Saturday, August 28, 2010

Exercises 3 & 4: Review

Exercise 3 was all about experimenting with light.  I chose Matt as my subject (always my favourite model) and went for a head shot.  We tried very bright sunshine which highlighted the contours of his face rather unflatteringly - I found the shadows around the eyes to be distracting. 

Foil worked well as a reflector (although it almost blinded him).  This gave a lovely surreal lunar feel to the images.  A bit unflattering to anyone with heavy chins though, I suspect.  I also liked the rectangular white shine in his eyes.  I have used a collapsible photographic reflector discs on several shoots before but had never thought to try foil and it would be much more flexible and less intrusive/intimidating in certain lighting situations.

We then moved into the shade, under a vine-covered pergola. The light was very flattering and the final images true to the tones I was seeing with my eyes.

The night time candle-lit images were passable but too noisy (ISO 3200) and too red for my tastes, even with the adjustment of the colour balance in Lightroom.  The black and white versions worked better and I liked the abstract shapes and blocks of tone.

Shooting in the diffused light setting was rather a revelation.  I loved the light and the colours.  Picked up on the detail of the face without being too invasive.  Slatted blinds also give great lines and enhance the composition so very pleased with that.  Must keep experimenting with light and locations and must also become more confident with using flash (and less purist about it!)

Exercise 4 aimed to capture expression while the subject was engaged with an activity.  I photographed my Mum, Patti, chopping onions up.  She is very self-conscious – especially up close so I was glad that she relaxed enough for me to get a smiling shot.  And I was pleased to capture the look of concentration and the final eye-watering image after she’d had an onion cry.  Nice natural light from the kitchen window and I just about got away with the 50mm lens, wide open.  It was a very restricted area though and I would have like to get more angles.  Should have moved the shoot to somewhere with more space to give more options and tried other lenses and apertures.

Also took some pics of my Dad - TC.  He too is sometimes uncomfortable in front of a camera and usually talks when I photograph him so I got quite a few unflattering outtakes.  I thought the wide-angle lens in his garage worked reasonably well, despite some of the resulting distortions.  A couple of these images were usable as contextual portraits and certainly captured TC as his family so often see him.  It was difficult to always see his face and eyes due to the set up of his garage and I should have tried to pose some of the shots better to get his profile.  Again I really need to practise directing my subjects more.

I converted some of the images to black and white as the many colours in the scene, combined with the ludicrous clutter of the garage, was rather distracting in my opinion.  The desaturation helped to give the portraits a softer and more timeless feel, which seemed in keeping with the traditional craft of woodworking.

All in all some good final images but I still must work harder to slow down, plan, find the right setting and then direct my subjects more, while keeping them relaxed.  I must also keep focussed on experimenting with light and location more to get outside of my comfort zones.

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