Monthly Archives: December 2016

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – Tutor Feedback

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – Tutor Feedback

Please find below my tutor feedback which has been provided in full as instructed by my tutor.  My responses to the points raised will be in square brackets to differentiate between the two.

Overall Comments

The set of images you have sent me are due to revisiting a previous exercise you have undertaken whereby you photographed an egg.

The final portfolio of images (6) show how you have moved on from the original exercise and taken your work into a new and different direction. Even though you have continued to keep it simple, there has been a narrative added which has developed in your work and this can provide you with some new opportunities to explore.

Assessment Potential:

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

1 – This image overall seems a little dark which you have commented on in your reflective feedback. It may be a case of needing to calibrate your printer with your computer screen. Did you do this? If not, then this may be worth investigating sooner. It can also sometimes be a matter of your monitor just being too bright. I would recommend that you continue to experiment with the lighting and printing further in this respect, so that you have prints you are happy with so it may be worth revisiting this particular image again.

[Since carrying out this assignment I have invested in a Spyder5Pro screen calibrating device so hopefully future prints will at least start on my screen as they are intended.  I am finding that working with the same printers DS Colour Labs also means you get a feel for work flow and predictability which then results in more consistency of the end results.]

2 – This image provides an interesting and unusual composition. It reminds me of some advice by Martin Parr who recommends that you add a little surprise within the composition (where possible) to give a slightly surreal effect and keep the viewer guessing. In this respect your image does this as you play around with the reflection.

[This image I think is one of my more successful in the series.  It creatively asks the viewer to fill in the gaps based on the reflective information.  Most people have come across a lamp, so their brain can easily recreate the missing top part of the lamp from the reflection albeit not that clear to see.  I have since re-worked this image to remove the labels inside the lamp head and entered it in to a local photography club completion and it was well received.  I will include the re-worked image in my reflection blog post that follows this one.] 

3 – This image has good composition, as the main focal point is on the egg with the lamp being slightly out of focus. However, there may have been a little opportunity to play around with the shadows in this image, with the lamp looming down on the egg in such an investigative way.

[I would have liked to have had the lamp closer to the egg but when I tried this I found that this particular lamp was not as adjustable as I would have liked, so this was the best I could do with the lamp I had.  I agree though, it would have been better if I had been able to get the lamp lower, closer to the egg and maybe have captured a long shadow coming from the back of the egg.]

4 – This image is very similar to the previous image and therefore it is at risk of the viewing not questioning this image any further. It is overly dark and not as strong as the other images so would benefit from a reshoot.

[I see this image as the key ‘linking’ image in the story so I agree it is very similar to the previous one but as part of a series it shows that the story is progressing.  The fact that the egg is now on the lamp tells you this relationship is now more intimate, it has progressed on from the initial relationship building stage.  On reflection maybe a different shooting angle could have been employed here and I will explore this further.]

5 – I like the texture being revealed on the egg shell by the lighting you have used in this shot. Cropping needs to be revisited due to the lamp being cut out of the image on the right hand side. A hint of the label under the base of the lamp is also a little distracting and more experimentation with lighting needs to be accomplished due to lack of detail in the lamp lowlights.

[I have noted the comments regarding; cropping, lack of detail in the dark areas and that the label is distracting.  I will include this image re-worked in my reflection blog post which will follow this one.]

6 – This image has potential due to the unusual cropping and the way that you have developed the cylindrical shapes. To further explore and experiment with this image, there is the possibility that you could replicate (in post-production) a continuation and duplication of the circles to mirror each other.

[I have just started using Photoshop more creatively and note that I could explore the replication of shapes within the frame.  I did experiment with different compositions ‘in camera’ for this shot and this I felt was the strongest image from those shot.  I think this might be one to revisit once I am more proficient with Photoshop so I can do my post-production experimentation justice.]

Coursework – Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You have obviously understood a large element of the technical skill involved in artificial or studio lighting conditions. It is important to also recognize that, with practice, this can be a way of getting the lighting exactly as you want it. Indeed, any ‘controlled’ lighting situation, once perfected can be a lot easier to achieve as opposed to natural lighting conditions where you are up against the weather, for example.

[I have been endeavoring to learn more about studio lighting and have added to my lighting equipment and modifiers which will allow me to experiment more in this area.  It is an area I am interested in so have no doubt that future studio lighting submissions will be improved upon.]

Research – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis 

You have identified with this series of work that you wanted to develop it into a more narrative storyline. This can be an interesting way of taking your work forward, perhaps, for example a children’s book or a stop motion movie. You may want to look at the work of Graham Rawle who created all his own objects for a book about the Wizard of Oz. You may also be interested in the work of stop-motion work of Anderson Studio M who use narrative within their animations. You could also draw on book classics such as Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, to draw inspiration.

[I will cover my thoughts on Graham Rawle, Anderson Studio M and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis in my reflection blog post which will follow this one.]

Learning Log – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

I enjoyed reading your blog (and printed work sent to me in the post), particularly as you resonated with Ernst Haas over his apple! You may want to look at the classic photographer Edward Weston who beautifully sculpted some vegetables through the use of studio lighting.

[I will take a look at Edward Weston’s vegetables and comment on them in my reflection post which will follow this one.]

Suggested reading/viewing – Context

As mentioned in the feedback above, here are the links to the artists mentioned:

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment 

  • Continue to practice in controlled lighting conditions
  • Continue to experiment with your work and think outside the box
  • Develop the narrative angle if this is an area which interests you

 [All the comments provided have been noted and I will consider these on my follow-up work and future assignments.  Overall I am pleased with my feedback and note that I have some areas to improve on.]

Follow this link to my reflection blog post, which follows up on the comments provided above and any re-work of images.


8 December 2016 – Victory Cup (Digital Competition)

This week was a digital print competition, the Victory Cup (Digital).  The second of three digital competitions this season.

There were 76 images entered in total.
There was no theme, it was an open competition.
The judge for the evening was Raymond Bridges
Scores were out of 20.

The same rules applied, as per my previous posts on digital competitions, one of which can be found here.

So here are my 4 entries, with their scores and judges feedback:



1, 2, 3 Segway scored 16

Good sense of movement.  The panning could be sharper. The red of the other persons jacket pulls your eye away from the subject.






Lois Scored 14

The light needs to be cut down a bit.  The image looks flat, it needs more contrast.  The eyes are sharp which is good.







Number 19 scored 20 2nd place 

Good panning.  No background issues.  An enjoyable image.  Well done!





Subtropical Paradise scored 14

The surrounding sky is very dark and there are no details in it.  The image needs to be lighter.



After the second round of the digital league I am joint 8th, lets hope the last round gets me up the rankings a bit.

Ray Bridges mentioned a photographer whilst giving critique to another image, Brian Beaney, so I checked his website out and his images have a graphics feeling to them.  One thing his images had was a consistent look and feel.


Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The End

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The End (following on from Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Middle)

Please note: My tutor requests that my final Assignment image submissions are provided as A4 prints so the jpegs below are only of web quality.

So here are my final selected images for my Languages of light, together with their technical specs (the text beside each image accompanied my A4 prints):

Image 1 – Lamp Lamentation
“Once upon a time there was a lonely looking lamp.”

1. IMG_9044

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/125 sec. f/5

The lamp is central to the story; it is the key light source. The lamp is bent over, indicating sadness. The light only falls in the space in front of the lamp, conveying a feeling of isolation and reflection. The positioning of the second subject out of the light allows the viewer to see that the lamp is not alone but only a shadow form is visible. Instinctively we know it’s an egg.



Image 2 – An Eggcellent Encounter
“One day the lamp caught sight of a lovely egg.”

2. IMG_9000


Technical Details: ISO 100 1/20 sec. f/5

The lamp is now lighting the egg directly from the top, however, the image shows the reflection of the lamp showing more of the bulb giving a sense that the lamp has ‘spotted’ the egg.




Image 3 – Delighted
“They chatted for a while and soon they became good friends.”

3. IMG_9013


Technical Details: ISO 100 1/20 sec. f/5

The lighting in this image is more intense and slightly on the front side of the egg. The lamp with its ‘head’ cocked is meant to mirror a posture someone who is listening intently might take. This picture is brighter to portray more energy resulting from active conversation.



Image 4 – Elec-chick Love
“Their friendship grew stronger and closer.”

4, IMG_9054


Technical Details: ISO 100 1/125 sec. f/5

Back to softer lighting and a more intimate placement of the lamp and the egg. Both the positioning of the subjects touching and the softer lighting portrays a close relationship.




Image 5 – Let There Be Light
“They shared stories of creationism and the inverse square law.”

5. IMG_9022

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/60 sec. f/5

Now the lamp has reclined and lay beside the egg. The angle of light is more acute, directed on the egg and intense. The positioning of the lamp’s ‘head’ suggests it is only the egg that matters.




Image 6 – Consumed and Duplicated
“They lived happily ever after.”

6 IMG_9048

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/125 sec. f/5

Placing the egg in front of the lamp produces a shadow similar to that in image 1 going full circle, however, this time the lamp and the egg are consumed by each other. They have become one but have also in reflection been duplicated suggesting there is now a ‘family’.




Further development:

I really enjoyed creating this narrative between 2 inanimate objects.  This idea certainly has the potential to be developed and go further as a concept maybe as part of another course on the degree pathway.  I liked the titles with the play on words too.

This completes my Assignment four submission from a course requirement perspective and I now await tutor feedback.

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Middle

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Middle (following on from Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Beginning)

Personal Reflection:

What worked well?
I am happy with the story and concept overall and think the six images work well as a set. The studio environment provided a lot of compositional flexibility and control. The subjects were not moving so there was time to position, re-position and be more considered about the arrangement before any shot was taken. This resulted in less ‘wasted’ images and time processing. Working through this part of the course I acknowledge that I am growing as a photographer. This time I was more focused on what I wanted to achieve and how to achieve it, rather than worrying about my camera and how to use it. I enjoyed the process very much and will definitely be developing this anthropomorphism concept a bit further in the future.

What didn’t work so well?
I think if I had to criticise anything it would be in the final printing. I felt that the printed images were a little on the dark side. I wanted the images to be lower key and intimate but not quite as much as they were. The digital sRGB versions work better in my opinion than the print versions. If I was to re-work this assignment I possibly would have chosen a slightly smaller print size than A4 to support the intimacy of the story. Also maybe I should have typed each line of the story on to the relevant image to provide more context.

Here are the contact sheets of the images taken for this assignment ahead of seeing the final selects on the following blog post:


Studio Light Egg Lamp Contact Sheet 4.4 1Studio Light Egg Lamp Contact sheet 4.4-2Studio Light Egg Lamp Contact Sheet 4.4-3

Please follow this link for the next section – Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The End.

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Beginning

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Beginning

I looked at an apple for such a long time until it became the first apple I had ever seen. I was so excited that I called a friend to tell him my experience. But how could I find the right words for what I had experienced? How could I describe my visual sensations with literary words such as red, yellow, green, shining and round after this movement of nuances and counteractions in form and colour, even in touch and smell? Anyhow I did not find the right words and my friend did not believe me, so I ate the apple as I have eaten many an apple before. It was a fairly good apple. [accessed 16/06/14]

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission.  Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.

Format of my Blog response:
As with previous Assignments, where text from my official response to my tutor has been included I will highlight this to enable you (the reader) to distinguish between what is just ‘chat’ i.e. my ‘thoughts’, and what has been ‘submitted’.  This will help contextualise my tutor’s response/critique and any rework that is/has been requested.

Initial Thoughts:
This assignment, once I had thought about and selected the idea I wanted to convey, really captured my imagination.  I loved creating the story line and to imagine how the interactions between the objects might develop, take shape and work.  I felt for the first time on the course, with this assignment, that I had considered my photography as experimental from a creativity point of view, rather than following a straight forward recording process.  It was work with a narrative which I enjoyed immensely.

I chose studio lighting as I have a general interest in portraiture photography and still life, I think, is the closest photography genre to this.   Also I am lucky enough to have access to a space where I can set up a still life and know that a day / a week later it will still be there waiting for me to continue my project.

When I decided to go with this idea/theme for my assignment I posted on the OCA forum to see if anyone had come across any famous/recognised photographers who had done this kind of thing already in an attempt to use them as an influence.  There were a few suggestions for photographers who had taken images of;

But these were not exactly what I was after.  One of the OCA Tutors said that I shouldn’t worry about looking out examples but instead just dive in and give it a go, which is what I did.

One OCA student suggested I take a look at Pat Flynn’s work which was definitely closer to what I had in mind but in animation form, however, I particularly liked the still on his website of a melon sending out green gas towards a hanging lemon, this made me laugh. It reminded me of a Halloween past when our neighbour carved a throwing up pumpkin and the sick was all the pumpkin pips and innards pulled out through the mouth space.  I liked the sense of humor in that melon example and thought this was an idea, that given time, I would like to develop further.  Maybe it will appear again in another course….

Enough chat, the following was my submission to my tutor for this assignment…

I decided to go back to Exercise 4.4 from Project 4, Ex Nihilo (meaning ‘out of nothing’ in Latin) and use this as the springboard for this assignment. I felt comfortable with each of the lighting techniques in this part of the course but felt studio lighting would be the most appropriate for what I wanted to do for this assignment.

My idea was to create a set of images which told a story; using studio lighting in a creative way to create a sense of mood and relationship between two inanimate objects i.e. using form, lighting and positioning to imply a connection (anthropomorphism/personification).

I chose to use an egg (the same egg from previous exercises) and a desk lamp as my two subjects. I moved the subjects around to get what I considered to be the right positions to tell the story and to achieve the lighting required to compliment each part of the narrative.

The light from the desk lamp is used to indicate where and at what it is ‘looking’ and consequently comes across as the main subject or controlling entity. The egg takes on a more passive role but is crucial to the successful interplay between the two subjects.

I noticed that as I worked with the egg throughout this part of the course I started to treat the egg with more consideration and care, which amused me after reading the quote in the course notes from Ernst Haas (1921-86), who was considered to be one of the pioneers of colour photography. He described his experience of seeing the ordinary in an original way: “I looked at an apple for such a long time until it became the first apple I had ever seen. I was so excited…”. I can relate to this and note that Ernst Haas also anthropomorphised in his photography see; Binoculars, NY 1952.

From a technical perspective I used a Canon 70D with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. My contact sheets and shooting data show that I used fairly consistent camera settings to achieve the required look and feel to the images.

The colour of the light given off by the bulb in the desk lamp was very orange giving an all over orange glow to the images. I wanted to create more of a low key intimate feeling to the images so I moved the colour temperature from 5150k to 3200k giving more of a bluish tone/cooler temperature to the images.

With regards to identifying a photographer mentioned in part four of the course whose approach to light might link into mine, I would suggest Irving Penn (1917-2009) who photographed still life objects, including eggs ref: “Broken Egg, New York, 1959”. Penn thought that ‘still life was more than just a study of objects’. He was a technical perfectionist and was among the first photographers to pose subjects in front of a plain white/grey background. His still life compositions were minimal and very thoughtfully put together.

Please follow this link for the next section: Assignment four – ‘Languages of Light’ – The Middle

WordWeb: English dictionary, thesaurus, and word finder software. 2016. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed November 2016].

Binoculars, NY 1952. Ernst Haas Estate [Accessed November 2016].

Irving Penn, Available at: (Accessed:  November 2016).

Still Life in Photography: Irving Penn, Available at: (Accessed: November 2016).