Thursday, 13 February 2014

Assignment 5. Personal project

A few miles from my home stands an old lime works which was closed around the mid seventies. In the quarry itself some heavy machinery stands rotting away and in the works, where the lime was processed, several buildings and a row of kilns can still be seen. The whole place has a quiet, ghostly feel to it. Yet everywhere are little reminders of human activity, be it from the days of the lime works or the more recent mark of the vandal or fly-tipper.

I chose this site as the subject matter for my final assignment feeling it provided the opportunity to exploit many of the disciplines that were covered throughout Digital Photographic Practice. The medium had of course to be black and white. With so  many textures to be found, black and white editing would surely be the best way to show them. Colour would also present a huge distraction as there were so many colours to be seen in the rotting, decaying materials. Black and white editing would also go a long way to help conveying some of the solemn atmosphere.

Several visits were made over the course of some six months and the site was photographed from all angles and viewpoints, capturing wide through to detail shots. Most photography was carried out with a small collection of lenses, a 17 to 40mm zoom, a 50mm prime and a 35mm prime, sometimes using a tripod, sometimes hand held. Editing then started on the substantial collection of images.

My original intention had been to keep the image ratio the same as the camera’s but as I was editing and experimenting I performed a 1 x 1 crop on one image. This was very effective and I decided to make the entire collection square format. I wish I had thought of this before shooting as I made the job of editing much more difficult for myself! As I had not shot for the square format there were several shots I wanted to use that just did not work. to make matters worse, it proved subsequently impossible to go back and get the shots again as we had started what must be the wettest winter ever! oh well.

As I was converting my images to black and white, I found a little technique that added a lot of drama to each picture. I deliberately did not add any grain to the shots as I am not trying to ‘fake’ an old photo, rather just trying to catch the atmosphere and textures.

The finished images can be seen below. I am happy with the end result - in fact happier than I was when I started editing. At one point I had almost lost faith in the project, maybe through familiarity, maybe just in the concept but as I carried on editing the original idea started to push through again. I hope this comes across in this series, which is meant to be viewed starting from the top image and proceeding downwards.

Monday, 10 February 2014

A web gallery

The web gallery project is an interesting idea. I have at this stage not created a custom gallery from scratch but utilised some available services on the internet, both of them free.

For quite some time I have been running a Flickr account to showcase some of my work. This holds just under 300 images at the time of writing. When using Flickr you have the ability to create folders and sets, a way to categorise your work.

My Flicker photo-stream can be found here, but there is also a Flickr widget on the right hand side of this page.

As my main interest is in portrait/fashion photography, I have also created a second site using Tumblr. This is again free and I have selected a default template with minimalistic features. The Tumblr site also has blogging capabilities and is intended for micro-blogging. This can be handy for little notes about your work which will appear in the image stream.

My Tumblr site can be found here.

Both sites perform slightly different roles and have different viewing capabilities. Flickr provides a more structured layout where you can select the category of work you want to look at whereas Tumblr provides the means to just sit back and scroll through the images, one after the other in a sort of vertical timeline fashion.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Assignment 4. Real or fake?

This assignment concludes chapter four. Much of this chapter has revolved around the fact that it is now extremely easy to manipulate an image and that,with some careful work, it is possible to change the image in such a way that it no longer represents the truth. We have been asked to consider our own stance on this moral issue.

I am personally very clear about how I feel. In any context where the image is to represent news or factual information, I feel there should be no tinkering with the exception of some editing for clarity, such as lightening etc. Any images used to sell a product, should accurately depict this product. However, any associated imagery is not to be believed, and in my book is free for personal interpretation. Classic cases in question are models and their often digitally enhanced appearance. Fine art photography is a subject on to itself and anything goes.

For this assignment I have been asked to make a book cover and give my ethical justification for any work carried out on the image(s).

First, here is the cover...

The technical aspect

The cover consists of three images over a black background. The two obvious images are of course the noose and the hangman. There is a third image of some blurry trees which I will mention in more detail in a moment. Take a look at the images in their original form.

It is immediately apparent that some processing was carried out. Here's what I did.

Starting with a black background in Photoshop, I added a new layer with the tree image. This layer was set to about 90% opacity. Next, my friend Vincent was added to a new layer. To this I added a layer mask and with a large, soft brush painted out above his top hat and around his hands. The Vincent layer was set to overlay which allowed some of the trees to show through. Now, about the trees. If I had gone straight to the layer with Vincent, the Hangman, the image was to clean and lacked any form of atmosphere. Although you cannot see the trees in the finished image, they form a nice 'misty' texture and add a bit of mystery.

Before moving on to the layer with the noose, I added some soft 'black to transparent' gradients. some originating from the bottom left to blend Vincent in a bit better and one from the top down to create the dark area under the main title.

Next, the noose was added and the unwanted parts of the noose image were removed by way of another mask  For the final step text was added for the title and the strap line.

Ethical justification

I initially thought that there was no requirement for any ethical justification for the cover of a paperback novel but as I was typing it dawned on me that actually there is. The book I have chosen to represent is fictitious but if you were to take a guess at the content I suspect you would be thinking along the lines of Victorian based crime/horror story. This would indeed tally with what I imagined the book to be about. Imagine your horror then, if the book actually was a love story set in the year 3560! I would have deceived you with the cover and if you had hurriedly picked the book up at the airport with no time to read the synopsis, I wager you would be pretty unhappy on that flight! Therefore, I do have an  ethical obligation to represent the contents of the book accurately. 

With regard to the content of the picture? Well Vincent is a jolly nice chap and would never hang anybody. He is aware that the image would be used to picture him as a hangman, so there is no ethical dilemma here. Had I snapped a complete stranger and then used the image in the same manner I would be acting in a non ethical manner and could possibly end up in trouble.

Monday, 1 April 2013


In this last exercise of part 4, I am going to edit a photograph to show a complete untruth, by removing an element. Take a look at the picture below...

Not a very exciting picture but I spotted this lady with her dog when I was out walking. I did like the decorations on the sea wall though, and the fact that the dog was looking over the wall like it's owner.

This isn't actually what I took with the camera though. There was also a boy in the group. Scroll down to the end of this post to see the original picture.

The tools I used for this task were primarily the clone stamp tool, a little use of the patch tool and the selection tool in Photoshop.

I started by using the patch tool to get rid of most of the boy's upper body which was hiding the sea behind. Then using the clone tool I cleaned this up and cloned out the boys legs. Creating the missing part of the crab required me to copy the section that was visible on the wall and then flip this to create the missing area. This required a bit more cloning to fill in some missing gaps. Finally I used the clone tool again to cover any left-over bits.

As well as a straight replacement of areas I didn't want in the completed image, I also had to use my imagination a little. The shadow area on the path had to be adjusted so as not to show the shadow of the boy any longer. This took a little bit of guess work on my be-halve but hopefully I have just removed the boys shadow.

The picture I originally took is shown below...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Back Again

There has been a four month gap in my work. Regrettably my father passed away in Sept 2012. He lived in Malta and the time and organisation required to settle the arrangements has been tremendous. Furthermore, the circumstances of his death really dampened my enthusiasm for photography and my interest in studying.

The time has come to put that all behind me now and get back in the swing of things. I have dusted of my books and camera and now feel ready to pick up where I left off.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A real, live case!

Promptly in keeping with the subject of the moral & artistic considerations for extreme editing of images, this story appeared on Yahoo News on Thursday the 27th of September 2012. I have shown this article in part. Interesting to see that the decision to edit the photograph in this fashion does not appear to have been the photographer's on this occasion. This adds another dimension to our subject - should you edit other peoples work?

The article was credited to:   | Yahoo Lifestyle – Thu, Sep 27, 2012 13:16 BST and is reproduced in part below.

Model Karlie Kloss’ ribs airbrushed out of Numéro magazine photo

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Furthering the investigation into my personal view on altering images and at which point an innocent edit becomes more than just that, I have made two more edits.

The adjustments I have made to the two images are localised to the face and eyes only. For this I have used the Adobe Lightroom software package. One of the tools available is a paintbrush tool which allows an area to be ‘painted’. This area can then be adjusted with whatever settings you wish to apply. To soften the transition between the effect and the unaltered image, an adjustable feathered edge can be applied.

For the first image I have set the brush to adjust exposure with a soft edge and then painted over the girls face, stopping at the hairline. I then lifted the exposure to lighten the face. In doing this I have tried to keep the image looking natural.

For this image I am happy that it still reproduces the girl faithfully. She did after all look like this and had the light been in a slightly different place, her face may have been lit the same way. 

Image with the face brightened.
The second image has built on the first by having the eyes enhanced further. The the eyes have then been given another colour. This was again done with the localised brush tool but I reduced the feathering to work on the smaller area of the pupils. First steps were to increase exposure and contrast. 

Image with face brightened and eyes coloured.
This is the first time that I felt the edits were starting to go beyond what was actually recorded on the camera. This was then taken way over my personal limit by changing the colour with the ‘tint’ settings, even though the colour still looks natural.