Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Assignment five: Personal Project


Editing in response to tutor feedback. In response to my tutor’s comments (shown above), I have left my original explanations and captions in place and supplemented them with additional text in Italics, in particular how each step in my routine has come to mean something, simply by examining it in detail. The numbers shown on my prints have not been changed. Prints 5 and 8 have been omitted.


I am interested in the possibilities of images from  interactions between texture and light. My initial idea was looking in detail at the objects and surfaces that we touch every day (or may be touched by) but do not necessarily see, even if we look directly at them.
I started by using a macro lens to to find some interesting shapes and details around my house and realised that I would have to restrict myself, as the number of opportunities was vast and the possibility of  producing a number very similar images had to be avoided. Some of the images are enigmatic as I have identified and formed abstracts.
During my early experiments I started plotting out my day, working my way around the house as I went about my daily routine. As it turned out, the first thirty minutes of that routine provided the basis of my collection of twelve images. The whole series is about starting my day, carrying out actions almost involuntarily, a routine which doesn’t change and finishes when I divert from habit and start whatever the business of the day dictates.
It is interesting that another theme emerged from this series, depending on how you read it. During shooting I became aware that I had an additional theme in the series. I chose the first and last images with this is mind. As I approach my 65th birthday it became clear to me that this series was also about retiring. Being able to press the snooze button, needing to find my glasses before I can start my day, the unconscious routine borne of habit, the handful of pills and a label to tell me if I’ve remembered to take them and an empty diary page with the day waiting to be filled…….
I am happy with my selection. I tried to make this more than just a collection of abstracts or close ups and I think I have succeeded.
The images
I will print off the images to send to my tutor and for assessment but I will present each one here with some details of how it was made. Unless otherwise indicated, my camera was set on manual control and all images were taken under studio lighting. Exposure was determined using a flash meter. In most cases, focusing was manual and just one soft box and a reflector was used.
I experimented with ring flash but this did not give the lighting I was after. The exercise in improvising this from kitchen materials and my SB600 speedlight was interesting and it will be a  useful tool to have in the future.
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The use of editing software for this project was restricted to normal post processing, in particular “cleaning” the images of dust. Even making sure the surfaces were free of visible dust before shooting, did not remove it completely. The most valuable skill I learned from the course was the organisation of my workflow and editing a large collection of images down into a meaningful project.

Image 1
This represents the start of the series and of my day. Do I snooze or get up? Since retiring I have experimented with trying to wake without an alarm and on days when I have little planned, I have indulged. However, I find that I still need structure to my day which starts with a regular rising time.

Print 01

Image 2
This image was a very late entry into the series. It wasn’t until after I had added all of the pictures to my blog that I realised I had forgotten my glasses! They are so much a part of me that there is a lot I cannot do without them. They just sit on my nose and work. The image was made using two soft boxes, one to the left lighting the  object and one to right pointed at the background (white paper roll).

Image 3
This picture of the stamped metal magnet-release plate on the mirrored door of my bathroom cabinet couldn’t be lit successfully with flash. Instead a 64 LED array was used. I moved it around until I got the right combination of light and shadow in the letters. I emphasised the fingerprint by using moisturising lotion on  my index finger. Because of its height and position in the bathroom I had to remove the door and photograph it in my studio/workroom. The quality of the LED light was surprisingly warm. I adjusted the fine tuning slider in the White Balance to a bluer tone, emphasising  the cool metallic quality.
Instructions and labels constantly assault our senses, push, pull, stop, start. Most we see once and never look at again.In reality this tab tells me how to open a door. Beyond that, it’s a reminder to go beyond my boundaries. With age, it is more important to push myself forward out of complacency.

Print 02

Image 4
Again, this is a different touch. Hopefully the drag of the razor will be smooth and effortless, lubricated by foam and hot water. I used a black background and single soft box to allow me to highlight the water droplet. I made lots of exposures, trying to get the drop as large as possible by adding to it with an eyedropper and firing the flash before it dropped under its own weight. When I was setting up this shot I used a new razor with just water. Adding the foam caused some flecks of white in the droplet. I have edited them out.
Some habits are so ingrained that they are subconscious. For me, shaving is one of them. With this image I wanted to examine in close detail the object that is in intimate contact with my skin every day. Shaving is a habit I cannot get out of. I went four weeks without shaving a year ago but didn’t like it.

Print 04

Image 5
This was taken with autofocus, again difficult to judge but after several attempts  I got  this comparison of smooth and harsh textures. I took a lot of pictures of shaving foam at this point but decided not to include another.
Following my tutor’s advice, I have removed this image from the series as it does not add much to it and is is too obvious.

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Image 6
The next part of my routine involves taking my daily preventative medication, the braille on this tablet box was an ideal subject.

This is another device that we constantly look at but rarely see. Enigmatic for the sighted but a lifeline to the visually impaired. As this series is about touch and texture, I started thinking about the slow deterioration of eyesight over the years and my need for glasses. Hopefully I shall never need Braille.

Print 06

Image 7
The diary pack of tablets yielded some interesting text and textures.

My tutor thought that I should remove this image from the series as it was another image of my medication.  Again, it is a tactile experience squeezing the pill through the foil  but as the last image was about touch and vision, this was included because it is about  touch and memory. A useful reminder of the day of the week when every day can seem the same without the  total change of routine the weekends bring.

Print 07

Image 8

Of all the images that I printed, this was the least satisfactory. My four colour printer rendered the skin tone of my palm very pink. At first I thought it was the reflection of t he pink tablet but every attempt I made at correcting the colour on screen produced a worse effect so I printed it ‘as was’.
This image I have removed from the series. As well as the difficulties experienced with the colour balance, it is too literal whereas the two previous images are enigmatic and less obvious.

Print 08

Image 9
This image of the bead of water that is left by your top lip when you sip from a glass, was best photographed against a black background with just one light. I did try to use a white backdrop but the image was not as graphic.

With this image I wanted to show the after effect of the touch of my lips on the rim of a glass and the temporary nature of the film of water that forms there. The substantial amount of water that our bodies contain, will continue to exist long after we have gone, constantly being recycled and forever moving.

Print 09

Image 10

Photographing this neon lit button on my coffee machine using flash meant that the warm glow was burnt out and only the neon element was orange. To achieve this effect I photographed this using just the tungsten modelling lamp on my studio flash (f22 1.3s). Leaving the camera’s white balance setting on flash meant that the whole image was very yellow but after adjusting the camera settings to incandescent in my editing software, the orange glow in the button was retained and the surrounding  surface could be set back to its normal colour.

I find this round button appealing. It has a soft touch and its warm glow promises something comforting. I know as soon as the light goes out, the promise will be kept with a hot cup of coffee.


Print 10

Image 11

I needed to move the single studio flash  and reflector around to achieve what I wanted for this image of my coffee cup, a sense of the smooth shiny glaze, the form of the handle where the light has caught the edge of the curve and the vertical highlight where the handle is joined to the mug. This gave a three dimensional feel to the image with only a very narrow band of the picture in focus.
With this image I wanted to evoke the solidity and comfort provided by the contents of the mug. When holding the handle I rest my thumb here. I suppose it is the equivalent of the child’s comforter.
Print 11

Image 12
This final image is a representation of the day to come after the morning routine is completed.
It is my normal routine to scribble a few notes about the day just before going to sleep which makes the image a little ambiguous. With the whole day to myself, what is to be written here later, has at this point not been decided but is full of possibilities.
Print 12

Reflection on the Project
I chose this theme partly because of my interest in abstracts and textures and partly because I wanted to try out a recently acquired 100mm f2.8 macro lens. Given recent weather events it was a good choice as I was able to complete the entire project indoors.
I gave myself a very broad brief and let the project evolve. I deliberately allowed myself to explore different possibilities with regard to subject matter. My first difficulty was to do with photographing things in situ. The decision to use my studio/workroom solved that one easily. I needed consistent lighting and it was the only way forward. The second problem was to identify and introduce a theme or narrative to link the images. My first image was actually the door catch on the bathroom cabinet so the idea of following the sequence of events that occur after opening it followed on naturally. The first and last print were added at the end. I felt I had to have a starting point and a resolution point at which I could end the series.The final problem came when editing down to 12 prints as I introduced a lot of different ideas. Here are a few images that didn’t make the cut:
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Having selected my 12 images (except my glasses, which I had forgotten) I read through the assignment brief and realised that I had not included “ all that you’ve learned on the course”. I did experiment with an idea of using a semi-transparent layer on some of the images to simulate the ‘touching’ idea but it was not successful. I thought it distracted from the image and I was unhappy with the accuracy of the selection tool in PSE.
I decided to stick with what I had. I had fulfilled the brief with my normal workflow and didn’t see that manipulating the images would achieve anything.
Self Assessment
I’m happy with my Technical and visuals skills, I’ve presented my work well and think that I have communicated my ideas with this set of photos. I’ve tried to create something new using my imagination and experimentation. My ‘personal voice’ I’m still not sure about but I think I’m getting there. I am continuing to read, attend study events. Since my last assignment I have added a lot to my learning log.

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