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.

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FMP: Pet Survey

I will be conducting a survey to be completed by various pet owners, in order to decipher how to manipulate the behavior of my canine and feline subjects. This research will offer me an enhanced level of control whilst photographing, resulting in a higher likelihood of a successful shoot.


 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JQ2W39W


 

Summary:

My responses to my survey have suggested that cats are predominantly friendly and relaxed, yet quiet. An individual responded to my survey, “its a cat.. They don’t listen”. However, another owner suggested that they have a highly personal connection with their feline companion that allows them some influence into the cat’s behavior, which implies that in contrast to dogs, an owner present may be helpful during the shoot.

Motives for specific behavior include specific petting that the individual pet enjoys, such as face rubs and playful headbutting – specific petting locations included the face, ears and chin. Five out of fourteen responses suggested their cat responded best to petting, while the other nine were food motivated. Survey responses recommended ‘Dreamies’ and ‘Pounce’ treats were favored by their felines.

The best ways to provide a specific reaction from cats were said to be audible and physical commands. It is important to remain calm and inviting, and consider using their name and treat and/or petting reinforcements, as suited to the animal.

On the other hand, dogs have been described as friendly, excitable and energetic. Although this suggests lack of idealism for photographing, the responses in regard to training were more positive than those regarding cats. An increased level of training is expected to be beneficial during photographing periods, and all respondents claimed their dogs were at least ‘somewhat’ obedient.

Canine subjects are more susceptible to treat motivation than cats have been suggested to be, and an individual states that their pet is trained to perform commands efficiently without expecting a reward. Specifically, this person says they point to the floor and tell the dog ‘down’, to which the animal responds. However, a large number of those responding to the survey suggested their pet required ‘bribery’ to perform commands, including treats and occasionally toys.


 

Survey Results:

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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:

Self: Final Shoot Plan & Outcomes

For my final series, I will be producing outcomes based on the positivity of social media, and my personal use of it recreationally, as well as tying in a shoot that refers to my personal interest to pursue pet portrait photography as a future career. This incorporates my earlier experimental shoot featuring pet portraiture, based on dogs. I will be developing my abilities and skills in this field of photography, using an alternative model and props.

The shoot will take place in a studio environment, allowing me to control my lighting as well as contain my model in a confined space. This will also allow for non-distracting backgrounds which give my outcomes a stronger impact, drawing tones from my model that may otherwise go unnoticed with a detailed environment to detract from the dog.

I will require my D7100 for this shoot, as well as my macro and 18-55mm lenses. My tripod will also be present, in case it is required. Studio equipment required includes a black background and two soft-boxes, and further props include a chair, costumes and toys. Dog treats may also be required to manipulate the behaviour of my subject.

Abby Malone is my biggest inspiration for this shoot, with her variety of pet portraits incorporating dogs in a range of locations. I endeavour to replicate her ability to portray personality within her photographs.


 

Outcomes

This shoot portrayed my model in a variety of costumes with assorted props, all shot in the same studio-based environment. Matched with the unpredictability of the dog, this scenario created a wide variety of results with varied successes.

My aspirations to pursue a pet portrait photography career is very clearly attended to in this shoot, linking to my personal goals within the photography field. However, with reference to my previous themes and research represented within my Self project, the concept of a dog sustains my ongoing link to social media and personal recreation.

Using Photoshop, I was able to reduce imperfections in my backdrop as well as further enhance my models’ colouring and details, including sharpness within the eyes and fur texture. These effects were achieved using tools such as burn, dodge, clone and sharpen.

More intermediate effects, such as manipulating the reflection within the dogs’ eyes to appear natural, were also applied using the marquee tool (to mask a circular shape) and then cloning the existing reflection in order to create rounded shapes. The edges were feathered (Select, Modify, Feather) to reduce the starkness of the false reflections’ edge.

Many of my images are rich in tonal differences, both in colour and greyscale variations, due to the costumes and rich coat contrasts. The brown tones in Max’s coat are more obvious in the colour outcomes, however, whereas the black and white images tend to be more tonal around defining areas, such as the muzzle and eyes.

Costumes with vibrant colours, such as the red and green antlers, are more effective as overall photographs when presented in colour, whereas more subtle tonal differences can become empowered through the use of the greyscale effect.

I feel this shoot was clearly inspired by Abby Malone, and techniques of hers were subtly incorporated into my own work, the clearest of which being her monotone black backdrop. However, my pieces including powerful interludes of colour which was a personal choice selected apart from Malone’s work.

Overall I find this shoot to have been successful, as my outcomes are well executed with clear deference to my previous experiments and concepts, with a relation to myself both aspiration based and with themes geared towards what I enjoy doing recreationally.


Final Collection

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Self: Project Evaluation

For this project I was required to produce a series of four outcomes with relation to the theme of ‘Self’. My concept was to portray aspects of my social media, as inspired by Brendon Burton’s photographic diary, which held relevance to my thoughts, feelings or parts of my personality. This created a strong tie to myself, since the shoot directly correlated with my online presence.

I decided to tie this link with my positive recreational use of social media, incorporating the frequent stream of dog based images shared on my feed. This was particularly interesting to me as one of my aspirations within my career in photography is to become a pet portrait photographer, so whilst this shoot tied well to my previous concepts explored in the project, it also tied in an aspect I would like to have in my future.



 

Throughout the project I explored a variety of techniques, including use of moving and still props and alternate models, such as dogs, of which I had not photographed before. These proved to be successful experiments, with strong outcomes being achieved across my selection of techniques.

My most powerful experiment was that using flour, in which instance I was able to carefully capture the frozen motion of my subject, showing the substance both in a mist effect as well as depicted as the powder that it is. These effects were later strengthened using Photoshop, enhancing their sharpness and brightness.

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Using my test shoots, I experimented using the studio as well as natural environments to portray unique effects. While the studio offered stronger control over my lighting, using soft-boxes and synced flash, my outdoor experiments resulted in equally strong outcomes.

However, I later opted into capturing my final series in studio based environment. This was because it was important that I reduce the variables in my scenario, as my control over my subject was significantly lessened. Having soft-boxes synced to my camera allowed me to capture sharp images quickly, as required when the dog modelling for me was posed correctly.

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I feel that my final series is strong as a whole, portraying a varied selection of poses, costumes and lighting that allows the collection to stand together without appearing monotonous or dull. This is reinforced by the incorporation of a greyscale image, which evidences the tonal differences in each image in a way that may not be so closely conceived when displayed in colour.

Abby Malone


Alternate Experiments of Final Outcomes


If I were to re-shoot, I would like to incorporate trick shots, such as rolling or begging, in order to replace one of my lying images. Furthermore, I would incorporate more of my previously used techniques, such as the flour or mirrors, to create additional impact and relevance to my previous work.

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Final Outcomes


In conclusion, I consider this series to be a success as I have created four well executed pet portraits, which relates to my personal aspirations to become a pet portrait photographer, but also with the link to my initial themes of social media whereby I created links to dogs and animal themed images, which I frequently share during my time spent using social media websites. My outcomes also show clear relation to my inspiration of Abby Malone, and her studio based pet portrait business, and also has an underlying link to Brendon Burton, where I initially created the link of a diary and social media as a concept to follow within this project.

Self: Shoot 6 Plan & Outcomes

In order to meet my project proposal, and therefore my brief, I will be producing an outcome that portrays a variety of my successful experiments. In order to do this successfully, I will be using the technique of multiple flash exposure, replicating myself and any alternative props or models in one image multiple times.

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My biggest inspiration remains to be Brendon Burton, with his concept of a photographic diary, however my most successful experimental shoots have been those incorporating flour, mirrors and dogs. The photographers who have inspired me for each of these shoots are Kyle Thompson, Laura Williams and Abby Malone.

My camera of choice for this shoot will be my Nikon D7100, accompanied by my 18-55mm lens. A tripod will be used to stabilise the camera, maintaining a level and still background when creating the outcomes. Further props include flour and a mirror, as well as an alternate model (dog). Editing software, including Photoshop, will be required during the post production process.

I will be shooting in a studio environment on a black background, using soft boxes as my light source. In order to maintain control over my lighting as required in multiple flash exposure photography, the lights will be flashed manually.

For this shoot I will require assistants, including one of my peers who can manually flash the lights and press the shutter release on my camera, and the owner of my secondary model (dog) to avoid incorporating him into parts of the shoot that he is not required for, as well as catering to his needs (water, short breaks/walks etc.).


 

Outcomes

This shoot was my second attempt at multiple flash exposure, and a first using multiple props and models. This proved difficult, as in the dark it was difficult to predict the composition of the final outcome.

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My concept of combining these techniques was to be an effective representation of my concept, portraying themes from social media that suggested confusion and disarray, as well as the comfort of an animal. However, the execution of these photographs was poor, as none of my concepts were clearly represented.

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I went on to use Photoshop in the post-production process to crop my outcomes, since my backdrop had not been adequately sized for the space consuming shoot, as well as creating a stronger contrast in an attempt to draw out the details within the photographs.

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Due to the darkness in the studio, each outcome varied completely, with little structure to their composure. However, one commonality of all of my three outcomes was that the dog is not definable, and has little impact on my outcomes. However, the mirror frame proved to be a strong aspect to my images, and is clear and sharp in each photograph.

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My outcomes were typically more powerful in colour, however the tonal differences in the black and white outcome which I produced in Photoshop allows my models to blend into their areas of the photograph, creating a more harmonious piece. Due to this, the above outcome is my most successful outcome from this shoot.

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I would not consider this to be a successful shoot, as my technique of multiple flash exposure photography was not well executed to clearly portray my experiments. However, the messy outcomes have a strong relevance to my confused concept of mental health, which allows the pieces to play towards my theme when appropriately conceived.