Tutor feedback – Assignment 4 A Sense of Place

I received my tutor feedback a short while after completing assignment 4 ‘A Sense of Place’. I found the comments constructive, but at the same time a little lacking in encouragement. This is the forth feedback I have had with the same tutor and with other tutors I have had a lot of positive feedback, as well as constructive critique, but I feel too often on these 4 assignments I receive only what I am doing wrong, or what could be better. I rarely read what photos have been well taken and composed and why they are good, I only receive feedback on what images could be better.

My location is Dubai, and in this country at times we are asked to take shots which can be a little sensitive in this region, then I am asked to get a little closer to the people and in certain circumstances I have been lucky even to get the shot at all. Even just pointing a camera at people in this area can be a big challenge and I wonder if sometimes in the feedback this is overlooked.

I am asked to include a contact sheet of the images I decide to discard. In this particular report it is suggested to include all the images I took of some fisherman as an example. I took around 30 plus images in this case, and to include all these images I feel is a little overkill. I am asked to edit a particular picture with ropes across some Dhows which was one image I did not include, but Im not sure why I would spend the time and effort to edit a picture I have no intention of using. This can be very subjective but I submitted a contact sheet of what i thought was relative. I fully understand the purpose of a contact sheet so my thought process can be available, but I feel its not clear how the contact sheet is expected. When looking at other students work I see positive feedback and my work is no different in most cases, so it can be confusing what is expected at times.

My tutor asked what I was trying to get across in tone particular image submitted. The answer is a broad section of what Dubai has to offer, and the type of varied people that live in Dubai. I could spend a whole year taking images of the vast variants in this city and I would still find more areas I could cover. One suggestion would be to limit my area and focus more on one aspect, this maybe true and could be another approach, but the assignment was submitted based on my feelings at the time and I cannot go back and do the whole assignment again. I will however add a comment on this image in question.

Some images have been suggested to edit a little such as the following:

  • Image 225 has a lamppost in the frame which is distracting, and I agree this is in need of a retake or PS removal.
  • Image 226 of the large indoor aquarium needs to be closer. I can and will crop this to make it closer.
  • In image 227 I am asked what I am trying to communicate, The answer is the broad spectrum of architecture, from the most expensive hotel in the world, the been landscaping and the waterways all bringing a landscape that in essence is built in the middle of a desert…I think its quite something.

As a final note, I take all the comments from all tutors as help and constructive, but at times I feel it would be good to include what is a good photo and why, rather than just what could be better and why it falls short.

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Exercise 23 – Special processing

The aim of this exercise was to use one image and then using digital processing methods, make two new versions of the image. The first of these has a greater prominence, the second image with less prominence for the subject.

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This is the original image.  The image has too many distractions with people close to the main subject as well as a distracting background with the people standing.

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With slight manipulation, the image now is very flat. Still no cropping so the image still has the main distractions as above. The face is very dark and the histogram looks very flat and dark when viewed in LR CC.

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Now with some small adjustments to the highlights and shadows, we can see the main focus of the lady is now full frame. All distractions have been taken away and a slight vignetting has helped focus the eye on the subject and darkened the background. More manipulation could have taken place by removing the bag in Photoshop but I decided this was enough to meet the requirements of the brief.

 

 

Exercise 22 – Balancing figure and space

For this exercise we are asked to take 2 photographs using pretty much the same viewpoint and composition but varying the balance between the person and the space they are in.

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This image is ok as a single snap shot, but from a composition point of view it lacks any depth and is very flat. Subject is dead centre, and as the saying goes ‘dead centre is deadly’. Also the subject is a little low with too much ceiling and a cut off at he joints, i.e. the knees. This could be improved a lot better for balance both for the subject and location, as we will see in the next image.

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In this second image of the same subject above, we have moved the camera position to add more balance both for the subject in the frame, and to show more of the location including background area. The subject is now placed on the rule of thirds, and the knees have not been cut off at the joint. This image would work either as a close up of just head and shoulders, or a full length shot which could include the feet.The head is directly on the top right third rule and the eyes are drawn into the rear left of the image after looking at the eyes of the subject, this now gives a good feel of where the subject is and the location. The image is not edited in any way for congestion to the first image, other the a change in camera position and moving the subject slightly to the right.

 

 

Exercise 21 – Making figures anonymous

The brief for this exercise was to use certain techniques to photograph a person or persons making them anonymous and less prominent than the area that they are in. The images should try to make the person(s) almost unrecognisable.

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This image does have people and certainly shows a sense of scale. With a closer look three workers can be seen on the building, and in fact form a type of triangle which was pure luck. This image was taken while taking a boat ride within the Dubai Marina area, and this building was being constructed on the waters edge. I have cropped the image slightly to make the figures just visible and taken away day distracting buildings which were on either side of this main one under construction.

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As we look into the image of the fountain, we can see at first the two figures walking into the image on the left side. After a closer scan around the frame we can then see two more people, but covered behind the water fall and some of the seats and umbrella stands. The framing of this image takes the eye into the frame and only after closer inspection can we see the second two people on the bench chairs. This image could be cropped more to remove the two figures on the left leaving only the faded outline of the two people on the right of the frame.

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In this image we see a very nice interior shot of a hotel lobby. With a closer look around the many items such as camels, christmas tree, chairs etc you finally come across a person sat in the rear of the frame which is actually set on the rule of thirds line. The same colour uniform of the person makes them blend into the background, but the person is still visible non the same. I thought about waiting for a person or persons to walk across the room and wait until they are near the arch door in the rear of the picture on the right, but decided it maybe too obvious so I left the final image with the one person sat at the desk.

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For my last image I decided to take this frame of an archway with a very subtle background combined with people having breakfast. The main focus is of course the arch, but again the eye is drawn into the image at towards the rear where the people are enjoying the morning. In some ways the camel is looking into the arch within an arch at the people. Cropping this image I feel would have made the image too flat and would have taken away from the main arch in the foreground.

Exercise 20 – Busy traffic

This exercise is to show people in a busy place. We are asked to take some time in the area we choose, which can be indoors or outdoors. Time should be taken to research the space and how people flow around the space. We can take a slow exposure if needed to show some type of movement in the people.

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This is a busy street in York near an area called The Shambles. You can see how the people are in close proximity to each other, but all have their own agenda be it walking down the street, looking in the shop windows, searching for items in a bag or talking to partners. The tight street forces people to be very close and this in effect makes everyone slow down as rushing in this tight space may not be possible. Adding to this the old street is bending towards the middle which also brings people closer together, making the flow more into the centre part of the street.

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This shot of a York market shows the numerous types of buildings in the area, from old brick on either side, more modern buildings in the car and temporary market stalls. The people in the image have plenty to look at as they walk down the cobble street, from flower markets, stalls and even a place to take a break and have a pork sandwich. The area is very open in the centre, but it can be seen to filter into tight spaces as one enters the stall market area. Thankfully the closed roads will allow pedestrians to make use of the cobble street while taking in the sights. This makes the main flow of the people take to the street before branching into the enclosed stall market.

 

Exercise 19 – A single figure small

In this first exercise leading up to assignment 4, we are asked to take a photo (the notes do not mention how many images)  of a single figure which is in the image, but at first may be so obvious to the eye. Such a shot maybe inside church or such a place that shows the size of the building or area.

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For this first of two images showing a person (or people) in a large space I have taken this image from a building in Glasgow called The Kremlin. I am standing at the top of the stairs looking down and the persecutive make the the viewer first look around the wooden banister or handrail, then as the eye searches the rest of the image we fall down to almost dead centre at the two figures walking across the centre floor. This is very subtle but although the figures are very small they could almost become the focal point of the image altogether.

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This second image again in the Kremlin building in Glasgow, we can see the main focal point is the building with leading stairs, and the large lion head which is almost the size of a person. As we look around the image the eye is drawn to the high colour red, which then turns out to be  a person looking at something with her back towards the camera. Although very small in relative size to the overall image and lion head, the future is still very noticeable due to the colour and just being offset slightly on the rule of thirds.

Assignment 3 Buildings in Use – Thoughts and preparation

After reading the initial criteria for this assignment, at first I thought this would be an easy choice of what buildings I was able to pick for the assignment. After some reflection I found that the buildings I wanted to use would prove difficult, due to the high number of people and security cameras around which made me feel intimidated. One such building was going to be the Dubai Metro, but then I thought that the number of security guards and cameras around every inch may prove an issue. Even if I was to take images I didn’t want onlookers giving me the evil eye, or constantly being approached by officials asking what it was I was taking pictures of, and why.

So that idea was passed by and I was then back to thinking of which buildings would be different to what a lot of other submissions have already been covered. Some examples would be the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, but entry and cost was an issue, others were hospitals but that has been covered with other students, and another possible one was hotels. The next issue would be getting information on each building to make it interesting enough as a read and to gel well into the final choice of images. For instance and shopping mall is well…a shopping mall, and can be a little basic in the history other than it was built on such a date in order for people to shop, so if I go down this route the interaction of the people should I choose to include them or not needs to capture the interest of the reader along with the building history.

After scouting different areas I decided it would be better to include people where possible. This would make the images easier to capture without the need to do a slow shutter on a tripod in order to blend out any people, and also I think people in the image would give it a bit more of a focal point and add to the overall depth and size of some of the locations, as its easy to compare a building or object for size when a person is placed in the image.

The final areas I decided to use where situated both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which is a good two hours drive from Dubai in traffic. I had an idea of two areas in Abu Dhabi, and needed to try and gain access to both during the one visit. As it turned out I only managed one building but found something better back in Dubai, by chance.

From the technical side I knew which camera and equipment I was going to use. My Sony A7 MK2 with a wide angle 16-24mm Zeiss lens. Natural light would be the main source for each image, but I would use some artificial lighting if needed to balance any shadow areas. This light maybe in the form of fill flash or LED lighting. A reflector is a possibility but being on my own and taking images of such large areas this may not be suited.

So at the early stages of planning I had ideas for a number of building but after thoughts I was down to maybe two or three that I knew would be a good choice. How can you be based in a city like Dubai to then wonder how you are going to take images of just five buildings and finding it a struggle? Part of this dilemma came down to including the people in such a sensitive country. This had to be planned carefully if I was to include people, and if not it would be hard to take images where people are not present.

So with my final selections of buildings in my head its now time to set out and get the images, along with how each of these interact with people as per the brief along with the history of each location.

Exercise 18 – How space changes with light

In this last exercise before the main assignment, we are asked to take a series of photographs for one or two locations that we can visit at various tines of the day.I was in Wales recently staying with family so I decided tot are shots from morning till late in the evening for the front lounge area, from the same location within the room.

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For this first image we can see the morning sunlight just about to break through the front lounge of this cottage house. The lack of deep shadows means as the sun has not yet risen the light is very much diffused giving an overall soft light.

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This second picture is seen taken mid morning as the sun has risen high from the mountains over the Welsh border. You can see the bright sunlight coming in very strong from the front door area, along with a second smaller window just out of view in the background lighting up one of the leather chairs. I did no heavy editing to the image so to show the bright highlights on the floor mostly as the eye saw the image.

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Taken just after lunch time the light from the windows has now moved further west and harsh light has now gone, with a very slight diffused light starting to form on the wooden floor area. The camera is now able to pick up more shadow in the background towards the fire place.

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This final shot is taken after the sun has gone down and we are left with artificial light to show the room without the need for a long exposure. AS can be seen no sunlight is coming through the door on the right side of the frame as before. The room looks a lot colder now we only have artificial light, with heavy highlights around the wall lights and deep shadows under and around the furniture.

Conclusion:

This was a fairly easy exercise to complete than i first expected, even though I had to pick my timings over when it was best to take shots of the room while it remained empty. I left the camera pretty much in the same location and angle for the shots to make the comparisons easier. I would like to do this again given the opportunity with outside buildings and possibly include moving objects such as cars and/or people.

Exercise 17 – The users viewpoint

The task for this exercise is to choose from two or three buildings designed for a particular activity, and attempt to capture the area from the users point of view. This could be with the use of focal length and various viewpoints, either low or from a different angle.

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This image is taken from the inside of a University. The close crop to the left makes the viewer wonder where the stairs lead to, and what may lay behind the archway. I waited for some time for a person to walk down or up the stairs but no-one came through. The image was converted to B&W to bring out the strong lines and shades only B&W can show.

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At first glance this image may seen like any normal front living room, but after a closer look the first thing that appears different is the furniture and decor is old. As the eye leads up the stairs we can see a person sat on a chair. Is the owner of the house, apartment, or a guest? The low viewpoint helps the eye scan into the image and then up the stairway. This si in fact a museum situated on the Wales, England border. I had to wait for some time for other visitors to leave the room so I could get a clear shot. However I couldn’t do anything about the lady on top of the stairs, but later thought this would make an interesting addition to the shot.

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A normal stairway? Maybe not. We can see the pictures on the wall are very old and in fact are antique. Taken in the same museum home as the previous photo, this is a stairway leading up to the main bedrooms. The old wooden carved banister leads the eye down the stairs while taking in the large pictures of what seem to be family members of the household from time gone by. Where do the stairs lead down to, and what is on the next level leading up to the left side? An old wooden chest on the stairway makes you wonder what may lay inside and what treasures maybe hidden, if any. Again I had to wait some time for the stairs to become clear of foot traffic. I found a high viewpoint looking down the stairs worked better than standing at the bottom looking upwards.

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This is a stairway taken in a small village in Wales, which is a residence area into a set of apartments and houses. The bright red stairs leads the eye up into a series of doors, with each set of stairs taking the person to separate levels. I like the colours of the red stairs and blue door which seem to compliment each other, and the large red balcony on the top seems to balance the red stairs on each side of the frame. I thought of taking this shot from front on, but I liked the lines of the steps from this angle better than a flat shot. A low shot would have made the converging verticals too severe so I remained at eye level for this one.

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This shot taken in a gallery shows a lot of negative space, which leads the eye to the person situated in the background of the frame. The eyes are helped into the frame with the wood grain of the floor, which brings the eyes onto each statue piece and then finally onto the framed pictures on the wall. I would have liked the person in the shot to be not so central, but the figures in the picture on the left of the wall help the viewer to look back in to the frame as they seem to be looking at the person walking. One wonders what the central statue piece is on the floor, is was in fact a figure of a dead horse.

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Taken in some office buildings, I waited for my friend to walk by while I placed the camera in a low position on the floor. I didn’t have a camera with a tilt up screen as I was using a Canon 5DMK3, so I set the camera to what I hoped would be a medium DOP at F11 in the hope it wouldn’t focus on the floor nearest the camera. I took a few shots as the two people walked by towards the doors ahead. I positioned the camera so the black squares on the floor would lead towards the figures walking.

Conclusion:

An interesting exercise and at times found the viewpoints hard to decide on. I was sometimes unsure if I would be able to take images of something that was situated outdoors, such as the shot of the red stairs, but after looking at some other students images this seemed to be acceptable.

 

Exercise 16 – Exploring Function

Brief:

“This exercise will help teach, first, a way of approaching a space and thinking about it that focuses on how it was intended to be used and whether or not its design was successful, and second, translating this thought process into an image. Choose any interior space, either domestic or public, and consider it from the point of view of its function. Who uses it or will use it? What is it intended to be used for? And how many different aspects are there to that activity? You are analysing the purpose of the room/space, and the process of doing this is the same for a dining room as for a more complex large area such as a public library.

First note what you think the space ought to be doing — a short list. Then consider how well you think it succeeds. This is all before attempting photography, and it hinges on your own, personal point of view. Forming a point of view is important, because it will influence how you decide to photograph the space.

Having made your analysis, make a carefully considered photograph of the space in order to put across the way it works — or should work — for the people who use it. If you are uncertain as to how best to do this, don’t be overly concerned. The rest of this section will help you to consider different techniques of approach and composition”.

For this first exercise in the new assignment called Building and Spaces, I used a room as the given example above which I have in my home.

The room in question is actually not a room that one would use for anything in particular, but an open space on top of the landing which splits into each of the three bedrooms. When we looked at the house to buy we liked the idea of this open area, and thought at the time it would make a good area for an office, without the need to take up a bedroom.

The open area can be seen to be used as an office by the computer desk and chair. it could be mistaken for an office within an office block at first, but the brown doorway which leads to a bathroom and the chest of draws (which is for sale and there temporarily) give it away as to been a home location.

The area could be used with nothing more than a few pictures or standing home pieces to fill in the area, or it could be an ideal area for a play area for young children, or a gym or exercise area.

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The large windows add ambient light make it an ideal area for study, writing or other studies. The blinds can be closed when using the computer for editing photos and video if required.

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The bookshelves add to the office feel, and the guitar in the corner suggestions an area for some recreation also when not at work. The fact no pictures are on the wall could mean this is a fairly ew new area to move into, with no time to date to place any hangings on the wall. In image 175 another doorway to a bedroom can be seen.

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The reason we can see two chairs on the floor is we had two computers, and one was sold. This suggests the desk was shared at some point. The fact no books are on the shelfs to the right again means this could be a new location, or the area is in the middle of being cleared and moving out, or new books to be purchased and the bookcase is new. The fact is we are selling the book cases so all books have been taken off and relocated to the new bookcase on the left.

Conclusion:

I was wondering what space I would take for this exercise that would be easy to work with, but would be interesting enough to ask questions. After taking the images of our area in the home upstairs, I think this area worked fairly well. It certainly could be used for a number of activities or for nothing and to be just left as an open area, or in this case an office. I took a number of images form various heights to give an overall impression of the space in question.