Assignment 1 – Contrasts

For this assignment, 8 pairs of images were needed with each pair showing a contrast. Also, one image needed to show the contrast within the single image. This is actually an exercise set by Johannes Itten in his Basic Course at the Bauhaus.

Image: 1. Small

1. Small

Why Selected: The image was selected as babies are known to be small and represent small really well. However, size is relative and on its own, the baby’s foot wouldn’t have represented size. So, as the mother and baby were sat, I asked the mother if she could hold the foot with her hand whilst I took the shot.

How it was taken: The shot was taken in a fairly poor lit room near a window which required the ISO to be boosted quite high.
    Camera Settings: ISO1600 50mm f/4.5 1/400sec
    Significant Post Production: Reviewing the original image straight out of the camera left the image feeling quite dull and over cluttered. In order to try and improve the image, I change it to be high key and cropped the image so that the leg and arm formed a triangle coming in from the corner of the image.

Person Critique/Reflection: I am quite happy with this image but I’m not convinced that the angle of the foot works and could possibly be improved if this had been noticed when the image was taken.

Image: 1 Large

1. Large

Why Selected: Like the foot, the castle was selected as they are known to be large in size. I aimed to use the reflection in the water to double the size of the castle in the image.

How it was taken: I had plenty of time to be able to compose this image so selected a view point which gave the best reflection in the water and also used the castle wall as a lead in line to the main subject.
    Camera Settings: ISO400 17mm f/13 1/250sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: This image relies on the viewer to associate castles as being large in order to make it successful. Ideally, there would have been a boat or some other floating object in the lake in front of the castle to demonstrate the relative size. As I was taking the image, I noticed the bird enter the frame so I took the shot quickly in the hope that it would provide the relativity, however, due to its position, I don’t think it’s quite worked.

Image: 2 White

2. White

Why Selected: When I came across this peacock, I thought it was really interesting because I don’t think I’ve seen a white one before which emphasized its colour to me.

How it was taken: The peacock was situated behind a low fence which I wanted to make sure wouldn’t be in the frame as it would appear as a barrier to the subject of the image. I was also looking to have the main body of the bird low in the frame to try and place as much emphasis as possible on the feathers radiating out from its body. To give the circular and outward pattern of the feathers, I was picturing the image as a square crop. Finally, with the main subject being white, I knew I had to be careful with the images exposure as it could fool the camera into underexposure but I also kept in mind that I didn’t want to push the exposure to far as to lose the feathers detail.
    Camera Settings: ISO100 17mm f/6.3 1/200sec
    Significant Post Production: I applied the square crop initially envisaged and also pulled the exposure back slightly. Although I hadn’t lost the detail in the feathers, once viewed on a monitor, I felt it was easier to see the detail if the whites were not quite as bright.

Person Critique/Reflection: I’m happy with this image and think that the square crop has worked well.

Image: 2 Black

2. Black

Why Selected: The old fashioned typewriter and telephone seemed unusual and it was noticeable that they were both black.

How it was taken: This was a fairly simple composition which I wanted to ensure was kept balanced by having the large typewriter closer to the centre and balanced by the phone closer to the edge of the frame. I consciously included a bit of the white paper to try and emphasise the blackness of the objects.
    Camera Settings: ISO3200 26mm f/7.1 1/15sec
    Significant Post Production: I decided to convert this image to black and white as I felt it was representative of the period the items in the image would be used.

Person Critique/Reflection: I feel the questionable part of this image is the conversion to black and white. I’m not sure if this detracts from the emphasis on the blackness of the objects.

Image: 3 Pointed

3. Pointed

Why Selected: The pointed parts of the portcullis gate could provide a strong image.

How it was taken: It was taken in a portrait format and diagonal composition to give room for the points to visually move into.
    Camera Settings: ISO640 50mm f/11 1/200sec
    Significant Post Production: The conversion to black and white was used to try and give the image a moody, dark, feel and the border was included to add focus to the points of the gate.

Person Critique/Reflection: I think this image has worked well but could possibly be improved by a better separation between the spikes and the background.

Image: 3 Blunt

3. Blunt

Why Selected: I liked the contradiction of the potential story in the image. Sword fighting is associated with sharp dangerous objects, however, the child’s toy is clearly soft (blunt) and fun.
How it was taken: An angle was used to try and give some dynamism to the image.
    Camera Settings: ISO200 40mm f/3.5 1/800sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: As an image, a slower shutter speed could have been used to show the movement. However, this would have lost the definition in the swords which needed to clearly be seen as blunt toys to fit the subject of the image.

Note:This is the image selected to show contrast within a single image.

Image: 4. Still

4. Still

Why Selected: This image was an old rusty trailer that didn’t appear to have moved for some time as the grass was starting to grow up onto the tire.

How it was taken: I wanted to make this image appear old to go with the rusty and dilapidated trailer. I used a tight crop because there were elements of the background that didn’t support this kind of look, such as pylons and a more modern tarmac road.
    Camera Settings: ISO100 24mm f/4.0 1/320sec
    Significant Post Production: The image was converted to a monotone and a lot a grain was added. This was all with the intention of creating an older looking image.

Person Critique/Reflection: Having to crop so tightly looses a sense of how old and dilapidated the trailer actually was. However, I feel the image still achieves the objective of conveying still.

Image: 4. Moving

4. Moving

Why Selected: The charging horse was selected for its interest and movement.

How it was taken: This image was the best of a series of panning shots taken using different shutter speeds. I started with a shutter speed of 1/60sec but this wasn’t giving enough of a sense of movement because the horses weren’t actually moving very fast so I progressively reduced the shutter speeds until I was able to capture the movement I was trying to achieve. When taking the shot, I stayed aware that I wanted the horse to the left of the image with space to run into.
    Camera Settings: ISO100 50mm f/18 1/20sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: This image could be improved if the poll being held by the rider didn’t go out of the frame.

Image:5. Rounded

5. Rounded

Why Selected: The image was selected because of the triangular/pyramid structure of the fountains levels all being rounded and complementing the rounded wall it was sat in.

How it was taken: The image was taken with an infrared converted camera. The selection of camera was purely for personal interest and experimentation and wasn’t chosen to enhance the subject. Photographing in infrared is more difficult than using visible light because you can’t see what the final image will look like using your eyes. However, the composition was chose to try and place all the focus on the fountain with an emphasis on the roundedness.
    Camera Settings: ISO200 18mm f/8.0 1/200sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: Had the image been taken using a standard, visible light camera, I would have approach the shot slightly differently. The depth of field in the image is to great so the background detail can distract from the main subject.

Image:5. Diagonal

5. Diagonal

Why Selected: Selecting stairs to represent diagonal was an obvious choice I initially wanted to avoid. However, for this scene, I liked how the stairs appeared to continue in the reflection of the windows, further enhancing the diagonals.

How it was taken: The image was a fairly simple shot with a focus on composition and trying not to include too much of the background. The stairs where kept to the left of centre so that there is a bit more space on the right to balance the image.
    Camera Settings: ISO250 50mm f/5.6 1/125sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: There is something strange about this image that always makes it feel like it isn’t straight. I’ve experimented with rotation but there is always something that feels to be out.

Image: 6. Straight

6. Straight

Why Selected: This image was selected because it was full of straight lines starting from the driveway and benches going up into the verticals of the building in the distance.

How it was taken: Like with the Rounded imaged, this shot was taken with an Infrared converted camera for personal interest reasons so there was some trial and error involved. For the composition, I placed myself in the centre of the image. Tilting the camera downwards emphasises the convergence of the lines, leading the eye towards the building in the distance.
    Camera Settings: ISO200 55mm f/8.0 1/200sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: The conflicting part of this image with its intended subject is the building curved roof. Possibly, the building should have been placed right at the top of the frame with this in the shot. Also, the “Litter” bins are distracting and maybe could be taken out in post production.

Image:6. Curved

6. Curved

Why Selected: The curve in the road guides the eye through the image towards the interesting parts of the image.

How it was taken: The image was taken by placing the road so that it emerges from the corner of the frame, bends round and then leads you up to the interesting subjects.
    Camera Settings: ISO200 50mm f/11 1/250sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: The road actually curved twice but this hasn’t really been shown. I took another shot with the lead group of people going around the second curve but due to the position of the nearest group of people, the image became unbalanced.

Image: 7. Transparent

7. Transparent

Why Selected: The image was selected because of the lead lines in the window helping to emphasise the image was being taken from inside but it was still possible to see detail on the outside.

How it was taken: The framing of the image was kept tight and a view point was selected so that there would be diagonal lines running through the image as I was concerned it was feel flat and uninteresting otherwise.
    Camera Settings: ISO640 17mm f/5.6 1/500sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: I think the framing of this shot is a little weak. There is probably too much of the inside of the building in the image and not enough visible definition of the outside (interesting) part of the shot.

Image: 7. Opaque

7. Opaque

Why Selected: The image was selected as a closed door was an appropriate representation of the subject, the door was slightly interesting and I also liked the little contradiction of including the transparent windows further into the frame. I felt that including a set of window enforced the idea that there is something behind the door, but the door doesn’t allow you to see that.

How it was taken: Like with the transplant image, diagonal lines were included to try and stop this image feeling flat and lifeless. Consideration was given to the positioning of the doors and the windows to try and keep the image balanced.
    Camera Settings: ISO100 17mm f/8.0 1/50sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: I feel that the image tells the story I was trying to achieve but the end result still lacks some interest.

Image: 8 Many

8. Many

Why Selected: As soon as I walked into the room, all the books made me think “many”.

How it was taken: The framing for this shot was difficult as the shelves of books in the room were one of a number of features. I was trying to find a point where I could make the books the subject of the image without including these other features.
    Camera Settings: ISO1600 17mm f/4.0 1/30sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: Although thought was given to the framing of the image it still feels a little weak. I should probably investigated the inclusion of other aspects of the room whilst keeping the bookcase the focus of the image using other compositional techniques.

Image: 8 Few

8. Few

Why Selected: The birds had arranged themselves into an almost circular arrangement with the direction of their heads contributing to the shape making the image interesting. Having a limited number of birds in the shot emphasised the subject of “few”.

How it was taken: The image was taken with a focus on the composition. I had to try and wait for the moment where the heads where in the right place that they conveyed the circle.

    Camera Settings: ISO100 50mm f/2.8 1/500sec
    Significant Post Production:

Person Critique/Reflection: Whilst focusing on the composition, I missed that I was using inappropriate technical settings on the camera and that the front bird wasn’t completely in focus. Also, by focusing on the implied lines of the birds heads, I didn’t really notice that the front bird hides to much of the bird on the left of the image.

Tutor Feedback

Elements to consider with your assignments:

This assignment asks you to produce pairs of images that work together to illustrate a theme of contrast. You are asked to identify subjects which bring out the essential differences between the two. Ideally, by placing the images side by side the visual message should become clear.

Your assignment in connection with the above points

Producing a pair of contrasting images is particularly challenging as a first assignment, since it requires you to think on so many more layers than just the lessons given. It is however, a very good opportunity to really think about the content of a picture, and its visual strength. Having been given a title to work with, it becomes the subject, and the task then becomes one of making an interesting picture while still communicating the adjective. In addition you are asked to produce pairs of images that contrast with each other. You have produced a good variety of images here, thinking about the subject theme in each case. I particularly like your reflective comments on this process and the thought processes behind your investigations.

How can we make something appear big or small in the frame? Choosing to position the baby’s foot in the hand of its mother was a good idea. This gives us some idea of perspective – particularly when you are photographing at such a close range and filling a large percentage of the frame with the subject. Converting to black and white in this instance also helps to remind us of the shape of the area we are looking at. This picture could have also been used to demonstrate large and small in one picture. Adding the reflection of the castle to add volume to the shot was another good idea. In this situation it is good to try and move beyond what we understand to be true and start to think about what we can make appear true. Think about trying to demonstrate diagonal, for instance, in the same way. How could you do this? The diagonal lines are clearly visible in your picture, but how do we go about ensuring that it is these lines that we look at, rather than the number of vertical and horizontal lines that are also apparent? In this case the challenge is to photograph from an angle that enhances your point – or choose a subject that makes the task easier for you (assignment two will offer more help on this point).

The assignment also asks us to consider this work in pairs. This is where the task starts to get even more tricky. Once you place two images side by side we automatically start seeing differences. The hard part is to limit these differences down so that we are left with an understanding of the meaning of the image, or the way it should be read. By having one of the pair coloured and one of the pair monochrome we are adding to the range of contrasts between the two. By choosing very different subject matter in each case we are making it harder to see the message. If we ask the question, “what is the difference between a white peacock and an old fashioned typewriter?” you start to see what I mean. You could come up with any number of answers to this point and the message of white and black becomes unclear. The typewriter/ telephone arrangement is a lovely strong picture and converting to black and white adds authenticity to the subject. However, even on its own the most obvious thing that comes to mind is not its colour but its age.

With very little going on in the frame, your picture for pointed, on the other hand, gives a very clear message. I can see where you are coming from with the corresponding image to illustrate ‘blunt’. Although I don’t think this is a particularly strong example for ‘two in one’ this image is worth considering. Imagine if the corresponding image for this picture involved a couple of people involved in a real (or apparently real) sword fight. If these two images were positioned side by side, wouldn’t it give a strong message of pointed and blunt? In terms of pairs of contrasting images I like your images for transparent and opaque. In these shots there are more similarities between the two shots and because of this the right difference becomes a little more obvious.

Moving back to think about the shots as individuals there are some nice clear shots in the set; the picture for ‘many’ is nice and strong and the ‘still’ and ‘moving’ shots also work very well.

All of your pictures are composed nicely, are cropped appropriately and taken from an appropriate vantage point. All show a good level of technical ability.

Summary/ Pointers for future work

With this assignment you have started to explore visual language. Contrast, as a subject, has proved to be very interesting in this respect. It has given you the opportunity to appreciate the subtle differences in communicating a word in a picture.

For future projects you will need to carry this information forward and take time to consider how well the photograph will communicate to its audience without the aid of text. You will also need to pay attention to the way that images work together as a unit.


One thought on “Assignment 1 – Contrasts

  1. Pingback: Assignment 1 Contrasts – Tutor Feedback | Bushtography

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