I am pleased with my final selections for assignment 4 and my tutors feedback was positive, the main area that I need to refine was explaining my choices. So rather than a re-work, as I feel this is not necessary, I will aim to explain some of my choices in this assignment.
Many of the choices I made felt instinctive and I have not adequately put them into words, the first question my tutor had asked was why I have inverted the colour of my borders?
I have consistently used white borders on prints for previous assignments however this assignment differed in that I was using a plain background to my image which was either black or white. I did explore the border options but felt that if I kept all the borders to black then the white scanned images would appear to overpower those on the black backgrounds. The same is true if I had selected white borders, the black images would appear stronger. I did not want any image to ‘overpower’ another which is why I decided to invert my borders. I suppose I could have inverted them to match the backgrounds however I was concerned that this might bring to attention the difference of colour between the border black and background black , and also between the background white to the border white. I hope I am making sense at this point?
The other question I was asked is why did I choice the scanned images alongside the photographed image, and why did I choose the objects that I did?
My reason for offering up both the scanned and photographed version of an object was to highlight how different that they can look with different light sources, equally both as beautiful. The hard shells look solid and strong when photographed against the black background but suddenly look more ethereal against the white light. The reverse happens to the flowers, so majestic and beautiful when photographed, but suddenly limp and lifeless under the scanner. The hard exterior of the shells hold true throughout but the flowers are so delicate that they wither and crumple. I choose these objects as my final selection as I liked the notion of the hard versus the soft. It could almost be representative of the human race, people that are presumed hard yet with a hidden softer side and the beautiful , delicate person considered soft enough to break. Obviously we live in a modern world where this can be said of any of us regardless of sex, we are equally able to show a hard exterior as well as crumple under pressure.
I was again pleased by my feedback and I feel that I am progressing even though at times I still struggle to get to grips with the technical side.
My tutor was pleased with the labelling on the prints and presentation although it was apparent they had not been laid out / viewed in the order I had intended. I did add a picture of the layout to the box but in future I need to make this clearer, perhaps more instructional.
My documenting of stages and decisions were logged in more details this time which was following feedback from assignment 3 and this was an improvement. However I agree that I need to record more about exactly why I chose the images I did and why I inverted the borders for example . Many of these decisions were instinctive but I need to ask myself why my instincts led me this way, something I need to remember to include. So again my main area of concentration / improvement is my learning log and getting it more polished as well as communicating my thought process and questioning myself more on a deeper level. I think overall I am building on this and I am starting to look at images and work in much more detail than I did at the start of this course so I am sure it will keep improving.
I don’t feel there is a need for a rework on this assignment, just brushing up on documenting my ideas, however if I did a re-work I might look the heavily cropped work that I explored. My tutor was a bit confused why I had included my 3D cut images, in future if I want to present them this way I would need to do all of them. I can understand this however my intention was to show what extension to the work I could explore, and it was an opportunity to show creativity and how I might consider an alternative way of presenting them . I was under the impression that tutors would always want the work as formal prints, these were supplied with just two additional images as 3d cut outs. So I presume from this that unless I want to layer all ten images I should exclude the 3d ones from my assessment entirely and just leave images of them on my learning log.
After some deliberation I completed assignment 4 today and it is parcelled up ready to send to my tutor. I did have a last-minute decision to make between black and white and colour however I surprised myself by choosing colour!
I felt that the pearlescent egg and the glowing shell would be lost in black and white and that surprisingly the colour did in fact add to the form and texture rather than detract from it.
Overall I am pleased with how this assignment has gone and I have learnt a great deal in the process. I feel I have a much better understanding of the exposure triangle and how to control and use light.
Light makes a huge impact to an image, and understanding the characteristics of different light sources and which to use can really make a difference to the context of an image and how it is viewed. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to experiment creatively albeit only slightly.
I not only looked at natural light and artificial light but also ambient light and the position of light, I also touched on night photography and used studio lighting.
Trying to control and balance the blacks and whites so that they appeared uniform in my images presented a new challenge and I think I almost managed it.
It was interesting to explore the change that not only light but also cropping could make to an image as my seemingly innocent subjects took on a different suggestive connotation when I played with cropping them.
I would like to experiment more with light as well as taking the opportunity to test out more creative approaches in future, and my scanner which is my new favourite thing!
My biggest difficulty was selecting my final images, this is something I continue to struggle with as I find I over think things but it was slightly quicker this time round. I am aware that many of the images taken could seem ‘commercial’ however I think that is more about the subject matter rather than the image as I have tried to approach it differently by using a variety of controlled light sources.
Following my previous experiment I decided to cut a few more to add to my assignment that I am sending my tutor. I also tried to invert the cut to see the effect however I think I prefer it raised rather than inverted.
They are a bit ‘decoupage’ but I am thinking ahead as to how it would look on a variety of images such as portraits and landscapes, perhaps even layering on some kind of acrylic or making a tunnel image.
For this assignment I chose to develop exercise 4.4 using a mixture of objects to try to show texture and form. I had looked at the work of Edward Weston who had used a similar subject and had , I believe, used a light source to light them in his studio. I also looked at the images taken by Imogen Cunningham however I felt that these used natural light rather than a directed light source.
I initially set up the background using both black and white card however I soon preferred the high contrast look against the background . I set up one porta-flash light set as a continuous light to the left and had an additional porta-flash continuous light set above should I require additional lighting to show the form and texture.
As a contrast to this set up I also set up both a light box and a scanner.
I photographed a variety of subjects against the black card , the light box and the scanner. I liked the way the light shone through the objects on the light box and how the scanner flattened them.
I set my camera on a tripod in manual mode to control the black and whites in the image and to obtain the high contrast look that I was trying to achieve, showing texture and form. I had two lens, an 18-300mm Zoom lens and a macro lens. The macro lens was too heavy for my tripod so the images were not as sharp as I had to hold it, a better tripod might be needed for this lens. I wanted to ensure that the images were sharp so I kept the f-stop high , between 18 and 22 and slowed the shutter speed to increase light.
I was pleased with the resulting images and felt I had managed to capture the textures and forms as I had intended. The images do have an essence of Edward Weston however I did use some creativity to experiment with this further. I experimented with the light sources to change the effect on the object, the light box provided some interesting images, especially where the light shone through the shells to highlight their colour. The light box drew your attention to the colour and patterns on the object. The scanner had a different effect again, it flattened the objects so the shadows which show form are not visible, your attention is then drawn to the texture. The raw egg without its shell looks like a pearl under the scanner which I found beautiful.
Using my various lighting set-ups I was able to capture:
Form and shape using the continuous light units
Pattern and colour using the light box
Texture using the scanner
My final selection of images use this combination of sources to capture form, shape, texture and pattern.
I thought at the beginning of this assignment that I would present my images in monochrome, Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham’s images used monochrome and although this was ‘of its time’ I thought that it draw attention to the texture and detail. I ordered my final selection in both monochrome and colour and I was surprised to find that whilst I do love the monochrome the colour adds another dimension. Without the colour it is impossible for the viewer to see the light shine through the shell displaying its magnificent colours or the pearl effect that the scanner revealed in the shell-less egg.
The continuous unfiltered light to the left of this image gave a high contrast with the black background to highlight the pointed spiral of this shell. Casting shadows against itself to reveal its form. The detail in the rings of the shell look almost like layers in a rock face or rings in a tree.
The same shell taken placed on top of an artists light box meant that the light shined through the shell transforming it from its hard, dinosaur type texture to something almost magical as the light shows the smooth curve of its interior and the lines lit to show their golden hue.
This beautiful majestic lily with the continuous unfiltered light cast from the front left reveals the form of each of its five petals and their tongue like texture. Water droplets sit on its surface and the stamens reach out towards us, these are silhouetted on the right hand petals.
The same lily is no longer beautiful or majestic as the scanner light renders it flat and spider-like. The stem is revealed and appears strong but the petals which usually hold its allure are weak and lifeless. It looks trampled and forgotten.
The smooth surface of the egg is lit again from a continuous light on the left, it shows the texture alongside the speckled surface and appears like a moon at night.
The same egg, raw and devoid of its shell , scanned to reveal its membrane and a little of the yolk that hides within. The scanner light has turned this simple egg into an almost pearl like iridescent egg.
This rose is again lit with a continuous light from the left, It reveals petals to look like crumpled tissue paper, uneven and mottled but with such a vibrant colour.
The same rose taken using the light from a scanner, it appears broken and fragile, its colour now slightly more insipid. It appears pathetic yet the detail of the stamens and leaves are revealed. It feels clinical in this light, like the subject of an autopsy.
A clam shell with its two halves are revealed by the continuous light to the left, the lines and ridges in its form converging to what appears mouth like, I can feel its shape and the twist of it ‘mouth’, Strangely it reminds me of a mouth without dentures? the gums butting together, no longer quite meeting, a space where the teeth should be!
The same shell sat on the artists light box and lit from underneath reveals the ridges and knuckle-like, bony structure. It also reveals the beautiful golden colours of the shell.
In my research of Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham I did find some of their images to have a sensual, erotic feel, where the organic object imitated humans. A perfect example would be Edward Weston’s iconic pepper image that resembles two people in an embrace or the cabbage leaf that looks like long flowing hair.
I didn’t succeed in any imitations in my images however on looking through them again and cropping the images they take on a completely different point of view.
The images in their entirety are clearly of vegetables, fruits and shells etc., however once I applied a crop they take on a darker sexual, suggestive undertone which is intriguing, it just goes to demonstrate how the final crop can completely change the message of the image. It has turned my innocent mushroom (which later became a rather lovely soup) and the sea shell (which my daughter collected from the beach ) images ,that I would be happy to hang in my kitchen, into a completely different genre which I think most definitely wouldn’t be suited to a kitchen and the images can no longer be considered cliché!
So I finally made a selection and after some advice on the forum I had a play in Photoshop to try to get the blacks to be reasonably equal and obviously black! I also tried to correct the shading to one side of the scanner images and I’m hoping that they will be ok when they are printed. They seemed to print ok on my Xerox with standard copy paper.
Next step was to place my order but alas Loxley Colour appears to have gremlins so I can’t load my images, I could use DS Colour labs but I know that they come up a little darker , as I have already tried to balance my blacks I don’t really want any surprises and I prefer to have a choice of border size.
I will wait till the morning to see if it is fixed otherwise I will have to go with DS and hope for the best!
If only I had some of the sea scented paper to print on then it really would be multidimensional.
I played around with one of my images that was screaming to me to be cut-out, I also tried to scan it afterwards to see if it affected the shadows on the scanner but it just flattened it again.
I also tried to shine a UV light through it to see if it added anything , it didn’t really shine through however it made the edges glow which could be interesting. It is a shame that the cut edge is noticeable but I am guessing this is because of the black, so this might work better on a different image with a lighter background.
I am guessing that I could use the same technique to invert the image? Hmm food for thought.