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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Exercise 14 – An organised event

“For this exercise you will need to research and prepare in advance. Look for an organised event at which there will be plenty of people and in which you can confidently expect to be able to photograph freely and with some variety”.

I was due to attend an off road motorcycle course at a future date, but the organisers and one already arranged prior to my start date, so I decided to go along and take photos which was in every way an organised event, with plenty of opportunity to take lots of action pictures of people unaware.

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Riders arrive at Hatta Fort Hotel, near Dubai. Bikes are prepared for the off-road course held by BMW which requires removal of wing mirrors, windshield, bike side boxes and other small parts that risk getting damaged during the two day course.

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After a full safety brief and discussion on riding techniques and handling, the riders took to the trails, lined up at the start and prepared for a hard day of off-run training.

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Some of the off road techniques proved difficult and dirty work at times. Some found it hard so all that was left is to push..not easy with a 240kg bike. Others gained confidence showing off some of the gained skills with a thumbs up after a hard first session.

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While the riders had a deserved break, the instructors showed how to move a bike on the side stand, as well as some preventative off road maintenance should it ever be required. Then it was back on the bikes for part two…the mountain stage.

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The riders were briefed on the mountain stage and the techniques required to negotiate hills and rocks. Before the start the riders walked the course in remove any loose rocks that may cause falls or bike damage, and to plan out the best course of action.

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A tough section of the course caused some of the riders to lose control and fall…all part of the learning process! As the riders tried to lift the bikes, an instructor came over to demonstrate how best to lift a 240kg bike from the ground without hurting body or bike.

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The final hours after two days proved a great improvement for the riders, seen here by showing off with a hands-off control manoeuvre and a ‘wheely’ from one of the instructors. A final group picture ended the course with very happy riders and a certificate to take home with new off road experiences gained.

Conclusion:

This was an exciting project for me as I love my off road biking also. Because I was not due on the course until a later date, it gave me time to take the photos and as the course was taken in a closed off location, I could easily move around without getting in the way of the riders. Various focal lengths were used during the picture taking process and some post processed into black and white for different effects.

 

 

 

 

Exercise 11 – Standing back

Depending on your choice of lenses, select a medium-long focal length, ideally between 80 mm to 200 mm full frame equivalent. If you happen to have a more pronounced telephoto lens (300 mm or 400 mm for example), you might find it more interesting to do the exercise with this extreme focal length.

What practical difficulties do you note? Because of the extra distance between you and your subject, you may have found that passer-by and traffic sometimes block your view. And what special creative opportunities do you find that a long focal length and distance have given you.

For this exercise I went to a local pro golf event. I had a very long 28-300mm Canon tel-photo lens which I knew would get me close to the players and other interesting people at the event.

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On the first photo I was looking at this caddie and just as I took the picture someone came in front of the camera. You can just see the sleeve on the bottom left of the image. A second attempt was more successful and in the end I preferred the pose the caddie gave…deep in thought!

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Using a longer lens I was able to pick off people form afar. The first was during a live TV interview of one of the lady professional players, and the second was of pro-celebrity golfer and comedian Jim Davidson.

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Using a long lens for the first image of the golf bag has allowed the background to be totally of of focus, so the minimal DOP has taken away any distracting background, while at the same time allowing me to take the capture from an area not open to the public.

The second image of Tiger Woods would have been better, had it not been for other public spectators walking in front of the image. One draw back of being far away from the subject allows others to impede the shot at times.

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In the next two images we can see how distractions in the foreground can sometimes add, or take away from the overall effect of the image. The first photo of the two golfers would have been better without the intrusion of a caddie caring a flag, blocking the image. The second image of Tiger Woods is good as a single image should it have not had other people in the shot, but the people in the foreground asking for his autograph add to the atmosphere of the image giving it a sense of place and what Tiger is doing.

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In these last two images, we see two examples of using a long tele-photo lens taken at two different distances from the subject. The first is still on a high tele-photo setting, but being close has allowed me to get really close up on the face of Tiger Woods. The second is again using a long setting of 300mm, but this time not being able to get into the closed off area where Tiger was signing his card and autographs I was able to still capture an image which tells a story. The fact he was elevated on the stand stopped any other person walking into the image and blocking off the shot.

Conclusion:

Using a long focal length lens certainly helps get up close to most subjects, but the disadvantage means that if you are situated back from the subject you stand the risk of others people, or objects blocking the view. This is apparent when you maybe on the same level as your subject.

Given the right position however allows the photo to be cropped if needed and cropping out in camera what other distractions may have otherwise been in the picture. Of course we maybe able to crop in post, but the other advantage of a longer lens is being able to get very close to the action or subject.

 

 

Getting started with People and Place

The Brief:

The second part of the ‘OCA Art of Photography’ course degree will concentrate on the subject of People and Place. Within this title will come two main types of portrait actions which include both People Aware, and People Unaware. In order to make the photographer more comfortable with people unaware, we are going to start with people aware to help break us in and become more comfortable.

Many photographers feel too embarrassed or concerned when it comes to taking pictures of strangers without the others consent, and a prime example would be street photography where you point a camera at someone walking by, hoping they either did not see the camera or they just don’t mind and carry on. Most of my work is done in Dubai, a middle eastern country where pointing a camera at someone in the street, shopping mall, metro station or office location may become a problem. When it comes to these situations I will need to be very careful how I go about this part of the course.

For the onset it will be fairly easy to take pictures of some close friends and family. My concern will be the limited choice of subjects without it becoming too repetitive with only a few chosen subjects at hand.

Suggested course reading material has been mentioned in the OCA notes, so I will need to see if these books are available here or if I need to order from Amazon.Co.UK and have them delivered. Portrait I must admit is not something I have a great deal of experience with so this will be a good learning experience for me. In addition Im sure I will  be gaining a lot of information form other web sites and professional portrait photographers.

Some of my  preferred portrait photographers I intend to study are Steve McCurry, whose book ‘Untold- The Stories behind the Photographs’ I already have, Lee Jeffries who is a great for his intense B&W photos, Rehahn, famous for photos taken in Vietnam and Cuba, Joe McNally, always one of my favourite photographers, David duChemin a renowned  Humanitarian photographer, and not forgetting some of the past greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, war photgrapher Robert Capa, and Gregory Heisler whose book ’50 Portraits’ is a classic and a must have book.

So onto the second section of my OCA course ‘People and Place. I hope you take time to browse my blogs and please free to comment.