EXERCISE: Your own Workflow 1

Having been a little side tracked looking at Workflow and In Camera Colour Management, it is time to concentrate on my first exercise.

“Devise and then put into practice a workflow that suits you personally for a specific short assignment, and make notes of your experience of this in your learning log.

Make this a portrait session, which will be limited in time.  For this, you will need to scout a suitable location that provides an attractive or unobtrusive setting, then consider different poses for your subject, perhaps varying the scale from head-and-shoulders out to three-quarter length or full length.

The important thing from the point of view of the workflow is that you will be taking a number of images, all in a concentrated period of time, which will then need to be edited in order to select one or two.

The editing, or selection process, will happen later, when you examine the entire take on the computer, and then you will be looking for the best expression, pose and whatever variations you made in camera position and focal lengthen, the assignment will therefore contain the following elements:

    • Time-limited shoot
    • On-the-spot development and improvement of composition
    • A sequence of images, possible 20 or more, in which you are searching for an improvement in the way the subject appears (notably poses and facial expression)
    • A separation session of picture selection, exercising creative judgment
    • Processing the finally selected image(s)

Plan the workflow in advance, and write it down as a kind of flow chart.  Follow this workflow for the assignment, but be prepared to depart from it if you find it restrictive or if you decide, as you work, that it has shortcomings.

Finally, write a short assessment of how suitable the workflow was for what you set out to do, and if it needs adaptation in the light of experience”.

I have very limited experience with portrait work, in fact the three sessions I have conducted in the past were with members of my family, which made them very relaxed affairs, with no airs and graces or high expectations from the results, so when my yoga instructor asked me to take some publicity shots of her to be used both in a local foreigners magazine and on her website, I was initially shocked, then surprised, and then though that this would be a good subject for this exercise, although it does not quiet fit the requirements exactly.

I wrote about and documented my usual workflow in the post ‘A Sequence of Events’ above, so I thought I would jump in with two feet and design three specific workflows for this task.  The first is for pre-shoot requirements surrounding the location, what equipment I might need, what I would like the model to do and other things that needed to be considered on the day, such as weather conditions and the position of the rising sun.  The second workflow is my pre-shoot requirements surrounding equipment and the processes I would normally follow to make sure I was ready to go out of the door, and the third workflow looks at my post-processing requirements.

Part 1: Devise and then put into practice a workflow that suits you personally for a specific short assignment, and make notes of your experience of this in your learning log.

I sat for quiet some time and though about how I would do this, and what I wanted to achieve from my photo shoot, and once I put pencil to paper, the information began to flow freely and my list of pre-shoot requirements grew very quickly, the final draft is outlined below:

PRE-SHOOT WORKFLOW

Pre-shoot pt1pre-shoot pt2The original, handwritten copy of this workflow can be found in my sketchbook.

I had already conducted some early morning, sunrise shots from the location I had in mind for my shoot, and the two things I needed to be very conscious of was the time and position of the rising sun, and the weather conditions.  It is mid-winter here in Korea, so the temperature drops very quickly overnight, but the plus side is that we are fortunate to have many consecutive days of blue sky and sunshine, so we could set our date and not really worry that the weather would let us down.

My second workflow concentrates on the checks I make to my camera, so this is something I do every time I am going to go out on a photography expedition and will probably never change.

The red point on this workflow ties in with the red point on the workflow above [see pre-shoot workflow].

pre-shoot pt3

The original, handwritten copy of this workflow can be found in my sketchbook.

This final workflow (below) in the sequence is the one I am going to have to work on over the coming weeks and months as after all of my research on workflow, I now realize that my post-processing activities let me down and are restricting the kind of photography I know I am capable of achieving.  The workflow below is very basic, as I do not use any form of powerful processing programme nor do I make any adjustments to my images, other than cropping into the frame if I feel it necessary.

POST PROCESSING WORKFLOW

Pre-shoot pt4The original handwritten copy of this can be found in my sketchbook.

This was an enjoyable exercise to conduct before heading out to my photo shoot, especially surrounding what I was looking to achieve from my model.  As I had spent the time thinking about the brief I had received, I was able to formulate a plan in my head on how I would achieve my goal(s).

I was originally approached to conduct this photo shoot back in December 2012 and I immediately started thinking about possible locations.  In my mind, yoga can be represented in two ways, either by the serene and calmness that can be found in its practice, or by the more powerful images we see of celebrities whose practices often differ to conventional yoga.

In order to capture both scenarios, my instructor and I discussed using our local gymnasium for the ‘power’ shots, as well as the viewing platform on the 30th floor of our apartment block for our ‘calm’ shots, with the idea of including the sun as it rose in the East. This shoot would be an early morning affair so that we could miss the crowds in the gym but also utilize the beautiful light created by the rising sun; so the shoot being in our apartment building would make things much easier for both of us.

My yoga instructor writes a column in the local foreigners magazine and would like to include a ‘Pose-a-month’ to her writings, so of course, this is where I come in, as she would like to include photographs to compliment her work.  I therefore asked her what poses she wanted to include, and more importantly what poses she wanted to do during our shoot – we had established early in our discussion that we would revisit our work a few times over the course of year, so that we could include both different seasons and scenery in the photographs.  From the list of twelve poses produced, she decided that we would include ‘Down-face-dog’; ‘Warrior’ and the ‘Triangle’ pose in our first session.  As soon as I knew this, I sketched each in my sketchbook, and found the following images for reference.  I also consulted a few yoga websites to find some ideas on how best to represent each pose.

Down Facing Dog

Down Facing Dog

Power Yoga for Sports.  (2009) Downward Facing Dog [Online Image].  Available at: http://poweryogaforsports.com/downward-facing-dog [Accessed 29 January 2013].

Warrior

Warrior

Hot Beauty Health.  (2011) Position 4. Warrior Pose [Online Image].  Available at: http://www.hotbeautyhealth.com/health/health-5-easy-yoga-poses-for-beginners/ [Accessed 29 January 2013]

Triangle

Triangle

Stone, B.  (n.d.)  Triangle Pose – Trikonasana [Online Image].  Available at: http://yoga.about.com/od/yogaphotogalleries/ig/Standing-Poses-Photo-Gallery/Triangle-Pose.htm [Accessed 29 January 2013].

Prior to shoot day, I went to our location at sunrise (approximately 7AM), so that I could scout the best location and see exactly the position of the sun as it rose above the mountains; I also wanted to take some test shots.

There were two areas that had an additional raised platform, which could provide additional height to the shots and enable me to include more background in the images.  The only issue with this location, and with all of the potential areas on the 30th floor was the inclusion of safety railings, examples of which you can see below.

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/2; Aperture F3.5; Focal Length 28mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/2; Aperture F3.5; Focal Length 28mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/6; Aperture F4.2; Focal Length 44mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/6; Aperture F4.2; Focal Length 44mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

The important thing from the point of view of the workflow is that you will be taking a number of images, all in a concentrated period of time, which will then need to be edited in order to select one or two.

The day of our photo shoot rose cold, but perfectly crisp and clear with an almost infinite view of the world.  I was the lucky one as I could dress to compensate for the -11 temperatures, but I had foreseen this possible issue and took blankets and hot drinks to help keep us both warm and as it was impossibly cold, I knew that 30 minutes would be our maximum time frame, which also coincided with the length of time the sun would be at its best and the time scale of my client.

My idea was to get some silhouetted images of my model, which when I zoomed-in to take some test shots were perfect, but zooming-out to take in the whole of the pose proved difficult and almost impossible to achieve, but I did manage to take a good mixture of images, some posed and some more natural, which I feel are the better shots of the day.

Following my usual workflow, once I had taken the images, I uploaded them into iPhoto and made a back up copy on my hard drive.  I then copied the RAW images onto the same hard drive, but under a separate folder and section.  My next job was settling down to make the first run through of the images.

For the initial shoot, I took 91 photos, which I immediately reduced to around 60 after taking out those that were over exposed or blurred.  For my second round of elimination, I took out those images that were not flattering to my client, where facial expressions were not good or the positioning made things look a little ‘off’, doing this further reduced the image count to 41.  Each of these 41 images are okay, so I copied them for the client, along with a contact sheet, a copy of which can be seen below.

Final Client Contact Sheet

Final Client Contact Sheet

In order to satisfy the details of the client brief, when I first started shooting, I tried to experiment with my position and moved around quiet a lot to try different angles and lighting techniques, but unfortunately due to the nature of the shoot I had to keep my focal length quiet short to get the whole pose in the frame, although I did move out a few times and extend my focal length so that I could disorient the background from the foreground within the frame.

In order to satisfy the details of the exercise, while my model was warming up and preparing herself for her poses, I had the opportunity to photograph her from different angles and focal lengths, which enabled me to get a really good mixture of portrait images, so during our 30 minute session I was able to satisfy the exercise requirements and also satisfy the requirements of my client.

Client Photos

Down Facing Dog

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F4.5; Focal Length 55mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F4.5; Focal Length 55mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F4.5; Focal Length 58mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F4.5; Focal Length 58mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Warrior

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F4.8; Focal Length 65mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F4.8; Focal Length 65mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 90mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 90mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Triangle

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/100; Aperture F4; Focal Length 38mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/100; Aperture F4; Focal Length 38mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/160; Aperture F4; Focal Length 38mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/160; Aperture F4; Focal Length 38mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/100; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/100; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

And my three favorite photographs from the day:

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/20; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/20; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/30; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 90mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/30; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 90mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 90mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

Manual Exposure; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 90mm; ISO 100; Metering Pattern; AWB

For me, the reason that these three images stand out from the rest is the colour in the sky, and the first two the way I have managed to capture my model in silhouette.  I am finding more and more that I am being drawn towards portrait photography and within that I like silhouette posses; I think the darkness of the figure with a vibrant background appeal to the darker side of my character.  In the last photo I like the highlighting on the models left side as her form captures the rays of the rising sun.

Conclusion:

While I was writing my initial workflow, I though that as it was such a simple plan, and keeping to it would be very easy, but once I started taking the photographs I realized that I was wrong.  The actual flow of the photo shoot went well as it was positive and upbeat, but when I sat afterwards and looked at what I had written and then thought back over the morning’s events, I could see that there were differences in the way things went.

  1. Timing was an issue, as we basically ran out of time and never made it to our second location, the gymnasium.  I did offer this to the client, but she was cold and needed to get herself warm again, she also had a class to conduct, so yes, we did run out of time.
  2. During the actual photo shoot I was not able to get the required shots for the exercise i.e. head and shoulders, half-length, full-length etc.. and it was only during our initial set up that I achieved this exercise requirement.  Perhaps I should have chosen a different subject, but having this put in front of me was an opportunity too good to miss.
  3. Another thing that did not work as well as I would have liked was the effects in some of my photos, I was not able to achieve a true silhouette during the official session, but I was able to take some shots that were both backlit and included camera flare, so I was very pleased about that, and as I commented above, I liked the photos I took while my client was unaware of the camera.
  4. I did not use my 50mm portrait lens as intended, but I do not think it would have worked out well if I had.  The posses dictated that a telephoto was needed, but also once I started taking photos, I did not feel the need to change lenses.
  5. The location of the photo shoot could be improved upon as the safety railings can be a little off putting, but we are already discussing a different location to take in a better angle of the rising sun.  At the suggestion of a photography friend, we are going to try and get some photos at the peak of a local mountain, and if we are able to achieve this, I will write an entry in my blog to document the outcome and differences in the two photo sessions.
  6. Lastly, I did not use my tripod, although this has nothing to do with the work I was doing, but more that I have an issue with it and am not comfortable using it.

So, there were a few things that did not work and although there were changes to my initial workflow, having that original documentation in my mind helped me through my first major assignment as a photographer.

 Source:

Reference:

Hot Beauty Health.  (2011) Position 4. Warrior Pose [Online Image].  Available at: http://www.hotbeautyhealth.com/health/health-5-easy-yoga-poses-for-beginners/ [Accessed 29 January 2013]

Power Yoga for Sports.  (2009) Downward Facing Dog [Online Image].  Available at: http://poweryogaforsports.com/downward-facing-dog [Accessed 29 January 2013].

Stone, B.  (n.d.)  Triangle Pose – Trikonasana [Online Image].  Available at: http://yoga.about.com/od/yogaphotogalleries/ig/Standing-Poses-Photo-Gallery/Triangle-Pose.htm [Accessed 29 January 2013].

Bibliography:

http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/16-coolest-yoga-photos-youll-ever-see?page=4

http://yoga.about.com

http://poweryogaforsports.com

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/lens-flare.htm

http://digital-photography-school.com/5-tips-for-achieving-artistic-lens-flare-how-to

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