Short Assignments 2

Another semester with another set of short image challenges to accompany our main modules.

6 sets of images of which some are specific, to be copied, and some for which we have total creative control.

The actual brief states – Short assignments
This is not about DOING these assignments – of course you can… it is about doing them with  IMAGINATION, CREATIVITY and PROFESSIONALISM. Every image should be a portfolio image. 
I am completely bemused by the comment that they should all be a portfolio image. Why anyone would want someone smoking as a portfolio image with smoking being so ostracised as unsocial and unhealthy these days eludes me.

We then move onto the actual images required which is a total of eleven.

They are –

1. Take 5 pictures with shutter speeds of 1s , 4s, 30s, 1min, 5 min
2. Dark figure against light background, light figure against dark background
3. A decisive moment
4. White cup challenge (see blog)
5. Sherlock challenge (see blog)
6. Take one photo that sums up the city of Hull to you

So here we have the final images as required. All technical details are within the blog along with my reasoning and decision process for my choices.

1. Take 5 pictures with shutter speeds of –

1 Second –


4 Seconds –


30 Seconds –


60 Seconds –


300 Seconds –

2. Dark figure against light background, light figure against dark background

Dark Figure –


Light Figure –

3. A decisive moment –

4. White cup challenge –

5. Sherlock challenge –

6. Take one photo that sums up the city of Hull to you


These short assignments should be handed in, in any order, at a set criteria of dates. I can only assume that “handed in” refers to publishing on this blog as it’s the blog our tutor is looking at and there is no reference to prints being required. This continuing ambiguity at degree level continues to annoy me with poorly worded task sheets.

Quote “Assignments (in any order) to be handed in:

31st Jan, 14th Feb, 28th Feb, 14th March, 28th March, 11th April (Or before)

To be uploaded  to your blog (page titled ‘short assignments 2’)
Assessment: this assignment will account for 10% of both SSP and Major projects.”

I just love the fact that this assignment will account for 10% of both my SSP and Major Projects for this semester. 2 of the images are just copying other images which in our tutors own words today “Nobody has ever managed”. Yes one is just a plastic cup so at least we have a fighting chance of getting near to replicating a similar image. As for the second I have already asked about for people who may have the old style tweed coat and trilby. As can possibly be guessed nobody I know has either. With the choice of using a cheap plastic smoking pipe or spending £100+ on an authentic replica for the image I can see this image is losing me marks already. Seems we are deliberately set up to fail at certain things which is most un amusing.

The images we are to copy –

Rathbone As Holmes

And the plastic “cup” –


Obviously I will keep this updated as and when my own personal time allows. Great to see we are already into individual tutorials rather than lectures NOT so I have another day off tomorrow with money wasted on childcare AGAIN as I’m not one of those in. Well I’m off to show the happy couple the Xmas wedding photo’s tomorrow afternoon so at least I can get up there early.

18th Jan 2014

Back from an afternoons work covering the local gymnastics and had the equipment/props for an idea with the decisive moment. Chloe had won some smarties on the raffle so we popped into the studio and created this image. We had discussed what we would do with the smarties, her pose & how I would shoot on the way home so this didn’t take too long. It is my intention to bag the images for this “assignment” asap giving me time to concentrate on the more important main modules for the semester.


Technicals are 100mm macro, 1/125th sec, f/13 & ISO 100

21st Jan 2014

So today I thought about the white cup. Being informed as a group that no student has ever copied the image is in no way encouraging but I was determined to at least have a good try at it. Studying the image it would appear that this is one of the old style white plastic cups that were so much thicker than its modern version. The old version could and would cut you if you squeezed and split it wrongly. The old version also sprang almost entirely back into it’s original shape after being crushed also, again something the new flimsy thin version doesn’t do.

So for lighting we were told a maximum of two lights allowed, a rather key part missing from the issued brief which just showed a photo of a plastic cup.

As these cups are virtually see through in ambient daylight I set about firstly isolating light to get the shadow in the ribs and around the rim. I used barn doors, snoot, slit paper and pin hole through black card in an effort to control the light. Once I had a similar lighting effect, to the copy image, I set about the background. This was simply a floor light 2 stops above the key light over the cup. I don’t have a product table and don’t want one either, as I have no interest in product photography, so I had the obvious line in my image from foreground to background. Some tinkering with the lights all but eradicated this but not completely. You may also notice that in one image the cup looks much darker. This was were I filled it with milk in an attempt to block light in the hope of accentuating the rib shadows. It didn’t work either as with the cups being so thin the off white of the milk overpowered the plastic.

Spent about an hour in total messing about with this. Though my current image is far from the image we were given I doubt that a second attempt will be considered unless I am well ahead on my main module images for April and May respectively. Should I come across one of the old style, thick plastic, cups then I will of course re-shoot.

Here is a contact sheet showing some of the development in lighting as I altered the modifiers and angles building up to the final image. You can clearly see that the final image was with an alternative lens to all the others and a bit of WB adjustment too.


And here is my current final image for the white cup.


31st Jan 2014

Not entirely sure if this comes under the status of “figure” but saw this and thought of a dark figure against a light background. I’ll seek clarification on “figure” but even so I just loved the angles, lines and shape the pylon offered from this position. Lifeless grey, but bright, sky helped on this occasion too.

Odd how such a representation of everyday life potentially covered an image.


For the technical geeks it is 50mm, f/2.8, 1/80th sec and iso 100

Edit – 3/2/14

Had a quick dig about today regarding the definition of figure and this pylon does indeed come under the definition. I will therefore use this image as part of the light/dark figure challenge. Encouraged as we are to find ideas “out of the box” I think this qualifies nicely.

Quote from the Oxford Dictionary (British & World English)

“A shape which is defined by one or more lines in two dimensions (such as a circle or a triangle), or one or more surfaces in three dimensions (such as a sphere or a cuboid), either considered mathematically in geometry or used as a decorative design: a red ground with white and blue geometrical figures”

10th February 2014

So here below is my version of the Shelock image we were asked to copy.

The basic criteria of copying the image was to use a maximum of two lights. The lighting was very hard and so I used 2 x 60° reflectors to mimic this. The original image actor had a superb nose for the Rembrandt effect. I was unable to find such a nose so my Dad bravely stepped up for the challenge.

My Dad was also able to provide the overcoat and hat, once we were told the heavy tweed effect hat and coat in the original did not need to be used, which certainly helped.

I set the lighting up to create, as near as possible, the rembrandt effect and the lighting to the rear of the subject. I mixed 20° & 30° honeycombs with subtle height adjustments of the heads until the lighting was as I liked. Unfortunately my Dads coat collar was not as deep as the copy image and so I had light leak onto his ear, unlike the copy. This also caused light spill between the back of his head and the spot on the cheek which the collar, on the original, obliterated with its size.

The hand and pipe were then adjusted to give the illuminated back of the hand whilst maintaining some rim light outline on the pipe.

Overall I’m happy with the outcome though having a truly massive collared tweed coat, roll brim tweed hat and a model with a straight pointed nose may have made things more akin to the original.

No cropping whatsoever and just a B&W conversion via Greyscale.


50mm, f/8, 1/125th and ISO 100. 2 x Bowens 750 Pro lights used.

18th Feb 2014

A trip to Whitby gave me an excellent opportunity to potentially get some of the long exposure images required for my “Short Assignments 2”. Packed my tripod, ND filters and off we went.

Managed to get a few of reasonable images that I liked. The actual taking of the images is not exactly rocket science and indeed rather simple after a few years of trying. Calculating the additional exposure time for the strength of filter, f/stop and ISO is made even easier as most manufacturers now include charts, with the potential exposure conversions on, within the kit. The difficulty I find is choosing an actual scene which suits a long exposure. Water is the obvious choice for me as I just love the look given with such an exposure.

I ended up taking one from the top of the cliff overlooking the harbour wall. This resulted in giving the image being split by the wall. One side busy being battered by the heavy swell of the sea to the relative calmness of the harbour itself.

Some ghosting can be seen on the wall where people were walking about yet amazingly my kids stood still for the duration of this image being taken. The chap in front of them was moving slightly when a few potential big waves threatened him.


The technicals are 30mm, f/9, 30 sec & ISO 100.

All images are taken using a 10 stop Neutral Density filter unless stated.

The following images were taken from around the area where my kids were standing on the first image.


This was a 2 min exposure, f/10, 30mm and ISO 100


This was 6.5 sec, f/2.8, 30mm and ISO 100

This final image would possibly be one that I may use for my final five in the short assignments.

Moving across a little I used the walkway entering the sea to guide the eye into the scene. I also liked the cloud effects and direction of them which is always something to consider when long exposing with a large sky.


A 1 minute exposure, f/10, 24mm and ISO 100

19th Feb 2014

Continuing with my water theme, for the long exposure task, we had a family trip out to Aysgarth Falls today. We visited the upper, middle and lower falls and I took long exposures at all of them. Today however I concentrated on the specific timings, as per the task, for the images. The river and falls were very swollen and extremely dangerous. I have visited before in the summer when they are lower which gives many more opportunities for locating the trust tripod without fear of you and all your equipment being swept away to serious injury or untimely death. Common sense stated things would be conducted from a more than safe distance.

Firstly from the upper falls came this image. Though I would have liked to have been lower and, thus closer, to the water the state of the bank dictated otherwise. Yes I could have got down there but the water was running at the ledge height and no image is worth dying for.


30 Seconds, 24mm, f/7.1 and ISO 100 using 10 stop ND filter.

The middle falls were a little more complex to shoot owing to the limited space given on the embankment. I therefore decided to utilise the steps, down to the viewing point, as part of the image composition. The encroachment of the trees with the path leading down down to the platform, in my opinion, give an excellent leading line into the actual falls.


60 seconds, 35mm, f/5 and ISO 100

The final image comes from the lower falls. Only one way to shoot these and thats to get down onto the actual rocks at the side of the falls. Damp and covered in slime algae this was one trip I made alone. I assessed the situation and made the decision to shoot where my family could still see me. Whilst this was not potentially the best vantage point it was indeed the safest.


300 second exposure, f/16, 41mm and ISO 100.

Planned trips out over the next few days will see more long exposures with water but also some seriously different night work.

20th Feb 2014

I have decided to complete, at least, the 5 minute long exposure, for SA2, in a different way. I tested various light sources today and their effect during a long exposure in the studio. LED and flash appear to be the best for sheer light intensity. Several of my daughters toy lights just never made the grade at all. I also tried using a set of disco lights but they were simply too bright facing the lens. Facing away from the lens they just created a white light on the wall.

Having completed this exercise I am now ready to create a final product image. Owing to family commitments this will be completed tomorrow.

Firstly here are a few from the testing of light sources.


And the final idea, for the day, which I will be building upon.


300 seconds, f/8, 50mm and ISO 100.

21st Feb 2014

Probably my final image for the 5 min exposure.

As planned I returned to the studio today, with my family, to attempt a rather different 5 minute long exposure image. I had decided that the random red light trails were a little annoying and I was now going to spell out the word “Fear” with the light instead. This would also be flashing so the word “FEAR” was not so obvious. I also decided to omit the multi-coloured LED fairy wand as the earlier images looked just too busy. I had also decided to mix the lighting between the LED and flash. If you look carefully it is layered top to bottom in 3 layers, flash, painting & flash.

We rehearsed the whole process a couple of times and came in around the 4 min 50 sec on both occasions. Movements and process were methodical and done with care with only 2 small LED’s marking the outer of the frame on the studio floor for positioning purposes. The process was I wrote FEAR with flashing bike light, I then wrote Paul David Photography with single LED, then family standing left of centre & standing right of centre being light painted with LED, kneeling right of centre then left of centre lit with flash, daughter with skull seated lit with flash, me standing with skull lit by son with flash then myself with random red face lit with bike light whilst standing on a chair.

As a single exposure image I am extremely happy with this as something totally different to the usual long exposure production. Our year tutor has posted this comment during the week –

“Finally, apart from the ‘copy’ challenges, many images are so lacking in originality, creativity and the slightest hint of imagination that I am constantly falling asleep with boredom and hitting my head on the desk. This hurts. Please read the brief:

Hopefully this image will save his head from the alleged self abuse.

The lighting tools for the image are shown below along with the skull. Additionally a remote timing trigger was attached to my 5Diii to ensure the 300 second exposure.


The development process


And potentially my final image for the 5 minute exposure in SA2.


Technicals – 300 Sec, f/8, 47mm and ISO 100

22nd feb 2014

Back into the studio this morning with an idea that could qualify for 2 of the required parts of this SA2.

My initial idea was to complete the “Light figure on a dark background” segment. Using a plasma ball I began playing about with various shutter speeds and apertures which gave some nice effects. I then began adding further light, firstly with hand held LED’s and then LED’s swung on varying lengths of string. Mixed with the differing shutter speeds this gave several differing effects with the same light.

I finally got an image, which I was happy with, which just also happened to have an exposure time of 4 seconds so making it eligible for the exposures segment too.

Here is a quick contact sheet showing the development of the idea, those that looked good and those which were wiped out by the strength of the LED lighting.

The plasma sphere was placed onto a stool against my studios black background. 5Diii situated on tripod with external remote trigger/timer attached.


And the final image below. The additional light swirls were added by the LED light being swung on a length of string around the sphere.


Technicals 100mm macro, 4 sec, f/4 and ISO 100.

26th Feb 2014

In the studio today regarding something completely different but wanted to capture some smoke shots for a potential image I’m thinking about.

Having completed the shoot I simply inverted one of the smoke shots to create a “Dark figure against a light background” and obviously in it’s original form the reverse.

Arty enough to stop head banging on desk, doubt it but I like it anyway.


Created with just one incense stick and single flash.

This next image was taken whilst using 3 incense sticks later in the shoot to show the setup. You can see the single flash unit with barn doors attached.


100mm macro, f/8, 1/125th sec & ISO 100.

Another image from the 3 stick trial being Light on a dark background potential.


2nd March 2014

Finally completed the last of my booked portraits and now have a three week gap to construct and shoot my final major idea.

Whilst in the studio I wanted to test one of the proposed, FM, suits to see how it contrasted against the same coloured background. Though the final set will incorporate black and white stripes this gave a good interpretation of what can be expected.

It could also pass as light figure on a dark background or vice versa.


8th March 2014

4 second exposure.

Trip out today with the daughter and managed to grab a few images on our travels. This was the result of a 4 second exposure utilising a Lee 10 Stop filter combined with a Lee 0.6 Soft grad angled to cover the sky. Taken at Flamborough Head with the tide nicely out.


Just a quick idea on roughly how the grad was angled.


Starting to quite like the challenge of a good landscape image so investing in further Lee filters is now on the list of things to do.

12th March 2014

1 Second Exposure.

Popped out this morning with the intention of capturing something different for the 1 second exposure image. I had the idea of mechanical motion but couldn’t decide on bike, car, lorry or train etc. With all this in mind I set off on a walk alongside the railway lines near Brough. The bright spring sunshine didn’t help matters with an exposure of 1 second but having found a suitable position I metered up and then popped in my Lee 10 Stop filter. Camera was on a tripod with remote trigger attached with myself just sat on the embankment waiting for a train. Captured 3 in rather quick succession and had a few images which I liked.

I composed the image using the available leading lines, foreground, mid ground, horizon and used the signal box and signal gantry to assist in explaining what people were looking at.

The train in question is a twin coach passenger train. I did capture a very long freight train but the image appeared cut in half where the 2 carriage left plenty of mid ground image remaining.


1 sec, f3.5, 53mm and ISO 100

14th March 2014

An image which sums up the City of Hull to me.

Before people decide that the image I have taken for this is a negative one please realise this image is only one, of potentially many, that sum up Hull to me. This image does not represent what I see of, believe in or love about Hull.

Hull is a city full of culture and heritage and whilst still struggling from economic forces beyond it’s control is one to be proud of. This is where my “Sums up” image becomes personal to me and why I chose it. Literally anywhere you walk, within the city centre, you will find the pavements covered in an assortment of cigarettes, chewing gum and other assorted litter. This is something that I have often thought sums up the minority of mindless idiots who will moan when they can’t have things their own way or be denied something which makes their lives better yet happy to just drop cigarette tabs or flavourless chewing gum to the floor. Individuals who will probably moan about the state of Hull yet contribute to the issue of litter on a regular basis. Sadly this is prevalent throughout the UK in general.

Where did I get my picture of this litter ? Right outside the HSAD main doors. As I approached HSAD this morning two young ladies in front of me were smoking and simply tossed their butts to the floor as they opened the outer door. As I left just before lunch there was a lecturer finishing his cigarette whom also simply discarded it to the floor. What better place could I take this image than somewhere that people obviously have no respect for as students or tutors. I actually took a long look and just wondered what any potential student walking up the ramp would think will all the tab ends lining the wall. What worried me further was all the tutors including the Dean of HSAD walk in and out of the same doors every day. As the initial impression of the school it doesn’t say much about the attitude of what goes on inside. You may disagree with this but if you saw a B&B with an overgrown garden, dirty curtains & in need of painting would you be knocking on the door asking if there was room….no you wouldn’t.

Anyway here it is, my “Cig’ butts and stood on chewy” masterpiece 🙂


Technicals 100mm, f/8, 1/80th and ISO 100

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