Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Part 5 Narrative and Illustration – Project: Narrative

Exercise: A narrative picture essay

I have chosen to record a local event, the Liphook Carnival and Fireworks on this coming Saturday 29th October. I have researched the afternoon/evening’s events on the website.
The website also has photographs from last year’s event so I have some idea what to expect. There is also a route map for the procession.
Schedule - during the evening:
Carnival night kicks off at 7.00pm so please get your spot early so you can see all the fun!
  • 5.30 pm All floats to be assembled by this time
  • 5.45 pm Judging of Floats, Push and Pull Vehicles and Adult Fancy Dress
  • 6.30 pm Entertainment in the square
  • 6.45 pm Crowning of the carnival queen in the square
  • 7.00 pm Procession moves off
  • 8.30 pm Procession returns through the square, bonfire and fireworks in Radford Park
I am planning to arrive in the late afternoon to record the assembly of the floats, judging and prize giving. If I can leg it fast enough to get to the square I’ll try to get to the crowning of the Carnival queen too. I’m going to drive the route on Friday afternoon to find a good spot to photograph the passing floats and a good vantage point for the bonfire and fireworks.
Most of  the event will take place after dark. I will use my flash gun (GN 42m @ ISO200 and variations according to lens focal length settings, automatically) I will try to use the lowest practical ISO settings. The weather forecast for the daytime is dry but cloudy with some rain in the evening. It could be an interesting event experience.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Light: Assignment 4 - Applying Lighting Techniques

 The Brief: To make about eight images of a portable object using different types of lighting to show the physical properties (form, shape, texture and colour) of the subject.
For this assignment I have chosen to photograph an old 35mm Voigtlander Vito folding camera. It has an interesting shape, differing textures but very little colour other than black and shades of silver-grey. I was given this camera by a friend in 1996 who inherited it from her father and although I put a film through it to check that it was working, I have not used it since. The model dates from 1953.
I have interpreted the  brief loosely and included other objects in some of the frames to add context, colour and to make the images more interesting. My intention is to produce two images for each of the physical properties listed. By introducing other elements to the photographs I hope that each will also provoke questions from the viewer and that they may see some narrative, either from the whole set or from at least some of  the individual images.
Form 01 (Photograph 3)
8278: 1/125s f32 75mm ISO1250 WB: Flash
The set was lit with a single 60cm soft box the the left at 45º and a large white reflector to the right. I wanted to get maximum depth of field so I increased the ISO setting sufficiently high to allow minimum aperture of f32. To add some context to the picture I have included some black and white prints and colour slides taken in the 1950s and 60s. This lighting gives a good indication of the form and an overall idea of the materials used in the manufacture. The camera looks heavy, solid and well made.

Form 02 (Photograph 4)
8282: 1/125s f32 62mm ISO1250 WB: Daylight
I chose to make the second photograph outside in bright sun against a blue sky to illustrate the conditions in which the camera was most likely to be used and in which it would perform at its best. I included my hand to show a human connection (as it would be in use) and a lower viewpoint to show a different aspect of its form.

Shape 01 (Photograph 5)
8352: 1/13s f32 200mm ISO200 WB: Daylight, tripod.
I have again used daylight to produce this partial silhouette. I placed a sheet of tracing paper over a sunlit window to diffuse the light. I have allowed some light to spill onto the camera as I felt that a totally black shape wouldn’t have enough interesting detail or information to make the shape identifiable as a folding camera with a rangefinder attached.

Shape 02 (Photograph 6)
8367: 1/13s f32 150mm ISO200 WB: Daylight, tripod
This shot was set up in a similar way the previous one. I was careful to include the light coming through the viewfinder and the rangefinder, although turning the camera through 90º on this occasion, the  spilled light was lost apart from the suggestion of a circle from the highlights on the edge of the lens hood.

Texture 01 (Photograph 7)
8399: 1/125s f32 75mm ISO100 WB: Flash, tripod
This photograph was made using a single flash head at 45º to the left of and at the same level as the camera. The texture of  the tooled leather back of the camera can be seen clearly with the maker’s name  stamped into it. It is also noticeable that this harsh side lighting has brought out some of the wear and tear that the camera has suffered over the years.

Texture 02 (Photograph 8)
8440: 1/125s f22 80mm (Macro) ISO100 WB: Flash, tripod
I had to soften the light with a diffuser (60cm soft box) for this shot and I have used a macro lens to get really close to enable me to show the differing  textures of the lens glass, the machined metal and the bellows. I have also been able to show even more of the wear, tear and age of the camera. The light was at 45º to the left of  the camera and above pointing 45º down.

Colour 01 (Photograph 1)
8446: 1/125s f20 105mm ISO100 BW: flash, tripod, black and white conversion
To emphasise the monochromatic nature of the camera, I have set it against a white backdrop and made a black and white conversion. The lighting is from a 60cm soft box at 45º to the left and above, with a large white reflector to the right. I have achieved even lighting which shows in the polished metal surfaces. This has had the effect of reducing the surface defects brought out by the harsh directional lighting previously. (Texture 01)

Colour 02 (Photograph 2)
8488: 1/125s f11 62mm ISO100 WB:flash
To contrast the image above, I have used a dark background and differential focusing to separate the two cameras and use colour to emphasise the difference that 58 years has made to the consumer camera market. The foreground is lit by a flash unit at 45º and on the same level, with barn doors to restrict the light to the immediate area of the camera. I have also used a diffuser to soften the light a bit.  The red camera in the background is lit with a honeycomb snoot from directly above.

Assignment 4: Conclusion I was aware at the at the start of this assignment that producing eight interesting photographs of a single object would be a challenge  By choosing this camera as my object, I was able to introduce some context to my images, i.e. a still life with some period photographs and some situations in which the camera could have appeared in use. I was also able to show the age and wear on the camera, it has been well used over many years. I was very pleased with the result of the black and white conversion. The lighting has the style and quality of a 1950/60s catalogue or advertising illustration. Finally, I have shown the camera with its mass market replacement, the digital compact.

Vito01               Vito02
As part of a future project, I may reload the Vito with film and try it out again.  Here are a couple of example scans of the test film 16 years ago.
Assignment 4 Tutor Feedback
*My tutor did not use the file names that I submitted with the images so I have appended the titles above with the reference he used in his report.
Once again I seem to have completed  the assignment in a competent manner from a technical perspective but I have missed something in my interpretation of the brief, treating it as a technical exercise on lighting. I wonder if  the assignment briefs should be a little more prescriptive as regards to what is expected? There is no doubt that I can produce images with humanity and spontaneity, it just didn’t occur to me in this instance. Perhaps my style is destined to be “strangely impersonal”
Will either edit or re-photograph the two “Shape” images and post them below.

Shape: I tried to edit these two images but in the end it was easier to re-photograph them using studio lighting. The prints I have made were conversions to black and white. The two images are below:

0068: Manual 1/125s f29 95mm ISO100


0086: Manual 1/125s f29 95mm ISO100


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Part 4 Light–Project: Photographic Lighting 2

Exercise: Contrast and shadow fill: This exercise will demonstrate how you can control the contrast with photographic lighting by using reflectors.
This still life was set up as described in the course notes, i.e. with a light to one side of the object and the camera at 90º and on the same level as the object. I chose to photograph some china which was highly glazed. This has given a lot of highly defined reflections which are a bit distracting. All photographs had these camera settings.  Manual 1/125s 32mm ISO100 WB: flash. The f stop for each exposure is noted at the top of the frame with the type and quality of reflector used
8085: f16 No diffuser, no reflector

8088: f11 diffuser, no reflector

8089: f11 White reflector at 1m

8090: f11 White reflector at 0.5m

8091: f11 Foil reflector – dull side

8092: f11 Foil reflector – shiny side

8094: f11 Crumpled foil – shiny side

Conclusion: The effect of ‘shadow fill’ reflectors can clearly be seen on the shadow below the left side of the plate. From the initial shot with no reflector of diffuser, the shadow is deep and contrasts against the pale table top. The introduction of the white card at differing distances and the aluminium foil, dull shiny and crumpled (the effect can be very subtle here) has gradually decreased the depth and contrast of this shadow as to virtually eliminate it. The positioning of smaller reflectors (I use polystyrene blocks) could also soften the other shadows if required.

Exercise: Concentrating the light: I have demonstrated the effect of concentrating the light from a flash unit by using a honeycomb snoot which produces narrower and more diffused pool of light.
8116: 1/125s f13 48mm ISO100WB: flash

Exercise: Shiny surfaces. The objective here is to construct a light tent with tracing paper to photograph a highly reflective object using studio lighting.
8125 f11 8126 f11
DSC_8125_web DSC_8126_web
First I photographed the inside and outside of this polished stainless steel dish without a light tent to show the extent of the highlights.
8127: f11 8128: f11
DSC_8127_web DSC_8128_web
I then repeated the shots with a tracing paper funnel round the object and lens. Unfortunately, I had only a small amount of tracing paper so the camera could still be seen in the reflection as I couldn’t roll it around the barrel of the lens.
I then set up something I had tried before, a light tent made with a background support pole. two lighting stands and a cotton bedsheet:
I then photographed the stainless steel balti dish again, with and without the light tent and got  better results. Camera settings: 1/125s f13 40mm ISO200 WB: flash
8224: without light tent
8220: with light tent
Conclusion: The very intense highlights have been eliminated by the extra diffusion of  the tent. In this example, the reflection of the camera lens is restricted to a small shadow on the base of the bowl which is much less obvious.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Part 4 Light–Project: Photographic Lighting 1

For these exercises, I have used my selection of existing portable studio flash equipment. It is quite basic but includes everything I need to complete the exercises.
Exercise: Softening the light. The objective of the exercise is to compare two photographs taken with diffused and direct light. I set up the light as suggested and used a 60cm soft box as a diffuser. Camera settings for both shots: Manual 1/125s 52mm ISO100 WB: flash
8057: f13
8058: f9
I have noted the following differences:
  1. The diffused light is slightly blue in colour.
  2. The shadows are very deep and black with the undiffused light. The diffuser also softens the edge of the shadows.
  3. There are reflections in the shiny side of  the bowl with undiffused light.
  4. The undiffused light gives a contrasty image.
  5. The diffusion in this case is an improvement. There are no harsh, distracting shadows.
Exercise: The lighting angle. The object here is to demonstrate the effects of moving the the light around the object. For the first four shots, the light is kept at the same level as the camera.
Camera settings Manual 1/125s f8 70mm ISO100 WB: flash (Silhouette f32)
8068: Light in front, next to camera

8069: Side, right of camera

8070: Behind and to one side (right)

8072: Directly behind (silhouette)
The next four shots were made with the light at a 45º angle to the set. Light position as indicated.
Camera settings Manual 1/125s f8 90mm ISO100 WB: flash (light to rear f16)
8078: Front 45º

8079: Right side 45º

8080: Right side to the rear 45º

8082: Behind (f16) 45º
The last three shots were made with the light directly overhead, slightly to the front and slightly to the rear.
8073: Above

8074: Above to the front

8075: Above to the rear
Conclusion:  The lighting position that reveals the form of this object best  is with the light at 45º above and 45º to one side (8079). This is because it is the most natural angle (ie the position of the sun in the sky) and one that we have evolved to use to interpret the form of objects. It makes them easy to understand visually. Frontal lighting gives a rather flat image although it shows the textures in the sculpture well in this case.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Part 4 Light–Project: Available Light - Outdoors at Night

Exercise: Outdoors at night
Objective: To explore the variety of lighting effects and colour in artificial light in a city centre.
I chose to travel to the city centre of Chichester where I knew that the cathedral would be floodlight although I was unsure of crowds on a Sunday night. While I waited for the cathedral floodlights to be switched on, I photographed the Market Cross. Although not floodlit, it is fairly well lit by the streetlights.
8146: 1/2.5s f4.5 48mm ISO400 WB Sodium Vapour Lamps (SVL)
I tried various WB settings, including  auto and incandescent.  SVL  gave the truest rendition of the colours and I have used it for all subsequent photos. The green cast within the structure comes from the lighting within the seating area.

8154: 2s f4.5 26mm ISO400 WB: SVL

8156: 2s f4.5 20mm ISO400 WB: SVL

8161: 8s f5 65mm ISO400 WB: SVL
DSC_8161_edit 01_web

After walking round to the south of the cathedral. I went onto an overpass to take traffic streaks on the ring road and traffic lights. Unfortunately, the traffic was very light and I didn’t get much in the way of dramatic images but I have demonstrated the principle. I may make another attempt from an overpass on the A3 near my home.
8164: 5s f11 80mm ISO400 VB SVL
After this less than successful attempt on the ring road, I turned round and concentrated on the traffic lights at the junction with South Street.

8164:  2s f11 90mm ISO400 WB SVL
8183: 2.5s f16 62mm ISO400 WB SVL

Next, I returned to the city centre to photograph brightly lit shop fronts and an inside scene with people:
8184: 1.3s f16 35mm ISO400 WB SVL

8187: 2.5s f16 35mm ISO400 WB SVL

8188: 1/15s f5 70mm ISO3200 WB SVL

There was no large indoor area in the city centre but I did spot this open fronted restaurant with the biggest crowd I had seen all evening. I racked up the ISO so I could grab a shot from across the street very quickly, hand held.(VR lens)
What did I learn? Sunday is a good evening to be able to work quietly on the street with a tripod. Most people (except a couple of drunks on holiday) and even the police, ignored me. Comparing the colour of the images against the perceived colour on the street, I think the Sodium Vapour Lamp setting on my camera gives a reasonable approximation of what I was seeing. Low traffic density and speed rather sabotaged my attempts to record lights streaking on the road but I have learned that you need about 15-20 seconds to record a reasonably long streak. I will attempt this again before the end of the unit.