Practical exercise: Wide angled framing

As part of my feedback for assignment 3 my tutor suggested that I consider scale as some of the compositions may have been a little tight so to explore this further over recent weeks I have been experimenting with a 12-24mm DX lens.

I have found that by undertaking short practical projects I can continue to develop the technical side of my photography without getting caught in the trap of losing the motivation to make images without meaning. The objective is to ensure technical development as well as creative development.

I approach projects as a professional photographer’s shoot and try to measure my own progress in approaching different tasks and creating suitable photographic and technical solutions. Sometimes I am focussed on a particular technical issue and other times I am more concerned with more photographic or artistic challenges. Also I am now beginning to keep a practical journal useful for noting things that work and highlighting others that don’t. It’s not rocket science, just practise.

Working with a wider frame I made some portraits experimenting with how space works in enhancing an image by the inclusion of valuable environmental information. At 19mm (effective focal length of virtually 30mm due cropped sensor of a DX camera) this is substantially wider than I would ordinarily work at close distance but I was really pleased with the results.

What was also interesting was how by experimenting with a number of lighting considerations I encountered a range of different issues prompting further reflection on how we achieve our chosen frame.


Image 1 was made using a single Nikon speed-light fixed to the camera and whilst I was relatively pleased with the results I can sense that a single flashlight is ultimately an insufficient light source for wider scenes and I should invest time in understanding how some sort of studio lighting might be useful. Also I should have left the flash off camera/off centre and with some sort of diffusion as the light seems too central, too hard and not properly distributed across the scene.

I did like the gaze and the positioning of the hands and this image seemed to fit with my overall objective of picturing a young man in his father’s house and at a point in life where he was ready to strike out on his own.


Image 2 carrying shadows created by a single off camera flash had been my original idea but as we worked through the scene the outcome was clearly over dramatic and we were left with a version of an Alfred Hitchcock scene which was plainly disproportionate to my visual objective.


Image 3 had been the first frame of the day and was shot under natural light. Whilst I enjoy working with natural light as per my tutors feedback to my assignment 3 I am beginning to see where additional light might be required. Also there is a lack of sharpness in the subjects face due to the very slow shutter speed (1/6) selected although I could have gone higher on the ISO and would have had the option of adjusting a further stop and a half of light in the post-process; both options which would have allowed a higher shutter speed. I also felt that the open door and tea cup did n’t work so I removed those form the later shots.


In total I took 48 frames and took the necessary time in organising the scene before shooting and with light stands, tripods, off camera flashes so I had quite a bit going on hence how I also forgot to set custom white balance and I missed the opportunity to add a nicely framed family photograph into the background space which might have added a little richness to the context and narrative.

As the saying goes, practise makes perfect!

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