Tag Archives: Photoshop

The Digital Negative

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The Digital Negative by Jeff Schewe, published by Peachpit Press, ISBN: 13 978-0-321-83957-2.

I have just read this book to try to get a better understanding of digital photography.  Schewe is a photographer who has also been working with the boffins at Adobe since the early 1990’s to help develop RAW, Photoshop and more recently Lightroom for photographers from a photographer’s point-of-view.  His books are therefore as close as you can get to finding a first class knowledgable author.  He has published two books ‘The Digital Negative’ and “The Digital Print’ the later I have just began to read.

The Digital Print briefly covers the basic background of how the digital image is made in the camera but drills in to the featured and functions in both RAW and Lightroom that you will use to process your RAW file in to a presentable photo.  This includes a recommended and sensible workflow, background information from the Adobe engineers explaining why certain features work the way they do.  Chapters 4 and 5 a dedicated to Photoshop for advanced editing beyond the capabilities of RAW and Lightroom for those images worth the extra effort.  Chapter 6 covers the recommended workflow from importing pictures from the camera, storing, backing-up, making copies, cataloguing on to developing.  This book does not however cover printing as this is a topic for his second publication.

This is a good book to read, I learned a few new features in Lightroom that I was unaware of and also instructed me in the use of RAW that I am unfamiliar with as I have only used Lightroom so far.  Lightroom was was developed with a lot of the features from RAW and both will talk to one another but changes made in one will alter the other’s parameters and this is a useful thing to be aware of if you use both RAW and Lightroom.  If you want a better understanding of Lightroom, RAW and Photoshop this ids the book to read.  This is not however a detailed book for Photoshop it covers the topics that most photographers need but doesn’t look at all the magic tricks possible in Photoshop.  This is a book intended to help the modern photographer become confident and proficient developing digital photographs to a point that they can print or advance to higher levels of editing using Photoshop and plug-ins.  Not too technically challenging and easy to read and fairly easy to understand without an engineering degree.

A very good book that I would recommend.

Tutor’s report and my reflections for assignment five.

I have just received back my Tutor’s formative feedback for my last assignment for the Art of Photography Course, assignment V, Narrative and Illustration.

DSC_7135-Edit-It_was_with_some_considerable_curiosity_that _he_turned_it_over_by_the_light_of_his_candles-resized  Re-examining my work.

Tutor_report Shaun Mullins 512659 TAOP asst 5 V2

I enjoyed this project immensely, I found it very challenging and I learned a great deal from it.  I had read some very useful books that helped with ideas of how to plan for this project, namely: Context and Narrative, by Maria Short, Basics Creative Photography, 02, AVA.  Making Photographs, by Mike Simmons,  Basics Creative Photography, AVA.

Throughout this project I kept referring back to the brief to be sure that I understood my assignment and feel confident that I met the brief.

The brief being to imagine that I have to illustrate a story for a magazine to include the cover to illustrate and several pages inside to include captions of any length to explain and link each picture.  The cover picture will need some of the techniques of illustration that I have been experimenting with and the picture essay will be more of a narrative.

Any theme which has a narrative element could be a suitable subject for this project; so on first checking with my Tutor, I chose to use a ghost story by M.R. James as the Narrative to illustrate.

Having thus decided upon the story, I set about planning my photographs.

Reflections on my Tutors comments (see attached document).

Image 1.

DSC_6607-Text-Leaving_the_ruined_Templars_church_showed_him_a_prospect_of_company_on_his_walk-resized

My Tutor liked this image and comments that it was a good example of risk taking, although I must confess it didn’t occur to me at the time.

Image 2.

DSC_6849-Edit_If_you_are_going_to_Burnstow-resized

Perhaps it is a little stereotypical, I could perhaps have used a still-life image of the map and magnifying glass as an alternative.  However, the third hand was intended to complement and make sense of the caption.  Oh, Parkins,’ said his neighbour ‘If you are going to Burnstow I wish you would look at the site of the Templars…’  Perhaps the third hand wasn’t needed.

Image 3.

DSC_6385-Edit-on_the_site_of_the_Preceptory-1-resized

A simple image that worked for linking the story.

Image 4.

DSC_6394-Edit-It_might_he_thought_be_as_well_to_probe_here-resized

Although it lacks a visual link to the last image (3) it is necessary to continue the story.

Image 5.

DSC_6406-Edit-He_introduced_his hand_it_met_with_a_cylindrical_object-resized

Unfortunately, I could not find a antique whistle as a convincing prop; so I had to make do with a wooden peg that we covered in dirt to make the object as ambiguous as possible.

Image 6.

DSC_6430-Last_look-1-resized

I was very pleased with this image as I think that it gives an atmospheric feel to the story.

Image 7.

DSC_6607-Edit-Leaving_the_ruined_Templars_church_showed_him_a_prospect_of_company_on_his_walk-resized

Probably my favourite image and was perfect for what I was looking for for the cover.

Image 8.

DSC_7135-Edit-It_was_with_some_considerable_curiosity_that _he_turned_it_over_by_the_light_of_his_candles-resized

My Tutor thinks that this image could arguably have been left out of the narrative.  My feelings is that as this project is a magazine story and the story is essentially about finding a whistle in a grave-yard and whistling up a ghost, I needed to include this image (identification) to help link image 5 (discovery) with the following image 9 (put to use).  however, no two editors may agree the same outcome, therefor as a photographer, I would have at least covered myself having produced the image if an Editor had decided that he wanted it.  In this case I was the Editor.

Image 9.

DSC_7007-Edit-He_blew_tentively-resized

My Tutor feels that my friends pose appears to be a little over-acted, I think that this is a subjective opinion, the expression was intended to suggest someone tentively blowing through an unfamiliar object.  It looks truthful to  me; but I may be biased.  The shadow effect however, appears to have worked as I wanted.

Image 10.

DSC_7045-Edit-Parkins_shut_his_eyes_determined_to_give_sleep_chance-resized

A simple image; but turned out to be trickier to achieve as my friend could only spare me limited time in the evening when it was already very dark.

Image 11.

DSC_6520-Edit-Over-ecitement_asserted_itself_in_another_form_that_of_making_pictures-resized

It took a lot of pictures before I got this shot!  I particularly like the wide open eye that I am always drawn to.

Image 12.

DSC_7066-Edit-A_clutter_shook_him_up_in_a_most_un-welcome_manner-resized

As with image 10 this photo was more of a challenge as I had already lost the light; so I had to use a speedlight in a soft-box and experiment with settings on my speedlight and camera to get the effect I was looking for,  I then had to make some final adjustments in Lightroom.

Image 13

DSC_6804-Edit-And_the_linen_face_was_thrust_close_to_his_own-resized

The ghostly spirit takes form using bedsheets and rushes at the professor.  I was happy with this final image, although I had to combine two images in to one in Photoshop to produce it.

A big thank you to my Tutor for his support and constructive comments.

 

 

 

Exercise – Rain

DSC_7574-Rain-resized

In this exercise I had to produce a single strong attractive image that would leave no doubt that the subject is rain.  This would be used as the front cover of a magazine.

Rain

I began by making a list of what rain meant to me in order to find ideas for the elements required.  I then made a short list of magazine subject matter in order to connect the subject with the theme.  (Normally of course the magazine would be the employer and therefore the task of imagination would be only limited to the elements.)  From my list I decided to use gardening and for simplicity chose to use wellington boots and an umbrella photographed through my patio windows that I first sprayed with water to create the rain drops on the glass to emphasise the rain.  My barbeque was the original inspiration for both the choice of magazine style and idea for composition (Thanks to the Great British weather barbeques are closely associated with rain) so I arranged the wellington boots and umbrella next to my brick built barbeque.  However, I did not consider it important enough to the composition of this image to produce a photo that clearly defines the Barbeque as an additional element; so if it is recognised all the good and if not it’s not important as the boots and umbrella are the important elements to be linked with rain.  By chance, the day I worked on this photograph it actually did rain anyway; so this helped by providing a nicely wet patio for the reflection from the umbrella.

Low_Res-7546

I first took photos composing the image in a conventional portrait format but I felt that the images lacked something. I found by tilting the camera the images looked more interesting creating a more dynamic composition.

DSC_7574-Rain-resized

24-120mm f/4, @112mm, 1/100sec f/20, ISO-6400, WB-Auto.  Adjustments made in Lightroom (no cropping) and text added in Photoshop.

Tutor’s report and reflections for assignment 3

Tutor Report Shaun Mullins 512659 TAOP asst 3

Again, I read up as much as I could on this subject and taking on board earlier comments have now started to include referencing my books in my blogs.  I have also invested in a screen calibration tool called a Spyder4 which re-calibrated my screen for colour reproduction on my computer to help me when editing my photos in Lightroom or Photoshop.  This I believe is my secret to successful colour reproduction when printing.

I take Mikes point about choosing a single theme and on reflection that would have been a very good idea.

Colour harmony through complementary colours.

Blue and orange-resized Color-Wheel-by-HomeWorkshop   I used this colour wheel which guided me in the decision to use the photo of the cat as the blue and orange appear to be opposite each other on the wheel. I think perhaps I needed an element that was a brighter orange to have worked better.

Red and green-resized  The rose and the green background are of a similar tone to each other and so this is why they work so well.

Violet and yellow-a   Yes, Mikes comments are fare, this image needed a bit more work to give it punch.

Orange and blue-a-resized  I was trying for something more imaginative and maybe I could have cropped in tighter and shifted to grey-tone to turn the hands a neutral grey and used Photoshop the bring back the colours in the ring and nails.

Colour harmony through similar colours

Apple red and orange-resized   A good example of keeping it simple.

Yellow and orange-2-resized   I saw this whilst walking my dog along the river and quickly photographed it on my phone.

Blue and green-resized  I wasn’t entirely happy with this picture but it was the last image I needed for my assignment and I was pressed for time; so had to use it. The idea was sound but my choice of clothing was poor as it wasn’t strong enough for the lighting I had.

Green yellow and blue-resizedI simply added the blue straw to try to make it more interesting by adding an odd one out but is still following the rule as blue is next to green but I should have put it between green straws instead of being attracted to the contrast which was not the object of this exercise. Perhaps it was just one straw too far.  This may have been a better image to have submitted.  Green and yellow-resized

Contrasting colours 

Sarah blue and red-resized  I think the was stuck under another print and was missed.

Red and yellow-resized   Worked better in print than on screen. I will keep this image for reference.

Red and Blue-2-resized  I was not too familiar with the setting for the camera on my phone at the time and it was one of those moments to quickly catch the image.

Orange and green-resized  I was pleased with this image.

Colour Accent

Blue and orange-resized  Again it works when I keep things simple.

Orange and green-resized-a  I was pushing this a bit but I thought it worked.

Violet and blue-resized  Yes, on reflection I agree I should have used more skittles and given more attention to their matching colours.

Green and violet-resized  I like taking portraits and using a colour accent added an interesting element.

I learned a lot from this section of the course, much more than I originally expected.

Assignment V workbook.

DSC_6607-Text-Leaving_the_ruined_Templars_church_showed_him_a_prospect_of_company_on_his_walk-resized

For this assignment, I have decided to use an Edwardian ghost story by M.R. James as the narrative for my assignment.

The story is essentially about a college professor who is taking a short holiday on the coast and has been asked by a colleague to visit a ruined Templar’s church that is located close to where he is staying.  During the professors promised visit to the ruin he has a little dig around and finds a strange object that he later discovers is a whistle with a Latin inscription that roughly translates: “Who is this that comes?”.  He playfully blows the whistle to find out and discovers to his cost the meaning of the inscription.

For this project I enlisted the assistance of a friend who is an experienced actor and I then read through the story about five times to be thoroughly familiar with the narrative in order to be able to properly plan my images.

I then chose what I believe to be the key passages out of the text for my narrative in order to visually tell the story, I then created a word document  Story Board as copied and pasted below in order to begin visualizing the required images and sketching out the ideas.

Story Board – Oh, whistle and I’ll come to you my lad

    1. If you are going to Burnstow I wish you would look at the site of the Templars….   Prof. Parkins (Graham) sitting at table with friends, map, train time-table. Graham centre, profiles of friends flanking left and right in foreground.
    2. Location – He must, he quite rightly concluded, be on the site of the Preceptory he had promised to look at. Waverley Abbey. View of Graham seen from the ruins or Graham foreground and ruins in background. IDEA – Use a window in ruins to frame Graham. Step ladder may be needed.
    3.  It might, he thought, be as well to probe the soil here for evidences of masonry… And now following another discovery: A portion of soil fell inward as he scrapped and disclosed a small cavity…. A hole and a pen-knife.
    4.  Of course it was empty. No! As he withdrew his knife he heard a metallic clink and when he introduced his hand it met with a cylindrical object…. Close up of hand bringing whistle from hole.
    5. Location – Bleak and solemn was the view on which he took a last look before starting homeward. Waverley Abbey. Long distance landscape shot of the ruins. IDEA – Use a graduation filter for the sky.
    6. Location – One last look behind to measure the distance he had made since leaving the ruined Templars church showed him a prospect of company on his walk, in the shape of a rather indistinct personage…. Little Hampton. Graham walking towards camera glancing over his shoulder, occupying large area right of centre in background top left is smallish white (out of focus) running figure. IDEA Graham lit by large softbox using CLS for fast shutter speed to darken background, second softbox to illuminate white figure.
    7. It was with some considerable curiosity that he turned it over by the light of his candles. It was bronze, he now saw, and was shaped very much after the manner of the modern dog-whistle…. Close up of hand and whistle lit with an amber cast candle in background.
    8. He blew tentatively…. Portrait of Graham, amber cast.
    9. Whether it was the wind or the excitement of golf, or the researches in the Perceptory that kept Parkins awake…. / Parkins shut his eyes and determined to give sleep a chance…. Graham on pillow. Low key image, edged lighting.
    10. Location – Over-excitement asserted itself in another form – that of making pictures…. Parkins experience on this occasion was a very distressing one…. What he saw was this: A long stretch of shore – shingle edged by sand and intersected at intervals with black groynes running down to the water…. A man running, jumping, clambering over the groynes and every few seconds looking eagerly back… Far up the shore a little flicker of something light coloured moving to and fro with great swiftness and irregularity…. Declares itself as a figure in pale fluttering Draperies, ill-defined…. Little Hampton IDEA – Graham hiding with a Groyne against his back arms out face turned to one side for a profile. The white figure waving its arms top left again in the background out of focus
    11. He must have slept soundly for an hour or more, when a sudden clutter shook him up in a most un-welcome manner. Graham with a startled stare, out of focus white sheeted figure in background.
    12. It is a horrible, an intensely horrible face of crumples linen…. He could not keep back a cry of disgust…. And the linen face was thrust close to his own. Face to face. Sheeted face top left, Graham’s bottom left. IDEA – Scream mask from novelty shop with a sheet then overlaid with separate image of crumpled white linen in Photoshop for texture affect.

I then sketched out the ideas for each shot, one or two of the images only needed one sketch; but others took up to three or four drawings to find the idea that I settled with.

Having selected the scenes from the story and created some visual ideas I was then able to decide what shots required locations and what did not and from that what type of locations needed.  Then it was a simple matter of finding the locations to suit.  I had discovered Waverley Abbey near Frimley, Surrey, quite recently and my friend Graham has a holiday flat in Little Hampton with perfect beech locations; so I had my locations.

I did not decide which image would be my front cover image until I had already made two-thirds of the images.  I felt that image number six was best suited for my front cover, I think that it compliments the title very well.  My reasons is that the silhouette of a figure in the distance and just the feet of someone in mid stride in the foreground suggest that either may respond to a call from the other and the title helps to link the two subjects together.  The beech had a fairly steep slope to the sea as you can see from the image however, the tide was just on the turn and the sand was too soft and wet to be able to photo any closer to the surf; so obtaining reflections and a better view of the beech proved impractical.  I was pleased however to catch a good colour in the sky just as the sun began to set, the weather was very much like the day we visited Waverley Abbey; so I was happy that the sky for this image and image V are both correct for the time line in the story.

Story boarding with sketches and final image, starting with my cover shot, image VI.

Image VI.  DSC_6607-Edit-Leaving_the_ruined_Templars_church_showed_him_a_prospect_of_company_on_his_walk-resized  LocationOne last look behind to measure the distance he had made since leaving the ruined Templars church showed him a prospect of company on his walk, in the shape of a rather indistinct personage…. Little Hampton. Graham walking towards camera glancing over his shoulder, occupying large area right of centre in background top left is smallish white (out of focus) running figure. IDEA Graham lit by large soft-box using CLS for fast shutter speed to darken background, second soft-box to illuminate white figure.

Sketches for image VI for ideas and it was the final sketch that led me to my resulting picture.  The resulting image was photographed on the beech at Little Hampton, late afternoon just as the sun began to set.  The figure was my wife standing to attention and my friend posed to suggest he is in mid-stride but was in fact motionless. 24-120mm f/4 @34mm 1/125, f/5.6, ISO-100, matrix metering, WB-Auto.

ImageVIa ImageVIb

Image I.  If you are going to Burnstow I wish you would look at the site of the Templars….   Prof. Parkins (Graham) sitting at table with friends, map, train time-table. Graham centre, profiles of friends flanking left and right in foreground.  I kept this image simple and I decided just to have my friend posed studying a map with someone’s hand (mine) pointing out a place on interest on the map.  Camera was set on a tripod with timer set to trip after 15 seconds to take x 3 pictures 3 seconds apart, 85mm f/1.4, 1/125, f/1.8, ISO-125, matrix metering, WB-Auto, remote speedlight in a soft-box and reflector.

ImageI  DSC_6849-Edit_If_you_are_going_to_Burnstow-resized

Image II.  Location – He must, he quite rightly concluded, be on the site of the Preceptory he had promised to look at. Waverley Abbey. View of Graham seen from the ruins or Graham foreground and ruins in background. IDEA – Use a window in ruins to frame Graham. Step ladder may be needed.  On location at Waverley Abbey, standing on a small portable step ladder, I used the stone window opening to frame my friend Graham posing as the professor as he stops to survey the ruin for the first time.  Thus creating the moment when he recognises that he has found the Preceptory including a suggestion of the ruined church in the same image without un-necessary detail.  24/120mm f4, @48mm, 1/40, f/9, ISO-400, matrix metering, WB-manual.

ImageII   DSC_6385-Edit-on_the_site_of_the_Preceptory-1-resized

Image III.  It might, he thought, be as well to probe the soil here for evidences of masonry… And now following another discovery: A portion of soil fell inward as he scrapped and disclosed a small cavity…. A hole and a pen-knife.

ImageIII  DSC_6394-Edit-It_might_he_thought_be_as_well_to_probe_here-resized  Initially the idea was to simply create a still-life; but my friend Graham brought a pen knife with him on location which he happily posed to suggest digging amongst the ruins which I feel works well.  I had originally thought to use my garden or some waste land for the shots of finding the whistle as I didn’t want to be seen digging around a historic site.  But the site had lots of broken walls with small openings in them that could be employed for the shots and simple posing the hand and penknife against the stones and by craves in a broken wall suited my requirements perfectly.  24/120mm f/4 @35mm, 1/2500, f/4, ISO-400, matrix metering, WB-manual.

Image IV.  Of course it was empty. No! As he withdrew his knife he heard a metallic clink and when he introduced his hand it met with a cylindrical object…. Close up of hand bringing whistle from hole.  I was unable to find a suitable whistle for my prop; so we decided to simply use a wooden peg which we made dirty to try and disguise the material that it’s made from and suggest that it has been buried in the hole that the hand appears to be removing it from.  24-120mm f/4 @35mm, 1/80, f/4, ISO-6400, matrix metering, WB-manual.

ImageIV  DSC_6406-Edit-He_introduced_his hand_it_met_with_a_cylindrical_object-resized

Image V.  Location – Bleak and solemn was the view on which he took a last look before starting homeward. Waverley Abbey. Long distance landscape shot of the ruins. IDEA – Use a graduation filter for the sky.

ImageV  DSC_6430-Last_look-1-resized I chose to photograph this image from a very low level deliberately angled to create a sense of disturbing tension.  When my friend Graham saw this image he didn’t like it and suggested that I alter it to be less angled. I have respected his opinion and reviewed the image to consider his comment; but I feel that the angle creates a sense of discomfort which was what I am looking for from this image.  This is after all a ghost story and I want to create images that help make the reader feel a little uneasy.  24/120mm f/4, @24mm, 1.5000, f/4, ISO-160, matrix metering, WB-manual.

Image VII.  It was with some considerable curiosity that he turned it over by the light of his candles. It was bronze, he now saw, and was shaped very much after the manner of the modern dog-whistle…. Close up of hand and whistle lit with an amber cast candle in background.

ImageVII  DSC_7135-Edit-It_was_with_some_considerable_curiosity_that _he_turned_it_over_by_the_light_of_his_candles-resized

I used a remote speedlight with a yellow gel set in a soft-box to create a soft candle light type of lighting to complement the text.  We used the same wooden peg that we used at Waverley Abbey and therfore I composed the picture so that the whistle is implied but not clearly seen.  85mm f1.4, 1/125, f5.6, ISO-125, matrix metering, WB-manual.

Image VIII.  He blew tentatively…. Portrait of Graham, amber cast.

ImageVIII  DSC_7007-Edit-He_blew_tentively-resized

I decided that a simple image of the Professor appearing to blow on a whistle was not interesting enough; so I thought that I must have an image that implies both action and effect.  Therefor I had the idea that my friend should pose to appear to be blowing on a whistle and to create a shadow behind him to suggest that something has come to him in response.  I found this to be very tricky to light and photograph for reasonable exposure, I was also limited to time that my friend could commit.  However, I was happy with this final result.  I used a speed light with a home made silver foiled vanity dish with a honey-combed grill to help produce a beam of light to create a stretched shadow on a Chinese ornament for the sinister shadow.  I used another Chinese ornament that I put on display in the bottom left corner of this image to suggest that the shadow may be coming from it, may be not.  I used Photoshop to crop, spot heal a picture hook from the wall and adjust levels for both the shadow and the Professor separately using layers.  24-120mm f/4, @62mm, 1/125, f/4, ISO-125,  matrix metering, WB-Auto.

Image IX.  Whether it was the wind or the excitement of golf, or the researches in the Perceptory that kept Parkins awake…. / Parkins shut his eyes and determined to give sleep a chance…. Graham on pillow. Low key image, edged lighting.  To be used with image X.

ImageIXa  ImageIXb  DSC_7045-Edit-Parkins_shut_his_eyes_determined_to_give_sleep_chance-resized

This image juxtaposes with image X in order to suggest to the viewer both the reality of the Professors eyes shut as he tries to sleep and a scary moment in the vision that he sees every time he closes his eyes.  As this was part of a more dramatic image, kept it simple using a fast shutter speed a flash behind Graham’s head to create the edge lighting and I had to use a side table light to produce enough light on his face as I only had one flash with me.  Adjustments in Lightroom for temperature, levels and cropping.  24-120mm f/4 @55mm, 1/320, f/4, ISO-125, matrix metering, WB-Auto.

Image X.  Location Over-excitement asserted itself in another form – that of making pictures…. Parkins experience on this occasion was a very distressing one…. What he saw was this: A long stretch of shore – shingle edged by sand and intersected at intervals with black groynes running down to the water…. A man running, jumping, clambering over the groynes and every few seconds looking eagerly back… Far up the shore a little flicker of something light coloured moving to and fro with great swiftness and irregularity…. Declares itself as a figure in pale fluttering Draperies, ill-defined…. Little Hampton IDEA – Graham hiding with a Groyne against his back arms out face turned to one side for a profile. The white figure waving its arms top left again in the background out of focus.

ImageXa  ImagaXb

DSC_6520-Edit-Over-ecitement_asserted_itself_in_another_form_that_of_making_pictures-resized  In this image I wanted to convey the feeling and impression of the professor’s nightmarish vision that he keeps seeing when he closes his eyes to sleep.  From the idea of a simple image of the Professor hiding behind a groyne from a white figure, moved on to consider a shadow or reflection of the nightmarish figure to a more simple idea of using the zoom to create a form of motion blur to imply seeing through the eyes of the nightmarish figure as it finds the hiding professor in his dream.  24-120mm f/4, 1/13, f/8, ISO-50, matrix metering, WB-Auto.

Image XI.  He must have slept soundly for an hour or more, when a sudden clutter shook him up in a most un-welcome manner.  IDEA – Graham with a startled stare, out of focus white sheeted figure in background.

ImageXIa  ImageXIb       DSC_7066-Edit-A_clutter_shook_him_up_in_a_most_un-welcome_manner-resized-a

I after my initial thoughts that I put down on paper my final idea through my sketches was to produce an image implying that something had just happened, something that has just woken the Professor.  I decided to photograph my friend posed in bed looking startled, seen through a reflection of the mirror on his dressing table with a vase of flowers tipped over in the foreground to imply that it was the noise from the fallen vase has just awakened him.  I used Lightroom to crop, adjust temperature and levels.  Remote speedlight in soft-box, 24-120mm f/4, @52mm, 1/250, f/4, ISO-125, matrix metering, WB-Auto.

Image XII.  It is a horrible, an intensely horrible face of crumples linen…. He could not keep back a cry of disgust…. And the linen face was thrust close to his own. Face to face. Sheeted face top left, Graham’s bottom left. IDEA – Scream mask from novelty shop with a sheet then overlaid with separate image of crumpled white linen in Photoshop for texture affect.

ImageXIIa  ImageXIIb

ImageXIIc  DSC_6804-Edit-And_the_linen_face_was_thrust_close_to_his_own-resized

To be used across two pages with text on top.   This is my punch-line to the story and for this shot I wanted something dramatic and suitable for a double page spread.  To obtain this image I used Photoshop to merge two images in to one by creating a background image (ghost) and a foreground image Professor’s hands.  I have a polystyrene skull which is a prop for Halloween parties which I covered with a pillow case then laid over a white sheet and photographed standing over it and using the zoom method employed for image X to suggest that it is rushing forward.  In Lightroom I adjusted the temperature, contrast, and levels which created a natural dark bokeh affect to the edges of the sheet which was a welcome and unexpected bonus as it saved me having to create it in Photoshop.  I then took a photo of Graham’s hands as he crouched in front of me reaching his hands up and positioning as directed with a white sheet draped over a door as a background.  After adjustments in Lightroom I exported both images to Photoshop, selected the ghost image first for background then selected the hands photo for foreground and using layers I painted out the white sheet draped over the door in the background of the top layer of the Professors hands to reveal to ghost background image below.  I feel that this final image captures the horror and drama that I was looking for in my “punch-line” image.  Two images combined in Photoshop.  Hands 24-120mm f/4 @44mm 1/125, f/4, ISO-125, matrix metering, WB-Auto. Skull and bedclothes, 24-120mm f/4 1/15, f/4, ISO-125, matrix metering, WB-Auto.

Draft Word Document.  Oh Whistle and I will come to you my lad-draft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise – Juxtaposition

 

‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens.

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Since I first wrote this blog and published it I have figured out how to add text in Photoshop; so I have now included this finished book cover to my work.

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24-120mm f/4. 1/160 Sec, f/6.3, ISO-125, WB-Sunshine, Flash 1/4 amber gel.

IMG_0768  Set-2 (1 of 1) Set-3 (1 of 1)

Equipment used 2 x speedlights, Pocket Wizards, 1 x softbox, 1 x Chinese lantern, 1 x Gobo, 2 x reflectors. 1 x amber Gel.

Great Expectations plan  Click on this link to open the pdf for my mind-map.

In this exercise I have chosen to take a still-life approach to creating a cover illustration for a book.  The book I have decided to use as my inspiration is ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens.

Synopsise: First published in 1861 the novel’s story is of Pip an orphan being brought up by his uncle and aunt and on a course in life to become a blacksmith.  However, when still a young child fate throws him in the way of an escaping convict whom he has to help and soon after this event he is called upon to regularly visit a strange, recluse, rich spinster (Miss Haversham who was jilted on her wedding day and still only wears her wedding dress) and her adopted daughter Estella with whom Pip falls in love.  He later learns that a mysterious benefactor has named him as an heir to a great fortune but he must first give up his present life and go to London to be educated as a gentleman.  Believing that the mysterious spinster is his secret benefactor and that her adopted daughter is intended for his wife he willingly gives up his life with his uncle and aunt and goes to London to become a gentleman but having become a gentleman he reaching his 21st birthday fate has yet another twist in it’s tale for Pip….

The elements for this photo are all relevant to the characters and events that I have just described and I used the mind mapping technique to help choose and find the elements for the picture.

I started with the title of the book and looking up the meanings for the two words in the Oxford Dictionary gave me ideas of possible imagery symbolisms.  I then added the names of the main characters and looked at connections between the symbolism ideas to strengthen  the final choices.

My first attempts included a sea chest represents the expected fortune, the iron file represents Pips humble origins and the convict, the lace handkerchief and lace glove representing Estella and Miss Haversham, I also included some bonboniers to represent love and the expectation of marriage.  My first mistake was to take some pictures in landscape format and the realized that it would not be suitable for a book cover; so I had to re-shoot tilting the camera for portrait.  After re-taking the images I then felt it lacked something In order to make the picture interesting; so I searched for and found an old rusty chain that could represent the convict.  Happy with this I I made another attempt.

However, on reflection I realized that I had moved away from the brief of this exercise.  The brief was to have no more that three elements that would strongly contrast against each other for a simple image still life to provide a very simple symbolist type of message.  I slept on it and removed the sea chest, the lace handkerchief and glove.  I then had the idea to create a shape of a heart using the chain, placing the iron file sticking out of the heart shaped pile to resemble a dagger and to contrast the chain and the file I added the bombonier.  I now have only three elements, the chain representing the convict, the file representing Pip and his connection to the convict and the Bonbonier that represents both Miss Haversham and Estella for whom Pip dreams of marrying as part of his Great Expectations.  The way that I have arranged these elements is intended to also suggests love, heart ache and betrayal which are all elements of the book.  I positioned the gelled speedlight inside the soft-box to direct the light down the length of the file to create a good texture and used the reflectors to fill and soften shadows.

I am happy with my final result which allows enough space and a suitable background for text and is in portrait format for the book-cover.  The amber gel has produced a nice antique colour-cast which I believe adds additional interest.

 

Tutor’s report and my reflections on Assignment 4

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I have received my Tutor report and I am both relieved and pleased that my work was well received and met the criteria.  Tutor Report Shaun Mullins 512659 asst 4 TAOP

I chose portraits as this is where I expect to specialize as a professional photographer and my wife was the willing (if not long suffering) model.

I considered this section and assignment the most important part of the course for the very reason that knowledge, understanding and control of light must be key to a good photographer.  Without the appreciation of this subject a photographer is likely to be relying on luck rather than judgement for a good image, this maybe Okay for a casual amateur perhaps but when you are taking somebodies money then you are expected to know what you are doing and to be consistent with your standard of work.  Therefore, I felt that I needed more time on this subject and I now feel much more confident in this very important area of photography.

Like everyone else I am confined to budget constraints and I am currently unable to invest in very expensive lighting equipment.  However, I have found that I can get by for the time being using cheaper speedlights and Pocket Wizards.  You can obtain reasonably good speedlights for around £60 each and the main expense is the Pocket Wizards (although cheaper options are available).  I like to look to the longer term when choosing equipment, the speedlights will always come in handy and the Pocket Wizards are both reliable and compatible with more expensive lighting equipment.  I took a piece of advice from one of the authors of my books on lighting, he stated that before purchasing a second speedlight buy a hand held light meter first.  This piece on investment will carry forward for when I have the chance to use larger more professional strobes.

Michael suggests that I could have extended my creativity by applying a more visually creative context such as emotion to the my work to link the images in to a context.  Yes, on reflection this was a good idea and when I was first concentrating on texture I originally was thinking along similar lines for the theme of soft and hard but I got worried that I was departing from the basic required criteria.

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85mm f/1.4, 1/250sec, f/3.2, ISO-125, WB-tungsten, remote flash with tungsten Gel 1/64.  Image taken over Sarah’s shoulder of her reflection in bathroom mirror.  Speedlight 2′ to Sarah’s  left on the sink unit pointed up to her face controlled with a Pocket Wizard.

This image was my first attempt at “hard” and was intended to produce a more emotional feel; but I was concerned that I was not creating texture but mood and that wasn’t the brief; so I decided to play it safe and simply create an un unflattering portrait with an obvious visual texture as per the brief.  Perhaps, with more thought and planning I could achieve both but my priority was to finish my assignment on time.

Shape – image 1.

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This image needed to be a little sharper with the forehead darkened with just edge lighting and for the top lip under the nose.

Form – image 4

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Michael comments that the highlight on the nose competes with the whites of the eyes.  An interesting observation that I had not considered and clearly I need to start looking more critically at my work to help my learning curve and improve on a polished piece of work.  This image could be improved in Photoshop to brighten / burn the whites of the eyes and perhaps dodge the highlights on the nose.  However, in my defence, if I had noticed this I may have been tempted to use Photoshop and this would have been cheating.  I have kept adjustments to a minimum in order to demonstrate my newly acquired knowledge.  Having said that I probably will now have a play in Photoshop to improve this image as my Photoshop skills are still very basic and needs improving with practice.

Colour – image 8

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Mike tells me that I could have got away with using the second image here with Italian flag concept; but I am glad of my final choice as it has thrown up a very useful and important learning issue for me.  That of differences of colour reproduction between the printed image and the screen image.  I have read about this subject and I regularly re-calibrate my screen using a colour spyder however, my mistake was to simply get prints made at my local Tescos that has a photo printing facility.  The resulting print produced an excess yellow in the skin and hair as the printers defaults did not match the colour profile of the photo and I did not consider this when getting it printed.  If I had used the Italian flag image this may not have been highlighted and a learning opportunity would have been missed.  This is an area I still don’t yet fully understand but is clearly an important subject to learn and fully understand if I am to be able to obtain and provide quality end results.

My thanks to Mike for his valuable and generous comments.

Using my camera’s histogram

Studio shot (1 of 1)
In this exercise, I practised using my speedlight off camera for a still life. I set the speedlight in a soft-box fitted to a lighting boom and stand and complimented with a white reflector to bounce light back to fill the shadows.
metered exposure (1 of 1)For metered image (1 of 1)
My first image illustrated the result from the camera’s recommended metered exposure. As you can see the lace table cloth is grey rather than white. Immediate right is an image of the Histogram display as recorded by my camera for this shot. Note that the highlights are towards the left and closer to the centre. This is because light meters use grey as their mid-point to work-out an average exposure. Therefore a white subject or large area of white will typically be underexposed looking grey rather than white.
Improoved exposure (1 of 1)For improoved image (1 of 1)
For this next image I have adjusting the aperture from by one stop from f/22 to f/16 which has brightened the picture and changed the grey table cloth to a much brighter white. As you can see from the accompanying image of my camera’s Histogram the graph has shifted over to the right, but is still within an expectable tolerance.
Flowers for Sarahs Angels-1 (1 of 1)Final image (1 of 1)
In the final image I recomposed to eliminate the dark area top right of my last picture which was the edge of my backdrop. As you can see I made no other changes and the histogram is the same as my last picture.

This emphasises the importance of the histogram as an aid to making good exposures and to make reviewing this information as a matter of habit as part of best practice. This will inevitably improve my photos, help to obtain consistent results and cut down the work time in Lightroom / Photoshop.

Exercise – Colours into tones in black-and-white

In this exercise, I created a still life using sweets, modelling clay and drinking straws laid on my grey card that I use for manually setting the white balance. The object of this exercise is to use colour filters when converting a colour image to black and white to improve the tone and contrast of the black and white picture. This can be achieved with digital photography by using the colour filter options in Photoshop or Lightroom by adding or subtracting the colour values on the control sliders found in the greyscales functions, available to both of these programs. These features simulates in a more controllable way the adding of a coloured filter to the end of a lens on a camera when photographing with black and white film.

I began this exercise by using my grey card to set the white balance for my camera, I then I set up my still-life with the camera set on a tripod positioned over the subject. I used my 105mm lens, manually focused and set to aperture priority, ISO 100 and I used a cable remote to trip the camera.

First image remains as shot in colour.
Second altered in Photoshop with the greyscale function with no filter adjustments.
Third, fourth, fifth and sixth images all adjusted in Photoshop with one filter raised to simulate a coloured filter over the lens but with the other primary colour sliders lowered to adjust tone and contrast.

Original_colour-resized
Apart from sharpening this image has been untouched and simply converted to JPEG.

Original.
Photoshop – Filters – Camera Raw filter – HSL/Greyscale – tick box “Convert to Greyscale”.
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This image has been simply converted to the grey scale in Photoshop without any adjustments to the colour filter sliders which were set to the following default settings:
RED – +7, Orange – +2, Yellow – 0, Greens – -13, Aquas – -22 Blues – +5, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Red filter.
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Filter sliders:
RED – +100, Orange – -27, Yellow – -36, Greens – -41, Aquas – -22 Blues – -69, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Yellow filter.
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Filter sliders:
RED – -42, Orange – -8, Yellow – +11, Greens – -19, Aquas – -22 Blues – -23, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Adding_green _filter_and_reducing_yellow_blue_red-resized
Filter sliders:
RED – -49, Orange – -21, Yellow – -33, Greens – +78, Aquas – -22 Blues – -13, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Adding_blue _filter_and_reducing_yellow_green_red-resized
Filter sliders:
RED – -12, Orange – -29, Yellow – -33, Greens – -77, Aquas – -22 Blues – +100, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

By playing with these colour filters in the grey scale I have been able to alter the appearance of all the items on the grey background. However, the grey background itself, has remained constant in all the images.

Colour information

Both Lightroom and Photoshop displays the colour information when hovering the cursor over an image.
In Lightroom this information can be seen on the Develop screen just below the colour histogram on the right side of the screen. This displays as RGB info, at present I can not find if this can be changed to HSB.
Photoshop offers the same feature by moving your cursor over the picture. This option can be found in the menu bar at the top of the screen in WINDOWS listed as color, tick the option and the colour controls appear on the right look down it’s left edge for the I for information symbol. Click this to get the colour values when rolling your cursor, this also has added features to provide values in HSB and CYMK for print publishing (panel options found in the colour info box top right corner).