Category Archives: Assignment 2

Assignment two – amendments

I was very pleased with my tutor’s feedback on my second assignment and even more pleased that he did not suggest that I make any changes to the images that I submitted.  This latter point was probably a very good thing as I had taken some of the images in Jersey so it would have proved to be an expensive re-shoot.

My second assignment (Elements of Design) can be seen here.

However, subsequent to my assignment submission and feedback I went along to an image critique evening held at my local camera club, run by advanced members of the club including an area judge.  I had the idea in the back of my mind that I could dip my toe into the camera club competition world  (our club is very friendly and encourages everyone to enter its competitions, whatever their standard, in order to hopefully learn and improve) and maybe enter some of my Elements of Design images into the forthcoming Digital Projected Image competition.  At the critique evening, two images (out of the five that I took along) were deemed as ‘competition possibles’ and the following changes were suggested:

Distinct, even if irregular shapes

200mm, f/10, 1/500, ISO 320

Original image

It was felt that this image could be improved by cropping the image on the left-hand side to remove the tiny piece of shadow. I had already considered this option before submitting my assignment and had rejected it at the time on the grounds that I didn’t want the image to look too neat and ‘manufactured’ but having thought about it again and comparing the two versions I felt that the advice was valid and that the crop did improve the image by removing a distraction.

_DSC8157-Edit-2-Edit-2 sRGB 1000 96 ppi

Amended image

I subsequently entered the amended image into the competition (October 2013) and was pleased to receive a score of nine out of ten in the novice section from the judge – not high enough to gain a placing but gratifying nonetheless.

Rhythm (ii)

Apex, Bury St Edmunds

Original image

When this image was displayed on a large projector screen it was noticeable that there was a dirty mark on the paving slab in the bottom right-hand corner and it was suggested that I remove this in Photoshop. I was a bit annoyed with myself as I felt that I should have spotted this when carrying out my original processing to the image.  I was very pleased that the amended image also got a respectable score ( nine out of ten); again just out of the places but a real boost to my confidence.

_DSC8629-Edit-3 sRGB 1000 96 ppi

Amended image

Both these amended images are now included in my assessment submission.

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Assignment 2 – tutor feedback

I received my feedback on the second assignment very promptly from my tutor in mid-August and I was again very pleased with his comments.  I have taken a few weeks to digest them and will now highlight here the salient points from his report and provide my thoughts.

My blog post and images for Assignment 2 can be found here.

As I have previously written I had worried about how my images would be received.  However my tutor was really positive about the way I’d handled the assignment:

‘This has been a good project for you to do, particularly as you have a leaning to Architectural Photography and in addition the abstract effects composition can impose on the subject’.

Overall comments

‘This challenging project proved to be a successful adventure for you. It is clear that you planned the assignment in advance along with diligent research and careful selection of images before electing to shoot in black and white, which suits this project and fulfils the brief well’.

I am really happy with these comments and feel that all the hard work I put into this assignment has been recognised and was worthwhile.

With regard to the images themselves, he commented on each one in a very positive manner and I’m very pleased that I do not need to reshoot any of them for the final assessment.

Single point dominating the composition:

I didn’t play ‘safe’ with this image and although I enjoyed being provocative with the composition I thought that this might rebound on me in the assignment.  In the event, my tutor was complimentary about the image and has not advised me to re-shoot it.

Two points:

Apart from ‘Vertical and horizontal lines’, I found ‘Two points’ the most difficult element to find a subject for that both met the brief and was also creative.  I took some time trying to find an interesting composition and am pleased that this seems to have paid off:

‘This image is composed nicely and demonstrates the theme of two points. One can take either the circles that are the points where the eye is drawn, but then the boxes also fulfil this concept. From your explanation you considered taking this shot at different angles and framing, but I think this angle is appealing and shows some creative element of design’.

Several points in a deliberate shape:

I had looked for a while without success for a subject that fitted the criteria and was relieved to eventually find a shot that worked, although I did have concerns about the alignment of the lights.  I was therefore pleased to receive my tutor’s response to this:

‘Well spotted Carol, this shot has provided you with a good example of the theme and has worked. I can understand your desire to have the top lamps in alignment with the ceiling, but if you consider the remainder is in fact aligned, so this could have been within the manufacture of the lights and the fitting and thereby out of your control. Certainly this could be manipulated in Photoshop, but for this exercise it is perfectly adequate’.

I did think briefly about digitally adjusting this image before submitting it as part of the assignment but wasn’t sure how much manipulation is considered acceptable for this part of the course.  Now that I have Photoshop CS6, I will play around with adjusting the alignment of the lights and if I can improve the image I will attach it as an appendix to this assignment together with a short note when submitting my work for formal assessment.

A combination of vertical and horizontal lines:

I had struggled to find a shot that was both interesting and creative and so am glad that my tutor approved of my final choice.

‘This illustration works very well with the interconnecting lines created together. I am certain that Hélène Binet would approve. The fact you managed to capture this shot to include the interesting shadow effect has no doubt improved the image. As well as horizontal and vertical lines there are diagonal angles created by the shadows and the pointing of the stonework. This image further depicts the use of light and shadows to produce an unusual and captivating image’.

It is gratifying to see that he recognised that I’m trying to incorporate the influence of photographers that I have studied and that inspire me into my work.

Diagonals:

This is one of my favourite images of the assignment due to its abstractness and striking appearance so I was pleased to receive positive comments.

‘The shooting angle has produced a good example of diagonals on this building. Windows on modern architectural buildings allow the photographer to use some intuitive techniques to produce unusual and sometimes abstract type images. This image comes under this category for me. The diagonals  themselves are diverse and interlink at various sizes and combined with the use of light and shadow in this case has produced an attractive image’.

Curves:

Having toyed with (and discarded) the idea of including a person in this image to add interest, I am glad that I kept it plain and simple.  Again my tutor has understood exactly what I was trying to achieve:

‘Another good use of light and shadow is shown in this image to achieve a nice strong contrasting effect of the curves created by the steps.  Even though the image is a powerful one, it does have a graceful look’.

Distinct, even if irregular shapes:

‘This image shows good observational techniques along with the ability to capture something using imagination and flare. Clearly Hélène Binet has influenced you to use your imagination with lighting and shadows with architecture and it is paying off’.

Again, it is nice to see that my research into other photographers is benefitting my work and that their influences can be seen in my images.

‘The images are already in place, it is a matter of seeking them out and composing an image in your mind that will impress you with imaginative compositional and lighting techniques. You have a passion for architectural photography and you are getting there. Persistent practice and research of other photographers and their styles can influence your direction’.

I am really chuffed with this comment as I feel that it gives verification, a formal nod of approval to the direction I’m choosing to follow as well as some encouragement and sound advice as how I can improve.

At least two kinds of implied triangle:

‘Both of your examples comply with the theme. You have sought these out with good observational skills and applied your technical and creative flare to produce very good images’.

Again this is very gratifying to read as I am aware that I have to work really hard on being creative; it is not a natural talent of mine.

Rhythm:

Although I was pleased with my first image (Deutsche Bank) I did wonder whether I would be penalised for having a slightly curved diagonal rhythmical beat rather than one crossing from left to right across the frame.  My tutor allayed my fears by providing some very positive feedback:

‘The first image taken of the Deutsche Bank offers many interesting features including a continuous rhythm, namely vertical lines, slight curves, rectangles and diagonals. The eye is continuously scanning the image to take in all of its facets.  The lighting and shadow effect also add dimension to this photograph’.

With my second ‘rhythm’ image (stair rails) I set out to achieve a high contrast, very graphic shot and, whilst my tutor did not comment specifically on the success or otherwise of this aim, he noted that:

‘The second image benefits from the lighting where strong shadows play on the rails to enhance the image.  Shot at f/4.5 does lift the image away from the background paving slabs to good 3D effect’.

Pattern:

I wanted to find an unusual pattern for my final image of the assignment set, something that was different, so I was pleased to find a pattern created by reflections.  Again I am gratified to see that my tutor understands where I came from with this shot:

‘Once again I commend your observational skills that are crucial to seeking out the unusual and captivating images that are quite inspirational’.

Sketchbooks/Learning Logs

‘Thank you once again for including some extracts from your sketchbook. I can only repeat from my observations that you are working hard on this course and producing some very good work. Your blog clearly reflects your research and study’.

I am really enjoying keeping my blog and it has now become part of my life.  I’ve made a structure for my coursework posts and have now more or less got the hang of what I’m doing on the technical front.  I do however struggle sometimes to find the time to write up my posts in as much depth as I would like so I am pleased to see that my effort has been worth it.  Finding things of interest to put into my accompanying sketchbook and remembering to jot down any salient thoughts, is also getting easier.

Formal Assessment

‘I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course.  From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment’.

Suggested reading/viewing

My tutor has provided a comprehensive list of websites and books for my future study.  I’ve already started reading Stephen Bull’s ‘Photography’ and I’ve found another three of the books available in the City of London libraries which I will borrow in due course.  The website links are of particular interest as they relate to architectural photography and will be of use for the next part of the course which deals with colour.

Conclusion

I am very pleased with the feedback to this assignment as I feel that the hard work that I put in has been recognised and that my tutor has really understood what I wanted to do.  I really feel that he gets ‘me’ and what I want to achieve from my photography whilst at the same time encouraging me and guiding me as how to develop.

I am glad that I elected to shoot the assignment in black and white.  I felt at the time that by using black and white I would be able to bring out the best of the graphic elements in each image and my tutor’s feedback supports this decision.

I feel that I took a bit of a gamble with some of the images and didn’t play it ‘safe’, however from the positive comments I’ve received from my tutor and also from other students I think I made the right image choices.  However I now have the pressure of producing the same standard of work for the next assignment.

I also seem to have overcome the technical issues that I encountered in the first assignment which is gratifying as I have worked hard to correct these points.  I am also very relieved that no new issues seem to have arisen in this assignment and there is no inference in my tutor’s report that I should reshoot any of the images.

Assignment 2 – reflection

The photos for this assignment have now been sent to my tutor together with some supporting material so I thought that now would be a good time to reflect on how I think the assignment went.

Part two of the course is based on the elements of design and for this assignment we are asked to produce a set of 10 – 15 photographs using a similar subject group and showing certain elements that are provided in a list.  These roughly follow the  effects and elements that we have learned about during this part of the course.  See here for my assignment submission.

I chose buildings/architecture as my subject group and elected to shoot the assignment in black and white in order to emphasise the graphic design elements in my images and to avoid any distractions that may be caused by colour.

Influences on this assignment:

I was strongly influenced in this project by the work of two architectural photographers.  I first saw Hélène Binet’s work first hand earlier in the year at an exhibition of her images of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s remaining London churches and was inspired by her use of light and shadow and her unusual, often abstract shots.  As I researched Binet more, I began to identify with her psyche when she talks about her work and how she ‘feels’ the buildings she photographs, and it is her emotion and passion, as well as her images, that influence  me.

Bruno Vanoudenhove was a chance find when I was looking for abstract architectural photographers on the internet as a starting point in my assignment research.  I haven’t yet found out much about him as a person, but as a photographer I am drawn to his black and white abstract images which are very simple, very abstract and high contrast with a strong use of graphic design elements.

What went well:

  • I’ve had great fun shooting this assignment; I enjoyed working in black and white and I think that I’ve managed to put my own stamp on most of the images in this set.  I feel that I really connected with my subject group and that I shot the majority of the images from my heart rather than my head.  My next step is to learn how to express these feelings in my images and create the ‘pictures with soul’ that I’m seeking
  • I think I’ve now found the beginnings of a style that I feel is ‘me’, although I’m not sure that it lends itself totally to creativity
  • as with the first assignment, turning the brief into a project that I wanted to do really worked for me as it provided me with a structure to work with.  I was pleased that I felt confident enough to amend the project as necessary as I went along, rather than panicking and I think that reading ‘Behind the image’ (Fox and Caruana, 2012) has helped here.  As for the first assignment, I’ve completed a photography project self-evaluation form taken from the book (see here) which I find useful to evaluate how I feel the project went.
  • I am really pleased with the majority of the images that I have submitted and a couple stick out for me as favourites (‘implied triangle (ii)’ and ‘rhythm (ii)’) although I must admit to being a little worried as to what my tutor will think of this set of pictures – it is very different from my first assignment in terms of style and I wonder whether I have been creative enough (although I think I will always worry about this aspect) in my thinking.  I have a suspicion that he will either love it or hate it and I just hope that I don’t have to do a complete reshoot
  • I’ve tried to incorporate the learning points from this part of the course into my images as well as some of those covered in Part one
  • I’ve loved doing all my research and I’m really pleased to have found some architectural and, to a lesser extent, some black and white photographers whose styles inspire me
  • I’ve thought more about the presentation of the images as a complete set than in Assignment one, to the point where I’ve discarded images that I prefer in favour of ones that I feel benefitted the set more
  • I’m getting better at making notes about my images at the time of shooting although I admit that this does not happen all the time
  • Planning really helped as did having the confidence to change my plans when parts of my original one didn’t work.
  • I’ve improved the presentation, and hopefully the quality, of the notes that I provided to my tutor alongside my assignment images.
  • I’ve also tried to expand my learning from this assignment by selecting some of the images that I discarded from my final selection and discussing on my blog why in my view they didn’t make the final cut.  I have been known to dither over my choice of images and I’m hoping that by analysing what I think worked and what didn’t in an image and why I preferred one over another, I can speed up my decision processes and also improve both my shooting  and evaluation skills going forward.

What didn’t go so well:

  • as happened for the first assignment I still took too many photos, however this time a lot of these were test shots where I was looking for creative ideas.   I’m definitely getting better at drawing the line and knowing when to stop but this area could still be improved.
  • shooting a couple of the images on holiday in Jersey wasn’t such a smart idea; if I need to reshoot them I will be stuck and have to find another subject (or have another holiday!).  Saying that, Jersey as a location was not in my original plan; it just happened that I came across some interesting ideas there
  • I struggled with finding interesting images for a couple of the required elements (‘vertical and horizontal lines’ and ‘two points’), which I think reflects on my lack of ability to ‘see’ and/or create a potential shot rather than a lack of available subjects
  • I still have problems remembering everything I’ve learned on the course and once again silly technical errors crept into a couple of the images
  • When I retake a shot in order to try and improve it I’m often finding that, unless the first one was a real mess, I usually end up preferring my original image over the supposedly improved second one.  This happened twice during this assignment and I’m not quite sure what this is telling me. In any event I need to work through it.

What I’ve noticed:

  • I’m definitely getting better at seeing an interesting shot and I think my images are becoming more individual to me
  • I found that I developed my eye to see in black and white as I progressed through the exercises
  • Whereas in the first assignment I concentrated on pairs of images, albeit linked by a common theme, this time I looked more at the images as a set rather than singletons
  • My interest in abstract architecture is developing into a passion.  When I worked on this assignment I found it emotionally uplifting in many areas; from my research through to shooting and processing the images
  • I really enjoyed trying to incorporate shadow in my work.
  • I now see lines and triangles everywhere, although lines are still my favourite.
  • I’m becoming more confident in my black and white processing, although I realise that I am only at the beginning of my learning process.

What I’m not sure about:

For some reason, now that I’ve put the assignment together and sent it off to my tutor, I am filled with self-doubt.  Whether this is normal at this stage of the course I’m not sure and I would be interested to hear about the experiences of other students in this regard.  The key questions that I’m asking myself are:

  • Did I follow my own path in this project at the expense of the brief?
  • Should I have played safer with a couple of my images? I’ve tried to be a little creative in some of them but I’m not 100% sure it’s worked.  This was my downfall in three of my images in the first assignment where I was too smart for my own good and which I susequently have decided to reshoot
  • By shooting the assignment pictures in a couple of different styles (being influenced by both Binet and Vanoudenhove), do the images form a cohesive set?  Having thought long and hard about this, I think they do, particularly as I didn’t quite have the courage to push the boundaries of my work to fully emulate Vanoudenhove’s style.

The course notes ask us to review how we think we have done against the assessment criteria so here are my thoughts:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

I think I’ve done OK here.  I feel that my visual skills have developed from the first assignment and I think that my technical skills have improved too although I still have the ability to make silly errors on this front, namely forgetting on a couple of occasions to ensure that my shutter speed at least equalled my focal length.  This happened in the first assignment too so this is an issue I must concentrate on solving (maybe a tattoo on my forehead would help).  However, I think my images have improved with regards to composition and design and that I’ve managed to incorporate learning points from both parts of the course that I’ve done so far.

Quality of outcome:

I’m not sure about this one to be honest; I’ve taken some images that have strayed away from being ‘safe’ in the context of the assignment requirements and I’m not sure in hindsight that this was a good idea.  However, I think I’ve met the requirements of the brief and I’ve tried to incorporate an artistic angle into some of my images to make them more interesting to the viewer.

I made a conscious effort with this assignment to try and present it as a coherent set rather than a collection of singleton images, rejecting a couple of images that I preferred in favour of those which I felt fitted better into the set.  I hope that I have succeeded here although I wonder if the set would have been more visually attractive as a group if I had used the same style of format throughout to present my images.  However I did shy away from introducing a third format (square) into the set as I thought that this would have created disharmony.

Demonstration of creativity:

This will always be a struggle for me.  It is getting easier, but I really have to work at it as it does not come naturally.  I also have to take care not to over-compensate for my lack of innate creativity by trying to be too smart and trying things that frankly do not work.  I think that this assignment, in parts, shows more creativity than the first one, but I wonder whether I limited myself by my choice of subject group and shooting styles.  One thing that I am pleased about is that I feel that I have put my own stamp on some of the images and hope that this will lead to the development of a personal voice.

Context:

I think that I’ve met the assignment criteria with this set of images.  I really enjoy keeping and developing my online learning log and am constantly looking for ways to improve it, whilst keeping to a straight-forward and reader-friendly layout.  I’ve found that keeping to a specific structure in my exercise and assignment posts helps me keep a consistency with my writing and the smaller chunks of text hopefully make it easier to read.  However some of my blog posts can be rather long although I haven’t to date received any negative feedback on this.  My sketchbook is developing.  Although I still struggle a little with what to put in it and I don’t grab hold of it naturally to jot down ideas, it is, as I hoped, starting to develop its own direction.  I was very pleased with the feedback I received from my tutor on the aspect of my sketchbook/learning log for assignment one and this has helped me feel that I am heading in the right direction here.

As a naturally curious person, I’m thoroughly enjoying the research aspect of the course and find a continual stream of photographers to investigate, books and articles to read and exhibitions to visit.  In fact I need to take care I don’t go off on too many tangents at the expense of more important things as I do have limited time available to me.  I think that the research I did for this part of the course really helped me with my assignment by clarifying my likes and dislikes and providing some strong influences for the direction of my work.

I think that my reflection and critical thinking skills are improving although I am aware there is still room for improvement on both counts.  I have found that both these are developing as I carry out more research into different photographers, styles etc; the more I see and learn gives me more opportunities to compare and form opinions.

In conclusion, I have thoroughly enjoyed this part of the course and shooting the assignment and am planning to continue to work on personal projects in a similar style.   I have learnt a lot and feel that my images are improving although I think it’s best that I leave that for others to judge.  So now it’s onwards and upwards to discover colour.

Assignment 2 – Elements of design

Take a set of photographs directed towards one type of  subject group, consisting of between 10 -15 images and all of  a similar subject.  Between them they should show various effects and design elements from a specified list.

I chose buildings/architecture as my subject group and following my planning and preparation (see my post here) I was ready to start shooting.  Originally I had planned to shoot all the images in the City of London, however one photograph from the exercises that I was particularly pleased with  was taken in Bury St. Edmunds and I was unable to find a subject in London that I preferred to demonstrate the required element of ‘Single point dominating the composition’ so the London project widened its scope.  Another couple of trips to Bury St. Edmunds town centre, more walks around the City and a holiday in Jersey provided me with more images to choose from.

I then needed to finalise the title of the project. ‘London laid bare’ became ‘Architecture laid bare’ and then developed further via the rather long-winded ‘Take a moment to look, not just to see’ to finally become ‘Take a moment to look’.

Research:

I divided my research for the assignment into three areas:

The outcome of my research can be viewed by clicking on the links above.

The images:

Single point dominating the composition

82mm, f/9, 1/200, ISO 100

82mm, f/9, 1/200, ISO 100

This picture was taken in Bury St Edmunds and shows the approach to the goods delivery entrance into the Debenhams store in the town centre.  I originally took this photograph as part of the ‘Positioning a point’ exercise to show a point close to the edge of the frame.  However when looking for potential images for the assignment I was unable to find a subject that I preferred.  I then went back to Bury to retake the shot in order to try to improve it but I wasn’t happy with my retakes.

As the first picture in my assignment set it is not a ‘safe’ image by any means, but I like the visual provocation of the placement of the point.  I am really pleased with this image.  It is an unusual composition and I am aware from the coursework that there needs to be a justification if the subject is placed in the corner of an otherwise empty frame. Here the ‘stop’ sign acts as the single point. It first attracts the viewer’s attention and then, by both its position and the word ‘stop’, it pauses the eye and prevents it leaving the frame.  There is a lot of empty space to the right hand side of the image, however I think this is mitigated by the interest created by the diagonal pattern of the exterior wall tiles.  The viewer’s eye is also led back across the frame by the rhythm in the railings at the bottom of the image.  I notice that there is also an implied triangle created by the stop sign and the two entrances.  This was unintentional at the time as I had not yet reached the part of the coursework covering triangles, however it does add another aspect of interest to the image.

Two points

60mm, f/10, 1/60, ISO 100

60mm, f/10, 1/60, ISO 100

Apart from ‘Vertical and horizontal lines’ (about more of which later), I found ‘Two points’ the most difficult element to find a subject for that both met the criteria of the brief and also fulfilled my own stringent requirements for this set.  Walking past the Lloyds Building in London I immediately noticed the circles on the steel boxes positioned on the exterior of the building and composed my shot to include just two.  I’m not quite sure what the two circles demonstrating ‘Two points’ are – air vents maybe? Anyway, I spent some time trying different angles and framing to find an interesting composition for the image.

This is another image that I am pleased with.  I feel that it meets the brief and I have managed to find my own angle for what is a very well-photographed building.  I also like the diagonal lines running through the image which I feel bring in movement and direction.

In post-production I applied a preset in Silver Efex Pro  to slightly lift the silver in the steel of the two boxes.  I also cropped the left hand side of the image slightly to remove some pipework and to improve the balance the image.

 Several points in a deliberate shape

29mm, f/8, 1/25, ISO 320

29mm, f/8, 1/25, ISO 320

This image was taken in the The Quayside restaurant in St. Helier in Jersey and was an ‘on the hoof’ shot; as we were about to leave the restaurant I looked up and saw these lights.  The restaurant manager was kind enough to allow me to take this picture.

I had been looking without much success for a subject that fitted the criteria and am pleased with the picture; the simple points form a rectangle and I like the symmetry of the image. The lights themselves are interesting and I like the way the light shines through the bottom two shades.  One minor criticism is that I would have liked to align the top of the upper right hand lampshade with the panelling on the ceiling so that it exactly matched its counterpart on the left.

In post-production I applied a preset in Silver Efex Pro to even out the background.  I also cropped the image to remove some ugly fixtures at the top of the frame and to balance it better.

Vertical and horizontal lines

55mm, f/9, 1/400, ISO 100

55mm, f/9, 1/400, ISO 100

This image was shot at an open garden afternoon in Jersey and is a view of the outside of the owner’s house, taken when we were sitting on the patio having a cup of tea.  I took a number of similar pictures of the building, concentrating on the lines created by the building edges and the stonework but when I saw the shadow I knew that this would make a fairly simple image more special.

Of all the elements required by the brief I thought that vertical and horizontal lines would be one of the easiest to photograph; in London I am surrounded by new steel and glass buildings and I see vertical and horizontal lines everywhere in these, created by the window frames and the external building structures.  However, surprisingly, I found it difficult to get a shot that was also interesting and creative and I became quite frustrated with my lack of success.  On holiday in Jersey I kept an eye out for potential shots and found a couple of possibles, however this was my preferred image.

Again I am really pleased with this picture.  I like the simplicity and it reminds me a little of Hélène Binet’s work with her use of light and shadow on buildings.  This influenced my choice when selecting my final image to demonstrate vertical and horizontal lines.

I straightened the perspective in Lightroom and removed a small unsightly blemish on the stonework.

Diagonals

260mm, f/9, 1/200, ISO 100

260mm, f/9, 1/200, ISO 100

This picture was taken in the City of London and is of the windows of Nr. 5 Aldermanbury Square.  I created the diagonals by shooting at an acute angle.

I am really pleased with this image. I like the abstractness and the striking appearance and also the way the diagonals create movement and direction through the frame.  The subject was an obvious candidate for black and white conversion and it reminds me of some of Bruno Vanoudenhove’s images although at the time of taking the shot I hadn’t yet researched his work.  Again this is an image I took for an exercise (diagonals) but I couldn’t find a subject that I preferred when looking for assignment candidates.

Mindful of the fact that the shutter speed was less than the focal length (although an increase in ISO would have corrected this ) I  went back to reshoot only to find that the side of the building was covered in scaffolding.  So that was that.  However, I am happy with the sharpness of the image, maybe thanks to the image stabilisation on my lens and a steady hand.

 Curves

80mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO 100

80mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO 100

Another City of London picture, this time of the pavement and steps in St. Mary Axe.

I like the strong curves in this picture.  I feel that the sweeping lines draw the eye through the frame and emphasise movement and direction in the image. I like the simplicity and I feel that the tiny hint of shadow under each steps adds an extra dimension. I also find it a very calm, graceful image.  This is another exercise image and once again I went back to re-shoot to try and improve it, only to find I preferred my original shot.  I think it has converted well into black and white (although the image was almost mono by nature) which has brought out the textures and detail.

In post-processing I removed some stray cigarette ends on the steps.  I could have tidied it more but chose not to so that it reflected the reality of London.  The shutter speed was really too slow for the shot to be handheld and I could have easily increased the ISO to remedy this if I had thought about it.  However, the shot seems to have worked, probably due to the image stablisation on my lens and a steady hand.

At the time of shooting I wondered whether the shot could have been improved by, say, a person sitting on the steps or a larger shadow to add interest.  However upon consideration I think that this would have interrupted the flow of the curves and broken the gracefulness and movement of the image.  So I’m glad that I decided to keep it plain and simple.

 Distinct, even if irregular shapes

200mm, f/10, 1/500, ISO 320

200mm, f/10, 1/500, ISO 320

This photograph was taken in Milk Street, in the City of London, and is another spur of the moment shot.  Walking back to my office one sunny lunchtime I saw the shadows on the pillars and thought they would fit this section of the brief perfectly.  Being a fan of Hélène Binet I look for opportunities to shoot in her style and this image does remind me of her work, although I appreciate that I have a long way to go to reach the quality of her photographs.

I am really pleased with this image as the contrast really makes the shadows stand out as shapes.   Whilst I am sure the shot can be improved, it reflects one of the directions in which I would like my photography to move forward and I am really enjoying working with light and shadow.

In post-processing I used a preset in Silver Efex Pro to emphasise the shadows and also bring out the decorative banding on the pillars.  I did try cropping the left hand side of the image slightly in order to remove the tiny piece of shadow, but decided against this as it made the image look too posed and neat, almost manufactured.

Implied triangle (i)

32mm, f/9, 1/125, ISO 100

32mm, f/9, 1/125, ISO 100

This is another image from Jersey, taken outside The Boat House restaurant in St. Aubyn.  Having seen these lights I immediately saw the implied triangle formed by the three light bulbs but wanted to be a little creative with the shot.  Much to the amusement of the restaurant diners I ended up crouching in the corner of the restaurant decking underneath the lamp post and shooting upwards.

Although it is my least favourite image of the set (I don’t feel it’s particularly inspiring), I am in the main happy with it. The more I look at it the more implied triangles I see.  When I took the image I saw the implied triangle formed by the three lights themselves. However, when I processed the image I noticed that the three arms of the lights form another implied main triangle and then another three smaller ones.  Finally, the two lower light arms each form an implied triangle with the main post.  I’ve shown them here using Skitch.

_DSC8442-Edit-8_sRGB_1000 Skitch (i)

_DSC8442-Edit-8_sRGB_1000 Skitch (ii)

In post-processing I removed a piece of cobweb between two of the lights and cropped the image at the bottom to remove some of the main light post.  This gave a better balance to the image.  I finished by applying a preset in Silver Efex Pro to bring out the metal tones in the circular shades.

Implied triangle (ii) 

56mm, f/10, 1/250, ISO 100

56mm, f/10, 1/250, ISO 100

This is a picture I took of the ‘Vents’ statue by Thomas Heatherwick which resides in Paternoster Square, City of London, and which is a disguise for two air vents.  This was the first image I took as a possibility for the assignment, even though I had not finished my planning at the time, as I saw the shadows on the sculpture and could not pass up the opportunity for the shot. I originally took this image to show diagonals but realised that it  was strong in implied triangles too.  Although this was an ‘off the cuff’ shot, I have photographed ‘Vents’ before on a couple of occasions and keep it in the back of my mind as having the makings of an interesting image when needed.

I was pleased with this image when I took it, however having now carried out research into a number of architectural photographers I have grown to like it even more as it represents in many ways the direction I am currently looking to head in; striking, simple abstract architecture with the use of light and shadow and also high contrast processing.

In post-processing I adjusted blacks, whites and shadows in Lightroom in order to get the effect I was looking for.  I did consider cropping the top of the image slightly to remove the small black triangle at the top left of the frame as I wondered whether it distracted the eye, but decided to leave it in as it alludes to the continuation of the image; a continuation of the rhythm if you like.

 Rhythm (i)

200mm, f/13, 1/200, ISO 400

200mm, f/13, 1/200, ISO 400

I walk past Deutsche Bank in London most mornings on my way to work and have always been struck by the windows from a photographic point of view.  I have be a little bit careful of security guards with this building so I planned my image over a couple of mornings before actually shooting.

I am pleased with this picture as I think it shows a different take on ‘rhythm’; a very slightly curved diagonal rather than from left to right across the frame.  The tops of the windows and the balconies provide a visual beat through the image and the reflections in the windows themselves add some interest.  I really like the uniformity of the windows and the differences in contrast between the glass and the windows.

In post-processing I corrected the vertical perspective in Lightroom.  One criticism I have of the image is that there is no interruption; an interrupter of some kind to the right hand side of the image would have improved it as it would have caused the viewer’s eye to momentarily pause so that the rhythm was broken and the composition less predictable.

Rhythm (ii)

50mm, f/4.8, 1/500, ISO 100

50mm, f/4.8, 1/500, ISO 100

This image was taken in Bury St Edmunds and is part of the stairwell leading to the first floor of the Apex, a music and arts venue in the town centre.  I had seen the stair rails earlier as a potential image for ‘rhythm’ and had taken some test shots using different angles and camera settings.  I then went back  early one Sunday morning, when the area was quiet, to try and improve the image and was lucky enough to be able to benefit from the sun forming shadows on the wooden balustrade.

This is one of my favourite images of the set.  I had looked in London for a ‘rhythm’ image with an interruption without success (security cameras on walls being really quite boring in my view).  I wanted to find something a little different from the obvious pillars and windows for  the shot so I had a wander around  the modern shopping area in Bury St Edmunds.  When I first saw the potential shot I was reminded of images by Bruno Vanoudenhove and tried to incorporate his style into the composition, envisaging a high contrast, very graphic final image.  I shot using a wide aperture of f/4.8 to blur the paving stones in the background; I wanted the balustrades and the hand rail, not the background, to be the focus of the image.

I corrected the vertical perspective in post-processing and played around with the blacks, whites and shadows to get the high contrast effect I was after.  I then used a preset in Silver Efex Pro to lift the shadows slightly.  When  viewing this image I realised that I have created an ambiguous figure/ground relationship (and am therefore not following the Gestalt Law of Segregation) – sometimes I see dark balustrades against a white background and other times I see a row of white pillars against a dark background.  I must admit that this was completely unintentional but I am pleased with the visual interest and tension that this ambiguity has added to the image.

 Pattern

90mm, f/10, 1/100, ISO 320

90mm, f/10, 1/100, ISO 320

This image is of the windows of the Willis Building in Lime Street, City of London, which are reflecting  the Lloyds Building which stands opposite.  I wanted to find an unusual pattern for this final image, something that was different, so I was really pleased when I spotted these reflections and the pattern they made.

Although I am not so keen on patterns in photography, I was pleased with this image.  I like the fact that it is different and that it may take the viewer some time to work out that it is a reflection.  At the time of the ‘Rhythms and patterns’ exercise I did some brief research as to whether a pattern in an image could benefit from an interruption to add interest and found that the view seemed to be that the breaking of repetition in a pattern could be of some benefit. Here, the very thin window frames provide brief interruptions to the pattern which itself carries on outside the frame, giving the impression of a larger patterned area.

I increased the blacks and whites in post-processing to heighten the contrast and give the image some punch.

Image gallery

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The images can also be seen on my Flickr  photostream

Conclusion

In the main I am very happy with this set of images. I thoroughly enjoyed researching, planning and shooting this assignment and I found it helpful to set up a project that I wanted to do and which fulfilled the brief at the same time.

I am pleased with these assignment photographs at this early stage of the course although I am aware that there is room for improvement, both on the technical and creative fronts. In a couple of images I’ve moved away from being ‘safe’, which I hope is a good thing although I don’t have the courage yet to push the boundaries of my work too far.

I am also happy that I seem to have found a direction that I want to follow and that I’ve found the beginnings of a personal style.  I’m still looking for that elusive ‘wow’ factor though, so I guess more learning and practice is required.

The ones that got away …

Images that I rejected for this assignment, together with my reasons why, can be seen on my learning log:

https://carolstreetphotographytaop.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/assignment-2-rejected-images/