Course: Expressing Your Vision
Assignment three – ‘The decisive moment’ – Tutor Feedback
Please find below my tutor feedback which has been provided in full as instructed by my tutor. My responses to the points that have been raised will be in square brackets to differentiate between the two.
It was good to see that for this submission you have gone out of your comfort zone and photographed skaters, feeling that this would best describe the decisive moment in photography. I know you had done some research on the subject matter beforehand and this has helped you to understand the subject, although I believe there were a few missed opportunities.
Looking at the portfolio of images you have sent me, they show a developing style and you have certainly considered colour, composition and focal length. There is a lack of experimentation within the work and some of the photos are a little repetitive, especially when several photographs feature the same skater! I am sure you can research a little further on this and develop more creative thinking skills and experiment with overlaying images or motion blur, to name just two examples.
[On reflection I agree I could have introduced more experimentation in to my series and used some different techniques to support my take on the decisive moment. I limited myself by being too narrow-minded in my approach which created broadly similar images. I have taken note of this and will try to improve in future assignments.]
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
1 – I can understand why you have cropped this original portrait image, to a landscape image although I think it would have been improved if you had waited another second and got the skater higher up in the air at the point where he pauses before coming back down on the ramp. This would have ensured that the frame remains in portrait and you can appreciate the skill of how high they go up into the air. As it is, it appears as if he is achieving only a low level skill down on the ground which doesn’t come across as particularly impressive in the photo. However, I like the shape of his arms which you have captured, along with the lighting on his back which emphasizes the tattoos. The boy on the bike in the distance is a little distracting because he is a strong figure in red but he is not looking at the skater in the foreground (he appears to be looking at someone else to the right which we cannot see, along with some other people in the audience).
[There was a lot going on in the skate park that day and with the crisscrossing of the skateboarders it was difficult to get shots of isolated subjects doing their tricks, so it was a case of take an opportunity whilst you could. Maybe I was taking a too clinical approach and should have included multiple skateboarders.]
2 & 4 – The skater in image 2 features quite a lot in your work so be careful of your subject choice. We would normally recommend you re-visit this skate park or change to another one, in order to get a variety of skaters. Again, this appears to be a rather low level trick at the point you have captured. I appreciate he is about to mount the pole (sorry, don’t know the technical terms!) but it would have been better to wait another couple of seconds in order to capture the moment he is in the air. The concentration on the face is excellent and he looks pin sharp with his muscles tense. Image number 4 is a better shot for the skater’s stance so you were probably aware of this. Try not to include two shots which are similar when submitting a portfolio as one is always going to be weaker than the other, so you are in effect, competing against yourself and you need to show discernment that you know which is the strongest image. There is quite a harsh black shadow across the face of this skater which you need to avoid.
[I have noted that in a series of images (or a portfolio) you should avoid similar compositions and include different and varied subjects to be more successful. I need to watch out for harsh shadows across important parts of the image.]
3 & 5 – Again, we have the same shot so you need to show discernment in your choice. There is an interesting use of long shadows in both of these images and this could have been developed further, perhaps highlighting it in your written analysis. The skater in image number 3 doesn’t look pin sharp on the print. I would always recommend that you blow your images up to 100% in Photoshop to identify if there is any softness. This may have been an opportunity for some motion blur as experimentation. Image number 5 is a much stronger image due to the shape of the skater in the foreground who is the key point of focus and he almost appears to be dancing with a decisive moment well captured. Your eye does drift into the ‘deflated’ skater in the distance (I would have preferred him to have been looking at the foreground skater rather than looking down) but the lighting and long shadows make this image more interesting and I could see this being used in a commercial setting / marketing material.
[I have taken these comments on board in particular regarding; not submitting similar compositional images and that images need to be pin sharp.]
6 – The same skater again but you have a well captured pose. I would revisit the bottom section of the print to look at cropping or remove the concrete ramp / paving in the foreground as it is too distracting. I like that there is more depth of field in this image but you have lost some detail in the dark area of his trousers.
[I will re-visit this image in post, as suggested, and include it in my re-work blog post.]
7 – Same skater again and I am not convinced he is sharp, although I do like the way he is framed in between the pillars. Did you consider overlaying the same skater on one image so that there are several of him doing various different tricks? This could have shown good use of experimentation.
[I need to experiment more when putting together my assignments…. I will try to loosen up my approach and thinking going forwards. I will include an overlaid image in my re-work blog as suggested.]
Coursework – Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
I notice you experimented with slow shutter speeds in one of the exercises, with some successful results. It is important that you utilize what you have learnt in the exercises into your final assignment. This would show more evidence of experimentation in your final shoot, rather than compartmentalizing the exercises instead of integrating this working methodology into your assignments.
[I have noted the importance of using the exercises to inform my assignments.]
Research – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
You have identified some relevant photographers who have photographed skaters, however be careful who you research. One of the photographers has work which I feel is particularly weak and is not a good example. Try to ensure you find photographers who have had work published in national / international magazines or have won competition awards. You may want to look at the work of Giovanni Reda who uses a fish eye lens, overlays the skater onto the city and also photographs skaters at different times of day and night. There is also an interesting interview on vimeo with Tobin Yelland which you may find interesting as he photographs skaters but there is also the bigger concept of youth culture which is evident in his work.
[I have provided some further research within my re-work blog post in response to the comments covered here on photographers. I note the point that the photographers included in my research should be good examples.]
Learning Log – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
I would like to have seen you immerse yourself more into the subject with regards to your contextual research. Some evidence of research into youth culture would have been beneficial to get a bigger understanding of the subject matter, even down to the clothes and fashion.
[I have noted the comment on including more relevant contextual research.]
Suggested reading/viewing – Context
You have agreed with Cartier Bresson that the decisive moment is just ‘luck’, however, it is always better to try and find some other opinions from photographers, writers or theorists who contradict this point of view, with quotations to back this up… and then state your opinion. I know some photographers who say it is certainly not luck, but a great deal of planning and years of expertise!
[I have noted the comment that the alternative argument for a point should also be represented even if it is not agreed with, to give balance.]
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
⦁ It’s all about the light in photography and you have shown elements of this in your skateboarder series. I would recommend you build on this element of your photography to make the images stand out due to the lighting technique or techniques which you have used
⦁ Consider experimentation at all times
[I can understand the feedback given and hope I can learn from the feedback given and apply this learning to future assignments.]
Follow this link to my re-work blog post, which follows up on the comments provided above and any re-work of images.