Tag Archives: sweet

Tutor’s report and my reflections for assignment one

After a months break from working due to other commitments and Easter, I am back in the saddle.

My first assignment was tougher than I first thought and due to the constant rain I was unable to go abroad as much as I would have liked to find ideas and to complete all the exercises in Part One of the course. However, I will try to do all the remaining exercises for Part One as I move on with Part Two.

Mike was very kind to me with regards to my first assessment and I have found his comments both very helpful and constructive. (Thank you.)  Tutor_Report_Form–Shaun Mullins 512659 TAOP asst1

I am travelling on a steep learning curve with this course; I am unfamiliar with blogging, writing self reflections, and researching, I am also learning how to get in to the habit of looking at the world from a more artistic point of view in order to find more creative images.

The main criticism has been my literal interpretation of the subject matter which Mike refers to as LT (literal thinking).  When thinking through my brief I made a list of things that I could associate with the contrasting subjects listed; so for example: Light / Heavy = feather/rock, cloud/rain, etc.  This took me down the path of using commonly known phrases to give me ideas hence for example light as a feather.  Clearly, I have a lot to learn and I need to spend a lot more time looking at the works of the good and the great for ideas and thinking outside of the box.

My Images

Strength of Steel-resized

STRENGTH – My Tutors comment was that someone without an engineering background may not understand the connection between strength and this image put before them and an example of my literal thinking (LT).  The lesson learned is to ask oneself, would someone else sum up in one word  STRENGTH as the impression for this type of image?


Weak as a Sapling-resized-aThis image represented weakness however, Mike felt that the plant looked strong not weak against the tools and another example of my literal thought process.

Sweet memories-resized-a



Sweet – Again the issue of my LT but Mike felt that I had managed to convey the feeling of sweet in the image which was what I was trying to do; so I am happy that this was conveyed over to the reader.

Sour Relationship-resized-a
Sour – As before my LT dominated. This image was not as well lit as the sweet and Mike suggested that it would have worked better with less items, suggesting just the G&T with the torn photo of the man. Less is more! yes – I think Mikes right.
A Splash of Liquid-resized-a


Liquid – Mike liked this; but my White Balance let it down. I must confess that this was as much an error of judgment as camera settings. This image taken using natural light on auto WB with a white background but I messed around with the light temperature in Lightroom thinking making the image cooler and giving it that bluish effect made it look better. I processed this image right after doing the ice cube and I had cool blue on the brain!

Frozen Solid-resized-a
Solid – This image I am very pleased with and it was very simple to set up and light. With this image I did use a blue background and I simply used a small torch with an LED bulb as the only source of lighting. I am pleased to say that Mike liked it too.

Sharp nosed-resized-a
Sharp – Mike liked this image as well; but suggested flipping it as people tend to read from left to right and maybe this picture might work better pointed that way.
Sharp flipped-resized
YES – Mikes right! and I have learned to consider something else for composition.

Blunt work-1-resized-a
Blunt – Now I am beginning to feel like the character of the Bother Boy (Roy Kinnear) In The Dick Emery show “Dad, I got it wrong again!” Again my literal mind.

Vanguard to curves-resized-a
I wanted to find an image both visually interesting as well as meeting the criteria; but in choosing this image I failed to notice that the construction and the line of riveting was a visual element diluting the impression of the curves. But another good lesson for me all the same.

Straight to the point-resized-a
Straight – If I am honest, I wasn’t sure if this image was going to work at meeting the criteria but I liked it and I hoped; but as before I had too much literal thought.

Light as a feather-resized-a




LIGHT –  This is a good example of how phrases dominated my thinking for this assignment.

Heavy task ahead-resized-a

I had fun making this image and running backwards and forwards to the camera and rock kept me fit. To help convey the impression of weight I tilted and cropped the image putting the rock at a much lower position in the frame; but again LT.
Mine's a large one-resized-aWhen I am big-resized-a
SMALL / LARGE With the constant rain I looked around the house to find something big and small to use and keeping in mind that I wanted something of interest I came across the small teddy bears that my wife keeps, which led to the similar image for large.
White & Black-resized-aBlack & White-resized-a






BLACK / WHITE I have a confession – I was very surprised that Mike liked this idea, as I thought that it might get considered as a cheat for simply reversing the same image for both contrasts. But I liked the idea and I thought it worked and clearly Mike thought the same, Mike suggested that I could have taken this idea further and I probably will in the future.
Straight to the curve-resized-a
POLARIZED Mikes criticism regarding the composition for this image was not unexpected, I played around for hours trying to find a good composition and I wasn’t 100% happy with the final choice; but it was the best that I could come up with at the time and I was happy with the overall colour and curved patterns produced. Again another technique that I can be practiced in the future to find better results.

Overall I both enjoyed the assignment and I am happy with Mikes appraisal.

Assignment One – Contrasts

Assignment One – CONTRASTS
In this assignment I have been tasked to find eight subjects that I could use to express extremes of different qualities and take pairs of photographs, which bring out the essential differences and then to add one photo that holds both contrasts.
From the twenty-one choices, I selected: Large/small, pointed/blunt, liquid/solid, strong/weak, light/heavy, black/white, straight/curved, sweet/sour. Please review my work and notes and I look forward to your critique. Thank you.

Strength of Steel-resized

Strength – I looked for something that both suggested and represented strength and I came upon the struts that are attached to the bridge and the supporting arches. I see these struts act as lynch pins between the burden and the support and the angle of the strut suggests tension between the arch and the road. I consider that the strut is part of a whole and that the strength is through the working partnership it has with other components, namely the main Arch support above it and the supporting girder below.

I used my zoom lens adjusted to 65mm, f/16, 1/100, ISO-100, WB-Auto, RAW. I made adjustments in Lightroom, cropping and straightening, and making small adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights. Sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Weak as a Sapling-resized-a

Weak – Looking for contrast to strength I felt that a small fig tree sapling that I am growing offered the suggestion of something that is weak, as it looks small and fragile; and most importantly alone. To make this image more interesting I wanted to exaggerate its vulnerability; so I set up a scene with the plant surrounded by tools that could destroy it setting the open shears in the background suggesting imminent destruction.
I set up the scene on my garden table to take advantage of natural light with the help of some reflectors.

Camera on a tripod, I used my recently purchase Nikon 105mm Macro lens, f/13, 1/250, ISO-125, RAW, WB-Auto and additional flash. I made adjustments in Lightroom, straightened and cropped and made some adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Sweet memories-resized-a

Sweet – My first thought was sweeties and I imagined brightly coloured sweets in a bonbonniére. My thoughts then led to sweet childhood memories; so I had my scene and using some framed photographs that my wife has of herself and her sisters as children I had the ideal sweet memories and all I needed was to buy some sweets and Jelly Babies was the perfect choice.
The Jelly Babies also work on another level, suggesting coloured childhood memories, sickly sweet, bright and cheerful. The lace cloth suggest femininity and nostalgia, the frames emphasise the importance of those memories to the individual and the bonbonniére the possession of an adult who perhaps hasn’t quite grown up.

I set this scene up in doors using a white reflector to provide a clean background, I set my Nikon speed light to operate remotely standing to the left of the scene, in very close, just out of shot, pointing the flash to the ceiling to bounce the light down and create an even light and minimize shadow. This was controlled from the small flash built into my camera the reflectors were set up on the right hand side of the scene. With the camera on a tripod, I used my new 105mm lens, f/13, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. In Lightroom I straightened and cropped, made some adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Sour Relationship-resized-a

Sour – I now needed a similar scene to contrast sweet memories and convey SOUR; so my thought naturally led me to ideas of relationships and how they can turn sour. I wanted a similar scene and I also wanted something else to convey the taste of SOUR. I thought lemons and limes and I thought lemons with gin and limes with tequila. Therefore, gin and tonic for the women and tequila for the man, I then found a suitable image of a loving couple on the internet that I t printed and tore in half, then using some personal framed pictures to suggest relationship history, I set the scene. All the items add layers to the story, the knife, the salt, the limes all suggest bad words, bitterness, recrimination, aggression and pain. I used the red painted wall of our living room for the background which I felt suited the mood of the picture. The doilies suggest that all of these emotions are controlled and kept “civilized” in the context of the expected behaviour of a typical middle class couple.

I set up my lighting the same way as I had set up for “Sweet” with the speed light to operate remotely and in the same way of bouncing the light from the ceiling and setting the reflectors in same positions. Again the camera was set on my tripod, 85mm lens, f/4.5, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom adjustments – I simply sharpened.

A Splash of Liquid-resized-a

Liquid – I wanted to somehow convey an impression of the properties and feeling of liquid through a single image and after much consideration I thought that a splash is a good clear example and also provides a sense of drama and spectacle. I chose a strawberry as it adds colour and texture and was easily manageable. I set the scene outside on my garden table to take advantage of the natural light as I was using a fast shutter speed. I set the glass on a white table cloth and used a white reflector to provide a clean background. I had trouble with the wind blowing over my reflectors and my D-800e is not the fastest for high speed continues shooting; so I often missed the perfect exposure and after several hours I finally had some images that I could use.

Camera set on a tripod using my 85mm lens, f/4, 1/6400, ISO-400, WB-Auto, JPEG (normal). In Lightroom, I adjusted the light temperature to give a cooler look and bring out the blue, I angled and cropped the image for greater impact and I made small adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, whites and blacks and sharpened.

Frozen Solid-resized-a

Solid – Following on from the theme with the water and strawberry, I decided that the contrast for liquid water is frozen solid with the strawberry trapped inside; so I froze a strawberry in a cube and set up inside this time and simply used the light from an LED torch to illuminated the subject. I decided upon an LED light as it provides a cold blue white light that I thought suitable for the subject. I found an A4 blue plastic presentation binder that I could use as base and background for my ice cube. Laying the torch to the left of the cube shining diagonally through the ice and setting the cube angled to the camera I quickly took my pictures before the ice melted.

Camera on tripod, 105mm lens, f/5, 1/5, ISO-200, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Image angled and cropped for more of a dynamic impact, light temperature adjusted to give a cooler look and bring out the blue form the light and I made small adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, whites and blacks and sharpened before saving to JPEG.

Sharp nosed-resized-a

Sharp – My first thought was that a pointed object is a good example of sharp for example the end of a knife, tip of a spear, top of the railings in a Park, but I wanted something more interesting. I am fortunate to have Brooklands Museum right on my doorstep; so I paid a visit and took some pictures of the Concord on display. Cutting edge in aeronautical design with its long pointed nose and in addition the pitot tube extending out from the tip of the nose heightens the sense of its sharpness. I felt that this was the perfect choice and surely a subject that is both iconic and a head turner. To get an almost “Thunderbird” effect I simply tilted the image when cropping.

Photographed hand held I used my thrifty fifty (50mm lens) f/22, 1/250, ISO-250, WB-Auto, RAW.
Lightroom – I adjusted the angle and cropped for a more stylistic image, small adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, highlights and shadow, sharpened, saved to JPEG.

Blunt work-1-resized-a

Blunt – With Concord still in mind my first thought was to get an image of the nose of a sub-sonic aircraft as a contrast, but I did not feel that this would convey the feeling or impression of blunt. However, staying on the thought of design I had an idea of drawings and pencils. This led to the idea of another still life scene, this time I used an architect’s drawing I have for a planned extension, a blunt pencil, an architect’s ruler and sharpener, etc. The blunted pointed end of the pencil contrasts well against the sharpness of Concord. I used my speed light remotely bouncing the flash off the ceiling and operated from the built in flash on my camera but this time I didn’t use reflectors.

Camera on Tripod – 105mm lens, f/8, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – small adjustments to exposure, contrast, and sharpening before saving to JPEG.

Vanguard to curves-resized-a

Curve – Whilst at Brooklands the curved design of the Vickers Viscount with its painted curved lines created a nice artistic image of curvature and so I captured this image with a hand held shot then converted to Black & White in Lightroom making some adjustments in the colour controls in the Black and white mode to adjust the grey scales separately and I tilted and cropped the final image for a greater effect.

Camera hand held – 50mm lens, f/20, 1/250, ISO-250, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom, tilted and cropped, small adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, converted to B&W and adjusted, sharpened and converted to RAW.

Straight to the point-resized-a

Straight – For this subject I chose to use the large model of Concord outside Brooklands museum, it has a long straight profile leading you straight through the picture and I chose to convert to Black and White in Lightroom to remove distracting colour from the subject. Hand held I stood just about under the nose of the model to get the shot and tightly cropped.

Camera – 50mm lens, f/22, 1/200, ISO-200, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Small adjustments to light temp, exposure, highlights and shadows, contrast, B&W with fine adjustments, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Light as a feather-resized-a

Light – My thoughts for something to be as light as a feather; so on one of my dog walks I collected a number of bird feathers and on returning home I took this shot holding my camera with my right hand whilst dropping a feather with my left and looking through the view finder at the same time. I set my camera to continue high speed shooting, set image quality to JPEG low res, set auto focusing to shoot and refocus, fitted speed light with TTL and hoped for the best! After many attempts I got this image that I was happy with as it conveys the impression of the floating feather. I then converted to Black and White in Lightroom.

Camera hand held – 50mm lens, f/4, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, JPEG-low. Lightroom – Adjustments to Light temp, exposure, contrast, shadows, whites, blacks, converted to B&W with adjustments and sharpened.

Heavy task ahead-resized-a

Heavy – Whilst walking my dog I took note of some large rocks placed in the Park for the kids to play on and I had the idea of creating a “selfy” trying to move the rock. Returning with my kit and some Garden tools I chose to use a rake as a prop and a spade and a hat to help with focusing. Setting the camera on higher ground on the tripod and using both the cable remote and 20 second timer I programmed the camera to take x 3 shots each time, after many attempts and a lot of exercise I finally got a shot that I was happy with. When editing in Lightroom I tilted the image to put the rock lower which helps give the impression of a great weight barring down against my attempt to lever it up. Again I thought black and white was a suitable medium for this image.

Camera on tripod – 55-300mm zoom lens at 200mm, f/22, 1/100, ISO-400, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, converted to B&W with adjustments, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

When I am big-resized-a

Small – I chose a still life using some tiny teddy bears that my wife keeps in her desk and using some coloured felt and my speed light set up to operate remotely from the built in flash on my camera. This image is of a teddy bear acutely aware of his height and rather remaining small wants to be big. I thought using a tape measure gives a good perspective of his size against the real world.

Camera on tripod – 105mm Macro lens, f/14, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Mine's a large one-resized-a

Large – Following on the theme I thought large; so obviously large teddy bear, adult, with something large and with a little word play I came up with a large whisky and so I had my planned still life. I used my speed light on remote and controlled from my camera via the built in flash and in addition I set up my reflectors.

Camera on tripod – 50mm lens, f/11 1.3 sec, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom, adjustments made to light temp, contrast, highlights, shadows, sharpened and converted to JPEG.

Black & White-resized-a

White & Black-resized-a

Black & White – I saw this project as a particular challenge as if you are working in this medium you can not have one without the other unless you simply want a plain black image or a plain white image. I got inspiration from a late 18th century past time of creating silhouettes of people using black and white card. To recreate this idea I used the translucent part of a 5 in 1 reflector as a screen and behind this I placed an LED lamp and my remote operated speed light. I then asked my wife to stand in front of the screen whilst I took the pictures. The flash gave me the freedom to operate my camera hand held for the shot. I then made adjustments in Lightroom converting to black and white and I used Photoshop to produce a second image reversing the Black to White and flipping the image to create the two contrasts.

Camera hand held – 50mm lens, f/8, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, B&W conversion, sharpened, cropped. Photoshop – flipped and black and white reversed the both images saved to JPEG.

Straight to the curve-resized-a

Contrasts in one Image – I chose this image as the light has created some very attractive curved patterns on these straight and curved edged items. I loved the coloured rainbow effects from this experiment and this is my favourite image simply because I find it unusual.
To obtain this image I wanted to shine a plain white background through the items then photograph them using a polarize filter. To achieve this I used the screen of my laptop, but first I had to create a plain white image; so using Windows “Paint” and simply saving the blank canvas as the image I then made it my screen saver. I then laid the ruler and protractors on the screen stood my tripod with attached camera and PL filter over the top and took my photos.

Camera on tripod – 50mm with PL filter, f/8, 0.8sec, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, saturation, tilted and cropped, sharpened and saved to JPEG.