Thursday, 26 November 2009

Project 49: Graduated Filters

This project had to be shot on an overcast day. There's plenty of those at the moment, but I chose to go to Cramond on Sunday (see previous post), and took a couple of photos with and without the graduated neutral density filter on. These sort of shots are very difficult to execute I find, and it appears that the foreground is a bit dark in the shot with the filter on, which is because I don't have one with a solid line, but instead its graduated from top to bottom. As a result these seascape type photos with a strong horizon present are harder get right. Anyway, the second photo is certainly more balanced and the sky much more interesting as a result of the filter.

The second lot of photos (apologies for the out of focus photo - the light all disappeared by the time I realised, but the effect is still there) are taken inside to show the effect of using a nd filter to balance the light from the window. It's not _really_ obvious in this case, but I do get the gist. Can anyone help me with why the nd is giving the colour cast in the indoor shots? The only light should have been coming in from outside, same in both photos...

Photo 1: No Filters used
40mm, f/11, 1/8sec, ISO200, tripod

Photo 2: Graduated Neutral Density Filter fitted
40mm, f/11, 1/8sec, ISO200, tripod, grad neut density filter

Photo 3: No Filters used
24mm, f/2.8, 1/4sec, ISO640, tripod

Photo 4: Graduated Neutral Density Filter fitted sideways
24mm, f/2.8, 1sec, ISO640, tripod

Monday, 23 November 2009


I went to Cramond on Sunday afternoon in search of a good sunset to enable me to continue on with the projects for this section, but it was quite grey and overcast, and no good sunset appeared. Anyway, I managed to shoot quite a nice landscape shot of the causeway out to Cramond Island, so I thought I'd share that with you all. I'm not sure if it's a bit dark, so I welcome comments as usual.

24mm, f/22, 15sec, ISO 100, Tripod, graduated neutral density filter to decrease brightness of water on left side of photo.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Francesca Woodman

At a recent exhibition at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, entitled 'Artist Rooms', with works by Damien Hurst and other big names, I came across a photographer who tragically died quite young, who's work I thought was very inspiring. Her name was Francesca Woodman, 1958 - 1981. Her photos are B&W, often of young nude women, often blurred (sometimes quite ghost-like), often the faces are not shown. The movement softens the line of reality, and softens the body - creating often feminine, sensual shots. The prints we saw were small, and soft around the edges. They seemed quite experimental. I've done a bit of reading online, and looking at more photos, and if you are interested, the wikipedia page has excellent links to her photos. It's fascinating seeing some of her early shots, which she took when she was a young teenager.

Links to some of my favourites: Space, untitled 1976, Space2, angel series,

In fact, the more I look at her photographs, the more amazing I think she seems.

Another interesting photographer I discovered while reading about Woodman is Duane Michals (b. 1932), whom she may have been influenced by. This site has an interesting analysis of his work & art. I like his mix of surrealism and obvious sense of humour evident in some of his photos. I also like his attitude of not following the pack but trying to be different in ones photography, something I would like to strive to do more as I develop my own style.Link

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

What a difference the light makes!

These two photos were taken only a few hours apart, and the clear difference between flat dull light (the first) and cloudy skies with occasional sun breaking through (the second) is so clear! I thought this was a great example of changing light and the patience we need to have in photography (though on this occasion it was all luck and we happened to be walking in the same area at two parts of the day). These were taken last weekend (7 Nov) in Paris, and are of Notre Dame.

50mm, f/4.5, 1/90s, 0EV, Grad Neutral Density Filter, ISO320

40mm, f/6.7, 1/180s, -1/2EV, Grad Neutral Density Filter, ISO 400

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Project 43: Through the day

The aim of this project was to observe how light changes throughout the day, but taking a photo of the same scene once per hour through the day. I chose a simple scene (two trees with autumn leaves) across the road so that it was easy to access at hourly intervals. The quality of light was distinctly better (nicer for photography) at the start and end of the day, though I didn't capture any nice sunset or sunrise colours in the sky. It was very interesting simply to observe the changes through the day, as well as documenting them with the camera. I learnt early (9am!) that before I chose my viewpoint I should have thought about where the sun would pass through the sky! It went straight through my planned image, so that one was a write-off! Oh well, it's all a learning experience! Most elements were kept the same through the day - tripod, 50mm lens, ISO100, f/8 apart from the 5pm photo which was f/2.8 due to the low light levels, White Balance set to sunlight. The exposure changed as the light levels did.


Project 39: using faster film and higher sensitivity

The aim of this project was to discover the use of / benefits / shortcomings of different ISO levels. I chose to undertake this project on an overcast, rainy day and photographed some autumn leaves and trees in the neighbourhood. I chose this day because I thought it would be really obvious to see the differences the ISO made. What I didn't expect was that I could hardly hand-hold the camera at the shutter speeds required at ISO 100! And that was at the widest aperture of 2.8! Seemingly the light levels are even lower than I had thought. Nonetheless I managed to get some comparison shots, but changing the ISO as necessary, though a couple of the images do show some blurring. The wonderful thing about shooting in the rain was the lovely intense colours which are brought out by the rain and the fantastic diffuse light that overcast days have (which I generally don't appreciate enough!).
So obviously the advantage of increasing the ISO to 400 or 800 today was to be able to actually take the shot! The same would apply in evening shooting without a tripod, or in a night venue or cafe where light levels are low. The drawback is higher noise/grain levels, which can either add to the photo, not matter or be a feature of the photo, depending on the subject matter. Even if you were using a tripod, sometimes it might be useful to increase the ISO, for example if the slow shutter speeds mean things moving in the wind (such as trees/leaves) and then it might be worth increasing the ISO. Also with lower ISO you can be limited to using the larger apertures, but sometimes you might want larger depth of field, so need to decrease the aperture. Increasing the ISO will allow for this. The other end of the spectrum is if you want the silky water effect you might want to decrease the ISO as much as possible (obviously a tripod is needed for this) and then you can increase the shutter speeds.

Now, after I've gone on a bit; onto some photos!
Photo 1, ISO 100
70mm, f/2.8, 1/20sec,
Photo 1, ISO400
70mm, f/2.8, 1/90s

Photo 2, ISO100
70mm, f/2.8, 1/15s
Photo 2, ISO400
70mm, f/2.8, 1/60s

Photo 3, ISO200
48mm, f/2.8, 1/15s
Photo 3, ISO400
48mm, f/2.8, 1/30s

Photo 4, ISO200
48mm, f/2.8, 1/60s
Photo 4, ISO800
48mm, f/4, 1/125s

Photo 5, ISO400
70mm, f/4, 1/20s
Photo 5, ISO800
70mm, f/4, 1/45s

Photo 6, ISO200
70mm, f/2.8, 1/20s
Photo 6, ISO400
70mm, f/2.8, 1/45s

Photo 7, ISO200
70mm, f/2.8, 1/30s
Photo 7, ISO400
70mm, f/2.8, 1/60s