Wednesday, 27 May 2009

OCA Photography 2: Landscape - Assignment 3: Ten photographs with a common theme

Tracks and Pathways
For this Assignment students have to choose their own linking theme. As I finished the previous assignment I was pretty certain what mine would be. For most people in urban Britain the countryside is accessed through the network of public pathways that cause so much controversy between rambles and landowners. Although I did not want to enter this debate I did want to record the way we use the countryside and leave our mark in the form of tracks and pathways. I was also researching which photographer to study for my critical review and was drawn to Fay Godwin. More about her later. She photographed the British countryside in black and white and recorded human interaction and influence on the landscape in everyway. So, influenced by her work, and wanting a different challenge I decided to make this project in black and white. I had photographs taken over several months as some were contenders for the 1 Acre assignment. In making my selection the graphic quality of the composition was a strong influence. Overall I was pleased with the selection, and it is always interesting how my tutor seemed favour some of the shots I liked the least. This was the first assignment I shot in RAW format. I worked on most of the images in Photoshop Elements cropping, adjusting levels and using dodge and burn. Here are the photographs, all linked to my flickr postings.

Tracks and pathways 1
The Hay Meadow

Tracks and pathways 2
The Curved Path

Tracks and pathways 5
Over the Hill

just a sprinkle...
Footprints in the Snow

diagonal path
Fence and Path

puddled path
Puddled Path

lone walker - final edit
The Lone Walker

Tracks and pathways 3 (edited)
The Undulating Field

Sunday, 17 May 2009

OCA Photography 2: Landscape Assignment 2 - One Acre

It was easy for me to choose the location of my one acre for this assignment. Sharpenhoe Clappers is a ten minute drive away from Luton but a wonderful haven of peace and tranquility. The Clappers is a spur of land overlooking the fields of Bedfordshire and part of the Chiltern trail. It is owned by the National Trust and consists of meadow and a beech wood. My chosen area is mainly within the wooded area. Although a popular site with locals and hikers following the Chilterns it always seems peaceful. Surrounded on three sides by steep slopes it has a sense of isolation from it's surroundings, rising above everyday life. On still days voices and traffic noises carry from the village at the foot of the hill giving a further sensation of detatchment. It was this atmosphere I wanted to convey in my photographs. I have uploaded them in three groups as I find it easier to manage that way.

One Acre - Sharpenhoe Clappers (Set one)
1. The first picture is taken from the footpath leading to the wooded 'nose' of the spur of land. I wanted to show the flora along the path and the view across the fields immediately giving the viewer a sense of elevation.
2. Here I scrambled up the bank to look down on the path as it skirted the trees. This gave me a diagonal composition. This picture has a rather yellowy warm cast. Since my tutor's feedback on this project I have been shooting in RAW, which would have enabled me to deal with the tone more easily. It is good to look back and see how you could now make an improved shot.
3. Here the beech trees are silhouetted against the fields. I was pleased with the feeling of enclosure, of being in the woods looking down on the rest of the world. Once again RAW would have given me more control over the exposure.
4. This is one of my favourite views. Before harvest and the wheat fields are golden. It was late afternoon and there is an un-natural pink cast in the sky - next time!
5. I wanted to avoid a conventional sunset, although they are spectacular from the top, it does entail walking back to the carpark through a wooded path in the dark. So here half way back to the carpark I caught the low sun between the trees. As the slope falls away the sun catches the tops of the trees further down the slope before it rises up again on the Chiltern ridge.
1 acre -  view
1 acre - path
1 acre - silhouette
golden evening

The rest of the assignment is over the previous two blogs

OCA Photography 2: Landscape Assignment 2 - One Acre

One Acre - Sharpenhoe Clappers (Set 2)
With this group of pictures, the aim was to depict different aspects of the interior of the chosen acre.
  1. This path is bordered by a high hedge and one emerges from the shady path into the open sunshine. I took several shots and waited some time for the right cloud formation. This one wasn't quite centred on the gap, but it was very windy and the clouds were moving and changing shape fast.
  2. In contrast this broad path is alongside a line of old beech trees, the high canopy at the edge of the trees let in the sun.
  3. Here there are much younger beech trees growing close which give a gloomy feel to the centre.
  4. The Clappers was left to the National Trust by a family in remembrance of brothers lost in the first world war. This rather bleak obelisk commemorates the gift.
1 acre - cloud
1 acre - beech trees

Young beeches
1 acre - monument

OCA Photography 2: Landscape Assignment 3 - One Acre (Set 3)

1 Acre - Sharpenhoe Clappers - the last three

These last three pictures were chosen for detail. When walking on the Clappers I like to observe what is about in the hedgerows. Pictured are

  1. The seedheads of a wild clematis, Travellers Joy, also known as Old Man's Beard

  2. A Comma butterfly

  3. The woodland floor
old man's beard
1 acre - October  Comma
1 acre - still life

This final picture typifies the floor at the centre of the wood, littered with beechmasts, twigs and leaves and small chalky stones. The pigeon feather was a gift for the composition. Looking back over The Art of Photography projects made me realize how I had taken on board considerations such as the placements of points of interest in a composition when framing a shot like this.

Friday, 15 May 2009

OCA Photography Landscape: Assignment 1 - The Current Season

Landscape: Assignment 1 - The Current Season
Late Spring (May 2008)
I enjoyed this assignment but at the start found it a little too open. However towards the end I felt I had developed a theme - that of looking out from the present moment into the next. Like a lot ofthe assignments, as I finished it, I wanted to start again. Things had become a lot cleared to me. It was in doing the assignments that my greatest learning took place. The projects were necessary exercises, but I looked on them as a means of achieving the picture I wanted. It is a year since I did this assignment and things have not become easier! Now I think I am asking more of myself and although in the creative doldrums at the moment, I do feel inspired looking at how far my thinking has come, and I hope my photography.
(I apologize for the rather erratic picture sizes and layout - I'm working on my blogging skills)

From 'The Clappers'

Panoramic crop showing newly green fields and trees. I have photographed this scene throughout the sesasons.
Urban spring

This street is a favourite when the chestnuts are in first flush - the lushness of the trees is more dominant than the traffic for a few weeks. As the folliage tires the traffic seems to take over again.
spring greens
These new shoots speak for themselves, at this time of year the shadows seem deep and lush also.


This shot through the meadow was not really sharp enough, but the weather was not kind to me when planning a reshoot, and the flush of flowers faded.

The new growth over an inviting walk
the way ahead

This tunnel of leaves is one of my favourite shots of the group.

The two shots of the blue bells below show two different viewpoints. The left hand picture shows a glimpse of the bluebells through the trees with a long foreground echoing the tunnel of leaves in the above shot, whereas the righthand picture had a vertical emphasis.
7. & 8.
glimpsed through the trees

Tring Reservoir

This was another successful shot which does not appear at its best here. The composition emphasises the horizantal lines. I was especially pleased with the cloud. Its shape echoed the top of the trees and I waited some time for it to be the the right position,
The next two pictures, like the glimspe of bluebells and the tunnel of leaves, have the theme of looking into another place. The first was under Westminster railway bridge by the River Thames. there was a long drop on the other side of the bars putting pedestrians level with the tree tops which were newly in leaf. The second shot was taken from an ancient footpath lined with huge beech trees whose roots form the bank. There was a view of a tree which appeared to have been struck by lightning in the middle of the field.
Posted by Picasa

This final shot of a very English field once again has the view looking out from shadow into the sunlight. This could be seen as a metaphor for spring and if I was doing this assignment again would feel for confident in exploring that idea.

the corner of an English field

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

TAoP Assignment 5: applying techniques of illustration and narrative

I was not looking forward to this assignment as photographing the general public is not my favourite activity, but I thought it was something I should do. I chose to create a brochure illustrating the attractions of the local park, which is very popular. My final piece was an old fashioned cut and paste job -with scissors and glue, as I haven't got publisher, and embedding photos in a word document where you want, and the size you want is an extremely frustating exercise (well it is for me). Here I show just four of the 12 shots I used in my final assignment.

Assignment 5 - couple

The local park is a very popular place with all ages. I had several shots of this couple strolling round the lake.

Assignment 5 - roundabout - this is not a video
Photographing children playing is always awkward. However with a bit of zoom I felt comfortable photographing these youngsters on the roundabout. I wanted to capture the colour and movement.
Assignment 5 - Wardown House, Luton Museum
I made many visits to the park to shoot the museum, but it always seems overcast and a soft light did little for this building. On this afternoon I struck lucky, the low sun cast interesting shadows, and the sudents walking up the path animated the view. I learned here that it is worth persevering until conditions are right.
Assignment 5 - Basket ball practice
Basketball practice - these lads were quite happy for me to snap them playing, but quite bemused. The light levels were low as it was cloudy and shaded so not ideal conditions for action shots. Although I took a lot of shots I did not managed to get a better one.
I did not submit my work for assessing especially at the time I had enough stress in my life, however my tutor assured me my level of work was up to standard, so although I have no grading I am quite happy to feel I achieved a pass level.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Floral diversion

in my garden today

I have been trying to photograph the flowers from my garden in a different way. I have been looking at John Blakemore's Black and White Photography Workshop in which he describes his nine year relationship with tulips. I also remembered the photographs in Roger Phillips' Wild Flowers of Britain. I wanted to have a formality to the layout coupled with a natural feel. I layed the flowers on sloping board so I could have surface almost parallel to the camera's sensor. I wanted to use natural light but had to close curtains and diffuse the light. Some simple work in Windows Photo Gallery helped reduce shadows but it was a rather impromptu affair. More time and care with lighting could produce more detail. These are the most successful of the first group.

pretty flowers

I feel this shot is my most successful, the chive shape echoes the knapweed base, the honesty and chives share colour, and the poppy brings the whole thing to life.

blue aquilegia
This was my best aquilegia shot, but it doesn't show the form as well as I hoped.
Definitely a candidate for more work
The woodruff is an ideal subject with its whorls of leaves -
more manipulation of the plant could create a more formal layout.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Thursday, 7 May 2009

TAoP Assignment 4: Applying Lighting Techniques

For this assignment students have to choose an object to light showing its different qualities. Here are a few of the pictures I submitted to my tutor.

Shell and reflection

Showing form ( i)

Another view
Showing form (ii)

black and white shell
showing texture (iii)

showing texture (iv)
Shell silhouette view 1
showing shape (v)
Shell silhouette view 3
showing shape (vi)

Monday, 4 May 2009

TAoP Assignment3: Applying what I have learned so far - a portrait of my garden

This assignment required a demonstration of what had been learned through the various excercises covered so far mainly dealing with different lighting conditions, colour and composition. This then had to be applied to the portrayal of a place or event in your neighbourhood. My opting for my garden indicates how uncomfortable I am photographing in public, something I still find difficult. Looing back this was probably one of my weaker assignments, but it was mostly received well by my tutor.

#8 - Watering  cans - overcast

Watering cans: diagonal line, no shadows, overcast

3 Rose - side light

Watering can rose: circular/central composition, side lit, deep shadow

4 Eryngium - fringe light
Seedheads: diagonal, fringe lighting

Bins - low sun
Bins: constrasting colours, horizantal compositon, low sun

7 Leaf - shadow
Leaf: colour accent, off-centre composition, shadow