The object of this exercise is to plan and execute a set of images of some form of meaningful activity. This could be work, sport, a stage performance (music, drama), or at a social event.
I should produce a set of approximately ten, final, selected images and I can choose between depicting the same person (or small group) at different kinds of activity, or different people at the same activity or event.
Concentrate especially on two aspects: on telling moments and on ‘explaining’ the activity (which means choosing viewpoint, framing and timing to make the actions as intelligible as possible).
In my learning log:
- critically assess my finished work considering each piece individually
- identify and analyse the reasons for both successful and unsuccessful techniques that I have employed.
In this image I have successfully captured aspects of the lady’s costume and even, perhaps, some of her emotional state. The image could be improved by registering more of the man’s face and perhaps more of the relationship between the couple. There is some distraction in the background, but in the circumstances and having used a very long lens wide open, I don’t think that I could have done more to reduce that at the time of capture. I could of course have take it out in post production but this would then have taken away something of the sense of the event and made it look artificial.
In selecting this image I have chosen one that met by plan i.e. that shows the context of the event – which is a part of the brief to explain the activity. I think that, in this particular example, this has resulted in a ‘compromise’ image. It isn’t the best wide angle shot of the dancing but it is the best shot I made of the dancing and location. Therefore I think that this image could be improved by capturing a more dramatic aspect of the dancing. A slightly lower vantage point might have achieved this by placing the dancers higher up against the background of the assembly, (although this might have introduced further problems of distorted verticals). It would be helpful if more could be seen of the female dancer on the left in order to present a pair of couples. Similarly I would have preferred the woman in blue to be closer to the lens, (I did in fact capture such a shot but it had other problems and I rejected it). On the positive side, the image contains subtle links to other images in the assignment – you can see the woman from A2-A on the right hand side. This repetition of the ‘characters’ in the event is an important one for the assignment as a whole and you will see it happen many times – sometimes they appear within the dancing, sometimes within the crowd.
The concentration and care between the foreground dancers comes across well within the image. I took a considerable amount of time deciding whether to use this particular image because the dancer’s right foot is partly out of frame. I decided I would use it because I hope that the sense of involvement that I have captured compensates for that problem. In this image, the diagonal lines of the paving help to move the viewer’s eye to the background dancers and again we can see the mixed nature of the group. Again, the sense of being under the open sky works well in this scene. Of course the image has scope for improvement. The middle foreground is slightly too empty, the woman in the black skirt on the right, (who I observed to be a very intense dancer), has her back too much to the camera. However, being honest, I was making these shots in a split second and most of my attention was taken capturing the position of the foreground dancers.
This image manages to convey the sense of motion within the dance. The woman’s blurred left ankle suggests movement as it contrasts with the sharpness of her leg. The pair of legs in the top right provide a sense of the movement by other dancers. The splash of the stage lights on the woman’s trousers helps to separate her from the background. My main criticism relates to the red dress of the little girl on the left hand side, covering it up brings more attention to the foreground dancers and perhaps I should consider recolouring or cloning it in post production.
Tonally, this image is quite dull. The crowd are facing away from the light and the showers have driven light levels down. The seating steps curve around this area and I was unable to shoot head on, this has resulted in a left to right slope at the front of the image – correcting this in post production both chops off the feet of the front row and skews the horizon at the sky – therefore I haven’t made that correction. Durning the performance I felt like I ‘got to know’ quite a few of the performers and their presence in the crowd immediately jumps out at me. I suspect that this will not be as clear for an independent viewer. This image doesn’t have a clear focal point it is more of a ‘where’s Wally’ scene – but by working around the faces in the audience one can glean quite a lot about the ambience of this event.
I think that this image successfully shows interaction and context. Perhaps I have positioned the couple too centrally and there is a little too much empty space to their left – although I am shooting from a fixed seating position. Similarly, in terms of the expressions, it would be nice to see a little more of the woman’s face and for the man’s eyes to be open, (although I think that his overall facial expression compensates for this). Some small details are important too, the woman tilts her foot on one of her heels as do the next two women going clockwise around the picture. I noticed this detail throughout the dancing – I’m sure there’s some everyday explanation but not one that I would know!
The couple on the left provide a good ‘impression’ of twirling dancers but unfortunately the pink shirt of the man on the right provides a highlight that is perhaps a little too broad and dominant. Similarly the movement of the main two dancers towards the camera means that their feet are not visible. I’m beginning to move towards editing this one out of my final selection but I will wait to see what my tutor has to say.
I can’t say that at the moment I fired the shutter I was aware of the contrast between the expressions of the audience and the dancers – but that’s one of the first things that strikes me when trying to look ‘coolly’ at this image. Although the audience are paying attention they look weary in contrast to the female dancer’s melodramatic expression. Similarly the glossy ‘shininess’ of the professionals contrasts with the huddled drabness of the amateurs. One way in which the image could be improved is by more cleanly capturing ‘whole’ people at the margins of the crowd – although to be honest, given the speed the dancers were moving this would not be straightforward.
The stage lighting highlights the main couple quite nicely. This image could potentially benefit from a wider aperture, (beyond that of which the lens was capable), in order to throw the background crowd out of focus, (they were much less relevant in this image). The couple on the left hand side add relatively little to this image whilst those on the right do and so I can see ways in which a better composition can be ‘re-imagined’.
I learnt a great deal about editing my work in this part of the course – as I made lots of images. The process I used was:
- to leave the photos for a few days after making them – so as to enable me to look at them with fresh eyes
- to choose a subset of the images and preliminarily mark them as potentials, definite no’s and don’t knows.
- to take a narrow subset of the images, e.g. one character who may appear in several frames, and place the best image(s) of that character into a Lightroom quick collection.
- to review the quick collection and choose the best image to process.
- I wish I had taken a monopod, this would have made many of these shots easier and would certainly have helped with the ‘freehand’ slow motion shot, A2-G.
- More shots would have been usable if I had pre-framed my verticals and horizontals – waiting for the action to move into the frame rather than grabbing moments out of the ‘melee’.
- Second curtain flash shots might have been worth a try
- I should have made greater use of manual exposure to prevent the sky being blown out as often as it was.
- I should use the motor drive when the action is fast moving.