Visual Review – Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is considered to be the greatest photographer in the world. When taking into account that he lived in a non-digital world, his accurate exposures are well known for their clarity, and he also is known for promoting high aperture shoots which broke the generally accepted aesthetic standards. The photos that he took are mostly landscape photos of the national parks and coastal areas in the west coast. Influenced by his father when he was young, Adams went to many exhibits and bought his first camera the age of 14 on a trip to Yosemite National Park with his parents. Adams started his career from there. As a promoter of taking pictures through a small aperture, he formed a group called f/64 (which is the highest aperture that cameras can reach during his time). His idea of imagining the final print before taking the shoot developed into his  idea of Previsualizatioin and Zone System. This master control concept and technique allows him to control nearly all of the potential variables on the camera, and determine the best exposure and development of time for every given photo.

Since all of his pictures are mostly low aperture, we can say that all of his photos are sharp and has a greater depth of field. Although he took close ups of photos of flowers and plants, he never preferred using high apertures to get a soft image of the object.

Adam’s pictures have lines and curves, especially when it comes to rivers and deserts. For instance, one of his most famous pieces The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) portrays a meandering river across the photo, with the end of the river dividing the whole picture into two unequal portions: the mountain with the sky on top and plain that the snake river runs across.

Besides using low aperture to break the rules in his time, he used red filters to block infrared sunlight to make the sky seem dark. In his first project he shot a picture called The Face of Half Dome by using red filters. This photo became so popular because the red filters to made the sky look dark in contrast with the snow, and also because of the unique perspective of the mountain in the center, making the mountain in half as well as the whole picture.

The only portrait shot project that he ever did is Born Free and Equal: The story of Loyal Japanese-Americans. The reason for doing this is because of his frustration of seeing how unequal the Japanese people was treated after the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. Adams wanted to use his camera to record how “how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment”. One of the most famous pictures in this book have small girls standing on the playground raising their hands up like bird’s wings. The photo was taken at a low angle, relatively low aperture so that we can see other people’s hands held up, paraphrasing the children in the camp wants to be free like a bird.

Ansel Adams’s accuracy of exposure was not only considered as a masterwork back then, but also today as well. The sharp images that he took help us reproduce his pictures that are 50 years old, and the choice of composing the lines and curves are also makes landscapes elegant and gorgeous.

Weekly Visual Review-Webpage

In my opinion, a good website must have a user friendly design. For example, easy layouts for user to understand the structure of the page, clean colors that are just easy enough for people to read what the text is saying.

The website I choose is a personal website for a photographer named Andi Mayr. The reason why I choose his website is because the colors that Andi choose is clean and the layout is really simple and straightforward.

On the top of the starting page, there is Andi’s name and his job title; in the middle, it has four rectangular photos that are projects of the photographer that represents categories of human, landscape, sports, and random; at the bottom, there are other categories that Andi provided to viewers (and the mountain icon is a link to the main page). I think Andi puts the four pictures in the middle because they are the four most viewed categories that people view on his webpage. I think Andi makes these categories as four huge pictures because he wants these to stand out from everything else that makes viewers easy to select since it is the four most viewed categories. In addition, when your mouse stops at one of the pictures, the picture will fade and become whitish, then underlined and capitalized words will come out. This makes viewers more easy to select things that they want to view at. In the middle of the four pictures, there is a diamond that I guess is his logo. Overall, the main page is straightforward of its ideas and it gives us a simple and clean feeling.

Then when I choose one of the category pictures, it will lead me to its gallery. When its loading, Andi’s logo will pop up and continue flashing until the page is done loading. I think this is really cool because on one hand it is indicating the age is loading, and on the other hand, by making the logo as a loading icon will make viewers remember his logo. After the page is loaded to the gallery section, the page then turns into a page that has other category links at the top, in the middle there is an individual picture, and the bottom remains the same (except they added a button to the top). In order to see other pictures, you need to scroll down, but it always lets one picture to show at the time (that it has a pull back effect). I think the point of Andi doing this, to remain the page as clean and simple as possible for the views to review his projects.

In his films section, which is usually shoots commercials, combines both of his front page and photo gallery concept. The layout is the same as the photo gallery, but when we leave our mouse on the film snapshot, the photos will fade and the background will turn into white with black words on them. The text contains the name of the film, the producer, the director, and the actors.

For color choices, Andi did a good job. The basic colors of his webpage is black and white except one place that he has a red heart to show acknowledgments of Lena & Flo for producing his webpage with him. Black and white is one of the most classic colors to show high contrast and simple. Personally, I like to use this color a lot because by using this color it gives me a feeling that the whole work is simple.

Colors and layout are two really important elements in website design. The concept of web design is to be simple and straightforward. Although you can have complicated combinations and fancy colors, it is easier for a viewer to understand the content in the webpage if you have a clean layout and contrasted simple colors (or not colors that are hard to read). So I think Andi did a good job of designing hisj personal webpage with Lena & Flo.

Andi Mayr’s Webpage

Sequence Title Review – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The film sequence title I choose is from a 2005 spy and dark comedy movie called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Although the movie is acted by real people, the sequence title is animated. This title sequence outstand itself from hundreds of others that are listed online by having a great color choice (great contrast too), cool negative spacing, themes (having guns and kisses in the whole clip), movements with the music etc.

First of all, I really like the choice of color, which the filmmaker uses mainly black, white, and orange, and only using yellow once. They use black and white because these two colors are the classic colors for negative space, and they movie uses orange (that looks kind of red too) for kisses and blood. I am not sure why they used yellow in one scene that all the people are in a room socializing. But I am guessing that they use yellow because this color can represent rich people (because yellow can represent gold and money). In addition, there is a scene which has plants growing that acts as a good color transition: it is between the scene that a hand is holding a gun with women poster in the background and a mansion that is full with people. The background color changed from orange to almost black, and the leaves changed from white to orange.

The title sequence also did a good job of representing themes in the movie. Since the movie is a spy-based movie, there are some scenes that are representing the spy theme. In the beginning of the sequence title, there is a man going over a fence that thought nobody saw him but a few seconds later an eye appears and sees him, which acts like spying him. In the middle part, where everybody is partying in a house, a hand pushes a woman down the balcony, which acts like a spy that wants to assassin the woman. Since this is also a crime movie, there are lots of parts that we can see guns and bullets. There is one scene that one of the names is hit by a bullet. Despite the guns that appear in the movie that can represent crime and violet, there are parts that have blood dripping on the scene. For example, when we see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang appear on the screen, there is a bullet shot on the last Bang and blood dripping down.

I also like the way that the clip uses negative space. The clip is filled with negative space, but there are two scenes that I really like. In the scene that the woman is falling from the balcony, and passing the moon, the film did an awesome job of having negative space transition when she is away from the moon and she is passing the moon. There other one is when there are three men holding guns on their hands, and the negative space color changed when there is music beats.

The camera moves in the clip is pretty simple: it is either panning or pedestaling. But the movements with the music are really cool. For instance, when the blood and kisses appear in the last few scenes they usually appear with a beat. In the scene that we can see highways, the names of people appear from the poles and disappear from the poles (see the photo). In addition, when there is a wind blow sound in one scene, the camera pans to the right very quickly.

Although I haven’t seen the movie yet, by watching the sequence title, it really makes me want to see it already. The cool effect that the clip did is a great way to start the movie. No wonder why this movie is on the top 5 list in one website I found.

Commercial Visual Review

Personally, I think that the commercial, The Force: Volkswagen is really cool and funny.

It starts from the black floor and then the camera zooms out with a dolly out and a tilt up shot, which soon we can see the main character the Darth Vader’s walking twoard us. When we can see the Dark Vader in the whole picture, the Dark Vader turns out to be a child instead of an adult which is hilarious. It is also interesting that the color of the floor matches the clothes of Darth Vader and the color of the wall contrasts the floor and the Dark Vader. Then the camera changes the shooting to the backside of the Dark Vader. In this scene, the whole hallway is highly contrasted with the next door, which seems to have more light. It looks like the Dark Vader is on walking out of the back stage to the front stage to perform. But this Dark Vader turns out to have no magic powers like the real one.

He tries to make a treadmill to run, a dog to move, washing machines to start, a doll to be alive, and a plate to move. But it all failed. By shooting the treadmill scene, the camera first uses two shoots to show the kid and the treadmill. Then it turns to be a high angle two shots that we can see the treadmill screen is not working while still seeing the child. High angle can also emphasis how small the children is, which makes the scene awkward and funny. In the dog scene, it continues to use two shots, but adds a individual shot for the dog that gives a confusing looking to the Dark Vader that present the awkwardness to us. For the washing machine shot, it is very short because it wants to connect with the doll shot that the hand motion of the two shots matches the rhythm of the music. In addition, in the doll shot, the camera gives us a symmetric shot while zooming in the camera. I think the director wants to show that the doll is not moving while the kid is performing his magic, but zooming in to the doll also gives me a creepy feeling. After this the camera moved to a scene that the kid is sitting in the dinning table he is performing magic to drag something. Then the camera switches to him and his mom that gave him a weird look and slides the dish to him.

After failures and failures, we finally see the product of this commercial, the Passat car, came into scene. After being noticed that the kid’s dad is back home from the dog bark, the little Dark Vader jumps out of the chair and runs out to the car, instead of his father. The Dark Vader still does not give up his hope of magic powers. But this time when he performs his magic, the car actually started that shocked the Dark Vader. It turns out to be his father pressing the engine start button. It shows the love of the father that makes his boy dream to come true, and how awesome the remote control is for the new Passat. The camera move for these series of scenes is outstanding. When the new Passat comes into scene, the picture has several curves, and the car drives in curves too, which makes the scene harmonious. Following the scene that the dad goes out of the car, the camera is panning to the left. This move is more like exhibiting the whole car because the panning center is on the car, which makes sure that the audience catches the whole side view of the new Passat. Then the little kid comes out with a relatively low angle. The purpose of this is to have more emphasis the body language of the kid waving to his dad and eagerly running to the car. I also think it is cool that the camera then has a shot inside the car which reminds me the shot over the shoulder, while this shot also has a purpose of demonstrating the inside design of the car. While the small Dark Vader is performing his magic again, the camera uses two shots again with unequal spacing, following up with a close up shot of the mask and hand of the child. When the car actually responded him, the camera switched to the back of the kid and facing the Passat so we can see the lights are flashing which shocks the Dark Vader. The next scene has an extreme close up of the remote control that we saw there is a button that can start the engine. After that scene, the camera shifts from a middle close up to a wide shot of the Dark Vader confused, looking at the new Passat and home. This camera move makes the audience see the car again and make them remember the car more clearly.

Overall, I think the commercial is smart and cool. It is full with humor that the story plot and the camera angle that the director chooses which makes the audience remember the commercial more clearly. I think the actors and the director did a good job to present the new Passat without just telling the story to us.