Category Archives: Part 4

EYV Exercise 4.5 Emley Moor

Emley Moor transmitting station

… in West Yorkshire, is 1,084-feet (330.4 m) tall. It is the tallest freestanding structure in the UK. (The Shard is second). It is the 24th tallest tower in the world. (Wikipedia)

I have been interested in, and photographing, Emley Moor Transmitter for some time now. After my initial reading of the course material, I had thought that I would like to capture the ‘mast’ as part of my consideration for assignment 5, and so I began early in order to take advantage of the different seasons. However, following my research for part 4 of the course, I couldn’t help but see similarities in my attention to a significant landmark, to that of John Davies in his juxtaposition of Mount Fuji with the industrial landscape, and Perkins’ juxtaposition of it with ‘ordinary’ life. I therefore decided to re-visit Emley Moor as a possibility for exercise 4.5. I wanted to show this, the tallest building in the UK, and a significant attraction, as part of the everyday world for those who live under its shadow.

A Google search screen-grab showed me predictable images of the mast. Below, is a representative sample. I noticed first that all these images are taken in portrait orientation to enable the whole of the mast to be captured within the image. The majority of the images have a blue sky background, and the only context is provided by the countryside setting shown in some of the pictures. The viewer could be forgiven for believing that the mast was in the middle of no-where, remote and inaccessible. Some images are taken at night when the mast’s lights are on, but they remain, in every other way, just like all the others. The sheep in one image give something of a sense of scale, but otherwise, the images say very little about this magnificent building or the community in which it stands.

emley-moor

Inspired by John Davies and Chris Steel Perkins, I wanted to set the mast in context and, through my images, tell its story in terms of its position in Emley village. I wanted also to celebrate its ‘everydayness’ acknowledging it as more than just an attraction for non-locals and their cameras (acknowledging the obvious).

Before I come to the images taken for this exercise, I want to show an image that I took prior to starting this course:

emley-1

Image taken prior to starting EYV course

It seems that my fascination with this building is not new. What is new, however, is my response to this image. At the time, I really liked this picture. I still do, but I am amused by my ‘cherry blossom’ approach. This image reminds me of the conventional images of Mount Fuji, surrounded by cherry blossom (course notes p 92). It seems that we are so conditioned to expect a particular visual language that we reproduce the convention automatically.

For this exercise, I have deliberately avoided using a portrait orientation for my images. I did not want to replicate a focus on the mast’s height to the exclusion of all other aspects of the building. I wanted to show it in context with the community, as a ‘given’, rather than a tourist attraction, and part of the everyday landscape.

In terms of creativity, I intended the mast to appear as an integral part of the setting, as incidental, and fragmented. I chose not to try to capture the whole mast in my images. Instead I show parts of it. My intention was to show it as ordinary: there, but not defining the village. My pre-course image shows that, for me, this is a significantly different approach. I would previously have, for example, avoided getting the bus-stop in my image, but here, I wanted to show that the tower does not interfere with the ordinary activities of the people of Emley. Life for the locals is just the same as anywhere else.  I think that I have successfully imagined an alternative view of the transmitter, challenging the conventional representation. I have ‘invented’ a different perspective, which I hope would be complimentary and pleasing to the villagers in its portrayal of their home as more than just the site of the mast – as a place for leisure, and work, a place to live and enjoy. This exercise, as with all the others, pushed me in terms of my comfort zone. I tried to include people in some of my images and this involved asking for consent – the scooter riders were happy to oblige. The security man declined, which is a shame since I think image 4 would have been better had he been visible in his office, perhaps leaning out of the window. However, he too was very obliging and accompanied me so that I could get up close to the tower to take my photographs. It is seriously dizzying at a close distance.

This exercise is a personal response to a fairly long term interest in Emley Moor Transmitter, perhaps timely also since there are plans to begin massive renewal works, including the building of a new structure.

My images:

emley-mast-7

Image 1 – final selected image – ‘What mast?’

What I liked about this image was the way in which the mast appears almost totally incidental. It is possible that these riders chose this location for their pit-stop, because of the mast, but then again, maybe they didn’t. I chose a landscape orientation and a wide focal length so as not to deliberately emphasise the height of the tower, which is consequently only shown in part. Interestingly, the fact that the top of the tower is out of the frame may actually add to the sense of height. Unlike the scene-grab images, my tower is not the only interest point. There is a sense of context and perspective, and a challenge to the conventional image that suggests that the tower is remote and inaccessible.

Below are other images I took in preparation for my selection. I drove several miles to view the mast from all directions and to get a feel about how it is seen by the people who live in the area.

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Image 2 ‘Tea and tower’

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Image 3 ‘Street furniture’

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Image 4 ‘Not the only building’

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Image 5 ‘More than just a photo opportunity’

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Image 6 ‘We still catch the bus’

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Image 7 ‘Life like everyone else’s’

It would be interesting to talk to residents about their views of the mast. I have, over the past few months, spoken to one local man who was at the mast at the same time as me on a previous shoot, and to the security officer who was so helpful while I was taking my images for this exercise. These people seemed to know everything there is to know about  Arqiva Tower, and to enjoy telling me about it. Perhaps it is both incidental and hugely significant at the same time.

References

Emley Moor transmitting station (2017) in Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emley_Moor_transmitting_station (Accessed: 25 February 2017).

Screen-grab from:

MicrosoftPrivacy (2017a) Emley moor transmitter – Bing images. Available at: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=emley+moor+transmitter&qpvt=emley+moor+transmitter&qpvt=emley+moor+transmitter&qpvt=emley+moor+transmitter&FORM=IGRE (Accessed: 25 February 2017).

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EYV Exercise 4.4 Ex nihilo

The brief for this exercise is to use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour, to light an object in order to reveal its form.

I am new to studio lighting and to thinking about taking control over the light in an image. However, I had a few attempts at this exercise to try to understand the impact of my decisions about light on my final images. I first selected natural stones as my subject and, using a combination of a hard bright sunlight, a mirror to reflect light back at the subject, and my phone torch, I experimented with exposing shape and texture.

I was surprised at the different effects created by changing the direction and quality of the light. These two images are very different. The stones in the first picture appear crescent shaped. In contrast, in the second image, the shape is more fully exposed and rounder since a fill light from the top has removed the deep shadows.

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I attempted this exercise again using a different subject and without the strong natural sunlight of my first attempt. Here are a few images (taken with my phone camera) showing my studio set-up.

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studio-phone-3

studio-phone-2

I used my A3 white sketch book as a preferred background though I experimented with black as an alternative. I used my remote to prevent camera movement when pressing the shutter since a fairly long exposure was needed. I used the under-cupboard light in my kitchen to provide a downward facing light, an angle-poise light for directional lighting from the right side and a dark towel to prevent unintended light from the left. I experimented with different white balance settings with the idea that a warm light would emphasise the ‘hotness’ of the chillies and adjusted the desk lamp, tilting it forwards to erase shadows. My aim at the time was to try to produce a still life image  with minimal shadow. Here are some of my images:

chilli-5 chilli-4 chilli-1

Here are sketches of my lighting set up:

EPSON MFP image
EPSON MFP image
EPSON MFP image
EPSON MFP image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a third attempt. The egg images below show the effect of highlighting the subject from behind as well as above. In the second image, light from more than one source has eliminated most of the shadow. In the first image, I turned off the additional side light creating more obvious shadows and changing the appearance of the shape of the eggs.

_dsc3961_0845 _dsc3962_0846

In this final image, below, I created hard shadows through the use of a small front light. This emphasised the flower, creating an interesting shadow behind, but left the rest of the image dark.

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Overall, an interesting exercise. Lessons learned are to address white balance and colour more thoroughly – my egg photos are particularly inconsistent, and, in order to fulfil the brief more accurately, to consider differing viewpoint to create unique shots.

EYV Exercise 4.3 Artificial Light – home

Brief: Capture the beauty of artificial light in a short sequence of shots. Try to describe the difference in the quality of the light from the daytime shots in exercise 4.2

When night comes early and the house lights are on, I am drawn to the reflections in windows, which have caught my attention for some time. Inspired also by Christmas lights, I decided, as a first deliberate attempt at capturing artificial light, to look inside my home. Here are a few of my initial shots that encouraged me to notice the shapes and colours made by the reflections of lamps and lights on the windows and walls in my house:

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artificial-light-3

artificial-light-4

artificial-light-5

artificial-light-2

All these images have a warm, yellowish orange colour. I set my white balance to ensure that the white paintwork looked realistic. One of the reasons that I love this time of day is the lovely cosy light inside, when it is cold and dark outdoors.

Compared to my daylight images, these images show less variation in terms of colour and mood. My daytime shots varied according to the intensity of the light, the time of day, the colour, and the depth of shadows.

‘Daylight changes from moment to moment; the advantage of artificial light is that it stays the same’ (course notes p 83).

This exercise encouraged me to notice the effect of artificial light, particularly in terms of the very warm colours. I hope to have another go at this exercise soon.

Please see my posts on natural light:

EYV Exercise 4.2

EYV Exercise 4.2 (part 2)

EYV Exercise 4.2 (part 3)

Learning reflection – natural light

EYV Exercise 4.3 Artificial Light (3) – City

Influenced by Rut Blees Luxemburg, and as part of my initial plans for Assignment 4, I took night time city images to capture the beauty of artificial light.

I considered some of these images for part of my assignment submission but rejected them because of inconsistency with my chosen local theme. However, they continue my theme of ‘the ordinary’ and I include them as a third attempt of exercise 4.3.

windows

square

sign-2gratelitter-2

cleaner

car

 

Please see my posts:

Assignment 4 Images

Assignment 4 – initial thoughts

EYV Exercise 4.3 – artificial light – Home

 

 

 

 

EYV Exercise 4.2 Natural Light (3)

The opening chapter of ‘Read this if you want to take better photographs‘ by Carroll, encourages a consideration of light as an object: although (light)  is intangible, it has the ‘power of a shape-shifter: the mundane can become beautiful, and the beautiful, mundane’ depending on the light. Light can ‘draw out textures, colour and detail’ and can create ‘depth’ or flatness.

Further to my considerations of the work of Sally Mann, Michael Schmidt and Trent Parke, for exercise 4.2, I stumbled upon a bright clear day one weekend when I had hoped for soft diffused light. I was forced to re-consider my morning’s photography quite abruptly, to re-look at the light and formulate an alternative approach.

I continued with my plans but, instead of the soft, foggy images I had in mind, I began to notice the way in which this unusual early February light brought out the contrasts and shadows and textures in the lovely countryside environment.

Not quite the hard light favoured by Parke, yet not the softness of Mann’s images, this light created texture in the natural world, and emphasised darkness and light creating pleasing contrast that provided additional interest and detail.

I have in mind that I may use some of my images to present work using natural light for assignment 4. However, first, here are three examples to illustrate the effects of hard light and contrast, as further analysis for exercise 4.2:

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bretton-shadows-2

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These images stand in contrast to my low-contrast images at my post Learning Diary 6 .

The definite blacks and definite whites create more dramatic images, and the way in which the light emphasises shapes and textures further creates drama and interest. I used mono rather than colour to further show the contrast of black and white, adding to the sense of depth, shape and texture.

References:

Carroll, H (2014)Read this if you want to take great photographs. Laurence King. London.

EYV Exercise 4.2 Natural Light (2)

I first attempted this exercise keeping my viewpoint the same in each image. I felt that this would show the changes to the light more clearly by allowing a comparison of like with like. I kept my aperture constant so that the images would look the same in terms of depth of field. Please see EYV Exercise 4-2 (part 1)

I wanted to have another go at the exercise and try ‘working into’ my subject as suggested in the course notes.

I chose a nearby pretty location for convenience and decided to photograph whatever caught my eye. I did not attempt to maintain consistent viewpoints but I tried to concentrate on looking at the light and how it influenced my choice of image. I was interested in how the light highlighted and drew my attention to different things at different times of the day.

Using manual mode made it easier to capture the darker images, and I consciously tried to capture the image as I saw it. This involved deliberate comparison between what I saw and what I saw through the viewfinder. I tried to experiment with focal length but chose to use only my 16-55 zoom, and experimented with higher than usual ISO because the ground was too wet for me to use my tripod.

I took my first images at 8am and decided on approximately 2 hour intervals throughout the day, ending at about 4pm as it was getting dark.

8am

The beginning of the day was really beautiful, the sky was  just starting to lighten and the sky was blue.  This was a diffused soft light and there were no shadows. At 8am in the open field, the colour of the grass was being revealed and the light caught the fence, the water and the leaves. I feel that this was a soft light that made everything very pretty.

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 field-8am-6

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10am

Things looked very different 2 hours later. Still a soft light with no shadow, but obviously lighter. The sky was pale and grey with cloud. I found myself more drawn to the details rather then the whole scene and took images of rain drops and branches, picking out the colours and contrast revealed by the light. The colours seemed cooler and muted.

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12 Noon

At noon, I felt that not much had changed. However, I felt less inspired and everything seemed flatter and slightly less pretty. I think the light may be cooler though I found it hard to be certain about this since some of my images show warmer colours.

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At 12.30 the sun came out and so I changed my 2 hour plan and went out again. The sun made a big difference to the colours and I was particularly drawn to the bright orange – compare this image to my noon one. The shadows gave the field a more interesting look and emphasised the texture of the leaves.

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My battery ran out so my 12.30 session resulted in fewer images. Lesson learned.

2pm

Things looked very different in the mid afternoon. The sun created long shadows. Not the hard shadows of an afternoon summer sun but the light was harder and I was drawn to capturing mostly wider shots rather than detail. However, I liked the light reflecting from the trees. I noticed in the third images the light has created a haziness in the trees.

field-2pm-12 field-2pm-9 field-2pm-7 field-2pm-4 field-2pm-3

4pm

At 4pm it was dusk and things changed again. My images show a soft light again with warm colours and a blue sky. These images are similar to my 8am images and everything looks very pretty again. It is perhaps not so dark so more colour can be seen, which I think makes these scenes more attractive

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Overall, an interesting and enjoyable exercise in preparation for assignment 4.

EYV Exercise 4.2 Natural Light

For my initial attempt at this exercise, I set my camera on a tripod to ensure, as far as I could, the same viewpoint. I chose a consistent focal length and attempted to capture the scene as I saw it. I used manual mode but kept the aperture the same throughout to ensure my images looked alike in terms of depth of field.

It was a very flat grey day with considerable cloud cover and I almost decided to wait for a ‘better’ day. However, the brief said it didn’t matter if the day was overcast so I persevered.

I had considered the brief’s suggestion of ‘working into’ the subject, and I intend to have a further attempt at this exercise to try and do something different. On this particular day though, I was home all day and so took advantage of this to make a first attempt at observing the light.

exposure-4-1-a

10.49am                   50/34 mm 1/60  F5 ISO 200

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12.53pm                     50/34 mm 1/60  F5 ISO 200

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14.19pm                      50/34 mm 1/30  F5 ISO 200

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16.29pm                       50/34 mm 1/1.3  F5 ISO 200

With artificial light

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16.31pm                       50/34 mm 2 secs  F5 ISO 20

The first three images here look very similar. I chose the leafy plant because I wanted to see how the light affected the colours and shadows. This was a day with very weak and filtered sunlight but I can see variations in the colours of the leaves. The image taken near noon is slightly brighter, with the colour in the leaves more yellow.

I had put on the house lights in the 16.29pm image and this is where the change in the light became more apparent. The warm temperature of the artificial light is reflected on the leaves.

The 16.31pm image was an attempt to re-take the previous image but without the artificial light. I turned off all the house lights and tried to capture the scene as I saw it. It was actually becoming quite dark and the green of the leaves is less visible. The white of the bench stands out and, in hindsight, I should have checked if there was a light source, perhaps a street light, in addition to the last light of the day, that could have affected the colour and visibility of the bench.

I found that manual mode allowed me to capture the image more realistically. Had I taken these images in automatic mode, my camera would have metered for mid grey and the darker images would have been lighter and therefore less accurate recordings of the scene.

My favourite image is the one lit from the front with artificial light. I think the light suggests activity nearby and therefore a story, which is absent in the other images.  I am looking forward to experimenting more with the beauty of artificial light in exercise 4.3.

Notes:

Please see my second attempt at this exercise in my post: EYV Exercise 4.2 (part 2)

EYV Exercise 4.1 Exposure

For this exercise I first used aperture priority with zero exposure compensation, and I photographed the back of a black leather chair, a greyish coloured window blind, and a piece of white paper. Here are my images:

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Black

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Grey

_dsc3337_0005 4-1-snip-white

 

 

 

 

White

Two things struck me about these images: one, how awful they are and two, how similar they are.

Although the histograms are not identical, they are each centred around the mid point. I assume that had I used subjects with less tonal range, then the histograms would have been more alike. The mix of tones in my ‘grey’ image accounts for the more gentle curve of the histogram and the second spike of darker tones.

The histogram that I find most surprising is the one for my black image. The black chair had some stitching detail that caught the light but perhaps more significant, exposure of this image took 20secs. I hand held my camera since I was not conscious of focus, and it is obvious that there is camera shake. I wonder if this movement caused the tonal range to vary, resulting in a wider curve of the histogram than I expected.

Only the paper was plain. I wondered why there were two histogram spikes in this image, but on examining my subject again I can see that shadow on the paper may account for the darker tone.

I was shooting in artificial light and there is an unpleasant colour cast in all my images. The course notes suggest repeating the exercise using the monochrome setting if the colour is unpleasant, and I was interested to see how my images would look:

Here are my ‘black and white’ images:

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Black

 

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Grey

 

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White

 

Again, my images are very similar in colour. In monochrome, I can more easily see the effect of the light reflecting on the chair in the black image and how my subject is not completely black but actually quite a mixture of tones. This, rather than the long exposure, would account for the tonal spread in the histogram.

The histogram (not shown) for my monochrome ‘white’ image shows just one spike in the centre this time. I was aware of my shadow and consciously avoided it so the tonal range is reduced.

This is a significant lesson that has made me wonder just what my camera does to my images in automatic modes and I am looking forward to experimenting with manual in this part of the course.

For the second part of this exercise, I shot the same images using manual mode to expose the subjects more accurately. Here are my images:

 

manual-black manual-black-hist

 

 

 

 

Black

manual-grey manual-grey-hist

 

 

 

 

 

Grey

manual-white manual-white-hist

 

 

 

 

 

White

You can see here that I now have a black, a grey and a white image. The histograms show, respectively, dark tones, mid tones and light tones, and I have three different images, each resembling the colour of their subject more closely that those images taken on automatic mode.

The exercise said it was not necessary to focus, and consequently my images don’t really show what I saw. On discussing these photographs with my husband, he asked why the black photo didn’t look like our chair, and commented (politely) that he felt his mobile phone camera would probably take a better image. This concerned me. I re-took my image using my phone:

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This image was properly focussed and, though not black exactly, it was more like my chair than my previous images were. I decided to try my camera again, on fully automatic mode, using manual focus:

chair

 

 

 

 

 

This is a far better picture of my chair, and I understand how my camera has, in automatic mode, averaged exposure out to grey. However, I can’t help but feel disappointed.

I decided to spend a little more time in trying to take an image using manual mode and manual focus that better captured how I saw my chair:

chair-2

 

 

 

 

Different chair but more realistic.

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More like the real thing.

I found this a very interesting exercise that showed me more about how my camera works and allowed me to start experimenting with manual mode. I was pleased with my final images and relieved that my (moderately expensive) camera takes a better picture than my phone.