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Soft - The Open College of the Arts

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Soft thumb


Once again I am grateful to tutor Joe Fox for drawing my attention to a fabulous student image. ‘Soft’ by Donghai Yan comes from his first assignment in the Art of Photography course, and I asked him how he came to take the shot.

“On the day of photo shoot, I bought a new pack of sweets from the supermarket and decided to use it as a subject to take a series of photos, and then my niece became my model. Actually my niece was not really co-operating with me, especially after eating a lemon and a lolly pop. At the beginning, I tried to use only one “sweet mice” but it didn’t give much of the feeling of softness. And then, I pressed down the mice but it went back to its normal size very quickly, so it gave me only a very short time to take the photo. So, I took a second mouse on the top of the first one.

Another problem was that my niece was not strong enough to squash the mice, so I helped by squeezing them before taking each of the photos while her mum was holding her and her hands, and I put her hand down with my left hand on the two mice. I then pressed the shutter release very quickly while removing my left hand. My Canon camera was on a tripod and used the Canon 100mm 2,8 IS Macro lens. I set the focus manually, as the auto focus is too slow. Later on, I thought it would have been easier if I used my cable shutter release.
Using a baby and a soft sweet fits the ‘soft’ topic but to make it clearer I decided to take a close up photo of her hand only and using a soft sweet. The pink colour of the sweet is also fits in the topic. To me, the word ‘soft’ is somehow relates to the word ‘caress’. I decided to to take the picture on the the dining table to show some reflection from the glass instead of an empty background. This emphasises the contrast between the soft subject and hard table”
I think what Donghai is describing here is how he thought around the challenge – babies are soft, and the sweets are soft – but that is knowledge you bring to the photo, the challenge is to convey softness and I think Donghai’s careful problem solving approach led him there.

Posted by author: Genevieve Sioka

9 thoughts on “Soft

  • It’s amazing the way it shows both soft and hard, the soft hand and sweets against the hard table with reflections and the effect of the pressure on the baby’s hand.

  • Hi all,
    Many thanks for the comments. I was really surprised that Joe liked my soft image and Gareth wanted to put it on the website.

  • There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
    And frogs in the pool singing at night,
    And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
    Robins will wear their feathery fire,
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.
    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
    If mankind perished utterly;
    And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.
    ( There Will Come Soft Rains by Sarah Teasdale from the
    collection Flame and Shadow 1920 )

  • I really surprised that I can see your assignment in the website.
    I like the pricture and image very much. Such a good job.

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