Assignment 2: Collecting

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Contact Sheet #1


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Assignment 2: Collecting



The subject matter I settled on fell well within my comfort zone in terms of subject and location, though was a polar opposite in terms of style. This set comes into the category of ‘a subject of your own choosing’.

My collection of vintage and retro gaming hardware, be it computers, or games consoles, offers many visually interesting objects, which can be viewed from different perspectives, both aesthetically, and philosophically.

When designed, these systems were, if not at the absolute cutting edge of consumer technology, at least had the future in mind. There was an awareness that the future would be dominated by technology, and efforts were made to push towards that future.

Looked at now, we are perhaps in the future that these systems were pushing towards. They could be described now as ‘retro futurist’.



These images were all taken using a 50mm prime lens which, on my cropped sensor camera, is the equivalent of around 90mm on a camera with a full frame sensor. They were all taken at f1.8, indoors and under artificial light at ISO 100. The camera was situated approximately two feet from the subjects, using a tripod.

This had the effect of creating a very shallow depth of field and a very tight viewing angle. That the images show only part of the objects depicted, while being largely an artistic choice, was also necessitated by the use of such a lens in what was a very small room. It would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to get the camera far enough away from the subjects to show some of them in their entirety.


Artistic Decisions and Influences

The decision to use a very shallow depth of field, while showing only part of the subject in the frame, changes the way these objects are viewed. It may be that the viewer is unaware of the details of the object entirely, and quite unlikely that they will be aware of any ‘retro futurist’ aspect or context.

The viewer is forced to look at specific fine details, or vague forms or shapes, and to interpret what they see in whatever manner suits them. What they don’t get is a photograph of a computer or games console handed to them on a plate.

I have previously had almost no experience of shooting with a very shallow depth of field, as until recently, I have not had a camera capable of achieving it.  So with this being my chosen format and an indoor location being necessary due to weather and time constraints, the results were always likely to look a certain way.

My final selection was influenced by the work of Cosci (2006) and his ‘Hidden’ series

I had shortlisted several images containing views of whole objects, while I had rejected another, due to shelving being in the shot and affecting the composition. Cosci’s work gave me cause to re-evaluate these decisions, and I feel the set is stronger for that.


What Worked Well

Working indoors, as opposed to the outdoor settings I often opt for, allowed me to work in a relaxed manner. While I produced fewer images, in significantly less time, those that I took were more usable. ‘Less haste, more speed’. The results also fit together nicely as a set, partly because I was shooting everything using the same lens, camera settings etc. and partly because of consistent lighting conditions.


What Didn’t Work So Well

Being indoors with fairly low artificial lighting, and using a 50mm lens at ISO 100 required fairly long exposures. Attempts to use a higher ISO resulted in unacceptable noise; so longer exposures were needed, necessitating the use of a tripod.

Shooting in a confined space using a 50mm lens on a cropped sensor camera was a tricky proposition. It was not always possible to achieve the angles or views I wanted, simply because I didn’t have the room to position the tripod correctly.


How the Series Might be Improved in the Future

As for improving the series that I selected, I would spend more time, and make efforts to improve the lighting conditions. With better light, I could attempt handheld shots, and so achieve some more interesting angles.

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Cosci, G (2006) Hidden At: (Accessed on 09/01/2017)

This submission can also be viewed on my learning log at


Following tutor feedback I have altered the order that the images appear in, and removed references to and descriptions of a previous, abortive assignment project.