservatory

Both taken at 1/50 f9. Maybe it would have been better with shorter depth of field. I think I had set the camera to take long shots the length of the conservatory.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Back home in Isleworth, I was looking after Frank and Monti, mini dachshunds belonging to my granddaughters. Sleepy after their walk, they settled in the hall where there is a radiator on one side and two rays of sunshine on the other. They are difficult to photograph in these circumstances as their coats reflect the sun.

1/40 f5                                                  50mm lens 1/125  f1.8

Above left: Using the 50mm lens at f1.8 means a shallow depth of field, Monti is therefore out of focus. On the left, Frank 1/50 f1.8, not quite sharp! On the right, at 1/100 f1.8,  Monti’s eyes are sharp(ish).

In the garden later, this fox was just too quick for me to try to focus ._MG_5806     300mm lens 1/40 f5.6

The neighbourhood, showing mixed Victorian and Edwardian housing, is often interspersed with more modern building. Larger houses have mostly been converted into flats, hostels or schools.

1/80 f8                               1/500 f8                           1/160 f8

fullsizeoutput_2fd0 Isleworth Crown Court 1/250 f8

The locals mounted a very strong and successful campaign to limit the density of this modern development (left), opposite Edwardian houses.  1/250 f8

And yes, more litter:

1/50  f8                                                          _MG_5819

Back to TW7 and my road in the snow! Along with one cold robin, none too sharp.

1/100 f13                            300mm lens 1/160 f5.6

Monday 5 to Monday 12 March 2018

A break to stay with friends in Paris, with only a compact camera in my pocket.

 

Friday 16 February 2018

My short walk to Osterley Park revealed yet more litter and fly tipping.

On arriving at Osterley, I tried to distinguish between different types of metering, but this is probably not the best subject!

A little peace and elegance in the hurly burly of west London. My attempts to pan the black headed gulls as they flew failed (again) and they needed a shutter speed of at least 1/200 to fix them in flight. This one shows that it is now in breeding plumage with a black  head, compared with previous winter photos which show only a black dot on the head.

Still in Osterley, rural scenes are still to be captured.  Using a zoom lens but disappointed that they were not a little sharper.

The robin was singing lustily – see the open beak – and he obliged by following me changing trees, and perching on a lower branch.

Sadly the M4 is all too audible from this side of the Park which it effectively cuts in two. To fix the speeding traffic, I needed to use at least 1/400. My attempt at panning was again not entirely successful.

In Osterley Park Garden, elegance in the Orangery. The plants keep warm before the downpour.

The rains arrived. I tried to vary the shutter speed to show the drops. The faster the better, I concluded, and the higher the aperture number.

After the deluge, a little sun with pleasing effects, and signs of spring. An opportunity to highlight the raindrops  with short depth of focus.

A final glimpse of elegance.

Sunday 18 March 2018

_MG_6187

I tried an evening shot to show the last of the snow. 2secs f7.1. I needed practice with my tripod before taking it out in public.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Later that afternoon, still trying to capture movement, I took endless pictures of moving trains. These two, one approaching and one leaving, are frozen at 1/160. I was so keen to pan successfully that I even tried with a litter bag in the breeze.

Difficult and not successful as lift off was rather unpredictable!

Wednesday 21 March 2018

My granddaughter showed me some ballet moves and I just about captured her in the air.

 

Thursday 22 March 2018

One of the reasons I became so annoyed about the intense building in the area is that LB Hounslow have given planning permission for people to build on their gardens. This dentist’s practice had a huge back garden where my children played over 30 years ago. The Council should never have allowed the dentist to make a fast buck by selling their little bit of precious green belt for development. I very much wanted to capture the juxtaposition of the flats and the squeezed land, but access and angle were too difficult.

I would have liked the bottom right photo to be a zoom blur but was not successful.

It was yet another dull day, but I found a little comfort in the elegance of Syon Park and its gardens. The taxodium roots (bald cypress) made an interesting feature, and I practised depth of field with and without a zoom lens.

That evening I finally ventured forth with my tripod! My efforts to capture movement using long exposure were underwhelming as was the zoom blur. I will have another go…

Saturday 24 March 2018

The starlings in my garden adore eating fat, and arguing about it!

I managed to freeze their movements, using a 300mm lens.

Health and Safety   Unit 1.4

  • Be aware of any legal restrictions preventing you from taking photographs on private property. Do not trespass, and be sure that you have permission to take photos. Note that the law of trespass in Scotland differs slightly from that in England and Wales.
  • Anyone taking photographs for commercial purposes should be aware of the restrictions in some public spaces.
  • Many adults will not welcome having their photograph taken. Ask permission in order not to be accused of harassment or invasion of privacy. The use of a long lens to take a photo of someone in a private place, such as their home, without their consent is an invasion of privacy even though the photo is taken from a public place.
  • Children make fascinating subjects but make sure you have their parents’ permission before taking photos. Children cannot give legal consent until aged 16. There are many laws surrounding this topic and photographers should be aware and sensitive.
  • When photographing outside, always be aware of the position and movement of other people, animals and particularly traffic.
  • Be aware of any hazards before starting to concentrate on taking photographs – e.g. standing on the edge of a road, wall, ditch, cliff!
  • It is a criminal offence to obstruct free passage on the highway and this includes footways and cycle paths as well as roads.  Setting up a tripod in a busy street is obviously likely to cause an obstruction.  Do not obstruct a police officer  in the course of his/her duty. Take care when photographing ‘incidents’ not to be charged with an offence.

  • Do not venture into badly lit areas alone, particularly if they are unfamiliar.
  • I took a son with me when I used my tripod at night, but I will hopefully get over my self consciousness!
  • It is an offence to take photographs of UK banknotes without the permission of the relevant authority i.e. the Bank of England / Scotland!
  • Many wild animals, including insects, and birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. There is no restriction on taking photographs of any animal or bird, but the Act makes it an offence to “disturb” some species when they at or near their nesting places or places of shelter.  This includes disturbing them by taking photographs of them. To photograph protected species at or near their nests or places of shelter, a photographer must have a licence from the relevant authority: English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage or the Countryside Council for Wales.

    -A full list of protected birds can be found at: http://www.naturenet.net/law/sched1.html

    -A full list of protected animals can be found at:  http://www.naturenet.net/law/sched5.html

     

    Sunday 25 March

An RSPB trip to Titchfield Haven challenged my photographic skills. A dull day meant that keeping to the ISO 100 was difficult in the unrelenting greyness.

ISO 800 !/4000 f 5.6                        ISO 100 1/500    f 5.6

The left hand photograph would doubtless have been better with a slower ISO and slower shutter speed.

The black-tailed godwit was busy raking around for food, so I had to take several photos before it raised its head.  Sadly it is not sharp.

fullsizeoutput_3274

ISO 100 300mm 1/200 f8

The top photo of the tree lichen and the reeds, with the focus on the tree is more successful than the lower one, focusing on the more distant reeds. The photo on the right shows one of several ‘fairy doors’ covering either an entrance to a badger set or rabbit hole. (They were able to use a side entrance!).

All: ISO 100  70mm 1/100 f5

Friday 13 April and Saturday 14 April

More nature walks, firstly on a dull day at Barnes Wetland Centre and then, on an exceptionally sunny day, on Hounslow Heath. The otters’ feeding time offers a controlled space plus movement to photographers. This otter could have been sharper. The fritillaries are always a welcome sight. The grass snake was revealed when a piece of corrugated iron – laid there to offer warmth – was llifted. So cameras had to be ready. I did not succeed in focusing adequately.

Main: ISO 400 300mm 1/100 f5.6    Top right: ISO 400 300mm 1/200 f5.6  Btm rt:ISO 1/100 190mm 1/125 f8

 

Thursday 17 April

Back to the natural world with a few night shots, using long exposures and a tripod.

All taken at ISO 100 using a 300mm lens

Top left: 8secs f9 took in the ambient light of the street lighting and showed the outline of the whole moon.

Top right: 11.9secs f20, and below 6.2secs f45. Bottom photo 4.1secs f45 The smaller the aperture the greater the precision of the moon sliver. The length of exposure was arbitrary and the photograph was improved with a shorter exposure.

Saturday 21 April Rutland Water

Random views. A sunny day so ISO 100. All using a 300mm lens. The kestrel and the  tree sparrow both at 1/250 f10. A duck nesting in a tree is quite unusual but was not easy to see. Let us hope that her brood was successful in fledging! 1/250 f8

Fast moving and distant birds are very challenging, and I need more than a 300mm lens, and a steadier hand! This oyster catcher was enjoying a good splashy preen and then took off in a slightly ungainly manner!

All on ISO 100 300mm at 1/320 f9

The osprey on its nest across the lake is just about visible. Fortunately it is possible to cheat by using the screen in the visitors’ centre! The distant photo was taken using a 300mm lens at 1/250 f8. The ‘cheat’ shot was 1/30 f4.5.

NCFE Level 2  Unit 05  Studio Photography

Task 1

1.1

Presentation of a studio based portrait photographer

 I chose Félix Nadar as I was going to spend a week in Paris and would have the opportunity to visit the Musée de la Photographie and the Musée d’Orsay. Both had examples of Nadar’s work but neither was very helpful. I intend to visit the National Portrait Gallery which has over 35 images on display. 

Bibliography:

50 Photographers You Should Know                  Peter Stepan            Prestel

L’objet photographique, une invention permanente    Anne Cartier-Bresson,     Françoise  Ploye        Photo Poche

Nadar      Stéphanie de Saint Marc                 Biographies nrf Gallimard

Nadar presentation

1.2

In researching the work of Nadar, I was impressed by his sheer perseverance in attempting to overcome the difficulties of managing the ‘science’ of nascent photography. Today’s digital images offer us an altogether easier life. Nadar adapted superbly to  changing circumstances, working in a studio environment then in the air, then underground. A lesson for me to learn in trying out more street photography.

I am unlikely to operate in a studio, but from Nadar I can learn the importance of building up a good relationship with the model. With my granddaughters – my most likely subjects – I am well on the way, but it is still important for them to feel at ease and to be able to create situations, or take advantage of spontaneous ones, where the result will look natural. Nadar tried to be true to the character and image of the client. His subjects were posed in relaxed positions with Rembrandt-style lighting, a lighting style still popular today. His portraits conveyed the personalities of his photographic subjects, and he was adept at locating the distinct and revealing elements of their faces; Dumas is shown as friendly and open, while De la Croix looks officious!  Definitely something to think about today.

Trying to photograph my ‘product’, I realised just how difficult the task was. We are so bombarded by images these days that we never stop to think how the image was taken. More insidious is the fact that we do not realise how it is successfully manipulating us.

I won’t go on …

 

2.1  Health and Safety

In addition to the notes on health and safety found in the Postcode Project, studio photographers should take note of the following:

  • Use protective hand covering – oven gloves – when handling lights.
  • Avoid glare for both the photographer and the model.
  • Make sure that the model is standing or sitting safely.
  • Ensure that overhead lights are not too crowded together and overheating.
  • Use a pole to rearrange lights – don’t climb.
  • Make sure that all cables are firmly taped to the floor, so that there is nothing to trip over.
  • At the end of the session, ensure that all lights are turned off and returned to their  storage – unless too hot to handle, in which case they should be left out until cool and not cause an obstruction.

Resources: We looked at the theory of studio lighting, and had a demonstration of different types of lighting before practising on models.

Studio Lighting

Lighting People   Rossella Vanon   Ilex

Tuesday 20 February 2018    Our first practice session

2.2  Preparation

Thank you to our patient models!

Butterfly lighting: Hard light – lamp set up at arm’s length from the model, just above her head in order to create a small shadow under her nose, otherwise the light is flattening, despite the model having good cheekbones.  One of the most common lighting techniques, used extensively in the 1920s and 30s,  it suits a wide variety of faces. The butterfly shaped shadow under the nose must not be allowed to overlap with the lips. It is important that the light comes from the exact direction that the subject is facing, being frontal at all times so that the butterfly shadow doses not distort.

Solay:

All at 1\100. Starting at f8, f9,then  f10, f11, f13. The first photo is too bleached. I prefer f11 as the best interpretation of her skin tones, but this means that her dark hair blends into the black background.

Beauty Dish

Softer than the lamp.  f8      Above  f7.1 which I prefer            Bottom right  f9 too dark

Soft Box

Gentler than the beauty dish.

f8                                                      f10

Rembrandt (45deg)

Creating a triangle of light on the otherwise unlit cheek.       Below: f10

_MG_5738

Rembrandt lighting is an extension of loop lighting, and at the same time a more dramatic version of it. It takes its name from the painter Rembrandt as it is a light pattern he often liked to reproduce in his work. A Rembrandt set up is achieved when only one side of the face is lit, and the other side in shadow presents a highlight in the shape of a triangle. This occurs when the loop shadow under the nose on the darker side of the face meets the shadow created on the cheek, forming a small triangle of light in between. This triangle should technically be no longer than the nose, and not wider than the eye. Due to the deep and extensive shadow it creates, this technique is well known for setting an intensely dramatic mood.

Split Light 90deg.  Making half the face dark.

All f8, except top right f9. For dramatic effect, as this technique divides the subject’s face (and body) into two halves, one in light and one win shadow. For a more revealing portrait, a single or multiple reflectors could have been used to lighten and soften the otherwise harsh shadow.

Soft Light 45deg  (Rembrandt) Ria

Triangle of light on otherwise unlit side of face.

Top left f8. Top right both f9. Botton f8

Tuesday 27 February 2018              

We revised last week’s main points – the further the light from the model, the harder and dimmer it becomes. Height should be at the top of the head. The higher the light, the longer the shadows.

Ria

_MG_5835  1/100 f8

Rembrandt  – 45deg.  That triangle again.

Loop Lighting 30deg  With diffuser  John

._MG_5837  50mm lens  1/100 f8

Loop lighting is one of the most popular lighting techniques due to its simplicity and suitability to almost all types of subject. The name ‘loop’ refers to the shape of the shadow created under the subject’s nose but slightly on its side, extending towards the side of the face but not touching any shadow on the cheek. This allows light on most of the face, but at the same time creates a sense of depth through its shadow,  generating a very versatile but not flat looking lighting, suitable for most projects.

Key light soft box and a clamshell

A clamshell technique is a variation of butterfly lighting. Although both the position and the purpose of the light are essentially the same as in a butterfly setup, clamshell lighting differs from butterfly in the appearance and intensity of the shadows created. Unlike a butterfly technique, where the use of any extra light apart from the main one, is completely optional, in a clamshell setup it is necessary to utilise either two light sources or a light and a reflector. For this reason this technique is commonly known for creating two catchlights in the subject’s eyes.

Main light at 90deg.  Second light fills in shadow. Catchlights in the two right hans photos.

Solay All at 1/100    Left f8 too bleached             Right both f16. Better skin tones particularly bottom shot taken straight rather than from below.

Key Light soft box with second light: Martina

Ratio 2:1 Soft contrast.  All at 1/100 with a 50mm lens.

Unfortunately my notes are incomplete for the top left photograph – dark though f16

The two top right shots are f16 and the better tones are all f20. Reflections in Martina’s glasses can be seen in many of the photos. The photographer needs to be aware of glare, and take time to eliminate it – unless that is the required effect!. If the model tilts her head or avoids looking at the camera, blocks the light by wearing a hat, angles the glasses, or even takes them off, a better result can be achieved.

Ratio 4:1 Hard contrast.  All at 1/100 with a 50mm lens.  All of these are at f22

 

3.1 Product promotion

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Carmella’s Shoes

Carmela photographed her shoes. My photos were taken without using a flash with a 50mm lens and a wide aperture in the hope of making the shoes stand out from their background. However, the focus was invariably not sharp enough. An aperture of 5.6 proved more effective but the accompanying shutter speed of 1/8 or 1/13 of a second was definitely too slow for me to hold without a tripod! The hessian proved to be good background allowing the shoes to stand out.

 

Tuesday 17 April         

Carmela’s Jewellery: 

All taken using ISO 100 1\100 f8 Lens: 41mm, 55mm, 55mm

Main light on left, with fill in light on right. Lamp and Power under 3.

The reflection of the jewellery in bright light causes specular highlights. The term specular means that light is reflected in a mirror-like way from the light source to the viewer. Specular reflection is visible only where the subject is oriented precisely halfway between the direction of incoming light and the direction of the viewer; this is called the half-angle direction because it bisects (divides into halves) the angle between the incoming light and the viewer.

Far Left: Shiny, metallic specular lights are quite bright and possibly a distraction. A crowded composition at this angle. Photo 2: improved by using a reflector and the composition displays the jewellery  and the tattoo of the ‘pirate’. I prefer this to photo 3.

Midori’s Japanese Tea Ceremony:

All taken using ISO 100 1/100 f8 Lit from the left 3:3

My angles were not the ‘official ‘ ones, making cropping difficult. Photos 2, 3 and 6 show too much shadow from the bowl. The close up with the hand, taken level with the surface of the table seems to me to be the most dramatic, but preferably without the edge of the table!

Tuesday 24 April Studio Work

Sue’s Pastries

fullsizeoutput_3283

All ISO 100 50mm lens !/100 f8 Lighting ratio 3:4 and a reflector. The final photo without the reflector displayed darker, richer looking pastry, which stands out more with a cropped background.  However, the pastries may have needed a ‘context’, so including the whole of the bread board might be better.

The photos of the ‘degustation’ were taken using a soft box, thereby reducing glare. I think that the heavily cropped ones are the most striking, although unfortunately neither sitter is showing enthusiasm for what appear to be delicious pastries! Care needs to be taken with the tilt of the head to avoid reflection in the glasses.

The middle of the photos on the bottom row with John shows the best skin tones, and the pastry is at its richest.    All at ISO 100 1/100 f8   50mm lens

Hannah’s hiking ad:

Two lights, the key light to the right 2.2 power. My photos using a 50mm lens at 1/100 f8, are rather too dark.

 

Tuesday 1 May 

John’s crisp ad:    All ISO 100 50mm lens 1/100 f11

A single light, set on 2.4 to the right, highlights the side of the packet quite effectively. The bottom left composition is I think the most appealing. On the right, the human element is too far removed and exposes the make up of the background – and I totally missed the drama of the crisps being dropped!

Fruit  

Two lights on 3.4 The reflection on glass was effective: 1/100 f9.

The right hand light on image 2 caused rather too much shadow.  1/100 f11

The final two photographs were taken at 1/100 f7.1, but the second one is too dark.

There are specular highlights on all the pieces of fruit, most striking on the smooth skinned apples, which emphasises their 3D shape, and makes them look more appealing.

Titileo’s bag: Taken with one light. The white background was rather glaring and the photographs I prefer are the darker ones. Many of the images appear to be too flat. Some are cropped too tightly.  Those showing angles and shadows are more successful:

I prefer the top left photo: 1/100 f11. Top right has too much shadow. The bottom right is a little over exposed but does show some specular highlights on the beads.

3.2 Tuesday 8 May       My promotion for the RSPB  

The RSPB produces lots of extremely informative and interesting leaflets to draw the attention of the public to its serious and successful work. Some publicity though is produced purely to recruit new members and one poster in particular caused me some dismay because of its lack of diversity in showings – elderly, white skinned women (like me)! Ideally I had wanted to create an alternative, but I rather failed in this and won’t be sending them the result of my efforts any time soon! The organisation works hard to appeal to children of all ages, and produces magazines and membership materials, some of which are illustrated with cartoon characters. I decided to use the RSPB ‘Giving Nature a Home’ slogan with finger puppets.

My first design, practised at home using long exposures, and angle pose lamp and a tripod made me realise that the design was rather too complicated.

Both ISO 100 and f8, left was exposed for 1/4sec and right for 0.8

In the studio, I tried to make a background of coloured tissue paper, but the upright ‘tree’ of leaves was too tall. There ensued rather messy efforts to overcome this problem. The creases in the tissue paper did not adequately represent the sky or grass.

Two lights were used, so that, at 1/100 the aperture was a small f22

Tuesday 15 May

I decided to improve on the composition and substituted a toy tree for the leaves. Home practice:

Both ISO100 f9. Left 1sec, right 0.8sec.

In the studio:

This time I used two soft boxes which gave more subtle lighting, but the background does seem to be too dark.  Again, despite having ironed the paper tablecloth and rolled it, I found that there were creases, and I regretted not having purchased some artificial grass! I did use leaves to cover some of these, but printing the photographs was difficult because of the cropping.  Printing with a border has partly solved this problem.

All were taken on ISO 100, 1/100, f8. At one point the table was turned 90deg and the models brought to the front in order to distance them from the background. This should have been an opportunity to open the aperture wider to lessen the depth of focus and so blur the background. The shutter speed could have been increased to 1/250 to compensate. I regret too not using my 50mm lens as this has smaller f numbers and is much sharper. The scene was too busy; the closer photos with the hand are more successful. In fact the some of the more successful examples of RSPB publicity tend to focus on just one aspect of wildlife. (See above)

Assignment 3: Dreams – Reality
Task 1: How are photographic ideas developed?
1.1 and 1.2 Three Photographers

1) Arno Rafael Minkkinen (1945 – )

Born in Helsinki, Minnkinen emigrated to the US in 1951, where he graduated in English Literature and began raking self portraits while working as an advertising copywriter in New York. In 1974 he gained a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography. Over the past four decades he has been engaged as a teacher, curator and writer while continuing to devote his photographic research and energies to the self portrait, and images of the human figure in the natural landscape.

As a teacher, Minkkinen has contributed to projects in the US and Europe. Since 2009, he has developed a growing interest in feature film making and screenwriting. He has won numerous awards.

Over the past 40 years Minkkinen has photographed himself in a variety of scenarios: sometimes curled up on a beach, at other times dangling off the edge of a cliff, but always naked so the his body parts become part of the landscape, connecting body and nature in quite surreal ways. In one shot he hunches over a lake so that his dirtied back becomes part of a log or a rock.

images

Minkkinen believes that his affinity for nature, specifically water, reflects his Finnish roots. His other deep seated influence is that he was born with a cleft palate, never totally corrected; he rarely photographs his face but refers to his work as ‘nude self portraits’.

images

images

Sometimes softly focused and dreamlike, at other times sharp his images are fascinating. sometimes disturbing.

Minkkinen is keenly aware of the fragility of nature, “As polar ice caps continue to melt, world leaders head to Copenhagen in December for yet more talk, talk, talk as a substitute for any meaningful action.”

I find his images elegant, often incongruous, reduced to a bare minimum in black and white. The soft focus, ghosting effect is mysterious  and something to try. I am unlikely to copy his poses, but my granddaughter might find it fun!

2) Sam Taylor-Johnson née Sam Taylor-Wood (1967 -)

Sam Taylor-Johnson is an English born artist, photographer and film maker who now divides her work and time between Los Angeles and London. She is perhaps best known for her film based on the book ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, which she apparently regrets directing!  Interested firstly in sculpture, she began exhibiting fine art photography in the early 1990s. She is intrigued by the relationship between identity and appearance; her work examines the contradictions between our interior lives and our exterior presentations of the self. “I wanted to become an artist because it meant endless possibilities,” she explained. “Art was a way of reinventing myself.”

In a series of photos called ‘Gracefully Suspended’, taken in 2004 Sam Taylor-Woods presents ten self-portraits. As she explores notions of weight and gravity, she places herself in situations where her interior and external sense of self is in conflict. These are photographs of the human body that forge a connection between physical and emotional states of being. Using herself as the subject in many of her works, the artist twists her figure into a range of precarious poses that suggest moments of rapture within spaces of ordinary existence.

The image below was taken in 2008 shortly after the artist’s recovery from a second attack of cancer. She expresses her ‘freedom from the constraints of illness’. Her body dangles with arms wide open, seeming both transcendent and fragile. Rope supports were used during the production of the image and later digitally removed, creating a seamless depiction of both the exterior physical tension and interior psychology of illness and recovery.

2009_284_8I am amazed by her poses, but am unlikely to copy her. As yet I have not learned how to erase the rope supports digitally ….

Sam Taylor-Johnson’s style is wide ranging. Her landscapes: eg. Ghosts 2008:

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the New York series shot in California from 2011-12 are bleak and show a realisation that nature needs to be saved.

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The Cipher series of 2011 show quite stark images.cipher_i_2011-567x756

The Custodian of 2004 portrays a dignified woman in classical pose,

in contrast to the surrealist still from her film Ascension (2003) which shows  her more dream like, exploring the anxiety of daily life, while the blurring of the figure in Speed shows movement and injects an hallucinatory view into the photograph.

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3) Ernst Haas (March 2 1921 – September 12 1986)

Haas was an Austrian born artist whose parents placed great value upon education and the arts; they encouraged their son’s creative pursuits from an early age. However, the war of course intervened, and he was sent to a German Labour camp where his education was limited to a few hours a week. Returning to Vienna in 1940, the year of his father’s death, he began to study medicine, but because of his Jewish ancestry, had to give up. Despite the disruption to his early formal education, Haas was a determined student of art, poetry, philosophy and literature and became interested in photography as he realised its creative potential.

In 1949 he was influenced by Edward Weston’s ‘A Poet’s Camera’, reflected in his early works of close ups of plants, water and natural forms. By 1947 he had become a staff photographer for the magazine ‘Heute’, and switched his focus to photojournalism, realising that it was both a means of support and a vehicle for his communication skills. Haas began to consider how an image could simultaneously tell a story and function as an autonomous work of art.

After visiting an exhibition depicting the devastation of Berlin, Haas returned home, and documented the war’s effects on Vienna, approaching the city as a serious reporter with a keen but empathetic eye. His photographs show, “the endurance of the human spirit despite the devastated urban environment.”

220px-Ernst_Haas,_Homecoming_Prisoners,_Vienna,_1947In post war London, he produced a similar series of highly evocative shots.

Having carried out assignments in Vienna, Paris and London, Haas, as Magnum’s US Vice President succeeded in obtaining the documents to travel to New York. His first empathetic images showed fellow immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

The streets of New York became a popular source of photographic inspiration but Haas’ approach was less direct and confrontational than many of his contemporaries. Critic A.D. Coleman wrote, “[Haas] was a lyric poet pursuing a photographic equivalent of gestural drawing, utilising such photographic effects as softness of focus, selective depth of field and overexposure to telling effect.” While Haas would continue traveling the world for his work, he lived for the rest of his life in New York City.

In 1952 Haas

was delighted by the landscape and unusual colours of New Mexico. Working with the vast area’s changing light and clouds, Haas also photographed symbols, local details, and tourist oddities. His finished photo essay, published by Life as “Land of Enchantment” in a six-page spread, was well received by readers and prompted the magazine to invite another project.

Once back in New York, Haas purchased colour film to begin a new project in the city. He had experimented with colour as early as 1949, but this would be his first opportunity to work seriously with what was still a scarce and expensive medium. Haas spent two months photographing New York, and in 1953 Life published his vivid images. Titled “Images of a Magic City,” the sprawling 24-page story spanned two issues. According to critic Andy Grundberg, these images “brought photography into the precincts of abstract expressionism”.

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Although Haas continued to use black-and-white film for much of his career, colour film and visual experimentalism became integral to his photography. He frequently employed techniques like shallow depth of field, selective focus, and blurred motion to create evocative, metaphorical works. He became interested in, as he put it, “transforming an object from what it is to what you want it to be.” Beyond the physical place, person, or object he depicted, Haas hoped to reflect the joy of looking and of human experience.
Haas supported his adventurous personal work with commercially viable photojournalism, advertising, and motion picture stills photography. While on such assignments, he would make his own photographs, translating his passion for poetry, music, painting, and adventure into colour imagery. His reputation on the rise, Haas travelled the world, photographing the U.S., Europe, South Africa, and Southeast Asia in expressionistic colour.

In the late 1940s, Haas switched from his medium format Rolleiflex to the smaller 35mm Leica rangefinder camera, which he used consistently for the rest of his career. Once he began working in colour, he most often used Kodachrome, known for its rich, saturated colours. To print his colour work, Haas used the dye transfer process whenever possible. An expensive, complex process most frequently used at the time for advertising, dye transfer allowed for great control over colour hue and saturation.

As the technology of colour photography evolved and improved during this period, audience interest in colour imagery increased. Many of the magazines that published Haas’ work, such as Life, improved the quality of their colour reproduction, and increasingly sought to include his work in the medium. Despite this progress, many photographers, curators, and historians were initially reluctant to consider colour photography as art, given the technology’s commercial origins.

Haas was inspired and fascinated by the natural world, and took photographs of the elements throughout his career. Inspired in part by his involvement in John Huston’s 1966 film The Bible, Haas conceived an ambitious, multi-year project to visualise the theme of the Earth’s creation, as described in a variety of religious texts, primarily the Old Testament. His book The Creation, first published in 1971, presented 106 colour photographs made throughout the world, organised into an expressive, poetic sequence. The book was produced in multiple editions in numerous languages through 1988, selling over 350,000 copies[ to become one of the best-selling photography books of all time.

In 1958, Haas was listed as one of the 10 greatest photographers in the world by Popular Photography magazine. His importance to photography was underscored in 1986, when he won the Hasselblad Award just before his death.   Over his 40-year career, Haas established a remarkable legacy. His abstract aesthetic, use of colour, and innovative use of technology remain vital and influential.

color-slide-3Revolving Door 1975

Personally, I am amazed by the beauty assumed by ordinary objects whether, as here the lines on the street, but also by his shots of the natural world.

Haas saw the beauty of tiny detail in every day surroundings. and understood which detail to select which would be attractive when processed photographically. He found the simplest elements then used the textures and colours to render them fascinating.

Haas said the photographer should ‘dream with open eyes’, and put the feeling back into the photograph. Capturing this feeling is key.

Our world is a jumble of lines and shapes, which Haas succeeded in turning into an intriguing whole. In ‘About Color Photography’, he said:

“Bored with obvious reality, I find my fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view. Without touching my subject I want to come to the moment when, through pure concentration of seeing, the composed picture becomes more made than taken. Without a descriptive caption to justify its existence, it will speak for itself – less descriptive, more creative; less informative, more suggestive; less prose, more poetry.”

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In Black Wave, we see his use of intense colour, and dramatic use of light and shadow.

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For Haas, reality was subjective: “The camera only facilitates the taking. The photographer must do the giving in order to transform and transcend ordinary reality.”

This photo is made up of various shapes and colours and different light sources, disjointed but coming together, creating an atmosphere of some suspense.

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Haas loved to use reflections, using interesting shapes and layers to add contrast and challenge our brain.

Haas drew his inspiration from multiple sources. He warned against seeking too much direct inspiration as it “leads too quickly to repetitions of what inspired you,” and instead recommended that the photographer should  “refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.” “Style has no formula, but it has a secret key. It is the extension of your personality. the summation of this indefinable net of your feeling, knowledge, and experience.”

Perhaps of comfort to amateur photographers:
“One cannot photograph art”, said Haas, but we can express ourselves. Art is what is decided when people start looking at what you’ve done, after you’ve taken the photograph, not before.

Haas produced a vast world of colour photography – and conveyed intense feeling in his photographs.  “Colour is joy” .08ce0c12-38b2-44ab-9cd8-c3926be4e1b7

Haas loved simplicity. simplicity. “The best pictures differentiate themselves by nuances…a tiny relationship – either a harmony or a disharmony – that creates a picture.”

Twilight USA, September 1977 © Ernst Haas

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From the harsh to the romantic, his photos reflect beauty and mood. Haas said it was OK to love to photograph beauty!
“All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris. Beauty paints and when it painted most, I shot.”
Ernst Haas from Notre Dame, 1955 © Ernst Haas

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2.2   I enjoy photographing nature and, hoping that some of my shots might serve as a springboard for the theme of dreams and reality, I began to build up a collection of images.

 

A trip to stunning Bempton Cliffs on the north-east coast of Yorkshire. The dream is that the many bird species might continue to thrive. The reality is that they are heavily threatened by pollution and climate change.

 

Back to Kew Gardens for plant shapes and forms.

23 June 2018 Two years after the EU referendum, The People’s March drew 100,000 demonstrators from all parts of the UK. The dream is the BREXIT will go away. The reality may be different….

24 June 2018

I tried to make a collection of night time images., using different shutter speeds and apertures. The plane trails need further investigation.

Returning to puffins -I took my granddaughter’s into the garden to try to blur the images. Trial and a lot of error!

 

2.2 2.3 My images in response to the task:  Dreams and Reality

I have found this difficult. Looking through my photographs, I have been pleased with some wildlife shots, but adapting them to the theme is not easy.  I am as yet not sufficiently well practised with the  Photoshop Elements software that I have now installed on my computer. It is going to take time for me to go through my notes and the tutorials that are available on line. A work in progress.  Being inspired by Ernst Haas is not useful – he is brilliant!

My shot of the puffin looking out to sea from Bempton Cliffs was sharp and I liked the composition. A la Haas, I think in future that I should be less reluctant to add colour. In Camera Raw I worked on the image; clarity improved the detail while temperature and vibrance  enhanced the greens and yellows. IMG_7563puffin_edited-1

 

I decided to try more colour saturation and turned Bempton Cliffs aflame. Not a particularly pleasant image, but one which turns an otherwise dull photograph, taken simply to give a panoramic view of the cliff formation, into something more abstract. One of my class mates said that she would put it on her wall to match her sofa!.

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Unfortunately I did not take sufficient notes of which sliders I used to create this image. Subsequent attempts have produced quite different images. The red was produced by putting the temperature to  the left, but my subsequent attempt saturated the image so totally that I was no longer able to produce the yellows which show the different shades on the surface of the sea. Highlighting both blacks and whites picked out the shadows on the rugged cliff and the surf at its base. I have learned that this is a delicate process, one of trial and error, and one where the process must be noted!

My photo of the fox, taken at twilight with an ISO of 3,200, at 1/15 and f5.6 was out of focus. fullsizeoutput_33e5

Fox

I added tint, vibrancy and clarity; with added colour, I think that s/he looks more surreal and interesting.

A pity I didn’t take this shot of the ‘lady’ in front of Kew palace. The bright rust coloured brick would have added more contrast. In Camera Raw, I did crop to remove the drain pipes of the small building behind her. Reducing the exposure brought ou the print of the dress and the lace and embroidery on the parasol, but I thought that the overall effect was too dark, particularly with the black vignette.

 

At the suggestion of  the class I changed the photograph to black and white. With the contrast to -29, I highlighted  the lace and embroidery on the parasol. Reducing whites to -81, and clarity to +33 both increased the definition on the parasol, and shadows to -18 lightened her face. With the spot tool, I removed her glasses, albeit not wholly successfully. I also used the spot tool to remove the skittles in the background. Although their presence was entirely in keeping, they were not big enough to be seen clearly and identified, and were pronounced a distraction!  I finally added a white vignette, with a feathered edge.

I worked on the RAW version of the daisies and added vibrance and clarity to make a more colourful version.

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At Hampton Court I took a photograph of a pair of swans with their nine cygnets, hoping that they would swim behind the fountain. The result was a dull photo, which I first cropped, and then removed a post with the spot tool.  In the ‘Guided’ section, I decided to enhance the colours, moving hue firmly to the left, saturation to the right and lightness half way.fullsizeoutput_3471

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2.5 Assessing the Outcome

I found this task challenging, and I am not particularly pleased with the outcome. However, it is good that I have been taken outside my comfort zone, and I am now aware of the usefulness of Photoshop both to realise the full potential of a shot by processing it in camera raw, or to turn it into something completely other!  I still need to work through it methodically as my current use of it is hit and miss or just clumsy. Again, I also need to take careful note of the procedures.

Colour: I have realised that I can afford to add more colour to ‘natural’ shots without them looking artificial.                                                                                                                   Focus: I like to use a short depth of focus to advantage, as shown in the daisy photo, and in fact the puffin highlighted against the sea far below. The distance in this last example was so great that even f8 still made the ground / sea blurred, giving good perspective to the shot.                                                                                                                                   Composition: I have quite a few other puffin, gannet, razor bill and kittiwake photos which I am pleased to say I took with composition in mind. Using a 300mm lens, I did succeed in making them stand out against the outline of the cliff, the sea or the sky, again mostly showing good perspective. They are well framed, and there is contrast between the birds, the rocks, plants sometimes and the sea below.                                                                                         Motion: Most of the bird photos were taken at 1/200 f.8, which seems to be successful in fixing their movement, if not flight.  The fox photo was quite out of focus, shot with a 300mm lens at only 1/15. Clearly neither the fox nor I was going to be still. However, surprisingly it has taken on quite a dreamy look.                                                           Viewpoint: The likes of Bempton Cliffs may not be readily available and one of my problems is not always ‘seeing’ the potential of a scene. I am more aware now, and do look our for possibilities. Before a successful abstract can be made (Haas’s Venitian gondolas)  the photo has to be interesting in the first place; Photoshop cannot do it all!

I am looking forward to investigating the work of more photographers, and I will certainly take every opportunity of seeing the work of Ernst Haas. I enjoy his use of colour, and his way of turning a ‘real’ scene into an abstract by focusing on a small part of it, or just changing the emphasis. I have always enjoyed art exhibitions but would be traumatised at the idea of producing anything myself! Perhaps this lack of confidence also influences my photography. Clearly I must keep practising…

 

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