Tutor Feedback

Original Feedback Document

 

Overall Comments

There are some interesting pictures here, Steve, well done. I really enjoyed reading your ‘additional commentary’ and I am glad that you feel able to start to make observations and judgments as well as ask questions to yourself about the work. This is a really good start and your confidence in your own (in)abilities is refreshing and stands your development in good stead.

When looking at students work, it is sometimes helpful to start to pick out recurrent themes between projects or indeed within an individual series. Your images and commentary tell me that you seem to be interested in visiting or recapturing or visiting the past. This mostly came across really strongly in your commentary. Perhaps this is something that you could continue to develop in future projects. Remember, you can angle the briefs to encompass your own interests.

On a more general note, as you progress, be prepared to go back to the same location again if you didn’t get the shot that you need. You mention this in your commentary about image 01. Photographers will often visit and revisit sites until they achieve the desired results – or more interestingly discover new ones!

On a technical note, it would be good to upload larger resolution image to your blog as well as the thumbnails for me to see more of the detail.

Assessment potential

 You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

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

Image 01

You clearly have great imagination and I enjoyed your attempts to read this image in an objective way. You have managed to describe some of the elements within the image but I think your reading of it has more to do with a description of what it is like to actually be there rather than an image that describes certain aspects of it. You have successfully managed to suggest an edge of eeriness to this picture but I think that is more to so with the implied narrative. People sit in cars late at night for lots of different reasons and usually they are not entirely honourable! As the viewer, I feel complicit in some kind of dodgyness, stalking? Dogging? Joint casing?

 

On a technical note, I am concerned that there is no real point of focus and although you used a long exposure with a low ISO, there is detail that could be better captured (See note on Dan Holdsworth below).

Image 02

Formally you have used a successful, although well used, compositional device in this picture; the eye is naturally drawn to the centre of the image. That kind of eye movement is something that you should continue to think about (in fact in a later image, the car and signal box, this works really well) but try to avoid cliché and stock imagery techniques unless you are critiquing it. (type the following in to google to see what I mean – wooden jetty going in to lake).

Image 03

I enjoyed the visual juxtaposition that you offer in this one. The strong verticals echo each other while their respective materials are completely different. The irony of the ‘charming rural landscape’ is just about there but this picture feels like part of another series.

Image 04

This is my favourite image of the series Steve. It is clear that you understand what this image is offering compositionally and it is a brave move to include a ’wonky’ image at this stage of your studies. This shows real confidence, well done. As I look at it, I am left in a kind of temporal stasis, I am thinking about what has happened before and what is about to happen at the same time. This kind of brain puzzle is a good thing to discover and understand and is actually really difficult to achieve.

Image 5

Your notes suggest that you may already know what I am about to say! Although this is an interesting image, it is not usually a good idea to mix colour with black and white within a series unless you know exactly what you are doing! (see link below). It sometimes looks as though it is trying to cover something up (a mistake? A bad image?).

Image 06

This picture is compositionally interesting and technically reasonably good (although I would like to see a higher resolution). The relationship between the text in your title and the image is the most successful of the series. The mixture of text and image is a tricky thing as the written word tends to swamp our minds as this is a language that we are much more familiar with than a visual language full of signs, symbols and referents (terms borrowed from semiotics). In this case it works well and is not too obvious because the ‘back there’ could equally be the place or a time and the barbed wire gives us a clear demonstration of a physical barrier.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

An early stage but this is going well. Think again about the question that confused you, could you read it in a less literal way?

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have shown a good examples of appropriate artist research. Please keep this up.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your log looks fine so far.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

General

Susan Bright: Art Photography Now – Have a look at this one it gives a really good overview of the different ways that photographers approach their work.

Charlotte Cotton: The Photograph as Representation – This is a great book which will expand the way you think about photography.

Roland Barthes: Camera Lucida – A must for any photography student!

The British Journal of Photography: http://www.bjp-online.com/

Source Photographic Review: http://www.source.ie

 

More Specific

Have a look at Dan Holdsworths night-time pictures in relation to your image number 01. They are beautifully sharp, technically brilliant. You should aspire to this!

http://www.danholdsworth.com/works/autopia/4/ – images at night sharp and lovely

On relation to image 3, have a look at the industrial typologies that the Bechers have taken –

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-718

 Wolfgang Tillmans – an example of an appropriate use of colour and black and white –

http://www.maureenpaley.com/system/files/062016/575c43146bf3b5189a000dea/slideshow_slice_large/Maureen_Paley_Wolfgang_Tillmans.jpg?1465664824

Martha Rosler – The Bowery in Two Inasequate Descriptive SystemsA great use of image and text – http://collection.whitney.org/object/8304

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Part 1 Project 2 Visual Skills

Exercise 1.2 Point

There are essentially three classes of position [to place a single
point]: in the middle, a little off-centre, and close to the edge.
(Photography 1: The Art of Photography, p.72)

1. Take two or three photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts
of the frame. (A ‘point’ should be small in relationship to the frame; if it’s too large
it becomes a shape.)
How can you evaluate the pictures? How do you know whether you’ve got it
right or not? Is there a right place and a wrong place for the point? For the sake
of argument, let’s say that the right place shouldn’t be too obvious and that
the point should be clear and easy to see. As there’s now a ‘logic’ to it, you can
evaluate your composition according to the logic of the point.
As you look at the pictures you might find that you’re also evaluating the
position of the point by its relationship to the frame.

2. Take a number of images in which a point is placed in relationship to the frame.
Can you find any place where the point is not in relationship to the frame? If it’s
in relationship to the frame you can place a point in any part of the picture and
the picture is balanced.

You could think about the two parts of this exercise in a different way, as ‘test
pictures’ versus ‘real pictures’. The only purpose for the test pictures is the
exercise: you can analyse them according to the criteria and get the expected
answer. But ‘real’ pictures are not so easy to analyse. What are the criteria for
‘relationship’? (We’re hoping that you’ll shoot the rest of the exercises in this
course as real pictures, not test pictures!)

As you review your photographs, observe the way your eye ‘scans’ the surface of the
image. Note how:
• a point attracts attention out of proportion to its size
• the eye looks for connections between two points
• placing a point close to the edge seems to animate both the point and the frame.
Print out two or three of your point photographs and trace the route your eye takes
over the surface with a pencil. Then try the same with a selection of photographs
from newspapers or magazines (or the example above). You should notice that each
photograph seems to have its own tempo. Add the traced photographs to your
learning log together with brief observations.

Part 1

point1

While this image is balanced in terms of the point’s relationship to the frame, according to the rule of thirds, the image itself is not good. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the point, and the point alone. There is no suggestion of movement, or life.

If I were to imagine this as a picture or scene… I see little more than a bullseye.

 

point2

In this image, the positioning of the point conforms to the rule of thirds. The feel of the image is vastly different.

Speaking entirely for myself, I can imagine many scenes or stories, projected as backdrops to this image. The point is a sheep in a field, and up just a little way is a fence, and a horizon with a warm sunset. Trees on the horizon start just right of the centre, and run upwards and further right, where they are cut off by the frame.

Alternatively, I see a child alongside a river (possibly fishing), the course of the river running from the upper left to the lower right of the frame.

The possibilities are endless.

 

point3

This image does not conform to the rule of thirds. It is unbalanced. If I could describe the mental sensation it creates within me, the nearest thing would be an uncomfortable lurch, or feeling of tripping over.

Compositionally, as a balanced image, it could be said that the positioning of this point is wrong.

However….

Wrong in terms of what? Is your intention to take a pretty photo to sell on a postcard, or are you trying to make art? Art is challenging. It has a message. It makes you feel something more than just “oh… that’s pretty”.

Let me put it to you like this….

isolation

… or like this…

afreespirit

The rule of thirds has a purpose. It is a tool, for making balanced images that are easy on the eye.

An image does not have to be easy on the eye to be good, so there are occasions when the correct way to use the toolkit is to toss it out of the window.

 

Part 2

First, I have to say the wording of this question strikes me (and others, if the forums are anything to go by) as utter gibberish.

It seems to me that if a point appears within the frame, then it has a relationship with that frame. It’s only if it falls outside of the frame that it ceases to have a relationship, but then it also ceases to be in the image, and the question becomes moot.

It may be that I’m taking the question too literally, and am missing the point. On the other hand, if the questioner means to ask about whether the point conforms to the rule of thirds, or some other rule, they really should be asking that, and not this vague jumble of words.

Anyway…  to show willing, and while having no clue if this is what was being asked for, I took these images.

 

p1330005b

I can see this image appealing to a young child, but to me… not so much.

p1330005a

My eye is drawn directly to the centre, and hovers around there before grudgingly looking around for other points of interest. The central point dominates, and in doing so, lessens the impact or interest of everything else in the image.

Frankly, I want to flick the teddy out of the photo, because it annoys me. (Sorry, the wording of the question has left me feeling grumpy).

 

p1330006b

This is much more pleasing, though unfortunately, it does look like the lamp is growing out of the teddy’s head. There being other minor points of interest in the image, this shot feels slightly over weighted to the right.

p1330006a

The weighting is demonstrated by how much more time my eyes look over the items on that side of the image.

 

p1330007b

This.

really like this.

The sofa invites the eye to enjoy it’s comfortable warmth, and then you see this little chap, chirpy and happy, suggesting you to sit, so he can whisper in your ear. Your eyes then cast around, seeking more details, letting them tell the story of the room, or the people who live there.

p1330007a

 

Conclusion

It seems to me that the position of the point in relation to the frame matters far less than its position in relation to whatever else is in the image.

Having said that, placing the point in the centre seems always to be wrong. I spent quite some time experimenting, trying to find a composition, with the teddy in the centre, that didn’t look wrong. I failed.

Ultimately, I think I may often continue to do what I have always done… ignore any set of rules, and go with what looks right to my eye.

However…

This being my own personal, and to be honest, somewhat emotional first reaction to this exercise, I feel the need for further reading on the matter. Several books from the essential reading list are on order and may enlighten me on the subject.

Part 1 Project 1 The Instrument

Exercise 1.1

Three images taken in sequence with no alterations made to camera settings or image framing.

This demonstrates the changes that occur to details and lighting within an image, from moment to moment, which are captured and measured by the camera.

The differences between these images are most apparent when viewed in a ‘preview’ window, and cycled through in sequence.

#1

exercise1-1-1

#2

exercise1-1-2

#3

exercise1-1-3

While these differences may be imperceptible, without comparing the measurements in detail, or flipping between each image, it does lead me to question the idea suggested by William Henry Fox Talbot (1900 – 77) that the photographer didn’t actually take the photograph.

If each of these images were identical, I would think that he had a point, but given that they are not, the images that are recorded by the camera are then the result of a choice made by the photographer. That choice being the precise moment to press the shutter release on the camera. That choice being based upon when the photographer thinks the scene looks ‘just right’.

Could it be that it is this very precision that makes the difference between merely capturing images, and creating art?

Chloe Dew Mathews

I’m enjoying the work of Chloe Dew Mathews, particularly her ‘Shot at Dawn’ series.

There’s something very familiar and comfortable about these images. I look at them, and recognise the world I see myself when I go for random walks at ‘stupid o’clock’ in the morning.

I find it interesting how some images are clearly framed and composed, while others are what I can only describe as ‘what you’d see if you turned around and looked that way, at that moment’.

To my untrained eye, they represent the world as it is, without interpretation by the photographer. So you get the feel of the place, and the time… and I imagine this makes the photographer feel a certain way, but she don’t project her feelings into the image.

Like… ‘This is what’s here. Make of it what you will.’

Upon reading the preceding text, which explains what the images are all about, I find there is far more to this set than I had first realised. ‘Shot at Dawn’ having both figurative and literal interpretations.

Note to self: Don’t just look… read!

http://www.chloedewemathews.com/home/

Square Mile: Additional Commentary

Each image I submitted for Assignment One has a tale to tell, be that how I came to take it, why I took it, what it’s supposed to mean, or how it makes me feel.

Since I couldn’t fit all of that into the 500 word limit, I shall discuss those things here. Think of it as a ‘Talking Dead after The Walking Dead’, if you need a metaphor.

#1: Facing Forwards, Looking Back

1-facingforwardslookingbacksmall

Taken around midnight, just outside Worksop Priory Church, looking along a tree lined pathway towards a centuries old gatehouse.

I was sitting in the back seat of my car with the camera on a precariously balanced tripod.

There were three concerns on my mind at that time.

1: Taking a decent photo.

2: Hoping the drunks staggering home from the pub wouldn’t notice the guy with the camera in the back of his car, and come to investigate (they showed some interest, but were distracted by the need to pee in a nearby bush)

3: Hoping that car sitting a few yards ahead of me wasn’t some drug dealer waiting to do a deal (not uncommon in these parts at such an hour).

So, the camera was on a tripod, it was set to ISO 100, it was in full manual mode, had a 2.8 aperture setting, and around 25 second exposure time.

That’s the buildup and the technical part out of the way, but what is this picture all about?

Like the other images in this set, it’s about feeling nostalgia for a romanticised past, while being aware of the impossibility of going back to that time (if it even existed).

There’s something about old architecture (and landscapes)… when I look at them, I imagine the people who lived in those times, going about their days, living a simpler, though probably much harsher life. I often try to find scenes where I can block out signs of the modern times we live in, to try and see through the eyes of a person in that bygone time.

Mostly this is not possible… there’s usually something dragging me back into the real world. This image is an example of that. The architecture and the trees might take you back several hundred years (the church I was parked next to is Norman, so not far off a thousand years old), but even if you ignore the street lights and modern buildings in the background, there’s no escaping that you’re sitting in a 21st century motor vehicle.

Why was the shot taken at night? Two reasons.

The first is practical… I didn’t want any people in the shot, and there’s always someone walking around here in the daytime. Sadly, I failed in this, as, though there are no people in the shot (the drunks had already staggered through the shot and gone home), I was very disappointed to find that car parked there.

The second is atmosphere. I’ve found that taking long exposure shots, where there are trees and a little movement in the branches, creates a very strange and slightly other worldly feel. Some things have a hint of motion blur, while things right next to them are crystal clear. It’s an odd effect, and I like it. Sadly it’s not as visible in this shot as in another that I took, though that one showed less of the car interior and suffered from more noise in the darker areas, so I rejected it.

#2: Obstructed

2-obstructedsmall

I walk through this tunnel under the railway on a regular basis, and am very fond of its ‘olde worlde’ charm, coupled with the ongoing battle between graffiti ‘artists’ as they leave their mark, and the local council, as they cover those marks.

There’s a lot of detail on those stones and bricks, where the cement, or paint, either creating or covering the graffiti has worn away or fallen off. You can see the passage of recent years in that battle. Then you step back, look at the stonework, and feel the age of the thing itself.

I don’t know how old this bridge/tunnel is, but they certainly don’t make them like it any more.

So anyway… what’s the story here?

It’s a handheld shot on a wide aperture (2.8 I think), with the camera as low to the ground as I could get it. The combination of the slightly shallow(ish) depth of field, with a viewing angle that you certainly wouldn’t see while walking in a normal manner, creates something of a mental sensation (in my brain, at least).

But what’s it all about?

Again… it’s that inability to go back to that imagined past. The bridge/tunnel takes you back there, but there are these two posts, and okay, you can walk between them, but their purpose is clear…. to obstruct passage (of cars). “You shall not pass!”

They break the nostalgic spell, and keep you in the present.

#3: Charming Rural Landscape

3-charmingrurallandscapesmall

An unplanned shot. I was walking home from my original shooting location, when I was struck by the juxtaposition (I love that word) of the man-made and natural vertical structures. I don’t know which came first, the trees, or the grain silos… but one seems to continue from the other, to the extent that it looks deliberate.

Taken hand held, with as wide an aperture as I could achieve with the level of zoom I was using (the zoom lens (35 – 420) on the Panasonic FZ50 is wonderful ).

Situational awareness, or the lack of, was a factor in the taking of this image.

I was walking. I saw the scene. I stopped and took out my camera. I framed the shot. The woman with the pushchair who had been walking behind me rammed my ankles.

So why include this image? There are no listed buildings or ‘olde worlde’ atmosphere. What aspect of this image qualifies it for inclusion?

The clue is in the (ironic) title. It’s not about what you can see, but what you can imagine might have been here, a couple of centuries ago. The trees hint at a very different scene, before the flour mill and grain silos were built.  It brings to my mind scenes in classic rural paintings, like Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’.

#4: Golden Age of Steam

4-goldenageofsteamsmall

Another ironically titled image, for clearly, this is not set in the golden age of steam.

The signal box is old… I’m not sure if it harks back to the steam age, or the later 60s and 70s diesel era, but it’s far from modern. The point is, the car, breaking into the shot like startled horses bolting from the stable, drags the viewer into the here and now.

Why the weird angle? No, I didn’t drop the camera, or press the shutter by accident. It’s all about drama. It’s like the the car almost knocks the viewer over as it goes tearing through the shot.

Also, there’s something else here that I like, though it’s pure chance that it worked out that way. There are a series of repeated off-vertical lines, in the fence, and in the signal box itself. They are static, and going nowhere. But if you follow the line represented by the top of the fence, it flows into the top of of the car’s bonnet, curving upwards, and sweeping out of the image on the right. It generates a flowing feeling of movement. Yes, this is a snapshot of a moment in time, but that curve lets you feel the flow of time’s arrow, driving forwards, from the past, into the future. It’s like it’s creating a bow wave.

Back in the real world.

The shot was taken hand held, with a wide aperture (2.8).

I was crouching down as low as I could get, while leaning against a stone wall, which was at the entrance to the railway station car park. To put you in the picture, if you had happened to be coming around the corner from the car park, you would not have seen me.

Just like the lady on the mobility scooter didn’t.

I don’t know which of us was more startled as she missed me by a fraction of an inch.

I know a red flag used to be a requirement for driving a motor vehicle on the roads, to warn pedestrians in advance, but I feel like I could use one while out taking photographs in public places.

#5: Glimpse of a Romantic(ised) Past

5-glimpseofromanticisedpastsmall

On a purely technical level, this shot was a disaster. The sun was positioned such that when I framed the image that I *really* wanted, what I got was massive lens flare. Purple lens flare. Not good.

Note to self: Carry my lens hood with me next time.

I selected a different image to go in this slot. One that featured the wall, the security cameras, and the bridge. It worked. It conveyed the message. But it lacked the romance.

Black and white to the rescue!

I know we’re supposed to keep Photoshop manipulation to a minimum, but I took the view that even though I captured this shot in colour mode, I could just as easily have taken it in black and white, and got this exact same result direct from the camera. The image was converted at the RAW conversion stage, and no other alterations were made, so I’m letting myself off, even if my tutor doesn’t.

The shot is all about the (mistakenly?) perceived romance of the past. You know the scenes in old black and white movies? The husband/boyfriend is going off to war, or to seek his fortune, or something. The weeping wife/girlfriend stands on the platform, waving him goodbye, and wonders if she’ll ever see him again. Violins play quietly in the background as she wipes away her tears on a handkerchief.

It’s a dim and fading memory… as represented by the rays of light (and now less obvious lens flare) obscuring the scene.

And Bam! There’s a big ugly wall blocking your way, with security cameras, and demands to pay. You’re back in the real world buddy… and it ain’t pretty.

#6: You Can’t Go Back There

6-youcantgobacktheresmall

First, I have to point out that the weather was terrible. Never mind not being the kind you’d want to go walking in. It definitely wasn’t the kind you would expect to be able to take meaningful photographs in. There just wasn’t enough light (a tripod, and wide aperture were essential).

However…

Bracebridge Pumping Station. Built in the Victorian era, if I’m not mistaken, used for pumping sewage from the town to the nearby sewage works. It’s abandoned now, but as a listed building, they can’t knock it down.

In this image, it represents a couple of things, to me. Architecturally, it’s a link to the past, but it’s also an indicator of a time when there was industry, when technology, machinery and the like were produced locally. There were jobs. There was affluence, as well as effluent, in the locality.

So the title, and the barbed wire… they represent the restriction of movement, both in space, and in time. You can’t go back there and walk around, much less inside, the old building. But more so, you can’t go back to that time of local prosperity.

The (imagined?) past is inaccessible, while the here and now is, to be honest, ugly and depressing.

Having said all of that, there was a very friendly horse, just out of shot, who made my trip a pleasure.

Conclusion

So this is where I am now. I can take photographs that I’m fairly satisfied with, on an entirely naive level. They look pleasing to my eye, and they (I hope) convey the message that I’m trying to express.

I’m very aware that I’m only just starting out, and have much to learn, both technically, and also in terms of where my work sits in relation to contemporary photography.

I currently have no knowledge of what the current trends are. What’s expected? What’s cool? What’s old hat? I have no idea. These are things I expect to learn, and to say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement.

What do I want to achieve? I don’t want to emulate my contemporaries. I don’t want to see current work, and say “I can do that”. I want to create something that can sit alongside contemporary work, so I can say “Yes… I like that a lot… and look… I did this.”

Am I good enough?

I have no idea, but I sure as hell intend to find out.

Really useful advice

While reading the forums, I came across some really useful advice from tutors, and am quoting it here, just so I can easily refer back to it.

What can be done about consistently low assessment grades?

“Each student has their own personal experience but as photography tutors we experience many students and there are those to whom one can repeatedly make the same points in reports to no effect. Typical areas where responses maybe minimal are suggesting that students write critically about reading they’re doing from the recommended reading, or indeed show evidence of any reading at all, recommended or otherwise, past maybe a book on technique. Another is writing about their conceptual development in terms of their own work and their developing appreciation of the culture of photography and fine art in general and in terms of responding to assignments doing more than meeting the minimum requirement of the brief in developing their responses; integrating them into a progressive development of their personal voices. Addressing these areas can lift a submission by a whole grade band”

“Conceptual development in your own work could be the journey from enjoying making family snaps to realising it as a sophisticated medium of personal metaphorical commentary…”

“Writing critically means discussing the ideas you’re reading about as opposed to simply making a précis of the content or even more sparely just making a list of ‘books I have read’.”

“Appreciation of the culture means a similar thing; writing thoughtfully about the contemporary photography one is exposed to through all the media and exhibition visits, relating it to ones own work and how you may be influenced by it.”

“… what one is really looking for in the blog is a “diary” of ones intellectual and emotional engagement with ones own practice, the medium and the arts and culture in general. Reviewing ones current work in terms of ideas and emotions and relating it to earlier work and musing on future developments.

Too many blogs consist of mainly the exercises and descriptions of reading done with only the occasional sprinkling of self reflection, analysis and contextualisation within the wider culture.”

(White, 2016)

 

“The biggest jump students have to make when they begin to write critically is in moving away from being descriptive about art work and the idea that may be expressed within it and instead developing a stance which is about asking questions.In some ways it is a more detached way of looking at imagery, although of course it is still you looking and still your opinion.

A simple step is to add “because” to the natural response to imagery.

I like it because…of the compositional viewpoint…

I don’t like it because …the ideas is cliche.

Building an understanding that is increasingly analytical does require a vocabulary and over time reading other articles, reviews and books will help you to recognise key words and phrases as well as seeing how to construct an argument or articulate and share your opinions. ”

(Davies, 2016)

 

Reference

Davies, J (2016) What can be done about consistently low assesment grades? AT:  https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/what-can-be-done-about-consistently-low-assessment-grades/3384/32

White, C (2016) What can be done about consistently low assesment grades? AT:  https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/what-can-be-done-about-consistently-low-assessment-grades/3384/32

Square Mile

Brief

Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square
Mile’. Use this as an opportunity to take a fresh and experimental look at your
surroundings. You may wish to re-trace places you know very well, examining how they
might have changed; or, particularly if you’re in a new environment, you may wish to use
photography to explore your new surroundings and meet some of the people around
you.
You may wish to explore the concept of Y Filltir Sgwar further, or you may deviate
from this. You may want to focus on architecture and landscape, or you may prefer to
photograph the people who you think have an interesting connection to the square
mile within which you currently find yourself.
You’ll need to shoot many more than 12 photographs from which to make your final
edit. You should try to make your final set of photographs ‘sit’ together as a series.
Don’t necessarily think about making a number of individual pictures, but rather a set
of photographs that complement one another and collectively communicate your
idea. You may wish to title your photographs or write short captions if you feel this is
appropriate and would benefit the viewer.
However you choose to approach this assignment, it should communicate something
about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography. Think of it as a way to introduce yourself to your tutor. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to
respond to this brief, as long as you try to push yourself out of your comfort zone in
terms of subject matter. Try out new approaches rather than sticking to what you think
you’re most successful at.

Research

These are just a few practitioners who have worked within their locality and/or in an
autobiographical way. Spend some time looking at their work to help you generate
some ideas. Document your research and your initial ideas in your learning log.
Keith Arnatt: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/keith-arnatt-666
Gawain Barnard: http://gawainbarnard.com/
Tina Barney: http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/story/barney.html
Venetia Dearden: http://www.venetiadearden.com/en/somerset_stories_fivepenny_dreams.
html
JH Engström: http://www.jhengstrom.com/fbh1.html
Roni Horn: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/roni-horn-aka-ronihorn/
roni-horn-aka-roni-horn-explore-exhibitio-10
Tom Hunter: http://www.purdyhicks.com/display.php?aID=10
Karen Knorr: http://karenknorr.com/photography/belgravia/
Peter Mansell: http://www.weareoca.com/photography/peter-mansell/
Marc Rees: http://www.r-i-p-e.co.uk/
Jodi Taylor: http://www.weareoca.com/photography/photography-and-nostalgia/
[all websites accessed 13/06/14]

Submitting your work 

Include a digital contact sheet (no more than 36 thumbnails per page) of all the
photographs you shot for this assignment. (Read forward to Part Three, Project 1 for
how to do this.)
Also send to your tutor a written analysis of your work of no more than 500 words. This
should contextualise your project by briefly outlining:
• your first impressions and initial response to the brief, and how your idea(s)
developed
• which practitioners you looked at for inspiration and how their work influenced you
during the project
• your technical approach and any particular techniques you incorporated
• the strengths and weaknesses of particular photographs and your project as a
whole (self-assessment)
• any thoughts on how you could develop this project in the future.

Assignment 1: Square Mile

#1: Facing Forwards, Looking Back

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#2: Obstructed

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#3: Charming Rural Landscape

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#4: Golden Age of Steam

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#5: Glimpse of a Romantic(ised) Past

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#6: You Can’t Go Back There

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Contact Sheets

Contact Sheet 1

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Contact Sheet 2

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Contact Sheet 3

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Contact Sheet 4

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Contact Sheet 5

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Square Mile

 First Impressions & Preparation

Initial plans to travel to the village where I grew up were dropped due to cost. I settled on the town where I live (Worksop), for though I feel no emotional bond with the place, it does contain some pleasing architecture.

Studying the suggested practitioners inspired me, in terms of a concept for the series.  It would be easy to take a set of photos, all within a certain geographical location, but to a person unfamiliar with the place, what would tie them together?

The Concept

Inspired by the work of Jodie Taylor, (Taylor, 2013) I chose nostalgia as a theme.

The local architecture creates in me a sense of nostalgia for a romantic… or romanticised, past. This is coupled with the knowledge that we cannot go back to that (imagined?) simpler time.

These scenes might be described as psycho-geographical landscapes, a concept utilised by Tom Hunter (Hunter, 2015).

Gawain Barnard and particularly his Journeys By Train series (Barnard, 2016), inspired me to retain, or include, objects in the near foreground, partially obscuring the main subject. They seem to have the effect of placing the viewer into the reality of the photographer. In the real world, things get in the way of what we are looking at.

Technical Approach

A tripod was used in shots 1 and 6, all others were handheld.

In shot 1, the camera was set to full manual, with a medium aperture, and approximately 25 second exposure. On all other shots, the camera was set to aperture priority mode, with the widest possible aperture for the given focal distance.

Multiple shots of each scene were taken with different autofocus and metering settings.

Shot 1 was the only pre-planned image, for the rest, I simply walked to areas that I was familiar with, and explored them through the viewfinder.

Strengths & Weaknesses

#1

The framing of the scene by the car interior tells a story.

The distance to the gatehouse reduces the impact.

#2 

The overall image creates an interesting mental sensation.

It feels clichéd.

 #3

The juxtaposition of the repeated man-made and natural vertical structures is pleasing.

The connection to the overall concept of nostalgia is tenuous.

#4

There is a sense of playful chaos which I find pleasing.

The viewer might suspect that I had dropped the camera or pressed the shutter by accident.

#5

From a technical perspective, the lens flare in the original colour image rendered the photo unusable in that form.

In black and white, the background, and indeed the lens flare, creates a pleasing sense of romance and nostalgia.

#6

The feeling of oppression is satisfying. It’s not a comfortable image to look at, but it’s not supposed to be.

The poor light, while adding to the atmosphere, leaves certain desirable details looking indistinct.

Overall

I feel I represented the intended concept successfully, but was less successful in producing images that were clearly a coherent set.

Potential Development: Revisit locations in different weather conditions.

(Word Count: 498)

 

Bibliography

 Barnard, G (2016) Gawain Barnard. At:  http://gawainbarnard.com/ (Accessed on 07/11/2016)

 Taylor, J (2013) Photography and Nostalgia. At: https://weareoca.com/photography/photography-and-nostalgia/ (Accessed on 07/11/2016)

Hunter, T (2015) Purdy|Hicks. At: http://www.purdyhicks.com/display.php?aID=10 (Accessed 07/11/2016)

Self-Evaluation

 Having no independent baseline on which to assess this work (or experience of such assessment), I can only base it on comparison with my own previous hobbyist work.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Technically, I am reasonably happy with the techniques and skills used on several of these images, having made use of vanishing points, depth of field, aperture settings and exposure times, shooting both with a tripod, and handheld.

Image quality on the night shot was less than ideal, due to noise in the darker areas, but with the camera set to ISO 100, there was little else I could do under the circumstances.

Visually, while some of the images have real impact, I feel there may have been a lack of imagination at times. #1 ‘Facing Forwards, Looking Back’ and #2 ‘Obstructed’ both have very obvious and unimaginative compositions, though the framing within those compositions is as I had intended.

(5/10)

Quality of outcome

I feel I achieved the aim of depicting the concept ‘Nostalgia for a romanticised past, shot within a square mile’, reasonably well, when the images are viewed in conjunction with their titles. Without those titles, it may be less obvious.

That being said, I have to question whether I shot the photos to fit the concept, or adapted the concept to fit the photos.

The answer is probably a little of both.

There is a lack of coherence in terms of the feel of the images. As a set, they represent an idea, but when that idea is not openly expressed, they don’t ‘feel’ like a set, lacking a unifying visual style.

(5/10)

Demonstration of creativity

This is the section I am most happy with. While the first two images are fairly standard in terms of my usual style of photography, what followed represents a deliberate attempt to break away from old habits and be a bit adventurous, both in terms of subject matter and use of perspective or viewing angles.

I made a deliberate choice to include images which are challenging, and insist on being evaluated as art, as opposed to just ‘a pretty picture’.

(6.5/10)

Context

Could I look at the work of the practitioners I studied, and say that I adhered or conformed to the traditions of which they set examples? Not really.

Would I say that I was inspired by their work, and made use of ideas that came to me after studying their work? Yes, absolutely.

Certain of the images I captured, I would have done, with or without the research, but several are a direct result of ideas obtained by studying those practitioners, and I feel my work was stronger for it.

Incidents

I learned the need for caution and situational awareness while shooting in public places.

Encounters with drunks while night shooting and almost being run over by a woman on a mobility scooter, while crouching to shoot the signal box in town, were both incidents I could have done without.

(Word count: 496)