Assignment One: Workflow

This assignment is about developing a personal and effective workflow and using it on a themed assignment of my own devising. Although the assignment suggested I worked in a field of photography in which I felt comfortable, I had the opportunity to do some street photography and wanted to use this as a vehicle for this first assignment.

This is the workflow I developed. The last column contains comments specific to this shoot, the other columns constitute the generic workflow.

Planning and Preparation
Workflow step Workstep clarification Comments
Review Shoot Brief I had some time during a visit to London to do street photography. It would be a fairly open-ended brief but I had some thoughts beforehand:

1. I wanted to move out of my comfort zone and include more pictures of people,

2. Transport is a big issue in the capital city so this could be a theme,

3. I wanted to experiment with the deliberate use of blur.

Research Location/assignment If possible, visit before shoot or conduct internet search. What’s the best time of day? Will weather conditions affect quality of outcome? Develop list of possible shots. Will a return visit be possible for more shots? My visit would take me to three different areas, South Kensington, Oxford Circus and Victoria Station. I would have no control over the time of day when I would be at each location, nor did I have the option of choosing the day based on the weather conditions. A return visit would not be impossible but difficult to schedule. Because of the fluid nature of the situation, a shot list wasn’t developed.
Refine shoot brief based on research
Decide equipment Will depend on location. If at home, equipment will be at hand so not so critical. Other internal location will require flash/lighting? Arsenal of lenses? Consider preparation of checklist for location shooting. I could take a small kit bag containing two bodies, 28 – 135, 90 – 300, 18 – 55mm and 50mm prime lenses, flash, memory cards, batteries and manuals. I did not think flash would be necessary and thought I could do everything with the 28 – 135 lens.
Charge Batteries Include flash batteries if needed Batteries were charged the day before.
Sufficient memory cards The card in the camera had space for 700 hi-res jpegs, and I had two spare reformatted cards – should be enough
Confirm understanding of shoot brief
During the shoot
Review location for likely shots and suitability of lighting/weather If visited beforehand, are there any changes? Is lighting/weather as expected? Weather on arrival was dull and overcast but at least it was dry
Review shot list Amend as necessary with reference to brief Not applicable
Set up lighting If required Not required
Set up camera Lens focal length; support (tripod/monopod/other);

tethered to computer; RAW/jpeg files; flash

28-135 was fitted to camera and turned out to be suitable for all situations encountered. Image storage was initially set to hi-res jpegs, later changed after some tricky exposures to RAW + jpeg (note: first use of raw). White balance set to automatic but reviewed on screen during the shoot. Aperture priority used to control depth of field. Resulting shutter speed was monitored to ensure it was appropriate with ISO adjusted as and when necessary. All this especially important when taking deliberately blurred photos (eg depth of field and/or motion blur).
Check camera settings White balance; ISO setting; Shutter priority/Aperture priority/manual; Depth of field/motion blur requirements
Review pictures and make adjustments as they are taken (lighting, exposure, lens, white balance, depth of field) Decide whether to delete any obviously technically incorrect, depending on time, memory available.
Don’t forget to look behind you For an alternative viewpoint
Post processing
Download images to computer if not already done during the shoot Total of 189 images taken during the day. 95 were relevant to the three possible themes (fig 1). Photoshop’s Organiser was used to manage the process.
Tag the photos Tag as “People”, “Transport” and “Blur”
  • 24 blur
  • 57 people
  • 28 transport

Note that some fitted more than one tag.

Decided to concentrate on people as this gave the greatest scope for an expressive variety of images (fig 2)

Make technical edit Delete any that are technically flawed, out of focus, unrecoverable exposure errors etc

In Elements Organiser give them one star, rest get two stars

Note that as part of the brief involves the deliberate use of blur, this needs to be taken into account when discarding “blurred” photos.

Flawed ones given one star, rest two

7 – 1 *

50 – 2* (fig 3)

Make the selects With reference to the shoot brief

In Elements Organiser, give them three stars

Where we have a sequence, pick just the best of each sequence ( a few exceptions)

So we have:

Technical discards – * 7

Creative discards – **22

Selects – *** 28 (fig 4)

Have enough images been captured or will a return visit be necessary 28selected images were enough and contained a sufficient variety. Return visit not practicable
Do any post processing that is required on selected images Working on the jpegs, levels correction and sharpening in Photoshop. This was not intended to work up the images to the final quality, only to put all the selects onto a level playing field.
Grade processed images Give them 3, 4 or (exceptionally) 5 stars 10 – 4*(fig 5)

17 – 3*

Review grading of images Left it a few days and decided to award five more 4 stars.

15 – 4*(fig 6)

13 – 3*

Check brief, how many images are required 6 to 12
Draft print candidate images Crop to approx 6in x 4in x 300 ppi – Without worrying unduly about print quality, saved as separate file and printed on 6 x 4 paper.
Finalise theme and make final selection Laying out the draft prints together on a table. Decided on “London Working and Living” for a title for the set. Selected 10 and gave them 5* (fig 7)
Title, caption, tag and order as required
If prints are required, prepare image file for printing From original photoshopped image, crop to 160mm wide (or high) x 300 ppi to give wide border on A4. Review prints and make adjustments as necessary to improve print appearance.
Deliver pictures in agreed format Prints, web gallery, CD
Archive image files

To illustrate the gradual removal of images and refining the selection, here are screen shots of the various stages:

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fig 1 – 95 images fit with “People”, “Blur” or “Transport”

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fig 2 – 57 “People” images

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fig 3 – 50 images after technical edit

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fig 4 – 28 images after creative edit

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fig 5 – 10 with four stars after first pass

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fig 6 – 15 with four stars after further consideration

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fig 7 – the final 10

This workflow is the result of my work process developing over the years. It is the result of learning from experience, from the time when I turned up with a bag full of flat batteries and another time when I spent the whole shoot deleting images to try to make the card last! I have added ideas from the course materials, especially the first two exercises, and other students’ blogs. What is different now is that I have written it down and followed it. Writing it down has helped to clarify some steps and put them in a logical order, previously I would sometimes find myself working out of order and getting myself tied up in knots a bit.

There are improvements that can be made to this. The workflow as it stands demanded revisiting the images several times and resaving before even printing. I am aware that repeated resaving a jpeg can degrade the quality and increase the file size. I worked in jpeg throughout the process. A refinement would be to use the jpegs for all the draft work until the final selection is made, then use the raw files to develop the final offering. I do not have enough experience of processing raw files yet to incorporate this with confidence.

Reflection

The assignment brief asks that I review what I have done against the assessment criteria.

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills (materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills)

It’s interesting that I feel this is the first time that I have used much of what I learnt in the Art of Photography, many of these pictures incorporate design elements and use of colour that came out of that course. I think whilst studying it I was too close to each part to see the course as a whole so it was nice to be able to put it into practise. There are a number of images where I demonstrated visual awareness and some acute perception.

Quality of Outcome (content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas)

Following the workflow was effective in separating the wheat from the chaff and I came up with a coherent set of images, joined by a theme which I had in mind from the outset, but which was refined in the course of the exercise.

Demonstration of Creativity (imagination, experimentation, invention, development of personal voice)

The assignment description said to use a field of photography in which I felt comfortable. I deliberately stepped out of comfort zone to do some street photography including people which for me was experimental from the outset. I also wanted to experiment with blur and I like to think that some of this was successful. I can definitely say that I learnt a lot and it is something (blur and street photography) I would like to develop more.

Context (reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log)

This is early days in the course and the learning log is still developing. There is some further research on a few aspects of the course so far and I have looked at a number of web sites, visited a couple of exhibitions and looked closer at the work of Jeff Wall.

This is the final set:

London Working and Living

The Red Man

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 75mm, f13, 1/30 sec, ISO200
There is a connection between the red man on the traffic light and the red jacket of the chap waiting for the green man. There is also a lot of interesting detail in the background, especially the pigeon. It looks as though he is heading for the crossing “Hang on, don’t change till I’m there!” The small aperture ensures there is sharpness throughout the field.

Mother and Daughter

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 112mm, f13, 1/90 sec, ISO400

This shows a relationship between living London and working London, Mum’s walking her daughter somewhere while in the background someone is working wearing the now obligatory hi-vis vest. Another picture with a large depth of field due to the small aperture.


Snog

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 47mm, f13, 1/20 sec, ISO400

This was part of my experimenting with blur so the blurred pedestrian is deliberate. The depth of field is large enough to keep the reflections in focus. It’s a bit confusing to determine what is reflected and what is inside the shop and if you look closely, you can see the reflection of the photographer.


Traffic Warden

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 117mm, f13, 1/60 sec, ISO400

The interest in this picture lies in the use of colour; greens and yellows – even the traffic light. The composition would be improved if the character was central in the posts supporting the traffic sign.


Sweeper

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 28mm, f11, 1/45 sec, ISO200

This was shot from the hip in one of Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moments. I spotted the sweeper out of the corner of my eye, turned, aimed and fired. I like the colour combination of blue and yellow, the diagonal lines of the broom and the way his body is leaning, There are several implied triangles formed not only by these diagonals but also the background. The blur implies a strong sense of motion.


Flat Planet

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 85mm, f6.7, 1/125 sec, ISO200

The irony from the juxtaposition of the surveyor and the shop is what gives this picture its appeal. It’s also an interesting comparison between the surveyor and the chap in the shop. The tonal gradation of the lights in the shop give a sense of depth.


Follow Jesus

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 70mm, f8, 1/125 sec, ISO800

In a busy Oxford Street, his job was to stand and hold the placard, while everyone seemed to ignore him.


Underground

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 28mm, f6.7, 1/11 sec, ISO800

I wanted a blurred train with everything else sharp. This was hand held with image stabilisation turned on and I was pleased with the sharpness of the signs, thankfully the two passengers stayed (almost) motionless. The shutter speed was a guess to achieve the amount of blur in the train, I wasn’t sure how fast it would be going.


Hoodie

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 95mm, f5.6, 1/15 sec, ISO800

This one was nearly deleted in camera at the time, the hoodied character in the foreground was intrusive, too blurred and did not add anything to the composition. I thought he just got in the way of the shot. After seeing it on the computer, my wife pointed out what a “spooky” picture she thought it is. It looks as though he is stalking his next victim, will it be the people in the middle ground, more intent on what is happening in front of them or the people at the cash machine? He looks a shifty, dark, formless character.


Homeward Bound

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Canon EOS 40D, 28 – 135 mm at 28mm, f3.5, 1/60 sec, ISO800

Just through the ticket barrier, now she’s stepping it out to the train. She’s lucky, her train’s in the station but the other side of the barrier there is a study in “waiting”, in what the other people are doing. There’s a pattern in the ticket barriers and some nice differential blur in the lady walking to the train.

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