Sunday, 1 May 2011

Contre-jour - Projects 20. 21.22

The Lake District visit in February didn't produce images of note largely due to the weather and strong winds. It was, as always though enjoyable as a spectator. I have just returned from another 4 days just outside Keswick and the weather has been fabulous. Good light, no wind, longer days and temperatures above 20c all conducive to being able to bag a few projects and start Assignment 5.

Project 13 - throughout the day
Project 14 - changing light / changing views
Project 20 - sun stars and diffraction
Project 21 - silhouettes and reflections
Project 22 - positioning the sun
Project 23 - soft light

The ones I have missed seem to require me getting up at dawn, which is fine during the working week but not on holiday, so they will come later.

The course folder was referred to from time to time and I am pleased that some work was done and after a week or so I will return to the Raw files and start some PP work and write them up.

Assignment 5 : in the style of an influential photographer, was also on the agenda and the 5x4 was included in the kit for the trip to work on the Edward Weston style.

363 digital files, 12 5x4 negatives and optimism by the bucket full.

So far, this seems to have been a rather positive trip and working towards a number of useful milestones. In reality it was one of the hardest I have ever done. Not that the photography is overwhelmingly difficult (its not that easy either) but all I wanted to do was be a tourist. I walked the 4.5 miles around Buttermere without a camera. I just didn't have the mental state to bother about photography. My indulgence was just to enjoy the vistas, the moss on the trees, the rotting logs in the forest, the lichen, the ferns, the lambs, the other walkers, the ice cream van at Gatesgarth and be a tourist. So often I have found myself missing out on the experience because of the constant requirement to photography. In the afternoon we made our way back to Keswick and did the lake tour. Again no camera, just the enjoyment of being there with no pressure to take the picture of "child with ice cream" or whatever. This non photography day may have resulted in no images but it didnt prevent me thinking about my work in hand. As a photographer your eye constantly sees shape, texture, light and shade. The seeds of new ideas are sown and will be gathered later, so while there is a temptation to constantly be looking through a view finder (because we might miss something) I now feel I will spend more time observing and run the chance of missing an awesome "now" moment for my longer term ambitions.

The non photography period was not repeated, I had "lanced the boil" so to speak and on the last day (29th April) I started on the Edward Weston assignment. The slow, detailed approach using the view camera is so rewarding. The constant re evaluation of the composition, the focus plane adjustments, incident light meter readings supplemented by some spot readings and other minor adjustments become therapy rather than a chore. You check 10 times that the lens is closed before you withdraw the dark slide and then as quickly as possible (the light may change) you make the exposure, turn over the slide and slip it back in. Then all over again you ponder whether to make another, perhaps half a stop darker, and so it goes on. The negatives and transparencies are to go away next week and then the joy of the light box. These images are cherished, handled with white cotton gloves on their way to the scanner and feel a part of you as you can remember every moment in their making.
Wista 5x4 Field Camera in use on Gitzo Tripod

EDIT - Some time later after some editing.

Contre jour - against the daylight is featured in three projects (20,21,22) and I am not seperating them to any great degree as they all seem to cover similar ground.

Primarily this is when the camera is pointed directly at the sun to achieve a particular effect. My own preferences here are that I do not like this technique that much. The photographs tend to be dominated by the technique and suffer with poor tonal range, not easily dealt with on a digital platform.

Project 20 - Sun Stars and diffraction.

24mm f32

This straight into the sun image was shot at f32 on a wide angle lens and shows the maximum sun star. The resulting image is extremely back lit with very dark shadows. Recovery by PP is not possible without there being obvious manipulation. The sun star effect is at its maximum due to the very WA lens and the small aperture. A normal or telephoto lens cpupled with a large aperture (say f2) would reduce the effect to near nil.

Project 21 - Silhouettes and reflections

The Silhouette (named after Etienne de Silhouette) is a photographic method whereby the person of object is full tone black against a single colour or tone. In landscape photography this is generally a tree or building and is used as an effect rather than any other reason.

In the example below I have included a foreground shadow silhouette to enhance the image of the trees. Careful positioning of the sun behind a tree darkens the shaow and creates the classic silhouette.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to seeing the pictures. I'm also just back from a recent holiday and had in some ways the opposite experience, in that I was desperate to spend lots of time just taking pictures and really exploring the landscape but instead mostly had to content myself with touristing and quick snaps. I had a great time in a wonderful landscape all the same. I will have to learn to drive so I can control the agenda more on future trips!