Technical and visual skills
For my first shoot for this assignment, I wanted to experiment with a very small aperture. I had taken a practice shot from my upstairs window using bulb mode and f22 and the result was interesting in its crispness and clarity, which added to the deserted and very still atmosphere. This surprised me somewhat because I understood that a mid-aperture was more likely to produce this kind of result. I took my initial images and learned the difficulties of this approach when some of my pictures were underexposed and spoiled by lens flare, something I had not encountered significantly before.
On reflection, my experiment with f22 and long exposures was interesting. It taught me about the danger of lens flare, and made me reconsider my approach. I re-took some of my images with a wider aperture and much faster exposure and as a consequence, I was able to expose my images correctly, and minimise lens flare.
Technically, I was disappointed that my contact sheets show a lot of underexposed, very dark images. In terms of my having to lighten my images post-capture, I was surprised since my electronic view-finder, which I favour over my camera’s back-screen, showed me images that seemed better exposed than this. I have since altered the setting on my camera to manual so that the brightness of the viewfinder is reduced.
In doing this assignment, I feel that I have slowed down more to consider my composition and settings.I have tried to be careful with my composition and to put in practice what I have learned in earlier parts of the course. In this respect, I think the composition of my images for this assignment has significantly improved over my submission for assignment 3. I have also re-taken images, some of them a number of times, to try to improve them, and have considered more carefully my theme and cohesion. This was hard because I had to reject images that I preferred over the ones that I finally chose.
My visual and observational skills continue to develop, and this part of the course has helped me to focus on the importance and impact of light on my photographs. Once I started to notice the light on ordinary things, I seemed to notice it all the time.
Quality of outcome
After re-taking images to eliminate much of the lens flare problem, and making exposure adjustments and other minor improvements using Photoshop Elements, I think I have made a reasonable attempt at capturing the beauty of artificial light and of ordinary things made beautiful by it.
I think I have produced a cohesive set of images, linked by location and subject, and I have demonstrated development of creative observation and technical skills. I have applied technical learning and composition skills and have produced images that can stand alone as well as in a set. Together, I think they capture my local environs in a unique way.
I preferred some of the images that I finally rejected. However, my aim was not to submit my favourite pictures, but those that worked together as a sequence. I feel that this shows a development in my understanding of cohesion and ability to see from the viewers eyes rather than the photographer’s. These images were of ordinary things, yet they did not fit with my set since they clearly were taken in a very different location:
What went well
I have previously taken images for assignments while on holiday (assignment 2 – reworked) or in other areas of the country (assignment 3). It was helpful that I could reflect on my assignment 4 images and fairly easily re-take them since my setting was local and therefore accessible. I really think this was positive since my tutor had advised that I take shots over a number of shoots and doing so, helped the outcome.
I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to ‘say’ and of some of the images I wanted to capture. This gave me a focus and made it easier for me to collect my images. Some of my images benefitted from recent rain which helped to reflect and enhance the colours and the effects of the light.
My learning from this exercise, and from this part of the course has been significant. I recall my Square Mile assignment, and others, and I realise now that light was not then a primary concern. I now have a better understanding of the importance of light, which will influence my future work. I have also progressed in terms of the technical aspect of my camera, using manual mode throughout, and having experimented with different settings in low light situations, and in encountering and addressing lens flare. I have also attempted to correct lens flare in one of my images (not used in the end), with Photoshop. I successfully (I think) removed a significant flare that threatened to spoil an image that I otherwise really liked:
What didn’t work so well
I made a number of re-takes of some of my images because I was not happy with the outcomes. I re-considered composition and changed viewpoint, and experimented with exposure to avoid the lens flare that I encountered with very small apertures. I had to change the composition of my graffiti image significantly to reduce the glare of the street light which spoiled the original image, and my scaffolding image took a number of attempts: it was in an area of very low light, and I tried to position my camera to block the bright street light while at the same time positioning the church to show it as significant but secondary to the scaffold which was highlighted by the ambient artificial lights.
My contact sheets include some very dark images. I would have liked to make better exposures. However, I addressed this in some of my re-takes, and consider this a learning opportunity.
This assignment is the result of studying not only the work of photographers who have used artificial light, but also those who have used natural light and studio light. Part four of the course has therefore covered a number of photographers whose work does not directly link to my interpretation of this brief. However, although I chose to focus on artificial light, I have learned from the work of a wide range of artists, and in doing the exercises throughout the section, in terms of the importance of observing light and using it creatively in my images.
Although I am quite pleased with my attempt at this assignment, in terms of my theme and my final images, I am aware that light and colour, and the colour of light, are quite difficult concepts for me, as is properly understanding white balance. I know that these aspects of my photography need continuous development and consideration and this is something I will work on, research and practice.
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