A windfall and new gear.

It’s been a while since I did any work on this course due to a financial crisis that required me to sell all my camera gear.

Good news is I recently had a bit of a windfall that allowed me to get back on track financially and get some new gear.

I went a bit wild but got a Nikon D5 and the Tamron F2.8 Trinity plus the Nikon 200 – 500 f5.6.

I also purchased a Gitzo tripod and ball head.

Damn! now I’m all out of excuses and must get cracking.

No more complaining about depth of field or not having a lens long or wide enough for what I want to do.

Experimenting with flash

While looking for subjects for exercise 3.1, freezing movement; I tried an experiment comparing an image of a spinning fan taken with and without flash.

The images below are taken at roughly the same shutter speed but the flash seem to have almost frozen the fan’s motion.

It’s after you zoom in on the flash image that you can see the safety screen behind, almost super imposed on the fans blade.

55mm. 1/80th. sec. f 5.6 ISO 1600

55mm. 1/60th. sec. f 5.6 ISO 100

iTTL flash.

The effect is quite startling.

As it didn’t entirely freeze the fans motion I didn’t include it in my images for exercise 3.1, maybe practice some and include it in later exercises and assignments.

The frozen moment Exercise 3.1

Brief :

Using fast shutter speeds, try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject.
Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph.

Try to find the beauty in a fragment of time that fascinated
John Szarkowski.

Add a selection of shots, together with relevant shooting data and
a description of your process (how you captured the images), to your learning log.

 

Process :

All of these photographs were taken on my trusty D5200 and 18-55mm lens.

As is required in this section I used shutter priority mode and set the ISO to 800.

This left me with little to control depth of field except my distance to subject, sometimes that wasn’t within my control either.

 

Photographs :

55mm. f 5.6  1/1000 th. sec.

55mm. f 7 1/1000 th. sec.

55mm.  f 5.6  1/1000 th. sec.

55mm. f 5.6  1/1000 th. sec.

55mm.  f 9   1/400 th. sec.

 

contact sheet.

 

Research :

Before deciding how to approach this assignment I spent some time looking at other photographers work in this field.

Many of my fellow students seem to have emulated Harold Edgerton and his “aesthetic properties of milk” shot.

This to me is a very pretty but way over done subject.

I also looked at some of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work along with Robert Capa.

I decided on a street photography style whilst walking around a Fair at Parsons Green in London.

 

Analysis :

As you can see in the contact sheet, many of my images were under exposed and had to be fixed in post processing.

I was so concentrating on keeping a high shutter speed and capturing an image that I quite forgot about exposure.

Also the nature of this crowded enviroment together with my short lens meant that I had to crop in most of my images, something I try to avoid normally; the distances involved in combination with the 55mm. end of my only lens meant that the focussing square in the viewfinder often covered the subject’s head never mind and eye.

I think a 70-200 mm. zoom would’ve been ideal.

I find you have to be careful with subject selection when freezing motion, as can be seen with the Police car, it might well have been stationary.

The best subjects for these turned out to be the ones where motion has to be occurring as in the slide picture.

The lady and her daughter in the cup ride and the woman selling the bubble gun’s are more subtle in their implication of movement.

 

Reflections :

I dislike shutter priority mode more than automatic.

I definitely need more practice with this mode and need to lower my ISO every opportunity I have.

A longer lens and a full frame sensor would’ve helped also.

Assignment 2 : Collecting

Brief :

Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options, or a subject of your own choosing:
• Crowds
• Views
• Heads
Use the exercises from Part Two as a starting point to test out combinations of focal length, aperture and viewpoint for the set.

Decide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal.

You should keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence
to the series.
• Crowds make a great subject for photography, not least because they are so contemporary.

A city rush hour is a good place to start but events also offer great
opportunities to photograph the crowd rather than the event.

The foreshortened perspective of the telephoto lens will compress a crowd, fitting more bodies into the frame, but it can also be used to pick out an individual person.

A wide-angle lens can capture dynamic shots from within the action.
• If you choose to make a collection of views you need to be prepared to do some walking so keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum – you’ll walk further and see more.

A tripod will be important to allow you to select a combination of
small aperture and slow shutter speed to ensure absolute sharpness throughout the frame.
The weather and time of day will be crucial, whether for urban or landscape views.
A wide-angle lens is the usual choice but Ansel Adams also used a medium telephoto to foreshorten the perspective, bringing the sky, distance and foreground closer together.
• Heads: Frame a ‘headshot’, cropping close around the head to avoid too much variety in the backgrounds.

The light will be paramount and a reflector is a useful tool (you
can ask the subject to hold it), throwing light up into the face, especially the eyes.
The classic headshot is buoyant but neutral which is quite difficult to achieve, but try to achieve a natural rather than an artificially posed look.

Introduction :

I mused over this Assignment for longer than it took to Photograph.
Do I do an assignment based on crowds, views and heads or do I step out onto a limb and try something different ?
Looking at collections I came across an article in the NY times about Henry Buhl and a collection of photographs he auctioned off in 2012, this was a collection of prints from such famous photographers as Stieglitz and Moholy-Nagy.
It consisted of nothing but hands.
“There are hands as gesture, hands as objects, hands as emotion,” said Denise Bethel, director of Sotheby’s photography department.
I didn’t want to copy others work and I wanted to tell a story but what ?
Today me and my friend went to the park, I to look for inspiration and he to burn through the last of a roll of 120 film.
The reactions of people in the park to his Large tripod and Bronica got me thinking, how many people outside the industry actually know how Photo’s used to be taken ?
So I decided to combine the hands theme and tell a story of what it used to take you to obtain an image.

Process :

I took several images hand-held of each major step of the process.
Using the widest aperture I could so as to try to isolate not just the subject, his hands; but I found I had to use various points of view to include just enough of the camera to tell the story.
A collection of images in sequence which I hoped would satisfy the brief and still be interesting and different.

Photograph’s :

55mm. f5.6 1/250th. sec. ISO 100

52mm. f5.6 1/200th. sec. ISO 100

52mm. f5.6 1/100th. sec. ISO 100

35mm. f4.5 1/500th. sec. ISO 100

36mm. f4.8 1/320th. sec. ISO 100

36mm. f4.8 1/60th. sec. ISO 100

36mm. f4.8 1/60th. sec. ISO 100

34mm. f4.5 1/400th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/200th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/250th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/320th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/400th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/200th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/200th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/200th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/200th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. f5.6 1/320th. sec. ISO 100

36mm. f4.8 1/320th. sec. ISO 100

50mm. f5.6 1/60th. sec. ISO 100

Built in flash.

 

 

 

Evaluation :

Overall the series achieved what I set out to do, a collection of hand Images that portrayed a story.
The various viewpoints were necessary to show the process of photography of yester year.
I am still plagued by this kit lens not giving a shallow enough depth of field in order to isolate my subject.
I may revisit this subject when I have a faster lens.

 

Reflection :

I think I satisfied the brief, it is a collection and the basic format was maintained throughout.
The subject matter would, I think be of interest to those whose only exposure to photography has been during the digital age.
The reaction of those around us was mainly of curiosity, children especially wondered what the big box was.
As for the assessment criteria I think I satisfied the technical and visual skills part.
I also believe I satisfied the quality of outcome, demonstration of creativity and the context sections.
Could I do better or improve, sure I can and will.
As always I view myself as a work in progress.

Research Point

Brief :

Do your own research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project.
Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes discussed in Project 2.

Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took the photograph isn’t important; find a photo with a depth of field that ‘fits’ the code you’ve selected.

The ability of photographs to adapt to a range of usages is something we’ll return to later in the course.
Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you’ve re-imagined your photograph.

Tony Ray Jones and Ansel Adams.

Of the Photographers mentioned in this section there are two that stick out to me.

Tony Ray Jones and Ansel Adams.

Tony Ray Jones was, in my mind; a social photo-journalist whose excellent series on the English at play is truly sublime.

The way he framed things to include multiple stories or themes in one image resonated with me, maybe because I grew up in the 60’s.

His colour work taken in America is also very good.

I can see why he is so influential.

At the dawn of this millennium the Oxford photographic archive sent out a photographer to mimic the work of one of their archives, same views etc. just a hundred years later on; a beautiful collection put side by side with the plate images in a calendar.

This is what needs to be done here with the English at play, it would be a worthy project and I might do it in slow time.

This image here of a man working reminded me of something.

A picture I took looking through the entrance to an Oxford college.

This to me has a similar feel to it, from the lighting to the subject.

Ansel Adams is one of those rare photographers that are so well-known that they don’t need an introduction.

Most famous for his work in Yosemite but also did some excellent portraits and architecture work.

I particularly like the following pictures.

Ansel Adams, US National Archive

Ansel Adams, Baton practice, Manzanar.

His series on Manzanar internment camp produced many wonderful images and proves to me how versatile Adams truly was.

You can see the influence of the F64 group in all his work as they’re mainly sharp throughout the image.

Page 50

Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, page 50 mentions two photographers on one page, Gianluca Cosci and Mona Kuhn.

There can be no better comparison of art over salesmanship then these two.

I know art is subjective and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but really!

Cosci’s work, with the exception of some of his reflections in glass and the picture frames is awful.

The low to the ground, shallow depth of field urban pictures are truly bland in an epic sense.

They’re the kind of pictures, that if I took them would be relegated to the files bin on my computer.

I was a car salesman for many years in the U.S.A and knew that when I heard such gushing descriptions of something I was being sold a bill of goods, i.e something sub-standard.

Contrast these to Mona Kuhn’s work !

The use of good light, excellent framing and stunning subjects makes Khun’s work brilliant.

I may be being harsh on Cosci but if you where to display both these photographers works together, opened it to the public and took a poll I’m certain Kuhn’s work would be way more popular.

To me photography has to illicit a response, Cosci’s work does this but in a negative way.

In order for it to be considered good it must make people look and at least say “Hmmn” if not “Wow”! anything else is average.

Alec Soth

Having looked at Alec Soths work on his web site I must say that most of his images are powerful.

When taken as a collection, such as broken manual; they also tell a story.

He seems to have the ability to relate with his subjects and get some of these wonderful characters to allow him to photograph them, the survivalist in this Gillie suite must have been a hard sell.

From the book  Broken Manual by Alec Soth & Lester B. Morrison, 2010

His compositions, to me at least; are pretty simple for the most part but incredibly poignant.

There is a sense of lost hope and sadness to a lot of his work which I find depressing to some degree.

Overall I like most of his images and the stories they tell.