Shallow Depth of Field

Introduction:

Shallow depth of field can be used in photography to create softened and blurred backgrounds and highlight particular objects in the foreground in detail, to create a dramatic effect. It is particularly useful for up close photography and concentrating on small objects. This is due to the lens alignment in the camera being set to only focus on a narrow field of space, rather than into the distance.

 

For the purpose of the study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. How is shallow depth of field achieved in camera settings?
  2. Are there particular settings that produce the best effects?

 

Hypothesis:

I propose that the use of a large aperture (small f no) should create a shallow depth of field, to allow me to focus of foreground objects with softened backgrounds.

 

Methodology/Research:

Upon research I came across these examples of shallow depth of field, (SDF), that I found worth fitting to demonstrate its use.

 

I composed this shoot in in Sandy-Brookes woods in Preston due to it being a snowy day to capture the way that it had fallen on the trees. I a prime lens, with an aperture sizes ranging from f/1.8 and f/2 the widest available to the lens, to allow for the shortest depth of field.

 

Conclusion:

I have found the progression within my images pleasing, which had a lot to do with the distance of the features in the background, which effected how blurred they became. I have learned that the use of wide aperture to create shallow depth of field, can be used effectively to create detailed imagery with softened backgrounds.

 

Bibliography:

[1] CLADERA, A. (2016). The Ultimate Photography Guide To Depth Of Field. Photo Pills. [Online] Available from: http://www.photopills.com/articles/ultimate-guide-depth-field                                                                                                                                            [Accessed: 09 May 2016]

[2] CAMBRIDGE IN COLOUR, (2016). Tutorials: Depth Of Field. [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/depth-of-field.htm                                     [Accessed: 09 May 2016]

[3] MEYER, J. (2016) What is Depth of Field in Photography. Digital Camera World. [Online] Available from: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2016/01/25/what-is-depth-of-field-in-photography-how-aperture-focal-length-and-focus-control-sharpness/                                                                                                                                  [Accessed: 09 May 2016]

[4] ROWSE, D, (2016) 17 Beautiful Images With Shallow Depth of Field. Digital Photography School. [Online] Available from: http://digital-photography-school.com/17-beautiful-images-with-shallow-depth-of-field/                                                                                [Accessed: 09 May 2016]

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Anthotype Process

Introduction:

Anthotypes are a way to create fine art images from garden and household plants. The elegant process was originally invented by Sir William Herschel in 1842. An emulsion is made from crushed flower petals or any other light-sensitive plant, fruit or vegetable. A coated sheet of paper is then dried, exposed to direct full sun-light until the image is bleached out. This is done ideally in a printing frame over 1-3 days or more depending on conditions and negative/material. What you see is what you get. No fixation is required. You can follow the gradually emerging image as you go. Results vary greatly from plant to plant and the strength of the emulsion employed. The resulting images are exquisite and often almost wispy or dream-like. The Anthotype process is a beautiful way to make images and is certainly the most environmentally-friendly.

 

For the purpose of this study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. What is the method of creating an Anthotype?
  2. What materials do I need?
  3. Will there be enough sunlight to develop the image via transparency or photogram object?

 

Hypothesis:

I predict that moderate to full sunshine will be required to complete to bleaching process and the process will take longer depending on the amount of light available. I am also under the impression that thick water colour paper, possibly 300gsm, will absorb more solution and allow for more vibrant colour, however thicker paper may take longer to bleach due to the amount of pigment that it can hold.

 

Methodology/Research:

The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Library Resources)

The Anthotype is a Greek work that means flower. The process was invented and developed by Sir John Herschel, later being experimented with by more post modernist artist’s. The process consists of using only organic materials that are environmentally friendly and pleasant in toxicity causing no harm via inhalation etc. The method was first created in early 1840s and is a bleaching method using natural UV light from the sun.

Herschel carried out a number of experiments based around this process which included; the use of different flower petals and vegetation, experimentation with light from the sun and alcohol. However, after experimenting with these elements further, Herschel decided upon two possible paths to go down for further investigation, which were;

  1. To experiment with selective filtering of light for manipulating exposures.
  2. Experiment with the use of natural pigments from flowers to make the images, via bleaching the colours with the sunlight.

In 1832, Herschel conducted an experiment that involved the use of two glass tubes, filled with palatinate of lime (Calcium Chloroplatinite). He filled a glass with liquid and the red coloured solution from the petals has prevented the platinum lime water from being influenced by UV. This confirmed that the action of light determined the precipitation of marinate of platinum by lime water. To experiment further, he made a solution from red rose leaves soaked in sulphuric acid, to release the colour and experiment on the violet end of the colour scale.

Herschel carried out his first plant dye photograph after studying the light sensitivity of natural plant matter. He also used coloured objects that reflected the light of the same colour tone presented in the petals juices. However, he discovered that the colour pigment created when the juice was created did not always present as the same colour in the final outcome. This was due to the way different types of flowers and vegetation react to acidity, alkalinity of the solution.

Due to these technicalities exposure times varied depending on the type of flower, plant or vegetation used. It is said that flowers like the Yellow Japonica or Beetroot can work efficiently, often developing within several hours to several days.

There is no need to wash or fix the image after development as the sun has done all the work already. It is said that blue tone pigments are easier to expose but harder to preserve. In this case the image could be scanned onto the computer and then printed onto Japanese rice paper which looks appealing and is easier to preserve.

[2]

 

 

There are a number of artist’s successfully carrying out this sensitive process, however upon research I came across two artists which were particularly appealing to me;

Hans de Bruijn uses beetroot and achiote juice to create his images, then scans them and makes them black and white, presumable upping the contrast to digitally enhance them. His work has an otherworldly and space like appearance, with lots of texture and very sharp in detail.

 

 

 

Silvino Gonzalez creates anthotypes, gum-oils and gum-bichromates which are all natural photographic processes which can be used in cresting images via sun bleaching.

 

 

 

Materials required for the process:

  • Acetate printing paper
  • Watercolour art paper
  • A dozen petals from colourful flowers, berries, leaves or other plant
  • Mortar and pestle or a food blender
  • A bowl for mixing the ingredients in
  • Water (distilled if possible) or alcohol
  • Cheese cloth, coffee filter, cotton cloth or a very fine masked strainer
  • Paint brush
  • A glass clip frame or contact print frame
  • A large size positive (not negative) or items to make photograms
  • Plenty of sunshine
  • News paper to protect work surfaces
  • Gloves and apron or an old T-shirt

Work in a dimly lit area and prepare a dark drying area before starting the emulsion process.

Step 1:

  • Grind, mash or plant/petals
  • If the plants, leaves or berries are too dry, dilute a little with a few drops of either tap water, distilled water, denatured alcohol, vodka, lighter fuel, paraffin oil, olive oil or rapeseed oil.
  • Once it is blended or crushed into pulp, strain it through the chosen filter.
  • Once it has all drained through use a tea spoon to remove any excess liquid, discard the leftover liquid and pulp in the filter.
  • Ensure that the cloth is thoroughly cleaned between different emulsions to avoid contamination or use a new filter for each strain.

Step 2:

  • Brush or drip the emulsion onto the watercolour paper (both add different qualities to the final print).
  • Coating with a brush allows visible brush strokes on the paper.

Step 3:

  • Place photogram objects or positive print onto the paper to make a print.
  • Place in contact print frame and lock
  • Leave in the sunshine for days or even weeks to bleach the print.

 

Materials Purchased for the process:

  1. 16 Sheets of A4 Watercolour Paper (180gsm)
  2. 60 Acetate Transparency Sheets A4 for Laser and Copier
  3. 50 piece set, coffee machine dripper filters (24cm)

Experimenting with my own Anthotypes:

Day 1:

 

 

 

 

Day 2:

After researching the work of Hans de Bruijn, I decided to experiment further with creating my own anthotype with the use of beetroot juice to obtain a more concentrated stain. I did not make use of a photo frame this time but stuck the acetate to the paper after it had dried and stock to a piece of card and placed in the window.

 

 

 

 

Day 3:

I followed the same method as above, only this time I used a different acetate which had a clear background.

 

 

This attempt was the most successful, due to the use of a glass sheet to hold down the overlay. It’s unfortunate I only implemented this part way through the process, through discovering taping them to the window was allowing the transparency to came away from the pigments layer. There are certain sections that are more detailed than others, possibly due to light intensity and variations in the pigmentation of the paper.

 

 

Conclusion

The anthotype process has been interesting but challenging, due to the longevity of the exposure time. After unsuccessful results with plant pigments, some relatively legible results have been achieved using beetroot juice. It has not been a particularly interesting process to implement, due to the nature of just leaving it to one side for as long as possible.

 

Bibliography:

[1] ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY. (2016) Anthotype: Step by Step Instructions to Making a Print Using Plants. [Online] Available from: http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/processes/anthotypes/anthotypes-making-print-using-plants                                                                                                                  [Accessed: 27th January 2016]

[2] JAMES, C. (2009). The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. Chapter 6, pgs 138-144. 2nd Ed. Delmar: Cengage Learning.

[3] JAMES, C. (2002). The Anthotype Process pdf. [Online] Available from: http://www.geraldbivens.com/rd/james-anthotype-process.pdf                              [Accessed: 08 May 2016]

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Large Format

Introduction:

Large format utilises 5″x 4″ individual film slides for the highest level of image reproduction available to the film media.  Due to its high cost and lack of easy role delivery system, large format photography was reserved for high class professionals, large organisations and projects of great importance and significance. Its results however, were second to none and were unsurpassed until very high megapixel, digital photography and some would say, yet still to be surpassed,

 

For the purpose of this study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. Can using large format film and photography equipment produce very high quality images?

 

Hypothesis:

I am of the assumption that other than the loading, delivery method and development process large format photography should be similar to all film based photography, thus quite simple to implement.

 

Methodology:

Loading the Slide Film:

  1. Ensure the room is in complete darkness.
  2. Remove the film from light sensitive protective bag.
  3. The notch should be in the top right hand corner.
  4. Pull the dark slide out by around two inches.
  5. Feel for the film guides and fit the film under, emulsion side up.
  6. Ensure the film is inserted fully into the guide.
  7. Usually before going into the dark the dark slides are placed into the holder with the silver strip visible (showing they have not been exposed), then once they have been exposed the dark slide is placed back in the holder with the black strip visible (showing they have been exposed) ready to develop in the dark room.

Using the Camera:

  1. Choose the camera position, approximate orientation and focal length.
  2. Set up and level the tripod and camera.
  3. Attach the lens and open it to full aperture.
  4. Focus roughly using the focussing knob.
  5. Adjust precisely the composition while looking at the ground glass.
  6. Focus precisely with tilts/swings.
  7. Determine the optimal aperture.
  8. Re-adjust slightly the composition (optional but recommended).
  9. Adjust filters and compendium shade (optional but recommended).
  10. Check for vignetting (optional but recommended).
  11. Close the lens, cock the shutter, rap and insert the film holder.
  12. Determine the shutter speed.
  13. Set the aperture and shutter speed.
  14. Remove the dark slide.
  15. Look at the subject.
  16. Fire the shutter with a cable release.
  17. Put the darkslide back in.
  18. Remove the filmholder.
  19. Make a second identical exposure (optional but recommended).

 

Printing the Slide Film:

  1. Prepare trays in the wet bench with developer, water for stop bath and fixer.
  2. Ensure the room is completely dark.
  3. Remove the film from the holder and place face down in the developer bath for 6 minutes, agitating for 10 seconds every minute.
  4. Place in the stop bath tray and agitate for 30 seconds.
  5. Place the film into the fix bath for 5 minutes, agitating for 10 seconds every minute.

 

 

The development involves being in total darkness and differently to roll film, a tray was used to process the slide film in a tray.

 

Conclusion:

By utilising large format film and photography equipment, I have managed to create a high quality image. Its clarity and detail are impressive due to its visible grain. However, due to over-exposure the final image was slightly compromised aesthetically. Overall, I enjoyed using the large format camera and the whole large format film process, so would happily implement its use in my future photography projects. I have also found particular reverence for the large format camera, due to its use in the production of Daguerreotype, I process I also enjoyed very much.

 

Bibliography:

[1] STUFF, (2011). How to Load 4×5 Sheet Film Holders. [Online] Available from: http://zo-d.com/stuff/photography/how-to-load-4×5-sheet-film-holders.html              [Accessed: 22 March 2016]

[2] LARGE FORMAT PHOTOGRAPHY INFO, (2015). How To Get Started In Large Format Photography. [Online] Available from: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ [Accessed: 08 May 2016]

[3] PICTURE CORRECT, (2016). Large Format Film Camera Photography Tips. [Online] Available from: http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/large-format-film-camera-photography-tips/                                                                                                                      [Accessed: 08 May 2106]

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Medium Format

Introduction:

Medium format photography utilises 110mm film that is larger that that of 35mm standard photography, yet slightly smaller than large format 5″x 4″ film. Due to the increase film size a higher level of detail can be captured. Prominent manufacturers of medium format camera’s are Hasselblad and Seagul. The latter of which, I have utilised in this shoot the use of the Seagul large format camera.

 

For the purpose of this study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. Will medium format film produce higher quality images than standard 35mm film?

 

Hypothesis:

35mm film requires greater enlargement, resulting in more grain. 120mm film requires less enlargement so therefore less grain is visible resulting in medium format producing higher quality images.

 

Methodology:

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

I have found this process relatively simple to execute, due to its similarities in developing 35mm film. I have found that it does produce a higher quality image than standard 35mm film and have found the images I took in this format very impressive in their detail and colour reproduction.

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Digital Negative Process

Introduction:

This is a process that allows for negative film to be turned into a digital file and then to be printed onto transparency film to be used in photographic process, such as the Cyanotype. This process also allows for large size negatives to produced, improving their application uses.

 

For the purpose of this study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. What is a digital negative and how is it created?
  2. How do I print it onto transparency film?

 

Hypothesis:

I believe that by using (PS) ability to invert an images colour profile. Combined with printing this on transparent acetate it should be possible to replicate a digital equivalent to a piece of negative film.

 

Methodology/Research:

The following are the five fundamental steps for making a digital negative.

Basic Steps for Making a Digital Negative:

1. Editing your image in Photoshop to make it look exactly like you want it to print as a final wet process contact print. An image resolution of 240–360 pixels per inch (p.p.i.) works for most printers.

2. Including a step tablet with your image until your negatives are printing exactly as you want them.

3. Preparing your image with the proper contrast via Curves .

4. Inverting the image so it prints as a negative instead of a positive.

5. Printing the negative on clear transparency material using specific print dialog box settings.

Step 1: Making your Image Look Just Right

Using your Photoshop image adjustment tools, such as Levels, Brightness, and Image Size, correct your image so it looks just the way you want it to print (other imaging programs can also be utilized). Factors like the quality of your initial camera capture or scan, Photoshop skills, and monitor calibration will all affect the speed and ease of preparing your images.

Step 2: Including a Step Tablet

Our goal is to make beautiful prints, not beautiful step tablets. But as in any scientific testing procedure it is useful to have a control that allows us to clearly judge the visual results. The step tablet performs this function by providing a set of densities – from black to white – that you print simultaneously with your image, making it is easier to visually evaluate contrast problems. For beginners not wanting to make their own step tablets, a few basic examples can be downloaded for free at: http://www.DanBurkholder. com/steptablets . It is a good idea to include the step tablet on its own Photoshop layer so it can be turned on and off as needed during testing and printing.

Step 3: Preparing your Image with the Proper Contrast for Making a Negative

Since inkjet printers are not designed to make negatives, images need to be specifically prepared, which necessitates changing the image’s contrast before printing. Using a Photoshop Curve is an ideal way to achieve this end. Other processes, such as cyanotype and Vandyke or even pure palladium, will have slightly different curve shapes to prepare the image with the proper contrast for that specific printing medium.

The curve will not make your image look better on your computer monitor. In fact, it will make your image look too light. This is normal; bear in mind the finished negative will have the proper contrast required/necessary for printing on photosensitive materials. Just as a glob of clay does not represent a finished piece of pottery, your contrast-adjusted image on your monitor is one of the raw materials you shape to obtain the desired results.

One other thing to pay attention to in these illustrations is that the curve grid is showing 10 per cent increments instead of the default 25 per cent. This detailed grid only changes the cosmetics of the curves dialog box; the functionality remains the same. The advantage to having your grid in the detailed mode (10 per cent increments) is you can easily place points on your curve corresponding to the densities in the step tablet. The myriad variables of printer type, ink formulations (dye and pigment) and printing processes mean you may have to adjust your image contrast (via Curves in Photoshop) before you get your desired contact print. Keeping careful notes of your experiments can be helpful to ensure consistency and repeatability.

Step 4: Inverting your Image to Create Negative Densities

After applying the curve to the image, it needs to be inverted (Photoshop: Edit  Adjustments  Invert) otherwise you will produce a positive on the transparency material.

Step 5: Printing the Negative on Clear Transparency Material using Specific Print Dialog Box Settings

Every inkjet printer has it’s own method of depositing ink onto a surface. This lack of uniformity means there is no one set of print dialog box settings that will work for every printer. The settings for an Epson printer using Epson’s Advanced Black and White Mode to create a slight reddish/brown colour cast in the negative. This colour helps block UV light, which is especially useful for making cyanotype and platinum/palladium prints. Overhead projection (OHP) films from Pictorico (www.pictorico.com) have been consistent and reliably hold ink.

 

Materials needed:

  • A negative
  • Transparency film  (Purchached on Ebay UK £5.61)
  • Laser Jet Printer
  • Access to processing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom

 

I used Ilford HP5, 400ISO, black and white film to produce the negatives, then I scanned them onto the computer where I the had access to the digital negative image.

I then opened the file in Photoshop were I could adjust the contrast, sizing and cropping where necessary. The images were shot ok in camera but the scanning process sometimes allows for the edges of the negatives to be seen. I have developed screen shots of the process undertaken below;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the print process it was thought that I may have purchased the incorrect transparency film for printing my digital negative but on experimentation the film did take to the image only my first print was printed on the wrong side of the film. I continued the same process as above and processes some further images ready for printing.

 

Bibliography:

[1] ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY. (2016) How To Make a Digital Negative. [Online] Available from: http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/negatives/digital-negatives-gimp                                                                                                                                                  [Accessed: 02 February 2016]

[2] HIRSCH, R. (2016) Alternative Photo Editing Posts: How To Make a Digital Negative. Mastering Photo. [Online] Available from: http://masteringphoto.com/how-to-make-a-digital-negative/ [Accessed: 02 February 2016]

 

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Negative Film Format Sizes and Camera Sensor Sizes

Negative film format is the size or shape of the camera sensor, film negative or film positive. The bigger the format the more pixels are required. The main basic film formats are sub-miniature, APS, standard, medium and large format. Film is a photographic material that consists of a celluloid base covered with a photographic emulsion. It is used to make negatives or transparencies and can be contained in a roll, cassette, or cartridge. Larger film usually comes in sheets.

  • The standard 35mm filmstrip contains 4 36mm x 24mm frames. The frame number is printed on the top and/or bottom of the frame. 135 format is exactly 35mm wide. This format was introduced in 1934 and quickly became the most popular format. See the table below which compares most negative film sizes.
  • 120 medium format contains a range of frame sizes; 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm, and 6x9cm. The most common being the 6x6cm size shown at the left. This actually has a frame size of 56mm x 56mm. The frame number is printed at the top or bottom and this format is 60mm wide. This format was introduced in 1901 and comes on a roll. Also related are 220 and 620 format. The difference is that these formats allow for more exposures per roll.
  • 4″ x 5″ large format is sheet film. You would think this format would be 4×5 inches in size, but it’s not. The sheet size is usually about 100mm x 125mm and the frame size is roughly 95mm x 120mm. We discontinued 4×5 inch scanning service 7/11.

(Photographiqa, 2016)

 

  • 126 Negative Film: The viewable area is usually about 26.5mm x 26.5mm. Now due to the aperture of the scanner (36.8mm x 25.1mm) about 1.45mm will be cropped from the top and bottom of these slides. Move your mouse over the picture to see the area that will get cropped out.
  • 127 Negative Film: The viewable area is about 40mm x 40mm. Unfortunately, a significant portion cannot be scanned due to the aperture of the scanner. Move your mouse over the picture to see the area that will get cropped out. (Pearson Imaging, 2012)

 

 

Remember:

  • 35mm require greater enlargement. (More grain visible)
  • 120mm require less enlargement. (Less grain visible)

 

Definitions:

There are a few basic definitions that are crucial in differentiating between your materials. When these terms are referred to this is what we mean.

  • Transparency is an un-mounted positive photographic image on film. A transparency can be colour or black & white.
  • A slide is a single transparency frame that has been placed in a slide mount. In other words, a slide is a mounted transparency. There are different types of slides but the most common is a 35mm slide.
  • A negative is the inverse of a positive image. Blacks appear white and whites appear black if you view a negative on a light box. Negative film comes in all formats and can be colour or black and white.
  • Matted is one frame that has been taped/attached to a piece of board. Any frame can be matted but medium format transparencies are most common. Matts usually fold over like a book and contain a window for viewing the image.
  • Dots per inch. Refers to print resolution, or how many dots a printer can produce in one inch. 300dpi is standard photo quality. Higher DPI = better quality, lower DPI = lower quality.
  • Samples per inch. A scanner reproduces images by taking “samples” across an image, and so a scanner will take 4000 samples in a 4000spi scan. SPI is basically the technical term for the resolution the scanner uses when you are in the process of scanning or taking samples.
  • Pixels per inch. This is how we measure how many pixels are displayed in a digital image, the result of the scan. A 4000spi scan results in a 4000ppi digital image. Both Adobe and Nikon measure digital images as PPI and we do too.                              (Pearson Imaging, 2012).

Larger or full frame sensors obtain better detail and image resolution resulting in less grain being evident. Larger sensors can help you capture better quality images. A bigger camera sensor is that of size; not only will the sensor take up more room in your device but it will also need a bigger lens to cast an image over it.

Larger sensors can also be better for isolating a subject in focus while having the rest of the image blurred. Cameras with smaller sensors struggle to do this because they need to be moved further away from a subject, or use a wider angle lens, to take the same photo.

 

Why is camera image sensor size important?

The size of sensor that a camera has ultimately determines how much light it uses to create an image. In very simple terms, image sensors (the digital equivalent of the film your father might have used in his camera) consist of millions of light-sensitive spots called photosites which are used to record information about what is seen through the lens. Therefore, it stands to reason that a bigger sensor can gain more information than a smaller one and produce better images. Larger sensors also allow manufacturers to increase the resolution of their cameras – meaning they’re able to produce more detailed images – without sacrificing too much in terms of other image quality attributes. For example, a Full Frame camera with 36 megapixels would have very similar sized pixels to an APS-C camera with 16 megapixels. (Gizmag, 2013)

 

Medium Format Cameras:

6cm by 4.5cm cameras: Pentax and Mamiya

 

6cm by 6cm cameras: Hasselblad

 

6cm by 7cm cameras: Mamiya and Pentax

 

8cm by 6cm cameras:

 

 

9cm by 6cm cameras: Mamiya and Fuji

 

 

17cm by 6cm cameras: Fuji Panoramic

 

 

Large Format Cameras:

4″ by 5″ cameras

 

6″ by 7″ cameras

 

 

 

8″ by 10″ cameras

 

 

Recommended Cameras:

 

Seagul 6×6

 

Yashica 124G 6×6

 

Rollieflex 6×6

 

 

Hasselblad 6×6

 

Mamiya RZ 6×6

 

Bibliography:

[1] GIZMAG. (2013) Camera Sensor Size: Why does it matter and exactly how big are they. [Online] Available from: http://www.gizmag.com/camera-sensor-size-guide/26684/ [Accessed: 03 February 2016]

[2] KODAK, (2016). Negative Sizes. [Online] Available from: http://kodak.3106.net/index.php?p=510                                                                        [Accessed: 06 May 2016]

[3] PEARSON IMAGING, (2012). About Film Formats: Slides, Negatives and transparencies. [Online] Available from: http://www.pearsonimaging.com/articles/about/filmformats.html                                 [Accessed: 03 February 2016]

[4] PHOTOGRAPHIQA. (2016) Photographic Film Size Comparison Chart. [Online] Available from: http://fotographiqa.tumblr.com/post/24531066955/photographic-film-size-comparison-chart                                                                                                                   [Accessed: 03 February 2016]

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High Key and Low Key Portrait

Introduction:

High Key and Low Key photography make use of lighting and contrast (or lack of) to create a specific mood. Originally high key photography emerged as a solution for screens that could not correctly display high contrast ratios. Today capturing high key photos, like low key photos, is a stylistic choice in photography.

When capturing a high key photograph there are a number of factors that need to be considered, especially if trying to achieve that classic studio look. You will have to make sure you have the right equipment for the job and give consideration to camera settings and lighting set up to capture the images. Like high key photos, low key photos are also the product of lighting manipulation and contrast. Though the resources required for capturing low key shots are less extensive – one light source compared to the four required for high key photos for example – it takes just as much skill and patience to achieve. Deciding which style to choose for the photographs all comes down to atmosphere as both are powerful tools for creating certain moods.

 

For the purpose of this study the following question(s) were addressed:

  1. What are the constituent element of high key and low key photography?
  2. How do they differ from each other?
  3. What different uses does each technique have?

 

Hypothesis:

Both techniques will require different lighting positioning and equipment but both can be achieved after research and experimentation during the shoot. There will be a large contrast between both final outcomes due to the dramatic effects of each technique.

 

Methodology:

High Key:

High key photography uses unnaturally bright lighting to blow out most or all harsh shadows in an image. High key methods were originally developed as a solution to screens that couldn’t properly display high contrast ratios, but has developed into more of a stylistic choice.

 

Setup:

DSC_0011

 

 

 

Low Key:

Low key photography is where you take a photo of a subject with everything (or almost everything) except the subject in black. This can be achieved fairly easily and, in brightly lit situations, it’s all about having the right settings on your camera.

 

Setup:

DSC_0013

 

 

Conclusion:

By producing a set of both high key and low key photographs, in the same shoot and using the same model, it has helped me to see the advantage of both of them and the effects that they have. I.e. high key is for a bright well exposed photograph and low key is more moody. I also found that switching between the two techniques can add variation and achieve results that are more impressive compared to shooting in standard lighting conditions. I have learned that lighting is key to achieving the right style of shot and choosing the right style is critical to achieve the desired final image.

 

 

Bibliography:

[1] DISCOVERY CENTER, (2015). What is High Key and Low Key Photography? [Online] Available from: http://learn.corel.com/news/high-key-low-key-photography/          [Accessed: 10 April 2016]

[2] LIGHT STALKING, (2011). Low Key Photography for Beginners: Enter The Dark Side. [Online] Available from: http://www.lightstalking.com/low-key-photography/ [Accessed: 12 April 2016]

[3] PETERSON, D. (2016). Using Lighting Style to Create Mood: High Key and Low Key Lighting. Digital Photo Secrets. [Online] Available from: http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/3558/using-lighting-style-to-create-mood-high-key-and-low-key-lighting/                                                                                                                                               [Accessed: 12 April 2016]

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