The Brief:

The basis for the assignment is one of the most fundamental principles in design: contrast.

We were asked to create eight pairs of images that demonstrated contrasts from a list of pairs and finally produce one image that showed both contrasts in the same image.

The contrasts I chose were:

  • Sweet / Sour,
  • Many / Few,
  • Pointed / Blunt,
  • Transparent / Opaque
  • Liquid / Solid
  • Light / Dark
  • Strong / Weak
  • Straight / Curved
  • Hard / Soft (For my single image

When I picked up this assignment I played with many ideas, some I would still like to try like my idea of taking a picture of a hamster wheel and the london eye for large and small, unfortunately work and illness prevented a trip to London to get half the pictures, however I may still try this one just for fun.
I found that at the start of the assignment it was hard to pin ideas to the categories and lots of half ideas would run through my head, my solution was to fall back on my working practice as a programme / project manager so I started building a mind map with all the categories where i jotted al the ideas as I went i use a mind mapping tool on my iPad as it allows me to carry my ideas around and add to them whenever i get inspired. I also found I could attach thumbnails to each idea as I took shots. here is the output:

The package is called iThoughts if anyone wants to know more about it, you can find it on the app store.
I found I had lots of ideas but some were almost impossible to pull off either because I did not have anyway of getting the props or any way of getting to the place that was central to the idea. so It was important to refine my ideas so that it was possible to take them.
For instance one of the ideas was for continuous / intermittent where I tought of getting hold of a morse code tapper, I bid on several from eBay but the price went through the roof and made the shot really impractical. Given more time I probably could have found a museum or some thing that would have let me take the photograph but time was not on my side for that.
I have to say that although some of the ideas did not see the end of the lens I am not unhappy with the compromises I made and I like the end result of the assignment. I would still like to try the London eye as I said so ill probably add that to the bucket list, which I intend to create as a separate page on here.

I think my methodology and workflow have developed during this assignment, one thing I decided was that good enough was not good enough, for example, I had a mental image for the straight category of a long straight ruler taken in a macro style so the edge of the ruler was right in the camera and was moving away. this turned out not to work very well as the depth of field could not be set long enough to se much of the scale on the ruler and frankly the image did not work. I ended up taking a picture of the end of a ruler flat on. I fully intended to use this image even though it did not feel quite right. I was showing the images to my mother and wife and they were both complimentary until the ruler came up both of them went a little quite and obviously did not want to say that the image was basically rubbish compared to the rest. My head took over and I decided that if the assignment was worth doing it was worth doing properly and I re shot the category gathering every type of straight edge and measuring implement I could find I went into my shed with my strobes and composed a new image.

Along the same lines I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms in the USA during this assignment so I did a lot of planning and testing and ended up taking a bunch of shots, most of which I re shot with better lighting back in the uk, I have a bunch of photos that were good but not quite right. The broad head arrow I used for the pointed category was the most problematic, for some freak reason I got the lighting just right in the hotel, dark background of a brownish hue nicely out of focus giving almost a dark vignette around the arrow-head, however one of th blades was out of the plane of focus and left me with a fuzzy edge. so back in the uk I mounted it on a bamboo cane stuck it in the grass and set up a picture with a beautifully blurred background and absolute pin sharp focus, and a horrible green backdrop that really clashed with the body of the arrow. So back to the shed with the arrowhead I took take three against the warm brown of the shed wall using strobe lighting I managed to get the image I was looking for.

I did a retake on the cards and poker chips too because in the cramped hotel room I did not get the tack sharp foreground focus it needed and the shallow depth of field to put the opponents hand out of focus, I have to say that I think the final shots wer far better than the hotel versions.#

In contrast the milk and water splashes used for transparent and opaque were shot in the hotel with the crudest of setups, but I love the results, I now intend to explore this world of splashes and drips again as the process was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the results, its interesting that to get those two shots I had to take almost a thousand images to get just the moment I wanted. I have seen some work by a photographer using arduino controllers and solenoids to make startling images and I really want to have a go at this, he publishes the computer control programme he uses so that anyone can have a go.

You can see the results of the Assignment One Contrasts Here


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