Category Archives: Exercises

The parent category for exercises.

Exercise 3.3 – What matters is to look

Brief

Find a good view point where you can see a wide panorama. Start by looking at the things closest to you in the foreground. Then pay attention to the details in the middle distance and then the things towards the horizon. Now try and see the whole view together, from the foreground to horizon. Include the sky in your observation and try to see the whole visual field together, all in movement. When you’ve got it, raise your camera and release the shutter.

After reading the brief I decide to go to Amersham and walk down from Amersham-on-the-Hill towards Old Amersham to find a good viewpoint overlooking the historic market town. Half way down the hill I stopped at the edge of a wheat field. I felt that this view would create a good image with depth to it.

View of Old Amersham

1/10 sec, f 22, 48mm, ISO 50

I set my camera up on the tripod and used the internal spirit level to ensure the horizon was level. I then stood back and looked at the view I wanted to capture. I set the tilt and focal length to capture the full scene I was looking at.

I decided that wanted to use a slightly slower shutter speed to capture the movement of the wheat in the foreground. It was quite a blustery day and the breeze was creating waves in the wheat, which could be seen in the immediate foreground. It was also a cloudy day, but patches of sunlight were rolling down the hill in the horizon towards me. I decided to wait until the sun hit the house in the foreground coupled with a breeze moving over the wheat before taking the photograph.

I feel this image has come out well. There are two different paths in the image that run parallel to each other that draw your eye across the image.

The first path draws your eye down the fence line to the house highlighted by the sun. From there you are then taken to the tree line next to it, leading onto the turret of the church. From there the curvature of the hill leads your eye up to explore the fields leading to the horizon and from there onto the sky.

The second path is formed by tractors path in the wheat field. This line takes you eye down to the tree line at the bottom of the field, across to the village and the house in the foreground. From there you pick up the same path as above taking you to the fields on the horizon.

Once you’ve explored the hillside you are drawn up to the sky which moves your focus forwards with the clouds as the detail gets larger bringing you back to the foreground.

When setting my Whites, Black, Highlights and Shadows in Lightroom, I decided not to dehaze the far hills. I thought that the haze helped with the separation of the two hillsides creating a more defined line of the curvature of the first hill.

1/20 sec, f 22, 24mm, ISO 50

I walked further down the hill and looked across the wheat field and down the valley for this image. Due to the undulation of the land I again set the camera up on the tripod and used the internal spirit level to ensure I had a straight horizon.

Again I wanted to capture the movement of the wheat in the breeze together with the details of the cloud moving across the sky. I waited until there was a breeze and partial blue sky before taking the image.

I feel that this image has also been successful. The movement of the wheat draws the eye in. The faint shadow of the cloud slightly off center in the wheat field draws your eye to the meeting point of the two hillsides. From there you are taken up to the clouds, which bring your focus forward, back to the foreground of the wheat field. In this image the shift in focus on the clouds is more subtle than the image above.

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Exercise 3.2 Trace

Brief

Try to record the trace of movement within the frame. You can be as experimental as you like. Add a selection of shots together with relevant shooting data and a description of the process.

For this exercise I chose to experiment with various sources of moving light. None of which I have ever taken before using a DSLR.

1 Sec, f 8.0, 70mm, ISO 64

I took this photo of a firework looking out of my lounge window. The camera was handheld, although I was leaning on the window to help keep my hand steady.

5 Sec, f 3.2, 34mm, ISO 100

I set my camera up on the tripod to take this image of light painting using a torch. I set the camera on a wide angle to allow me to move around. I think in principle this came out well but the image could have been made more interesting through the use of different coloured lights on the multiple exposure setting to overlap them.

5 Sec, f 4.5, 48mm, ISO 100

The light source used for this image was a sparkler being rotated by my husband. Again I used a tripod to capture a sharp image on a long exposure.

Multiple exposure 3 x 2 Sec, f 2.8, 48mm, ISO 48mm

The image above also captured the movement of a sparkler but in a slightly more complex symbol. However, this image was captured using the multiple exposure setting with the camera set up on a tripod. I set three lots of two second exposures for each side of the triangle. I did this as it is a more complex symbol and would require a longer exposure time, and I did not want the light to show the static person moving the sparkler.

6 sec, f 22, 70mm, ISO 33

For the above image, I took inspiration from Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographic series ‘Theatre’. I set the camera up on a tripod and set it in front of the TV. In order to capture a longer exposure than I had managed so far I turned the ISO to Low. I took a photograph of an advert on TV, that had writing scrolling along whilst the subject of the advert stayed still except for moving his head. I like the result of this image because it has a form of chaotic movement to it. This has been created with differing legibility combined with the vertical blur of the writing illustrating movement, whilst the faint details of the face creates a ghostly feel.

I have found this exercise quite difficult. The D850 is sensitive to light and therefore to take photographs on a slow shutter speed I have had to take photographs when it is dark. I could have overcome this through the use of ND Filters if I had them.

Exercise 3.1 – Frozen Moment

Brief

Using a fast shutter speed try to isolate a frozen moment of time in a moving subject. Depending on the available light you may have to select a high ISO to avoid visible blur in the photograph.

Exercise

I thought that this is quite an interesting exercise. I came up with a number of ideas for what I could photograph for this exercise. In the end, I chose to photograph bees collecting pollen from around the garden. I thought that this would be quite a challenging exercise to do. A bees flight is fast and erratic, more so than birds and pets, pushing my learning curve that little bit further.

After deciding to photograph the bees collecting pollen, I spent a day practicing with different focus techniques using AF-C focus due to the speed bees fly and their erratic flight paths. I practiced using 3D focus , 25 point focus and 72 point focus. I found that the 25 point and 72 point focus trackers worked better than the 3D. I set up two different back button focus’s on the camera for these point focus’s.

On the day I took the final photographs it was a fairly clear bright day. I initially set the shutter speed 1/4000 sec, the ISO to Auto, but limiting it to 2000, and the shooting mode to Continuous Slow on AF-C. As the day went on and the bees become a little more docile, I gradually brought the shutter speed down.

I intentionally stood back further from the subject matter for some of the photographs in the knowledge that these images would need to be cropped in the editing process. I did this as the camera would choose to use an aperture of f 2.8 on a lot of the photographs. By standing back a little the focus plane increases slightly enabling me to capture the bee in more detail, as it flew away from the flower.

Photographs

Reflection

I feel that the final photographs have come out well and reflect a frozen moment in time as required by the brief. To develop this further, I would need to practice more with the different focus trackers, possibly use a flash allowing me to bring down the ISO, increasing the aperture to avoid having to stand back and cropping the final image.

Contact Sheets

Exercise 2.4 – Woodpecker

Brief

Find a subject with a background with depth. Take a very close viewpoint and zoom in. Focus on the subject and take a shoot. Then set your focus to infinity and take another shoot.

Exercise 2.4

I went to Waddesdon Manor again, where they have some ornate railings which face out onto the ornamental garden in order to take the photographs for this exercise. I also went round to the avery where they have arches in front of a water feature, which I also used.

I positioned myself as close to the railings as the focus on my camera would allow. I focused on the railing for the first shot and then changed my metering to infinity.

Photographs

Reflection

After reviewing the photographs, this exercise really highlights the different uses of of the focal range. When focused on a subject in foreground the backdrop has a soft focus creating a separation similar to that of a high aperture Due to the soft focus your eye is drawn to the subject in sharp focus rather than the background.

When this is reversed and you focus beyond the foreground your eye his immediately drawn to the detail in the background seeing past the closest subject.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I was meant to take a third photograph choosing a point of focus that would result in the whole image being sharp. In view of this I will be reworking this exercise.

Exercise 2.3 – Focus

Brief

Find a location with good light for a portrait shot.  Place the subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide apreture together with a moderately long focal length such as 10mm.  Take a view point about one and a half metes away from your subject, allowing you to compose a head shot comfortably within the frame. Focus on the eyes and take the shot

Exercise 2.2

I went out with my husband late afternoon/early evening.  I took a number of shots with different backgrounds using an aperture of f 2.8.  I also had him stand at different angles to the sun to see the different effects on the detail of his face.

Photographs

I took a number of photographs using an aperture of f 2.8 with different backgrounds. I found that the photograph where my husband is stood in front of a window to be quite distracting. Although the window frame is blurred it drags your eye off the subject and onto the background. Whereas, the portraits of him in front of a bed of tulips has worked well. Although you can make out there are tulips behind him, the wide aperture has created a soft focus separating the subject from the background.

Reflection

By using a large aperture with a longer focal length the subject has been separated from the backdrop avoiding any tension drawing your eye away from the main focal point. This combination has also smoothed the skin giving it a pleasing complexion, rather than being harsh and highlighting every imperfection that a lower aperture would.

Exercise 2.2 – Viewpoint

Brief

Find a scene that has depth.  From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint.

Exercise 2.2

Whilst I was at Waddesdon Manor where I went to take the photographs for Exercise 2.1, I also took the photographs for this exercise.  I positioned my husband next to the wooden pillars in order to take these photographs.

Photographs

Reflection

When taking the photographs I noticed that as I moved to take the photograph with a wide angle focal length of 24mm, the angle of the background changed.  Because I used a focal length of 24mm the unprocessed image is quite fisheye, so in Lightroom I enabled the ‘Profile Correction’.  However, the 24mm still has an exaggerated perspective, which can also be seen in the face enlarging the prominent features, which would become even more exaggerated the closer you moved to your subject.

The spaces between the pillars is larger on the 24mm focal length compared to the 70mm and the angle changed slightly on the background. Angles became more obtuse/accentuated the closer the photo. The reflections/slats become more closed up of the upright wooden beams. Also it is worth noting that the skin appears smoother at the 70mm focal length compared to that of the 50mm, which is harsher.

Exercise 2.1 – Zoom

Brief

Find a scene that has depth.  From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint.

Exercise 2.1

To find a suitable location to take the photographs for this exercise I turned to the National Trust Website.  Instead of taking photographs of a tree line or arches, I wanted to do something a little different.

I decided to go to the Rothschilds Archive building at Waddesdon Manor, which has recently been built.  The building is very contemporary and uses strong lines.  At the front there are wooden pillars outside the building set alongside a rectangle pool, with a statue of a gorilla in the middle of the water.

Photographs

The first time I went, I focused on the wooden panels behind the gorilla, but these didn’t come out very well. I returned a few weeks later and retook the photographs focusing on the gorilla, which has created a stronger sense of moving towards the statue when you view them in sequence. I took a photograph at each focal length marked on my lens.

1/640 Sec, f 5.6, 24mm, ISO 64

1/800 sec, f 5.6, 29mm, ISO 64

1/800 sec, f 5.6, 36mm, ISO 64

1/640, f 5.6, 50mm, ISO 64

1/640, f 5.6, 70mm, ISO 64

Reflection

When viewing the images the Gorilla moves from the right side of the frame to the left, without the degree of the angles changing, as seen in Blade Runner when Harrison Ford zooms into sections of the photograph on the Esper, the object moves from one side of the frame across to the other.  Also when you zoom into the final pictures you will notice that the finer detail has a lower resolution on the wide angled zoom compared to the full zoom.  This is only noticeable when you zoom into a section of the image, as highlighted in the film ‘Blow Up’.  The printed images of the section that are blown up are of a lower resolution and therefore the finer detail is lost as shown below.

70mm and 24mm