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.”

For this brief,  I was able to actually get out in the car and take some pictures of Dartmoor. (Technically I was on a golf course which features sheep and ponies meandering amongst the bunkers) All the pictures are taken just yards from my car. Its was really lovely to escape from the confines of my house!

I don’t yet own a tripod, so I had to be careful that my shutter speed didn’t go too low.  And I don’t have a wide angled lens,  just the kit lens that came with the camera but never having used one, I was happy enough… As it was sunny, it was hard to view my images after I had taken them, and it took me a while to realise the lens hood had crept into some of the pictures. Arrgggh. I didn’t realise this could happen, so will try to watch out for this in future.

Generally these images are taken at my smallest aperture, which is f/32. The ISO varies between 200-400, and the shutter speed between 1/30th sec – 1/100th sec. I varied the ISO in case I was getting some shake at the slower shutter speed but it was fine. I kept the white balance on Auto.

I have simply re-sized these pictures in photoshop, with no fiddling or cropping so here they are. The contact sheets first…



And a few I’ve selected to discuss….

This is known locally as The Pimple. Its not particularly steep, but its the main sledging spot around here in winter. I wanted to be dramatic with the portions, but I’m not sure the foreground mud is all that appealing! I like the little building on the horizon though. It would be interesting to crop this.


I was conscious that it had been suggested in our course notes to include something interesting in the foreground.  At the first this was tricky, and all I had was some golfers in the mid ground. So I changed location and tried again.

The sky was stunning with these lovely clouds. I found this large gorse bush and experimented with portrait and landscape. (NB earlier attempts feature the lens hood, and a nice pile of animal poo in the foreground)

I think this one works best


The horizon is not far off half way in the photo which isn’t ideal, but framing this in landscape gives an idea of the sweep of countryside.


Just when you need to find ponies they all disappear…but I managed to stalk one. The backdrop is against the edge of town, which possibly proves that the location I was in looks pretty in any direction. It would have been nice to see more of the pony’s face, as she’s in shadow. But I do like the cast shadow on the ground.


I caught the side of my car in shot a few times, then passing traffic, and finally, these pictures. The tree is typical of dartmoor – they are usually a solitary few.  Amazing that many centuries ago it was a forest.

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I loved getting outdoors, and I’m fairly pleased with my first dartmoor landscape pictures in Aperture Priority.  Dealing with the settings is becoming slightly less confusing, and I felt I learnt quite a lot during this afternoon – namely watch out for where shadows are falling, keep note of the horizon line, beware the lens hood, and keep trying!

It was also a challenge to think creatively about where I could park and position myself within a fairly small radius of the car. As my walking ability isn’t great, I wasn’t free to wander for miles to find the ‘perfect spot”. In a funny way this restriction at least made me work with what I had and make quick decisions. I can imagine that if I was free to roam long distance perhaps you would over-think it all and faff about?! I don’t know, but it was lovely to be here, its so beautiful.





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. (Remember that smaller f numbers mean wider apertures.) 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.”

The available human being was my partner Steve. He really hates his photo being taken,  hence the pose. I’ve just bought a set of macro lens filters as an inexpensive way of taking close-ups, so this was my opportunity to play with them, while he tried to ignore me. He was most comfortable deep in thought looking at his phone while I took close ups of his ear!

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This would have been a lovely pic, but for his hand?!

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By this level of magnification, I was struggling to find focus

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Exercise 2.5


“Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the focus to infinity and take a second shot.”

Here are my images focused on the trellis. You can see the background beyond is quite blurred making the fence the subject of the picture.

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And with the change of focus. (Not an especially pretty view, but still)

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The summer house is framed by the foreground. Slightly better composition perhaps!2016-03-18 16.39.00


Exercise 2.4


“Find a location with good light for a portrait shot. Place your subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide aperture together with a moderately long focal length such as 100mm on a 35mm full-frame camera (about 65mm on a cropped-frame camera). Take a viewpoint about one and a half metres from your subject, allowing you to compose a headshot comfortably within the frame. Focus on the eyes and take the shot.”

Huge thanks to my friend Rach, for this one. I had the benefit of a photography lesson and a patient subject to photograph,  all in one. I experimented with flash for the first few pictures, then we turned all the available lights on in the room, to enable me to shoot without flash.

The pictures with flash caused white reflection on Rach’s face, so I prefer the non-flash ones. The light is much more orange, which might not be very ‘correct’? But I rather like the warmth of it. (This may be because I changed the white balance for flash and forgot to change it back to the default.)

I was able to prattle on about what ISO and shutter speed I had, while she patiently let me fiddle about. It was VERY helpful to have someone on hand to talk this over with. This is really the first time I felt the slightest bit in control of my camera.

Here’s the contact sheet


Here’s the camera details for the pics with flash

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And without


Here she is (slightly cropped from the original to eliminate the background above her head)




Exercise 2.3


“Choose a subject in front of a background with depth. Select your shortest focal length and take a close low viewpoint, below your subject.You’ll see that a very wide lens together with a close viewpoint creates extreme perspective distortion. “

For this task, I enlisted the help of my friend Bear. As you can see she’s pretty comfortable with the camera and is happy to pose without smiling.

Here I’m close to her eye level….

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And now I’ve dropped below her. I wasn’t able to get much distortion here, but you can see some foreshortening in that her leg appears larger in proportion to her other paws.

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Here’s some better examples I found elsewhere…

Unfortunately I can’t credit a specific photographer for this one, but heres the link



Aernout Overbeeke – both this image and the one below are monochrome, which adds to the drama. Love the way this human body is distorted, with the head completely obscured. Are we looking at a ‘thing’ or a person?! It slightly reminds me of Dali et al as it has such a surreal quality.


Brandt – again the dramatic lighting adds to the image. And it poses lots of questions…Where the hell is the rest of the person? Is there one? Whats behind the doors…etc! (OK. You didn’t need me to pose those questions out loud. Sorry)


Exercise 2.2

“Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth. Take one photograph. Then walk towards your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length. Take care to frame the subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot. Compare the two images and make notes in your learning log.”

This is my lovely Mum here, kindly posing for this and trying not to smile! You can see she is standing with the same view behind her, which changes dramatically according to the focal length.

Firstly, I’ve taken a shot at my camera’s longest focal length, and the background appears quite dominant. For the second, I’ve failed to move near enough to her, so her legs are in view. Still, the point remains that changing to the shortest focal length expands perspective and makes the distance look far off. I’m not sure why she has a church steeple sticking out of her head, but you can’t have everything!

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I note that the background appears closer but is not very sharp. Depending on the depth of field, this blurring can become (deliberately) more pronounced, though its quite subtle here.

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Conversely, the background appears much more distant, but is more in focus here.

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My second attempt, my dog has joined us, and next door has put up her washing. This accidentally proves the point that even with nearby objects the effect is dramatically different.

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Having seen this effect at work, its making me think about what I’ve never really observed before – for example how often this is used in film and television. Its also really intriguing me as to how I might use this knowledge in a broader context. So much of drawing is based on observation from the human eye (naturally). But how might an illustration change in impact if I take into account these very different background styles, or to take it further, a fish eye lens effect? I’m quite excited by the possibilities of this and will bare it in mind for the future.

Exercise 2.1

“Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint.”

I had to look up focal length to be sure I really understood this concept. I think I have grasped it now (hopefully), and here is the result on the very glamorous subject of my washing line. Actually, although I was rather limited for subject matter, I think it illustrates the point fairly well as you can chart the row of clothing as the range of items diminishes!

I’m just starting to get to grips with Aperture Priority and would like to thank my lovely friend landscape photographer,  Rachel Burch, who explained how to alter my settings and why.  So hopefully I’ve understood, but if my choices are weird, its entirely my fault! So here’s the camera info:


As it was a sunny day, I may not have needed  the ISO to be 800, but as the washing was flapping, I didn’t want the shutter speed to get too slow.

I stayed in the one spot and adjusted my lens for each picture, working through the options available.

18mm – As I understand it, a short focal length gives a wide angle of view, which can be seen here

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24mm Note the orange T-shirt on the left is only half visible…

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35mm – We appear to be honing in on the trellis…

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45mm….and the path to the right has disappeared

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55mm…This is now my camera’s longest focal length, giving the narrowest field of view

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I found a brilliant explanation of this on You Tube, with a chap demonstrating with a couple of poles and a bicycle wheel. Genius.