FINAL PROJECT: NATURAL/MANMADE

We’ve been set a final project: 5 images with the brief of Natural/Manmade – so anything on this planet, essentially. With such a wide brief, working out what to focus on has been half the battle. I had a load of different ideas but eventually, I set about trying to capture the effect of one on the other. We humans can’t help but muck about with nature… which doesn’t always end well. Meanwhile, nature, left to its own devices, invariably leaves its mark on the manmade; reclaiming what it can with astonishing speed (hello, Chernobyl).

Whether it be a wooden shed that hasn’t been regularly treated (despite the fact that you’ve had the paint in the downstairs cupboard for five years); old rope left to rot, or bark peeling from a stack of cut logs, decay seemed to be a common theme. Even something as durable as a rubber tyre – and a tractor one at that – is indelibly marked by its surroundings the second it turns full circle for the first time.


I took a lot of images but ended up with less shots to work with than I had first thought. Namely because I used a tripod on loads only to realise (a few hours in!) that I had left the auto-stabliser on, so shots weren’t as sharp as I had hoped. I didn’t have my actual glasses when working so I didn’t pick up on this as quickly as I could have done if I’d been able to see the viewfinder image a bit more clearly. Another lesson learned. Actually, I think I might have even learned this lesson before but just forgotten it…


I wanted to investigate shape, form and colour. I tried to incorporate some of the composition tips that we have learned along the way including leading lines, rule of thirds, vanishing points and so on, but I didn’t always remember. In hindsight, I could have experimented with a wider range of apertures – I seem to have a thing for a shallow depth of field and some shots would have benefitted from greater depth and given me more to play with. It was blindingly sunny when I took the majority of the shots (probably helped influence the shallow DOF), which made it really hard to view things back in the viewfinder (not helped by lack of glasses) so it wasn’t until I whacked everything into the computer that I could see what had or hadn’t worked.

Having finally bought the Adobe Creative Cloud package, I spent ages creating multiple snapshot edits for individual shots in Camera Raw, only to then firstly press Escape insead of Done (so I lost countless edits to begin with). But once I did start to get the hang of things I then found it difficult to pick a favourite. Some of the results were quite abstract. Others less so. Several of the edits have highlight and shade clipping, but I liked the slightly surreal result enough to leave them in this selection (although I did try to reduce the clipping levels). I especially liked the way the light and shade played on the tyre treads, throwing out perspective and transforming them in the process.

In the end, my top five are the ones below. Or at least I think these are my finalists. I’ve already switched them around twice since posting this originally. It’s like X-Factor: they could be voted off at any time. Maybe you will agree with my selection. Maybe you won’t. Who knows? I think the idea is that we submit them at class tomorrow night, but if I’ve got that wrong – perfectly possible – I may add to this gallery before our last lesson next week. Could be I am just sick of the sight of them, but having just spent ten minutes going through all the shots, trying to choose the main image for the home page, I reckon I still haven’t cracked this one yet.


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