Friday, 18 February 2011

Project 12: Close and involved

I suppose that I’ve kind of done this project back to front.  When I started out on ‘People Unaware’, I did a lot of wide angle, up-close-and-personal shots because it was those that concerned me most. Latterly, I think the quality of what I have done for the other projects has improved, and I feel a bit disappointed when I look back at some of the images for this project.  That said I don’t feel the need to go back and do more work at this stage.  I think I’ve learned enough to be able to make effective use of this approach, as necessary, in future projects/assignments.  I might drop other examples into this part of my learning log as and when they arise.
These two early examples showed how the wide angle, particularly when combined with a low angle, can create quite a dramatic effect and really pull the viewer into the scene.
The composition and exaggerated perspective of the first highlights the two key subjects and makes for an interesting, if technically deficient image.  The second has some movement and life about it, even if the subject matter isn’t up to much.
Three other, more recent shots offer some improvement in technical quality.
The first has been discussed at some length earlier in my blog, and all three still ‘suffer’ from the low angle distortion, but I think that it adds to the interest in all cases.  The character in the yellow shirt and shoes is making a strong statement in the way he is dressed, and this image builds on that (maybe satirises it) by making him ‘big’ in the street.  There is a similar superior look about the two characters in the third image, which I think is well served by the wide/low angle.
The next two use the wide angle in a way that also brings in the broader background scene (and are also taken at a more ‘natural’ camera level).  The first suffers from the technical deficiencies that I have already discussed, but the second has more of the New York street shot feel about it.  Unlike the detached sense that comes across in the images in Project 11, we are there, on the street, close to these two women as they pass, whilst also aware of the broader environment, the architecture, etc.
All of the above shots are taken with a compact camera.  The quality improves significantly again, when I switch to the DSLR and a 10-20mm wide angle lens.  I have used these two shots before, but they are good examples of the ‘Close and involved’  principle.
It is perfectly possible, with this wide an angle, to take pictures of people very close to them without them even being aware that you are including them in the frame – within reason, of course.  But one of the major disadvantages of this approach, as mentioned above, is the degree of distortion that can result.  It is certainly evident in the two individuals on the left edge of the second image.  Then again, sometimes that can be used to good effect, when a dramatic angle is part of the impact of the image.  Again, I can illustrate this with an image already discussed earlier in this log.
So, involving the viewer in the scene, creating dynamic impact, getting close to people without them knowing they’re in the shot, including foreground subject plus the whole of the background in the same image, all of these are potential advantages of working with a wide angle.  Upsetting a subject by being too close and being noticed, together with the distortion and issues around getting the right focus when taking a shot quickly, are all potential problems.  Once again, the work over the last few weeks has opened my eyes to the possibilities, but I think there is still more work to be done to really put this approach to its best possible use.

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