Category Archives: Research & Reflection

General Overview

General Overview

Despite a rocky start and delays throughout the year due to personal circumstances I completed Expressing your vision in 15 months. Three to eight months longer than I had anticipated.

Because of circumstances I sometimes lost motivation and direction.  As a result I feel that some of my assignments were rushed and not thought through as well as I might have done.  Especially assignments 2 and 4.  

Having reflected on this I still seem to have made progress and my photography has improved over the time.  A comment from Celena Beech after Assignment 1 suggested that I did not take risks.  I still feel that I stay pretty much in my comfort zone and I need to try to think a bit more laterally when approaching assignments.

I have learnt a lot both from the course work and from my research.  Through this I have increasingly looked at photography from an art perspective rather than reproducing “snapshot” images.

Response to Course Aims and Outcomes:

  • Enable you to begin using technical and visual skills appropriately

I am still getting to grips with the technical side of photography.  My camera skills are improving and my knowledge of the camera and its settings has improved greatly.  My processing skills using Lightroom and Photoshop still have a long way to go.  I have at last improved my ability to produce decent Contact Sheets but some of the other more technical points for improving images need more work.  I do limited processing because of this but can still manage to over process on occasion.

  • enable you to produce practical work which uses the above understanding and demonstrates skills of personal engagement, enquiry, imagination and experimentation

Despite my need to improve my technical skills I think I have managed to produce some very acceptable work.  I engage well with my subject and am beginning to see how the photograph can be a powerful storyteller.  In Assignment 5, I feel that I went a little too far in my enquiry, imagination and experimentation.  I over thought the subject and made my brief wider than necessary.  I used my imagination to try to bring to life the story of the fishing industry and I experimented with documentary photography.  I am relatively happy with the outcome, although there are a couple of shots that I could have improved on and I could have shot at different times of the day to bring more drama into the story. In response to tutor feedback I have now re-worked this assignment and am much happier with it.

  • develop your understanding of contemporary and historical approaches to photography

This is probably the area I have learnt most about.  I understood the development of photography having lived near to and visited many times the home of Fox Talbot but the development of the physical image and what makes a good photograph has been a steep learning curve.  I now also appreciate modern photographic art more.  As for the move from film to digital,  I appreciate the benefits of film photography and the processes required but I am more inclined to the digital process.  The use of black and white photography can help in some circumstances to further enhance the story and I experimented with this in Assignment 2.

  • introduce critical analysis and self-appraisal of ideas, processes and outcomes.

I have found that using critical analysis and self-appraisal is a good way to help me to learn more quickly, using the mistakes and methods I used to move my thought processes on.  However, in my work and on reflection, I can see that when I am under stress I do not always apply that learning and need to remember to do so in future.


Overall, I have enjoyed the experience and am pleased with my progress.  I am looking forward to the next module.



Source: ERNST HAAS ESTATE | COLOR: FLORA (Accessed 17.1.2016)

Ernst Haas, an Austrian born photography who emigrated via Paris to America just after the war,was a pioneer of colour photography.  It has been said that before Haas there was no coloured photography, only coloured photos.  He arrived in New York in 1950 he was invited by Robert Capa to join Magnum photos.  This was the heyday of photojournalism but Haas did bit pursue colour as photojournalism.  He portrayed the essence of New York in his presentation of the city scape, through posters, signs and what is loosely termed “street photography” all in colour.  He was given an unheard of amount of coverage in LIFE magazine – a whopping 24 page spread and it was his work that formed the Museum of Modern Arts firs Colour Retrospective.

Once he had changed colour photography forever, he began to experiment with movement, moving with the camera to create the feeling of movement.  He started with bullfights but quickly moved on to other subjects.

I attempted to replicate the way Haas captured movement in the Alnwick Garden Bamboo Maze.


Race Cars, Indiananpolis 500, 1957. Haas E.


Alnwick Garden, Alnwick. 2016.  Wearn L.

Whilst I made no attempt to study how Haas had achieved his capture of motion by moving with the camera the experiment was interesting and showed me that it really is not as easy as it seems.

Haas continued to travel the world capturing sacred sites, shrines, dances of indigenous people for magazines, books and films.   He also ran workshops and received honours in almost every year of his life until his death in 1986.

Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment – Reflection

Reflections using the assessment criteria assessment

Demonstration of technical skills

  • Equipment:
    • Cameras
      • Canon 5DMKIII
      • Lumix GX7
    • Lenses
      • Canon 25-104mm
      • Lumix Vario 45-200mm
      • Lumix Vario 14 -42mm
    • Settings
      • Aperture priority/Manual
      • Auto Focus
      • RAW format


  • Using feedback from my tutor for Assignment 2, I extensively researched Street Photographers (See Research) and paid particular attention to composition. Especially, at Cabot’s Circus I took time to visualise the shot and how the shot might be framed.
  • I also looked to some contemporary Street Photographers for influence e.g. Vineet Vohra and Rui Palha for use of stairs and escalators, Brend Schaeffer, Valerie Jardin and Thomas Leuthard for lead in lines and the use of architecture. I have a long way to go but I feel that I have improved on previous attempts.
  • I thought hard about where to position myself and took most shots from a high position or a low position looking up. This worked to a greater or lesser extent especially those looking up (see Contact Sheets) however, what did help greatly was that I had more of an idea of what I wanted my shot to look like.
  • I was more patient (especially at Cabot’s Circus) in waiting for the shot to appear.
  • I used a shallow Depth of Field on the more candid shots.

Quality of outcome

  • I was much happier with the outcome of the shots compared with Assignment 2 composition improved and I visualised the outcome more.
  • However, a number of my shots lacked vibrancy and contrast and were a little under exposed when I downloaded them even though they and the histograms looked alright on the back of the camera. Therefore, I did some editing using Lightroom.  On two candid shots there was some distracting back ground (a yellow strip in one and a red sale banner in the other), I used Photoshop CC to reduce the impact of these on the shot.  I have a lot to learn in using the “digital darkroom”.  This is the first time I have attempted this type of editing and I am quite pleased with the results.
  • Printing was a nightmare. I used two local well respected printers and I was very disappointed with the results.  In one the contrast was way too high to the extent that it blew out highlights (I had already printed these at home on my Canon 100S printer and they were fine), the other was on low quality paper even though I had ordered them on high quality.  I therefore, decided to attempt to print them myself.  I still need to learn about how to resize photos that have been cropped but overall I was quite pleased with the quality.

Demonstration of Creativity

  • Feedback from Assignment 1 stated that I did not take risks, I feel that I have been riskier with this assignment but still have a long way to go.  I would love to emulate some of the photographers who obviously get down low the take some amazing shots but as yet I have not got the confidence to do so.
  • That said, I feel that the shots which include architecture and depth of field are more creative than previous shots and I have tried to tell a story in the shots using lead in lines and the rule of thirds to place important features.
  • I have learnt a lot about “The Decisive Moment” and what it means from the more received definition of Henri Cartier-Bresson to a more contemporary definition that would include the work of Diane Arbus. No matter what the approach I take I have learnt that the planning of the shoot is of utmost importance to capturing “the” shot.

Tutor Feedback and Reflection: Assignment 3


I was very pleased with this set of photographs.  I feel that my research paid off and I improved greatly from the street photography in Assignment 2.  In Assignment 2 the mistake I made was literally interpreting the brief of “crowds”.

Many of the images I shot worked well in both colour and black and white and comments from my tutor advises that I should undertake a project where the outcome would be a black and white set of shots – I will remember this for future projects.

I too like Images 5 and 6.  Just after I shot image 6 the little girl ran off and I managed to capture a shot but because of her height her head was obscured by the railing bar and it was not so strong.  Had I managed to get a shot with her head above the railing it would have been an even better shot.

In Image 7, which is not so strong I think if I had been a little closer to the subject it would have been stronger.  This was a favourite with many of the people I consulted with.

I will endeavour to make my research more visual by including contrasting images.

Overall, I am pleased with this feedback.



Research for Exercise 1.4 – Framing

For this exercise I wanted to really understand what is meant by framing.  Up to this point I had thought that it meant using objects such as a window frame or a group of trees to  frame the subject.

What I found was that the frame does not have to enclose the whole image but simply draw the eye in as with “repoussoir”, used in two dimensional art by placing an object in the foreground on either the right or left side which then leads the eye to the object in the background and the focus of the art or in this case shot

Framing is a way of manipulating the view point of the image rather than the object

It includes the use of:

  • Depth of Field
  • Use of objects such as window frames, doorways which also can create a sense of being part of the shot
  • White/Negative space
  • Vingnetting
  • Perspective distortion
  • Use of lens (wide to include more background or long to compress the image)
  • Focus (in/out) to create mood and depth to the image.

When framing is used well it can leave the viewer imagining more than originally intended.

Research for Part 1 – From that moment onwards……

As part of my research for Part 1 of the course, I considered composition and the use of “The Rule of Thirds”[1], Gestalt principles of dynamic symmetry, and principles of image composition[2].

There were many articles advising on how to compose a photograph and I have only included two references because many of them repeat the same information.

From my research I now understand what draws a viewer into an image and although there are some guiding rules these can be modified and still provide a pleasing image.

The rule of thirds is a very useful tool however, just moving the subject off centre can provide the desired effect as long as the focal point is strong.  Similarly placing a horizontal line in the centre or middle of the shot reduces the strength of the image, as does having a horizon or vertical line that is not straight.

Subjects that are interesting and place in the foreground can add depth and a point of reference.

Simple images are stronger and by composing an image with a strong focal point and less clutter will provide for a stronger shot.

Leading lines and framing shots by moving closer to a subject also play an important role in drawing the viewer’s eye to the focal point.

Most photographs are taken when the photographer is standing and by moving position this can improve the shot.

Detrie, in his discussion of Gestalt principles links our visual perception to patterns found in nature and it’s complexity.  How we perceive this complexity is dependent on the interaction between our experiences, interplay between perception and behaviour and the social and cultural context of our experiences.  Although this article was written for graphic design many of the elements described apply to photography.

Placing my subject in the centre is a common failing of mine and I need to improve on this.  On reviewing this research for my assessment I am aware that I still have many habits to break or improve on.






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