Monday, 2 May 2011

We English author Simon Roberts

Following the feedback of my last and final assignment, my tutor has suggested looking at a couple of artists and I am glad he did.

The first one I am really impressed with and have learnt some crucial techniques, the opposite in fact of how I currently work. This will hopefully lead me to taking better images of things like street scenes.

Simon Roberts book 'We English' [ ] is a fascinating journey through England taken over several months, photographing how we interact and live in our countryside, seafronts, towns and villages.... we can be a quirky lot when seen as a whole in these images.

The first impact of his images to me is the use of space. I tend to fill the frame to make the image bold and interesting, however most of these images show a vast expanse of space such as sky or sand on a outstretching beach. This has two effects which I have ignored until now. Firstly the use of space gives the viewer an appreciation for the scale of the scene, showing how small people can be and that the subject matter is about both England and us, but we being the smaller part of it.

The second point is that people can be a small indistinguishable part of an image and it still works well. Although we cannot identify a person we can identify with them and their anonymity does not matter in taking in the image. To date I have always liked the people in my images to be mainly identifiable. Another great example of this technique was in Mary McCartney's book I referenced earlier in this blog, showing two distant people holding hands running towards the camera on a golden beach. They could be anyone, the fact that it was her parents does not matter.

The other thing I have noted from Simon Roberts work is that he tends to take the high ground in the vast majority of his work overlooking his subject. This looking down on people almost makes them even less significant to the viewer especially on mass, but I like the way this works and am already formulating how I may be able to use this for the next course.....

I like the images of the walks to Scafell Pike etc., these are similar to some of mine, but I would have done better to follow some of Simon's skills....if I had more sky and less foreground I think it would have been a better image.

Finally, I also looked as his earlier work 'Motherland'. A similar topic in Russia this time, but a completely different set of images. This I found stereotypical of Russia with subjects of serious stern faces giving away little emotion. Reminiscent of the cold war... again stunning work I must go back to.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Assignment 5 Complete

I can't believe I have finished, it has taken me15 months, though I have had a short break. I have found this course extremely useful and would recommend this to anyone wanting to improve their photographic technique. I will make my final posts once I receive my last feedback and then on to assessment.

I will now sign up for the next OCA course.....

Digital Photographic Practice

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Exercise: Rain

In this exercise we are tasked with creating an image for use as a front cover for a magazine on the subject of rain. The viewer should be in no doubt of the subject of the image and we were to be as imaginative as possible.

I tried to take various shots on a rainy day but they were not very pleasing. I had ideas for perhaps the feet of a small child with brightly coloured boots stamping or splashing in a puddle, but again that did not work too well.

So I decided to create an image based on some of the areas learnt so far in this course and then created my own rain. The following image was created on an overcast day, I focused on the foreground and locked off the focus with the camera on a tripod. I also tried to get the frame into some form of thirds with the yellow daffodil acting as a point of focus.

I then experimented with shutter speed whilst emptying the contents of a watering can out between the camera and flowers with a cable release, the ideal speed was around 1/300 second, adjusting the ISO and f-stop. This then resulted in the following shot to complete the exercise.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Exercise: Juxtaposition

I found this exercise great fun. We are asked to create an illustration of book cover  from a still life with a juxtaposition. Although not strictly a book and more of a play or movie, I chose dial M for Murder.

I used some of the lighting techniques from the previous chapter using a snoot to focus in on an old telephone, off the hook, with a blooded knife, using these two objects in a juxtaposition illustrating the title. I added the text and extended the dark background with photoshop to finalise the book cover.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Exercise: Symbols

In this exercise we are asked to think about symbols to subjects that are given to us that could be used for illustration.


A sapling, especially a new oak tree with only two of 4 leaves, signifiying the start of something small that will grow very large over time.

A graphical image showing ups and downs (with an upward trend) this could be superimposed on to a image such as a worker or industry.


Images on a market stall with sweets, brightly coloured and sweeping away with many many varieties.

A picture of an overweight or obese person walking with the body only.


A broken window, graffiti on a wall or building. An image of a gun with a wad of money


 An image of someone holding a finger to their mouth. An image of the Cenotaph on 11/11 or an image of a graveyard with sweeping gravestones, especially of the same type as seen in war graveyards.


A contrasting image of stacks of coins and notes vs. buttons. Another of cake and rice. An image of an African child from one of the poorest nations in the world.  A beggar on the streets on London, or sleeping rough. Could even be extended to Poverty of Spirit an image of a sinner in remorse.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Exercise: Evidence of Action

In this exercise we are asked to take a single image demonstrating that something has happened, specifically either something that has been broken or emptied.

I chose an old vase that was already broken. I positioned it as if an animal or child had broken it, also knocking the candle off it's holder, whilst filling the frame as much as possible. The offending pet looking onward with disappointment. I guess an image like this could be used to illustrate insurance even though it is a bit cheeky.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Exercise: Narrative picture essay

This project requires us to photograph an event in a narrative picture essay. The pictures should form a story and with interest between images along with a short caption for each image.

I chose my son's birthday treat to a woodland activity of climbing through trees and descending on zip wires.

Greeted by a large wooden monkey on arrival makes you wonder are we moving up or down the evolutionary scale?

Safety is the order of the day with double, if not triple fail safes.

Climbing on scramble nets and ladders up to 50 feet above the ground

Crossing between trees along thin beams requires a steady balance

 Having to squeeze through narrow obstacles 40 ft in the air to reach the next base.

Making it look easy, walking on rings was one of the hardest obstacles

One of the longest zip wires from the ground joining up two individual woodlands

Making the first decent, look mom no hands

Its not just for kids, well not just the younger ones!