For assignment three in Project52 we were supposed to photograph a still-life. Immediately when reading the assignment my mind turned to the project I have in mind to start working on at some point (I was thinking of the coming summer). When I first saw the Star Wars Lego pictures by the Flickr user Avanaut I got it in my head to start creating images based on Fire and legos myself.
So, instead of creating any other setup that would have been easier to work, I decided to start experimenting with what I’d need to go forward with my idea. The whole concept is still very open and I haven’t even started planning any of the photographs I want to make with the idea. But as an exploration of the idea and looking into some of the technical challenges this assignment proved its worth.
The above photograph is my final selection. I tried to model a “ladder” high up getting ready approach a burning structure. The light comes from the blue alarm lights from the rescue vehicles below and the various white lights they have lighting the scene. The second photograph has more light in it, but to my eye, considering a night fire the strobes are too strong. In any case, I noticed the even at the lowest power setting the strobes are easily much too powerful for small work like this.
Also, my 150mm Sigma is a bit too long for this use, although I really like it’s bokeh etc. Using a shorter lens could have worked, but then the compression factor wouldn’t have been as strong. And when using fire in the background, having the compression factor of a long lens helps in preventing melted legos.
I also noticed that my tripod head should be sturdier – or that I should have the dogs in a separate room. Some of the pictures had noticeable camera shake in them. But, live and learn. That’s what I’m doing these assignments for. Alas, due to real-life butting in and the aurora during the same evening, I didn’t get a chance to make another attempt.
The second assignment for Project 52 was to take a portrait of a stranger. Considering that I’m not all that keen on taking portraits in general and I’m a true introvert, this wasn’t an assignment that I was looking forward to. Luckily I had a business trip to Helsinki with some waiting time scheduled at Helsinki-Vantaa airport on the way home.
I knew that the airport would offer me many strangers and having some extra time would mean that I couldn’t really avoid talking to someone and getting their permission to photograph them. So spotting a little labrador puppy at the airport seemed like a real blessing since now, as a retriever enthusiast, I had a good reason to start talking to the people with the puppy. Turns out the breeder was taking the puppy to his new home in Czech Republic, so the portrait has the breeder, puppy, and busy airport in the background.
My final selection is this one:
In fact, it was taken with a composition that I had previsualized while walking around the terminal, so I’m glad it was also the best photograph. The following to out-takes aren’t as strong. In both the sharpness of the puppy isn’t quite good enough and either the crop or contact with the subject is laking. But all in all, I’m satisfied with what I got out this assignment, even though approaching only one stranger for a photograph almost feels like cheating ;)
So, the first assignment for the Don Giannatti’s Project52 was defining who I am by creating a vision statement and making a photograph that realizes my vision statement. The photograph was supposed to be taken at home or in my own yard and during the assignment period, so some limitations were set. Which was good, since it somewhat reduced the pressure in what should be created.
Although vision statements are not necessarily public, I don’t feel any need to hide mine. In fact, I feel that forcing myself to write it down in publishable format makes it a bit more real. And it forced me to spend a bit more time reflecting on it. So, here goes:
My work shows a glimpse into the character of my subject. It tells a story through the moods and atmosphere it invokes. The first sentence is what applies to my current work in photographing dogs, live music, and fire. It is a sign of a good action or unplanned shot. The second is where I am taking my photography in creating planned photographs.