Category Archives: ASSIGNMENT 4

EYV Assignment 4 response to tutor feedback

My tutor feedback, written and verbal (from our ‘Hangout’) was very positive.

Briefly:

Strengths:

  1. A strong visual response to the brief.
  2. ‘Strong and unique images on a single subject’.
  3. Exercise  4.3: ‘Fresh and experimental’.
  4. Thorough exploration of part 4 research points.

Areas for improvement:

  1. Image size (again).
  2. Would be good to show my imaginative thinking on my blog.
  3. Signpost to the work of Gregory Crewdson and Bill Henson.
  4. Some reorganisation of blog menus.

Technical issues first – This ought to be easy but I admit to something of a stumbling block. I do not understand why my tutor sees thumbnails on my blog. Everything looks ok at my end. I will research this further. However, I immediately addressed my tutor’s concerns about the menu structure on my blog. I have created a menu entitled ‘Learning Log’. I used the OCA template initially for setting up my blog, and this was previously labelled ‘Research and Reflection’. I have amended this and now use the new menu to include all research points undertaken as part of course work, together with any self-directed learning and reflection on the course. I have also included a post at the end of each part of the course entitled ‘self reflection at end of part 1’ etc, and I find this a useful way of evaluating my experience of that particular part of the course. I will include a final self assessment, measured against the course criteria, at the end of the course.

In response to my tutor’s comment about evidence of my imaginative thinking ‘finding its way into my blog’, I have tried to include more of my initial thoughts about my approach to assignment five and will make an effort to record and show more of my thought processes. I have used my hard copy log to record some of my thoughts and will continue to do so.

I was very pleased with my tutor’s feedback on this assignment. He felt that the strength of my work was the result of experimentation and research done in part 4. I found the consideration of natural, artificial and studio lighting in this part of the course quite demanding, yet I feel that I actually took more images as research for this section than for any of the others, and I think that this practical experience was extremely valuable.

In our Hangout, my tutor highlighted something that should have been obvious, yet it wasn’t. To me, my six assignment images were all of ‘ordinary’ things near home – a bus stop, phone box, scaffolding. What my tutor pointed out was that four of the six images were of ‘shelters’ of some kind. Because of this theme, he felt that the other two images (not of shelters) were ‘different’ to the rest. I had presented my images with the two ‘odd’ images as the final two images. My approach had been fairly random and this detail had not been significant to me. I will address this for assessment by presenting my images in a more considered order that makes the set more balanced.

I have had a brief look at some of the work of Gregory Crewdson (I must try to overcome my aversion to nudes!) and will return to him and look also at the work of Bill Henson shortly. I will document this on my blog.

Assignment 4 – Written analysis

Picasso – ‘A light that sets off every object’ (1)

Why I chose to develop the exercise on artificial light

I enjoyed all the exercises in part four of the course leading up to the assignment but was drawn particularly to artificial lights at night and, since I have had little opportunity for this kind of work, I chose to develop my artificial light exercises in order to further my technical skills and my personal interest.  I hope that my interpretation of the brief shows how artificial light is ‘a light that sets off every object’ in my attempt to make something interesting out of the everyday. I decided to focus on taking images of ordinary, even ugly things, locally, attempting to show how artificial light at night makes them more noticeable, even beautiful.

Process / technical

I started my thinking about artificial light by observing the artificial light within my home . I took images of reflections in the windows and took advantage of my neighbours’ outdoor Christmas lights.

Influenced then by Rut Blees Luxemburg, I revisited my thinking about artificial light by capturing some local outdoor images of ordinary things in the streets near home. I was looking for the way in which artificial light can turn mundane things, that would normally go unnoticed in daylight, into quite striking objects. I noticed how the light at night, without the sky as a bright part of the image, made me focus on ordinary things quite differently, whether the object was part of the light source  itself (my bus stop image and phone-box image for example), or whether it was highlighted only because of a nearby light source (Graffiti, Aldi).

I went further afield in my consideration of artificial light, to take city images of Leeds, where I felt there would be more opportunity. Inspired again by Rut Blees Luxemburg’s city images, I was pleased with two images in particular but rejected them as inconsistent with my final chosen set. I discuss this further in my self-assessment submission .

My night time images were initially taken with a very slow exposure (up to 30 seconds). I wanted to keep the ISO as low as possible (100) to avoid noise, which can be exaggerated in night time photography, and I wanted to experiment with a very small aperture (f22) because I liked the crisp result that seemed to add a sense of stillness to some of my images. I will reflect on this choice and the pitfalls, in my self-assessment.

In the end, my experimentation did not work as I had hoped, and I re-took some of my images numerous times because of a problem with lens flare. I found, contrary to my initial intention that a wider aperture and consequent faster exposure generally improved my images.

Although I quite like the effect of light trails, from cars for example, and ‘starburst’ effects from bright lights, I did not want to over-do these in my images for this assignment. Car trails were actually quite difficult to avoid since some of my images were taken on fairly busy roads. With long exposures, I needed to make several attempts.

I was disappointed that with some of my images, I relied more on editing software than  have for previous assignments. I had to increase the exposure in some of my images, and bring out the shadows. I will reflect further on this in my self analysis.

In terms of white balance, I set my camera to auto and I feel that my images were fairly accurate in terms of what I actually saw. I used manual exposure mode throughout and this now feels the natural way for me to take photographs. I used a tripod, and in some of my images I improvised with an ill-fitting lens hood to help to reduce lens flare.

Practitioners who influenced my work

Rut Blees Luxemburg was my main inspiration for this submission. I was interested in her focus on everyday things, turning the ordinary into something special. I feel that her approach encouraged me to re-look at ordinary things and to notice how the artificial light at night brought them to life. Although I considered using images captured in the city, I found that with a new appreciation of light and an interest in observing artificial light, there were plenty of opportunities nearer to home. I have included some of my city images in a separate post.

Personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise to meet the descriptors of the creativity criteria

The exercise brief was to ‘capture the beauty of artificial light’.

Beauty is subjective, and my first thoughts were more conventional than my final outcome, interpreting beauty in a more usual sense. I wanted to expand my comfort zone and so I chose to focus on things that I know that I would previously not have considered as potential subjects for photography.

In terms of the course creativity criteria – imagination, experimentation, invention, and development of personal voice, I feel that, although my approach is far from unique, I have created a different view of the world to the one I normally notice. I have experimented with different subjects and with different camera techniques and have re-imagined my local landscape. In some ways, my focus on my local area reminded me of my Square Mile submission, and, in comparing my approach then to my approach for this assignment, I am pleased with how my observational skills and creative thinking have developed. I feel that my set works as a much more imaginative  study of the local area.

I include here, a link to exercise 4.5 , which I hope also demonstrates my development in creativity.

Please also see my contact sheets of images taken for this assignment, my final images and my  self- assessment

Bibliography

1 Picasso (quoted in Brassai, 1999, p311) – course notes p84

EYV Assignment 4 Languages of light – Self Assessment

Technical and visual skills

For my first shoot for this assignment, I wanted to experiment with a very small aperture. I had taken a practice shot from my upstairs window using bulb mode and f22 and the result was interesting in its crispness and clarity, which added to the deserted and very still atmosphere. This surprised me somewhat because I understood that a mid-aperture was more likely to produce this kind of result. I took my initial images and learned the difficulties of this approach when some of my pictures were underexposed and spoiled by lens flare, something I had not encountered significantly before.

On reflection, my experiment with f22 and long exposures was interesting. It taught me about the danger of lens flare, and made me reconsider my approach. I re-took some of my images with a wider aperture and much faster exposure and as a consequence, I was able to expose my images correctly, and minimise lens flare.

Technically, I was disappointed that my contact sheets show a lot of underexposed, very dark images. In terms of my having to lighten my images post-capture, I was surprised since my electronic view-finder, which I favour over my camera’s back-screen, showed me images that seemed better exposed than this. I have since altered the setting on my camera to manual so that the brightness of the viewfinder is reduced.

In doing this assignment, I feel that I have slowed down more to consider my composition and settings.I have tried to be careful with my composition and to put in practice what I have learned in earlier parts of the course. In this respect, I think the composition of my images for this assignment has significantly improved over my submission for assignment 3. I have also re-taken images, some of them a number of times, to try to improve them, and have considered more carefully my theme and cohesion. This was hard because I had to reject images that I preferred over the ones that I finally chose.

My visual and observational skills continue to develop, and this part of the course has helped me to focus on the importance and impact of light on my photographs. Once I started to notice the light on ordinary things, I seemed to notice it all the time.

Quality of outcome

After re-taking images to eliminate much of the lens flare problem, and making exposure adjustments and other minor improvements using Photoshop Elements, I think I have made a reasonable attempt at capturing the beauty of artificial light and of ordinary things made beautiful by it.

I think I have produced a cohesive set of images, linked by location and subject, and I have demonstrated development of creative observation and technical skills. I have applied technical learning and composition skills and have produced images that can stand alone as well as in a set. Together, I think they capture my local environs in a unique way.

I preferred some of the images that I finally rejected. However, my aim was not to submit my favourite pictures, but those that worked together as a sequence. I feel that this shows a development in my understanding of cohesion and ability to see from the viewers eyes rather than the photographer’s. These images were of ordinary things, yet they did not fit with my set since they clearly were taken in a very different location:

sign-2

litter-2

What went well

I have previously taken images for assignments while on holiday (assignment 2 – reworked) or in other areas of the country (assignment 3). It was helpful that I could reflect on my assignment 4 images and fairly easily re-take them since my setting was local and therefore accessible. I really think this was positive since my tutor had advised that I take shots over a number of shoots and doing so, helped the outcome.

I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to ‘say’ and of some of the images I wanted to capture. This gave me a focus and made it easier for me to collect my images. Some of my images benefitted from recent rain which helped to reflect and enhance the colours and the effects of the light.

My learning from this exercise, and from this part of the course has been significant. I recall my Square Mile assignment, and others, and I realise now that light was not then a primary concern. I now have a better understanding of the importance of light, which will influence my future work. I have also progressed in terms of the technical aspect of my camera, using manual mode throughout, and having experimented with different settings in low light situations, and in encountering and addressing lens flare. I have also attempted to correct lens flare in one of my images (not used in the end), with Photoshop.  I successfully (I think) removed a significant flare that threatened to spoil an image that I otherwise really liked:

sign-1

Before

sign-2

After

What didn’t work so well

I made a number of re-takes of some of my images because I was not happy with the outcomes. I re-considered composition and changed viewpoint, and experimented with exposure to avoid the lens flare that I encountered with very small apertures. I had to change the composition of my graffiti image significantly to reduce the glare of the street light which spoiled the original image, and my scaffolding image took a number of attempts: it was in an area of very low light, and I tried to position my camera to block the bright street light while at the same time positioning the church to show it as significant but secondary to the scaffold which was highlighted by the ambient artificial lights.

My contact sheets include some very dark images. I would have liked to make better exposures. However, I addressed this in some of my re-takes, and consider this a learning opportunity.

Context

This assignment is the result of studying not only the work of photographers who have used artificial light, but also those who have used natural light and studio light. Part four of the course has therefore covered a number of photographers whose work does not directly link to my interpretation of this brief. However, although I chose to focus on artificial light, I have learned from the work of a wide range of artists, and in doing the exercises throughout the section, in terms of the importance of observing light and using it creatively in my images.

Although I am quite pleased with my attempt at this assignment, in terms of my theme and my final images, I am aware that light and colour, and the colour of light, are quite difficult concepts for me, as is properly understanding white balance. I know that these aspects of my photography need continuous development and consideration and this is something I will work on, research and practice.

Please see my posts-

Assignment 4 – Images

Assignment 4 – Written submission

Assignment 4 – Contact sheets

EYV Assignment 4- Initial thoughts

I have enjoyed the whole of part 4, learning a lot about using light in photography. In terms of daylight, I particularly admired Trent Parke’s  strong contrast images, and, had it been summer where opportunities for this type of photography seem more likely, I would have considered developing my daylight images as an option for my assignment. I chose not to pursue a studio light submission since currently, I feel that this is my weakest area and I should like to consider the technical aspects of studio lighting further before attempting it as an assignment.

My first attempt at exercise 4.3 involved noticing the artificial lights and reflections within my home.  Please see EYV Exercise 4.3 .

As I began to think about Assignment 4 and to decide which of the exercises on light to re-visit to prepare into an assignment, I favoured using artificial light. To further my practice and begin to explore possibilities for the assignment, I attempted night time images locally.

Here are some of the images I took for this second attempt at exercise 4.3:

outdoor-1 outdoor-2 outdoor-3 outdoor-4 outdoor-5 outdoor-7

Influenced by Rut Blees Luxemburg’s focus on the ordinary things that often go unnoticed, I considered how flowers are generally shown in daylight and often go unnoticed at night. Lit by headlights, my image of the road-side crocuses looks quite spooky. The lighting turns a traditionally pleasant scene into one that is a bit sinister.

Continuing the theme of photographing ordinary things, I particularly liked my images of the phone kiosk graffiti, lit by the back lights of my husband’s van, and the scaffolding, which I thought looked rather striking in the light of a street light and passing car. I considered whether I might be able to capture images of ‘ugly’ rather than ordinary things for my assignment submission.

See my post Exercise 4.3 (3) artificial light