PART TWO: Imaginative spaces


Exercise 2.1

Brief: Find a scene that has depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of five or six shots at different focal lengths without changing your viewpoint. (You might like to use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel.)As you page through the shots on the preview screen it almost feels as though you’re moving through the scene. So the ability to change focal lengths has an obvious use: rather than physically moving towards or away from your subject, the lens can do it for you

All shots taken in Lincoln Cathedral using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Canon 24-105mm f4.0 L ISM lens.  All shots were taken just before 10.30am.  The light in the cathedral was really tricky and I had to play around with the ISO to get the best shots using the same Aperture setting of f5.0.

Image 1

Lincoln Cathedral 11/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL 32mm,  ISO 1600

Image 2


Lincoln Cathedral 2

1/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL50 mm,  ISO 3200

Image 3

Lincoln Cathedral 3

1/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL 67mm,  ISO 3200

Image 4

Lincoln Cathedral 41/40 sec @ f5.0,  FL 105mm,  ISO 12800

Does zooming in from a fixed viewpoint change the appearance of things? If you enlarge and compare individual elements within the first and last shots, you can see that their ‘perspective geometry’ is exactly the same. To change the way things actually look, a change in focal length needs to be combined with a change in viewpoint.

Using a telephoto lens has a narrow angle of view which means that the relative size of objects are normalised when compared to those further away.

Focal length

narrow view

Cambridge in Colour: A learning community for photographers [Accessed 18th October 2015]

I had to check the Exif data twice on the last two shots because I was really surprised that the difference between the two shots was miniscule.  This was despite increasing the focal lens by 38mm whereas, the increase in focal length between 2 and 3 was only 17mm and there is a considerable change in the appearance of the organ or at least the amount of area that can be seen around the organ.

As the perspective moves further towards the organ the dynamic points of the lines of pillars and ceiling arches disappear and the detail on the arches themselves become more pronounced and visible.

Image 1 demonstrates the sheer scale of this magnificent building whereas the others shots begin to allow the viewer to appreciate the complexity and beauty of the detail.


Project 3: Surface and depth



Read the reviews by Campany and Colberg and, if you haven’t already done so, use them to begin the contextual section of your learning log. Try to pick out the key points made by each writer.

Following a disastrous shoot after the 9/11 bombings when Ruff’s photographs came back from the lab blank he trawled the internet to find archive and used jpeg shots of the event.  He went on to rework these images and in doing so he challenges the realism and our expectation of what to expect from the record.    Whilst this challenge of belief and convention exists and will continue to generate debate, Colberg[i] suggests that it is interesting to look at what the work does. Colberg thinks that book form which he thinks works well, but is less impressed with the very large (“gigantic”) prints of the exhibition,  which he suggests are a “tad pretentious” and also suggests that the idea overly relies on technique.  Ruff is breaking free of the perceived confines of photography and in the process produces amazing images which the photography suggests is “more” but more than what Colberg struggles to identify.  He does however, suggest that the beauty of an image is all that we maybe should expect and to ignore the theory behind the concept appreciating the image for what it is.

Campany claims that Ruff “makes very particular demands of us and offers very particular kinds of pleasure, both aesthetic and intellectual.” [ii], so it seems that this concurs with the conclusion that Colberg reached.  However, Campany is much harsher in his description of the images using such strong emotional words such as “cold and dispassionate, willful, searching and perverse”.  He too acknowledges that the images are beautiful and that they have the ability to produce both an individual and collective response which is difficult to resolve.  Campany also suggests that the images because of the subject matter are unpredictable and are even irrational and anarchic producing “tension and drama” and leaving the viewer to  link the images with the “drama” and “character of modern life”.

[i] Colberg J, (2009) Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff. Conscientious online website

[ii] Campany, David (2008) Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel [online]. David Campany website. Available from:

[Both Accessed 18 October, 2015]