Moving away from auto mode, the course now examines the settings available starting with the lens in aperture priority mode. It further recommends: 1. focus carefully, 2. don't use auto ISO.
Take several photographs from the same position using different focal lengths. Compare the ‘perspective geometry’ of the first and last shots.
Figs. 1-4 are shot from the same location at the four marked focal lengths on a Fuji 16-50mm zoom lens. The focal lengths and the equivalent for a full-frame sensor are shown in the descriptions.
Fig. 5 is a version of fig. 1 (16mm) cropped to match the view of fig. 4 (50mm) and shows that the perspective remains constant throughout the zoom range.
There are three points to note:
1. I tried to cover a number of exercises at once using just a few subjects
2. There is no obvious candidate for the portrait shots as my partner would rather not and self portraits would be difficult to accomplish given the requirements. I had a brainwave: use a full-size statue in the cemetery. Unfortunately I learned that there are no such statues in Eltham cemetery, but the church was open and they have a Madonna and child carved in wood that fits the bill.
3. For the second shoot (the first being the wood as above) I decided to use prime lenses as the wider apertures would emphasise the effects being illustrated. The lenses are a 45mm (90mm equivalent) f/1.8 Olympus on a Lumix GX7 and a 27mm (41mm) f/2.8 Fuji on an XM-1. (That's more standard than wide - for my third attempt I'll use a wider M4/3 lens.) While the primes are admirable for their optical advantages, the convenience of a zoom on a single body is hard to beat.
Using your longest focal length, take a ¾ portrait before a background with depth. Zoom right out, move towards the subject and take "the same" ¾ portrait. Compare.
The 45/90mm portrait lens has an angle of view of around 22°, compared to 49° for the wider angle lens used in fig. 7. The portrait lens succeeds in isolating a foreground subject of this size. When using a true wide-angle lens, the effect would be even more pronounced.
As there were no local volunteers for portraits, I successfully prevailed upon my work colleagues.
Take a wide-angle shot from below of a nearby subject with plenty of background detail. Examine the distortion.
The brief does not make clear whether this should be a portrait or an inanimate subject, so I guess it can be either. The first shot does not really exhibit any particular distortion of the subject as the lens was not close enough. Although the window panes in the middle ground show clear perspective distortion, this, to my eye at least, is not objectionable because it is a natural result of a low camera angle.
Time therefore for a self-portrait in an effort to achieve grotesque facial perspective distortion. This is the first time I would have welcomed a fully articulating screen now common as a selfie aid. There was a lot of trial and error which has been deleted and so will not appear in the contact sheets. This needs little comment other than how do one's glasses get so dirty without one noticing?
Cannot be usefully summarized.
Find a location with good light for a portrait shot. Place your subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide aperture together with a moderately long focal length such as 100mm on a 35mm full-frame camera (about 65mm on a cropped-frame camera). Take a viewpoint about one and a half metres from your subject, allowing you to compose a headshot comfortably within the frame. Focus on the eyes and take the shot.
Longer focal lengths appear to compress space, giving a shallower depth of acceptable sharpness, which is known as depth of field. This makes a short or medium telephoto lens perfect for portraiture: the slight compression of the features appears attractive while the shallow depth of field adds intensity to the eyes and ‘lifts’ the subject from the background. OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.45
Using the portrait lens as for fig. Ex2.2A above would have allowed a wider aperture, but only the Fuji zoom was available. Nevertheless, at 50mm (75mm equivalent) it has shown good subject detail at a comfortable distance. Greater spacing from the background foliage would have improved the differential focus.
Choose a close foreground subject which does not fill the frame and a varied background. Take one shot focussed on the subject and another focussed at infinity. Discuss depth of field.
The first image, at wide aperture and focussed on the litter bin, shows only the bin in focus: even the nearby gravestones are out of focus. In the second image, at wide aperture and focussed on infinity, the various buildings in the background are in focus, the cenotaph in the middle distance is in focus (the inscription can be read when enlarged) the three gravestones in view are progressively more out of focus and the bin completely so. For the third image, the focus remained at infinity, but the lens was stopped down to f/16. This extended the depth of focus so that the three gravestones are in focus and the litter bin nearly so.
Demonstrate shallow DoF (wide aperture) with long focal lengths and a foreground subject. Compose using the foreground and background. Include two contact sheets and explain your selection. process.
This box contains the selected images for this exercise. Explanations are below.
Here is a selection of images taken at the British Museum.
Three lessons learned:
1. There is no point in doing this in square format, see figs Ex2.6A and B
2. I thought there would be endless subjects in the BM for this exercise and the next but because of the positioning of the objects and the fact that many are in cases, it was not as prolific as I hoped. I'm sure a longer stay there would pay off, but it was slow going this morning.
3. If three people stand in the street staring at the sky, before long there will be a crowd doing the same. A similar thing happened in the BM I was photographing a small sculpture which doesn't look much (fig. Ex2.6E and F), was being generally ignored, but had potentially interesting backgrounds and soon others were stopping, looking at it, reading the label and taking photographs.
Figs Ex2.6A and B establish that a rectangular format is essential for this exercise, otherwise there is no out-of-focus background to see.
Figs Ex2.6C and D demonstrate the importance of the plane of focus - in fig. Ex2.6C, the human head is in focus, the bird's head not. In fig. Ex2.6D, by moving so that both heads are parallel to the "film" plane, both are in focus.
In figs Ex2.6E and F, the subject is the rather unexciting sculpture that gradually attracted attention. The background for fig. Ex2.6E is one of the exits to the Great Hall, filled by a large and colourful person. By the time fig. Ex2.6F was taken, others were beginning to take an interest in the piece. Note that in fig. Ex2.6E the sculpture is at oblique angle and so the work itself is only partially in focus, whereas in fig fig. Ex2.6F the plane of the piece is nearly parallel and so most of it is in focus.
Fig. Ex2.6G is included just for reference, naming the sculpture as Rachid Koraïchi's Calligraphic figure from the Path of Roses series, 2000-2004.
In Fig. Ex2.6H, the intention was to show the main subject in focus in the middle ground with a foreground subject and background out of focus.
Slim pickings for Ex 2.6 at the Imperial War Museum and the Tibetan Peace Garden and nothing at all for Ex. 2.7. I will have to widen my scope. I only had the Fuji zoom and so f/5.6 was the largest aperture available, but still a good level of blurring even on the table crumbs.
A better day altogether in the grounds of St. Mary's Church, Bexley
Fig. Ex2.6J needs straightening, but there is a pleasing contrast between the complex pattern of the stonework and the out of focus trees which nevertheless retain
variations in colour and in turn between the trees and the gravestones below.
Fig. Ex2.6K demonstrates a potential issue which applies to other images in this set: an aperture smaller than f/1.8 might have been considered to render all of the tree in focus.
Fig. Ex2.6L and M are similar subjects of a corner of a gravestone with more gravestones in the background.
Fig. Ex2.6N through Q are closeups of a lion's head on a beautiful tomb (see exercise 2.7) that I remembered photographing many years ago and which was the main reason for this visit. Fig. Ex2.6Q has been chosen for the final selection for its pleasing intersection of angles and because the background has just enough detail to confirm that the location is a graveyard.
Fig. Ex2.6R has a good contrast of ivy and defocused stonework but, as with fig. Ex2.6K , not all the ivy is in focus.
Fig. Ex2.6S was taken with the camera resting on a tomb situated under a tree that is dropping arboreal debris (I am not a gardener). Autofocus has chosen a shallow plane, leaving the immediate foreground, and everything beyond the plane out of focus. The resulting image is an agreeable abstract combination of colours, textures and planes. It is an obvious candidate for selection as reflecting Gianluca Cosci's aesthetic code, below.
Explore deep DoF with small apertures and wide focal lengths. Again, include some contacts and discuss selection.
This box contains the selected images for this exercise. Explanations are below.
† Potential exposure issues were anticipated with the images because of the exposure range with tree-covered shade and large expanses of sky necessary to include the spire in the shot. The exposures were therefore bracketed +1/-1 stop. The three images above are all single exposures but the larger image shown on clicking Ex 2.7A and Ex 2.7C are composites of the three bracketed shots. In all cases the full frames are shown.
Fig. Ex2.7A shows the tomb with lion heads that triggered this visit. As the purpose of the exercise is to include a foreground subject and background detail, the camera position was a compromise between getting as close as possible to the tomb while including all of the spire.
Fig Ex2.7B is a wide-angle version of Fig. Ex2.6R above and is rather mundane.
Fig Ex2.7C is, perhaps the most pleasing aesthetically with a burned-out tree stump in the foreground, an eye-catching Celtic cross tombstone in the middle ground (a detail of which is shown in Ex2.6J) and the full spire in the background. The eye naturally flows through those three objects.
It had been intended to take a wide-angle shot of the Celtic cross in fig
Ex2.7C but because of its proximity to the church and a tree immediately behind, the was no shot relevant to this exercise available.
An unplanned visit to another churchyard, this time in Greenwich, on the way to the cinema. No tripod or shutter release to hand this time.
The intention was to photograph the elegantly-shaped tomb in the background and the foliage and plant debris resting on two tombs as a foreground subject. The camera was in deep shade and I couldn’t really see what I was doing. Exposure bracketing was used for all of the images. Two basic camera positions were used with changes in the camera position and focal length to adjunct the image.
Fig Ex2.7D is promising, although it would need the side street cropped out on the left. The sprouting seedlings in the foreground are a good juxtaposition to the tomb but the dead twigs immediately in front of the lens are not in focus.
For fig Ex2.7E the lens was zoomed in to a standard focal length and that has made matters worse in the immediate foreground.
Fig Ex2.7F-H is taken from a tomb a little nearer the subject with less in the closest foreground and the camera relocated slightly for the three shots. These are more successful as they avoid a distracting, cluttered out-of-focus foreground. The tomb, as the subject of the photograph, needs to be this size or larger in the frame and this is a compromise in terms of composing a foreground between distance and focal length.
The last outing for Part 2, to a local park.
Well Hall Pleasaunce is a surprisingly attractive park, given its surroundings. Again, exposure bracketing was used when taking most of the images and composite images used for some of the output.
Fig. Ex2.7I the aim here was for something akin to Atget's Versailles images with a large foreground object and paths leading into the distance. It is not a bad effort, but needs better lighting. I should get a sun position app.
The light range for fig. Ex2.7J was extreme as it was taken from a 3-sided observation shed with a tiled roof and so the interior of the windows was very gloomy in contrast to the bright sunlight on the bowling green. The image has therefore been enhanced with a Nik tone mapping filter.
Fig. Ex2.7K shows an interestingly-attractive dead tree stump but needs diffused lighting.
Figs. Ex2.7L-M are the most successful, though the lighting will here always be difficult because there is deep foliage shadowing the tree trunk and obscuring the building. An HDR composite has therefore been used. The image works well in mono too, as it brings out the texture of the tree and de-emphasises the extreme contrast between the areas of light and shadow, particularly noticeable on the ground around the tree's base.
Figs. Ex2.7N and O have been included just for fun. The plan was to photograph the sun dial in the foreground with the building's brickwork evidencing the depth of field, but life, in the form of a wedding, intervened. The images show a wedding guest catching the bride's flowers, but as it was shot at f/22 for DoF, this resulted in a shutter speed of 1/18th sec and motion blur on the flowers and the catcher. The arc of tight-suited mobile snappers is amusing.
This concentrates on depth of field. Shallow DoF draws attention to a part of the image, deep DoF allows the viewer to explore the whole image. The film theorist André Bazin is quoted [1. OCA p. 48]
Deep focus gives the eye autonomy to roam over the picture space so that the viewer is at least given the opportunity to edit the scene himself, to select the aspects of it to which he will attend. OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.48
DoF was also paramount for Ansel Adams and the F64 group, whose name proclaims small apertures and deep DoF. F64's manifesto seeks specifically to distance the group from the "pictorialists" (see The Red List, Pictorialists), whose approach may be seen as "painterly" (although Adams is listed by Wikipedia as starting out as a pictorialist), "Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form. The production of the "Pictorialist," on the other hand, indicates a devotion to principles of art which are directly related to painting and the graphic arts." (F64 manifesto)
Fay Godwin also gets a mention, a British landscape photographer who used deep DoF and helped to establish ramblers' rights. Both Godwin's and the F64 group's photographs are described as "political".
In contrast to the exponents of deep DoF, Gianluca Cosci is cited as one who goes to the opposite extreme. His work is described in these terms,
Slivers of sharpness express the effect of corporate power on the experience of urban space. OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.50
Soft focus (as a component of shallow DoF) is associated with Kim Kirkpatrick's Early Work on abandoned American industrial sites. His web site has lapsed and images are difficult to find, but here are a couple of possibles from Pinterest.
It is noted that the human eye does not operate deep DoF and so viewing an image that does so can cause tension. An alternative viewpoint on this is that whereas a photograph is fixed and static, the eye observing a scene will continually move and refocus and the brain constructs an image that is effectively deep DoF. Additionally, when viewing a photograph, as noted earlier in the course, the eye moves around: in these terms it is difficult to understand why there should be tension.
The final reference is Guy Bourdin who tried to create a sense of unease in his photographs. The image shown was taken for the Pentax Calender 1980. Many of Bourdin's images can be seen at The Red List.
Do your own research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project.
Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes discussed in Project 2. Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took the photograph isn’t important; find a photo with a depth of field that ‘fits’ the code you’ve selected. The ability of photographs to adapt to a range of usages is something we’ll return to later in the course.
Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you’ve re-imagined your photograph. OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.51
My first take on this exercise, written on 24th August was, "I am rather inclined to look for matches in more than one aesthetic code, although the nudity of Kuhn and the extravagance of Bourdin are unlikely to appear. An immediate candidate is to hand for the Cosci approach. [FC1]".
I have only found two images that just might be by Kirkpatrick and so fitting his code will be difficult to asses, other than by aiming for "nature and man meeting" in "construction and industrial zones", see the Kirkpatrick entry.
That leaves Adams and Godwin, both exponents of deep focus on spectacular rural landscapes, none of which are available locally. I had thought of finding some chain link fencing protecting something industrial in an effort to combine Godwin's Nightguard and what might be a Kirkpatrick idiom but it is looking unlikely.
[3rd September] The last outing for Exercise 2.7 provided some creditable examples of deep DoF.
This was originally shown as part of Exercise 1.3 (1) Line. It falls into the Cosci bracket by exhibiting very shallow depth of field and using a ground-level viewpoint. As described in the exercise text, this was not intentional: the camera was operating automatically, placed on Brighton's East Pier decking and I just leaned down to press the shutter several times. When there was a passing tourist, autofocus locked onto their movement, as in the other example shown on the previous page. In this case, by luck, the autofocus seems to have chosen the protruding nailheads that I didn't notice until post-processing the images.
By contrast, Gianluca Cosci's use of shallow focus was almost certainly intentional. According to the April 2016 interview with Kevin Byrne shown on the artist's web site, the Panem et Circenses series was taken "while [Tony Blair] was declaring war against Iraq", i.e. 2003 and, "up until 2007 I was using a Yashica FX-3 Super 2000". That camera is described on camerapedia.wikia.com as, "a very popular, manually-operated, 35mm single lens reflex camera… [with] no automatic metering or focusing modes" and so the subject of and the depth of focus were chosen by Cosci.
Camera image from vintagecameralab.com © Ivan Lo
This was taken after the above comments on FC1 had been written. It is Fig. Ex2.6S in exercise 2.6 above on wide aperture, shallow focus shots. As noted above, it "was taken with the camera resting on a tomb situated under a tree that is dropping arboreal debris … Autofocus has chosen a shallow plane, leaving the immediate foreground, and everything beyond the plane out of focus. The resulting image is an agreeable abstract combination of colours, textures and planes. It is an obvious candidate for selection as reflecting Gianluca Cosci's aesthetic code".
Conforming to a more generalised deep focus approach rather than echoing Adams or Godwin, FC3 was seeking to evoke Atget: in a park, large foreground subject, a path leading into the distance. The image would have benefited from less harsh lighting.
FC4 is not in any idiom but has an attractive large foreground component and detail in the middle- to background . The lighting will always be difficult here because there is deep foliage shadowing the tree trunk and obscuring the building
 Bazin, A (1948), quoted in Observations on Film Art (2007)
The full references are specified at the end of the course material pp. 115-6.