Experimenting with portrait photography in the studio using both white and black backdrops. The light source used was a box light and a lamp. This exercise focused on adjusting the ISO number, moving from a range of 200 to 12800, and adjusting the studio lights to see the effect of light on the image. Some of my favorite images from this exercise follow:
Unit 2 research
For this exercise the class looked at the gallery/online exhibition of the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize – one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world, showcasing new work submitted by some of the most exciting contemporary photographers. Exhibitors have a multitude of stories behind their portraits, so we had a lot of fun appreciating and evaluating the photographs.
My stand-out favourite as you might expect is ‘Wild Swimmers’ by Nicky Thompson. This photograph is a group portrait that “celebrates the often serendipitous nature of photography; ‘nothing was planned the light, the subjects, the landscape: the image almost made itself’.” Thompson’s group photograph of early morning swimmers in the cold waters of the River Dart was made on her 8 x 10 inch plate camera, and developed in situ. “The ambrotype (collodion positive) process, an early Victorian invention, with its relatively long exposure time and process imperfections, creates a timeless image of stillness and intimacy between these women.”
There’s something mystical and magical about Thompson’s Wild Swimmers project. Each photograph in the project has a timeless appearance; stillness and tranquility that draws you into the image.
This exercise really pushed me to focus on composition – to make sure I focused on the subject and keep an eye on the background, to keep the backdrop in frame (we used a relatively small backdrop) and avoid unwanted shadows. Shutter speed and aperture more or less stayed the same throughout the exercise. While most of the photographs above use ISO 3200 (the last two use ISO 12800), they were taken after a series of other images moving up and down the ISO scale to examine the change in brightness of the photograph (or sensitivity of the sensor) – using both black and white backdrops. I also had to think about taking my time and not rushing pressing the shutter button – find a good angle; steady the camera; take a thoughtful moment; then take the photograph. I really did learn a lot from this session and I look forward to practicing a lot more with portrait photography.