Fill-Flash

The purpose of this exercise was to learn to bring out a foreground subject with a flash that is balanced with ambient light, whether sunlight or artificial light.

All of the following images were taken using a Yongnuo Speedlite YN568EX.

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A lot of the photos I took either ended up slightly out of focus or with the sky so bright that it overwhelmed Barnaby. This is the first photograph where I thought that the balance was just getting to where I wanted it to be. The fence post and panel are almost fading into the background. The thermos flask that is holding the bear upright blends in with the sky where it is white around the base. The position of the legs makes the metallic base seem like it is part of the fence post.

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This is the first of the photos where I believe I got the balance between the flash and the ambient light balanced to my own satisfaction.

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Slightly further away and the flash doesn’t give a good representation of the colour of Barnaby’s fur.

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A much better balance between the flash and ambient light. I like the level of detail that you can see. The low angle of the shot with more of the sky in the background also make the bear stand out more from its environment.

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Again, I like the level of detail but he doesn’t stand out quite as much from the environment.

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With the distance shots he disappears into the background a bit too much.

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Again, you can see that he is there and the fence panels draw your eye to him but the patch draws the eye past him so that he fades in too much.

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Closer up, Barnaby again stands out from the background a bit more but the shrubbery overwhelms him.

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The fence panels and angle of the houses draw you to the bear but there is a bit too much distraction to the right of the image.

Exercise 2.8 Fill-flash-4997 - Cropped

A tighter crop removes a lot of the distractions and allows other elements of the photo to draw the eye towards the main subject.


I think having the flash on the camera makes it more challenging to get the balance right when you want to take shots further away from your subject. For the longer shots I would be tempted to position remote flashes so that they were out of shot but a suitable distance from the subject so that they were illuminated to just the right amount.

In 2016 I did a photography evening class at my local college. One of the sessions, which I unfortuantely missed, was about working in a studio and showing how to use flash and other means of lighting your subject.

Towards the end of the course we got the opportunity to do some work in the studio with someone who wanted photographs for her dance portfolio. The image I eventually selected is below. The biggest challenge I found with trying to work as part of a group was not having control over the lighting and flash, however, when you do have that cotnrol you can get some really good results.

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Near and far

The purpose of this exercise is to make use of the knowledge gained with regards to depth of field and to photograph a figure in an environment combining portrait with landscape and emphasising the sense of space.

To meet the exercises objective a series of full-length and head-and-shoulders portraits need to be taken using a foreground figure or face in front of a background plus a foreground space with a figure in the distance with both areas in focus.

The figure needs to be placed in the edges and corners of the frame as well as in the centre and on the four points of the ‘golden section’.


For this exercise I roped in my friend Matt as my model. We’ve been talking about me taking photos of him for a while so this was a good chance to do that.

We met up at Stourhead House and Gardens. Unfortunately Matt was limited with the time he had available due last minute work committments so I took photos of him as we made our way around the gardens using a two mile route. The gardens would provide plenty of interesting backdrops for shots, especially as we walked around the lake.

Wanting to maximise the Depth of Field for my shots I set the camera to an aperture of f.25 / f.28 using my 18-55mm lens.

Of the photographs I took a number of them didn’t work because part of the image wasn’t in focus or Matt was moving, resulting in blurring of hands, arms or legs, which was an interesting effect but something I found distracting for this particular exercise.

I also rejected a number of images where Matt was to one side or the other of the photo but was looking towards the same side of the frame as he located.

Images were processed in Lightroom to make adjustments to exposure as well as the Tone Curve.

The results of the exercise can be found in the slideshow below along with a selection of the images.


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People and Activity – Final Images and Reflection

For Exercise 2.5 we had to photgraph an event and then work through a process by which we eliminated photographs in stages using the 100/50/25/10 process. This means that during the first pass through the images you’ve captured you reject 50% of them, the second pass through removes another 50%; leaving you with 25% of the original number. The final pass reduces the number that you will work with to 10% of the original number.

In my case I took 340 photos at the British National Ploughing Chnampionships at Bishops Lydeard in Somerset on the 15th October 2017. The event over two days but I went on the second day.

The event is run by the Society of Ploughmen and this is the 67th championships.

The images that I rejected I felt didn’t really have an interesting enough subject, were too cluttered, the subject was too distant or it wasn’t clear what the subject was.

The  photos I selected I feel show the wide range of ploughing that was being demonstrated during the day, from horse drawn ploughs all the way to modern tractor ploughing.

The photos all contain a mix of machines, animals and people.

When I went into this activity it was with the work of Martin Parr in mind, particularly one of his images which had a group of people queuing outside a marqee at a garden party. The image of the burger van with people queuing is my attempt at something similar as are images of people stood watching ploughing as well as looking at pieces of farm machinery.

As far as possible the photographs were taken at f11 in order to give the best depth of field, although I did vary this and went to both f2.8 and f28 and above for some shots.

ISO-wise, my initial photographs were taken at ISO 3200 because I’d not reset my camera after the last time I’d taken some pictures while away for a few days. Note to self, reset camera ISO to 400 after using it. Using a high ISO probably added a bit more noise to the images than I would like but it wasn’t overly noticeable when I looked at the images. After realising what the camera was set to I reset the ISO to 400 for the final shots of the day. The benefit of the high ISO was that I could use a very shutter speed, keeping the exposure time short.

Reflecting on the actual event (British National Ploughing Championships) the number of people that were wandering around with cameras made it so much easier to take photographs because, in addition to taking photo themselves, people were used to seeing others taking photographs. In fact on numerous occasions someone would notice me taking a photo as they walked into the shot, would stop and then apologise because they thought they had got in the way. On these occasions I’d respond with something along the lines of “it’s ok, I’m doing a photography assignment and don’t mind if you happen to get in the shot”. Interestingly not once did anyone show any sign of concern that their picture had been taken, a sign that we are so used to people taking photographs that we don’t think too much about the reason someone is taking pictures that might include us.

The slideshow below includes the 34 photos that made up my final selection. Each have been edited in Lightroom to adjust exposure, highlights, shadows and white balance. None of the images have been cropped as I felt I manage to get what I wanted in camera.

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Some of the photos I selected because they appealed to me in specific ways.

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I saw this lady and her dog as I was sitting eating a cheeseburger, bought from the same burger van I photographed. She’d wandered over to the edge of the field and sat down on the grass to have a rest.

Editing the photo I decided to use one of Lightroom’s Vignette presets which I think gives a nice effect.

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This dog was absolutely amazing and his behaviour was pointed out to me by someone else. Of all the shots that I took of it, this is the one that either wasn’t showing it’s rear or had it’s face obscured by the rope the farmer is holding.

Every time the farm went up or down the field the dog would run alongside in the furrow that had been ploughed. In this case following along behind but on the return down the field running down the same furrow it had just run up. It was amusing watching it’s behaviour.

In the first photo I managed to catch it when it stopped for a rest, during post production I applied Lightroom’s Vignette preset to soften the edges of the image.

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The above images have also had Hue and Saturation adjusted to increase the look of the colours, paticularly the yellows and reds.

I chose these images because they tell a particular story.

As we were making our way back from having grabbed something to eat I spotted this competitor working his way up the field. Towards the top of the area he was ploughing he stopped and got out of his tractor.

As I watched him walk back down the area he’d just ploughed, the competitive nature of some of the competitors and how important it was for them to achieve the best they could became apparent.

As walked he scanned the area he’d ploughed and pausing stooped to remove some stones from the ground. He then proceeded back up the field to his tractor examining the furrows he’d just ploughed.

Reaching the tractor he began examining the plough and then took a tape measure out of his pocket and began measuring the width of the furrows. He then began to measure different parts of the plough while making adjustments via various levers.

It as fascinating watching him and even after he’d turned around and was ready to plough another furrow I found myself watching as he made further adjustments to the plough via levers on the back of the tractor. It wasn’t until he was absolutely sure that everything was set up the way he wanted it that he began to work his way back down the field.

Going into the event I had a number of ideas about images I wanted to capture and I believe I did that. However, watching the farmer being so meticulous over the setup of his plough provided a set of images that could be used to tell a particualr story about the event, and not one that I considered before I started. I think that this highlights that when photographing an event, even if we prepare for it and have expectations of what we are trying to achieve, we have to be on the look out for opportunities to capture images that tell a story.

 

An Identi-kit Portrait

For exercise 2.5 we were asked to take portraits of two but ideally four people. The images were then to be folded (or cut) in such a way that you had a forehead, eyes, nose and mouth seperately.

The idea was to then take an element of each and combine them to make an ‘identi-kit’ face.

I made use of my two neices who are twins, but not of the identical kind. Both of the girls were photographed twice to give me four photographs.

The initial portraits were cropped in Photoshop and then, after playing around with a tube format and finding that it didn’t quite work because to get the different features on different sides of the tube meant some sides were smaller than others and so when combined left gaps, I cut the photos into strips with each strip containing the relevant facial feature.

Above is the original four photos that I used (Lottie top Jess bottom).

\Below are the cut up and reassembled photos.

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The thing I found really interesting about this activity was that despite the fact that the twins are not identical when it came to  combining the photos, as long as used Jess’ eyes and chin the result even with Lottie’s nose and forehead, looked like Jess. When I used Lottie’s eyes and mouth an swapped the forehead and nose for Jess’s there was a lot more variation in the result.

Despite not being identical it would seem that both Charlotte and Jess have very similar foreheads and noses.