Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Part 1 The Frame; Project: Looking through the viewfinder

Exercise: Fitting the frame to the subject.
Objective: In this exercise I will experiment with and select a minimum of four different viewpoints to show an object in detail and how it relates to its surroundings.
Location: I have chosen the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth harbour as a large, easily accessible object.
Camera settings: I have set the camera to Programme mode and Auto focus (with manual override) as I find this works well for this type of situation. I am using a 18-200mm VR (vibration reduction) zoom lens.

Establishing Shot: 3924: 18mm, 1/160s, f6.3
This was taken with maximum angle of view  from the viewpoint at the  end of Broad Street, south of the tower. I decided that I would include the reflections in the water and framed the shot with the tower in the centre of the frame, showing the historic dockyard to the left with the modernised Gunwharf quay and housing to the right.

Immediate Area: 3932 : 26mm, 1/200s, f7.1 Before getting really close, I took this shot with the tower in its immediate surroundings, showing the shopping centre and the yacht quay with the tower reflecting the design of the boat  masts.

In Close: 3943: 18mm,1/125s, f5.6
Concentrating on the superstructure of the tower, above the reception centre and restaurant, I saw this serpentine curve. As my lens was set on maximum angle of view I was unable to make the top if the spire reach the top border without including more of  the distracting building at the bottom of the frame. I was also unhappy with the metal stay of the shopping centre roof at the top right.

In Closer: 3952: 22mm, 1/40s, f3.8. By tilting the camera and getting closer, I got this cleaner shot from the other side of the tower.

                                                                                                                                                       Viewing Gallery: 3935: 170mm, 1/160s, f5.6. Zooming in close I isolated the details of the three viewing floors  showing the people looking down from 110m above me.

Detail from below: 3949: 18mm, 1/100s, f5. Looking up at the glass floor of the viewing gallery through the restaurant's veranda roof.

Camber Dock: 3930: 34mm, 1/200s, f7.1. Although at 170m the Spinnaker Tower dominates most of Portsea Island and the dockyard, Camber dock and Gunwharf are associated with it and I have attempted to show the everyday working environment that surrounds the tower. The cropped images derived from this one are shown below and prints of all images for this exercise can be found in my learning log display book.

I tried four crops of the image. This top one, a horizontal trim is not really different from the original.

The two vertical crops work quite well, the narrower one is the best as it emphasises the height of the tower.

 This square crop is also works well. I find that my eye is drawn from the Spinnaker tower to the clock tower, down to the water then diagonally across to the left and back to the tower again.

Although I was reasonably happy with this image, it doesn't really work to place the tower in its environment. I did take  the image below from Southsea Common which gives a wider view of the tower's relationship to Portsmouth Cathedral and Southsea. Unfortunately the light was fading fast and I didn't have my tripod so I wound the ISO up to 3200. Consequently the image has a lot of noise but I have made crops of the image in an attempt to show the tower in  the wider landscape.

Southsea Common. 3955: 70mm, 1/30s, f5. his shot, from further away, shows the tower's relationship with the Cathedral and its proximity to Southsea.

In this first crop, I have removed a lot of the wasted space around the edges and shifted the tower to the right. This seems to works well although it does not give any idea of the relative sizes  of the two dominant objects as they both appear on the horizon but the Spinnaker tower is much further away.

I think this crop is more successful. By restricting the filed of view I have established a size relationship between the lamppost on the left, the Cathedral bell tower and the Spinnaker tower. The diagonal line which joins the tops of these three points seems to push the tower further back, giving more of a sense of scale.

What did I learn? 
Havimg completed the exercise I can appreciate the importance of spending  time composing the shot with your eye to the viewfinder before operating the shutter. If I was to attempt this exercise again I would allow more time. You can see from my images that the light changed very quickly towards the end of the afternoon. I guess that's a consquence of working in December.

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