Finally, almost a week late, I have sent in my submission for assignment 3. At the start of this unit I looked at the content and thought I’d have it done in a couple of months as there seemed to be relatively few sections and exercises. It hasn’t worked out like that at all though. Possibly because we had quite a specific brief, it wasn’t always easy to find the colours and situations I needed to photograph. Coming towards the end of my chemo, I also found it a little hard to get motivated at times. However, that’s done now too, last treatment yesterday and assignment submitted today, two milestones in one week!
What have I learnt? Well, I knew a little bit about the theory of colour from water-colour courses I have done in the past but that didn’t include anything about balancing the proportions of different colours. I have also learnt that some of the colours I would never have put together before, such as yellow and purple, can work well together, maybe again this is because I’m aware of the theoretical values given to the brightness, although as I’ve discovered, you can’t be too hard and fast about these rules.
I now appreciate how an accent of colour can add to a picture and one example of this is ‘A splash of red’ where the red of the man’s jumper and dog’s lead is used to lead the eye into the picture. In the past I would have been tempted to try to clone the man and do out!
The other thing that I’ve discovered, and this is partly about colour but partly due to looking at subjects much more carefully before I start, is that when photographing flowers or other small objects in detail, you need to take care to get a really good blemish free specimen and also make sure that your props are spotlessly clean. Some of the flower photographs had to be discarded because once the picture was on the screen, I could see that there were holes in the petals or dirty marks on the background. The surrounding is also important. Flowers and plants taken in their natural environment are lovely, particularly after a shower of rain, but when you think you have pinned back a distracting leaf, it is really frustrating find a coloured bud sticking out like a sore thumb in the background once you have the picture on your monitor. One other discovery that isn’t quite so easily remedied is that spectacles with photochromic lenses do not work well for the photographer, particularly on sunny days. I can’t count the number of times I have taken a photograph which I thought was well exposed with vibrant colours only to find them washed out when viewed on my monitor. It wasn’t until I realised that I was looking at the scene through polarised lenses of my glasses that I understood what the problem was. I now use the histogram facility on my camera and adjust the exposure accordingly. Next time I change my glasses I will have clear lenses and a separate pair for the sun.
The more I learn, the more self-critical I become and one of the things I’m finding is that having taken a picture I think I am happy with, once I have put it into my selection the questions start, would it have been better had I used a smaller aperture or focused on a different part of the scene, could the composition have been improved and so on. Usually by this time the moment has passed and I can’t go and take another photograph at that point. So there are several things I need to think about, one is maybe taking more variations of the picture at the start, using different aperture settings and another is about workflow, particularly if I’m working in controlled conditions indoors. Certainly I need to train my self to see possible problems with composition whilst taking the pictures, the chair of our local camera club calls it ‘border patrol’ and maybe the biggest challenge of all is to stop doubting myself! Some of the pictures that didn’t make the final selection, or those that were in and out again and again, fell into the above category.
This picture of the tall ship masts was one such example. If anything I preferred the composition but felt that the sky provided the backdrop I wanted in the selected picture.
In colour harmony through similar colours, I really liked the field of Echinacea, probably better than the single one which I finally included,
however I felt that the prominent flower in the foreground was too central and a distraction rather than a pleasing addition to the picture. I tried cropping the image but it only made it worse. Also for this section I had several versions of sunflowers but felt that some of them were very ‘standard shots’ which is why I chose the back view.
The picture that was chopped and changed more than any other was ‘Conkers’ in the colour harmony section. I took pictures with the chestnuts in focus, others with the shell in focus and others with a completely different composition and I’m still not convinced that I have included the right one.
What I’m now thinking is maybe I would have been better taking the pictures with a smaller aperture so that more of it was in focus, or changing the arrangement so that the bigger chestnut in the front was not so prominent.
This has been an enjoyable unit and has really made me take time and look at prospective photographs in a different way. What I have realised too is that as well as looking at the colours, I am seeing the lines shapes and patterns from the last assignment.