Monday, 23 April 2012

Assignment 1 - A portrait

Assignment one- a portrait: I made sure to take some time over this assignment as the author of the course had suggested and photographed my model on different shoots. I found it quite challenging to come up with different ideas, which differed in type and style but in the end, I was satisfied with the outcome and glad I spent some time over it.

   For the first portrait I had found a very interesting (in my opinion) fir tree, which I thought had the potential for creating an unusual but effective backdrop for my model. I discovered that this was, from my point of view, the case and it did actually surpass my expectations as the shape of the tree became important in relation to the model in the final photo for this shoot. More specifically the tree seemed to form an oval around her, almost as though it was cradling her.

   I asked my model to wear clothes that were pretty complementary to the tree. Although not completely complementary (the tree was green, the clothes were orange) I thought the effect of contrast in colour was effective and made her stand out from the tree. If I was to change anything about this photo it would be maybe using completely complementary colours (so red and green).

   The second portrait was kind of forced because the weather only permitted me to take indoor shots at the time. However I was pleasantly surprised that I found a way to ‘use’ the ‘bad’ weather to my advantage. Here the model was looking out of a raindrop-covered window with a wistful expression on her face. I decided to use off-camera flash here for two reasons. This was to make her more conspicuous against the grey and brown of the houses/weather on the opposite side of the street and also to highlight the rain droplets on the window. I wanted to highlight the rain droplets so the viewer could pick up on the reason she was looking wistful. I was quite happy with my attempt at highlighting the rain droplets but thought they could have stood out a bit more and very happy with the illumination of both the hand and face by the flash. This was because the hand, in my opinion, was an extension to her wistful mood.

   In the third photograph I chose a completely different type of day to photograph my subject; namely night. I concentrated here on context where the background could be discernible as a famous landmark of London, namely Tower Bridge. I thought the out-of-focus bright lights of Tower Bridge in the distance worked well in providing context in a subtle manner. As for the photographing the model I found the night setting to be very challenging in order to get a sharp (in terms of subject movement) photo but I thought I just about managed this. In order to manage it I had to use a high ISO setting on the camera and a fast lens. This meant image quality was sacrificed a little because of the high ISO and the nose looked inevitably larger than if I had used a longer focal length lens (I used a standard prime lens) as I had found out in the focal length exercise. However I felt these compromises were comparatively small in respect to the sharpness of her face.

   I decided to use some of the experience I had gained from the lighting exercise; in particular learning from a photograph by Richard Avedon of Carl Dreyer, director, Copenhagen, April 8, 1958. I used natural lighting like he did but I used softer light than he used. The principle was the same though, which created the effect of her ‘looking out’ at the scene behind her. This was dissimilar to Richard Avedon’s photograph in his photograph Carl Dreyer was merely looking in the same direction as the light was hitting his face. So Richard Avedon’s photo was simpler (less busy) and probably more effective. If I was to be more critical I would say the background was a bit bland with the buildings too blurred. In summary for this fourth photograph I would say that the lighting of the face was the best part of this photograph.

   I asked my model to pose in the fifth photograph for the assignment in such a way that she was in partial profile to the camera and her hand was raised to a flower she smelled. I would say the mood of this photograph was pleasantly tranquil with the clothes (deliberately) mimicking the colour of the large flower and the lighting quite soft. All of this makes for a nice portrait in my opinion and I didn’t have any real criticisms of it. My only quibble was the patch of bright light in the upper left-hand corner, which detracted slightly from her face.

   I thought up what I felt was quite a clever portrait for the sixth photo where the torso and head were visible but with a twist. The front of the head was visible through a mirror only, while the body and back of the head were only visible in the foreground. I was pleased with how I carried out the idea with a few minor touches that made the photo more attractive. These were the colour coordination of the clothes and the edge of the mirror and the hairbrush raised to the head suggesting activity. I could maybe have used more interesting lighting but overall I am pleased with this photograph.

   Finally I used photographic lighting to change an unremarkable pose into something I felt was striking. I lighted her face from the left side of her body in such a manner that only the left side of her face was visible and used a black backdrop behind so that half of the face was the only thing apparent in the photo. I also asked her to raise her hand to her chin with a finger pointing, suggestively to the light. This was an experiment that I thought worked well and provided interest and drama to the photograph.

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