Monthly Archives: March 2011

Assignment 1: Contrasts

Task was to: Identify subjects that best express the extremes of different qualities and take pairs of photographs which bring out the essential differences. Make at least 8 pairs from the specified list. Note your thoughts at the time of taking the pictures in your notebook and your intentions with regards to each of them.

Choose 16 photographs from your final results- which I’ve uploaded here and have printed out for my written journal, and mark these with the contrasts they aim to demonstrate. Also produce one photograph which demonstrates contrast in one picture.

To start with I identified a number of different contrasts from the provided list, some I had a very clear idea of what I wanted others I weren’t so sure about and they just evolved as time progressed. I found it a very interesting assignment to undertake, some of the images such as the home studio ones were easy to set up and I made quick progress on them. Some of the others where I had to find suitable sites and examples were harder and took longer but after editing and reviewing my images, and picking what I feel were the clearer examples, I’m happy with the outcome.

The contrasts that I chose in the end were:









Both contrasts in one: Sweet/Sour


I had a clear idea on what I wanted for the many. I’d been inspired by a postcard that I’d picked up of dolly mixture sweets (placed into my journal) but I wanted to put my own take on things. For the many I made a composition of smarties and jelly sweets for the different colours and shapes, and I focused on a heart shaped sweet as a draw to the eye and main focal point. After some trial shots I got the one that I wanted. For the ‘few’ I took some of the sweets and arranged them around a smarties packet, hopefully the few comes across from the single packet as well as the small amount of smarties in contrast to the image with many in it.




I found it harder to find good examples of this until I went the wrong way into Piccadilly station and discovered an old staircase and next to it an old station clock. As the background wasn’t very appealing, especially with anti pigeon spikes on the clock, I decided to convert them into black and white. I wanted them to both have a link and I felt that in black and white it made it a more timeless image, more of when the station would have originally used these.




I had an idea in mind for continuous, I wanted to focus on a stone balustrade or a fence for this, but I struggled to find a suitable subject as I wanted no breaks but also for it to have a relatively uncluttered background. On a recent holiday I found both my sources for this part of the assignment. For continuous I picked a disused pier at Whitby where there was a fantastic lattice pattern that stretched on and on. I zoomed into the pier to focus on the pattern stretching on, leading the eye into the image. I converted that to black and white as it was a grey day with very little contrast in the sky and felt that it suited the tones more this way.

For intermittent I followed the same theme, this was an old pier just down the road from Whitby in Sandsend. The broken stumps of wood scatter and start and stop randomly where they’ve been worn away. I wanted the eye to be drawn in by the line of the wood and then it move onto to the scattered shapes. I didn’t convert this to black and white as I felt that the rich colours of the wood and the algae made more of a contrast than when it was converted to monochrome.

continuous bwintermittent



I had plenty of ideas for pointed but I struggled to find a suitable ‘new’ take on blunt. I’d looked at journals from other OCA students and was aware that I didn’t want to replicate a similar image. I visited the imperial war museum in Salford and they were in a new modern designed building. Part of the building had a wonderful sweeping curve leading to a point so I was happy that this covered part of the contrasts. As I wanted to make my paired image in the same series, I focused on another part of the building which finished in a blunted corner. While these images were taken on a clear day with blue sky, I l felt that the silver metal of the building looked better in monochrome so I converted both images in Photoshop.

blunt 1b&wPointed 1b&w



This was one of the first parts of the assignment that I worked on and certainly one of the earliest that came to mind. I had access to two cats in the same household, one black and one white that I felt would be good starter subjects. To get the images I focused at their level and zoomed in to get a good close-up. I took a large number of images and submitted my favourite two.





I undertook this part of the exercise at the National Railway Museum in York. The subject area here of trains, wheels and rails certainly gave me plenty of subject matter. For the curved part of the exercise my eye was drawn to a turntable that’s used to move the trains about, it had fantastic shaped track that stood out within the white surroundings of the rest of the turntable. As it was quite a bright day and the turntable was light coloured, the final image came out as quite monochrome with no real colour. As a result I decided to convert this to black and white and just tweak the contrasts.

For the example of straight I had two images to choose from. I’d taken two images of different pistons on the steam engines, because of the positioning of them; they also featured a curve of the wheels. One image that I was considering had the piston with a curve in the middle of tit that I thought of would make a good example of two contrasts in once image. However I had a better example from one of the areas for this. The image I decided to submit for straight had me deliberating and asking friends for neutral opinions as I couldn’t decide if it was actually correct to submit this as straight due to the wheel being partly in view. I did decide to go for it in the end as I really liked the image; I felt it was quite a strong image and that the straight line grabs the eye and draws you in.

curved bwstraight bw



I knew very clearly what I wanted as a subject for this. I thought of a very narrow passage in Staithes called ‘dog loup’ which is only 18inches wide. I then began to think of an opposite contrast and came up with the wide sweeping streets in Whitby. When I came to work on the image, I found that there was a curved sweeping road in Staithes that was quite wide and would easily be applicable as the ‘broad’ element. The image follows the rule of thirds, a third cobblestones, a third houses and a third the sky. I got a low angle on this to add the detail of the cobblestones. The narrow image was easy to take; I used a wide angle lens, fill in flash and then converted this to black and white to give it an ageless feel.

broad street in staithesnarrow street in staithes bw



I really enjoyed working on this contrast as I had ideas that I wanted to put into practice and the set up allowed me to do this. For both images I set up a light cube to give a clear and uncluttered background and used a combination of household spotlights and on camera flash for the lighting. I’d seen product photography before and have been impressed by some images of cakes and cupcakes so I thought that this would be a good subject. I set up the two cakes and took a number of different images from different angles. In the end my favourite two were a top down image and one looking across the top of the cakes and the decoration. In the end after looking at them both, I decided that I preferred the image focussing on the icing and decoration across the tops of the cakes.

To provide a contrast with the sweet, I immediately thought of a citrus fruit and particularly lemons. I bought a couple of lemons and once again used the same studio set up. To enhance the ‘sour’ aspect of the lemon I cut it into slices and arranged them on a contrasting black and white saucer. I tried lighting through the lemon to get a translucent effect but I don’t feel that worked. In the end my favourite image was the one of a whole lemon and two slices filling the frame.

Soursweet 1

For the contrast of sweet and sour in one, I’d seen some marzipan fruits shaped like lemons. The idea of a sweet shaped like a sour fruit met my contrast requirements of showing two contrasts in one image, although this took it further and had two in one subject! I worked on enhancing the visual contrast of the yellow sweet, thinking that it needed a coloured background to give it more impact and punch. I had some different coloured envelopes from art cards I’d bought so tried the lemon on a red piece and then a blue piece. I used my macro lens to zoom in to ensure that the background was excluded and to ensure that all you could see on the image was the lemon and its coloured background.

I felt that the blue background image had more contrast and punch to it so I submitted this as my two contrasts in one.



Over the course of this exercise I found it was essential to spend time planning and researching subjects in order to ensure that I got the best shot that I could. To begin with as it was my first assignment, I researched the blogs from other OCA students who have undertaken this project. Some of the images I saw were of subjects that I was thinking about so I tried then to think of something different or at least a different take on it as I wanted very much to provide contrasts that hadn’t been as obvious. I also started to collect images from a variety of sources from magazine to postcards to act as inspiration and I now have a folder of images that I like and inspire me; some of those images have been pasted into my journal for future reference. I also increased my mindset to be looking for an image in everything, taking in my surroundings as it might lead to inspiration.

When I began to decide which contrasts I wanted to focus on I made plenty of notes of what first came into mind under those topics and getting draft ideas of what I could use. I also researched my ideas to ensure that I could actually get the shot I wanted and changed my ideas where necessary.

Other Images

These are some other images I took for this exercise but decided not to submit.

Intermittent- I submitted this in colour

Sweet- I submitted a different image

Straight/Curved- Alternative image as mentioned under straight/curved write up

intermittent bwsweet2straight and curved

Nearly there

Have just finished my last editing and sorting for the images for assignment one so I’ve just got to get them documented and then uploaded so hopefully will get that done this week. Off to Focus on Imaging tomorrow so looking forwards to catching up with whats on at the show.