Exercise 3.1

(In progress)

Using fast shutter speeds try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject. Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph. Try to find the beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated John Szarkowski. Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and a description of your process (how you captured the images), to your learning log.

My first task on this exercise was to identify my subject, as I realized not every movement that is frozen in a photograph would be perceived that way. For example, I can wave my hand and take a shot with high shutter speed and the hand will look still but no one apart from me could now if the hand was moving in that particular moment or it was just static in front the camera.

I was motivated to try something with water and also use flash, thinking this would ease the process. It did not only make everything complicated but it also took a good couple of hours and the results are far worse than I expected.

I tried to capture the water coming out from a small syringe that I was operating while pressing the shutter. I used a strobe unit on one side, at variable speeds through the shoot, a black chair that worked as a background and my camera mounted on a tripod. First, I had to figure out the parameters to take this shot in Shutter Priority Mode, which I have never used before when using strobes. I also attempted the same shot using manual mode, with better results.

This is the contact sheet with a selection of images, as I had too many and I did not catch the water coming out of the syringe in all of them:

Contact sheet 1

For the last two images shown above, I used the modeling lamp as my only source of light, taking away a lot of the hassel from flash synchronization but the white balance achieved by the camera was not so accurate, hence the yellowish tint to the syringe.

Here there are some of the images and technical specifications:


On Shutter Priority mode (TV), ISO had to be pushed up to get the shot. Like this, there is a lot of noise on the first three images, where ISO is maintained at 5000-6400. I have managed to freeze the movement of the water. This can be appreciated specially on the last bit of water coming out from the syringe, as it was coming out in a more fluid manner.

While using Manual mode (M), I found that regarding the intensity of the flash and the distance between this and the subject, I could not shoot at a higher speed than f/250, as when changing to f/320 I could already see the second shutter blind closing on the right. It is not very noticeable as the background is black but it is definitely there. As ISO was kept on 100, the last three images show no noise and are more appealing. I had also the freedom to choose an aperture that made it easier to focus the shot.


Assignment 2: Collecting (Part II) Final images and reflexion on the results.

Re-approach of the brief and new assignment idea.

(Part I can be found here)

For my headshot series I wanted to follow the same line as on the initial idea, research wise. I wanted to communicate something personal and integrate image and written word, so decided to document a day and a half of my life through headshots.

I work as a nursing assistant and often do night shifts. Normally, I would not go to bed after my shift and will try to keep myself awake till the following night. My diet goes off the window and at the end of the day (and a half) I do not even feel like a person. I thought I could come up with an interesting set of images that would show the changes on my face together with some brief notes of what I have done and eaten, and the time the images were taken.

I set up a light and the tripod in one of the rooms and kept it closed so nobody would interfere and the distance between me, the camera and the light source would remain as stable as possible throughout the process:



As I did not have space for a second light or a reflector, I tried to place the single light as parallel and close to the camera as possible, to get my face features illuminated in order to appreciate the changes from one photograph to another. I did not have a remote shutter release so the biggest challenge here was getting my face in focus. Other problem was finding the right spot to get my face framed properly and in a similar position for all the shots.

Technical approach and planning

After mounting the camera on the tripod at a hight suitable to take a self portrait while standing, I chose my camera settings. When working with external flash I would normally choose the settings (aperture between 6-8, ISO 100, white balance set to “flash” and shutter speed between 125 and 250), take a test shot and bring the power of the flash up or down (or using flash compensation on camera, again depending on the kind of light I am looking for and the power of the flash unit I am using) till I get an exposure that I am happy with. So I started with:


ISO: 100

Shutter speed: 1/160

Focal length 42mm

I used these settings till IMG_6226, where I closed the aperture till f/9, in order to ease the process of getting my eyes in focus. I adjusted the power of the flash from there and once I got the exposure right, I took some more shots until I figured out what position I needed to be in and also experimenting with my facial expression. I resolved to stay away from smiling too much and remain as neutral as posible so the effects of poor diet and sleep could be seen in a clear way and not conditioned by my expression. I planned in advance at what times I was taking the shoots (after certain activities) and documented my food and beverage intake and the main facts occurring in between the shots.

The technique I used to get my face in focus without a remote shutter release was as follows:

  • using the self-timer of the camera (10s) and selecting an AF point that would fall on the lines of my eyes, I place one hand on the spot were my face was meant to be while pressing the shutter down half way.
  • when the light on the camera indicated that focus was found, I was pressing the shutter fully and positioning myself on the same spot where my hand was, working better when standing slightly ahead of that spot.

Here are the contact sheets of the whole shoot (with the final nine images marked in red):

Selection of images and notes

I noticed that, as the day was progressing, it took less time for me to get the shot right. This was partly because learning the exact way to focus and position myself improved with practice but also because the more tired I was getting, the less picky I was about the way the image looked and I was happy with a focused centered photograph.

The criteria for choosing the final images was:

  • 1 image per period of time documented.
  • in focus.
  • as centered as possible.
  • similar position to the previous shots to keep the continuity of the series.

[I called the series “Almost 36” because that is the gap between the first and the last image (35 hours and 43 minutes) and also because I will be 36 next month and I thought it was a brilliant coincidence for a self portrait project.]

These are the images selected and their annotations:


“Almost 36”


Wake up time: 6:40 a.m

Left the bed at 7:15 a.m





Strengths and weaknesses

I was positively impressed with the final result as I think it reflects clearly the ups and downs of the day(s) documented, exactly as I felt they happened. While taking the photographs, my impression was that the project was worthless as I thought I was looking exactly the same in every image. However, when I reviewed the photographs at the end of the experience, I could see how much my face and expression was affected by the lack of sleep and uncontrolled intake and how the tiredness builds up along the way, which was the main thing I wanted to communicate with the series.

As weaknesses, I would point out the lack of light bounced on the right side of the face, with would have made the portraits more flattering.

Overall I am pleased with what I am presenting. It has been also a good exercise for me as I am quite self-conscious and I was totally out of my confort zone. I reflected about publishing the images, whether or not I would regret it, what would people think about me… only till I saw the series as a whole and instantly loved it and left all these questions aside. I feel I have succeed only because I have put a little bit of truth out there (the truth about how hard it is to be a nurse and have a family life, the truth about how terrible someone can look after sleeping…and after not sleeping) and because I have found the courage to publish a picture of myself in such states.


How could I develop this further in the future.

It could be developed in many ways and I feel that more personal work like “Almost 36” will come. As I mentioned above, I do feel somehow liberated and willing to experiment a bit further by documenting little happenings in life through photography and trying to make it interesting.

Perhaps a more exhaustive approach to the specific times when the photographs were taken (every hour, every two hours…) would have helped and, although impossible in my current situation, it might be something that could be applied to future projects of similar nature.

Another idea that came to mind and that would be interesting to come back to is taking a similar series exclusively with available light, so the time of the day would be reflected also on the image and it could be guessed by the quality of the light and not only by the footer of the photograph.



Looking at the overall work on Assignment 2, I consider I have fulfilled the Assessment criteria. I have documented all the process, taking notes of the mistakes and finding alternatives for both meeting the brief and solving technical challenges.

I think I have shown a good level of technical skills and that I know my camera and understand the concepts reviewed during Part I and II. I do tend to explore different options in order to achieve the results I expect.

In the end, the requirements of the brief are met. I have presented a series of nine headshots, created by showing a degree of technical skills and although my first approach to the assignment could not progress in the way I wanted, I have managed to come up with an interesting set of images that are also working as a whole, communicating an idea and showing continuity.

I was concerned about the feedback I would get from my tutor if I would have followed my initial idea but I am now more confident as I perceived the final work submitted has a good professional feel to it.

Overall, I have enjoyed greatly working on this Assignment and I am looking forward for feedback and new challenges in Assignment 3.

Hoja de contacto-FINAL

Assignment 2: Collecting (Part I)


Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options, or a subject of your own choosing:

  • Crowds
  • Views 
  • Heads

Use the exercises from Part Two as a starting point to test out combinations of focal length, aperture and viewpoint for the set. Decide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal. You should keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence to the series.


First impressions and initial response to the brief.

During my A1 feedback session with my tutor, it was suggested working on “Views” on Assignment 2 and approach it from a different viewpoint, perhaps looking down. While completing the exercises in Part Two I decided not to take this option for various reasons:

  • I found it very limiting, since there are not many bridges or buildings I could take pictures from and the views were far from exiting, which did not motivate me to follow this route.
  • I frequently find myself shooting while looking after my two year old son and since it hasn’t stopped raining for about three weeks and I have to push a buggy around together with the camera, I found this not adequate and again, very limiting.

I do not like crowds so I decided to go for Heads instead.

I have spent too much time thinking on this assignment. I had to change the plan half way through and I am still unsure if the final outcome will meet the brief as it is suppose to. This might be a quite lengthy reflection on the assignment as I have made multiple annotations but I would like to resume them all here for future reference. 

Inspiration, research and how my ideas developed.

Initially, I had an idea for a project that I have been developing as I was going through the exercises in Part Two. The idea came to me when I found a rather intriguing ad on Gumtree on the 25th of July 2017:

“Date posted 13/07/2017

We are currently needing to get back at someone for a prank they pulled on us, so looking for someone to help us with our payback prank will only be 10-15 mins worth of your time to lay the ground work will pay 25 for your time needed in the St. Andrews area.


I thought is was hilarious but I was also trying to guess myself what these people´s revenge plan was. What happened to them? How will all resolve? Is it a friendly prank or something else? I normally find these things fascinating and soon after I read this ad, I came across Sophie Calle and I knew I had to take my finding further and take a series of images, taking some inspiration from Sophie Calle´s work (in this case, photographing strangers and integrating written word and images).

I found a reference to Sophie Calle´s project “The Hotel” (1981) in “The Photograph as Contemporary Art” by Charlotte Cotton. I loved the concept. Having worked in a hotel myself, I have experienced the feeling of walking  into a guest´s room and noticing how the room itself and the belongings are somehow disconnected: one day the owners leave and other people´s belongings take over the space, which never changes and it is incredibly impersonal. I found the act of photographing guest´s belongings fascinating and her particular approach (taking notes, creating portraits of the owners and suggesting stories). There is a special connection along her work between the subject and herself, even when the subject is not there.  On “The Address Book” (1983), she created a portrait of a man by visiting the contacts from his lost address book and asking questions about him. Previously, on “The Sleepers” (1979), she invited 24 people to sleep in her bed for periods of 8 hours, so her bed was constantly occupied for over a week. Calle interviewed the volunteers and documented the experience, taking pictures regularly, even while they slept (again, the absence of the subject). She also followed a man she barely knew (called Henri B.) to Venice and shadowed for thirteen days on “Suite Venitienne ” (1980). Calle tried to photograph Henri B., who was a photographer himself, in his own photographic style. She did not seem to find out much about the man after all, as she wrote at the end of her notes “Henri B. did nothing. I discovered nothing. A banal ending to this banal story” (Sophie Calle, 1980). 

For my series, I wanted to contact strangers and take their photographs and also integrate some degree of interaction between them. I wanted people to participate. The first idea I wrote on my notes is:

“Ask people I know to tell me a secret, which could be real or fake.

I will then take pictures of anonymous people and randomly assigned them a secret [so this would be the title of the image].

It could be interesting if they pick their own secret from a list. Or even take it out from a bag containing the secrets.”

The first approach I thought of was asking the subjects to pose and take their image from the back, so their face would not show. I wanted to keep them “unknown”.

By assigning each of them a secret, I wanted to create the illusion that both subject and secret are connected, so the viewer would assume knowing something about the subject. I wanted to experiment with perception and assumptions and also give the viewer the possibility to connect with someone who´s identity is hidden.

So, this was the kind of image I was planning at the beginning:



I thought of using a focal length between 24-35mm to give the scene a more realistic feeling and help the viewer create a story of their own.

I also wanted the background on focus, integrating the subject with the environment.

As a second thought, and with the purpose of giving the viewer some more information on the subject, I resolved placing the subject performing a simple action (carrying shopping bags while walking towards a door, so it will help with the assumption that that person just arrived home from shopping) but I soon realized it was taking the attention away from the main idea. I also discarded the idea of asking the models to choose a false name that would go on the title together with the secret, as it was distractive. I wanted to keep the images really straightforward and also give scope to the viewer to generate their own preconceptions with minimal intervention.

At this point I was still unsure on how to meet the brief, as I was going with the Heads option that I took generally as portraits rather than specifically headshots. I needed to bring the subject tighter on the frame but a head seen from the back is not very exciting and I didn’t think it would communicate anything so I integrated the idea of using a small aperture with the subject moving, facing the camera. I realized giving less importance to the background and turning my subject towards the camera was working far better while going a step closer to the brief. I still wanted to keep the background different between subjects and keeping it in focus was important too, because:

  1. gives some stability to the scene, as subject will move.
  2. gives the subject a sense of belonging, while keeping them different from each other.

It was important for me to “keep it real” and get the final images on camera (rather than faking the movement by merging different shots in post processing) as the whole concept of the series held enough complexity about what is real or not, so the technical challenges were some.

Technical approach and Planning.

My choices for focal lengths are not big. I only own a 50mm and a 17-50mm zoom at present so I opted for what works best, the prime.

Although I am shooting portraits, I have chosen to use an horizontal frame through the series. I want to create scenes rather than isolating the model and also give the final image a more cinematographic feel, in the line of me telling a story to an audience who will be building up a character from the information presented to them.

The steps/preparation that I followed is:

  1. Contact volunteers through an ad on Gumtree. I wanted to link the payback ad to my series. I also requested from the subjects a specific amount of their time, 30 minutes in my case.
  2. Set up a time and date with each of the volunteers. The only instructions for clothing were to avoid pure black or pure white, to keep the image interesting and make exposure easier.
  3. Ask my friends and relatives to tell me a secret. It was suggested that the secret did not have to be real, but I should not know whether they told me the truth or not.
  4. During the shoot (which is done outdoors with natural light and no reflector) the model is asked to stand in front of the camera at certain distance and move their head right to left and back, at different speeds. I instructed the model to try keeping the body still in the meantime, which is quite challenging.
  5. After the shoot, the model is presented with the list of secrets and asked to choose the one that will give the title to their image.


So far, the general settings for the series is:

– Focal length: 50mm

– Mode: Aperture priority.

– Aperture: f/22

– ISO: 100

– Camera mounted on tripod, as images will be taken at the lowest speed possible with daylight.

Before taking the first image for the assignment, I thought of setting the camera in BULB mode an try to get as much movement as possible from the subject. In fact, I tried this option but there was far too much light around and taking the image without blowing up the background was not possible. I did some reading on this and resolved that it would not be possible to achieve unless moving the shoot indoors or using an ND filter that would lower down the exposure certain stops. Hence, I sticked to the idea of using aperture priority which was also the mode we experimented with during Part Two.

Here is a sample of the images taken with the first volunteer:


I have censured the images where the face of the subject can be seen, as the shutter speed was too fast for the speed of his head moving. I could have solve this in part by selecting shutter priority mode but I did not wanted my ISO to go higher (I find the noise in my camera is very noticeable when bringing ISO up). As it can be seen, I was playing with BULB mode on the first images where the scene is well overexposed. Then I switched to aperture priority as explained. The last set of contact sheets is a trial of how would it have looked if I would have followed my initial idea, which I did not find very interesting. From all the shots, I preferred the ones where there is more background included in the frame with the subject looking into the camera. This is the image that I selected to be the first of the series:

“I left without paying”, 2017

I love the fact that the graffiti on the black door has faces on it and specially that the last one is covered. It gives another dimension to the image so I started to look for these little details on the following shoots.

The second shoot was more straight forward, as I knew my camera settings so it was more about the interaction with the subject and finding a place to set up within the first five minutes of the shoot. I have been finding the experience very fulfilling and exciting. It is difficult to believe that there are people out there who actually contact me and let me photograph them but I also see from my part how enjoyable it can be, even if it takes only 15 minutes to take the shot, the simple action of meeting with a complete stranger and do this together brings something very rewarding in the end.

This is the contact sheet for the second shoot:

Hoja de contacto-005

And this is the final image I selected for the assignment:

“I once dressed up as a woman in a contest” 2017


Again, this was a bit of luck, finding a background that I like that also shows some symbolism in it. I chose it initially because of the plants, as they look kind of blurred behind the window but did not notice the two faces drawn on the purple leaflet which are looking right into the camera. I like it, it is almost ironic that the person photographed does not show his identity but there are two little imaginary individuals interested in being portrayed.

I was happy with the results and how the idea developed. However, the difficulties of finding a date and time that would suit everyone made me think of other alternatives. I wanted to continue with the course materials and this was holding me back. I also thought that, as I was not showing headshots, the assignment would end up not meeting the brief description, so I sadly abandoned the idea (only for assignment purposes as I am continuing with the project for myslef) and prepared a series of headshots instead.

[Continues on the next post]



– Baudrillard, J. (2009). Sophie Calle: The reader. 1st ed. London [England]: Whitechapel Gallery.

– Cotton, C. (2014). The photograph as contemporary art. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

– Tate. (2017). Sophie Calle born 1953 | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/sophie-calle-2692 [Accessed 5 Aug. 2017].

– The complete guide to night & low-light photography. (2002). Devon: David & Charles.


Stuart Low. Treescapes.


Stuart Low
Stuart Low´s Treescapes

Stuart Low is an experienced landscape photographer based in Fife (Scotland). I came across his work when visiting the Shutter Hub OPEN exhibition at Retina Scottish Photography Festival in the Ocean Terminal. It is only a small sample but it gives a good idea of his clean photographic style at the time that serves as a preview of his book “Treescapes: the Art of Photographing Trees”.

Being brought up in the Scottish countryside, he developed a preference for outdoors photography, specially trees. With a background in science, this self taught photographer applies his knowledge of both Photography and Physics to frame beautiful landscapes.

I particularly like his black and white film series of Treescapes, and the very minimal colour series of winter landscapes. There is something about his “tree portraits” that pictures nature as both delicate and magnificent at one time by the way he isolates these trees within the frame.

Stuart is also an experienced instructor and runs multiple workshops on Landscape Photography.



Stuart Low website. http://www.stuartlowphotography.co.uk

On Landscape, 2016. https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2016/08/treescapes-stuart-low/

Project 2. Lens work.

Do some research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project. 

Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes described in Project 2. Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took this photograph isn´t important: find a photo with a depth of field that fits the code you´ve selected. The ability of photographers to adapt to a range of usages is something we´ll return to later in the course. 

Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you have re-imagined your photograph. 

From the authors mentioned in this section, I have selected two photographers who´s work on landscape photography is radically different.

Firstly, I have researched the work of Kim Kirkpatrick, an American photographer from Washington D.C who produces his images in this same area ( I love how this resonates to the Square Mile assignment).

A very shallow depth of field was used on his early work and shows his intention of capturing the beauty of “unnoticed elements”. With an exquisite care put on composing each image, the soft areas on the background interact with the sharp subject, framing it and enhancing its presence.

Kim Kirkpatrick´s early work
Kim Kirkpatrick´s early work

Looking at his current work, the differences and progression seems to follow a purpose. It feels more personal. His images maintain the same crop and distinctive style and his love for bringing awareness of overlooked objects and scenes is constantly present.

The depth of field looses that extreme level shown on earlier photographs, introducing the viewer to a broader view of the area. Therefore, there is a greater integration of his subjects in their surroundings as opposed as using the background to isolate the focal point of the image.

It presents the viewer with a more realistic idea of what he sees and points at the importance of representing the colours and atmosphere as he perceives them.

There is a particular interest in capturing the landscape in great detail and uses a large format camera for his recent work, taking various minutes to produce an 8 x 10 negative. As Kirkpatrick recognizes himself, his work is not everyones preference and still he shows passion for what he does. I appreciate how warm and personal his work feels to me how carefully crafted despite seeking beauty where others would not see it. Also the not-so-obvious compositions on his most recent photographs and the dedication to a specific story told through images in a specific area makes his work one to admire.


The other photographer I would like to comment on is Ansel Adams. Born in San Francisco, California in 1902, he was actively involved in Environmental movements and as Kirkpatrick, his work explores the beauty found in nature through landscape photography.

Ansel Adams.Tetons and the Snake River, 1942

Adams´s  approach and aesthetics are radically different from Kirkpatrick. His landscape style seems aimed to show the greatness of monumental forms of nature, capturing impressive images of waterfalls, mountains, deep valleys and natural parks. His images show either a high or low viewpoint combined with a very deep depth of field: canyons and waterfalls seem to elevate themselves from a ground view showing their magnificence and the horizon expands in front of the eyes when contemplating rivers, valleys and mountains.

His images are distinctive and skillful. It represents the kind of landscape photography that would appeal the public and would be sold on a postcard. However, it feels less personal than Kirkpatrick´s work. Creating the kind of images Adams does would certainly require discipline, knowledge and amazing technical skills, but how challenging is it to look for beauty among beautiful things? In my opinion, Kirkpatrick´s take on the mundane demands a greater consideration of the subject and a different kind of love.


My photography archive

I have selected a couple of images from my personal archive to illustrate the two techniques mentioned in the course materials for Project 2:

Image 1 shows a very shallow depth of field. It is not a technique that I would normally choose but it was intentionally chosen in this particular case. This photograph was taken as part of a newborn photoshoot and I wanted to capture the baby features that disappear soon after the first couple of weeks. By using a shallow depth of field these features are made more noticeable, isolating them from the rest of the scene.

Image 2 has a very soft overall feeling, with just a very narrow area of the bird on focus. There was no particular intention in use of depth of field here apart from feeling it was the obvious thing to do in this kind of shot. Now, I would have put more care on getting the whole subject in focus by slightly lowering my aperture or stepping back and recomposing the image.


Image 3 and Image 4 show a deeper depth of field. Image 3 was recently taken at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the intention was to capture the whole installation locating it in its surroundings. The depth of field came determined by the focal length used and the distance to my subject rather than by personal election. However, reflecting now on the course materials and my own research, I would have definitely given this mater a thought and use the aperture more carefully to make sure I can capture as much detail as possible from the background.

I had a similar intention on Image 4. As the sun was going down, I wanted to capture the light glowing from behind the houses and somehow integrate the woman on the balcony with the rest of the scene.



-Kim Kirkpatrick´s Portfolio. Online resource.

-Gazzette.net Archive. Karen Schaffer, June 13, 2001. Photographer trespasses into our real world. Online resource.

-The Ansel Adams Gallery. Online resource.

– Gerry Badger, 2007. The Genius of Photography. How photography has changed our lives. Quadrille publishing Limited, p. 134-135.

Exercise 2.7

Use a combination of small apertures and wide lens to take a number of photographs exploring deep depth of field. Because of the small apertures you´ll be working with slow shutter speeds and may need to use a tripod or rest the camera on a stable surface to prevent “camera shake” at low ISOs. Add one or two unedited sequences together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.


I have encountered various problems during this exercise. Firstly, I did not have a tripod or a place to rest the camera, so I had to bring the ISO up quite high and the noise on some images is evident. Secondly, it was very windy and also the light was harsh, with big contrast between light and dark areas. I also made a mistake and shoot at an aperture of f/16 which made me need that high ISO when I could have probably get everything in focus at f/11 and gain some speed.

Here is a sequence I took exploring deep depth of field and a brief explanation about the settings:


Image 1: I started off setting my camera to f/16, ISO 400, shooting with a 17mm focal length. This gave me a reading of 1/13s on camera, far to slow without using a tripod. I also felt the image was overexposed and I felt frustrated as I could have compensated that in manual mode and get some more speed. I took the shot anyway, as I think it is good for learning purposes. As I said, I did not think of opening a bit more till f/11 or more to compensate the lack of speed and decided to raise the ISO up to 1000.

Image 2: I did not gain much speed by pushing the ISO up. Not only 1/20s wasn’t enough to get a sharp handheld shot but also the wind was too strong and there was no way the leaves where going to look in focus.

Image 3: Using the same settings as for Image 2, I got a better speed as there was more available light, but still not enough to compensate the movement of the leaves.

Image 4: I moved to another area without changing the settings. At ISO 1000 and with a good section of the image in shadow, the amount of noise is evident.

Image 5: Considering the noise in the previous shot, I changed the ISO again down to 400.  There was an even distribution of light in the overall scene so this shot was successful with the parameters chosen.

Image 6: I continued to shoot in a darker area again but as I did not expect the logs to move, I kept ISO in 400. The shutter speed is not great but still manageable at 17mm. I was again in an area of strong highlights and shadows so I had to wait for the moment when the light was not so bright before taking the shot.

Image 7: To finish, I took this shot to show a deep depth of field where the three elements at the front, middle and back planes are in focus.

Exercise 2.6

Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.

Following with the exercises of Part 2, I set my camera on Aperture Priority mode and set the aperture to the widest I could in order to get the shallower depth of field possible.

Sequence details:

Focal lenght: 50mm


ISO 320

Here are some unedited shots:

Most of the images show a very shallow depth of field, except Image 6, where I was not shooting as close to the subject. There is evident depth if looking at the top left corner behind the car but a shorter distance between the lens and the wheel would have worked better for the purpose.

On Image 5 I was focusing on the middle of the branch so both the front and the background show a shallow depth of field.

Image 2 is the most extreme example from the sequence, as there is only one petal of the middle flower in focus and everything else is out of focus. It was very windy and the flower on the right was closer to the lens, which did not help much. Also the camera was giving the lowest shutter speed but still enough to get the focus right.

I have found myself very limited using the aperture priority mode and Image 4 is an example of my struggle. The sunlight was falling on the flower on the right which I was focusing on and the camera was overcompensating this by lowering the exposure so much that the flower looks almost in shadow. Here is the same image with a quick basic exposure correction in Photoshop:

shallow rep

Exercise 2.4

With a wide aperture, place your subject at some distance of a simple background and take a portrait situating the camera at one and a half meters away from the subject. Use a  moderately long focal length such as a 100mm on a full-frame camera (65mm for crop sensor).


2.4 portrait
A patient husband



Shot details:



ISO 320

Focal length: 50mm on crop sensor (as this is my longest)



Exercise 2.2 and 2.3

Select your longer focal length and compose a portrait shot tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth. Take a photograph.

Take a second portrait using your shortest focal length, moving towards the subject till you fill the frame.

The background should show different elements between the two images, but the subject remains almost unaltered.

Since my only zoom lens is a 17-50mm, this exercise has been challenging and the purpose of it does not show with these focal lengths.

This is the photograph I took at 50mm filling the frame with the subject:


And this one the image at 17mm, walking towards the subject to fill up the frame again:


As my shortest focal length is very wide, the distortion on both background and subject is remarkable. At 17mm and in order to take a portrait filling the frame, the camera needs to be too close to the subject. In this case, the subject is taller than me so when shooting from so close, my viewpoint respect of the subject changed, affecting the image dramatically. It almost feels like two portraits of two different people when looking at his face features.

This is the reason why I have put together Exercise 2.2 and Exercise 2.3.

[Exercise 2.3 consists in changing to a lower viewpoint from Exercise 2.2 to appreciate this distorsion].