Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reflections on tutor report for Assignment 1

Overall comments from tutor

“An excellent response to the brief, which demonstrates an emotional empathy with the subject while still retaining a forensic ‘objectivity’; as much as objectivity means anything in photography.

The assignment also demonstrates a good level of technical mastery.”


Reflections and key learning outcomes

CW : “Having a charismatic subject who has a developed view of their relationship to their reality is a big plus as a springboard.” 

Me:  Interesting thought in terms of future subject choices… I often consider a person’s looks and personality but had never really weighed up the relationship with reality or the immediate environment on a conscious level.

CW: “The physical picture is a catalyst that creates the image experience in the viewer through their reading of your presentation of the evidence. It’s a puzzle with a range of solutions, an open ended statement of the possibilities.”

Me: Whenever possible I should find and create images that proffer a set of possibilities – more interesting for the viewer.

CW: “I believe in minimalistic titling, maybe location and date, this can add to the ambiguity when you can’t reconcile it with the image or at worst be neutral.”

Me: Absolutely agree – editorialising via titles can ruin an image as I have already mentioned on this blog.

CW: “I find individual frames from films inspirational for still photography.”

Me: This is something I would like to explore more consciously in future.  I often watch films or high-quality TV dramas and admire the photography, sometimes pausing the frame and commenting on what an excellent photograph that would make but I should be being more reflective, taking notes about what works well about the image – composition, lighting, colours, tones - and using it as direct inspiration for my own work.

CW: “Sometimes students start to fetishise technically quality at the expense of meaning.  The technique is the servant of the communication, a clinical technical rendering of it would have completely destroyed the atmosphere.” (re Cinema image)

Me: Again I should explore this area more deliberately. I am still at that stage of being haunted by technically poor images I have taken in the past and so am always driven towards the highest technical quality.  As Clive points out this is not always the right treatment for an image.  I need to develop more confidence in this area and be willing to experiment with a range of techniques.  An area to research and find examples of success from other photographers.

CW: (with reference to my problem with blown-out highlights adversely affecting the composition of ‘Face’) “You can select the problem area and reduce its white point to approximately 247. This will give it enough density to retain the integrity of the image within the borders without losing the sense of its brightness.”

Me:  Have now done this – also cloned a bit of the surrounding area to soften the transition.  All works much better.

CW: “There is just a hint of uncertainty, if not quite vulnerability, in this image which doesn’t exist in the other images and the lighting and setup are semiologically appropriate to that quality.”

Hmmn – still don’t fully understand that but I kind of get the drift.

CW: (re Chair image) “This immediately summoned up to me this image of the film star Brian Donlevy, shot in the late 50s by Bert Stern as an ad for Smirnoff, one of a handful of New York photographers that invented the modern advertising photography style.”

Me: Not particularly familiar with Bert Stern but recognise a couple of his images.  Rather a lot of Marilyn and a nice dreamy quality to some of them!  Love the one of Gary Cooper with the gun.

CW: (re CCTV image) “The bollards, supported by minimal glimpses of wall and pavement, and the drain make a strong triangle that the subject is placed optimally in.”

Me: I really should think more about triangles and geometry generally.  Nice reminder summary….

CW: “With ‘street photography’ in particular it’s much better to stop the internal intellectual chatter and just respond emotionally, the intellectual refinement can come in the editing.”

Me: Looking forward to the next part of the course to really get underneath this.

CW: “It’s important to do as much prep as possible before you introduce the sitter into the situation and don’t try and do too many setups in one go, make the most of one or two, doing small variations of pose, just the slightest tilt of the head or change of weight from one buttock to the other, can make all the difference.”

Me: The assignment, and the exercises leading up to it, have really helped me with this.  It amazes me that I can shoot 50 images with very similar set up and lighting and only one or two (if I am lucky) will really have the impact I am looking for.

Overall - I am very happy with the report on my first assignment and with my tutor’s lengthy and thought-provoking critique of my work.

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