Typology in photography is composing multiple images that relate to one another. Creating a collection of items. This became popular with the Victorians, producing cabinets of curiosities. However, this has adapted to an artistic style in photography. Pictures are taken using similar styles and subjects, such as watch faces. The images will have various rules that are applied to each one in order to make them appear similar. For example, the subjects could all be in the center of the frame with the same amount of negative space around it. For my assignment, I had to create my own Typology using nine images displayed on an A2 portrait document.
In 1973 James Mollison was born in Kenya, but then moved to Britain. He first studied Art and Design at Oxford University but undertook another degree in Film and Photography at Newport School of Art and Design. H e has won various awards such as, a Vic Odden award from the Royal Photographic Society. He has lso published book about his work including his portraiture work.
I have chosen a piece from his that represents a form of typology, shown above. He has successfully created a typology that features apes in an effective manner. He has used the same framing and lighting with a grid layout that produces a striking result, I will use this precise style in my own work, ensuring that the images all present the same amount of spacing around the subject and have similar lighting effects. It will be easier to create a typology through studio work due to the control over all the elements such as the lighting. However, I would like to attempt a more challenging piece, such as using animals similar to Mollison’s work.
Bernd and Hilla Becher
The brother Bernhard Becher and Hilla Becher born, 1931 and 1934 are photographers most famous for their typologies. They display a series of images that relate to one another in a grid format. They worked together and are known for their industrial images of water towers and other structures.
I have chosen to focus on their work because I like the monochrome style of the pictures that features bold structures in an uncontrollable location shown above. I have found that many typologies are studio based with all elements controlled, whereas this is an outside location, focusing on the framing of the images. Although the image is simplistic they have a striking appearance with detail and sharp image quality. The exposure has worked well, creating interesting shadows and depth, especially when in monochrome. I intend to create images that will be in black and white where I have focused on the lighting and how to make simple images appear interesting. It would be interesting to create a typology that is also outside with less control to then focus on framing and composition to make the images appear as a collection.
For my attempt at creating an image that meets the requirements for the typology brief, I focused on capturing the inside of the fruit. To make each image relate to one another I used a macro lens to capture detailed images of each fruit that fills the frame. I used two lights on either side of the fruit, directed towards it to make bright with no shadows.
I found that it was difficult to make the smaller pieces of fruit completely fill the frame. The strawberry has areas of the black background that are noticeable. This could be resolved by only using large fruit, such as watermelon that was not used in this experiment. Due to the sizes changing I had to alter the lights to ensure that the fruit was correctly exposed. I found this tedious because I would have to move the lights slightly to create a balance between exposed enough to remove shadows but not over exposing the image.
I have found that I enjoy working with low-key lighting to create creative and striking images but do not enjoy simple lighting setups as much because I find it less interesting. I had to use the same lighting for every piece of fruit that was just simply creating even lighting. Although it is not personally easy to produce even high key lighting, especially without flash I still find low key more of a challenge but enjoy this kind of creative challenge that can create bold and harsh shadows on the subject.
A negative from the image is the reflection, especially noticeable on the bottom left fruit. I found that because the fruits contained liquid that they would reflect the light. This made it a challenge to not overexpose the image but still light up the fruit itself. I found that some reflections were made that I am not satisfied with. I think they are distracting and creates too many highlights on the fruit. I think with more careful planning and more experiments I could have found the correct effect.
Another negative from the final image is the fruit core. This is because the core of most of the fruit is noticeable, such as the apple, orange, and lemon. However, the cores face various direction, which is distracting and would appear more suitable for the typology theme id they were all facing the same direction. For some fruit, I could not make them face the same direction as other because of the size and shape. For example, the strawberry would not fit the frame of it was turned the other way. All the fruit images are in a portrait composition but if I turned the strawberry so that the core is horizontal instead of vertical it would not create a suitable composition. This is the main piece of fruit that has contrasted against the others, therefore I think I should have used other fruits in case some did not work as intended.
Changing location after shooting some of the fruit made it more difficult that it could have been. This was not a large issue but it meant that I spent longer to create a similar lighting setup from the first shoot. I began in the studio at University but ran out of time and finished at home with a basic studio setup. I used a black bed sheet and two lights in the home setup which meant that it took longer to create the same effect as the studio. I had to ensure that the background was completely black and the lights were positioned in a similar direction with the studio lights to make the images appear similar. I did not want some fruit darker than others, making it appear as a less effective typology. In the future, I should make sure I have enough time to finish the shoot so that no inconvenience is created.
Although there were some issues or aspects that I am not completely satisfied with I still met the criteria. I have produced 9 images onto an A2 document that are of the same categories. They have been positioned in the same composition and displayed 3 by 3. I think that I could achieve more sophisticated and interesting pieces with more practice but have gained an understanding of what it is like to create a typology with this first piece.
After creating the vibrant fruit typology I wanted to create the opposite by using low key lighting with monochrome images of perfume bottles. This is my preferred style and wanted to focus on the lighting effects on the glass. I used a home-built studio, consisted on two dressing gowns as the backdrop, a sheet of glass from my garden to create the reflection, two studio lights on either side with my phone light underneath the bottles and a torch held by the side of some bottles to create a rim light around the darker bottles.
When creating the setup for the perfume bottles I found it challenging to find the correct lighting setup and background. I first tried a gray cloud effect background but felt it took too much attention away from the glass and did not feel it as very effective. I then used a black background which immediately felt much more suitable, allowing the reflections from the glass to be more noticeable. I conducted many experiments with different lighting arrangements to find the best result. It was tedious to keep moving lights slightly to reduce unwanted reflections or to add more light to the bottles, however, I also found it satisfying to create the setup from nothing. I find it enjoyable and a useful experience to have to work with what I have and take more time in finding the best results. I think that it can become mundane to have a studio already set up for every studio shoot, reducing the number of learning experiences and losing the creative input into lighting and set design.
Finding items at home that I could use for this project was satisfying when I was able to create an interesting effect where no one notices that the background is only made from black dressing gown and the reflection is from an old sheet of glass. I enjoyed this because it made me think more creatively about the lighting and set. I was able to experiment with my camera settings and lighting thoroughly to make the images appear as though they were created in a studio.
This project was especially fascinating to me because of the low light, still, style of photography is something that I find interesting and would like to specialise further with. An area of photography that I find one of the most important and appealing to me is the lighting. This is especially lighting that shows highlights, such as rim lighting on the subject or harsh shadows. Creating this typology has been a valuable experience that I found to be beneficial and satisfying work on.
A negative from this experience was the time it took to create the desired lighting effect. I found that I had to keep repositioning the lights to change the way it reflects off the glass. I added and took away lights to experiment with the different effects. Once the setup appeared to work effectively, the pictures were then taken at a much faster pace because I would only have to change the bottles and add the additional light from a torch for darker perfume bottles. I think if I had strict time limits this would be difficult to achieve without much practice. I do not mind taking a long period of time to carefully consider the composition and lighting but with more lighting practice the process will then become easier and faster because I will understand the effects of certain lighting positions and the light outputs.
I had not worked with glass objects, especially glass that had been cut in the style of the antique perfume bottles that I have used. This style of photography had already been an interest to me, making it an interesting experience but I found the reflection from the glass a challenge. I was trying to avoid harsh reflections that take away the viewers attention from the bottle. This was especially difficult with the domed bottle in the bottom right on the typology. I would turn off lights and change the intensity or direction to attempt to produce more subtle light that still illuminates enough of the glass and produces interesting reflections. I think for some of the bottles the lighting worked successfully, however, with more experiments and practice I will be able to understand and experience the difference outcomes of particular lighting setups.
I think a negative may be the butterfly bottle in the top right of the image. I received feedback upon the typology, bringing attention to this bottle. I was expressed that the bottle was had a softer appearance compared to the others which could have been improved by replacing it with another bottle. I agree with this feedback and think that by taking pictures of more bottles than needed for the typology criteria would have allowed me to experiment with different outcomes using other bottles in order to choose the strongest image and perfume bottle display. I also believe that I should have experimented with the layout of the bottles further. I placed the more bold appearing bottles in the middle column which may have made the subtle bottles appear even softer compared to the bolder ones. By separating the stronger appearing bottles could have balanced the image more and improved the overall effectiveness.
I think positives that have been achieved from this piece is the boldness of the light reflecting off the glass that has been emphasized through the use of monochrome. This has been a great experience for experimenting with light that has aided in my understanding of effective lighting setups. This has made me want to create more images that are similar and produce various effects using different lighting setups. I have learned to pay attention to detail and focus on every aspect of the image to ensure that it creates an impacting outcome.
I think the reflection on the glass floor hindered the outcome of the image. I believe that if the whole reflection was shown for each bottle in the final typology it would have a more effective outcome. Due to the images being placed together it makes the cut off reflection more noticeable and appears incomplete. I attempted to capture the whole reflection but the glass was difficult to work with. I found that it would reflect white tones which were distracting and would have not been suitable for the image. I moved the lights around and begun tests by removing or adding lights but the white reflections would not disappear. I moved the angle of the tripod but the best outcome I could create was the one I used for the final images. To solve this issue I will have to experiment further with similar setups and learn further information about lighting effects and setups.
Overall I found this project to be surprisingly enjoyable to conduct. I did not expect to find typology to be one of my favourite projects out of the various other assignments for the module. It was interesting to create a collection of items that were all photographed in similar ways. I found that due to focusing on one object per photo I would then focus on details to make the images more interesting and sophisticated.
I have discovered that I thoroughly enjoy low key studio photography, creating an antique perfume piece that I am very satisfied with. I understand that much more knowledge needs to be learned about studio and light setups. I will experience further with reflections and how the light hits the subjects. This project has enabled me to display photographs in an unusual style that I would not have normally used. I would always publish images separately, and if related I would publish online in the same albums or posts. However, I have found that placing similar images together on one document creates an interesting and striking collection.
I have chosen the perfume piece for the final image to be submitted for typology. It has met the criteria and I think that it has best demonstrated my skills. I took more time to think about the lighting effects on the glass and feel that it is a more sophisticated typology. It is satisfying that I also created this piece through minimum equipment and setup but feel that I have still achieved a final image that could be thought to have been made in a studio. The choice to change the bottles to monochrome makes the image more striking and enhances the glass details with the lighting. I have had the most positive feedback on this piece, expressing that the basic setup and lighting has worked successfully with the objects.