Assignment 2 – People and Activity

OCA Brief: ‘The object of this assignment is to plan and execute a set of images of people in some form of meaningful activity. This could be work, sport, a stage performance (music, drama), or at a social event.

You should produce a set of approximately 10 final, selected images, and you can choose between depicting the same person (or small group) at different kinds of activity, or different people at the same single 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 your learning log:

• Critically assess your finished work. Consider each piece individually.

• Identify what has worked well and what has been less successful and analyse the reasons for this’.

For this assignment we are tasked with taking images for submission which may include actual people who are aware, which was a little confusing to me at first, based on the main titles of all other exercises which are for people un-aware.

I had to be very careful how I picked my event based in Dubai, taking images of people can be rather sensitive. After looking around on the web sites and events magazines I came across a local photography and video show which was coming up called Photography Live. So armed with just my Sony A7 MKii and just two lenses so I would not be so conspicuous I set off for the event.

I needed to make sure I was careful in the image taking during the event, so to blend in I attended a couple of seminars and took the advantage of learning at the same time. After a while and two seminars later I started to take pictures in the most casual way, but all the time carefully constructing ideas in my mind of what I wanted to capture.

Even though the subjects for all previous exercises have been for people un-aware, I decided I would combine a mixture of people both aware and un-aware for my final submissions in Assignment 2 People and Activity, as this was not clearly stipulated in the brief. Overall the I spent more than 5 hours at the event over the course of late afternoon into evening.

All images are taken with a Sony A7 Mkii, with Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS and Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lenses. All images edited in Lightroom CC only and uploaded as JPEG. ISO was high due to low light and not wanted to opt for flash, so as to remain unnoticed as much as possible. All images shot in RAW in camera.

(click on any image to enlarge)

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People and Faces of the world

People and Faces of the world

For this opening image, I had to keep coming back to the location for a number of reasons. Either people looking at the images would move out of the way when I brought the camera to my eye, or they would simply walk away in case they just didn’t wish to have their photo taken. So I waited for some length of time before I got this image. I like the way the image is composed showing every photo of faces look at the man. Not one image on display has a face looking away, even to the point of the old lady on the top left looking down at the man. In addition the main man looking at the images seems to making direct eye contact with the man with the Falcon in the image, as is the lady in the very top of the frame placed on the ceiling looking back into the frame. I played with turning this to B&W but thought the colours added to the overall image. 1/125sec, F6.3, 24mm. ISO 2500

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Hot and Cold

Hot and Cold

As I walked around the show I came across this guy looking at his phone while on a stand. What caught my eye was his orange hair. Then after looking at the stand I saw it was called Hot and Cold Studios, which seem to match his hair in orange (hot) and the contrasting black sides (cold). I walked passed him a number of times and kept looking back, until finally I knelt down and took one shot and walked away so not to annoy him. He did look at me when I took the shot but just got back to his phone so all was good. I think the colour of his skin matches his hair and the writing on his shirt, and the black t-shirt matching his black hair and writing on the wall as well as his watch. 1/80sec, F6.3, 144mm. ISO 2500

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Clean up

Clean up

During the show I came across this Sony stall. They were offering a free sensor clean and firmware update for all Sony cameras. As I was using a Sony A7MKii I left the camera with them and returned after around 30mins. When I took my camera after the service update I asked the guy if I could take a couple of shots of him cleaning a camera. So this was a staged shot, and in fact he just picked up a camera that had already been cleaned and posed for some quick shots. Some images I couldn’t use as you could see my reflection in the lamp, as well as the girl in the background looking at me. So I choose a close crop and turned into B&W for a contrasty look. 1/80sec, F4, 24mm. ISO 2500

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Gorilla Pod

Gorilla Pod

Once again I felt a little bit like a stalker, following this guy around until I could get the right shot. When I first walked passed him what stood out for me was the Gorilla Pod with the long legs sticking out in front of the camera. I guess he was using them as a balance as he seemed to be taking video. While he was talking some video I walked up fairly close and took a few shots without him having any clue. I then looked in the other direction as if I was interested in something else so not to arise any suspicion. The idea of the shot was to show action while incorporation the surroundings. His facial expression shows one of concentration. 1/200sec, F4, 55mm. ISO 2500

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Coffee break

Coffee break

This was a little cheeky shot I took while I sat and had a coffee in the make shift break area. While I sat at a table, still looking for prey, up came across these two people, one of them a host speaker according to his badge. As I had my drink I noticed the guys fuzzy hair and hoped that the two would remain in the same area so I could get a few shots of them. At first I made out as if I was taking some shots of the flower arrangement that was on my table. The two just carried on talking without any idea they were in fact the main stars of the show! Finally I took a few more shots just as the guy noticed me. He gave a grin and carried on while the girl I think had no idea what was was taking place. I like the flowers in the foreground that lead into the two people and the plain curtain background helps distinguish the hair and both faces well. 1/60sec, F5.6, 55mm. ISO 2500

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Admire me

Admire me

This was taken during a demonstration of lighting techniques at the Sony stand. I stood to one side and looked for interesting compositions that would be a little different. As the girl model was in-between takes she prepared for the next shoot, and I saw in the background purely by chance that the two guys, one with his hand on his heart, and the other with his hand on his face, looked to be admiring the girl, almost as if they were in love with her. The fact that the model could almost be saying to herself look at me and admire me helped the overall shot. The white area behind her looks like a hat, but in fact is a beauty dish. The girl in the front and the two guys in the back bring in a nice triangle to the composition. If the two guys in the background had been looking in any other direction the shot would not have worked. I transferred to B&W to remove any colour distraction to help concentrate on the faces. I would have liked to remove the person just to the left of the models head, but I wanted the image to be as close to in camera as possible and not over edited it in post. 1/250sec, F3.2, 55mm. ISO 2500

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Quick shot

Quick shot

During my walk around the show I kept passing this lady, who I thought was very pretty. Some ladies in the middle east wear the local dress even if not local, so I’m not sure if this person is local or from another non muslim country. Here you can see the  hijab or ḥijāb which is the name for the head dress worn by females, and the name in Arabic means ‘screen’ or ‘curtain’. I was looking at a demonstration of a DJI Phantom 4 drone been flown in a closed area. I was watching the drone and looked next to me to see this lady again, taking some video on her phone. I liked the pleasing side profile of her face and how the black and white of her dress and background separated each other. I also thought the position of her hand on her chin was very eloquent. The original image out of camera was almost full length, so I cropped to just above half to focus on the face and hand. I left this shot in colour as I liked the skin tone. 1/320sec, F3.2, 55mm. ISO 2500

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Pay attention

Pay attention

From all the images I took during the photo exhibition, without doubt this one comes in as the most sneaky. While sat listening to a talk on social media, I turned around to see who else was attending. I noticed these two sat directly behind me, and at first they were spending time on their mobiles phones and sorting things in the white bag in the centre. After a short what I decided I would place my camera on the seat and face it behind me. Then with just pointing the camera up hoping it would be the right angle, took some shots without knowing if they would come out or not. I took about ten shots and later looked and managed to get one or two that I was pleased with. I like the fact the two people are not looking at the camera and the photo of the man with a view across his face is also looking into the frame at the two people. Again another example of composing a triangle. 1/400sec, F3.2, 55mm. ISO 2500

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Afghan eyes

Afghan eyes

As the title suggests, after I reviewed this image the first thought that came into my head was the famous shot of ‘Afghan Girl’, by Steve McCurry. Not that for one moment I’m trying to compare this image to Afghan Girl in terms of quality or composition, or copy the same, but the striking eyes of the child in the centre photo just brought back memories of the image by McCurry. This is one for my favourite images from my selection of 10, as I like the elements of the two boys looking into the frame, while we have a nice balance of three elements looking back into the image from right, left and centre. The man waving is very surreal, and the old lady on the left of frame looking in is just inside enough to be seen, and to help, that image had blur which was a train passing, so all we can see is the old ladies face with no other distractions. The images on display were for judging, hence the more the stickers the better the image for gaining points for the overall winners. 1/1250sec, F3.2, 55mm. ISO 2500

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In wonderland

In wonderland

Fully dressed in Alice in Wonderland outfit, along with matching props, I saw this girl posing for shots during the exhibition for people to try out camera that were on display. I walked around for a while and felt a little embarrassed if I’m honest as she always looked directly at each photographer that took photos of her. So I walked away from the area a few times before gaining a little courage to go back and make a few shots. At first I only took shots while the girl was looking at other cameras, but when I viewed the final images I had taken I preferred the one were the girl is looking at my camera. I moved around a little to see what viewpoint I liked the most, and this came out to be the best of the selection. Above the chair out of view was two bird cages, but I found that the face came away too much from the rule of thirds, and almost placed the models face dead centre of the frame..’dead centre is deadly’ as they say. So I opted to remove the top area of the frame and close in to bring the models eyeliner on one top left third. This image would not do justice in B&W with all the lovely colours in the chair, dress and background. 1/400sec, F5.6, 55mm. ISO 2500

Comparison with assessment criteria.

DEMONSTRATION OF TECHNICAL AND VISUAL SKILLS.

For this second assignment I have worked to cover both people aware and un-aware. The brief does not actually mention if this should be one or the other, even though the whole exercises have been mainly people un-aware. During the event I wanted to use a number of lighting conditions, such as flash or LED lighting, but the conditions have not provided for this type of additional lighting, as this would have brought attention to myself, and affected the subjects as they would have become posed, or not wanted any images taken of them, thus reducing the element of surprise and candid shots. I worked with the light I had available so adjusted camera settings as required, as well as white balance for colour  correction and skin tones.

QUALITY OF OUTCOME.

The assignment was hard to complete due to the location and cultures I am faced with in the Middle East. Picture taking of people in this area can be difficult and is a sensitive subject. I felt I did gain images which are natural and not posed, unless intentional. To gain these type of images was hard under what was a fairly enclosed area, unlike an open outside area such as a markets or street, were my actions with a camera would have been less noticed. I find taking photos of people when they are aware a little difficult, and prefer to be unnoticed whenever possible.

DEMONSTRATION OF CREATIVITY.

My ideas going into this assignment were to create as many natural shots as possible. This was achieved by making myself blend into the surroundings with the rest of the people which took time and patience, which in turn helped me to capture images from various angles. I hope the images include a broad section of what the participants were experiencing. I also wanted to give a sense of character to the people in the images.

CONTEXT.

Having read a number of blogs, readings in both web and books, such as Steve McCurry, Michael Freeman, Tom Ang and more, I have included a cross section of colour and black and white which hopefully compliments the image for affect to the viewer. Images were all colour corrected and cropped and other corrections such as noise, saturation and histogram adjustments were made. All images have the camera data under each for reference, and a brief description of how the image was captured and why in the explanations.

I have found this assignment hard due to time constraints, and taking images within the middle east can be difficult, due to local cultures and how many view picture taking in public an invasion of personal space. I find taking pictures of people a little hard, maybe because of my location in the middle east and am always concerned people may become offended. However I pushed through and without any issues..I’m pleased to say.

REF:

Hijab   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab   [Accessed 25/05/16]

‘Afghan Girl’. Steve McCurry http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2002/04/afghan-girl/index-text    [Accessed 25/05/16]

Tom Ang Photographer  http://tomang.com [Accessed various dates]

Michael Freeman Portraits   http://www.michaelfreemanphoto.com/-/galleries/the-galleries/stories/portraits   [Accessed various dates]

 

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Henri Cartier Bresson review

I’ve known of Henri Cartier Bresson of course before I started my OCA degree, but never took a closer look into his work until I came across a BBC documentary on then history of photography. It was only then that I saw the famous work of this french artist who lived form 1908 until 2004.

His most famous work maybe well know for his book The Decisive Moment, were he takes  some of his best work from around the world into 126 images, and was printed in 1952.

Bresson’s book  The Decisive Moment

After looking through his images its clear to see they are both artistic, with many images having people jumping which I saw as a common theme. They are also sad and violent, with images from war zones around the world, both with images of people after and even during death.

Breton makes the statement  “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms that give that event its proper expression.” Thes fraction of a second can be clearly seen in a number of images, again from the famous image of the man jumping the water, to the asian photograph of people seemly getting shot, and with one even looking like he has an arrow in his chest. 

Bresson apparently never cropped his photos, he believed that all of the image in camera was ‘the decisive moment’. ‘For the rest of his life, Cartier-Bresson’s approach to photography would remain much the same. He made clear his disdain for the augmented image, one that had been enhanced by artificial light, dark room effects, even cropping. The naturalist in Cartier-Bresson believed that all edits should be done when the image was made. His equipment load was often light: a 50mm lens and if he needed it, a longer 90mm lens’.

His images are dark, punchy, with very high contrast, and one of his comments was intact “You know William, colour is bullshit”. His Leica camera with only two lenses made it easy for him on the street, as well as situated in war zones. No heavy equipment to carry and always ready for the unexpected shot.

His images of people from all ages appeals, from the young playing in the streets to the old, poor and at the end of life bring emotion into the picture. He seems not to care almost for the risk of getting the shot, which brings the questions ‘ Does he ask for permission before taking the shot? Is it posed, or is the non posed shot really posed? How close to real life did it really look? Did he get the kids to play in the street or was it luck?

He truly was a master of People and Place.

Henry Cartier Bresson

Henry Cartier Bresson

 

REF:

Henry C. Bresson [Accessed 27 05 16]

https://steidl.de/Books/The-Decisive-Moment-0516515559.html  [Accessed 28-05-16]

Exercise 15 – A public space

“For this final exercise, transfer your attention from an organised occasion to a semi-organised public space. Some of the most accessible and usable from a photographic point of view are public parks. A public beach is another possibility. Instead of a single event, there will be a variety of things happening, even if not all of it is particularly active or focused”.

For this last exercise before my main assignment I took photos of a Donkey Derby event. I wasn’t sure if the event was going ahead as rain was forecast, but I took my camera along and although we did get some rain in parts, I managed to complete the exercise.

(click on any image to enlarge)

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Spectators and organisers arrive at the Donkey Derby event, and despite some local rain all were happy to prepare the donkeys for the first of the mornings race…all in good fun of course.

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One of the events among the donkey derby was a warm up followed by a demonstration of Judo from one of the local clubs. While the instructor showed some of the children students how its done, and they soon got a chance to get their own back!

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The races were held all in good spirit, with some fierce competition even though this was all in good fun and for charity. (No animals were harmed during this event!)

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Part of the charity event included dogs chasing a false rabbit on a pulley which was hand turned. Straw was used to stop the dogs crashing into the machine should they catch the rabbit.  While some couldn’t manage to hold on, some other fury friends didn’t want to let go.

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Some of the local folk having a blast and a chin wag. Then after its all over what better way to end the day with a nice picnic, along with a few cups of English tea in the fields before the rain returns.

Conclusion:

This was in interesting event to photograph. I included photos in order of the event from start to end, although I never saw and presentation for the winners of the actual Donkey Derby so I couldn’t take any photos for that portion. All images were taken without the knowledge of the people involved. I had a medium zoom lens which enabled me to be as close or far away from the subjects as needed.