Archive for July, 2012

July 15, 2012

“Out of focus” Saatchi Gallery Study Visit

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I went to the Saatchi Gallery group study visit yesterday to see the Out Of Focus Exhibition. Yes, thats me in the image above captured by Mike when we went back in after the study group had left – click the image to go to his website. As the first study visit I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a large group of 23 students & 3 tutors. We each got OCA badges so we’d be able to recognise other members of the group as we toured the gallery which worked well and we all chatted about the photos on the way around. It might have been nice to have name badges as well though because I have actually no idea of who anyone was because hardly anyone said their names.

As we went in I picked up an exhibition guide because the information on the wall by the photos was almost non existent, pretty much photographer name, print type and title. It gave some nice context when the work wasn’t self evident. As I went through I’d look at the work. Then read the guide and re-view the work. This way I got my first gut reaction, then my informed reaction before I formulated an opinion. For each one I then marked in the guide what I thought. I have put this guide in my paper logbook for reference.

The following were the highlights in my opinion:

Gallery 1 was Katy Grannan’s photos of random people in San Francisco and it was a good set of work with which to start of the exhibition as theres a lot to consider about it. In fact we had a rather lengthy dissection of it afterwards when we all had coffee (kindly paid for refreshments too). I had mixed reactions to the work, some I thought were amazing portraits but for some I thought she was not portraying the subjects at their best (and that’s putting it kindly). For each though, their personalities shone though for better or worse (for them). Also although they were all against a white wall they weren’t all against the same white wall. There were subtle differences in the wall to bring out different aspects of the photos, for example one was all chipped & broken with an angry looking punky woman, one had subtle graffiti and a big hairy, burly looking man who’d look at home on a Harley, some had the light hitting it from a different angle for more texture. One in particular, the woman’s hair was over her face (so she really was ‘anonymous’ – the title of them all) but all the textures were emphasised, the swishy material of her skirt, the fluffyness of her fur stole and the harsh light bringing out the texture in the wall.

Gallery 3 – don’t miss the amazing black & white collaged maps of Paris, Toyko and New York by Sohei Nishino. I could have spent hours looking at those. And the faces in the rocks of Matthew Day Jackson’s work. I couldn’t discern all of them. One of them especially looked like a UK electric plug more than a face.

Gallery 6 – look out for the first two by Ryan McGinley – tiny naked figures in incredible landscapes.

Gallery 10 was dominated by a triptych of mosaics (by Mat Collishaw) of horrible things happening (which is best viewed from the viewing platform above so you can see all three), however them gem for me in this gallery were the two photos by Noemie Goudal. Look closely at what you are seeing.

Gallery 12 – if I was going to be a street photographer I’d like to do something like the work of Hannah Starkey. I love her bold choice of backgrounds where the figure if incidental but integral to the photograph.

second floor lobby: Berndnaut Smilde – Nimbus II and underwater still from a commercial shoot by Phoebe Rudomino.

Also of interest the google photography prize on the top floor and the amazing oil installation by Richard Wilson on the lower ground floor – unfortunately they’ve closed the access to the viewing area which gives you a little vertigo trip when you stand right at the end (I suspect too many people were getting oil on themselves), but you can still get a good view of the work.

I only got around to seeing up to half of gallery 12 before we all trooped off for coffee but I went back in afterwards with my boyfriend to see the rest of the exhibition and the google prize. I really enjoyed my study visit and I urge anyone who isn’t sure to take the plunge and go on one! I’m also very glad that not many people took a camera, there only seemed to be one guy constant taking photos of everyone, hopefully he’ll edit them savagely and only show the super flattering ones (if any)!

July 14, 2012

Lunchtime walkabout

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I went for a walk yesterday lunchtime across Southwark bridge. I didn’t realise how close to the Tate I am so I’ll have to pop in there more often. I walked all the way to the Golden Hinde. Who says I can’t take a shipwreck on land?

The dynamic range from sky to land was very high when the sun came out so on the bridge on the walk back I tried the HDR pro app where it takes two photos – one light and one dark, and blends them for you. Here are my two views from the bridge:

July 12, 2012

My first infographic

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So for my contrasts assignment my theme is glassware. I’ve shot most of the photos but I need edit them. However, I wanted a nice way to present some information for each pair of images. I decided on infographics. I don’t know if I’m going to manage for each pair but I’m going to give it a go. Here is my first one – the information that will go alongside my photos from curved and straight:

created using

July 8, 2012

Assignment 1: Contrasts – archive version

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This assignment is presented as a series of contrasting pairs of words. I had decided how to respond to this assignment before I had got to the chapter on contrasts in Michael Freemans book. In that chapter (p34) it discussed this assignment as an 1920s art experiment and the results were all completely disparate photographs showing the different words. I had already decided I wanted my whole project to be a series of similar subjects. So as a personal exercise I went through my back catalogue to find examples to present to you in the style of the original experiment. 8 pairs of words and one image that has two word (black & white in this case). Hover the mouse over the images to see what the photo represents. Click on the images to see the gallery of larger images.

July 5, 2012

Part one exercise recap

by Suzy Walker-Toye

So looking back what have we learned in part one: the frame?

We looked at the different effects of zooming & shooting at different focal lengths. We played with depth of field (DOF) and it’s effect of emphasising a subject put from the background.
We covered a couple of ways to show a sense of movement. We explored what sorts of subjects work well in vertical or horizontal format. We touched on compositional guidelines and learnt some cool features of the cropping tool in LR.

We looked at position of subject in the frame and balance in photographs. How you can affect the tension in the image by playing with that balance. We looked at how your choice of horizon position within the frame would affect the image.

We analysed how your approach to a subject can yield photographs you weren’t expecting when you first started your approach, essentially an exercise on ‘seeing’.

Basically we demonstrated that there are a heck of a lot of choices that we make before pressing the shutter that deeply impact the resulting photograph, it’s not just about what we shoot it’s how we shoot it.

And, I started reading a bunch of really interesting books. I’ll post more on those as I finish them though.

Looking back over the new photographs I generated for and from the exercises, these are my top 5 photos so far.

Next up is the end of chapter assignment (for those that remember Nintendo platform games this would be the big boss at the end of the level). This assignment we have to print out, present and send to our tutors for official marking. I already know what I’m going to do for it but I’ll present it to you over the next few posts.

July 4, 2012

Exercise: Cropping

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The final exercise in part one (before the assignment) is about cropping your photos to be more pleasing. In fact, you can even think about how/if you’ll crop your photo as you’re taking the shot. For example, I often know before I take my photo that I’ll be cropping it square so I compose with that in mind. Anyway here are three different cropping examples where I show the photo being cropped and the final result.

When shooting these Zebra in Namibia I was on one side of the watering hole, I couldn’t physically get any closer and I wanted to draw attention to the animals and their reflections so I’ve chosen to crop down my image to panorama format. You can see the crop outline from the original image below.

For the square shot above I framed the photo with cropping square in mind. Pity I didn’t get it as straight as I would have liked – as you can see from the cropping below I also had to rotate the cropping square slightly. In my defence I was sliding down an indoor sand dune!

This rather abstract photo of yellow tube sponges was also shot with a square in mind, as you see from the cropping screenshot there isn’t much else in the photo outside the crop.

July 3, 2012

Exercise: Vertical and horizontal frames

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p62 presupposes that most photographers will mainly choose pick horizontal format for their photo as a starting point (because in general its easier to take a horizontal photo with most cameras). It is designed to emphasise vertical compositions can be more pleasing in certain circumstances and not to struggle to fit everything into a horizontal frame. I find that with my iPhone and my underwater camera that it is actually the vertical that is my go-to format. Sometimes I shoot both formats when I either cannot decide or have started off in one format before deciding it’d look better there other way. I show here a range of subjects, some look better in horizontal and some look better in vertical. The exercise calls for 20 photos of each which seems a little overkill to me so apologies if this post takes a while to load, I didn’t put all 40 photos up but there are plenty to illustrate the point. I have tried to minimise this by only showing a few examples in full (with the explanations) and the rest in a gallery format.

This was one example underwater with a decorator crab where my default vertical just didn’t work so well:

In this case it was the opposite, when this little pink sea slug “stood” upwards the vertical format made a much more pleasing composition:

These trees in Namibia work equally well in vertical and horizontal because they are tall enough to work with the vertical and the extra tree balances out the horizontal format:

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