Category Archives: ASSIGNMENT 1

Reflecting on Part one – From that moment onwards and Assignment one…

On coming to the end of the course and now reaching the pre-assessment period I thought it would be a good idea to summarise what I had learnt from each part of the course Assignments, 1) to embed the learning for future courses and projects and 2) to use as a review and reflection tool which gives ease of reference to the learning points.

So to summarise the feedback received:

  • being closer to a subject is not necessarily a weaker position,
  • consider a variety of viewpoints,
  • consider what you want the viewer to focus on and depth of field,
  • take care with the placing of white objects especially near the frame,
  • textures are interesting detail so their inclusion should be considered,
  • look for strong patterns when creating images,
  • don’t be afraid to experiment with ISO,
  • take care with positioning and check for unwanted items near key subjects, and
  • use the exercises to inform assignments.

Image 6 – “Hello Tree” was recommended a re-shoot to capture the textures on the tree, this is below for your reference:

Re-shoot IMG_9427

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/125 sec. f/4.0 17mm

I decided to take a slightly different viewpoint of this tree for a number of reasons;

  • there were (and are increasing) so many cars parked down this road I didn’t want to include the number plates of the cars behind the tree, which a wider angle would have resulted in,
  • there was a huge white van directly to my right which restricted the positioning of the camera and if included would have become the main focal point and draw to the eye being white if I had included it, and
  • by being closer to the tree it meant I could get more detail out of the trunk.  I used a slightly higher f-stop than previously which meant I have included most of the tree in the depth of field used.  Previously I had focused more on the ground in front of the tree so this I feel is an improvement.

The leading lines are primarly on the path side of the tree this time, which I think works better as part of a ‘journey’ compostionally.  Also the light quality is different to the original due to the different time of day/year the images were taken.  This reinforces the fact that to try to recreate an image exactly, where the environment is not controlled, is impossible.  The re-shot image was taken on a rainy day as was the original but even the puddles were not the same….

To enable a comparison to be made of the images I have added them both below side by side for your ease of reference (both were taken at 17mm with ISO 100:

For the purposes of my Assessment submission I have provided an A4 print of the re-shot image 6.   This now completes my work, re-work and reflection of part one/Assignment one.


Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – Tutor Feedback

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – Tutor Feedback

Getting tutor feedback for your first ever photography degree assignment, even if it is primarily a diagnostic exercise, is nerve-racking but also a little bit exciting.  OK so maybe more than a little bit exciting.  On a distant learning course especially, where you haven’t been able to spend hours chatting to your course colleagues about your ideas and how they might be presented in photographic form to achieve the desired brief, tutor feedback plays an important role.  They are the ones who will guide you through your chosen learning path, who will challenge you to try new things and see things differently and give you the benefit of their knowledge, understanding and experience.  This is invaluable.

My family, albeit very supportive, are not creative types and sometimes I think they just nod in the right places and give some encouraging smiles but really they no idea or real interest in what I’m doing.  This is where my dark humour comes in and I chuckle to myself as it must be torture for them as I LOVE photography, I love talking about photography, I dream about photography, I make mental notes of how light falls on things as I travel to and from work, when I meet new people I’m framing them up in my head.  OK maybe I should be locked up now…

Anyway, on to the real reason for this post tutor feedback which has been provided in full below as instructed by my tutor.  My responses to the points raised will be in square brackets to differentiate between the two:

Overall Comments

It was a refreshing change to see a set of photographs from a dog’s point of view. Before reading your analysis, I guessed this is what you had done, so therefore when you hoped that viewers would think they are seeing the surroundings from the perspective of a dog, then you have achieved this aim. The print quality is good and I like the choice of finish (gloss) which brings out the light.

Overall, the set of images came across as experimental and a bit of fun, which is a great way to start the course. On closer inspection of your contact prints, I can see there are some stronger images and disagree with you that the weaker images are the ones taken too close to the subject. I would say that they had more impact and on your contact sheet 4 of 4, the close-ups of the pack of dogs are not strong compositionally, however they are more intriguing to look at and give even more of a sense of a dog’s environment, with more impact.

[I have made a note of this comment and will be considering this point when putting together future assignments.  I think I was too hung up on getting the images to be uniformed and look the same structurally with the horizon line in the same place that I overlooked some other aspects, in this case more interesting subject matter.]

Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

[I have decided to take the course to its conclusion and aim for a degree.  I say that now!]

Feedback on assignment

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

Image 1
I think it is important to look at the overall picture, and from my point of view, my eye is drawn to the dog walker who is out of focus. This is because you have used f/2.8 so I can see that the red car on the right hand side is perfectly in focus. The white house is also the first thing that your eye is drawn to, therefore, I appreciate what you are saying in that this is from a dog’s point of view, however, the low angle is enough to inform the viewer of your intention,  but you need to consider how the viewer will read the image and anything that is white will always draw the eye first. With the dog walker being out of focus, then this could have been rectified with a slower shutter speed if you had wanted to portray movement and which would also have been a nice experimental touch.

[I have taken these comments on board, in particular; the use of shallow depth of field in relation to what I want the viewer’s focus to be, that bright areas will attract most attention so consider this when composing an image.]

Image 2
So your main reason in this image is ‘sniff corner’ which is the wall on the left. I can see that the wall has a lovely textural quality to it, and it would have been a good idea to explore this further with your camera. As it stands, the wall is the last thing I see because it is so dark. I am instead looking at anything white (house, garage doors), then onto the dog walker (like the movement but was this intentional?). Again, the main focal point seems to be the car in the centre of the frame. The road covers around two thirds of the image and I agree with you that you needed to have the dog walker in the foreground (sometimes, people can be obliging if you just ask!).

[Street style photography I do find awkward as I feel like I am in some way invading people’s privacy.  This probably says more about me than them but my tutor is right generally people are accommodating especially neighbours and fellow dog walkers, so as required I will ask to take photographs – what’s the worst that can happen?..  Also I love textures and close up work yet again I chose to ignore that approach in this assignment, hopefully I can draw this out in future.]

Image 3
I am not sure that the lines in this image are strong enough to create a pattern (which can work really well in photography). I like the shallow depth of field in this image with the wall in the foreground and my eye goes directly to the bin man whereby you have captured a good ‘decisive moment’.

[I will try to identify stronger patterns when composing but this one really was a case of being at the right place at the right time.]

Image 4
There is a large expanse of road in this image, however you have made it more interesting with the use of a reflection in the puddle. Overall the image is very dark (as are most of your photographs) and I note that you have used ISO 100 in all of them. Was this a conscious decision? Some more experimentation with ISO and f stops would be beneficial (although I appreciation you may have wanted a lower ISO so you did not lose quality). As you have used such a wide aperture, it is difficult for me to see what you have focused on.

[I used a low ISO as I have not been a general fan of grain, however, I have been to a number of exhibitions over the last couple of months and am finding I’m not so against it now.  I guess photography could be compared to a fine wine, it’s only when you have experienced and been exposed to a range that your palette becomes more discerning and you can appreciate that which you didn’t previously understand.  I will aim to experiment more.]

Image 5
Converging verticals can be problematic but resolved in Photoshop. As you have photographed from down on the ground, the small garages are probably more  exaggerated than they would normally be. The roofs reflected in the puddle work well. Be careful of structures growing out of people’s heads!

[A keener eye around the frame is in order.  The only thing that should grow out of someone’s head is hair, right?  Sorry to those who are follicly challenged.]

Image 6
This image may benefit from a re-shoot. I can see the appeal from a dog’s point of view, but it would be best photographed pin sharp so we can see the beautiful texture of the tree. In photography, anything out of focus would be seen as a fundamental flaw.

[Point noted and I will look to improve this shot and re-post on this blog as a developmental exercise.]

Image 7
Shadows are really not enough of a focal point on their own.

Image 8
This image is very similar to image 7 above, although it has a more interesting foreground.

Image 9
What a lovely portrait of your dog! I appreciate you were aiming for consistency with the horizon lines, however, this image would have been much stronger with a closer crop and would have shown further experimentation.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You are on the right lines with regards to all the exercises which I have viewed on your blog. Be aware that it would be expected that you use some of the exercises to inform your final assignments, so for example, you have carried out an exercise on cropping and justified the reasons, but you have not carried out this theory (particularly for Image 9 as discussed above).

[The Square Mile images were taken and prepared before some of the exercises had been completed, so on a practical level not all the learning flowed into this particular assignment.  All the other assignments in the course follow the exercises so it should be much easier to link in with the learning undertaken in the relevant part of the course.]


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

I am pleased to read you attended an OCA Study Visit and glad you got a lot out of it. Always try and incorporate any photographers you have viewed at exhibitions into your assignment briefs to sign post any which have influenced you (I know you have done this for assignment 1, so keep up the good work).

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your blog is easy to navigate and you have made good reflective comments throughout.

Suggested reading/viewing


You have chosen to research relevant photographers and as a result of your subject choice, I would also encourage you to look at animal photographer Tim Flach. He specializes in photographs of dogs (running towards him).

[See my post on Tim Flach which was written post this feedback being received.]

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

  • Consider a variety of viewpoints, rather than just one viewpoint (although I appreciate your reasons for this with regards to this assignment)
  • Utilise exercises to inform your assignments (where possible)
[I am pleased with my feedback; it is constructive, offers practical advice, suggests different techniques to try, challenges me to be braver when photographing in public and be more creative with my compositions and it gives me guidance on what is expected for future assignments.  So overall I feel I have made a good start to the course, I still have a lot to learn and try out and I’m looking forward to learning from this feedback and the next Assignment, Two – Collecting.]

Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The End

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The End (following on from Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Middle)

As well as providing the images according to the course requirements ‘1500 pixels along the longest edge and Adobe (1998) colour profile RGB jpegs’  I have also, as suggested by my tutor, submitted the images as A4 prints.  This was not a requirement for this Assignment but I took the view that sourcing a print company now and having a go at getting prints done was also an essential part of the learning process, so I decided to submit to my tutor as an A4 submission pack.

Here are my final selected images together with their technical specs.

Image 1 – “Off We Go!”
I liked the juxtaposition of the solid leading line that the wall gives, which feels closed in, compared to the more broken line the cars provide, which feels more open. I captured an element of my theme at the end of road too. The white house was a little over exposed but it was a bright day and exposing for both sunlit and shaded areas was a challenge.

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/320 sec. f/2.8 50mm

Image 2 – “Ahhh, Sniff Corner”
I focused again on lines and the route being taken.  I would have liked to have had the walker and dog larger in the frame but that was difficult as I wanted to capture the wall on the left.

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/13 sec. f/22 17mm

Image 3 – “Doggy Bin Day”
Apart from having an element of my theme, I liked this image because it has a square shadowed area on the floor which the bin man is positioned on the corner of. All the lines in this image seemed to work.

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1250 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Image 4 – “See you there, Millie”
I had some challenging lighting conditions but focused on the reflection of the ‘Give Way’ sign whilst also capturing my theme in the background.  The road runs down but my eye wanted to level it off, however, this would have made the other uprights slanted.

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1000 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1000 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Image 5 – “Where’s Old Jess?”
I liked the shadow running from left to right and the structure that the garages give to the image.  Now that I have seen this image in printed format, I could maybe have straightened the verticals a bit as they seem to splay out.

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/30 sec. f/22 17mm

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/30 sec. f/22 17mm

Image 6 – “Hello Tree”
I think the contrast worked well in this image.  It’s clear that it wasn’t taken from the sunny side of the street.  The tree almost acts as a door slightly opened so you can see through to the park and the final 3 images. 

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/8000 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1000 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Image 7 – “Time to Run”
I liked the shadows cast across the grass.  I captured an element of my theme in the image as well which was important to my assignment focus.  Here the emphasis is on the ground so the background subjects/elements are out of focus. 

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/100 sec. f/2.8 38mm

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/100 sec. f/2.8 38mm

Image 8 – “Beyond the Puddle”
Although the puddle initially acts as a barrier the tree’s reflection gives a bridge for your eye to cross into the rest of the image.  Once in, you can access the theme elements in the background. 

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1000 sec. f/2.8 38mm

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1000 sec. f/2.8 38mm

Image 9 – “Is That Me?”
As this is the final image it was only fitting to have the inspiration of my Assignment in the frame.  Due to the lighting conditions I felt that I lost definition between the subject and the background.  If I had not wanted to keep the horizon lines the same for all the images, I might have focused just on the reflection. 

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1600 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Technical Details: ISO 100 1/1600 sec. f/2.8 17mm

Further development:

“This project could definitely be extended.  I think some of the photographs could have been stronger by obtaining an even lower viewpoint, however, even at the height I used I had to sit on the floor at times to look through the viewfinder, so a further reduction in height could be physically challenging.  I could also explore taking photographs within a dog pack but to do this a wider angled lens I think would be required because of proximity issues.”

As I mention in my formal submission (see above) this is a project that could definitely be extended in several different ways, from re-appraising the viewpoint which the photographs were taken, to changing the colour treatment to make an assumption on what sight with only 2 cones would be like, to maybe picking a specific element say, reflection and expanding on that within the theme.  I could go on but I won’t.

This completes my Assignment one ‘Square Mile’ submission from a course requirement perspective and I now await feedback from my tutor.

Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Middle

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Middle (following on from Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Beginning)

Technical Approach and Techniques:

Research tells us that dogs cannot see colours in the same way as us humans can, apparently they have 2 colour cones instead of 3 but this is NOT what I am covering in my assignment.  What I wanted to achieve was purely a different view-point of my surroundings not through a different colour lens, so armed with my tripod and camera set to my dog’s eye-level height I took off on our normal walking route to the local park to capture his view on life.

I use a Canon 70D and currently have two lenses 17mm to 50mm and 70mm to 300mm.  I wanted to use a wider angle for most of my photographs for this assignment which meant I took my photographs with the 17mm to 50mm lens, using an f-stop range of between f/2.8 and f/8 to mimic my dog’s perceived view of the world.  I like getting up close and personal so this suited my style although I prefer portraits and getting down lower to the ground was not so appealing and reminded me how well prepared you needed to be as a photographer, even on a nice day.

“I want the viewer of my photographs to think that they are seeing the surroundings from the perspective of a dog.  So I set my tripod and camera up to dog-eye level and used the ball head mechanism as the rotation point (neck/head) to look around my familiar surroundings and capture unfamiliar viewpoints.  Not all the photographs have what you think initially should be the focus point, as I tried to capture what the dog would be interested in, e.g. the ground to sniff at, as opposed to the dog over the road.  I mostly used shallow depth of field because when focusing on a particular point peripheral vision is blurred.”

Self Assessment / Strengths and Weaknesses (including contact sheets):

This assignment really got me thinking about my photography in general.  I’m starting to appreciate that it’s not always a single image that can tell a story/narrative and that a series of images might be required to convey a bigger thought, idea or issue. We are exposed everyday to single shot imagery, advertising, posters, leaflets telling us outright or subliminally to buy this, do that and our lives will be great etc.  Apart from magazines and newspapers where there might be more than a ‘one-picture-tells-a-story’ approach, single imagery I think is the majority of the images we encounter in everyday life.  I certainly have worked to a one image approach to convey my thoughts up until now.  As a result of this assignment and also the Performing for the Camera exhibition at the Tate, that I recently attended, I have started to view and take my photographs with a collection in mind rather than based on a single image idea.  You can see this in my recent work which I have posted on my other general Blog At the Park and Time for some Guitar, which are meant to be more about the collection of images rather than of a single image.

I think my current style and probably my strength is viewing my subjects up close, it feels more intimate and hands on; a moment between you, the camera and your subject (animate or inanimate makes no difference).  I like using shallow depth of field, maybe because I am less concerned about what is in the distance/background.  This means that when I am framing a shot I do not look as carefully at the background and around the frame as I should do and will look to do this more often in the future.  Also I know I should push myself in to using a larger depth of field more often and will start to look further and wider than I do currently.

Page 1 of 4 Contact Sheets   Page 2 of 4 Contact Sheets   Page 3 of 4 Contact Sheets   Page 4 of 4 Contact Sheets

“My most successful photographs I think are the ones with subjects both in the foreground and background and with leading lines to invite the viewer into the image.  Also, the reflections, which initially were not intended but a real-time development, add a further dimension and point of interest.  The weaker photographs I think were those taken too close to subjects and would have benefitted from being taken further back.  I also think for this exercise the photographs recording singular subjects and which have no ‘story’ to them came across weaker, however, technically I could have used them as my holistic 6-12 photographs.”

Please follow this link for the next section – Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The End (which includes my final image selection)


Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Beginning

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Beginning

In our earliest years we know a patch of ground in a detail we will never know anywhere again – site of discovery and putting names to things – people and places – working with difference similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play, imagination, experiment – finding the best location for doing things – creating worlds under our own control, fantasy landscapes.  (Professor Mike Pearson)

Photographers and artists have always found inspiration in their immediate location.  There is a concept within Welsh culture called Y Filltir Sgwar (The Square Mile), described above by Professor Mike Pearson.  It is the intimate connection between people and their childhood ‘home’ surroundings.  Use the theme of The Square Mile as a starting point for your first assignment.”

[OCA Photography 1, Expressing Your Vision course notes p14]”

I am far in distance and years from my childhood village ‘Square Mile’ life, having lived in my current locality now for over 20 years which I consider home more now than anywhere previous.

In my opinion home is the people you love and hold dear and the material things in life, are  transient and less important to the concept of home.  Saying that, to feel safe, warm and grounded to one particular place is not to be overlooked in its importance and it is the thing we normally label as ‘home’ but home could be anywhere if you are with the people you love and who love you.

More as an observation and commentary in response to the text provided, rather than directly related to the assignment, I can relate to Professor Mike Pearson’s text above in that when you are a child you; explore as a child, experience as a child, remember events and places as a child, all through the eyes of a child.  When you go back years later to your childhood ‘home’ and see the same places and people through the eyes of an adult, although the childhood memories and feelings are still there, the experience is very different e.g. places seem smaller.  As previously discussed in Part one, Exercise 1.1 with the concept and histogram proof that no two moments are the same; the same is true of experiences of people and places.  No two experiences can be the same as the situation; circumstance and time also have an impact.


Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’.

This assignment should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography.

Format of my Blog response:

Before I start with my ‘Blog’ response on Assignment one I wanted to explain its content structure.  I think the Learning Log is meant to capture more that the official Assignment response to the tutor, or at least this appears to be the general working assumption, so where text from my official response 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 contextualize my tutor’s response/critique and any rework that is requested.

Initial Thoughts:

When I read the assignment brief I did wonder what I could photograph that was new and different in my locality, my ‘Square Mile’.  I’ve had my DSLR camera since August 2015, so not very long, but I have been keen to get out and use my camera at any opportunity so consequently it seems like I have photographed the area where I live almost to death.

After much thought I decided I would take a slightly less straight forward approach to this assignment brief and take photos from my dog’s perspective, at his eye level.  So, my set of photos represents exactly this theme – ‘A dog’s eye view of my Square Mile’.

“My first impressions of the brief were that it was wide and there was a lot of scope for artistic interpretation.  I had photographed my ‘Square Mile’ many times so wanted to do something a bit different.  That’s when my idea for taking photographs from a dogs-eye view was born.  I have a dog, so in preparation for this exercise I observed him on our walks.   He mostly looked down the street, sniffed at the pavement/walls and, although curious about his surroundings, wasn’t especially interested in other people or dogs.”


This is currently my ‘weak’ area because I have been focussed on learning the technical aspects i.e.; taking photographs, learning about light, gathering relevant equipment etc.  My focus has been on YouTube ‘How to..’s, and my subscribed photography publications such as Digital SLR photography so as to learn new processes and techniques.   I use the word ‘weak’ loosely as for me you have to ensure you are not too influenced by a particular practitioner otherwise your work could become theirs.  I agree it’s important to know what’s out there and the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’, and it is one of the reasons I am taking this course for a wider understanding of where I fit in the photography world, but ultimately your work needs to represent you, your background, interests and experience ad should not be too influenced by someone else’s creativity.

Originality in a saturated field is very difficult to achieve so the only thing you can do with any passion is to; believe in your choices and understand why you have made them, take feedback on board and understand why you agree or disagree with that feedback, then move on to the next challenge without further dissection.

Photographers who have become well-known for their ‘art’ have been relentless in their pursuit of their art and ideas, and in most cases have produced a huge body of work over time and it is that body of work that is their legacy.  So I will keep going, enjoying what I am doing, appreciate other practitioner’s work (famous and not) but ultimately do my own thing.  I suspect at some point in the course I will be asked to submit images which mimic a particular photographer’s technique or recreate a particular image and in the spirit of the course and my further understanding I will, but I will also be looking for a unique angle in which to present my own work and hopefully create something a little bit different.

“Being new to photography and its practitioners, my knowledge is currently very limited.  So, for this particular assignment the main influence was my idea/theme.  I knew what I wanted to achieve and went with that.  It was only after I had completed the photography part of this exercise and my subject matter reading/research was properly underway that I came across a photographer, Elliot Erwitt.  Erwitt is a French advertising and documentary photographer (b. 26 July 1928), who has taken some humorous photographs at dog level.  I think if I had come across Erwitt sooner, my photographs would have been influenced by him in both perspective and humour.”

Please follow this link for the next section – Assignment one – ‘Square Mile’ – The Middle