Thursday, 31 May 2012

Artist: Misha De Ridder

I discovered the work of photographer Misha De Ridder recently and have enjoyed perusing his photographs over the last few weeks. A link on the Conscientious blog led me to his website.

Colberg (2012) describes his work as contemporary landscape photography, but notes that it's not what we would expect. I have to agree, and find his images varied and very interesting. I am currently reading Freeman's 'Perfect Exposure' book, which fits in nicely, as De Ridder makes very good use of a wide variety of exposure situations, from almost pure whites (e.g. Shadow Peak) to almost pure blacks (e.g. Federispitz) filling the frame, and a whole variety in-between. He also makes good use of geometric elements in some of his images, such as the strong triangles reflecting mountains in lakes (e.g. Bergwald), and some very low horizons in the frames. He shoots directly into the sun in a couple of images (e.g. Pine Mountain Lake), which results in an almost totally blown out, high-key image, but yet gives a hint of the landscape which is mysterious and compelling. He obviously pre-visualises his images very carefully and chooses the resulting exposure with a great deal of care and precision. Some of his 'landscapes' appear busy and messy and chaotic (e.g. Crystal Ridge) - rather like nature itself (I do find these images less appealing)! Placing the horizon in the centre of the frame may 'break' the rule of thirds, but it certainly doesn't appear to distract from the atmosphere of the image in the slightest. A couple of images appear 'other-worldly', such as Trollvassbu, which appears to be a night-time scene (deep blue-black sky), but yet the foreground grassy plain appears to be lit from the side with low light. Perhaps it is taken during a storm with the lighting changing quickly.
Shadow Peak, by Misha De Ridder. Taken for personal study purposes.

Federispitz, by Misha De Ridder. Taken for personal study purposes.

Bergwald, by Misha De Ridder. Taken for personal study purposes.

Pine Mountain Lake, by Misha De Ridder. Taken for personal study purposes.

Trollvassbu, by Misha De Ridder. Taken for personal study purposes.

I read a book review on by Bell (2011), and liked this quote about the horizon:
"Cutting through the center of the frame, the horizon creates a doubling effect that is simultaneously disorienting and hypnotic.
Images from De Ridder's book 'Abendsonne' can be seen at the photoeye website in a 'booktease'. All the images in the book are of the mountains and lake with the lake reflecting the sky and mountains, with the horizon dead in the centre of the frame. It is visually confusing and combined with quite erethral lighting, makes for a wide variety of fascinating images.

A conversation with the artist on the Lay Flat blog (2012) gives the following quote from De Ritter, in reaction to a question as to whether his work is 'sublime' as it is often described:
"I aim to explore the boundaries, the world beyond the threshold, the limits of the light, the limit of our presence, by observing, feeling, and to attempt to demonstrate what cannot actually be photographed.
This sounds like a bold aim!

If this is modern landscape photography then I'm interested in seeing more work like it! The images are beautiful but not at all conventional, visually stunning and certainly not as simple as they might appear initially.

Bell, A (2011), Photo-eye Magazine [online] Available from [Accessed 31 May 2012]

Colberg, J. (2012), Conscientious Blog [online], Available from [Accessed 31 May 2012]

De Ridder, M. (2012), Misha De Ridder Website [online], Availabe from [Accessed 31 May 2012]

Freeman, M. (2009), Perfect Exposure. East Sussex: Ilex

Gunhouse, C. (2012), Layflat Blog [online] Available from [Accessed 31 May 2012]

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Exercise: Your tolerance for noise

Noise in digital images is a problem, not like film cameras where the film grain (equivalent of digital noise) gave 'character' to an image! I have had problems with noise in my images in the past, and was unsure of the best way to remove it. In general I just tried to avoid it by always shooting at the lowest ISO I could. I also noted that long exposures resulted in uncomfortable levels of noise, so I didn't do a lot of that kind of shooting as a result. In fact I think I have rarely used above ISO 800 or so, and certainly never done a test of the kind described in this exercise, so it was enlightening to do so.

The Exercise:
I have chosen my setup as a soft toy set against a white textureless wall. I am using a lamp to cast a shadow on the wall where I will try to see the noise in the images. I am using my Canon 30D which is quite an old camera now. I used a tripod and 50mm lens for this setup, and used the full range of ISOs avaliable, from ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (termed 'H' on my camera).

Original full size image, at ISO 100

Zoom in on one area to compare noise levels:
ISO 100
Low noise levels are present at ISO100, though there is some splotchiness in the shadow areas obvious when I flicked between this and the ISO125 image.

ISO 400
At this point noise is starting to become evident in the shadow areas in particular.

ISO 500
There is clear noise 'speckle' in this image.

ISO 1000

ISO 3200 (H)

The images are useable until about ISO 500, at which point the noise is becoming quite obvious at this zoomed in scale (200%). However, I have had a play with noise reduction in the example below, using the 'noisiest' image.

This shows that the simple noise reduction in Lightroom does a very good job of removing the high levels of speckled noise that is seen in the ISO 3200 image on the left below. The right hand image would be usable for some situations, and this gives me confidence to up the ISO in situations where it is not possible to use flash or change the lighting conditions in any other way. It does give quite a smoothed look which may not be good for some subjects.
ISO 3200 image, with simple noise reduction applied to right hand image.

In the image below, I have cropped to a similar area as shown in the comparison above. This shows that at ISO 100 more detail is retained in the texture areas. This would be more obvious in print I think.
Similar area shown to previous, at ISO 100

Noise reduction technology seems to change quite fast in new camera development, and my camera is now quite old (Canon 30D). Being able to easily remove the worst noise in post-processing however means that this is not a major problem for me at the moment. Having the knowledge from the above exercise to know how to look for noise (in what part of the image for example) and then how to remove it will be useful for future projects. I should add into my workflow a step to check for noise (at a zoomed in scale), and to apply some noise reduction for images with higher ISO settings.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Assignment 1: Workflow, review

Having received my tutor feedback on my first assignment, I am going to review some of his points in this post. He has broken down the elements of the assignment and provided critical feedback on each element, which is methodical and will provide a good basis for my preparation for future assignments.

Additions to my workflow:

  • Research - in the preparatory stage of my workflow
    • Subject-related technical research - research into specialist photographic principles and techniques related to my chosen subject matter. So for this Assignment I could have researched night photography of cities generally, found examples of others work, considered challenges associated with low-light photography, and considered how I might go about choosing exposures in such conditions.
    • Subject-specific contextual research - looking at and reading about the work of established photographers to inform my stylistic approach or introduce other approaches to consider with photographing my chosen subject. In this case since I have chosen night photography in a city, I could research architectural photographers and look for images online which I can use as inspiration for my own photography. I did actually look at some images of Brisbane at night as part of my workflow for this assignment, but not more generally than that - as part of my location scouting step.
  • Technical
    • Check that architectural elements are straight horizontals/verticals as a step in my post-processing workflow.
Specific image criticism:
Image 2 - ground is slightly sloping, try a more extreme tilting of the horizontals/verticals - not sure how to do this, or exactly what my tutor means - a reshoot, or edit??

Image 5 - the lamp post is not quite vertical - fix this (below).
Straightened Lamppost using crop tool in Photoshop

A contact sheet of my thumbnails:
Showed below with all my images with more than 2 stars, from which I selected the best (3 stars) to focus on for post-processing.
Contact sheet showing all images with >2 stars

How I chose the final images:
I wanted to have a variety of images in my final selection, and had visited a number of locations in Brisbane to give myself a good chance at getting a suitable number for submission. I wanted some variety in colour and scale and subject matter. I was really dictated in my final choices by what I had available to me! I also had a number of images taken earlier in the evening, but I felt that they didn't fit with the darker images, so chose not to include those in my submission set.

Demonstrate my workflow for one or more images:
Below I demonstrate the post-processing workflow performed in Photoshop on one of my images.
Starting image without any modifications

Colour Balance adjustment (layer)

Curve adjustment (layer)
Resultant image with Curves and Colour Balance applied
Cropped version, with some straightening applied during crop process
Final image, with 'Colour dodge' layer applied at 20% opacity and minor spot removal

Technical Research:
Low light photography Tips (from internet research)

low light photography
Snapsort's Low Light Photography Infographic

A few techniques from DPS blog on 'introduction to night photography'.

  • Try zooming whilst the shutter is open. Can experiment with times, but best to start with a known exposure time,  and then try zooming over the seconds the shutter is open. This will take practice! 
  • Light painting - I think this is a bit gimmicky actually, though I guess it might be a fun technique to try sometime.
  • Timing and patterns - for example getting a traffic light with all 3 colours showing. Again, it's a bit gimmicky, and certainly isn't going to make an exciting photograph on its own, but worth considering if my shot includes a traffic light.
  • Mirror lock-up can be useful

Careful metering is essential for night photography, and it can be useful to bracket images (and shoot RAW of course).
Choosing the 'correct' white balance setting is also important for night photography, though by shooting RAW this can be changed in the post-processing workflow.
The moon moves quickly through the sky and a relatively fast shutter will be needed to capture it in an image.

Contextual Research:
  • I note as my tutor points out, the importance of correct horizontal and vertical lines in most images, apart from obvious exceptions like looking straight up at the Eiffel tower.
  • Dramatic lighting and vivid colours, particularly when contrasted against silhouettes, make for effective city images.
  • Mixture of artificial and natural lighting. Combine with dramatic weather or clouds if possible.
  • Leading lines through an image.
  • urban city photography examples
  • Unusual buildings (e.g. modern designs - capture simply, matching in with the clean modern building).

Beautiful City Photo

  • Choice of viewpoint is important - keep it interesting, perhaps an unusual view is a good idea?
  • Framing - e.g. use one element of a building to frame another element (fore/background).

Beautiful City Photo

  • Include the human element. It can have a greater emotional impact to include people in photos that can otherwise be lacking. Tell a story with your photo.

Beautiful City Photo

  • Symmetry and reflection (pattern) can be interesting, and often seen in city photography
  • Beautiful City Photo
  • An unusual take on a classic image can make it stand-out.

architectural photography

  • Get up early to take photographs in a quiet city, devoid of people
  • Look up!
  • urban city photography examples

Gibson, Andrew (2009), [online] Available from [Accessed 29 May 2012]

Levy, Sam, (2012),  Digital Photography School Blog [online] Available from [Accessed 29 May 2012]

School of Photography, (2012), School of [online] Available from [Accessed 29 May 2012]

Snapshot Blog, (2011), Snapshot Blog [online] Available from: [Accessed 29 May 2012]

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Exercise: Sensor Linear Capture

This project and exercise discusses some of the processing performed by digital cameras before it is presented to the user. A gamma correction curve is applied to bring a linear captured image to a normal appearance. This exercise simulates what happens in the camera, and draws our attention to the fact as a result of the in-camera processing, noise in the shadows/dark areas will be increased the most.

Starting with my original image (below), I then applied a curve to simulate what is initially captured in the camera (below)
Original image from camera
Gamma curve applied to simulate what is really 'raw' in the camera

The resultant image is below (note histogram in top corner, squeezed to the low end). The image looks very dark, highly constrasty and with some colour issues (e.g. blue leaves). In the dark areas there appears to be almost no detail at all.
Gamma curve applied to image
I now applied another curve to the edited image to try to bring it back to the 'original'. The resultant image is below (note that it's very difficult to bring it back to the original, as the curve editing is quite subtle and small changes have big effects when all the histogram is bunched up in one area. I also note that all the dark areas have come up well with information, similar to in the original image. It is a good demonstration of what can be 'brought back' from a seemingly very dark image! I also display the curve adjustment that I applied to the above image.

Resultant image

Curves applied to simulate what camera does automatically

This exercise shows the importance of correct exposure in-camera. Avoiding underexposure is especially important because any noise in the dark areas will be exacerbated by the automatic in-camera processing. It also shows me what can be brought back from an image which may be useful for some images that are accidentally poorly exposed.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Assignment 1: Workflow

I have chosen to photograph Brisbane by night for this first Digital Photographic Practice assignment. This is not a type of photography I have done before (apart from the odd travel snap), so I thought it would be a good challenge for me.

I have separated out the phases of the workflow below into Pre-shoot preparation, The shoot, Post-shoot, Post-processing and Final steps. I have then put some notes on each individual image I am submitting and finish with a concluding note at the end of this document.

Pre-shoot preparation planned steps:
1.     Establish subject matter
2.     Plan time of day/ rough location for shoot
3.     Choose appropriate camera equipment
4.     Check batteries are charged
5.     Check memory cards are formatted and ready to be used
6.     Check settings on camera are appropriate
7.     Prepare other equipment

Pre-shoot preparation comments:
1.     My plan for this assignment was to photograph Brisbane by night. The city is separated into north and south sides, and there is a lovely river running through it with lots of bridges crossing it. I thought these would make a good subject, as would the various other interesting buildings in the area. I planned to ride my bike so I could easily access more than one location without too much walking in between. I wish to mostly concentrate on buildings/bridges but possibly include a few images with people in them. I plan to use a variety of focal lengths and shutter speeds (though obviously will be constrained by low-light levels and thus longer shutter speeds).
2.     I planned to shoot for the couple of hours after sunset, over two to three sessions, and I have consulted a map and planned out some possible locations:
   Southbank wheel
   Southbank beach
   Kurilpa pedestrian bridge
   Art Gallery complex
   Roma St pedestrian bridge over road
   Kangaroo point cliffs
   Roma St Parklands
   The mall
   Any interesting buildings that I find
3.     I only have my Canon 30D, so that is the camera I will be using. I will be shooting using available light and thus won't need a flash. However a tripod (with quick-release plate screwed tightly on camera), and cable release will be vital, as will a spare (fully charged) battery. By planning to shoot over several evenings, I have the flexibility of changing which lenses I take depending on what my plan is for the specific shoot. My 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is my main workhorse, so that is my starting point, and I can also bring along a prime (50mm f/1.4), wide-angle (17-35mm f/2.8) or tele-photo zoom (70-200mm f/2.8).
4.     Check batteries are both fully charged (and bring spare in bag).
5.     Check memory cards are formatted before starting out and bring spares in my bag (though I very rarely actually fill a whole 8gigabyte card, except for on holidays).
6.     Camera settings will depend on available light when I am actually out shooting, but I try to remember to reset before each shooting session.
7.     Other equipment in this case is my light meter, notepad (and pencil). I also need transport, so my bike, helmet, lights, lock and rack with bungy cord for attaching equipment to. A mobile phone to check sunset times is also handy, and a watch for measuring shutter speeds if using 'bulb' function. I had expected mild or warm weather and was a bit caught out the first session where I only had a raincoat for warmth (it was suddenly cool and windy), so I then remembered to bring a warm shirt for the next sessions in addition  to my coat.

I suspect this part of the workflow is quite similar to what other photographers do, though I know some would consider renting equipment for a specific shoot, and perhaps I would do so in some circumstances (certain exotic destinations, or involving animals and thus longer lenses may be useful). Later models of cameras may go through memory cards faster, or studio shoots where hundreds of images are shot over a short space of time would also require more data storage. Potentially in this situation a photographer would choose to shoot tethered to a computer for direct transfer of files also.

The shoot planned steps:
1.     Find location and  choose a viewpoint
2.     Set up tripod, camera, cable release
3.     Light meter to check exposure if necessary
4.     Set camera mode, ISO, focus mode, metering mode, white balance
5.     Set aperture/shutter as required
6.     Take a test shot, check on camera and adjust above as required
7.     Adjust exposure compensation if not using manual mode
8.     Try a range of shots at each location
9.     Move to next location

The shoot comments:
1.     Various locations were chosen, depending mostly on time of day, lighting and any pre-visualised ideas. A viewpoint suitable for the light levels was selected (i.e. including the sky if there is still light present (up to 15 minutes after sunset), or try to avoid too much sky after this time).
2.     Set up my equipment, remembering to use cable releases for most images.
3.     I didn’t use the light meter for most shots
4.     ISO was kept as low as practicably possible (usually 200), in order to produce the highest quality images (particularly important for night images which can be noisy), focus mode on ‘one shot’, and I used a mix of manual and autofocus on my lenses, white balance was generally left on daylight setting (I use RAW+ JPEG capture so can alter WB in post-processing if necessary).
5.     Aperture and shutter speeds were set manually, depending on the effect I wanted to have, and remembering that I was using partial metering setting.
6.     Test shot, sometimes a series, adjusting framing and exposure settings. I checked the histogram on some shots when I was unsure about highlight clipping (though note that the histogram displayed on the camera is based on the JPEG not the RAW file, so sometimes the JPEG is clipped by the RAW file won’t be). Exposure comes down to personal taste to some extent, but it’s important to be aware of clipping of highlights or shadows.
7.     Generally I used manual mode so this step was not required.
8.     Sometimes I tried a couple of different framing angles, or turned around to change my viewpoint, or moved a few metres, or adjusted the tripod slightly.
9.     Moving location involved packing all gear back up onto my bike and moving, which was certainly good for carrying lots of heavy equipment but putting the tripod down every time was a small hassle. I would use the bike again however, because it is a very efficient way of getting from place to place, which can be important when the available light is low and changing fast.

I went out for three sessions. I went after work each time, as I was then already in the city approximately 30 minutes before sunset, so I could get to a good location when the sun was setting to attempt to capture some photos in the short time period when the sky is still partially light. I captured some images when it was still light (i.e. before sunset) on all three sessions, but was unhappy with these images so have not included them in the set, instead concentrating on those images after the sun had set. The first session was very windy and I think this is evident in the photos – there is a slight blur on some of those with longer shutter speeds. I was unhappy generally with my third photo session during the shoot (I was quite tired and ready to go home), but surprisingly pleased with the actual images when I loaded them up and reviewed them later on the computer. These comprise most of the images I am submitting for this assignment.

I expect shooting is quite a personal exercise and each photographer approaches a shoot in their own way. It would be interesting to work with a professional for a day to see how they go about their shooting workflow. This part of the workflow depends heavily on experience, and as I learn more (constantly) about how my camera works, for example different metering modes, my shooting methodology changes. Now that I am using Lightroom I may switch to only shooting RAW and not worry about JPEG, but I’m not at that point yet. I don’t always use manual mode for shooting, as I find in quickly changing situations it’s easier to use Aperture priority and adjust the exposure compensation as required, though I appreciate that there is power in using full manual mode.

Post-shoot planned steps:
1.     Upload card contents to computer via Lightroom import feature.
1.     Rename file
2.     Add in IPTC data
3.     Add keywords
4.     Select destination folder
2.     Review images initially to determine clear rejects
3.     Add further IPTC data such as location and keywords to remaining images
4.     The select phases, including a review period
5.     Final choice of images for post-processing

Post-shoot comments:
1.     The Lightroom import is a quick and easy process. It starts automatically when a card is put in the card reader.
1.     I change the name to add in the date before the automatic file name
2.     A metadata preset applies basic IPTC data to each file
3.     Keywords are added at this stage (e.g. Brisbane, Night, DPP1) – more can be added later but it’s a good idea to add some at the import stage
4.     Destination folder (for both raw and jpeg files out of the camera) in this case is /Photos/DPP1/Part_1_Workflow/Assignment_1/
2.     The technical edit. Images are reviewed in full screen mode and the ‘x’ shortcut is used to highlight reject images. These are reviewed a second time (using the Flag filter feature) and deleted later.
3.     I add in specific location information and any keywords that may not have been applied at the initial import step. The auto-complete feature in Lightroom makes keywording much easier than in Digikam where I had to click on each keyword to apply it.
4.     Image rating takes place in (a minimum of) two steps – an initial review, and then further reviews (after a break) to refine the selection, progressively increasing the use of higher stars, and focusing in to determine the ‘best’ images. In the case of this assignment, I need to submit 6 to 12 images, so was aiming to have at least a dozen images at 3 star level to consider my final selection from.
5.     Of these 3 star images I then whittled my selection down to 7 chosen images for submission, giving them each 4 stars.

I imagine the Post-shoot workflow described above is fairly standard, with only minor variation between photographers, perhaps use of different star levels, or colours, or order of steps. Some photographers probably spend more time keywording, for example, if they sell to stock image sites etc.

Post-processing planned steps (selected images only):
1.     Change size and resolution, save as new file in tiff format
2.     Apply white balance correction
3.     Apply curves and levels adjustments
4.     Localised editing
5.     Creative editing
6.     Crop
7.     Save as a tiff file and as a jpeg (sharpened for screen/print as necessary)

Post-processing comments:
1.     Open images in Photoshop (right-click menu in Lightroom). Change size to 12 x 18 inches, and resolution to 300 ppi, and save in tiff format with extension _18x12_001.tif
2.     Using layers, apply white balance correction to images as necessary. I have not got a calibration setup for my monitor yet, though I do realize this is important (I have just purchased a new factory calibrated monitor, and my next purchase will be a calibration setup).
3.     Apply levels/curves as layers to whole image, when using levels use the 'alt' key to see impact. Adjust opacity to curves to decrease impact.
4.     Editing as required, for example spot healing, cloning on dust spots, noise from long exposure times etc. There was a bit of noise in the sky in some images, and also some strange colours probably from long exposure times and lights. Where this looked strange I removed it (only over very small areas). For cloning/spot healing I zoomed right in and then progressively out, as sometimes I felt like I could see the spots clearer at different zoom levels. I am now doing this on a layer of it’s own so that I can see the effect of removing spots etc.
5.     On a couple of images I felt they needed a bit more punch. I used a duplicate layer and changed the layer setting to ‘colour dodge’ at a low opacity setting.
6.     Cropping as necessary for each image (creative choice, such as using 1:1, or 5:4, or regular 8x10 for printing etc). I did adjust the perspective on a couple of images as I had buildings at slightly strange angles (due to wide-angle framing). I did this using the crop tool and keeping the ratio constant (18x12). In this case I have kept all images at 18x12 ratio.
7.     Tiff file to maintain layers so I can return to later, and matching jpeg file for printing etc. Back in Lightroom I can create a lower resolution jpeg for uploading to blog/flickr etc when I am happy with the final set of images.

I foresee that the above workflow will change as I learn more about what can be done in Lightroom. At this stage I’m only just learning about it so will use Photoshop for most of my post-processing, but I hope to move some of the more simple post work into Lightroom to improve efficiency. I have noted some websites that have Develop presets which look like they offer some automated creative starting points which I will experiment with at some point.

Using sophisticated software such as Lightroom and Photoshop for managing and editing images means that there is much room for variation between photographers. I have recently completed a basic Photoshop course, and the workflow above is somewhat based on what I learned there. I have also done some reading online and in books (e.g. Evening 2005, Evening 2010) which has assisted in my workflow development.

Final planned steps
1.     Backup of data
2.     Export for web/submission
3.     Printing

Final steps comments
1.     Backup of Lightroom catalogue on exit (once per day). Backup using automated program (Areca) at least weekly (use a calendar alert to remind me) onto external HD, one stored locally, one offsite, swapped every few weeks.
2.     Export for web using Lightroom, with JPEG quality at 80%, and with ‘sharpen for screen turned on. I also exported a set of JPEG at 100% quality to include with this assignment submission, and used the ‘sharpen for screen option.
3.     Export for printing with ‘sharpen for matte/glossy’ turned on. Take to local printer (Officeworks or similar) for printing at various sizes (this is a step I don’t do very often but perhaps should consider doing more).

Backup of data is one issue worth considering in more detail. I currently back up to two hard drives and rotate them between work and home. I have considered online backup of some files, but the challenge would be choosing which ones, and how to go about it, considering relatively slow upload speeds and large file sizes. Another option is to use optical media for archival purposes of data. Again, file size is an issue, and there is a large investment in time spent burning DVDs and labelling and storing safely. I like the 3-2-1 backup strategy mentioned on the dpbestflow website (, Accessed 1 May 2012), that is a ‘minimum of three copies of each file, stored on two different media types, and one copy should be stored off site’. I have not yet considered the use of DNG for my image files.

My selected, processed images are detailed below.

Photo 1: Kurilpa Bridge

Photo 2: Grey St Bridge

Photo 3: Brisbane City Library

Photo 4: Brisbane Wheel

Photo 5: View of M3

Photo 6: Casino

Photo 7: Train tracks

Overall I have found the process of maturing my workflow to be enjoyable and rewarding. This assignment has allowed me to push my boundaries to tackle something I have not done much before, that is photography after dark. I feel like my set of images is satisfactory and that having a good work flow has helped me to produce better work than perhaps I would have otherwise.

I envisage that as I learn about the new tools I have recently employed (Lightroom specifically), my workflow will change somewhat, but I feel like this assignment and preceeding exercises have given me the ability to understand and improve my workflow by myself.

American Society of Media Photographers, (2012) dpbestflow [online] Avaliable from: [Accessed 1 May 2012]

Evening, M. (2005) Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Photographers. Oxford: Elsevier

Evening, M. (2010) The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book. Berkeley: Peachpit

2012 Sony World Photography Awards

Today I read in the Guardian about the winning photographers from the Sony World Photographer Awards 2012. A selection of images can be viewed here. They are an impressive and highly varied set of images, which cover a wide variety of categories.

In terms of creative images, I particularly liked the image by Palmer + Pawel (a team consisting of Sebastian Palmer and Pawel Okol) who won the Sport category with a diptych of a Martial Artist after a fight (tight facial close-up with heavy lighting from above which emphasizes his bruises and cuts) paired with a bloodied sponge (again with heavy lighting from the side which shows the texture and intense red colour). I also note from looking at their website that they are interesting in still life, which I read a bit about it’s resurgence in a recent BJP which I might blog about soon. Their take is again in diptych form, pairing similar objects together with a unifiying theme between them, as with the martial artist in their winning image. I like their clean crisp images with simple lighting and uniform backgrounds. Many of their images are ‘how did they do that’ kind of images which make you look twice (for example their ‘sports science’ set). 
Sport Category winner. Taken from Guardian website for personal study purposes
Palmer + Pawel Sports Science. Taken for personal study purposes

I also thought the image by Fashion category winner; Peter Franck was great, entitled ‘Table stories’. It shows a top down view of a table with flower centerpiece in the foreground, and then a curled up woman (well her lower half) with stilettos and little black dress, seemingly lying on the floor. It is a totally unconventional ‘Fashion’ image, but that seems to be the direction some high-end fashion photography is going (from what I read in the BJP). After navigating to his website, I find that the unconventional is his thing, with many images being slightly crass, with bad lighting (though careful framing) with similar images presented there. The garish colours and tacky looking props are not what you would expect in a ‘fashion’ magazine and I do wonder if they are actually used in that way? The images look like they may have been taken with a polaroid camera, or perhaps have been edited in post processing to look that way. His website certainly contains a large number of images, so he is clearly a prolific and imaginative photographer (though I admit they are not to my taste particularly)!
Fashion category winner. Taken for personal study purposes

Franck, P (2012) Peter Franck [online] Available from [Accessed 7 May 2012) (2012) [online] Available from [Accessed 7 May 2012]

S Palmer and P Okol, (2012) Palmer + Pawel [online] Available from [Accessed 7 May 2012]

S O’Hagan, (2012) Sean O’Hagan On photography blog [online] Available from [Accessed 7 May 2012]

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Look Both Ways

I went to the movies last night and saw 'Look Both Ways'. It's not a new film (made in 2005), but it was showing at the GOMA as part of the Contemporary Women in Film that is on at the moment. It's fabulous being about to go along to awesome free movies at the art gallery!!

The movie was great - really artistic, interesting and challenging. It intersperses 'normal' style film-making with drawing/text/images from the internet/animated sketching/photo flashbacks to show snippets of what the main two characters are thinking which added interest, depth and an unusual way of showing what a character is thinking as opposed to voice-over. Death was the key theme through the movie, and the female lead (an artist) constantly sees herself dying, and we see this through her drawings which are flashed onto the screen and animated. The male lead (a photographer), recently diagnosed with cancer, also sees flashing images of research he's done on the internet into his cancer, or subjects he's photographed and seen suffering etc. It's such a powerful medium of showing their thoughts and fears in a visual way.

The storyline was interesting and involved many varied characters which I thought were all depicted really well. I also liked the style of the film and simple framing used throughout. The story linked between a major train crash which kills many people, and the accident where a single man is killed. It was about the impact on so many peoples lives no matter how big or small the issue they are dealing with, and how it's always central to their own lives. The use of weather was also clever - buildup of heat through the high pressure/tension main part of the film which then closed off at the end with a downpour of rain and release of emotional tension in the concurrent stories being depicted towards the end of the film.

I thought it was interesting the way differnt medium were used in this film (photos, drawing, text and video footage). Just yesterday morning I had been reading an interview on Conciencious Blog with Christian Patterson who created Redheaded Peckerwood which was a very popular photobook published last year. He also apparently uses different medium in his book which follows loosely the crime story of two young people travelling across America killing people. He uses archive material, studio setups, landscape images, black-and-white and colour images to tell his story in the book. This idea of mixing up mediums is interesting and would provide another avenue for creativity within a photographic project.

JM Colberg, (2012) Concienctious Blog [online] Available from: [Accessed 5 May 2012]

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


I discovered a fantastic website devoted to workflow recently, called dpbestflow. It has good summaries of all the steps required for a photographic workflow, and I am slowly working my way through reading some of the relevant sections as I prepare to submit my first assignment this week. It should almost be mentioned in the course notes actually as it is very complete and covers all aspects of workflow.

I have also been doing some book reading:

Evening, M. (2005) Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Photographers. Oxford: Elsevier

Evening, M. (2010) The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book. Berkeley: Peachpit

American Society of Media Photographers, (2012) dpbestflow [online] Avaliable from: [Accessed May 2012]

Both of these books, and the website above, have contributed to my workflow learnings, and I feel that I am slowly working towards a workflow plan that I can alter for different shooting situations and setups. I am also improving my backup regime to (hopefully) prevent future data loss (or minimize the impact of any possible data loss).