Sunday, 27 October 2013


Example Photograph 1 (with dust spots uncorrected)
In my opinion, the larger the blemish to be corrected, the more questionable (and difficult) the correction becomes; especially if it occurs over real detail. By questionable I was referring to the ethics regarding removing such a blemish; if the blemish occurred over real detail and was large removing it might change the appearance of the detail and so change a portion of the image. Fortunately, blemishes in the form of dust spots are usually small and are most apparent in ‘bare’ parts of the image.

Example Photograph 1 (with dust spots corrected)
   This is where flare comes in. It is, in my eyes, similar to a (usually much larger) dust spot but it also often occurs over detail. This means it is both harder to remove and poses greater questions about whether it should be removed in the first place. It can sometimes be desirable/creative/an interesting addition to the overall photo; for me this is providing it does actually add to the image and it isn’t too large. This relates back to blemishes, where the smaller the blemish, the less objectionable it is in my eyes.

   I eventually found some examples of dust spots in a couple of early photographs I'd taken and attempted to remove them using my processing software of choice: Adobe Lightroom.

Example Photograph 2 (with dust spots uncorrected)
   The first example I found to be fairly straightforward to remove the dust spots, without affecting the 'aesthetic authenticity' of the photograph and in my opinion the photograph looked much better afterwards and removing the dust spots was acceptable for me. I used Adobe Lightroom's heal spot removal tool to remove the dust spots.

100% crops of Example Photograph 2 showing how a 'problematic' dust spot was corrected
   I thought the second example photograph looked to be a similarly straightforward image to correct but upon closer inspection I found a larger dust spot that resided over detail. Although the detail only comprised of some grass with a few leaves, the leaves were dotted around and so the task of removing the large dust spot was more difficult. Initially, I was happy with Lightroom's first attempt to replace the dust spot with a similar piece of grass but when I looked closer at what the software had decided to replace the dust spot with, I noticed the replacement was a nearby part of the grass but with a leaf in the selected area. This made it apparent (albeit at 100%) that the leaf had been duplicated because the same leaf appeared in two places close in proximity to each other. So I tried to locate a bare patch of grass and use that as a replacement (Adobe Lightroom allows you to change the location of the replacement simply by dragging on the area chosen as the replacement). This time I felt I was successful in replacing the blemish with another part of the image without obviously cloning that area.

Example Photograph 2 (with dust spots corrected)
   It still did raise the question: what made that area I used finally less contentious to clone than the first area? I decided it was less contentious for me because it didn't affect the image as a whole and not even at 100%, where the original area the software chose did affect the image at 100%. This was mainly because the bare patch of grass could have occurred anywhere there was grass in the horizontal strip in the photo.

   The rest of the dust spots in the sky in the second example were easy to correct for me because they occurred where there was little detail. However, I learnt that it was wise to be wary of potentially obvious cloning of parts of an image when correcting dust spots.

Example Photograph 3 (flare uncorrected)
   The example I found in my archives for flare was a photograph I liked particularly for its character and interestingly this was mostly due to the flare evident within it. So I was interested to see how my perceptions of the image changed of the photograph after I had completed the steps suggested to remove the flare.

   I set the clone stamp tool in Adobe Photoshop Elements' 11 editor to 'Color' first of all as suggested and dragged it carefully over the flare polygons. I found this had the effect of removing the colour in the polygons, which helped a lot in making them less noticeable. Then I set the clone stamp tool to 'Darken' and dragged over the flare polygons in the same manner, which made more of an impact. In fact it apparently completely removed the flare so, for me at least, you wouldn't have known it had been present if you hadn't seen the original.

Example Photograph 3 (flare corrected)
   My reaction to the flare being removed in this particular photograph was mixed: while taking away some of the character of the photograph, it also in my opinion made it more 'professional-looking'. By professional I was referring to the photograph looking 'cleaner' and more polished. I had no qualms about removing the flare from an ethical point of view - for me it simply meant a feature of the photograph was different, neither good nor bad but changing the character of the image to something else.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Study Visit - Representations of Motherhood

I recently attended a study visit called 'Representations of Motherhood' and I am glad I went because it was both thought-provoking (giving me ideas for the Reality and Intervention assignment) and fun.

   The trip was comprised of visiting two places; a gallery and museum. Contrary to most of my fellow students' findings, I found the first part of the visit (Photography, Motherhood and Identity at The Photographers' Gallery) more useful than the second (Photography, Motherhood and Loss at the Foundling Museum). This was purely down to me being more inspired by some of the collections or even by single photographs.

   My impressions from the Study Visit - Saturday 12th October 2013:

   Props that draw you in because of their strangeness/contrast to the rest of the scene - as seen in Janine Antoni’s spiderwebs in ‘Inhabit’ (2009). It is also very clever, confusing and for me powerful how there is a picture/pictures within a picture as well - the doll house in the middle of the frame. The doll house(s) could be a separate photograph if viewed up close enough.

   Elina Brotherus sometimes uses interesting composition - unusually framed in her ‘Annunciation’ (2009) series. Is this a way of effectively portraying the subject’s depression? The subject is sometimes placed in uncouth positions in the frame - maybe indicating her frame of mind at the time? The cable release usage is very strange for me to see and quite confusing - why include it? Maybe it serves to make the viewer unsure about how to view the photographs; to remind the viewer the connection between them (the viewer), the camera lens and the subject are ‘fake’ connections - after all a photograph is just an illusion of a moment in time.

   The edges of the frames are mostly dark with Ana Casus Broda’s ‘Kinderwunsch’ (2006-2013) series, leading the eye to the perfectly exposed and dramatically lit central focal point(s). This creates a moody atmosphere and perhaps embellishes the intimacy shown between mother and child, in contrast to the dark around them. This is a strongly recurring theme in all but one of the photographs. The darkness in my eyes clearly depicts the bad place she refers to - the ‘slow and tortuous passage through a dark tunnel’, with the well exposed bits representing the distraction from this she experiences with her children -‘the intense, pleasant sensations’.
   Overall I found the visit thought-provoking and in equal parts slightly disturbing and inspiring! I was glad I went because ultimately I learnt a lot from it, particularly concerning lighting (both natural and flash) and I found a few ideas that I might be able to utilise in my own work.
   Janine Antoni’s ‘Inhabit’ (2009) especially interested me because it played with reality and what was expected in the frame of a photograph and changed it. This could be a possible inspiration for my final photograph for assignment 4. Here I was referring to the picture within a picture, where the doll house in the middle of the photograph was the picture within a picture.

The Beginnings of Reality and intervention

Example Photograph 1
I was curious to find out more about the complications surrounding digital photographs and their relationship with reality because I had come to realise that it had begun to affect some of my own photographs (even when they weren't post-processed). For example, when viewed by friends or family; especially those not heavily photograph-oriented or from the film-era of photography, they would quite often say: "How did you take that?"  (Example Photograph 1) or, more frequently: "Was that done in Photoshop?" (Example Photograph 2) respectively. This was interesting to me because I hadn't actually processed the first example much (it was just a long exposure) and I had only used a polariser for the second example and it was an unprocessed jpeg. So my friends and family were already questioning the  authenticity of some photos; maybe because of the trend of post-processing in the digital age for photography.


Example Photograph 2
   This questioning has actually made me start to ponder my processing; was it too extreme or obvious? Should I have made it more true to the scene? For instance I often overcooked contrast and saturation in-camera when I was capturing photos before starting the course or just beginning it (Example Photograph 3). Although this trend had quietened over time and experience it still was apparent to some viewers. I put this down to all the factors accumulating together in the final processed image rather than one single overriding factor.

Example Photograph 3

   So it has been useful experimenting with 'processing the image' already in the 1st and 3rd assignments for Digital Photographic Practice. It has allowed me to pinpoint which areas I felt I was over-processing and hear feedback from my tutor (and also friends and family). Obviously, with the chapter of 'Reality and intervention' commencing, I would find out and begin to question a lot more about the ethics  of manipulating (subtly or aggressively) images I would take and indeed had already taken.

   The aspect I was most interested in though was our perceptions of a photograph; whether it was a 'real' or 'fake' rendition of the world. So merging photographs together or even subtly altering parts were the areas I was looking forward to experimenting with.