Note to Assessors
This PDF document are my notes made along my journey with EYV and are handwritten. I apologise for the handwriting but please bear in mind that I have difficulty with fine motor skills and my writing can be difficult to read.
I will divided each section under each assignment but these are my notes, thoughts, ideas and sketches for all assignments and exercises. I also make notes using audio note taker via a dictaphone and I have not worked out how to convert those notes to a durable format in which they can be read, so these are not my complete notes but form a percentage of them.
My tutor advised me to add them digitally to my blog.
Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the focus to infinity and take a second shot.
The closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field; the further from the subject, the deeper the depth of field. That’s why macro shots taken from very close viewpoints have extremely shallow depth of field, and if you set the focus at infinity everything beyond a certain distance will be in focus.
As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition? With a shallow depth of field the point of focus naturally draws the eye, which goes first of all to the part of the image that’s sharp. It generally feels more comfortable if the point of focus is in the foreground, although there’s nothing wrong with placing the point of focus in the background.
The subject for this exercise was an exhibition held at the Turner Contemporary. I thought that this would make an interesting subject as it has depth of field within the sculpture and can be photographed at a close distance. I used a prime lens because it works well with this exercise. The lens I selected was a 50mm f1.4.
I reviewed the two shots and I feel that the point of focus works best with image one. The foreground being sharp and the background soft, which feels comfortable to view.
The opposite can be said of the second image and it is confusing looking at the image as the foreground being out of focus suggesting that there is something there but the brain cannot work out what exactly it is. Only when you view the first image do you realise what is ‘missing’. Personally it is something that I would not choose to do for a straight shot of course that is not to say that I would not consider this style or approach for other images.
Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes discussed in Project 2.
Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took the photograph isn’t important; find a photo with a depth of field that ‘fits’ the code you’ve selected. The ability of photographs to adapt to a range of usages is something we’ll return to later in the course.
Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you’ve re-imagined your photograph.
The exercise introduces several photographers’ such as Ansel Adams, Fay Goodwin and Moan Kuhn and their use of narrow depths of field to emphasize either a political or aesthetic statement.
A shallow depth of field directs the viewer to a very focalized point in the image the opposite using a wide depth of field allows the viewer to view the image freely and has no specific focal point.
Ansel Adams a well-known American Landscape photographer used a wide depth of field taking images across the USA. Adams formed the f64 group and the name f64 derives from the smallest aperture of a large format camera. The modern DSLR equivalent would be f22 on a full-frame or (35mm film camera). Adams formed the group in response to the style of Pictorialism. Pictorialism an artistic movement lasted past World War 1. Photography became more accessible to the masses with the invention of the Kodak box camera and flexible film. Pictorialize photographers produced soft-focused images manipulating both prints and negatives to create painterly effects. This attempt was used to support the argument that photography was an art form just as was painting, drawing or watercolour. In contrast Adams group produced images that were sharp across the entire image.
Fay Godwin’s work recorded the British Landscape similar in style to Adams. Godwin produced ‘Land’ containing 127 images, which I am fortunate to own a signed copy. Godwin produced Black & White photographs and only later in life did she sell her equipment change to using an early digital camera just before her death.
Godwin self-taught was passionate about the British landscape and how much of the British landscape had been lost or fenced in and although the public could see it they were forbidden to access it. Her book ‘Our Forbidden Land’ an attack on the destruction of the countryside. In ‘Our Forbidden Land’ she wrote about the dilemma of access to Stonehenge, a site mass marketed by English Heritage which charges substantial sums to everybody, from individual artists to wealthy advertising companies. She foresaw a time when “the only photographs we are likely to see of the inner circles of Stonehenge will be those approved by English Heritage, generally by their anonymous public relations photographers”. Our common land would be the copyright of others. We are fortunate that she made her journeys round the British Isles when she did, before even more of our landscape was fenced off or built.’ (Drabble, 2011)
Public Footpath, M.O.D. Lydd, Kent, 1987.
Her books ‘Land’, ‘The Saxon Shoreway’ and ‘Our Forbidden Land’ all having a similarity in that they are wide landscapes with very few composed with people in them and sharp throughout.
I looked at the work of Gianluca Cosi in ‘Panem et Circenses’. Cosi uses a very narrow depth of field and it would seem dealing with precise focal length to point of macro photography. I can find very little in the way of resources either on his website or the internet. The example in the syllabus, which I cannot find on his website ‘Slivers of Sharpness’ I find does not necessarily project ‘corporate power’ I see this image as a neglected piece of street furniture or that it has been damaged and forgotten. The soft focus does nothing in my opinion to enhance the statement.
Panem et Circuses translates as “Bread and Games” deriving from ancient Rome and implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the commoner. This image makes more sense that the path shows the erosion and the distant offices are perhaps the civic commoners. Here is an example ‘Panem et Circuses#No.4 2004’
By far for me the most interesting in my research was Mona Kuhn with her use of shallow depths of field creating ‘bokeh’. Her subjects are naked and usually focus on specific parts of the anatomy with a dream-like state surrounding them. ‘Mona Kuhn believes she is working quite consciously in the tradition of the nude.’ (ARTNews, 2012).
A few months earlier I had a friend model for me and discovered she had a tattoo across the back of her neck. Her tattoo “Gemini” was a personal statement and design and for something she was known for but concealed the majority of the time by her long bright ginger hair, which had great notoriety than her tattoo.
I wanted to expand my idea of exposing tattoo’s into my photography and fortunately my wife has several. Kunh develops a close relationship with her subjects perhaps this was the reason I was comfortable to photograph my wife rather than a stranger that I didn’t have that close relationship with. I wanted to submit one of the photographs for a forthcoming photographic competition. However, I decided to go with a different image but realized that my intentions at the time now echo Mona Kuhn’s collection of the ‘Private Series’.
Moan Kuhn’s work predominately uses the unclothed body to represent the essence of we are. I remember clearly at the time focusing on the foreground tattoo and wanting this to be the focus leading the eye to the second furthest tattoo but to have a line of symmetry with the head. I positioned the lights to create the shadows and elude to parts of the body but illuminate the focal point of the tattoo. I intended to use less lighting than I did at the time. Amongst Kuhn’s gallery I found this photograph, which would have been my preferred lighting technique for my subject.
So, if I had to redo this photograph what would I do differently?
I would use lighting to define the outline of the body, spot light the tattoo but maintain the pose. Tattoo’s are personal statements and have significance or story for whom they belong. I wanted to expose the covert tattoos to expose our second person and in a way when we are naked we are wearing a set of clothes.
Drabble, M. (2011) ‘Fay Godwin at the National Media Museum’, The Guardian, 8 January. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jan/08/margaret-drabble-fay-godwin (Accessed: 4 August 2016).
Landi, A. (2012) ‘ARTNews’. Available at: http://www.monakuhn.com/static/files/2012_ArtNews_AnnLandi.pdf (Accessed: 8 August 2016).
Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth. Take one photograph. Then walk towards your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length. Take care to frame the subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot. Compare the two images and make notes in your learning log.
I found this task quite difficult for several logistic reasons. I do not have access to a person to pose for portraiture shots as I am alone most of my day. However, I improvised with a wooden carved duck and sitting in my wheelchair able to place it some distance from myself. Using Aoperture mode and ensuring I was able to maintain the framing as best as possible sitting in my wheelchair.
I am restricted as to where I could place the subject as I am limited by access paths around my home. However, I tried to use the wooden structure as a backdrop causing the doors to become promenient in the short focal length shot. I’m not entirely happy with this exercise but I feel that this is due to my limitations.
Nikon DX 55-300mm f4.5-5.5
Use a combination of small apertures and wide lens to take a number of photographs exploring deep depth of field. Because of the small apertures you’ll be working with slow shutter speeds and may need to use a tripod or rest the camera on a stable surface to prevent ‘camera shake’ at low ISOs. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.
Achieving deep depth of field might appear easy compared to the difficulties of managing shallow depth of field. We’re surrounded by images made with devices rather than cameras whose short focal lengths and small sensors make it hard to achieve anything other than deep depth of field. The trick is to include close foreground elements in focus for an effective deep depth of field image. Foreground detail also helps to balance the frame, which can easily appear empty in wide shots, especially in the lower half. When successful, a close viewpoint together with the dynamic perspective of a wide-angle lens gives the viewer the feeling that they’re almost inside the scene.
I am a keen landscape photographer but I am limited at times because of my disability to hold a camera for any length of time so I predominately use a tripod. This for me not only ensures that whatever ISO I use or the camera in a semi-auto mode minimises the shake and helps to stabilise everything.
This landscape image I selected of the poppies leading the eye into the distance to the cottages beyond works well by combining a small aperature in this case f11 and a wide lens. I was able to get in amongst the poppies achieving a close viewpoint and deliberately at a low angle to give the impression that you are amongst the field of poppies, but allowing you to see over and into the distance.
Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. (Remember that smaller f numbers mean wider apertures.) Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.
Wide apertures create shallow depth of field, especially when combined with a long focal length and a close viewpoint. In human vision the eye registers out-of-focus areas as vague or indistinct – we can’t look directly at the blur. But in a photograph, areas of soft focus can form a large part of the image surface so they need to be handled with just as much care as the main subject.
Don’t forget that the camera’s viewfinder image is obtained at maximum aperture for maximum brightness and therefore at the shallowest depth of field. Use the depth of field preview button to see the actual depth of field at any particular aperture. (This is especially useful in film cameras where you don’t have the benefit of reviewing a shot immediately after you’ve taken it). It’s surprising to see the effect that a single f stop can have on the appearance of an image.
This opportunity arose to take this image on my way home from a local nature reserve. This was a fleeting image in more than one way as I knew that the light was fading and the poppies would only remain for a few days and fits the criteria for this exercise perfectly.
The poppy has a delicate petal with great detail, which I wanted to bring out in this image. ‘But in a photograph, areas of soft focus can form a large part of the image surface so they need to be handled with just as much care as the main subject.’ I feel that I have achieved this objective really well in the landscape and the sunset.
I selected a wide lens (16-35mm) ideal for landscapes, which was fitted to my full-frame DSLR Nikon D610. This provided me with the widest lens and longest focal length of 35mm combining the largest aperture for this landscape image thus creating a sharp foreground and soft background out of focus image. The flash I used was a Nikon SB900 and manually adjusted the flash output to 1/64th of it’s full power. This helped to fill-in the detail on the petal.
I took this printed image mounted in white to an advisory panel day with the Disabled Photographer’s Society and was critiqued by the panel. The feedback was very positive and had this image been entered to a panel for Licentiateship this would have passed the standard required.
Choose a subject in front of a background with depth. Select your shortest focal length and take a close low viewpoint, below your subject. Find a natural point of focus and take the shot.
You’ll see that a very wide lens together with a close viewpoint creates extreme perspective distortion. Gently receding lines become extreme diagonals and rounded forms bulge towards the camera. Space appears to expand. The low viewpoint adds a sense of monumentality, making the subject seem larger than it is, and tilting the camera adds to the effect as vertical lines dramatically converge. Not the ideal combination for a portrait shot!
Unfortunately due to my condition any low angle without great help or assistance is virtually impossible, however, I tackled this from a different perspective and took the opportunity to utilise a visit to a local gardens. I focused this shot around the large paving slabs and fountain with a pergola walkway in the background.
Using a wide angle lens with a short focal length of 16mm the lines become extermely distorted and rounded towards the edges. This makes the fountain appear far larger than it’s actual shape and size.
Find a location with good light for a portrait shot. Place your subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide aperture together with a moderately long focal length such as 100mm on a 35mm full-frame camera (about 65mm on a cropped-frame camera). Take a viewpoint about one and a half metres from your subject, allowing you to compose a headshot comfortably within the frame. Focus on the eyes and take the shot.
Longer focal lengths appear to compress space, giving a shallower depth of acceptable sharpness, which is known as depth of field. This makes a short or medium telephoto lens perfect for portraiture: the slight compression of the features appears attractive while the shallow depth of field adds intensity to the eyes and ‘lifts’ the subject from the background.
I found the ideal opportunity to demonstrate depth of field in this exercise at a recent portrait photographic shoot with a 1950’s model Alice Loxley.
The canvas backgound, which is a softly painted 1950’s scene, is acting like a backdrop which focuses the eye on the subject.
I choose the Nikon 105mm lens as it is an ideal lens for portraiture work as it has a wide aperture that helps with the lens compression, giving sharp facial features and soft focus in the background.
Depth of field is explained as “the widest aperture the smallest f-number.”(Langford et al., 2015). I own a Nikon 50mm f1.4 and the lowest f-number is f1.4, which gives the least amount of depth of field; the opposite is the highest f-number.
Each lens has a specific highest and lowest number, for example with my Nikon 55-300mm lens the smallest f-number is f22 and lowest being f-number is 4.5.
I recently took a photograph of a poppy with the sunset and corn field behind using this technique.
By controlling the depth of field I made the viewer focus on the poppy to distinguish it from the background. In this way the poppy becomes individualised and forms a relationship with the going down of the sun. Using a wide landscape lens with a low f-number of f4 I have created the desired effect.
Such pictures are said to be “differentially focused” (Langford et al., 2015, pp. 52)
In contrast at another location with poppies using a wide angle 16-35mm lens at f11 the detail is sharp throughout the image.
According to Nathalie and Herschdorfer Herschdorfer, The Thames et Hudson Dictionary of Photography, macrophotography is “A technique that produces an image at the same scale as the subject itself”. Macro photography deals with some of the shallowest depths of field and the smallest amounts of depth of field focusing on something very close. Using this technique the eye is focused using a shallow depth of field distinguishing one particular part of the subject and by showing the background as out of focus. This technique can be part of a scientific style whereby the subject is photographed in minute detail and typically portrays flowers.
Equipment used for Excercise 2.4
Nikkor 105mm f2.8
Two Godox DE-300W
One Beauty dish 55cm
Sekonic Lightmeter L-478DR
Herschdorfer, Nathalie. The Thames et Hudson Dictionary of Photography. London: Thames et Hudson, 2015.
Langford, M., Fox, A., Smith, R. S., Bruce, A. and Agossou, M.-J. (2015) Langford’s basic photography: the guide for serious photographers. 10th edition. Burlington, MA: Focal Press.
Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)
As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use: rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do it for you. The other immediate difference between the shots is the ‘angle of view’, which also depends on the sensor size of your camera. Use the sequence to try to get a feeling for how the angle of view corresponds to the different focal lengths for your particular camera and lens combination. Which shot in the sequence feels closest to the angle of view of your normal vision?
My first observation on reviewing these images is that the highlights are blown, which I feel this would not have happened if I’d have used Manual mode. The matrix light meter was confused by the dark tones under the hall and the light areas at the far end of the image. During post-production I used Lightroom to control the bright areas of the image.
I decided for this task to use my full-frame Nikon D610 with a 16-35mm lens. I use an X-rite colorchecker to help create a lens profile later in Lightroom. The colorchecker helps to maintain a consistent colour management from screen to printer.
The local market town of Faversham is very close to my home where I found the ideal location of the Market Square, which has strong leading lines both vertically and horizontally. I felt it had added interest with people, vehicles and café tables around. It helped to create a sense of movement through the scene.
The shot that felt closet to ‘normal vision’ to me and the most comfortable was the middle image at 20mm. It gave enough sense of space and that your eye could manage without losing all the messages going to the brain.
Photographing from a fixed point isn’t uncommon for me due to my mobility and disability so I am interested to explore what the viewpoint would be if I lowered the angle and used my right angle viewfinder. I will look at taking more shots of the scene to experiment and add them to my log.
AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f4 ED
X-Rite colorpassport checker
Manfrotto tripod 055
16mm, ISO400, f8, 1/160
20mm, ISO400, f8, 1/160
35mm, ISO400, f8, 1/125