Project 17: The user’s point of view

Project brief

For this project, choose two or three buildings or spaces designed for a particular activity that users undertake from a specific, distinctive position.  For each location, take one or more photographs that attempt to capture the user’s point of view.  Consider height, orientation and lens focal length (which controls the angle of view).

P17-A A standing spectator’s point of view

P17-A: 17mm, ISO 3200, 1/60@f4.0

This night time photograph shows a greyhound race at Wimbledon stadium from the point of view of one of the punters in the stand.  The race events consist of quite large breaks  between races whilst bets are placed and refreshments bought.  The races are very short and the dogs flash past, (they are just visible in this image).  This means that the crowd gathers quite briefly in the stand, focuses on the race and then dissipates for a while.  This image aims to show both the crowd engaging with the race and the social / night out aspect of the event.  In this context, the stadium becomes merely the venue for the event.  Note that these are extreme conditions for getting the exposure right, it’s very dark, the floodlights increase the contrast range and there is no possibility of using a tripod.  I’m using my camera at its highest ISO, its maximum aperture and relying on noise reduction in post processing.

P17-B A seated office worker’s point of view

P17-B: 50mm, ISO 100, 1/50@f1.8, tripod.

I made this image during the shoot for project 16.  As most of the time in this office is spent on screen based work, I have deliberately elected to use a 50mm lens, to best mimic the worker’s field of view, and I have also chosen to use a narrow depth of field to depict how much of the office space the worker will actually ‘take in’ whilst concentrating on screen work.  The view on the other side of the screen can be seen here. Note if my tutor advises that my decisions in this image do not meet the brief, I also have some wide angle views based upon the user’s sitting position.

P17-C A kneeling worshipper’s point of view

P17-C: 50mm, ISO 1600, 1/100@f2.8

The distinctive position that wasn’t either standing or sitting was, of course, the most difficult to decide upon.  On a visit to Westminster Abbey, I observed that many of the visitors to the Abbey kneel and so I decided to make this image from a kneeling position reasonably close to the altar.  I made the assumption that a worshipper would be most likely to look at the central cross and so this is where I focused.  I again used a 50mm lens to represent the user’s field of view but, whilst realising that a user would see the scene in landscape format, I consciously chose to use portrait format to capture the scene.  I imagined that this would be representative of the human tendency to ‘scan’ the scene.  The extremely low light meant that I had to use a very high ISO and a wide aperture.  This has resulted in very shallow depth of field although I feel that it is a realistic representation of a worshipper focusing on the altar and being relatively unaware of those around him or her.


Surprisingly, and partly because of the time of the year, (mid-December), this project, along with some of the others within this part of the course, turned out to be something of a challenge in low light photography.  It also proved to be slightly more challenging than I anticipated in terms of translating ideas for images, of which I had several, into useable images.  I made at least two trips in which either the images I had in mind proved impracticable or the results I obtained were not up to the standards I was looking for.  As always, a useful experience from which to learn.


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