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
    from http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/inspiration/urban-city-photography-70-dramatic-examples/
  • Unusual buildings (e.g. modern designs - capture simply, matching in with the clean modern building).

Beautiful City Photo
from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/ 

  • 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
from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/

  • 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
from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/ 

  • Symmetry and reflection (pattern) can be interesting, and often seen in city photography
  • Beautiful City Photo
    from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/  
  • An unusual take on a classic image can make it stand-out.

architectural photography
from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/   

  • Get up early to take photographs in a quiet city, devoid of people
  • Look up!
  • urban city photography examples
    from http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/inspiration/urban-city-photography-70-dramatic-examples/

Gibson, Andrew (2009), Smashingmagazine.com [online] Available from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/ [Accessed 29 May 2012]

Levy, Sam, (2012),  Digital Photography School Blog [online] Available from http://digital-photography-school.com/introduction-to-night-photography [Accessed 29 May 2012]

School of Photography, (2012), School of Photography.com [online] Available from http://www.schoolofphotography.com/courses/free-night-photography-lesson.html [Accessed 29 May 2012]

Snapshot Blog, (2011), Snapshot Blog [online] Available from: http://blog.snapsort.com/2011/04/05/low-light-photograph/ [Accessed 29 May 2012]

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