Assignment 2: People and Activity

For this exercise I am to produce approximately 10 final images of either a person at multiple events, or a group of people at one event. I have chosen to photograph a group of people undertaking one event, this event being a bird of prey experience day at the Hawk Conservancy in Andover, Hampshire. I have attempted here to capture the moments throughout the day, trying to work along a narrative which is something I have looked to focus on following feedback in my previous assignment.

Being an outside event I was certainly under the added pressure of the British weather, with this in mind I decided to take as much kit as I could comfortably carry using my larger rucksack. I took both a wide angle and a telephoto, I was hoping to get a couple of shots of the group as a whole while also looking to focus on the individuals and the specific moments with the birds. In the first area the group flew the birds it was a very large open field with lines of trees either side and with the sky being a very plain grey/white shooting straight on when including the sky gave a very overpowering sky that spoiled the image, I then moved to the sides to include the tree lines, this gave me a lovely natural colouring that not only complimented the focal points and theme but aided the exposure.

Image 1:

IMG_3830Narratives in photography is something I have noticeably struggled with, I enjoy creating groups of photographs that work well along a theme but to include a feasible and obvious narrative as alluded me such far. I have attempted to show this group of people throughout there experience. I found that by continuously shooting and attempting to focus on the specific moments of the day I would be able to follow the narrative. In this first image, I have shown Neil, the ranger leading this experience day for the 6 individuals. I have included this image as I like the composition, it is obvious he is doing something of a demonstration and by using the two people to frame the image, the viewer feels that they are part of it. I have waited for the right hand of the ranger to be up, I feel this gives the image added interest as to what he is doing and in turn the importance of it.

I have placed this image first in the group firstly due to the chronological importance of the narrative, but also that it sets the day up well, it shows that these are novices being shown what to do.

Image 2:

IMG_3869This image was taken moments before the bird was cast off to fly. I have managed to capture the bird looking dead center down the camera so although he is aware, the man is not. I really like this image, managing to photograph the bird looking straight at me was a great achievement and I really think this works well with the narrative. Not only does it show part of the day well, with the novice holding the bird, maybe looking slightly nervously around him as to what to do, it also shows the bird in a very interesting pose, side on but looking at me. When taking this image I was stood to the side of the viewers area to give me a better background. I found that due to the overcast sky I was losing detail and it was far to bland to be interesting. By moving to the side I got a nice blurred tree line that not only compliments the image but also works very well.

Image 3:IMG_3877This image of a Bateleur Eagle in mid-flight was taken at 300mm I have used AI Servo to ensure a sharp as possible image however the speed at which the eagle moves its wings created a rather nice blur. This really shows the movement well while also creating an interesting curved line throughout the image. I like this as an individual photograph, it is striking and interesting and shows the size of the wingspan well. It took a number of attempts to firstly get a feel of where it would fly, how fast and where it would best be against the background. I found that by following it with the camera a couple of times I was able to capture a quick succession of images with this creating the best overall image, due to sharpness, composition and colour. As part of the narrative this image works well to demonstrate what the day was all about, flying some birds of prey. It always shows what each participant was seeing coming towards them to land on there arm, which makes this image a rather fitting personal recollection for them

Image 4:IMG_3882This fourth image of the day shows a female holding a Bateleur Eagle, I have included this image as I enjoy the facial expression and eye line of the subject. I feel she is looking focused on the feet of the bird and how they are gripped onto the glove. The intensity of her brow is captured well only adding to the interest in her facial expression and the overall composition of the bird looking away while she intently looks. This image fits in well with the overall narrative, it shows an advancement in the groups confidence in handling the birds, rather than holding them out stretched they have the arm bent, and calmly looking interested getting closer to the animals. I attempted to frame this image quite tightly, I wanted to really emphasise the eye line and facial expression while also showing the detail in the birds, face, body and talons gripping the glove, This image works very well in telling us a lot a bout the day and the persons confidence and interest.

Image 5:

IMG_3922I have chosen to include this profile image of the Eagle, I think that although it doesn’t not include a person of the activity, the detail of the droplet of water on the beak shows the activity and the strenuousness on the animal. I like the added focus in the eye of the bird, this coupled with the forward pose it gives the image a state of readiness and alert. I like how this progresses the narrative, it brings the viewer an added view of the bird, the detail and also with the droplet the viewer understands more of the animal and impact it has. I have again taken this image from the side of the arena, this has enabled for the nice background with an added bokeh effect which compliments the image nicely.

Image 6:

IMG_3810Following the eagle the group were given the opportunity to fly a vulture, going against what I had previously done before, of moving to the sides, I noticed this composition and felt it would be a very strong image that would work nicely with the narrative, not only does it show a section of the group, obviously under instruction, but also the bird itself on the arm but also in the distance we see another member of staff upon the crest of the hill. This was who the bird flew to and from to each participant. I love this composition, it shows a real section of the group with a lot of depth and interest throughout that draws the viewers eye into the image.

Image 7:

IMG_4102This image was taken of the next and final bird to be flown on the day, a Harris Hawk. This was taken as the group reached the field in which they would be flown and just as the group began to take instruction this hawk got his eye taken by something in an adjacent field and stood on a hand in a real proud and upright pose. I felt this gave the bird a very noble stance and look which when tightly framed really made an impressive looking bird and image. I like how the eyes are off center, looking across and behind the camera but I have managed to position myself where both eyes are visible in the image and the body is at an interesting angle that shows of the chest and wings of the bird. I think although this is just the bird it captures part of the day that was inevitable in a way. Animals which although they’re in captivity they still have the primal instincts, so when they spot something that takes there fancy they are focused solely on that and as you can see in the image, the bird looks extremely fixated on what it saw. In this case the bird did indeed decide to fly off in the opposite direction in hunt of this prey and took the rangers 20 minutes to spot and retrieve.

Image 8:IMG_4086This eighth image of the group shows a member of the group releasing the bird for flight. I am very pleased with the overall framing of this image, I feel it captures the movement at a good time and although the tassel on the glove is slightly slipped at the bottom of the image, I feel the viewer is more fixed on the bird itself and the interesting shape of the wings and its pose. I have included this in the group as it continues the narrative, showing another important moment of the day, a bird being cast off to fly back to the group and by all accounts it was as exciting as having them fly and land on your arm. Although this image is perhaps lacking by not having either front of the bird or person it still captures the moment from a distance and position designated for viewers.

Image 9:IMG_4095This image shows the bird in impact, a split second before it lands on the hand and takes the bait with wings outstretched to act as a wind break and slow it down it is at full stretch. I have in this case tried to hear which person the bird would be coming back to, thus enabling me to get in a good position to capture the moment and in this case instead of following the bird through flight I have with one eye focused the camera on the hand in anticipation of the bird landing and with the other I have followed the bird to enable me to time just right when I need to press and hold the shutter as it was on continuous shooting. I found this gave me not only the best chance to capture the bird in a interesting and in this case exciting position I was also able to do my best on getting the focus just right. I think this image works really well in capturing the moment, however the straps on its talons for the handler to hold on to when on the arm has got in the way of the front of the bird. Although a very small distraction it is in an area of importance and a main focal point. I have still included this image because I feel the overall framing, composition and the moment itself works extremely well with the narrative and as an individual image.

Image 10:

IMG_4051This tenth image shows the Hawk getting its reward. I felt this was a very important image to capture in relation to the narrative of the images as a group, as this is the main reason why these birds fly. I like the composition of this image, the placement of the bird and main focal point at the beak works well in drawing the eye along the arm while the shape and position of the birds body, slightly leaning to the side balanced the image well. The focus of this image is nice and the detail adds to the interest and draws the viewer in further. These points coupled with the the solid blurred green background work well in emphasising the sharpness and making it an overall more pleasing image.

Image 11:

IMG_4044This image really shows the character of the subject, he appears to be telling someone off with the extended index finger adding to the visual detail to this and the stern brow and facial expression. I like that it looks as if the bird is also looking in the same direction as if to share in his feeling. The overall composition of this image works well, its tightly framed to again focus the viewer on the detail in the face and hand, this ensures the viewer takes in the emotive aspect of this image and asks themselves the question as to why is he seemingly cross. This image compliments and continues to evolve the narrative, not only throughout the day but also people confidence, personalities and interaction with others.

Image 12:

IMG_4078This penultimate image shows another spectacular moment, the focus conveyed on the eyes of the bird on the chicken leg, completely takes the viewers eye, coupled with the stunning wing span. The moment captured is that of pure speed, accuracy and desire for the reward. I really think this is a stand out image of the group, the entire composition is dramatic and eye catching, it focuses the viewer straight at the action while keeping in context the narrative of showing the day by making the person an equal area of the image, this helps in both context and balance of the image. Although the point of interest is rather central the overall balance spread across the image enables you to overlook that and the sharpness and timing ensure that the striking impact of the photograph grabs the viewer.

Image 13:

IMG_3937This final image is the culmination of the day, it shows two birds resting after being flown on one member of the group and a ranger as they are about to be taken back to the aviary. It completes the narrative from first flown to last time being held and shows the closeness in which the birds are held by the female member of the group after the confidence has been built throughout the day. The depth of this image is very nice effect, although tightly framed to give the foreground more prominence the background although blurred draws your eye to notice the bird in the back ground which I think works nicely and subtly. By having both people framing the image it gives the birds more of the focal point, adding onto the depth of field used.

Overall I have really enjoyed not only this assignment but the part of the course, people unaware, as mentioned in previous entries has always been an interest of mine when coupled with street photography. The idea of capturing people, as they are when they feel no one is aware of them gives the photographer and in turn the viewer a momentary glimpse into an unknown world which can both enrich and change people perspectives on that unknown person.

Taking into consideration a requirement of mine when setting out on this assignment, the narrative of these images was imperative to how successful the group of images would be. In this case although not perfect I do feel there is improvement on my understanding of what is required to produce narrative in a series of photographs. In the case of these images I have attempted to show the progress of the day, from beginning when the group seemed unsure and nervous with the birds to the end where the confidence was there and they felt a sense of achievement. I have shown a number of feelings with these images, not only in the people but the birds of prey to, from determination, anger and absorption and all add to the narrative and development of the day and subjects.

Please see the link below for the re-edited images to reduce the noise and give a more collective feel to the images.


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