Monday, 31 May 2010

Landscape - Project 9 - colour themes

The first of two projects using colour in the landscape. Bright colour in the British landscape is quite rare, even in the built environment, so we are left looking for blues, greens and browns. In 1 and 3 the daylight (5500k) light is producing natural colour. In 2 the late evening light (3500k) is saturating the colour and in that instance helps the image.

This project calls for three photographs.
  • The largest range of colour contrast
  • One isolated colour set against a contrasting background
  • The largest range of greens you can find in one view
Photograph 1 (The largest range of colour contrast) incorporates blue and orange, which are broadly speaking contrasting colours. As can be seen from the colour wheel below there are a number of options for opposite contrasting colours. Many of these are difficult to find within the context of a landscape and my subject shows an Amaryllis set against a diffuse background. The shot was made with a telephoto lens using a large aperture to isolate the main flower using a shallow depth of field and and push the background bokeh to the limit. The blue could in fact be more towards violet to be completely opposite. 

Nikon D3 300mm f2.8 20mm extension tube 1/1000 sec f3.5

Photograph 2 (One isolated colour set against a contrasting background) is a beach groyne on the coast at Wells next the sea in Norfolk. The green marker against the blue sky does not fulfill the brief in its entirety due to the competing orange/red wood in the foreground. The light here is at late evening and very warm and a polarising filter was used. The image was shot using a 24mm tilt/shift lens with the tilt at maximum to produce the out of focus areas to the left and right. In some ways the Red, Green, Blue colours are all isolated, so maybe it works in a number of ways, however I will look for a new image at some time in the future.

Nikon D3 24mm PC-E f3.5  1/1600 sec f4.5

Photograph 3 (The largest range of greens you can find in one view). The late evening light across the field has produced long shadows from trees to the left of the frame. The general composition of the photograph is horizontal and parallel strips, with receding green tones towards the distance.The lighter greens in the Rape Seed crop and the trees offer the lighter values against the deep shadow green. I have no knowledge of how to measure the greens to determine if the whole range is captured, but to the eye they seem numerous. Once again a panoramic crop suits the photograph, by way of reducing the sky to a minimum.

Nikon D3 80-200mm f2.8  1/250 sec  f10 

Friday, 28 May 2010

Projects - Thoughts on work planning

Two months ago when the course folder arrived I did a read through and got the general feel for what was coming up and looked for anything unusual. Projects were started (at No 1) Assignment 1 started and the general view would be work through in chronological order. This worked well for a while but I now find that some of the images are going to be harder to find and to save time I will open up many more of the Projects and fill in the gaps of missing images from time to time. My field book will be my aide memoire and during a shoot I may well find images for a number of Projects. This should save some time. Today for instance I spent 4 hrs looking for an image in Project 9, without any real success. Plenty of new images for who knows what were taken, but had I had the whole list of Projects with me I would have been able to work on a broader scope and with a detailed purpose.

Monday, 24 May 2010

David Ward

I mentioned here on the 27th April that I had become interested in the work of David Ward and that I was reading his book Landscape Within. I have since started reading  his latest book Landscape Beyond and am becoming totally wrapped up with his work. I confess however to being a quality junkie, and love the output from  5x4 Fuji Velvia 50. I am aware that with our top of the range DSLR cameras we cannot match the detail and tonal range from film at this resolution, and we cannot of course have full movements that a field camera has. So, maybe "flattery deceives" and I am being won over by the technical style of the images rather their substance. I hope not, maybe they hold my attention longer, but it is without doubt the simplicity of Ward's work that I find so interesting. He is not alone in his ability to create outstandingly detailed images. Many others including Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were able to isolate the landscape and see the micro landscape as well as the vista. I have a gradual lack of interest in the grand vista and am spending more time looking at the area around my feet and not looking up.
My affection with this style of landscape photography may be detrimental to my coursework as I am spending far too much time "off course" tinkering with this genre and not working on the Projects. It did start to get in the way last week in Cumbria. Up there to catch up on some projects I did spend too much time looking at and thinking of Wards words.
  • Simplicity
  • Mystery
  • Beauty
It is clear that not even Ward understands how these words are used and how they convert into every image we take as photographers. I understand what he is trying to tell me, although when in the field and shooting there are doubts at almost every stage. How simple, perhaps this is too simple, etc. etc. and while trying to overcome these issues we rely upon our instinct to intervene and save the moment. I say save the moment, because that is exactly what we are up against. Time is not on our side to enter into an endless mental debate about these issues. The light is changing and if missed is gone forever.

Where possible I enjoy thinking "Ward" when out shooting but for the immediate future I need to think "Freeman" and work on his tasks. 
So, I have to do Project and Assignment photography to finish this module and perhaps enjoy my photography later.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Landscape - Project 8 - using perspective to help composition

The control of perspective in a photograph is one of the essential tools to convey depth and a 3 dimensionality. Any 3 dimensional scene or object will convey an element of perspective. It is inherent in the texture and shadows, and the knowledge we have that objects although large appear smaller at distance. The tools available for this are:

  • Form and Content
  • Linear Perspective
  • Diagonal Lines
  • Focal Length
  • Aerial Perspective
  • Tonal Perspective
  • Colour Perspective
  • Sharpness
We are asked to produce a photograph that makes obvious use of perspective to draw the eye into the frame. Any of the above techniques can be used. I have chosen 2 images that both use Linear Perspective.

Photograph 1 is a disused railway bridge near Keswick in Cumbria. The old railway route is now a footpath and the bridges are now decked and fenced. A wide angle lens (25mm) at f7 has given me almost complete depth of field by the use of hyper focal focusing. The converging handrails and the arch of the bridge combining to maximum effect in this example of linear perspective. The near symmetrical alignment enhances the perspective and the eye becomes fixed at the far side of the bridge. I have also enhanced the aspect ratio more towards panoramic. The removal of the rather bland white sky keeps the interest on the structure rather than the general landscape beyond. It is difficult to judge the length of the span of the bridge due to this unfamiliar type of structure. It would have been simple to have included a figure at the far side, but for me this geometric image works far better.

Nikon D3 17-35mm at 25mm  1/60 sec f7.1 Monopod                       

Photograph 2 uses the same linear perspective but with the addition of height and the use of a 200mm lens to demonstrate the depth in this simple landscape of a track, with a hedge and trees alongside. The tramlines (tractor tyre marks in the crop) that run parallel to the track reflect the main feature and enhance the linear perspective. The hedge at the far side of the green field acts as a stopping point for the eye and the landscape beyond is not really explored. Once again the tendency towards panoramic style removes most of the featureless sky.

Nikon D3  80-200mm at 200mm 1/320 sec f9

Monday, 17 May 2010

Landscape - Project 7 - figures in a landscape

The role of figures in a landscape. We are asked to think in terms of

  • Balance
  • Focus of attention
  • Establishing the scale of the scene

    Photograph No 1 is an iconic shot from The Lake District of Ashness Bridge. Photographed many times and used as an illustration in many books and advertisements. From this vantage point we can clearly see the bridge, some of Derwent Water, Keswick and Skidaw in the background. The figures in this instance are offering valuable scale and a point of interest at the thirds of the image.

    Nikon D3  85mm lens. 1/60 sec f16 on a tripod.

    Photograph No 2 shows a fisherman in Watendlath Tarn. The figure here is included solely as a point of interest. The lighting is acute and the figure contrasts with the green background.

    Nikon D3 200mm lens, 1/1250 sec f8. Exposure -0.7EV to reduce the detail in the background and reduce the potential for over exposure in the water. 

    Photograph 3 shows a figure on a wooden pathway across a wetland area near Derwent Water. I included the figure for balance. Without the figure the image has no point where the eye stops as it scans from foreground to the distance. The figure halts that flow. In addition the figure provides scale, as it is difficult, without reference to maybe the house in the background, to understand how wide the footpath is.

    Nikon D3 with 50mm AIS MF  lens, 1/200 sec f11.

    Photograph 4 has figures that are much smaller than in the previous 3. The only purpose here is that the figures provide scale. The scene on its own is clearly a bridge over a river, but how big ?. The figures are not as prominent as I would have liked and looking again at this shot it would have improved by allowing the figures to be on the bend in the path.

    D3 200mm lens 1/1000 sec f8. Exposure -0.3EV to reduce overall tone and enhance figures on the path.


    Whether or not to include figures in a landscape is a difficult question. Often the decision can be made based upon the end use of the image. Photograph 1 for example was shot as part of my Stock and has been used in a book on walking. It therefore had to have walkers, without them the editor would not have chosen it. The figure only works where it provides an essential difference and I would not generally include any without good justification.

    Projects upate

    The progress on keeping up to date with the projects has suffered a bit recently due to the work on Assignment 1 becoming too intensive. Although nothing recorded here for projects there has been some background activity. Frustrated with Norfolk and Lincolnshire I have just returned from 3 days in Cumbria. I always return to The Lakes when everything else fails, although there is no guarantee that my photography will become enriched by traveling 5hrs up the A1. The course folder traveled with me and was an aide memoir for project related work. What is for sure is that the food is good and the beer even better, so nothing is ever lost.

    Project 6 - framing the view differently. I have some ideas for this but nothing worked out that well so this one is on the back burner for a while. When I find my location to shoot this it will be quick and simple, but for now , no location.

    Project 7 - figures in a landscape. Shot some for this in Cumbria, so images are available, just PP needed to complete.

    Project 8 - using perspective to help composition. Many of my images from the last 3 months have been shot with many of the techniques being looked for here, so I don't propose to shoot anything special for this and will rely on some from previous shoots. Unless we get some fog which would be nice.

    Project 9 - colour themes. Once again I think my recent Lake District shoot has some for this. Certainly plenty of green.

    Project 10 - soft colours. I had The lakes in mind for this when I booked the trip. Soft greens and browns in abundance.

    Sunday, 9 May 2010

    Assignment 1: the season - Draft

    I have decided to produce my assignments in book format via Blurb publishing. Since my first book at Blurb there have been technical changes that I have to take account of and produce a draft copy prior to getting the final version for my tutor. Blurb have changed their printing equipment and this requires me to download a new ICC profile for soft proofing in CS3. This is essential, the soft proofed images were slightly flat and required a little additional work with curves. Despite several read throughs the draft does have 2 errors which will be rectified when the new version is uploaded.
    In addition to this printed version I will send my tutor a CD of the images so that they can be viewed on a PC.

    The concern here is that the images are cliches of Spring. Too obvious or too illustrative. There isnt time however to continually shoot images. The season has moved on and although to my regret I have found some fields of Oil Seed Rape with elevation that could be included I have chosen to call time on this assignment, take the critique from my tutor, learn from that and improve for future work. 

    May 20th

    The errors have now been corrected and the final version is in print.

    BA(Hons) Photography
    By Nigel Roberson Ma...