Archives for the month of: October, 2011

We have been assigned the task of taking a mock picture to use as an example for our final dust jacket image.  This is for the purposes of getting used to the guides, format and layout sizes for our final piece.

In researching the different book sizes I have found that the size generally coincides with the quality of the book.  Below is a chart displaying these sizes and a chart below that displaying the various B Formats:

Name Imperial (inches approx) Metric (mm)
Demy 9 x 6 229 x 152
Royal 1/4 x 7 1/2 235 x 191
Crown Royal 11 x 8 1/4 280 x 210
Classic hardback or C format paperback 3/4  x 5 5/8 222 x 143
‘Trade’ paperback or B format 8 x 5 1/4 198 x 129
A format 7/8 x 4 1/4 175 x 111
Size Height x Width (mm) Height x Width (in)
B0 1414 x 1000 mm 55.7 x 39.4 in
B1 1000 x 707 mm 39.4 x 27.8 in
B2 707 x 500 mm 27.8 x 19.7 in
B3 500 x 353 mm 19.7 x 13.9 in
B4 353 x 250 mm 13.9 x 9.8 in
B5 250 x 176 mm 9.8 x 6.9 in
B6 176 x 125 mm 6.9 x 4.9 in
B7 125 x 88 mm 4.9 x. 3.5 in
B8 88 x 62 mm 3.5 x 2.4 in
B9 62 x 44 mm 2.4 x 1.7 in
B10 44 x 31 mm 1.7 x 1.2 in

The B-format, measuring 198x129mm seems to be the format of choice for mid-range, standard supermarket to book shop favourite, appealing to the ‘every-so-often’ reader to the budding book worm, which is most probably why we are sticking to these guides for our module.

This is the mock photo I have incorporated into the guides, slightly manipulated with photoshop, using ‘curves’ and ‘layers’:


I have expressed my ideas on the dust jacket theme of ‘Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass’ in a previous blog, sharing my thoughts.  None of these ideas were necessarily set in stone, so using my earlier blog as reference, I am going to pick out the parts I definately want to use in addition with any other relevant information.

The overall theme with the cover of my take on the book will have a dark, shocking and somewhat seedy impact to the viewer.  The character of ‘Alice’ will be my model (Becky; colleague), dressed in torn clothes (obtained from charity shops and fancy dress shops) but still in the style of the original ‘Alice’ attire (see Fig 1), staring out of a broken mirror.  The photo will only include ‘Alice’s’ reflection within the mirror, herself looking into the glass will not be visible, giving the impression she is trapped.  ‘Alice’s’ model will have lots of makeup on (of which I will purchase from appropriate retailers), all of it smudged and running down her face, generally looking very distressed.

Other characters will be included on the cover, including the ‘Rabbit’, that leads ‘Alice’ down the hole (also on the front cover, along with ‘Alice’) and the ‘Mad Hatter’, who will be on the back cover, peering through a window from the outside, giving the impression of a voyeuristic, perverse nature, to fit in with the rest of the cover.  The ‘Rabbit’ will be the model Alex Taylor (colleague), who will be dressed in the suit provided (to be purchased on ebay).  He will be wearing a t-shirt reading ‘Eat Me’ (made by myself) and smoking a cigerette laying on the bed with a piece of, supposedly, ‘Alice’s’ underwear in his hand.

The look of the room, spread across the entire book cover (although the characters will be shot independently from each other and the room, then edited together in photoshop) will entail a mess of alcohol bottles and pill tubs, giving the feel of a drug den and therefore adding to the concept of debortury.  These items should be easy to obtain both from shops and empty bottles from home.

Every photo will be shot in the studio seperately.  The main issue will be shooting the ‘Rabbit’ as I want him to be smaller than the other characters, however the model is actually taller than the other models.  To overcome this, I will shoot him at a distance with high resolution so that I will be able to resize him if necessary in Photoshop.

The colours will be rather contrasting so that ‘Alice’ will stand out as the main subject as there is a lot of things to distract the viewer from what is initially intended.  Therefore lighting will also be a major factor in differentiating foreground subjects from background, as will composition.

Then there is the spine of the cover.  I intend for this to be simply the word, “Alice” but written in broken glass, as though it is from the missing pieces of the mirror ‘Alice’ appears to be trapped in, similar to Fig 2 but hopefully more shattered.  If this effect does not work how I expect it to, then It shall just be in a jagged edged glass effect, but not shattered.

The fold-over sleeves will be plain gray with text about the book and a translucent smiling Cheshire Cat image on one side and the Queen of Spades card on the other.  Both these images will be drawn as artist interpretation (therefore the pictures will not be taken from a website/book etc) and then scanned into the computer for editing.

Any edits, discrepencies and obstacles I find along the way (of which I’m sure there will be a significant few) will be documented and reviewed in my future blogs and evaluation, though I am going to attempt to stick to this statement as closely as possible.

Fig 1:

Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, written

by Lewis Carroll, 1865, illustration by

Walt Disney, 1951














Fig 2:

The Phantom of the Opera: Gaston Leroux, 1909 (Reprinted cover since)

Our mission; to create/find a scene that contains dark areas to photograph multiple times, changing the ISO settings for each picture.  The objective; to identify the difference in quality through visual observation and the noise readings provided by the camera.

Theoretically (and pretty obviously), the higher the ISO (keeping the aperture the same, to maintain an equal DoF), the poorer the quality of the picture.  So, at ISO 1600, for example, the picture quality will presumably be very grainy and less distinctive as the picture is blown up, whereas at ISO 100, the photograph should be of a considerably higher quality in comparison.

I decided to create a scene including a lit candle (to provide a good contrast between a well lit area, fading to darker parts of the frame), with fruit displayed in an arching pattern, furthering itself from the light and creating a good example of light to dark in a small space.  Below are my results, with noise readings alongside:














This is my lowest setting and as you can see the whole picture is of a good enough quality, consistently, to enlarge or zoom in without becoming blurry or pixelated, from the over-exposure of the flame, to the                                                                                                                          darkest part of the orange situated at the back.

Slightly less quality at ISO 200.  Whilst increasing the ISO I am decreasing the amount of time the shutter is open for to maintain the same exposure level, whilst keeping the aperture at f8 throughout the whole process.














As the experiment continues the theory comes to fruition that the image will become less defined and of a poorer quality the higher the ISO level.















A very distinct difference at ISO 800 from the previous shots.  Comparing ISO 100 to this picture shows an obvious variation in quality.















At the highest possible ISO (1600) it is clear to tell the reduction in quality.  The fruit at the back becomes less and less determinable as the experiment progresses.



To summarise, the higher the ISO level, the poorer the quality of the image, which is especially noticeable when the image is blown up or zoomed into.  It can sometimes be unavoidable to increase the ISO, hence why it is there, especially in low-light situations and when a flash does not want to be used.  Sometimes however, a higher ISO can create interesting effects when liaising with other settings.  For example, if a vintage style photo with a grainy finish and possibly some luminance is what you are after, a high ISO could contribute to this considerably.

So, as the workload progresses and classes merge and I start to forget what I need for each lesson, it is becoming ever more apparent that I really do need to start getting more organised.  I always get a little excited for John’s lesson; firstly, because it includes the use of Photoshop, secondly, because the book cover project is one I feel I will be able to maintain a strong interest in and one that will hopefully kick start my creative juices flowing at a more frequent rate, and thirdly, it is the last lesson on a Tuesday and lasts only 2hours.  I would like it to be a longer class, if I’m being honest, especially since my photo editing skills are truly dire.

I’m still thinking of the Alice In Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass theme for the dust jacket, it’s just the more I generate ideas for it, the more complex the shoot becomes.  If the overall picture was to be kept simple, yet effective (such as Fig 1), I believe the whole process would run a lot smoother and be ultimately less stressful with less criticism and please a larger audience.  I’d really like to do something with Angels incorporated into the cover, but maybe this could be another project.

So far, I am thinking that the Alice model will be edited into a broken mirror, staring out, medium body shot towards the camera in a deadpan fashion.  Her makeup will be running and smudged across her face, clothes torn and overall appearing very distressed.  By the mirror sits the Rabbit character, smoking a cigarette, trousers unbuttoned and wearing a t-shirt with the motif ‘eat me’ across it.  The Mad hatter will be peering in through a window in the background, possibly with a video camera; all creating a very seedy atmosphere.  An assortment of pills and bottled drinks will be sprawled around the room, creating a cluttered environment, but not so much so that focus is deferred from Alice.

The Spine of the cover may just be the title, but written in broken glass.  Possibly a Photoshop affair.

As you can see, I am attempting to make this already rather dark story into that of something considerably more sordid, disturbing and possibly conspiring towards Alice, whilst touching on the inclusion of some social commentary with the drugs issue.

Fig 1

‘The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux, originally published 1909 (displaying 1991 re-issue)’

Edit: Just noticed the broken glass effect of the title in ‘Fig 1’, what a coincidence!?