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.

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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

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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.


Catherine Dashwood

Dashwood focuses her attention on pet portrait photography, particularly working with canine subjects, but also lightly venturing into equine photography. Based in Lymington, Catherine is in the center of the New Forest in Hampshire, and she states on her website that “we are so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country enabling us to have some spectacular backdrops”, which she is always keen to take advantage of.

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The shallow depth of field within the majority of these portraits suggests that a zoom lens is being used to achieve a softened surrounding for the sharp, well focused animal subject. To further this cause, the saturation in much of Dashwood’s work appears to have been reduced slightly post-production, and a slight vignette applied to tone down the edge of the images, drawing the audience to the light that is inevitably focused upon the dogs. Catherine made reference to Photoshop during my discussion with her, and although alternative programmes may also have been used, I expect this is her primary editing software.

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After speaking with Catherine, I learned that her technique for capturing dogs in motion was to throw a ball. However, since capturing the animal without the ball in their mouth had an increased aesthetic advantage, she would frequently have someone throw the ball towards her from outside the frame, causing the dog to chase it and therefore approach her, running for the toy.

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I like the aesthetic that Catherine achieves within her work, perhaps because it is closely related to that of my own photography style. Furthermore, whilst I have typically ventured into pet portraits within the studio, and often liked the effect achieved by myself and those that I have researched within the studio setting, I feel that Catherine’s work is exuberant and filled with personality. This is important when photographing beloved pets, since their owners cherish the work in which you offer them, often longer than they are allowed to cherish their pet.


 

Catherine Dashwood Influenced Experiment

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I decided to extrapolate the technique of desaturation, by removing all colour besides that of the halter worn by the donkey. This was to draw attention to the colour, and therefore my subject, whilst removing the distraction of the greenery, building and donkey within the background.

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I feel that this experiment was a success, as the dark former donkey appears enhanced now that the richly saturated, colourful background is removed. However, the red of the halter I feel adds character to the portrait and draws attention, whereas the completely greyscale image appears dull and uninteresting.

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Weekly Review : 01/05/17-07/05/17

Monday: 

I launched a survey using surveymonkey.com, asking my audience questions related to pet behavior and the ways in which they, as owners, manipulate the actions of their pets in positive ways. This survey was shared via my social media channels, providing an insight into a wide variety of training techniques. Whilst most suggested food was a positive reinforcement technique that they used with their pets, several suggested simple commands and/or toys. It also became apparent that a home shoot is better suited to cats, whereas dogs are typically much more adaptable and may feel more comfortable within the studio setting. However, due to the selection of variables within my data collection, I will be carefully selecting where to photograph individual animals based on their unique traits, as gauged when discussing a shoot with their owner.


Tuesday:

I spent the morning phoning several potential clients, including members of my family and social groups. However, unfortunately the availability of both themselves and I do not correlate, as well as a lack of studio availability. Therefore, I have decided to post publicly using Facebook as a host for my advert. This allows a wide range of people within Harlow and it’s surrounding areas to consider myself for a pet portraiture shoot.

Additionally, I have begun producing a website using the popular host site, Wix. While the developments I have made on the base of my website is positive, I have concluded that I would like to develop the aesthetic further.


Thursday:

Today I created a technical research piece, focusing on the use of thread within the work of photographer Lorena Cosba. This research has indicated that the use of brightly coloured thread has a positive impact towards a piece rather than detracting from the attention of the installation. Therefore, I have decided that a coloured thread will be used to suspend my final outcomes within the installation rather than fishing wire or an alternative substance.

FMP: Action Plan

Already Completed: Proposal & Mind Maps/Mood Boards


Week Commencing: 01/05/17

  • Research – Pet Behaviour
  • Arrange Pet Portrait appointments, including studio bookings.
  • Technical Research – Incorporating Thread (Relation – Suspension).
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 08/05/17

  • Technical Research – Equine Photography
  • Test Shoot 1 – Equine
  • Conceptual Research – Installations
  • Research – David Hockney
  • Two Artist Responses – Mood Boards in response to artist, relating to feelings.
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 15/05/17

  • Conceptual Research – Forming a Visual Bond (Abstract)
  • Conceptual Research – Forming a Visual Bond (Pet Portraits)
  • Test Shoot 2 – Cat (Home Shoot)
  • Test Shoot 3 – Dog (Studio Shoot)
  • Presentation Case Study
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 22/05/17

  • Research – New Forest
  • Technical Research – Pet Portraits and Post Production
  • Trip to the New Forest 26-29 – 2-4 Equine Test Shoots.
  • Final Shoot 1 – Dog(s)
  • Final Shoot 2 – Cat(s)
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 29/05/17

  • Final Shoot 3 – Equine(s)
  • Final Shoot 4 – Equine(s) – if required.
  • Final Installation development.
  • FMP Website Development

Week Commencing: 05/06/17

  • Final Outcome Production
  • Project Evaluation
  • FMP Website Development

Deadline: 13/06/17

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:

Final Major Project: Proposal

For my final project, I have decided to focus my attention on portrait photography, particularly pet portraits and equines. These shoots will incorporate a variety of specialisms, including macro and fine art photography. Previously on this course, I have focused projects on horses and their body language as well as portrait photography featuring dogs. I hope to develop my abilities in what I consider my strongest field in photography, as well as use this project as an opportunity to interact with a potential client base (local pet owners) and enhance my interpersonal skills when working with strangers.

My intention is to create a series of photography installation pieces, in which multiple photographs are suspended to create a formation in which one overall image is perceived by the audience. I plan to create a trio of installations, covering the themes of horses, dogs and cats, that can be presented as a collection or individually without losing impact. Whilst my subject remains a comfortable scenario for myself, this artistic presentation will stretch my abilities, using proportion and anatomical knowledge to create a realistic outcome.

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Anette Messager

In order to complete the project to the best of my ability, I will be producing a variety of research pieces, including photographers, installation artists and expanding my knowledge of the animals I intend to photograph.

I will be communicating with pet owners to distinguish the ways in which they gauge reactions from their pets. This includes common training techniques as well as traits unique to individual animals, that may be impractical to use with another animal. This, whilst not directly in correlation with photography, is important information for me to achieve the best results when working with unfamiliar animals, and develop my skills in communicating with pet owners whilst preparing a shoot. This is particularly important for me in regards to working with cats and dogs, where I am not so well practised as opposed to horses, which I regularly work with.

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Previous Equine Body Language Research – First Year FMP

Lorena Cosba incorporates 3D effects, using materials such as thread to add texture and depth to her photography works. Due to the suspension nature of my piece, it could be an interesting concept to explore using a variety of media, as well as incorporating them further into my work similarly to that of Cosba’s pieces. Furthermore, the nature of printing on acetate means that my outcome will be printed in black and white, therefore using colourful materials may be obtrusive to the overall outcome. I would like to explore this theme, and conclude whether the effects are negative or enhancing.

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Lorena Cosba

My images will be printed on acetate, rather than photographic paper, which will cause the piece to be transparent. This ability can be used to offer a variety of viewpoints, or simply to create depth within the formation. The effect of acetate, I find, is much more complementary to installation work as opposed to 2D presentation, therefore this seemed an ideal project to experiment with this medium. When printing on acetate, high contrast printing is most effective, therefore the potency of my overall outcome is highly dependant on photographs with tonal depth and non-distinct backgrounds that will not interfere with the composition. These effects can be heightened or manipulated in post-production, using Photoshop, as well as in presentation using backlighting to create a lightbox effect.

Light has the capacity to empower an acetate-based piece, as demonstrated in the work below, created by Matt Ritsman. Matt produces a variety of work using photographs printed onto acetate and layered, which he typically presents as a 2D piece over a light source. While this can enhance colours and details, when the light is particularly close to the image it can appear overexposed and lose depth, as seen below using strip lights. The effect has been used within the piece as an artistic strategy, however I would like to avoid this side effect of using light in my own installations.

‘Light Box Romance’ – Matt Ritsman

‘Plastic, Light’ – Matt Ritsman

Additionally, I will create experiments to deem whether I would like my photographs within the installation to be inconspicuously suspended using nylon thread, or boldly contrasting using alternative materials, such as coloured threads or string, as inspired by Lorena Cosba.


With such a practical-based project, I will require an expansive range of experiments throughout. These will test my photographs’ compatibility with the presentation style, as well as materials and presentational techniques. Factoring these into the project adds substantial time and cost, however I feel that creating small tests will benefit the final piece, reducing risk of mistake or misjudgement regarding the manufacture process of an installation.

Further risks are induced within this project due to the inclusion of animals, whereby a variety of risk assessments (for studio based work) and source of models can cause delays in shooting. To minimize these risks, I will be preparing shoots in advance, whilst simultaneously performing research and experimental tasks throughout the planning process.

Once I have settled upon models and arranged my shoots, it is important that I allow long enough periods within the studio for my animal subjects to become comfortable within the studio setting and with me. Previously I have struggled to acclimatize dogs with their surroundings in the studio, and so if I am able to settle a meeting with my clients before shooting in order to get to know the animals, this will reduce their anxiety with me whilst shooting. Alternatively, I may attempt home-based shots or location shoots, based on the judgement of my clients.

In order to review my final outcomes, I will seek feedback direct from the owners of my animal subjects, regarding their views and opinions on both the individual outcomes from the shoot and the installation pieces. As a unique presentation in terms of a pet portrait, it would be interesting to determine if this is of interest to the target market. Furthermore, I will ask for reviews on my service as a photographer, and whether they would select me for future work or refer me to friends, as these factors are relevant to me as an aspiring pet portrait photographer.

Throughout the project I endeavour to amass a variety of shoots, featuring a range of individual animals, which will be gathered into contact sheets and presented here on the blog. Conjointly, I will be photographing my 3D experiments, the purpose of which being to refine my final installations, and presenting them digitally as a record of my progress.

My installations will feature in the end-of-year exhibition which will exhibit my concluded presentation choice, which is particularly important due to the 3D nature of my proposal. Research will be undertaken to ensure that I have selected the most efficient presentation, and I will photograph my exhibition piece in order to review the success of this.


Macro shots may be of great use for my installation, where small parts of animals are captured to collectively build a larger image. This piece was successful as a standalone photo, whereas a less interesting part of the body may be insignificant due to lack of point of interest, when presented without the additional support of alternative images within my installation piece. Despite this, it important for me to focus images on alternative parts of my subjects, as collectively they will add value to the eligibility of the final outcome.

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When photographing individual animals, using surroundings can be an effective device to enhance the photograph or add personality. This shoot was client based, and using the stable door gave them direct relevance to their pony and his daily behaviour – something that has great value when capturing personality within an animal for a client. In contrast, this is impractical for this project due to the composition aspect, whereby distracting surroundings within one photograph may not harmonise with surrounding images and disrupt the overall outcome.

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A studio setting is of great value when photographing pets, as the control over lighting and backgrounds reduced the variables within the situation, allowing the photographer to concentrate on their subject. I have previously experimented widely with studio based shoots, and conclude that I will be using those experiences within my final project. However, whilst I have previously liked to shoot animals on a black background, I will be featuring a white backdrop for this particular project. This is because, when printing on acetate, the background will remain clear, allowing the ink that defines the animals to contrast more forcibly.

As a development to the focus of backgrounds, I will be photographing widely using a shallow depth of field. This will be helpful throughout the post production process, allowing me to easily distinguish areas which I would like to crop or digitally remove from the image before printing to enhance the focus within my subject. This is illustrated heavily within the image below, where a shallow depth of field allowed the background to dissolve, highlighting details as minor as the spider web draping between parts of the elaborate sculpture.

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Bibliography

http://mattritsman.com/#art