Saturday, 16 October 2010

Exercise 17 - Multiple Points

This task featured my first planned still life. I have done still life images before but rarely has it been a collection of objects placed and then only for a few wedding detail shots like a bride's shoes and jewellery.
This was a fun task to plan and the most inspiring part of the instructions for me was the selection of a background that was "unfussy but not entirely plain". I decided to do a still life based on food, honestly due to the lack of any small, interesting objects within my home (due to life with cats).

After I decided on food, I chose a lettuce leaf as my background. This decision that dictated the choice of lens, my 100mm macro, as I wanted to get as much detail of the leaf as possible.

I decided to shoot the still life using natural day light so I positioned the leaf next to our south facing window on top of a wooden box and shot the images at F22 to get as much detail as possible and 3.2 second shutter speed in order to correctly exposure such at narrow aperture at 100mm. 
One or two of the images are slightly blurred which is frustrating considering the tripod set up but I was moving around whilst the camera was exposing the speed so this must have been the reason.

So, step by step, here we go:

The first two images were quite simple. the initial image simply decided how the leaf would fill the frame. I decided to leave a hint of the wooden background as it is a box lid constructed in a check-board pattern and the suggestion of lines and squares in the bottom corners add to the implied geometry that I was hoping would come later.

I positioned the first object, an almond, at the end of a visual line already created by the leaf. I wanted the line to have a stopping point so that the viewer did not start on the top right and move right across the image too quickly.

The second almond was positioned lightly lower than the first in order to create movement downwards as the focus of the subjects was towards the top of the frame and I wanted the eye to have something to lead it downwards.

Leaving the bottom half of the frame again, I couldn't fight the urge to create the first shape, a triangle, by placing an almond at the top, but still in a relatively irregular placement. I ensured with these three almonds, that they weren't all at the same angle.
The next object I positioned, is actually a cluster of smaller objects, sunflower seeds. I wanted to keep the movement implied by the line created by the spine of the lettuce leaf, but also break it up so the background wasn't too distracting. I decided to maintain the line with a rough scattering of smaller objects, the seeds.
I next returned to almonds and started by positioning an almond below the seeds to start building another focus towards the bottom of the frame.
A fifth almond was added to create an extra line to the right of the frame, but for now, it actually creates two lines, one across the middle and the intended line across the top right.
The middle line was disrupted by the close placement on an additional almond as I wanted to imply a square on that side of the frame.
The last almond was then added to create another implied triangle, but I kept it further right than it's original placement as I didn't want the final triangle to be too obvious or feel forced.
Finally I added a sprinkle of sea salt across the bottom of the frame from left to right. I wanted to give the image more texture and I also wanted to embrace the curve of the lettuce leaf on the bottom left.
So here you can see some of the implied curves and lines, you could argue that there are extra lines such as the three almonds along the bottom, but I feel that they are part of the curve. 
here are the implied shapes, my large triangle which is tipped by the sunflower seeds, bringing the different objects together, and then the more basic triangle and square which are implied by the almond placement.

This was a really interesting exercise, the image is quite two dimensional because it is top down, but I wanted to completely focus on positioning and shape so this was necessary.
Post production - I desaturated the green and warmed up the whole image, I also increased the clarity and sharpened slightly.

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