Sunday, 2 October 2011

Exercise - Juxtaposition

This exercise is designed to show how things work together to give an illustration of a theme. I choose to illustrate a book cover, partly because my narrative story is about a person and their hobby, partly because I find still life setups challenging, both to make and also to light and photograph.

The first challenge was to find an appropriate book, many of the books in our house are science fiction, and I struggled to think of a still life that would work. Eventually I remembered one of my favourite books of modern poetry - Of Rowan and Pearl - poems about rural Scotland.

                                                              'these berries
                                           that flare out in bunches
                                           enamelled in sheerest red..'.
                                                           ( Margaret Gillies Brown)

I set out by finding a rowan branch, they are full of berries at the moment, some seashells and strings of pearls. The arrangement went though many permutations, initially getting more complex, but I finally settled on a simple close up of the berries and pearls. I went though a slow process of setting up, photographing, checking images on the PC and then altering the arrangement. This meant I could leave the camera and lights in position and only change one variable at a time. I also carefully followed my checklist developed earlier, after assignment 4 feedback.
  • think about what you are taking 
    • rowan and pearls
  • why are you taking it?
    • for a book cover - therefore a portrait  shot is likely to work better
  • what detail are you concentrating on?
    • the colour of the berries
  • what light are you using?
    • artificial , lit from a slight angle, at the level of the berries and reflected via a gold reflector
  • shutter speed and aperture
    • aperture chosen to get as much of the picture in focus as possible, shutter speed not important as using a tripod, and cable release. ISO 100 to minimise grain.
  • focal point
    • the point at the middle of the berries and the top of the pearls, manual focus used to get this spot on.
ISO 100, f/22, 90mm efl, 2.5 secs.
  • did it work?
    • yes
  • if so – why
    • plenty of thought during the process!
  • if not – why not
  • what settings did you use
    • as above, slow shutter speed, and small aperture
  • what lighting
    • artificial - but moved the light around until it really shined on the pearls
  • what post-processing
    • minimal, RAW processed in Lightroom 2, slight sharpening and enhancement of the red colour, levels checked in PSE8
I then had some more fun making a book cover using the picture. I did try various more complicated layouts - but finally went for something simple. The title font is called 'Broken Ghost' and is available free online. The names are in 'Century'.

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