The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

Narrative and Illustration: Rain

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Tue, May 28, 2013 21:42:31
The requirement of this exercise was to provide a single image with an emphasis on illustrating rain. The image could be generated for purpose or captured in the wilds... I chose the wilds.

The umbrella is a relatively universal interpretation of rain, however in choosing this image I felt that the element of rain has been more positively transmitted into the conscious understanding. The inclusion of the car with it's rain drop covered roof enforces the message with its more graphic and less interpretative presence. If the image presented umbrellas alone then the message may have not been so overtly about rain, just inclement weather.

The depth of field selection, with the focus area being toward the nearer car roof, renders the umbrellas in the distance into a blur, and therefore a component of rather than the whole of the image narrative.

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Narrative & Illustration: Evidence of Action

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Sun, May 19, 2013 20:31:19

The aim of this exercise, as part of "The Art of Photography" Chapter 5 - Narrative and illustration was to provide a single image, which as a singular presents a sense of story in that 'something has just happened'. Activity in itself is often described as difficult to photograph. A photograph in itself freezes a moment in time, and though by means of technical control of the camera e.g. shutter speed, the photographer can aid the implied notion of action, there is is still that sense of nil movement in the photographic still image.

Conceptually the idea presented in this exercise requirement proposed a degree of abstraction from the described activity. The image should present an evidence of action to be 'read' from the image. I believe that this image is suggestive enough - a scene of domestic violence perhaps? The point being the image presents a perhaps, but a perhaps of what? It's ambiguous enough to become momentarily interesting.

The abstraction here is presented in that the full figure of the model is not shown, and the use of black and white adds a noir sense of drama - the image fits into preconceived dark film genre.

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Narrative & Illustration: A Narrative picture essay

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Mon, May 13, 2013 10:48:44

Exercise: A Narrative Picture Essay

This project required an assignment to be elected by the student and then photographed as a story telling sequence.

This story is quite a personal one. My wife’s father recently passed away, his passing was quite sudden and certainly a shock to the family, especially as Terry was such a fit and healthy man despite his elder years.

Here is the essay of images:

Here is a link to my Google library link of the content - Last trip up the mountain which can be viewed as a slide show, and additionally I have included a embedded sequence from my flickr account which is truncated at the end.

Both Elsie and Terry were keen walkers, having navigated many coastal paths, woodland walks and mountain passes during their life together. His final wish was understandable; to have his ashes scattered on a mountain top in the Lake District, one of their favourite walking locations in the UK. Elsie, his wife, wanted this to be a family occasion, and so she set about selecting a mountain that all the family including two children of 10 and 12 could ascend safely. For this ascent, Cat Bells (451m) viewable from the town of Keswick was chosen.

Wikipedia describes the validity of Elsie’ selection very well:

“ Its distinctive shape catches the attention of many visitors to the Lakes who feel compelled to climb to the summit after seeing it from the viewpoint of Friars Crag on the opposite side of Derwent Water. Renowned Lake District writer and walker Alfred Wainwright acknowledges the popularity of Catbells among fellwalkers of all ability by saying:

"It is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved, its shapely topknott attracts the eye offering a steep but obviously simple scramble."”

As well as photographing this project for my submission for the OCA exercise, I also wanted to provide the family with a record, which although maybe a little raw to view in the immediacy, it may prove to be a valid personal record for the family in later years.

Photographically, my intention was to capture a relatively candid picture record, as a series of snapshots – as though the family had recorded this content themselves. From selecting this methodology I intended to provide a comfortable set of images for the family to view and to provide the least hindrance to their experience by not forcing any elected or formal compositions and poses from the family, hindering their journey at such a personal time.

The final set I have produced for the family includes over 50 images, which I have edited down to a lesser quantity (18) for this exercise; on this point I understand that the requirement was for a set of 15, but on edit I found I could not reduce this quantity down without affecting the fluidity of the viewers progression through the essay. The battle in this editing process was in the reducing of these images down to a lesser number and maintaining a readable continuous and contiguous story. Additionally there was the issue of story quality and flow versus the inclusion of what I subjectively deemed individual ‘good pictures’ which illustrated either the general family dynamic, their progression through the story and/ or a sense of time and place – fixing the sequence into a recognisable space and time for the viewer.

The weather conditions during the ascent and descent were quite harsh – so a single DSLR was used with a single lens selection of focal length 28-100 – reducing the need to change lenses during the shoot in such poor weather. Additional to the use of DSLR I used a Sony Xperia Z phone camera – this was employed for a number of reasons; in terms of practicality firstly the camera is waterproof and secondly it can take a submittable good record image in general light conditions (i.e. daytime), In terms of photographic studies I added the phone camera to aid my record of the family, especially the children and their expectation of being photographed. The casual and ubiquitous nature of mobile phone camera photography allowed for some relatively personal recordings with a lack of formality and forced solemnity and thus candid and relaxed scenes of the family were recorded as they move through and beyond this milestone in their personal shared history. Through death there is life and I purposefully did not wish to record an overly sombre Victorian record, but a more real reflection of the day.

. In terms of image selection and maintaining the viewers interest I pressed to use a full range of focal lengths of the 28-100 beer can lens in use, portrait and landscape framing was employed and a mix of candid and more formal picturesque image selection was used.

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Light: Concentrating the light

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Sun, March 17, 2013 12:11:00

An exercise in making a focused centre of light, in this case the lighting effect was created by using a cardboard tube taped to a flash gun, this provided the focus of light, with the flashgun held above the bottles, and aimed at the front bottle to provide the spot lighting. I also employed a modelling light with a red cover sheet projecting onto a white background, this illuminated the background which was located a foot or so behind the table upon which the bottles were sited.

A 6 second shutter speed was employed and the flash gun was hand fired twice to create the illumination effect of the front bottle.

I admit to photoshopping the tunnel of light into the image to enhance the effect -and give the idea of the 'light from above'

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TAOP Light: Outdoors at Night

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Thu, March 14, 2013 09:55:44
An exciting theme to shoot as an exercise.. made easy by the fact I am a City Dweller....

1. A floodlit building

2. A raised view overlooking a busy road

3. A brightly lit store front

4. A large interior with many people

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Light: Contrast & Shadow fill

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Mon, February 25, 2013 11:13:43
An exercise to establish the effect of single side lighting of a still life subject in controlled conditions, and to study the effects of diffusing the discharged light with a white diffusing umbrella, and to examine the effects of different materials and the proximity of materials to subject in terms of their resultant reflectance and effect upon shadow fill on the darker side of the subject. All the following images were photographed with studio flash.

Materials used to effect shadow fill were white card and tin foil.

1. Side lighting from camera right - no diffuser and no left side reflector

In this example the un diffused light creates a strong localised reflected area upon the nearer vase in the subject pair - to the point that there is no discernable detail in this strongly illuminated area, the opposite side of the vase is in strong shadow - resulting in strong contrast lighting of this subject. The glass is also hit by a strong localised illumination upon its upper light facing parts; the glass however is receiving some unintentional light fill in the shadow area from other bright items in the room, however there is a sense of greater contrast in this subject too.

2. Side lighting from cameras right, using diffuser, but no reflector

The immediately noticeable effect from this image is that the diffuser has softened the effect of the light hitting the subject, allowing for more discernable detail from the illuminated side (camera right). The penetration of the light upon the objects in the room which have created illumination of the darker side of the objects is also lessened, the effect of the larger diffuser (larger than the subjects) has enveloped the subjects and created a greater sense of the subjects round dimensions.

3. Diffused light source with white card reflector to camera left - 3ft away

On the whole a less 'contrasty' image, the softening of the shadows caused by the light reflectance from the large white card placed to camera left, there is also evidence of light from the reflector returning and hitting the diffuser and increasing the lighting effect upon the subjects camera right side, the glass also shows a specular reflection from the reflector on its left (camera) side.

4. Diffused light source with white card nearer to subjects

A generally brighter version of the previous, with the shadow fill reduction most marked so far. The overall image is brighter due to light bounce to and from the reflector, and the shadow contrast is markedly reduced. Arguably the lighting from the source is too powerful now and the detail in the highlights of the white vase are lost again.

5. Diffused Light source with (dull side) aluminium reflector

A darker version than the previous model with proximal white card in fill.

6. Diffused light source with (bright side) aluminium reflector

Arguably too bright, and more like the high proximity card reflector, though the tonal difference is greater than the close white card version.

7. Diffused light source and crumpled silver foil (then flattened) reflector.

Arguably the better shot, the multiple directions of reflection give a nice rounded shape due to the good tone range mixed with the odd reflectance points in the shadowed side of the subjects. If the background was appropriately lit then a usable shot would be possible.

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Light: The Lighting angle

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Sun, February 24, 2013 19:52:59
An experiment to demonstrate the sculptural effects of a light source position in relation to the subject, with the camera in a fixed position. As a subject a sculpture with heavy relief was used to highlight the effect of the diffused illumination from different angles. Each photograph employs a single light source using an umbrella diffuser and each image is the result of flash rather than continuous lighting.

1.The light source next to the camera

This first image, shows that the power setting for the flash was low and that there is some distance between the subject and the background - there is notable fall off of light, which in this case helps extricate the subject from the background and thus reducing the flatter direct from camera light - it can be recognised that the light source was camera left. The detailed texture of the sculpture is well depicted in this image, reflecting the various nooks and crannies of the face which are not directly perpendicular to the camera and light. There us greater illumination of the cheeks - which were most parellel with the light source and camera POV.

2. Light source to camera left (at same level as camera).

Again in this image there is a degree of 'fall off' of the light as it hits the background, and again this has affected the seperation of the subject from the background - in this case arguably less positively. The depiction of the sculptures form/ shape is aided by the light falling onto the left side and the resultant shadowing of the right hand side of the face.

3. Light source right of camera (same height as camera).

This example is the same effect but from the opposite side as depicted in the previous image, however it is noted that the light source direction may have been a little towards the background or nearer as there is less light fall off on the light source side of the background.

4. Light source behind subject on right hand side

A high contrast more dramatic version is achieved here, with the left handside of the face in deep shadow and the bridge of the nose acting as the seperator to the more illuminated right hand side, however the dark side of the face is not in full shadow as a) the light source was bigger than the subject and therefore the emitted diffuse light could 'envelope' the subject, and b). the room in which these images was recorded has white walls and is quite small so a degree of light bounce lightened the shadows.

5. Light source behind subject on left hand side

6. Light directly behind subject

A silhouetted version, reduced in outline depiction only by the fact that the light source was larger than the subject and enveloped allowing for detail to be found in the darkened areas. For the proximity of the source to the subject the power of the light was too high also.

7. Lighting the subject from 45 degrees in front and above subject - light centre, left and right

Of these four images, the version where the light is directly above and at 45 degrees (1st one) to the subject provides a lighter' version in that the reduced shadows diminish the sense of weight and detail of the piece, while the remaining three images provide some shadowing around the brow and eyes (especially those images showing left and right from above at 45 degrees lighting) and the opposite eye/brow is in diminished light and the beginnings of shadow. The final version in this set with the lighting effect from directly overhead again is lighter than those from left or right- but there is still a sense of shadow from the overhanging brow which adds weight to the piece, where in all the shots prior to this set shown are all about texture.

8. Lighting directly overhead in front and behind.

Of this final pair, the first, where the light is directly above but in front of the subject offers a light and relatively less detailed depiction, though the detail is to a degree still there due to the heavy textured nature of this particular sculpture. The final image, is almost more about the background rather than the subject, the ilumination of the subject is relatively poor, though the mass is depicted by the subjects heavy shadow contrast versus the much lighter background.

Overall: an excellent exercise creating and understanding diffuse lighting which can provide,at different angles, very different results which can in turn heavily influence the viewers understanding of a subject in terms of weight, volume, texture and mass.

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Light: Softening the light

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Sun, February 24, 2013 18:43:58
An exercise to qualify the effect of diffuse lighting (i.e. lighting with a diffused origin) versus lighting the same subject with a naked lamp.

In both examples the version with the diffused material between the bulb and the subject offers a subjectively better image, the tonal range between specular highlight and dark areas is greater, offering greater detail and dimension to the subject. The undiffused light source versions both suggest a hardness and high contrast which does not sculpt the subject well.

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