Sunday, 24 April 2011

Assignment 5 - Applying The Techniques Of Illustration And Narrative 2

Photograph Analysis

Chosen Photographs

Rather than discuss the individual shots, as individuals, I'd rather discuss them within the context of the page layout for which they were taken.

Bearing the purpose of the images in mind during post production. I have made a lot of them quite high contrast so that they stand out on the page.

Cover Page

I wanted the cover shot to be something that was attention grabbing and a shot that would sell the magazine off a busy shelf of competitors.
The photo on the front cover needed to have the iconic Android logo combined with the human element, me! I used a telephoto lens and a using a data projector, I projected a life size android logo onto a White wall. I then put the camera on a timer and spent a while running between the wall and the camera posing and resetting the timer.

I chose this photo because the eye-line is such a strong element. When viewing a photo, the first thing we look at is the eyes of a person or animal. This image works well as a narrative because I am looking at the Android but my eyeliner also leads the viewer up to the title of the magazine. A few other elements work well here too, I chose a black shirt because I thought that I would end up placing text over it, and the green text overlay enhances the contrast between the human in the photo and the character.
The image is playful and it plays with perspective as well because the android projection seems to be both behind and in front of the developer, making him (me, it's weird writing about myself) seem meshed within the world of Android.

I cropped this image for use on the cover, quite heavily actually. Simon cautioned me in assignment 1 about cropping as I composed the image, but in this case I think cropping afterwards for layout purposes is allowable, I'm not going to claim that every layout element was planned pre-shoot because I don't have that much magazine layout experience.

A final element of the image which works well, is the visible pixelation caused by the projector, being an older projector the resolution is quite low, but this leads to a connection between the digital nature of the product and the content of the article.
Pages 2 and 3

I looked through a lot of different magazines when preparing for this assignment and one if the things that I noticed was that where a cover story has a particularly striking image on the cover, the same image, or a visually connected image, is used within the magazine on the first page of the article itself.

So I knew when I was taking the projection images that I would be using more than one. with this in mind, I ensured that I created a variety of poses, most of which made me cringe afterwards! 

The second of them that I chose was one where my eye was roughly lined up with one of the androids eyes suggesting a link between the two of us, and also allowing the viewer to see the android as well as the human. This photo is composed exactly as it was taken, no cropping took place. I wanted to leave some space to the left of the frame to allow for the text of the article. I also processed this image a bit more than the cover story so hat is was a bit less detailed than the cover photo. I wanted this affect in order to allow the photo to be appraised by the viewer quickly so that they could then move on to reading the story. I increased the contrast and saturation of the image and adjusted the curves to make it as high contrast as it could be, without making it look too affected.

My pose makes me seem quite open and almost accepting of the influence that this process has had on me and gives the impression that I am a part of the android universe.

Pages 4 and 5

This spread marks the first of the pages where two images are used as part of a double spread, a pattern that I have used for the rest of the sheets.
After establishing the main protagonist in the article (me) I then wanted to show the amateur working environment and the simple equipment used to make an app at home. This is where elements of narrative start to come in. The main shot on the left, the computer desk is, believe it or not, quite a careful staged still life. I raided a box of backup hard drives, borrowed a couple of phones, placed a few bits and bobs around and finally took a trip to costa coffee just to get the final piece of the puzzle.
Having constructed the image I decided to used a fish eye lens to give it a dynamic feeling and I shot 6 different exposures and merged them together as a HDR. I can take HDR or leave it, some love it so hate it, but I don't mind. The reason why I decided to use it here was because lighting experiments failed to liven up a flat image and I wanted to add a sense of drama to it, without adding anything artificial.

 The image on the right is also shot with the fish eye but simply to allow me to fill the frame with one simple object. Whilst the computer desk is cluttered and rife with action, I wanted the mouse image to be a simple shot, almost a stock image of a mouse to show how such a common place object is so important in the process of development.

To make the mouse stand out I wanted to use a high key image with a lightbox as the background. As I don't have a lightbox I used a studio light with a softbox and turned it facing directly up. This created a nice effect where I exposed for the mouse, but the background is bright white and the edges of the mouse become much softer as the light from the softbox spills onto it.
This effect creates a nice high contrast, the focus is solely on the mouse and the shape of it. It almost becomes an object of beauty until the viewer remembers that it is a mouse.

Pages 6 and 7
Having taken the focus away from the developer I wanted to bring it back for the next double page spread. I also wanted this spread to be where I combined staged model shots with street photography. 
The first of the three photos used is a staged shot where I have projected binary code against myself and pulled a pose that should suggest frustration. The idea is that a solo developer working by themselves into the night can be very frustrating. I used the data projector again and a wide angle lens to get a dramatic image of frustration.
I think this image works well. I would have preferred not to have the rest of the projection spill over onto the wall behind me but I haven't got access to any rooms long enough to avoid this issue. I tried changing the angles of the frame and tried filling the frame but I wanted the 'tearing hair out' out pose and this was the only way to get it, because the projector projects light I couldn't even increase the shutter speed because the exposure for my face needed to be the correct exposure for the projected image. I still think it works.

The second image on the top right hand side is a shot taken whilst at the Gadget Show. I knew that going to the Gadget Show would be a great opportunity to take a lot of photos of the public using Android tablets and handsets. It was perfect because it meant that I didn't have to hover around in mobile phone shops and ask permission, I was able to use a longer lens (70-200) and shoot at will. The downside was that the lighting at the NEC was very poor and I had to compensate the white balance quite a lot. 
As I was shooting at 200mm I didn't use flash and the image that was chosen, out of quite a few, is nicely lit by the light box in front of the people using the phones and tablets. The image portrays the growth of the market and the interest that people have in this kind of technology, whilst it isn't obvious that this is the gadget show, it is clearly some kind of venue where people can have a go at new tech, and the concentration on their faces shows how interested they are.

The third image on the page is a pure street photography shot. I blogged about being terrible at street photography and this shot was brilliant timing. I had sat down looking for people walking past on their phones and noticed the two girls sitting opposite me using their handsets. The space between them speaks volumes and there is a great juxtaposition between them, sitting in complete isolation but on the same bench, because they are using smart phones. In a way, this is quite a damning photo, it decries the success of smartphones but it also demonstrates how popular they are, and why people like me spend hours at night making apps for them.

Pages 8 and 9

Pages 8 and 9 show two similar images where I have used juxtaposition and metaphors to continue the narrative on application development.
The photography on the right has been cropped for page layout purposes but the important elements of the image are still visible, those being the plastic Android toy in the middle of the street. I wanted to use the 'long road' metaphor to show how the development can be a long process. I used a wide angle lens to give the android some dramatic perspective and a wide aperture to decrease the detail of the road and cars behind the android.

The photo on the right shows the same toy in the grass providing the 'grass roots' metaphor. Android is an open source platform which is something I really like and I wanted an image to represent this. If I had to remove one image from the submission though, it would be this one, it's just a bit dull, and I think I may have overused the robot toy.

Pages 10 and 11

I really like this last double page spread. I got the idea for the location from a fellow OCA student who favours this car park roof in Manchester. I tried shooting the robot toy overlooking the countryside from the top of a hill that has Manchester in the distance but it didn't look right so I relocated to the city centre.
I must say upfront that I don't normally like spot colouring on photos but it works here. I didn't fully desaturate the city-scape, just enough to make the android toy really stand out in the bottom corner, even with the spot colouring the eye is not immediately drawn to it, so it feels like a nice surprise when it is spotted.

Rejected Photographs

The main self portrait shots where I stood in front of the projector had many rejects. I really, really, wish I had invested in a remote for the camera as running back to the camera between shots was a right pain! Anyway, this caused a lot of rejects as I was aiming to have my eye in-line with the Android's eye and this wasn't always successful. I tried a variety of poses but felt like a fool in a lot of them, and looked like a fool in most.
I also experimented with a wide angle lens to start with but settled for the telephoto to avoid any lens distortion on the wall.

The binary projection shot went through a few different experiments too, the shot where I am thinking looks to complacent, I preferred the manic shots. I tried to take s hot where the screen was reflected on my face but focusing this alone was a nightmare, and I felt that if I asked someone else to focus for me, then I was handing over some of the creativity of the shot. I abandoned this idea in the end, it felt a bit surplus to requirements anyway. I think you can tell by the article that I am the programmer without having to see me at the keyboard.

I took a few still life shots that I discarded. The keyboard shots were just a bit dull. The shots of the android phone just didn't work without having the screen blacked out. I realise now that all mobile phone advertising must have a screen shot overlayed onto the handsets, because colour balancing and exposing for both is completely impossible.

I took a few extra shots whilst at the gadget show to show people using smart phones and tablet handsets. The one that I chose is better framed and shows the people engaging in a much more understandable manner, I also like the colours and the amount of people in the shot. The rejects were ok, the one with the green light would have been ideal if it wasn't for the distracting background, but on the day when I rearranged myself, half the people walked off. I also include an alternative HDR of the pc on a wide angle lens. I rejected this because of the sunlight and the general composition being a bit lacklustre.

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