Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Unit 31 Specialist Location Photography - Night Photography

For my Specialist Location brief I have decided to do Night Photography, Urban Landscapes.

I really like pictures taken at night with all the lights and ambiance that comes with it.  
As with my other work I am carrying on the theme of shooting in my home-town of Manchester.  
I have been doing some research online and have earmarked some locations where  I would like to try and recreate some of the shots that I have seen.  
One location I am really looking forward to photographing is Media City.  
The image below was taken by Andrew Brooks and although it has been digitally manipulated I love it, I love the colours, reflections everything. 

Media City is an amazing place to take night photography, the colours and reflections really make an impressive picture.

I have decided to digitally manipulate my final shots to really maximise the sky, water and colours.

Task One

SWOT Analysis
Growing Confidence in manually using my camera

Good with Photoshop and Lightroom

Like to experiment


I have a good vision of how I want image to be

Lack of experience in certain areas of photography

Need to be more confident in my own ability

Organisation of files

Competition entry

Sell images online or elsewhere

Approach Media City, Britannia Hotel etc with my images, see if they like them


Security, if need to gain access to a good place to shoot

Lots of other photographers have taken same images

What is Location Photography

Location photography is where you go to the subject rather than the subject coming to you.  There are many different types of location photography, I have outlined a number of them below.


Photo by Susan David

Architectural photography is the photographing of buildings and similar structures which are aesthetically pleasing and accurate representations of their subjects.  Architectural photography could also cross-over with documentary as it is a snapshot in time of a certain area and how it looks that will probably have changed in the future.


Photo by Caroline Golton

Documentary photography chronicles and records significant and historical events.The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective and usually candid photographs of a certain subject usually people but can be anything.  It can cross-over with other genres such as architecture, events, wedding, sports, and street to name but a few.


Photo by Caroline Golton

Commercial Photography is images taken for commercial purposes, such as advertising, corporate publications, brochures, restaurant menus etc.  Basically, commercial photography involves a client that wants to sell or promote something for which they need photographs taken.  Commercial photography is an umbrella for many different types of photography such as, fashion, still life, food, advertising and many more.


Photo by Kerry Diamond

Event photography involves documenting a certain event.  
This can range from a festival of 5000 people to a small intimate gathering.  It can also be used to document sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup.  It can be used to photograph fashion shows.  Event photography crosses over with documentary, sporting, wedding and fashion.


Photo by Elizavea Porodina

This is a genre of photography devoted to the display of clothing and other fashion related items.  Over the years it has evolved and taken on a whole new style with exotic locations and images that could also be classed as fine art images.  Could also be linked with documentary, portraiture and event.


Photo by John Kiely

Landscape photography shows different spaces around the world.  The photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also be used to document changes or disturbances of landscapes or man-made features.  Landscape photographers often attempt to document the space as well as convey an appreciation of the scenery.
In this respect landscape definitely crosses with documentary and also fine art.


Photo by Caroline Golton

Portrait photography or portraiture is one of the most common forms of photography.  It is the art of capturing a subject in this case a person or group of people in which the face, facial features and facial expressions are all predominant.  What a portrait photographer tries to aim for is to focus on the persons face.  
This doesn't mean that the persons body will no longer be included, they can still be included in the image for it to still be classed as portraiture but the focus or emphasis should be on the persons face or facial expression.


Photo by Mark Pain

Tom Jenkins of The Guardian says "Sports photography is all about seizing the moment, capturing the drama and telling a story."   This is very true as capturing the action at its peak is the ultimate goal.  Whether it be a high paced Premier League football match or a more relaxed Golf tournament, capturing the action is a must.  It can also be classed as documentary as it is a moment in time and depending on what you capture it could also be a historical moment.


Photo by Dan Eardley

There is not just one thing that defines street photography.  It is about capturing the emotion and expressions of people but also capturing the urban environment.  It is basically taking photographs on the street, finding art and beauty in ordinary places and ordinary people and having the skill to compose them in a clever way.  It crosses with documentary as you are capturing a moment in time that will never be the same  again, it could also be classed as portraiture if your subject is a person and also landscape if your subject is the urban landscape.


Photo by Kerry Diamond

Wedding photography is the capturing of activities relating to weddings.  It can involve taking pictures of the couple before the wedding for use on invites, thank you cards etc as well as coverage of the wedding and reception.  You could also class wedding photography as documentary and portraiture.

Task Two

For my Specialist Location brief I have chosen Landscape photography, night time urban photography to be precise.  As I said at the beginning I wanted to imitate some of Andrew Brook's work without using montage techniques.  I have also researched a number of other photographers whose influences I aim to inject into my images.  

Andrew Brooks

Angelic View by Andrew Brooks

Photo by Andrew Brooks

Andrew Brooks is a photographer, digital artist and film-maker who spends hours in a darkened studio striving to show us the bigger picture.  Weeks, months and sometimes years can pass by as he re-touches picture after picture, to create the perfect moment.  In recent years his vision has evolved into large panoramic scenes of nature and forensically detailed cityscapes.  It gives his work a timeless, fantastical appeal capturing the imagination of the public and landing high profile international projects such as the Hidden City Series and commissions by the BBC. 

In his picture Angelic View (top of Town Hall, Manchester) 
he gave the usual dull grey working class city a visual make-over so exciting, he made it look like a scene from Tim Burton's Batman!
Ref.  www.andrewbrooksphotography.com

Mike Curry

Photo by Mike Curry

Mike Curry is a landscape photographer based in London.  He started out life as a photographer by blagging his way into a job at the renowned Selfridges Portrait Studio even though he had no portfolio and didn't even own a camera!  He was thrown in at the deep end on his first assignment of photographing Arab and Nigerian royalty, no doubt this was a daunting first task but Mike accomplished it and was soon running the studio.  He left Selfridges to start his own portrait business, which has been his bread and butter for the past 27 years.

Mike's image above is similar to the work I am trying to create.  I love the lights and reflections in his work as well as the contrast between the darks and the lights.  

Ryan Budhu

Photo by Ryan Budhu

Ryan Budhu is an amazing photographer from New York.  
On his Flickr account he describes himself as "just a guy who mostly just tries to capture things I see whilst living in Downtown Manhattan."  As you can see from the image above there are titbits from his work that are visible in my own.  To get the smoothness of the water Ryan has used a long shutter speed, which has also beautifully captured all of the lights and reflections in this Manhattan skyline.  I love it!  Most of Ryan's images are taken from rooftops which really show New York at it's best.

Photo by Ryan Budhu

You can find out more about Ryan at www.ryanbudhu.com

Ansel Adams

Photo by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams was an American photographer better known for his black and white landscapes using an 8X10 large format camera.  Although Ansel's work does not directly influence my own work, I felt I should  include him as he photographed the American landscapes that he loved as I am doing with my Manchester images.  
I think you have to enjoy what you are seeing in order to photograph it, that way your vision really shines through.

Photo by Ansel Adams

Felix Bonfils

Photo by Felix Bonfils

I really like the image above by Felix Bonfils, again although it is not directly influencing me in my work it has reflections in it as do mine.  
He was a French photographer born in 1831, I think it's amazing that he has captured an image so clear using 19th Century techniques!  I really like the composition of the image, the way it is split in half which is not conforming with the rule of thirds but it is still pleasing to the eye as reflections look better half and half.
I don't think I can really relate to historical landscape photographers as my work is very modern, but my work is still similar in some ways.  
If the above picture was taken again in this day and age, it could easily be enhanced and manipulated in Photoshop to give more of a wow factor.


For my Specialist Location Shoot I will need:

Camera, Nikon D5100
Lenses, 50mm, 18-55mm
Spare Batteries
Memory Cards

I had been wanting to go out  and take my photographs for a number of weeks but due to other commitments and then when I finally had a window the bad weather, it took me quite a long time to getting round to it, but when I did, I picked a really good night.  
The quantity, size and format of the images had been pre-agreed with our tutor.  
We were to produce 10 images on our blogs and also printed in A3 
with correct printer profiles.

I researched what time the sun would set that day and it was 21.37pm.  I set off from home an hour before as I had to travel by train and tram to Media City, Manchester which was my first chosen location.  When I got there the sun had just set below the horizon, the sky was a lovely blue colour.  I decided I would use this colour as a backdrop to some of my images.  When I had exhausted Media City I hopped on the tram back into the Town Centre.  I had decided earlier on that wanted to photograph the Britannia Hotel with all it's lights outside, so I headed over there to see what I could come up with.  It was about 23.00pm so the sky was pitch black by this time.  Although it was late, there was still a heavy traffic flow, so I decided to use this to my advantage and do some long exposures.  I was so glad I did, because the results were really good.  I ended up with 3 Britannia shots all from different angles and all with light trails from the traffic. 
 When choosing my final 10 I realised that I only had 9 really good ones.  
That night I was due to do a midnight charity walk in Manchester City Centre so decided to take my camera with me and see what I could come up with.  
All of the walkers wore bright yellow t-shirts and wore flashing light bunny ears.  
I thought of my previous long shutter speeds and decided to recreate one but using people as the lights instead of the car headlights.  
I finished up with an image of all of the walkers passing me, yet 1 lone security guard just stood there.  I was very happy with the image and included it in my final 10.

Although I planned a little, like what equipment I needed and where I was going.  The final images are all down to the vision I had on the night.  I had earmarked the locations but the compositions of the images came to me when I got to the locations.

My Final 10

f10, 3 sec, ISO 100

f5, 5 sec, ISO 100

f5, 6 sec, ISO 100

f5, 2.5 sec, ISO 100

f3.8, 2 sec ISO 100

f3.5, 10 sec, ISO 100

f11, 30 sec, ISO 100

f11, 25 sec, ISO 100

f9, 30 sec, ISO 100

f8, 15 sec, ISO 100

The first 9 images were taken using a tripod, the last one I was on a charity walk so didn't have it with me so I improvised and balanced the camera on a bollard.

Post-Production Editing

I used Photoshop CS6 and slightly tweaked the vibrance and saturation in camera RAW.  
I then added a high-pass filter with an overlay at 100% opacity in all images.

Aims and Objectives

My aims and objectives were to recreate to the best of my ability some of the work produced by Andrew Brooks, now I know he really goes to town on the manipulation of his pictures by using montage techniques etc but I wondered if I could imitate his work but put my own spin on it.  I wanted to make beautiful night time images without using montage.  I wanted what you see in the image to be what I saw through the lens BUT I wanted to enhance the originals in Photoshop to maximise the effect of the picture.

I have ended up with 10 images from around Manchester, mainly Media City that are a little like Andrew Brooks, but in my own style, I'd say more realistic although enhanced.  

Overall I would say I was successful in my efforts and have achieved what I set out to do.

1 comment:

  1. Good idea Caroline, Andrew's images are actually montages made up out of many images. He distorts perspective so you will not be able to capture the same view, but it would be good to aim for the atmosphere that he creates.