Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Second (Photo)Impressions

These pictures are from the same photoshoot as the previous examples, I just took a little longer to get them processed.

For this one, I just aimed the camera at the tree and took a load of photos in burst mode.

Pretty much the same for this one, although I much prefer the overall effect. Perhaps it's the more geometric pattern created.

For this one, I noticed that the stem was blowing in the breeze, so tried to hold the camera as still as I could and snapped away, hoping that the finished pruduct might convey that motion.

For this one, I deliberately moved the camera from side to side.

These last two contained strong lines - the paths - which were somewhat watered down in the compositing process. The whole picture looked mushy. In an effort to recapture some of the effect of the paths and to give the pictures some sort of centre of interest, I erased the path areas in all layers other than the background. These might not be fantastic, shining examples, but they have given me ideas to follow up. Bringing together a picture where certain parts are made up from multiple exposure and other parts are the result of a single exposure might be something worth playing with.

I have to say that the single most important lesson I have learnt here is to plan a multiple exposure. Most of those I've done so far have been the result of just pointing the camera and shooting off a load of frames - and it shows. Given the time, I would like to set up the camera on a tripod and make sure that each one of a set of multiple exposures is spaced uniformly and in a manner that sits well with the subject.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Photoimpressionism: A Start

The first chapter of Freeman Patterson & Andre Gallant's book "Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image" deals with multiple exposures. Having a go at this seems like an excellent idea. Below are some pictures made using digital techniques, rather than multiple exposures on film; loads of shots taken with a digital camera and composited in Photoshop.

Although careful planning of such pictures is encouraged in the book, lack of time and good shooting conditions, coupled with my impatience, led me to just shoot a load of frames and see what I got.

Most of these are composites of about twelve frames and there's more where that came from. Although this seems like a slapdash sort of approach, for now, I'm just feeling my way through this concept. So, once I've got all the other multiple exposures from this particular shoot processed, it will be easier to analyse them and see whether any particular method is worth pursuing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Foresight and Abstracting

Now this is the toughest bit so far. The exercise involves taking a cup and saucer and examining them closely, with particular respect to the form and the texture. We then have to note down the features that strike us and create an abstract that conveys that feature.

While sitting looking at a cup and saucer waiting for inspiration to strike, I slowly began to notice the intersection of two curves. The cup has a curved profile and sits upon the saucer, also with a curved profile. This looks to me like two parabolas of differing radii meeting, almost like one of those pictures one sees in a science book, illustrating how a sonic boom occurs. Rather like this:

I tried looking long and hard at the water lilies in the pond, but couldn't find anything like this intersection of curves, even though I waded through the water and tried rearranging them. I tried swishing a stick through the water with one hand, while firing the camera with the other. That, likewise, didn't work. To be honest, I could think of just about zero concepts for an abstract. All I could think of was the two parabolas.

Finally, a deus ex machina came to my rescue. As I was bundling my stuff away, I knocked over a bowl of beads that serves for an ornament on our kitchen table. While picking these up, I noticed the strong evening sunshine streaming in through the window, so, quite naturally, held one up to the light and squinted through it. In this, I could vaguely make out the effect that I was looking for. This was taken with the bead held between thumb and finger in front of the camera. It was just about impossible to avoid some portion of the shot being blown out, although I feel that the highlight serves as a point of interest to some extent.

Although this is not really the effect that I was looking for, I count this exercise as a success, on the whole, as I managed to identify a feature upon which to base an abstract image, even though that abstract image itself is not as strong as one might have hoped.

Subsequent to this and as a rather cheap addition, I looked for some circular objects from which to make an abstract (the circularity of the cup and the saucer in plan view being, I figured, too obvious for words). This is about the best that I could come up with.

This is a photo of a grape on a vine, deliberately shot out of focus. The blue channel was erased in the lower portion of the image, so as to enhance the green gradient effect.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

I know that we're supposed to pick one of the photographs in Freeman Patterson's book "Photograpy and the Art of Seeing"say why we like it and try to use the techniques ourselves, but I'm picking two.

Last week in Scotland, I only had a few opportunities to get out and about with a camera and, even then, before this particular exercise had been set, I had a go at imitating these two pictures, as I liked them so much. This exercise should really have been carried out after the "seven steps" and "three items" exercises, but, as I had already in effect done it, I'm going to cheat and use these.

The first one appears on page 18. It is a shot taken from within the foliage of a tree, with a broad diagonal stripe of sharp detail from an adjacent tree. The wonderful autumn colours really set it off and the bold stripe makes for an interesting shape. While there were no autumn colours to be had, there were plenty of others. My attempt, which I know is a long way from the original was taken whilst clambering up a bank from having been shooting at the lochside. These yellow flowers (weeds, I suppose) were growing by the roadside.

Not terribly successful, I know, as there is not enough foliage in the foreground to make it as abstract as the original, but this is a technique I'm looking forward to trying much more.

The second picture that really caught my eye is found on page 22. It is of a door slightly ajar, with the inside of the building dark, so that nothing within is distinguishable. The photo is such that only the lower left of the door is in the frame. I rather like the fact that only a part of the door is visible. The vertical door frame and the doorstep sit in the frame in a 'rule of 'thirds' kind of way. The fact that there is nothing visible through the door opening causes a sense of wondering what might lie within.

The door I found did not have the muted tones of the one in the book, but I am more pleased with the effect of this shot than the other one.

Purely as an addendum, I want to add this shot.

This was taken out of my hotel room window in the mid-afternoon. I particularly liked the way that the shafts of light were only illuminating the one branch. Before I started reading this book and attempting any of the exercises, I might have seen the effect and appreciated it. Now, I find myself seeing the effect, appreciating it and trying to capture it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Three Things

This exercise involves being given three items at random and attempting to take interesting photographs of the group. My daughter chose for me a bicycle bell (new, still mounted on packing card) an old box of plasters and a near-empty bottle of sunblock lotion. I mounted my new 100mm macro lens and set about to try to use a shallow depth of focus to make my shots a little interesting.

First of all, I set about getting all three items in the frame. The results were unimpressive, to say the least.

Then I spotted that I could photograph the other two items reflected in the shiny chrome finish of the bell (didn't take me long to spot that).

After that sudden insight, I felt the need to sit down in a darkened room with a cold compress on my forehead, but soldiered on and set about photographing all three items, but with only one (or a part of one) of the items in sharp focus.

This one is intentionally high-key. A departure for me, as I normally make everything too dark.

I was quite pleased with the way that the text is sharp and the edge of the bottle is getting blurred in this one.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Seven Steps

Taking nineteen steps from my back door ( taking them from my front door would put me in the middle of a busy road ), I then mapped out a circle seven steps in radius from where I ended up. I was a bit lucky, as this is a particularly colourful part of the garden, so I was able to find splashes of colour quite easily. The sun was even getting in on the act and shining quite brightly, giving me some opportunities and also some difficulties. Using my 50mm 1.8, mostly wide open, I got some half-decent images and an awful lot of dross. Freeman Patterson recommends using a roll of 20 exposures, well I took about 40 shots and whittled the number down to these.

I guess that what I learned from this particular exercise is to take more time looking for a shot to make, rather than just snap away. I actually ended up concentrating on composition a lot more, which is a major improvement for me.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Finding a Rule to Break

It would seem that there is a wealth of motion-blur shots now, the overwhelming majority being very interesting indeed. There is, however, more than one rule in photography, so the others must be hunted down and broken remorselessly.

I spotted this grasshopper on the window and began snapping away. It soon struck me that I could break a rule here: fill the frame.

To paraphrase from the book, sometimes too much subject and too little background gives no context. Ordinarily, I would have tried to get the insect as large as possible, but had a little fun backing away and actually quite like the outcome and can really see the potential in making the subject smaller relative to the frame, so I feel that, in that sense alone, this is a success.