The Art of Photography
Assignment One. Contrasts
All photos are copyright.
For the assignment I have to take sixteen photos and split them into eight pairs. Each pair has to have a contrast clearly shown in each image. There is also an additional one that conveys the two contrasts in one photo.
I used my Pentax K200D and a sigma telephoto.
The contrasts I chose in order are
Rough and Smooth
Still and Moving
Sharp and Blunt
Small and Large
Curved and Straight
High and Low
Many and Few
Sweet and Sour
Dark and Light
For the rough contrast I decided to go down to the sea in the hopes of catching the waves crashing down on the rocks. I took several photos but then turned my attention to the actual rocks. They were jagged and rough and I decided this was the perfect subject for the criteria.
I included the water in as rocks on their own looked rough but the point of the assignment was to convey the feeling. The effect of using a wide aperture, threw the background out of focus causing the smoothness of the water really to reinforce the roughness of the rocks. I also like the way the rocks act as a natural frame and create symmetry.
Smooth was shot at the same location as rough. I lay on my stomach and shot vertically to include as much of the rock pool as I could. I also wanted to get really close to the water so the smoothness would really shine through. Again, I like the contrast of the water against the rocks to help accentuate the smoothness. I think I would have like to include a little more of the water and change the foreground slightly as it is distracting. Though I like the way the water leads the eye further into the photo.
This was one of my favourite photos to shoot. I was in the garden with the cats when I noticed this small puddle on the pavement. I had my telephoto lens and had recently been inspired by Slinkachu’s works (where he posed miniature figures in all sorts of different locations) I found a holly leaf and placed it in the center of the puddle then saw a clover and put that there too. Then I lay flat on the driveway and took several photos. The rule of thirds works 90% of times but here I decided the Bulls Eye composition would be more suitable. Placing the subject directly in the center creates a powerful symmetry and creates impact. It can also produce an almost static feel and as I was doing ‘still’ I felt this was perfect. I was very pleased with the image as through the sharpness of the flower and the blurred edges of the photo the water almost appears to be a floating wave of mist.
I took my camera equipment to this small waterfall and set it up on the tripod experimenting with different compositions and situations before I was happy. The sky was as white as a canvas so I didn’t need to worry about using an ND filter to filter the light. A photo is a frozen moment in time and I really wanted to capture the movement of the water. I first took some photos with a fast shutter speed so the water was frozen. But then I decided to use a slower shutter speed to make the water appear like silk and to denote the pace of fast flowing water. This is the first long exposure I have ever taken and I was pretty pleased with the result.
I went to Castle Kennedy gardens in Scotland and while my family looked at the flowers I stopped by this amazing plant, it was so spiky and covered in wasps and bumble bees. Usually I don’t get close to wasps but this was an incredible photo opportunity so I stood back with my telephoto lens and took many photos of the bees and wasps. The leaves are pointed and added with the bees and wasps, creatures associated with stings, this is a collection of everything that is pointed and the viewer would not want to touch. The sharp leaves and stings stand out against the soft wide aperture background.
I thought of several ideas for the contrast ‘blunt’ such as blunt architecture, posts and such. Then I remembered an old tree stump in the wood which over the years coins had been hammered into. I decided this would be ideal as there were two elements described as blunt and headed out into the woods in late morning. The sky was overcast but this was fine. It was dark and I had no tripod with me so I used a high ISO and wide aperture to retain as much light as possible. I used my telephoto for a more dramatic close up. I took photos of varying angles and frames but in the end decided on this. A close up of the coins, the front ones are blurred so your eye is drawn further into the photo. The blurriness also increases the bluntness. They contrast against the wood and soft background.
I wanted to take a photo of the hay bales near us for round, but the day I went to photograph them they had been taken away. So I was lucky when we were driving up to Scotland and saw a whole hillside of hay bales. They were so far away that I decided they would be perfect for small. We were on the busy main road and Dad wasn’t able to slow down, but I wound the window down, set a small aperture to maintain as much detail as possible and took several photos as we shot by. I was surprised by the clarity at such a speed. I included the earth moving machinery and vehicles to show the stark contrast of large and small, rather than a standard photo of hay bales with nothing to compare the size to.
The road sweeps round in a cloud of dust and joins with the tracks of the combine harvester, which in turn take the viewer over the rolling hills. All these lines succeed in causing the bales to look even more miniature.
For large I travelled to Blackpool seafront where the giant mirror ball is a huge attraction. The sky was overcast but this was good as it wouldn’t cast distracting shadows and reflections on the mirrored tiles. I took some photos from different angles and went flat on the ground to fit the mirror ball in the frame. I also included the Blackpool Big One rollercoaster in the distance to create a scale of size. Then a child ran into the screen and started posing for his Mum. I asked whether I could take photos of him for the photo. With the child standing under the structure the contrast of height is clearly seen.
I took this of the curved wall in Scotland. I set off in the morning to search for possible photo opportunities and this wall fitted perfectly with the criteria of curved. I took several shots with different angles. I included the wall as a foreground so the viewer can really feel how the wall curves round to appear further into the frame. I used a fairly small aperture so the picturesque landscape in the distance was in focus therefore creating a more interesting photo.
After reviewing possible locations for the criteria of ‘straight’ I decided to travel to Blackpool as the seafront is littered with artistic sculptures and of course the rollercoaster the Big One from the Pleasure Beach theme park. I set up on the promenade so I had a good view of the rollercoaster and used my telephoto lens to capture the moment the carriage shot down the drop. I took several photos following the ride until it went out of sight. This is the photo I liked best for straight as there are many elements in the photo denoting ‘straightness’ the frame work, the carriage and the actual track. As it curves near the edge of the frame the straightness is clear. I would have liked the sky to have been blue as the overcast sky doesn’t create much impact, except for the fact that it allows the rollercoaster to stand out.
I started taking photos for tall by standing underneath a large building and shooting upwards. When it filled the frame the illusion of height was given. But after a few shots I decided to try something a little more different rather than a stereotypical photo. I had intended to take a photo of Blackpool tower from beneath and following my initial plan I stood on the bench at the viewpoint where ‘Curved’ was taken and shot downwards. My legs fill the top part of the frame and the narrower they get the more the feeling of height is created. It also helped standing on a bench because with the extra height the patches of vegetation looked tiny and you can imagine them being tiny patches of earth on an African landscape; this causes a very powerful feeling of height.
As I was leaving the waterfall I noticed this pigeon pecking at the crumbs by the water. I quickly wound the window down and took this photo. The foreground is purposely blurred to create a small depth of field, which lets the viewer imagine they are lying down on the pavement at the level of the pigeon. I’m glad I did this as I was technically above the pigeon but this effect works. Also the wall is low, in comparison to the pigeon, which reinforce the lowness of all the elements in the photo. The tallest element is the flowers in the right hand of the image, the fact that these small flowers are the tallest, this heightens the feeling. Taking it horizontally added to this as well.
We were going to the firework show and I knew this was going to be a perfect subject for one of the contrasts, though at the time I had in mind using it for ‘light.’ Last time I took firework photos many were blurred and the shutter took ages to stop. But I was determined not to miss the opportunity again so started researching everything I could about taking photos at night. I studied Tom Angs’ books and Ian Farrell and several websites as well until I was sure I had everything I would need. I set the ISO to 1600 for faster shutter speeds, even though this would produce a lot of noise. And I also changed the aperture to f/5.6 to allow as much light to enter as possible. I wasn’t able to take a tripod but prepared as much as I could. When the firework show started I included the crowd of people to create a more involved feel. Many, comes from the huge crowd watching and the many sparks of the fireworks. Both completely dominate the page and the eye can start from the line of people before soaring up into the sky almost like you are watching the firework show for real.
While I was on Blackpool seafront I set up the shoot for few. I sat on the steps and with my telephoto lens photographed these two people – with their permission – sitting on the bench. I shot it vertically so as much of the prom was as empty as possible
The moment I started reading the criteria for this assessment, I knew I wanted to do sweet. Yes, it was probably the one most people hadn’t done but I was intrigued to know how a photo could convey feelings of taste and quickly realised this wasn’t a photo I was going to take straight off. I researched several books and websites making notes and plans of everything from lighting, to props to the actual sweet food. Then I saved several photos of sweet foods to show friends and family and ask what was it about it that made them want to eat it. With all this research done I began the actual shoot. I’d chosen ice cream as my subject and the conservatory table as the setting. Maybe this wasn’t the best combination as I had to work fast with the hot room. But the lighting was best here than anywhere in the house. I put the glass in the fridge so it would keep the ice cream cooler for longer when it came out of the fridge and set up my tripod and the props. I enrolled my sister to transport the ice cream so I could take it as fast as possible before it melted. I was very pleased with the final shot as the wooden table creates a homely feel and the green bokeh produces a natural feel. My only regret is that I didn’t chose a more lasting food as the ice cream has clearly melted. But perhaps this is an advantage as you can almost feel it oozing into your mouth.
The photo isn’t include here as my sister forbade me to show it on the internet. But it was a photo of her expression biting into a lemon. I sent it to my tutor.
Dark and Light
Dark and Light
For my photo where the two contrasts are shown in one photos I used this photo. I was painting and as I was cleaning the palette up I thought the colours being washed away looked very pretty. I thought this would be good for dark or light and set my two palettes up next to each other on the dark background to form a unique composition of yin and yang. The dark and light is seen both metaphorically through the yin and yang concept and also the colours against each other. The lighting makes the left side (the black) darker and the left (white) lighter, thus complementing and contrasting at the same time.
I really loved this assignment, it challenged me in many ways not just to take a photo of something that described a contrast, but also using the skills obtained in the first part of the course to convey the contrast through many means both physical and metaphorical. I feel that I can be pleased with this assignment as I have strived hard to take photos of different subjects as well as using a variety of compositional tools, technical skills and settings. I have challenged myself to make each photo better than the last. This has all helped me in my journey as a photographer and I feel my photos are improving the more I learn through this course.
Throughout this assignment I have studied many photography books, using the knowledge to help improve my work, I will write this down in my learning log. I have also used several websites, researching every single subject and planning what I learnt, planned out as mind maps which are quick and easy to refer to when shooting. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the knowledge you have learnt and the camera in your hands as you strive to create the best photo you can that is both expressive and appealing to the viewer.
I am looking forward to my tutors’ feedback on this assignment and continuing with the course.
These are the notes and mindmaps I used to help plan each photo