Monday, 25 March 2013

Assignment 2

Assignment 2 has been submitted, I thought deciding what photographs I would submit fro this one would be easier than assignment 1...on the contrary it was even harder, lets hope they are well received.

I'm straight into part 3 colour now as I need to keep the momentum going.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Assignment 2

Elements of Design 

This second assignment of the Art of Photography incorporates the insights I have learned so far on the course into a set of 11 photographs directed towards one subject, street scenes, which between them will show the following effects. 
  • Single point dominating the composition 
  • Two points
  • Several points in a deliberate shape 
  • A combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • Diagonals 
  • Curves
  • Distinct, even if irregular, shapes
  • At least two kinds of implied triangle
  • Rhythm
  • Pattern

My personal brief for this assignment was a set of photographs, incorporating the above requirements, all taken in and around Exeter, Devon. The photographs were taken over a period of two weeks, I was hoping to taken them all in one day, but weather, being either snow, hail or rain all conspired to make it a little longer than I expected.All photographs were taken with a Nikon D300 fitted with either a 18-50mm or 70-300mm lens. 

Single point

This scene of a university student ascending the ramp to Exeter library is an example of a single point dominating the composition. I positioned the student to the left of the frame so that she would be walking into the frame, and the eye is immediately drawn to her. The eye then moves up the diagonal of the ramp and out the shot. Depth of field was not a consideration for this shot, hence the aperture and shutter speed used. Another element to this scene is the diagonals present in the ramp, this is an example of a real diagonal and not a diagonal via perspective as you will see later in this assignment. 

Two points

I was walking past a building site on the outskirts of Exeter when I saw this warning sign placed next to the broken down open door. As soon as I saw it I thought of looking at the warning sign and the open door, thinking whats in there?I framed the photograph so that the warning sign was towards the bottom left of the image. The eye is immediately drawn to the yellow sign and then to the second point of the open door and back again. It poses the same question to the viewer as the one I had ‘What’s inside the door?’I had to walk on to the site to get this photograph, with permission of the foreman, I returned to the same site a few days later only to find all of the buildings had been flattened. Grab the shot while you can! 

Several points in a deliberate shape

Topsham quay is to the south west of the centre of Exeter, as I was walking around there I saw this young boy playing with his bucket, I liked the way the mooring hoops in the wall and the ropes create a shape, albeit a straight line from the bottom of the photograph up towards the boy playing. I framed the shot so that the boy was to the top, so that the eye would be drawn along the wall and hoops towards the top of the frame. I used a small aperture in order to maintain the necessary depth of field throughout the frame.
This again was another overcast day and the colours seem a bit flat due to the grey over cast conditions 

Vertical and horizontals

The old parts of Exeter are a good source of photographs. These steps were just off the street. I decided that a good angle would be taking a photograph, looking up from the steps to the street. 

This was to be a handheld shot as I wanted the photograph to incorporate someone walking past the end of the lane and not be blurred from motion blur as you can see in this photograph it was raining, again. The lane was very dark, and coupled with the white painted shops at the top of the steps, the dynamic range from light to dark made for a tricky exposure. I therefore set the exposure from the lighter areas of the frame, coupled with the ISO of 400 gave me a shutter speed of 1/250, so that the person walking past would be sharp. The area of the steps were underexposed, but this was rectified and lightened in post production, where I also changed it to black and white to the concentrate the attention on the horizontal of the steps, the verticals of the door frame and man with the umbrella.


In this photograph, the seagulls are lined up on the edge of the quay in centre of Exeter. The angle that the photograph was taken creates the diagonal. Not only has the edge of the quay created a diagonal, but the line of seagulls creates another. 

Diagonals are much easier to create within a photograph, as they depend mostly on viewpoint. As you will remember in the photograph of the of the student ascending the ramp, which was a real diagonal.


Exeter St Davids railway station, viewed from the Station Road level crossing. 

I took this photograph using a 70-300mm zoom lens looking up the platform, the curves of the platform and railway lines sweep away out of the frame, giving the viewer a sense of movement out of the frame. 
In post production I changed it to black and white in order to take away any distraction of the yellow roof canopy, so that the viewer concentrates on the curves only. 

Distint, even irregular shapes

On the quay I found these rusting old chains and rope tied around a concrete mooring post create good distinct irregular shapes. The different types of metal links present and knots in the rope create interesting shapes for the viewer to look at as they scan around the frame. I used a small depth of field in order to maintain a good depth of field. 

On retrospect I should have used a fill in flash to help lift the colours and fill in the shadows.

Implied triangle 

This photograph of a train departing Exeter St Davids railway station and crossing the River Exe, is an example of an implied triangle.  The bridge and train create the base of the triangle and the spire of St Martins church in the background creates the top. 

I had to boost the ISO as I didn’t have my tripod with me and I wanted to maintain a shutter speed I could hand hold satisfactorily as well maintaining a small enough aperture to give the best depth of field. 

Inverted implied triangle

Whenever I visit Exeter, I always see this AA salesman somewhere in the centre. On this occasion he was outside a well know department store in the High Street. He was leaning up against the glass and looking up and down the street for potential customers. I waited until he was looking to his left and took this photograph. His eye line creates an imaginary line towards the advertisement in the window, this being the base of the triangle and his seat next to him with his jacket draped over, the inverted peak of the triangle. 

I particularly like the fact that the advertisement is for an anti aging product and the AA man may well be looking at the sign! 

Again this was an overcast day and the salesman was stood under and awning outside the shop. I boosted the ISO to 400 in order to take this photograph hand held. 


This old building overlooking the Cathedral green in Exeter is an example of rhythm, on post production I changed it to black & white as it was red brick building and I wanted to keep the scene as plain as I could so that the viewer would concentrate on the rhythm of the windows. 

In rhythm there needs to be a sequence in the picture, so that the eye will follow a direction and experience an optical beat. The repetition of the windows and small trees on the ground floor convey the necessary sequence. 

The difference between rhythm and pattern is that rhythm has a movement of the eye across a picture, whereby pattern is essentially static. 

In this photograph of a stone wall to a house, it works strongly as a example of pattern as the bricks fill the frame and suggest to the viewer that they continue will beyond it. The eye is drawn to different parts of the stone wall and scan across it in no particular order. 


I have really enjoyed this part of the course and feel that I’m feeling more comfortable with what is required and the I hope the you can see an improvement in the quality of the images, I can certainly see there is a slight improvement over some the images I submitted for assignment 1.

I am tending to use my camera on manual more often than not and a lot more confident in taking full control of the exposure.

Following the feedback from assignment 1, I have researched more photographers and this has helped me in the preparation of this assignment. This is something I will be doing more of, as I've have really enjoyed looking into the background and works of other photographers. 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Peter Fraser - In context

Following on from my visit to the Tate St Ives, I went to a lecture at Plymouth University given by Mr David Chandler, Professor of Photography at the school of Art and Media. The lecture was an in depth look at the work of Peter Fraser, setting it within the context of the radical shifts in British photographic practice since the 1980s.

David Chandler was formerly the Curator of Photography at the National Portrait Gallery 1982-1988 and has held other high profile posts before coming to Plymouth.

The lecture gave an insight into the early life of Fraser, his unhappy childhood and influences to his style. Having seen the influence William Eggelston had on his work, I was interested to hear that following the exhibition at Bristol in 1984, he travelled to Memphis, Tennessee USA to work with William Eggelston. His intention was to stay for in an extended period of time, however the trip only lasted 9 weeks before Fraser returned back to the UK.

There was a look at his previous works, two blue buckets 1988, Deep blue 1987, Lost for words 2010 and his latest A city in mind 2012.

Chandler discussed other contemporaries of Fraser, such as Paul Graham, A1 The great North Road, David Hickey, Air Guitar. These were photographers that I had not heard of before and have since looked at.

Overall this was an interesting lecture and a good insight into Fraser's work and background.

Peter Fraser

Tate St Ives 

Peter Fraser - Untitled, Nazerli 2006

On a recent trip to Cornwall, I visited the Tate at St Ives as I had heard about an exhibition of Peter Fraser, a photographer I knew of, but had not really seen much of his work. 

This was my first trip to the Tate so I was looking forward to the visit as well as looking at some of Peters work. The exhibition included works from drawn from around 30 years of his work, including his latest work, 'A City In Mind 2012' and also I was glad to see work from 'Two Blue Buckets 1988', the work I had come across before. 

Peter Fraser - Two Blue buckets, Aberdare 1985

All of Peters work are still life. I love the way that he does not construct his photographs as in the normal way of still life photography, but rather he focuses on the normal everyday objects he finds. 

The photograph, Two Blue Buckets is a case in point, the contrast of the buckets against the dark flooring, the colour, light and shadows. The objects are ordinary but intriguing all the same. 

The title photograph of the plastic cup covered in cocktails sticks, was found when Peter was looking around an old Welsh church, fascinated him. Peter stated about the photograph, 'It stands out as an isolated symbol of human activity and presents the viewer with a mysteriously shaped object. made by man but also strangely otherworldly. 

Peter Fraser was born in Cardiff in 1953 and graduated from Manchester University in 1976 and in 1984 exhibited some of his work at the Arnolfini, Bristol alongside William Eggleston, a person that would greatly influence his later work and so cemented his belief in the possibilities of colour photography. 

I found this exhibition, both interesting and enlightening, how everyday objects, photographed in a certain way can challenge the mind and pose questions...........

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Pentti Sammallahti

Following on from my research on Henri Cartier-Bresson into his style of black and white reportage photography, I have subsequently come across the Finnish photographer, Pentti Sammallahti. Cartier-Bresson counted Sammallahti as one of his favourite photographers.

Pentti was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1950 into very much a photography family. His grandmother, Hildur Larsson was a famous Swedish photographer for a Helsinki newspaper, Kaiku in the 1900's. He grew up surrounded by her images.

At the age of 11 he produced his first photographs, prints of everyday life in Helsinki and in 1964 joined the Helsinki camera club.

From 1971 Sammallahti began to exhibit extensively in Finland and throughout the world. He is recognised as a master craftsman both in terms of photographic print and also mechanical printing methods.

His book 'Here, Far Away' published in 2012 is retrospective look at forty years of his work and charts his work around Europe, Africa, China and India.

Man sleeping in doorway - Helsinki, Finland 1964 - Pentti Sammallahti 

I have looked at many of Sammallahti's photographs online and one that stands out to me is one that he took when he was only 14 in his native Finland.  Called 'Man sleeping in doorway' I was taken by its simplicity, the horizontal and vertical lines of the door frame, wooden panels and bricked pavement. The man asleep oblivious to the birds pecking at the ground a metre or so away.

This photograph, demonstrates many of the principles I have learnt about in the the previous exercises dealing with elements of design. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rhythms and Patterns

Exercise: Rhythms and Patterns ( 2 Photographs)


The last exercise in this section on Elements of design deals with rhythms and patterns. For this exercise I had to take two photographs, one conveying rhythm and one pattern.

Michael Freeman in his book 'The Photographers Eye' states that when there are several similar elements in a scene, their arrangement may, under special conditions set up a rhythmic visual structure.
This is most effective when it fills the frame and it is assumed by the viewer that it continues beyond the  edges of the frame.

Image 1

For a photograph to suggest rhythm there needs to be a sequence to it, so that the eye will follow a direction and experience an optical beat. Image 1 is the outside of the multi storey car park at Drakes Circus in Plymouth. The metal panelling running across the width of the image, set up a rhythm via its repetitive theme. 


Like rhythm, pattern is built on repetition. While rhythm encourages the eye to move in a particular way, patterns does not, but rather roam across the photograph. As with rhythm to be most effective the pattens should extend beyond the edge of the frame. 

Image 2

Image 2, is of an old cobbled court yard of a church, the stones are haphazardly placed, and the eye follows this, making this good example of pattern.