Devise a themed assignment on a topic that interests you and in a field of photography with which you feel comfortable (for example, landscape, street photography, portraiture…) Construct an effective workflow, all the way through to the final displayed image.
I chose to photograph a young teenage boy at some local castle grounds for this first Digital Photographic Practice assignment. This is the type of photography that I really enjoy, as I love photographing people, and especially love the flexibility of outdoor photoshoots as you can easily capture a person’s natural self. I find it easier to relax people when on location, as opposed to in a studio where they are much more self-conscious. Therefore this is why I chose this subject and this location.
I have seperated out my workflow plan in the following stages; Pre-shoot preparation, The Photoshoot, Post Shoot Review and Ordering, Editing, and Final Steps.
Pre-Shoot Preparation Plan;
1. Establish Subject and Location. I thought about what subject I wanted to use for this assignment, and decided on a young teenager called Luke. He looks very model-like in his appearance, and I knew his Mum wanted a few photos of him, so I thought that he would be the perfect subject for my assignment. I then came up with a few ideas for location, including beach settings, coastal villages, and castle grounds. I decided on castle grounds, and I chose this particular one as it had a variety of different courtyards and settings I could use to produce a variety of different images. Prior to the photoshoot, I went to the location and checked out a few of the different shots that I could capture. I saw that there were old castle ruins that I could possibly get Luke to stand on facing away from the camera, to create quite a moody and pensive effect. I also saw a nice courtyard with plenty of old gates, and fences which would make perfect props for Luke to lean on to add interest to pictures.
2. Choose appropriate camera equipment. I will use my Canon 500d for this photoshoot as it is light and easily transportable. I will also primarily use my kit lens (18-55mm) as it has a good range of focal lengths that will come in handy for this outdoor shoot. I also plan to take my 55-200mm zoom lens along too. I will charge two batteries prior to the shoot and put them safely in my camera bag; which I will check before leaving for the photoshoot. I also need to check my memory card is inserted correctly, and has enough space to hold the photoshoot images.
3. Check settings on camera are appropriate. Prior to leaving the house I will put my camera into manual, and change the metering mode to evaluative metering, as my subject will probably be moving around quite a lot. I will set the white balance to auto for average lighting, and set my aperture to the widest f.stop of f4.5 for maximum lighting and a shallow depth of field to focus on the subject. I will set the ISO to 200 or 400 depending on sunny or cloudy weather, and set the shutter speed high (to be changed as I go along). I will tweak these settings upon arrival to suit the particular location.
Actual Pre-shoot Preparation
The above plan worked really well- however, Luke’s mother contacted me the day before the shoot to ask if Luke’s cousin could be in a few photos too. I said that was no problem, but planned to still use the majority of photos of just Luke in my assignment. All my other planned preparations went well, and on the morning of the photoshoot I managed to get all my equipment checked and ready to go without any stress. I also got my camera settings set as planned, with an ISO of 200 due to the sunny day.
The Photoshoot Plan;
1. Find location, chat to model about finished product. I planned my route to the location, and knew that it would take me about half an hour to get there. Therefore, this should leave me plenty of time in case of getting lost or having car difficulties. Upon arrival I need to chat to the model about my thoughts for the shoot, and what I want my final outcome to be.
2. Get equipment ready. I need to get my equipment out, and check that everything is in working order. I then need to get my camera out- check the strap is securely fastened, and the lens is securely attached to the camera body.
3. Adjust previously set camera settings according to the location. I need to adjust my camera’s ISO, metering mode, white balance, aperture, and shutter speed if I feel that the previously planned and set settings will not work.
4. Take a test shot, and adjust as required. I need to take a quick test shot to see if my settings work to my satisfaction, and adjust if there are any problems.
5. Begin shoot
(I imagine that this is the basic workflow plan that many other photographers use during the main part of the photoshoot. Checking equipment, and adjusting camera settings are basic steps that each photographer needs to take.)
1. My journey time took a little longer than I had anticipated due to getting stuck behind a tractor! However, due to my previous planning, I still arrived at the photoshoot five minutes early. I chatted to Luke and told him what my vision was for the photoshoot, and got to know him a little better in order to make the photoshoot more relaxed and comfortable.
2. I checked that everything was in working order, and then as planned, did a quick check that the strap and lens were both secure to prevent any accidents. The lens wasn’t clicked into place correctly, therefore this plan worked really well- as the lens could easily have fallen off the body and broken.
3. The sun was a lot brighter than I had expected- which wasn’t ideal for flattering lighting of my subject, but this is something I couldn’t control! I did a quick exposure reading and adjusted my ISO to 200, and increased my shutter speed.
4. I then did a quick test shot, and was happy with the outcome, so made no further changes.
5. I was now ready to begin the shoot, and felt very happy that I had everything checked and planned efficiently, which gave me more confidence during the shoot. My pre-planned shots worked extremely well, as it enabled me to get well thought out images that were exactly what I was looking for in the shoot. There were also a few shots that I didn’t plan which turned out very well, showing that sometimes impulse works just as well, as you work with what you have in the moment, and what looks best with the direction and strength of the lighting for each shot. You can’t always plan what way the model is going to pose and how the background is going to work with your subject to create the best image. Therefore the final images were a mixture of impulse and planned images- highlighting the importance of both. The shoot ran very smoothly, and lasted about an hour which I had expected. The unexpected bright sun was something I hadn’t really planned for at this time of the year- so I had to adjust exposure dramatically from shaded photos to sun photos to account for this.
Post Shoot Review and Ordering Plan
1. Upload pictures to laptop via windows photo gallery. Create a folder of all images in ‘My Pictures’, and name folder ‘Assignment One’.
2. Go through images a couple of times, and delete clear rejects. Mark the remaining images with stars out of 5. Double check this, then review the photos that have gained a star of 4 or 5. Flag the top favourites out of all these photos.
3. Re-group and review the flagged images once more. Select final images and begin the editing process.
Actual Post Shoot Review and Ordering
1. I waited until the day after the shoot to give myself a chance to rest. I then uploaded the photos to my laptop via a memory pen that I have which enables me to slot the memory card into my memory pen. From there I opened the images in windows photo gallery for viewing. I didn’t create a folder like planned, as I wanted to review the pictures first, then place the ones I was going to use in a folder.
2. I went through the images and deleted 5 photos straight away that were clear rejects with obvious flaws of blinking or incorrect exposure. I then followed my plan through and marked the remaining photos with stars out of 5. I then viewed all the photos that I had marked 4 or 5 stars- there were 16 images in total. I went through these 16 images carefully and flagged my top 9 photos.
3. I then left the images for a day and came back with a refreshed view. I decided to edit all 9 of these photos, and then pick my top favourite out of these 9 to use in my assignment. (After editing, I narrowed this down to seven of the top images from this shoot)
1. Apply basic photoshop tools, such as contrast, saturation and crop.
2. Fix any blemishes
3. Creative editing- change images to black and white. I imagine that many other photographers have a more detailed workflow plan for editing than this, however, I am very new to photoshop and editing, so therefore I have a lot still to learn on how to edit photos, and therefore how to plan to edit them in my workflow.
1. I opened each photo in photoshop one at a time, and took some time in playing about with each image to see what worked best. I applied the basics such as enhancing the photo contrast (although I only enhanced contrast of the subject- ensuring he stood out against the background), and on most images I also reduced the background contrast and saturation slightly- again to enhance the subject. I cropped a few images in order to fit the subject tighter into the frame.
2. It took me much longer than I had planned to fix blemishes in the images. This was due to the fact that my subject was a teenager and therefore had a few spots. This is something I had not anticipated, therefore it took quite a bit longer to edit the pictures than I had initially thought. I used the patch tool to remove any blemishes, and then painted over the subjects face with a creamy coloured paint- after this, I reduced the opacity to gain a realistic look. Another aspect of editing that took much longer than planned was fixing the bright sunlight that sometimes hit the subject quite harshly. I used curves to fix this problem, (which I am now able to understand much better due to the exercise on histograms) and this gave the subject an even, soft appearance. Here is an example of how I edited a photo;
Step 1; I used patch tool to take away the subject’s blemishes by selecting the blemish, and simply dragging the selection to a clear patch of skin. This then replaced the blemished area with the clear area of skin to which it had been dragged to.
Step 2; I used the eyedropper tool, and clicked on the subject’s skin to get the correct colour of skintone for painting.
Step 3; I enlarged the subject’s face, and chose an appropriate brush size. I then painted over the subject’s face carefully, adjusting the brush size for the smaller areas.
Step 4; I completely covered my subject’s face with paint, then I reduced the opacity to 25 percent, and selected ‘soft light’.
Step 5; I then selected the entire subject with the magic wand selection tool, and increased the subject’s contrast, and reduced the brightness.
Step 6; To finish, I simply added a new layer of curves, and adjusted this in order to reduce the harsh sunlight on my subjects face. Below is the pre-editing image and post-editing image;
3. I am still relitavely new to photoshop so I don’t know how to do much creatively. However I blurred a few different backgrounds to reduce the depth of field. I also transferred a few images to black and white.
Final Steps Plan
My plan for the final steps is simply to save all my images as JPEG files, and place them into a folder entitled ‘assignment one’, and then upload the final images to my blog.
Actual Final Steps
I was happy with seven of my final edited images, and so I saved each image as a JPEG file and placed them into a folder entitled ‘assignment one’ as planned.
Below are my finished images for this assignment. I feel that my workflow plan worked extremely well- and aided this photoshoot in running very smoothly.
I zoomed in tightly on the subject in this shot- using a focal length of 55mm to achieve this. I captured the subject laughing at his cousin behind me which adds a natural and relaxed aspect to this photo, and portrays Luke’s personality well. I put the subject beside this old brick wall as it adds character and interest to the image; however this caused the subject to be facing the sun which formed a harsh shadow on his face. I reduced this greatly in Photoshop (as shown above) so that it is now a lot better, and doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the image.
This was one of my pre-planned shots. I got Luke to stand on some castle ruins facing away from the camera. The ivy forms a beautiful frame around the subject, and the light trees and sky behind the subject aids in helping Luke to stand out further. I love this shot, and feel that the image gives out a very dark and pensive feel.
I shot Luke through a beautiful old patterned gate for this photo. I stood quite close, and so used a focal length of 27mm to achieve this image- proving my choice to use my 18-55mm lens a good one. The tower we were in was quite dark so I used the slowest shutter speed I could without risking image blur; 1/25. I could have increased my ISO at this point, but didn’t want any image noise to creep into the photo. I converted this image to black and white in editing.
This is one of my favourite shots, I think Luke looks like a real model here! This was another one of my planned shots- capturing the subject against this old dusty window, to create a very gothic style background. In order to mix in with the theme of this photo, I edited it into black and white.
I included this photo as it shows a bit of the variety of images I captured. I took this image of Luke walking away from the camera, along this little path marked by loads of wooden stumps, which adds rhythm to the photo. Again, I increased the contrast of the subject, and decreased the contrast of the background in order to make the subject stand out.
This image is really an extension of image one. Both shots are taken using a 55mm focal length, but from different distances from the subject. However, I included it as both versions are so different, and I really love both! The more serious feel of this particular photo adds a completely different story for the viewer than the other image. I added a hazy feel in Photoshop through gaussian blur and lightening the background. I think this adds a very dreamy effect to this photo.
For this final shot, I captured the subject leaning against a castle wall covered in grass. The angle of the sun against the subject, creates a beautiful rim-effect which again adds a dreamy feel to this photo. The wide open aperture of f5.6 along with my close proximity to the subject completely blurs the entire background; causing the viewer to focus completely on the subject.