Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Assignment - One Contrasts

For this assignment I decided to take the images for this assignment using a 100mm Macro lens mounted on my Canon 40D. This allowed me to look for contrasts at a small scale and focus on detail of objects whilst doing my best to remove background distractions; allowing the viewer to focus on the object of interest.

A particular challenge of macro photography is using the small depth of field for creative effect. The camera was mounted on a tripod to minimise blurring due to camera shake.  I like soft shadows so no flash was used apart from one image where a flash was used freeze the motion of a water drop. Most of the subjects to be photographed were placed in a 60cm x 60cm / 24" x 24" Photo Light Tent on a table in the garden and photographed illuminated by spring sunlight.

1. Sweet and sour

For this contrast a raided the fridge for a sweet and juicy strawberry and a sour tasting lemon. Both fruits are rounded in shape but have contrasting colours. Our feelings about the images are conditioned by how we have experienced these fruits in particular the taste and texture when eaten. Thus these images serve to evoke these experiences and memories and this governs how we respond to these images. Both images also remind us of summer and sunshine and this evokes positive feelings in us.

2. Liquid and solid

I decided to use water as it can have both the property of a solid and liquid. Ice is hard, cold water is soft and flowing and can be warm. The image illustrating solid is a photograph of a sheet of ice held up to melt in the sun. The star shaped sun sparkles are due to the use of a small aperture (f18). The photograph reminds us of the power of the sun to bring warmth and effect change.  The photograph illustrating liquid was taken using a high speed flash an tries to capture the motion of liquid water in a way the eye can’t see.

3. Hard and soft

I used a diamond ring to illustrate hardness the image shows the edges and faces of the cut diamond where as the image of Q-tips are made up of curves and diffuse texture of cotton wool.  I pulled two Q-tips up to provide focal points for the eye to settle on
It is questionable where the image in its self invokes a sense of soft or hardness or whether it just brings to mind memories that mediate our response. If this is the case a way in which a person responds to an image is to a great extent dependent on their life experiences and culture.   But in a simple composition such as the image of Q-tips, I don’t think you have to have used Q-tips to get a feeling of softness from the image.

 4. Pointed and blunt
The image blunt is a macro photograph of the tip of a ball point pen. The pen at a normal scale looks sharp but at a macro level the tip is clearly a spherical ball. This shows that scale plays an important part in how we see and perceive objects. The photograph of the pencil shows its long and thin shape tapering to a sharp point.

5. Few and many
It is interesting to consider when few becomes many, my interpretation is less than 6 is few and any more than 6 is many. The image illustrating many is an image of drawing pins in a small porcelain draw.  I find that with the drawing pins, there is no point on which my eye can focus. I could have converted the image to black and white and just left one drawing pin head coloured this would have provided a focal point. The four coloured measuring cups sitting one in another provide a simple and pleasing composition of colour and curves.

6. Rough and smooth

The image I used to portray rough was a cheese grater where roughness is an intrinsic part of the way the object functions the ice cream scoop relies on its  smoothness to allow the ice cream to be dispensed reflecting the smooth texture of ice cream. 

7. Straight and curved

The circles and curves of the potato masher give a softer feel to the object, whereas the straight lines of the potato peeler relate to the way it is held and used. The potato masher is plastic and feels warm in the hand; the potato peeler is metal, hard and shiny and feels cold to the touch and the photographs reflect this.

8. Long and short

The length of the candle snuffer is obvious because we understand the need for protection from the candle flame. The crop of the image also serves to emphasise the length of the candle snuffer. The image illustrating short is of a bullet and cartridge placed next to a 30mm brass cartridge case. Because most people are unfamiliar with these objects and the lack of any reference to scale most people are unable to estimate the absolute size of either object but they are able to see the relative size of one object to another and it is obvious that the bullet is shorter than the brass cartridge case.

Hard and soft in a single image

My thoughts for this image revolved combining two contrasting elements the hardness and density of a steel block and the softness of a bath towel. The image shows the weight of the steel block pushing down on the towel. The towel fluffy and soft texture is apparent from the image. This is contrasted by the hard geometrical shape of the steel block. The steel block is darker in colour compared to the light tones of the towel. The unyielding texture of the steel reflects the way in which the block was formed using large tools and machines compared to the soft and yielding towelling


I enjoyed this assignment and using macro lens to look at contrasts at a small scale. The kitchen provided a very useful source of inspiration for many of the photographs used in this assignment.  I feel that contrast provides an important tool for conveying a message by means of photograph. 

In photojournalism an image can use contrasting elements. This image shows the use of modern technology by people in the developing world, another contrast is the different in the way people are clothed. Another interesting way in which contrast can be used is in images that feature old and young people, in these images the are very obvious differences in hair colour and skin texture. To summarise this assignment has made me far more aware of the value of contrast in composing images and the part this plays in the way in which the viewer reacts to the image.

Mr Fred Dawson 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Focal Length and Angle of View

For this exercise I used three lenses mounted on Canon40 D which does not have a full sized sensor, it has a crop factor of 1.6 when using lenses designed for full frame cameras.

Wide angle – canon zoom lens EF-S 10-22mm
Standard lens – Canon zoom lens EFS 17-55
Telephoto lens Canon zoom lens EF 100-400mm L IS crop factor 1.6

I mounted the camera on a tripod and took four images of a house across the street at the following focal lengths:- 10mm, 55mm, 150mm*1.6=240mm and 400mm*1.6=640mm

I printed off the four images and returned to the same position from which I took the photographs and held the prints up one by one.

When holding up the 10mm image I had to move to within about 3 inches of my nose before the image matched real life size.

The 55mm image image, this matched real life size at about an arms length.

When holding up the 240mm image this matched real life at an estimated distance of 2 arms lenghts


When holding up the 640mm image, this matched real life at an estimated distance of  3 or more arms lengths.

Information about maths behind the angle of view and focal length can be found at reference 1

I concluded that a focal length of around 55mm provides a good approximation to real life. There is an inverse relationship between focal length and angle of view in that the angle of view narrows with increasing focal length. This relationship is non-linear as demonstrated by the graph below based on data from reference 2






Monday, 11 October 2010

Learning materials

These arrived today, the most interesting of which is the book The Photograph by Graham Clarke