Preserving Shadows – Photoshop

A technique I learnt from my commercial experience with food photography was preservation of shadows. This adds depth to an object as opposed to being flat and simply cut out.

First, I made a path using the quick selection tool and mask to accurately cut around the fruit.

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I then hit cmd + J to copy the selection to a new transparent layer. I then duplicated the background layer and with the selection added, filled with white. Screenshot 2016-11-27 20.33.50.png

I then used a really soft brush to eliminate any dark areas other than the shadow definition on the fruit. I then copied the whole layer and created a new alpha channel.

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I then created a new transparent layer, and went to load selection in the selection panel. Screenshot 2016-11-27 20.41.24.png

To add finish, i filled the selection with black, giving the illusion of shadow. I turned both the cut fruit layer and shadow layer on, moving the shadow below the fruit. I then saved as .PSD to preserve the transparency.

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Initial Ideas & Sketches

Combining my knowledge of layout design, and the initial planning I did for photography, I thought about the best way to layout my design. Although this may change in the final design process, it gives me the chance to quickly think of ideas whilst visualising them.

First, I jotted down quick ideas, thoughts, and things I wanted to research in order to enhance my final piece. This included photo-montage, infographics, and the tone of voice I want to use. It was important to keep reminding myself of the specific brief, attempting to prevent waste and encourage staff to be more efficient and cost effective.

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I will move on to the digital design next. The timing is quite tight for this project, so I want to work quickly but not forgetting fine detail and and the purpose of the brief.

The Relationship Between ISO, Shutter Speed & Aperture

ISO – The level of sensitivity of the camera to available light. If a subject is well lit, then a lower ISO value is appropriate such as ISO:100, as the camera will be less sensitive to light. However, increasing the ISO value brighten the subject, at a cost. The higher the ISO, the more noise and grain in the image.

Shutter Speed – The length of time in which the camera sensor is exposed to light. These values are often measured in fractions of a second. The slower the shutter speed, the more light entering the camera, often used for low light or night photography. A fast shutter speed is used to freeze motion. For example, a faster shutter speed would be used for action sports photography.

Aperture – A hole within the lens that allows the light to travel through into the camera body. The larger the hole, the more light that travels through. Aperture also controls the depth of field, which is the part of the frame that appears sharp. Aperture is defined by “f” stops, (also known as “focal ratio”, since the f-number is the ratio of the diameter of the lens aperture to the length of the lens). For example, F/1.4, f/2.0

Photography Planning

I’ve conducted research before going to the factory, which has enabled me to think about the type and style of photography I want to use in my final design.

My initial thoughts are to use portraiture photography to show the workers handling the fruit in the factory. I want to focus on the workers, however I need to think about the tone of voice of the shots. I don’t want it to come across negatively as the purpose of this project is to encourage the staff to waste less.

Another technique I’m considering is photo-montage. This will enable me to incorporate loads of interesting and dynamic images to best represent the process and the fruit. I want the workers to take pride in the work they do, and understand their importance to the final product getting to market.

I want to do some on site photography of the factory, to get a better sense of the type of work that is undertaken, and better understanding the wastage problem. I may try to incorporate shots of the process in action, however at this stage I’m not sure exactly how this will work. The more images I have to choose from, the more resources I will have to draw from in the design process.

One of the strengths I have developed over the last few years in my commercial work is studio photography. I love how you can get such stunning detail from using a macro lens and getting really up close and personal with the fruit. My initial thoughts lead me to use a clean white background, and let the vibrancy of the fruit speak for itself. This means shooting on a white continuous background. One other technique I may consider is the preservation of the shadow definition made when manipulating the light around the subject whilst shoot.

Development of Photographic Technologies

The camera was based on optical principles developed in the 1500s, since the age of Aristotle used as a sketching aid for professional artists. The design consisted of a small light box with a pinhole or lens on the other side of a translucent screen. The screen gave the artist a suitable image to use for tracing. This invention was called the Camera Obscura.

In the 18th & 19th centuries, inventors stumbled across a method for permanently preserving them using chemicals. This was a major breakthrough for that emerged in 1725, where a German named Johann Heinrich Schulze found that silver salts darkened when exposed to light. Fascinated by his discovery, he cut out letters from a piece of paper and placed on top of a silver mixture. He found that the sun’s rays wrote the words accurately on the chalk sediment. After Johann’s research followed a Frenchman who used the a Camera Obscura combined with a plate coated with light sensitive material to capture and “fix” an image. He used an eight hour exposure time to create what is known as the worlds first photograph.

Following the first picture to ever be produced, another Frenchman named Louis Daguerre discovered that exposing iodized silver plates one reduce the exposure time to 10 or 20 minutes, and two create a sharp image. This development was named “Daguerreotype”. After making the invention public in return for a pension from the French Government, Louis Daguerre’s invention swept across the world and gave rise to the portrait industry.

Around the same sort of time as Louis Daguerre, an Englishman developed his own photographic method called ‘Calotype’. This method replaced the metal plates used in the previous process with photosensitive paper. When exposed to light, the paper could preserve the image by rinsing it with hyposulphite. Although the image quality wasn’t as sharp as Louis Daguerre, the Englishman’s process had one massive advantage; the ease of reproduction. Unlike previous versions, it gave photographers the opportunity to reproduce endless copies of a picture from a single negative. This will prove to be the fundamental principles of modern photography.

The Wet-Collodion Process was developed in 1851 and rendered Daguerreotype and Calotypes ideas redundant. The method combined crisp image quality with negatives that could be easily copied. The secret was the use of a chemical called collodion, a light-sensitive solution applied to metal plates. These wet plates reduced exposure time to just a few seconds, however this was often quite tedious as the plates had to be exposed and processed before the collodion mixture dried and hardened. This meant photographers had to travel with large portable dark rooms in order to expose the image properly. This process however was a very cost effective way to produce high quality images.

During the 1800s, photography was a difficult industry to enter without working knowledge of chemistry. However this changed in the 1870s, where photographers perfected a new type of photographic plate that preserved silver salts in gelatin. Since they retained their light-sensitivity for long periods of time, these “dry” plates could be prepackaged and mass-produced, freeing photographers from the annoying task of prepping and developing their own wet plates on the fly. They offered a much quicker exposure time allowing the camera to capture moving objects whilst maintaining a high image quality. A photographer named Eadweard Muybridge used dry plate cameras to conduct a series of famous studies on humans and animals in motion.

Although the photographic process was becoming easier and quicker, it still wasn’t accessible to amateurs until the mid-1880s when an inventor began producing film rolls. Film was lightweight and durable in comparison to chunky metal plates. The use of a roll meant that photographers could produce images in quick succession.

Colour photography still hadn’t emerged yet, however the industry was crying out for the development of colour photography. French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière developed an additive colour process named dubbed “Autochrome”. The brothers found the key to their invention in the starch of a potato, adding it to a panchromatic emulsion. This would prove to be the go to process until the 1935, when a more sophisticated colour process arrived in the form of the Eastman Kodak Company’s legendary Kodachrome film.

Photography Genres

To improve my photography, I wanted to look at the larger categories of genres within photography. This will help me identify shots whilst analysing other peoples work, and then hopefully implement these into my own  photography.

Arial Photography

French photographer and balloonist, Gaspar Felix Tournachon, experimented for three years from 1855-1858 before he finally produced the photography, travelling 80m above the ground in his hot air balloon. Shooting from above enables you to get interesting shots of large areas, and gives a different & interesting perspective that many may not have seen before.

Architectural Photography

Capturing an interesting form, shape, building or structure can catch the eye. This  also includes interiors or exteriors or a building, or even an interesting element of design. Photographers face two challenges when shooting buildings: Lighting and image distortion. Obviously when shooting the exterior of a building, you are subject to the outdoor conditions, meaning you can only use natural light to work with which can be tricky. Also, if a building has strong horizontal lines, the image can look distorted. This can only be avoided from shooting at the right angle with the right equipment.

Candid Photography

A very popular genre of photography. Candid means “off the cuff” or spontaneous shooting, where moments are captured as they happen. The key to this type of photography is not to let the subject know you are shooting. They appear calmer, relaxed and natural, which should encourage a good shot. Therefore, using a zoom lens for this genre of photography is good so they are unaware of your presence.

Documentary Photography

Images that form a story fall under this genre, highlighting a subject or a story. They are objective issues such as social issues, science, and war. Spending time with the subject and understanding what comes natural to them, and then document accordingly. Let the picture tell the story, and don’t shoot anything out of character with your subject.

Fashion Photography

This genre is typically used as a sales tool, to lure customers by glamourising a product. They are typically very quirky, with an array of different backdrops such as a studio, run down building, urban environments, and anywhere outdoors. This genre requires the photographer to do a lot of planning & preparation beforehand, from makeup to lighting and finding a suitable scene, with the model playing a significant role. You should however be open to suggestions and work with the team.

Food Photography

I already have two years experience with this type of photography, after working for Turners Fine Foods in the Marketing & Graphics Department. Again, great photography “sells” the product by enticing the customer in to restaurants and shops. In my experience, I used studio lighting on a white paper backdrop to keep everything consistent, and also the post production design would typically be on a white background, so isolating the product with white space worked. However, shooting food in natural light gives a soft natural feel to it, and colour doesn’t get washed away like it would if you used unnatural light or flash.

Landscape Photography

Another really popular type of photography. Everyone loves to shoot a great landscape scene as it can show the environmental change and beautiful scenery. Whilst shooting landscapes, it may be necessary to use a a tripod to get really sharp results. This eliminates camera shake, which will mean less blur. A longer shutter speed will help give the perfect shot.

Photojournalism

This genre requires the photographer to be in the right place at the right time. Its similar to documentary photography however captures live events as and when it happens. Photojournalism isn’t about shooting unexpected events, but capturing unexpected moments at planned events to create an interesting story.

Conceptual / Fine Art Photography

This genre is all about an emotion or an idea created by the photographer or visionary, trying to convey a message through his image. We can create our own fictional characters and tell a story.

Portraiture

Another really popular style of photography, portrait shots capture peoples moods and expressions. It can be a close up shot or body portraits, typically focusing on the face and aligning the eye to a strong position in the frame, for example a rule or thirds or the fibonacci spiral. Ensuring the face is sharp will give a good final result.

Sport Photography  

This category requires the photographer to get really close to the subject, which isn’t always possible. For example, you couldn’t get five metres away from a racing F1 car. However, photographers use really long focal lengths in order to get further away. A high ISO will enable to photographer to increase the shutter speed, meaning more frames per second can be achieved. Try different angled shots to get a different dynamic effect.

Street Photography

Very similar to candid photography, street shots are taken in everyday public spaces and shows life as it happens. Street photography shouldn’t be about typical tourist attractions, but tries to find the unique environment that people don’t see.

War Photography 

Capturing war torn-torn conflicts is in the interest of the wider public. The photographers often put their own lives on the line to document events unfolding. Due to the weight of photography equipment, photographers of this particular genre often simplify their kit, as they don’t have time to keep changing lenses.

Wildlife Photography

This genre requires a lot of patience and a high shutter speed. The photographer should focus on on the natural habitat. It’s important to be really familiar of your cameras settings, as the unpredictable nature or this type of photography means a good opportunity can be easily missed.

 Presentation

Following on from week one, where we began to collate ideas and then distill them down into a campaign idea to present. Our focus was to divert attention away from the monetary value of the fruit, and try to engage the workers with the product to encourage them to take more care when handling the fruit, therefore reducing waste.

To do this, we came up with a timeline idea, highlighting the distance and care the fruit has received to get to the workers. We wanted to also highlight that the workers are fundamentally important to getting the product to market. We produced visuals, and displayed them on a powerpoint presentation for the companies representatives.

The presentation went well. We spoke about the overall issue of the workers, and highlighting experiences in the group that had lead us to form the idea. We mentioned the high levels of staff turnover would make it difficult to get them to care about the product, but then presented our idea, approaching the issue from a different stance, that would tug on their human emotions.