Friday, April 18, 2014

Project : Urban Shapes (Geometry)

"The greatest joy for me is geometry, that means structure. You can go shooting for shades or pattern and all this, but ... it's essential pleasure and it's an intellectual pleasure at the same time to have everything in the right place. It's recognition of an order, which is in front of you." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

In this project I want to sharpen my skill on "The Art of Seeing". How to recognize visual elements and arrange them to create a harmonious picture. In addition to HCB's quote above, there are three youtube videos which inspire me to delve more about the fine art of visual imagery.

Adam Marelli is a sculptor and photographer. He believes that mastery of art could be taught to anyone. In this video, he dissects some world known iconic images to show the basic visual elements that build those images.

Eileen Rafferty talks about the same thing in a more syllabic approach, the way we learn art in school course. The topics being discussed is presented in a sequence that built upon another, which is good for systematic self learning.

Art Wolfe is a painter turns to photographer. He use his knowledge of classical painting to build the visual concept of his photographs. In this video, he shows some of his works and the particular painting that inspires him.

All those three talk about the foundation of art and design. They take photography only as a means to create art. They all have background in art education, even HCB himself is a painter. Then I realize that in order to improve my photography, I have to learn more about arts, visual design and history of classical paintings.

For this project, I will emphasize more on the design aspect and less attention about the story. Not to be ignorance about the storytelling-ness of photography, but let's be realistic. I need time to develop my skill.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Urban Shape #4

This was an attempt to arrange the curve line, foreground, background and passer-by to create a geometrically motivated composition. It doesn't work.The foreground is meaningless. The woman should wear lighter colored cloth to increase figure to ground ratio. And the sky was too busy.

13 Apr 2014
Nikon D700
AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D
ISO 400 - f/8 - 1/1000

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Urban Shape #3

In taking this shot, actually I don't know what to expect (silly huh?). I found this trolley at the foreground, the road on the middle and houses on the background. All basic ingredients are there. It's some kind of juxtaposition between foreground and background. Just wait few minutes for nice passer-by to complete the scene.

Starting from this photowalk, this includes two previous photo, I make a commitment to shoot without looking to the back LCD. I turn off auto-review so it doesn't show the image after the shoot was captured. Furthermore, I set the exposure control scale to 1 stop, instead of 1/3 stop. This is how we shoot back then in analog film era. I practice zone system concept in taking exposure. I took reading on reference surface using center weighted metering and decide which zone that surface will be on the exposure scale. Mostly I take reading on the road asphalt surface and I make it 1 stop underexposed. I want to prepare myself for shooting on film.

It's evident that I'm still not good in evaluating the scene inside the viewfinder. I used to see the images on the LCD, browse several recently captured images, judging whether it is good or need re-shoot from another angle.

I couldn't see that perfectly aligned virtual line extends from the trolley to the houses in the background. If I realized that visual relation, I'll wait until that woman move two more steps and I will have the perfect triangle relation between those shapes. Aaarrgghh...

It takes sensitivity to play this game.

30 Mar 2014
Nikon D700
AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D
ISO 400 - f/5.6 - 1/125

Friday, April 4, 2014

Urban Shape #2

This was taken under the Pasupati Bridge, my favorite place. As you can see, I'm looking for a clear diagonal line. I found this pedestrian lane is perfectly lies on diagonal. I use 24mm lens to make the line looks stronger. As usual, I frequently incorporate motorcycle passer-by as visual element in most my photographs. That's because it is the easiest way to put human element on the frame. There are so many of them around the street.

Later on, I found an interesting geometric relation in this photo. I even don't realize it when I took the shot. Adam Marelli already shows this in his B+H video but I think the written article here is better for more in depth study.

He introduces the concept of major diagonal and major reciprocal. Major diagonal is the line connecting two corner of the frame that are facing each other. Major reciprocal is the line that is perpendicular to the major diagonal and intersect with one of the other corner of the frame.

As you can see on the left, the motorcycle lies exactly on the intersection of major diagonal and major reciprocal. That creates balance and harmony. Henri Cartier-Bresson uses this basic principle heavily in most of his photographs.

I think I'm starting to understand what HCB means as "intellectual pleasure".

30 Mar 2014
Nikon D700
AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D
ISO 400 - f/5.6 - 1/125

Urban Shape #1

This photo was taken at Tubagus Ismail street, less than 5 minutes from home. I was wandering around looking for something geometrically interesting. This project is an exercise of "The Art of Seeing", right? My eyes landed on this slightly curved diagonal line of the pedestrian lane.

The line was a good skeleton, but I need foreground and background to fill the frame. Mmm... water layer on top of Telkom underground cable chamber seems nice. Wait a few seconds to get those motorcycles behind and BANG. Got the shot.

This photo has no story in it. Just an "educated snapshot" to kickstart this project.

30 Mar 2014
Nikon D700
Nikkor 50mm f/2 AI
ISO 400 - f/8 - 1/125