Tag Archives: feedback

Assignment # 5 – Tutor’s Comments

aop-a5-tutor-header

Another sky over Walthamstow

“Conceptually this assignment was a success. You have experimented with an interesting idea and have created a critically interesting body of work looking at this place.”

Another set of positive comments (Tutor’s Report – Assignment 5) came back from my tutor,  a couple of weeks after I had submitted the physical book dummy and a link to my recent posts for the assignment. I was glad to see that David had thought the work was successful and the description of it as a body of work (rather than a bunch of photographs) showed that I had hit the spot I was aiming at here.

It would have been nice to get a bit more explicit praise, but moving onto things that can be improved makes sense in the context of a course that I am following and which itself forms a part of larger scheme of development.

“Rather boringly I’m afraid I have concentrated most of this feedback on a few technical issues that do need to be ironed out as soon as possible to allow your outcome to match your critical thinking. Hopefully this will put you in a strong position both conceptually and technically for the next module.”

Onto the specifics. First: “There is an overall red colour cast in all of the street pictures.” This is followed by a detailed description of how to correct while editing the images.

I find this useful and annoying in equal measure! Useful, because my use of Lightroom is very much self taught in a very hit and miss way. One of the things I’ve noted as a possible side-project during the level 1 courses is to work a bit on my workflow and how I work with images after they have been created initially and a particular area of focus would be how I deal with colour. The techniques outlined here are instantly applicable and can be incorporated into my expanding repertoire of standard actions while preparing pictures for inclusion on the blog or for individual assignments. It’s annoying however, because I actually applied the basic Lightroom “Cloudy” white balance setting to all the street images as they seemed a bit cold. The easy way to achieve much the same result as via David’s method would be simply to revert the pictures to “As Shot”.  How embarrassing!

Chromatic Aberation reared it’s ugly fringe again too. All the street shots were taken with the same rather old 24mm f2.8 Nikkor prime. Leaving aside the fact that I should have spotted this myself (and corrected it in Lightroom), Level 1 of the BA lays the most emphasis on the straightforwardly technical aspects of photography, and I should definitely review my basic kit and replace the worse bits of it with something better as I work through the next two courses before moving onto level 2. Generally, my set of lenses is good, but old and second hand, chosen as much for price as for performance; There have been issues with some of the other lenses I’ve used with my D50 during TAoP and this may be the next place for me to focus my attention after replacing my DSLR body with something that is less ten years old…

The other area for focussed criticism was the presentation of the assignment: “I was pleased to see you include a dummy for the book. This demonstrates well your thinking concerning potential presentation of the work. I realise this is level one and as such this is unlikely to have a huge bearing on marks but you might consider producing a slightly more polished version for assessment.”

I’ll also redo the Assignment 5 book dummy following the method detailed in the feedback: I’ll print the pictures as a strip and then fold them into shape rather than connecting individual prints.  The scoring board and tools are sitting in my Amazon basket, ready for me to click submit. I have worked out where to get it printed and just need to make up the composited file for printing.

I will also take some time to look at how pictures can be displayed online, both in WordPress and more generally. I have a basic knowledge of web design and it shouldn’t be beyond me to play about with the Javascript & the CSS styles around them. I’ve noted a couple of times during the course that photographers’ websites can often be shocking to navigate or even just as a platform for pictures; it would be good to turn this carping into something positive with regard to my own work!


And that – bar some best wishes for the future and a nice general appreciation of my work over the course – is that.

 “I would suggest enrolling on the ‘Context and Narrative’ module next.”

And so I shall. I have enjoyed this course, and feel ready to move on. I’m booked in for the November Assessment Event. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks tidying my learning log – turning unfinished drafts into published posts; writing up missing exercises; making sure the metadata is consistent across posts; doing a final proof-read for typos, spelling and just simple stupidity – and making a final selection of assignment pictures to send as prints. It would be good if the assessment report would be able to feed into the next course sooner than November, but that can’t be helped. I shall assume that it won’t differ radically from what David has been saying over the last year.

assignment # 3 – tutor’s comments & re-edited set

I got the feedback for Assignment 3 in time for Christmas. Dave, my tutor commented: “The log is coming along well. I’d like to see a little more content generally but there is plenty of time for this over the next two chapters.” The fact that that I’m only posting this now, 3 months later shows that there’s still a fair bit of work to do on this front. I have done the exercises for both part 3 and part 4, but have been appalling at writing them up. I have no real excuse for this and can only say that my intention is to rattle them off in parallel with doing the narrative exercises over the next few weeks.

But now onto the main part of Dave’s feedback, relating to the pictures submitted for Assignment 3. The slideshow below is a revised set of pictures, incorporating the areas he identified as needing work. I’ll get them reprinted before I submit them for assessment. The original treatment of the pictures can be seen here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall, the feedback was generally very positive – “Firstly I should say that the colour relationships were mainly all clear and well spotted so well done –this assignment is particularly difficult to do when out of the studio so you have done well. Your diagrams show that you are seeing the different relationships well and composing the frame accordingly, which is the primary objective of the assignment.”

Where it wasn’t positive, it was, I’d say, fair and tended to chime with what I’d thought myself as I was completing the assignment:

  • “There was one image that stood out as not really up to the quality of the others -AoP-A3-06. The sign and shop front are all a little soft from camera shake.” – Premier Halal Butchers is on my way home from the tube; I reshot the picture on a night when it was rainy enough for the neon to reflect back from the paving (Fig 6 in the slideshow above).
  • “The only overall concern I had was that you seem to have had a slightly heavy hand with the saturation controls –presumably in an effort to really make the colour relationships stand out. I would advise against this, you are better off keeping the colours a little more natural. […] The assignment is all about seeing the colour relationships when you are framing, not about creating or highlighting them in post-production.” – I had come to the same conclusion myself when I realised that some of the “accentuated colour” versions of the assignment pictures weren’t all that more accentuated than the “normal” ones; I had spent a fair bit of time isolating the colours I wanted to stress in most of the pictures, reducing the saturation and shifting the hue of things that reduced the clarity of the main colour relationship in the picture; some of the results were downright garish. Ugh! I have now restored the pictures to something much closer to what came out of the camera.
  • “I would like to begin to see is some effort to link the images in later assignments together thematically or narratively.” To an extent, I felt – and still feel – that these pictures all link together in the sense that they were taken on my way to or from work, and my original intention as I started to compile the set was to come up with each of the four categories containing one picture from each four sub-groups – Walthamstow, Public Transport, Glasgow and Oxford Circus with one night shot in each subgroup – but this quickly became more of a hindrance than a help in getting the assignment completed.
  • Finally, one of the pictures was picked out as having a rather tenuous colour-relationship, Fig 9: Red and Blue – London. Again, guilty as charged, I think. It’s probably only there as a throwback to the 4 public transport pictures idea. I shall go through the rejected pictures from the other shoots and see if I can find something that more clearly shows Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours.

Throughout Part 3, I had been reading and thinking around the work of the New Topographics photographers; following on from this, Dave suggested I look at the work of a number of more contemporary (and more British) photographers, to develop further my thoughts on depicting landscape. I have worked through the list and have particularly enjoyed work by Jem Southern and Fay Godwin. One of the posts I need to write here over the remainder of the course is one that goes into all this more, as I try to make my thoughts on town and country, America and Europe, wilderness and “man-altered”, home and away, past and present etc etc coalesce into something I build on. Watch this space…