Emulating Laura Letinsky – Exercise 4.11 – Emulation

Brief:- Remember, there’s no need to make a direct copy of a photograph, for example a Man Ray photogram; make your own photographic experiment as Adam Fuss did (you can compare their photograms online). If you chose to emulate Man Ray, you might seek out interesting objects that can be rendered graphic shapes in silhouette by shooting them against a white background. Or perhaps you want to emulate the uncanny, liminal sense of space created in a Laura Letinsky photograph but using landscapes. Make the image your own. Artists rarely copy each other, but they do learn from each other. Try to identify exactly what it is in the photograph that appeals to you: the visual quality (tones, colours, light and dark) the composition or design the subject the concept the photographer’s viewpoint the way the photographer has influenced or constructed the image. When you’ve identified these elements, plan what you’ll need: equipment location models.  When you’ve organised all this, make the photo.

Final Two Photos

I need to begin by saying that I am not happy with the results of either photo, but there are aspects to each of them that I do like.

The first photo is the one that I most prefer, and makes more use of colour and planes. Yes it is far busy and less subtle than a Letinsky, but I ensured that it used two planes, and it is also 3D in nature because of the net which drops down from the main canvas, and the roses which are hanging down from the light socket. It is aesthetically pleasing to me, it’s pretty and beautiful.

The second photo has more movement, which I prefer. I love how the sheet hangs, and envision this as being similar in nature to the roof of a marquee. But the second plane that I tried to create, with a petal at the end of each piece of thread, just doesn’t work.

Neither photo has the amount of neutral space that Letinsky makes use of so well. Both photos have finger prints, creases and glue marks, which it goes without saying that I am not pleased with. The first photo also has a gap between the satin effect canvas (pinned to the ceiling) and the net (hanging down).

Technically this was a complicated project. Flower petals shrivel and die, each sheet was three meters by one meter, and very difficult to pin to the ceiling. I made use of super glue to place the petals in the second photo, which was a big mistake. Super glue discolours the petals, sticks the canvas to the carpet, and whilst I was raising the sheet from the floor, a lot of the petals became unatuck. I used PVA glue for the first photo and it didn’t stick the petals to the floor, but still left unsightly marks when a petal refused to stick.

Despite the piece of art that I have created being of poor standard, because of the technical errors, I am pleased with the result of the first photo. I have had a lot of fun, and developing techniques to control the space that I am choosing to work with is good progress. I definitely wish to create art in this style in the future. To do so I would need at least one technician, a large board so the canvas can be ironed, and find an alternate way to glue the petals onto the sheet.

My creation is not a copy of Letinsky, but I believe that I have used elements of her style and technique to make something that is pleasing to my eye.

Contact sheets (here)

Reference

Keys, R; 2018; Picture Analysis – Laura Letinsky – David Bate – Pieter Claesz; Online: AT:  https://photosociology.photography/2018/09/28/picture-analysis-laura-letinsky-david-bate-pieter-claesz/ (accessed on 17/11/2018)

Exercise 4.6 – Using Layers In Photoshop

Brief:- Create a series of photographs that include deep shadow in much of the frame. You could achieve this by using a black backdrop or by exposing in high contrast light as in Part One Project 2 (Shadows). Choose about four final images. In Photoshop, place the images on top of one another and change the Blend Mode to Screen (removes the black from the image) of the images above the lowest image. Experiment with Luminosity and Color blending modes. You may also want to reduce the opacity of each image. Move them around with consideration for the sense of depth the image represents and try to create a final composite.

This has been an enjoyable exercise. You’ll be surprised to know that I followed the brief, and then deviated from it somewhat as well.

Lets begin with my favourite. For the first composite I have included three subjects that bring me pleasure, although for different reasons. They create a conflict of emotion for me as well, due to the negative impact that heavy industry and aviation have upon nature.

I broke from the brief for this, because I knew what I wanted to portray and the brief wouldn’t have got me there. The bottom layer was the bird, and I left the blend mode as normal, the second image is the coastal heavy industry at Tees Port, I altered the blend mode to screen, and the third is two aircraft from  Armed Forces day in Scarborough, in which I altered the opacity. To remove the backgrounds in the second and third photos I have used the background eraser and changed the brush to Kyle Spatter Brushes – Spatter Bot Tilt. These are free brushes that I had previously downloaded. I progressively lowered the flow and opacity with the brush to try to create a more natural look. The final image is very small because the birds eye was such a small part of the original photo. It’s far from perfect, but it still says something to me.

The Originals

The following two photos were made by following the brief, although I did find that I needed to mess around with the blend modes to get the effect that I found to be most effective.  I will show the originals first, in order from the bottom layer upwards.

The above is my favourite out of five different attempts that I made from the same three photos. The church and the blue background appear as if they could be a stylised satin wallpaper. The bottom right looks a touch messy, but you know what, I like it. It has a surreal and smokey feel and the colour blends in with the blue. The difficulty was removing the obvious line over the vase, from where two layers were not aligned. I can’t remember which brush I used, and It hasn’t come out to bad here, except for the area below the vase.

Layer 1 – Blend mode:- Dissolve, Opacity 100%, Flow 100%. Layer 2 – Blend mode:- Pin light, Opacity 100%, Flow 100%. Layer 3 – Blend mode:- Darken, Opacity 59%, Flow 100%.

This hasn’t worked as well. Although it isn’t obvious that I have blended the edge between two layers, it is clear that something has happened. The brush was meant to disperse and weaken the edge, which it has, but not my best work. If I could have somehow blended that edge more proficiently then the overall quality would have been pleasing.

Layer 1 – Blend mode:- Dissolve, Opacity 100%, Flow 100%. Layer 2 – Blend mode :- Linear dodge (add), Opacity 100%, Flow 100%. Layer 3 – Blend mode:- Darken, Opacity 33%, Flow 100%.

A great exercise and one that I am very pleased to have given a go. It’s interesting to notice how I have developed with layering in Photoshop. More practice required, but I will feel better equipped and more confident with experimenting in the future.

 

It’s All About Me When It Comes To My Emotions – Responding Not Reacting

It’s been a challenging week for me on many levels’. I felt hurt and frustrated by a friend’s behaviour and, have had a professional organisation failed to keep their commitment, and two professionals involved in my care are leaving their posts.

I find it very difficult to be authentic and express my emotions in response to somebody’s behaviour. However, I had to say something this week so that O could remain true to myself and protect my self esteem. My friend’s behaviour isn’t the issue, it’s my feelings that I need to focus on. It doesn’t matter how you behave, that’s your choice and your right, so if I feel upset or hurt in response to your behaviour that’s my responsibility. My telling you how I feel doesn’t mean that you have to change your behaviour. As your behaviour is your responsibility you can choose whether to act differently, or continue to behave as you are. This means that you can remain true to yourself.

Self-portrait in which I photographed myself as a reflection in a mirror.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) I am slowly becoming comfortable with displaying self portraits, but I still need to cover my face.

So this week I took responsibility for my emotions and spoke to my friend about how I was feeling with regards to our friendship. I did this in a manner that owned my feelings and didn’t blame her for my emotional reaction. In order to do this I needed to give myself a couple of days to allow my emotions to calm down and so that I could prepare what I wanted to say without it being an attack on her. It would have been so easy to react but that would have been damaging to both her and myself (There have been recent news stories about students trying to get their lecturers sacked because they have differences of opinion. This behaviour is completely inappropriate because it apportions blame rather than taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, it’s also very arrogant and self righteous).

With a professional organisation letting me down my approach is firmer, more descriptive and without emotional content. They have provided me with some software called Dragon Nuance, which is voice to text software, and am using this to write this blog today. They are currently training me how to use and make the most of this technique. I had an appointment with them which they failed to keep. I’m very pleased that in both instances I have been able to respond, to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings without resorting to criticism or blaming them for how I feel.

(Please click on photo for a larger image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy immensely and it also calms me down.

My eating disorder therapist has been off work for several months,. We had an appointment this week, during which she informed me that she is changing role in two weeks and I won’t have a therapist until the new person is in post. On top of this, the junior psychiatrist that I have been working with whilst my therapist has been off sick, is moving onto a new rotation in two weeks and I’ll have to get used to a new doctor. My care coordinator is also changing. I feel quite vulnerable with having these three changes at the same time.

Acceptance is the answer, and the only way of responding to these changes I don’t like and that I feel unsafe with. So my response is to allow my vulnerability to be as it is, and to discuss this with my friends as often as I need to.

By Thursday afternoon my thoughts were along the lines of “what else is going to go wrong today?”. So I wrote a gratitude list and made a note of all the things that had happened during the day which I felt grateful for, I spoke with a friend, and my mood and thoughts improved. Making some macro photography also helped to keep me focused straight after my psychiatric appointment.

(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy enormously, and it also calms me down.

Testing New Purchases – Prep For Farnborough – C-AF – Macro Learning

Recent Purchases

Mzuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 ed ii

When I decided to go fully Olympus and trade in my Nikon D7100, I purchased this lens, primarily because it’s coming up to Farnborough airshow. This lens and the OMD’s Micro four thirds 2xcrop ratio, gives me a 150mm – 600mm lens. Which is pretty good for aircraft. Armed forces day was on 30th June so I took the lens over to Scarborough, knowing that they had three mini air displays. The lens is heavy, as to be expected, and on full zoom, 300mm, handshake isn’t always cancelled out by the OMD’s 5 axis image stabilizer. However, when panning the camera to follow the movement of the aircraft, the hand shake becomes irrelevant to a large degree. It’s much more noticeable on those shots when the lens is not panning. This is despite using shutter priority and keeping in between 1/800 and 1/4000. I also have a neuro-muscular condition and this makes hand shake worse sometimes.

There is a down size to this lens, and it’s the same one you get with most cameras at full zoom, and that’s vignetting. Although to give credit where it’s due, this is really apparent on an under exposed image, and decreases as you get closer to the correct exposure, at which point it’s sometimes apparent and others not. So the vignetting is really down to me under-exposing the photos and not keeping my eye on what I was doing.

The Blades Aerobatic Display Team ISO 100 Shutter 1/1000 aperture f6.7 300mm

The above is clearly an underexposed photo. The next image I have developed a little in Lightroom, but I wanted to show one of my favourite photos from the afternoon. There is still a slight halo around the aircraft, which shows that even good exposure doesn’t eliminate the vignette completely. However as you decrease the focal length to around 200mm the vignette isn’t there at all. This is no different than any other non prime telephoto lens.

The Blades Aerobatic Display Team ISO 100 shutter 1/800 aperture f6.7 300mm

C-AF – Continuous auto focus. In preparing myself for Farnborough I wanted to put the OMD and the Mzuiko through their paces, and test the continuous autofocus as I will be shooting fast-moving aircraft. Having completed some research online I ensured that I did not include focus tracking with the C-AF, which is an option with the OMD. The reviews were clear that the tracking works best when much closer to a slower moving subject. Before leaving home I changed the metering to centre weighted instead of the spot that I usually use, and increased the focus area slightly, again instead of the centre point that I often use. It was a mixed result to be honest. At times the C-AF worked wonders, and at others it kept refocusing and going completely out of focus, or focusing on the clouds or passing gulls (which incidently began to mob the aircraft as if they were birds of prey – common behaviour during the breeding season, but with aircraft? That’s a new one on me).

Maybe the inconsistent auto-focus is down to my lack of experience using it, or maybe that’s the way with C-AF for distant objects which are very fast-moving.. The OMD EM10 mk iii doesn’t have the added element of phase detection auto focus, it’s known to not be as quick as other Olympu’s, but when it worked it was exceptional and I have some very clear, crisp photos, and during some highly complex aerobatic maneuvers. The EM10 is probably performing better than its enthusiast+ level, I can’t expect it to be as good as the pro camera OMD EM1 mk ii, and the auto focus on the EM10 is reportedly better than the Pen F, which is aimed between the EM10 enthusiast+ and EM 1 mk ii Pro level in the market. Overall the results were good, and the defects were mostly mine. I need to be more aware of shutter speed and exposure, the camera did what it could to keep up with the fast speed that I was using, but I either needed to increase the ISO or decrease the shutter speed, and that’s completely down to me. Very good preparation for Farnborough, and I know what I need to do to improve my photography of aircraft, including pan more smoothly.

Meike Extenders 10mm and 16mm with electrical contacts

I purchased these so that I could get closer to the subjects in macro photography, and capture sharper details of the eyes and wings of bugs and bees, and closer to the inside of flowers. The Meike extenders for the 4/3 mount has electrical contacts that actually work, so autofocus and aperture changes can be controlled in camera. I have previously had extenders where the electrical connectors didn’t work (for the Nikon), not good.

Iam really impressed. I only used the 16mm (you can combine the two and create a 26mm extender, but you then need to shoot almost touching your subject and the depth of field is so narrow that its difficult to shoot anyway. It was a very windy day, so I had little opportunity to use the set up, but the results were impressive when I was able to. Depth of field is best controlled by using auto focus, half press on shutter release, and in one smooth action press right down and take the shot. If you pause you’re gonna lose the focus. The other way is to use auto focus, and then move your head very slowly backwards and forwards until you have the focus and the focal range that you are seeking for the image. Macro photography is a very gentle, slow, getting to fall in love with your subject before pressing the shutter release – if you want good photo’s. You can’t rush. here are some photos of the same subject – in the last one I hold a 20 pence piece so that you can see just how close the set up brings me and how small the subject is.

The third photo shows just how narrow the depth of field is. The stars are out of focus, but between them they have these little brown leaves – the tips of which are in focus. Only the first photo is good, but I wanted to highlight how narrow the depth of field is. I know that I can get that close now (and take better photo’s than these). The strengths of the extenders are that you have more control eliminating background distractions, you can get closer to your subject and capture the minutiae in fine details (can’t wait to get to shoot more Bee’s), you can create very large photo’s of tiny subjects, the electrical contacts work. The difficulties, you need to be incredibly aware of depth of field, double-check that you have got the focus how you want it where you want it. you lose a couple of stops of light, so it’s better to shoot in bright, sunny conditions, there’s no point shooting in the wind. Theres too much movement to control depth of field. Here’s one more just because I love, love, love macro photography.

ISO 500 shutter 1/125 aperture f2.8 60mm

Dot.foto batteries for OMD EM 10

When I shoot aircraft I do so in burst mode. It’s the last part of the technical elements that I use to capture crisp images of aircraft in flight. With going away to Farnborough, and burst shooting, there is no chance that the one battery I had was going to last me 5 hours of flying and three hours of static and street photography. I took a risk and decided to but the Dot.Foto battery for the OMD rather than the brand version. I got two batteries this way for the same prices instead of one Olympus branded battery. Did the risk pay off? Most definitely. 1127 frames shot, plus an in-camera review and evaluation of half of those (to delete the crap). The frame count sounds high, but shooting in burst you are able to shoot more frames with less battery depletion than when you are constantly turning you camera on and off for individual photos, and this is most certainly the case for the Olympus brand battery as well. My belief is that these batteries are as good as each other, however, I am aware that the performance of the Dot.foto is likely to reduce with repeated charging, whereas the Olympus are more stable and will deplete more slowly. I will keep an eye on that.

One final photos, OK, so the aircraft are not sharp, but couldn’t resist adding this one.

The Blades Over Scarborough Castle