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
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.
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