Personal learning log for BA (Hons) Photography Course

Archive for June, 2012

Control the strength of a colour

This exercise involves varying the exposure of an image to change the strength of a colour.  In essence the colour changes as more or less light is allowed to reflect off the colour and be captured by the camera’s sensor or film. The Exercise asked for 5 images 1/2 stop apart above and bellow correct exposure however as my camera stops at 1/3 increments I have included 7 images. All images are straight jpeg conversions from RAW.

The correct exposure for the image was f8 1/250th AWB ISO 100

f8 1/250th AWB Correct Exposure

At this exposure the colour elements of the yellow door measured as RGB are 220, 182, 2 and the HSB values are 50. 99%, 86%.

Using the central image at f8 as a reference point it is seen that as the Aperture increases towards f5.6 that the yellow changes from a vibrant deep colour to a very light and weak colour.  As Aperture decreases towards f11 the yellow changes to a more orange and burnt colour tone.

It has been noted that increasing or decreasing the amount of light captured has an affect on all the colour qualities of Hue Saturation and Brightness.  The change in Hue, which is the quality by which we name a colour, shows that light can not only change the strength and intensity of a colour but the actual colour itself.

The RGB and HSB figures ate either end of the exposures were as follows:

f5.6 1/250th AWB

RGB – 255, 231, 43   HSB – 53, 82%, 100%

f11 1/250th AWB


RGB – 169, 128, 0  HSB – 45, 100%, 65%

Part 3 – Colour – Some ramblings from my mind!

As I start the journey onto Part 3 of the AoP Course, Colour, then my mind started to ask some questions which may be a bit philosophical or maybe they just don’t have an answer.  If anybody is following this blog and has any explanation or thoughts please feel free to add them.

We see in colour, our mind records the colour of light reflected from surfaces and we give it a label.  A Red door is a red door! if the light changes through the day our mind still recognises the door as red. (or any other colour we may decide based on its hue.) The decorator, like a painter, may have chosen a bright red and we may see a darker red but it is our reference point.

If someone takes a picture of that same door in B&W we know its red but if someone takes a colour picture and the door does not look like what is in our mind which is correct, the picture or our mind?

Have you tried describing a colour to someone else and them ask them to recreate it – how often will it be a perfect match to what you were describing?

How often when you look at other peoples pictures do you think “The colour of the grass is not right”?

Photography is different to painting in that a photographic image is (generally) expected to capture reality, whereas the painter is creating his interpretation of reality.

Therefore when you see a painting you see the colour as applied by the painter.

When you see a photograph in B&W your mind can apply its own colour range to that without challenge.

When you see a colour photo your mind compares the colour to its own reference system.

Given the near perfection of the camera in capturing a raw image – is that raw image,perfectly exposed at the correct colour temperature, therefore the true representation of the colour of the reflected light from any object on that day at that moment in time???? and is it also true that any changes made to those capture settings or in processing are only done to change the colour according to one persons perception.

I welcome any comments on these ramblings.


Assignment 2 – Elements of Design

I have now uploaded Assignment 2 to the Assignments Tab on this Blog and sent it by Drop Box to my tutor.  You can link to it Here

I have been delayed in submitting this Assignment for many personal reasons and I am looking forward to getting back on track with Part 3 Colour which i have started.

The delay has caused me to look back on the images submitted which I first took 5 weeks ago.  I set out with an objective not to treat every design element listed in the assignment in isolation but to include then within a complete image.  I hope I have achieved this, and in many the narrative describes some of the earlier course objectives such as contrast.  If I have a concern it is that my tutor and the course may have been looking for each of the elements in splendid isolation although the notes for the assignment do not suggest this to me.

Rhythm & Paterns

Rhythmic repetition within an image has appeal to a viewer, it creates order especially where the subject is unknown or less obvious, it can create a route of passage through an image.

A pattern is static, it fills a space with and appealing view.

The following 4 images show both:

At this Tibetan Prayer House we can see a continual repetition of different elements from top to bottom with each of those elements having rhythm.

In this next image a panel from the wall of the Prayer House is more abstract but the pattern is rhythmic and repetitive throughout the image.

For a totally abstract pattern these pebbles in the bottom of a pool have been cropped to cut out any external reference point. It has become a pattern of shapes.

Patterns occur in nature, i have included this image of the sun shining through the tree canopy simply because it was the pattern of light against dark that attracted me to capture the image.

Shapes – Triangles

Shapes exist, they have existed in nature since the beginning, it is the definition of shape that has developed as man has learned to draw, build and manufacture.  The more regular a shape the more frequently it is seen especially in the built environment and therefore the more frequently it is recognized in the natural environment.

Regular Shapes have a reason, initially used in manufacture or construction to add strength, some shapes are stronger than others; the more regular a shape is the stronger it is both physically and visually.  There are 3 basic shapes, triangles, rectangles and circles, all other regular shapes that we identify with are made up from these 3 basics.

Shape’s in images provide many functions, they can enclose, support, direct and have a stronger physicality than lines because of the greater interaction.  Of the 3 basic forms of shape the simplest and strongest is the triangle, it can link 3 points, it can direct the viewer and they can enclose a group, they are also more visible in the natural and built world than other shapes.

The rectangle is more complex for the eye because to link any 3 points without creating 2 triangles involves the eye traveling through a subsidiary point.  However because they relate to the shape of photographic film or sensors and because they are seen as enclosures in the built world they are easily identified with.  They are less often seen in the natural world and because of the issues of perspective can create issues in photographic composition.

The circle is the tightest form of enclosing shape but is the most difficult to construct without elements that are naturally circular.

The following images show real and implied triangles.


The strength of this homemade boat lies in the triangular sail, which is expected in the mind and the stay ropes for the mast which form a triangle.

Designed to show a triangle by perspective the roof of this Tibetan Building converges to the apex of the image, the resulting subdivisions at the top of the image create more equal triangles while the roof supports create yet more triangles with their point towards the bottom of the image.


This inverted triangle by perspective is an ornamental pool. The repeating triangles from the far edge, its reflection through to the near edge draw the eye whilst enclosing the reflected trees. The small pieces of grass on the left aspect was left on purpose.  The image was taken in an area themed as a Japanese Garden and somewhere in my memory I remember reading that Japanese Gardeners would tend a perfect garden but always leave one small detail of imperfection.

This final image was shot at a wedding 2 weeks ago. There is an obvious triangle of the 3 main dancing couples amongst a full dance floor. The apex of the triangle is the Bride and Groom with the other actors in the triangle looking at them.



What Makes a Great Picture

What makes a great image is a fascinating question and with regard to photography who better to ask than some of the renowned modern photographers.  Rene de Carfuel does this in his book ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ 2011 from which these excepts are taken.  Reading the book for the second time I started to pick up an underlying theme on greatness within a photographic image which lies counter to the way those charged with awarding progressive levels in photographic bodies seem to stand.  Is it a matter of taste?

The responses in some cases are very short and others more explanatory, by viewing them all as standalone statements an underlying theme develops.

Arnold Newman – Does it work?

Eric Meola – What makes a great shot is undefinable.  What moves you may not move someone else.

Jay Maisel – Light, Colour and Gesture, and above all Content.

Jerry Uelsmann – The feeling of amazement

Rodney Smith – A very stong compositional sense, lacking in most modern photography

Michel Tcherevkoff – A great shot is like a great joke, if you have to explain it, it’s not funny. two mandatory ingredients are originality and quality.

William Claxton – The more thought provoking and the more tension created in the eye of the viewer, the more sucessful the photograph.

Howard Schatz -A great photograph stops people in their tracks….. there is an extreme WOW factor. When an image is interesting or good then thats all it is.

Jean Pagliuso – I think it must move the viewer. Tantalize. Provoke.

Kim Weston – To have a great photograph one must be truly excited about the image.

Ruth Bernhard – A great shot affects you emotionally.

Pete Turner – The ingredients of a great shot add up to an image that pleases you, the photographer.

Ryszard Horowitz – an image must not be boring; it must tell a story and touch the viewer.

Andy Katz – Light/Composition/Emotion

Giles Larrain – A good photo is a good photo and you know it when you see it. Your instinct and intuition will tell you.

Bernard Matussiere – I have not found any magic formula.  There is cropping, lighting, good subjects, that all can be there in unity, and it still will not work every time.

Willy Ronis – A great shot is a perfect balance between form and content.

Yann Arthus Bertrand – I do not think we can talk about ingredients for a photo; simply put – it must carry emotion.

Jane Evelyn Atwood – Photography is not academic, there’s no magic method to produce a great picture. Exceptional pictures come from exceptionally creative minds, an exceptional eye, and the freedom to be able to work.

Peter Marlow – it goes beyond the obvious……., and often has no need of a caption or explanation.

Jen-Marie Del Moral – The silence it imposes

Eikoh Hosoe – It is when you feel your truth and the truth of your subject is in accord. You might think it is a great shot, but then not all would agree. Time decides.

Irina Ionesco – Desire

Richard Baltauss – There are no ingredients for an exceptional photo, it is simply the encounter between a subject and its reader, the questions it provokes, and the answers it gives.

Janine Niepce – The emotion, the light, and the graphic qualities.

Marc Riboud – If it carries an emotion that is already good and if the photographer has a good eye it is even better.

Francois Brunelle – What is most important is to sense authenticity, truth saturated with beauty.

Roger Lemoyne – The emotion that is caught, above all, but there is always an X factor as in all arts. Ansel Adams said that if there were compositional rules, he didn’t know them.

Carl Lessard – I dont believe there are any ingredients, but I think that a photograph is exceptional when it reveals the truth.

Edward Gajdel – The absence of Ego


None of the above have been selected from the book with any pretense and any other random selection would show similar themes.  It is interesting that few talk about the ‘ingredients’ that we know, light, design, form, structure, subject; even though these are implied in the basis of a good photograph there is a counterpoint in many of the statements that the ingredients and application of those ingredients are almost irrelevant.  Greatness in a picture is more emotional, it is the story it tells not the technical competency of the artist.  Those technical ingredients may assist the story, they may assist the viewer but in themselves do not make an image great.

The paradox in my mind is that the ingredients of light, colour, design, content, subject, form are most often used in modern photographic circles to critique an image, to essentially find fault.  A photograph is surly more than a sum of its ingredients.  It is very possible to create a technically perfect image from the ingredients but technical perfection still does not make a great image.

My favorite response in Carfuels book came from Robert Walker who sums up the difference between classical arts and photography quite well when asked the question ‘What makes a great picture?:

‘Too difficult to say. In a paining or sculpture, a masterpiece embodies a powerful statement, beautifully rendered with profound interplay between form and content.  Because of the perfection of the machine, photography is not governed by these criteria – great shots have been produced by amateurs on holiday, fashion photographers, real estate documenters, as well as all the best intentioned high minded art photographers. Each photograph has to be analysed on its own merit which essentially gets down to a matter of taste.”


Work continues

There has been a long gap since I last picked up my camera specifically for work on this course.  Events and situations overtake us and often the best laid plans of mice and especially men have to be put aside for a while.  The images for assignment 2 are still sat in the same folder waiting to be processed as are the images for the exercises on triangles and rhythms and patters. I am also aware that I need to go back and review my previous work.

The past 6 weeks have sped by from leaving Brisbane to returning and I have not been entirely lazy with regard to photography and my studies.  While not shooting for the course I have been doing a lot of reading.

I have completed ‘The Photographers Eye’ by Rene de Carufel and have been enthralled by the statements from many great photographers of what makes a great picture in their mind.  Some of the examples and my thoughts will be saved for a separate blog.

I am also working through the Basics Creative Photography Series, Number 1 – Design Principles by Jeremy Webb compliments the work on Art of Photography and has introduced me to the work of other photographers in relation to the principles being discussed.

The second book in the Creative Photography series that I have been reading is Context & Narrative by Maria Short.  Although this text is not directly related to Art of Photography I have found the thoughts on the function of a photography, the choice of subject matter and the intention in relation to an audience illuminating and has generated some ideas for some projects I would like to complete.

Finally and at the recommendation of my tutor, Pete Davies, I managed to obtain a copy of ‘The Ongoing Moment” by Geoff Dyer.  Obtaining a copy of an ‘Out of Print’ book was not easy however I managed to find 1 new copy, for less than the price of a second hand version, from Anglo American Book in Rome.  If anybody is looking for hard to find books I can recommend them.

Geoff Dyer is an excellent wordsmith and provides a historical alternative view of photography from a non-photographers view point.  It is not an easy read but the early relationship of photographic  themes to works of literature and the repetition of many of those themes through history.

If there were to be a sub title for what I have read so far it would come from Aristotle:

“While everything changes, everything remains the same as well”