Monday, December 19, 2011

P19: choosing the moment

Exactly one month since I last posted any updates on Projects, at this rate I will have completed assignment 5 before finishing the preparatory projects.  My understanding of Landscape photography is simply advancing faster than the projects, however, as I work towards assignment 3 I am keeping an eye on the more formal learning needs of the course and using many of the concepts described.  I simply have not put my thoughts to paper.

This assignment is a very good example.  For the past 3 months I have spent 60 minutes at least twice a week shooting as the light changes in the early dawn light.  My goal is very specifically to capture the way that the light changes with the sunrise and how the weather interacts with the light.  A key element of this is "choosing the moment", i.e. waiting for that precise moment in time when a flood of light illuminates the mist.  Frequently this special light lasts for no more than 5 minutes, the rising sun changing the angles and the heat of the sun evaporating the fog.  For this project I could have chosen any number of different shoots, however, I wanted to discuss something more recent and a photographic problem that I am not sure I can solve satisfactorily.

Once again I am at the Eisbach, but this time there is no mist and the trees have finally shed their last remaining leaves.  The loss of the leaves has revealed the fact that we are not in a country field bounded by woodland but in a city center park surrounded by buildings.  This now offers a new compositional option for the horizontal shots I have been taking of the Eisbach.  I can now layer the path, stream, grass, and now a line of imposing buildings.  The question is whether this is interesting enough and also what is the best light for the shot.

Following is a sequence of 10 photographs taken between 8:10am and 9:00am.  Sunrise was at 8:00am, but it is not until around 30 minutes after that that the sun starts to clip the roofs of the buildings.  The question I pose myself is when in this sequence is the light the best for what I am trying to create.  I am not using a tripod and so the earlier low light images are not great, and I am moving around to optimize my view, so the composition varies a little.  In the context of the project the subject is the buildings in the background, however, I am really interested in how the whole scene is lit

The scene changes dramatically as the sun rises, a flat bleak world is progressively replaced by bright vibrant colours.  The optimal point is probably shot #4 with the man walking along the riverbank.  Only the buildings are illuminated, creating a sense of warmth when compared to the flatness of the foreground.  However, if I was looking for a shot to extol the virtues of this place, I would probably select the final shot with its strong blues and reds.  Truthfully, I am not fond of either, my favorite is the first shot, the washed out pre-dawn colours sit well with my current aesthetic preferences.  I am finding that my taste in imagery is either extreme low or extreme high contrast.

My recent photographic practice means that I repeat this project over and over again, slowly building up a portfolio of dawn images that might be useful for assignment 3.

Key Learning:

  1. Capturing successful dawn light change requires patience and speed, but most of all repeated attempts, this cannot be done in a single day
  2. My personal taste in images is trending towards a lack of shadow

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