Exercise 5.2

Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, b ut you must make explicit un your notes what it is that you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?

Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case? Take your time over writing your response because you”ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment 5.


Following my tutor’s advice after submitting Assignment 4, I researched the Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama’s series titled “Slow Glass”, which I mentioned on my reflection on A4’s feedback. One of the tasks that was suggested to me was taking some night shots with the same distortion technique I used on my precious images. It was on my way home while shooting these night landscapes that I came across a McDonald’s store and this image from Hatakeyama’s project came to my mind, so I decided to use the same subject but with my own technique as a response to his shot. Here is the resulting image:

IMG_8690small

Although the two images are completely different, both have common elements such as the subject and the use of distortion. The main impulse of taking the picture was the universality of the symbolic neon sign which (sadly, I guess) could be recognised internationally and in a fraction of a second. The first time I saw Hatakeyama’s image, the one thought that came to me was that there are subjects that no matter how you disguise or distort them, they will always be easily spotted and understood by a wide audience, even if that is not your initial intention.

I wonder what other viewers perceive from either of the shots. Even though Hatakeyama’s image is far more refined and encapsulates a finer and more interesting composition and colours, what I perceive is that there are symbols (not necessarily brands) that are so stablished in our everyday life that talk by themselves, no matter how you present them to the audience. When you see his picture, you forget about the beauty of the “Slow Glass” series and think “oh, look, McDonald’s!”. It is a stone on the path, a thought you can’t avoid confronting at a first glance.

This is the reason that provoked my response. I wanted to create a different image but showing nothing new to it, because the information sent by the subject itself is so strong that the intention of re-photographing it becomes almost pointless. Both images are taking the viewer to an undetermined part of the world but they can easily guess the look of the place, the smell, what kind of food customers are buying, the feeling inside the highly branded premises… the images themselves are sending lots of subliminal information that the viewer can relate to.

When editing my image, I could have recovered most of the information from the white, blown up area that covers the name of the company however it is the “M” symbol the only element I needed to keep recognisable.

In terms of what Terry Barrett explains about the sources of information when creating an interpretation of an image, I would say that:

  • The internal context (a McDonald’s store at night) is the main element I have given response to. Hatakeyama’s picture gives more information about the location and therefore it is easier to draw a more detailed idea of the place itself. My image focuses solely on the store, avoiding any other information, apart from the time of the day/night. The store I photographed was also situated beside the road (a busy one) and a change in viewpoint wasn’t possible with the lens used. Therefore, I have answered only to one aspect of the internal context which is the main recognisable subject on the image.
  • The external context (information surrounding the image) would relate to the physical position of the image, wether printed, exhibited, published online… I believe that since Slow Glass has been published as a photobook, exhibited in galleries and it can also be found published online in art related websites, the external context of his image has much more to offer than mine, published on a student online log. Whoever comes across for example, the book “Slow Glass: Naoya Hatakeyama” would also see the picture as part of a series, nicely printed in a high quality publication, which would automatically reinforce and validate the importance of the piece. This would also influence the internal context, elevating something mundane to an image that worths considering as a work of art.
  • The original context (how the picture was made), which was the main reason why I was shooting that night. I did not plan to emulate Hatakeyama’s style; I was working on my own project which started shooting in the woods with day light. The technique is different, yet there is some resemblance in the aesthetics. Hatakeyama focuses on the water drops that cover the glass, leaving the background out of focus while I manually focus on the subject to then place a textured glass over the lens. The original context is therefore very different if looked at it in depth, however, thinking of it in a simpler way, both have taken the shot by placing an object between the scene and the camera, so not sure how to judge this one. I guess it is only a matter of perception.

 

I have found the text “Photographs and Context” by Terry Barrett extremely useful and well explained. Reflecting on this text and the interview with Quentin Bajac by Philip Gefter on page 105 of the course materials, I have noticed that so far intention vs perception and the context in which an image is found determine the viewpoint. Both perception or intention generate the internal and original context, with the interpretations of the internal context being more dependant on the viewers own perceptions and believes. The external context however, could be controlled by the artist to achieve certain reaction or perception from the audience. This reminded me of one of the chats with my tutor where he explained me about the importance of thinking about how to exhibit your work (format, place, size, adding music, video, text…). I


Resources:

Aperture Foundation NY. (2017). View from a Judgment Seat – Aperture Foundation NY. [online] Available at: https://aperture.org/blog/view-judgment-seat-quentin-bajac-conversation-philip-gefter/ [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

LAGalerie (2017). hatakeyama slow glass. [online] Lagalerie.de. Available at: http://www.lagalerie.de/hatakeyama7.html [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

Terrybarrettosu.com. (2017). Photographs and Context [online] Available at: http://terrybarrettosu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/B_PhotAndCont_97.pdf [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

 

Advertisements

Assignment 4: tutor’s feedback and some experiments.

Here it is the feedback from Assignment 4:

SilviaRuizCamara516865-AS04

Overall I am happy with the comments and the impression that the images have caused. I am in the process of re-editing some of them and will be shooting in an urban setting next week, trying to include some people on the frame and hopefully getting a variety of colours to add some visual impact.

My tutor has given me a few tasks to take the assignment further and this is the part I enjoy the most from the report. So far, I have been researching the artists mentioned and found them inspiring. Rolf Sachs’ landscapes taken from a train combine the movement captured by using long exposures with interesting distortions produced by the landscape itself: as the train approaches a curve the angle and the motion create an unexpected distortion that makes it difficult to guess how the images are taken. Naoya Hatakeyama’s series called “Slow Glass” depict night scenes seen through a wet glass, accentuating the lines and shapes created by artificial light. The simplicity of the scenes invites to guess what hides behind the “slow glass”, enhancing the interaction between the viewer and the images.

As suggested, I have taken some night photographs using the same technique as for Assignment 4 (with the lemon saver container attached to my 50mm lens). I am extremely surprised with the results so far. I have selected some of the shots and enhanced or altered the original colours to add even more vibrance and dynamism.

IMG_8659smallIMG_8699smallIMG_8727smallIMG_8745smallIMG_8755smallIMG_8715smallIMG_8730small

There is an image I took in response of one of Naoya Hatakeyama’s photograph of a McDonalds store, as part of Exercise 5.2 (I will develop this further on the appropriate blog post). This is the image:

IMG_8690small

Although I am not planning to include any of these night scenes in the re-worked submission for Assignment 4, I am certainly interested in continuing with the project and add some more images regularly. I somehow feel the style of the images is far from what I usually shoot, specially in the use of colour, but I have found something stimulating that I enjoy doing. The abstraction of the images leaves some room to interpretation although some of them may look like something different. Most of the images were taken by pointing directly to the light source, which brought interesting geometric distortions. However, at the end of the experiment I started shooting pointing away from the light, increasing the exposures to capture a more atmospheric scene (as in the case of the fourth image of a sign on the pavement). This is something I have to try again next time, as I think it is more in the line of my work. I am really excited about this discovery and I can not be more grateful for having a tutor that pushes me to try new things. This assignment has opened my eyes even more to what can be achieved with an open mind. After practising with longer exposures I would also introduce some camera movement to see where this takes me.

I am also looking forward to shoot with a pinhole camera. I believe the idea may resonate with what I am looking to achieve in my photography or it seems adequate at least from theory. I have never tried this technique and I will be hands on it as soon as I move house after the festive period. For now, I have read about the authors suggested by my tutor. Both Alex Yates and Tom Hunter use a pinhole camera to produce some of their images. The way this technique allows Yates to represent natural elements such as fog, lakes and clouds is what I feel attracted to when I see his images. In the same way, the blurred edges and softness achieved by Hunter on his “Prayer Places” series capture my attention and curiosity. The colour quality of these last ones feels precious and the general atmospheric scene wraps you inside it.

We have also discussed the pointers for the next assignment, which has a rather general brief (this makes it even more difficult to choose a subject). I have some ideas in mind and I have welcomed both sources of inspiration suggested by my tutor. First, the blog Plenty of Colour is a good one to keep looking at from time to time. The images and projects presented show striking colour combinations and held a strong visual impact. Again, I am not sure how much I like colour or how could this reflect on my practice, but I have certainly a strange relationship with it. I am synesthetic in a way that words, numbers, shapes, times and other elements have “colour” in my head so I can be easily annoyed by certain colour combinations or the combination of an object with certain shape and certain colour altogether. I do systematically avoid colour in many aspects of my live (clothing, objects I buy, gadgets, decorative elements etc) or stay within a particular colour range in order to don’t feel “disturbed” by this condition (which is a great condition, I would say, I don’t complain!). This is one of the reasons why I feel a bit surprised with the experiment above and the colourful night scenes. The association my brain makes between colours and anything else in the environment make me perceive certain combinations as right or wrong, so the way I read an image has an extra dimension that comes to me spontaneously. I guess I could potentially be using this for an assignment or project one day, but the task of making others understand the feelings synesthesia bring and the way the brain processes these feelings seems a difficult one. There are other aspects of my synesthetic perceptions that could perhaps be easier to explain or represent, such as the shape of certain smells or names.

Another task derived from my research for Assignment 4 is exploring the way Laura Plageman creates her modified landscapes and try to apply a similar technique onto my work. I have started experimenting with this, although it is still early stages but I will be writing about my findings and sharing the results in a separate blog post.


Resources:

(TO DO)

Assignment 4: Languages of Light. Reflection.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Overall and in my modest opinion, I believe the resulting set of images for this assignment is interesting from a visual point of view. I find it engaging and intriguing in both narrative and technical approach.

Technically, the decision of using certain camera settings has been done thoughtfully, fulfilling the demands of the assignment and helping to achieve the desired results. With the use of different external aids to create a mysterious landscape, I have shown that I am keen to experiment and develop an initial idea in a creative manner.

The images from the set represent an atypical landscape that brings the viewer into the scene. The mood and aesthetics of each shot encourage the audience to use their imagination and interaction through their own interpretation of the landscape.

Quality of outcome and demonstration of creativity

This is a set of 8 images that works together as a whole, while each single image tells a story on their own. I feel the interpretation of the brief is satisfactory without being too obvious. The selection of a subject for Excersice 4.2 and its development has followed a natural path of research and experimentation with results that I have found very satisfying. Although the subject chosen is far from innovative, the techniques used and moreover the context in which this theme has been approach demonstrate a good degree of creativity. The images represent the landscape in a non conventional way, as a method to gain the viewers engagement with the set. By presenting intriguing and unexpected photographs the attention is brought to the questions “what am I seeing?” and “how was this photograph taken?”.

Strengths and weaknesses

I would say the main strength of this assignment is its originality and the balance achieved within the series. Aesthetically, the images seem very pleasant and inspiring. The softness and painterly effect achieved by placing a filter on the camera changes the way landscape photography is perceived by the general audience.

It would have been quite easy to take an image of a forest and manipulate it to achieve a similar effect, but I am proud I have managed these results straight from the camera.

I am not great finding weaknesses on my own work, specially because I would not have considered the assignment finished if I would feel something needs improvement, so I would leave this to my tutor to point out.

How could I develop this further in the future

As I have mentioned on the previous blog post, I feel a great affinity with distorted and modified landscapes. I have plans to visit this place many times in the future, as I will be soon moving five minutes away from it and I have already ideas I would like to try here. I have other glass pieces that I have acquired to experiment further with reflection and distortion. The observation and reinterpretation of natural environments stimulates my creativity as it is a landscape in constant change.

Assignment 4: Languages of light. Final submission.

Final images

From the initial 11 images these are the final 8 shots selected for submission.

IMG_8621
1
IMG_8564
2
IMG_8512
3
IMG_8608
4
IMG_8553
5
IMG_8610
6
IMG_8606
7
IMG_8637
8

The landscapes presented on this series are quite abstract, yet the brighter areas were the light shined through branches and trees are helping defining the silhouettes, giving cues to the viewer on the scene itself. These areas of light are common to all the images of the final selection and it is the reason why the other frames have been discarded. There is a strong correlation between the way light shapes the landscape and the mood that imprints on it. The same element (light) that scares and intrigues at first, becomes the guide in identifying the scene. Its glow represents the experience of being lost and found, being blind but able to find the way.

By looking at the landscape through a textured filter, details get lost. The image softens and there are only two elements left on the frame: light and shapes. the resulting landscape feels unreal. It evokes memories or certain altered state of the mind which makes it difficult to identify the scene. However, it is the presence of daylight what helps the viewer through the sequence and unveils the story behind the images.

The sequence talks about this same journey of discovery. The rhythm progresses from a first visualisation of the woods (their magnificence and power) falling into a stage of inquisition that resolves as the woods give way to more open spaces. Finally the scene is left behind.

Modified landscape

As I progress through this module I am beginning to identify the themes and subjects that recurrently come to my mind when creating and experimenting. Distortion and movement are two areas I feel the urge to explore, as it happens with modified landscape. Artists such as Benoit Paillé (and his impressive series on Alternative Landscapes) and Laura Plageman (Response, Land series are my personal favourite) are inspiring and show two very different ways to alter landscape in a very aesthetic manner, not destructive or intrusive.

Landscape photography is a genre I have not practiced much and my knowledge is limited, however, with this assignment and after identifying a subject that I feel intrigued by I am hoping to take my research further for future projects.

Creativity

It is difficult to assess oneself against the creativity criteria as I find it would be the viewer’s role to identity whether or not the work presented seems original and creative. In my opinion, the amount of experimentation undertaken on this particular assignment has naturally led to a creative piece of work. It has inspired me to continue finding ways to create original images through non-conventional routes, either exploring new techniques or finding overlooked themes and subjects that could become interesting.

Along this journey I have repeated myself several times why not choosing another exercise, go an shoot a few night scenes and get on with it. But one thing I am not is conventional in any way and this is a quality that naturally helps me be creative in my work. It is however something I began to identify since I started the module, and I hope I can push this further with each assignment.

Here there is a link to Excercise 4.5 on creativity for tutors evaluation.


Resources:

Gbuffer.myportfolio.com. (2017). Benoit Paillé. [online] Available at: https://gbuffer.myportfolio.com [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].

Photolp.com. (2017). Laura Plageman. [online] Available at: http://www.photolp.com [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].

Assignment 4: Languages of Light. Development and contact sheets.

Final response to the brief

When I started exploring ways to take Exercise 4.2 further for Assignment 4 I had a very vague idea of how to approach the task. Through the exercise itself and after researching onto artists such as Sally Mann and Eugène Atget, I began shaping an understanding in the use of daylight to create as specific mood and add interest to the scene.

The subject was chosen by carrying over elements that I found interesting from the exercise, such as the landscape (nature, natural elements) and the window (reflection, distortion, a filter between the viewer and reality).

Although the first intention was to bring new elements (reflections, flares, fragmented light) onto the landscape, the final approach changed towards using a foreign element (filters, prisms) to transform the landscape into something else.

Previous tests and thoughts on the brief can be found here and here.

Technical approach

After experimenting with different types of prisms and their effect when placed between the lens and the scene, I have achieved the best results with a textured plastic lid from a lemon saver container. Held over a 50mm lens it gave me the option to move it around in order to alter the detail gained in different areas of the frame.

The camera was handheld at all times. With a focal length of 50mm, I kept a wide aperture throughout the shoot, as I was looking for a soft detail that would create a more intriguing image.

The time of the day chosen was mid day. I have tested the light at this time of the day since I started shooting for the assignment, as Atget did on his garden series. However and since its almost winter, the days are shorter now and the sun was not at its highest despite the time but I found this translated in an even more mysterious mood, specially when the light filters through the trees in the woods.

The day was bright during the last shooting, with some clouds slightly filtering the light so there is an added softness to the landscape.

First images: The contact sheets

These are the contact sheets from the last shooting for Assignment 4. Once I realised I had found the way to create the mood I was looking for, I took also shots of the scenes without the plastic filter so I could have evidence of where the distorted images came from and what the exact effect of the filter was. Due to the uneven surface of the filter, the resulting images varied according to the way I would hold the plastic lid against the lens, capturing more or less detail in certain areas of the frame, hence the repetition of some shots.

Selected images

Marked on the contact sheets above and after slight corrections of contrast and exposure, these are the images I have picked as a first selection:

IMG_8505
IMG_8505
IMG_8512
IMG_8512
IMG_8553
IMG_8553
IMG_8564
IMG_8564
IMG_8575
IMG_8575
IMG_8582
IMG_8582
IMG_8606
IMG_8606
IMG_8608
IMG_8608
IMG_8610
IMG_8610
IMG_8621
IMG_8621
IMG_8637
IMG_8637

I am currently in the process of reducing this selection to anything between 6 and 9 final images.

Assignment 4: Languages of light. Further experiments.

Last two months have been a period of lack of time and inspiration due to personal commitments which had me confined between home and work but still I have managed to explore the ideas for this assignment a bit further.

First, I wanted to explore reflexion and the possibilities of creating images that would resemble the double exposure technique using a triangular prism. The prism can be seen on the images as it was simply held in front of the lens, creating areas of reflected images from behind, above and under me. The possibilities are endless, as it allows to introduce new elements on the image by changing the viewpoint, the position of the prism or my own position in relation to the landscape. Here are the contact sheets:

csheet-1

I find a great resemblance between  IMG_8348 and those than can be achieved with the Supersampler camera, which takes four images on the same negative. Here is a sample of an image captured by myself with this camera:

5456115408_d10de6ec3c_o.jpg

 

At this point I still could not visualise the way to take this assignment forward. Using the same triangular prism, I took another series of images using the same technique but positioning the prism in a different direction so the lens would be looking into what is reflected on the prism’s surface and combining the image with a capture from the surroundings. These are the contact sheets:

 

csheet-2

 

csheet-3csheet-4csheet-5

I find the images of the trees quite intriguing and enjoy the way the colours of the spectrum can be identified. The resulting landscapes are dreamy and I can perceive a sense of uncertainty: what am I seeing? is it a real image? There is an evident distortion that may suggest these images are part of someone else’s perception, maybe someone who can’t see clear or who’s consciousness is compromised. The more I observe these images, the more I see them as representations of a parallel world or reflections of thoughts that somehow tell a story or potentially could end up telling one. By converting the images into black and white, the lack of colour information makes these perceptions stronger by impeding the viewer to guess how the image could have been taken so nurturing that idea of reflected thoughts or unknown and sublime places.

IMG_8396IMG_8404IMG_8416IMG_8421IMG_8429IMG_8453IMG_8471

 

Assignment 4: Languages of light. Preparation for assignment.

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:

  • Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time. 
  • Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you´ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
  • Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment. Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your “process” (the series of steps you took to make the photographs). Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link to your own work. Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you´ve developed the exercise in order to meet the description of the Creativity criteria. Write 500-1000 words.
  • Include a link (or scanned pages) to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor´s comments.

 

First impressions and introduction to the subject

I have chosen Exercise 4.2 (daylight) to be prepared for formal assignment. The reason for this is that after considering the three different exercises I found daylight the most revealing and complex, also the most difficult to control as it is in constant change.

After researching about photographers Sally Mann and Eugène Atget, I resolved to shoot some elements of nature (not necessarily landscape) as it is a subject that resonates with my practice. I have found inspiration on Atget´s botanical photographs to start with, as well as the atmospheric landscapes of Sally Mann. An element that came up from Exercise 4.2 was the reflection on the bottom of the frame, which I found interesting and something that could be introduced in the final images. I also wanted to connect the exercise and the assignment by choosing a similar subject.

First, I compared two images from Atget with two of a similar subject from my personal archive, and noted down the differences that I perceived make his images interesting as opposed as mine. This helped me see how the use of light in Atget´s photographs is not only enhancing the subject but also creating a layered background that contributes to a more dynamic image.

esc

Experimenting with refraction

I recently bought a set of defective optical glass prisms and a triangular prism to experiment with distortion and light refraction. I started exploring the different effects that could be achieved in camera by holding the prisms close to the lens and the results are quite interesting. The options are limitless, which appeals to me. This technique could introduce something new to the assignment in the way daylight can be manipulated, creating surreal images. I did some research on light refraction to understand how light travels and found the connection between the theory and Tacita Dean’s “green ray”, which I find it’s fascinating. In the sample images below, the reflection of the window on my sitter’s face evokes memories or thoughts, as if the camera would be reading into his mind and exposing the information.

 

Another curious fact about this is that the raw file shows the colours of the refracted light differently than the final images without manipulation. On screen preview of the RAW file, the light looks pink throughout and after opening the file and saving it as JPG there are different colours of the spectrum that can be seen. This still remains a mystery to me, as I haven’t found a reason for it. Below there are two screen grabs from images Flat prism 3 (on the right) and Flat prism 5. 

I am now looking at ways to integrate the effect of the prisms with my chosen subject (nature, trees, plants etc).

 

Escanear 55

 

Experimenting with daylight

  • Test images (part 1)

Escanear 54

To take my comparision on Atget´s photographs further, I took some snaps of interesting trees/bushes at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh (which is probably my favourite place on Earth) to get my thoughts going. I was after some “portraits” of natural elements to observe what light conditions cold bring to the image in terms of the overall look of the subject within the scene. It is difficult to isolate a tree from a background of trees and I found that the direction and quality of the light is key here. The images above were shot at midday so the light was falling flat on the trees that were completely exposed to it and the resulting image was not interesting enough and the subject did not stand out. However, when shooting a shrub that was shadowed by taller trees, the filtered light coming from the top was helping in revealing its shape and also creating a layered composition.

  • Test images (part 2)

On a second visit, I explored light in a different way, drawing from what I had observed on the first time. I used a compact camera on aperture priority mode. I shot the trees and bushes by pointing with the camera slightly down, pressing the shutter half way to focus and hold the metering and then recomposing by including a part of the sky on the frame. By doing this, I wanted to trick the meter and overexpose the image to “burn” the sky and create a more atmospheric scene. I also experimented shooting against the light but trying not to get it right in camera. As a result, some images have a faded flare on them, like a blue- ish reflection, which appeared mainly when direct sun light was filtered through the top branches of the trees. This flare gives a very mystic effect that feels almost like a “presence”.

Looking at the sky on some of these images I think of Sugimoto´s “Theaters” series and the overexposed screens. I find it fascinating how I can appreciate something like an overexposed photograph in some way now. Before, I would have seen this as a mistake and discard the shot straight away, without thinking of a possible meaning or use.


I am still unsure about which direction my assignment will take, since I need to experiment further. I somehow feel the urge to include a human element in this assignment as I would like to tell a story that works as an allegory to light from both the visual and conceptual points of view. I would like to use a strong natural light in my images and due to bad weather this will be impossible for a while, so I am still developing the ideas I have gathered in this post and I am hoping to find the right moment to continue testing a bit further before I decide on how to approach the assignment.

IMG_20171014_215949_01

 

 

Exercise 4.5

Make a Google Images search for “landscape”, “portrait”, or any ordinary subject such as “apple” or “sunset”. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.

Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the “Creativity” criteria at the end of Part Four. Yo might like to make the subject appear “incidental”, for instance by sing juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the “camera vision” of Bill Brandt.

Add a final image to your learning log, together with a election of preparatory shots. In your nose describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.

 


I looked on Google Images Search for the term “Portrait”. These are the first images that come up:

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.38.58 copy.jpg

 

There are some similarities between them even though the sitters are of different gender, age, and background. The ones that I have noted down are:

  • Framing: mainly headshots or closely framed crops.
  • Subjects: looking into the camera with neutral expressions.
  • Style: a majority of studio portraits with flash or bounced light.

There is a variety of colour/black and white shots. I found it surprising that most images are photographs, with little reference to painting/drawings.

Overall, the images from the search shot a very cliched concept of a photographic portrait. Thinking of how to add creativity to the term “portrait” I came up with the idea of creating a series of portraits of my husband through his absence, by photographing the everyday findings that evidence his existence even when he is not present.

These are the images I took:

 

 

I have selected the image of the empty bed as my final image:

IMG_8301
His side of the bed is empty

It differs from the Google Images Search in many ways: framing, expression of the subject and style of photographs, since the sitter is not even present. However, I feel my images talk more about the person behind them than most of the portraits from the search, which do not tell much about the personality of the subjects, their habits, environment, preferences or routines. I have chosen this particular image because of the relation between bed and intimacy. The empty bed brings up the feeling of an absence, even more when the bed is not been made as it recalls there was a person sleeping there not long before. The image shows only my husband’s side of the bed rather than the whole bed, which would have had a different interpretation. It is also the place where he spends 7-8 hours in every day so it retains his essence more than any other place.

Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and color to light an object in order to reveal its form. For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object. Man-made or cultural artefacts can be fascinating to light but they also contain another layer of meaning requiring interpretation by the photographer; this exercise is just about controlling the light to reveal form.

[…]

Add a sequence to your learning log. Draw a simple lightning diagram for each of your shots showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill. Don´t labour the diagrams; quick sketches with notes will be just as useful as perfect graphics. In your notes try to describe any similarities between the qualities of controlled lightning and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3.

 


For this exercise I have chosen to photograph some flowers and leaves, using a black table as a background by pointing down onto the subject and lighting it with a flash head with softbox. I also used a reflector and a sheet of white paper to bounce light, as well as a curtain on the left side of the image with I opened or closed to experiment with the effect on shape and volume.

I do get a bit carried away when using studio lights and forget to record all the changes I make, which are many. It happened also in this occasion but I did take notes  of certain shoots.

These are the contact sheets:

 

IMG_8167.jpg

8167 –  0″3, f/13 – With modeling light on. Due to long exposure, the camera caught both the modeling light and the flash light, affecting colour temperature and white balance metering (AW set on “flash”).

8169 –  0″3, f/13 – Flash on the right, white reflector on the bottom.

8170 –  0″3, f/13 – Flash on the right, no reflector.

8173 – 0″3, f/11 – Flash light from top right, white reflector on the bottom left.

8174 – 0″3, f/11 – Flash light from top right, white reflector on the bottom left + white curtain on the left.

8175 – 0″3, f/11 – Flash light from top right, no reflector.

8182 and 8183 – Flash light from the top right, silver reflector on the bottom (tilted differently).

8184 – Flash light from top right, silver reflector on the left.

8185/6 – Flash light from top right, silver reflector on the left + white sheet of paper on the bottom right.

8208 – Flash on the right, no reflector.

8209 – Flash on the right, sheet of white paper on the bottom right.

8210 – Flash on the right, with silver reflector over head.


 

What I observe here is that the main light source is the responsible to define the form of the object, as its orientation in reference to it changes the way its volume is perceived. Direct light does not help revealing shape but it reveals the subject clearer. Side light shapes and contours the edges of the subject, bringing up the volume. By reflecting the side light from different angles we get a better sense of volume and the shadows on the opposite side of the main light become softer.

In studio there is a bigger sense of control and changes can be done and light set ups tested without worrying about how long this may take, ask lighting conditions can be maintained as opposed as when using ambient or natural light. However, there are elements in the environment that can act as aids to use ambient and artificial light as in studio. In daylight, an overcast sky filters the light, water reflects it and other elements can interfere with light (windows, buildings…). The light painting technique I tried on Exercise 4.3 could have been replaced by studio lights, achieving similar results and different exposure times could be tested in the same way as with studio flash.

Exercise 4.3

Capture “the beauty of artificial light” in a short sequence of shots (“beauty” is, of course, a subjective term). The correct white balance setting will be important: this can get tricky – but interesting- if there are mixed light sources of different colour temperatures in the same shot. You can shoot indoors or outside but the light should be ambient rather than camera flash. Add the sequence to your learning log. In your notes try to describe the difference in quality of light from the daylight shots in Exercise 4.2.


 

After reviewing the artists suggested in Project 3 I did not feel keen on working with artificial light as I did not find their work engaging. Night shots are not something that I find interesting or relevant and so I told my tutor about my struggle to find “the beauty of artificial light”. He suggested me to look into the work of Laura Stevens and her use of the “light painting” technique to light a scene. This is a use of artificial light that I find more tempted to explore rather than lampposts and neon signs, as I feel that the scene you create can still be something you stage yourself and have some control over it, yet with the advantage of getting a very different result with each shot.

With the camera mounted on a tripod and using a remote shutter release, I tried different ways to lighten up my subject in a pitch black room, using only the torch of my mobile phone.

This is the result:

Hoja de contacto-001.jpg

ISO:100, 10″, f/22, 30mm.

I used a different way of lighting the subject on each shot, with the most successful images resulting from lighting three or more areas from different angles. I prefer the ones where the glass pot is lit from the left, as it gives more context (other wise the pot is lost and the succulent seems to float on the background).

These are Image 8231 and Image 8234 after white balance and exposure correction:

In Image 8231 the subject was illuminated from three different angles: left, bottom left and back, which has resulted in a combination of light and shadows that helps reveal the volume of the succulent and the glass vase. For Image 8234, instead of having light coming from the left, the light lies on the subject from the top, resulting a more plain image. However, this brings the attention onto the succulent and separates it from the glass vase which is relegated to a secondary position.

It is a technique that it can be used anywhere and applied to different photographic genres. I am looking forward to use this on portrait and even though it is unlikely I would choose this exercise for further development in Assignment 4, I am already thinking how much I could benefit from taking this further for Assignment 5.