FMP Experimental Shoot 3 – New Forest Ponies

Summary of Outcomes:


 

Best Outcomes:


 

Installation Experiment:

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.


 

Summary of Outcomes:


 

Best Outcomes:

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.

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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.

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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.


 

Summary of Outcomes:


 

Best Outcomes:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lindsay Robertson Influenced Experiment

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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.

Final Major Project: Mind Map & Mood Boards

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Summary Mind Map


Equine Concepts & Considerations:

  • Macro – details include eyes, muzzles and textural details.

to consider: due to the nature of an installation featuring a multitude of images, some photos may appear insignificant and unappealing until situated within the composition. These especially include partial photographs, whereby something of interested is cropped in half, such as an eye, as well as hair texture and manes etc.

  • Tack – additional detail and variety can be achieved by including photos which incorporate tack.

to consider: tack will certainly cause the overall piece to appear disjointed and may detract from the overall effect. However, it may also add depth and intrigue, especially within individual images that appear to represent nothing more than a patch of hair.

  • Location – a variety of locations can be considered whilst working with equines, and arguably the most effective when shooting small aspects of the horse is the studio. However, I do not currently have the available facilities for an equine-based studio shoot.
  • Motion – a wide range of movements can be captured across the spectrum of equine photography, and whilst working with an installation concept, it may benefit to refrain from using a wide selection of movements within one piece. However, again, this may add interest and diversity to the installation.
  • Breed – across the spectrum of breeds are an array of sizes and characteristics that may disconnect when pieced together to create an overall image. For example, two photographs featuring one small head and one large one, may not present well together. It would be interesting to capture a variety of colours and breeds within the installation, though, to promote that sense of diversity.
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Equine Mood Board

Photographers to Research:

  • Lindsay Robertson
  • Emily Hancock

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My Equine Photography:

curtissayersphotography.com – Portfolio

First Year FMP Series


Pet Portrait Concepts & Considerations:

  • Macro – details include eyes, muzzles and textural details.

to consider: due to the nature of an installation featuring a multitude of images, some photos may appear insignificant and unappealing until situated within the composition. These especially include partial photographs, whereby something of interested is cropped in half, such as an eye, as well as fur texture etc.

  • Collars, Harnesses and Accessories – additional detail and variety can be achieved by including photos which incorporate accessories.

to consider: accessories (including collars and harnesses) will certainly cause the overall piece to appear disjointed and may detract from the overall effect. However, it may also add depth and intrigue, especially within individual images that appear to represent nothing more than a patch of fur.

  • Location – a variety of locations can be considered whilst working with pets. However, my research suggests that the most efficient way to photograph cats is at home. Dogs offer a wider range of scenarios, including home, location and studio based shoots. Pet owners often seek location shots in order to capture the essence of their pet, although studio photographs are also highly desirable.
  • Motion – a wide range of movements can be captured, including a vast array of tricks when working with dogs. However, whilst photographing cats it is unlikely to capture more than a sitting or lying cat.
  • Breed – across the spectrum of breeds are an array of sizes and characteristics that may disconnect when pieced together to create an overall image. For example, two photographs featuring one small head and one large one, may not present well together. It would be interesting to capture a variety of colours and breeds within the installation, though, to promote that sense of diversity.
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Pet Portrait Mood Board

Photographers to Research:

  • Catherine Dashwood

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My Pet Portrait Photography: