Exercise 1.2

Point

Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame.

How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you have got it right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for a point?

In these images where there is only a single point,  I don’t feel there is an absolute right or wrong position for it, as the eye is drawn to it wherever it is in the frame.

Print out two or three of your point photographs and trace the route your eye takes over the surface with a pencil.  Then try the same with a selection of photographs from newspapers or magazines.  You should notice that each photograph has its own tempo.  Add the traced photographs to your learning log together with brief observation.

This is an interesting exercise. I have never before actually stopped to consider the route the eye takes when looking at an image. It is definitely true that objects attract attention out of proportion to their size.

In the image above, the eye is drawn first to the brick in the foreground, even though it is not the largest item in the frame. It’s position is important. Had it been placed closer to the centre of the frame, I don’t believe it would have been so effective at drawing the eye.

In this image, the handprints positioned on the far left of the frame do a great job in leading the eye to the figure of the child who is the subject of the picture.

When it comes to portraits of people, I believe that it is human instinct to automatically look at the eyes and mouth first, no matter where they are positioned in the frame.

SPi Workshop

On Saturday I attended a workshop in London organised by Street Photography International. It was run by Walter Rothwell, Craig Reilly and Emily Garthwaite.

The day was split into three so that each group (maximum four people) spent time with each of the three tutors, who individually have very different styles and approaches. My group started with Walter at the British Museum where we looked into some of the techniques for discreet image capture, such as ‘shooting from the hip.’ We also discussed the moral issues and etiquette of street photography. We made our way down Oxford Street and Piccadilly, looking at the potential of shop windows, advertising billboards etc.

After lunch we changed over to Emily. Her technique is very much more to do with approaching your subject and engaging with them before photographing them. It was really interesting to see how people were generally flattered to be approached for their photo and how interacting with them made for a much more fulfilling experience. She demonstrated that the clever photographer can still capture unguarded images of their subject in the moments after their subject has finished posing for them. We were then encouraged to practice these techniques at Leicester Square, then on to Westminster Bridge and around the London Eye, all vibrant and exciting locations for the street photographer.

For the final part of the day we went with Craig to Tate Modern. He taught us about composition and setting up the perfect shot. He set us off to do an exercise involving photographing a stairway and then spent time with each of us individually showing us how to improve our technique. He also offered me some incredibly helpful advice regarding exposure and metering, neither of which are my forte.

All in all it was a completely excellent day and I have to say, brilliant value for money. I went home exhausted but so excited and inspired! I am very much looking forward to putting all my new found knowledge to practice.

Exercise 1.1

Take three or four exposures of the same scene. Don’t change anything on the camera and keep the framing the same.

Preview the shots on the LCD screen. At first glance they look the same, but are they? Perhaps a leaf moved with the wind, the light changed subtly, or the framing changed almost imperceptibly to include one seemingly insignificant object and exclude another.

Now bring up the histogram on the preview screen. The histogram is a graphical representation of exposure – the camera’s sensitivity to light. As you page through the images you can see small variations in the histograms.  Even though the pictures look the same, the histogram data shows that in a matter of seconds, the world changes, and these subtle differences are recorded by the camera.

Add the sequence to your learning log with the time info from your camera’s shooting data as your first image for Part One.

Histogram7644
Time Shot 11.44:45
Histogram7645
Time Shot 11.44:48
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Time Shot 11.44:55
Histogram7647
Time Shot 11.44:58

Assignment 1

Square Mile

Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’.  Use this to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You should try to make your final set of photographs ‘sit’ together as a series that complement one another and collectively communicate your idea.

However you choose to approach this assignment, it should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography.  Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone in terms of subject matter.  Try out new approaches rather than sticking to what you think you’re most successful at.

Commentary

I knew immediately that the area I would photograph would be that surrounding my home in rural Kent, where I have lived for nearly twenty years and where all four of my children were born and have grown up. My heart lies here and I truly love this place.

Here we are deep in The Garden of England. We are surrounded by farms, by cows and sheep, by woods, orchards and vineyards, by roadside stalls selling home-grown produce. What I am attempting to convey in this series of pictures is the land and its bounteousness in our little corner of Kent.

One of my main sources of inspiration was the work of Venetia Dearden.  I love the way she captures rural life in Somerset Stories Fivepenny Dreams. I find her use of a limited colour palate really appealing and have tried to replicate that in my own set of images. I feel that this helps the pictures sit together as a series. With this in mind I also decided to take them all in a portrait orientation for consistency.

Something I really need to overcome is my fear of being ‘caught’ taking photographs in public.  In the process of doing this assignment I forced myself to go uninvited to places like the local allotment where there was the potential for others to come and challenge me about what I was doing there.  Much to my relief, far from being hostile, people seemed to be genuinely interested in what I was doing.  This has greatly boosted my confidence and whilst never wishing to break the law, I hope I can be more bold in future!

The camera I used was a Canon 5D Mark IV. In order to get me out of my comfort zone I decided to shoot all the images in its Manual setting.  This is not something I have a great deal of experience with and led to varying levels of success. However, I believe it was a useful exercise and will continue practising to get more consistent results in the future.

I’m not sure I have the expertise to state how good or otherwise my shots for this assignment are.  I took hundreds of pictures in multiple locations and simply chose the ones that instinctively I liked best and felt fitted the brief.

Going forward, I think it would be interesting to continue shooting images for this series over the course of an entire year, thus incorporating all four seasons and the changes that occur over that period of time.