Final Assessment

Life Through a Lens

The brief:

“….Narrative surrounds us in momentary experiences as well as within a sequence of events. The challenge of this assessment task is to capture narrative moments within single photographs as well as (on a broader level) the series that the photographs make up. You are encouraged to explore the idea that in the realm of photography, the whole is the sum of its parts and the parts can stand alone: both aspects contain narrative…

…Choose your own phrase. It must be a phrase, not a complete sentence, past, present or future tense. This phrase will be the theme which drives your photography for this second assessment.”

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Rationale:

The light after dark is a photographic narrative that follows a soul who is discovering the benefits of nurturing ones own light in the face of darkness. From a tiny flame that flickers and struggles to exist, to a blazing fire which lights up the landscape, and all of the steps of self discovery in between; her light is a subjective concept, one that is within the realm of the beholder to translate in a way that is easiest to relate to.

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The story behind my choosing of this phrase originally was that after shooting water in a very high shutter speed for my first assessment, I wanted to experiment with something that was the complete flip side. Under pressure to choose a phrase by the deadline, and with the knowledge that I had the option of changing it later on, I chose ‘the light in the dark’ with the vague idea that I might do something to do with long exposures.

The idea went through a few twists and turns since then, and I got a semi complete series of the knife makers at Eveleigh works, but was unable to finish the series in time in a way that made sense. Besides, I had already had another idea, one that carried a lot more meaning and significance to my my own recent life experience.

After talking with my lovely new housemate Sjuzannah about the irony that in a city as teeming with people as Sydney, how you can feel so completely isolated when you are new, and people and places are all unfamiliar.

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I shared with her my experience of overcoming this, in which I changed my own perception and attitude, from one of self–pity, to acceptance and gratitude, wherein I embraced my own feelings of vulnerability and insecurity.

I decided to reach out where I could, and spend the time I normally would spend on social pursuits on myself instead. I chose to pay attention to my inner feelings and take time to meditate and reflect in a way that was compassionate to myself.

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This has been an important lesson for me, and Sjusannah could also relate to the  experience. She agreed to be my model, and together we developed the concept to suit the original phrase, as I was too doggedly stubborn to cop out and change my theme again like in the first assessment.

To get the shots we spent an adventurous weekend which involved getting lost dozens of times and accidentally going over the Harbour bridge twice; hiking through the undergrowth to get our sunset shots at the last possible second, several cheeky & illegal parking spots on inner city sidewalks, setting steel wool alight at Carriageworks and both getting drenched in the fountains in front of a Saturday night crowd… And incredibly, no parking tickets, police, or security attention whatsoever!

So ‘The Light After Dark” as I see it, is a series which illustrates a personal journey. It is my hope to show how for a couple of girls who felt alone, found the rewards of nurturing your own light, being your own support network, confidante and partner. How spending time listening to your inner self and paying care and attention to your thoughts and emotions, facing challenges head on with courage and calm, and overcoming obstacles with positivity and self compassion, is the best thing that one can do to nourish ones own flame so that it can burn bright from within, – authentic, unquenchable and unique.

 

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…so that it may grow…

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..into a beacon of light that will guide and protect you, all of your days.

 

 

 

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Lesson 10 – Portraits

Life Through a Lens

Sadly I missed the lesson in the studio for portraiture, but here are some examples both past and present, of portraits I have shot. (See captions for details)

An example of beauty retouching using photoshop:

Here is a portrait I recently took of Teya which I have retouched for the purpose of example here. The first is the original unedited photograph, the second with all freckles and blemishes absent, the third, keeping her looking like her natural self with freckles intact, but skin smoothed, eyes and teeth brightened and lips plumped. These effects were achieved using a variety of techniques including the clone tool, dodge and burn, layer blends, the paintbrush/eyedropper tools and gaussian blur.

 

Lesson 9 – Narrative

Life Through a Lens

A visual or photographic narrative tells a story through a series of images. The series can be either linear or non linear.

The example above is from a non–linear photo essay by David Wells. His thoughts on the subject are very concise and a great read.

He says of the series:

“…The photos shown here are from my project: The relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. My project proposal for that project says: In 1990, before the first Madrid peace conference, I started photographing the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. In my experience, the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis is best viewed as a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is conflict, at the other end of the spectrum is cooperation, intentional attempts at understanding one another through dialogue groups, summer camps, etc. The middle of the spectrum is co-existence, day-to-day interactions in shared working, living, and playing spaces. Coexistence is the heart of the relationship and the part of the relationship that is most ignored in the media at large. Much of my work has been an effort to humanize (sic) both sides. My photographs of the occupation and the forced interaction between Israelis and Palestinians highlight the problems, while images of their intentional, chosen interactions show the positive possibilities. It is very telling that when I disseminate my work, in and out of the Middle East, viewers are surprised by their inability to tell Palestinian from Israeli, reminding viewers of the similarity between the two. My goal was to put a human face on the struggles for Middle East peace and to educate people both in and outside of the Middle East…” Read the whole article here.

Here is an example of a linear narrative by Duane Michals:

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For my photo narrative, I have included a scene which occurred the other weekend on Good Friday, when a group of friends who are still getting used to the encroachment of kids on their lives, bore witness to a miniature scene of bullying play out before them. I was photographing willy nilly and a little bit tipsy at the time, but found it intriguing that I did not fully realise what had actually happened until later, when reviewing the shots:

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…Poor kid!

Lesson 7 – White Balance

Life Through a Lens

 

This week we are looking at white balance, and the effect had by using the presets in our cameras settings both correctly and incorrectly in different lighting conditions.

White balance is a setting on your digital camera which allows for increased accuracy of the colours in a captured image. It allows for greater control and flexibility when needing to compensate for the myriad of different light sources and conditions that may be encountered, enabling a truer representation of the scene.

White balance presets on a typical DSLR camera:

  • Tungsten lightbulb (household filament)
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Flash
  • Daylight (sun overhead)
  • Cloudy (moderately overcast)
  • Shade (shadowed)
  • Auto
  • Custom
  • User defined

In general photography, having the white balance set to ‘auto’ will usually suffice. It is worth noting however, that the auto setting for your white balance is most effective when there is at least one white or colourless and bright element in the shot. Whilst not being essential for every situation, if your subject does not include something of this nature, the auto white balance can be prone to over or under–compensating the colour temperature of the shot.

It is in these circumstances that it is worth knowing about colour temperature, white balance, and how to measure it and adjust for the best results.

Here I am going to take a moment to give a big shout out to Grandpa (Malc) pictured in the following slideshow… Lesson 7 in Sydney there no sunshine to be seen, and so it was impossible to conduct the WB experiments in daylight. Back home in Adelaide for a couple of weeks, I’m here staying with Grandpa; who despite never quite being entirely at ease for too long in front of a camera, agreed to model for me to demonstrate the Kelvin colour temperature scale in sunlight. My Grandpa is my favourite person and my greatest support in life, and in my pursuit of graphic design. He turns 94 on Thursday, still plays tennis and is a deadset genuine Aussie legend.

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The reason we need white balance settings at all is because different kinds of light have different colours. Our eyes are so effective at compensating and correcting for this that we often do not notice it until we looking at a photograph, when the colour cast suddenly becomes obvious. The majority of light sources, especially those that are natural light, give off a colour cast which ranges from a cool to warm, with neutral white in the middle.

The system of measurement for colour temperature from warm to cool is in units of Kelvin. The warmer a light source’s colour temperature is, the lower it’s number when measured in units of Kelvin. The red light of a flame will be at the lower end of the Kelvin scale, and the blue tinge of the sky on a clear day will be at the higher end.

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White balance can be measured on two scales of colour: Warm to cool which is red or orange to blue, but also green to magenta. The warm to cool scale comes into play more commonly in situations like daylight, but modern artificial lighting situations such as Fluorescent bulbs may require adjusting on this green to magenta scale.

Experimenting in different light sources as in the examples here, and trying the different preset white balance settings is a great way to get a better understanding of the way these adjustment work and the effect of the Kelvin scale in photography.

More comprehensive info on the subject can be found here.