Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Light and colour

Over the last week I have been learning a little more about light and colour and how the camera 'sees' these element of the picture.

The white balance is quite technical but it interesting to play with - the settings basically act as filters that can make subtle or dramatic differences to the final photo.

This is Polly

and Polly helped me set up a little still life so that I could have a look at the different WB settings in daylight. This was a bit of an overcast day.

ISO 100, 17mm lens, 1/250 at f3.5 set manually, fill in flash.
AWB  35mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f8.0
 Full sun
 Tungsten light
 Custom - unset

The camera's estimated setting for this sort of day/light was reasonably accurate.
I tried the same exercise under tungsten light - one that often makes quite a dramatic difference.
 AWB - 35mm, ISO 100, 0.4, f8.0
 Full sun

I didn't think that any of these presets were accurate for the light or looked particularly attractive, unless you really wanted the yellowy atmosphere. I used a white card from one of the photography magazines to take a custom reading and also used some their 18% grey card to help with the exposure.

The result was pretty striking - a really even exposure and accurate whites and colours.

I want to start to use the white balance more accurately when necessary but also more creatively. These shots of Winter Hill were each with different setting and each has a different feel.

 Tungsten - 17mm, ISO 100, 1/13, f22

 AWB - 20mm, ISO 100, 1/13, f22

Shade - 17mm, ISO 100, 1/10, f22

As the light changes at different times of the day the different WB can be used highten or emphasise colour too. These were taken at dusk using the tungsten setting - something that also helped to create a more interesting atmosphere.

 50mm ef, ISO 400, 1/100, F8.0

50mm ef, 1/80, F8.0

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Portrait: Anna

I like photojournalism, and I am a big fan of lots of the old school photographers - such as Bert Hardy or Margaret Bourke-White - who worked for magazines like Picture Post and LIFE. Their photographs generally told a story with a human focus.

ISO 100, 35mm, 1/60, f4.5

This sort of work was in my mind when I went to Anna’s Barber Shop in Cheetham Hill. It’s where I get what’s left of my hair cut and I thought it would be an interesting environment to photograph.

17mm, 1/60, f4.5

I planned to record aspects of the working day in black and white, and started off in this way. But the more that I shot the more that I realised that the colour in the shop was far too interesting to leave out. I also began to concentrate on Anna, and the photographs became a portrait of her. For 18 years she has cropped the heads of the men and boys of the area and the shop and its customers revolve around her.

ISO 100, 17mm, 1/60, f4.5

ISO 200, 55mm, 1/50, f3.5

ISO 250, 55mm, 1/40, f4.5

 35mm, 1/40, f2.8

50mm, 1/50, f2.0

17mm, 1/50, f2.8

50mm, 1/125, f2.0

50mm, 1/60, f2.2

50mm, 1/125, f1.8

50mm, 1/80, f2.5

ISO 320, 50mm, 1/60, f3.2

50mm, 1/60, f3.2

On this day she was assisted by Martine. The flow of customers was almost ceaseless - hard work that requires concentration. I am always impressed with Anna’s ability to talk to her very different customers, or to be more accurate, to listen and respond.

Martine - ISO 320, 35mm, 1/15, f5.6

ISO 250, 17mm, 1/40, f3.5

17mm, 1/40, f3.5

35mm, 1/40, f2.8

ISO 320, 24mm, 1/50, f2.8

I also shot some pretty straight portraits of Anna but I feel they lack the interest of the environmental shots.

As I was leaving the shop a customer brought his son for a haircut. He was not a willing subject and I stayed to photograph Anna’s struggle to cut his hair. It was a scene of some drama, and one in which her skill and determination were clear.

35mm, 1/50, f2.8

17mm, 1/50, f3.2

These are RAW images that have not been processed. The different light sources in the shop provided a bit of a challenge. I used a fast f1.8 aperture lens for some shots. This was really effective but the very limited DoF was tricky to handle too.

A big thank you to Anna, Martine, Nellie the dog for letting me spend the day with them.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

White balance

I found some resources on the web that helped to explain this - and make it clear that the cameras settings are just an introduction. The originators of these diagrams retain their copyright.

This chart shows the colour temperatures and some of their equivalents.

These symbols match the pre-sets on my camera

The camera pre-sets are guesswork designed to save time - they are not exact.

I tend to adjust the WB a lot because I have noticed the difference that it can make. This collage, also from the web, shows some contrasts.

It is something I'd like to research and experiment with. Here are some shots showing the various white balance pre-settings on my camera and shot under artificial light at Fielden. The exposure is the same throughout.


Bright sun 

 Tungsten lightbulb
 Florescent tube
Custom (not set)