Assignment 1: Contrasts

For my first assignment I had wanted to produce a wide selection of images using various techniques and thought processes. I’ve select each pair of contrast’s  individually and that specifically work towards creating an image to represent this, be them as a themed pair or as individual images showing the contrast when considered together. The use of contrast in photography can be thought of as two things, firstly the contrast between colours as mainly seen in photoshop, this boosts the opposing colours and therefore makes them stand out more against each other creating a brighter and bolder image, secondly contrast can be considered as in this case as oppositely opposing subjects. For example the contrast’s I have chosen to represent are; Diagonal/Rounded, High/Low, Light/Dark, Liquid/Solid, Many/Few, Moving/Still, Pointed/Blunt, Straight/Curved and finally as one image showing the contrast I have chosen Rough/Smooth.

Diagonal/Rounded

Diagonal:

I began this assignment looking to focus on this pair of contrasts, and found these windows in the roof of my local train station, By standing on the stairway the structure of the window frames gave the diagonal lines a simple shape which contrasted against the blue and white sky and gave a very interesting and pleasing composition that really shows the subject.

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I really like the lines of this photograph, not only does it emphasise the diagonals it also leads the viewer’s eye down and through the photo. I also like the play of light onto the diagonal frames. I took several shots while here aiming to balance the exposure of the sky and the window frames. This image was taken at ISO100 at f6.7 at 1/750th of a second and with a touch of editing in Lightroom I was able to bring out the texture in the foreground and along the window frames.

Rounded:

I then looked at this location in search of something rounded, I had initially noticed a small outdoor stage that interested me for the image but after looking around I noticed the war memorial with the shapely circle flower garden. I shot this from as high as my tripod would allow attempting to capture as much of the rounded nature of the shrubbery and the path within it. I found the high contrast and depth of the image really focuses the viewers eye on the rounded subject and with the path slightly lightened due to the sunlight, it really brings out the effect.

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I think with the composition of the horizon higher up the photograph thus showing foreground lines of the flowerbed leading the viewers eye up unto the focal point really helps to emphasise the brief. The lighter path coupled with the deep green colours of the shrubbery really make the foreground stand out and focus the eye, the background, however interesting does not overpower and take the interest away which I achieved by subtly darkening the trees. I captured this at ISO100, f6.7 at 1/250th of a second, I found at f6.7 the foreground was perfectly focused and then would leave the rest with a slight blur which only brought out the subject even more.

Contrast 2: High/Low

High:

As shown in the background of the previous image, I then moved onto the bandstand, aiming to shoot this from a very low perspective to emphasis the height and detail while also placing the subject tightly in the frame to really ensure the eye was drawn to the structure and its size and form. I found by using the tripod at its lowest position and moving in as close as possible I was able to give the illusion of the roof being larger than it is, this really gives the impression along the verticals that result in giving the subject a much stronger effect.

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I feel with this image the composition coupled with my placement really show the bandstand at its best angle, with showing the stairs it adds a little more interest and completes the structure while also hiding an electrical box that is against it. The tight frame to the left, above and below really help to show the height while the space to the right gives an element of context and space for the use of the stairs. I again shot this at f6.7 at ISO100 while at a speed of 1/125th of a second. I found at this speed I was able to balance the exposure well and with a little manipulation  reducing the highlights in Lightroom I was able to give the sky a moody dark feel.

Low:

I was struggling with inspiration for this image so instead of over complicating things and losing sight of the goal I felt a simple shot executed well was the best option, so after considering a few ideas, like roads, views from above and macro photograph of insects I settled on this textured floor, I was aiming to show the wear and roughness of the floor which goes unnoticed by most. I found by shooting low down along the floor as opposed to down onto the floor I achieved better texture and an overall cleaner and interesting image.

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I feel this image really achieves the goal of showing ‘low’, perhaps in a more literal and obvious sense than hoped but still well and an overall pleasing image. I really like the lines of this photograph, they along with the lighter tones towards the top of the image manage to draw your eye. I think although simple and rather straight the image is strong technically and compositionally, the vignette is subtle yet apparent which gives a deeper image. Shooting this at ISO100 at f19 and at 1/20th of a second I was ableto have the majority of the image in focus and by shooting with a tripod this was possible.

Light/Dark:

Light:

For these images I had aimed to use a visit to Winchester Cathedral, and after an hour or so wondering around taking the shots as I saw them the light managed to hit the naive just right, coming in through the top windows at such an angle to light up the opposite side the controlled light was interesting and delicate. In the short time I had where the light was just right I moved around various locations trying to capture it best I could, having looked at all the images I settled on this one, as slightly off center it gives a little more depth and interest in the composition with the lines moving partly across the image rather than down into it.

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I really like this image and feel it is one of the strongest of the assignment, I think the tonal range is just right, and really flattering on the walls and roof showing a nice amount of detail while also complementing the amount of light in certain parts of the image. While in the process of editing I felt this image cried out for sun beams, and not knowing about how to create such an effect I managed to find an online tutorial which enabled me to create this light effect emphasising the brief of ‘light’, I followed the light already evident in the image, from the top windows in a diagonal across to the right hand wall, being as delicate and subtle as I thought possible I finished off with an interesting stream of light across the image that really makes the image stand out with an added dimension. I took this image at ISO200 at f3.5 at 1/60th of a second to enable enough light into the image as it was still quite dark in sections of the cathedral, I found this balanced well.

Dark:

In contrast to the ‘light’ image I have chosen this one as it is predominantly dark and black with only the three candles showing any light, and although this could be considered a contrast of both (Light/Dark) in one image I feel the overpowering darkness is enough to really give it a dark feel. The candles go some way to emphasis this and the sharpness and shading of these give the image depth against an otherwise flat background.

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I really feel this is a simple yet interesting composition. I really like the depth given by the two slightly out of focused candles that  give the sharper, closer candle your attention and while surrounded by the complete darkness of the background really gives it a dark and gloomy feel. The abstract and peculiar composition gives an element of interest and adds to the darkness. I took this using my 50mm prime lens at an aperture of f1.8 allowing for the most light possible so I could raise the shutter to 1/350th of a second to ensure a sharp image.

Liquid/Solid:

Liquid:

I took this image at home with the use of an off camera flash, tripod, table, and a sandwich bag attached to a backdrop support with a small hole in the corner to produce the droplet. I placed the off camera flash to the side of the point of interest and used a red filter to give the colour. I then used a small used cotton reel placed in a large dish of water to accurately work out where the droplets are falling. I then, once set up with the tripod used my manual macro extension tubes and a 75-300mm lens set at 280mm to create the close frame around the droplet. I then painstakingly attempted to focus on the center of the reel where the water droplet was falling. After feeling happy that this was achieved I took a shot to confirm. I then removed the cotton reel allowing the water droplets to hit the water creating the splash. After a number of attempts, some more successful than others I got into the rhythm and managed to capture this splash which I feel really is caught at its pinnacle before it separates.

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I really like the composition on this image and the colour works really well to, I think it shows liquid perfectly especially with the difficult use of manual extension tubes. I really like the darker foreground that with the lighter background make the splash stand out all the much more, I think the focus could be improved slightly and perhaps on second thought, although the droplet is straight and vertical I’m not sure if the line in the background detracts from the image. I shot this at 1/4th of a second at f5.4 although with the extension tubes I’m unsure how accurate that would be. 

Solid:

I took this image again at home utilising my studio set up. I set the light up to thecentre right of the camera with a reflector to the left. I then after freezing the ice cubes in a tray with the fishing wire already in them I hung them together to create a natural and mix matched look. I then tied them to the over hanging backdrop support  while a black paper background was rested against a wall. I then moved about the subject finding interesting lines and shapes that could show the abstract composition to it’s best, I settled on a close up filling the frame with the subject, with the final image being a slight crop of that. I really like how these images create a pair, using water to create both liquid and solid and this image with such an interesting abstract composition catches the eye.

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I enjoy the abstract look to this image, it has the illusion of the ice falling and gives the viewer something to think about, I’m pleased with the contrast from right to left, this is due to the placement of the light, with the use of a reflector the light is picked up again on the left but still giving the larger bulk more of anexposure. I took this image in a relatively rushed fashion making sure the ice wasn’t to wet after repeated flashes I wanted to get it quickly so set up ready to get the shot with this being the 4th that was taken. As I was using studio lighting I was able to use a considerably controlled exposure, set at ISO 100 at f22 and 1/125th of a second this image has a soft tonal range that doesn’t over do it on highlights.

Many/Few:

Many:

I had this idea for these two photos while sorting through my collection of books, I settled on two that were of similar age and style while also being of many pages and one with few pages. I photographed them again using studio lighting and a black background to really bring out the lighter colours of the pages and on top of that thenthe contrast of the black text against the lighter paper. I then opened each book to the middle pages laying them flat to show the bottom, and the amount of pages of the book, I used one light to the right of the camera and then placed numerous small reflectors along the left hand side to bring out the edges of the book and to give an even exposure on the bottom. I also used a small hand held reflector to put light onto the top pages making them a stop lighter.

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This photograph was tried at a number of angels but I found dead on with a slight elevation gave the overall impression of depth and still showed the bottom of the book well. By framing it tightly it focused the viewer’s eye onto the book taking in the detail and tonal range. The blacks really help to give the book added depth which help togive show the thickness of the book compared to the next image.

Few:

As these images are somewhat similar I will write less about how I created it as the technique used was the same as the ‘many’ image.

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What is shown in this image, although similar to the ‘many’ shot is the paper being of a different colour. this gives the image a much warmer feel and although slightly different it doesn’t take anything away from the pair, I like the composition of both images however I feel it worked much better on the many shot, the book was shaped more suitably and looked more appealing, however I feel that they both work together as a contrasting pair.

Moving/Still:

Moving:

I photographed this at Eastleigh Train Station on the same day as the diagonal shot, after seeking permission and singing in at the station office and set about scouting for positions. Knowing I would want to shot from platform 2 looking across towards platform 1 as this is the track the faster non stopping trains use. I then decided on photographing back down the platform, using the 19th century bridge along with the platform to frame the image. After setting up the composition and being happy with a few test shots, I put the ND8 (Neutral Density Filter) onto the lens and set about using passing trains to gauge the shutter speed required to give the best possible blur across the image. Once happy I set about the tedious battle of waiting for the trains, and after 3 or 4 I was happy with a number of shots, choosing this one for the blur as the colours are far more interesting than previous trains.

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I really like the finished image, I have saturated the colours slightly to bring out the brightness of the train more against the dark and atmospheric sky which I reduced the highlights slightly to achieve. Within the composition of this image, the lines are extremely powerful and the overall image balances very well, with the train one side and the platform, posts and roof on the other. I took this image at f22 with a 1 second exposure at ISO100. I feel this is one of the strongest photographs of the assignment it is powerful, atmospheric and technically successful and suits the brief perfectly.

Still:

While still at the train station I felt to have more of a pair for this contrasting pair I would photography a stationary train, anticipating the next train at platform 1 I framed the image to create an interesting composition, that had a varied interest around the frame, I then when the train had stopped at the platform took 3 photos, with this one, without any people being the better of the trio I felt the strong contrasts and architecture suited a strong black and white image so with a bit of editing, adjusting the saturation of the colours in black and white to give the high contrast finish.

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As with all black and white photography the tonal range is very important and this image is very successful in ensuring it is even while still having the strong contrast, The placement of the train, slightly off centre but moving along to the edge of image gives it space to move into while still not being lost out of the image. Using the tracks in the foreground pull the viewer’s eye in more so which really focuses the eye on the train. I think the contrast on these images are very strong and obvious and they strongly complement each other as an interesting pair.

Pointed/Blunt:

Pointed:

We had an unexpected visitor in the garden one morning so I took advantage of this and got to taking a few photos, the light was slightly overcast so although it was even it was somewhat dull. Using my 75-300 lens to give the hedgehog some space as to not upset it I got to a low position to shoot head on with it as I felt this gave a far more interesting view as opposed to the side, I then took a number of shoots from different positions as the hedgehog found its feet. Then in Lightroom a couple of adjustments were made cropping and levelling the image, adding a vignette and boosting the contrast slightly.

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I think this is a soft and interesting image of the hedgehog, the colours are interesting and the composition, using the lines along the ground really work well in the image, the hedgehog, balanced by the darker line on the right is beautifully sharp at the front and along with the rest of the image, due to the depth of field is out of focus from the spikes back. Although with a pointed image the most obvious aspect of this image of a hedgehog would be its spikes however added to this I really like the point of his nose, the curve and little black point against the wood is very subtle but when noticed its a nice addition. I took this shot at ISO100 at f9.5 with a shutter of 1/125th, this gave me the sharp shallow depth of field and an even background.

Blunt:

Similar to the image of ‘Low’ I was stuck on blunt, everything I could think of just would not inspire me and ironically it was an old wooden spoon that did, the textures and smoothness of the spoon, while being rather chunky too was perfect as a blunt instrument, I then planned to do a very simply and dark still life image of the spoon, I placed it at an angle to the camera with a light low down to the right, I then placed a number of reflectors along the other side of the spoon focused on giving me an even light across the complete subject. A number of shots were taken and used to determine the placement of a few more reflectors, like using an extra one to reflect light into the bowl of the spoon, which is what I did for this final image.

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Although it seems simple this photograph is a lot more work than is visible, the numerous reflectors and their precise placement was critical in ensuring the correct lighting that gave me an even look. I like this image, I think the subject is well lit and at an interesting angle. I felt the black and white would work well due to the interesting texture, I thought that it would show up the detail far better. I shot this at ISO100, f22 and at 1/90th of a second, this enabled a larger depth of field and with the use of a tripod a much sharper image was produced.

Straight/Curved:

Straight:

This atmospheric and rich coloured image was taken along the train line in Eastleigh, I noticed the amount of lines in this view a number of times on my walk to the train station so when I noticed this contrast I knew this was a shot waiting to happen, balancing on a railing to reach over the fence I managed to compose the image wanting to draw the train lines from the bottom left I wanted to see what this would give me so after a few slightly different views I settled on this one.

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I think this is an extremely atmospheric image with interesting colours and to compliment the brief there are straight lines everywhere in this image. I really like the composition of this image and I’m glad I picked this one over others, the railway lines pull you into the photo for the bridge to then take your eye, this is all complimented by the atmospheric sky and framed by the vignette. I took this shot at ISO100, f5.6 at 1/180th of a second, and with a touch of editing to boost the sky slightly and to add the vignette.

Curved:

I had a number of ideas for this image, mainly architecture and nature but when I was photographing at a local car show for another exercise I noticed this car and how the curves and lines of it were very interesting and really pulled the eye in. I approached the car from a distance, aiming to view it from as many positions as possible in an aim to get the best image showing the curves and details of the car. I settled on a low point from the corner, this gave a very interesting shot that gave the illusion of the car coming out towards you from the corner due to the curves and position of the wheels.

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The tightly framed composition works really well in emphasising the curves and lines of the car. With the wheel being at that angle,  it gives the impression of the closest part of the car to the camera coming out towards the viewer, this enhances the curves and shape of the bodywork really making the image stand out. I feel this is a strong image and represents the contrast really well.

Rough/Smooth in one image:

So for this image where I have to show the contrast in one image I had the idea of producing a portrait that showed one half of the face rough and the other smooth, I therefore enlisted some help in the shape of a model, I set up a very basic lighting setup, one light high up at a 45 degree angle to the side of the model with a reflector directly on the other side. I took 4 images to ensure I got the correct exposure and completed the rest of this image in Lightroom and Photoshop. I firstly made one whole image that looked older, boosting the clarity, saturation and adding more blacks to the shadows. I then saved this as a new file, and then created a whole image where I made the portrait as airbrushed as possible, reducing the clarity and using the spot removal tool where possible I softened and evened out the skin, then with the clone tool I removed the wrinkles and facial hair shadow. I then darkened each background to ensure they matched, along with the jumper to blend in with the background to really add focus on to the portrait. I then selected just over half of the airbrushed imaged and copy and pasted it onto the other. Then once in place I used the eraser with 0%hardness to blend the two together to give a transitional feel.

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I am extremely happy with this image, it is exactly what I set out to achieve and had in my mind as I started. I really like how well they blended together. The odd symmetry works very well and the image has a real striking appearance when first viewed. Having received some feedback on this image already, it could also appear to be light and dark too. I think the eyes of the model really capture the essence of the image, with one being soft while the other quite focused and ominous. This for me is a very interesting and striking image which I feel really captures the contrast well and in a unique way, I think it is technically and aesthetically successful and shows an interesting process and use of photoshop.

Conclusion:

So overall this assignment has made me really look at the elements in the photography and what they portray, I have thought outside the box on a number of photos while also producing some rather safe images also, but I would like to think that all are at a good standard. I would like to try and continue to use unique and varying techniques to compliment ideas I have for this course and for others.

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