“Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options ( Crowds, Views, Heads ) Or a subject of your own choosing.
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.”
As we were allowed the option to choose our own subject, I chose something that was easily accessible for me, and allowed me the chance to further experiment with shallow depth of field. I liked the idea of capturing strong shadow, and some of the resulting images of fruit are influenced by the fine art tradition of chiaroscuro, though relying on natural light. (Disclaimer – I’m not claiming to have suddenly transformed myself into a fine art photographer overnight. Far from it!!)
During this process I also branched out in trying to describe my surrounds from a different viewpoint. This mostly involved spending a lot of time lying on the floor. I hope I have experimented a little with some ‘impressions’ of my home in a slightly different way from assignment 1. Therefore I have ended up with two alternate ‘sets’ of images in order to explore this brief.
I used wide aperture and macro filters for these images, mostly with manual focusing. Its been extremely helpful to dip into several ‘how-to’ photography magazines, and I was quite grabbed by the idea of focusing on only a section of an object in close up. This is thanks to my friend Rach, who passed this on to me, it comes from Digital Camera magazine.
From the ground
For this set of pictures I kept the ISO at 200, aperture at f-stop 5.6 and the focal length at 55 throughout. You can see that the shutter speed drops quite low depending on the light and I was lucky to get away with not yet owning a tripod.
Image set 1 – Fruit & Flowers
How well do I think this works? As suggested, I stuck to one format only – landscape in this case. Which means I had to disregard a couple of others that I might have considered. In fact my first dilemma was sifting through a large number of images and trying to decide which ones were up to scratch. It gets rather confusing when they are quite a high volume.
I enjoyed making the most of the sunlight, using close-ups and experimenting with manual focus. The macro filters are really interesting to use, but quite hard to focus once you stack them, they are more controllable at individual magnification. I suppose you might say these images convey a love of nature, and enjoyment of the richness of these forms. I like the contrast of lights and darks, they seem to add depth, and a degree of richness. I like the possibilities of close up shots, they really make me feel very absorbed and involved with the subject. Clearly some of these images are stronger than others but overall I enjoyed making them.
I think fruit and flowers are OK as a theme, but very traditional and lacking in originality. I question whether they really sit well as a set, as the degree of magnification varies, for example there is a close up of an apple stalk, and a group of the same fruit. Some more variety in the subject matter would have been good, perhaps it would have been sensible to plan ahead and buy more exotic fruit?? I suspect that some of the extremes in tone are possibly not ‘good’ in terms of an uneven histogram but I do like the effect!
Image set 1 – From the ground
This was my departure from the rules – I’ve used portrait and landscape, and simply took whatever interested me from ground level. I debated with myself about whether to rotate the image of the chair label, but I like “carelessness causes fire” upside-down, as that was my true viewpoint.
These pictures are more meaningful to me (I can’t say if they speak to anyone else!) I felt particularly emotionally engaged with what I was doing, and as though this viewpoint represents a ‘secret world’ amongst the ordinariness of a familiar room and therefore a breath of fresh air. My favourite picture is of my dog – the angles, the variation in texture of his dark velvet ears against the wood, and the fact that you can’t see his face. I’m a bit gutted I took one of his paws which would have worked well in continuing a theme, but its blurry.
I struggled to begin to pull together a set. The theme may not be all that easy for the viewer to ‘read’, and the mixture of chrome/shoes and an animal may well be out of place.
I’m still getting to grips with basics, which to some extent has made me concerned with how to use my camera more than anything. With a bit more practise, I hope I’ll feel more free to experiment, and feel absorbed by the subject I’m looking at. This happened towards the end of this assignment, as I was primarily thinking about what I was looking at, and only half thinking about how to actually take the picture. Given my inexperience this results in a very hit and miss approach but moving forward I should improve over time.
I’m aware that photography is sometimes concerned with evoking a mood or a moment, as much any technical considerations. I do feel my pics could be much more imaginative, but again I hope inspiration will strike more easily when I’m not checking I’ve taken the lens cap off!!!
As my tutor pointed out, I have had problems with exposure – not something I fully understand or feel able to spot when this needs correcting yet. I was a little disappointed that he felt the images from the ground lacked narrative potential. Maybe I should have explained why I was on ground level. Its simply that I have problems sitting and standing for any length of time, so spend a lot of time lying down. I decided to get even lower and see the world from the floor.