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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Exercise 10 – Capturing the moment

The brief for this exercise was “The mechanics of this exercise are simple, but the results are many and varied. Find, as for the last exercise, a ‘comfortable’ situation, possibly even the same location. For this exercise concentrate on bursts of activity, from which you try to capture a ‘best’ moment.”

I decided to use the same bike show that I had for the first exercise in this project. I watched as a bike stunt rider performed his tricks (which were impressive) on his modified motorbike. This guy was part of the Redbull sponsored stunt rider team and was here on visit just for the Dubai bike show.

I watched as he throw his bike around a closed off track watched by spectators. He had another partner who was equally impressive doing similar tricks. I took a series of shots during the 10 min show and broke it down into a single image which I thought showed off the bikers skills the most.

(click any image to enlarge)

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One of the event organisers was walking around filming the stunt bikers as they performed tricks to the crowd.

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As a pair, the stunt riders worked closer and closer together making tighter turns, as the rear wheels skidded on the tarmac and the front wheels almost locked together.

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Making the most of the closed track, one of the riders started to make the stunts more daring.

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More impressive stunts.

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From the total stunt show and one small mishap from one of the riders (not serious) the riders split up and I focused on the best of the two while he did his tricks.

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For me this was the ultimate stunt for the riders in the total set. Standing on the handlebars, moving around a closed track, while keeping perfect balance…very impressive!

Conclusion:

This was an interesting exercise making you think about what best shows off a final set of images. Many of the stunts were impressive, especially when you see it done just a few feet away, and not on the TV or internet.

Exercise 9 – Developing your confidence

For the first in the new projects entitled ‘People Unaware’, we are to “choose an outdoor situation where there will be lots of people and activity, and in which you will feel confident using a camera”. The brief further states “Take as many photographs as you comfortably can in one session. When you review the photographs afterwards, recall the comfort level you felt at the time, and consider to what extent this helped you in capturing expression and gesture.

For this exercise I went to a local event which was a motorcycle show. I took my Sony A6000 with two lenses, one a wide angle and a long tele-photo to help me pick out the subjects without giving much away in terms of my positioning and causing subjects to be distracted by the camera.

Click on any image to enlarge:

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In this first selection I was keeping my distance and watched as people talked and moved around the show. One group of guys where looking at the motorcycles on display and talking to one of the owners. Sometimes just standing still and waiting for people to pass was a good option and not so conspicuois.

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On the next group of pictures I observed as a photographer took photos of children and riders against a green screen. It was easy with so many people around to watch others taking selfies and talking to each other without the risk of been seen.

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As you can imagine, I took my time with these shots!!! Two models were having a photo session with another pro photographer, so I could easily sit in the background just behind the main photographer and take photos (as others did) while the girls did their thing. I moved around to get side and front views while the session took place.

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On this last set of four photos, I watched a lady photographer as she also moved around much like myself, taking pictures of folks at the stalls and generally around the bike show. I also watched as one famous biker being filmed so I took a photo of the interview taking place as well as a behind the scenes shot of the cameraman.

Conclusion:

This was a fairly easy way to take photos of people in an open area without risk of being seen or becoming conscious of my presence to others and thus feeling embarrassed. Using a long tele-photo lens helped me keep my distance from the subjects and close in from afar without too much detection.