Weeks 9-10 FMP: Challenged by small dark recycling spaces

With some apprehension about my project achievements since a tutorial at the end of October I attended another on 20th November. Having been away for 8 days in the intervening period I was not confident that I had done enough experimenting, tried enough cameras and improved the quality of the recycling images. But what is enough? How do you know when a project is reaching an envisaged conclusion at each stage from creation to production and presentation?

Minolta 7000 1
Minolta 7000 2

Concentrating on the recycling images (Event Horizons) for a moment, I had, before going away, managed to use the camera on my iPhone (which had been the preferred method for this series to date, mainly because of size and accessibility in the areas I wanted to reach), an analogue Minolta 7000 and a Nikon D750. In terms of the number of failed shots as well as the number of best quality (clarity and texture) for those that were successful, the D750 won. Whereas the phone camera automatically adjusts for lighting conditions, at times I was having to set a very slow shutter speed on the D750, particularly if the natural light dimmed due to passing clouds. Usually a tripod would be advised in such circumstances. However I was working in a very public space and had to keep the specific shooting location accessible and available. I have since reflected that a small collapsable step ladder or sturdy box would be helpful to increase my access when the subject matter is above my eye level. Back to settings on the D750. As lighting conditions continually change due to the weather and also the use of the facilities whereby members of the public let in light at any given moment, I cannot envisage having a settings formula that could be repeated throughout a series.

iPhone 7 Plus 1
iPhone 7 Plus 2

Using flash light in addition to natural light external sources and using the smallest (ie widest lens) were discussed as possibilities to improve results with the D750. Experimentation with the in built flash had begun and to this I added torches, both handheld and one being an ‘inspection’ torch. I also tried a newly acquired Neewer Speedlight. However this was useless when attached to the camera as the size made the apparatus far too wide for the aperture of the container I was shooting into. The torches combined with the inbuilt camera flash offered some acceptable results.

Event Horizons 9 DSLR
Event Horizons 19 DSLR

More research is required as holding and directing a torch in one hand and camera set with a slow shutter speed in the other while sometimes straining to reach the height of the aforementioned aperture is a tricky exercise with unexpected results. There is also a high risk of dropping the equipment through losing ones balance, and if dropped in a certain direction, it may never be seen in one piece again. So the next step is to acquire a transceiver and receiver so that the flash can be triggered remotely to coincide with the shutter. I suspect I will also need to acquire a patient assistant to direct the flash according to my instructions thereby taking much of the random results element out of my holding and directing two things at once.
With regard to lenses I will be seeking another one having tried a 24mm-120mm and a 105mm 1:2.8 macro just to see if I can improve the results. Ideally a reasonably priced second hand one would be preferable as it may only be tried as a possibility for this project and then not used again.

Event Horizons 38 DSLR
Event Horizons 16 DSLR

An encouraging discussion and proposal to continue experimentation in the tutorial on 20th November was followed by supportive comments and suggestions in a group tutorial a week later. So now I do not feel I am needing to go back to the drawing board but rather am determined to forge ahead, getting deeper and deeper into problem solving the methodology for making a focussed series, currently named Event Horizons, as part of my final major project.

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