Archive for April, 2013

April 22, 2013

Book Review: The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I’d highly recommend this book for beginners. And although I did learn a thing or two from reading it, I think there are slightly more sophisticated books for the advanced amateur. However as a companion book to the OCA course it’s unbeatable. The course is clearly based from it and written by the same author so you get more context for the exercises & assignments. If I had one criticism though it would be that throughout the book Freeman often makes sweeping generalisations. My brain immediately thought up exceptions to these and that cast all the rest of the well reasoned concepts & ideas into doubt in my mind.

The book is laid out well into the following easy to follow chapters and illustrated beautifully throughout. Chapter 1: The image frame is all about placing your scene within the frame of the viewfinder. Chapter 2: Design Basics takes that a bit further discussing balanced compositions and other concepts of choosing & framing your scenes. Chapter 3: Graphic & Photographic Elements goes over the effects of various lines and shapes in your compositions. Chapters 2& 3 together partners with the second section of the coursework on elements of design and reading them along with the exercises pads out the coursework text to give you an insight into the authors intensions with each exercise. Chapter 4: Composing with Light and colour goes through colour theory and touches on black & white imagery. It pairs closely with section 3 of the course on Colour which is the chapter I’m currently working through at the moment.

UPDATE 16 Oct 2013 – the review continues…
The book seems to side step the issue of flash & lighting as a main topic (but there are other books on the reading list if guide you through section 4 of the course).

Chapter 5 & 6 (Intent & Process) both pair well with section 5 of the course (which I’m doing now). They cover basic storytelling through compositional choices, hunting for a situation or story to tell, whether your images should be obvious or challenging to the viewer with respect to making them work for the story. The processes or workflows one might adopt getting or constructing the shot, anticipation, reaction times, patience & persistence. Also an outline of a basic set of templates that an image might fall into based on perceptual psychology. Of special interest with regards to the final section of the course are the sections on photo stories & layouts, juxtaposition & returning to a scene.

The last two sections of the book are about post production & how various films & printing, and later digital & photoshop, has affected the syntax of photography over the years. You do shoot differently if you know you have options to change things later. HDR is touched on as more recent option too. I think these two sections are sort of what the next module of the course are about (digital photographic practice).

One criticism I would make is that it ends rather abruptly. One moment you are reading about photography syntax and the next page is the index! Leaving you with a feeling of ‘oh, it’s finished?’ A bit like this review 🙂

April 21, 2013

Exercise: Colour into tones in black & white

by Suzy Walker-Toye


The exercise on p119 is about trying to explain the use of colour filters on the outcome of a black and white photo. The exercise gives you the option of using actual colours filters on your camera of you have them or faking it with software if you do not. As I do not I choose to fake it with software as directed and I discovered something interesting (if not wholly unexpected). The sliders in LR (and probably photoshop is the same) do NOT mimic traditional filters. They can, if you know what you are doing with the sliders, and if you already know how traditional filters work, but I think this will confuse many people taking the OCA course (I did me, until I had it properly explained by Mike, B&W extraordinaire).

So what is the difference? Well, a traditional colour filter will lighten the area of that colour and darken the area of the complimentary colour in the resulting black and white image. So an orange filter would be used to darken a blue sky for example. In contrast the sliders in LR only darken and lighten the colour of that slider and all the other colours remain untouched. To demonstrate this I have taken a colour photo with all the primary & secondary colours, Blue,Red,Yellow,Orange,Violet, and Green.

These first photos below were processed using the sliders in LR. I made virtual copies of the colour photo and then, as directed, converted to black and white and tinkered with the b&w mix sliders for each. However, I noticed that the default position of the sliders on the neutral were not all the same (not a great place from which to start a comparison so I created another “neutral” with all the slider at -35.

Neutral b&w conversion – and default sliders, and next to that the increased yellow slider as an example…

LR Neutral LR Neutral Sliders LR Increased Yellow slider

Below is the set of LR slider based conversions. Notice for that each conversion, only the colour of that slider has been affected..

A photoshop plug in called Silver Efex Pro actually does have the facility to correctly mimic the use of tradition filters and their effects so here are the results of the same photo being run through against different filters.

You can see from this that the green filter not only lightens the green background but also darkens the red chilli, and also noticeably darkens the pruple box (because of the red element making up the purple from blue). Hopefully you’ve found this post interesting.

April 20, 2013

Exercise: Colour Relationships

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p114 is in two parts. Part one is to produce photos with the following colour combinations and ratios:

  • Red & Green, Ratio 1:1
  • Orange & Blue, Ratio 1:2
  • Yellow & Violet, Ratio 1:3

I decided to make this into a little set (click them to see them larger)…

The second part is to use colour combinations that appeal to me. I’ve noticed that I tend to go for colour combinations that include blue or yellow or both.

April 4, 2013

Colours in my existing work

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Its April and its snowing in London. I’m doing this chapter at the wrong time of the year really, its depressing and uninspiring and making me question whether I should even be doing a degree course at all. London around the areas I spend much of my time is a very grey place unless the sun & blue sky make an appearance, even then its pretty grey. I’m finding its very uninspiring for taking “found” (ie not set up) colourful photos. Since my assignment is probably doomed to failure I thought I’d cheer myself up by proving to myself (and you) that I could demonstrate good use of colour in photography of found scenes…

Complementary Colours  are colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel.
eg: Yellow & Violet, Blue & Orange and Red & Green

Similar colours are colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.
eg: Yellow & Orange, Red & Orange, Blue & Green and Blue & Violet

Contrasting colours are colours that are in-between the complimentary colours and the similar colours on the colour wheel. These are probably the colour combinations I’m most attracted too.
eg: Blue & Red, Orange & Violet, Yellow & Red, Green & Orange, Violet & Green and Blue & Yellow

Use of colour as an accent…

And for my tutor who thinks I shouldn’t do underwater work at this stage of the course (another depressing thought considering there are three whole chapters and two more modules left at this level, yawn) here are some colourful topside photos…

April 2, 2013

Exercise: Primary and Secondary Colours

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Primary & Secondary Colours

Part three of the course is all about colour. I love colour photography and usually find it much more visually satisfying that black & white images so I thought this chapter would be quite easy. How wrong, it seems to be the hardest one so far! As explained in my previous post, for the last few months that I’ve been contemplating this one I’ve also been selling off all my gear, consequently I have been doing my exercises with my iPhone and so have skipped over the exercise on p107 because you need a camera with more than automatic exposure (I may well go back to this one in due course). This exercise is all about finding colours with a specific hue. Click the images below to open up the gallery….

April 1, 2013

Not Slacking Off…. But Not Doing Course Work

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I know it must seem like I’m slacking off because I haven’t posted to this blog for a while, but I’m not. Honest. My personal blog has been humming with new photographs. In fact since I last posted here I’ve made over 30 posts on there. I’ve been thinking about starting the next chapter (colour) which is quite a difficult one however in my assignment two feedback my tutor told me not to focus so much on underwater photography (because level one is all about being varied). The problem with that advice is, although while perhaps good advice for passing the course its not good advice for me because underwater photography is where I find my passion, my interest and my inspiration for all other photography. So the course fell slightly flat and I put it on the back burner while I went off to do a personal project in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (where, I might add, I would have been able to finish the colour chapter had I not been asked not to use underwater images in assignments)!

Anyway here are some images from that Project so you can see what I’ve been up to, there are many more on the blog posts from my personal blog….

That project has also inspired me to use lighter gear (because I had to borrow someones camera) and I’m selling all my nikon stuff here. In the mean time I have been taking some colours photos for the exercises on my iPhone which I shall write up in due course.


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