Exercise 3.3


1. What do the time-frames of the camera actually look like?

If you have a manual film camera, open the camera back (make sure there’s no film in the camera
first!) and look through the shutter as you press the shutter release.

What is the shortest duration in which your eyes can perceive a recognisable image in bright daylight?

Describe the experiment in your learning log.

2. Find a good viewpoint, perhaps fairly high up (an upstairs window might do) where you can see a wide view or panorama.

Start by looking at the things closest to you in the foreground.

Then pay attention to the details in the middle distance and, finally, the things towards the horizon.

Now try to see the whole landscape together, from the foreground to horizon (you can move your eyes).
Include the sky in your observation and try to see the whole visual field together, all in movement (there is always some movement).

When you’ve got it, raise your camera and take a picture. Add the picture and a description of the process to your learning log.



I don’t have a film camera so couldn’t do the first part of this exercise.

For the second part I went to Putney bridge and set my camera to shutter priority mode and did as described in the brief.








This exercise is to help get you used to observing.

In this photograph of the Thames from Putney bridge I did as described in the brief.

What I noticed once I got the image into post processing was the little things that I hadn’t noticed whilst taking the shot.

The most obvious was the sea-gull that I should’ve expected to be around water but just didn’t notice until afterwards.

It’s often the little things that make or break an image.



This reminds me of days at the rifle range and the watch and shoot exercises we did.

you’d be told a direction but not a distance, then when given the command “up” you had a couple of seconds to put two well-aimed shots on target.

It’s all designed to get you thinking and observing.

Observational skills can’t be taught, they can only be developed through practice.

I can only observe through my experience that people have a tendency to not look up.


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.

Exercise 2.7

Brief :

Use a combination of small apertures and wide lens to take a number of photographs exploring deep depth of field.

Because of the small apertures you’ll be working with slow shutter speeds and may need to use a tripod or rest the camera on a stable surface to prevent ‘camera shake’ at low ISO.

Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.
Achieving deep depth of field might appear easy compared to the difficulties of managing shallow depth of field.

We’re surrounded by images made with devices rather than cameras whose short focal lengths and small sensors make it hard to achieve anything other than deep depth of field.

The trick is to include close foreground elements in focus for an effective deep depth of field image.

Foreground detail also helps to balance the frame, which can easily appear empty in wide shots, especially in the lower half.

When successful, a close viewpoint together with the dynamic perspective of a wide-angle lens gives the viewer the feeling that they’re almost inside the scene.

Process :

The process was pretty much the reverse of the last exercise.

This time I used my widest lens setting, 18mm. and closed it down to the high f-stop numbers, the distances remained the same as did some of the subjects; this enables me to truly compare the effects of aperture and lens length.

Pictures :

f 22     1/10th. sec.


f 14    1/60th. sec.

f 14    1/8th. sec.

f 22     1/15th. sec.

f 20     1/20th. sec.

f 18     1/25th. sec.

f 16      1/125th. sec.

f 14      1/30th. sec.

f 13      1/40th. sec.

Contact sheet.

Analysis :

A wide-angle lens also distorts the image somewhat.

Despite having a depth of field measured in feet and inches the background is more discernible than in the previous exercise.

The second and third shot are of the same subject, just different directions to give you some idea of how much background an 18mm. lens includes at higher f-stop numbers.

Reflections :

The equivalent to these photo’s on a full frame camera would be 27mm. and f 33.

Not the widest of angles or deepest of depth of field but enough for me to be careful how to use these combinations.

I can’t wait to be able to get a full frame camera and some faster glass, then at least these mathematical gymnastics would come to an end.

Every You tube video and every text-book references to 35mm. full frame .

As I grew up on 35mm. film I tend to reference images the same way.

The effects of lens length, focal distance and aperture however remains a constant, for this I am thankful.

Exercise 2.6

Brief :

Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. (Remember that smaller f numbers mean wider apertures.) Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject.

Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.
Wide apertures create shallow depth of field, especially when combined with a long focal length and a close viewpoint.

In human vision the eye registers out-of-focus areas as vague or indistinct – we can’t look directly at the blur.

But in a photograph, areas of soft focus can form a large part of the image surface so they need to be handled with just as much care as the main subject.
Don’t forget that the camera’s viewfinder image is obtained at maximum aperture for  maximum brightness and therefore at the shallowest depth of field.

Use the depth of field preview button to see the actual depth of field at any particular aperture.

(This is especially useful in film cameras where you don’t have the benefit of reviewing a shot immediately after you’ve taken it).

It’s surprising to see the effect that a single f-stop can have on the appearance of an image.

Process :

In this exercise I took some shots of sculptures along the Thames river path near my home.

All were taken at 55mm. with various apertures.

I kept the distance the same and shot for both exercise 2.6 and 2.7 so that I could examine the effects of aperture and focal length.

As my tripod isn’t that good I hand-held my camera using the vibration reduction feature built into the lens and fired off multiple shots increasing my chances of an in focus image.

VR worked well for me down to 1/60th. of a second but was marginal at 1/10th.

I also had a polarizing filter on the lens to boost the sky and clouds.

Pictures :

f 5.6    1/125th. sec.

f 6.3     1/100th. sec.

f 7.1     1/80th. sec.

f 9     1/40th. sec.

f 5.6    1/160th. sec.

f 6.3    1/125th. sec.

f 7.1     1/100th. sec.


f 8 1     1/80th. sec.

Contact sheet.

Analysis :

I focussed all of these images at 1 1/2 feet, the minimum for my lens at 55mm.

Even at this distance and f5.6 the background is still discernible and a little distracting although the depth of acceptable sharpness is pretty shallow.

The last four images were taken tight with the apartments only just visible in the top left of the frame.

Depth of field is effected by distance to subject, distance to the background, focal length and aperture.

Reflections :

Despite using the widest aperture, minimum focus distance and good separation from the background my lens at 55mm. isn’t as good for separation of subject from the background as a faster lens would be.

An f2.8 lens would’ve reduced the distance of acceptable sharpness from 2 foot down to 1/4 inch at the same distances and focal length allowing the subject to have less distraction in the background.

Or at least giving me more control over it.

Exercise 2.4

Brief :

Find a location with good light for a portrait shot.

Place your subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide aperture together with a moderately long focal length such as 100mm on a 35mm full-frame camera (about 65mm on a
cropped-frame camera).

Take a viewpoint about one and a half metres from your
subject, allowing you to compose a headshot comfortably within the frame.

Focus on the eyes and take the shot.

Longer focal lengths appear to compress space, giving a shallower depth of acceptable sharpness, which is known as depth of field.

This makes a short or medium telephoto lens perfect for portraiture: the slight compression of the features appears attractive while the shallow depth of field adds intensity to the eyes and ‘lifts’ the
subject from the background.

Process :

For this photograph I had my subject stand in front of a wall.

I used a small reflector to remove ugly shadows that the direct sun light was producing.

Pictures :

55mm. at f 5.6 and 1/200th. sec. ISO 100


Contact sheet.

Analysis :

The maximum length of my lens is equivalent to 82.5 mm. in a full frame camera and produces pleasant portraits.

A longer focal length would produce more pleasing compression to my subjects features and a faster aperture would get better separation from the back ground.

The subjects glasses also presented reflection and focus challenges especially when using a speed light or reflector.

These challenges cannot be remedied by asking the subject to remove them, on an older subject the muscles around the eye’s are badly toned and it wouldn’t be flattering; you may get away with eye-glass removal if your subject is young enough, maybe I’ll find a willing volunteer for this experiment in the future.

Reflections :

I think this shoot went well despite never using a reflector before.

The harsh light even at mid morning only reinforced the feeling that I have to get up earlier.

I definitely need faster and longer lenses.

Exercise 2.3

Brief :

Choose a subject in front of a background with depth. Select your shortest focal length and take a close low viewpoint, below your subject.

Find a natural point of focus and take the shot.
You’ll see that a very wide lens together with a close viewpoint creates extreme perspective distortion.

Gently receding lines become extreme diagonals and rounded forms bulge towards the camera.

Space appears to expand.

The low viewpoint adds a sense of monumentality, making the subject seem larger than it is, and tilting the camera adds to the effect as vertical lines dramatically converge.

Not the ideal combination for a portrait shot!


Process :

For this exercise I lay on my back shooting upwards.


Photographs :

18mm. at f3.5 and 1/40th. sec

Contact sheet.

Analysis :

The upward angle, wide aperture and zoom setting on the lens makes for a pretty distorted image and not a flattering portrait.

The converging lines and accentuated arches give this shot a feeling of hitting light speed in a Sci-Fi movie.

Reflections :

The pose in this photograph could’ve been better but my friend didn’t want me looking up his nose and photographing his nose hair.

As I am out and about with my camera I try to look for unusual vantage points especially on mundane subjects.

This to me adds not only fun to my days out but sometimes, as in this series; gets people laughing at my antics and I get to chat to some interesting folk.

Exercise 2.1


Brief :

Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six
shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to
use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)
As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re
moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use:
rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do
it for you. The other immediate difference between the shots is the ‘angle of view’,
which also depends on the sensor size of your camera. Use the sequence to try to
get a feeling for how the angle of view corresponds to the different focal lengths
for your particular camera and lens combination. Which shot in the sequence feels
closest to the angle of view of your normal vision?

Does zooming in from a fixed viewpoint change the appearance of things? If you enlarge and compare individual elements within the first and last shots, you can see that their ‘perspective geometry’ is exactly the same. To change the way things actually look, a change in focal length needs to be combined with a change in viewpoint.

Process :

For this exercise I again used my trust Nikon D5200 and 18-55 mm lens, I also made use of a tripod for this series.

I kept the focal length set to f5.6 as this was consistantly the widest for all the zoom range of my lens as it is a variable aperture lense ranging from f3.5 to f5.6 for it’s widest aperture settings.

I also kept the camera set to ISO 100, the lowest native setting my camera has to keep the quality of image.

All shots where taken using Aperture priority mode and I focussed on the beam with the crack in it to keep the series consistent.

The location I use a lot is Brompton cemetary in Chelsea, which I suspect is where the shots in the course materials also come from.


Photographs :

18mm at f5.6 1/640th sec. ISO 100

24mm at f5.6 1/640th. sec. ISO 100

35mm. at f5.6 1/640th. sec. ISO 100

46mm. at f5.6 1/800th. sec. ISO 100

55mm. at f5.6 1/640th. sec. ISO 100

Research and analysis :

The only research needed for this exercise was the camera’s manual which describes the use of aperture priority mode.

As you can see from this series zooming the lens does act rather like walking into the scene and although the angle of view changes so does the depth of field.

The wider the zoom setting, more of the scene comes into focus.

To replicate these images with a Full frame sensor you would need to not only use the crop factor on the lens length but also the f stop.

Reflections :

This particular exercise doesn’t need much reflection as the results are pretty much what I expected.

With this crop center camera I think the 35mm setting is closest to how my eye’s see the world.