Friday, December 18, 2009

Karsh: Roman Vishniac, 1971

The Karsh exhibit was great. To see so many of his prints in one day was amazing, and the portrait of Roman Vishniac stood out to me the most. Lots of Karsh's work has lots of darker tones in it (or perhaps it could have just been the lighting in the WAG), so when I came across this portrait of Roman Vishniac (a biologist and photographer), I was very interested. This portrait is heavily backlit, and seemed so bright and unique. The majority of Karsh's portraits show a lot of detail on the person's face that he photographs, and in this portrait he gave his subject a lot more room, filling Vishniac's entire torso in the frame. It was quite refreshing to view a piece that has given the subject more space in the frame. As far as darkroom techniques go, I would assume that he upped the contrast quite a bit and perhaps did some flashing to darken down the sky a tad. A little dodging of Vishniac's face could have been performed as well. Compositionally speaking, the photo is fantastic. I love the use of the silhouette that is symmetrically balanced with the microscope. The backlighting allows this relationship between Vishniac and the microscope to be simple, and creates implied shape. Of course - Vishniac is situated in the upper third of the frame. The only critique I would have of this photo would be the line on the left hand side that is falling behind Vishniac. It is distracting and I'm not too sure as to what it is - a building? I guess with modern photoshop techniques this could be erased, which I think would further help to support the symmetry in the frame. I'm not sure how you would get rid of the building with a dark room technique - perhaps a ton of dodging? No idea. Despite the distracting building, Karsh's darkroom techniques and skill with great composition created one of my favorite portraits in Karsh's collection.


- LC Murdoch

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Colour Block: Our Response to Colour

I had a lot of fun with this assignment! It really makes you realize how many colours are present in our world, and how easy it is to find them. I came across a lot of great colours and was able to make them work with interesting content as well. I think many people (myself included), never really think about colours and their connection to our human emotions.

Magenta (Pink): My pink image is one of my favorites in this collection of colours. I find that it makes the drummer more mysterious. I feel 'mystified' when looking at the image, and kind of 'mellow' in a way. My objective viewer (my dad) felt 'smooth', 'mellow', and 'mystery'.

Green: When I look at my green image, it makes me feel youthful, and I want to get up and go for a run. The green is punchy and the more subtle green on the wall behind it neutralizes things and is more nature like. It was interesting when showing this to my dad because he said the green was making him feel youthful and energetic (yay!), and that the adverse/aggressive stance of the person conflicted with that youthful feeling he felt. I never noticed that before he mentioned it, so that was interesting. I feel that this strong stance would be neat to do with the colour red.

Violet (Purple): Violet was fun! This is my other favorite image. My image is more on the purple side than violet. Strangely enough, the image makes me feel youthful - perhaps because DC Shoes are associated with youth a lot of the time. Although I feel youth from looking at it, it is also very rich in colour which makes me feel grounded along with that vibrant, uplifting feeling of youth. The positioning of the shoes has a youthful feel to it as well. My dad felt a feeling of 'jazz', 'tappy', and youth. He said this while he started dancing around the room!

Red: First and foremost, my red image gives me a feeling of tension. I feel an urge to get up and run, and I most definitely do not feel so mellow as I did when viewing my magenta image (I found this surprising since I always consider red and pink to be so similar). My dad felt a feeling of (quote on quote) "get the hell outta here". He said he felt panic and action.

Similarity Colour Relationship: I love the relationship between red and yellow. They are very powerful together. The red makes me feel tense once again, and the yellow helps to 'lighten up' the image, and give a sense of joy and happiness and lightness. They look great together. My dad felt nostalgic (this is probably because of the vinyl), and said that for him the photo was more about the nostalgia of the vinyl, and that the colours did not really matter so much. So I asked my sister, and she said it made her feel happy and vibrant.

Complimentary Colour Relationship: My complimentary relationship was red and green. Obviously I thought going into shooting it that it would just make me feel like Christmas! Looking at my image I do not feel Christmas though. I actually feel tranquil, but not too tranquil. The green is a fairly light green and takes the heaviness away from the red in the back of the scene. I really like the placement of the colours, and find it would not have such an effective feeling of tranquility if the red were in front. It seems to make sense to have such a heavy colour in the back, and the lighter green upfront in the photo. Red and green really do work well together, and do not always have to be associated with Christmas. My dad felt mellow from the photo, and 'bluesy' (kind of ironic that he felt the blues from green and red, huh?).

All in all, I am going to consider colours much more in my future images, and how they relate to my subject. They will go hand in hand with my knowledge of metaphors, and how to create accuracy in the message I am trying to portray to the viewers of my photos.

LC Murdoch

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh is who I chose as my photographic hero. After spending some time in the dark room, it is a different experience looking at black and white photography. When observing Karsh's photography now, I recognize a difference in contrasts between his photos from a technical standpoint. I seem to understand how he made a photo look the way it did by not only his composition and lighting at the time of the photo, but the post processing in the dark room as well.

As we all know, Karsh is a master of portraits. He adjusts his style, contrast, and cropping according to what type of person he is photographing, and this is a big part of why he has such success in his portraiture. Style and contrast and composition all go hand in hand. Karsh's style in portraiture is his ability to tell a story to the viewer and introduce whomever he is photographing to you very effectively. Therefore, when shooting a figure such as Audrey Hepburn as a pose to Winston Churchill, Karsh applies heavy or light contrast to tell his story effectively.

A heavy contrast in this photo has emphasized the femininity of Hepburn. Her cheek bones are highlighted, and the crisp blacks and white provide for a clean prolific shot. Although the composition of the photo places the subject in the middle, putting Hepburn's head in the top third balances things, along with the the symmetrical placement of her upper body that form a shape reminiscent of a triangle.

For Winston Churchill, Karsh used a low contrast. This low contrast provides for a gray, hazy background that makes Winston in his black suit a strong point of the photo, in the middle. The rule of thirds is also used in this photo - placing Winston's head in the top right corner. The low contrast emphasizes the shadows on his face, giving a sense of power and importance. Karsh also decided not to crop Winston too short - the stature of the man in his expensive suit allows the viewer to understand (even if they do not know who the subject is) a sense of how important this man is.
When photographing Albert Einstein, Karsh framed in pretty tight around the head and shoulders, because Einstein is a man of intelligence, therefore his head would quite naturally be the most important part of a portrait taken of him. A high level of contrast is used here to emphasize a sense of wisdom through all the lines on Einstein's face, especially around the eyes. If the contrast had been low, it would of given more of a mysterious and important effect like Churchill's photo. This would not have been effective at all - Karsh wanted to highlight the wisdom in Einstein's face, and the sharp contrast of the lines and shape of his face project a great sense of knowledge about the man, and the discoveries he made. Once again, a rule of thirds has been used.

These portraits, in my opinion, are extremely effective. In fact, all of the portraits I have viewed that have been photographed by Karsh are amazinh. I chose Hepburn, Churchill, and Einstein because they are some of the most powerful people that Karsh did photograph. They are also diverse, and Karsh was able to photograph them all in a unique way. With Hepburn her femininity and class had to be highlighted. Churchill's power and importance had to be highlighted. And Einstein's knowledge and intelligence had to be highlighted. All of these require different technique and composition, so it was interesting to further look at how this was achieved from a technical standpoint. For doing this assignment, I figured choosing three very diverse portraits would really give me a good idea of what goes behind the success Karsh has when photographing people.

- Laura Murdoch

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creative Imaging : Composition At Home

Hello everyone,

Back again to report about my adventures with yet another creative imaging assignment. Below I have included my top 6 shots depicting a certain design element in each. Along with each photo, I have included a short description as to what I struggled with with that particular design element. If you do not want to go into too much detail, you can read my brief description (directly below) of my experiences with the assignment.

I am not good with boundaries. I struggled with this assignment as much as I did with our '100 Creative Ways' assignment last week. I am happy with my final images, yet I doubt how clear and concise my design elements are when portrayed in most of my 84 images. I feel so confined in my house, and therefore get panicked, and the whole 'being at ease' and 'letting go of self' before photographing sort of goes out the window. This is not something I am learning to do easily but with time and many more of these assignments I'm sure I will both
A) Be a pro with limited area and design elements
B) Go mad in the process!

I like to be challenged, and I really do hope to get better at this. I may even start doing my own challenges, like confining myself to one area of a park while shooting or shooting one subject 100 ways once again. Despite the issue of confinement, I feel a little hazy about how to distinguish between all of design elements. Line, shape, and form all seem to fall under one area for me, and I get frustrated trying to find the proper composition while still incorporating the design element I need - all to make one final great photo. I will just have to keep shooting and pushing limits with myself.
This is my image for the design element depth. I approached depth by using the 'sharpness/depth of field perspective'. I compressed my space between this vase and it's background by using a telephoto lens and a low F stop. The compression of space has created a very sharp subject and intriguing short depth of field.

This is my image depicting symmetrical balance. I think it is quite self explanatory as to why I chose this as my top image for this design element. The windows are symmetrical, and the range of tones surround the outside of the windows along with the dark tone in the middle of the two draws the eye in quite effectively.

This is my image for the design element texture. It is of a grapefruit and orange, and even though it is somewhat soft of a texture, it's quite apparent, especially in the grapefruit.

This is my image for the design element pattern or rhythm. I think it is fairly self explanatory why this is a pattern and somewhat rhythmic photo. The rich color of the table cloth make the pattern quite distinct and 'easy on the eye'. I also sense a bit of rhythm due to the rolls of the table cloth as your eye is drawn to the right.

This is my best image for shape or form. Although I took quite a few shape/form images, because I understand shape/form, this one stood out the most. The glasses have a great texture to them, and your eye is not distracted to the background because of the low F stop I used. This was taken with a telephoto lens. I suppose these shapes are more of a form because they are modeled somewhat dimensional.

Here is my image for the design element, 'line'. I decided to use this image for line because, well, there are very distinct lines in the image. Not only are the lines distinct and intriguing to the eye, but there are two tones (the paint) in the image as well, that meet. Edges are implied in the distinct corners of the four windows and wherever the walls meet. I feel this is a very strong depiction of the use of lines in composition. I do also recognize there are hints of rhythm and symmetrical balance, but lines are the most dominant due to the two shapes, tones, and colors that meet very distinctively in the photo.

Til later,

LC Murdoch

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dan the Man

This is the slideshow from our DT Practical Quiz today. My partner was Dan, and these are the shots...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Working the Subject 100 Creative Ways

SO. My thoughts on this assignment...
Let's just say that I most definitely needed to take those 'few days to reflect on the task'. This assignment was extremely challenging for me. For about the first 30 frames, I was fairly content. Happy with my objects that i picked, etc. However, when I went to see how many I had taken (thinking it was somewhere in the 60-70 range), I was sadly mistaken. I was at about half of where I thought I would be. Oh my. I tried whipping out my creative journal, listening to various types of music on my ipod, not listening to music at all, heck, I even tried having a glass of wine so I would stop worrying so much about my creative block. But not even music or wine could tackle down this block - it was huge! (Side note: There are very few things in life that cannot be calmed or tackled down by music or wine, hence my surprise when this did not work!) Why do I think I struggle with this? I think it is because before I came to Prairieview, I was one of those photographers who 'grabbed the shot' when I saw it. I never had to go looking for it. It was just there, and when it was, I hopefully was geared up to get it. This kind of technique, however, does not get you 100 frames in a short afternoon, never mind a week! I have some challenges ahead of me with assignments such as these. This is not the only assignment that has puzzled me this year - Let's Go Walkabout Part 1 & II was difficult in the same way - I had shot the same location so many times, and had to fill three hours full of trying to see things differently. After awhile it got monotonous - oh look, there is another neat set of stairs and bulb street lamp. Oh look, there is another bicycle locked up with the wheel twisted just so. However, in the afternoon of that assignment, things did get better - I was able to find about 10 gems that I achieved some 'creative ways' in. In this post I have included a gem from this assignment. I should not say it was all that bad - I did produce some neat shots from the shoot.

Til later,

LC Murdoch

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Black & White Success

Our latest Analog Techniques class assignment was to shoot 36 frames (Ilford XP2 film, black and white) of 'simple subject composition'. I am very happy with my results, seeing as I highly doubted they would develop due to my lack of experience with film, never mind black and white film. They all developed, and this time I decided maybe it would be nice to NOT expose my film to light, haha. Anyway, I've embedded a little slideshow here...

LC Murdoch

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's Been New @ Prairieview

I have been neglecting this blog lately, so here it is - a little bit of an update for ya...

Friday September 18th

On the 18th, we had our Let's Go Walkabout shooting assignment for CI (Creative Imaging). My morning shots were not so great in general, however, I did manage to find a couple gems...

Great shot of Jill!

First signs of fall

The afternoon was a little better. I really think this class will help a lot with my creative blocks, because already I have been able to see things I did not, could not before. The morning was not so great (as you all know we have been shooting in pretty much the same location for many, many shoots now), so I found myself re-shooting a lot of what I had already shot. On the 18th afternoon I do believe I was able to get a little more creative with things...

Image I chose for the board assignment. Love the colors. Props to Suzanne's great dress! (09/20/09)

A little of a manipulated situation, but still nice

This shot proves that sometimes it's okay to make your meter angry

Some random greenery in a concrete jungle

Andrea's great "WHO" shoes

Butts & Broken (Glass)

Friday ended a bit dramatically as we all know with the theft that went on from a few of our wallets in Group C. I hope we do find some closure on the whole situation, and in the meantime, I have improvised and realized I don't really need a purse on me as much as I thought I did...a big discovery in the life of Laura!

Til' then,

LC Murdoch

Laura Loves Lines

Shooting lines was interesting. I found it extremely easy to find them; they really are everywhere. Especially around 6pm when the sun is going down a bit, casting shadows. Those to me were the most interesting lines, and I took quite a few shots of shadows for that reason. I limited myself quite a bit because I stayed in one location for this assignment, my house. I was trying to include a bit of CI theory into the assignment; where you really try and see what is around you, learning to notice what you never thought you would in such a familiar place as your home. This probably wasn't the best idea, because after the first 15 frames I quickly was loosing patience in discovering new lines in my house. That was my only real challenge with this assignment, so I will know better next time to not limit myself to one location. I learnt that lines, which I would typically associate with being quite boring , can be very intriguing to shoot. However if we get an assignment on circles or triangles, that could be quite the challenge. I tried looking for those shapes too while I was at it, thinking they would appear everywhere like lines did, but they were definitely not as easy to find.

Til' another time,
LC Murdoch


My name is Laura C Murdoch, aka LC Murdoch Photography. My favorite genre of photography is a toss up between landscape and candid photography. As of now I am not much of a fan of studio work at all, I would much rather shoot nature and 'people in the moment'. In school this year I would hope to appreciate other genres of photography; perhaps even studio photography. I want to professionalize my skills as well, enabling myself to enter the professional world of photography. When I was about 6 years old I was peering out a window, and my dad was about 2 feet away, shooting a couple of black and whites on his Minolta X700 to my lack of knowledge. In the first frame, he succeeded with a candid prolific shot of me. The second was not so lucky, however the only difference is my right eye peering to the right towards him, and a smirk on my face to let him know I was aware of his presence. The photos are still two of the neatest ones ever taken of me as a child, and when my dad developed them and showed them to me I remember thinking "I want to take photos like that too." From that point on, I would accompany him on his walks and help find neat things to photograph, and eventually got a camera of my own.

I am very excited for my year at Prairieview.
Til another time,

LC Murdoch