AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, October 07, 2013 14:45:56
This is probably my second last post to my TAOP OCA blog, I am near the point of handing over all the content I have created for this module, for the dreaded formal assessment.
Prior to this conclusion though, is this entry, detailing my reworking of assignment 5 - Narrative and illustration.
My original version of this assignment was heavily critiqued by my tutor Rob, and rightly so to be honest. The first version, listed here
reflected my over procrastination with this assignment and I cannot really volunteer and criticism of my tutors comments.
Firstly, my material for the first version was created in one shoot, with no reccy to test the ideas, the lack of scope for the narrative of the story was reflected in this. the images, though some were interesting were either lacking for the story, or were diverting the focus away from the actual subject and lacked an introduction for the main characters. My tutor also advised that I am prone 'to seeing and interpreting too much meaning from my images'. In this second version of the assignment I hope that I have been more true to the story and kept to the needed and necessary content.
Here is the second version of the pseudo magazine narrative which I offer for formal assessment:
The images in sequence are here:
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, July 15, 2013 21:45:27
OCA: TaoP Assignment 5: Narrative
12 Images on the theme of Illustration and Narrative
To illustrate a story in the
mode of a magazine assignment
Selected story – An easy days
training for two team cyclists
Freeman, M. (2012) Michael The Photographer’s story Lewes: The Ilex Press.
Hunter, F. et al (2007) Light: Science and Magic: an Introduction to Photographic Lighting (3rd
Edition). Burlington, MA. Focal Press.
D. (2003) Creative Lighting Techniques for studio photographers, (2nd Edition).
London, Amherst Media.
Locations for viewing:
This assignment presented an opportunity to demonstrate the
idea of a connected flow and sequence of a story, and to singularly illustrate
a subject with the introductory image. The potential for a story was not
necessarily the difficult element of the assignment. More difficult was
employing the elements of previous assignment and exercise experience and
learning within the story board of images. These elements of course would
provide photographic stimulus to the viewer.
My initial ‘potential’ themes for this story presented fairly
sound ideas – a day in the life of a homeless man, the experience of students
and lecturers in preparation for a degree show, a study of the close
relationship between a teenage girl and her horse.
All of these themes presented a good potential for a story
sequence, but all of these stories fell over for different reasons, but for
the latter two these reasons were by and
Not being capable to exercise change when
‘planned shots ‘do not appear before the camera.
Discomfort in photographing scenes with multiple
people and not engaging with the subject matter – resulting in images which
lacked stimulating composition, colour, shape and therefore illustration of the
subject matter. This also resulted in image sets all with same focal length and
similar framing – again too easy to record and therefore dull to look at as a
Collation of imagery which in illustration is
too similar as a group and therefore lacking story variation, story peak
termination and coda (Freeman: 2012).
storyboard imagery requires an interesting subject matter which is aided by
changing environments which can present opportunities in photography in terms
of lighting, shape and colour, and also maintaining narrative interest.
Considerations in making additions to the story – i.e. new characters or activities
helps keep the story fresh for the viewer, in this case the use of the car and
photography from the car/cameraman’s point of view. Changes in camera framing
and composition also aid the visual interest to the story set – and previous
attempts at this assignment certainly proved that. Essentially, it has taken
three attempts to satisfy the demands of the assignment in terms of initially separating
and recognising the story’s photographic and
narrative needs – and then bringing these components back together.
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, May 27, 2013 12:10:46
Narrative assignment looming – thoughts while developing
Browsing the shelves of Waterstones' a few days back,
debating whether to add a tenner to the twenty quid voucher in my pocket – the debate
is between Vivian Maier and Bill Brandt… then as I review the prices… and mull
over the idea that I’ve just re –read Badger and Cotton…. Up pops Michael
Freeman’s ‘The Photographers Story’… I
need some new reading material and with this serendipitous moment... I buy the
Freeman book… the right choice with TAOP assignment 5 looming.
TAOP so far has very much being about the practicalities of
seeing with a camera. Story telling has not been within the brief until now.
The idea is easy to digest - a photo essay with an overriding theme, in fact,
the ideas is too easy and therein lies the problem; pick a subject, go out and
shoot and then present a story that you think
shows a story. However, what you as photographer may initially be swept away
with – this narrative run of images, may, if you’re not careful provide boring
for another viewer – this is where the Serendipity of Freemans book comes in…
As Freeman states there is a classic Narrative formula,
which lends itself to the photo essay, introductory images, openers,
establishment shots climax, closers and coda. The language is appropriate as it
works – and has proven itself to work in that a thousand and one various colour
supplements have presented themselves and inspired their readers over most of
the Sundays of the latter half of the twentieth century.
I have 2 or 3 possible stories to run for this assignment,
and I haven’t quite settled on which one will win through yet… we shall see. I
have chosen both stories to take me out of my comfort zone – they are
environments and people that I do not normally interact with during my usual
routines. The choices for story I have made have made for exciting prospects to
photograph but I know that I must in still some discipline and planning into
the images I collect - both planned and candid - to provide the narrative
sequence for the story. There is a potential to be washed away with image
collecting and end up reviewing a belt of images which provide no sequence of
events. A further issue is to what extent I forego the individually dramatic illustrative
photograph in pursuit of the story – I will find out as I shoot both themes.
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, April 08, 2013 09:57:45
This assignment, to date, has been the most enjoyable, and I
admit to being more than pleased with the very positive assessment from my new
The assignment gave the opportunity to really ‘get stuck in’
with the subject, and the opportunity to really ‘play’ with the core element in
photography – light.
On the back of this work, my tutor has suggested that I
follow TAOP with People and Place for my next level 1 module, I agree, and I
think the module will be a strong challenge.
Firstly, in response to tutor comments I have selected a few
elements which my tutor raised as pointers and/or welcome critique.
Shape – Image 1 – clipping of frame to remove arms.
My tutor questioned the framing of this
first image (see http://oca.mudd-photography.eu/#post78)
with the cropping of the subjects arms out of the frame. I admit that it is unusual,
and to crop the arms does not fit the criteria for assessment and somewhat disturbs
the image. However my choice - subjective at the time intrigued me as the
photographer, and I enjoyed the abrupt nature of the frame and the awkwardness
it provided. I appreciate that this framing does not fully fit a more regular
view of the subject, sometimes I think a little awkwardness is frame can draw a
viewer to look at the image more intently.
Shape – Image 2 – shadow in background.
My tutor did appreciate the cinematic feel
to this image, and I did too, the choice however is based on my previous
versions of this frame, where a more cut out version was presented to the OCA
flickr group – I prefer this less clinical version.
Form – Image 1 - Again my tutors response to the
first image employed as form is very positive in terms of satisfying the
requirement, however as a photograph – it is the reflection of the subjects eye
from the shadow side of the subjects lighting which helps create a focus point
for the image- making for a more interesting photograph.
Form – Image 2 – Again an image received positively
and I acknowledge the comments regarding the use of reflectors on the shadow
side of the subject to introduce detail. For this shoot had little means of
mounting the reflectors I had in the kit – and no glamorous assistant!
Texture and Form – Images 2 and 1 Respectively.
For image 2 in texture the only critique
was perhaps a little dodging of the eyes to render a focal point – I agree.
Finally, for image 1 in the colour set – yes the
framing is a little low, I agree. And in retrospect I think that I left the
frame uncropped in any way as at this point in editing, the element of the ‘unusual’
of the subject pervaded my choices – and this odd framing was left unadjusted
as a response/result.
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, March 25, 2013 12:57:42
OCA: TaoP Assignment 4: Light
8 Images on the theme of applying lighting techniques
Shape: Defining an object/ subject by its outline/ edges.
Form: Describing the volume and 3 dimensional nature of a subject
Texture: Quality of the surface detail
Colour: The defining colour(s) of a subject.
Freeman, M. (2012) Michael Freeman’s Photo School: Light & Lighting. Lewes: The
Hunter, F. et al (2007) Light: Science and Magic: an Introduction to Photographic Lighting (3rd
Edition). Burlington, MA. Focal Press.
D. (2003) Creative Lighting Techniques for studio photographers, (2nd Edition).
London, Amherst Media.
Robert Mapplethorpe (http://photography-now.net/robert_mapplethorpe/index.html),
photographer Bill Brandt (http://billbrandtarchive.photoshelter.com/gallery/Nudes/G0000Fq7HOfGjFnU/)
Locations for viewing:
To draw together the different lighting techniques and apply
them to one subject.
To fulfil the assignment requirement, I opted to photograph
a portrait set in a controlled studio environment. My choice of subject – a
physically fit and lean, yet middle aged male model who has some prior
experience of posing for life study students. My choice of submission content
was intended to provide a personally more stimulating and challenging set to plan,
shoot and submit – when compared to a still life arrangement. The models
physique would also provide an appropriate subject to depict the themes of the
assignment as a study set.
My objective was also to photograph the full set of images
for each part of the assignment brief in one sitting, in a similar manner as a
professional portrait photographer; my idea being that to shoot the whole set
over a two hour period, the model would stay compliant and interested in the
project – as oppose to several shoots on each part of the assignment over
From a photographic
portrait consideration, I wanted these images to present a meaningful
presentation of the subject, focused not just on the physicality of the
subject, but also the personality, and with this subject I feel that the transmission of personality over rode
much of the personality input from me as the photographer, the images as
portrait therefore are hopefully very much about the subject – Dave’. Dave is
of strong character and culture, with a strong sense of identity which harbours
not just strength but also a notable sense of individualism mixed with a
purposeful bold eccentricity. I particularly wanted physical strength to come
through in the images recorded for the theme of form - strength of both
physical presence and personal attitude; But the sense of ‘being different’ was
also my intention, hopefully the remainder of the images for the set reflect
the fact that Dave is unique and not afraid to present a degree of discomfort
in the interpretation of him by others.
Knowledge based on my
acquaintance with the subject provided the basis of this ‘strong in personality
and opinion’ theme, with an edge of the eccentric and cultured. Dave as a subject
is not always accepted for his opinions and beliefs which can on occasion be
transmitted too strongly, an action which may not suit the company at the time,
often this strong opinion is derived from notable personal experiences which
are outside the realms of his current peer group.
Images for submission
This first theme was intended to depict the shape of a
subject by defining the subjects edges from the
surroundings/ background. My plan for this pairing of images was to
photograph the subject in silhouette form against a contrasting background,
drawing inspiration from fashion photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (http://photography-now.net/robert_mapplethorpe/index.html),
and the nude study work of Bill
Both images presented for this theme are not absolute
silhouette forms, and my intention was to allow some of the light projected onto the white contrasting background
to spill onto the edges of the subjects form
therefore adding a sculptural relief to the shape and providing very
limited three- dimensionality and interest to the images.
The fist image is a closely framed study of the subject , not
presenting the entire figure but rather a cropped study of the upper body, and
to emphasise the form of the subject not just by contrast via lighting but by
contrast against the frame edges too (by cropping the subject pose which
extended beyond the frame). This first image for the set was also intentionally
photographed to present an almost ‘cut
out image’, with a stark contrast against the over exposed clean white background,
although this background overexposure on the image is uneven so as to ensure
the viewer that the figure is not actually cut out in photoshop.
Method – Shape 1
Technically the result was achieved by utilising a white
paper background roll mounted on a studio frame of 3m width (the same apparatus
was employed for the entire set, with the addition of a third key light for
later images), accompanied by two flash strobe lights with diffusing softboxes;
for these two images the two light sources were placed proximal to the white
background. The subject was positioned centrally in the frame/ field of view of
the camera with the background white material exceeded the dimensions of the
The subject was not lit by any light source from camera
position. A shutter speed of 1/160th of a second was used - synchronised with the two strobe lights via
a wired connection to the left most light, the right light operating as a slave unit to
the light with wired connection to the camera.
A camera aperture of F10 was used (throughout) to provide a
reasonable level of detail and depth of field of the subject. A flash meter was
employed to test the two background lights and ensure that the power output of
the lights would require a much smaller aperture, of F16 or more, from the camera
to correctly expose them. This employed
camera setting of F10 ensured that the background
would appear overexposed and more brilliantly white compared to the much
underlit subject – creating the desired contrast between subject and
The subject was placed 1 metre or so in front of the
background – this limited the light spill/reflection from the illuminated white
background onto the subject – providing the limited sculputural detail to the subject’s
Method - Shape 2
This second offering for the shape theme employed the same
techniques as previously described,
however a 3/4 view of the subject is depicted – this change in framing
achieved by reducing the focal length of the lens to 35mm from 75mm. The
subject is still depicted as a silhouette with slight light bounce onto the
figure to offer a small degree of three dimensions. The image has also revealed
the uneven lighting from the two soft box diffusers, with the lower part of the
background falling into shadow; I have left this element in the image to ensure
a less cut out image presentation than the previous. However, this background
area has been edited in Photoshop using a Gaussian blur to reduce some of the
background detailing – so as not to adversely affect the viewer’s attention to
the main subject figure. The crop is a subjective selection at the time of
The principal of these two images was to present the same
subject in a more three dimensional, tangible subject, lighting mode, employing both shadow and
lighting to provide sculpture to the subject. Again the work of Bill Brandt is
relevant here, where he employed both subject pose and the effects of shadow
and light to achieve a sense of subject depth and form.
Previous efforts to produce a sense of three dimensions to a
subject via lighting technique have influenced my use of lighting in this
pairing (seen here in my flickr
stream), reference lighting set ups
from both Hunter F.etal (2007)
and Montizambert D. (2003) were employed also.
Method - Form1:
The same white background studio environment was used to
create both of these images, however, the two soft box flash lights were
reduced in power setting and the light heads were pointed 45 degrees away from
the background and subject, thus reducing the amount of light being transmitted
to the background and thus reflected towards the camera; This reduced the
amount of light bounce from the background and presented a less contrasted
The subject was positioned right shoulder forward to the
camera with arms crossed, with the intention of providing more detail from the
lighting angles employed as the subject’s body would provide a barrier to light
movement. The soft box strobe light to the left of the subject was positioned
in a position with the soft box head angled more favourable towards the
subject, throwing more light on the chest and arms and left part of the face,
only one eye was intentionally placed in this area of illumination. The soft
box strobe light to the subject’s right was positioned pointing away from the
subjects rear right, illuminating the background but throwing less light onto
the subject, putting this side of the subjects body into darkness and contrast
from the subjects left side.
A third strobe light, positioned alongside and right of the camera, facing the subject, and fitted
with a diffusing umbrella was employed, this strobe was set to its lowest power
setting, and was used to project a minimal amount of diffused light and
therefore to reduce the shadow contrast.
The sense of strength and masculinity of the image was considered
in both the models pose and in the camera viewpoint, lowering the tripod
position in relation to the subject enhanced the subject’s dominant position in
frame and aided the desired narrative of the image.
Method – Form 2
For this second image of form, this same subject was engaged
conversantly between poses, the concept being to provide a less contrived sense
of depiction. In terms of lighting the principle change to set up was to move
the strobe light illuminating the subject from camera point of view. This time
the light was positioned to camera left, at an angle of 35-45 degrees from
camera angle, the power of the light was also increased, creating a stronger
illumination of the subjects right flank and throwing the subjects chest and
left side into deeper shadow, however the light bounce from the background
illumination maintains some detail in this shadow area.
My choice of subject is important with regards to the theme
of texture. The subject is a racing cyclist in his mid forties, this by nature
means that the subject has spent numerous hours of each year in the natural
elements, both rain and shine. This means his skin is aged. I wanted to strongly
depict this element as part of the subject’s masculinity.
The first image, taken as the first record of the photo
session, was intentionally taken as the subject had just arrived at the studio
from a day’s work, the subject was tired and not yet ready to be photographed,
this candid pose presents a heavily textured version of the subject, which is
aided by the pose.
In this image, the background lighting is at the same
setting created for the shape images, the background is therefore rendered over
exposed, the lighting of the subject employs light bounce from the two
background illuminating soft boxes, and from a strobe light with soft box
umbrella positioned behind camera and to camera right, projecting a lesser amount of light on the subject this
light was initially set in one position with light emittance set to F10 –
corresponding to a correct exposure of the subject, the light was then moved
backwards by 50cm approx to reduce the amount of light projected onto the
subject and then bounced to the camera sensor.
The angled lighting of the subject from the strobe to rear
camera right has helped to exaggerate detail in the subjects skin, combined
with the overlap of light from the higher powered background lighting this has
helped to vignette the subject in more light at the edges, this has aided the
appearance and contrast of the textured areas more central to the subjects body
– i.e. more shadow contrast.
The second image in this theme was a more staged presentation,
focusing on the most textured part of the subject – his face.
The lighting effect was achieved by, evenly lighting the
background with the two diffused strobes on their lowest setting, and by bringing
the subject nearer to camera and further away from the background paper. The
key light for the subject was place camera left, and quite proximal to the
subjects face and at 45 degrees to camera, the power setting of the key light
was the same as the background lights, and the resultant background lighting
effect was achieved by light fall off (Hunter F.etal (2007)) of these rear lights and lack of fall
off of the very proximal key light. The lighting angle picked up the surface
skin details and the light source (a diffusing umbrella) was larger than the
subject and therefore helped to reduce shadow contrast on the subjects left
Arguably the most difficult theme to address with this
particular subject, a pale skinned individual, with no great variations in skin
tone; It would have been easy to present the subject in an unnatural light, to
present an artificially coloured version. However the two images together are
intended to present a meaningful presentation of the subjects’ skin hues.
This first photograph, was intended to provide the lighter
background variation of the pairing of images, the background light positioned
to camera left was angled to face the background paper and centre of image
frame, throwing some light onto the subjects right hand side, the second
background diffused strobe was weakened in power but positioned similarly.
The Key light was placed behind the camera, and at same
height as camera, and the power output was set to the lowest possible.
The intention was to not create any over exposure of the
subject, either via direct lighting of the key light or via enveloping the
subject with light bounce from the background; the subjects pale complexion
would be too easy to over expose and therefore remove any colour detail
A slightly more complicated lighting arrangement was
employed in this second variation, here the background lighting was set to
lowest power, and the strobe right of camera was set lower than the version to
camera left, this light was also angled more directly onto the background paper- creating a slight variation in background
lighting. The key light with umbrella diffuser was located parallel to camera
and to the upper right of the subject, providing the greater highlight to the
side of face and shoulder nearest to camera. The suggestion of colour here was
intended via a degree of colour contrast of the subject from the background,
which was weakly illuminated and provided a cooler colour environment when
compared to the subjects visually warmer tones. The directional lighting of the
key light was intended to create a sense of colour variation of the subject via
light and shadow variation across the models body.
Notes on post production:
All of the images included in this submission were initially
photographed as raw files, and then post processed in Photoshop CS5. Post
production was intended primarily as an avenue to review each image and then to
correct any artefacts or blemishes and on certain images clean up any
distractions contained in the background paper. Some images were slightly
adjusted in colour, clarity and or sharpness. Per submission theme my editing
acknowledgements are listed below,
Of the two images submitted for the theme of shape, the
second image was edited in order to reduce some of the detail in the lower background;
here a Gaussian blur was used in a layer copy.
For the theme of form, the first image was edited the most,
here the background illumination was uneven,
with a distracting highlight evident to camera right of subject (seen
here in my flickr draft
set for the submission)and again the background was selected in a layer
copy and a Gradient map was applied as a filter to normalise the lighting
effect across the entire background in the image.
The first image provided for the brief of texture was
sharpened and the clarity slider and contrast sliders were also employed in CS
camera raw to exaggerate the detail of the overall image.
Both images provided for the colour theme were adjusted by
reducing contrast and slightly warming the colour settings to help amplify the
overall colour nature of a subject with little tonal variation and pallid
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Thu, March 14, 2013 09:36:40
I am currently drafting together content for assignment 4, the penultimate assignment in TAOP - The art of Photography, the subject is... LIGHT.
My Flickr set - http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelmudd08/sets/72157632989630879/show/
contains my drafting ideas.
The essence of the assignment is to prove an understanding of natural and artificial light, to create evidence that suggests the effect of light upon form shape and colour of a subject.
The four subjects are indeed - shape, form, colour and texture.
I do enjoy practicing studio work, and for me there was an opportunity to really play with the subjects I chose with lighting I can fully control, and although I have photographed still life variations on this assignment theme - I wanted to shoot a portrait set to provide a more intense experience for me on shoot, and to hopefully glean a stronger set of images that would be more interesting for my tutor - I have seen a lot of natural light still life images contained in the blogs of previous students of TAOP.
The real vain of this assignment thread is the sculptural effects of light, and this involved the element of subject colour, which by contrast to surroundings does have a sculptural, defining by colour effect. I have given myself the hard task on my still life subject for this -a white toilet roll on a white background, my mantra being that if I can make shapes, form colour and texture from such a mundane subject - then anything is possible!
The hardest element in shooting and editing these images is not the photography itself - it is seperating the four titles so that the intention of the image - i.e. texture stands out from its sister motifs.....
More to come... but here's some inspiration - more for my benefit thatn yours :)
lallisig on flickr
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Fri, February 08, 2013 21:50:21
It has taken
me a long time – since receiving the assessment on the 26th of
January – to respond in writing and blog it, this chapter did not enthuse me, and
in terms of my excuses, my wife’s father passed away on the 26th of
January, so we have been somewhat distracted, but additionally, I have elected
to change tutor, this assessment being my last contact with my original TAOP
is a delicate affair, it suits or it doesn’t, and personally I am OK with the nature
of education from afar, as long of course as there is some line of
communication. My former tutor’s words were always courteous and fair, and
tended towards the philosophical and depth full realms; this was in essence
fine, but the problem was that the words always appeared reluctant and slow in
coming forward. The one thing I have
learnt from my time in education is that discourse is key; lines of theory and
thought need to be aired, discussions shared and ideas banded around. From the
most complex theory to the most simplistic view of things when learning from
afar one needs that occasional poke to say ‘Hi how ya doing?’
my first tutor was not as communicative as I needed, with a four week or more delay
in providing a report on this chapter (and only then after gently poke from me),
and to be honest a slow and lack of direction/tuition in response to previous
assignments and questions, I had to install some change for the sake of what I
wanted to achieve. I do understand that
most if not all tutors looking after students of the OCA do have a multitude of
full time responsibilities… but when communication starts dragging across weeks
and months, I felt I had to draw a line in the sand and request a new tutor.
The effect of
my lack of interaction or discussion, even in this early banal level that is
TAOP, is that I started to feel wholly alone on this return to study, and with
some lacking of interaction on the OCA forums I was beginning to doubt my choices
in studying and more importantly I was beginning to doubt my photography, and
any hopes I had to do something with
photography. I want this course to galvanise my technical approach and my
artists considered eye and up to this point – my only inspiration has really
being the reading list provided with the course materials.
My response to
about this assignment throughout the entries leading up to my assignment
posting. I have an uneasy relationship with colour, which despite my misgivings
about this part of TAOP I have as a result of the assignment begun to work
through… Part of the issue is maybe my brief obsession with Moriyama in the
lead up… a body of work almost entirely in grainy B&W. Despite my moaning
(perhaps a cry for help?!) I felt like nobody was reading my learning log (even
my tutor) and I was moaning and mithering to myself!
My tutor made
initial comment with the following;
There were quite a lot
of interesting concepts to cover in this assignment and you have made a good
response to this through your approach and ideas in using colour in your image
making. The brief required you to explore the idea of colours, their
relationship to each other and to our perception of them. You have clearly observed
and recorded colour in your work but this could have developed further with
research into theory and symbolism in the use of colour. I get the impression
from the work and exercises that you clearly understand the relationships of
colour to the image but that perhaps you are uncomfortable in using colour as a
strong tool in composition and meaningful content. Why not for example have
shot the German market as a colour piece of work. You are aware of colour but
as the comments in your learning log indicate you find it difficult to relate
it to your personal view of the world and photography.
agree that I did not offer broader discourse to my references and theory…
though I did give reference to accomplished artists works… and to the
publications of Michael Freeman…. I agree I could have dug further. With
reference to my work at the Birmingham Christmas/ German market… I decided to
shoot this experience in black and white – using a high contrast mode I have
created on my Sony Alpha A850, I like the high contrast effect of this setting
and set out to abstract the experience from its natural ‘high colour/ neon normal
experience. However, on reflection I do agree that for the sake of the
experience, to shoot the event in colour may have helped my personal ‘colour
It is an interesting
idea that with normal sight and brain function we see the world in colour and
as such black and white is the illusion. However within the confines of
photography we have accepted this illusion as reality. At one time only black
and white was considered to offer truth in documentary and street photography.
In recent times I have read articles arguing that pure photography was B&W
and that photography as fine art comes from the darkroom in the form of the
B&W print. Yet we have to learn to read the tonalities of a scene,
understand the latitude of film, the effect of process and transpose our vision
from colour to black and white to interpret the world within the limitations of
these tones. Surely this is as abstract a concept as any use of colour might
agree that personally I may strive to use B&W to abstract myself from
normal colour experience, and if anything to work in colour will force me to
overcome a lazy photographic approach where relying on B&W and high
contrast B&W in scene provides mood to an otherwise lazy composition –
forcing me to use colour in these aspects to provide a meaning with greater
latitude with the actual experience.
am now ‘almost’ enjoying having to view colour in my B&W mental eyes, the
work of Shore and Eggleston, with their subdued tones are leading me in gently
by the hand, despite my misgivings…. The chapter has done me good!
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Wed, December 05, 2012 12:30:53
This assignment was a lot harder than expected, though I hope the work enclosed presents a modicum of understanding.
16 images –
harmony through complementary colours
wall blue/orange, Energy
gel sachets Yellow/Violet
leaf and grass, Orange
wine glass on blue background
harmony through similar colours
leaves - orange/green/yellow – warm, Leaves
on trees - green and yellow – cool, Waste
materials – blue green – cold, Leaves
in close up – yellow/green - cool
contrast through contrasting colours
car yellow leaves on the tree, Toy
plant against an orange wall
accent using any of the above
ball bearing, Bicycle chain with gold link, The Robin, Grass and red plastic
harmony through complementary colours
across the wheel – brick wall blue/orange
Blue and orange dominate the scene
here, and I have intentionally cropped the image to present a more balanced
presentation with a ratio of 2:1 in favour of blue, the more receding colour
Complimentary colours across the wheel
– Energy gel sachets Yellow/Violet
Yellow and violet, are readily
available colours naturally occurring in the peak of summer with flower
blossom, but less so in the autumn winter months. Therefore a set piece
artificial image was created for this selection. Bright synthetically coloured
food sachets were used – disproportionally with a ratio of 2: 1 in favour of
the more aggressive yellow. The image was flashgun lit on white back ground
with a shutter speed of 1/100th - in order to redeem a bright
transmitting colour picture that suited the colours used. F11 as an aperture
setting puts the rearward yellow sachet out of the plane of focus (Shore 2009)
and helps to provide a little more balance to the colour distribution in the
Complimentary colours across the wheel
- Acer leaf and grass
controversial image to employ to illustrate this theme, as softer browns and
russet colours permeate the image, however I believe with the aid of flash the
red and green content is heightened. In terms of balance the red acer leaf is
centrally framed, with the green leaf and grass blade surround edging in from
outside the frame (Shore 2009). The overlapping of the green grass blades over
the red Acer leaf helps to re emphasise the proportional balance of the
across the wheel - Orange wine glass on blue background
An image I have elected to use from a
previous personal project. A studio shot employing a blue filter over the light
source to colour the white background independently of the orange glass, which
was lit with a single diffused spot studio lamp from above and behind as a hair
light (Hunter etal 2007). The proportions of orange – the more brilliant colour
versus the less active blue are approximately correct according to Goethes work
harmony through similar colours.
Colour harmony through similar
colours - Fallen leaves - orange/green/yellow - warm
All the tones in this
image are warm and occupy the upper right hand side of the colour circle, with
yellows oranges and green, combined with some russet natural hues from a
similar range of colours from the wheel as the primary colours. The image was
taken in fairly close proximity to the subject with a 16mm lens and a moderate
F11 and 1/13th of a second exposure to slightly soften the detail
and provide focus on the colours. The green hues are almost an accent in the
image, and the image was cropped tightly to give the impression that the
subject matter exceeds the boundary of the frame (Shore 2009).
through similar colours. - Leaves on trees - green and yellow - cool
2 adjacent colours on the colour wheel
which occur naturally very readily, the image is almost transparent and lacks
depth (Shore 2009) and presents a balance of two energetic colours, despite the
cooler nature of the natural lighting at the time of taking the photograph.
Colour harmony through
similar colours. Waste materials – blue green - cold
The two hues depicted here
both lack saturation, and the blue content is more brilliant than the green,
creating an imbalance in how the colours are presented. There is a lack of
balance in the colours which is accentuated by the awkward composition.
through similar colours - Leaves in close up – yellow/green - cool
More natural world colours in this
frame, presenting yellow to green leaves. The yellow foreground leaf presents
the strongest element in frame, both because of the strength and forward nature
of yellow and the composition. The green is more subdued and naturally falls
into background; this subtlety is aided by the lack of depth of field upon
these green elements.
contrast through contrasting colours.
contrast through contrasting colours – Red car yellow leaves tree.
The 2 colours working against each
other in this frame red and yellow present an unbalanced composition, focusing
initially on the red car, the viewer is then drawn to the brightness of the
yellow, before scanning and then re tracing. The intensity of both colours is
relatively similar, though the mass held by the yellow leaves is disproportionate
to the smaller mass of the car.
Colour contrast through contrasting
colours – toy cars
This image presents the yellow as a
less frequent colour, but dispersed through a more solid mass of red, creating
an acceptable level of balance between the two colours, the colour of the
display is the principle attraction in the image, overriding the subject
Colour contrast through contrasting
colours – Fitness instructor
The vivid nature of the strong red
against the relatively strong blue in this image presents a real vibration at
the juncture of the two colours. There is little balance in the picture and the
two colours battle for dominance.
Colour contrast through contrasting
colours – green plant against an orange wall
Here, the weight of the orange
background is reduced in effect a little by use of a shallow depth of field
which presents the contrasting green plant leaves closer the plane of focus;
however the orange mass still outweighs the green. The green leaves are
hindered in colour graphic effect by the variation in saturation and brightness
of the colour, if the leaves were more solidly a single hue of darker green
their contrasting effect would be stronger.
4. Colour Accent
coloured ball bearing.
accent image, and a created rather than found image – utilising red nail
varnish and a box of ball bearings, shot with on camera flash and F16 for a
reasonable long depth of field, and a 300mm lens to isolate the subject from
their container and to fill the frame with the subject. There is a single
alternative visual distraction in the frame – a wire in the bearing pile –
which although offering alternative stimulus to the coloured bearing I believe
its inclusion into the image aids to demonstrate the overpowering effect of
contrast of the singular coloured bearing against the more muted mass
highlighted only by the specular reflection from the flashgun.
bicycle chain with gold link
A more muted
and similar colour picture which still presents an accent with the gold links
against the more silver mass, taken again with a 300mm lens to isolate the
content and occupy the full frame, the image employed flash and a faster
shutter speed of 1/160th in order to reduce the amount of light
flash bouncing back from the subject. Although the subject matter was quite
flat the image was again shot at F16; the relatively deeper depth of field
employed to force the element of accent as the point of attention rather than
the focus of attention being the plane of focus (Shore 2009).
The image was
cropped tightly from original, and also re orientated - pushing the key accent
elements into a more static position with the composition.
contrasting image which has other graphic intrusions into the frame, but again
I believe the colour accent still presents the strongest element. The image was
taken with a relatively shallow depth of field to help isolate the central
subject from the background. The red/orange breast of the robin contrasts with
the green background – and becomes accent as the proportion of red to green is
much less that would aid a complementary colour of colour as suggested by Von
Goethe (Freeman 2007).
and red plastic
image, with no use of depth of field to assist the effect – a visually and
mentally (Shore 2009) simple image presenting a documentary scene – it is
plastic it is grass. The red and green colours dominate the scene despite the
russet brown content and the shadow to the left of the scene.
thoughts and considerations:
which I have struggled with, colour is ubiquitous, and ever present, and in the
words of Daido Moriyama (Vimeo: Tate Modern reference) I find it makes too many
decisions and lacks abstraction, my natural preference therefore is to
eliminate colour from my own work.
despite my misgivings, the exercise has forced me to re assess how I utilise
colour to create black and white, and to explore the effect of colour hues
saturation and tone when adjusted to black and white in edit.
part of TAOP has also forced me to consider how to present themes in my future
work in colour where my previous and current photography relies on black and
white; in particular chiaroscuro, to create abstraction and symbolism from the
banal. Work by both Shore and Eggleston (see online references) both present
this very well. A better understanding of colour may help to create a less lazy
approach to good photography and less of a reliance upon chiaroscuro.
Understanding colour proportions and framing of colours is enormously
influential in setting the mood of an image, and in presenting an image both
graphically and in creating narrative.
In terms of
colour as an exercise in TAOP, I have experienced a re-awakening with regard to colour
assessment, and also to truly re look at the world around me, there is a great
deal of variation in colour hue, greens in particular are hugely variable.
inbalance and colour partnership can be used to dominate graphically and ensure
a statement and mode can be created in an image. Conflict and compatibility
between colours can also be used to state or dominate a scene as can warm and
cold colour grouping.