Monday, 8 July 2013

Reflection upon Reflections - Assignment 2 (Part 4 of 5)

One of the alternatives for high contrast: 'Scenes which include objects of very different reflectivity' looked promising to me as I felt it offered an opportunity to actively look for settings where the bright and dark areas offset each other. I had some inkling that water and therefore probably reflections would be present in at least one of the three photographs as it possessed the quality of very high reflectivity. It also followed that with such high reflectivity present, dark areas of low reflectivity would feature somewhere in the image. However, I found inadvertently that bright reflections on water figured dominantly in all three of my selected images without intending for this to be the case when I was out looking.

   I used live view and a tripod on my camera for all three photographs, simply because with the lighting conditions remaining fairly consistent, I had ample time to find the right composition and metering for the exposures. It was easier for me using live view rather than the viewfinder as it was possible to frame the shot without having to bend down if the tripod was set low, especially seeing as the LCD screen was articulated.

   I decided to employ the 'Zone System' for all three of this set of photographs as I had interpreted it in the previous post: What I've Learnt About the Zone System. This would allow me to discern what element(s) of the frame to expose for, either at the scene or when looking at the bracketed exposures later on the computer.

Photograph 10, Assignment 2
   I had to make a fairly difficult decision in the first of the three shots (Photograph 10). I tried to balance the extreme bright of the white swan (Zone VIII/IX) with the fairly extreme shadows underneath the bridge (Zones 0 and 1). This wasn't easy because the difference between the swan and the undersides of the bridge were more than the camera could cope with in terms of dynamic range. Either the shadows would have to be 'blocked up' or the swan would have to be 'blown out'. Eventually I chose to expose for the highlights, namely the swan, as I thought it was the more important element of the photograph. I did however bracket the exposures in case I changed my mind later on. I also checked the histogram on my camera to make sure the swan wasn't overexposed and the shadows weren't too blocked up.

Photograph 11, Assignment 2
   The second image (Photograph 11) presented a similar challenge but this time the midtones (Zone V and perhaps IV and VI) were in my eyes the most important area of the frame - in particular the reflections of the skyscrapers. This meant the decision was more or less decided for me because on either side of the midtones the shadows were blocked and the highlights quite blown but just about discernible as the actual skyscrapers. Regarding composition, I felt the yellow line at the bottom of the frame led the eye well into the (important) midtones/reflections with the dark overpass offsetting this. Again I bracketed exposures, just to give myself a little leeway when selecting from the three different exposures later.

   I thought with the third photograph of this set (Photograph 12) that all the critical elements of the image (Zones III, V and VII using the Zone System) and composition were well balanced. Here the shadows of the boats fitted nicely into Zone III, the midtones which were the skyscrapers into Zone V and the highlights (the sky/bright reflections) into Zone VII. This meant pretty much all I had to do was expose for Zone V. I also used a small aperture value and strong neutral density filter in this photograph to make the reflections more still; letting the viewer concentrate on the balance between sky, relections, buildings and boats.


Photograph 12, Assignment 2

   In the end I employed the Zone System after the photos had been taken. I did this by sketching out the main elements of each photograph and assigning zones ranging from 0 to IX to each of the important elements. This helped me in deciding which bracketed exposure to use for each photograph.