Category Archives: Coursework

Exercise 4.5

Not too far from where I live, there is located on the banks of Lake Geneva (French: Lac Leman) is one of the most visited castles in Switzerland, Château de Chillon. The castle origins date back about a thousand years and the building has been expanding ever since through turbulent times on conflict. Lately in more peaceful times the castle came to more romantic fame in the 1800s when it was visited by poets Byron and Shelly. The castle today is easily accessible by both road, rail and steam boat and remains an attraction because structurally it is complete and because on its imposing lakeshore location.

Being a top attraction the image of Château de Chillon must appear in every tourist brochure for the region, numerous postcards, adorns chocolate wrappers, placemats, souvenir mugs, hats, flags etc. In fact any piece of tourist memorabilia will have a picture of the castle. On these items the standard image of Chillon appears, that is a view of it being approached by boat from the lake.

The following screen shot is from Yahoo by entering the image search criteria Chateau Chillon. It can be seen that nearly all the images conform to the lakeside presentation on the castle. Scrolling onto the next Yahoo page the images did not alter much in style.

Chateau Chillon

Some images may be at dawn and others at sunset, some may be enhanced, some may be straight but essentially all the images conform to the same norm of a low shot from the water. Again in most cases the castle is placed along the third with the rest of the shot taken up by water, or placed centrally to be the predominant feature.  The vast majority of the images I viewed on Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are presented in landscape format.

Living here you cannot but help to be drawn by both the nature and by the beauty of this building and I make no apology for taking many similar ‘touristic’ images for a pictorial record of my time here in Switzerland.

I wanted to create images not too dissimilar to that found on the internet. In other words it would be easy to record details of the castle wall or make designs from juxtaposed items in the castle to be different; but that is not what I was looking for. The plan was to create something that paid homage to the images but was different enough to be dissimilar.

What I thought would be relatively easy was in fact more difficult than I expected.  Sounds obvious but once you were confronted by the castle it became obvious there were only certain places it could actually be photographed from.  Secondly the size of the place also limited how far back you needed to be in order to recreate a similar type image. Finally the weather played a part.  On the occasions I visited the castle the weather was almost clear blue skies again very similar to the ‘standard’ image found on Google. Therefore by a combination of these three factors greatly reduced as far as I was concerned the ability to be creative.

1a) This is my starting position of the classic shot.  Nothing creative or incidental about this image and taken from the lake on a boat.  On the plus side I was blessed with a clear blue sky.  However the downside was the lens I was using has caused some distortion on the verticals of the castle and although the horizon is straight the castle has a feel of leaning to the left. DSC01829

1b) A portrait version of the same scene if a little nearer. I wanted to explore the usage of this format to see if it could add value to the viewing experience.  I think the conclusion must be no.  OK the classic sea on the left and sky at the top have been replaced with water underneath but again nothing exciting about this.


1c) The next in sequence is a tighter shot on the castle.  Visually more balanced than the last in that the subject almost fills the frame. For me a much better shot and represents well the building but in terms of this exercise nothing too different.  I would class this as a good record shot and certainly captures the feel of the castle.


1d) While as photographer’s there is a tendency to remove objects from view so as to concentrate on the subject I purposely included the Swiss Flag from the back of the boat to give a different feel and perspective. On one hand it applies the same principle of John Davies’ Mount Fuji series in that the subject is just in the background.  I suppose the difference here is that there is a strong association between the castle and the flag so the foreground and background come together to give that completeness of Swiss-ness to the picture.  The red of the flag is striking enough to catch the eye and hold attention before looking at the background.  While it can be argued the picture is not overly original and if anything a little clichéd it is interesting to note that there are very few similar images as a result of internet searches. For some reason I do have an affinity to this image, while the others in the sequence I consider just as record shots.



2) With this I tried something different.  I noticed that there were very few monochrome shots of the castle. It was taken from the road at a low angle to fill the frame with the building.  Other than an experiment in being different for me it does not add anything to what I set out to do.



3a) For these pictures I wanted to explore if you could still get the feel of the castle the further away you moved to the point where it became almost an insignificant point in the landscape.  In this picture the castle is framed with the trees and the happenstance of a boat going by.  It was a case of framing and waiting for the boast to pass at the right time.  I have consciously cropped to a longer format to try better to represent the position of the castle in the wide lake



3b) Taken further back and this time similar to the flag image from earlier I have introduced a strong foreground.  The difference here is that the foreground is not directly associated with the background.  The common element here is the lake.  This has the effect of putting the castle into a total context of its surroundings.  We then get a totally different feel as the castle ceases to become the main subject.  The picture is more a landscape where the castle plays its part.  From my own perspective I do like this picture and feel I have brought a differing view but the picture does retain the ethos of those found from the internet although not from the same angle.



3c) The final image is taken from even further back where the castle becomes even less significant.  The castle now ceases to become an element of interest in its own right,  If anything it has been demoted to a compositional object just to balance out the boat on the opposite side. The image is just a competent landscape.  I must admit that outside of the question I do like the scene as it captures the tranquil feel of the day.



4) In this last image I wanted to explore the image of the castle in how it is projected to the public by an image of itself.  As mentioned earlier the image adorns almost every touristic object there is.  Here I wanted to find something where the image is used in a different way in an ordinary scene but still in keeping with the castle itself.  At the station I found that even the trains have the image of the castle upon them.  While just taking a picture of the train would have been a little too obvious I waited until something else would happen that I could use in the picture.  As luck would have it after about 10 minutes a signalman entered the frame and then it was a case of timing.

What I like about the final image is the complete detachment between the signalman and the train.  He is doing his job yet next to him is this brightly decorated train which is being ignored.  Conversly other passengers on the platform we pointing it out and talking about it.  Perhaps the signalman is so used to it that it now plays no part of his daily routine.

In terms of this image according to Brandt was I photographing what I saw or what the camera saw I am not sure?  Maybe I have done what Baily said was in fact just photograph the ordinary.  Of all the images that while it may depart from what I originally set out to do I favour this image over the others to capture what the castle means to the region  – namely tourism.

As a complete aside the image on the train has taken an artistic photographic liberty.  The Jet d’Eau actually is in Geneva about 40 miles down the other end of the lake.



Exercise 4.4 Ex Nihilo

Before starting this exercise I suppose I had never considered that fact that the light in a studio set up was completely under the control of the photographer.  The photographer creates it from nothing and if the lighting does not work properly then there is only one person to blame.

In a way I was not looking forward to this exercise as my comfort area has been the outside natural light type picture. Lighting objects artificially to me seems a lots of effort for something that will be predictable. Clearly there are other important elements to the final picture in that you can have the best lighting but the composition can still be wrong.

I suppose that by shooting outside most lighting decisions are taken out of your hands. Yes there are ways to control in the outside but for by and large for instance landscape photography is a given. This can seem a narrow and naive approach but perhaps where I am on my learning curve this is where I currently see it. A couple of modules on it will be interesting to reflect on the situation.

I have tried ‘home made’ studio set ups before and never really been excited by the whole process. To me there seemed much effort to get the desired image. But perhaps I was looking at it the wrong way. I was trying to look at the outcome as a whole and perhaps was disappointed. Reading through the exercise I now see this as an accumulative process in that that you have to understand how each element works so as to build up into final outcome.

Looking for reference material it is clear much has been written on the subject of artificial lighting all trying to make you an expert. I think in reflection that is where I have go wrong in the past and will now just concentrate on the elements.

Therefore what follows can be considered as more of a technical exercise for me to learn rather than produce the best portrait of still life picture I have ever created. With that said almost timely to this exercise I visited an exhibition of Christian Coigny a Swiss art photographer specialized in black and white photography, works for advertising, fashion, portrait, landscape, still life and reportage. See exhibition reportage). While there was much to see I focused specifically in the context of this exercise how he lit his subject in terms of shape and form and trying to understand the desired output and reaction from that conscious lighting decision. Clearly by looking at one exhibition will not make me a better photographer (however that is defined) overnight but it gives me a hook to hang my ideas upon.

The following was written after each stage rather than reflection as a whole and shows my thought process.

Inspired by what I saw at the exhibition I realised how ill prepared I was for this exercise. I had no idea of what I would use as the subject matter or how I would arrange and compose. What depth of field I would need to create an effect, being the fact I had not even thought of the effect I wanted. I had not considered the practicality of where I would o the pictures. The kitchen table is always the obvious but it was the space and logistics to get to that point. Even to the point of I had not figured out how to use my camera to the best advantage as I had recently upgraded and was still getting used to how it operated.

To overcome the subject matter/composition issue this was just a case of research reference images that I felt comfortable of being able to recreate. On one hand I did not want something so simple (a single apple for example) that while would satisfy the question criteria would not be the most inspiring of subjects. But there again I suppose that is the mark of creativity is that you can get something fresh and new from the mundane. And on the other hand I did not want something that may be so visually pleasing but it was too complex to create.

Because of familiarity, variety, availability, and the shape and form I concluded that the fruit and vegetables would be the subject matter of choice and therefore could then focus on how this could be executed.

Being such a popular subject there is so much material available to use as a reference. Once you start looking there is even more than one ever imagined. In the end I narrowed it down to three areas: professional advertising shots, the ‘greats’, and painters.

Initial Trial and Results
I’ve entitled this section Initial Trial which is a little more structured than ‘have a go and see what happens’ which is nearer the truth:

  • Location: Kitchen table
  • Main subject: A red bell pepper as this had colour and form, and also a contrasting green stalk. It was easy to handle and move
  • Additional props: A ceramic vase was added in the background to add a further point of interest.
  • Backdrop: A cream coloured sheet attached to the wall and covering down over the table.
  • Lights: Various household light including a torch.

The following shows a selection of the results. ISO-100 and f/6.3 were kept constant throughout.

Problems encountered that need to be adjusted/sorted for the next time are as follows:

  • Logistics: There was not really enough space to work around and for any easy light placement at a distance
  • Electrics: The plug socket location was not conducive to the location of the table so the lights could not be put in the optimum position. Mains extension leads are required.
  • Choice of Lights: The lights used were what was available at hand e.g. a table lamp. Need to think for the future if these are the ‘right’ type of lights
  • Depth of Field: Needs careful thought and selection in relation to the subject. It can be seen on some of the shots that while the pepper top is in focus the stalk clearly is not.
  • Colour Cast: In looking at the images on a number there seems to be a light brown/warm colour cast. Initially I thought that this could be to do with the correct white balance from the tungsten bulbs in the lights. This maybe the case but I think it is also caused by the cream colour of the backdrop. Further trial and investigation needs to happen here.
  • Composition: Initially it was more of a placement of the objects rather than any created composition. Further thought needs to be given to making the picture a little more interesting.
  • Plan of Lights: As said this was more trial and error so while there was some structure moving the lights around for differing effects there was no real plan. One needs to  be created.
  • Reflections: Because of the shiny nature of the surface of the pepper it gives reflections especially so on the curves. These tend to be a bit distracting and could be reduced/obviated with the use of a diffuser of some type.

Thoughts after Initial Trial
My initial plans for Assignment 4 was to develop further the blue hour night time exercise. Although I had not formulated the theme or subject it did seem do-able because I suppose it is still what I see within my comfort zone. Having completed the initial trial for this exercise, and that while there is much to learn and even more to put right, I am feeling more confident that lighting to express a view of vision is the art of the possible. So while initially I saw this as a technical exercise my thought process is changing for it to become more than that and as a learning platform for Assignment 4.

The planning for the second shoot is far more structured in that:

  • The problems encountered need to be obviated or at least managed.
  • The pre-design of the lighting set up rather than inventing on the fly.

While the exercise question does afford the luxury of viewpoint also being changed I think that I will keep this static. It then allows me to concentrate on the lighting thus reducing the number of variables. Therefore the plan and problems to overcome are:

  • Logistics: The kitchen table had been pulled out of the current position allowing space to move around.
  • Electrics: Two long extension leads were acquired.
  • Choice of Lights: Two desk lamps with movable heads were bought.  The shade is solid metal and as a result focuses the light out the front of the light.
  • Colour Cast: A pure white paper backdrop replaced the fawn sheet.  Also daylight balanced bulbs (6500k) were bought for the lights.

Initial Problems
Having planned for ‘everything’ I still encountered two problems, namely:

  • Bulbs
    One of the pair of bright bulbs was not working correctly.  The element did not light up as it should and was giving a warm glow rather than a daylight balanced colour.  The problem then was I did not have two bulbs of the same wattage which were going to be used left and right of the object to give a flat lighting effect.
  • Backdrop Paper
    Once I had set the backdrop up it was actually quite thin paper.  Therefore that which was above the table appeared darker from the background on the table.  I originally wanted an infinity backdrop so no line would be visible behind the object.  Even doubling up the paper did not seem to make too much of a difference so therefore decided to go with the ‘horizon’ line.

Choice of Depth of Field
Having selected a large round object the next decision was how much depth of field was required.  Once selected I was going to keep this constant through the pictures as it would give both continuity and uniformity through the sequence of images.  The obvious answer would be to go for the maximum depth of field which was f/22 on the lens I was using.  Yes this would ensure that everything was in focus but would it necessarily be the best way to represent the image?

The following shots show the image at f/2.8, f/8, f/16 and f/22 respectively.  As expected the image at f/22 gave overall sharpness right through to the edge of the cabbage.

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As explained earlier my images not had a ‘horizon’ in the background.  The effect I wanted was that this line was visible but did not want it too sharp and pronounced.  Therefore I repeated the depth of field test by placing an object with words on the ‘horizon’.  The following images show the respective results for f/2.8, f/8, f/16 and f/22.

So while I favoured f/22 for the cabbage itself f/16 gave the most overall balanced results of sharpness of the object and out of focus for the ‘horizon’:

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Set Up
The following digram gives a view of how the shoot was set up.  This was constant through every picture.  Only the flights were moved.  In the sequence below the light position is shown relative to this set up.  (Definitely not to scale).



The main subject I used was a cabbage.  However at the end of that round of set up I repeated with a number of other items, some peppers, a cabbage, and tomatoes because they had different surface textures and wanted to see how the light played on this.  While I recreated the lighting positions they were not exactly the same.  Th light may have been a bit higher or just a slightly a different angle.  Therefore although the pictures fit the question it can be seen the shadows do not match exactly picture to picture. 

1. Single Light 45Near Object 
With this set up one strong light is placed near the object at about 45 degrees from the camera and angled down at the subject.


The results give good modelling to the subject with strong shadows behind and deep shadows within the texture of the object.  This can be seen in the leaves of the cabbage, the ‘grooves’ of the peppers and surface of the cauliflower. This set up does show well the texture of the object.



2. Single Light 450  Far From Object

Similar to the set up as (1) above but the light was placed much further away.


The effect is similar to that of (1) in that the shadows bring out the surface texture but as the light is further away the light while does not go around corners gives the appearance of filling in the background shadows therefore the shadow does not seen so harsh.


3. Single Light 450  Far From Object With Single Diffuser 

This time as per (2) but a diffuser (tracing paper) was placed in front of the light.


While it has softened the shadows further and taken the reflection from the surface of the peppers (compared to the test shots) the background shadows remained much stronger than I thought they would.  Therefore the diffuser was doubled in thickness with the results shown in (4)



4. Single Light 450  Far From Object With Double Diffuser 

As per (3) but with the diffuser double the thickness.


The shadows have almost disappeared and in doing so loses some of  the texture feel as in (1).  In other words the diffused light has filled in the shadows.


5. Two Lights 450  Far From Object 

Here two lights were placed at 45 degrees either side of the camera at equal distance from the object.


With this set up I expected an even lighting all over the subject with a little modelling of the subject because each of the lights should balance the other one out.  What actually happened is that because as metioned earlier that one of the matching light bulbs did not work I did not have an even pair.  Therefore to give an even light I had to move the less powerful light further forward to compensate.  As a result in theory the lighting was even but it did change the way I expected to see the shadows.  It can be seen in the first picture that shadows are there in theory when they should not as each light should have filled in the shadows made by the other.  Clearly my positioning on the lighting was still unbalanced.

In the second picture again the lighting was moved but the shadows still appear.  It shows that while the left light should have compensated for the right having a light half the power and in a different position it is not the same as having two even lights.



6. Single Light Close Direct Overhead 

Here a single source of light was placed directly over the object.


The shadows that appear are only under the object created by the widest part of the cabbage. The lighting over the object is evenbut because of the texture of the cabbage there is still some modelling of the leaves so the object does not look totally flat.  With the shot of the peppers there is still modelling on the smooth surface with highlights being picked up on top from the downward light.



7. Single Light Bounced Off Ceiling

This is almost the reverse of (6) in that the light is bounced from the ceiling rather than shone direct onto the object.


Here it can be seen that the final result is a much more diffused light as the ceiling bounced the light off in all directions. While there is still some shadow under the cabbage and the peppers this diffused light has ‘bounced under’ the objects to make the shadows less harsh.  Also an even light has closed the contrast between the horizon and the table because the light is evenly illuminating the whole scene.

Again because of the texture of the cabbage leaves there is some modelling and gives a pleasing appeal.  On the other hand the peppers because of their surface become far more flat in appearance.  Also the diffused light has killed any highlights that could be seen in (6)



8. Single Light 1350  Behind Camera

A single low light from behind the object creates a moon like image.


The rim if the cabbage has modelling but most of the object is in shadow because it is behind the light and there is nothing that bounces the light back.  The total shape of the cabbage can be seen as light spreads over the backdrop.  A similar appearance is for the peppers.



9. Two Lights Behind Object 

Similar to (8) but another light is placed in the opposite position.


This time it give the objects in complete shadow to stand as a silhouette against the backdrop.  While the peppers are in complete outline enough light has crept onto the cabbage so there is a slight form showing around the edge.  Technically there should be nothing but this is more to do with the  placement of the lights and the size of the objects in that I have not lined them up correctly for this shot.



10. Single Light Low Level
Here I have placed a single light at low level in front of the object.


This was not a planned shot but as I was moving the lights around I saw the effect this made.  It is almost as if the light is setting on the object and picking up just the form in the front of the object. I am not sure how this lighting set up would be utilised in ‘normal’ photography but it does give an interesting perspective on the object.


11. Other
Within this section I have taken a couple of the set ups and played with the light

11.1 Green Diffuser
Here with the set up in (2) I have replaced the diffuser with a green piece of cellophane.   The image is similar to (2) in that the cellophane diffuses the light a little but also gives as expected a green cast.  In fact it emphasises the green of the cauliflower.


11.2 Mixed Lighting

With this one the cauliflower was lit from the side but I also turn on the overhead light in the ceiling.  This was light source was a much warmer tungsten bulb compared with the daylight bulb of the main lamp.  While the overhead bulb does fill in some of the shadows the mix of warm tungsten giving an almost pink colour to the background is mixed with the direct daylight source.


Comparison of Light
For me in comparing this against Exercises 4.2 and 4.3 I feel that in comparing the light the exercises are almost mutually exclusive.  Yes the light illuminates the objects but it works and reacts in a different way.  With the ‘studio shots’ the quality of light could be set up in any way that was required while in 4.2 I had to accept the flat diffused lighting as it was and in 4.3 the mix of blue hour and and artificial lighting again was and is and out of my control.  Similar to that of the contrast that as nothing could be done to move the light sources in 4.2 and 4.3, but in 4.4 it all could be controlled.

Probably in terms of colour I liked that of the night shots in 4.3.  While it is not the correct technical term the light and the images look much ‘cleaner’ than those in 4.2 and 4.4.  It is not a question of focus or sharpness (although those taken with a wide angle do tend to look sharper) but something else.  Not quite sure what yet but something I will explore as the course moves on.

Overall I found this exercise quite difficult because as mentioned at the beginning I had never really dealt with setting up lights in this fashion.  There are a couple of things that I would need to improve with my process, namely:

  • Better Notes
    When writing up what I had done I realised that my notes were not as good as they should have been.  I did take a number of pictures of the same set up and did not clearly note down the exposure number on the camera.  In the end I sorted it all out but it was some unnecessary effort that could have been avoided.  This is noted for the future.
  • Better Lights
    While the desk lamps and bulbs I acquired were acceptable enough for this outcome of this task it would have been much easier if I had a ‘proper’ set up in that they would have been on adjustable mounts/booms.  The issue I had was putting the light in a constant place which was very difficult within the kitchen space.

In conclusion I found the learning experience quite illuminating (no pun intended) and intend to use as a basis for Assignment 4.



Exercise 4.3 – The Beauty of Artificial Light

From my research for this section The Beauty of Artificial Light I have decided to try and capture the concept of the ‘blue hour’ as used by Sato Shintaro.   (Click for link to research).   While I have seen it in images I was unfamiliar of the science of why it happens and wanted to explore the possibilities.

The blue hour is a period light time that appears just before dawn and just after sunset and is named after the sky colour.  It happens when the sun is between 4 to 6 degrees below the horizon both in the morning and the evening.  It is far more noticeable in the evening as the hour progresses it gets darker so we become more aware of the impending darkness rather than the gradual lightening. It does not last exactly an hour but depending on your position in the world it can be longer the nearer the pole you are and shorter the nearer the equator.

The blue comes from the fact of mixed light in that it is neither full daylight nor is it total darkness because the sun still gives light from just below the horizon.  During this time the colour actually changes from blue to dark blue to black as the sun drops further below the horizon and night cuts in.  The blue hour is always present but not always available to see as whether can obscure the effect. See link for a diagram and further detailed explanation.

Blue Hour Calculator
I have discovered a Blue Hour/Golden Hour calculator on the net that based on the date and your world location it will calculate the appropriate blue hour times and take the guess work out of things.  I have played around with it and it is well done but realistically was not much assistance for the exercise as judging the blue hour was done more by eye.  Where it would be good if one were planning for example some travel shots in distant place at some point in the future.  Itineraries could be built around this.

Preparation and Planning
The location I chose was the local university as first explored in Assignment 1 in The Square Mile.  This was selected as because of the generally low and wide nature of the architecture of buildings it would allow the sky to dominant it the images.  Also from observation there seemed to be many different artificial light sources tungsten, sodium, fluorescent, and LED.  I thought this would be interesting how these would sit together in the final image.  Of course this was speculation and I had never really worked with combined light sources.  I did investigate going into the city but dismissed this because the much taller nature of the buildings while giving off much light did not allow me to explore the sky.

The pictures were really going to be a voyage of experimentation and expected far more misses than hits.  I had never really consciously taken night time pictures before other than light trail pictures.  I had no idea what the exposure times should be, nor what the white balance on the camera should be.  Also would it actually be light enough for the camera to autofocus or would I have to do this manuall?.  Finally what shots should I select because there would only be window of about 45 minutes to get this right.

It stands to reason that the blue hour is weather dependent and I had to wait for over a week for the right conditions to appear.  Prior to that point it had been stormy, rainy and cloudy.  While this did give different photographic possibilities it was not core for this exercise.  However it did give me time to explore the very large campus and narrow down possible locations of where to shoot thus saving time on the evening in question.

Because of the expected long exposure time the camera would be tripod mounted.  Also my camera afforded me the luxury of a remote control shutter release.  This has the advantage of removing any movement in the camera as (a) you do not have to press the shutter and (b) it gives a few seconds delay before the shutter fires to ensure the camera was completely settled.  For me sharp images were important as I wanted to repeat the sharpness that you get in daylight but at nigh time.  Many an evening picture have I seen that is very dramatic but clearly there is a little movement in the camera.  Again this was all hope and I would not know until I had completed the exercise.

If all of that were not enough I wanted to produce some aesthetically pleasing images.  I did not just want this to be a technical exercise in taking pictures at the blue hour.  I wanted to make the light and the sky to be part of the total composition rather than a technically balanced well exposed picture.  Again unsure as how I would do this during the twilight.

The Shoot
The images were taken over a period of two consecutive nights.  This was because a combination of practicability in that it took much longer than I expected to set up and experiment, the sheer size of the university campus even though I had planned the activity plus the short window of opportunity.  As mentioned before the blue hour was really only about 45 minutes to get that real deep blue colour before it turns to a really dark blue/black.  There was no chance for a third night as the weather conditions changed for the worse.

Day 1
For Day 1 in a way I misjudged my timings as I wanted to capture the sequence of moving from sunset through the blue hour and onto darkness.  By the time I had got to the location and set up my equipment made a few test shots, adjusted position etc. the blue hour was well under way.  I captured a number of shots I was pleased with and then continued on with taking mixed light images on the campus.  I wanted to experiment with timings and exposures and to see how different types on light would reproduce.

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The results are show on a slide show here.  The initial images are of the blue hour and the rest are of the mixed lighting.  Overall I was pleased with the images taken.  There were a few technical disasters of completely black frames or where I knocked the tripod.  These have been excluded because they do not add any learning value.

Day 2
For Day 2, I was far more prepared and got to the site earlier.  Again a lesson I learned from the ‘mistakes’ of the previous night was to stay in the same location around or near one building and follow the effects of the blue hour on the subject rather than chase the light itself.

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The results for Day 2 are shown on a slide show here.  Overall these are far more in keeping with the images I set out to attain.


Selected Images
Within this set of selected images I have chosen a number that meet my criteria in that I believe are different in their content, show the effect of the blue hour, are technically correct and have an aesthetic quality.

While the campus was busy it seems that the slow shutter speeds have obviated the recording of the people and gives an eerie emptiness almost abandoned to the night feel in the images.

All but no post processing has taken place with RAW images.  The have been sharpened a little but no colour balance was changed and they are effectively as they were shot and converted to JPEG for display purposes.  No cropping took place either so they all are full frame and as seen.


Image 1


Full Frame DSLR: 50mm @ 13 sec f/16

This was the only image that I have included from the first night.  While it can be argued that it is a little out of sequence it clearly shows the affect of the blue hour colour.  I like the way the artificial light down-lighters have been purposefully designed so as not to create light pollution.  They have been functionally designed just to light the parking area.  Detail remains within the blue are and you can see depth and form within the buildings in the background.  The lighting on the lamp posts, because it is more direct, creates some harsh shadows.

Image 2


Full Frame DSLR: 24mm @ 10 sec f/16

Taken on Day 2 at the start of the blue hour.  In fact the reflection in the building shows that transition between sunset and the blue hour is still in progress.  I decided for reflection here because as the sun drops it is directional, therefore in the windows you can see what is happening behind and in the sky above the building the transition to the blue hour has already set in.

It can also be seen in the reflection that the street lights are now on and that the walkway under the building has now been artificially lit emphasizing that change to night time.  By chance the advertising on the crane gives a focal point of artificial light, and just above the moon can be seen reflected in the windows.  In a way the moon is a strange light source here because not only the moon is reflected light from the sun, this light has also reflected back onto the windows.

Image 3


Full Frame DSLR: 24mm @ 15 sec f/16

Within this shot I have tried to demonstrate different light sources as the blue hour progresses. It was shot from underneath the building.  As can bee seen from other pictures this building is just made up of curved lines and as a result the light moves over it in a peculiar aesthetic way. In the courtyard there are small up-lighters designed to reflect light back down from the concrete ceiling. In the rooms on the building it looks on the face of it there are two different ‘colours’ of artificial light.  In fact on further inspection (see image 5) it appears to be internal glass walls of the meeting rooms that are creating this effect.  The light passing through the thick glass clearly has an affect on the wavelength colour.

Image 4


Full Frame DSLR: 29mm @ 20 sec f/16

Taken from the opposite side from Image 4 looking through the building into where the sun would have set.  There are still light areas to the right of the sky where the sun is still having and affect.  The moon can be seen and also a star or planet is now visible as the sky darkens.  Again in the top right an airplane vapour trail can bee seen.  The remaining light from the sun below the horizon is enough to catch and reflect light from the vapour.  Inside the building to the right a large TV screen  can be seen giving another mix to the light sources.

Image 5


Full Frame DSLR: 24mm @ 6 sec f/16

From a scene from inside the courtyard that highlights further the plane vapour trails.  Upon inspection four can be clearly seen in different stages of their evaporation.  To the right inside of  the building the effect of the glass walls can be seen giving a different colour to what I believe is the same light source.   There is an argument that this picture does not add any further information to the blue hour progression than image 4.  That is true to some point but I have left it in as I feel it does connect through to image 6 and is an aesthetically pleasing image.

Image 6


Full Frame DSLR: 58mm @ 30 sec f/16

Looking away from the campus over the road into the deepest part of the blue hour.  Here it can be seen that the sky is now almost blue/black and the transition phase has finished.  Besides the functional artificial light needed to light the bus stop and one of the student rooms there is still enough light coming from the sky to reflect back from the building.  Clearly being a white building helps this reflection process.  This light must be coming from the sky as there is no other light source around to light this building.  Yes light does come from the main building itself but as can be seen in image 7 taken from the same camera position this is some distance away.  Looking carefully into the picture and because of the slow shutter speeds used yellow light trails of the passing bus have made their mark on the image.  I do like this as a stand alone image in that it does give a feeling of emptiness to the whole scene.

Image 7


Full Frame DSLR: 24mm @ 25 sec f/16

The final image looks back on the whole campus to show the blue hour in totality.  What is surprising is that to the naked eye the sky seemed black yet looking at the image there almost still looks the vestige of sunset which is not the case.  Somehow some very low clouds are picking up a light reflection.  I would argue this is reflected light from the city beyond rather than the sun below the horizon.  Clearly there is a difference between the camera deals with the exposure and my eye just focusing on the bright lights of the building. Perhaps waiting for a much longer period of time would my eyes got more adjusted to this final light.

Comparison to Exercise 4.2
For me the daylight shots in exercise 4.2 in showing how the effects of a dull day does not really change the lighting is not a great comparison.  Only once throughout the did a small change become apparent.  Because of the weather there was no concept of the blue or golden hour (sunrise of sunset) therefore it becomes difficult to compare the quality of light.   For me the images in this exercise are far superior to those in 4.2 as they have more of a direct purpose and there is some element of storytelling involved albeit just following the blue hour.

If it is then a comparison of the pure quality of light between the exercises where quality is defined as the ‘distinction between hard and soft light’ then there is clearly a difference.  For me those images have a far better cleaner quality compared to 4.2.  The mix of the artificial light adds to this effect giving a much harder differentiated light.

Future Thoughts
I had toyed with the idea to retake the selected images during daylight to do a comparison on the pictures to show the difference in light.  While this would be an interesting exercise I am not sure if it would add great value here for this exercise but it is something to bear in mind for a future project or assignment.

Exercise 4.2 – Layered, Complex and Mysterious

In this exercise I have taken a series of shots to show how light changes throughout the day.

For this exercise I decided to use a fixed subject and a near enough fixed viewpoint.  As circumstances would have it I had the opportunity to be in the same place all day and therefore decided to record the scene near enough every hour.

What I hoped/expected and what actually happened were two different things.  I had expected the images to go through the range of dawn colours, the bright direct colours of midday and then to sunset and beyond.   While the question said ‘It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear’ for this exercise, my belief is it does if you want to achieve text book results.

The day I chose could not be more overcast if it tried.  One of those grey days as a photographer you know will give you very flat light that you would not really consider and landscape photography.  Not that I am adverse to these types of flat days as they are good for certain types of photography: detail, flowers and sometimes natural light portraits.

While it is argued by many that light is the single most important thing a photographer needs to understand, I would suggest from completing this exercise that it is a combination of weather and light.  This is because the weather drives the quality of light.  On a clear day all is fine.  Introduce any element of weather and it acts like a giant filter to the light and changes the quality.  In the case of the day I took these it functioned as a giant diffusing filter and killed any effect so almost every picture remained consisted in appearance.

The time sequence of images is below (and admittedly not the most exciting subject matter) it is only on one image (11:42) does any form of modelling or lighting come into play.  Here you can see shadows in the picture and while not much light gives the image and extra boost compared to that of the others.

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Initially I was disappointed with the results of the day.  It did not answer the question as I imagined it.   However upon reflection and further research into the combinative effect of weather and light then I am more happy in that if it were not for this exercise I would have never taken a sequence of shots to learn about light in this way.

What I expected to observe and what happened were two different things.  What I expected was that throughout the day the images would conform to two events  Therefore what I expected to happen and what happened are detailed below:

Expected: Colour Temperature Changes
Under normal conditions I would have expected the colour temperature of any scene to rise throughout the day from about from 3,000 to about 5,500 during the day dropping back to about 3,000 towards sunset thus giving a warn tone to the morning and evening pictures and normal daylight tones for the others.

Expected: Shadows
As the day progressed I would have expected to see longer shadows in the morning and evening therefore showing contours and modelling on subjects, while around mid-day very few shadows giving a clean if aa little flat image.

Neither of these really manifested themselves because of the conditions on the day.  Throughout the day the weather was very overcast and as said other than for half an hour around lunchtime the conditions remained almost constant.  The result was that the pictures taken during the morning were very little different from those later in the day.

Actual Colour Temperature Changes
As it can be seen from the images nothing really changed.  All of the images seem (with the exception of the midday shot) to have a similar colour cast.  I assume that this is because the cloud as a filter created these conditions.  Not being familiar in a detailed way yet with Colour Temperature I am not sure how I should have set the white balance on the camera to compensate.  All pictures were taken using white balance set to Auto.  Maybe I should have set this to cloudy because that was the conditions but I would have expected the auto to register this fact.  More investigation required into how this works.

Actual Shadows
Clearly as there was no sunlight (other than one picture) there were never going to be any shadows

In retrospect the subject that I chose for this exercise was not the most conducive in that the light was very binary with the garden in deep shade and the sky by comparison very bright.  Therefore with centre weighted metering on the camera it assumed that the bushes were the mid tone and as a result the sky looks vastly overexposed.  Yes this can be corrected in Lightroom or the like but that was not the point within this exercise which is about observing rather than photographic manipulation.  Again only in the picture where the sun did appear did it lighten the foreground to make the exposure range between the extremes less did the sky really show itself.

My learning from Exercise 4.2 in this case would have been to have an incident light meter to measure light landing on the subject therefore removing any subjectivity of the camera’s light meter.

Exercise 4.1 – Exposure

Part 1:
The following thee images of black card, white card and mid grey card were taken with my camera set on automatic.  No other details were present within the frame.  The result is that as the camera while on automatic assumes that whatever you fill the frame with will equate to the average then as there are no other colour present the picture will always look like a mid grey. The histograms reflect this by having a central tendency.  There seems a slight consistent bias to the right but that was probably due to shooting factors.


Black Card

Pic 1

Histogram of black card


Mid Grey Card

Pic 2

Histogram of Mid Grey Card


Whte Card

Pic 3

Histogram of White Card

Part 2
With these pictures I adjusted the exposure so as to move the histogram from the middle to the left and the right without regard of speed and aperture.  While the pictures visibly look acceptable in difference of tones versus the original card something does not look right with the exposure figures.  I would have expected the range to be only plus or minus 3 or 4 stops.  However looking at the difference between the back and the mid-tone I think I must have made the speed to fast.  Regardless of how much of perfect or underexposure the picture will always look black


Mid Grey Card


Pic 5



White Card


Pic 4




Black Card

Pic 6

Part 3
Here I have taken a picture of the mid grey card and exposed it ‘correctly’ on fully manual.  The next two pictures I replaced the grey card with the white took a shot, replaced with the black took a shot while not changing the exposure. The theory is that if the grey is truly mid-grey then this should be the average, therefore the black should therefore the black should be true black and the white true white.  Looking at the histograms and the pictures this is almost true allowing for the fact that the grey is probably not exactly mid grey and there were slight variations in the taking.  Note is the histogram data the exposure data remains constant.


Mid Grey at ISO 100 f/2.5 1/80th sec

Pic 7

Histogram in the middle


White Card at ISO 100 f/2.5 1/80th sec

Pic 8

Histogram to the right


Black Card at ISO 100 f/2.5 1/80th sec

Pic 7

Histogram to the left


A couple of post exercise thoughts:

  1. Would the results be any different if I used spot metering instead of average metering? I think the answer would be no as the results would be the same because there was no other detail showing on the card.  If there were some other objects showing then spot metering would have been more ‘accurate’.
  2. Would the result be any different if I used an external light meter? The answer is yes because the external meter is measuring the incident light it disregards how much light is reflected.  Therefore the tonal rendition of the black, white and mid grey should be exact.  (I will see if I can hunt down an external meter to test the theory and add at a later stage).

Exercise 3.3 Timeframes and Viewpoint

To see what timeframes in a camera look like I used my old 35mm film SLR camera (Nikkormat FTn).  I opened the back, with a standard 50mm lens and with the aperture fully open I set the speed to 1 second and pointed it to a scene.

As I fired the shutter my eye registered the scene.  I worked through each the standard camera speed seconds with each exposure getting shorter.  While I could register the difference between light and dark at the top speed of 1/000th second, it was at 1/125th where I could not register the image any longer.

To ensure this was a fair test I repeated at this speed on another scene just to prove my brain/eye was not remembering the image.  For me it was the 1/60th, 1/125th second mark that I could still see the image.

I also repeated without the lens to see if it made any difference but other than the image being the right way up nothing changed for me regarding the fastest time.

Not that I would think it would have any affect but the Nikkormat has a vertical travel, focal plane shutter rather than horizontal.  Regardless of orientation the time between the two shutter blades/curtains should be the same.

The image of this local viewpoint demonstrates well foreground, middle ground and background.  Why I find this interesting in that this scene is designed to be looked at in layers.

You look at viewpoint display board for reference and then either view the middle distance or the horizon/background to find the corresponding geographic point.  Therefore what I have shown here is not intended to be looked at as a complete image. Then I have stood back from the board and gained elevation by standing on a wall to get the complete vista of all three layers of foreground, middle ground and background.  While we were asked to observe each of the individually layers first and then as the complete image what is strange about this panorama is that each of the three distances are completely separate.  There is no visual physical connection between each zone.   Each one abruptly ends.  They are layered in such a way that it almost looks like one layer has been cut pasted and superimposed on the other.  The evening low light seems to have accentuated this layering.

What it does not show too well is that the view point board panorama is built up in layers of painted copper to represent the three dimensional distance and strangely does actually represent reality.


Exercise 3.2 A Durational Space

Since the earliest days of photography, blur was an unwanted function of the process.  It is interesting that since then much investment has been put into technology by equipment and media manufacturers that ensures a pin sharp and stabilised image, yet ironically blur is one of the most common techniques used by photographers to represent motion.

From my understanding of the history of art, it is also interesting to note that until photography established itself there was little or no concept of the use of blur to depict movement in painting or drawing.  From my investigations it appears that only when movement blur was seen in photography (either by accident or design) did the use of blur as the representation of movement appear in art as a planned effect in the finished picture.

While art and photography tended to keep in separate silos the Italian Futurist movement crossed over this divide and saw blur as a method “to capture the movement through time and space and used photography’s natural ability to capture time passing through a lens”[1]. The Futurists called this method of employing long exposures to capture movement Photodynamism, with the key exponents being the Bragaglia brothers Anton Giulio and Arturo.  ‘Change of Position’ Anton Giulio Bragaglia (1911)

Gerhard Richter the German artist took this one stage further by creating ‘photo-paintings’. These are a painting based on a photograph with the blur added afterward.  His paintings were made up of a number of steps starting with projecting a photograph onto a wall, traces the image, paints the picture, and then smears it with a large brush to give a blurred effect.  Zwei Fiat (1964 Oil on canvas) is an excellent example where the painting now replicates the movement effect in a photograph.

With this in mind the following looks at the photographers mentioned in the text and sees how they use various techniques to represent motion within a still image. It is not meant to be a critical review of the body of work by each photographer but more a comment of the techniques they employed.

Robert Capa
Capa’s Omaha Beach of the blurred Marine remains an iconic photo in the sense that it vividly portrays the confusion of the landings. The blur captures and add to the visual quality and the grittiness of the day.

Varying accounts seem to contradict each other as to whether Capa was trebling, excited, fearful, having difficulty with his equipment trembling created the effect, “a new kind of fear shaking my body from toe to hair, and twisting my face.”[2]

What is interesting is that clearly blur was not in the mainstream of photography and newspaper and journal readers were expecting pin sharp images.

When LIFE published the photographs, a caption disingenuously explained that the ‘immense excitement of [the] moment made photographer Capa move his camera and blur [his] picture.'” [3]

What is not known is that if more than the ‘magnificent 11’ of Capa’s 106 frames he took on the day were much shaper would have the image become so iconic.  Based on the previous quote I suspect the editor of life would have gone for a sharper image.

Robert Frank
Robert Frank challenged the way photography was perceived during the 1950’s in America.  The ‘establishment’ was about straight photography that is: clear subjects, obvious composition and sharp.  It has been suggested in a way this style was reflecting the optimism and positiveness of post war America.

Frank’s wrongdoings in the eyes of the establishment were seen as twofold.  Firstly he dared to show that life as it was what.  That is one which could be difficult, hard, ordinary and worst of all boring and banal.  Frank believed all life was worth capturing and not just the rose tinted view that was being published.  As Nicole Rae (nd) states: “He put a mirror in front of people, showed them what they didn’t want to see, and they weren’t comfortable with that” [4]

Secondly and probably a greater crime was that he challenged the way in which one lit, composed and took a photograph.  Again Rae comments: “He was not looking for technical perfection. His pictures were messy and grainy, and he purposefully used obscure lighting. He was photographing feeling. He wanted to evoke an emotion when people saw the photographs. They have the look of being taken by an outsider” [5]

Whereas blur had been used to represent the feeling of movement in “Elevator — Miami Beach” it was seen as if the girl was surrounded by her demons. In his introduction to Frank’s book of The Americans, the editor Jack Kerouac writes (1958) in , “That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons”[6].

© Robert Frank from The Americans

© Robert Frank from The Americans. Reproduced with the kind permission of Pace/MacGill.

This and the other images were not readily accepted.and the folio of work received harsh critical reviews.  Eventually a new generation in the 1960’s did see life for what it was and Frank’s work has since received the recognition it deserved.

(Author’s personal note: As a result of the investigation for this writing, being introduced to his work through other web sites and watching of the documentary ‘Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank’ [7], I bought the book The Americans and have learnt much from his visual style).

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Hiroshi Sugimoto saw and recorded motion in a different way.  He recorded motion of what was once there but has disappeared.  His concept was to go to the cinema, open the camera shutter at the start of the film and close it at the end.  The result was that all the movement recorded eventually turned white.  My initial thoughts when I saw this work was “so what?”; you could have created the same image by taking the same picture with no film showing.  It took me a while to realise that the only way the whiteness or the emptiness could be created was recording the accumulation of individual motion of the movie which disappears in front of our eyes yet this actually stays with us though the whiteness of the picture.   Sugimoto said himself “How do you show the nothingness, emptiness?  You have to have something surrounded by this nothingness.  In this case the movie theatre is the case to hold this emptiness” [8]

Michael Wesely
Michael Wesely sees and records motion in a different way doing so by the use of extremely long exposures. These can last anything from between six months to over three years. His concept is that the exposure of the image should last as long as the event itself.  If a train takes two minutes to leave a station then the exposure should be two minutes, if the construction of a building takes three years then the exposure should be three years.  He is registering the time of the event rather than recording the actual event.

We are used to seeing time-lapse films of buildings being built, but in the case of Wesley’s picture of the re-construction of the Museum of Modern Art in New York we see the time lapse effectively all as one image.  What makes this image interesting is the fixed unchanging background of the existing skyline with the ghostlike image of the building being built in front.

For me this long exposure is an interesting technique in that while there is an element of composition the results are somewhat unpredictable.  I would argue that for such long exposures Wesley is just as surprised of the results are as we the audience.  Where I struggle with this is not so much the concept but more the process.  Devoting three years of time to something that has many possibilities of going wrong is taking the art of photography to the extreme.  I would question if it the world record of the longest exposure that is the goal rather than the image itself.

Maarten Vanvolsem
Maarten Vanvolsem is an exponent of strip photography to record movement.  He believes it adds a different dimension by the expression of time and space in photographic images.  He sees that this technique gives “new expressions and experiences of time and movement” [9]. In ‘The Contraction of Movement 3’ the strip technique which usually is used to give a blurred background and a sharp subject image actually shows movement in the subject.  It looks like the dancer has a number of hands and feet and very little if any face set against a liner moving background.  The photograph looks a halfway house between a still image and an image if it has be frozen from a moving film.

The Contraction of Movement 3

Francesca Woodman
Ignoring the argument that because of the short duration of her body of work that Woodman is still not considered by many as a renowned photographer, I stay away from this and only consider here her use of movement and blur.

Woodman was a troubled soul who eventually took her own life.  Many writings suggest that Woodman used blurring purposely in her self-portraits to describe how she was feeling and as a device to hide behind because of her sense inadequacy, rather than just at face value a photographic technique.

Her most frequently utilised technique was the time exposure, which had the effect of blurring and diffusing her figure, and contributes largely to the evanescent, yearning quality of these ethereal meditations upon the pain of existence”[10].

House #3, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976

Many of Woodman’s photographs were taken using a slow shutter speed; the long exposure meant her movements were captured but she appeared as a blur. The effect is disconcerting, as though the camera has been left in a haunted house”[11]. I am not sure about the haunted house reference but the blur does add an extra dimension of depth to her images.

 Other Photographers
As well as researching the above photographers I also researched the following photographers to use as other reference points for my own shots.  I could have just gone out randomly and tried differing techniques but I felt I wanted a framework of understanding to see what others had done in this space.  It could be argued that this was not a good idea as it would restrict me within my thinking by me either consciously or subconsciously trying to create what I had previously seen as opposed to being totally original.  My belief in this case it was inspiring rather than restricting.

Platt D Babbitt –  Group at Niagara Falls  – 1855
I would argue that movement was an unintentional consequence with Babbitt’s pictures that added an extra dimension to the final image.  Babbitt was a daguerreotypist who took pictures in and around the Niagara Falls area many of them for affluent tourists who wanted and early version of the ‘we were here’ images.  But in doing, because of the technical limitation of the daguerreotype in the slowness of the medium, movement was subsequently recorded.  Because of the force and speed of the water it created the fluffy movement we take as grated today.  This could possibly be why Babbitt’s contemporaries of his work stated “some of the most beautiful views of the falls, and points of interest in this vicinity, that we have seen.”[12]

Erich Salomon – The King of Indiscretion – There He Is! – 1931
I would suggest that within this image the movement was an unintended consequence of poor lighting and a slow (by comparison of today) film speed.  It is essentially a grab shot in which the movement of the subject’s hands and the background character add to the general feel of movement, conviviality and joviality. What is not known if Salomon saw this as an addition to the final image or was a distraction, yet the importance of the subjects meant outweighed an ‘technical imperfection’.

Otto Steiner – Walking the Dog on Foot – 1950
I think that this image is one of my favourites of this genre.  It takes an everyday event in this case walking down the street combined with a slow shutter speed to capture the movement. In also uses a fixed position to capture that which is static combined with a very simple composition of circles and lines creates to produce this image of movement in a fixed environment.  What I cannot seem to find out as to whether Steiner had pre-planned this shot and waited for the right moment or it was decided there and then on the spot.  Regardless for me this belongs to the Cartier-Bresson decisive moment category.

Irving Penn – Rowboat on the Seine – 1951

Irving Penn more renowned for his fashion and portrait work created this image which shows movement.  I would suggest a number of techniques are used here to create this: a slow shutter speed, over exposure, possibility of purposely not focusing and some form of printing technique.


Rowboat on the Seine © Irving Penn. Reproduced with the permission of The Irving Penn Foundation

The end result is a misty almost dreamlike image that maybe mimics Georges Seurat’s style of painting; perhaps Beach at Gravelines

Ernst Haas – La Suerte De Capa, Pamplona – 1956
Ernst Haas was a great exponent of creating movement within an image. “He frequently employed techniques like shallow depth of field, selective focus, and blurred motion to create evocative, metaphorical works” [13]. Haas himself said of his this movement work “To express dynamic motion through a static moment became for me limited and unsatisfactory. The basic idea was to liberate myself from this old concept and arrive at an image in which the spectator could feel the beauty of the fourth dimension which lies much more between moments than within a moment” [14].

The link below shows a range of Haas’s movement work but for me ‘La Suerte De Capa, Pamplona’ brings together composition, colour and movement to give an image that has great dynamism.  You feel as the viewer that you are there and part of the action.  I would suggest there are similarities to this image and Robert Capa’s beach landing image in the way they work.

Different Techniques
While as mentioned before that prior research had taken place I found this quite challenging but also rewarding in that although a certain amount of composition can take place the results are generally somewhat unpredictable.  Trial and error is needed to get the feel for the right shutter speed.  Too slow and the image is completely blurred to the point all detail is lost, too fast and the element of movement is lost.  An advantage with digital technology is that the results are instant and you can refine your process immediately.  To achieve the same learning curve using film would have taken a much longer period.  The other advantage of digital technology with this type of photography is that you can see your settings on the screen, thus referring back to pictures it is easy to recreate or use these as a known starting point.

A problem I encountered was that in many cases I could not get the speeds slow enough for my desired effect.  On a bright day with the lens stopped down and a low ISO I was still getting speed of 1/10th or 1/15 of a second.  While this did create some blur it was not what I wanted.  To overcome this I used a variable neutral density filter at the strongest setting.  While probably not the most desirable thing to do on a ‘standard’ photograph as it does affect picture quality (another layer of not too good quality of glass) this would not be noticeable on the images I was creating.

1) Slow Shutter Speed with camera tripod mounted
I would suggest that one of the most common methods of demonstrating the duration space is in the use of light trails especially so in the urban environment.  A camera mounted on a tripod is left on a slow speed for a period of time that records and records the movement.  As with all of these movement techniques the results are by trial and error.  However with this method a degree of compositional choices can be made beforehand to allow a greater chance of success e.g. lights against a dark background, on a corner where the light trail will turn or move around. For me this was interesting to try this and was overall pleased with my attempt but feel this technique is a little bit overused.


Here I have purposely not tried to over use the light trail effect. I have used just use it sparingly so it becomes part of the whole composition rather than the subject itself. The rail goes behind the statue and weaves in between the lamp posts. (Location: Rolex Building, Lausanne, Switzerland).

That said Gjon Mili was an exponent in the use of light trails and stroboscopic flash to represent movement. He took a series of pictures of Picasso at the Madoura Pottery Workshop where Picasso draws with light.  So it is interesting for me that a photographer is recording an image of an artist who drawing which is only possible by the use of the medium of photography. “Picasso gave Mili 15 minutes to try one experiment. He was so fascinated by the result that he posed for five sessions, projecting 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles and his signature. Mili took his photographs in a darkened room, using two cameras, one for side view, another for front view. By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space.”[15]

The following pictures are my variation using a similar technique. The camera with a wide angle lens was tripod mounted in a darkened room. Using a torch I then moved this in different sweeps to try and create a pattern. What surprised me was that from the 30 second or so exposure the torch gave off enough light to effectively paint the bed. So not only did each individual trail register the bed is light by the accumulation of each down stroke of the torch beam.


An up and down side to side motion was used to swing the torch. It gave the effect I was looking for but an added dimension has been given that on each downstroke the torch painted light over the bed. While sort of planned the final image turned out far better than was expected.


A similar effect to the image above but this time a swirling motion. It can be seen that because of this motion the light has been painted on the bed differently that because of the downstroke of the torch. My outline can be faintly seen in the background.



Finally with this series this was taken outside in total darkness. Because my camera has not manual focus override it was very difficult to judge hence the out of focus feel. Again I think this adds to the image. To finish I then manually fired a flash to record myself. Again I had an idea of what I wanted but results while unpredictable were pleasing.

2) Slow shutter speed with camera hand held
Setting the camera at a slow speed and taking a hand held picture.  The camera will then record both what is moving in the scene plus any of my body movement at the time of taking.  I found with this I liked the results more by overexposing the scene.  This gave a much washed out appearance which to me emphasises the feeling of movement.


This was taken from the pier looking toward the beach. A windy day meant that the representation of movement was exaggerated more than I intended. Perhaps I am stretching my imagination but I think there is a certain Capa-esque feel here similar to the Omaha Beach picture. (Location Southwold, Suffolk).



A moving image and slow handheld created this added by the fact it is somewhat under exposed. To me it gives a sort of Venetian Carnival feel to the image. The movement can also be seen in a electric bulb in a window at the top of the frame, (Location: Hampton Court, London).



I propped myself against the wall to dampen the movement so as to get the background reasonably sharp and then waited for people to move quickly by. (Location: Lausanne Station, Switzerland)

3) Slow shutter speed while moving at speed.
In this case images taken at speed from inside a car.  Here I have tried to use this affect to abstract the image similar to that used by Franco Fontana – Landscape 1974.

I have slowed the speed down so the image picks up both the physical speed of the moving car, plus the fact that the camera cannot be held still enough at that speed especially over the lumps and bumps in the road. For this type of picture it does seem strange to purposely build in blur.  Many images (especially touristic photos) are taking from moving objects such as a bus, car or have unwanted blur.  What was desired was a sharp image.


I waited until fields and sky appeared and tried to recreate the feel of Fontana’s image. (Location: Somewhere on the A14, Cambridgeshire).



Passing some trees has given this almost charcoal drawing like feel to the image. Of all the experimenting I did that day this is my favourite and here I could have never have predicted the outcome of this image. (Location: Somewhere on the A14, Cambridgeshire).

What has added to the image as an unintended and unplanned effect was the dirt on the window.  This was exaggerated by the angle of the sun.  So rather than avoid it has become part of the compositional effect and added to the ambience of the final images.


In this there is a combination of the static of the wing mirror plus the movement outside. The out of focus dirt on the window acts as a conduit between the two. (Location: Somewhere on the A14, Cambridgeshire).



Taking the last technique a little further it is a combination of the movement outside and the reflection of the passenger in the train window. (Location: Train, near St. Albans, Hertfordshire).

4) Panning
This is a technique that can be used isolate a moving object with the purpose of blurring the background yet freezing the object.  This is used very much in sports photography.  Here I decided to pan yet not freeze the object and try and keep a sense of movement.  I tried different ways of panning to the left and the right. For me this works well when there is a bright object (a person in a red coast) against a muted or pale background.  Also there is a fine line between at totally abstract image and one where the subject is still just discernible and we can register what we are seeing.  (Perhaps further research is needed on what are the minimum the reference points the eye need to register before it can recognise what it is seeing).


The car was moving and the panning has slowed the movement of the car down yet it still retains some movement so it does not look like a parked car. (Location: Southwold, Suffolk).



Similar to the picture above but on a much slower speed blurs the image to the point where the subject is just discernable. (Location: Southwold, Suffolk).

5) Zooming
While the shutter is open I moved the zoom quickly through from the minimum to maximum focal length. This gives the effect of the blurring radiating out from a central point.  Again with this there needs to be some point of focus in the image.  Again I have noticed that this technique was used much once in sports photography but does not seem as prevalent now.  Also have noticed that many post production software packages can apply this as an affect afterwards however they cannot reproduce the unpredictability of creating at the camera source.


A strong subject in the middle of the screen and then zoomed out as fast as I could. Again an element of composition but much is left to chance. (Location: Southwold, Suffolk).



On a slow speed zoomed through the focal lengths as fast as I could. In doing this it left a trail on the image where the subject moved through the zoom. (Location: Southwold, Suffolk).

6) Out of focus over exposed
Moving on from the last technique I found that if out purposely did not focus correctly and over exposed a sense of movement could be created with the shutter speeds at handheld stable speeds 1/60th second or above.


Effectively every ‘rule’ was broken with this image. Out of focus, over exposed, blurred but it still does retain and element of composition and to me is a pleasing result. (Location: Southwold, Suffolk).

7) Multiple Exposure
What I wanted to do was create the sense of movement by freezing the action a number of times in the same picture.  Generally this is done by the use of a stroboscopic flash that can fire a great number of flashes per second each freezing the action. But because of a very slow shutter speed or in fact the shutter remaining open through the whole sequence (by use of the bulb setting) this is all recorded on one image giving the sense of movement.  Not having a flash like this I had to improvise by finding a very dark background (night time in this case), tripod mount the camera and set on the bulb setting.  From here I would fire a handheld flash (using the test button) directed at the subject, get the subject to move and repeat a number of times and then stop the exposure.


Camera tripod mounted on bulb setting and firing a manual hand held flash many times as I moved around. Again I knew what I wanted to achieve but the results were still somewhat unpredictable. (Location: Lausanne, Switzerland).

Because my camera does not have a multiple expose facility I tried to replicate this by exposing a scene by exposing the scene using the bulb setting so some of the image was recorded then cover the lens, move the camera and repeat and then eventually close the shutter.  The interesting thing with this technique was that even though you could have some modicum of composition the end result was very much unpredictable.  This technique probably took the most amount of time to get what I would call a reasonable result without being too abstract.


The mug which was on the table looks as if it is moving through the room as it sits against the backdrop of the windows. (Location: Lausanne, Switzerland).

8) Spinning on Axis
A compositional focal point is taken and the camera is spun on that axis as fast as possible while using a slow shutter speed.


My foot as the focal point and the camera moved fast. (Location: Lausanne, Switzerland).



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Thanks to Matthew Krejcarek, Intellectual Property Manager at The Irving Penn Foundation for permission to reproduce Rowboat on the Seine