Tag Archives: subject

Exercise – Rain


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.


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.


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.


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

Exercise – Evidence of action


That was a nice cup of tea!

A simple example of a single image depicting a suggestion of action from a recent event.

Illustration is best used for dealing with subjects that are not easy to photograph for example subject matter that is not a solid object or a obvious event.

Five concepts regularly depicted in advertising and publicity that can not be shown directly is: Banking, life-style, holidays, medicines, utility services such as gas or internet.  In order to put across a positive message for these types of subjects we are shown pictures of helping hands, shaking of hands, umbrellas, happy people dancing and care-free, young beautiful families hand in hand on a deserted white sandy beach, an empty swimming pool with one single bikini clad swimmer, a blue flame images symbolizing warmth and cold, images symbolizing modern communication and images suggesting speed.

Putting subject first

In the field of Narrative and Illustration I must consider the contrast between images that are more important for their subject matter against those that are more important for their treatment.

I have selected these two images to represent both ends of the scale from subject to treatment.


Subject – Sinking of the Belgrano, 1982, grainy poor quality picture but having a very powerful subject matter.  This image is 95% subject 0% style, 5% technical treatment.


Treatment – Silhouette, here the emphasise is simply on design and shape, carefully lit and framed this picture was created for artistic sentiment.  This image is 2% subject,  48% style, 50% technical treatment.


Project – Narrative

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In this section of my course I am now considering putting images to use and not simply looking at creating pictures for art but images that tell a story, make a statement or capture an event.  these type of images are either staged or taken as the action/event happens often with little time for thought or planning.  I have found the above three are examples to illustrate this.

The first image – Story – this image was taken in Dachau, 1945, German civilians from the local town have been brought to the concentration camp to face their guilt.  Taken as it happened, this is the moment German civilians were forced to face the truth of the Nazis and the fate of the Jews.  The subject is clear and the story easy to read from just this one picture.  The body in the stripped uniform is clearly a dead or dying concentration camp victim and the well dressed and healthy looking civilians with a variety of expressions on their faces that runs from shock to disgust to indifference are clearly Germans who are being marched past this poor man and forced to bare witness.  Although the event and expressions on the subjects faces are all genuine , this image was partially staged as the photographer clearly was there to record this event and must have been given a little time to set up his camera and frame the shot before the civilians arrived.  This is one of many images taken on the orders of General Eisenhower.

The second image – Message – this image is a perfume advert from the 1990’s.  Carefully framed, lit and exposed to sell perfume.  The subject and message here is clear, subject – perfume, message – offering a very desirable and valuable commodity.

The third image – Event – this tragic event was captured on film in the 1980’s moments after an airliner collided with a small light aircraft.  Captured by an amateur who witnessed the event and quickly snapped a photograph which was later used by news papers and TV all over the world.  The importance here is that the subject is clear enough to see and understand the unfolding tragedy.


Subject contrast and SBR – subject brightness range

Subject contrast – subject contrast is the difference of dark tones and light tones in an evenly lit subject. For example a person dressed head to foot in grey would have no contrasting tones; but a person with wearing black shoes and trousers with a white shirt would have an inherent contrast of about 6 stops. An alternative way to describe this is by using the contrast ratio which for 6 stops = a ratio of 64:1.

Subject ratio can be thought of as the difference between the amounts of light reflected back to the camera by the different materials of the subject.

SBR or subject brightness range is the combination of subject contrast and lighting contrast.
For example: If a subject with a contrast of 4:1 is lit by lights in a ratio of 8:1, then the overall subject brightness range will be 32:1 or a range of 5 stops.

subject brightness range = subject contrast x lighting range.
The subject contrast range is important to be remembered particularly for studio work as this final contrast range is what the camera sees based upon the inherent contrast in the subject and the contrast in the lighting.

Notes taken from:
Basics Photography 02, Lighting, David Prakel, AVA Publishing.

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.

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

Photoshop – Filters – Camera Raw filter – HSL/Greyscale – tick box “Convert to Greyscale”.
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.
Filter sliders:
RED – +100, Orange – -27, Yellow – -36, Greens – -41, Aquas – -22 Blues – -69, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Yellow filter.
Adding_yellow _filter_and_reducing_green_blue_red-resized
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.

Exercise – Curves

This exercise follows on from my last project for diagonals and looks at how curves can be used for composition.


In this picture, I have used curves to draw the eye to the subject point, the bell, which I have colour popped to help it stand out.


In this picture, I have used curves to draw the eye through the picture and the cars give added direction.


In this image I came across a convex mirror used for traffic safety and thought that the reflections of the cars that passed the mirror created a nice example of using curves for distorting an image creating an interesting angle of perspective and movement plus an almost 3D depth.


I wanted to find a good example of curves giving an impression of movement and I found it by chance in a lobby of a Hotel in Spain with the curves of the steel bands surrounding this steel statue of a dancer with ribbons. This photo was taken using just a small digital holiday snap-shot camera.

Exercise – Diagonals

In this exercise I have looked at the use of diagonals in composition to create dramatic and interesting compositions and can also create a sense of movement.


This first picture creates a sense of tension and drama by observing this monument from below at an angle. The resulting diagonal image exaggerates the height and also suggests a feeling of vulnerability for the observer.


In this example, I have used the theory of diagonals to lead the viewers eye in to the picture. I thought that This foot bridge was a good choice of locations as it offered both depth and interesting shadow effects.


In this example, I have used the diagonals to draw attention to the subject, Holly, my dog.


In this final example, I have photographed a large scale model of Concorde displayed on a roundabout outside Brooklands Museum. By using the theory of diagonals I have created a sense of drama, as if I have caught an image of Concorde just as it is taking off right in front of me.

Exercise – Vertical and horizontal frames

In this exercise I have taken x20 photos of subjects in the vertical (portrait) orientation, then taken x20 photos of the same subjects in the horizontal (landscape) orientation to see which method works best. in some images one method is clearly better than another; but in some both work but changes “the feel” of the composition.


In these examples I believe that the first image in landscaped works better than the second, due to the length on the flower boxes leading you through the picture.


In these two example, I think that the second image works better, due to the tall spire of the church tower and the loss of “the fussy” surroundings.


The vertical image clearly works for this subject and tilted gives a sense of height and drama lacking in the landscape version.


Again the vertical image works better as it more closely crops the subject.


Again the vertical image works best.


Again the vertical image works.


This image also works best as a portrait format.


Again vertical framing works best here.


Again vertical framing.

In these two examples both methods appear to work, by making the images black and white and colour popping, I have helped improve the interest. However, the vertical frame gives more emphasise on the post box and the perspective appears to alter the character of the image.

Again both images work; but with the vertical framed image, I felt that flipping it back to front added something.

Again I think both images work well and I thing that the vertical frame alters the character.

Again both appear to work; but I prefer the landscape image as it gives a little more sense of place/location.

Again both work and it would be more of a consideration of how the picture is planed to be used, i.e. in a magazine / website or picture on a wall.

Again I think both work well, although to me, the first image suggests a more appealing leisurely day on the river.

Again both images work; but again it is down to considering how the work is to be presented. My favourite is landscape as I think it has a little more character.

Again I think that both work well however, I think that the vertical frame is more dramatic.

In this example, I prefer the vertical frame for atmosphere.

Again both work well; but I like the vertical frame concentrating on the steps.

In this finale example the first image horizontally framed is best because the gate lamp nicely frames the subject and so give more character to the image.