Friday, 24 September 2010

Assignment 5 - Tutor Feedback

The set of images submitted for Narrative Illustration, and the technical and reflective notes posted in your Blog, are of the same high standard of the previous assignments.

You reveal, through the twelve images, a carefully considered approach to what might have been a fairly generic and stereotyped project. Once again, you demonstrate a strong technical knowledge with an individual eye, to produce an alternative take on both iconic NYC images, and those less obvious, but equally engaging.

Cover Shot
With OG in the background, the detail of the George Washington bronze statue is immediately recognisable. The reduced saturation of the background helps lift and enhance the texture and colour of the dark metal, and the angle of light – three quarter back – brings out the form. I might have been tempted to shift the position to the right a touch, to bring the statue detail to the right of frame, and capture the flag in its entirety, just to tighten up the frame.

Central Park
There is some lovely detail in this shot, which works particularly well for the composition, with the grain in the decking bringing an extra dimension to the vanishing point effect. Similarly, the cross shadows and the dappled light on the bridge draws the eye forward curving towards the small group of visitors in the background. It’s an image that speaks of place. There’s also a great balance of colour, light, and shade across the dynamic range.

Bethesda Terrace in Central Park
This is a difficult image to expose correctly, with what must be a six-stop variation between the interior and the exterior. Here, you’ve managed to get a good balance with a bit of over exposure outside, but a nice feel to the light in the foreground. The reflected light on the ceiling and the floor provides a good graduation, and a partial silhouette of the mid-ground figures. Of the possibilities that I would consider for composition, the movement of passing figures is one, and the other would be, as in the previous image, to focus on the details of the building. This works well.

This shot of the Asian sculpture in the Met, provides a complementary feel to the previous image, with a flat, natural light creating a spacious feel and, with the comparatively small figure of your friend, the monumental size of the figure. This shot works well to create a feeling of space and light; an alternative might be to look for some interesting (close) foreground detail, or perhaps get low an behind your friend to exaggerate the towering figure in front of her – all technical challenges.

Street Art
This following image of the bright Pop Art street sculpture is the perfect cultural complement of the formal Met exhibit. It shouts NYC, big, bright with saturated colour. It’s good that you managed to get a clear shot of the piece, and spent some time looking around I, and the background to get the feel that you wanted. I like the fact that you captured the buildings on the corner, with the diagonals running back and to the edges of the frame to give the whole mage a clear perspective.

I think you’re right about the aperture; a more distinct brand logo would help sell the city here. While the detail on the cake, texture, colour form is very good, you do just crop the slice a bit, and the centred composition leaves (for me) too much negative space to the left of the frame. Maybe a piece out of it, and a fork across the frame would balance the shot?

I like the balance of the composition here, the figure to the left checking out the goods, with the display of bags on the wall behind, and the way you’ve captured the natural action. The auto WB works well enough here – fluorescents can be horrible in mixed light situations. What it needs – and hard to do in a location, with an impromptu shot – is a bit of reflected light from low in front of the camera, just to lift the face, and get a bit more light onto the bag she is holding.

New York Bay
Interesting shot of the container ferry making its way across the bay. Maybe it needs a bit of a more recognisable skyline to speak ‘city’, docks, or a partial glimpse of the Statue of Liberty? I think the flat light helps with the complex internal structure of the vessel, with the sky and water nicely captured and providing regular textural surroundings for the rigid grid-like patterns on the boat.

Empire State
I like this shot very much. Both concept and execution are strong. The deco interior is beautifully captured with the model, flag, memorial, clerk and vase of sunflowers providing an interesting variation in subject. I think maybe either it needs to be a touch wider to capture the sign to the right of frame, or tighter to eliminate it. The top light gives it an almost otherworldly feel, an austerity or formality and gravity. Very nice.

Times Square
While it appears at first that there is no particular point to which the eye is drawn, and it does indeed reflect the movement and chaos of Times Square, eventually the eye does fall on the flag, and the young person standing to the left, and the group of people around her. There’s a good exposure balance here, with the street signs nicely exposed, and enough attention to foreground reflected light to see the detail of the people. I also find myself looking towards the right of frame, and what appears to be a group of musicians silhouetted against a white background – might be an electronic image…

New York Characters
Classic bit of street photography with the Naked Cowboy defined against the backdrop of daytime TSq – the use of the long lens softens the background and the strong(er) midday light helps define the figure’s anatomy. I’d be tempted to do a bit of a subtle mask job on this and throw the background out even more – or maybe experiment with a graduated blur. My enduring street character memory was the roller skating guitar playing Jimi Hendrix impersonator, amp strapped to his back.

Along with the Empire State image, this shot of the giant policeman giving directions to the diminutive woman is my pick of the set. The body language speaks of lost in the metropolis, and as you say, the architectural lines enhance this, while the background masonry confirms the cultural heritage of an old city. The light adds a kind of ‘annunciation’ effect, like an old master painting, compressing and focussing the composition.

So, strong and well considered images, avoiding the cliché of the world’s most famous city, and offering a different vision. Technically, the exploration of and determination to deal with different and challenging lighting and environmental situations shows how much you’ve taken on board (and mastered) on this course.

Very well done.

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