Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Online Art

I discovered  last year that the Tate Britain has its entire collection online! That's amazing. (link here).
There is just so much art online now, it means that even people in remote parts of the world (I don't actually think Australia is remote, even though it does feel that way occasionally) can view excellent art. Virtual tours such as the fantastic google art project make art really accessible - and as 3D imagery (ie 3D screens etc) improves this will mean we can almost 'walk' around art galleries from anywhere in the world (and the quality of the reproductions are really excellent).

This, combined with the growing number of blogs means that we can access a world of inspiring photography and art from anywhere. Now the problem is finding the time for this and balancing it with spending time working on my own art. I attempt to do this by alternating reading of blogs/books one evening and working on my own photography the next (although sometimes the balance changes if I have a particular project I'm working on). If my own work is getting a bit staid, then I do more reading of blogs or books.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Exercise 16: Exploring function... revisted

When I first did this exercise (see post here), I commented that I would like to revisit it using another space. Since I took myself off to the hairdresser last week to take photos specifically exploring function, I thought it would be good to post here under a revision of Exercise 16. I've already posted about the hair salon so I won't go into too much more detail about the process, but will make some comments as to how it relates to Exercise 16.

Firstly, the intention of use is clear - it is a place for getting your hair cut... also, vitally important is that the client must feel good about themselves, preferably beautiful and pampered. It also has to be practical, well lit, easy to move around and spacious. In this case all boxes are ticked.

Who uses it? The hairdresser and clients. I only considered the front area, but it is very pleasant to be in, with large windows and lots of lighting and mirrors which emphasizes the space. Most of the walls are white except for the back 'feature wall' which is black.

What is it used for? Discussed already - cutting hair/ pamper.

Now for my ...carefully considered photograph... well I have already posted the best 5 taken on the day, but in terms of function, I think an overview photograph is the best for showing how the space is used as I have discussed above.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hair Salon

I decided to challenge myself by asking to take some photos at the local hair salon. I had planned initially to use this for one of the projects but decided to just go and take the best set of photos I could to capture the feeling of the salon.  I like it because the area is bright and fresh feeling, and the chairs and decor is clean and modern. I had some ideas about what I would shoot (I was not going to include customers as the owner didn't want that), mostly thinking about what the features of the salon were, and perhaps what would be required if I was asked to capture the feeling of the space for a client for example.

I went before work one morning, and had about half an hour to photograph, which was ample time as I was only using one camera and lens, my normal 24-70mm f2.8 which covers most situations, and was not going to use any artificial lighting. I started by taking some photos of product with the salon out of focus in the background, but felt these didn't work that well - perhaps I should have decreased my aperture? I forgot how much less light there is in artificially lit buildings than outside! Most of my work lately has been outside with only the odd shoot inside. Anyway, I set my ISO to 400 and used relatively large apertures which worked well with some images more so than others. I like using a smallish depth of field to focus on areas of interest and I quite like the blurring effect that this gives.

I tried getting down low and found this to be quite effective in changing how things looked. I also shot along the chairs which worked well, and tried shooting almost straight down on the scene, though I'm not very tall this also changed how things looked. I liked the idea of shooting into the mirrors reflecting other mirrors creating the 'endless' kind of view. An interesting idea photographically which I have used before (for example in Assignment 1: Photo 4).

I also photographed the owner as he spoke on the phone at the front desk - he is quite blurred in the background, and the bright lights behind him are blown out but the focus is still on the chairs in front. I also needed a couple of overview shots - I thought it was important to get the name of the salon included in a photo, and also have a more zoomed out view of the whole area.

The shoot itself went well - I didn't take too long and didn't get in the way of the owner and workers setting up, which was important to me as it was a favour of sorts (which might have been hard to refuse given I am a client!). I managed to get a good variety of photographs which I am pleased with. I remembered to shoot key photos both horizontally and vertically to give me good choice in the post-processing to see what works best.

Post-processing was somewhat of a challenge. I shot all the photos with sunlight white balance, thinking that I could easily correct in post. However my skills are not great with correcting white balance - a couple of shots were great but others were harder to correct. This is an area I need to improve on, and I suspect my next course will be the Digital photography 1 course so I can force myself to learn some more skills.

Anyway, here are the photos, I am pleased to have a set of 5 photos to show for my efforts and will be providing these to the owner for use under Creative Commons licensing.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Exercise 21: Making figures anomyous

The aim of this exercise was to understand and utilize ways of including people/person in a photograph of a place while deliberately making them unrecognizable. In some of the following photographs I have succeeded in this, but in others I have zoomed in too much on the person so the photograph is more about them than the place. I have included them anyway as it is all part of the learning process.

Photo 1. Reflection in a painting at GOMA. Perhaps too much about the fun nature of the image rather than a space per se.

Photo 2. Small and many (not that many...) Good balance between the children and tables.

Photo 3. Partially obscured. An effective and interesting photograph, but not really about a space, more focussed on the woman - I should have stepped back and included her in her environment more.

Photo 4. Cyclist in silhouette. An effective photograph of a building, with the cyclist in silhouette giving some human interest.

Photo 5. Couple in silhouette, sunset at Noosa. Another effective photograph of a stunning sunset complete with moon finished off with the inclusion of the (small) couple in silhouette. 

Photo 6. Red wall, advertising sign with people. About the place (under a bridge), with the inclusion of people slightly blurred against the bright wall.

Photo 7. Perth convention centre - a cleaner and man shown from behind add interest to the foyer of the large convention centre.

Photo 8. One from the archive - Munich showing small people which emphasise the scale of the gardens.

Photo 9. Another from the archive - this time Dubrovnik, old buildings with a very blurred person who almost looks ghost-like in this photo...

So not all were a success but a good collection of examples showing how people can be included but with less emphasis. I need to step back a bit more sometimes to capture more about the space than the people. With projects like this I'm so glad I have my super dooper point and shoot (Canon Powershot S95), it's so useful to have it with me all the time!

Update. Exercise 18

I have taken a few more photos for Exercise 18: How space changes with light. The local netball courts provided a good opportunity for some interesting lines and shapes, and I decided to photograph them both in the early evening and in the middle of the day, with obvious large differences in outcome!

Photo 1: Time of photo 5:51pm. ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/3s, -5/3 EV

Photo 2: Time of photo 12 midday. ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/400s, -4/3 EV

I slightly prefer the first photo taken at dusk. The purple sky and small pools of water reflecting the sky are particularly successful I think. In both images the wide angle view emphasises the large space, and the lights give the vertical space some definition. The white lines painted on the ground lead the eye through the image.

Speaking of leading lines through an image, check out this awesome photo taken in New York by Stephen Doyle and photographed by Stephen Wilkes, he has installed tape on the floor/walls and then photographed kids over the top. The effect is incredible.

Exercise 19: A single figure small

The task for this exercise was to photograph '... a place which is mostly free of people, yet with an occasional figure passing through it'. And I guess it should be somewhat interesting too?

I went walking at Southbank for a short while on the weekend and took a couple of photos. The first is a someone standard photograph of the front of the train station, with someone exiting the frame on the right. Although convention is to have people walking into the frame, I thought it was more interesting in some ways having him exit the frame, i.e. just arrived on a train and leaving the train station area. Not sure. Anyway, he is dynamically placed close to the edge of the frame. Bright blue sky in the background (matching my person's outfit, though obviously I didn't plan for that!) and lovely brick building with a yellow post as accent in the foreground.

The second photo is of one of the fancy hotels in the area, the Mantra. I had not spotted the pool before, and I think it fits in nicely with this exercise which was to see if you (the viewer) can have a delayed reaction in noticing the figure. In this case it is not the scale that is unusual but the presence of the figure indicates that actually there is a pool overlooking the road! I like the strange relationship of the traffic lights superimposed on the building and man, and also like the bold oranges and blues in this image. The strong geometric lines are effective also (though some may say might work better on a diagonal?)

The inclusion of people as small accents in these two photos _definately_ make for more interesting images of the buildings and this is a technique I will continue to explore with my photo making.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Assignment 3: Buildings in use

I have recently completed Assignment 3, which is titled  Buildings in use. I have chosen 5 buildings to photograph for this Assignment. I have found capturing each of the buildings to be quite challenging – finding both the 'right' angle and viewpoint and then good light is hard.

Building 1. RCH Bus Station, Herston
A bus station on the Northern Busway, Brisbane.

Photo 1. Overview of Station

Photo 2. Bus departing station

Photo 3. Passengers alighting onto bus

Photo 4. Stand behind yellow line, Platform 1

Building 2. Bridge, Airlink project, Herston
Part of Australias largest construction project, a bridge over the entrance to the Clem Jones tunnel.

Photo 5. Isolated bridge

Photo 6. Bridge amidst massive construction project

Photo 7. Light post and crane

Building 3. Spicers Hidden Vale Resort
Luxury resort west of Brisbane - such a treat to visit and photograph!

Photo 8. Red Angus Cottage

Photo 9. Loungeroom

Photo 10. Little luxuries

Photo 11. Bedroom

Building 4. Northey City Farm Office Building
The new, very environmentally friendly office building at our local city farm (located in floodplain which explains its height!).

Photo 12. Rain water tank

Photo 13. Stairs up to office

Photo 14. Office view

Photo 15. Highrise

Building 5. Powerhouse Art Centre
Large arts centre which was the Brisbane powerhouse in its former life.

Photo 16. Stairs to stage

Photo 17. World Press Photography Exhibition

Photo 18. Front of building

This assignment has been another big challenge for me. Choosing the buildings and then executing each photograph and trying to get a complete view of each building was not easy. I have learnt a lot during the course of this assignment, and feel like I have improved considerably in my photography of buildings and spaces. More practice required, as ever...

Exercise 15: Public space, public activity

This exercise is actually from chapter 2, however I only finished taking photos last weekend for it. I actually started it a year ago in Edinburgh with some photos take in the Princes St gardens one (rare) very sunny day, with everyone out sunbathing enjoying the warmth. Since moving to Brisbane where it is warm almost all year round, I have noticed a real difference in attitude - I have not once seen someone sunbathing on the lawn here, as opposed to Edinburgh where as soon as the sun is out and it's somewhat warm there are people lying on the lawn with bellies exposed. Quite a contrast. So I wanted to photograph a public area here in Brisbane, the local farmers market has an adjacent lawn patch with a few stalls around where people congregate on a Sunday morning after they have done their grocery shopping, sit back with a cup of chai and enjoy the atmosphere.

The first 8 photos show the way people are using the space in Princes St Gardens, Edinburgh.

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The second set of 8 show a variety of activity taking place at Northey St Farm on a sunny Sunday.

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I really like the contrast between these two sets of images. In each of them there are some solitary people enjoying time on their own, and also small groups of people chatting, interacting with children, eating and drinking or relaxing in their own way. Capturing different activities gives an overall picture of the area which can be more telling than a single photograph. The strong contrasting sunlight is present in both sets, despite them being taken on opposite sides of the world! I like the strong dark shade patches in some of the first set of photographs in particular.