Category Archives: Part 4 – People Interacting with Place

5 – Selective processing and prominence

 For this exercise I used a picture that I took as part of a series in January when I was working on a project based on winter in a British seaside resort which I was considering using for my fourth assignment. In the end I didn’t use these picture but this one seemed a good subject for this exercise. I do not particularly like this picture but when I took it I liked the idea of the fluorescent green jacket worn by one of the walkers brightening up what was a cold and dull day.

In the original picture the figures are quite prominent although the sea wall to the right does tend to make a viewer look into the distance away from the walkers.

To try and make the walkers more prominent I have lightened the rocks in the above their heads and the sand to their left. I also used a graduate filter to darken the sea wall so it is less distracting to the viewer. I obviously could have tried cropping the image to make the figures more prominent by removing the distracting sea wall but I felt that would not satisfy the brief for this exercise.

Making the figures less prominent was difficult given the bright jacket the man of the right was wearing. In the picture below I tried to make the people less obvious by adding emphasis to other elements on the frame. I started by adding a graduated filter to darken the sky, increase its contrast and saturation giving a brighter blue sky with the wind farm in the distance becoming more obvious. After this I darkened the rocks so they become a much more dominant feature. I also increased the saturation of the red ice cream banner in the top right and used a brush with a high clarity setting to add some texture to the concrete wall and path in an attempt to add something visually interesting to what was a dull area of the frame.

While the figures are still an important part of this frame I believe that they are much less prominent than in the original frame.




4 – Balancing Figure and Space

The brief for this exercise was to produce two pictures from broadly the same viewpoint that vary the balance of attention between a person and the setting they are in. I took the two pictures below on Ely station while waiting for a train. They were taken a few minutes apart from within a few feet of each other.

In the first picture I wanted to capture the idea of someone walking down the platform on their way home after a day at work.

While in the second picture I was trying to capture the overall ambience of the station with a few isolated figure waiting to their train. I think I really took this picture a few seconds too late, the train is just arriving at the platform but it has slowed down enough that the motion blur is not evident. If I had turned a little further to the left  and capture the train 20 yards or more early when it was going faster the picture may have been more successful.

These were two of the first pictures I took shortly after getting an iPhone 7 plus and when I took them I was really trying to work out what the capabilities of the camera were in low light as well as looking for pictures for the exercise. If I took these pictures again I think I would choose to do it in brighter light because or choose a different scene because I think the high level on noise reduction applied by the iPhone have reduced the sharpness to a level I am not completely happy with.

3 – Making Figures Anonymous

Over a couple of months I walk around taking many pictures in which I trid to use anonymous figures to add interest to an image without making them the dominate feature of a picture. I tried the various techniques discussed in the notes and include the four very different images below as examples.

Motion Blur

In the picture below I wanted to capture the shape of teh spiral stair case in isolation of its surounding with the geometric shapes of the wooden stairs, the black rails and concrete walls dominating the image. In the end I felt that the blurred images of people walking up and down added interest and an element of softness that was missing from the rather stark arhitecture.


Small and Many

This pictures shows the crowds in Convent Garden reflected in the stainless steel facing on a building. the steel plate is not perfectly flat and has visible joins beween panels so it adds additional interest to the image and further anonymises the figures.


Partly Obsucured

In this picture the woman walking round behind the blankets or wall hangings gives a sense of sclae to this picture would otherwise be missing. Without the figure there would not be a sense of how large these pices really were.


Facing Away

I like this picture because it really tells a story, the three girsl are taking a rest on a decorated swinging garden seat, presumably after a hard days sopping judging by the bags at their feet. The woman in muslim dress seems to be staring at them wishing they would move on so she could take a rest as does the woman fiddling with her phone on the right.



2 – Busy Traffic

The Burlington Arcade

For nearly two centuries the  Burlington Arcade between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens hs been an exclusive shopping destination in the west end of London. It is a relatively narrow covered shopping arcade which is usually busy at weekends but on a Sunday afternoon about a month before Christmas it is jam packed. I took the picture below just after dusk, i wanted to give the impression of a large number of people and use the Christmas decorations to give a sense of the length of the arcade. I also wait for a slight lull in the crowd so that there a some unobstructed views of shop windows on both sides of the frame to show the sort of goods on sale.

Burlington Arcade

I like the sense of depth that the Christmas lights and roof lights give this image and the way these contrast with the scrum of dark figures in the forground. It was not obvious to me that many people were buying anything while I was taking photographs and at the time (around 4:30pm) I took this I thought most people looked like they were pretty fed up and really just wanted to go home.

1 – A Single Figure Small

The Aysgarth Falls

The Aysgarth water falls are a popular beauty spot in the Yorkshire Dales attracting large numbers of tourists every day in the summer months. When I took this picture, I wanted to show the beauty of the location but also keep the figure large enough so it is clear she is sitting texting or reading email apparently oblivious to the landscape around her. I positioned the about two thirds up the frame but perhaps a little to close to the right and edge. I wanted someone viewing the picture to be initially drawn to the figure and then look more into the landscape.


It was quite a dull day when I took this picture and that perhaps makes this picture less successful than it could be on a brighter day the beauty of the scene may have been more obvious. Also the overcast day means the trees on the left bank of the river are quite dark did lighten these in post processing but perhaps I was not bold enough?