Monthly Archives: May 2017

Michael Freeman: The Photographer’s Eye

I found this book very helpful to gain understanding of the basics, even though I already used most of it probably unconsciously, and I also read about them online like the golden ratio and rule of thirds, it helped me clarify and organise my existing knowledge which made me feel more confident. I understood and kept reminding me the importance of eye travelling in a certain pattern across the image when it’s well composed.  I found “diagonal tension” exciting, creating tension and sense of movement in a still image; how to frame the subject – even framing within the frame – or reworking the photograph by stitching, extending or cropping; or when to fill the frame and where to place the subject. I have read many different articles online about the the golden section proportions, the Fibonacci divisions before taking this course, how it appears to be everywhere, from plant to animal and human proportions, but it was still fascinating when I read about it in this book.

Learning to create interesting images with contrasts, different obvious shapes and implied ones were challenging but also very interesting, how our eyes translates the image for us it’s just fascinating. When I looked at a photograph I could obviously tell if I liked it or not but not necessarily know why, as I learned our eyes seek for balance and symmetry, these compositions are pleasing. I found it hard to achieve a good silhouette composition such as the “Burmese Monk” , it has to have a message to convey of course, otherwise it just looks like a badly exposed image. What I did like is rhythm and patterns, filling the frame with similar patterns or organising them in a certain order is very entertaining. Finding the right angle for my portraits is one of my weaknesses, I could be over thinking but I never truly satisfied with the results, but I found useful information for landscapes and street photography.

I think this book is a great beginner’s guide in a digestible form or a visual reminder for self taught photographers like myself before taking this course, I definitely got lot more confidence, and perhaps better eye for composition too.



Charlotte Cotton: The Photograph as Contemporary Art

I really enjoyed this book, it was refreshing to read something unexpected and provoking. I was looking forward to read each chapter as they have been divided into groups of photographers who share similar ideas and motivation, it is fascinating to read about how other people think and create.

The first chapter is about the stereotypical photographers trying to capture daily moments challenging the question “If This Is Art” or just every day documentary photography. I loved Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s idea setting up a flash on a scaffold in New York letting people to trigger as they walk by creating portraits unconsciously, or creating food art like Sophie CalIe,  or be daring like Gillian Wearing and ask strangers to write something about themselves on a piece of paper, I would like to come up with ideas like these.

The second chapter is about storytelling within the contemporary art category, looks like something just happened organically but in reality, it has been carefully staged and composed. This is what I have been trying to do with self portraiture, but creating something captivating from an everyday looking event is quite challenging,  this chapter was perfect for inspiration though.

The third chapter is about deadpan photography, as the name suggests, there is no expression or mood, the subject is simply exists on the photograph. This isn’t something I was particularly interested in, it feels sad and depressed to me even though it doesn’t meant to have any feel to it.

The forth chapter is about simply things, everyday objects made interested and quirky, I really enjoyed looking at these images and working out how it was done, also a realisation to appreciate everything around us as we often take things granted.


I haven’t finished this one just yet as I have been struggling to get free time while working almost every day, I found it extremely motivating so far, a real eye opener to different perspectives, almost like looking into these artist’s mind.


Seeing like the camera sees the scene, and the ability to create images exactly how I saw them is exciting. I noticed that the eye creates a less contrasty image, while the camera’s sensor tend to exaggerate the differences between light and dark, the human eye’s dynamic range is just incredible.

For this assignment I needed to choose four different high-contrast situations and see how the camera will render these scenes, the aim is to produce higher quality images which will need less post-processing, in fact for this particular task I had to shoot in JPEG format and post the images straight out of camera without any adjustments.

Street scenes

Street scene (1 of 3)  Street scene (1 of 3) histogram

Street scene (2 of 3) Street scene (2 of 3) histogram

Street scene (3 of 3) Street scene (3 of 3) histogram

I tried to shoot with different metering modes, f stops and shutter speeds and see what happens, I kept the ISO low as it was already bright with the sun out, and used small aperture with slower shutter speed to get more details in the shadows. I usually shoot with evaluative metering mode as I like to choose the focus point, I took a picture with each of the other metering modes; spot, partial, center-weighted average as well, and I didn’t notice much difference while I kept the focus point the same. All three images turned out only a little darker in the shadows than it appeared to my eye at the time, the bright areas were pretty much spot on.

I feel like I have to experiment more of this in the future, changing the focal point (if I can) to achieve the same result. I don’t usually shoot in these harsh conditions as it’s never a flattering light on anyone but I suppose there are scenes where it works, indoor spaces for example.

Indoor spaces

Indoor space (1 of 3) Indoor space (1 of 3) histogramIndoor space (2 of 3) Indoor space (2 of 3) histogramIndoor space (3 of 3) Indoor space (3 of 3) histogram

This is pretty much the opposite to the first situation where it was overall bright with dark areas, indoors will always be darker, and having a relatively small light source such a window will make the camera struggle to get a good exposure.

I actually liked these images being so contrasty, however I tried to get as much details in the shadows as possible. The first one I found to be a little dark compare to the actual scene, I should have done that less contrasty but I’m happy with the second, and the third is a bit bright, as the focal point was on the bride, non of the metering modes did a good job determine the exposure, they pretty much looked the same.

People in shade

People in shade (1 of 3) People in shade (1 of 3) histogram

People in shade (2 of 3) People in shade (2 of 3) histogram

People in shade (3 of 3) People in shade (3 of 3) histogram

Primary focus was to expose the image correctly to the faces but of course, needed to get the overall exposure right too. I usually turn on the highlight clipping function in camera so I see if there is a part of the image overexposed but of course, I forgot this time resulting the first and second image having a tiny patch overexposed, however overall they are pretty close to what I saw on the day. The second is maybe a little dark on the face, I could have added some fill flash to brighten it up but then, it wouldn’t look as natural as it was. The best of all three is probably the last one, probably because there is no sky in the background, but the midday sun still makes the trees and pebbles bright. The bride and bridesmaids are standing under arch which just beautifully softened the harsh light.

Landscapes in low-angle incident light

Low angle light landscapes (1 of 3) Low angle light landscapes (1 of 3) histogram

Low angle light landscapes (2 of 3) Low angle light landscapes (2 of 3) histogram

Low angle light landscapes (3 of 3) Low angle light landscapes (3 of 3) histogram

Incident light is the light that falls on a subject, whether it comes from a direct or indirect source. In this case it is coming from the sun directly. The first image was the most challenging of all as the sky was just too bright, a little hazy as the see was just right behind the mountains, I was struggling to bring back the shaded areas without blowing the sky out completely, this is the closest I could get to what I saw. I could probably done it better by changing the composition allowing less sky, less bright light. The second one was a lot easier to achieve as the sun was really close to the horizon, giving contrasty landscape but well exposed sky, the last, London landscape turned out the best I think, clouds are just making the job easier for the camera.


I think for the best result, need to avoid harsh sunlight unless that’s the look to aim for.  I prefer interesting lighting situations over low contrast, dull lighting such as an overcast day can provide. I’m not sure if I used the metering options properly with the focusing areas as non of them made magical difference, I definitely need to do more research.