Category Archives: Exercises

Exercise 4.2

Brief: In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day. It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk. You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata. In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.

I decided because of my imminent move to the North East that I would use a prop for this exercise that I could easily replicate if I needed to.  Additionally, as per the brief in the course notes I am thinking ahead to the assignment and my thoughts of possibly deconstructing a Dutch Masters still life painting to understand how they used the light on elements of their paintings.  Having researched this I settled on a lemon.

All shots were taken in a conservatory during 17th April; a day which started bright and sunny but became cloudter later.  The conservatory is north-east facing so the sun rose to the left of the lemon.

I used a Lumix GX7 with a 14-140mm Panasonic lens.  I set the ISO to 200 and WB to sunny/daylight.   I used a mixture of hand held and tripod mounted shots.

One interesting phenomena was the White Balance (WB).  When uploaded into Lightroom not all images were uniform.  There was a blue cast on some and therefore, I adjusted the  WB in the editing process together with some sharpening and a slight adjustment to exposure on some of the other images.


In this shot the light is quite soft producing long shadows but bright highlighting  the lemon at the bottom left hand side.  The shadow of the window frame is just visible in the right hand corner.  The contrast is high, demonstrated by the way in which the  light is falling on the lemon and no/little light entering the shadow and the relatively hard edges of the shadow.



An hour later and the sun has moved round to throw the lemon into complete shade, this produces a lower contrast image of the lemon.  There are still a couple of bright spots on the lemon coming from the reflection of the window glass.  The shadow of the window frame has changed the way in which the light falls on the lemon.  The light does not strike the lemon however he light falling on the table is also of  slightly lower contrast as seen in the softer edges of the shadows except for the square of light in the upper left to middle area where it remains bright on the table.  This is because the size of the light source (the sun) has grown larger as it rises in the sky.


Ninety minutes later and the sun has now moved back to the left of the lemon with more of the light focused onto the side. The contrast is high again, producing hard edged shadows behind the lemon where no light is hitting the table.  The whole image appears bright with the hard light of the morning sun.


Another hour and the shadows to the top of the table have now disappeared with the effect of the whole image being brighter.  The light is now hard across the whole of the shot and the reflected light from the window is no longer visible as seen at 7.46 am.


As the sun is moving to it’s highest point at midday  once again the lemon is in the shadow of the frame of the conservatory which has the effect of a much lower contrast of the shot as seen at 7.46 am producing softer light and soft edges to the shadow.  However, there is one spot of light falling on the middle left of the lemon.  This was one of the images where the WB was not quite right and was producing a slight bluey cast to the shot.  My edit included changing it to a cloudy WB which produced a more pleasing effect.  Interestingly the Auto in LR produced a very blue effect.

12.00.56 a.
12.00.56 b.

Image is the unedited shot of image b.  There is evidence of the blue cast appearing at the top of the image on the table.  I applied the same edit as the 11.11.12 shot.  In shot unedited the highlights falling on the lemon from the high, bright midday sun is blown out.  When I edited image the highlights came back into range.

The high, bright sun is creating a hard light with very hard edged shadows behind the lemon and the light falling very near to the top of the lemon as would be expected on a bright sunny day.


Just over three quarters of an hour later and the shadows have almost gone.  There is just the slightest shadow underneath the lemon.  At this point it was beginning to get cloudy and the light is now softer and more diffuse. The dynamic range on a sunny day produces bright highlights and very black shadows which produce images that lack detail and have hotspots (as seen in the unedited 12 midday shot) whereas, on a cloudy day the clouds take the light and diffuse it so that there is no bright light source falling on the subject or scene creating a more forgiving light that compliments the subject with pleasant tones.

17.42.51 (unedited) a.


17.42.51 b.

The afternoon was cloudy and now (just before sunset) the light remains diffuse and the slightest shadow remains below the lemon.  By now the colour cast is much more pronounced as seen in the unedited version. Although, in this shot there are no blown out highlights.


The sun has now set and the diffuse light continues.  This is the edited version with the WB changed from Daylight to Shade.  Some light is falling on the right hand side of the lemon, probably a reflection from the glass window.  Although, there were no lights on in the conservatory there were lights on in the house adjacent to the conservatory.  Very little shadow is apparent.

Reflection and Learning

Although the day was bright for most of the time the White Balance of the camera needed to be changed to reflect how the light was falling on the lemon.  When the lemon itself was in shade the WB would have been better set on shade and not daylight.

When I first reviewed these shots I thought many of them were very similar but on doing an in depth critique the light actually changed in more ways than I’d anticipated.

The dynamic range of the camera is greatest in the brightest light when the camera captures both strong highlights and dark areas.  I didn’t pay enough attention to this and didn’t review the histograms as critically as I might, assuming that the camera would actually meter on the lemon and the WB would be right when the exposure was correct.  All of the shots I took were properly exposed according to the histogram.  In future I will not rely on the histogram alone to assess the shots.















Exercise 4.1

“Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes. Photograph a dark tone (such as a black jacket), a mid-tone (the inside of a cereal packet traditionally makes a useful ‘grey card’) and a light tone (such as a sheet of white paper), making sure that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus). Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.”

For this exercise I used A4 black and white cards and the inside of a cereal box.  Unfortunately, the cereal box had a number of creases in it which can be seen in the images.  However, I decided that this did not detract from the aim of the exercise and I would still be able to demonstrate  the exposures for each shot.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.41.05IMG_1585


Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.41.17IMG_1586

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.40.52IMG_1587

The three above images were taken using a Canon 5D Mk 3 on semi-automatic using Aperture priority.  I originally set my camera to fully automatic mode and the camera could not focus which confused me at first.  I posted a query onto the OCA blog as to why this should be and then on reflection realised that it was because there were not enough tones in the shots to help the camera focus.  I received a number of helpful replies which confirmed this so I first of all took the auto focus off and then set the camera to Aperture priority.

As predicted and described in the course text the camera exposed for all three cards in the mid tone.  This is described in the histograms and the similarity of tone in each of the images.

“Set your camera to manual mode. Now you can see your light meter! The midtone exposure is indicated by the ‘0’ on the meter scale with darker or lighter exposures as – or + on either side. Repeat the exercise in manual mode, this time adjusting either your aperture or shutter to place the dark, mid and light tones at their correct positions on the histogram. The light and dark tones shouldn’t fall off either the left or right side of the graph. Add the shots to your learning log with sketches of their histograms and your observations.”

Grey cereal box card

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.57.37Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.57.47


The creases on the cereal box are clear in these images.  However, the histogram shows that the shutter speed of 1.3 seconds is probably the better exposure of the two shots.


White Card

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.03.17 Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.02.41


Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.07.35 Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.07.52

These two images are both taken with the same aperture and ISO  but with a longer exposure of 6secs in the first image compared to 1.6 secs in the second.  Although the histogram is well to the right in the longer exposure there is no loss of detail and the highlights are not blown out producing a closer replica to the white card than the second image.  The shorter exposure although not on 0 of the light meter is clearly beginning to move towards the mid-tone.

Black Card

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.14.37 Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.14.59

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.16.43 Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.16.28

With the black card I opened up the aperture to it’s widest setting and increased the ISO to 400.  Although not quite so clear on this resolution, in light room the 1/8 sec exposure looks more grey than the longer exposure. As seen in the images of the white card the histogram is close to the edge but there appears to be no loss of detail and the darks are not blown out.

Exercise 2.7

Use a combination of small apertures and wide lens to take a number of photographs exploring deep depth of field. Because of the small apertures you’ll be working with slow shutter speeds and may need to use a tripod or rest the camera on a stable surface to prevent ‘camera shake’ at low ISOs. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.

I shot this exercise several times.  Demonstrating depth of field seemed to be a simple exercise I managed to confuse myself twice!  The first when I downloaded my sequence I truly thought that using my 24mm-105 lens that I’d shot at around 25mm but when I checked I’d shot everything at 80mm focal length!  The second time I did not manage to get close enough to the canal boats to achieve the feeling of “being in the shot”, so my third attempt was to set up some bottles on the table at home and demonstrate, using a 17 -40mm wide angle lens and with an ISO of 400 because of the extremely dull conditions I managed to more effectively demonstrate depth of field using small apertures and wide angle view.

Image 1

OCA Exercise 2.7DOF-8712

ISO 250, FL35mm, f22@ 1/15sec

Image 2

OCA Exercise 2.7DOF-8711

ISO250, FL 35mm, f20 @ 1/15sec

Image 3

OCA Exercise 2.7DOF-8707

ISO250, FL35mm, f8, 1/125sec.

Not only did I not get close enough to the barges but all of the images are slightly under exposed.  The actual difference in focus between the foreground and background show very subtle differences which can really only be seen when the image is blown up at 3:1 ratio.  This is the same for the indoor images too.

Image 4

OCA Exercise 2.7DOF-8727

ISO400, FL22mm, f22 @ 1/10sec

Image 5OCA Exercise 2.7DOF-8725

ISO400, FL22mm, f16 @1/20sec

Image 6

OCA Exercise 2.7DOF-8722

ISO400, FL22mm, f8 @1/80sec.

In this second set of images the small screw in the foreground is out for focus between f8 and f14 but then becomes increasingly clearer up to f22.

None of my attempts are particularly imaginative or in fact well composed.  I seem to be having trouble assessing the closeness of the image even when using live view on the camera. Something I need to work on.

PART TWO: Imaginative spaces


Exercise 2.1

Brief: Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use: rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do it for you

All shots taken in Lincoln Cathedral using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Canon 24-105mm f4.0 L ISM lens.  All shots were taken just before 10.30am.  The light in the cathedral was really tricky and I had to play around with the ISO to get the best shots using the same Aperture setting of f5.0.

Image 1

Lincoln Cathedral 11/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL 32mm,  ISO 1600

Image 2


Lincoln Cathedral 2

1/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL50 mm,  ISO 3200

Image 3

Lincoln Cathedral 3

1/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL 67mm,  ISO 3200

Image 4

Lincoln Cathedral 41/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL 105mm,  ISO 12800

Does zooming in from a fixed viewpoint change the appearance of things? If you enlarge and compare individual elements within the first and last shots, you can see that their ‘perspective geometry’ is exactly the same. To change the way things actually look, a change in focal length needs to be combined with a change in viewpoint.

Using a telephoto lens has a narrow angle of view which means that the relative size of objects are normalised when compared to those further away.

Focal length

narrow view

Cambridge in Colour: A learning community for photographers [Accessed 18th October 2015]

I had to check the Exif data twice on the last two shots because I was really surprised that the difference between the two shots was miniscule.  This was despite increasing the focal lens by 38mm whereas, the increase in focal length between 2 and 3 was only 17mm and there is a considerable change in the appearance of the organ or at least the amount of area that can be seen around the organ.

As the perspective moves further towards the organ the dynamic points of the lines of pillars and ceiling arches disappear and the detail on the arches themselves become more pronounced and visible.

Image 1 demonstrates the sheer scale of this magnificent building whereas the others shots begin to allow the viewer to appreciate the complexity and beauty of the detail.

Exercise 1.3 (2) Line

Take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space. To avoid the effects of perspective, the sensor/film plane should be parallel to the subject and you may like to try a high viewpoint (i.e. looking down). Modern architecture offers strong lines and dynamic diagonals, and zooming in can help to create simpler, more abstract compositions. Review your shots from both parts of Exercise 1.3. How do the different lines relate to the frame? There’s an important difference from the point exercises: a line can leave the frame. For perpendicular lines this doesn’t seem to disrupt the composition too much, but for perspective lines the eye travels quickly along the diagonal and straight out of the picture. It feels uncomfortable because the eye seems to have no way back into the picture except the point that it started from. So for photographs containing strong perspective lines or ‘leading lines’, it’s important that they lead somewhere within the frame.


Images of 1 and 2 are of a roller blind shutter,  Image 1 taken from inside the house when it was starting to open and image 2 the same position of the shutter taken from outside.  Image 3 is of a wooden outbuilding.  I changed the angle to see what happened.  I was not around any tall buildings with a suitable ground subject at the time of doing this exercise.

OCA Exercise 1.3 lines-1080020

Image 1

OCA Exercise 1.3 lines-1080013

Image 2

OCA Exercise 1.3 lines-1080017

Image 3

All images were taken with a Lumix DMC GX7 using a 14-42 mm lens.   All with a 30mm focal length to eliminate (on the inside shot) the vertical lines of the window frame and the other two to retain a consistency in the comparison.

I think the interesting thing that happens in images 2 and 3 is that light and shade make a difference to the feel of the shot.  In 2 the light reflecting on the PVC roller shutter because the slats are not entirely flattened and the texture in image 3 adding shade to the deeper grooves of the wood.  This then gives a slight sense of depth in the shots.

However, in all shots the eye has nowhere to rest (Frost L, 2010) and is led out of the frame.

My understanding between “cropping” and “framing” is that a “cropped” view is where the reaches the edge of the frame and a “framed” view is where the subject is composed within the frame and usually obeys the Rule of Thirds.

There are occasions when using a cropped view is intentional and works.  This usually  is presented as an abstract shot.


building-pattern (2)

Both the above shots lead the eye out of the frame but as abstract shots they work.  The Luke Casey shot because it demonstrates the perspective and size of the building and although the second shot is not as obvious as the first to what it is has strong contrasts.

Reviewing my previous work there are definitely, some shots that work better because of the composition e.g. Image 3 in Exercise 1.3 (1).  Although this has a leading diagonal line there is nothing to focus on towards the top right corner and the eye is taken out of the shot.  The same could be said of Image 4, although this is a better composed shot generally if I had been able to angle the shot so that more road appeared toward the top right hand corner it would work better.  I  tried several shots to try to achieve this but was not able to because of the fence.

Exercise 1.3 (1)

Exercise 1.3 (1) Lines

Take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. Shooting with a wide-angle-lens (zooming out) strengthens a diagonal line by giving it more length within the frame. The effect is dramatically accentuated if you choose a viewpoint close to the line.

All shots were taken with a Lumix DMC GX7 camera set on iA (Intelligent Auto) using a 14-42mm lens.

Although the brief was to zoom out with a wide-angle lens, in some of my shots in order to eliminate distracting elements I zoomed in as seen in the first three images.



Image 1 – Focal Length 40mm

The reason for zooming in on this shot was because there was another lock bridge at the start of the main bridge across a weir and it changed the perspective and angle of the shot, distracting the eye from the focal point of the sign on the other side of the canal.

There is a less strong sense of depth to this shot for two reasons. The first is the close crop of the shot and the second the blurred background (because of the auto setting of the camera).


 Image 2 – Focal Length 40 mm

In this shot the foreground is shop but the background is blurred. Zuckermann (2009) suggests that to achieve the best effect and greatest sense of depth the whole scene should be sharp.

In setting the camera to Auto I had no control over the camera and this shot was the outcome. However, I think that it achieves a certain mystery by leading the eye into the distance where the viewer can make out a bridge and something white (in this case a boat), which in itself may intrigue the viewer.

By shooting low for this shot I was trying to achieve a greater sense of depth.



 Image 3 – Focal Length 40 mm

Another shot at 40mm, which does not work very well. Although there is a sense of depth, the close crop of the shot and the lack of focal point in the background only achieves to lead the eye out of the frame.


lines 3jpg

Image 4 – Focal length 14 mm

In image 4 I endeavoured to get a shot with a foreground subject in an attempt to engage the viewer more at the beginning of the shot and to create the sense of distance between the foreground and the background.   I tried to use the long footpath curving into the distance to create a more subtle composition than straight converging leading lines, whilst retaining the sense of depth.

“Diagonal lines help convey depth as they suggest distance and perspective…. have more energy than horizontal or vertical lines producing a dynamic energy”. Garvey –Williams (2014)[1]



 Image 5 – Focal length 14 mm

In this shot I was attempting to use the strong converging lines to take the eye from the foreground directly to the trees and threatening sky in the distance, as a main focal and vanishing point. However, the puddles and wet ground act as a bit of a distraction and although the eye follows the converging lines it is immediately taken back to the centre of the shot where the puddles are, thus lessening the effect of what I had intended.

The effect of converging lines is also heightened if you included the vanishing point (the point where the lines appear to meet on the horizon), as it provides a resting place for the eye”. (Frost L. 2010)[2].


lines 5Image 6 – Focal length 14 mm

I have included Image 6 in my Learning Log because I liked the way the image of the railway bridge and its reflection provided a converging line that draws the eye towards the canoe slalom poles.   The reason it is not such a strong image is because I was not able to get further back to create a greater depth of field and I could not get any higher from the ground (without step ladders) to look down towards the shot. However, it does demonstrate the use of reflections in leading lines.

[1] Garvey-Williams R. (2014), Mastering Composition. Ammonite Press, East Sussex

[2] Frost L. (2010), The A-Z of Creative Photography, Revised Edition. David and Charles Ltd. Newton Abbot.