Shaolin Monks – Chinese State Circus

The Shaolin Monks practice the martial art that is now called Shaolin Kung Fu. They may now perform with the Chinese State Circus, but they are Chan Buddhists and martial arts experts trained in the use of 36 weapons and other fighting techniques. The Shaolin Temple was built in 495AD in the Henan Province China.

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Exercise 2.2 People and Activity 2

This is a second series taken from the Chinese State Circus. My intention is to complete the research for the brief for the exercise and then do a researched and planned shoot. Although I am only putting the photos up for this series, I will write an evaluation of the two series shot so far, and then when I have completed the planned exercise I will evaluate and then compare my critiques. My prefered image is photo 11. It was a mistake in exposure, where I was too slow to adapt to the change in lighting. The performer looked like she had the moon balanced on her foot (a chinese umbrella. I took the exposure down to around -3 in Lightoom, which gave me a split tone photo, exported to Photoshop, painted the over exposure back into the moon, and then used the colour replacement brush to add colour to the dresses of the 2 performers in the background. The colour replacement tool is subtle, but having some colour in their clothing gave balance to the split tone.

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Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity – In the Style of Darzacq

The brief is quite lengthy so I have left it at the bottom of the page. Yet again I have not followed the brief to the letter. The brief was clear that this exercise is about planning after researching photographers to prepare for a style of photography that we wish to make. Plan for the type of shots, sketch ideas and then go out and shoot. I may do this once I have researched other photographers. I enjoy making photography following a plan. The process is satisfying, and I do have some ideas (I will also present a different series for this exercise later on in the week). There is a lot of noise in some of the images, and there are some that are not sharp enough and tha tI would not use out side of my studies. The series later in the week has the better photos, but these are the ones in the style of Denis Darzacq.

However the opportunity arose and I took it and I also believe that is a big part of photography. See the opportunity, think on your feet and shoot. On the Friday I learned the Chinese state circus were visiting, and on the Sunday I took my camera and went. I set my focus to AF C (21) because I was aware that I would be shooting people who were moving very quickly. I wanted to freeze movement and capture movement. Being aware of the brief I considered that making photos that cover the whole event, building, circus ring, audience, stage hands and performers. Using manual settings have become more natural for me, and I was able to take photos and adjust the settings on my camera very quickly. It was not ease because there were so many lighting changes and I had to change the ISO frequently. Mistakes happened and I got the exposure wrong from time to time. Although I am not presenting the contact sheets, I have a good workflow in place now and use my own version of 100, 75, 50, 25.

These are not the best shots of the day, but having researched Denis Darzaq during the Workflow coursework I hoped that I would get some photos in a similar style.

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Exercise 2.2 People and Activity

Brief:-

In this exercise, the activity is your main subject. Don’t just go out and shoot; choose your activity in advance so you can prepare for it.

  • Before you begin shooting, ask yourself what kind of photographs you want to make. Will they be candid photographs like Henri Cartier-Bresson’s or distant views of activity like Andreas Gursky’s? Will you seek out key gestures, facial expressions and telling relationships like Martin Parr or make ‘snapshots’ of characters in the maelstrom of life-like Robert Frank? Will you try to frame the activity in a specific lighting effect like Trent Parke or will you seek to capture cultural details like Manuel Álvarez Bravo? Go online and research these well-known practitioners.
  • Try to define the way of seeing you want to achieve. Will you be distant, close, in the action, or will you bring the subject out of the situation like Richard Avedon, as you did with the leaves?
  • Research the type of photography or a particular photographer that inspires you. What have other photographers done with similar subject matter or with a similar approach? Ask your tutor for help finding good examples.
  • Pre-visualise images and sketch or note down any ideas, e.g. capturing two strangers glancing at one another. You may not find this shot, but it hones your mind and makes you more observant and ‘ready’ for similar glances or relationships.
  • Equipment: What equipment will you need for this project? Will you need a tripod or a flash?
  • Planning: Do you need to get permission to make photographs in a particular place? Sort out travel and timing. Will you need to have a special vantage point?
  • On the day, be observant: STOP! LOOK! THINK! Look carefully around you at the details of what is happening visually
  • Look at people’s faces and the way they express their character with facialexpressions, posture, gesture and movement.
  • What do their clothes say about their social status, gender or character?
  • What does the location say about them? Think about the way an environment can be ordered into a composition within the frame.
  • SHOOT! Take a lot of photos. This will give you more choice in the edit.
  • Upload your photos.
  • First edit: Look carefully at each shot and make a considered selection of about 50% of your photos. Don’t delete the photos, just mark the best shots.
  • Second edit: Wait about 24 hours until you perform your second edit. Then, with a fresh pair of eyes, edit them to around 25%.
  • Third edit: Edit down to around 10% or less of your original quantity. This is the best of your work but could later be refined even further. This process of editing could be called 100/50/25/10.
  • Perform any cropping, straightening and image adjustments on your final selection.

 

References

Keys, R; 2017; Exercise 1.12 Smash – Denis Darzacq; https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/exercise-1-12-smash-denis-darzacq/ (accessed on 26/09/2017)

 

 

Exercise 2.1 – Portraits

Brief:- Take a piece of white paper and go out and photograph some plants in this way. Don’t cut or pick the plants; leave them where they are. You’ll probably have to photograph in ‘macro’ mode, often indicated by a tulip icon on your camera. Under-expose a little if you find the white card is causing highlight clipping. When you’ve completed that, do the same with a person’s face. You can use a plain wall, a sheet or a large piece of paper as your background, but be sure to eradicate all environmental detail. You can further enhance this by cropping the photos later if you find a distraction on the edges. You’ve photographed two different subjects in different places, yet all signs of the place have been removed. What do you think that does to the interpretation of the photograph? Do you notice how it emphasises both the shape and the subject as a distinct thing?

I have completed the exercise, but I took the opportunity to photograph the Chinese State Circus and have used portraits from that shoot.

 

I have not stuck to just the head shot, and I am ok with that. The shape of the subject, the detail of the clothing and muscle structure are more apparent because there is no background. With photo one the lighting is dramatic and adds a dimension of seriousness to her face, and her clothing becomes apparent. The headwear and clothing in the second image make this photo. The face is soft which adds to the delicacy of the photo. I like the concentration, and the ripples of the mans judo suit in photo 6. Even though there is some environmental detail retained at the bottomof the photo, I don’t find it to be a distraction.

I havent completed the brief to the letter. I used the ad hoc opportunity to make photos and made the most of it. I have produced a mixture of portraits and full length photos, and the results highlight the amount of detail that the camera picks up, and the eye watches, when there is no other details to be distracted by.

I have tried to remove noise in both Lightroom and Photoshop, and I used the Photoshop brush tool, black (000000) to paint away distractions in a couple of photos, and my favourite grad filter, erase brush and exposure to -4.0 in others.

Chinese State Circus – Shaolin Monks – Macro – Exercise 2.1 and Project 1.

What have I learned from the past 4 days making photography.

Stick to the brief but have fun once that’s done.

Prepare.

Sometimes you can’t make the shoot that you wish to, so shoot again in a planned environment.

The Chinese State Circus and Shaolin Monks were incredible, and have definitely made some good photos. But I will have to re-shoot project 1.

Why – There is a limit to shooting in low light with the D7100. Despite being described as presenting little noise with high iso, this is definitely not my experience. Which means I’ve had to use a wide aperture. Consequently I haven’t been able to demonstrate the different depths of field for project 1. It was an event that I didn’t know about until Friday so I haven’t completed the research from the brief, so this was an unplanned shoot. I’m not giving myself a hard time. I got a wonderful opportunity to see the amazing Shaolin Monks and Chinese State Circus. Truly awesome.

There are times when making photography that you miss the enjoyment of an event because you see a limited 3:2 ratio. I took lots of photos and some of them are pleasing. My eye was to the viewfinder throughout, yet I never felt like I missed the pleasure of the performance because they were so darn good. I missed some iso and shutter speed changes, but my gosh am I improving. I’m beginning to intuitively know what to change and when.

For exercise 2:1 – use a white backdrop to remove background details and thus isolating the subject. Make a series of portraits and still life/nature.

I did my best to stick to the brief. The lighting was good for the outdoor shots, but the wind was so strong that the paper blew away or ripped. To be honest it’s not a big deal as I have enough ability with Photoshop to correct the ripped paper.

Indoors – I don’t have a speed light and using my makeshift lighting wasn’t adequate. plastic box, two torches inside, paper on top – didn’t work due to highlight patches. Same technique for side-lighting – light too strong and when moved away it was too weak.

I was using my Tamron 18-270 at max focal length and combined with Vello extension tubes with a combined length of 68mm (with 1.5 crop sensor that’s an effective 507mm focal length). It’s a brilliant set up when you get used to an incredibly narrow depth of field and ensuring you have the right angle for the photo you wish to make. I can get so close in with this set up. I love love love it. I did stick to the brief – for a while. Then I slipped into the enjoyment of macro. If you want a crisp 24mp photo of a twenty pence piece or sliver of watermelon then I will have them here later in the week.

I also learned that flash is not good for wet fruit and macro photography so I need to improve my lighting set up as soon as I can.

No portraits shot for the exercise as yet but really enjoyed these pieces of photography.