Advanced Studio Practice 2A – Sunset – Test Shot 4

Research Outcomes: 1 (contact sheets in research folder, 1a, b, c, and 4)

114911252 1155Introduction:

Following on from testing out sunset shots (see test 3) in both a technical and conceptual way, I have continued to compare the urban landscape sunset with the rural (prior to travelling to complete the rural task, I have found this idea of testing continuously very useful for gaining confidence with my photography overall. On this occasion, I decided to focus on the sky comparing it with the urban landscape using a pole with lead in telegraph wires so that they compliment the photograph rather than detract from it thereby adding an interesting element. i additionally made some compositions with a tree against the sky where I attempted to isolate it from the surrounding urban skyline, isolating it from the rest of the subject as the contrast of the sky as a backdrop made for an interesting composition, so, in this particular case, special attention had to be given to the framing of the photograph.


Testing the camera’s capacity to record the skyline in order to create an abstract I used an aperture of between f/4-f/6.3 working with an ISO of 100, and in RAW, I altered the exposure to compensate for light loss from between 1/15th of a second to 1/80th of a second. In shots 1147, 48, 9, 50 and 51 I stayed with f/6.3. From shots 1170 at f/4.5 to f/4 (photos 1170 – 1188), a better histogram was recorded. I then determined to alter the exposure once I was happy recording at the aperture and ISO. I removed any additional noise in Photoshop.

1171 1173 1175


After having completed this exercise several times, I am now comfortable at working with apertures and shutter speeds recording any fall out and looking at the histogram to help me to determine which aperture and speed works better for sunset photography in an urban environment. I am wary that light pollution may have an effect on the amount of light available within an urban environment as opposed to a rural environment and will need to factor this in when accounting for light inclusion or intrusion.

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What were my aims and have I achieved them?

My aims were to test out the aesthetic of an urban sunset and compare it with a rural sunset. I achieved some interest by focussing on different elements of a sunset which demonstrates a variety of environmental and landscape settings. I would like to have more time to explore the urban environment as I liked the effect of sky against the landscape as there is an industrialised beauty to these compositions. I envisage that I can further these aims in the future by including chimneys in the background as silhouettes but for now I have focussed more on my journey as a photographer revisiting a childhood landscape i.e. The Northumberland Coastline.

What have I done?

I have taken a series of urban photography sunsets testing out my technical knowledge and conceptual ideas to portray the urban environment of Bradford to its best advantage.

What have I got from it?

These urban experiments have turned out to be (for me) something of a revelation. I enjoy watching the contrast of the urban against the skylines. Technically speaking f/4 seems to be the best aperture to work with in these kind of conditions as it clearly demonstrated a better histogram. The exposure settings varied but not considerably, this must be due therefore to the light compensation. It will be interesting to make comparisons between the effects of saturated urban light in comparison with what ought to be a less obscured natural light within a rural environment. My next investigation will be taking place at Embsay Reservoir near Skipton. I believe that the further North I travel that the light pollution ought to be less (i.e. Saltburn by the Sea and Bamburgh respectively). If I begin my next work where I have left off with test shots 1, 2, 3 and 4 I will be in a great place to record and investigate further.

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Exhibition, magazines and online/editorial news – possibly carrying out research alongside on light pollution, so any weather/climate magazines/news concerns regarding the environment may effect my photography.

Overall Evaluation/What is next?

As these were a series of test shots my aesthetic composition focused on emphasising the contrast between the colours present in the sky and the urban skyline. The colours are particularly pleasing and I achieved some great results. They were however, intended to inform my project overall and will be put into best practice on this occasion. On reflection the lighting in the compositions of the urban environment appear darker yet the pinks appear more pronounced. This knowledge helps to inform my practice but may have been due purely to the different cloud formations and the colour compositions. However, the lighing in a rural capacity appeared to be a deeper blue. Additional research will be required to understand this in the context of light pollution to see if any other photographers experience the same lighting comparisons. If light pollution is going to be a major factor in my compositions and my approach to conceptual thinking then I will need to address this in the future.

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