Exercise 2.5

This exercise looks at the same scene using different points of focus looking at how the depth of focus changes depending on where the focus point is set all other things being equal, ie, ISO, aperture, camera position. Both images were captured at ISO 200. f1.4 and shutter speed of 1/450 sec on a 24mm equivalent lens.

The symmetrical framing and close focus of the first image makes the composition clearly focused on the iron railing and the textures of the metal – the background is out of focus to the point that it doesn’t attract too much attention. The depth of focus is very shallow barely extended beyond the front fence.  In the second image the depth of field extends from the distance to very close to the fence although the fence itself is not in focus.  This centres the composition on the graffiti which is framed by the out of focus fence posts. The industrial nature of the bridge and fence complements the graffiti and the fence posts provide a degree of compression to the image giving more power to the graffiti.


  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.46

Exercise 2.4

In this exercise I have to taken a straight portrait with good light, a simple background, a wide aperture and a telephoto lens about 4-5′ from the subject. I have chosen to photograph my daughter at home using natural light – in the back of my house there is a lot of light so I have used natural light which comes in from a window at the left of the subject (right for the viewer) and also a top light window.  To the left of as you view the image, there is a white wall.  Overall there is a lot of soft light bouncing around.  I used my medium telephoto (85mm equivalent) at f1.2, ISO 200 and the shutter speed was 1/180 sec. I focused on her right eye.  The depth of field is very shallow at this wide aperture and close focusing distance. Whilst her right eye and the tip of her nose are in focus, her left eye and chin are out of focus. This shallow focus gives a dreamy look to the portrait and the eyes really stand out.


  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.45

Exercise 2.3

This exercise requires the use of a wide angle lens from a position below the subject preferably looking up from a close low viewpoint.  Whilst not specifically requested I decided to take a portrait using this “not ideal combination of focal length and position.  However, I have seen this style used for dynamic portraiture, particularly by Lee Jeffries.  He describes his work as “neither journalism nor portraiture” though the images are clearly portraits.  The wide angle lens he uses and level to low position he adopts, occasionally higher, adds dynamism and drama to what are already difficult images to view.


The image above, taken from below waist image shows clearly distortion in the arm length and see of hands – it adds to the grotesque power of the image which is still one of the easier images to view by Jeffries.

With this in mind and a much less distressing image set in mind I took a photograph of a friend who enjoys martial arts.  He is wearing gloves which partly conceals the distortion of his hands.

Distortion is apparent but the image lacks impact.  I tried again with him looking away from camera and added grit and contrast to enhance the mood of the image.

While the lens choice and position is not ideal, I think this treatment slightly enhances the portrait although the chosen context is clearly completely wrong, the exposure is suspect and the composition is not good!


  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.44
  2. http://leejeffries.500px.com/home – accessed January 2018

Exercise 2.2

This exercise looks at perspective by keeping the subject at the same size within the frame while changing focal lengths.  Unlike the previous exercise, this will require changing camera to subject distance and this will change the perspective within each shot.

The first image requires a medium distance portrait taken with my longest focal length.   Of my three lens, the 56mm (85mm equivalent) is the longest and is a classic portrait lens, a short telephoto. The ISO was 800, the aperture f8 and exposure was 1/125 th of a second.

The second image is taken with my shortest focal length of 16mm (24mm equivalent) at ISO2 200, f1.6 and the exposure was 1/1250 th of a second.


The images look strikingly different. The distortion in the face and hat is noticeable and the difference in angle of view has introduced elements of sky which were absent in the previous image.  In the first image I was standing about 8 feet away and in the second about 2 feet.  Despite the difference in aperture, the background is out of focus in both images although the light out of focus branch in the first image is distracting  The lighting is similar but it does show how perspective distortions can radically affect the appearance of a subject.

Martin Schoeller manages to combine the use of a mild telephoto with proximity to dramatic effect in his portraits, “Close Up” being a very famous project.  Despite using a 140mm lens on his 6x7cm Mamiya RZ67 (it’s field of view is 35˚, equivalent to a 72mm lens in 35mm terms or mild telephoto) he still manages to induce distortion and an almost uncomfortable sense of reality due to his relatively close proximity to his subject (4-5 feet).

Used carefully, this provides a spectacularly alternative take on classic portraiture which is compelling to view, especially when the images are printed larger than life size.



















  1. https://martinschoeller.com/WORK/Close-Up/18 – accessed January 2018


  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.43

Exercise 2.1

This is the first exercise in Part 2 of the EYV course, Imaginative Spaces and we are now using the camera in Aperture Priority mode, meaning I can select the aperture but the camera will select the shutter speed and ISO.  This exercise requires finding a scene with depth and from a fixed position taking a sequence of images shot at different focal lengths without changing viewpoint.

I own three prime lens only ,so showing 5-6 focal lengths isn’t possible for me, but the effect is still visible. To make up for only having 3 focal lengths available, I have repeated the exercise.

My lenses

  • a 16mm f1.4 lens, equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera with an angle of view (diagonal) of 83 ˚
  • a 35mm f2 lens, equivalent to a 53mm lens on a 35mm camera with an angle of view (diagonal) of 44˚
  • a 56mm f1.2 lens, equivalent to an 85mm lens on a 35mm camera with an angle of view (diagonal) of 29˚

Image set 1

What these images show is a changing angle of view, however the perspective has not changed in these views which I can demonstrate by cropping the first two images to give roughly the same image as the third, see below:

Although these images all have slightly different apertures, f13, f11 and f5.6 respectively, bar any distortion in the lens and slightly off centre cropping we can see that the perspective in each scene is the same.

Image set 2

In the first set of images I maintained my viewpoint by leaning against a traffic signpost.  In this second set of images I used a tripod to keep the point of view absolutely fixed.

In both image sets it is clearly the central image which most closely accords to the perspective of the human eye, however the field of view is definitely much wider and taller than even the widest lens used here.


  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.41

Research: Project 3 Surface & Depth – Thomas Ruff













At the conclusion of part one of Expressing Your Vision we studied a small project entitled “Surface & Depth”. In this project we consider two alternate views of the work of Thomas Ruff, a photographic artist who recycles old images, processing them to make creative use of jpeg artifacts, the 8 pixel by 8 pixel square, clearly visible in the first image above “Jpeg rl1104 (2007).”

David Campany 1 , a writer , curator, artist and lecturer at the University of Westminster, describes the work of Ruff as both “aesthetic” and “intellectual”. By aesthetic he means the form of the image and the beauty within it regardless of context. Ruff uses both his own images and those of others, all images being part of a collective photographic archive, to produce images that create a similar response in the viewer, regardless of who the original photographer was: the creative act being the reimagining of the original photograph into a new and very large scale artwork (Ruff’s images are typically printed 5-6 feet wide or tall). In presenting images from the collective archive but presenting it through the artist’s own grid of the use of series and the use of the pixel (in contrast to the historical use of grain to artistic effect), Campany talks about the images tapping into nested archives and how they affect all of us and how the use of images from various archives presents images that may never have been seen before. What he does in many ways reflects modern music with it’s use of the sample and overdub which takes a sample of an older familiar piece of music (for example, Sting’s 1983 track “Every breath you take” represented by Puff Daddy in 1997 as “I’ll be missing you) or older unfamiliar pieces of music such as the samples of blues recordings used on Moby’s 1999 album “Play” to create something new and as creative as the original pieces.

In contrast, Joerg Colberg 2, a writer and editor, whilst describing Ruff’s images as creative and even beautiful, raises the question of whether or not Ruff’s work is even photography. It is photographic but not photography. Historically Ruff discovered his process when his own photographs of the tragedy of 9/11 were mis-exposed or processed and he reverted to looking at images grabbed from the Internet. The low resolution of the images opened his mind to the possibility of deliberately using low-resolution jpeg compression on other images to create large artworks that highlight that technique. In Colberg’s writing he admires the beauty of the outcome but expresses disappointment at “the ultimate thinness of the concept behind it.” He clearly views Ruff as simply applying a thoughtless filter to any image he might come across to create an empty pretty image – an image created solely through a technique, so lacking in any true creativity.

Having tried this myself, I would say the technical side itself is not completely straightforward and nor is the idea of re-presenting another’s original work lacking in creativity compared with the original. Many might same that the multiple Variations on the theme originally written by Paganini are better than the theme and the world is better off for the multiple variations.

I finish this project with a re-imagined version of one of my own images from 2007. I am reasonably happy with it though it doesn’t have the vividness of a Ruff image but it definitely looks better printed.












  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.33
  2. http://davidcampany.com/thomas-ruff-the-aesthetics-of-the-pixel/ – visited January 2018
  3. http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/04/review_jpegs_by_thomas_ruff/ – visited January 2018

Exercise 1.4 Frame

In this exercise the task is to take a number of photographs using the viewfinder grid. My camera divides the viewfinder into 9 sections and composition then takes place solely in one of the 9 sections, the other 8 being ignored. There are a number of challenges with this, the first being that this is a very small amount of viewfinder to compose within and reminds me of peering into the little glass viewfinder of a box brownie from the 1940s. Secondly, this exercise still requires the camera to be in automatic and the changes in framing lead inevitably to exposure challenges.

In The Art of Photography , Bruce Barnbaum says

“Camera placement is critical for bringing out the compositional elements. Sometimes a change of camera position by mere inches makes the difference between an ordinary and a great photograph.”

With this in mind, I took my first set of photographs with a standard lens (50mm equivalent) aimed at a reasonable flat subject roughly at eye height. The compositional element was the arched top of a door set in the stone and flint work of St Albans Abbey.

The metadata shows that I used the same lens for each of the nine images and repositioned the camera to frame the door top in each of the sections in my viewfinder grid. Exposures varied slightly the first 5 exposures being at f6.4, the latter 4 at f7.1, ISO constant at 200 and shutter speed close to 1/1600th.


And the metadata recorded for the group of images is here.

Reviewing the images, I can see obvious changes, regardless of height, between the first 2 images and the last where moving the point of the composition to the right reveals the edge of the building creating a sense of depth as the shadowed area and glimpse of sky reveals 3 dimensions.

The first two images of each row are 2 dimensional, it is only as I start to use the lower row of the grid that I am forced to point the camera upwards causing verticals to converge noticeably and in the final image, it almost feels like we are viewing a tower. But the standard field of view of the 50mm (equivalent) lens, and the reasonably close proximity of me and my camera to the subject limits the range of variance of the images.

Seeking Barnbaum’s “ordinary to great” through moving mere inches, I changed my approach.

This second set of images, also of St Albans Abbey were taken from further away and with a telephoto lens (85mm equivalent). I also chose to shoot all of the images pointing the camera upwards to differing degrees.

Now there is a bit more drama in the images – there are slight converging verticals but the use of a telephoto lens has reduced this. I am composing using the little cross and a small element of roof and sky. Now small camera movements are making significant changes to the composition moving along a row. Moving down the central section and lower section of the viewfinder is less successful though interesting, the final image, bottom right, because of the framing reflects the element that I am using throughout the images, there is just more sky so in this final image, I have ended up with the viewfinder section composition equating to the entire image composition. Before starting the exercise, I did not anticipate that this would happen.

The metadata is attached below.

It shows that I used the 85mm (equivalent) lens throughout. All the images were taken at f5.6 and ISO 200, with shutter speeds varying from 1/350th to 1/500th all chosen by the camera.

Finally I thought I would try one more attempt using a subject that was reached from street to sky, an an interim distance and with a wide angle lens. I used a 24mm (equivalent) lens for this series of images.

This time I anticipated a wider spectrum of images due to the wider field of view of the wide angle lens. I made an effort to keep camera movement to a minimum and move as little as possible to see just how different the different images would be.Whilst exposure is more challenging due to the contre-jour lighting, the images have ended up being significantly different to each other. The Odyssey is a restored art-deco cinema in St Albans and it loos flat against the backlit elements. The different viewpoints create interest visual tricks of geometry, particularly the last image which is really just about angles and lines, in contrast to image 2 or 3 which are bland sets of a pretty uninteresting building. This has been an exercise of discovery: before it, I wasn’t aware just how radically moving the camera can utterly transform the composition.

The metadata for this shot is below. The camera has selected ISO 200 as it was a bright day. The aperture is again consistent at f5.6 and the shutter speed varied from 1/350 to 1/1100 of a second, a wider range of shutter speeds. On this set, the exposure does not always look correct and I would probably not use fully automatic settings for these images given the choice.














  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.28
  2. The Art of Photography, Bruce Barnbaum, pp. 42-43


Exercise 1.3 (2) Line

This second line project considers the use of lines to flatten the pictorial space in contrast to using line to create depth.  A photograph using depth and perspective often looks like a recording, a representation of what was seen by the viewer; this provides a journalistic or pictorial image.  In contrast, flattening perspective can be used to create abstraction and the image often becomes the thing itself and no longer a recording or representation of a viewed reality.  Laszlo Moholoy-Nagy used the new at the time 35mm camera to adopt different viewpoints, such as looking straight down, to create flat abstractions.

Ralph Gibson in his 1980s photo series “The Black Series” created abstract images, devoid of colour and mostly devoid of grey to create images which are about the pictures themselves.  We are not asked to consider what these images represent, instead we consider the images as themselves and enjoy their abstract form.  Below are two images from this series.

For my own images I experimented with keeping the sensor plane parallel with the image, getting up close, mostly using a telephoto lens, avoiding vanishing lines and looking for rhythms  of shape repetition within each image to create interest for the viewer of the images.

In the first image I used a 35mm (equivalent) slightly wide angle lens and had to tip the camera up slightly so while the image is flat there is a very slight inclusion of perspective. In addition the inclusion of sky (out of focus)  in the top corner prevents full abstraction in the image and it is apparent that this is a picture of a shed.

In the next threee images I used an 85mm (equivalent) short telephoto lens. The sensor plane is also parallel with the image in all three images and I have been careful to avoid any distractions outside the tight image frame to maintain the sense of abstraction. The last image uses the gently curving lines of rusting corrugated iron to create the lines.

To further enhance the abstraction in the images above I have chosen the 2nd and 3rd images and converted to black and white and enhanced contrast to see how this affects how we might view the image.

The first image uses Eric Kim Tri-X 1600 present 24 and the second uses Eric Kim Tried-X 1600 preset 21.

The removal of colour and tone does increase the degree of abstraction and is particular effective in the first image,  In the second image, the higher proportion of midtone renders the change quite differently and perhaps the colour version is more successful as the rhythm of colour works quite effectively in the first colour version of this image.

Contrasting parts (1) and (2) of the Line Project

It is clear that using depth and perspective gives a documentary eye to the image viewed.  It is generally more obvious that the image is a photograph intended to represent what was there (reportage) or provide a pictorialist representation of the scene in a similar way to a pictorialist painter may have chosen to paint a scene.

In contrast, the flattened approach to photography most often provides degrees of abstraction, in extent depending on the photographer’s intention or technique, which subvert the documentary tendency and present the image as the thing itself and not a representation of a scene viewed by the photographer and viewer of the image. This lifts the status of the image from documentary evidence arguably to art in that the image itself is all that actually matters and not the technique, subject or viewpoint.


1,2 Ralph Gibson – http://www.ralphgibson.com/1980-black-series.html (accessed January 2018)


  1. Bloomfield, R (2014) Photography 1: Expressing your Vision., OCA 2017, p.26