For this assignment I decided to revisit exercise 4.3, capturing the beauty of artificial light.
I again went out at night to try to capture some of the aspects of night-time London, showing the transition from the hustle and bustle of day time to peaceful night.
I used several lenses, a 24-70 f2.8, a 70-200 f2.8 and an 85 f1.4 either hand-held or on a tripod.
When using the tripod I used the cameras self timer function rather than carry a release cord.
I went to Putney bridge and along the Brompton rd. over a period of several days to find images that fit my idea.
Using low ISO and a tripod is the best way to take clean images but is not always practical.
I found that on some streets they have a mix of sodium and L.E.D lights, the council must be replacing the sodium as they break; this means that I had to be selective in my locations as the white balance can’t be corrected as you end up with either a yellow or green tint to your pictures.
I have added these in a separate section in my notes section of my blog.
The images I produced for this assignment fit my idea well but I feel that the images of the girl at the phone box and the river slipway were the most technically challenging from a white balance and exposure point of view.
The phone box image is lit with both sodium and LED street lighting which gave me headaches in post and was also fairly dimly lit bringing up problems of noise.
I think I spent more time on this in post than the rest in order to get a good balance to produce a decent image.
The slipway despite being taken at a low ISO showed a fair amount of noise in the shadows and was tricky to get a good balance of sharpness and noise reduction.
For this assignment I looked at works from Sally Mann, whose works have a dream like quality to them.
ethereal and almost like they were shot through silk.
I also looked at Sato Shintaro’s work which are very colourful and full of leading lines.
None of these fit my idea for the assignment.
Ruth Blees did a series for the London underground that was more of a match and I did try to include some images with reflections in them.
Her series on night-time London didn’t resonate that well with me but some of my images may have been influenced by this work also.
I also Googled famous urban photographers for some inspiration.
The light trails of Mathias Makarinus were good and I tried to emulate some of those but to include reflections on water in the same shot much like Veronika Gallova’s night shots of London.
Analysis and reflections:
When I first dipped my toe into the photographic pool many moons ago the general theory was “when in doubt, fill your frame with the subject”.
Since then I have discovered better ways of composition such as the rule of thirds, which are meant to give a more balanced or pleasing shot.
When I looked at my images on an individual basis they worked well with my ideas and aims for this assessment but when I look at them as a whole I noticed that none of them obeyed these rules.
This reminded me of the saying ” Rules are for the obeyance of fools and the guidance of wise men” often attributed To Douglas Bader but I’m sure goes farther back in time than that.
Image 1 was meant to show the city as a dark, cold and mysterious place and does portray that feeling.
I think it could do with me standing slightly more to my right in order to centralise the slip way more but overall it accomplished what I was aiming for.
Image 2 would’ve been better with less dead space on the right of the image but as there was going to be enough noise in the image at the ISO selected cropping wouldn’t have been beneficial, also I wanted to portray the girl being on edge and waited until she was near the curb and at the edge of the frame.
Image 3 would’ve been better showing more of the street but this would’ve introduce more clutter in the image from street furniture and I wanted to keep the image as simple as I could.
It also reminded me of exercise 1.3 on perpendicular versus leading lines, this has both but instead of your gaze going out the frame it is stopped by the perpendicular of the railings; concentrating your gaze on the abandoned umbrella.
Image 4 was originally going to be for an experiment in image staking with Photoshop but the more I looked at it the more I realised that it portrayed another aspect of the city at night, tranquility.
It does have leading lines that lead to no-where but a timeless infinity but I don’t think that this detracts from the image in this case.
Image 5 would’ve been better taken straight on but I didn’t want to risk changing the behaviour of the man in the cafe.
Image 6 works well in what I’m trying to show, something at rest which normally would be ahead of the things passing it by; it would’ve been better a little tighter but that would draw the viewers gaze to the dirty fuel tank and diminish what I was trying to achieve.
Image 7 needs less clutter in the background but was already at minimum focus distance and widest aperture, in retrospect I should’ve shot it in a vertical format and this may have reduced the distracting clutter.
Image 8 needs to be a little tighter and would’ve benefited from me taking a few steps to the right in order to get the building straight on.
Image 9 is stayed but was included because I like the lighting and reflections, It would’ve been better straight on and from the pathway below the bridge but the gates are locked at this time of night.
Image 10 is the kind of image that is visually pleasing but has been done to death, in retrospect I should’ve panned with the bus and made everything else blurred; even then it probably wouldn’t stand out in a crowd.
The OCA manual says this on creativity:
“Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)”.
This to me means that creativity is 20% of your score when being assessed.
But really I think creativity is the one thing in an image that can make or break it.
The one thing that holds the viewer’s attention or gets their attention.
Good execution and good technical presentation are important but to me but not as important as an excellent image creativity wise.
A perfect example of this is Frank Cappa’s photograph of the soldier at Omaha beach.
It’s out of focus, shaky and very grainy/noisy.
All things that would get you marked down in a photo contest today.
Despite this the image is very powerful and relevant even 70 years on.
In my mind the image you capture can be very successful even if the technical side of it is found wanting, as long as the image grabs and holds the attention of the viewer.
In other words, the subject matter if important, creative or different enough will stand on its own merits despite other aspects such as level horizons etc. not being perfect.
In this series I tried to portray various aspects of early to late evening, the transition from a busy work day to a time when the city is asleep.
I went out at about 6 pm. in order to catch the last of the rush hour and stayed out until past midnight, over several days.
The most productive area was the Brompton road, it’s full of cafe’s and small businesses plus many residential areas, plenty of scope to fit my concept.
From people in a window having a meeting to the lonely flowers at roadside tables with no-one but me to appreciate them.
The bikes letting the world pass them for a change, the bus still busy taking people somewhere and the nice reflections of a block of condo’s in the Thames.
The girl on the phone trying to find out where her partner has gotten to and the umbrella seem oddly similar, they have both been discarded in a way that seems sad to me as is the man having his lunch at a closed cafe.
I will be visiting this area more in the future.
I must say that I find night-time very relaxing.
There is less hustle and bustle and fewer people and vehicles to get in your way.
The lighting conditions are pretty uniform and only white balance has to be kept in mind.
Oh! and I hate the mixed street lighting thing that’s going on, hopefully it’s a transitional period and will settle down at some time.
200 mm. f 2.8 1/200th. sec. ISO 12,800.
130 mm. f 2.8 1/250th. sec. ISO 51,200.
62 mm. f 2.8 1/160th. sec. ISO 51,200.
24 mm. f 2.8 1/160th. sec. ISO 32,000.
70 mm. f 2.8 1/160th. sec. ISO 10,000
24 mm. f 4.5 6 sec. ISO 100
70 mm. f 2.8 1/50th. sec. ISO 6400.
24 mm. f 2.8 1/50th. sec. ISO 6,400.
85 mm. f 1.4 1/2 sec. ISO 100.
40 mm. f 13 25 sec. ISO 100.
Contact sheet 1
I selected photo one from the others because it was sharper in the details and it had beautiful colours and reflections.
I mage two was an experiment to get light trails, I wanted to show that people were still on the move going to unknown destination off in the distance, I selected this image because the trails went completely in the direction I wanted.
Contact sheet 2
I selected image 3 because I wanted to portray the idea of something waiting for another day to start with a feeling of potential energy.
I selected image three over image two because image two showed a very dusty or grimy petrol tank which I felt was a distraction.
I selected image 12 because it was a sharper image.
In image 13 I was trying to portray the contrast between those at home and those still working but I wanted it to be subtle, the tighter images didn’t work as well as they didn’t show the closed shops or the lights on in people’s flats.
Contact sheet 3
Image 5 was selected to show a complete stillness that can be found in a city that doesn’t sleep, I had to choose one so elected for the first one taken.
Image 20 was meant to show isolation and loneliness and this one was the sharper of this series.
Contact sheet 4
Image 2 was meant to show how cold and ominous it can be at night, this one was selected because it was tighter than image 1 and exhibited less noise in the shadows.
Image 9 was a girl talking angrily on her phone to her boyfriend who had stood her up, I thought there was a contrast between the modern and the past with the phone box; Image 9 was selected because it cleaned up better than the others.
Image 10 was meant to show abandonment and again was sharper than the others.
Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:
• Create a set of between six and ten finished images.
For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.
• Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
• Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment.
Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your ‘process’ (the series of steps you took to make the photographs).
Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might
link in to your own work.
Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria.
Write 500–1,000 words.
Include a link (or scanned pages) to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor’s comments.
Check your work against the assessment criteria for this course before you send it to your tutor.
Make some notes in your learning log about how well you believe your work
meets each criterion.
Your tutor may take a while to get back to you so carry on with the course while you’re waiting.
Reworking your assignment:
Following feedback from your tutor, you may wish to rework some of your assignment,especially if you plan to submit your work for formal assessment.
If you do this, make sure you reflect on what you’ve done and why in your learning log.