Assignment 3 – reponse to tutor report

My original theme for assignment three was to take pictures of subjects that I would normally leave in colour and convert them to black and white. This was to see what a normally ‘colourful’ subject would look like when the colour was removed. What would the eye be drawn to without the colour there? Would it be the texture, the pattern or something else? A couple of the things mentioned in my tutor report was the the theme for the assignment was too broad and the images did not have any relationship with each other. With this in mind, I decided to stay with the theme I had set out for myself but narrow it down in terms of subject.
I have always liked taking photographs of nature and flowers in particular. Therefore I decided the subject of the photographs would be nature. The aim of the photograph would be to take a photograph where one of the first things that compelled me to take the picture would be the colours, whether this would be how the light caught a subject and enhanced the colour or just the colour on it’s own.
Click on the images to read the descriptions.

I set out to see what a purposefully colourful image would look like with the colour removed. With the colour removed from the photographs a lot of other elements come to the fore. Texture, light and contrast seem to be the prominent theme. The way the light falls on a subject can make for a strongly contrasting image which seems to be one of the things that works well in black and white.

Harry Callahan worked a lot in black and white and some of my images have been inspired by his example. My image of raindrops on a leaf echo to his own ‘Cattails against the Sky’. In those set of images almost the first thing that you notice is the contrast of the black Cattails against the pure white sky[2]. Callahan seems to place some prominence on strong contrast in his black and white images, I am thinking particularly of his Chicago 1950, Chicago 1953, Telephone Wires ca. 1945, Sunlight on Water 1943 and Ivy Tentacles on Glass [3]all of which have a strong contrast between black and white. But there are pictures of his that suggest texture is also a strong element in black and white imagery, such as his contact sheet, Georgia Mountains 1987/1988 and some of the pictures taken in Detroit in 1942/43 [4].

In my opinion a range of subjects and themes work well in black and white. I do not think that it is possible to say exactly that this particular subject only works in black and white, or colour for that matter, and it is personal taste that dictates to the individual what works and what doesn’t.

Bibliography

1. Salvessen, Britt (2006) Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work, New Haven: Centre for creative Photography
2. Salvessen, Britt (2006) Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work, New Haven: Centre for creative Photography
3. Salvessen, Britt (2006) Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work, New Haven: Centre for creative Photography
4. Salvessen, Britt (2006) Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work, New Haven: Centre for creative Photography

Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography

 

Real or Fake?

As a part of the submission for assignment 4 I included a description of an exhibition I visited. After reading my tutor’s feedback I have removed from the submission it as it did not have any relevance to the assignment.

Selling the Dream

In December 2013 the Victoria and Albert museum had a touring photographic exhibition called ‘Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography’[1]. I visited the exhibition whilst it was at Auckland museum. The title of the exhibition was taken from Irving Penn[2], who saw his role at Vogue as ‘Selling Dreams not clothes’. The exhibition depicted 58 images which showed the evolution of fashion photography, with pictures from between the early 1900’s through to the 1990’s, and included some well known images such as ‘Model and Mannequin’ as well as some previously unknown work. The exhibition grouped the photographs into various themes, as well as charting the more controversial images that provoked debate, such as the infamous ‘Women in a Bath House’ by the late Deborah Turbeville [3]. All the images are designed to sell an ideal, a dream. The poses of the models, the lighting and background are all shot in such a way to create a particular mood, whatever ‘dream’ the photographer happened to be selling. For example ‘Jean Shrimpton at 91 Heigham Road’,[4] the background is clearly the hallway of a house, but it could be anyone’s home. The clothes she is wearing, an oversized jumper, again something that could be found in anyone’s wardrobe. In my opinion, David Bailey is trying to project the image of the ‘girl next door’ look.

Some of the pictures from the 1990’s and later recreated images from fairly tales and classic paintings. The style is a lot more fantastical and makes full use of colour. ‘Le Manege Enchante’ [5] by Miles Alderidge depicts a woman with bright red hair seemingly asleep on a merry-go-round. ‘Blooming #3′ [6] another image from Miles Alderidge is a very bright colourful picture with elements of the fantastical. The woman’s painted face is nothing from real life, her long golden hair is an ideal rather than a reality. The doll she is carrying possibly possibly suggesting a fantasy from childhood.

All the images from the exhibition were intended for the fashion industry[7], who are not all that interested in depicting reality – the majority of women who would potentially wear the clothes they are selling would not look anywhere near as good in them as the models do. Through photography the industry is trying to sell the fantasy that this is what you could look like, or this is what could happen if you use our product. Therefore photo-editing, or ‘photoshopping’ as it is referred to, is common in this industry. The images I have named are selling an ideal or a fantasy, which whilst not a specific product in itself, means that adjustment to the photograph is more excusable, as the photographer wants to create the best possible image.

Sources

1. Selling Dreams: One hundred Years of Fashion Photography, http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/whats-on/exhibitions/selling-dreams, [31/01/2014]

2. V and A Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography, http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/media/media-releases/2013/v-and-a-selling-dreams [31/01/2014]

3. Jobey L, Last Tango in Paris, The Independent, April 25, 1993. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/fashion—last-tango-in-paris-1457295.html, [31/01/2014]

4. Jean Shrimpton at 91 Heigham Road, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O82837/jean-shrimpton-at-91-heigham-photograph-bailey-david/, [31/01/2014]

5. Steven Kasher Gallery, http://www.stevenkasher.com/artist/Miles_Aldridge/works/828/#!828, [31/01/2014]

6. Artnet.com, http://www.artnet.com/artwork/426264960/425933006/miles-aldridge-blooming-3.html, [31/01/2014]

7. Selling Dreams: One hundred Years of Fashion Photography, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?slug=selling-dreams-one-hundred-years-of-fashion-photography&exhibition=4561&offset=0, [31/01/2014],

 

Tutor Feedback Assignment 4

Overall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this assignment Sarah, the imagery and contextualization for which was very interesting.

Key issues mentioned in my last report are as follows:

  • Look at the work of Blossfeldt / Knight / Evans / Joshua Cooper

  • Consider the different types of photostory imagery for assignment 5 including Establishing / Portrait / Detail / Action

The submission did include some strong technical experimentation although I would question your motives for such an exercise, which I will elaborate upon in the next section. I couldn’t find much evidence of the above on your blog ?

Within the broader photographic consideration of the terms ‘real’ and ‘fake’, I’d like you to look at this image taken by Nick Ut in Trang Bang village just outside Saigon, Vietnam in 1972 [see below]. It is a very famous image that has been seen all around the world and has been used on various front covers of magazines etc [Time 1972]. It depicts the young nine year old girl Kim Phuc, running towards the camera after a Napalm attack on her village by the US forces … another example of friendly fire as the villagers were allied Southern Vietnamese and not part of the North Viet Cong fighters. The image is full of all the harrowing impact expected to be found in war imagery and has lost none of its initial impact over the past 40 years since it was taken. There was also some moving image footage taken of exactly the same event at the same time, but this fails to have the impact of the stills shot which has literally caught the moment in time. The reason I bring this image to your attention is that the original image was cropped slighted on the right hand side. We now know that this was shot on 35mm monochrome film and therefore the format of the shot is slightly more square than it should be for a full frame 35mm image. What was excluded from the shot was a soldier at the side of the road loading a film into a camera – which when included completely reduces the overall impact of the image as the question is asked why he was not in assistance etc. He was removed to add impact.

Nick Ut - 1972

Nick Ut – 1972

 

There is also a similar debate raised with an image taken by a photographer called Dorothea Lange, who took photographs for the American Farm Security Administration [FSA] in the 1930’s. This image has been called ‘Migrant Mother’ and is also pictured below – the debate was about a ‘thumb’ that had been printed out of the bottom right hand corner, suggesting somebody was ‘revealing’ the family from behind the side of the tent and therefore staging the shot.

It might also be worth reading about Robert Capa’s ‘Death of a Spanish Militiaman’ taken in 1936. These are all healthy aruments still raging within photographic debate in relation to image manipulation and could be elaborated upon within your blog.

Dorothea Lange - 1936

Dorothea Lange – 1936

 

Feedback on assignment

This was a rather curious submission from the outset as much of the text related to a review of an exhibition you attended in Auckland, which predominantly dealt with fashion photography. I would have thought this might have set you up nicely to produce some work dealing with this genre of photography … but instead the imagery used an element of tourism for its subject matter IE: Whale Watching. If this was your intention from the outset, it might have been more appropriate to have visited a wildlife exhibition or perhaps one that deals with environmental issues etc. Your link as mentioned ‘to sell a dream’ seems a little tenuous to be fair.

Having said this, I thought the final image you produced did achieve something in terms of technical execution. You have given clear consideration to what images to source in terms of what would work well together compositionally. As I mention below though, I do feel there is a lack of books being consulted here and that although there is research being conducted on-line via various websites, I would think your theoretical balance would benefit from more physical literature being consulted and drawn upon. I understand that this could be construed as a very technique heavy assignment, but the questioning of what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’ does not necessarily completely rely upon this and can be suggested through metaphor / existing imagery etc.

I was surprised to read in your notes that you felt the book cover being illustrated (Whale Watching in Kaikoura) would not be of interest to a lot of people … which immediately prompted me to think, well what’s is the point of doing it then ? You need to believe in your practice and what you spend time creating … and certainly enjoy doing it.

Lastly, although in terms of a technical exercise, I think you have probably learnt a lot with regards to how layers and various post production techniques can assist you in creating something that doesn’t actually exist in real life, the image itself is convincing. I think it might have been an idea to perhaps test the combination of text to image a little further to be honest, as this is a very difficult skill within itself to get correct, requiring some basic graphic design understanding.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

This is proving to be a good vehicle for evidencing the development of ideas and generation of research and testing, which will all offer additional support when your final submission is made after assignment five. Try to include reviews about the practitioners suggested though and house these under their own link. Also … remove any evidence of the use of Wikipedia as source of reference.

As mentioned above, you’ll also need to include books / literature / journals / magazines as source of research prior to submission for assessment.

Suggested reading/viewing

These would be project specific for Assignment 5

Conclusions and targets for next assignment

Try to take a look at what I have suggested above and drop me an email, when you have an idea about what you intend to do for ‘Personal Project’ – Assignment 5.

Tutor Feedback Assignment 3

Many thanks for submitting this third assignment Sarah, which contained some really interesting imagery.

Key issues mentioned in my last report are as follows:

  • Continue to evidence the balance of theory to practice within both assignment submissions and blog entries.

  • Look at the work of Harry Callaghan / Tom Hunter / Nicky Bird / The Bechers / Henri Cartier Bresson

  • Try to progess the monochrome V’s colour debate

  • Include some additional blog links IE: Reading Materials / Exhibition Reviews etc

  • Start to cite academic reference within written work, linking it back to a bibliography.

I can see from your submission that you are responding positively to much of the feedback suggestions provided, which is excellent to see.

Feedback on assignment

I think this was your strongest submission to date in terms of successfully contextualizing your imagery. You conducted some good research into the activity of two important contemporary practitioners (Rossiter / Hugo) and I’d recommend looking at Hugo’s ‘Hyena’ portraits taken a few years ago now, which have a very close attention to detail in terms of their overall continuity throughout the theme – they all have a very similar look and feel/style about them. This is why practitioner research is so important – it develops your critical position.

I liked your colour test, seeing if other picture elements become more apparent when the colour was drained from the image. The debate between colour and monochrome rumbles on, so it was nice to see a viewpoint or perspective that was your own. The two most obvious arguments in favour of monochrome have generally been less distractions and the offering of an historic or nostalgic feel to an image, in connection to the history of the medium.

I agreed with your comments about the first image entitled Dubrovik, the emphasis for which has certainly shifted towards the shapes depicted in the sky, which comprises of 50% of the whole image. The second image entitled Nasturtium I liked also, as it requires little explanation. I was however, a little concerned to see some more flowers / plant-life sneaking back into your submission though ! It was not necessarily the most comfortable of compositions and I’m not sure how much attention to detail has been given to the ‘negative spaces’ created by the background. Have you looked at the work of either Karl Blossfeldt in the 1920’s in relation to monochrome botanic studies …..or even Nick Knight’s ‘Flora’, more recently ?

Graffiti, was one of my favourite images of the series and I really liked the tonal gradients combined with the graphic composition. It works from the top left to the bottom right – a conscious decision by yourself, whilst composing the shot. Having not seen the colour version it is difficult for me to be certain, but I have a feeling that I would like this monochrome version better, as much of the graffiti I see these days relies predominantly upon a standard colour palette, linked very closely to commercial preferences etc. Grass was indeed quite a subtle shot, which benefits from a shorter depth of field to place emphasis on the foreground. I’m glad you have looked into the work of Callaghan, which is strengthened through its simplistic picture elements and composition. It was also interesting to read about the connection you have made between him and Adams. We all must use the work of others to inform our own practice.

Even with the image manipulation, there was a subtlety to the Jaguar image. What I actually found interesting about it was gaining some kind of insight into how effective the animals camouflage actually is, especially in terms of what their prey might expect to see. Again, Paua Shell was also quite effective in terms of its compositional simplicity. I liked the band of differentiated focus that runs diagonally through the image. Tuk Tuk also had its moments to be fair and I think you should maybe try to seek out the work of Walker Evans shot detailing advertising in the US during the 1930/40’s.

I think my main criticism of the submission would be that other than the fact all the images are monochrome, there is nothing else that links them together – which could be seen as potentially a wasted opportunity. You do mention the term ‘broad theme’ in your written work, but this is predominantly based upon technique and physical considerations, which I wouldn’t always agree with. You mention that ‘a good black and white photograph’ should have ‘particularly strong contrast and geometric patterns’ – but I’m not convinced ! Look at the work of Thomas Joshua Cooper (Photographic Professor in Glasgow School of Art) that he conducted for his ‘Point of No Return’ project. (See images below) Here he presents the viewer with a completely grey image of sea fog. This is a hard enough photograph to want to photograph in the first instanceOverall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this third assignment Sarah, which contained some really interesting imagery.

Key issues mentioned in my last report are as follows:

  • Continue to evidence the balance of theory to practice within both assignment submissions and blog entries.

  • Look at the work of Harry Callaghan / Tom Hunter / Nicky Bird / The Bechers / Henri Cartier Bresson

  • Try to progess the monochrome V’s colour debate

  • Include some additional blog links IE: Reading Materials / Exhibition Reviews etc

  • Start to cite academic reference within written work, linking it back to a bibliography.

I can see from your submission that you are responding positively to much of the feedback suggestions provided, which is excellent to see.

Feedback on assignment

I think this was your strongest submission to date in terms of successfully contextualizing your imagery. You conducted some good research into the activity of two important contemporary practitioners (Rossiter / Hugo) and I’d recommend looking at Hugo’s ‘Hyena’ portraits taken a few years ago now, which have a very close attention to detail in terms of their overall continuity throughout the theme – they all have a very similar look and feel/style about them. This is why practitioner research is so important – it develops your critical position.

I liked your colour test, seeing if other picture elements become more apparent when the colour was drained from the image. The debate between colour and monochrome rumbles on, so it was nice to see a viewpoint or perspective that was your own. The two most obvious arguments in favour of monochrome have generally been less distractions and the offering of an historic or nostalgic feel to an image, in connection to the history of the medium.

I agreed with your comments about the first image entitled Dubrovik, the emphasis for which has certainly shifted towards the shapes depicted in the sky, which comprises of 50% of the whole image. The second image entitled Nasturtium I liked also, as it requires little explanation. I was however, a little concerned to see some more flowers / plant-life sneaking back into your submission though ! It was not necessarily the most comfortable of compositions and I’m not sure how much attention to detail has been given to the ‘negative spaces’ created by the background. Have you looked at the work of either Karl Blossfeldt in the 1920’s in relation to monochrome botanic studies …..or even Nick Knight’s ‘Flora’, more recently ?

Graffiti, was one of my favourite images of the series and I really liked the tonal gradients combined with the graphic composition. It works from the top left to the bottom right – a conscious decision by yourself, whilst composing the shot. Having not seen the colour version it is difficult for me to be certain, but I have a feeling that I would like this monochrome version better, as much of the graffiti I see these days relies predominantly upon a standard colour palette, linked very closely to commercial preferences etc. Grass was indeed quite a subtle shot, which benefits from a shorter depth of field to place emphasis on the foreground. I’m glad you have looked into the work of Callaghan, which is strengthened through its simplistic picture elements and composition. It was also interesting to read about the connection you have made between him and Adams. We all must use the work of others to inform our own practice.

Even with the image manipulation, there was a subtlety to the Jaguar image. What I actually found interesting about it was gaining some kind of insight into how effective the animals camouflage actually is, especially in terms of what their prey might expect to see. Again, Paua Shell was also quite effective in terms of its compositional simplicity. I liked the band of differentiated focus that runs diagonally through the image. Tuk Tuk also had its moments to be fair and I think you should maybe try to seek out the work of Walker Evans shot detailing advertising in the US during the 1930/40’s.

I think my main criticism of the submission would be that other than the fact all the images are monochrome, there is nothing else that links them together – which could be seen as potentially a wasted opportunity. You do mention the term ‘broad theme’ in your written work, but this is predominantly based upon technique and physical considerations, which I wouldn’t always agree with. You mention that ‘a good black and white photograph’ should have ‘particularly strong contrast and geometric patterns’ – but I’m not convinced ! Look at the work of Thomas Joshua Cooper (Photographic Professor in Glasgow School of Art) that he conducted for his ‘Point of No Return’ project. (See images below) Here he presents the viewer with a completely grey image of sea fog. This is a hard enough photograph to want to photograph in the first instance

Overall Comments

, but once you realise the significance of this particular sea fog and who might have seen it 200 years prior based on its specific location …. Then all is revealed !, but once you realise the significance of this particular sea fog and who might have seen it 200 years prior based on its specific location …. Then all is revealed !

Jumping ahead a little it might be worth thinking about the following in relation to the fifth and final assignment. The shots an editor would be expecting to see in a photostory would be Establishing [setting the scene], Portrait [Human Condition], Action and Detail shots. Obviously depending on what you are trying to say with the work, they would not always include all of these.

Photographic stories are the visual communication of a personal experience. They can be considered unique and can provide an excellent vehicle for personal expression. In order to communicate effectively, you must try to make a connection with what is happening. In order for this to work, you must research your subject thoroughly and if the story includes people, patiently observe before starting to photograph them.

Just to dwell on the subject of the photostory for a while, it is important for you to have a ‘point of view’ or an ‘angle’ for the story. With this work you could argue it was capturing the space of yesteryear. You must have an opinion about what is being recorded and this should in turn come across through the imagery. It is also important to remember that photography can be used as a very powerful tool for persuasion or propaganda, therefore the communication of content should always be the primary consideration.

The most popular subject for the photostory has always been the ‘human condition’. The aim is usually to select one individual or group of individuals and try to relate their story to the viewer. The story may then relate the experience to a brief or extended period of time.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

The blog is working very well for you and is being updated regularly.

Suggested reading/viewing

Evans, W.2013. American Photographs. Tate Publishing. London ISBN-13: 978-1849761284

Joshua Cooper, T.2004.Point of No Return. Haunch of Venision. ISBN-13: 978-0954067199

Conclusions and targets for next assignment

I’d really just like to see you continue to read around the subject matter and cite references to theory that really supports and underpin your practice.

I’ll look forward to receiving your next submission Sarah – ‘Real or Fake’

Tutor Feedback for Assignment 2

Overall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this assignment Sarah, which included some really well-crafted images.

The key issues I mentioned within my last feedback report were as follows:

  • Start to try and develop a critical position if possible by linking the work of others to your own

  • Consider ‘why’ you are taking the pictures rather than just ‘how’

  • Keep written work as academic and formal as possible

  • Start to cite academic reference / using Harvard & Bibliography

  • Continue to visit Galleries / Exhibition and review then via blog

  • Look at the work of Winogrand.

I think you are making headway in relation to some of these issues, but you have room for further development in other areas. At degree level you must be able to demonstrate a balance between theory and practice. I would like you to further develop your theoretical appreciation of photographic practitioners and show evidence of this through your blog / assignment submissions.

Please take a look at the following which may be of some interest to you:

Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter

Millais

John Everett Millais

 

Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter

 

Jan Johannes Vermeer

Jan Johannes Vermeer

 

 In her 2001 work ‘Tracing Echoes’, Nicky Bird’s study of the Julia Margaret Cameron Archive revealed ancestors that had been traced back from Cameron’s original sitters. Bird actually states that the Tracing Echoes project initially stemmed from viewing an image made by Cameron in 1865-70 called ‘The Passion Flower at the Gate’. The image provoked what Bird described as ‘an almost gut reaction to the picture’ due to its resemblance to the artists sister which are detailed below:

Julia Margaret Cameron - 1865

Julia Margaret Cameron – 1865

 

Nicky Bird - 2001

Nicky Bird – 2001

Feedback on assignment

As a technical exercise this worked well for you and I found your results both interesting and appropriate in answering the brief – particularly some of the landscape work you submitted which showed a close attention to detail in terms of picture elements and compositional consideration. Getting consistent results when photographing on location is a constant difficulty for photographers and I think through this assignment you have certainly picked up and developed methods to successfully and professionally deal with some of these issues. Some photographers [Bernd & Hilla Becher – Water / Gas Tank Typology] simply chose very specific conditions when they could shoot and never strayed from these ….. others don’t really have the luxury and must make do with what we are dealt ! At least this assignment has afforded you ways in which to deal with these different scenarios.

I think the images that work best are predominantly the location based element of the submission. I am sensing a theme with regards to your shots of flowers / plantlife … which I may have to enforce a ban on in order to coax you out of this comfort zone ! I really liked the shot taken inside the Gallery of Modern Art (Glasgow) which I thought was very accomplished from both a technical and compositional perspective. The shot of the Old Railway Station also caught my eye and I wondered whether this would have worked better from a slightly higher perspective, excluding the foregrounded leaves at the top of the image, which I found quite distracting and out of focus. The two shots taken in Pollock Country Park where also compositionally strong and technically useful. The use of the Neutral Density filter and selective exposure has benefitted this shot, which displays pleasant proportions.

Remember that effective photography equals Technique + Composition. Good or acceptable technique is arguably the first prerequisite for ‘good’ photography, but this alone will not make a ‘good’ image. Image making must be complimented by composition, not just technique as mentioned before. We all use very similar technical equipment to make images, so composition is often one of the best ways in which a photographer can express their individuality and personal feeling in communicating their thoughts and ideas.

For the next assignment [monochrome] try to conduct some research into why anybody would specifically wish to remove the colour from an image. Obvious debates surrounding this are firstly to limit or remove distractions from an image … but also you can argue a monochrome image can sometimes look dated / or dateless. By reverting back to the results that were only available from the early stages of the process, you can somehow often associate these historic vales to the works.

I have also included some of Cartier-Bresson’s images below as excellent examples of how shadow has been used to strengthen composition.

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Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your blog is progressing well and being updated regularly which is good to see. You may want to add some additional links to it to perhaps cover ‘reading materials’ or ‘exhibition/ gallery visits’ where you could review in your own writing. This all adds academic weight to your final submission for summative assessment.

It’s really important to try and maintain an ‘academic’ level within your writing and start to cite references [Harvard] of what you have read surrounding the issues and practices as a matter of course. [mentioned above] EG: When you read about the work of Nicky Bird [suggested below] reference her in your written work and even perhaps quote her directly. This will help when you develop a research methodology further through the programme and obtain the all-important ‘Critical Position’, which I will talk more about.

Suggested reading/viewing

Hunter, T.2003:Tom Hunter. Germany. Hatje Cantz Publications

ISBN-13: 978-3775712774

Bird, N.2001: Tracing Echoes. Leeds. Wild Pansy Press

ISBN-13: 900687135

Callaghan, H.2006:The Photographer at Work. New Haven, CT. Yale University Press

ISBN-13: 978-0300113327

Journals – Source / Portfolio

Conclusions and targets for next assignment

In addition to the above, I’d like you to take a look at the work of Harry Callaghan for the next assignment [Monochrome]. I can’t stress how important it is, to be able to know as much as you can about the photographic practitioners who have influenced today’s photographers. Callaghan has also done some interesting work in colour.

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Good work Sarah and I look forward to your next assignment submission.

Tutor Feedback for Assignment 1

Overall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this assignment Sarah, as this is your first assignment submission, there are no previous feedback issues to reflect upon at this point in time.

Over the coming months I will try to get you to read around what can be considered within photographic academia as the ‘key players’. It is always interesting to see what imagery students are attracted towards, but often enough some of this work might be a little misleading, in that it has been produced by amateurs working within the field, that have generally not been acclaimed or established themselves on the world photographic stage. Not to say that you shouldn’t look at these more ambiguous works, if it can help generate ideas etc, but I would always recommend supplementing your research with a large dose of the notable practitioners.

It is also as well to remember that the field of photography contains many different camps, many of which consist of people who don’t even take photographs, but study and comment on the theory behind the works being produced. At undergraduate level you must have a foot in both practice and theory camps in order to maintain a relationship between the works you produce to the work that has been produced by others who have gone before you. Within Levels two and three, you will be expected to be able to position yourself in relation to these other practitioners.

The reason I mention such issues is that although I’m aware, much of what is to be completed at Level one can be considered experimental and predominantly practice based, it is as well to be aware at this stage that if you progress onto the higher levels, your photographic output will be concerned with ‘why’ you have chosen to take your particular images, not just ‘how’.

You may wish 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 life-long 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 offer you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Having looked through all the imagery submitted, these were technically quite proficient photographs, some of which worked better than others, certainly in relation to image composition etc. I liked the shots of the Puffin’s on pages 6 and 7 with the use of depth of field here adding to the differential focus of the image …. but having said this [and not wanting to sound too critical at this stage], much of the work was visually quite repetitive.

Certainly in relation to ‘workflow’ I think you have developed a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively manage your time efficiently during a photographic shoot and subsequent period of post-production. I would have liked to have read much more in terms of your reflections about how you felt various experiences went throughout the process though, as I found much of your writing was descriptive. [It was very clearly written though.] I did also like your ‘before’ and ‘afterwards’ sections, which were more reflective.

It is quite difficult for me to comment much on the actual imagery to be honest as the contents of this assignment is really more to do with the methodology and processes at this point in time. I was very happy with the way in which you demonstrated your methodical approach to image making which showed good practice in places [IE: Technical Edits & Archival Procedures etc] I did note that much of your written work felt a little held down by technical considerations as opposed to critical reflection though, which you could perhaps address with the next assignment through considering ‘why’ you are taking the pictures you take ?

Your conclusion also raised some interesting points in terms of the editing process and how ‘selection’ can be very subjective. Many professional photographers allow what is called a ‘cooling off’ period prior to attempting the first edit of their work, in order to perhaps refresh thoughts about the work and perhaps offer the opportunity of some distance in time between the two events IE: Shooting / Editing.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Where ever possible try to keep your writing as formal as you can, from a written academic perspective. I would also try to start using references and a bibliography if possible. When you start to have a critical position [opinion] on the work that is informing your own practice, you need to be able to back these thoughts up with referenced academic materials. All references should then relate back to your bibliography.

EG: John Tagg states ‘The portrait is a sign whose purpose is both the description of an individual and the inscription of social identity’ [Tagg,1988: p37] …… You could then argue whether or not you agree with this statement giving your reasons why and your bibliography would then contain the actual book the quote came from, using Harvard referencing.

You may already be aware of this, but the reason why we cite ‘academic reference’ is to demonstrate you have engaged in wider reading of secondary sources IE: Books, Journals, Films, Websites etc. Quoting from, or alluding to these sources to back up the points you wish to make, shows a sophistication of writing and expression, which is what is required at degree level study. By referencing clearly, you can show which ideas are your own and which ideas you have borrowed from other sources [thus avoiding plagiarism]. By relating the work of others to your own, you establish a ‘Critical Position’. The quality of these sources is always very important so forget Wikipedia ! These are just encyclopedia entries by anybody with an interest and don’t hold any academic rigour, scrutiny or peer review. Make sure you are looking at relevant sources and always include the full ‘Harvard’ reference in your bibliography [The same as entries in the Suggested Reading section]. This may sound a bit heavy, but as mentioned earlier, you really need to balance the level of theory to practice on a visual arts undergraduate programme of study – you can’t just get away with taking pretty pictures alone unfortunately !

I’ve had a look at your blog and this seems to be progressing well, detailing a good balance between the module tasks and assignment work etc. The key to a successful blog at this stage is all about how well structured it is and how quickly the different areas can be located / navigated …. This will become very beneficial if you submit the completed assignments for summative assessment.

I would also recommend, if you haven’t already started, that you start visiting various galleries and museums that are holding photographic exhibitions and retrospective shows. It is important for you to know who is doing what out there in this field and you can include both the literature and the research on your blog.

Suggested reading/viewing

Winogrand, G.2004:The Animals.1st Ed. New York. Museum of Modern Art ISBN-13: 978-0870706332

Clarke, G.1997:The Photograph. Oxford. Oxford University Press ISBN-13: 978-0192842008

Overall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this assignment Sarah, as this is your first assignment submission, there are no previous feedback issues to reflect upon at this point in time.

Over the coming months I will try to get you to read around what can be considered within photographic academia as the ‘key players’. It is always interesting to see what imagery students are attracted towards, but often enough some of this work might be a little misleading, in that it has been produced by amateurs working within the field, that have generally not been acclaimed or established themselves on the world photographic stage. Not to say that you shouldn’t look at these more ambiguous works, if it can help generate ideas etc, but I would always recommend supplementing your research with a large dose of the notable practitioners.

It is also as well to remember that the field of photography contains many different camps, many of which consist of people who don’t even take photographs, but study and comment on the theory behind the works being produced. At undergraduate level you must have a foot in both practice and theory camps in order to maintain a relationship between the works you produce to the work that has been produced by others who have gone before you. Within Levels two and three, you will be expected to be able to position yourself in relation to these other practitioners.

The reason I mention such issues is that although I’m aware, much of what is to be completed at Level one can be considered experimental and predominantly practice based, it is as well to be aware at this stage that if you progress onto the higher levels, your photographic output will be concerned with ‘why’ you have chosen to take your particular images, not just ‘how’.

You may wish 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 life-long 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 offer you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Having looked through all the imagery submitted, these were technically quite proficient photographs, some of which worked better than others, certainly in relation to image composition etc. I liked the shots of the Puffin’s on pages 6 and 7 with the use of depth of field here adding to the differential focus of the image …. but having said this [and not wanting to sound too critical at this stage], much of the work was visually quite repetitive.

Certainly in relation to ‘workflow’ I think you have developed a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively manage your time efficiently during a photographic shoot and subsequent period of post-production. I would have liked to have read much more in terms of your reflections about how you felt various experiences went throughout the process though, as I found much of your writing was descriptive. [It was very clearly written though.] I did also like your ‘before’ and ‘afterwards’ sections, which were more reflective.

It is quite difficult for me to comment much on the actual imagery to be honest as the contents of this assignment is really more to do with the methodology and processes at this point in time. I was very happy with the way in which you demonstrated your methodical approach to image making which showed good practice in places [IE: Technical Edits & Archival Procedures etc] I did note that much of your written work felt a little held down by technical considerations as opposed to critical reflection though, which you could perhaps address with the next assignment through considering ‘why’ you are taking the pictures you take ?

Your conclusion also raised some interesting points in terms of the editing process and how ‘selection’ can be very subjective. Many professional photographers allow what is called a ‘cooling off’ period prior to attempting the first edit of their work, in order to perhaps refresh thoughts about the work and perhaps offer the opportunity of some distance in time between the two events IE: Shooting / Editing.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Where ever possible try to keep your writing as formal as you can, from a written academic perspective. I would also try to start using references and a bibliography if possible. When you start to have a critical position [opinion] on the work that is informing your own practice, you need to be able to back these thoughts up with referenced academic materials. All references should then relate back to your bibliography.Conclusions and targets for next assignment

I’ll recommend what I would normally for a student at your level of undergraduate study, but if you have already looked at what I recommend, then please just drop me a quick email and I’ll suggest something different.

I think it might be interesting for you to take a close look at the work of Garry Winogrand. His photographs of the animals at the New York City Zoo, created in monochrome, in the early 1960’s now acts as an extraordinary well observed social historic document of the time. It can be described as a time-capsule of a very antiquated notion of zoo design, detailing a lot of bars and concrete ! Try and find a copy of the book and read around what he was trying to do with this work. He is famously quoted to have said: “I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs”. I suggest this photographer from the outset, as I think it would be very different to your notion of what wildlife photography is, or can be classified as being.

I’m conscious of the fact that this is a digital module, but I’m reluctant to go down the route of suggesting photographers who are working solely within the digital domain. Pretty much all modern photojournalism is shot digitally these days, but predominantly all the steps prior to actual image capture are the same regardless of medium … besides, if you are serious about photography, the work of the practitioners I’ll recommend, you’ll really need to know about regardless of what or how you shoot !

Also, a good academic starting text would be Graham Clarke’s ; The Photograph which I have referenced in the Suggested Reading section above.

Tutor Feedback Assignment 5

I thought this assignment submission was a really good idea from the outset and attempted to convey a very worthwhile narrative visually. It was a brave step to try and tackle a subject that is so personally close to you, which you should be commended for from the start.

Photographically, some of these images worked really well, with the more subtly and less obvious metaphor working best I thought.

The first shot ‘Apathy’ although an interesting image, again did have a somewhat tenuous link, but I could understand your reasons for using Sepia here. I’m just not sure how well the subject matter conveyed this feeling, whereas the next image ‘Tangled’, inspired by Callaghan was very fitting. On a more general note, the images as a body of work could have been tied together more closely in terms of format etc … they are all shapes and sizes and all colours, which hasn’t really help them sit well together as a themed coherent body of imagery.

The terminology used within the submission was very accurate in relation to the subject matter, with some pieces really working well such as ‘Passing By’. I thought this image was very simple in its construction and the use of the slow shutter speed to blur the rest of the world as it goes about its business, was very effective. I also thought this image worked particularly well in terms of the background which was linear and repetitive, making full use of the static subject seated to the left. In this way ‘Going Nowhere’ was also well composed, with if anything a little too much foreground prior to the start of the road – which was the key to the how the imaged worked.

Lost’ was probably my favourite image from the series and really made strong use of the panoramic format adopted. I’d like you to take a look at two Czech photographers called Josef Koudelka and Ivan Lutterer who have both used monochrome panoramic imagery to great effect over the years.

Last ‘Melancholy’ also caught my eye as I thought it was both well-lit and nicely composed – fading to black on the right hand side. Could you have used a more significant backdrop out of the window here ? Perhaps a landscape or even seascape a little more in focus using depth of field and with the rain simply sprayed on the outside if the weather wasn’t correct for the shoot?

Learning Logs/Critical essays

I think you will need to include a link to all the reports and responses (if any) for the assessment of the module. It was also good to see that you had referenced some key texts within this submission.

Suggested reading/viewing

Koudelka, J.1997: Exiles. London. Thames & Hudson

ISBN-13: 978-0500542082

Koudelka, J.2011: Gypsies. 2nd Edition. London. Thames & Hudson

ISBN-13: 978-0500544020

Lutterer, I.2004: Panoramic Photographs: 1984-199. Prague. Studio JB

ISBN-13: 978-8086512258

Conclusions and targets for next assignment

Having completed all five assignments for this module it is now time to submit the work for formal summative assessment which has been discussed above.

You will be required to submit all five assignments, plus any amendments made in response to tutor feedback reports / details of your Learning Log / Workbook / Blog URL and all five Tutor Feedback Reports.

It is very important to get this part correct and not just send as much information as possible. The work is not ‘weighed in’ so you should be very selective about what is included / excluded and how you present the work methodically, in order to guide the assessor through the submission.

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