Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photography Practice Assignment :: 30 Ring Shots

Practice, practice, practice. Photography teachers go on and on about it but it's always left me How do you practice photography? I learn LOADS when I'm shooting a wedding but how do I get practice that's not 'on the job'? There are all sorts of photography assignments out there that teachers give their students but from what I've heard, it seems the most promising students gives themselves homework. If I remember correctly, Jasmine Star used to photograph her orange tree for hours and Matthew Jordan Smith encourages photographers to practice shooting their vacuum cleaner. Hardly inspiring stuff. 
Last Wednesday I was walking home through Lade Braes, this beautiful forested trail in St. Andrews, and I saw these great lily-pad-like plants. I was struck with a little bolt of inspiration that made me want to try taking a photo of my own wedding rings on it and that was the start to my first proper self-assigned photography homework. I decided I would try and collect 30 different shots featuring my wedding rings. This assignment was WAY more engaging than orange trees and vacuums because photographing rings is actually part of my job! 
Pushing myself to get 30 distinct ring shots in 1 afternoon was actually quite a challenge. There are a couple shots I really like but most of them are pretty bog-standard. In the end it wasn't the final shots that mattered, it was the whole process of getting my mind into creativity-mode.

I got to experiment with different angels, different exposures and different depths of field. All techie photography stuff that I wouldn't normally have the time or risk-margin to play around with on a real wedding day. 

I gained a new appreciation for "layers of focus" (I don't know what this is actually called in the depth-of-field vocabulary, someone please enlighten me!) by which I mean, if one ring was closer to the camera is would be clear but the ring behind would be really fuzzy — I wanted both rings to be clear. Now I know when I'm lining up rings I have to be uber careful to make sure they are both at the same distance from my camera i.e. in the same "layer" of my focus / depth of field. 

I seriously didn't want to share all of these images with you all. I'm trying to train myself to share the images the best represent me and I feel that most of these ring shots definitely DO NOT represent me, what I like or the work that I aim to produce. However, I felt that it was important that I bit the bullet and uploaded all 30 ring shots — that was the assignment after all. I wanted to share the whole process. 

As you can tell, I reached the end of the forest walk and made it safely back home where I completed the remaining shots indoors — hence the lack of greenery.

Both of these images (above and below) were taken on the same piece of cardboard, I didn't move the rings. All I did was change my viewpoint. The above image was taken looking down on the rings which consequentally displayed more of the cardboard background. The image below was shot  with the rings at eye-level which meant that the cardboard was also at eye-level and became this hazy horizon that I really like :)

With these two images, I experimented with the proximity to my subject. The above image is very different the below image simply because of how close I am and how much information I'm sharing. I prefer the second image (yes the exposure is brighter and in my opinion better) but I really like being able to see the rim of the jar. It tells more of the 'story' because I can see where the rings are. 

My cowgirl boots!!!!!! I actually really like this image. :D I think it's kinda fun and again, the focus is on the rings but it's telling more of a story — perhaps my imaginary bride was wearing cowgirl boots :P I thought about wearing cowgirl at my wedding but in the end we went barefoot :P

I really like the ring shot with the coins because it was one of those moments when inspiration strikes and I could have either gone for it or ignored it. I was shooting rings on flowers and cowgirl boots and I looked down at my coffee table and saw the change lying there in a pile. Something inside me had the 'umph' to just try it and I'm so glad I did because I've never seen anybody else take a ring shot with coins before and I very rarely get the chance to shoot something original. Most of these wedding photos are all becoming trends and we hardly ever get to shot something totally new to us. So yay! I'm happy :) I got my dose of creation for that day :D
And my beautiful guitar even got involved...

Later that day, I went on a walk with Miggy to the park. I asked him to give me challenges. He 'dared' me to shoot the rings on the padlock :P

When I put the rings around the daisy and had them blur in the  background it totally made me think of the film Ants or something where the bugs are normal size and human stuff is HUGE!!!!! I imagined little ants walking along through the grass and seeing my ginormous rings, abandoned/lost in a field and sparkling in the spring time sun.

This shot was taken with the rings balanced precariously on the seat of a playground swing. 

It took AGES to squeeze each little piece of grass through the rings for this shot lol

The second photo with the dark background here was taken on top of a doggie pooh disposal bin! hehe Don't tell the bride lol

I got all deep and made my friends cringe with this photo when I said I loved the symbolism of 'new beginnings.' haha

Another rubbish bin :)

Top of a rusty gate. I love the green colour but next time I seriously need to make the exposure work and have better composition!

This was taken on the chain link gate to a sports court. Something not quite right about this photo. I just don't like looking at it. Too many innuendoes I think.
And there you have it! My first proper photography assignment. It was actually loads of fun and I totally recommend it this kind of assignment to everyone needing practice. What shall I do next? :D Perhaps 30 ring shots in 30 minutes? Practice creativity under pressure? Any ideas?