Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beyond People & Place...

I sent off my work for the March assessment yesterday. Pretty exciting to send off another finished subject, two years in the making. I feel like I've come a long way but also realise how far I've got to go...

I plan to enroll in Digital Photography 1 next. I feel like I need to improve my post-processing skills and this is the logical way to do so whilst continuing to study for my degree. I'm also going to try to install lightroom and make this my main platform for work.

Other projects I'd like to work on this year, time permitting.

Cropping & shapes – this is a project I'd like to do – make more interesting photographs with a variety of crops, and use these in a project such as one for a magazine.

Macro photography – work on seeing the detail again, a passion I used to have but have not practiced for a while.

Portrait photography – get the studio set up and start taking photos of friends and family (and children, since we'll have two by mid-year).

Off camera flash – I'm getting to grips with my flash more now after completing a short course here in Brisbane. Now I need to get out and start using it more!

Read some of the mass of photography books I have collected recently but not had adequate time to read!

I'm sure there are more, but thats a good start...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Assignment 3: Revisited

I have made a number of changes to my Assignment 3 over the past few months as I have learnt more about post-processing in photoshop. I also needed to reshoot some images and have been unable to get out for the last few months and only got an opportunity recently. So I thought I would share the changes I made.

Correcting the skew on a couple of my bridge images. This was a definite improvement to these images, and quite simple to do once I learnt how.

Processing the Spicers Retreat images as colour instead of black and white, as they would be more effective in a publication or advertising as colour. I think my processing skills have improved since I first took these images and do think the colour ones work well now.

I reshot this image of the indoor view of the Northey St Office building, this time using a tripod and cable release and used a smaller aperture. The result is a better framed and better lit image. I perhaps should have used some fill flash but have not done so in this photo.

Finally I went back to the Powerhouse museum and decided this time to shoot the rear of the building instead of the front, which has limited access due to it's location right on the river front. I have included a person for scale and have also adjusted the photo for skew in photoshop. I think this photo fits in well with my set.

The original photos are here. I am pleased that my tutor Norman has constructively given me lots of hints and tips on how to improve my images throughout my assignments.


I have been reading more recently about photobooks. I like the idea of having the chance to get a message/theme across in a series of photos that flow from one to the next in photobook format. The concept is quite different from trying to produce photographs for an exhibition for example, or a single image for the 'art market', whatever that means these days. Photobooks have been made since the start of photography and cover such an amazingly wide range of topics and subjects.

A photobook I bought last year is Andre Kertesz 'On Reading', which is a delightful small hardback with all photos containing some reference to books/reading. The diversity of the images is inspirational and shows how incredibly observational Kertesz was. This particular book is a reprint and the preface is by Robert Gurbo, Curator Estate of Andre Kertesz. Curiously he proposes that printed books are in demise with the current digital age. I disagree with his statements and believe that since it is now easier than ever to print a book (without even going to a publisher) that more and more photobooks will be printed. For example, the Blurb website, which also hosts the photobooknow competition which continues to raise awareness of the medium makes it incredibly easy to print your own photobook. However, the topic that Kertesz covered in his book is for sure on the demise, as now people are seen 'reading' their phones, laptops or tablet computers instead of books, or not reading at all but listening to music through their chosen device. The world that is captured in this book is indeed going or already gone. Perhaps that is what Gurbo is actually commenting on...

Exercise 20: Busy traffic

This is the final project that I had to finish for People & Place. I had taken some photos in the train/bus station a few months ago for this but was not happy with them. So today I went to the local farmers market which I know is a busy place, and set up my tripod, camera and variable neutral density filter.

I stayed pretty much in one place, the corner of the market, and changed my view from there. I have been before to the market so I knew that this was a good spot to catch the crowds and also people lining up to pay or peruse goods. I chose to use my variable neutral density filter to enable me to get multi-second exposures which I thought would show the movement of the people nicely. It was also important to have some people 'still' in the image otherwise it was all ghostly people moving past. I have put 6 shots below, 3 from each rough viewpoint which show the movement of the crowd around the market.

Photo 1: 1/8 sec

Photo 2: 2 sec

Photo 3: 6 sec

Photo 4: 4 sec

Photo 5: 2 sec

Photo 6: 3 sec

I think these photos show the movement and flow of people, and they are interesting and colourful at the same time. I think this technique (previously I've only used neutral density filters to slow shutter speeds in landscape work) is a good one for showing the flow of people in broad daylight. Obviously a tripod is essential, and a cable release helps to stop any camera shake also.

Colour Level 1: Weeks 7 and 8

In week 7 we discussed more of the same topics.

Tonal value for exposure - run a bracket if you need to - he emphasised again how important 'getting it right in the camera' was. For a red car, you need to overexpose by 1 stop to get the exposure right.  For bright yellows, it's +1.5, and for rich blacks, underexpose by 2 stops.

Some suggestions for macro - use a tripod, mirror lockup and a remote release, and the smallest aperture you can on your lens. Important to remember that DOF reduces with short lens-to-subject distance.

Environmental portraiture - your background should match yoru subject, eg the photo below by Arnold Newman shows a portrait of a pianist. Strong lines, the figure is barely there, but he is obviously a pianist! A google images search of his work comes up with many great environmental portraits.

He also suggested trying to use lighting to emphasise character of a person.

We went down to the studio to shoot some window light portraits. The three below show how important it is to meter (partial or spot) off the lit side of the face.
Photo 1: Metering off whole face

Photo 2: Partial metering off lit side of face

Photo 3: Partial metering off lit side of face, reflector held on other side to even lighting somewhat

They do look slightly underexposed to me, but the message is clear to be careful about how you meter - important to control the highlights on your subject (apart from catchlights etc which are only spot points). Obviously a dedicated light on the background would improve these images.

Week 8 is the final week and we reviewed some topics we had covered before.

More macro and landscape suggestions by way of a short video (Tony Sweet). Warm and cool tonalities look good together. Line up to be parallel with subject (for DOF), and look for patterns. For sunrise landscapes (shooting into the sun for example), use a polariser. Important to bracket with landscapes.

We also discussed our final assignment, which was 'movement'. I include my photos below. It was interesting to see the variety of shooting styles and experience of the group, which was quite varied.

Photo 1: Girl at Roma St Bus Station.

Photo 2: Small child learns to fly. Rear curtain flash.

Photo 3: Shower showing movement of water frozen.

Photo 4: The steering wheel goes round and round.

Photo 5: Zooming during the photo to give a sense of movement

Photo 6: Moving the camera whilst photographing the Christmas lights on a neighbours house

I have enjoyed this course and got lots of good tips and tricks and definitely feel more confident with my flash, which was one of the main reasons I did the course in the first place. I'm not sure if I'll do another course, I was a bit disappointed that there was not much chat amongst the group, perhaps that is unusual. I also wanted to meet some other keen photographers here in Brisbane. Nonetheless, it was a fun and worthwhile experience to do this short course.

Assignment 4: A Sense of Place

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

I have chosen to photograph an island which is very close to Brisbane. This assignment is to photograph for an intelligent, thoughtful travel publication, so I did some research looking at magazines such as those in the national newspaper, The Australian, and also the Qantas in-flight magazine. The images in those travel sections were bright, complementary colours and carefully chosen depending on the story at hand. Thus for my assignment I had to think carefully about what story I was try to show in my photographs, and not just shoot randomly. This made the project quite challenging and meant a number of ideas had to be discarded due to a lack of a cohesive story. I have chosen to document a relaxed weekend at Stradbroke, consisting of time on the beach and also time walking in the beautiful national park areas. This is the sort of holiday we enjoy, and I also decided to capture some slightly personal images of my family as I thought the article which might go with my photo essay would emphasise activities for a young family at North Stradbroke Island for a weekend.

Photo 1. Brown Lake
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 24mm, 1/90sec, ISO 200, natural light, dodge at low opacity over people.

Photo 2. Main Beach
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/16, 46mm, 1/250sec, ISO 200, natural light, minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 3. Blue Cat Red Cat
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/16, 24mm, 1/90sec, ISO 200, natural light minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 4. Domain Resort
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/6.7, 24mm, 1/250sec, ISO 200, natural light, minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 5. Spiderweb on bark
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 34mm, 1/60sec, ISO 400, natural light, minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 6. Abstract water droplets
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/2.8, 70mm, 1/350sec, ISO 400, natural light.

Photo 7. Beach reflections
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 48mm, 1/1000sec, ISO 200, natural light, minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 8. Beach abstract
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 17mm, 1/90sec, ISO 400, graduated neutral density filter, natural light, very minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 9. Greenery near Blue Lake
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 30mm, 1/60sec, ISO 400, natural light, very minor contrast enhancement via curves tool.

Photo 10. Kite Flying
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/11, 24mm, 1/750sec, ISO 200, natural light, free transform rotate and crop.

Photo 11. Surf Patrol
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/16, 24mm, 1/250sec, ISO 100, natural light.

Photo 12. Ice Cream and Gelati
24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 30D, f/4, 24mm, 1/350sec, ISO 100, natural light.

It's a relief to finally finish this last assignment and to be happy with the results. I am now in the process of preparing for assessment, finishing off my logbook and one final project before I have completed this subject. It's been challenging and rewarding,  particularly given how busy I've been personally over the last two years as well!