Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Assignment 3 : a linking theme - posted and debrief

A rather large A3 box was posted this afternoon to my tutor and the rest of the day was spent wondering just how disastrous the outcome may be. Not knowing what I am doing is my main cause of concern. I  mention to my tutor in a note that there are a number of journal entries that he may wish to read while looking at my work, to see the build up and the thought process in its making.I have just read my journal entry dated 11 February 2011 where I stated "I am particularly interested in images that are understated". By the 19 February I state they will be abstract and on the 24 February I confirm that they are abstract. Hardly consistent thought processes but the changes were largely due to the lack of "understated" thoughts by myself. There will be a time for "understated" and I am looking forward to it, but for now abstract and overstated appealed to me more.

The completion, writing up, CD burning and packing occurred in a flash and the relief is tangible. Inspired by another step towards the finish line I find myself part way through writing Assignment 4 : the critical review and loading some 5x4 dark slides for the Edward Weston style photographs. EW would of course have had a young female assistant helping him while he did this but mine hasn't materialised, so already I am at a disadvantage, never mind.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Landscape - Project 12 - Contrast and Exposure

The project calls for a contrasty scene with deep shadow and bright highlights. The interest here is to determine the number of stops of dynamic range and deal with the problem. There would of course be problems if using film due to the difference in dynamic range of transparency and negative stock. I however am using a digital camera, the Nikon D3.

During the taking the following notes were made.
Date March 8th
Time 09:41
Temperature 2c
Location West Acre Norfolk - Old railway trucks
Camera Nikon D3
Lens 17-35 AFS zoom at 32mm
ISO 200
Shutter 1/250 sec
Aperture f7.1
Auto matrix metering
Hand held meter - Kenko KFM-2100
Incident in sun = f5.6
Spot on bracken = f4
Spot on truck end = f2
Deepest shadow in truck = f1.4
Brightest highlight in sky = f22
Number of stops difference = 8

The file was opened in CS5 Camera Raw 6.0 to view the areas of the image that are outside the current DR. Red = Highlights with no detail
Blue = Shadow with no detail

Within the raw converter the highlights are recovered and the shadow detail increased. A small amount of black is left as I find that acceptable although I have reduced all of the highlights to include a tone.

The resulting image (above) now has better dynamic range, with opened shadows. The image has though become flatter and less appealing, although as a record for a viewer interested in the antique railway carriage it has better detail.

For the purpose here however I would like a more interesting image and with the use of  the clarity, vibrance and saturation controls I can add some colour interest without losing the shadows or highlights.

From the above and with a little amount of local dodging and burning, some local contrast control using USM I have below my final photograph. It displays a full range of tones with no burnt out highlights and a very small amount of black at the extreme of the shadows.

Further manipulation is not required at this stage, nor for the requirements of this project. Further projects deal with adding light into the landscape and this location will be used again, with maybe a remote flash inside the railway truck.


The problems of using film (especially transparency) on a shoot such as this have been reduced to almost Nil by the use of  a digital camera, shooting raw files and using CS5 raw conversion. A film user would have shot maybe 5 bracketed frames and then chosen from a light box the frame that seemed the best compromise. A negative film would solve some problems providing the prints were hand made. Sheet film monochrome even better as each frame can be processed individually.

Correct exposure is still however a target requirement for good photography, even with a digital camera.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

British Journal of Photography - documentary images

After a break of maybe four years or so I have started reading the BJP again. Two reasons for this renewed interest in a journal that in the past I had often found difficult to embrace. The first reason is perhaps a little shallow but I am impressed with the new format and reproduction quality. I cant do with anything that is made or delivered to me in a shoddy fashion, especially when being asked to pay a full price. The new BJP is printed on good paper and the photography properly reproduced. I also needed to read more, especially around contemporary photography and photographers who are making it in today's world. My photography is  not centered around modern trends (other than digital capture which I suppose isn't modern anymore) and I tend to hanker for the past in style at least. Elsewhere you will see how much I write on Edwin Smith, Edward Weston and David Ward, who himself is a devote of Minor White.
So, the BJP as a source of inspiration and learning. It does have a difficult job serving so many different reader requirements and it is trying to deal with a number of styles and genres, all inside 90 pages.

Some of the modern documentary images however leave me cold, to an extent that I doubt my entire reason for being part of photography and get quite anxious. Many of these "skirting board" images as I call them where there seems to be nothing of any relevance, no content other than the obvious and  the banal, performed often with on camera flash that I really think of them as nothing more than a snap and that is a kindness. I know that its me and I am not quite "getting it"  (I think Alan Abercrombie on his blog also talked of this) and I really want to find the answer as to why this type of work is so highly regarded and treated to space in this journal. The photographers who's work it is are clearly doing the right thing and being accepted for publication. I will persevere, look at the photographs and read about the photographers, trying to remember their names so that when the opportunities arise I can chat to others about them over a glass of Chablis and maybe feel an inner calm and smugness that I understand.

So, I am still finding the BJP a challenge. Much of it is very good and an eager read and I am convinced it is the right thing to do to keep in touch and up to date, but like so much with photography, its vast and I need to come to terms that I wont  understand it all.