Assignment 1: Feedback Report

Overall Comments

You have made some positive initial steps on your way to successfully completing this first module.

In general, the images from a technical perspective appear to be well exposed and sharp which is good to see from the outset.  I would remain a little unconvinced regarding the narrative applied to some of these pairings though as you have identified yourself within your annotation.

I intend to elaborate upon this a little further within the ‘feedback’ section, also with the intention of foregrounding issues of ‘composition’ specifically.

As this is your first assignment submission, there are no previous feedback issues to reflect upon at this point in time.

Feedback on assignment

Again, these are an interesting collection of image parings, some of which work better than others, to be fair.

I often find that ‘contrast’ can work quite well with imagery that is visually, relatively simplistic.  IE: Little going on by way of picture elements and contents.  Some of your pairings are good metaphorical contrasts but are lacking in terms of visual contrast, which I think at this stage may be more appropriate for this Level 1 assignment.  [By this I don’t mean that you should try to refrain from the application of both narrative and meaning to your imagery, but the point I’m trying to convey is that this should not come directly at the expense of compositional strengths and construction of picture elements.]

Having said this, some of the images were interpreted very literally such as the ‘Soft’ image within the ‘Hard/Soft’ pairings.  This image certainly solved your problem regarding the issue of contrast, but I thought it was visually quite repetitive and more ‘engineered’ than ‘created’.

I must admit to having thought that my interpretation of Hard/Soft was less mundane than perhaps is normally made, but I also agree upon reflection that the soft image could, to some, be viewed as engineered and may not  appear created .  I was trying to make a play on the words of the brief and the image I’ve made shows the opposite of what others may have expected.  To show this particular interpretation I would find it very difficult to construct something that appears anything but engineered as the cases are a fixed shape and manufactured in hard plastics.  I hope the replacement image is more what is required.  

Thick/Thin both work well but, maybe Fox Talbot’s ‘lattice window’ at Lacock Abbey may have suggested more ‘thin fragility’?

I looked at the images I had of the ‘Oriel Window’ at Lacock Abbey but I cannot agree with the suggestion.  My feeling is that the window itself doesn’t portray the brief of thin.  The lattice is made from lead strips and is fitted into a stone wall, both of which I feel portray thickness and solidity and no matter how it’s post-processed there is nothing beyond the window itself, just open countryside and sky.  An outside shot portrays more of the stone wall and a very dark interior of the building which is definitely not portraying thin; whereas I think the image I have chosen portrays the brief on several layers.

I liked both the Continuous/Intermittent although would suggest that your justification as with Sweet/Sour was a little tenuous.  The idea of the lighthouse issuing intermittent light was well thought through, but in my opinion would have presented itself better visually, had you perhaps shot the image at dusk when the lighthouse was functioning?

I thought that most people would interpret two children looking at each other the way these two are would say ‘it’s sweet’, and my feeling is that a child having a hissy-fit is somewhat ‘sour’.  I agree that the light functioning would have presented the image better visually, but unfortunately we’re all slaves to the weather and time available.

High/Low was also a curious choice as historically most student have tended to convey this more literally.  I can understand your thoughts here, but wonder how ‘bin collection’ can be considered ‘low tech’!

High tech is technology that is at the cutting edge: the most advanced technology available, and is normally applied to microelectronics rather than other technologies. Low tech on the other hand has come to be used as a relative description of less modern techniques and designs to show that they are no longer cutting edge.

I think you would benefit from trying to pre-visualise your imagery in the first instance rather than trying to shoe-horn an angle in afterwards perhaps?  I would also like to comment on this particular image in relation to composition.  There are so many elements going on in this picture that it becomes very confusing to try and understand what it is the viewer is meant to be absorbing.  The cars in the background are very distracting from the subject matter as is the green bin and the very large area of foreground pavement. Again, I would suggest more research into compositional theory here – Look also at Andreas Feininger.

I do think your interpretation of me not pre-visualising, and shoe-horning an angle in afterwards, does not in fact represent what I did do.  I’d thought quite a lot about both my images for this pairing and deliberately went out at the right time to get that image of the postman, so I must have pre-visualised what I wanted.  Having pointed that out, I can’t therefore see how I shoe-horned an angle into it.  Yes I was fortuitous to get the street sweepers cart there as well, and the bin just happened to come along whilst I was shooting a series of images, and so I have images without the bin as well; I just thought that the bin rounded things up well.

Your last image [Straight/Curved] works well and certainly answers the brief. I agree with your comments about a shorter depth of field here though in order to obscure the background detail.  I would also have considered the background in relation to the Planetarium in terms of precisely where the shot was taken, as if you had moved a fraction to your right, the chimney would have disappeared giving the structure more form.  It is this close attention to detail that can make all the difference to image composition.

Having read the comments above, and looked at the image, I have to say that my intention with that one was to show the brief and I failed to take into account the need to also produce an image that was as well composed as it could be. I have a tendency to want to have images without people in them, as I half-consciously consider them a messy intrusion, something I need to consciously avoid thinking as people make pictures more alive.  I therefore chose that image on the basis of no people present whereas, although I made the same mistake with the aperture, the second image I’ve now introduced makes a positive of it and defines the people who are now within the image and I think it’s, as pointed out by my tutor, better framed.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your blog works very well for you and is comprehensive in both its design / navigation and content.  The layout is easy to follow and it appears by all accounts to be an excellent place to keep all work relating to the module.

In my opinion, I still think this digital area should supported with a tangible analogue equivalent.  I don’t suggest that you duplicate any effort here in any way, but simple use a workbook / sketchbook as a loose and creative working space in order to provide you with a place to both develop ideas and collect research.  The blog is really useful in terms of being able to get your images and thoughts out there and seen quickly, but it also has its creative limitations.

I’m not at all clear what I’d need to do with a workbook/sketchbook as I’ve never had to consider writing ideas anywhere other than on a computer, and as to sketching, I’ve no idea what I’d need to sketch. I’m afraid my idea about photography is very simplistic, I can’t draw for toffee and so I take photographs!  

Suggested reading/viewing

Cartier-Bresson, H.2004: The Mind’s Eye.1st Ed. New York. Aperture Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0893818753

Cartier-Bresson, H.2006: Europeans.London. Thames & Hudson

ISBN-13: 978-0500281222

Conclusions and targets for next assignment

I have mentioned the term ‘composition’ several times throughout your feedback and cannot emphasise its importance.  I would like you to start really making compositional decisions [what you choose to include and exclude from the frame] prior to taking the image.  This decision should be confirmed at the point of taking the picture and not be an afterthought simply achieved through ‘cropping’.

I would like you to look very closely at the work of the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and try to understand why his images seems to work so well from a compositional perspective.  He is generally considered a past ‘Master’ at this and has written some excellent pieces in relation to what he calls the ‘Decisive Moment’.  He was very particular with how he composed an image within the camera view finder and claimed to always print his images ‘full frame’ with a trade mark ‘key line’ surrounding each print to emphasise this point.  I have listed two of his publications with the ‘Suggested Readings’ section and think you might benefit from reading about his approach to image making and also looking closely at his practice.

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