Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Time Photography

In this post I have included a selection of photographs that I produced for a photography project titled: `The Time Project`. The aim of this project was to experiment with time through the medium of photography; I did this by using fast and slow shutter speeds, and also by creating sequenced photographs. This project was great fun and has enabled me to produce some really interesting images. I hope you enjoy them! 

Click on the images to enlarge them.

BMX Jump
This photograph was taken at my local skate park, where I asked one of the BMX riders if he could do the jump you can see in the image above. I set my camera up on a tripod and selected `Manual` mode, before selecting a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second. The use of `Manual` mode is very important if you want to produce images like this one, as you need to ensure that each photograph has been taken using exactly the same settings. If you use `Auto` mode on your camera, with each photograph you take, your camera could be taking them with different exposure times, therefore, each image may appear with a different level of brightness. The use of `Manual` mode, also meant that I used `Manual focus`, and so I asked my subject to do a test run so I could focus him into the shot. When he was ready, I held my finger on the shutter release button, which then took continuous photographs at a rate of three frames per second. Now that I had got my images, I went into Photoshop and started to edit them to together. You can find tutorials on how to produce sequenced photographs like this on YouTube, just type in: `How to make a sequence in Photoshop`. 

Golden Syrup
This photograph depicts golden syrup that I drizzled into an egg cup using a spoon. I took this image using a fast shutter speed to capture the syrup as it fell from the spoon and landed in the egg cup, so that the syrup appeared sharp and in focus. I used a very simple set-up for this photograph; I took this image in my kitchen, using my 70mm-300mm telephoto lens. The lighting set-up consisted of two desk lamps to light the egg cup with the syrup in, and another desk lamp to light the backdrop of the photograph, which was just a piece of white paper. I used `Manual` mode when taking this photograph as I needed to adjust the aperture according to the shutter speed, to get the perfect exposure level for the image. I needed a really large aperture setting, and therefore a small f stop setting, in order to allow as much light as possible into the lens, as I was using a fast shutter speed. It is important to note that I had my camera set up on a tripod and used the timer on my camera to take ten consecutive photographs at a rate of three frames per second. After selecting the best photograph and a little editing in Photoshop, the image was complete.

Milk Splash
I took this photograph using exactly the same setup as my image titled: `Golden Syrup`. I was inspired to take this photograph after studying Harold Edgerton, who wanting to produce and photograph a perfect coronet from a single drop of milk falling into a liquid. His final image titled: `Milk Drop Coronet` is extremely impressive, especially considering that it was taken in 1957. My photograph depicts milk being poured into a glass containing milk that has had red food colouring added to it. I added red food colouring to the milk as I wanted to create a more vibrant and abstract photograph. The red colour also allows for the white milk being poured into the glass, to be seen more clearly. I really like how the milk that is being poured appears so straight and cylindrical, almost like a straw. As it can't be easily identified as milk at first, it adds an element of mystery to the photograph, as the viewer is left wondering what is being poured into the red liquid. 

Eerie Seascape
This seascape is an example of an image that has been produced using a slow shutter speed. I set my camera to `Manual` mode and used a shutter speed of two seconds, along with the smallest aperture size/largest f stop setting I could get, to allow me to get the perfect exposure level for this photograph. Once my camera was ready, I set it up on a tripod and got the shot level so that the horizon was perfectly flat. It is so important to use a tripod when taking images with a shutter speed slower then 1/60 of a second, as the subjects you want to stay still in your image, will blur due to camera shake. The aim of this photograph was to capture the groyne in focus, whilst the slow shutter speed would capture the movement of the water, as it moved in-between the groyne pillars. The effect that occurs is rather magical, as the water appears misty and `milky`. This is because of the motion blur created from the waters movement when the shutter was open. The groyne appears sharp and in focus as it is not moving, but the water is, thus creating the misty effect. I edited the image into grey-scale and darkened some areas of the photograph so that the misty texture was more prominent, creating a rather eerie seascape image. 

Top Tip:
`I know it looks complicated and difficult to understand, but try and get to grips with your cameras `Manual` mode if you have a Digital SLR. Using the `Manual` mode enables you to take photographs exactly how you want to take them, unlike the pre-set modes on your camera, that will adjust the individual settings like shutter speed and aperture for you. 
All it takes is a bit of experimenting and you’ll be using `Manual` mode like a pro! If you do get stuck, don’t worry, just look in photography magazines or on the internet for the answers you need. ` 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Self-Portrait Photography

In this post I am going to be looking at self-portrait photography and have included three photographs that I took as part of my self-portrait project.

Self-portraiture is the art of capturing the person who is creating a piece of work, in the piece itself. So, if an artist were to paint a portrait of themselves onto a canvas, this would be a self-portrait piece of work. The same theory applies to photographers; if a photographer took a photograph of themselves, let’s say in the reflection of a mirror, this would be a self-portrait photograph, as they, the creator of the photograph, are featured in the image. Self-portrait photographs can be extremely powerful in conveying the mood, emotion, and character of the subject. However, a self-portrait doesn't have to feature the persons face, it can include objects that are very important to that person, in order to convey their character. For example, if someone was really into cycling, they could photograph a bike and use that as their self-portrait image, as it is a part of who they are.

After producing a coursework project on portrait photography last year, I edited nearly all of my images into grey-scale; I believe that this allows for the image to be `stripped` down of any distractions and enables the viewer to solely focus on the subject’s character within the image.

All these images were taken on my Canon EOS 500D with my standard 18-55mm lens.
Click on the images to enlarge them.

`Atlas` - Douglas Benge
I produced this self-portrait image with a map that is seemingly `wrapped` over my face, to convey my love for travelling. I also wanted to try and experiment a bit with Photoshop for this image. There were a lot of editing processes involved within the creation of this image, from clipping masks to the lasso tool, overlaying and using the blurring filter. The main process I used was the `Displace` filter in Photoshop, this can be found under `Filter`, `Distort` and then `Displace`. There are plenty of tutorials on `YouTube` showing you how to use the `Displace` filter, just type in `Photoshop Tutorial - Displacement Map`.

Douglas Benge
I was inspired to take this photograph after studying Mikael Eliasson, a portrait photographer who photographs most of his subjects posing with blank expressions­. I have gone about this by creating a really simple set up in terms of framing and composition. My head is in the centre of the frame, still leaving some thinking space for the viewer; this is much like Eliasson’s style of framing, with the subject composed right in the centre of the image. Eliasson’s portraits are almost all in colour, there wasn’t much colour tone within my image; I therefore edited it into grey-scale. I then adjusted the brightness and contrast to the level that I wanted. Just to experiment, I put both the brightness and contrast levels up as high as they would go, I decided that this looked really effective, so left it as my final image. The blank expression on my face along with the use of grey-scale lets the viewer look into my eyes and decide for themselves who I am.

`My Style` - Douglas Benge
I have produced this photograph in the way that I have, to convey my passion for `old style` photography. I am really interested in grey-scale photography and have always believed that old photographs, quite often, have so much more character then any modern photographs that have been edited into the `old style` of photography. I have quite a unique style of photography and wanted to try and combine this with my passion for `old style` photographs. The strange facial expression I am pulling connotes my unique character and photographic style. I edited the image into grey-scale, as well as adding grain, a scratched texture, a negative film-strip, and a vignette effect to try and add age to the photograph. I edited a glass plate negative frame onto my image, to give it that final touch, aging the photograph even more. I am really pleased with the final result, as I believe it illustrates my character perfectly.

Top Tip:
`When taking self-portrait photographs, be yourself! The photograph is about you and is focused on conveying your character to the viewer. 
Remember, you don’t always have to include yourself in the image; you could just photograph something that means a lot to you, or an object that conveys your character.`

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Telephoto Lens Photography

A telephoto lens will enable you as a photographer to fill the frame with your subject, without actually being that close to them. This type of lens is therefore often used when photographing wildlife or sporting events, where it is not possible to get close to the subject(s). 

There are many other benefits that telephoto lenses have compared to a standard lens:
  • They increase background blur of an image (they produce a shallow depth of field)
  • They flatten the perspective when photographing portraits
  • Not only can they be used to photograph subjects far away, you can produce some really detailed photographs of subjects like flowers and plants using a telephoto lens; the shallow depth of field created by the lens is very effective when photographing these types of subjects.

In this post I have included some photographs that I took with my new telephoto camera lens which is the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. The `IS` used here means `Image Stabilisation`, this comes in very handy as you are often zooming in onto a subject that can be very far away, `IS` therefore reduces camera shake. The `USM` feature of the lens stands for `UltraSonic Motor` which means the lens has a small motor built into its body, enabling it to auto focus faster than a standard lens. 

All these photographs were taken with my telephoto lens on my Canon EOS 500D camera body.
Click on the images to enlarge them.

A Squirrel Climbing a Tree
This photograph was taken in my local park and features a Squirrel that couldn't have posed any better for this photograph. I began by photographing him on the ground before he ran up the tree, stopping half way to turn around and look at me. He froze in this position for a couple of seconds enabling me to take this photograph. I was stood around five metres away from the squirrel when I took the photograph, this demonstrates just how well a telephoto lens works. The shallow depth of field that a telephoto lens creates in photographs is very evident here, with the grass in the background of the image completely out of focus.    

Catch Me If You Can!
At my local Air Show, I spotted a good opportunity to photograph the two main subjects of the show, the aeroplanes and the seagulls, who flocked to the beach where spectators sat with their picnics. After many photographs later, trying to get a seagull and the two aeroplanes in the shot, I managed to produce this image. I caught the seagull with its wings fully extended, filling out the frame of the photograph as the aeroplanes turned in the background, moving in the direction of the seagull. The fast shutter speed I used here has enabled me to capture this moment with the subjects sharply in focus.

A Pigeon Perched on a Fence
I carried some bread in my bag whilst on my visit to the park, in the hope that this would tempt subjects to come closer to me than usual. This pigeon spotted me as I was just putting away my bread bag, it then perched on the fence about two and a half metres away from me, it was then that I took this photograph. I gave the pigeon some bread when I had finished photographing it to reward its efforts as such a fine subject! Although this pigeon was much closer to me then the squirrel was in my previous photograph included in this post, the telephoto lens I used still created a shallow depth of field within my image.


This photograph depicts one of my cats called `Squeak` and was actually one of the first photographs I took with my new telephoto lens. My telephoto lens worked really well in this photograph as it flattened the perspective of the subject, allowing me to get all of him in focus with the background of the image completely blurred. Although Squeak kept moving his head, looking around in different directions, I managed to capture him just as he looked into the lens, producing a rather striking photograph. The grey-scale effect of this image adds great contrast to the photograph and really allows for Squeak's fur pattern to stand out.

Top Tip:
`When using a telephoto lens, use high shutter speeds and a tripod when possible; this will ensure that the subjects within your image appear sharp and in focus.
By using a telephoto lens, you are magnifying an image, this however means that you are magnifying camera movement as well. Therefore, by using fast shutter speeds and a tripod, you will counteract this camera movement.`

If you are really sure you would like to invest in a telephoto lens, then it would be worthwhile investing in a lens hood as well. A lens hood simply fits onto the end of your lens and reduces flare that bright light sources can create within your images, especially if you are shooting towards the light source itself. For my lens, I have a `Canon ET-65B` lens hood, this works really well and stops excess light from entering my lens, reducing flare.

Next week I will be focusing on `Self Portraiture`, so get your cameras at the ready! 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Line and Space Photography

Featured in this post are a selection of photographs that I produced for a project titled, `Lines and Spaces`. All these photographs were shot on my Canon EOS 500D. I hope you enjoy them!
Click on the images to enlarge them.

Hastings College
This photograph features a section of the Hastings College building in East Sussex. This is a rather abstract image, with the blue sky and white building contrasting to the darkened windows of the college. The metal frames shading the windows create lines within the photograph and cast interesting shadows onto the building.

Acoustic Guitar Neck
The subject in this photograph is the neck of an acoustic guitar. I positioned my camera near the head stock of the guitar, facing down the neck, towards the guitar's body, I then took this image. Lines and spaces are a very predominant factor within this photograph as you can see the spacing between the guitar's frets very clearly, with the strings running in and out of focus over them. The shallow depth of field in this image has been created by the fact that I was fully zoomed in at 55mm's when taking this photograph.

Net Huts at Hastings
Whilst studying Bernd and Hilla Becher, known for their photographs of `Water Towers`, I discovered a technique within architectural photography that was particularly interesting. They would quite simply photograph their subject from afar, with it framed in the centre of the image; there were no fancy angels involved or special camera equipment, their style of photography would like the building itself do the talking. This is what I have tried to recreate in this photograph of the Net Huts on Hastings Seafront, East Sussex.

Underside of a Snare Drum
This photograph depicts the curled metal wire snares that run along the bottom skin of a snare drum. By using the `Macro Mode` on my Canon EOS 500D, I was able to produce quite an inspiring image as the wire snares create a great deal of perspective, drawing closer together at the top of the photograph. I placed a piece of black card underneath the snares as the transparent skin of the drum didn't allow the snares to stand out, losing focus to the image. The shallow depth of field within this image creates blurring both in the foreground and background of the photograph, producing circular patterns that create an eye-line to the image, drawing your attention to the wire snares that are in focus.

Top Tip: 
`When photographing close-ups of objects or using the macro mode on your camera, use manual focus; it will enable you to choose exactly where you want your focus to be and will allow you to control the depth of field within your image`