Thursday, 18 December 2008

Project 11: Balance

Analysis of some recently taken photos looking at balance of the dominant parts of the image. I have chosen 6 photos taken over the last few months to consider how balanced each photo is. I can't really draw sketches in this blog, so I'll just make a few notes on each photo.

Photo 1: Croatian Graffiti Girl. Not totally balanced, the darker graffiti does balance with the lighter colour (and larger) shutters, but there is a bit too much space at the bottom of the photo.
21mm, 1/10sec, f/7.1, ISO 200, tripod

Photo 2: Croatia Sunset. This photo is balanced in terms of light and dark, but because the dark is 'heavier' feeling, it doesn't totally feel balanced.
35mm, 1/40sec, f/11, ISO 200

Photo 3: Dublin Ducks. Symmetry top/bottom and left/right gives good balance to this photo. However I think there is a 'dead' spot in the middle of the photo.
57mm, 1/125sec, f/4.5, ISO 400

Photo 4: Cairo City Mosque. Good balance between the small minaret (dark) in the background with the larger font in the foreground. It is quite a balanced photo, but might benefit from some cropping.
24mm, 1/250sec f/8, ISO 200

Photo 5: Isle of Wight Needles. I'm not sure if this photo is balanced or not! I feel like there is balance, but that it comes from tension between the linear cliffs/beach with the linear islands. Not sure!!!
63mm, 1/80sec, f/8, ISO 400

Photo 6: Wheel and Scott Monument. The two elements in this photo appear quite balanced, they are similar size and hold similar weight. The only unusual thing about this photo is the orientation of the balance, namely diagonally across the frame.
24mm, 1/100sec, f/11, ISO 400

This short project was fun. It was interesting to look back at some recent photos and see if i could see balance, and then to analyse the balance. I'm discovering that these projects are good for analysing my photos, but the real challenge is putting it into practice! Anybody else finding this same issue??

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Project 7: Objects in different positions in the frame

The aim of this project was to choose a really simple scene, with only a few elements, and to carefully choose where the main object was placed relative to the background. I chose a bright red buoy on Edinburgh's canal, where I often walk. The main elements of the photo, and my position doesn't change at all in this series, but where I have placed the lifebuoy is different in each photo, and therefore the relationship between the buoy and fence is different in each photo.

Photo 1: Quickly taken without much thought. It's ok, there is some balance between the buoy and fence.
50mm, f/2, 1/50sec, ISO 400

Photo 2: Dead Centre. The buoy breaks up the photo and there is no continuity of the fence.
50mm, f/2, 1/50sec, ISO 400

Photo 3: I think I prefer this one, as there is a large part of the photo as fence (interesting with the diagonal lines) and then there is the lifebuoy which is bright and clean.
50mm, f/2, 1/50sec, ISO 400

Photo 4: This is the same as photo 3 but with the buoy on the left, which works also but is not quite as good as photo 3 in my opinion.
50mm, f/2, 1/50sec, ISO 400

Photo 5: This one I chose to not include the ground at the bottom, and therefore more of the fence at the top of the photo. I think this unbalances the photo, and is therefore not as good as the other photos.
50mm, f/2, 1/50sec, ISO 400

I like Photo 3 the best because of the large amount of fence which balances nicely with the bright red buoy and the buoy doesn't break up the scene too much but is instead part of the scene.

Project 5: Panning with different shutter speeds

The aim of this project was to depict motion by moving the camera with the subject. I chose a busy roundabout where I could focus on people walking past, cars and cyclists all moving around the roundabout. I took a lot of photos, and many of them didn't work at all - this method takes patience and lots of practice to get all the elements right, yet alone in a balanced photo! It was hard to choose the amount/speed of panning required to keep the subject sharp (especially as it was hard to judge the speed of the subjects motion). I also found that when the cars were moving through the roundabout, their speed across my viewfinder wasn't constant (ie they moved towards me first and then across the frame), so it was hard to judge this, and it resulted in cars that were partly blurred and partly sharp! Anyway, it was a fun exercise and one that I will work on more and experiment with to try to get a good photo out of it.

Photo 1: Man is sharp, background is blurred, but not much motion.
50mm, f/2.8, 1/40sec, ISO 400

Photo 2: Woman is sharp, and blurred cars in background. She looks quite static.
50mm, f/3.2, 1/40sec, ISO 400

Photo 3: Car - front is sharp, back is blurred!
50mm, f/4, 1/40sec, ISO 400

Photo 4: Blur adds to sense of motion, even though car isn't sharp.
50mm, f/4, 1/40sec, ISO 400

Photo 5: Truck - parts are sharp, and parts blurred. Clearly it's a busy scene.
50mm, f/5, 1/40sec, ISO 400

Photo 6: Lots of lights and other vehicles in the background contrasting with the sharp nature of the car show a busy scene with lots of movement.
50mm, f/5.6, 1/40sec, ISO 400

Photo 7: Cyclist - he's very blurred, but all the lights in the background are interesting, and the bike is clearly a bike! I like the reflection on the road also.
50mm, f/7.1, 1/13sec, ISO 400

Photo 8: Pedestrian, with cyclist and cars in background. There is a real sense of motion, in her stride, the almost invisible cyclist, car at the roundabout and in the distance, all with lights on, and the blur of the background. I really like this photo.
50mm, f/7.1, 1/13sec, ISO 400

Photo 9: Blurred cyclist - fills the frame more, obvious blur due to motion.
50mm, f/9, 1/13sec, ISO 400

Photo 10: Car at roundabout - sharp at the front, wheels clearly moving, other moving vehicles in background - a busy location is evident.
50mm, f/7.1, 1/13sec, ISO 400

Photo 11: Cyclist entering roundabout - not sharp, but again a clear sense of motion. I decreased shutter speed more here, to increase sense of motion, but it's hard to get the panning the right speed relative to both the movement/speed of the object, and also to the shutter speed. Practice is required!!!
50mm, f/9, 1/10sec, ISO 400

Photo 12: Cyclist in roundabout. Background totally blurred, it's obviously a bike moving.
50mm, f/8, 1/10sec, ISO 400

I think I like the dynamism that these photos have compared to the more static photos of the moving water that I did for Project 4.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Project 6: Fitting the frame to the subject

I attempted this project a couple of times but had difficulty finding appropriate subjects, and have decided on a small boat located on the edge of a frozen loch in the Scottish Cairngorms. It was very cold, as you'll see from the photos, so I didn't really spend as much time as perhaps I should on the photos, but hopefully the ideas are there and when I'm a bit warmer I'll try to take my time more.

Photo 1: Taken as a quick snapshot, to set the scene. I actually really like this photo, it has a nice leading line through the frame to the boat.
50mm, 1/60sec, f/10, ISO 100

Photo 2: This photo was meant to be a close cropping photo, only showing the subject. Unfortunately this means it's a bit boring, just a photo of a boat, without any more information. Perhaps I could have tried a different angle? I did crouch down to get a bit lower angle, and it was way too cold to go into the water!!
50mm, 1/60sec, f/7.1, ISO 100

Photo 3: This photo is a detailed one to show some aspect of the subject. I chose the cross-seats in the boat - I thought the colours were nice and it was a bit abstract. As a photo it really only works in conjunction with the other shots I think.
50mm, 1/60sec, f/7.1, ISO 100

Photo 4: The last photo was meant to put the subject in its surroundings. I chose to look low along the beach covered with ice and looking towards the shore on the far side of the loch. I possibly could have included a bit more of the snow-covered beach, but I only thought of that later. I like that you can see the blue inside of the boat that I photographed in Photo 3.
50mm, 1/60sec, f/8, ISO 100

Summary - this was a challenge to find an interesting subject that would be good to photo at different scales. I'm going to keep my eyes looking for other subjects like this and possibly repeat this project again later.

Project 4: shutter speeds

Freezing and blurring motion using different shutter speeds (fixed scene). I used the water flowing over rocks example because I found a nice location where this was occurring and it seemed like a good opportunity. I took 7 photos with varying shutter speeds and corresponding apertures. I used a tripod so all the photos have the same framing. I like how the water becomes gradually more blurred and silky looking. As the shutter speeds get longer, the aperture stops down and more of the photo is in focus which frames the silky water nicely.

Photo 1:
50mm, 1/25sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, Tripod

Photo 2:
50mm, 1/15sec, f/2.2, ISO 100, Tripod

Photo 3:
50mm, 1/8sec, f/3.2, ISO 100, Tripod

Photo 4:
50mm, 1/4sec, f/4.5, ISO 100, Tripod

Photo 5:
50mm, 1sec, f/8, ISO 100, Tripod

Photo 6:
50mm, 3sec, f/14, ISO 100, Tripod

Photo 7:
50mm, 6sec, f/22, ISO 100, Tripod

In summary, the first photo (Photo 1)(1/25sec) almost froze the water but some still looks slightly blurred. If there had been more light available (or I could have increased my ISO) then I would have used a faster shutter speed than that to completely freeze the water movement. I really like the final photo (Photo 7) because the water looks silky and the foreground and background are both nicely in focus and frame the image. Again, like the previous projects, it was good to consider one scene and see different ways of looking at it, depending on what style of photo I wanted to make.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Project 3: Focus with different apertures

Eugh, this was difficult. I recognise the reason we need to do this project but nonetheless I found it hard to find a subject that was interesting enough to have both just part of the image in crisp focus (and background blurry) and also have the whole thing in focus. I also needed to choose my lens carefully to make sure the results would be obvious. I don't really think these photos below are excellent photos, but they show the point of the project (I think) which was to show the difference between different aperture settings (while matching appropriate shutter speeds of course). I used a tripod, cable release and converted to B&W in the GIMP during post-processing.

Photo 1:
24mm, 1/200sec, f/2.8, 400 ISO, Tripod, B&W in GIMP

Photo 2:
24mm, 1/30sec, f/7.1, 400 ISO, Tripod, B&W in GIMP

Photo 3:
24mm, 1/3sec, f/22, 400 ISO, Tripod, B&W in GIMP

This project was good for me to carefully think about a subject and then to execute it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Project 2: Focus with set aperture

The depth of field study. I thought this one would be easy but finding a good subject that would make an interesting photo was more of a challenge than I expected. Due to short daylight hours here in Edinburgh I decided to take some photos indoors. I chose a present I recently gave my husband, a bottle of nice whisky! I arranged it so that there would be some depth in the photo, and our curtains (not very interesting) behind it.

First Photo - focus on the box at the back of the photo. This is a strange looking photo because of the large objects out of focus in the foreground:
50mm, 1/15sec, f/2.8, 400 ISO, tripod, colour edit in GIMP

Second Photo - focus on the bottle itself. Much more balanced and a nice looking photo - this is the best one IMO and is the right focus for this composition:
50mm, 1/15sec, f/2.8, 400 ISO, tripod, colour edit in GIMP

Third Photo - focus on the detail at the foreground of the photo. Not bad but not as good as the second, the detail is interesting but not the point of the photo:
50mm, 1/15sec, f/2.8, 400 ISO, tripod, colour edit in GIMP

Overall this was an interesting exercise because it made me really analyse each of the different photos and think more about why I use DOF, instead of me just choosing an aperture and going for it!

Project 1: Focal Length and Angle of View

The first project seemed simple enough, but I wanted to choose an interesting subject, one that will provide good photos for the 3 different focal lengths. Given the short daylight hours (and inclement weather!) at the moment this was a challenge. I decided to go to the Canal in Edinburgh today as the sun was shining. I found a spot with an interesting building and some autumn foliage which I thought would provide good subjects for the 3 different focal lengths.

I started with the 50mm, which on my camera is equivalent to 80mm, and tried to choose an interesting composition. This is the lens I use the most, so I'm quite comfortable with it.
50mm, 1/100sec, f/16, ISO 200

Next I put on my wide angle lens, with 17mm equivalent to 35mm.
17mm, 1/100sec, f/13, ISO 200

And finally my 200mm, equivalent to a massive 320mm!! I found it hard to handhold (it might have been sunny but it was windy) as I didn't have my tripod with me. I must take it with me next time I'm using this lens.
200mm, 1/250, f/11, ISO 200

It was great to go out and just take a few photos with a very specific purpose.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Starting a new course

Well I decided to try out a course at OCA to improve my photography, instead of just taking random photos and trying to make them look good in post-processing. Reading books has helped, but I thought the course guide for 'the art of photography' sounded interesting and would help guide me to a more robust photographic process which I can apply to both my film and digital work.

According to the online guide, The course helps students to:
• visualise and select images and translate them into photographs
• make successful use of composition, exposure, lighting and other forms of image control
• analyse and apply the conveying of information through visual means
• develop observational skills through a wide range of projects.

So hopefully it will be useful and interesting. I'll keep this blog up to date as part of my journal for the course, so please feel free to comment etc if you want to.

Just as an introduction, I'm an Australian who currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. I've been an amateur photographer for about 8 years on and off, and have been shooting with a digial SLR (Canon 30D) for the last 3 or so years. I use the GIMP (free photo editing software) for all my post-processing work on the computer. Earlier this year I did a B&W film developing and printing course so I also shoot medium format B&W with my Bronica ETRSi.