Tutor Reply Assignment 5

All in all, I got a quite positive response from my tutor. Seems like my pictures convinced him about my technical camera skills. He even questioned if one of the pics, the one in section “Juxtaposition”, is my work. But I hope he was doing that just to highlight the quality of the image not really doubting that I am the owner of it. The only thing the was mentioning in a negative way was my question about ISO sensitivity versus F-Stops. I was questioning a paragraph in the learning book that was saying that ISO 100 to ISO 400 is a 4-fold increase in sensitivity. In fact, it was a wrong thought on my side because I thought that when ISO 100 to ISO 200 is double and ISO 200 to ISO 400 is double, that it cannot be a 4-fold increase but only a 3-fold one. However, that is not so important because I solved that problem already with another tutor. More important is the fact that my current tutor made a comment that is almost offensive but he missed to make a comment on most of my work under this particular chapter. In addition, that particular statement of mine was done much earlier (when I had a different tutor). So I am now wondering why my tutor needs 4 weeks to send me his report but he has time enough to scan my whole learning log even for things he is not concerned with? Anyway, I am ready now to send my work for assessment.. Lets see what the outcome is!


Exercise: Water

For this exercise we have to produce an image about rain that would make a good cover for a magazine. I decided for something less obvious, something that reflects a rainy day but does not show the standard features of rain. Recently, I did a trip to Bangkok and during heavy rain I found this Buddhist stone-carving on a wall. The water was coming down from the roof creating some kind of a curtain in front of the face. I framed the picture in a way, so that the edges of the stone carving create some kind of frame. To me, this image would be great on a magazine with the subject “Rainy days in Asia”.


Exercise: Juxtaposition

For this exercise we have been asked to produce an image that could be the cover of a book by using 2 or 3 elements in a juxtaposition. As far as I can see, most of my fellow students use some sort of still-life to get it done. I decided for something else. I use a high-speed water image. I actually never really read the book but I think the image I choose would make a good cover.

Wrist watch water splash

Exercise: Symbols

We are asked to think about symbols for 5 different subjects – growth, excess, crime, silence, and poverty. This exercise does not require us to take pictures but I decided to put some pictures I have taken earlier.

For the first one, growth, I thought about two different things. First, a little boy holding his fathers hand wathcing a small tree in front of them (view from behind). Second, growth in business world can be shown with a city scape and a bar trend (see image below).

Business graph with modern buildings in Dubai

For the subject excess I thought about a fat guy sitting in the middle of burgers and bottles of coke. but excess can also mean an excess of money. So much money that you even build a large city and golf courses in the middle of the dessert.

Golf in the middle east Dubai

Crime, which is the next subject, has many bad faces. I live in Cambodia and crime is something we have to deal with every other day. What pops up in my mind immediately is a group of teenagers pulling on the arms of a female tourist trying to steel the handbag. But crime also happens in the western world. Handcuffs and money is a very appropriate symbol for what is going on in our world.

US Dollar, money, banknotes

Silence is the 4th subject I have to deal with. Imagine a young woman standing in the middle of a busy road with her earphones on playing music from Bach. another symbol for silence is of course nature. You stand next to a small waterfall and the only thing you hear is the birds and the water.

Waterfall in picturesqu environment

The last subject is poverty. Well, there is a lot of poverty in Cambodia, so getting inspiration is not very difficult. What I had in mind first is a kid sitting in front of a fast food chain looking through the windows where people with money eat their burgers. Child labor is also the result of poverty. Very young children have to help their families to make an income. My image is a young teenage woman that shows around rich western tourists (I removed the tourists from the picture).



Exercise: Evidence of action

We have been asked to produce an image in which it can be seen that something has happened. It is also recommended that we show something that is either broken or empty. Well, I decided for broken. I kind of like this exercise because it allows me to create images that I really want to create. Something interesting, something you cannot see without the help of photography. I decided to use a glass of wine and drop it on a white reflecting surface. In order to get the image as sharp as possible I used high-speed flash-sync equipment. Usually cameras sync with 1/250sec with the flash. This would not allow me to capture a sharp image because the glass drops to fast. So I used my Pixelking equipment and my studio flashes on 1/1250sex, F6.3, ISO 160 to shoot this image.


We are also asked to write down five examples of concepts that are frequently depicted in advertising and publicity for products that cannot be shown (such as insurances).

1. 3 people stand in the rain but only 1 has an umbrella – The insurance that does not let you stand in the rain.

2. A man in suite and tie stands in a office overseeing his workforce – With this MBA you make career.

3. A car drives into a garage and the mechanics wait with red overalls and helmets – The quickest repair service for your car.

4. A couple sits in a restaurant on a tropical island enjoying the sunset – Play lottery, become a millionaire and enjoy life to the fullest.

5. 2 man in suites shake hands – Our bank cares for your business.

Exercise: A narrative picture essay

After finishing the section “Light” I am looking forward to this part of the TAOP studies. The first exercise is about a picture essay from an event we recently covered.

In Siem Reap (Cambodia) there is a yearly “Puppet Parade”. Kids from local NGO schools prepare large puppets and show them in the city center together with their foreign teachers. This event takes a lot of time to prepare, for most of the schools it is the whole year.This year for most of the schools their theme of choice was wildlife. They had puppets of snakes, rays, bears, and they even had a slow lorries (endangered species). As you can imagine this event is also a magnet for locals, expats, photographers and tourists. With my picture essay I tried to give a bit of an overview what was actually happening.

The biggest problem I had was the low light because the event took place in the night. Raising the ISO too high would case the pictures to be noisy and detail is lost quickly. On the other hand, slow shutter-speed is not an option either because everything is moving. And using a flash destroys all the great lights the kids put into their puppets. I decided to use my 50mm F1.4 lens. Using this lens is quite dangerous because the DOF is very, very shallow. I have to admit that many of my pictures did not turn out well. But that was a risk I had to take. On some of the pictures I actually used a flash. But I used the flash together with long shutter-speed in order to maintain some of the natural colors.

I tried to organize the images according to subject and/or activity. The first images are about the puppets themselves. Image 1 was taken with 1/80sec, F 1.4, ISO 800, image 2 – 1/125sec, F1.4, ISO 800, and image 3 1/20sec, F4, ISO 800, TTL flash.

_MG_2029  _MG_2021


The music for the whole parade was performed by a local teenage brass band. Since there was almost no light, it was quite difficult to get good shots. Another problem was the crowed. It was almost impossible to get close to the band. The first of the three pictures shows the band leader. I know, picture 1 and 3 are not 100% sharp, but I still used them because I think they tell a great story. In picture 3 it is even visible how the drummer actually hits the drum.  Image 1 is taken with 1/20sec, F1.4, ISO 800, image 2 with 1/40sec, F1.4, ISO 800, and image 3 with 1/20sec, F2.2, ISO 800.


_MG_2091    _MG_2187

The last part of this exercise is about the visitors of the parade. There where many people with cameras and mobile phones, tourists, as well as locals. And everybody enjoyed the event in his own way. Image is is taken with 1/20sec, F1.6, ISO 800, Image 2 is taken with 1/20sec, F2.2, ISO 800, and Image 3 is taken with 1/160, F1.4, ISO 800.

_MG_2133    _MG_2129


Actually, this was the first time that I really ever thought about the order of my photos. I usually just put them together without any thought. So I guess this exercise helped me to understand that, when pictures should tell a story, the order is very important.

Tutor Response to Assignment 4

This is the first assignment reviewed by my new tutor Andrew. I had a good cooperation with Paul, my former tutor. I hope I will also work together well with Andrew.

His response was quite good. There are some minor things that he would have done differently, but after all, I am the student and he is the tutor. So I am quite pleased with his review and I hope I keep the high standards for the future.


Exercise: Concentrating Light

This is an exercise that I already used a couple of times when shooting with models. A black background and barn doors or snoots to concentrate the light to the subject. That is why I have used a number of my older pictures to conclude this exercise (another reason is that I am living in Cambodia and access to either models or any special materials is almost impossible).

The first shot was taken with a reflector and grids on one of my studio flashes. I used a black backdrop for this shot.


I hope the next image is not upsetting my tutor, but I thought I use it for this exercise because I used 2 concentrated light sources. One of the female legs and another one for the shoulder and the head of the man. this shot was also taken in front of a black backdrop.


The last image is one I just took here in Cambodia. It is a perfume bottle and I used a studio flash and a snoot. this image is not only with a concentrated light but also shows what shadow effects one can create when using this kind of lighting technique.




Exercise: Contrast and Shadow Fill

This exercise was all about how to fill harsh shadows. We have been asked to produce 7 images (dont know why the text-book says 11 on top but in the exercise description it is aksed for 7) with light and a number of reflectors and diffusers. The camera and the light source was positioned in a 90 degree angle (fix position for the whole exercise). I produced the images with the following situations:

  1. Light without diffuser
  2. Light with diffuser
  3. Light without diffuser and white reflector opposite the light 3 feet from the subject
  4. Light without diffuser and white reflector opposite the light 1.5 feet from the subject
  5. Light without diffuser and dull aluminum foil reflector opposite the light
  6. Light without diffuser and shiny aluminum foil reflector opposite the light
  7. Light without diffuser and crumpled aluminum foil reflector opposite the light

We have been asked to sort the pictures according to the contract strength.

First image – 1. This one is the one with the strongest contrast.


Second Image – 2. this image still produces a lot of shadow. the diffuser helped to soften the shadow a bit, but not really much. What is interesting is, that the WB has changed (same as in the earlier exercise).


Third Image – 3. This is the image with the white reflector 3 feet away. The shadows are still existing. Not as much as in the earlier images, but still.


Fourth image – 4. This is the image with the white reflector 1.5 feet away. The work of the reflector is very apparent in this image. You can clearly see that, in comparison with the earlier image, the right side of the subject gets much better light.


Fifth Image – 5. This one was taken with the dull aluminum foil over the reflector. You can clearly see that the reflections light up the subject from the opposite side of the lamp. However, the shadow in the middle of the subject is still dominant.


Sixth Image – 6. That one was taken with the shiny side of the aluminum foil covering the reflector. Again, the shady side of the image becomes better lit.


Seventh Image – 7. The la1st image was taken with the crumpled aluminum foil. From my point of view this is the one with the least contrasts.


Alright, that was an interesting exercise. I usually use a reflector when doing portraits but I was never really aware about the little details that different reflector materials make.What really surprised me was the 3D feeling a reflector can give because of leaving a slight shadow in the middle of the subject. Also, the reflected light is of course not as strong as the original light-source. Since I am shooting a lot of products and stock images, I think that is something I will definitely apply more in future.


Exercise: The Lighting Angle

This exercise is all about light angles. We have been asked to produce 11 images using a light source with a diffuser. I used one of my studio flashes with a soft-box. That gives a fairly large light-source. We have been asked to move the light around a subject. for the subject I decided to use one of my lenses. I think that is quite OK in order to show the effect desired. The first 4 images are made with the light almost on the same level than the subject. For the second 4 images I raised the light to reach an angle of around 45 degrees. The last 3 images where made with the light source over the subject, slightly in front and slightly behind the subject. Because there is no instructions regarding the camera settings I used aperture Priority, F2.8, AWB, and Center Weighted Average for all images. This lead the different exposure times for the images.


Image 1



Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5


Image 6


Image 7


Image 8


Image 9


Image 10


Image 11

What you can see when looking at the images is the changing shadow. When the light source is low the shadows are long, when the light source is higher the shadows become shorter. Image 3 shows kind of the silhouette of the lens while image 1 is the only one in which the subject is evenly lit.  An other interesting finding is the highlights at the edges. It is depending on where the light source really is. The strongest edge-highlight, in my opinion, is picture 7 when the light is behind and 45 degrees above the subject. Maybe that is because the reflections of the subject go straight into the camera. That is also the picture that I like most and gives the best 3D effect. I am not sure if I am right but I guess that’s why pro-photographer often use this position to create rim-lights when doing portraits.

All in all, most of the outcome was pretty clear before I did that exercise. However, the fact that when the light is behind the subject in an angle of 45 degrees gives that great effect was new to me.