Assignment 4 Languages of Light

The Brief

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or controlled light from Part Four (Ex 4.1, Ex 4.2 or Ex 4.3) and develop it into a formal assignment submission. The submission requirement for this assignment is a set of between six and ten high-quality photographic prints.

There are many ways to edit and the most valuable one is probably to show your work to friends, family and your OCA peers for feedback – you are guaranteed to discover something new in your work. Another tip is to pin the work up on the wall and live with a for a few days. ‘A Quick Guide to Editing Your Photo Series using Stickies’ on the IPO (Invisible Photographer Asia) website, but bear in mind that this is not a narrative assignment – you’re not required to produce a story.

EDITING 101 – A Quick Guide to Editing Your Photo Series using Stickies

Assessment of photography in any context is an assessment of images and accompanying words so please Include a written analysis of your work outlining:

• how you have developed the assignment from the original exercise in Part 4

• which practitioners you’ve looked at for inspiration and how their work has influenced you

• your technical approach and any particular techniques you incorporated

• the strengths and weaknesses of particular photographs and your project as a whole (selfassessment)

Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria. Write 500–1,000 words.

Response

It was clear from the outset that I wanted to explore exercise 4.3 Egg or Stone further as I thought this would help me advance some of my other work such as assignment 2 which I plan to revisit shortly. Aside from using DTP setups and largescale camera machines when I worked in publishing, I had not carried out any serious studio photography, except for some flower photography I had done a few years ago. So in order to prepare further for this assignment I carried out another studio exercise with my partner Debra which you can find here.

Research

I decided that I would like to revisit my previous fascination with flower photography and as such look for practitioners whom had worked in a similar field or capacity. So a search was carried out and rewarded me with Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) a world renowned photographer who was interested in nudes and botanical forms amongst other things and became a founding member of the F.64 Group along with Ansel Adams. I took a look at a library of her botanical works which were very striking, sharp, making great use of the fauna and natural light of California. From bold statements of light and shadow shown in her images of succulents to the delicate and sharp focus of Callas, which I had only seen previously at the Eden Project several years ago. You can view some of Imogen Cunninghams botanical work here

“The formula for doing a good job in photography is to think like a poet.”

Imogen Cunningham

The next photographer I looked at was Harold Feinstein (1931-2015) who started his career at the age of 15 and became a member of the photo league at 17, which was essentially a co-operative of New York based photographers working together on a range of social and creative causes. In addition Harold was involved in the early New York City street photography scene and has since built a career around a range of subjects. What drew me to Harolds work was his use of scenography, a technique of using a digital scanner as a camera, which is illustrated in the works he created in producing the book 100 Flowers. Initially I was drawn in thinking this was some very cleverly crafted studio shots. That said he produced a beautiful collection, which has since been added to with 3 further books on flowers covering Orchids, Tulips and Roses.

Technical Approach

So for this exercise I setup a studio back using our kitchen and/or conservatory space to produce a number of shots using a single light source, in this case a Neewer 60cm x 60cm softbox fitted with an 85 watt 5500k tri-phosphor bulb  that would positioned in accordance with my preference for that particular shot. Cameras were set to manual with a combination of manual and autofocus being used. Cameras used for this exercise were the Canon Kissx4 and Canon 6D with Canon 24mm-70mm Lens and a Sigma 105mm Macro Lens.

Contact Sheets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Selection

This was selected from the first batch of photos taken in the conservatory, which was shot close up with the light source coming from the right and at eye level to the subject. It was still daylight outside so I had blocked off much of that light also coming from the right with black cloth.

Purple Lilac Chrysanthemum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS Kiss X4
  • Taken: 10 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/3s

This shot in hindsight should have be re-shot as I was not happy with the banding in the background caused by another flower (out of focus) in the background. The shot still works well with the level of detail. Again this was shot with the same setup as the previous shot and with the light source at eye level to the target.

Orange Gerbera Daisy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS Kiss X4
  • Taken: 10 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

This shot was part of the second shoot I started in the kitchen, Using a the same equipment, this was shot close-up, this time the light source positioned to the left and about a foot above the subject. In setting up this shot I cut the stems of the Tulips accordingly to create a little depth and symmetry within the shot. I was very pleased with the way this one turned out. The camera was repositioned to capture the shot you see below.

Red Tulip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS Kiss X4
  • Taken: 18 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/5s

With this shot I kept the light source coming from the left but positioned at 45 degrees to the subject. In addition I lowered the light to below the eyeline of the subject. I have switched cameras at this point switching to the 24mm-70mm lens on the Canon 6D MK2, so I was able to move further away from the subject.

Orange Lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 20 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 66mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/8s

With this shot I set the light source to the left of the subject at eye level, Using a 24mm-70mm lens I had the subject angled towards the camera. The camera was set closer to the subject and slightly above almost shooting head on. In the instance I wanted to capture the overlapping petals from this rosebud.

A favourite Yellow Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/15s

Again I set the light source to the left of the subject

Tulip in Red and Yellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/15s

With this shot I maintained the light coming from the left, but set between one to two feet above the subject, The daisy in this case I cut short on the stem and angled toward the camera which was positioned facing down towards the  subject so that I could capture the full head of the subject.

Pink Daisy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 3.2s

With this shot I kept the light source coming from the left and above the subject. You can see clearly where the shadow falls to the right of the shot almost to the point where the Peony appears to float in the darkness.

Peony Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2.5s

This shot I set the light source from the at approximately 30 degrees to the subject bouncing the light off the left of the subject, hence the light of the frame is a little more diminished. I have switched cameras at this point switching to the 24mm-70mm lens on the Canon 6D MK2. In this instance I was looking for symmetry between the two tulips yet the asymmetry between the two, makes for an interesting shot.

Tulip (reds again)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 61mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

This last shot the light source was repositioned to 45 degrees to the subject coming from left and 3 feet above the subject. I kept the camera at eye level to the subject, I like the juxtaposition of the three blooms and how the light creates shadow on the lower bloom.

Chrysanthemum in trio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 24 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 2s

Reflection

I happy that this satisfies all the creative and technical requirements of the brief, but there were a number of things that might be worth addressing for future reference:

The one thing that has stood out for me from this exercise is the space requirements when carrying out studio photography especially when using large backdrops and softboxes in a confined space. Working in the conservatory, I had to wait until late in the day to make the shots I wanted and there is a lesson to be learned here in making use of what you have and there was a perfect opportunity to use natural light in this assignment. Using the kitchen allowed for better control of the ambient light, but also hindered my options in terms of lighting and access. In looking back at work I had done previously in the area my setup was a little more basic, yet I was just as happy with the results I got from this as illustrated below:

Early photo taken in 2011

I also would have benefitted from further feedback from my peers after posting the images to my flickr and facebook accounts. That said the sheer number of images posted as per the contact sheets would have borne more fruit had a whittled down the number of images sooner. The other thing I did think about especially looking back again at the work of Imogen Cunningham is perhaps there was a missed opportunity here to explore different light sources as part of this assignment and make better use of the 105mm lens in not necessarily getting closer but improving clarity and composition of some of the shots. I did go back and shoot some natural light shots from the third batch of flowers, not included in this assignment which you can find here.

In addition, I also felt there was a sense of what I wanted to achieve with this assignment that would have garnered better results had I come up with some hand drawn rough sketches first or even a written brief of my own expectations of each shot. In hindsight despite the preparation it did require, it did feel a little rushed even after 3 separate shoots. That said I did feel like the photos improved with each attempt and because of that and my fascination with the subject matter, I shall look forward to revisiting it again and again in the future.

References

Harold Feinstein, Portfolio, Flowers. [online]. Available at: https://www.haroldfeinstein.com/portfolio/flowers/ [Accessed 16th May 2020]

Imogen Cunningham, Image Library.[online]. Available at: https://www.imogencunningham.com/image-library/plants/ [Accessed 16th May 2020]

Wikipedia, Imogen Cunningham. [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imogen_Cunningham [Accessed 16th May 2020]

Azquotes, Imogen Cunningham. [online]. Available at: https://www.azquotes.com/author/19890-Imogen_Cunninghams [Accessed 16th May 2020]

Wikipedia, Photo League. [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photo_League [Accessed 16th May 2020]

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS Kiss X4
  • Taken: 10 May, 2020
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/3s
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