Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Two

Please click Tutor Feedback Assignment 2 for the full word document of Jayne’s feedback.

Of particular note in your second assignment is the fact that you successfully worked with a model here and that you achieved the results you wanted through direction and rapport as well as careful preparation. You clearly enjoyed the creative process and (I sense) are feeling enthused towards the rest of the course – so I look forward to your third assignment!

Many of you are already aware that I have anxiety about being around people in general and working with people and photography. However, my skills and confidence in have improved throughout the Image the Portrait section of coursework. Although my anxiety remains, I enjoy working with people, and hopefully, in time, I will become more engaging and conversational with those that I work with. There is a vast difference between asking someone if I can make their portrait, and entering into a conversation with them. It helped that my close friend was my model for this assignment.

So Nick’s stillness of presence is key. As is the black background (the unknown aspects relating to his move and the future) and the light ‘waves’ as the different emotions or energies around this.

With this in mind, I encouraged you to write a brief (100-200 word) introduction to the piece to gently (slightly obliquely) introduce the context (leaving experiential space for the viewer, i.e. try not to be too literal or too descriptive. You might also decide to veer away from the factual side of Nick’s life altogether and take the images somewhere different entirely through the introduction.

We also discussed the possibility of developing this work further as a future project (using the very strong 5th image as a ‘template’), as you enjoyed working on this so much. The idea of masks is very creative and potentially very interesting. But, no rush! Generally, though, taking the strongest image from a series and developing elements of that image further can be a great way to go when riding a creative ‘wave’.

Chloe Dewe-Matthews provides an excellent introduction to her body of work “Shot at Dawn, which can be seen here Shot at Dawn, and Tom Hunter has an introduction to all of his series of work which can be seen in his web gallery. Their series of work have a mixture of both long and short introductions, which are informative, and guide the viewer to think about their photography. I found that this guidance was thought provoking and still allowed me to view the photos and have my own thoughts and opinions.

I chose to write a poem to introduce my assignment, and my reasons for doing so are:- I intend to follow Jayne’s suggestion of using the fifth photo to develop a series of work that explores “self-identity”, and felt that the poem raises questions. Who am I is a question than has been around as long as humanity has had rational thought, but I have a personal interest in this question. From a spiritual, cognitive and emotional perspective I am beginning to let go of conditioning, and am committed to exploring my identity. Although I have not followed Jayne’s suggestion in the manner that she suggested, we have communicated via email and she agrees that the words are an appropriate accompaniment to the series of work.

Jayne commented upon a photo that I took for exercise 2.8

You’ve overcome the challenge of photographing strangers and have produced a super portrait in ex 2.8, which not only illustrates the flash effect but also the great rapport and connection you clearly achieved with the subject. Well done!

and I believe that this is my strongest individual photo from the coursework, and demonstrates that I can photograph strangers despite my anxiety.

Jayne comments upon the preperation and planning that I put into developing assignment two. What I find most interesting is that preparation and planning are important. They create ideas, provide the opportunity to explore options and develop perception and technical skills. I thoroughly explored the effects of coloured light and how it interacts with skin tone and make up. However, plans also go sometimes, as they did for me with the assignment. My belief is that my preperation gave me the confidence to be flexible and creative when it was not possible to shoot as I had planned. Was the outcome better than what my planned shoot would have been? I have confidence that it was. The out come was vibrant and dynamic, and I think this is because it allowed my model, Nick, and I to play and experiment.

The final comment of Jayne’s that I feel is important to reflect upon is in relation to my experience as an OCA student.

Excellent to see/hear that you’re making the most of the opportunities for peer group interaction; a real enhancement to the student experience, especially in distance-learning mode.

Studying at a campus would not suit me at this moment in time due to anxiety and paranoia, but that doesn’t mean that I do not need connection with other people. I have chosen to make the most of the opportunity to interact with others as part of my student experience. The Foundations in Photography  group email is a wonderful form of connection with my peers, there are several of us who communicate regularly via the group email and provide feedback on each others work.

Giving and receiving critique can be a bit daunting at first, but I find it is one of the best opportunities to develop. receiving the input from others provides an alternate perspective as well as suggestion of how to explore, alter or develop photography in a different way. Giving feedback I find scary, because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. However, it also engages my eye and permits me to explore what an image is saying, rather than just looking at a photo. My own photography improves because of this, and when I am out shooting I am more considerate about the photos that I make. Why am I taking this photo?

When I started the course I used the WordPress search option to find other OCA students. As well as following my Foundations peers I follow the work of OCA degree students, and now communicate with several of these. Seeing how others, who are studying at a higher level than me, think, plan, execute, present, reflect upon their photographic work is inspiring, and this also has an impact upon how I view and want to develop my own photography.

There are other photographers, artists, poets, creatives on WordPress, as well as OCA students, and I follow several of these and engage with them as well. Creativity is creativty, I feel inspired by creative people, and it doesn’t matter whether they are photographers or not. One of my aims when I began the course was to develop my creativity. Anyone can develop technical skills if they apply themselves, but creativty requires internal and external engagement, and the willingness to let go and be free. As someone who is highly analytical, following other creatives permits me to let go and be free.

My peers, and the others I engage with on WordPress have become a community for me. I avoid contact with people face to face, so my OCA and WordPress community have given me the opportunity to contribute, and this has improved how I perceive my value and worth.

The poem that I have used as an introduction to I dare you to define me (assignment two) is

What do you see when you look at me?
Am “I” the “I” that you think you see?
The stillness within and my activity,
These are just circumstance, do they make me “me”?

Is it the hidden depths that I cannot see,?
Or does the mask that I wear make the person you see?
Can we define self with true certainty?
I can only be sure that I am humanity.

Do you dare to define yourself?

References

Dewe-Matthews, C; 2014; Shot at Dawn; Online AT: http://shotatdawn.photography/about/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)

Hunter, T; 1980’s – 2017); Holly Street Resident Series; Online AT: http://www.tomhunter.org/gallery/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)

 

Re-WorkedAssignment Two

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This is a re-worked version of assignment two following feedback from my tutor. She asked me to consider how I would display this series on a gallery wall? What text would I have as an accompaniment? Words which touch upon the meaning of the photos without being so explicit that the viewer cannot question or interpret the photos as they see fit.

The poem that I have written by way of introduction raises questions in a way that I wasn’t sure that I could achieve if I had composed a statement.

The concept of a gallery presentation and accompanying text is new to me so I would greatly appreciate any ideas or suggestions which will help me to improve upon this.

Although I have received verbal feedback from my tutor, I am going to leave going into full detail, and my response until after I have received the written feedback, so that I can attach it to the post.

Painting With Light – Assignment Two

Glow Sticks

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Following my reflections you will find the six individual photos that I selected, and also the PDF contact sheets for the full set of photos, and others which I made during the evaluation process. There will also be a PDF that contains all of the blog posts relating to Image the Portrait.

Reflections

This assignment has been one that has developed for me over the period of the Image the Portrait coursework. When watching Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor I realised the opportunity for exploring how lighting effects the skin, hair, clothes and make up. The dancing and some of the holds inspired me to develop a vision for the assignment. I have made two posts about my original plans, which can be seen here, and here.

Due to anxiety and paranoia I am socially isolated and rarely meet up with people, but as I had a planned holiday with friends, I asked if they would help me with the assignment. Having not visited them before I had no idea of the space that would be available, and when I got there I soon realised that I was not going to be able to follow my original plan.  I wanted to be able to follow the brief, and create a snoot so fine that I would be able to use the lighting like a laser so that I could paint a crown, a wedding ring, and light up parts of clothing very specifically. However, I just couldn’t create a snoot this narrow. Light is both quanta (packets of particles – Photons) and a wave (electro-magnetic), that spreads out rapidly from its source (wave particle duality). The light from my snoot acted accordingly and covered a larger area than I wanted it to. Lasers work differently and would have been effective, but I did not have access to any lasers.

I had to develop another idea. After considering my options and decided that I would use glow sticks in order to create the effect of moving narrow strips of light to create my portraits. This came with its own challenges. The room I was shooting in had light coming in through the curtains, I had no black background to hide the kitchen behind Nick, and it took a while to get the aperture and shutter speed to get the correct exposure for my models face, and the moving glow sticks.

It has certainly been a positive experience of having to think outside of the box, develop another plan, and how to get the most out of ISO, shutter speed and aperture in order to create the visual effect that I wanted. The creative and technical process was thoroughly enjoyable. I made use of a tripod (which I don’t do often enough), learned how to connect my camera to my phone so that I had remote shutter and instant view, and have now learned how to adjust my print output so that it increases the light level to that of my screen.

After evaluating and developing the photos, I went through a further selection process to arrive at the final six that I am using for the assignment. My initial print run highlighted that my prints were darker than the on-screen photos, so I had to make further developments in Lightroom to increase exposure and saturation, whilst decreasing the background very carefully with the adjustment brush. Another print run helped me to spot some places where I had been a touch careless with the adjustment brush, and where I needed to make further use of it. I increased some of the highlights with the adjustment brush and then the dodge tool in Photoshop. This has taken longer than anticipated because I run out of black ink and had to oder some more.

It has not been easy to decide how to mount the photos, which layout, which background etc. I have tried a plain white background which looks too stark, a plain black background, a white background sitting on a further layer of black, and with glow sticks around the edge.

After due consideration I have settled for the black background. The glow sticks looked good, however, for this to have worked I would have need to cut the glow sticks down to size  so that they framed the photo. I tried to cut them and the result was coloured dye leaking out of the sticks. The test photos of the differing gallery layouts can be seen below. Choosing the layout of the photos was difficult, and I tried several arrangements. The reason that I made the choice for the final piece of work was due to the way that the light on the centre edge of the photos almost flows from one image to the next.

The process of photographing the gallery was challenging, and I felt frustrated at times. Overhead lighting reflected off of the photos, side lighting from the open curtains had a similar effect, and the mount was slightly twisted which altered how the light could be captured. In the end I hung a dark curtain behind the camera, so that the wallpaper didn’t reflect onto the images, closed the curtains used a long exposure, and corrected the twist of the mount.

Is the result perfect? – No, far from it. There is too much background light which wasn’t possible to eradicate completely. I have had to make extensive use of the adjustment brush to dodge and burn areas, and I’ve increase the saturation quite a lot to enhance the light from the glow sticks. However, I am pleased with the effects, and particularly like the movement of the light across the model and the frame. This was created by throwing the light sticks at my model, towards him, around him, and from the sofa behind him.

I do not have the opportunity to repeat this assignment, as I am back home and will not have anyone available to model for me for sometime now. However, given the chance I would do a couple of things differently (a black backdrop, make use of blackout curtains, different location, combine torch and snoot for more side lighting, develop a finer snoot, paint light closer to the model). This is an exercise that I will come back to when I have the right equipment to complete it in the manner that I had originally planned.

References

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica; 2018; Wave-Particle Duality; Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc; Online AT: https://www.britannica.com/science/wave-particle-duality (accessed on 22/01/2018)

Richard Keys; 2017; Initial Thoughts For Painting With Light – The Marriage Of The Mikado Phantom; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/initial-thoughts-for-painting-with-light-the-marriage-of-the-mikado-phantom/ (accessed on 22/01/2017)

Richard Keys; 2017; Exploration Of Lighting, Skin Tone, Skin Colour, Make Up And Costume; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/exploration-of-lighting-skin-tone-skin-colour-make-up-and-costume/ (accessed on 22/01/2018)

Richard Keys; 2017; Assignment Two – The Original Vision; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/assignment-two-the-original-vision/ (accessed on 22/02/2017)

Final six photos

Painting With Light (3 of 6)Painting With Light (5 of 6)

Painting With Light (2 of 6)Painting With Light (1 of 6)

Painting With Light (6 of 6)Painting With Light (1 of 1)

PDF Contact Sheets

Full : First Cut : Second Cut : Third Cut : Fourth Cut : Final

Image the Portrait Blog Links

Gallery Layout Practice

 

With special thanks to Nick, and also to The Saltburn Framing Company who provided me with a selection of black and white mounts free of charge.

 

Exercise 2.9 A Night Portrait

Brief: Photographing at night represents a challenge for the photographer, particularly for making portraits. The low light means either having to increase the ISO, which could introduce grain to the image, or using long exposures that will cause blur. Most photographers would use flash carefully balanced with ambient light and a slight increase in ISO. Here, you’ll use all the methods at your disposal: High ISO (3200 and beyond), flash and long exposure. Photograph a model of your choice. You’ll need a tripod for the long exposures, and your model will have to stand as still as possible. Exposures can be several minutes long so there’s bound to be some blur, but this can be visually effective in itself. Make a full length portrait. But also use flash, high ISO and street lights, aim to create three finished photographs, although you’ll need to make many more than that to ensure success.

 

I will begin with my final three developed photos and then talk through six photos that demonstrate my learning in relation to the techniques.

Exercise 2.9 A Night PortraitAbove – Not a full length photo, but I like how the light from the iPhone has lit up Nicks face. Developing was completed using the Lightroom adjustment brush to reduce the light reflecting from the phone onto Nicks hand, a quick export to Photoshop meant that I could reduce the red light that was behind his head, reflecting from a phone charger which was plugged into the far wall.

Exercise 2.9 A Night PortraitAbove – The two lights provide a little hint that the guitar player was in the street, and I have reduced their exposure slightly. He was under-exposed so I have increased the exposure upon him, again using the adjustment brush.

Exercise 2.9 A Night Portrait

Above – The movement in the lights of the tree and the players hands are effective, although the movement in his face makes this a poor photo. However I like the background being more visible in this photo. It was taken at 1/3 sec, F9, ISO 320 and with flash. I wanted to include some of the background and had experimented with shutter speed and aperture to get the result close to what I wanted (the PDF of all of the photos that I took can be seen here). I have slightly decreased the background and foreground exposure.

EXIF Data – Left – ISO 320, 1/80, F4.5 – Right – ISO 320, 1/80, F5.6 – Both shots made use of built-in flash – The aperture is the important factor here. The wider F4.5 means that there is more light in the foreground, and I think that this makes it clear that the flash was used. The background appears similarly visible in both photos, although the exposure on the guitar player has decreased with the change in aperture.

 

EXIF data – Left – ISO 320, 1/3, F9 – Right – ISO 320, 1/100, F7.1 – Both shots made use of built-in flash – The longer exposure on the left photo captures movement, and combined with the aperture allows for background light. This means that we can see some of the buildings across the other side of the river. Although I widened the aperture for the second photo, the large change in shutter speed has removed the majority of the background light. This has the effect of highlighting the guitar player. It evidences that a photographer needs to be aware of how they want to make their image, and that it’s not simply that a wider aperture means more background light. Aperture and shutter speed (along with ISO) work together as a triangle to make an exposure. The guy was kind enough to let me take many photos of him so that I could try out different settings.

 

EXIF data – Left – ISO 640, 1/50, F1.8 – Right – ISO 200, 4, F2.2 – Both – no flash was fired – The ISO is related to how quickly the camera sensor responds to the light that hits it. The digital calibration is based upon traditional 35mm film, where an ISO of 100 reacted more slowly to light. This meant that the light would have to rest upon it for longer to get a similar exposure than a higher ISO film. However, the longer the light is on the film, or in this case the sensor, the better the quality of colour and less grain is produced. conversely, the higher the ISO, the faster the reaction to light, but less colour information is connected and more noise (grain) is produced.

The photo on the left has a higher ISO, and despite having a much quicker shutter speed, has captured a lot of the light in the background. A very quick reaction. The second photo makes use of a four second exposure and an ISO of only 200. There is a huge difference in background light collected.

Exercise 2.12 – Pixel Painting

 

Steaming Happy – by Richard KeysExercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

This has been a lot of hard work, over two days, a lot of fun, a lot of frustration – and you know what? I am a happy bunny. Photoshop is definitely required for this kind of exercise, it can’t be done in Lightroom. Creating art with multiple images, converting to PNG, free transform, layer mask, warping, hiding the layer mask and then revealing with the paint brush – its something that I am not very skilled at and find frustrating. However, I have done it. I’ve read magazines, watched YouTube tutorials, and here is the final result after around 17 hours of work.

Working with layers, moving them, putting them in the right place is something that I have improved at, as has using the background eraser tool so that I can blend layers into each other, such as the train and the bridge coming out of the bottle.

Photos for first draft

Step one involved a free transform of the train (above), the quick selection tool and eraser. I created a larger canvas so that I could rotate the train so that it pointed slightly upwards. My initial plan was to create a scene where it was leaving the tracks and beginning to fly. The flame involved – menu select > colour range, then the add to selection and mousing over the desired colours, messing around with the fuzziness so that I got the edge that I wanted, then take away from desired colours so that I could eliminate the background. Once I had got the flames I tidied up the background with the eraser, saved as a png, then copied the png into the train picture. Free transform, warp, persective, and placed them where I wanted them at the front of the train. The flowers were done via the same process.

First Draft

Exercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

This morning I got my watercolour pencils out, and drew the viaduct, and photographed it (along with the bottle). I processed them in Lightroom using the adjustment brush tool, increased the exposure and the whites to maximum, sent them over to Photoshop, quick selection tool, delete the background, and then save as png files, and copied them into the first draft. The background eraser again was useful, and I reduced the hardness of the brush, so that I could slowly brush them into the bottle.

Photos for second draft

The sky was the more complicated part because it involved using the layer mask. In the first layer I changed the curves because I wanted a little contrast in the clouds, once I had finished this I pressed Ctrl J – to copy the layer. Then dragged the mask into the rubbish bin and created a new mask for hue and saturation. I love the colours. Following this I tried to use a brightness and contrast mask, but it didn’t work out.

Second Draft

Second-Draft

The flames look out of place and their lines are too sharp, so I decide to tidy them up. I have tried to use the Photoshop render clouds filter on a previous occasion and I did not like the result. The process is – menu layer > new > layer > then press shift f5 to create a fill layer, change the contents drop down to 50% grey and set the opacity to 50%, press ok.

**Go to the menu filter  > render > clouds. Menu edit > free transform, you can now change the profile, size and shape of the rendered clouds so they are in the position that you would like them. However, if you now right-click on the render clouds you are given other options, so that you can warp, distort and change perspective.

Next its menu layer > layer mask > hide all – and this means that you can now use the white paint brush to slowly paint in the clouds where you want them. It doesn’t really create clouds, but I have seen others use it to add mist to landscape photos with very good effect.

Photos for third draft

The clouds didn’t work for me (yet again) so I opened up a photo of a steam train, cloned the sign out, erased the background, so that all I had left was steam, then converted to png, and copied it into draft two. Then instead of render clouds, I used the same process (from **above) but with the steam. Brushing it back in took a while but it was worth it. I managed to reduce the harsh lines of the flames, and have the thicker part of the steam at the front of the train. I also cloned out the white line between the train and the viaduct, and spot healed marks on the neck of the bottle.

Third Draft

Exercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

The sky is very grainy and I would prefer it to be smooth. I went to menu filter noise > reduce noise, and in the drop down I changed the strength to ten and the reduce colour noise to 56%, returned back to the menu filter > blur > blur more, and then brushed that over the sky layer. I then repeated the filter blur process. The file has been saved as a psd so that I can go back and change any part of this piece of art in the future, but have also also saved it as a JPEG. Before saving a creative piece of work that has layers as a JPEG, you need to go to –  menu layers > flatten image and then ctrl alt shift and s to save for web (save for web embeds the colour profile).

 

Steaming Happy by Richard KeysExercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

 

 

 

Review – Nick Knight OBE

Nick Knight (1958)

Dolls, SHOWstudio 2000Fig. 1. Dolls (2000)

Initial Thoughts:- Bold, colourful, model, overpainting (digital or oil?) I think the overpainting is done with paints, on top of a photo, then uploaded and enhanced. Creative, mix of beauty, softness, brash and rough. The paint is slapped on, not without care, but the clothes have been roughly painted, other than the scarf, which is quite delicate. I both like it and dislike it. I find it beautiful and ugly, and I think that’s the point. Knight raises the question about beauty with this photo. What do we think is beautiful? Why? It’s a real smack in the face question about whether I, the viewer, sees beauty as only being skin deep.

 

Isabella Blow Fashion Galore Catalogue, Somerset House, 2013Fig. 2. Isabella Blow (2013)

Initial Thoughts:- My gosh. This is so clever, soft and delicate. Digital manipulation. The pixel painting has created a curtain type effect and this makes it appear that Isabella is partially in front of and behind a curtain. The colours are gold, red, black, grey (silver) and orange and they work well together, they compliment. They way Knight has manipulated the image makes the model look incredibly skinny, more so than what she is naturally. Her body is twisted and in profile, whilst her head and neck is just slightly turned. The pixel painting has not added anything new to the photograph. Instead there is a smooth smudging of what is already there. Linear marks. Other-worldly. It evokes thoughts of hovering between life and death, and says to me that the balance between the two states can be quite beautiful and precarious. A slight breeze and she moves beyond the curtain in either direction.

 

TR-NIKN-000179Fig. 3. Louis Vitton (1996)

Initial Thoughts:- Heroin chic, Photoshop colour replacement brush, elongated figure, her clothes hang off of her, her pastel turquoise skin has been over-painted, and is not a result of lighting. I strongly dislike this photo. It reminds me of illness, of anorexia, of substance misuse. It appears to me that Knight is making a political statement against the so-called beauty of the heroin chic era/model/look. This photo was made in the heart of that era. Pretty beautiful or pretty ugly is the question that I feel that I am being asked. It also feel like this photo is deliberately made as a parody, a piss take, a reaction against the trend.

Knight does not believe that photography is or has ever been a medium of truth. Photography is always a creation between the participants i.e. the photographer and the photographed.  Although on first viewing of his site, all of the models appear to be thin, and beautiful, he has photographed people of all ages, and sizes, ethnicity and disability and he believes that all people are equal. He tries to push and challenge himself with his photography, and this includes the challenge as to what is beauty really? As for digital manipulation, he sees this as being a step forward. Photographers have always enhanced and manipulated their photos, but the digital ages makes this more easily possible. He says “Photographers aren’t machines that have no feelings and no opinions, they’re storytellers; they manipulate the reality in front of them to tell you something interesting about it – and that holds true of everyone from Diane Arbus to Helmut Newton.”(Frankel, S; 2009).

Knight is a very popular fashion photographer, and this is because he is both complimentary and conceptual, and he has an extensive CV. He founded SHOWstudion.com in 2000, and this is an online, interactive fashion studio, with many creative collaborators. He has also directed music videos for Bjork and lady Gaga (famousphotgraphers.net; 2017).

Illustrations

Figure 1; Knight, N; 2000; Dolls; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2007)

Figure 2; Knight, N; 2013; Isabella Blow; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Figure  3; Knight, N; 1996; Louis Vitton; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

References

famousphotographers.net; 2017; Nick Knight; Online AT: http://www.famousphotographers.net/nick-knight (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Frankel, S; 2009; The Fabulous World of Nick Knight; Online AT: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/the-fabulous-world-of-nick-knight-1809790.html (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Robertson, E; 2017; Nick Knight “I commit with my heart and soul”; Online AT: http://the-talks.com/interview/nick-knight/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Wikimedia Foundation Inc; 2017; Heroin Chic; Online AT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin_chic (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Exercise 2.11 – Split Contrast – Part 2

The brief for the exercise is at the bottom of this post.

Having tried my prefered Lightroom technique for part one, I have now followed the instructions for the Photoshop process, which is outlined in the brief below. Photoshop and layers are something that I find quite technical and complex, so I don’t make as much use of it as I could do. I tend to use it to tidy up photos that I have developed in Lightroom, such as using the clone, heal, brightness and contrast tweaks.

This development process felt very awkward, and why on earth does the brief ask us to create a black and white layer? Yes this is good if you intend to keep your photo black and white, but when keeping an image colour then the black and white layer hides the damage that you are doing to your colours. My first attempt was with the black and white layer, the second is without, next comes the “without” alongside the photo that I developed in Lightroom, and my final image is where I have cloned and combined image.

Exercise 2.11 Split Contrast I tried to follow the instructions as to the layer mask and using the black and white brushes, but I wasnt successful. I didn’t mask out the buildings on the layer that I darkened, and I overused the dodge and burn tools in the sky. Once finished I removed the black and white layer. So not nice Richard. Please try harder!

Exercise 2.11 Split Contrast For this attempt I did not use the black and white layer, and developed the photo in colour. Instead of using curves adjustment layers to darken and lighten, I used levels. I find the curves a whole lot easier in Lightroom, and Levels in Photoshop. Am I weird or what? I was much better with the layer mask along with the hide and reveal brushes. Not perfect but I do find the sky quite appealing, if a touch blue.

Do I have a preference between the first photo (Photoshop) and the second (Lightroom)? I prefer the sky from Photoshop and the foreground from Lightroom.

Here is the final photo in which I have cloned the sky from Photoshop into the foreground of Lightroom.

Final

 

Brief: Split contrast is another darkroom technique that’s much easier to achieve in the digital domain. Use it to add drama to your pictures or to correct problems in exposure, for example an over-exposed sky over a correctly exposed landscape. You’ll need a good image editing program like Photoshop to do advanced work like this because it involves using layers. Choose a photo to work on that has a bright sky like the image below. Make the photo black and white, as this emphasises the tonal differences in the image. If you use a Black & White Adjustment Layer, you can delete it later to return the image to colour. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and increase the contrast, making the dark tones darker and the highlights brighter – as you learned in Part One. Rename this Layer ‘High Contrast’. Select the Layer Mask and use the Brush tool to paint black paint (black subtracts your change in contrast from the image). You can also lower the opacity of the brush to paint shades of grey that will let some of the contrast through the mask. Add another Curves Adjustment Layer and make the image darker. Also change the Blending Mode of the layer to Multiply. Select the Layer Mask and paint black paint everywhere you want to not be affected by this darkening layer. In the image opposite, it’s almost all the image but the sky and the figure. Note here that the area on the horizon has not been affected by the increases of contrast or darkening. In other words, the picture retains its contrast in some parts but it’s increased in others. You could use this to make one part of the image high contrast and the other low contrast. This could help with a photograph that includes, for example, both an interior scene lit by diffused artificial light as well as an exterior lit by strong sunlight. The Dodging & Burning Layer (this is a non-destructive way to dodge and burn): Create a new layer, then choose Edit> Fill> and choose 50% Grey. Change the layer blending mode to Overlay. Change the brush opacity to 20% or less. Now use both black and white paint on this layer to dodge and burn, brighten and darken the image. If you want, delete the Black & White adjustment layer to return the photo to colour. You can only master techniques like these through practice; use some of your old photographs as practice material.

Exercise 2.11 – Split Contrast

Brief: Split contrast is another darkroom technique that’s much easier to achieve in the digital domain. Use it to add drama to your pictures or to correct problems in exposure, for example an over-exposed sky over a correctly exposed landscape. You’ll need a good image editing program like Photoshop to do advanced work like this because it involves using layers. Choose a photo to work on that has a bright sky like the image below. Make the photo black and white, as this emphasises the tonal differences in the image. If you use a Black & White Adjustment Layer, you can delete it later to return the image to colour. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and increase the contrast, making the dark tones darker and the highlights brighter – as you learned in Part One. Rename this Layer ‘High Contrast’. Select the Layer Mask and use the Brush tool to paint black paint (black subtracts your change in contrast from the image). You can also lower the opacity of the brush to paint shades of grey that will let some of the contrast through the mask. Add another Curves Adjustment Layer and make the image darker. Also change the Blending Mode of the layer to Multiply. Select the Layer Mask and paint black paint everywhere you want to not be affected by this darkening layer. In the image opposite, it’s almost all the image but the sky and the figure. Note here that the area on the horizon has not been affected by the increases of contrast or darkening. In other words, the picture retains its contrast in some parts but it’s increased in others. You could use this to make one part of the image high contrast and the other low contrast. This could help with a photograph that includes, for example, both an interior scene lit by diffused artificial light as well as an exterior lit by strong sunlight. The Dodging & Burning Layer (this is a non-destructive way to dodge and burn): Create a new layer, then choose Edit> Fill> and choose 50% Grey. Change the layer blending mode to Overlay. Change the brush opacity to 20% or less. Now use both black and white paint on this layer to dodge and burn, brighten and darken the image. If you want, delete the Black & White adjustment layer to return the photo to colour. You can only master techniques like these through practice; use some of your old photographs as practice material.

 

OK – To be honest I find this whole process easy and more intuitive by using Lightroom. It’s quite straight forward – grad filter, adjustment brush and global adjustments. A simple process. Simple I say. However, I would like to learn the Photoshop technique so I will practice that on a photo later.

Here are my light room results. The first photo is the original and the second is the developed.

Exercise 2.8 – Fill Flash

Brief: Flash isn’t just useful to illuminate a dark scene, but to bring out a foreground subject with a flash that is balanced with ambient light – be that sunlight or artificial light. You can see many examples of fill-flash in Martin Parr’s photographs at www.martinparr.com You can use an on-camera flash or an external flash for this exercise. Take a subject – a person for example – and frame them against the sky. Make sure the sky is either a cloudy sky or the most intensely blue portion of the sky – on the opposite side from the sun. Put your camera into Manual mode and activate the flash. Flash units usually give you different strengths of flash output: minimum, medium and maximum, for example. You may want to experiment with these later, but for now use medium. Take a photograph of the subject and review it. Is the person’s face too bright and over-exposed? Is the background sky too dark? Now balance these two elements. At slower shutter speeds the background will become lighter. At fast shutter speeds, the background will be progressively underexposed (darker). To change the illumination on the subject use a combination of flash output and aperture (f-stop) to darken (close aperture) or lighten (open aperture) the foreground subject. The balance is achieved because the flash will illuminate the f/g subject by the same amount whatever the shutter speed. But the shutter speed will change the b/g.When you have a balance you like between the subject and the background, take a short series of pictures varying your position from close to distant. You’ll need to make adjustments to the aperture or flash output strength when you change the distance between you and the subject due to light fall-off.

This has not been easy for me to do for a couple of reasons. I don’t have any one to model for me, and I have not used flash before. It took several times of reading the brief, and my camera manual to understand how to use the flash. This is something that I will continue to practice.

The instructions in the brief are quite clear now that I have gone out to practice, but whilst doing so I found it tricky. I do find it awkward to ask people to model for me becuase of the anxiety that I experience, and I am not good at talking with people once I have asked them. Because of this I don’t think that I put people at ease. Maybe I am being a little hard on myself, there were some people who were easier to ask than others, and easier to talk to as well. In fact, those that agreed to have their portrait made are interested in my studies and become quite engaged. It wasn’t easy to remember whether I wanted to change the shutter speed or aperture or both, and whether I wanted to lighten or darken the background or the person. But its practice.

This gent was wonderful, relaxed, easy to talk with. I took a set of photos and we chatted for a while, he laughed, and this brought out the cheeky side to his character, so I re-shot him. He is my pick of the bunch.

This first series was practicing with changing the shutter speed to allow more background light in. I didn’t adjust the aperture because I wanted to see how shutter speed affects flash photography. The aperture was f7.1 for each photo, shutter speeds were 1/250, 1/125 and 1/80. These don’t work as photos, but if I had stepped down the aperture to f11 or slightly beyond then they would have been more correctly exposed.

 

The following were all 1/80 sec, and I changed the aperture so that it affected the amount of flash allowed through to the subject. By reducing the aperture size the background lighting is also reduced. The apertures were f11, f16 and f22.

 

This is the better photo. Better exposure, and more relaxed following the laughter. ISO 100, f22, 1/80.

Exercise 2.8 Fill Flash (22 of 29)

 

For the next series, the first three photos were all f6.3, and the shutter speeds were 1/25, 1/60 and 1/160.

In the following the shutter speed was 1/160, and the aperture was f9 and then f13. I prefer her smile on the first photo (below) when compared with the above, although the exposure for her face is better in the third photo above.  I think the first photo below would look good if I had shot it at f9 with a shutter speed of 1/100. All of the photos on this blog have been through Lightroom for camera and lens calibration and then exported to reduce size, with no further changes. I needed to explore and understand the effects of the technique rather than develop the photo.

 

Side lighting

One of the great benefits of fill flash is that you can reduce shadows and improve exposure, to gain a more balanced skin tone,when a person is lit from the side. For this set I adjusted the aperture and shutter speed to try to create balanced lighting. However, I didn’t account for the fact that a waiter was serving to the left of and behind me and this created different shadows in each photo. If I concentrate on the face then I am aware that although one side is more brightly lit, the shadow is reduced on the opposite side of his face when I have the exposure right. I am ignoring the middle photo with regard to balanced lighting on the face, as the shadow eliminates the side lighting. Data is:- f9 1/50, F9 1/100 and f13 1/100. The f13 in the third photo is better for the face, but the shutter speed could do with being a bit slower to lighten the background. The background is very distracting, however, he was sitting down having coffee with his wife, and I am very grateful that he allowed me to interrupt.

 

Back lighting

Having a subject back-lit can make it easy to create good subject exposure because the flash is the primary light source. That said, sun spot/flare and over exposed background then rear their ugly heads. For the next set I adjusted aperture and shutter speed to try to gain the correct exposure.  f11 1/250, f9 1/160, f7.1 1/160 (photo three would work better with a darker background i.e. f7.1 1/250).

Summary

From reviewing these photos, it is noticable that the background lighting is gradually increased or reduced with changes to the shutter speed. With the altered aperture the increase or reduction is more significant. I need to practice this exercise frequently until I become accustomed to changing both aperture and shutter speed so that I can alter the foreground and background lighting in a manner that is appropriate for the scene I want to shoot and the effects I want to create.