Exercise 1.2 Point

First attempt at single point images

The three main elements of composition of an image are the point, line and frame.  In this exercise I will be looking at the point to understand it’s impact on a composition and how its location leads to the success or failure of an image. Harold Evans, ex-picture editor of the Sunday TImes believed that “.. in photography, the idea needs to be service by technique.” In contrast American photographer Edward Weston likened photographic technique to the laws of gravity suggesting perhaps that good technique is simply a law of nature and not something to be learned. So will I learn where to place the point or automatically select one as I compose my image?

Here are my first three images using a point, which should be small in relationship to the frame.  In my three images the point is a plastic bag waste bin in my local train station.  I have placed if off centre, centrally and towards the edge of the frame.

Having reviewed the image I believe possibly my “point” is too large and instead perhaps represents a shape.  And looking at those students comparing the impact of their points in either colour or black and white it seems to me that the point must be very obvious and stand out – if it is muted and needs black and white to emphasise it perhaps it isn’t clearly a point.  In my images above, apart from being I think too large, I also think the translucency weakens the point too so I shall retake 3 more images using a smaller object and seek strength in my point so that it works effectively in either colour or monochrome.

Second attempt at single point images

This time I have gone out with the intention of identifying smaller more defined “points” and rather than just choose an identical point and moving it around the frame I have tried a different approach with each one. Here are the 5 images.

In image 1 the point is the little blue sign near the top right of the frame.  It doesn’t work too well because of the dominant blue of the bus and the position in the frame.

In image 2 the point is central and is the only blue thing in frame and so leads the eye to the centre of the frame and works better than image 1 though it’s a pretty dull image.

Image 3 uses a similar frame to image 1 but the contrasting yellow of the bus balances nicely with the blue of the point. The framing isn’t ideal though.

For image 4 I isolated a single colourful curly leaf. To make it stand out as a point, it is set in a grey abstract linear image of straight lines.  I think this works much better and also, the point could work in a range of different places but balances well nearer the edge of the frame.

In image 5 I have used selective focus to make the tiny flower the point against an out of focus wall and again I think this technique works.

I did try converting some of these images to monochrome but didn’t feel this added to the effectiveness of the point, in fact in image 4 it reduced the impact as the colour which lifts the leaf from the grey tones of the road was lost.

Multiple points in relation to the frame

Now seeking to place a number of points in the frame and taking onboard the encouragement to take real and not test pictures here are the results of looking for points and trying them in different parts of the frame.

Looking at each image in turn

This first image has the first point (a triangular roof detail) at the very edge of the  top of the frame – the eye quickly moves to the top of the triangular lodge gate and then again down towards the triangular shape at the top of the path.  The eye looks for another triangular point and not finding one returns to the first point.

In this second simpler graphic image the eye is drawn to the human feet in an otherwise grey landscape and the arrow immediately to the right draws the eye straight to the drain grate and then circulates around to the curved paved area – as I write this I realise that my eye then does go up to the straight line of the kerbstones as well! There is a geometric linkage again triangular.

 

My final image shows me that a human point speaks to the mind quickly  The central face, perhaps because more face is visible draws my eye and quickly links to the closer bald head – however this then routes back to the out of focus parking attendant in the background I think because the points relate to each other along a straight line.

My first image from a newspaper or magazine is a photograph of Bruce Lee during a fight courtesy of Martial Arts Illustrated (1)

In this image there are many points namely the heads of the monks which echo the shape of the upended fighter and the chin of Bruce Lee

My second selected image is courtesy of Fuji X Passion (2)

This simple image links the twos star/starburst points within the scene.

My final image is courtesy of Hungry Eye (3)

This powerful portrait by Tom Hoops uses bright white points to balance the image.

My take away from this exercise is that the sorts of striking images that appeal and are successful, at least to my eyes, often make use of fewer strongly linked points rather than a plethora of confusing ones.


Images

  1.  Image of Bruce Lee in combat, photographer not credited, Martial Arts Ilustrated, August 2017 issue, page 74.
  2. Photographer Daniel Malikyar, Fuji X Passion magazine, Volume III, page 95
  3. Photographer Tom Hoops, Hungry Eye magazine, Issue 24, page 77

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Bibliography

  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.22

Exercise 1.1

The first exercise in Part 1, Project 1 of Expressing Your Vision requires the use of the camera in fully automatic mode. We then take 3 or 4 successive shots without changing anything on camera, also keeping the framing similar.

For this exercise I chose to use my iPhone 7 plus as using it in “auto only” is the default mode. The subject of my 4 images is my living space – not much is moving in there except for the floor fan (its 33C today) and so there is a visual change in each image and so too is there a change in each of the histograms. If I look very carefully I can convince myself that I can see a small difference in tone and shade on the higher part of the fence visible through the glass door – but it is probably the movement of the fan that is responsible for the change in the histogram.

The exposure is identical in each image at 1/350th of a second at f1.8 with an ISO of 20.  This data is not visible in the normal Apple camera app so it was interesting to see such a relatively large aperture – although with such a small sensor and focal length (3.99mm) depth of field is going to be deep front to back whatever the aperture.


Bibliography

1 Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.21

Assignment 1: Self-Assessment and Analysis

I enjoyed working on this topic whilst finding it challenging. I took many of the photographs with a 24mm equivalent wide angle lens and tried to use colour, proximity and motion to give a sense of being there. I am lucky in that this group of people trusts me and I was able to photograph them in a way that few people would normally permit and for that I am grateful.

However there was a huge degree of time pressure as I had to capture the images whilst running the classes! A degree of time pressure isn’t a bad thing – these images are certainly not composed at leisure. This required that I work quickly and without distracting people from their main reason for being there. Personally I enjoy the banality of the surroundings contrasting with the absolute effort of the people there. I enjoy the shot of one client in his garden, being observed by his dog but perhaps it doesn’t feel quite as much as part of the series as the other images.

I chose to present the images starting with broader contextual shots, moving closer as the series progressed. I hope there is a sense of connection with both the people and the place for the viewer.

The feedback from other students would be very welcome as I find it quite difficult to analyse my own work when it looks so different from much of what I do. I am particular worried about the colour element given my colour blindness and lack of confidence in this area. But this is my start – my square mile.

Assignment 1: Research & approach

Gawain Barnard
Fig.1. “Journey’s by Train” no.4

This first project deliberately takes me away from my comfort zone – I will be using colour and different lenses to usual.  I have mostly used a standard  or mild wide lens such as a 50 or 35mm, so using a wide-angle will present some challenges.  For research I was keen to look at photographers that use colour effectively and that are more people-focused as making people the main subject is another of my dis-comforts on this assignment. Coupled with using wide-angle I am literally going to have to be in the face of my subjects.

Gawain Barnard 2
Fig.2. “Journey’s by Train” no.22

For inspiration I have enjoyed the Journey’s by Train portfolio by Gawain Barnard (see figs. 1-2) – most, but not all of the images involve people and are often snatched images.  But he makes great use of colour and movement, often using motion blur. I would like to be able to convey some of that sense of motion along with the empathy he conveys in his images.

 

 

 

 

Venetia Dearden 1
Fig. 3 by, Venetia Dearden

Venetia Dearden presents images in both black and white and colour. I particularly enjoy the muted colour in her colour images; coupled with shallow depth of field and the frequent use of contra-jour her images have a warm, emotional and very connected feel .  She clearly loves what it means to be human and shows humanity glowing brightly amongst a selection of banal surroundings, something that I really hope to be able to convey in my shots.

 

 

 


List of illustrations

  1. Barnard, G. “Journey’s by Train” number 4, At: http://gawainbarnard.com/photo_5597131.html#photos_id=5597134 (accessed June 2017)
  2. Barnard, G. “Journey’s by Train” number 22, At: http://gawainbarnard.com/photo_5597131.html#photos_id=6910999 (accessed June 2017)
  3. Dearden, V. At: https://www.venetiadearden.com/joie-stills/mqw9k5jb6yop0bn2bfu3yza9712inu (accessed June 2017)

Assignment 1: first impressions, initial response & idea development

The brief for the initial ‘Square Mile’ assignment had a powerful and circular impact on me. Even before reading Professor Mike Pearson’s summation of Y Filltir Sgwar, the words ‘The Square Mile’ to me mean, and have always meant, the City of London. By which I mean not Westminster or the suburbs but the single square mile of the London capital, which contains the banks and finance hub and centuries of history of merchant trading. It is especially significant to me as the City was my father’s passion and his life and he spent most days there, in love with the place and in love with his work there. It resonates for me because he died very recently and this resonance is circular because it was my Dad that first introduced me to photography.

It would be easy to interpret the brief very literally and go and photograph the City of London and it would be a fitting tribute to my Dad. There is so much to photograph there and I would be very comfortable taking black and white graphic images with a standard lens.

However, the whole point of doing this project (BA in photography) is to develop my photographic voice, take me out of my comfort zone, and do things very differently.

So my approach is to look at my current square mile. the area that I know very closely now. Professor Mike Pearson talks about “neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play”. I am a self-employed personal trainer and martial arts instructor when I’m not taking photographs. I work with communities of people that are into fitness or training but who do not like conventional gyms. I create a workspace in the various halls that I hire in my locale and this band of peripatetic people, of all ages and abilities, follows me to these various locations to be trained. The locations are mundane and the antithesis of glossy high-end gyms. But the playfulness, humour, hard work and humanity contained within these classes is interesting I think. I want the challenge of people photography – it’s difficult; far more so for me than photographing landscapes or abstracts or still life. I have no doubt I will return to these subjects in time but for now I will focus on capturing humans going about their business in these little communities that have been created and occupied by them.

Getting started on EYV

recommended books

June 2017 and I am finally starting the photography degree that I was supposed to start 30 years ago: better late than never.  There is much to remember, how to study, how to write, how to research. I’ve started in three places at once:

  • An Introduction to Studying in HE
  • Buying all the recommended texts, mostly secondhand, from Amazon
  • Taking photographs for my square mile project

There is a lot to read! I have spoken to my tutor Matt White and he has encouraged me to embrace colour work – I have typically favoured working in black and white.  Partly this has been due to my experience in photography and the darkroom and feeling very comfortable with this type of work; partly I fall back on black and white work because I am red-green colour blind.  Actually “blind” is the wrong word as I do see reds and greens, perhaps just not as others do.

Exploring colour is something I look forward to doing and so I start with a photo of the brightly coloured spines of some of the recommended books.