Assignment 4: Reflection following Tutor Feedback.

I feel very happy and relaxed following this feedback.

Previously, I have found myself feeling irritated and have disagreed with certain statements made by my tutor, but this time, I am in full agreement, and appreciate the guidance he has offered.

I agree that three of the images are weaker as they offer fewer possibilities for interpretation. What you see is what you get, with those shots. This stems largely from the fact that I was shooting at home, and was, for the most part, not arranging the scenes, so much as shooting what was there, and simply arranging the lighting. Sometimes I got lucky, as the home I share with my wife can be a little unconventional at times. But there’s only so much ‘weird’ to be found in one house.

As a development of this kind of work, I may at some point in the future try using the same methodology, but outdoors, away from my home.  The derelict building that will appear in my next exercise (5.1) would offer a lot of possibilities for this kind of work, though the location would probably make such work quite dangerous. We’ll see.


My tutors advice, regarding studying contemporary works that seem to fly in the face of conventional photographic practice, is very welcome. It’s something that has been bothering me for some time. The coursework teaches a set of skills, yet much contemporary art actively eschews these methods… and I need to get my head around this.

Assignment 4: Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

You have submitted an interesting and evocative set of photographs Steve, well done.  In terms of your stated aim of creating otherness, you have been successful! The work shows a good level of control over the lighting at your disposal which together offers the potential for the kind of narrative readings that Crewdson’s work creates. This work shows real potential for development and continues the vein of previous, stronger work that achieves an eerie or uneasy quality through the introduction of lighting to night time scenes. The next step is to shift this work beyond a very direct relationship to Crewdson so that you begin to develop your own unique photographic voice.


Assessment potential 

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.


Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

In general terms, the more successful pictures are the ones that present an illuminated moment where something seems about to happen or has just happened. I will be more specific about the attributes of these images below.

Image 01

An interesting image to start the series that manages to transform a seemingly mundane suburban garage and street in to an eerie and creepy scene. The deliberate Dutch angle creates the sense that we are witness to something – evoking the use of hand hand camera in moving image works to create the idea that we are ‘behind the eyes’ of one of the characters. The colour of the sky and the theatrical illumination of the opposite houses manage to increase this sense of foreboding. The bin bag in the foreground right of frame, although I suspect not deliberately placed, is suggestive of some kind of dodgy goings on – a body? And the strongly lit green garage door invites us to wonder what is happening in the opposite garden. There is even a subtle nod – and I’m, not sure how you will feel about this –  towards the Fred West story where a simple suburban house in a regular suburban street is transformed (and ultimately demolished) by the actions of one of its recipients.


Image 02

Another successful image that transforms a simple ‘load of old furniture’ into something much more interesting. By eliminating information through the seductive and selective use of lighting, you manage to create potential narrative readings about this very simple set up. Who does this chair belong to? Why is it in the garden? Even if it is simply a load of old furniture, the simple fact that the chair is facing the desk suggests that it is still in use as some kind of office. Compositionally, I like the way that the eye is drawn to the left of the image by the lit edge of desktop and as well as the fact that the chair just touches the edge of frame left.


Image 03

Although compositionally interesting, this picture has less of a theatrical impact than the previous two – there are fewer possibilities for the viewer to create their own narratives.


Image 04

For me, this is the most successful in terms of the Crewdsonesque reading that you suggest in your accompanying text. The strong light from the microwave really makes me wonder what is inside there and there is even a suggestion of something super natural or even extra-terrestrial. The image is compositionally simple and the perspective lines created by the worktop and cupboards strongly draws the eye across the image and past the main focus – the microwave. An extra sense of eeriness (horror films?) is created by the fact that the flex that is sitting in front of the mocrowave initially looks like a child’s skipping rope. These kinds of small details are so important to the reading of an image and are elements that you can learn to be much more in control of as you move forward.


Image 05

Similar to image 03, this one is less engaging when presented with the more theatrical pictures.


Image 06

Of the three similar images (03, 05 & 06) this one is the most successful. The ordinariness of the setting is shifted by two elements. Firstly the large and scary looking crab on the wall and secondly by the shadow that is cast across the image in the bottom right hand corner of the frame. Is it a person? Another large object?



Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Your coursework is looking good, well done.



Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

I am pleased to read that you are troubled by the difficult and shifting relationship between contemporary photographic practice and technical ability.  I would like to see much more research and reflection about this interesting problem through the analyzing of much more contemporary photographic art work. Choose some work that you find really troubling for your own aesthetic sensibilities and try to do further research and analysis to understand why that work is considered successful by others.


Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

The more logical elements of your blog are looking good but try to expand the ‘research & reflection’ section by trying to do more of the kind of research and reflection that I mention above. This is the area that the assessors will be interested in – your struggle and attempts to understand as you move through the unit.


Suggested reading/viewing


Sian Bonnell – have a look at the way that Bonnell playfully shifts our reading of the domestic in to something else.

Sarah Hobbs – photographic sculptural interventions of domestic spaces – again the actions of the artist subvert the reading of the image.

Hav a look at the relationship between Freud’s ideas about ‘the Uncanny’ and photography. A good starting point might be this essay – but it would be worth doing some further research of your own. The uncanny is often talked about in relation to Crewdson’s work so this might also be a good starting point to writing your own thoughts in your learning log.


Pointers for the next assignment / assessment


  • Further research of contemporary photographic work
  • Research the Uncanny
  • Increase the research and reflection section of your learning log

Assignment 4: Languages of Light

Assignment 4 requires us to revisit one of the previous exercises on daylight, artificial light, or studio light, and build on that work.

While researching, I was struck by the ‘Phantom’ series, (Luxemburg, 2003), and concluded that, though I could not emulate Luxemburg’s representations of a city, depicting future plans within a contemporary scene, I could at least try to emulate her use of long exposures in urban settings.  Unfortunately, ill health and other circumstances prevented me from getting out much at night, and in the little time I managed, I was unable to produce results that I was happy with.

While having to work from home initially seemed like a serious restriction, I found examining works such as ‘Ray of Light’ (Crewdson, 2007) inspiring.  His detailed control of all elements of a scene, and particularly the lighting, produces images that I find very striking. So I experimented with controlling the lighting in both interior and exterior scenes, attempting to achieve a certain atmosphere or mood.

What I have done for this assignment is a development of the work I did on both artificial light, and studio light, combining the methodologies, to produce images that I’m pleased with.

In Exercise 4.3, I found locations in and around my home with striking or interesting forms of artificial light, while in Exercise 4.4, I controlled the lighting of a pineapple in studio conditions, to create different effects.

For this assignment, I chose locations in and around my home, and controlled the lighting conditions with one or more battery powered tungsten bulbs, to produce interesting lighting conditions. Some of these locations already had an amount of artificial light coming from other sources, which increased the complexity of the lighting within the shot.

All of the following shots were taken using a Canon EOS 1300D using a converted Vivitar 28mm fully manual lens.  All shots were taken in fully manual mode, with manual focusing.

Image #1


28mm. F8. 20 sec. ISO 200. No flash.     View at 1000 x 1500

The lighting in this scene is complex, with street lights reflecting from the fronts of the facing houses, a garden light reflecting from the green garage door opposite, and the ‘blue hour’ sky offering a little natural light. I supplemented this with a single, battery powered tungsten bulb, positioned quite high, to light the interior scene.

The image is deliberately tilted slightly, not just to create an off balance sensation when viewing this image, but to also to use this sensation to good effect when moving on to the next image. The viewer should already be feeling a little unsure of what they’re looking at.


Image #2


28mm. F4. 30 sec. ISO 200. No flash.   View at 1000 x 1500

The scene looks entirely staged, but is actually just a load of old furniture dumped in the back garden, waiting to go in a skip. I find it visually pleasing, due to the surreal nature of office furniture in an outdoor setting.

The tungsten bulb was placed on the chair, which was angled to hide it. The back of the chair is lit by a neighbour’s garden light.


Image #3


28mm. F4. 13sec. ISO 100. No flash.  1000 x 1500

Dead flowers on a windowsill. This is a reshoot of an earlier image. A lot of clutter on the work surface was removed to make for a more focused image, but unfortunately, these flowers aren’t as dead, or unusual looking, as those used in the earlier shot.

The lighting is quite complex, with two battery powered tungsten bulbs. One is placed some distance from the flowers, directly in front of them, and the other is wrapped in green, yellow and blue carrier bags, to create a warm feel, and is being held in my hand, out to the side of the flowers, while I take the shot. There is also street lighting reflected from the clouds outside, hence the colour of the sky through the window.

I was concerned about the move from outdoors to indoors, but feel the flowers in this shot and the last create a connecting theme.


Image #4


28mm. F4. 20sec. ISO 200. No flash.  View at 1000 x 1500

More complex lighting. There is the obvious light coming from the microwave, plus green and blue LEDs reflected from a router and a printer, out of shot. There is also one battery powered tungsten bulb, again wrapped in 3 coloured carrier bags, producing a warm fill light.


Image #5


28mm. F4. 25sec. ISO 200. No flash.  View at 1000 x 1500

The lighting for this shot it quite simple. There is one battery powered tungsten bulb, wrapped in 3 coloured carrier bags. Placed at about waist height, to the right of the scene, it produces pleasing shadows on the wall. There’s also a small amount of light from a street light, visible on the door in the mirror.

I find the colour of the light produced by this bulb, when placed in the bags, is very pleasing. It reminds me somewhat of very early morning sunlight, or even candle light.


Image #6


28mm. F4. 25sec. ISO 200. No flash.  View at 1000 x 1500

The light is from a street light coming in through a window, and one tungsten bulb, placed on the floor to the right of the scene. There is also light from a TV in the next room, reflecting off the wall.


In terms of creativity, I have tried to capture a sense of the surreal, or a feeling of oddness. Sometimes this is through unusual compositions, which focus the viewer’s eye on details they might not normally give a second glance.  Sometimes it is through arrangements of items placed out of context. Sometimes it is just pausing to look at the stillness of an everyday scene, but in a different light. Always, the light is used for maximum effect.

When I showed her these photos, my wife said “I know that’s our house, but I don’t recognise it.” This is what I’m aiming for. ‘Otherness’.

(Word count: 1015)


Link to Exercise 4.5

Contact Sheets

Contact Sheet #1

Contact Sheet #2

Contact Sheet #3

Contact Sheet #4

Contact Sheet #5

Contact Sheet #6


Crewdson, G. (2007) In: The Genius of Photography Episode 6 – Snap Judgements [DVD]BBC  Viewable at (Accessed 05/05/2017)

Crewdson, G. (2001) ‘Ray of Light’ In: Bright, S. (2005) Art Photography Now. London: Thames and Hudson. pp.79

Luxemburg, R. B. (2003) ‘Phantom’ In: Bright, S. (2005) Art Photography Now. London: Thames and Hudson. pp.202-204

Assignment 4 – More Images

Having found myself uninspired and utterly demotivated when shooting around town, I elected to take some more shots at home.

While my previous home based shots were a mix of the ‘artificial light’ and ‘studio light’ exercises, I decided to try something similar, but to take them outside, into the garage and garden, as these offer some interesting views and subject matter.

I find I really like this kind of work… not exactly arranging the scene, though perhaps adjusting the occasional object… but managing the light for maximum effect.


Image #1


I’ve shot these kaftans hanging on a line before, and they always seem to have this sharp/blurred effect on the patter… or maybe it’s my eyes. It just interests me. This won’t make the cut, I just felt like sharing it.


Now I get to the tricky stuff. Three sets of images, and I need to pick one of each. It’s not easy.


Image #2



This is a very striking image, and I like it a lot. However, with the light source actually visible in the frame, it breaks with the method used in the rest of the set, so probably won’t make the cut.


Image #3


It has less impact like this, but is probably the image I will opt for, to keep a consistent lighting method throughout the set.


Image #4


I like the light on the chair, though it’s a bit too strong on the tree stump, and the leaves are too vibrant, standing out where I want them to be less of a feature.


Image #5


I like the area under the chair, and the way the vase is lit, but overall, it’s rather flat and lifeless.


Image #6


I like the way the light shines through the vase, and the overall effect is quite dramatic, but it’s also obviously staged, while lacking any purpose. The desk and chair (Image #3) is also a clearly staged scene, but it asks questions, and has a certain dreamlike quality. This is just a chair with a light behind it.


Image #7


I like the light on the back of the chair, and the blurred green leaves in the foreground, obscuring part of the view (my wife doesn’t like this)… but I don’t care for the white light on the legs and vase. Overall, I guess it’s a bit messy and ill defined.


Image #8


Two light sources. One tungsten(ish) and one purple. I’m unsure about this.

Actually, I’m unsure about the whole set. I may not select any of these chair ones in the end.


Image #9


The blue hour, viewed from my garage. This works better with a landscape orientation, but I have to keep it as portrait, to fit with the rest of the set.


Image #10


Bringing the clutter and ‘stuff’ on the sideboard more into view. The image isn’t about the car, or the house, it’s about looking at what’s outside, from the inside (and the qualities of light in the different areas) … so I wanted to show more of the inside.


Image #11


A slight adjustment of the camera angle. There’s not much in it.


The thing with taking all of these outdoor shots, and I’ve found this whenever I take night shots in particularly low light; it’s really hard to frame the images correctly, and even harder to focus. For the most part, I couldn’t see anything at all either in the viewfinder, or on the screen.

Sometimes this can be fixed by shining a torch at the subject while composing the shot, but this isn’t always an option.

Assignment 4 – Slow progress.

Illness has been a factor in the way this assignment is developing. Several weeks(!) with the flu (or some similar virus that fairly knocked me for 6) limited my ability to get out at night and take shots around town.

When I finally did get out, I found myself rushing, due to domestic circumstances that I won’t bother to detail, and a general unease at being out in the early hours on the weekend, when there was a significant presence of … lets call them ‘revellers’.

The results… nothing I’m remotely impressed by.

Image #1


I actually like this one. It was a handheld shot, taken in ‘the blue hour’. The contrast between the gold (yellow) street light being reflected by the tree, with the deep blue/purple of the sky, and the chaotic feel created by the motion blur… it has a certain energy.


Image #2


This looked better ‘in person’.


Image #3


Another one where you had to be there. Almost certainly a lack of skill on my part, that I couldn’t capture what it was that made this a fascinating scene.


Image #4


I like how the tree looks, but the overall composition is ‘meh’.


Image #5


This one has something about it. Again, it’s one where a lack of skill on my part meant I couldn’t quite capture the atmosphere. Something about the contrasting qualities of light. Definitely needed a tighter aperture too. I thought a blurred out foreground would be a positive… but it isn’t.


Image #6


Just ‘meh’.


My lack of inspiration, and general discomfort led me to try more shots at home, where I could control the light. More of that in my next post.

Assignment 4 – First shoot

For this assignment, I’m concentrating on artificial light.

I found myself loving the work of Rut Blees Luxemburg, and while I can’t mimic the concept behind her work, depicting the intended changes to a city, and it’s depiction, through corporate art, set in an urban location… I can at least try to emulate her use of light, to some degree. The golden effect of sodium street lighting is in plentiful supply around here, if not the more colourful neon advertising signs.

So my plan is to go out late at night, looking for interesting and gritty locations, where the detail is accentuated by the street lighting. Extremes of light and shade are always of interest to me.


I have been ill for the past 3 weeks with what appears to be a virus, and have been largely housebound.

That being the case, rather than leave everything on hold, I combined the work I did in exercises 4.3 and 4.4, to produce a series of indoor shots, where I had controlled the light to produces some very pleasing images.

I placed the battery powered bulb I used previously into 3 coloured carrier bags (one yellow, one green, one blue) all at the same time, and found this produced a very pleasing quality of light. I then placed this within darkened rooms, having already selected subjects of interest and focused my camera on them.

On turning out the lights, I moved the bulb around until the light on my chosen subject achieved an interesting effect or feel.

These are, in my opinion, the most interesting images I achieved. ( My wife is horrified that I’m sharing them, but does see the visual interest)

Image #1



Image #2



Image #3



Image #4



Image #5



Image #6



Image #7



Image #8



Image #9



Image #10



Image #11



All of these images are, to me, interesting, not only in the representation of the quality and effect of artificial light, but in the sometimes unusual nature of the subject matter being shown.

They show the sometimes random, jumbled, or even chaotic nature of a domestic life. Things get placed in locations that, to the casual observer, make no sense at all.

To the person/people placing those objects, there’s a perfectly good reason for them being where they are (though sometimes something is just put down momentarily and forgotten)… but the effect, to the casual viewer, can be surreal.

Sometimes it’s just about the effect of the light, coming from an unlikely angle, in a mundane setting. Why is there light coming up from inside the bathtub?


So… these images are my fallback position, in case I’m unable to get out at night to take photos of the surrounding area… or if I fail to take any that are interesting or achieve my aims.

Assignment 3: Reflection following Feedback

I feel more positive following this feedback compared with the last assignment, though some things still bother me.  I shall respond to individual comments in the order that they were written.


‘You have submitted an interesting and promising set of images in response to the brief. It is not easy to take photographs in the public realm and you did well to utilize the technology at your disposal. This method of working means that you have to take lots and lots of pictures and that the most important part of the process is in the selection of images to be included. You have done a pretty good job and there are some good examples of decisive moments. Thank you also for sending prints, it is great to get into the habit of experiencing your work in the printed form as objects. As you move forward in your studies, this is something that you will be expected to do more and more.‘

This makes me feel good about the images I have produced, and is encouraging.

I print photos as often as I can. The cost of ink can be prohibitive, but I’m very aware of the temporary nature of anything posted online, and the fragility of digital files. Photos in physical form are the way to go, as far as I’m concerned.



‘There is a misunderstanding when trying to create images that fit in to the category of the decisive moment. Too often the decisive moment is considered to be simply the capturing of a moment in time through the use of a camera or the capturing of a moment that is about to happen. In one sense all photographs are ‘moments’ but what makes them ‘decisive’ in photographic theory terms is the capturing of a moment within an image whose narrative and compositional particularities conspire to create telling moment in time. This moment can be easily missed by a fraction of a second. I will try to apply this explanation as I comment on each of your individual images.’


‘Image 01

This picture has caught an interesting moment in time and there is certainly the suggestion of something about to happen. The position of the foreground subject’s head who appears to be looking at the man creates the idea that something is about to happen. However, the moment might be considered more ‘decisive’ if the car was compositionally placed in a position before it reaches the man or the woman or both offering the notional potential for it to hit one or both of them.

You made a really good point in your reflection where you said that the reason this is your favourite image is because you know what did happen. We as viewers do not have this luxury so are bound down by the information included within the frame.’

I agree that compositionally, the moment would appear more decisive if the car appeared that it was going to hit one or both of the people. However, given that this was a real situation in the real world, unstaged, and completely out of my control, the point is moot.  It was not a matter of poor timing or standing in the wrong place, as such a scene did not occur.



‘Image 02

This is the picture that most closely includes an interesting decisive moment. It is a really good example that I hope the following commentary will explain.

Compositionally we are drawn to the character in the background through the character in the foreground. This visual arrangement creates a relationship between the two characters.  The gaze of the background subject, who looks like she has been startled by something in the foreground then becomes intertwined with the action of the foreground subject on her phone. These formal qualities create an almost magic moment where we expect something to happen to the background character in relation to the actions of the foreground character. Has the older woman just texted the younger one? Has she just said something out loud? Has the phone made a strange sound? Id there somebody else, currently out of shot to the right, that might be about to do something? I would , perhaps, have preferred both characters to be in focus.’

The apparent interaction between the two people is a happy accident, as the older woman with the phone was the focus of my attention, hence the other woman being somewhat out of focus.



‘Image 03

The most striking thing about this picture is the relationship between the red of the upright standing character’s coat and the red of the phone box (I also like the accent of red of the sign just peeking in to the left of frame). In terms of the decisive moment, I can see that you would like us to think about whether the phone is about to ring –  and indeed we do but the picture, as a decisive moment, could be improved by the inclusion of another compositional element – perhaps another character who looks like they are walking towards the phone?’

The relationship between the red subjects is what initially drew my eye to the scene, so I’m glad that it worked compositionally. There is also the positioning of the lad and the phone box, either side of a wavy line, like a yin and yang, which is noteworthy.

I am puzzled by the rest of this comment, and indeed, entirely disagree with it. It was not my intention to suggest that the phone was about to ring. My intention was quite clear in my assignment notes, ‘…a youth, apparently staring in bewilderment at a telephone box. It’s as if he’s thinking “Phones go in your pocket. What’s that big red box all about?”’

The scene had comedic value and a narrative that definitely doesn’t require another compositional element.  It is very disheartening when feedback creates the impression that the tutor has not read my assignment notes.


‘Image 04

This one works well because of the echoed expressions of the two protagonists who appear to be looking at the camera. Their startled expressions seem to be too exaggerated to be simply responding to a covert photographer; they look like something much more serious has happened behind the photographer. Their reactions are compounded by the apparently not-bothered passer-by on the left of the frame. There is also a good compositional relationship between the angles created by the haircut sign and the cardboard boxes carried by the female protagonist.’

That’s pretty much how I feel about it. While it’s not my favourite image of the set, I do feel it’s the most unambiguous.



‘Image 05

This one is less successful. The gaze of the cyclist coupled with the other characters arranged around him are not enough to call this moment decisive and it is compositionally less successful than some of your previous pictures.’


While I agree that the composition is weak, (the weakest in the set, even), what constitutes a decisive moment can be a matter of opinion, and on the subject of glances, I think I differ with my tutor.

To my mind, (and maybe this is because I have Asperger’s syndrome), eye contact is a very powerful and striking thing. It’s powerful when you experience it yourself, and entirely noteworthy when you see (or capture) it among others.


‘Image 06

Again, a weaker one. I assume that it is the look of the woman walking towards the camera that you are considering as ‘decisive’?, this is not enough on its own. She is out of focus and there is not enough of a connection between her and the thing that she is apparently looking at.’

Again, I disagree, but of more concern to me, I again find myself questioning whether my tutor has bothered to read my assignment notes.


‘Your research is appropriate and includes some pertinent reflection. See if you can expand on the things you are looking at by visiting more exhibitions – even ones that you visit by design rather than chance! Try to reflect on the new things that you see in relation to your own work. Are there any parallels that can be drawn conceptually or visually or both?’

The visiting of galleries is problematic for me, both in terms of funds, travel, and social anxiety. This is unfortunate, as I do recognise the value of doing so.

I do on occasion refer to parallels that can be drawn between my own work and the work of others, though perhaps as I fit these things into posts on larger subjects, rather than writing specific pieces about them, such remarks are perhaps being missed?

I can work on this.


‘Your learning log is really your ‘Research and Reflection’ section. The inclusion of your coursework and assignments is good but your learning log should really be a record of everything that you are ‘learning’ rather than ‘doing’. The best learning logs include an evolving narrative of thinking evidenced by reflection on all aspect of your studies.’

I will have to work on this.

Apart from the technical side of capturing images, it is hard to describe what I actually ‘learn’.

I recognise that I may have an issue here. I reject an amount of what I read as nothing but pretentious rubbish, and so couldn’t claim to have learned anything from it. Other things that I read are concepts that I’m already familiar with, or seem little more than obvious or common sense, and so again, can’t write about learning, as I don’t feel I’ve learned anything new.

Would it be better to fake it? To appear that I buy into something that I do not, would be objectionable to me.

There is another aspect that I think I need to work on. Where I feel I am gaining most is in the looking at the work of recognised photographers. Not so much what they have said, and definitely not what others have said about them…. but their actual work. I see and feel things, and am influenced by their visual language.  This is where it is difficult… because it is a visual language; while I can absorb and appreciate aspects of their work, and indeed, have learned many things… verbalising this is very difficult. It’s probably why I reject so much of what I read by others about others. Verbalising a visual language can result in gibberish.


‘There are lots of people that I have suggested that you look at in relation to previous assignments. I am not seeing any reflection of these practitioners on your blog. I have therefore copied and pasted these examples again for you to consider and reflect on.’

I did look at the work of those practitioners, but was unaware that I was expected to write pieces on them. Given that they were related to previous assignments, as opposed to the ones I was working on, this didn’t seem like a good use of time.  Suggestions of practitioners to study, in relation to assignments, are much more useful when they come before the assignment, as opposed to after it, allowing me to be guided by example.

However, if reflection on the work of these photographers is what is expected, I shall comply.