Tag Archives: assignment

Assignment 5 – Personal Review

Course Outcomes

On successful completion of the course you’ll be able to:

  • use the principles of composition when planning and taking photographs using suitable cameras, lenses and other equipment
  • demonstrate skills in the control of qualities of light, and colour, and demonstrate creative outcomes using these skills
  • demonstrate a basic knowledge of the principles of graphic design in photography through a single photograph or a series
  • reflect on your learning experience.

AoP Coursebook

I think, in the terms of the outcomes stated above, I have successfully completed this course.

In the section on assessment in the Coursebook, these outcomes are then broken down into 4 areas, each corresponding to one of the Course Outcomes, above, and then further subdivided. Where I have already covered something in some depth in the posts dealing with how I came to produce my submission for Assignment 5 – 75 Years After – I have only given a brief summary here.

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

  • Materials: The physical manifestation of 75 Years After is made up from the cheapest prints I could have made – 6 x 4, colour, gloss, no borders – by Snappy Snaps with the exception of the composite Heinkel/Google Earth picture which was an even cheaper 6 x 4 colour, gloss, no borders print made on a machine in Boots. I had already used the print module in Lightroom to add enough blank space around the prints to make the 5:4 ratio pictures fit on 3:2 paper. The individual prints were connected using masking tape after they had been trimmed down to give an even amount of white around the picture. For the book dummy I have produced and submitted, this works fine I think.
    I have wondered how I could go about getting long strips made with some provision for folding them into concertinas and have come to the conclusion that you’d need to some sort of mass edition with five copies being made on one large sheet of paper. This would therefore presumably have to be inkjet printing (or else unaffordable) changing everything about the way it all would look. If I do go for applying the same process to another two or three streets and putting on a show at the next Walthamstow Art Trail, I may follow this up and, at the same, time get larger prints (á la the Steffi Klenz original) made for the actual display.
  • Techniques: I have gone into great detail earlier about how the pictures were made and processed. I think I have felt in control of the process and am happy with everything apart from my inability to get it right sooner while taking fewer pictures. I am still overshooting dreadfully and need to curb this as the resulting overhead in editing terms is one of the main reasons why my progress through this course has been slower than I would have liked. I realise I should include a contact sheet of the final pictures, before any post production had occurred. I will do as part of my response to my tutor’s notes on the assignment.
  • Observational Skills: I have been aware of the bombsites that punctuate large sections of Walthamstow for a long time, and I continue to spot new ones. I am – I think – capable of seeing starting points for further investigation in the world around me.
  • Visual Awareness: I find it hard to separate this from the previous heading. Possibly this is because this was a piece of work which was planned rather than pulled together on the fly with me reacting to input from my senses.
  • Design and Compositional Skills: As stated in the previous post, I think the pictures work both as individual photographs and together in sequence.

Quality of Outcome

  • Content: I think the subject matter is suited to the i; the treatment may not work in terms of a magazine photo-story, but as a narrative it holds together.
  • Application of Knowledge: I believe that I have applied many of the things the course has been concentrating on  – composition and awareness of light in particular – in this piece of work. There is nothing that sticks out as shoddy or ill-judged.
  • Presentation of Work in a Coherent Manner: As well as the finished narrative, I hope the narrative of how I got there that is found in the posts on this blog makes sense and leads the reader through the development of my submission from the original idea to the finished “book”.
  • Discernment: I don’t think that what I am doing in this assignment is “obvious” to all as a subject. In this sense, I think I am displaying “discernment” while at the same time not really feeling comfortable with it as an ascribable quality.
  • Conceptualisation of Thoughts & Communication of Ideas: comments left on the published posts here on my blog and also feedback I’ve received from people who have looked at my pictures both as work in progress and as a finished narrative suggest that I’m doing alright at this. People have definitely “got” what I’m trying to do in this assignment and have been interested enough to spend time thinking and talking to me about it. At some level at least, what I am doing is managing to communicate with others.

Demonstration of Creativity

  • Imagination: In this assignment, I have taken something that is there and made something from it, rather than plucking something from nothing or putting together disparate elements to create some new synthesis.
  • Experimentation: I have however pared back the elements that make up a narrative, leaving I think something fairly minimal that still tells a story (or two).
  • Invention: Physically, I have made a concertina/book which – while not original –  does show an ability to combine things into something new.
  • Development of a Personal Voice: This is where I think this course has truly paid off. Before the course, I think that while I was comfortable taking pictures on trips to new places either abroad in the UK, I was less able to come up with things that make up my basic surroundings. I have many pictures from Moldova or Kiev or Brazil; my pictures of London (where I have now lived for nearly 17 years) or of Glasgow (a total of nearly 13 years) have never really felt comfortable somehow, particularly in contrast with pictures I have taken in Orkney (20 years; see Assignment 2). Now I think I am finding ways to photograph and present things that are familiar to my; things that make up my day-to-day surroundings. Now I feel that I am beginning to make visual sense of London in a way that I always have been able to when I’m in Orkney.

Context

  • Reflection: I think I have managed to combine viewing exhibitions, reading and the coursework to date into a coherent body of work. I think I have managed to document that process here, on this blog.
  • Research: I am pleased with the way I have taken something I have noticed (a possible bombsite) and fleshed it out into something with a when and a how and a what attached to it. I find it slightly worrying that until the point when I found the Borough Council record of the bombing, that it had never crossed my mind to think of people being killed. I think I had somehow placed everyone neatly in shelters, safely away from the destroyed houses…
  • Critical thinking (learning log): I think I have been able to think critically about both my work and others’ throughout the course. During parts 3 and 4 however I found great difficulty in turning this thinking into critical writing (or indeed into writing of any sort). During part 5, I think I have done better, producing nearly nine thousand words (over 10,000 when you take this into the equation) of quite decent writing, backed up with good pictures from the exercises. I think a good part of my problem here is in striking a balance between keeping a record of personal thoughts and of at the same time creating a published document. There are many posts stuck at draft stage. I will attempt to take as many of them as possible into a state where I am happy to make them public, before this blog must be submitted in September, while at the same time not letting this tendency to revise and fret over posting get in the way of the next course, Context and Meaning

Throughout The Art of Photography I have found these personal reviews consistently difficult to do. iI think I can analyse what I’m doing and how well I do it; putting it into words is somehow much harder. Hopefully, I will get better at it as course follows course…


assignment # 3 – colour: pictures and commentry

Take about sixteen photographs:

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…that illustrate the following colour relationships:

1: Colour Harmony through Complementary Colours

I spotted the building while I was walking from the subway on my way to a meeting at Pacific Quay. On my way back, I had enough time to loiter, waiting for people to walk by in both directions. The pale orange of the brick is matched by the reddish orange of the trim to the gable and the door and contrasts nicely with the pale autumn blue of the sky to the north; I like the tiny bits of colour reflected in the gutter. A very flat image (with flat lighting – it was taken at noon)  with a lot of horizontal lines running through it: the kerb, the line in the middle of the road and the bottom of the building wall; the diagonals of the gable add interest. The eye moves between the two points made by the door and the walking man (who is surprisingly close to the wall, if you look closely).

The orange and blue of the sign stands out strongly here and there’s lots more of both colours in the traffic and the pedestrians who occupy the space round it. Your eye moves then to the green and red barriers that enlose the sign, making an inverted vanishing point in the centre bottom of the image, with the red also turning up as highlights in the fragments of distant buses on the road and reflected in the plate glass of the window on the right.

An astonishing corner on the Lea Bridge Road, composed as four quadrilaterals united by the sense of movement provided by the striding man in the jersey that managed to be a gloriously matching blue to the door.  There’s a minor violet and yellow thing going on in the upper right quarter as well. There is an interesting absence of any scale to the various bits of the building too.

Essentially a diagonal band of orange, a diagonal band of blue and a second diagonal band of orange, with your eye drawn to super-bright highlight of the central streetlight, which is casting all the yellowy-orange glare in the street. I’ve been walking on my way home from the tube at dusk a lot these past few weeks, and this is probably the best representation of it that I’ve managed to take.

2: Colour Harmony through Similar Colours

Lots of lines pointing in towards a vanishing point on the platform, held together by the overall warmth of the colours in the station. The lightness of the yellow contrasts to the dark orange-brown of the tiles where the stair dips down to the platform while the brigthness of the orange (sort of) cross formed by the sign, its reflections and the train give a focus and depth to the picture.

Reflections after rain stop this being boring, while a walking man (central and pulling the attention in from the edges of the frame) gives the composition focus and a point of balance. The violets in the this are very cold somehow, with the reds providing no sense of warmth.

Despite the sense of forward movement into the space between the nearer two buses here nothing was moving (possibly a faster shutter speed might have spoiled this while sorting out the slight sense of softness across the image) and I was safely stood on a crossing in the middle of Walthamstow Bus Station. Again, there is something quite cold about the image, despite the warmth of the colours.

More streetlight, mostly a rather bilious yellow provides an out-of-focus backdrop for the leaning sign. Despite the possible depth off to the left and the right, a rather flat image.

3: Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours

Red and blue fighting one another with the orange relating to both (opposite to blue and comfortably similar to red) and so making it less uncomfortable somehow. compositionally arranged around the triangle betwen the seats occupied by the man and his rucksack.

A striking yellow gable end with the shadow of a perpendicular row of houses cast on it by the late afternoon sun. The blue of the eastern sky contrasts with the yellow strongly.

Nice shapes at the entrance to work. For some reason on the day I took it, I was able to notice the strong contrast between the yellow of the artificial light inside and blue light coming in from the windows to the west. Compositionally a mass of quadrilaterals, capable of further abstraction.

An objet trouve. A strong colour contrast between the red of the flowers and the blue of the rubbish sack and the lighter emphasises the softness of the abandoned roses and the hardness of the plastic; the light green of the leaves’ underside contrasts with the red of the flowers while stopping the blue jarring as much as it might. The lines between paving slabs and the stems of the roses adds a sense of movement through the frame.

4: Colour Accent using any of the above

A very centralised composition with the cyclist frozen within a a central diamond formed by the cars’ slanting windscreens, the roofs and the tree. An obvious orange point amongst the blues and greens of the foliage and the sky’s reflections on the shiny surfaces of the cars.

Taken through a 1 inch square mesh, covering a window on the hoarding that surrounds this building site, hence the vignetting at the bottom of the image. I got the lens in a better place for this with a second shot, but the man’s legs were no longer in a perfect inverted ‘V’… The picture is further held together by two triangles (or one quadrilateral) formed by the man and the two orange-red bands above him on the building and the orange net at the bottom left.

If William Eggleston can do pictures with their composition based on the confederate flag, I can take a picture composed like a saltire. Particularly when I’m in Glasgow. The greenish-blue of the building, the sky and its reflection in the puddles along with the green of the leaves contrast strongly with the red of the no entry sign.

The sight-lines of the woman at the bottom left and the man taking up the whole of the right side of the frame all point in towards the woman in the red coat, with the colour hopefully stopping the tall man in the hat being the sole focus of the picture.

All pictures taken with a Fujifilm X-100s apart from Fig 3 which was taken with my Nikon D50 and a Nikkor 24mm 1:28 lens. All editing on the main images done in Adobe Lightroom 5.

More general thoughts on these pictures and how they relate to my reading will be contained in the next post.

assignment # 2 – reflections and tutor’s comments

Rather quickly compared to last time – less than a week -­ I got the feedback report from my tutor; as a result, I hadn’t managed to put finger to keypad to do my own reflection piece on the assignment. So, here I’ll try and combine the two a bit, but mainly go with the stuff David wrote and my responses to it. To start with however, I think some gentle general self­-criticism might be in order.

So: the idea of limiting what I could shoot (and eliminating any idea of a reshoot) by going to a small island for a day worked rather well as a discipline. I had done research in the sense that I both knew what wartime installations in Orkney looked like and had read up on what I would be able to find on Flotta. I hadn’t spent any time on that island, but I knew what Orkney looked like and so wasn’t taking facile, “first look” pictures and knew what to avoid (big flat blown skies and flat landscapes with nothing to stop your eye sliding in one side and straight out the other). In terms of pacing myself I could probably have been a bit more energetic and a bit less dawdly as I started out, as it took me from 9 until lunch at nearly two to reach the furthest point of my walk at Stangar Head. Once there, I hurriedly took 2: two points, 5: distinct shapes # 1 and 14: pattern in a bit of a rush while shoving sandwiches into my mouth and slurping down coffee from a Thermos. At the same time, I managed to calculate how quickly I’d have to move on the way back to catch the ferry. There are 14 pictures in my submission for the assignment and only two were taken after lunch; probably I could have done more, and maybe come up with alternatives for some of the less successful earlier pictures if I hadn’t been rushing along through the rain that had started to fall.

1: garrison cinema - flotta

1: garrison cinema – flotta

2: airstrip - flotta

2: airstrip – flotta

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly, I hope I would have noticed the blob of rain on the lens that meant there was a soft spot on several of the pictures I took on the way; I might even have been able to do justice to the airstrip and the garrison theatre.

I like the pictures included in the final selection, particularly the ones of wartime structures, where I think I have come to a conscious understanding of how shooting out from the landward side gives an underlying sense of their purpose of observation and defence which is not there if you position yourself on the shore­side of them looking inland. I’ll play with this some more next time I’m up in Orkney I think. Some of them are weaker than the rest ­ 2: two points is soft (something gone into by Dave in his tutor’s report and which I’ll talk about more fully in a later post about what I think I am doing with equipment during this course -­ once it’s written, I’ll turn this into a link…); 4: several points is a bit lacklustre really; 14: pattern is just a bit too obvious ­ but generally I’m happier with this set than I was with the contrasted pairs of Assignment 1.

Dave’s overall view was very encouraging too ­ “Well done! […] this was an accomplished assignment and you have made some really interesting pictures ­ going on to highlight 5 of the pictures which “work for me because they are visually well composed as well as having a subject matter that begs questions –what is this place, and what happened here? The sea is obviously important and the lighting suits the subjects well” ­ and he also appreciated the fact I’d had prints made.

Where he was less pleased with the pictures, his criticisms made sense: there were a number that he felt were too tightly framed ­ the diagonals of the playpark and the third shapes picture although he was charitable enough to ascribe this to the need to follow the constraints of the exercise, rather than my laziness in not walking half a dozen paces further back and jumping over a fence! I also suspect that part of the reason for overly tight framing could be down to my rarely looking at my pictures any larger than 6 x 4 inches and making a lot of judgements while shooting based on the small viewfinder image and the equally small screen on my D50 ­ a bonus of getting decent sized prints made is possibly that I will start to be less concerned about something not being “there” in the picture as it is too small to stand out. We’ll see…

Dave also felt that the first implied triangle picture didn’t match the other pictures in the set due to the wildly differenct perspective created by both the lens and the way it was angled down at the foreground. I can see this and am happy to replace it with his suggested alternative:

AoP-assignment-2.2-1

“The triangle could be in the posts, the grass or the tarmac and it fits well with the cool, grey aesthetic that runs through the images whilst adding something new to the series” – Dave Wyatt

This isn’t a picture I took as part of the assignment; rather it was a diary-­type shot taken as I got off the ferry, to show where I was. As a result, I never considered it for inclusion here, but realise now that -­ as well as Dave’s comment above -­ it adds a further layer to the view of the economic history of the island contained in the set: other pictures show farming (now pretty much defunct), the fleet base at Scapa Flow, renewable energy elements and ­ – in 13: rhythm -­ a retired couple’s washing, hinting at the ageing resident population; I’d been slightly annoyed that I hadn’t been able to get anything of the oil terminal into the set and this achieves that in a simple and obvious way. I will get a copy printed up at the same time as I get the prints made for assignment 3…