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 2.2

Brief :

Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth.

Take one photograph.

Then walk towards your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length.

Take care to frame the subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot.

Compare the two images and make notes in your learning log.


Process :

I took these Photographs of a friend by some bushes in Fulham.

I framed the 46mm. shot first hand-held then stepped forwards to keep the framing as close to each other as was possible.


Photographs :

18mm. at f5.6 and 1/125th. sec.

46mm. at f5.6 and 1/100th. sec.

contact sheet.

Analysis :

In the 18mm. shot you can see the effects of perspective distortion especially with the subjects face.

The face appears to be pinched or elongated and there are more details apparent in the back ground, also the depth of field is greater.

Reflections :

One thing I did notice was, when viewing side by side in Lightroom at full size; the images appear very similar but when you view the images to fit your screen the distortion is more apparent.

I’ll have to give this more thought as I didn’t expect this phenomenon.

Continue reading “Exercise 2.2”

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.

Reviews by Campany and Colberg on Thomas Ruff

There were four points that stood out to me in Campany’s review of Thomas Ruff’s work that appeared in IANN magazine no.2 @ 2008.
The first was “It’s potent ability to solicit individual and global responses that cannot be entirely reconciled”, this is what I felt when first viewing his work; is it Photography, art or just a good printing job ?
The second was his questions about the information we now have at our fingertips , how it affects our lives and more importantly how it shapes our perception, morals and desires.
He also questions what we mean by ‘from the internet’? Is the internet an archive” ? , he goes on to say “In fact Ruff tells us they are from the internet”, meaning Ruff’s images.
My take on it is this, the internet is the mother of all archives; a Pandora’s box of mankind’s best and darkest thoughts and achievements.
The last point he makes is about how Ruff presents his work using very large prints that are beyond what is normally excepted for quality images i.e pixelated.

In Colberg’s review that appeared in his blog “jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/04/review_jpegs_by_thomas_ruff/” I only took one point of view and a good quote from Ruff himself.
He says that Ruff is possibly “one of the most creative and certainly inventive photographers of our time” and that the more traditionalist photographers could question whether it is indeed photography at all.
He also has a  quote from the Artist himself that was an Excerpt from a conversation with Max Dax, Dreissig Gespräche, edition suhrkamp, 2009; telling how he actually came up with the concept of his jpegs during his time in New York city the week of the 9/11 attacks.
Thomas Ruff has done similar work using images from NASA entitled M.A.R.S .
On a personal note I prefer his more abstract art as I find his jpeg and mars series to be too much like Andy Warhol’s work and it’s hard to compete with Warhol.

More thoughts on framing.

Curator John Szarkowski (1925–2007) found that photography is a decision about what to include and what to leave out.
This he surmised leads to a photographer concentrating on the edges of a frame and the shapes this creates. (Szarkowski, 2007, p,4 ).
Looking at his pictures of ” The school house, 1949″ and “From a country elevator, 1957” I can agree to a certain degree.
Where I diverge from his thought is when you see too much concentration on the edges produced by Alfred Stieglitz’s cloudscapes, the Equivalents for example.
Although looking hard at the edges will reap rewards I feel concentration is more than the edges deserve, after all the subject must come first.

My take on framing and cropping images.

The following definitions are from the on-line

Cambridge Dictionary.

Frame :

a border that surrounds and supports a picture, door, or window.

Crop :

to remove some or all of the edges from a picture, leaving only the most important part.
To me Framing or the frame of an image is the whole that the photographer wants you to view, it contains all the elements they think are important and none that aren’t.
Cropping an image is a way to eliminate unwanted elements or distractions and also a means to reframe the image to something more pleasing such as a Dutch tilt or reframing the subject to follow the rule of thirds.
Cropping an image also reduces the image quality some, where as framing does not.
To me cropping is a useful technique as long as you don’t find yourself using it on every image.
Framing has to be done with deliberation if possible, even photo journalists, sports and wildlife photographers try to avoid cropping if they can as editors are increasingly accepting only unaltered JPEG’s .