Create a series of between 6 and ten photographs from one of the following options or a subject of your own choosing:
I chose to do views (more about why in the assignment). Use the exercises from Part Two as a starting point to test out combinations of focal length, aperture and viewpoint for the set. Decide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal. You should keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence to the series.
If you choose to make a collection of views you need to be prepared to do some walking so keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum – you’ll walk further and see more. A tripod will be important to allow you to select a combination of small aperture and slow shutter speed to ensure absolute sharpness throughout the frame. The weather and time of day will be crucial, whether for urban or landscape views. A wide-angle lens is the usual choice but Ansel Adams also used a medium telephoto to foreshorten the perspective, bringing the sky, distance and foreground closer together.
Send your photographs to your tutor accompanied by assignment notes (500-1000 words) containing the following:
- An introduction to your subject.
- A description of the combination of aperture, focal length and viewpoint you’ve used, and how they affect the images.
- An evaluation. You’ll want to evaluate the technical aspects of your assignment, but it’s also important to evaluate how well the series works as a whole. When writing your evaluation, use the following structure: what worked well, what didn’t work so well and how the series might be improved in the future.
Include a link or (scanned pages) to any exercises from Part Two in your learning log that you’d like your tutor to comment on.
Check your work against the assessment criteria for this course before you send it to your tutor. Make some notes in your learning log about how well you believe your work meets each criterion.
“I hope that my work will encourage self-expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us”
I first became aware of Ansel Adams work around 2006 while undertaking a GCSE photography course in England and since then have become more and more enthused about photography and the natural world around us so can relate to the above quote. Having said this I am currently living on a small island 32 miles long by 10 miles wide but it is an island of beauty and natural landscapes. For this assignment I chose to go to one of my special spots on the island: Ballaglass Glen. In the past I have often undertaken a 6 mile walk incorporating this glen. For the purpose of this assignment I chose to use a relatively small area (but the most scenic) part of the glen bearing in mind the equipment I was carrying. The photos were taken over 3 days over 3 separate weekends which made for different conditions each time. Altogether I took 159 photos – an initial selection took this down to 34 photos and then a further selection down to the 10 below. The first two days it was cloudy and there had also been a lot of rain on the second occasion the previous evening. It was beautifully sunny on the third occasion. I decided to interpret views as different viewpoints i.e. looking at things in the glen standing, looking down, looking up and at as close to ground level as I could get. I was also influenced somewhat by the photographer Fay Goodwin and her landscape work. For a fuller description of the research I undertook for this assignment please see my learning log at https://wordpress.com/post/joysphotographyblog.wordpress.com/637.
Description of Techniques
I have differed in my work from Ansell and Goodwin in two aspects – while I really like shooting landscapes in black and white, it was autumn and I wanted to emphasize the autumn colours so chose to use colour and not to convert the photos. Secondly their work uses a narrow aperture giving a deep depth of field throughout whereas I have used a range of apertures – for my wider view photos I have used f/11-f22 whereas where I wanted to emphasize a detail I have used a wide aperture or low f stop. Prior to beginning the project I also read about techniques and got ideas from an article by Dros in a magazine (2016: 35-39). I also tried some further creativity in one photo by zooming the lens as I took the photo. I remained on Av priority mode throughout the photo shoots – due to the gloomy conditions this did cause slow shutter speeds which meant the camera needed to be on the tripod but alongside this did nicely blur the water in the waterfalls – in fact this was probably more successful when I’ve tried this particular technique using Tv mode. I will provide further technical information under each photo.
Canon 40D camera with 17-85 mm lens
Focal length 24 mm 1/6 sec, f16, ISO 200
This photo is taken standing up with a deep depth of field and with a wide angle. I tried to frame the picture using the tree to the left and the building to the right. For me there is some punctum Barthes (2000) in the building and the little wheel on the wall of it – it leaves me wondering what the building was used for in the past. I feel this photo is somewhat reminiscent of Fay Godwin’s work in that it shows the influence of man on the environment.
Camera 40D, Lens 24-105 mm
Focal length 24 mm, 0.6 secs, f/11, ISO 100
This photo also uses a wide angle and a narrow f stop – f/11 is often favoured for landscape photography. This was taken after the heavy rain. Here I was conscious of using the stream as a lead in line to the waterfall and bridge. I have heightened the colours in Photoshop. Had I been undertaking a more Ansell Adams style I think I would have left it more muted in a B&W version. It was actually quite desolate in the forest on this occasion as the nearby road was closed for a car rally – so much for my short walk with camera gear as I’d ended up lugging it an extra mile and a half to the glen from the main road (uphill on the way back)! I didn’t see a single other person on this occasion. I think the extra autumn leaves that have fallen in the tree on the right give extra interest and this tree helps frame the photo as do the rocks on the left.
Camera 40D Lens 24-105
Focal length 24 mm, 2.5 sec, f/16, ISO 100
For this photo I lowered the tripod to give a lower point of view in order to capture the tree trunks in the distance. I felt the rocks both helped frame the photo and lead the viewer’s eye first to the seat and then the trees. Further framing is provided by the two fore most trees. The autumn leaves also add interest to the woodland floor.
Camera 40D Lens 17-85 mm
Focal length 17 mm, 1.0 sec, f/22, ISO 200
I had deliberately gone back to try and capture this shot on the one sunny day. I used a very narrow aperture of f/22 in order to get the starburst effect. I wasn’t entirely successful and did have some obvious lens glare spots that I removed in Photoshop. I note I had the ISO at 200, it may have been better at 100 as the starburst seems a little over bright.
Camera 40D, 17-85 mm lens
Focal length 17, 2.5 secs, f/16, ISO100
This photo has a view point where I was looking down on the stream – you can see the water has been flattened by this view. Again I have the leading line of the water and rocks going from left to right out of the image.
Camera 40D Lens 24-105 mm
Focal length 24, 0.3 secs, f/16, ISO100
I next turned my view to an upwards look. I feel the circular branch gives a sense of autumn movement although a narrow aperture was used.
In this next photo I tried to be creative in that I zoomed in as I took the photo:
Camera 40D Lens 24-105 mm
Focal length started at 24 mm, 0.3 secs, f/16, ISO 100
This again was a looking up view. The zooming gives a completely different look to the photo – more like a radial blur filter in Photoshop. The eye is drawn to the central point of the photo.
For the following photos I used a shallow depth of field for the various views.
This photo was an experiment gone wrong but does demonstrate how a shallow depth of field can produce an interesting picture. I had set out to try and get enough autumn coloured leaves in the wee whirlpool to produce a swirling brown mass in the river – I think I would’ve needed to have put it on a very slow shutter speed to achieve this and a lot more leaves in the river. As I was shooting in Av I gave up on that idea but had captured this picture taken as I was throwing leaves.
Camera 40D Lens 24-105 mm
Focal length 24 mm, 1/30 sec, f4, ISO100
The viewpoint was from standing height looking down onto the river. It is slightly similar to Cosci’s work (see research section of learning log – link above) with the shallow depth of field although he focused on urban landscapes in his series.
Canon 40D, Sigma 105mm macro lens
Focal length 105 mm, 1/6 sec, f/4
I’ve always enjoyed photographing fungi and my original intention on my first visit was to do this for Exercise 2.6. However, being near the end of autumn there was very little left and I had begun to take some of the other photos which eventually led to this series for the assignment. I did however find two clumps this being one of them. I used a macro lens which gives a shallow depth of field and long focal length. This meant that the sharpness across the picture varies but I tried to get the underneath sharp.
I couldn’t have autumn woodland without a view of an autumn leaf and the veins that show so clearly in the leaves.
Canon 40D Lens 24-105
Focal length 50 mm, 1/30 sec, f/4, ISO100
I used a mid-range focal length for this picture with the low f stop giving a blurred background. I think this has helped keep the individual leaves on the main leaf sharp and emphasized the veins which is what I set out to achieve.
What worked well – I felt that keeping it to an area where I could manage my equipment worked well. I think also taking my time over the assignment and doing it over several sessions meant I had more variety in the conditions. I feel that technically the photos generally are well taken and composed. I think doing the exercises in Part 2 had made me slow down and think more about what I’m doing rather than being a happy snapper. I was able to make a series of photos that used most of the techniques in those exercises with a mix of shallow and deep depth of field. I did use different lenses to try and see if this made a difference to the quality of the photos. I think a viewer would recognise this is a series of photos in an autumn woodland and are coherent from that point of view.
What didn’t work so well – I did find it hard at times sticking to a landscape format as trees and waterfalls may be better in a vertical. I knew that if I wanted to include some of my other ideas however they were more suited to landscape. I’m not sure about the mixing of the two types of apertures works or the zoomed in photo. I was disappointed with the shots I tried with my macro lens due to lack of sharpness in all the right places. A reflector may have helped with the light. All round it was a difficult shot to get due to the slope of the ground where they were and the need for a tripod. It was hard to find things to add extra interest into the shots – there were very few people around on any of the three sessions – one other photographer the first day; nobody on the second and some people leaving with their dogs as I arrived on the third. However, this is often the case with landscape photography.
If I was to do the series again I would like to try it with a vertical format. I think if it wasn’t autumn I would probably also try black and white with a deep depth of field more along the lines of Adam Ansells work. This may have given it a more mysterious focus with more for the viewer to interpret. I would improve the fungus shot by either taking a series of photos with different focus points that could later be stacked in Photoshop to make one image or perhaps try the 24-105 lens. I would want better light for the whole series but for that shot in particular perhaps to try bouncing light back onto the fungus – some dew drops on the spider web may have made for more interest as well.
The link for the exercises in Part 2 is as follows: https://joysphotographyblog.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part 2
Adams, A. (Unknown). The Adams Ansell Gallery At http://anseladams.com/ (Accessed on 3 December 2016).
Barthes, R. (2000). Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Vintage.
Dros, A. (2016). A Day in the Woods. Digital SLR Photography. December 2016.
My evaluation of these points is as follows:
Demonstration of technical and visual skills – A variety of different lenses was used with differing apertures. Different viewpoints were used to fit the theme of views and good observation was used to have images that gave a wide angle of view as well as a narrow angle of view. While I was clear the photos were from a relatively small area (probably akin to the Square Mile of the 1st assignment) there was good use of different views and materials to ensure there was variety in the assignment. There are some issues of focus blur in some of the images particularly where a shallow depth of field was used. Compositional techniques of lead in lines, the rule of thirds and framing are evident in the majority of the photos. I would give myself 30% for this section.
Quality of outcome – I believe I tried to demonstrate most of the skills learned in the exercises in Part 2 – the one element lacking was people in any of the shots but in winter there are few people out and about. I have tried to present the work coherently with the wide angle shots first followed by those with a shallow depth of field. I have introduced my topic and how I came to undertake this particular series and also the research I did to both improve my techniques and come up with new ideas. The bit that is lacking here is putting any interpretation or meaning on the photos but I’m a bit like some of the photographers I researched in that I would like the viewer to put their own interpretation on the photos. Due to this lack of conceptualisation I would give myself 14% for this criteria.
Demonstration of creativity – this is an area I struggle with – the coming up of new ideas. I had seen a photo on Facebook from a photographer friend with the whirl pool idea but was unable to replicate this. I got the idea for zooming in while taking the photo from the exercise in part 2 where it asked us to zoom in while walking to the person in the photo – I hadn’t expected the photo to be quite so abstract. I think the ideas here were good but the technique not perfected so again I would give myself 14%.
Context – I think my areas to improve section gives some idea of the reflection I have done since taking the photos and from the shifting through to making a final selection. The link to the research section shows that I explored the work of three different photographers with two making a marked impression on my work although I also stamped my own style on the photos as outlined in the introduction. For context I would give myself 15%.
This would give a total of 73/100.