Archive for June, 2012

June 28, 2012

Exercise: Balance

by Suzy Walker-Toye

For the exercise on balance I have completed the sketches of where I think the balance is for these photographs in my paper logbook. I wanted to show the photos here as well though because my printer rendered them rather badly (dodgy little uncalibrated canon – that’ll teach me).

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June 27, 2012

Exercise: Positioning the horizon

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This exercise (p57) is all about how your choice of horizon placement affects the photograph. I couldn’t quite find an unbroken and clear horizon but I got up as high as I could and took these shots of the London skyline horizon with my iPhone. I tried to pick a cloudy day so they wouldn’t blow out too much. but the even then the dynamic range of the camera wasn’t good enough.

The photo above shows a very low horizon placement that emphasises the sky as the main element of the photo, which in this case it isn’t really an interesting enough sky to justify that.

With the placement in the middle both the sky and the land has equal weighting. In this case the main interest is in the thin strip buildings in the middle. I would be tempted to crop out the boring looking roof top in the bottom section of the photo.

In this one there is not much sky at all and the foreground building really isn’t interesting enough to justify this horizon position.

The photo above isn’t part of the exercise but it seemed a shame to go to the roof of one new change taking photos and not get a shot of St Pauls. As you can see for the exercise I deliberately didn’t include St Pauls because it breaks the horizon too much.

Again, I can’t seem to go to one new change and not take a version of this shot. As the sky is always different it always has a different feel to it. This one is nice and moody.

June 26, 2012

Lunch break Walkabout

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So theres a London festival of Photography on this June – who knew? I didn’t see any adverts about it anywhere. So at the end of June I see the link. Figures. Since there’s still this week left of June I made a mission to see at least one exhibition. Luckily the Frederick Wilfred exhibition of London Photographs is in the Museum of London (until 8th July), which despite being only minutes from my office I have never been to. For shame. I went yesterday lunchtime. The exhibition itself is only small, less than 10 photos but it was lovely to see the old views of London. I especially liked the one with the butcher staring out at the photographer past all the meat in his shop window.

My tutor sad I should try some street photography, so on the way there and back (and cheekily inside the museum) I took some shots with my iPhone.

Make Love Not War:
As I came back I saw a bunch of dressed up Army guys with massive guns crossing the road, called Love Lane. I wanted to get both the sign and the group of men in the shot.

Museum of London:
The architecture around the museum is quite nice, this view of the museum is from the foot bridge over the road. I like all the zigzags lines and many block shape windows. Pity the iPhone blew out the sky, but it was pretty sunny.

Lift:
Inside the museum they had this amazing 1930s Bronze lift that used to be in Selfridges. This part of it caught my eye.

Taught:
There were quite a few little school parties of kids all being taught about our great cities history. These guys are learning about the time before the Romans got here.

GuildHall Flags:
They were having some fancy todo at the guildhall (I asked someone and thought thought perhaps a flag was being raised). All the preparations were out, ambulances, union jacks, microphones, chairs for the old folks etc etc. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the main event as I had to get back to work.

Anyway, I hope to bring you more lunchtime wanders. You never know I might even get to more of those exhibitions this week!

June 20, 2012

Exercise: Focal Lengths from different view points

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Continuing the Focal lengths project, the exercise on p49 is designed to show perspective distortion. When trying to take the same photo with two different focal lengths (I used different levels of zoom) we see the distortion quite clearly.

First the telephoto. I zoomed into this doorway on the Guildhall buildings in central london. This is taken at 95mm and notice the lines are straight:

I walked forward until I could get the same (or as close to it) view through my lens at 18mm. Notice the distortion of the perspective:

June 19, 2012

Exercise: Focal Lengths – Zoom from one place

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So the exercise on p47 is designed to show how just by changing focal lengths you can change the whole context of your image. For example, here I’ve taken a few detail shots of a church. It could be a church anywhere in the UK, a nice tranquil village green perhaps? The clock detail below was taken at focal length 130mm.

For these next two shots, I zoomed out a little (95mm and 50mm), hints of the buildings behind the church show that it might be in an area with some housing, maybe a town centre? Still pretty leafy though.

Standing in the same spot and just by zooming out you get a whole new context for this church which is actually in the centre of London right by 30 St Marys Axe (known as the gherkin building to you and me). Bustling with cars and city workers on their lunch break. This shot at 18mm shows the contrasting architecture, the old and the new juxtaposed.

June 17, 2012

Exercise: A sequence of composition

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p44 is a little contrived but I thought I’d have a go. It’s supposed to show how you think about a scene. When I went to the skate park for the panning exercise these guys on the background sprucing up the graffiti caught my eye. I don’t shoot many people shots, so I took this opportunity. This is the sequence of shots and what I was thinking along the way.

I spot these guys adding their artwork. I zoom in to take the shot (I’m behind a railing so I don’t get taken out by one of the skateboarders):

I zoom out a little to check the effect on the lighting in the scene with a wider viewpoint (the guys have moved for a second but if this shot had have been nicer I would have retaken it when they were back). I did like the light and the sense of depth but ultimately the white gameboy on the nearest column is too distracting.

I zoom back in, but further this time since the guy with no hat didn’t come back yet. I think I zoomed too far, the wheels of the yellow bin are too close to the bottom of the frame. Also, he’s facing away from the wall asking his mates for another can of spray paint which leaves in dead centre in the frame which doesn’t look great.

Once he’s turned back around, I tighten the frame on him a little.

This last one didn’t look too bad but I wondered what it would look like vertical, just as he stretched up to do a bit higher up:

I decided to move along to see what the view of his friends would be (from there I’d also be nearer to where the skater boarders were skating).

The composition of the last one wasn’t bad but they all looked a little bored. The girl moved across and provided a little more interaction between the characters:

A large piece of graffiti caught my eye so I zoomed in for a detail shot.

At this point I start my panning exercise and start shooting the skater boarders.

June 16, 2012

Exercise: Object in different positions in the frame

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Part one of the course is all about the frame. Composition in other words. The exercise on p42 is about placing objects that are set within a large, clear background in different positions within the frame. I actually did this exercise underwater in grand Cayman with the help of my little blenny friend. These blennies live in small holes in the coral, which in this case is my large background.  It is nice to show the environment that these little fish live in but it can be tricky to decide where in the frame to place them. The blenny (for the most part) is facing directly out at the camera so we don’t need to think about giving the animal some space to swim into. This is the view I finally went with:

It’s not cropped, I just moved closer to the blenny than in the other photographs. This is a pretty standard rule of thirds composition. Below is a small gallery of some the other positions I put the blenny in the frame. You can see the placement in the frame from the thumbnails because the image is so graphic, however if you click them that will launch the larger sized images.

The rule of thirds is only one of the many composotional frameworks you can apply to what might make a more pleasing photograph. Some of the others are the diagonal, golden ratio and the golden spiral. I have only just started Michael Freemans book (from the course reading list) but I’m sure it must go into all of these in detail.

As I was researching this post I made an excellent discovery about Adobe Lightroom! The crop tool actually has these tools as crop overlay guides so you can use them to help you crop your images. I took of screenshot of the golden spiral overlay, where you can see the spiral ends at the blennies head. You can rotate the spiral overlay by using the shift and O keys as a shortcut (O, not 0).

June 15, 2012

Exercise: Photographing Movement – Panning

by Suzy Walker-Toye

For exercise two of the movement project I decided to head down to London’s South Bank area with my fellow course mate Ashley. Just under the Haywood Gallery area theres a little fenced off skater park with I thought would provide ample opportunities for panning the skateboarders.

Panning is a technique where you focus on the subject that is moving and track them by following their movement with your camera. They are then caught frozen still (hopefully) while your background is blurred by the motion. Its actually a lot harder than I thought it would be! Especially so because in great British weather tradition it was sunny before we got there and as soon as we got out our camera it got darker & darker until it eventually started to rain. At one point I was whacking up the ISO (I realised afterwards, at the same rate as the gloom was gathering under the skating area) and extremely puzzled why my photos weren’t getting any lighter.

I used the Shutter priority setting and I tried a variety of shutter speeds to add more or less blur depending on how fast I was panning. Not all are completely sharp but I think that actually adds to the sense of overall movement even if it doesnt demonstrate it exactly as this exercise intended.

 


Taken at 1/8 sec you can see the background in the photo above is really blurry and the skater stands out very well against it. He is skating out of the frame though which also gives it a bit of tension and also makes the left hand side of the frame a bit dead.

 

These next few were taken at 1/15 sec:

I especially like the way the mans hair in this last one is flowing out behind him reinforcing the movement.

 

This set below was taken at 1/30 sec, notice that the background is slightly lesser blurred:

That last one makes me smile because you cannot see why he is travelling so your imagination is left to run riot. Extreme moonwalking perhaps?

 

Taken at 1/60 this next photo is my least favourite of the set, the background it not blurry enough for my tastes and is much more distracting

I’m reliably informed that the jumping is called an Ollie. The sliding along the edges is called a Grind. And the flipping the board over and over is called a Kickflip. So armed with this new lingo you too can be down with the kids!

 

June 13, 2012

Introducing my bookshelf page

by Suzy Walker-Toye


With the course comes a reading list (as you would expect). I’m currently slowly making my way through the list. I’ve added a bookshelf page to this blog where you can track what I’m reading now, what I have read and what I’m reading next. As I finish each book I shall update the links from the books (they currently link to where you can buy them on amazon) to a short review post. Not all the books I read will be from the reading list but hopefully they’ll all tie in and be interesting. You can fund my page in the menu above.

June 7, 2012

Exercise: Photographing Movement – Shutter Speeds

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This exercise (p34) is to demonstrate the effect shutter speed has on the perception of movement in a static photograph. Slower shutter speeds will blur the moving parts giving the illusion of movement whereas faster shutter speeds will freeze the action.

Here is my series of photographs of some little birds hand feeding. The hand is static in each photo because it is not moving but the birds are blurred and get less blurred as I increase the shutter speed.

Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec. Notice how the bird is moving so fast the slow shutter has blurred it into a brown smudge.

 

Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec. You can see the birds this time but the one bird that is still moving is almost completely blurry.

 

Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec. Slightly better than 1/80th but still too slow.

 

Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec. This is the one. The moving birds are now only blurred in the wings, showing a nice amount of movement but their faces are in focus.

 

Shutter Speed: 1/160 sec. If we keep going, increasing the shutter speed, we can now see the downward stroke of the moving birds wings which is less pleasing that the faster movement above. The faster movement gives more of a feeling of fast little birds.

 

Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec. In this one the wings are *almost* frozen in time, you can at least see the whole outline of their little wings. This might be a nice sort of blur to have on a bigger bird to suggest a huge slow wingspan beat or something like that but less appropriate for these little guys.

 

June 7, 2012

Watch

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I watch a lot of podcast videos and videos online. I’ll list them here for now:

6/6/2012:

TED talks. David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence.

5/6/2012:

Google Hangout with 5 underwater photographers

very gear focused chat between 5 photographers but interesting to watch the first live google hangout by wetpixel.

June 5, 2012

Exercise: Focus at different apertures

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This is the second focus exercise (p30 for those that care). This demonstartes depth of field (DOF) for different apertures. I actually took a whole bunch of images through the whole aperture range but the exercise is just for minimum, mid-point and largest aperture so that is what I’m showing here. While we’re on the subject I found that the wiki had a rather interesting page on f-stops.  So the exercise calls for a line of something and while these little guys are waiting to be executed they made my focus exercise a lot more fun.

Here they are at f3 and I’ve focused on the short man in the centre in the red top. The focus point is actually on the arm he has up nearest the camera so you can see the DOF covers pretty much only him and orange jumpsuit man.

Here they are at f11. You can see the focus makes it back almost as far as the punk dude and that the two guys at the start of the line up are a lot more in focus that photo 1 above.

Here they are at a whooping great f32 and as you can see they are all pretty much in focus now.

And here they are about to be executed. As you can see I used the depth of field to intentionally blur out the executees so that the executioner would stand out from the photo to give it the impact I was going for. This was taken at f8

June 3, 2012

Exercise: Focus with a Set Aperture

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So, to kick off my new OCA photo course I’ve started with the exercise on page 29 in the course materials. Here are my three fixed aperture photos with the focus shifted for far, centre and near. I prefer the first one, with the focus set back. The netting & water drops make a bold contrast on the light behind and I like the sparkling bokeh of the out of focus near droplets.

These photos came about off the back of my little self portrait in water droplets experiment below.

June 2, 2012

New Beginnings

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I’m going back to school (well the OCA distance leaning) to study Photography from scratch. Wish me luck!

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