Friday, 17 September 2010

TPI - Assignment 7

This was by far the best assignment of the course so far.  What appeared to be a simple task when I first read it turned into an unexpected journey.  Although I'm interested in photography I had never really studied the work of great photographers.  Sure, I was familiar with some and during this assignment I began to realise how much of their work is out there for all to see. 

I also had a long hard think about the type of photography that I really enjoy and want to pursue. This involved trawling through countless images on-line and in books and magazines (something which I do anyway).  After a while I could see that there were certain images I was drawn to.  I used a useful feature on flickr to collect images that I liked.  The "gallery" option lets you create galleries made of images from other flickr users.  I built up a collection of images over a period of time and after a while I could see a type, style, genre that I was drawn to more that others.  If I'm honest I like taking all types of pictures so it was difficult to select one area to focus on, however, if I had the choice to be great at one area of photography it would be portraits.....and in particular, Black and white portraits.

The image I selected for Part A was one that I had seen before but never new much about it.  Whenever I did a search for Black and White portraits it would always appear and would stand out more than any others on the screen.  It was THE picture I had to copy.  By coincidence I had borrowed a book from a friend at work and the photographer who's work I was going to copy was in there.  What suprised me was that it was a photography I knew about.  As an avid U2 fan since their early days I knew that they were almost always photographed by Anton Corbijn.  It was only then that I found out that he made the image I was going to copy....small world.    Like I said earlier, their work is everywhere and these days I find myself looking at images and trying to work out who's work it is.  Over time I'm sure I'll get better at it.

Taking the image was an great experience too.  At first I was trying to take the shot on my own but this was proving difficult.  In the end I had to get help from my wife, so technically I didn't actually take the picture.

For the second part of the assignment I also focused on portraits and spent even more time searching through images in order to find a bunch of them that I was happy with.

Again, I was very pleased with my score but as always the comments from my tutor where much more important.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

TPI - Assignment 6

This should have been straight-forward and simple.  This was the first assignment where I thought i'd be able to complete it in no time at all.  This was why the alarm bells started ringing and I found my self asking the question, "what have I missed ?".  After all, it can't be that easy so I must have missed something.
Lighting and portraits are things I have spent a lot of time on so I was really looking forward to getting some good shots.  The only problem was that they had to be pictures of a man and a woman.  So my favourite models (the kids) couldn't help me out here.

Throughout the course I have always taken new pictures rather that looked at my hard-drive for any previous shots that fit the criteria.  I wanted to make sure that as I went through each assignment I applied the knowledge I had gained from the previous ones.  This meant that for the portraits I wanted to make sure that everything was right, exposure, perspective, composition, dof, white balance, lighting and so on.
Although there were some trade-off's because I was pushed for time and couldn't take the pictures when and where I really wanted to.
So with all that in mind I finally got some portraits taken in natural light and artificial light.  As always the feedback was much more important than the score  (9/10).   This is one of the many assignments that I want to re-visit as I know I can do better if I get a bit more time. 

Friday, 11 June 2010

TPI - Assignment 5

Sunglasses - I was struggling with this assignment at the start and it took me a while to realise what the problem was.  Then just by coincidence I happened to buy a new pair of sunglasses.  While driving home from the shops with the new sunglasses on I was amazed at how much greener the grass was and how much bluer the sky was.  The sunglasses have a orange tint and this was making my view of the world look completely different.  I particularly liked the way the clouds were more prominent and that I could see more detail whereas without the glasses there was no real detail visible.  Just for clarification, this assignment is all about Light & Colour.

This sunglasses moment sort of kick started the assignment off for me and I then set about re-reading the assignment several times over.  There were also books recommended in the assignment which I have since bought.

So having got the enthusiasm back I set about taking some shots to use for the assignment.  This was when things started to go down hill again.  Although I had some images to play with I was not 100% happy with them but I'll blame that on the weather and the small windows of opportunity I had to get out and shoot.  In fact, the next hurdle was to do with technology not taking pictures.  The objective was to utilise channel mixing to produce a monochrome image.  This is difficult when your software does not have that feature.

Gimp - Having read through some course documentation for help I found I was faced with 2 choices,  1. Purchase Photoshop CS4  or 2. Download the Gimp for free.  You guessed it, with Gimp installed I started to play with the channel mixer and managed to get some fairly good results.  Channel mixing can be quite difficult and I tried it on a lot of images to try and get a better understanding about how the Red, Green and Blue channels affect an image when they are manipulated.  This was all well and good but I was still not at the point where I felt I had a good enough image to upload and write about.

CS5 - After all the fretting over this assignment I was rescued by Adobe.  Just by coincidence they launched CS5 and there was a free 30 day trial on offer.  Without hesitation I downloaded the trial and re-visited most of my images so I could use a real channel mixer on them.  The difference was amazing, the application is so good it's untrue.  I was able to process my final image, write up my findings and I got 9/10 for my efforts.

There's more - I also found out through this great group on flickr that as a student with the Photography Institute I was entitled to a student discount on Adobe products.  When I say discount it's not like 10 or 20%, its closer to 80%, and for a product like CS5 this make a HUGE difference.

You guessed it,  I now use CS5 extended which includes Bridge, mini-bridge and Camera Raw.  Plus I also got a months subscription to where there a tons of tutorials videos on Photoshop and a whole host of other products.

This was one of the most challenging and interesting assignments so far and I have learnt a great deal from it.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

TPI - Assignment 4

Well this one took me ages to complete, not because I was being lazy (well maybe) but because it required some outdoor shots in various lighting conditions. Living in the UK we usually only get one type of light outside....dull grey, so while I tried to arrange stuff so that I could go out and take pictures it was usually a non-starter as the conditions were never any good.

Then finally it came, we had a good weekend last week and I was able to get out on Saturday morning. (Which was good because since then we have had rain, hail and snow !)

Taking the pictures was very rewarding as I was making use of other things I have learned in the previous assignments. Additionally, I had a new tripod to use which made life so much easier.

My objectives for this shoot were to get the images required for the assignment and to also get a nice landscape image.

Overall I have learned a lot more about histograms and how to read them. The course notes don't go into a great detail about histograms but that is what the assignment is for (pratical is so much better than theory).  I would say though that the material it does cover is very useful to know and I have again learned a great deal from it.

Let's hope the score at least meets my expectation.

Friday, 12 March 2010

TPI - Assignment 3

Certainly the most difficult/interesting assignment so far. What I really mean is that this is one area of photography that I hadn't studied previously in any detail. Metering was something I just left to the camera to sort out but there is so much more control you can take by chosing the right type of metering.

I found the Zone System very intersting and whole concept of 18% grey has (I think) finally clicked.
That said I'm sure I'll revisit this topic from time to time and realise that I haven't got it nailed at all yet !

Thursday, 4 March 2010

TPI - Assignment 2

This was a very thought provoking assignment that covered some basic principles but brought it all together in a way that was much easier to understand....If that makes sense ?

The relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO is something which I'd like to think I have a good understanding of but had never spent time taking test shots at different settings in order to study the differences. This was really useful as it helps you start to memorise the various aperture settings and shutter speeds in terms of full stops rather than the 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments you get on the camera.
The best part of the assignment was to do with pre-visualisation and preparation for a shoot. The time spent carrying out research on a shoot can be really useful as you don't need any equipment...just your brain. What starts out as a simple idea takes on all sorts of twists and turns until you come up with what you think the picture will look like. Then you set up the shoot and it all changes again.

I found that a particular idea kept coming back to me so I had to try it out but for one reason or another I didn't. I still haven't taken this particular shot but as soon as I get the opportunity I will do and it will be added to this update.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

TPI Assignment 1 Results

How fast was that !

I submitted Assignment One last night and when I logged in this morning it has been marked. Not only that, my tutor had added some very useful comments as well.

Having reviewed the assignment, my answers and the comments from the Tutor I can see that this isn't just about Questions and Answers, or just about photography.

You need to read and understand the infomation provided in the modules. You need to fill in the blanks (after working out if there are any to fill). You need to ensure you put your perspective on things. There isn't really a right or wrong answer as long as you can explain your choices and what you expect to get from them.
You need to research different scenarios to see what others would do and then decide what works for you as your own style is very important.
You need to re-read the areas you are unsure of until it sticks.

I know it's only the first module but I have learned a lot already. The fact that I got 8/10 doesnt mean I did well. It means I understand the differences between lens types and when they should be used. What I really learned from this is that I should look at each situation in detail and document everything I thought about. It is quite easy to just pick what lens you would use for a certain situation and why, but it requires more research, knowledge and creativity to produce an image that stands out above the others.

The real test will come with Assignment 2 when I get to submit my first image.

Here goes......

Monday, 18 January 2010

TPI - Assignment 1

I have finally completed and submitted Assignment 1. This is the first of twelve assignments and unlike the others it is theory work and did not require any photographs. (At least my understanding is that this is the only theory assignment)

The content covered types of cameras and lenses and although this may sound basic I picked up a lot of useful information from this module.

The assignment itself appeared quite straight-forward at first but the more I read it the more I realised that you really do need to pay attention to the information provided in the module. The questions themselves also provided key information and you do need to ensure you pay attention to detail.

I must have reviewed my answers a dozen times before I submitted them. This was after several sessions trawling through google to find hints and tips. In the end I had to go with what I would do and not what the text book says.

The course encourages you to be yourself and present your ideas and your style of photography. Obviously there are rules but there are no real wrong answers if you can explain your answer and demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. (Well that's what I'm hoping anyway).

Module 2 starts tomorrow....

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Photography Institute - Course

After over a year of reviewing photography courses I have finally took the plunge and enrolled in the Photography Institute Photography course.

I have started Module 1 and so far I am very impressed by the course layout and content. A number of topics have already "clicked" into place after reading just the first module. There are no photographs required for module 1 but it is still really interesting and set's you up nicely for module 2.

I will be posting regular updates on here as I progress through the course.

Monday, 4 January 2010


There are far too many pictures of sunsets, just look on istockphoto. Their rules about what you can upload states - sunsets = "been there, done that" .
That said, a few more won't hurt, so I had a go at taking some and living near to the coast meant a lot of pictures of sunsets looking out to sea (by far the most common). Unfortunately my timing was never very good. I would look out of the window at home and see a fantastic sunset so I'd get in the car and drive down to the beach. Needless to say, by the time I arrived the light, colour, everything had gone.

During 2009 I didn't take any pictures of sunsets, the pictures here were taken in 2007 and 2008. I would normally consider this (winter) the wrong time of year to take sunset pictures as the sun now sets behind the mountains rather than out at sea (from where I live anyway).

Now the New year is here I have set myself a number of goals and one of them is to get a set of decent sunset pictures. I'm not 100% certain what these will be of but there will be a mixture of shots taken both towards and away from the setting sun.

I particularly like the way the low sun illuminates buildings and people so there may be a couple of portraits taken at sunset as well as some interesting architecture. Whatever I do capture will be posted on flickr.