FMP: Planning the Formation

Using red circles in PowerPoint, I have roughly confirmed the formation of images required to complete the face. Due to a variety of perspectives being achievable, I have created two plans in order to cover my options.



As a development of this, due to my installation incorporating three layers, I recoloured the circles to indicate which layer I would like each aspect to be incorporated into. The colour key is as follows:

  • Blue – Background
  • Red – Middle
  • Green – Foreground



FMP Experimental Shoot 5 – Wildlife

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FMP Experimental Shoot 4 – Birds of Prey

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Using Photoshop, I carefully sharpened the image to draw the audience towards the face, including the eye, beak and textural details in the feathers. The Magnetic Lasso tool allowed me to select the background and reduce saturation, drawing attention to the strikingly bold coloration within the face of the bird, and particularly the bright yellow colour circling the eye. Not only does this capture the audience, but the resolute stare of the hawk holds their attention. A slight crop provided the image with an aesthetic composition, with the eye within the centre point of the top third of the image, allowing the audiences’ view to then flow down the body, following the feathers.

Brno Del Zou

The work of Brno uses a variety of images to conform as a group into a large, abstract picture that can be viewed by the audience as an abstruse face, caused by a variety of perspectives. His use of installations also allows for a depth within the layers, causing them, when presented, to cast shadows which add to the dramatic effect of the piece, as well as obscuring photographs that Brno does not necessarily want to be the initial focus of the audience. This effect is empowered by his use of black and white, as the shadows almost blend in to the overall piece, and contrast well with the harsh spotlight that draws out the brightness within the piece.



This effect is very similar to what I am attempting to achieve, albeit more perplexing because of Brno’s use of excess features and perspectives, whereas I endeavour to create a vague realism in my installation. This will be achieved by creating an installation whereby the pieces are proportionately balanced, causing the overall image to be easily viewed as one. However, my variety of subjects will create a diversity within the installation, offering a hint of complexion to the image.


Brno Del Zou Influenced Experiment


FMP Experimental Shoot 3 – New Forest Ponies

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Using PowerPoint, I created a rough mock-up of a basic formation, using four images. This allowed me to crop my images, and resize them to achieve the correct proportions. However, within the final installation, since the pieces will transparent I aim to use some overlaying to add depth and details, which I will need to experiment with in advance of creating the final product.

Furthermore, the use of only four images made the image altogether quite dull, which indicates that my final outcome will require a substantial amount of components in order to create a more substantial impact. This may also be beneficial in reducing the stark contrast of perspective within my photos, as a wide variety of portraits and macro shots will be used to create one image and may not be entirely harmonious.



Francesco Sambo

Developing the theme of creating a bond between humans and animals, Francesco Sambo creates fantastical pieces featuring hybrids between people and a variety of animals, causing the audience to question their ties with familiar species as opposed to seeing them as altogether different from us. His use of nude models is indicative of nature, and creates a direct reference to how close we are to animals. This is further induced by using body language that directly correlates with the expressions captured in his animal subjects, offering a distinct link between our own instincts and reactions with theirs.


Despite not being typical within the field of pet portraiture, Sambo has created pieces that form strong connections between man and beast, and cause the audience to think. I feel that this impact can be replicated within pet portraiture in an abstract way, featuring owner and pet within one outcome that demonstrates a bond, and therefore connection.



Francesco Sambo Influenced Experiment


As a subtle interpretation of Sambo’s work, I added donkey ears to a female model, using Photoshop. This was achieved using the Magnetic Lasso Tool to carefully select each ear individually, copying and pasting it onto my background image at an appropriate scale, and then using the Marquee tool to softly feather the base of the ear into the model’s hair, as well as softening the edges of the ears to give them a natural, fluffy look.

I feel that this response made a relative link to Francesco’s work, however the link of pet and owner is not clearly definable. Therefore, I feel that this experiment is conceptually a failure, despite being of skilled competence. As a result, I would not return to using this concept in future when creating a pet portrait themed shoot, however the techniques used in Photoshop were beneficial and may be useful for future work, including lifting a subject from one photo and placing it on an artificial background.


Emily Hancock

Many photographers focusing on equine or pet portraits endeavor to capture personality and establish a bond between animal and human, as their client will cherish the outcome(s) likely longer than they shall have with their beloved pet. Hancock’s work is no different, using subtle contact between the equine subjects and their owners in each portrait. This instantly causes the audience, typically the client, to see a relationship between the subjects and creates an emotional warmth to the photograph.


In addition to this, Emily uses a variety of locations within her shots. With equine based work, locations can be quite limited due to transporting the animals, and therefore typically the photographer will have to travel to their client. However, using familiar locations, such as the horses’ stable, can also have a large impact on tying an emotional response to a photograph when viewed by the correct audience (such as the horses’ owner). This effect can be achieved also by photographing in favorite riding spots, paddocks and other frequented locations, where memories can be linked to the image.


Additional work by Emily:


Emily Hancock Influenced Experiment


In response to Hancock’s work, I decided to replicate her technique of forming bonds using touch. A local stud approached me to capture photographs of their newborn foals, and I used this opportunity to capture images of the owners’ first physical interaction with one of the colts.

Since my favourite work of Emily’s is black and white, I decided to adopt this into my experiment, carefully adjusting each colour using the ‘Black & White’ tool in order to manipulate the tones within the photograph when reduced to greyscale. I sharpened the image slightly and cloned out the distracting horses in the background, before adding a subtle vignette. Overall, these effects drew the attention to the connection, both physical and emotional, between the equine and his owner, as well as reducing distraction both from colour and background.


This experiment was successful, as I feel the subtle touch resonates emotional ties as seen in Emily’s work, as well as having created a well composed and edited photograph. The soft, greyscale tones also had a positive impact on the delicate subject, enhancing the tones and textures seen in both the foal and the outreached hand.

FMP Experimental Shoot 2 – New Forest Ponies

During my first shoot in the Forest, I had gradually tested the boundaries in which the ponies felt comfortable with me, and deciphered how close I felt I could be before they were threatened by my presence. Due to spending much of the shoot a distance away, I decided to return to the same part of the Forest (name unknown) in order to try and capture more successful outcomes.


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After experimenting with creating a vignette and liking the outcomes, I decided to experiment using the same technique but increasing the brightness, rather than reducing it. The effect created was an overexposed border around a well photographed subject, and did not have a positive impact on the overall photograph like the vignette, as the surroundings became quite harsh and bright, detracting from the horse.


As a development on the effect of lightening the surroundings, I decided to attempt to create a mist around the horse. Whilst this may have created an interesting effect, my own outcome was poor and therefore the experiment was deemed a failure.


FMP Experimental Shoot 1 – New Forest Ponies

For my experimental shoots, I decided to plan a long weekend visit to the New Forest. The picturesque environment is home to over 3000 free-roaming equines, as well as donkeys, cattle and boars. This provided a variety of subject matter within the realms of equines, since they cover a wide range of types and colours, as well as offering an ideal setting, lending itself well to indefectible backgrounds.

For this shoot I was equipped with my Nikon D7100, with my 70-300mm Sigma lens for optimal zoom abilities. With suggestions to remain a lengthy distance from the equines for safety reasons, it was imperative that I be able to capture close up portraits and macro shots from a distance.


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For these outcomes, I experimented with using techniques that I have found effective within my research, with examples found in Catherine Dashwood and Lindsay Robertson’s work, using Photoshop. To do so, I first subtly sharpened the images (and straightened the first image, balancing the mare). Following this, I reduced the saturation using the ‘vibrance’ tool, and then used the burn tool to softly darken the edges. This, however, caused those areas to appear highly saturated, and so I edited the vibrance again before saving.

In order to create a neater, more prominent vignette, I then experimented with using the marquee tool, with a feather strength of 200. I inverted this, then reduced the brightness and increased contrast. These effects, matched with the reduction of vibrance, create a soft and natural feel to the photograph, and while the model did not offer a pose allowing for better composition, I feel that this outcome is particularly striking after post-production editing.

Lindsay Robertson

As a photographer who appears to delve amongst a variety of subject matters, Robertson covers both equines and canines in her portfolio. However, it was her equine photos that attracted me to her work.

The style within the majority of her horse-based portraits is simplistic, typically using black and white or reduced saturation in order to dramatise an otherwise insignificant image. This, however, is an efficient technique, since the sharp focus on her subjects draws them out of their background, in which a blurred effect is achieved using a shallow depth of field. With location based shoots, a natural background such as that below, is often filled with vibrant tones and hues, which detract from the overall image. Lindsay’s use of greyscale creates a balance in colour, without allowing her subjects to dissipate into the background.


With such a shallow depth of field, it is to be assumed that the subjects were based a distance away from their backdrop. Whilst the photographer may have also used a zoom lens, since her primary fields appear to be baby, family and wedding themed shoots, it is likely that her equipment is prioritised in the direction of those career paths. Furthermore, it appears that post-production techniques are frequently used within Robertson’s photographs, as indicated by the use of colour and lighting, such as Photoshop or Lightroom.


The images below are especially relevant to my final piece, as my installation will require a substantial number of photographs that have the ability to connect in a formation to create an overall picture. Whilst these images may not completely connect, they are close enough that, if presented correctly, the audience could view them as an overall image. This is achieved here using an individual model, whereas my project is intended to feature a variety of equines in order to demonstrate a high level of diversity. Despite this, I endeavour to create a similar effect to that shown below, using well executed photographs that demonstrate tonal differences and sharp details.



Whilst browsing Lindsay’s website, I discovered her pet portraits. Whilst brighter, giving a light-hearted feel, I felt that they were much alike that of Catherine Dashwood whom I researched previously, using a low saturation and vignette to increase the impact of each photograph. This effect appears to be common within pet portraiture, as it is frequently demonstrated within my themed mood board.




Lindsay Robertson Influenced Experiment


When responding to Robertson’s work, I concluded that the most effective technique throughout her photographs was the desaturation matched with the soft vignette, creating a border for the subject matter which flattered the focus and depth within the photograph.

In order to replicate this, I used the ‘vibrance’ tool in Photoshop to reduce the saturation, which I found drastically reduced the distraction of the stable door as it lost much of it’s distracting saturation, as well as the yellow sign in the background losing it’s brightness. I proceeded to use the burn tool to add a vignette, which I decided to use more forcefully than that seen in Robertson’s pieces as it appeared to frame my subject better when used in this way.

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In conclusion, I believe that this experiment was very successful as the final outcome has a much stronger impact than the original image. Although the door remains sharply focused, I feel that the muzzle’s definition is enhanced with the reduction of distracting hues, and that the eye can simply be drawn to the focal point rather than to an array of colours. This is reinforced by the use of a vignette, as the dark edge draws the audience into the photograph rather than toward the negative space.