My husband is an engineer and his trade is the design and implementation of building very large ships, this is why we live overseas, as unfortunately the trade of shipbuilding in the UK died many years ago. In this line of work, he often travels to various parts of the world, so when I had an opportunity to join him on one of his business trips, I jumped at the chance – okay, so it was not to some glamorous, far flung paradise, but instead to an area of Korea we had never visited before called Gunsan.
In the back of my mind, I am always thinking about photography, most of the time this is subconsciously, but with the mention of staying in a hotel that was located on a lake, and with the possibility of finding something new and interesting to photograph, I was sold on the idea immediately.
A copy of the map I followed during my stay in Gunsan can be found in my sketchbook.
Today (Wednesday 13th February), being my first day away, the morning rose cold and crisp, the temperature had plummeted to around -6 and we had had a light dusting of snow during the night, so not wanting to miss this opportunity (I have missed every snow fall this year, both here in Korea and at home in the UK), I was up and about quiet early.
Wanting to put into practice everything I have been learning about workflow and histograms, I had a think about how I wanted my morning to unfold. I had the whole day ahead of me, so I knew that this would be an open-ended ‘photo-shoot’, but as I was covering ground I had never visited before, I was not sure what, if anything, I would find to photograph. The first thing I did was look out of the window, and was very pleased to find my first photo(s) of the day.
I could just see the sun cresting the horizon, which began to cast some glorious colours through the sky. Standing on the balcony and looking through my viewfinder, I find the church perched atop the hill, so I used this structure to silhouette against the reds and oranges, to make quiet a striking photo. Wanting to try a few different exposures, I took four or five shots; another favorite is the one below.
Comparing the histograms of these two shots in my camera, it dictates that they are of average contrast, and that neither have any white present, which we can see from the photos. The histograms also show that the second image, taken using a faster shutter speed, has a tonal range outside of my camera’s dynamic range (confirmed by the spike on the left of the graph), but is not under exposed enough to make the data sit next to the edge of the graph, and I wonder whether my use of the cloudy white balance in this image has made any difference to the results.
A quick aside; my reason for using the cloudy white balance setting, was to try and increase the colour temperature within the shot and to draw some additional colour from the sunrise. We know from our studies back in TAOP surrounding colour balance that the cloudy WB setting is one of the highest settings to do this with kelvin readings of between 6500-10000k, dependent on conditions – so I wanted to give it a go, and it seemed to have worked.
I have drawn the histograms for these two images as they are presented in my camera (a JPEG comparison to the RAW version), and I have scanned them to show you below (the original drawings can be found in my sketchbook).
The peaks to the right of both histograms confirm the texture within the images, but these graphs also confirm that neither shot is under exposed to the extreme that the lines touch the left of the frame.
During my excursion, I often used the histogram to see how my images were being exposed as it was a sunny morning, and not always easy to see my camera’s LCD screen.
The next image, also taken from my balcony, is facing away from the rising sun and I like this, as it seems tranquil and full of hope as the day begins to break.
Taken with a slightly faster shutter speed, the idea behind this was to enrich the colours in the sky without them becoming too overpowering for the soft edges surrounding the mountains in the distance.
Once I had taken these photos from my balcony, it was time to move outside to see what other delights were in store, but before doing this I had to re-visit my plan for the day, which basically turned out to be similar to the one I put together for our workflow II exercise.
So, now I was ready to head out of the door…
It was really nice to be out in the cold, winter air and I found quiet a lot of things to photograph. There was not much in the way flora and fauna, but what was present was covered in a thick layer of frost and snow, so there were plenty of opportunities to capture some interesting ‘icy’ shots.
I tried lots of different angles and camera settings to achieve some different images during my excursion, and I found that by shooting with my white balance set to cloudy, thus changing my cameras colour temperature, I was able to further enhance the colours created by the rising sun.
This next image really caught my eye as I was wondering along the path as the sun really captured the leaves on the plant (sorry, but I do not know what it is called, but it is very common here in Korea).
Moving around to make sure that I could capture the light shining through the leaves, but not have the sun, or any extra light in the shot, I have managed to bring out the winter colours within the foliage surrounding these plants. I really like the way the leaves almost twinkle in the sunlight. This image could have been improved if I had been able to blur the background detail just a little more, as it can be a little distracting, especially if you look at the picture for a long time! To delete some of the background noise, I have cropped this shot.
This next image is really my favorite of the day, as I have been able to replicate what I saw almost exactly and I love the different elements within this shot.
It took three attempts to get this image right and by using an extremely high shutter speed, I have been able to achieve (almost) exactly what I wanted too; the tree is in silhouette, the foreground is visible and quiet detailed, and you can still make out the ducks on the lake. The only thing that is a little off is the brightness in the sky, but if I had underexposed this anymore, I would have lost all of the detail I mentioned above. If I had had a filter with me (apart from the polirising filter on my lens), this may have helped me darken the sky a little. This shot feels like a cold winter morning should, which is bright and sunny and crunchy underfoot – perfect.
Building on the previous image, the ducks going about their usual business intrigued me, and although they were on the lake, they were actually standing on the ice, which as it shimmered in the sun, made it look like they were ‘walking’ on water.
Again, I like the silhouette in this image and the way the light is shimmering off of the water/ice of the lake. I do like silhouette shots and I am beginning to find ways to introduce them to my photography more and more, I am really pleased to think that I am being able to produce them in my work.
The crop on this image is a little intense, but I think the panoramic view works well with the subject matter.
The next two images have been included, as I like the way they look and how each portrays winter, and cold frosty days in some way, shape or form.
The image of the shoreline is a little bright, and you would think that this would produce a large spike to the right of the histogram, but as you can see from the drawing below, there is only a small amount of light tone in the shot, but as expected the peak to the left, which is actually outside of my camera’s dynamic range, is quiet prominent due to the dark edge of the photo, although there is no under exposure present within the frame.
These next two images are very similar, but their look and feel is completely different.
In the first image, I have used a faster shutter speed and positioned the sun in the centre of the frame, but out of shot, this has done a number of things to the photo. Firstly, it has backlit the twigs on the bush, highlighting the individual branches thus making them quiet prominent in the frame. I have also been able to achieve some camera flare, which I know is not the taste of everyone; but I quiet like the effect, especially as the flare here is green and seems to complement the rest of the image. Also, due to the short focal length and the angle I am stood to the bush, I have been able to achieve a very narrow depth of field, which in my mind complements the rest of the elements and further highlights the twigs at the front of the shot.
In the second image, I have photographed the exact same part of the bush, but I have moved my feet to change the angle of the shot and slowed my shutter speed. The highlights have all but disappeared, and the image has a frostier look and feel about it, as although the sun is still highlighting the bush and twigs, it is not as intense as previously. So the same subject, but two completely different representations of it.
I did not have my macro lens with me (!), but when I saw these flowers I was drawn to take a close up shot of them. I managed as best I could at a focal length of 300mm, and then cropped quiet tightly into the frame to get this effect.
With the flowers basking in the morning sun, the snow and frost has been highlighted on the petals. In comparing the two images, the un-cropped version seems a little brighter than the cropped version, but un-cropped the image is too messy and fussy, whereas the second shot is much simpler, clean and crisp and the narrow depth of field has helped to highlight the flower, which is the focus point of the picture, even more.
When I looked at the following scene, I felt quiet sad as all of the swans were tied up, waiting for the lake to unfreeze so that they could enjoy their freedom once again.
This image would be classed as High Key, as although there is a broad range of tones across the histogram, most of these tones occur within the highlights:
“Images where most of the tones occur in the shadows can be called ‘low key’ images, whereas with ‘high key’ images, most of the tones occur in the highlights” (Cambridge In Colour).
Out of curiosity, I opened this image in Photoshop, as I wanted to compare the histogram here to that I could see in my camera, I was surprised to see that they were very similar.
I thought that I had managed to create a well-exposed image, and it was not until I looked at the Photoshop histogram that I saw the highlight clipping on the edges of some swans. It is subtle, but there, and if you look closely at the histogram, you can see this represented by a small peak on the right of the graph.
Going back to the photo, you can see that I have slightly cropped my final shot to take out some of the detail at the edges, which I thought were not relevant to the scene. I like the depth in this photo and it almost looks like the swans are having a meeting to discuss their means of escape.
A complete change of scenery next.
Nice, plain, simple. Should I have included a ‘point’ to lead the viewer into and through the photo, or is the reflection of the sun in the bottom of the frame enough? I know that we are taught to include something in our photos that tell a story, or lead the viewer on a journey through our images, but sometimes I do not think it is necessary and this is one of those occasions. In hindsight (and don’t you just love hindsight), a graduated filter or change of shutter speed may have given this photo a little more pizazz, but when I look at it I want to stretch out my arms and feel the solitude and tranquility that wide open spaces bring to my mind.
In contrast to the shot above, my next image is full of lines, points and objects.
The main focus of this shot is the dormant plant growing around the cold steel of the archway that frames the walkway spidering around the perimeter of the lake. While setting up the shot, quiet a few people walked through the arch, so I thought it would be interesting to capture this in my image. The colours are very wintery and flat in this shot, so perhaps if I had waited a little longer for a more interesting subject to walk through the arch it would have made it a stronger image, as although I like the set up and structure of the details in the frame, the injection of colour would have really stood out, making it pop a little.
These last two images are of the same trees, but from different angles and positions along with walkway.
I like the set up of this first shot and the way the lines in the bottom of the frame lead you though to the tree, sitting in the middle of the shot. I also like the contrasting shades of dark and light and the way the snow and ice look as they sit atop the river. What I would like to change about this is the prominence of the tree sitting in the middle of the shot, as it seems to disappear into the background. The roots look great, dark and twisted against the brilliance of the snow, but it is difficult to make out the branches from the dormant grass on the bank.
As with the first photo, I like the set up of this shot and I especially like the shadows cast on the icy lake. The edge of the walkway in the left of the frame also works well, but as with the first photo, I am not happy with the prominence of the actual trees as you can only just make them out in the frame. I took a number of shots to try and get this right, but the slower shutter speed lightened the sky and ice too much and the faster shutter speed made the woodland too dark and very difficult to distinguish. Something to keep working on I think.
So, I took a walk with my camera in a place I had not been to before, looking for images I had not been able to capture over this winter period and ended up conducting some mini-exercises, just to re-confirm the things I have been studying recently. It was really good for me to do this, as I have been able to revisit some of the theory I was struggling with, and I have also been able try out some new things I have been itching to have a go at.
Tying up my workflow procedures and continuing on from the pre-shoot details at the beginning of this post, from the work I have conducted above, you can see that upon my return home,
- I uploaded my images and saved them into my new image filing system (one folder for JPEG’s and an identical one for RAW)
- I took 113 photos in total, which I then went through to take out those that were not exposed correctly, were blurred or I just did not like.
- The next step was to go through the images again and make tweaks such as dust spots and crops.
- Next I did a final run through, which left me with 22 images that I wanted to share, but as I worked through the blog I continued my edit which left me with a final total of 18 images, which I have written about above.
Cambridge in Colour. (n.d.) Camera Histograms: Tones & Contrast [Online Article]. Available at: <http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/histograms1.htm> [Accessed 4 February 2013].