Category Archives: Research and Reflection

Research and Preparation #2

After landing on the final idea for this assignment I’ve changed my mind AGAIN! The idea I had hoped to bring to life is still one that I will pursue as a side project, but I hit a wall –  producing 10 – 12 images using my desired technique would be somewhat difficult, while producing, say, 4/5 images would be great. So with this in mind i’ve done a full 360 and decided to go with my first, initial idea. (This seems to be a common situation, I think sometimes I should go with my gut instinct and not doubt myself.)

I recently headed out to a very cold and wintery Trafalgar square to observe people taking pictures. I had the idea of taking pictures of people taking pictures, and came home with some great ideas. I’m now going to expand on this further, do some more research, and make sketches of what I want to create.

As i mentioned in an earlier post, I want this to be my most creative assignment so far, and do not want to rush the preparation in order to submit it as soon as possible. It’s going to require a fair bit of planning and putting together….


Research and Preparation

I’ve been throwing several ideas back and forth for the upcoming final assignment of this module. It’s a personal project so I’m in full control of the theme and subjects. At first I thought this was going to be very easy, but after weeks of deliberating what to do do my final piece on, I was still unsure of a concept. With previous assignments we’ve been pointed in a certain direction, or given a theme.

This isn’t a bad thing, however. It just means i’m not rushing into getting the job done as quickly as possible, as I really want to challenge myself with this one.

In previous exercises and assignments i’ve roamed London for my inspiration, capturing it’s many hidden gems. I’ve been somewhat restricted with positioning, weather conditions, lighting etc.

For this assignment I want to create my final pictures from scratch. I want to pick the subject, the lighting, the positioning, my positioning, the colours, the backdrops…Everything. I want to create my most creative project yet.

Having landed on a rough idea of where I want my assignment to end up, I’m going to start researching several idea that I have, and start sketching how I can achieve this.

I want a final series of photographs that share a theme, are shot in a similar style aiding continuity, and that represent a series of shots that do not replicate someone else work, but are a product of my creativity.


Photographer: Andreas Levers

I recently discovered a project by a photographer called Andreas Levers. The project that caught my eye is called ‘At Night’ Here’s the link to his Behance page – which has more of his work also.

I’ve been throwing ideas back and forth for my upcoming final assessment for DPP and as it’s a personal project it can be anything I want. I was contemplating doing some sort of night photography as I’ve yet to push my limits in this aspect.

I really admire how strikingly simple his images are. they are void of any kind of human interaction, or presence, creating an eerie feeling. I think they’re brilliant, the use of mist and street lights creates such a great effect.

Definitely something that has influenced me.



Double Exposures

After submitting my latest assignment my tutor pointed me in the direction of other people producing interesting double exposure effects. In particular the work of Francesco Paleari –

My tutor wanted me to recreate Paleari’s technique, which is in the visual style of Kyle Grantham’s double exposure series:

This was a fairly lengthy and somewhat difficult task to produce, but I think I accomplished it well. I used a side portrait of Audrey Hepburn (stock shot) and a misty black and white Yosemite image (again, stock shot.)

Here’s both images in their original state:

ah-side yosemite_ghost_clouds-1_0

Here’s how I did it: (All processed in Photoshop)

Firstly I upped the brightness and contrast of the image. Then I wanted to get rid of the background. This is a fairly simple task, as i’m using a photo with a clean background. Using the Magic Wand Tool I clicked anywhere on the background to select it. Then I selected ‘inverse’ to select Audrey.

Then, using the Refine Edge button I slightly increased the Radius value in the Edge Detection, setting it to 2.0, making the edges less rigid revealing, in this case, the separate hairs. I then set the ‘Output To’  to New Layer with Layer Mask. This creates a copy of the original image with the background hidden.

I then created a new layer, and placed it below the cut out portrait, and filled it with white.

Next step was to add the Yosemite shot. I pasted it as a new layer on top of the Audrey Image. I then held the command button and clicked on the portrait cut out – which reveals her outline on top of the woodland image.

I then added a vector mask to this layer which hides all the background, only making Audrey’s outline and the woods visible.

I then changed the blending mode of this layer to ‘screen’ This basically blends both images, the first stage of our final effect being apparent.

Using the Brush Tool I selected the airbrush soft round 50% and decreased it’s flow and opacity. 25% and 30% retrospectively.

I then selected the Layer Mask of the forest layer, set the fill color to white and painted softly over the areas where the tree tops ended. This makes the image look as if the trees are growing out from Audrey’s hair. The white background helped enormously as the fade technique was very easy to create.

For the final step I did the same as above, only I used black instead of white, and played around with the opacity and flow. This then makes anything dark become clearer – so her facial features. I didn’t want her face to have any secondary exposure. I wanted her features to be flawless, and the effect begin by her hairline.

The layering process is shown below on the right hand side:


Here’s the final image:


I’m super happy with the outcome. It was well worth the time spent on researching what different layers do, and when to use them.

I’m happy I used 2 older looking photos as it enhances the vintage feel of the Audrey Hepburn era. I cannot wait to experiment more with this technique, especially on self portraits and with colour.


Nick Turpin

My tutor also introduced me to the work of Nick Turpin:

Nick’s style is very different to Valerie Jardin’s (previous post) as he mainly shoots in colour. The key thing i’ve noticed and admire about Nick’s work is that it’s all about positioning and timing.

He sums up my views/struggles of street photography fantastically ; “Making something out of nothing with a small camera and standard lens in a public place is the hardest challenge in photography

Many of his images have an element of forced perspective through his perfected timing and positioning of his shots. For example – the ‘can fountain’ image below:


Nick’s attention to detail and timing is truly inspiring – the above image would be so much weaker if the fountain was offset from the can in the foreground. In this instance it really is about precision timing.

He also seems to take a subject or meaning, and adds a literal/physical aspect to it, as exampled below:


He shoots polar opposites as seen below with ‘men at work’ I especially like how the 2 sets of men are walking in different directions – this adds to the impact of the contrast. (I also love the fact that the 2 builders have hard hats on and the 2 suited men are both bald…this adds a feel of consistency and symmetry)


Being armed and ready at all times for that split second opportune moment must be difficult, but Nick never fails to produce interesting thought provoking images, like the one below of a passer by unknowingly mimicking the pose of the model on the side of the bus:


It really does go to show that with a bit of creativity, patience and effort – the general public can pose as subjects for some really great images.

Valerie Jardin

I was unaware of Valerie Jardin’s work until my tutor pointed me in the direction of her website:

Valerie is renowned for her street photography, which seems to have taken her all over the world. What I really admire about her work is that it comes across as so effortless. She shoots predominantly in black and white which instantly adds an air of old fashioned glamour. Her shots have great clarity, with no noise, making them appear silky and smooth.

I love that she seems to shoot everyday objects and events – there’s a specific shot of a man with a cigarette in his hand, writing in a cafe while there’s an out of focus coffee cup in the shot – depth is added by focussing beyond the cup, while the cup itself adds an aesthetic element:


There’s also a shot of a man reading his book on a bench. Nowadays people think they need to add some sort of action or interesting subject for a photograph to be interesting and current, but Valerie has proved that this isn’t so. Simplicity, done right, can be as impacting as a bustling crowded street scene. The photo uses the rule of thirds, and has strong lines. The contrast between the white pages of the book and the bench against his black garments really make it stand out.


One of my favourite shots is of a group of nun’s photographing a building on their mobile phones – what a gorgeous concept. It incorporates both old and new – old being the traditional attire and ancient history of their religious beliefs, and new being the up to date technology in which they capture and record their memories.

I had a similar experience when travelling around Asia. While in Thailand I saw a Buddhist Monk carrying a laptop – I was briefly baffled by the contrasting visuals; the traditional robes and barefoot appearance of the monk juxtaposed by the swanky apple laptop under his arm.


Experimenting With Welding Glass….

I’ve previously mentioned wanting to do long exposure shots but as of yet I don’t own a neutral density filter. After researching online I found multiple articles that claim a sheet of welding glass can give the same results.

So, I purchased a sheet off eBay (shade 12, as dark as possible) for just £1 – this has got to be worth a try!!

The set up was a bit fiddly – it involved numerous rubber bands and I had to focus my shot before attaching the glass over my lens, as there was no way I could actually see through the glass once on.

The glass is tinted green – there’s no way around eliminating this from the image – so shooting in RAW is a must. It’s the only way to process the image to the correct colour.

I experimented with shutter speed times ranging from 3 minutes to 13 minutes.

Here’s 2 of my favourites, both with minimal editing – just white balance correction and some minor hue alterations.

They’re of the same view, but at different times before sunset, resulting in a noticeable difference in colour.

As I was shooting a sunset directly in front of me, the movement wasn’t too drastic, and it was a very still evening so the clouds were fairly motionless but it was a great experiment.

I’m really pleased with the outcome. Not bad for a quid….