PICS: Visually impaired photographer shares some of his work

2016-04-21 13:00
Donovan Botha, a visually impaired student from TUT who will be getting his diploma in photography. (Supplied)

Donovan Botha, a visually impaired student from TUT who will be getting his diploma in photography. (Supplied)

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Pretoria - Photographer Donovan Botha, 22, who is visually impaired, has shared some of the work he did in obtaining a National Diploma in Visual Communication (photography) at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and in the process becoming the first ever visually impaired student to study at the department.

Botha said he had challenges with some of his pictures but others were bliss to work on.

“Some of the photographs I didn't really have a challenge with as I tend to get lost within that specific moment. I do tend to have some difficulties while processing the images and getting to locations for shoots as my eye condition doesn’t allow me to obtain a driver’s license,” he said.

“But it’s mostly the finer details I have difficulties with like dust on the surface of an object or seeing a plastic bag lying around within a landscape. But with some practice and time I learned to be more observant of my surroundings.”

Speaking about some of his best work, Botha explains the story of each picture and the challenges he faced.

Hydrographic image

"I had an assignment to capture water as a subject but the water must have those sparkling sunspots when the image is taken. All in all, this was lots of fun photographing. The only problem I had difficulty with was determining if the image was in focus when looking at the back of the camera display, but during the editing process I had no difficulties."

Alcoholic beverage

"We had to photograph an alcoholic beverage in studio. This was lots of fun and it doubled as a lighting exercise. But after the shoot everyone wanted to take the bottle home with them.

"This image we had assistance from the lecturer and had a fellow classmate as an assistant as well. When setting up the shot, I mostly had difficulty with hanging the cherries next to the bottle as we use fishing line to have the cherries hanging within the air. The problem I had there was that I can't actually see the fishing line once it is as a single strand. I also had problems checking if the glass is completely clear of all dust and finger prints. During the editing process, I mostly had problems with the removal of the fishing line and making sure the background was completely black as there were some areas that were just slightly off black and more of a dark grey."

Red cloth in a landscape 

"The entire third year photography class went to Kaapsche Hoop for a few days where we had to complete a list of assignments. This was one of them, where we had to photograph a red cloth within a landscape. I didn't have any difficulties with this image during the shoot and during the editing process. You get these images that just don't have any problems when you photograph them."

Kia Rio

"This was part of a small personal project I did about cars but I focused more on the normal day to day person’s car instead of sports or classic cars. Because I wanted to show that even though they are a vehicle which you use each day, that it also has an aesthetic side towards it. Difficulties I had during the shooting process was mostly focusing to ensure that the car and the background was all in focus, but during editing I mostly had problems with the colours in the sky to make sure they flow together in a continuous tone instead of just switching over to a different colour suddenly. I also had some problems when burning and dodging as I don't always see when I accidentally go slightly over the area which I am working on into another area of the image."

Modern architecture

"We do two personal projects within a year, a small personal and a big personal project. These two images are part of my big personal project which was concentrating on modern architecture but on the functionalism style of modern architecture. Most of the time while I was photographing this project I was too excited to actually notice much of the difficulties, because once I’m there to photograph the structure I’m mostly thinking of angles, camera settings, where the light is falling and getting lost within that entire moment that I sort of end up blocking out the rest of the world.

"But after thinking about it the difficulties I regularly encountered was if the image was in focus and the small details like cracks in the walls - things like that. Because I can’t see the difference between in focus and just slightly out of focus, they both look the same and I only see the difference when I’m back at my computer where I can view it on a larger screen and magnify the image until I can literally count pixels.

"During editing though most of my difficulties was with ensuring that all the lines of the building are completely straight so that it doesn’t look like the building is leaning to one side. I usually end up missing completely straight with a few millimetres so that was the biggest challenge for me during these images."

Milky Way  

"The image that I ended up having the most difficulty with was when we had to photograph the Milky Way while we were at Kaapsche Hoop. It was amazing to see it and be able to photograph it. But when I had to photograph it I had lots of trouble with composing. I am able to see the Milky Way but as soon as I look through my viewfinder there is just darkness and only the camera setting display which is visible.

"So I ended up having to take a photograph and then recompose until I was happy with the composition. During the editing of this photograph I had quite a challenge. As the photograph contains the Milky Way it had a lot of detail within in but it is at such a point that the detail is too much for my eyesight.

"And you had to edit the image in a very specific way so you almost end up editing it in small pieces, I eventually came to a point where I could not tell the difference between my edited image and the non-edited section but nonetheless I kept on pushing and eventually after many hours of frustration and clicking the image reset button I succeeded. I did end up with an annoying headache after that - but I think it might be due to the fact that my face was almost entirely against my computer display at some points during the editing process to see if there was a difference or not."

Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  good news

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