Category Archives: Part 2 Elements of Design

Assignment 2 – Planning

For this assignment I am to incorporate what I have learned thus far into a set of photographs directed towards one subject. I need to produce 10 – 15 photographs, all of a similar subject, which between them will show the following effects:

  • single point dominating the composition
  • two points
  • several points in a deliberate shape
  • a combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • diagonals
  • curves
  • distinct, even if irregular, shapes
  • at least two kinds of implied triangle
  • rhythm
  • pattern

Choose from these groups of subjects:

  • flowers and plants
  • landscapes
  • street details
  • the raw materials of food
  • if you prefer, choose your own subject.

I initially thought that I would choose landscape as my subject as we have many forests close to where I live. However when I went out to try some scenarios I quickly realised that it would be rather difficult to tick all the required boxes. The forests here are dense and dark with very little clearings. They are not easy to walk through – they’re fine if you are a small animal where you can get through the nooks and crannies left by fallen trees and low branches. A small selection of the images can be seen in the gallery.

Then after reading an article on the LensCulture site about Brenda Biondo who did a series of the vintage playground equipment in America, I thought that would make an interesting subject. So off I went to do some test shots. Plenty of shapes and angles, but the equipment is so much smaller than in my childhood, plus I thought about the problem of children in a photo. The way the world is nowadays, I didn’t want to go through that hassle.

Shortly after this I happened upon CreativeLive’s site and noticed a tutorial about food photography (write up is under my Learning tab). In the tutorial, Todd and Diane Porter explained how simple it was to use natural lighting for food photography and they demonstrated their workflow in this regards. This got me thinking and I started to do some research into various food photographers. I looked at the following photographers’ work, focusing mainly on their photographs with raw food and have noted what I liked/disliked about their work:

  • David Loftus – loved the clean, rustic look
  • Beatrice Peltre – her photos are very light and airy, highlights blown out, also uses contrasting materials around the food
  • Carl Warner – landscapes with food. There was no way I was going to try anything like that. The man is a genius!
  • Keiko Oikawa – I also liked the way that she blows the highlights out in the background in some of her photos
  • Mittongtare Studio – the dark, moodiness and bright, airiness of his photos. Makes strong statements.
  • Jean Cazals – I liked a few of his images, but found some of them a bit too contrived. A slice of bacon wrapped around a branch is not going to send me out to buy bacon, nor will a fresh fish lying on caked mud. Still they are different and have a bit of a shock/surprise value to them.
  • Anders Schonnemann – most of his photos have a rustic, moody feel to them.
  • Clara Gonzalez – again the bright, airy look and the dark, moodiness
  • Alexandra Grablewski – her photos were mainly of cooked food and table settings with an airy feel
  • Mythja – I really liked her photos. Very rustic, used old props and many of the photos were taken outdoors, but they all have a very distinctive moodiness to them.
  • Clare Barbosa – her fantastic props and once again the airiness of her photos.

I also looked through numerous Fine Cooking magazines and cookbooks that I have on my bookshelf. I searched Jstor for any journals, but only came up with a few articles which I will include in the Assignment’s bibliography.

Now that I had some ideas floating around in my head, I persuaded my husband to make me a couple of rustic tabletop backdrops, one dark and the other light. I then went to the local Salvation Army store and bought some few vintage style cutlery (and also borrowed some from a friend). I went shopping for some non shiny props, as most of my kitchen utensils are stainless steel.

I then sketched out (very badly) some ideas – please forgive my drawing skills – they are non existent.

Let’s see how it all works out.

Bibliography

Barboza, Clare. (2014) Clare Barboza Photography [online]. Available from http://clarebarboza.com/ [Accessed 27 July, 2014]

Biondo, Brenda. (2014) Once Upon a Playground [online]. LensCulture. Available from: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/brenda-biondo-once-upon-a-playground [Accessed 25 July, 2014]

Grablewski, Alexandra. (2014) Alexandra Grablewski Photography [online]. Available from http://www.agrablewski.com/ [Accessed 29 July, 2014]

Loftus, David. (2014) David Loftus [online]. Available from http://www.davidloftus.com/food [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Mittongtare, Pornchai. (2014) Mittongtare Studio [online]. Available from http://www.mittongtarestudio.com/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Mythja (2014). Mythja Photography [online]. Available from http://mythja.com/ [Accessed 29 July, 2014]

Oikawa, Keiko. (2014) Keiko Oikawa Photography [online]. Available from http://www.keikooikawa.com/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Peltre, Beatrice. (2014) Beatrice Peltre Food Styling & Photography [online]. Available from http://www.beatricepeltre.com/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Schonnemann, Anders. (2014) Anders Schonnemann Photography [online]. Available from http://www.schonnemann.dk/ [Accessed 29, July, 2014]

Warner, Carl. (2014). Carl Warner [online]. Available from http://www.carlwarner.com/foodscapes/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Workshop, Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter – Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling [webcast, online] Creative Live, Seattle, USA, June 2014. 32 minutes: 48 seconds. https://www.creativelive.com/courses/story-plate-food-photography-styling-todd-porter-and-diane-cu (accessed 27 July, 2014)

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Exercise Rhythms and patterns

The brief:

Produce at least two photographs, one should convey rhythm, and the other pattern. Remember that in rhythm there needs to be a sequence in the picture, so that the eye will follow a direction and experience an optical beat.

The the pattern photograph, be careful with the framing. Pay attention to your distance from the subjects and/or your choice of focal length, in such a way that you show no boundaries to the pattern. Patterns work strongly when they fill the frame, so that the eye can imagine them continuing well beyond it. When you have completed the exercise order all the images with a note of what they represent about the elements of design.

Fig 01 - Rhythm

Fig 01 – Rhythm
f5.6, 1/50, 50mm, ISO 100

Freshly harvested carrots from the garden laid out on the grass form a rhythmic pattern across the frame, almost like notes on sheet music. The photo could probably meet the criteria for pattern as well, but I think there is sufficient movement of the eye (both up and down and across) for it to be rhythmic.

Fig. 02 - Pattern

Fig. 02 – Pattern
f6.3, 1/320, 55mm, ISO 100

Walking through the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library I looked up at the glass ceiling above and immediately noticed the repetitive pattern of the roof and the office tower building visible through the glass. The curving girders and intersecting pipes provide an interesting abstract of the two buildings. There are enough lines and rectangles in the frame that lead the eye through the photograph.

Reference List

Freeman, Michael (2007). The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press. Lewes, England.

Kelby, Scott (2014). The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 book for digital photographers, New Riders.

Exercise Real and implied triangles

The brief:

Produce two sets of triangular compositions in photographs, one using ‘real’ triangles, the other making ‘implied’ triangles.

Real

  • Find a subject which is itself triangular (it can be a detail of something larger).
  • Make a triangle by perspective, converging towards the top of the frame.
  • Make an inverted triangle, also by perspective, converging towards the bottom of the frame. You may need to think about this one.

Implied

  • Make a still-life arrangement of five or six objects to produce a triangle with the apex at the top.
  • Make a still-life arrangement as above, but so that the triangle is inverted, with the apex at the bottom.
  • Arrange three people in a group picture in such a way that either their faces or the lines of their bodies makes a triangle.
Fig 01 - Triangle

Fig 01 – Triangle
f8, 1/100, 55mm, ISO 100

This hewn marble is part of the Centennial Fountain which is in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The rock forms a natural triangle as can be seen below.

Fig 01 - Triangle with lines

Fig 01 – Triangle with lines

Fig 02 – Triangle by perspective, converging at the top of the frame

Fig 02 – Triangle by perspective, converging at the top of the frame
f8, 1/400, 28mm, ISO 200

A wide angled lens causes lines to converge, giving this apartment building a slight triangular perspective as can be seen below. Due to the very inclement weather I boosted the contrast, shadows and clarity and brought down the highlights to bring out detail in the building and sky.

Fig 02 - Triangle with perspective, converging at the top of the frame with lines

Fig 02 – Triangle with perspective, converging at the top of the frame with lines

Fig. 03 - Inverted triangle

Fig. 03 – Inverted triangle
f8, 1/800, 135mm, ISO 100

From my viewing point the Sawyer Glacier in figure 03 formed an inverted triangle, flanked by two mountains forming right angled triangles. All three triangular shapes converge almost in the lower centre  third of the frame drawing attention to the boat, which is highlighted by the triangular reflection of the glacier.

Fig. 03 - Inverted triangle with lines

Fig. 03 – Inverted triangle with lines

Fig 04 - Implied triangle, apex at the top

Fig 04 – Implied triangle, apex at the top
f5.6, 1/80, 50mm, ISO 400

The tomato jam jar, crackers and raspberry/merlot and peppercorn jam jar with its lid form one strong line for the triangle, linking to the blob of jam on the board as seen below. The apex of the triangle is the tomato jam jar. Two sides of the triangle are left to the viewer’s imagination, but the triangular shape is quite clear as can be seen below.

Fig 05 Implied triangle with apex at top with lines

Fig 05 Implied triangle with apex at top with lines

Fig 05 Implied triangle - apex bottom

Fig 05 Implied triangle – apex bottom
f5.6, 1/60, 50mm, ISO 400

Still keeping to the jam theme, I then changed out the tomato jam jar for a similar size and shape jar to that of the raspberry/merlot, namely a mango, passionfruit and kirsh (also very yummy). I simply rotated the board slightly so that the blob of jam now forms the apex of the triangle as can be seen below.

Fig 06 Implied triangle with apex at bottom with lines

Fig 06 Implied triangle with apex at bottom with lines

Fig 06 - Implied triangle with people

Fig 06 – Implied triangle with people
f5.3, 1/640, 40mm, ISO 400

I happened to pass this street artist at Lonsdale Quay and he was obviously drawing the man while his wife looks in in amusement. The position of the three people’s bodies forms a dynamic triangle as can be seen below.

Fig 06 - Implied triangle with people with lines

Fig 06 – Implied triangle with people with lines

Triangles are quite common in nature as well – although you do really have to be looking for them – as I saw recently on my trip to Alaska. Most fir trees in Canada have a conical shape, and I also found snow lines on mountains that were triangular in shape. Triangles that have their apex at the top give the impression of stability and invoke a sense of calm, while those with the apex at the bottom give a feeling of instability, of a precarious balance. Because the top of the triangle, in the latter situation, is broad and weighty it can also seem aggressive. Just look at the photo of Sawyer Glacier – the glacier itself has aggressive tendencies, especially when it calves and hurls ice rocks into the air, or flips over completely.

Reference List

Freeman, Michael (2007). The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press. Lewes, England.

Food Photography Without Expensive Gear – Chris Marquardt

As part of my research for Assignment 2 I have been watching various video tutorials on food photography. In this tutorial Chris Marquardt takes you through a photo shoot done in a restaurant using available light and some homemade reflectors. I found it interesting that he doesn’t need a plate to be filled completely but can make a beautiful photo using just a portion of the bowl or plate.

Reference List

Food Photography Without Expensive Gear [webcast, online] Chris Marquardt, 19/05/2013. 30 mins 23 secs.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7t_FfKFKmk (Accessed on 7/8/2014).

Exercise Implied lines

The brief:

Start by looking at these two photographs and find the implied lines in each showing them in a small sketched diagram. If one direction along a line is dominant indicate this with an arrow.

Michael Freeman, Bullfighter

Michael Freeman, Bullfighter

Gotthard Schuh, Threshing Corn in Sicily

Gotthard Schuh, Threshing Corn in Sicily

Fig. 01 Michael Freeman's Bullfighter with implied lines

Fig. 01 Michael Freeman’s Bullfighter with implied lines

The half circular mark in the ground leads the eye through to the cape in the bullfighter’s right arm, which in turn is swinging over the bull’s head. The cape in his left hand is following this sweep around his back. The bull is circling the bullfighter from camera left. The bullfighter’s head is bent over watching the bull’s horns. One can feel the synchronised swirling motion of the capes and waltz between the bullfighter and bull.

Fig. 02 - Gotthard Schuh's Threshing Corn in Sicily with implied lines

Fig. 02 – Gotthard Schuh’s Threshing Corn in Sicily with implied lines

In Schuh’s Threshing Corn in Sicily the implied lines are evident in the curve and inward leaning of the horses’ bodies. The horses are circling the farmer. The farmer is looking at the horses, while his left hand and leg form diagonal lines towards the horses. The lead horse is looking towards the farmer, while the second horse is looking towards the lead horse.

Both these photos are good examples of the Gestalt Law of Good Continuation in which the brain perceives the shapes and lines where no formal lines exist.

Then find any three photographs of your own, and perform the same analysis.

Fig. 03 - Implied Lines - Gulls on Iceberg

Fig. 03 – Implied Lines – Gulls on Iceberg
f8, 1/500, 300mm, ISO 100

These seagulls standing on an iceberg in the middle of the ocean form a distinct line on the iceberg, leading the eye from left to right as can be seen in the marked up photo below.

Fig. 03a - Gulls on Iceberg with implied lines

Fig. 03a – Gulls on Iceberg with implied lines

Fig. 04 - Implied Lines - Dinner at the Quay

Fig. 04 – Implied Lines – Dinner at the Quay
f8, 1/125, 55mm, ISO 200

The two dogs accompanying the girl on her lunch at Ketchikan harbour dockside are clear examples of eye-lines. One is immediately drawn to the dogs’ gaze, and one follows their gaze on their owner as they watch her eating. She is oblivious to them, her eye-line focused on her food. This is a great example of the Gestalt Law of Good Continuation. Marked up photo is below. Unfortunately the brown dog shifted his position forward just as I pressed the shutter, otherwise I would have had his full face in the photo and there was no retake opportunity.

Fig. 04a - Dinner on the Quay with implied lines

Fig. 04a – Dinner on the Quay with implied lines

Fig. 05 - Implied Lines - Grocery Store

Fig. 05 – Implied Lines – Grocery Store
f5.6, 1/125, 44mm, ISO 100

In Fig. 05 we see the lady in the pink jacket is passing something to the man with the shopping bag. There is a forward motion of her hand and he has just begun to reach out with his right hand to take the slip of paper from her. Both individuals are focused on the paper in her hand as can be seen in the marked up photo below.

Fig. 05a - Grocery Store with implied lines

Fig. 05a – Grocery Store with implied lines

For the third part of the exercise, plan and take two photographs that use the following kinds of implied lines to lead the eye:

  • an eye-line
  • the extension of a line, or lines that point.

 

Fig. 06 - Implied Lines - Train Tracks

Fig. 06 – Implied Lines – Train Tracks
f8, 1/500, 22mm, ISO 100

The train tracks and yellow caution line along the sidewalk form converging lines in the distance implying movement towards the little hamlet of Skagway in Alaska as can be seen in the marked up photo below.

Fig. 06a - Train Tracks with implied lines

Fig. 06a – Train Tracks with implied lines

Fig. 07 - Implied Lines - Pea Soup

Fig. 07 – Implied Lines – Pea Soup
f8, 1/320, 300mm, ISO 100

On this cold day in Tracy Arm fjord aboard the MS Zaandam, pea soup was served to the passengers to keep them warm while outside looking at the glaciers. These three people were on the bow partaking of some soup. Both the men are looking down at the woman’s spoon as she is about to put some soup in her mouth. Her eye-line is focused on her own soup spoon as well as can be seen below – another example of Gestalt’s Law of Good Continuation.

Fig. 07a - Pea Soup with implied lines

Fig. 07a – Pea Soup with implied lines

Reference List

Freeman, Michael (2007). The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press. Lewes, England.

Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

I have been doing some research into food photography which is one of the subjects I can choose from for Assignment Two and I came across a 32 minute video on lighting for food on Creative Live’s website. The photographers presenting the workshop, Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter, approached the lighting experience in similar fashion as the exercise I did for multiple points, where one starts with one item, takes a shot, adds another item, takes a shot and so on. Apparently this is the approach they always use when on assignment. They encouraged the use of natural light for food photography as far as possible as this does eliminate colour cast problems and the food just looks nicer in natural light. They did their demonstration on a punnet of cherries and Todd demonstrated how he looked for the best angle to show off the cherries. The first shot is always done with no reflectors or diffuser so that there is a good starting reference. Gradually a black foamboard was added to make the shot moodier, then another and finally a third was added to create a very dramatic effect. Todd then switched to show how the same punnet of cherries would photograph if backlit. This time white reflectors were added, again one at a time. I found this short video to be extremely informative and down to earth and I will be using these techniques in my assignment.

https://www.creativelive.com/courses/story-plate-food-photography-styling-todd-porter-and-diane-cu

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that I can link directly to the video, so there is an extra step to get to it. Click on the link above and once you access this page, be sure to click on the photo of the cherries just below the larger introductory screen (as seen below). You will then be able to view this informative video.

Free Preview: Shoot: Cherries

Free Preview: Shoot: Cherries

Workshop, Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter – Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling [webcast, online] Creative Live, Seattle, USA, June 2014. 32 minutes: 48 seconds. https://www.creativelive.com/courses/story-plate-food-photography-styling-todd-porter-and-diane-cu (accessed 27, July, 2014)

Exercise Curves

The brief:

Curves, like diagonals, have a sense of movement and direction, and in some ways can be considered a kind of diagonal line. Because they pull the eye in, they are useful in planned composition. Curves have associations of smoothness, grace and elegance, and so add these feelings to an image. For this exercise, look for and take four photographs using curves to emphasise movement and direction.

 

Fig. 01 Curves - Vancouver Public Library

Fig. 01 Curves – Vancouver Public Library f6.3, 1/800, 55mm, ISO 100

It was one of those very overcast days when I took this photo of the inner courtyard of the Vancouver Public Library. The building is built like an amphitheatre so curves abound in this building. I deliberately framed the shot so that both walls would begin in the top corners of the frame so as to emphasise the sweep of the curvature of the walls. Post-processing took place in Lightroom where I boosted the contrast to 100, brought my highlights down to -100, boosted my shadows to 100 and added 100 clarity, giving it almost an HDR effect. This brought out the details in the sky and building, drawing attention to the beautiful pillars and details in the concrete work and brought out the colour in an image that would have been very flat and muddy.

Fig. 02 Curves - Orchid

Fig. 02 Curves – Orchid f2.8, 1/60, 50mm, ISO 100

Curves occur in nature and the orchid’s petals are graceful and fanlike, the dark veins forming the ribs which come together at the base. No post processing done on this image.

Fig. 03 Curves - Wood

Fig. 03 Curves – Wood f8, 1/50, 30mm, ISO 100

A big, discarded tree trunk has been languishing in our alley for a few years and begun to rot, but I have been intrigued by the patterns and texture for some time so I decided to photograph it for this project. The disintegration process is so far advanced that the trunk no longer has concentric rings visible, but rather S-curves, which are punctuated by dark holes made by insects or woodpeckers. Some post-processing was done in Lightroom, mainly adding some contrast, bringing up the highlights and shadows and raising the black to emphasise the texture.

Fig. 04 Curves - Canada Place

Fig. 04 Curves – Canada Place f8, 1/250, 24mm, ISO 100

The iconic sails roof of Canada Place (cruise ship terminal) are practically a Canadian symbol. During Christmas and on special occasions these sails are illuminated with different colours. Normally one views them from afar and from a much lower viewpoint, so I was very pleased to be able to photograph this roof at eye level when we departed for our Alaskan cruise recently. The gracefully curving sails are reminiscent of the sails of a tall ship and they contrast with the horizontal green canopies and vertical posts below. The undulating pattern of curving sails carry the eye through the image. In Lightroom I boosted the contrast, pulled the highlights down to bring out the details in the clouds and lifted the shadows a tiny tad.

Reference List

Freeman, Michael (2007). The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and design for Better Digital Photos, The Ilex Press. Lewes, England.

Kelby, Scott (2014). The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 book for digital photographers, New Riders.