Sunday, 26 April 2015

Assignment 5 - Blossfeldt

It has become a challenge to understand where I am going with this assignment. The Blossfeldt images that I am looking at are mesmerising with an undercurrent of suspicion that I am using the wrong reasons for studying them. Given the time I can spend on this, which is limited, I will not be able to present any of my work as "botanical" due to a lack of botanical knowledge. Blossfeldt was a botanist and his work was correctly catalogued and titled with the common name and the Latin name for all his specimens. The purpose of this assignment in any case is not to mimic Blossfeldt but create a new set of images, prepared using contemporary techniques that convey the same qualities as the original work. I will make a few images that look like Blossfeldt originals so that I can compare them with my newer work and question if he would have made similar work had he lived 100 years later.

Examples below from an ever progressing studio full of leaves and twigs

In the style of Blossfeldt
Contemporary Blossfeldt
Post Modern Blossfeldt
Experimental Blossfeldt
Alternative vertical shooting technique.
The studio has to have a different set up for the vertical shooting. In my contemporary Blossfeldt I am back lighting the subject with a studio flash. The attempt at using a light box failed due to lack of power. This has been overcome by using a D Lite fixed to the retort stand and layers of yellow paper laid onto a Perspex sheet just above the light. The light is set to minimum power and the number of layers of paper act as a neutral density filter when achieving correct exposure. The yellow paper when converted to monochrome is providing the correct texture and it allows enough light through to back light the subject and define the veins and structure of the leaves and petals. This is of course the primary purpose of the exercise, the discovery of the designs of nature. A top light is needed to stop the image becoming totally silhouetted. A D Lite with soft box is aimed at the white ceiling to achieve this. The camera is now fitted with a 90 degree finder/magnifier to allow the accurate focusing required. The initial tests are being carried out using f40. This is not ideal as the lenses (60mm and 105mm) may be slightly soft at this small aperture. I will consider later whether I need to do focus stacking where I can then reduce the f stop to maybe 11 and still achieve a good depth of field.

The back lighting is producing a nasty outline to some images. This is being treated with a small amount of Gaussian blur applied with a very small soft brush in CS5. Initially I was concerned about retouching, especially the images that are to serve as authentic Blossfeldt. During further research however it is come to light that Blossfeldt was the master at retouching. As he was using 6cm x 17cm glass plates he had plenty of area for painting the negative and examples are shown in Karl Blossfeldt 1865 - 1932, Hans Christian Adam, Taschen. 

The two photographs below show the studio set up for vertical shooting.


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