Reflection pre-tutor feedback
Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, technical, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)
I set out to create a grainy austere representation of a deprived part of Portsmouth and to highlight the stagnating effect the bridge has had on its immediate vicinity. The use of consistent camera settings, high ISO and the black-and-white presentation does, I think, mean that the photographs fit well together and create the mood I was hoping for. I have never used hyper focal length focusing before and the benefit meant I could quickly take photographs as they occurred to me.
Generally, I would say that the images are compositionally weak but I wasn’t really trying to create interesting photographs in themselves but rather a set that communicated an idea.
Quality of outcome – Content, Application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)
I do feel that the photographs work in a coherent manner and reasonably represent the conceptualisation of my thoughts. Individually they generally lack interest.
The weakest images are ‘Looking east’ and ‘The old football pitches’ which lack a point of interest. The strongest to me would be ‘Tough place to live’ because it makes me contemplate life surrounded by roads on two sides plus a rail track.
Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)
The pictures in themselves are not imaginative or experimental but taken together as a whole demonstrate an imaginative way of addressing the brief. The problem I faced was how to show changes over time with images taken at this moment. I think, together with the initial commentary, the images do show how the area has been effected by the bridge; negatively in terms of immediate surroundings of the bridge and positively by the development of the area that has benefited from increased access.
Context – reflection, research, critical thinking. (20%)
This is my first assignment. Up to now I have been principally taking ‘pretty pictures’ . I wonder if many of the images I’ve submitted to this Square Mile assignment would previously have been of interest to me. But I have enjoyed this assignment. It has caused me to think more fundamentally about a part of my life and the area I come from. The reason to undertake this course is to raise my photography to the next level. I think this is a reasonable start…
This first assignment for EYV has been received positively; you have produced an engaging set of monochromatic images, which are supported by a familiar narrative into childhood environments. Your technical evidence is good, where you have produced some strong compositions; a couple of your images are starting to exhibit some highlight clipping, but overall the set is good. To support this project, you have pieced together some suitable research avenues; over time, making the contextual connections will become clearer, where they have a direct influence on your work.
Formal Required Comment From OCA Guidelines Assessment:
‘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.’
The above text is required by OCA for all first assignment submissions. I typically construct my feedback and provide advice to aid you in following the formal assessment route.
Your set of images are engaging; where to some viewers, they will transport them back to their childhood, this is in part to the suggestive titles. In terms of your technical approach; shooting in a high contrast, black & white mode has worked, where the choice emulates a film based practice. However, it may have been ideal to shoot in RAW, then performed a post-production monochromatic conversion; this then would have provided more control over the tonal range and exposure, where a greater latitude would have been present.
In terms of the contrast, some of your images do indeed exhibit a high contrast look, yet some, the sky has started to exhibit some undesirable grey/darkened tones. See, ‘The line to London’, ‘The old factory’ and ‘My old playground 03’. I mentioned about some highlight clipping; this can be found in the following images; ‘The old corner shop’ and ‘Looking east’.
Through using the prefix of ‘my’ in some of the titles, this project touches on autobiographical practices. Titles can be a very powerful device, in guiding the audience into how they read and interpret the images. Another titling element to investigate, is the application of time; for example, ‘The new crash barriers’, then the various ‘old’ tags. As you have linked this back to your childhood, perhaps title each image with a line that touches on a generic childhood vernacular. For example, with the image titled ‘My old playground 2’, I could imagine that a football was probably kicked about there? If so, then perhaps a title that references a football comment, e.g. ‘On me head’, or ‘Pass it, I’m open’. Something to consider.
Aside from investigating the titles, as part of the rework process, I would recommend addressing the images that exhibit highlight clipping; then consider editing the set by removing the following images:
- The new crash barriers
- The old factory
- The old football pitches
Then consider replacing them with the following images:
Your supporting commentary is good; your objective is clear, where you wanted to illustrate the urban changes that have occurred as a result of the bridge. This has worked to a degree, where the viewer is dependent on your titles to guide and suggest what the environment was like, before the development. The images do sit together as a series, where visually they work; however, the theme waivers slightly, where the mixed messages of development, stagnation and the notion of imprinting childhood memories cross.
As discussed, your learning log is ideal; it is logically structured, where the viewer/assessor can easily access your research, development, assignment and reflection. Over time, other menu headings, such as wider research, study visits etc. may start to form, which will then populate your learning log with more evidence of exploration and development.
When you are referencing photographers and their work, it may be good to embed an image or two into your writing; this will then enable a quick visual reference to the reader, as opposed to going down to your bibliography and linking externally to the work.
Commenting about how both Lee and Maisel approach their work was good to include, it is interesting how photographers differ in their preparation. Because of your familiarity and history with Burfields Bridge, you have been subconsciously planning and making mental notes of it for years. When you approached this project, you may have already formed final ideas on what aspects you wanted to photograph. It would be interesting to develop your project, by photographing another bridge; one that you are not familiar with, to then see if you apply the same compositional approach into perceived childhood environments.
Have a look at Nadav Knader’s series, ‘Yangtze, The Long River’; it is an engaging mix of landscapes, architecture and reportage, where the communities have been examined. This series may influence your ‘future developments’ idea, where the use of colour and the inclusion of people could be investigated. However, with capturing people, it is about exploring their relationship and interaction with the environment and not portraying them in a transitional state of moving through the scene.
Regarding composition, have a look at the following link for some inspiration:
Pointers for the next assignment:
Assignment 02 asks you to produce between six and ten images, which explore ‘Crowds’, ‘Views’ or ‘Heads’. This brief is open to interpretation, so you could easily follow a portrait, landscape or reportage approach. I’m wondering if continuing this exploration into bridges would be fruitful; you could easily shape this idea to incorporate the crowds or views heading.
Although this may start to waiver from the overall theme of EYV, but I recommend investigating the notion of capturing crowds through combining multiple shots into tableau like scenes. Have a look at Chris Dorley-Browns series ‘The Corners’, with this work, he set up his camera on a tripod and photographed dozens of people, all at different times, then he merged them in Photoshop, see:
- Overall good compositions
- Early stage contextual research
- Childhood stories
- Investigate highlight clipping
- Edit series as suggested
- Explore alternative titles
Assignment assessed by Russell Squires
Assignment assessed on 15/12/2017
Next assignment approximately due 15/02/2018
Reflection post-tutor feedback
I submitted my first assignment on 13 December and by 15 December I had received verbal and written feedback from my tutor. In my opinion the feedback was timely, efficient and helpful. Most impressive!
Generally the feedback was positive. Russell found the images engaging, he felt that the technical approach worked and that the supporting commentary was good.
However, a couple of the images show signs of clipping (note to self – take more time and stop rushing! It’s a self-confidence thing). He felt that I should have shot in RAW rather than monochrome JPEGs to give more control over post-processing.
He suggested that I replace two of the images and that I address the issue of clipping. He also felt that the theme waivered and sent mixed messages as between the ideas of development, stagnation and childhood memories.
It was also suggested that I should experiment with taking shots at different heights.
My response to the feedback is as follows:
- I went back to the bridge and reshot one image to remove distractions and took several new shots.
- From the pre feedback assignment, I removed image 1, 2, 6, 9 and 10. And replaced them with image 2, 4, 5, 6 and 9 in the post feedback assignment.
- All the titles were changed.
In conclusion, I feel the new images are of a slightly higher technical quality and more interesting. The use of childhood vernacular in the titles seems to bring some of the images to life. However, the removal of image 6 and 10 from the pre feedback assignment destroys the context of development but I still feel the series portrays the stagnation of the area and the memories I have of that time.