Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Assignment 1: First Thoughts

The subject of Assignment 1 is workflow, so I need to devise a subject that will enable me to develop and refine and meaningful workflow that results in 6 to 12 photographs ready for publication.  Without wanting to commit 100% at the moment, I think I have a subject for the assignment.  I have recently been working through the People and Place course, exploring the interaction of people with the places they inhabit.  My focus has very much been upon how humans inhabit their world and the impact they have.  A couple of times I have wanted to take the people out of the equation and consider solely the environment they inhabit.  At the same time I have been trying to get my head around whether or not to do the Landscape course at some future date, my conclusion is that yes I would like to do this, but only if I can make the Urban landscape a large part of my engagement with the subject.

What I propose, then, is to use this assignment as an opportunity to do some Urban Landscape work, part architectural, part environment.  My goal would be to document a number of areas or buildings presenting them in a fresh and interesting way.  As with my approach to almost all assignments, I will include a linking theme and present the images in small groups.  Currently this would use my local district in Munich, Bogenhausen, as the linking thread and I plan to prepare 4 sets of 3 images, each addressing a specific locale.  I am very technically orientated (obsessed may be a better word), using a wide variety of equipment, especially lenses.  For this assignment I would also like to constrain my use of technology to a single lens and a single focal length, 24mm, forcing myself to develop technique that takes advantage of this viewpoint.  However, the lens I have in mind offers considerable creative options as it is a 24 TS-E II Canon tilt shift lens.  This enables an approach to photography that is reminiscent of a view camera with bellows and requires a more complex work flow than most lenses - hence the value for this assignment.

So my theme:

  1. The Urban Landscape of the Bogenhausen district of Munich
  2. No more than 4 Buildings/Locales, although I may explore more than this in development of the assignment
  3. No more than 3 images per location
  4. Use of a single lens/camera combination, a 24mm tilt-shift on a full frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
The workflow will need to be developed, but in brief I would plan the following for each location:
  1. Do some research on the location, via the web or by visiting and exploring the area without a camera
  2. Select a single location to focus on for that specific shoot, do not try to do too much in one session
  3. Prior to shooting, ensure that camera and associated equipment are clean and functioning
  4. On location walk the area again to select good vantage points that might yield a photograph
  5. On determining a location:
    1. Find a stable and flat location for the tripod
    2. Mount the camera on the tripod, using a spirit level to ensure that the camera is perfectly horizontal
    3. Set the camera to ISO 100 and manual exposure
    4. Take a meter reading and set the camera for optimal depth of field, typically f/16 or f/22, select the corresponding shutter speed.  Make any adjustments for scene brightness, if in doubt take a manual meter reading with separate light meter
    5. Shutter speed will be slow, possibly several seconds, so the tripod must be very secure
    6. With the exposure locked, shift the lens for optimal perspective
    7. Manually focus the lens, use live view on maximum magnification to check for focus
    8. Use a remote shutter release to avoid any camera shake
    9. Review on the screen and reposition if necessary
  6. After shooting download the images into Lightroom, making backups
  7. Edit the photographs down to no more than 10 keepers and place these in a separate collection numbered for the assignment
  8. Repeat for as many locations as are needed
  9. Once I have sufficient locations, select the 4 most promising and review the images once more
  10. If necessary go back on location to rework any images that do not work well
  11. From the 10 keepers per location select 2-3 to present to my Tutor
  12. Recalibrate my primary computer screen to ensure I can print with colour consistent results
  13. Finalize the processing of the images in Lightroom and export as 16 bit TIFFs
  14. Crop for print and print from Photoshop to my HP B9180 printer
  15. Convert the 16 bit TIFFs into medium quality JPEGs for loading onto the web and sending to my tutor
Today I had the chance to do a little exploration of possible locations for this assignment, a part of step 1 in the above workflow.  I also used the images for Exercise 4.  Following is a primarily visual essay using photographs to explore and describe some possible locations

The first location I visited was a nearby apartment complex painted in bright, almost primary colours.  I was caught by the contrast between the painted buildings and the cars outside, and tried to find interesting combinations, either harmonizing or contrasting:

Nearby is an area full of small allotments:

Opposite the allotments are a group of ugly high rise buildings surrounded by trees coming to the end of their Autumn foliage.  My tilt shift would do a better job of managing the converging verticals

Moving to something more modern, this is a recently completed office and retail complex, offering interesting forms and shapes for the camera

The dominant building in the area is the Hypovereinsbank, the strange silver building in the background of the following images

My final location today was the Arabella Sheraton Hotel a great slab of concrete sitting in a modern (well it was in the 60's) shopping and housing area

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