Assignment 2 -Collecting

The assignment requires a ‘collection’ or series of photographs of crowds, views or heads or a subject of my choosing and the usage of skills built within the previous exercises to form a series of images that will be evaluated against assessment criteria in terms of technical skill but also in terms of how well they work together as a whole.

The chosen subject was of my choosing and is the World Snooker Championships 2016 held in Sheffield.

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Assignment Notes

The chosen subject for the ‘Collection’ is the World Snooker Championships. The subject was of interest as a locally held event. There was little previously held knowledge of the event nor any experience shooting any images to document any of the event in previous years. It was believed that the possibility for some head and crowd shots may present themselves within the subject choice though the most significant aim was to obtain images which would sit together as a collection, preferably with some narrative of the experience of the event’s being in Sheffield and of the particular day.

The brief recommends that all images are taken in the landscape or horizontal format and previous to the shooting of the images it was also decided that other technical options needed to be worked as similarly as could be, in respect of each shooting environment, in terms of aperture, ISO and whether to freeze or allow motion indication by use of shutter speed. These decisions would allow for a cohesive feel to the images. Amongst these technical decisions an aesthetic was to be worked towards and my consideration of aesthetic to be achieved was influenced by Project 2’s research point. It was planned that a deep depth of field was to be aimed for, omitting defocusing of any mid to late background features in any image. Fay Godwin’s political photographs were viewed online and her use of a large depth of field with restrictive perspective to communicate her view, and a political view, as to the laws at the time governing public access to land. My intention was to take a less restrictive view with my images to document this year’s holding of an event in my local city, taking images starting at a focal length of 28mm yet to use this deep depth of field technique to demonstrate the viewing and documenting taking place – I was not to be a casual observer and I didn’t want to place a viewer of my images in the place of being as though a casual observer.

Having decided upon taking images with front to back sharpness and wanting motion to be frozen I knew that I needed to use a camera body with ISO tolerance due to a necessity for high ISO given standard UK light conditions in a city centre in April and also the light of Sheffield Winter Gardens. A zoom lens was chosen that I have options over a particular range.

The images could be split into two groups within the collection. There are those shot outside the Winter Gardens and Crucible and there are those shot in the Winter Gardens where snooker was being played below lighting rigs and where the commentary team were seated. These sets within the collection have necessitated moderately different approaches yet both sets sit together to form the narrative of the collection. The images shot outside range from an aperture of f10 f13 to gain as much front to back sharpness as possible. These outdoor images were generally taken with a shorter focal length toward the 28-50mm range of the zoom. The ISO was lower outdoors and mostly shutter speeds of 1/500 and above were used to freeze the movement of pedestrians. The indoor images were shot at a wider aperture of f7.1 as the distance from front to back in frame was less and achieving front to back sharpness throughout did not require the aperture to be quite as closed down as it had been for the outdoor shots. The ISO requirements indoors were significant ranging all the way to ISO 16000 in order that I still have the potential to keep shutter speeds at 1/800 that motion were frozen. The images shot in the Winter Garden do include the use of the upper range of the zoom, to get closer to the action of the snooker participants captured with the background kept sharp though aperture selection yet some foreground defocus determined by selecting of place of focusing.

The series I feel has worked. The risks I took felt significant in terms of using deep depth of field in a city, where I was trying to capture those who were looking on, working and participating in the World Snooker Championships. I’m quite pleased that I went with incorrect expectations, believing that the city, whilst having hosted the event for years, might be very busy and bustling. It was necessary for me to re-adjust and it was that readjustment that gave me a path to work with that ultimately feels like more of a story than it might otherwise have done. Using high ISO, despite the chosen camera body, gave some post processing challenges as did the mixed lighting in the Sheffield Winter Gardens. Noise reduction was necessary as was much burning around the rigged lighting. I also chose to use two colour and saturation layers on all the images to help to bring out the depth throughout the collection. The most difficult aspect of the series has been the subject! It’s my character type to make life difficult for myself it appears but I wasn’t able to feel much for the alternative subject choices for which I couldn’t see a narrative.

If I were to shoot the event again next year I might choose to experiment with another approach. If I still wanted to communicate the non-casual observer’s stance then I might take a mid-telephoto lens and work at taking details from the event, dropping the need for deep depth of field out of my communicative approach.

I feel I have learned from shooting and finishing the images for the collection that I remain keen to communicate through the medium of photography and my realisation of possibilities for communication through the medium is becoming greater. I know that I am driven enough to continue to learn as I was prepared to sit and work with layer masks to find what I felt was necessary to help my images come to fruition without taking them to a wholly unnaturally edited look which wouldn’t have sat with my communicative stance.

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