Thursday, 27 October 2011

Colour level 1

I have enrolled in a short photography course based at the Brisbane College of Photography, entitled Colour Level 1. I wanted to get to grips with my flash mostly, having had some challenges using it in anything other than automatic, and thought that this course, conveniently located a 10min cycle from home, would assist me. If I enjoy it I may go back for more advanced modules.

The second class (the first I could attend) was interesting. I obviously have picked up quite a bit of photographic knowledge in the last few years as I was one of the more knowledgeable (or at least more vocal!) in the class, able to answer many questions. It consolidated a few points for me though, and I thought I would use this blog to continue my photographic learning documentation, and I'll post my assignment work here too.

We covered many points without going into too much detail:

  • Slow sync + rear curtain flash - suggested for use with children (I will try this out with my little one)
  • BULB - when to use and how to calculate exposures (its all mathematics, you just need a known quantity and you can determine your shutter open time from there)
  • Partial metering might be a better option than centre weighted or spot
  • Talked about the dynamic range that a camera can cope with (5 to 6 stops), and what we can do to limit the dynamic range in a photograph (use fill flash, use a graduated neutral density filter or use a reflector to light dark areas).
  • Controlling the highlights is the most important thing (not possible to get back later)

We chatted about lots of other things too. I'm looking forward to next weeks class, and have an assignment to complete in the mean time. As much as I enjoy studying with the OCA I like the idea of attending a class and talking photography with other students face to face (particularly since I'm on the other side of the world to most OCA students!)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Exercise 23: Selective processing and prominence

The aim of this exercise is to use simple post-production techniques to either emphasise a figure or make it less prominent in a setting. I have chosen two photos taken recently at North Stradbroke Island. I was hoping to use this location for Assignment 4 but I don't have a sufficient number of high quality images so won't be using it for my subject unless I can get back in the next month or two.  It is a beautiful location - these two photos were taken at the Gorge Walk, in Point Lookout. North Stradbroke Island is very easy to get to from Brisbane and is a popular location for all sorts of beach related activities and also for wildlife spotting.

Photo 1. First the image as it came out of the raw process. I have increased saturation and the photo shows a nice view through trees to water in the distance with a photographer friend posing for me on a wooden walkway structure. I have only adjusted exposure etc for the whole image in this photograph.

Photo 2. This shows the image as before but this time I have gently dodged over my friends face and upper body using the soft light technique in photoshop. She now stands out better from the trees and is thus more prominent in the photograph.

Photo 3. This image has a very prominent woman in the foreground, in her brightly coloured dress, again taken directly from the raw process, only with exposure/saturation edits to the whole image.

Photo 4. I have used the same technique as before, gently burning in the woman and her bright dress to slightly darken her. She is now less prominent than Photo 3, and in fact I think the photograph as a whole is more successful. She actually looks more tanned in this image too which often would be appreciated in a portrait. The effect is quite subtle on the small images actually...

I have not done this sort of processing before (in fact I just learnt today how to do it for this exercise!) I think it will be very useful to know how to do this kind of minor dodge/burn which is subtle and yet quite effective. I actually think the two edited photographs are improved from the selective processing that I have applied.

Other options for selective processing would be to blur either the fore or background to emphasise the person, but that was not suitable in these cases and in fact I don't yet know how to do it. I'll investigate further and perhaps add another image to this exercise later on.

Assignment 5: People and Place, on Assignment

Brisbane Organic Growers Inc Annual Fair, Sunday 2nd October, 2011

I have chosen to photograph a local fair run by the Brisbane Organic Growers Inc (BOGI). I chose the organising committee as my notional client and my brief was to photograph the fair in all it's parts. This would include setup before the actual fair, the stalls, cafe, vegetable growing competition and auction at the end of the day. This was to be prepared in a short photo essay which would be included in the November newsletter and thus had a deadline of two weeks after the fair.

Having not attended a BOGI fair before, I did some research as to what might happen on the day. I made a list of possible targets for photographing.
  1. Preparation (both the day before and also the morning of the fair)
  2. Cafe ( serving freshly prepared food and home made cakes)
  3. Vegetable growing competition and judging (display?)
  4. Stalls (selling produce, giving advice, demonstrations etc)
  5. Auction of competition items
  6. Tidying up at the end of a long day.

Photo 1. Preparation. Setup area for stalls
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/6.7, 17mm, 1/90sec, ISO 640, natural light.

Photo 2. Preparation. Menu
50mm f/1.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/4.5, 50mm, 1/90sec, ISO 640, bounce flash.

Photo 3. Preparation. Red check tablecloth
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/4.5, 17mm, 1/45sec, ISO 640, bounce flash.

Photo 4. Cafe. Preparing cupcakes in the kitchen
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/2.8, 19mm, 1/60sec, ISO 1000, diffuser on flash.

Photo 5. Cafe. The first punters arrive
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/4.5, 17mm, 1/45sec, ISO 1000, diffuser on flash.

Photo 6. Cafe. Choosing and Paying
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/6.7, 17mm, 1/45sec, ISO 1000, diffuser on flash.

Photo 7. Stalls. Forbidden Fruits Nursery
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 17mm, 1/180sec, ISO 640, natural light.

Photo 8. Stalls. Tropical Fruits trio
17-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/5.6, 17mm, 1/90sec, ISO 640, diffuser on flash.

Photo 9. Stalls. Tea for sale
50mm f/1.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/5.6, 50mm, 1/250sec, ISO 500, natural light.

Photo 10. Competition. Viewing the entries
50mm f/1.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/2.8, 50mm, 1/90sec, ISO 500, natural light.

Photo 11. Competition. A young prizewinner
50mm f/1.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/5.6, 50mm, 1/60sec, ISO 640, diffuser on flash.

Photo 12. Auction. Graeme and Charlie call the auction
50mm f/1.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/3.5, 50mm, 1/60sec, ISO 640, diffuser on flash.

Photo 13. Auction. Bidding
50mm f/1.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/5.6, 70mm, 1/60sec, ISO 640, diffuser on flash.

Photo 14. Auction. A young bidder
70-200mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/6.7, 120mm, 1/60sec, ISO 640, diffuser on flash.

Photo 15. End of the day
70-200mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/6.7, 125mm, 1/60sec, ISO 640, natural light.

From Penny, BOGI vice president: 'Your photo story depicts from setup to cleanup and so much of the colour in-between, really wonderful.' It's a pleasure being able to provide a great set of photos to a client.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Assignment 5: People and Place, on Assignment

I have taken photos for Assignment 5. A good opportunity came up in the form of the annual BOGI Fair (Brisbane Organic Growers Association). Being interested in organic gardening, I joined the club recently and heard about the fair. I decided to set myself the task of photographing it and making a short photo essay, perhaps for the clubs monthly magazine. The fair was held last weekend, and I went along on Saturday afternoon to meet the organising committee and take some photos of them setting up for the fair. I then went back on Sunday to photograph the stalls being set up, the punters arriving, the busy cafe, the vegetable growing competition and resulting auction, and the tidy up at the end of the day. It was a busy and tiring day for me and quite challenging photographically. I was the official 'BOGI' photographer for the day which helped when people were asking what I was doing and I found it often broke the ice when chatting to people, then stepping back to take their photo and then thank them afterwards. The light conditions were very challenging and definately made me realise the limitations of my (now getting a bit old!) Canon 30D in terms of low light / high ISO and resultant noise.

My brief that I set myself was to prepare a short photo essay (perhaps 12 to 15 photos) for the December BOGI magazine.  In addition I was asked to take one photo that says BOGI Fair... not sure it that is actually achievable but I will take a look through the photos! And they would also like a slideshow of photos for the December meeting. This means a large number of photos that I am happy to show which is not what I initially had in mind. So my first aim will be the photo essay and then I will try to process enough images to have a short (probably 100 photo) slideshow. It's been a great experience taking the photos and now I just need to spend the time working on them and trying to get rid of some noise in the worst images.

Here is one example of the fair, taken on Sunday morning.

f/4, 1/90, ISO 640, 35mm, flash with diffuser