This is my learning log for the OCA Ditigal Photographic Practice course

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Reading: Ansel Adams - Trees

I’m sure I’ve looked at this book before because subconsciously I have mimicked Adam's compositional style over the years. I’m lucky enough to live in a wooded part of the country – whether I look to the front or rear of my home, I see dozens of trees. Trees are probably our most visible and constant companions in nature and arouse great passion. This is shown by  the breadth and depth of literary quotes which accompany the photographs in this book. It’s a shame the images aren’t bigger – barely 7 inches on their longest side. They would have more impact on a gallery wall.
This book is a veritable catalogue of trees, large, small, alone, in forests, in leaf, bare, tall, short, straight, twisted, deciduous, coniferous, alive and dead. In detail and in distant vistas, all aspects of the form and shape of trees seems to be covered by this volume.
It is tempting to dismiss Adam’s work as old hat because it has been around for so long. His style has been copied and mimicked, his photographic locations have been re-photographed thousands of times. Despite this there is still a lot to be learned from his meticulous  nature and extraordinary mastery of exposure, remembering that the zone system he pioneered is now taken care of instantaneously in incredibly sensitive digital systems. I may be able to seek inspiration from his style but never produce prints with such tonal range using just sheet film, paper and chemicals.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Study Visit: Brighton Photo Biennial

  It has been over a week since the OCA study visit to Brighton. I thought it was about time I put finger to keyboard and summarised the weekend. (lots of other stuff has been going to distract me, some course related, some not) The title of the biennial “Agents of Change: Photography and the Politics of Space” is reflected by work of the widest possible interpretation of the theme. The effectiveness of photography as an agent for change is an on-going debate, beyond the scope of this review but all of the exhibitions we saw provoked thought and comment. At the end of the review I will attempt to summarise my own feelings on what I understood and gained from the weekend. Descriptions and images from the collections can be found at the BPB website: The introduction and first morning was at the University of Brighton Galleries and we looked at three exhibitions here: 1. Jason Larkin and Corinne Silva "Uneven Development" (Comprising images from Larkin's Cairo Divided and Silva's Badlands)
Cairo Divided was a collection of photographs pointing at the differences between the haves and have-not's in Egyptian society despite the recent revolution. Picturing the new overspill development in the western desert of new suburbs for the wealthy of Cairo, the differences between the wealthy developers, the building workers and security guards is shown by large houses and apartment blocks, golf courses, concrete walls  and iron gates put up to exclude the undesirable. This seems to be a new community out of the reach of the majority, a world away from the overcrowded slums of the city. I was impressed by the quality of these images, printed in a square format. Badlands Corinne Silva’s work is similar in that it deals with the development of south eastern Spain and contrasts the plush new mansions built for the wealthy with the plastic shrouded shanties occupied by the African immigrants who are labouring on them. Also included are photographs of billboards showing Moroccan landscapes erected in southern Spain. I’m not sure why. The explanation in the Photoworks BPB edition made no sense to me and I read it four times! 2. Five Thousand Feet is the Best: Omer Fast
This was an interesting video with a chilling message. This looped film shows the dramatised interview with an American drone “pilot” cut with redacted footage of the actual interview. Essentially, the film maker has subverted the narrative of claimed peripheral civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan by setting his story as if it were close to home. A family leave home for a trip and the father takes a wrong turning and they pass through a military checkpoint. The road becomes less busy and turns into a track. Ahead, some men are digging up the road and stop what they are doing as the car approaches. The driver slows but continues to travel forwards. As he accelerates past the men and their pick-up truck, the missile strikes and their car is caught in the blast. The men are killed and the family’s station wagon is damaged. The four occupants continue their journey on foot. The clip shown on We Are OCE is not looped as in the exhibition but the film maker tried to show the troubled nature of the drone operator’s state of mind (he claimed to be suffering from virtual stress) not only from the post traumatic effects of the job but also from his unease at talking about his former job to a journalist in the light of threats from the CIA/FBI. The editor showed him constantly leaving the room to smoke and to pop pills to relieve his stress. Usually at this point the film looped back to another similar start point making the viewer question what he was seeing, reflecting the unease and uncertainty in the mind of the drone operator. I considered  this a very powerful narrative, one which poses more questions than it answers. 3. Control Order House: Edmund Clark
The prints for this project seemed very ordinary images of the inside of someone's house. However, in the context of the occupier and the circumstances under which he/she lives in the house, they take on a different meaning. The house is occupied by someone under and Anti Terrorist Control Order. The photographer is working under strict conditions and must not give any clue as to who lives there and where the house is. Documentation is displayed relating to the Control Order and the conditions under which the photographer must work which gives a disturbing insight into this grey area of control and legislation.
Continuing after lunch:
4. No Olho da Rua: Julian Germain, Patricia Azevedo and Murilo Godoy
“The Eye of the Street” This exhibition was shown at Fabrica, a gallery in a disused church. Essentially the three photographers worked together with children of the streets in Belo Horizonte in Brazil over a 17 year period amassing an archive of thousands of images taken by the children themselves to picture their chaotic and fragmented lives. The photographers did no more that distribute the loaded cameras, collect them the next day, process the films and distribute the prints back to the children. Apart from basic advice on the operation of the cameras, they gave no lessons or instruction. The resulting images are the spontaneous creations of the children and their friends. The objective of the project was to engage the children in some creative endeavour and to see what would emerge from it. The project has been running for 17 years and has produced some telling images which have been fly posted in the city and produced as free newspapers handed out in the street. There is a feeling of inclusion from the youngsters, being surrounded by photography and now having the means to make their own photographs have them printed and perhaps posted up or reproduced in a newspaper gives then a sense of themselves, a record of their past and something to share. This was a large exhibition with individual enprints on display on the wall and in collections of boxes. Some larger exhibition prints has also been made which were displayed on the curved dividing walls in the gallery.
5. Brighton Public Library
Again, as part of the Biennial there was a display of various books, folders, portfolios showing the wide variety of methods that can be used to present photographic and artistic collections.
Sunday: Started with a meeting at the Brighton Media Centre for group discussion. I took some prints to discuss (my first DPP assignment)  and received some valuable feedback  from my fellow students and tutors. The aim of the collection was to show the differing textures that were to be seen in the saltmarsh landscape. I came away with the impression that although individual images found favour with the viewers, perhaps the collection as a whole lacked impact. I think I need to look again at what makes a collection hang together. There is an awful lot of work that can be done as a project in the nature reserve.
We also looked at work from Eileen on trees and the course of a stream in suburban London and Catherine showed some very interesting images of pylons from a DSLR that was converted to Infra Red. Amano showed us a series from life in his village. Keith  then told us briefly about choosing units for the Level 3 section of the degree.
On view at the Media centre was an exhibition of Phil Taylor’s “The Day of the Dead” which also incorporated his multimedia presentation “Urban Ghosts” I watched some of this on the day and I have watched it all again today. It was based on Taylor’s three month stay in Arizona, around the setting of Cormac McCarthy’s novel “Blood Meridian” but I must have missed something because I found it a bit dull and over long. Nothing jumped out at me.
After lunch there was a distinct change for the afternoon as we made our way to the Phoenix Brighton (a squatted office block now used for an artists centre). There was a lot to see here including a quirky exhibit entitled: THIS IS A PICTURE I DID NOT TAKE OF A DEAD MAN IN PHOENIX in which artists described photographs they didn’t take.
Also interesting, Ghost by Cathryn Kemp “………..Kemp works with reclaimed and reconstructed vintage garments to signify emotional genealogy……”  The exhibit, photographs of four of her mother’s nightdresses, full size in display cases almost as if the garments themselves were on display, back lit.
The major (in terms of space) exhibit at the Phoenix was On the Surface of Images by Korean Jinkyun Ahn. Again surreal and beyond my understanding although beautifully shot, the photographs “..explore the relationship between Ahn’s parents and in turn his family’s relationship with death and the afterlife……….”
What was good and provoked a lot of discussion was from Glasgow Effect by Alex Currie, Chris Leslie and Richard Chivers. The link to the video by Chris Leslie about the feelings of the former resident's of 55 and 75 Plean Street is here: This is a multimedia video documenting the demolition of two tower blocks in the city accompanied by commentary from former residents about the demise of the flats. It is unusual for a documentary in that it deliberately uses the primary colours seen inside the flats as the exterior is peeled away, to contrast the customary bleak  monochromatic depiction seen in similar situations. The former residents speak in glowing terms of their excitement of moving here from the Glasgow tenements and their sadness and disappointment that the buildings were allowed to decline because of mismanagement of the housing stock. A powerful indictment.
What did I get from the weekend?
My overall impression of the weekend and  the OCA organisation of the event was very good in all respects. I was pleased to be able to see so much in such a short time. Had I bee left to choose my own programme of exhibits, I’m sure I would have missed an awful lot. I am progressing in my understanding and appreciation of all types of photographic work (some faster than others) and I am adding to my ideas list of projects as a result. I now have a definite date for retirement so some of these projects may see light of day sooner than anticipated.  Most valuable of all is the interaction with students and tutors. My five study visits this year have done more that anything else to keep me motivated.

I also have yet to edit my video of the weekend which I hope to do very soon and will post it to Vimeo.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Study Visit – Prix Pictet at the Saatchi Gallery

"The global award in photography and sustainability" is the description we have to go on. This years' theme is "Power". From the work on display the multiple interpretations of the word have been shown, whether is the power of nature, the use and misuse of political power, power shown by the use and misuse of resources. There is a very broad interpretation of the brief. All of the work on display included one or more of these interpretations.

From the website, it appears there were 12 photographers short-listed. I won’t discuss the work of each, only those whose images provoked discussion amongst the group. There are 10 images in each portfolio but not every image in each one was selected for display. This may have been a limit of available space or some other factor. It did seem odd that only a handful of the images by Luc Delahaye were shown.

The introduction to the study visit posed some questions:

Who would you choose to be the winner and more importantly, why?

Not knowing the criteria that the judges were using and bearing in mind that entry to the prize competition was by invitation only, choosing a winner would not be that easy. By inviting entries from established photographers, perhaps the competition starts with a short-list? I can see more merit in some work than in others.

If I make my judgement on the basis of the portfolio that make me think the most about power and the abuse of power then, Guantanamo by Edmund Clark. I'm assuming that censorship prevented Clark from showing any of the inmates. Their absence from the pictures speaks volumes. Very little else needs to be said. However, the sustainability portion of the brief is not obvious to me (thinking environment rather than human rights)

If I was to choose a winner based on visual impact and appeal, then Daniel Beltra’s Oil Spill series represents the danger of our greed for power (energy) to the sustainability of our environment.

Do you agree that it is odd that Luc Delahaye is the winner?

In some respects, yes. The content of his submission seems, on first sight, a bit hit and miss in comparison with the other photographers themes.  At a second look had me searching for a clear pattern or contrast (theme) amongst his images without success I then looked at his artist's statement and I understood that he was interested in the narrative of ordinary people taking collective action either in tragic circumstances  or actions that can lead to tragedy. He concludes with these words;

"It's clear that I don’t really photograph the world as it is, but either as it should not be – hardship – or as it should be – man restored to history, an uncertain destiny yet a possibility of fellowship."

Having read this I could identify his interpretation of the theme, Power.

The 132nd Ordinary Meeting of the Conference (OPEC Vienna)  prompted a lot of discussion amongst the group. It is enigmatic in that what appears to be a press conference seems to be very lively. I looked up the OPEC documents for the meeting but I am no scholar of the politics of oil production but at this meeting there was an agreement to raise production levels to stabilise the price of oil and a resolution to hold the next ordinary meeting in Iran. So what was it that prompted what appears to be such great excitement? Perhaps amongst oil pundits, that is enough.

Of the 10 images shown, my favourite is "Les Pillards" showing looters in Port au Prince Haiti. Classic narrative, context and a decisive moment. A fraction of a second later and the expressions on the looter's faces would be lost.

Mohamed Bouroussia's images "Periferique" also provoked discussion. In particular, we talked about the image; Le Cercle Imaginaire . and discussed what was happening in the picture. Bouroussia stages his images in the suburbs where he grew up in France. Various interpretations of the image from the group included an attempt at intimidation or some sort of initiation. Clive White reiterated that we should attempt  to make our images ambiguous to promote discussion. You need to raise a question in the mind of the viewer. This is borne out in this extract from the artist's statement; ...."all becomes a theatre that juxtaposes ambiguity, disquiet and a latent, if dormant violence." I was intrigued by another of his images, Le Reflet showing a figure huddled in front of a pile of old TVs. In one you can see his reflection and that of two other men in the background. You instinctively want to know what is happening. A closer look a the pile of sets shows that at least two are connected to a power supply, you wonder why? Is this man selling recycled TVs or is this an allegory for a broken society?

Apart from Edmund Clark's submission, there were three other portfolios which were marked by an absence of human figures but not without evidence of human action. Rena Effendi's "Still Life in the Zone", a play on words, has a haunting quality. I'm reminded of the feeling I got as a teenager reading post apocalyptic science fiction novels such as Level Seven by Mordecai Roshwald and On the Beach by Neville Shute which contain descriptions of radiation ravaged landscapes as humanity slides irrevocably towards annihilation, haunting definitely but in this case, not without hope. The second portfolio is Phillippe Chancel's Fukushima, an almost clinical presentation of scenes of destruction after the Japanese Tsunami, complete with Google earth views of each location. Here is the power of natural forces putting mankind in its place, brushing us aside like an irritant. The third portfolio we discussed was that of Jacqueline Hassink, "Arab Domains" in which she presents a glimpse of the boardroom and dining room tables of powerful female business leaders from Arab states. While the motivation and purpose behind the series was interesting and commendable  the photographs weren't. I've seen more interesting furniture catalogues. Without the lengthy, wordy explanations from the artist or Charlotte Cotton, I wouldn't have a clue what the series was about. The series failed to engage me. A comment from overheard from one of  the other students/tutors was how remarkably similar the boardrooms were to the dining rooms. Does that mean that the boardrooms were homely or the dining rooms were business like?

Another portfolio which we discussed was "29 Palms" by An-My Le. This caught my interest as it was one of two submissions solely in black and white and it involved military training, something which happens close to my home and which I have a peripheral  interest as an MOD employee in the Army Education Service. While found the images a bit pedestrian, the photographers' method of using a large format plate camera removed her from the "action" and she undertook the documentation of the live firing exercises much in the same way as Brady and Fenton on the battlefields of Crimea and the American Civil War  in the 19th century. I liked the impact of the  image  Night Operations III and curiously realistic graffiti on the buildings in  the Security and Stabilisation Operations, Graffiti. At this point I had an idea to pursue a project on the SEME Recovery Training area, subject to clearance and safety permissions. An idea  to develop for the future.

This was a very worthwhile study visit which I found interesting. I think I have learned a lot about how to look and and appraise images. Certainly a great improvement on my engagement with my first study visit earlier this year.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Project–A sequence of actions–concluded


Exercise 2: My own workflow for an open ended assignment

I decided to make a few notes on my selection process for the “Shooting from the navel” project. I have started selecting images for the first selects folder. While I am doing this I am also forming in my mind what sort of images I want to show. These are some of the ideas I have had:

  • Fleeting moments captured but made permanent
  • First impression
  • Public selves
  • Look for narratives
  • How people respond (to finding they have been photographed) Add an explanation to the site offering to remove images if they are unhappy with being shown. Try to find out why? In the introduction, explain about spontaneity and that you are seeking a reaction, from the subjects if possible and from the viewer
  • When editing, look for something in an individual's expression or a certain juxtaposition in a group that makes the image interesting or provides narrative.
  • I think fifteen to twenty images for the first gallery will be enough.

An example of my editing technique is shown by the screen shots below as I select and crop various versions to put forward to my First Selects folder.


In this particular folder I selected two images and converted them to black and white tiffs using Silver FX Pro 2


I then made different crops of these two images to find different combinations of the various characters in the frames. From here I will make First Selects and subsequently my final selections. It is interesting to note that these particular images did not make it to the final selection. I also modified my cropping. As looked at the images I could see that there was a lot more to some of them than I first observed. This resulted in most of them being cropped minimally. The street is the context in which the figures are reacting and so deserves to be included. Those that have been cropped to portrait format however, have been cropped to isolate particular figures.

Final Selection:

I have uploaded my final selection to my web gallery. Click the image to view the gallery in a separate window. If you wish to comment, please return to this page and use the comment link below.


At this stage I have not made any effort to theme the images, I have made a selection based those that I find the most interesting and appealing.

Conclusion: This exercise has been the most challenging in this first part of the course, purely from the sheer number of images involved. This was good practice however as Assignment 1 has generated over 150 images which I shall now start to edit.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Project–A sequence of actions

Objective:  To write a workflow for an open ended assignment in which the number of images will be unpredictable and in this case, take place on different dates in different locations. The initial stage will always be the same. Note the differences between this and  the structured, time limited assignment.

Exercise 2: Your own workflow 2

My own workflow for an open ended assignment:

For this exercise I am going to record a workflow for a street photography project I started several months ago. I call it “Shooting From the Navel”, a more literal description of a style of candid photography sometimes called “shooting from the hip”.
I tend to do this in bright conditions and try to use a small aperture and reasonably fast shutter.  I use auto ISO setting with 1/125s as a minimum.  I started in Boa Vista in Cape Verde last February.  I have shot in Regents Street, London, in Oxford, Falmouth and Chichester. This is still an experiment but I have a few interesting images which are languishing in folders on my external hard drive. This exercise will push me to bring it to the top of my to do list.


Before leaving home:

  • Check Camera and lenses are clean, charge battery and spare
  • Check and format SD Cards - Use in rotation
  • Check camera bag for equipment, lens tissue, blower brush, SD card cases
  • Notebook, pencil, mobile phone
  • Travel to Location

On arrival at location:

  • Final check on camera settings, exposure mode, white balance, image quality (RAW +JPEG)
  • Find a suitable location in the street where I can stand out of the way but have a good view of approaching pedestrians.
  • Occasionally shoot while walking slowly along the street
  • Record SD cards used and store in cases


  • Download images to PC
  • Store images in a “Location” folder prior to processing
  • Technical edit – look at images in the browser and remove those under/over exposed, blurred etc.
  • Consider images with potential and follow workflow below
Conclusions: As I already have a lot of  the images for this project, the flow diagram above has put my workflow into context and will hopefully enable me to get on with the editing process. The main barrier to getting on with this was that I had images all over the place. Now I have organised them into specific folders, I can progress with confidence. My next post will show the “results so far” .

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Project: Editing

Exercise 4: Editing
Objective: Start with a set of recently shot images (at least 50) and edit down to two acceptable images which would be suitable for possible submission to a publisher.
This shoot is also used as the basis for Exercise 1 Your own workflow 1.
Background for Assignment
I decided to allow myself 2 hours to photograph Uppark House and Gardens to produce two images, for an illustrated article or tourist brochure. I tried not to reproduce the National Trust images although I found this rather difficult as viewpoints were limited. This did influence my editing choices. I did not have time to photograph inside the house. Although I did take100 shots, I restricted my choice to those images which contained the buildings and gardens or just the buildings. This first selection produced 66 images using the “star” grading system.


From here I eliminated the standard view of the house shown on the Trust’s website, i.e. south face centre frame showing the typical Georgian symmetry and any that were just close up details of the buildings. This left 53 images from which to proceed.
Technical Edit: Next I eliminated any views of the house that were not in  full sunshine, blurred, wrongly exposed etc., leaving 34 “selects” from which to choose technically fine images.


First Selects: From these I selected 7 images for my first select, marked with a red 1. After a couple of hours I went back to look at these and confirmed to myself that they were my final choices.


A Final Choice: I have chosen these two images as my final choices (marked with a green 4) for the following reasons:
I chose the west front of  the building (image 0969) as it is not one that I have seen used before. It also put the house in its context with the South Downs included to the right of the frame. The three faces to the house are all very similar which makes it unmistakeable. Without a perspective control lens it is very difficult to photograph from the front of the house as the land falls away which has the effect of burying the bottom of the house in the bank. My images from the southwest and southeast corners are OK but using a wide angle lens tilts the verticals a bit too much. The east front is used already in the Trust’s website.
The house at Uppark consists of three main buildings and I have included the clock on what is now the restaurant and shop, appearing above the gardens. The clock is visible  from many parts of  the site, is a useful reference point for visitors and is an icon of Georgian architecture.


Conclusions: I have found this a very useful exercise. I would not normally go to so much trouble  when selecting images but I was pleased to find how easy it was once I had decided on a way of marking and filtering my selections. Hopefully the brief for a real shoot would have been a lot more specific and I would have started with less images. Had it been a speculative shoot for stock, it may have been more difficult but I would have imposed my own limits on what and what not to shoot.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Project: Histograms

Exercise 3: Histogram
Objective: To increase my familiarity with the histogram by relating it to images I have just shot.
I used the manual setting on my camera and auto bracketing , 3 shots with 0, +1 and –1 EV
Highlight and shadow clipping display: Capture NX2 will show a detailed image of lost shadows and highlights using different colours for different channels but does not display a warning. My camera shows only  overexposed highlights on its LCD screen.
Here are the nine images, their histograms, exposure details and my notes:
High Contrast: –1.0 EV (this image shows a full range of tones from black to white)

Image 0896
-1.0 EV
ISO 200

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
In this image, which is under exposed by one EV, appears darker and there are some blocked shadows as shown by the lost shadows display. The lost highlights are minimal on the display. The histogram shows the darker tones pushed up again the left, showing that here are indeed blocked shadows.

High Contrast +1.0 EV
imageImage 0897



+ 1.0 EV

ISO 200

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
This image is over exposed by one EV and looks much lighter. The lost highlights are very apparent but there is no evidence of shadows being blocked. The values on the histogram are pushed the other way, right up against the right side and the darker tones cover the range almost the the black end.

High Contrast 0 EV
imageImage 0898



0 EV

ISO 200

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
This image is exposed at 0 EV i.e. as indicated by the camera’s meter, there are no blocked shadows but the highlights are clipped predominately in the blue channel. The shadow end of the histogram is fairly precisely shown not quite against the left side.
With this lens (18 – 200mm zoom) I tend to set the meter to –0.7 EV compensation and keep an eye on the clipped highlights warning on the LCD display whilst shooting. I always shoot in RAW and this gives me retrospective control of exposure and camera settings.

Average Contrast  0 EV 
imageImage 863



0 EV

400 ISO


Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
This average contrast image has the majority of its tones concentrated around the central part of  the histogram. The highlights clipped are mostly in the red channel but these are more prominent after conversion from RAW to jpeg and image resizing. There is no shadow clipping.

Average contrast –1.0 EV
imageImage 864



-1.0 EV

ISO 400

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
1 EV less exposure has moved the tones in the histogram to the left. The clipped highlights are reduced and there are no discernable lost shadows. This image is probably the most acceptable of the three.

Average Contrast +1.0 EV
imageImage 865



+1.0 EV

ISO 400

Lost Highlights
Lost Shadows
Overexposing by 1 EV has given the image the typical washed out look, the lost highlights have increased and there is some shadow clipping in two channels. The histogram has shifted to the right.

Low Contrast  + 1.0 EV I was struggling to find a low contrast scene to shoot so I waited until dusk and took s photograph of my back garden.
imageImage 0900




ISO 3200

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
At +1.0 EV, the tones have moved further to the right and are slightly clipped. There are no blocked shadows.

Low Contrast 0 EV
imageImage 0901



0 EV

ISO 3200

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows
Typical low contrast at 0 EV sees the tones predominately to one side of the histogram. There is a small amount of clipping where the sky shows through the trees but there is no shadow blocking.

Low Contrast –1.0 EV
imageImage 0902



-1.0 EV

ISO 3200

Lost HighlightsLost Shadows

With underexposure, the tones move further to the left of the histogram but still with minimal clipping and no shadow blocking.
Conclusions: I have been familiar with the purpose and use of the histogram for some time. I regularly under expose my images using the exposure compensation control ay my camera’s settings tend to produce slightly over exposed images. I have noticed the difference between the histograms for jpeg and raw images and will make allowances for this on converting from RAW to jpeg files.
This has been a useful exercise to consolidate my knowledge


Project–a sequence of actions

Exercise 1: Your own workflow 1
Objective: Devise and then put into practice a workflow that suits you personally for a specific short assignment and make notes of your experience of this in your learning log.
Assignment:  Produce photographs of a National Trust property suitable for publication in a tourist brochure or information sheet. (had this been a professional assignment I would have contacted the National Trust. I checked their photography policy and as student assignment, I treated this as a “not for commercial use” exercise)

My own workflow for a time limited assignment:

Before leaving home:

  • Check Camera and lenses are clean, charge battery and spare
  • Check and format SD Cards - Use in rotation
  • Check camera bag for equipment, lens tissue, blower brush, SD card cases
  • Notebook, pencil, mobile phone
  • Drive to Location

On arrival at location: (2 hours 1300 – 1500)

  • Final check on camera settings, exposure mode, white balance, image quality (RAW +JPEG)
  • Check light quality and direction in relation to the subject
  • Walk around the location to find suitable viewpoints. Make a note of the ones you want to use
  • Commit a few images to SD card to check for exposure (highlight and shadow clipping from the histogram) Adjust exposure compensation accordingly
  • When the light is right, shoot the chosen locations.
  • Allow time for the sun to move to highlight areas of the scene if necessary
  • Record SD cards used and store in cases
  • Return home  to edit images

Image Editing

  • Transfer images to PC
  • Perform technical edit
  • Select satisfactory images from those remaining
  • Make first selects
  • Find several of the best images
  • Review your best selection
  • Process images (see personal workflow here)
  • Choose two images for submission
I chose to use this exercise in combination with Exercise 4 (Editing). Click the link to see the images.
Conclusions:  I designed the workflow in light of my experience with the Art of Photography assignments that involved a specific project (i.e. Liphook Carnival) and I am pleased to say it worked very well. There is nothing I would change and the only problem I had was waiting around for people to move out of shot and/or for the clouds to move away from the sun. Luckily the two hours I allowed, had some contingency built in for this reason.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Project – A sequence of actions

Exercises 1 and 2
Workflow: As suggested in the learning materials, I will complete these exercises as part of later assignments.
Meanwhile I thought it would be a good exercise just to note down what my current practice is.
  • Check camera and lenses are clean
  • Charge battery and spare
  • Check camera bag for equipment (lenses, HD cards, lens tissues, notebook, pencil etc.)
  • Reset camera to default settings
  • Change settings to the situation. (I have two basic schemes depending whether I’m shooting indoors or out)
  • Shoot
  • Remove SD cards and store in cases.
  • Load images onto PC using Nikon Transfer. (Images are saved to external and internal drives and after processing are archived to CD and indexed)
  • View in Capture NX2, delete any gash files
  • Select acceptable images and grade them
From this point my workflow, the processing follows this list
  1. Geometric corrections. (crop, lens distortion, horizontal and vertical corrections)
  2. Remove colour casts (white balance adjustments)
  3. Initial retouching (spots, dust etc. using auto retouch)
  4. Adjust tone and contrast
  5. Perform colour correction (global or local)
  6. Final tweaks
  7. Sharpen and output the image
There is a wealth of information and advice on workflow but individual circumstances and preferences will dictate exactly how the process is carried out. A thorough understanding of each step will enable you to be flexible in your approach.