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...