Monthly Archives: October 2016

Assignment 3 – Reflection

Reflecting against the recommended criteria, I have the following observations:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

The majority of the images demonstrate the use of bokeh to emphasise the subject matter and add interest to the shots. Whilst composition wasn’t always perfect in the original shot, the use of Photoshop enabled cropping to improve on the original framing.  All of the final shots were taken from the same level – using a mix of shooting from a higher position, lower position and the same level to the subject matter may have added interest to the series.

Quality of outcome

I feel my assignment gives a good balance of the technical aspects of my shots, alongside my observations of the shots.  I feel I’ve given more thought to the camera setting required for the shots I was after, but sticking to a fast shutter speed whilst waiting for an action shot meant that I didn’t re-think my settings for more static shots.

Demonstration of creativity

In completing this assignment I used a high shutter speed and the widest aperture available with my zoom lens, this led to many of the shots having a bokeh effect which works well.

My favourite shot is Image 1, where I feel I captured humour in the decisive moment. Image 6 where the interaction between human and swan is caught, is also a favourite.


The work of other photographers was explored before beginning the assignment, however, aside from trying to capture a split second of a bird’s movement, I didn’t always give thought to the background or foreground of my shot as successful photographers appear to do. Before approaching assignment four, I need to read more photographs and practice more myself so that the ability to think about the whole scene is more natural to me.

Assignment 3 – The decisive moment

Submit a set of between six and eight high-quality photographic prints on the theme of the ‘decisive moment’. Street photography is the traditional subject of the decisive moment, but it doesn’t have to be. Landscape may also have a decisive moment of weather, season or time of day. A building may have a decisive moment when human activity and light combine to present a ‘peak’ visual moment.

You may choose to create imagery that supports the tradition of the ‘decisive moment’, or you may choose to question or invert the concept. Your aim isn’t to tell a story, but in order to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, whether it’s a location, an event or a particular period of time.

Whilst I admire the work of street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, I felt I’d already had an attempt at street photography in Assignment 2 and so I want to explore a different area for my ‘decisive moment’ assignment. I’d taken a shot of a duck splashing its wings in a lake a year or so ago, and wanted to have another attempt at catching water birds at a decisive time.

Researching the work of famous  water bird photographers, I noticed that they appear to take different approaches to their style of shot, for example, Andy Rouse has some creative images taken at sunset so the scene around the bird, or the bird’s reflection is just as important as the bird itself, whereas photographers such as David Tipling and Rathika Ramasamy have their focus on mainly the bird – the scene around it is barely noticeable, it’s the capture of the action of the bird in flight or catching its prey that is important to the image.

I visited Attenborough Nature Reserve with my Canon 5D mk III and Canon 75-300mm lens hoping to capture some fun shots of ducks, geese and swans. The lens chosen has a widest aperture of 5.0, and as I was seeking action shots, I had my shutter speed defaulted to 1/2500, which meant having ISO between 320 and 640. I sat on a log not about 6 metres from the edge of the lake and observed the birds for a couple of hours. During this time I was lucky in that a couple of families brought stale bread to feed to the birds which enabled extra opportunities to take photos of movement of the birds.

I took more than 250 shots over a period of a couple of hours. The best of these can be seen in the attached contact sheets. On examining the shots I made minor sharpening and exposure tweaks in Photoshop and cropped a couple of the images to improve the composition before deciding on my final selection below.


Image 1: 170mm, 1/2500, f/5.0, ISO 400.  Taken from a seated position.

I like this shot because it captures the interplay between the two geese as one runs away with a slice of bread. The choice of camera setting means the front of the birds are in focus, but the background has a bokeh effect.


Image 2: 120mm, 1/2500, f/5.0, ISO 640.  Taken from a seated position.

This shot catches the gull midflight with wings elevated as a group of geese fight over bread below it. The background reeds and duck are slightly out of focus.


Image 3: 200mm, 1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 640.  Taken from a seated position.

This shot catches a goose looking out for potential thieves of its slice of bread. The choice of camera setting means the bird is in focus, but the background has a bokeh effect.


Image 4: 300mm, 1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 500.  Taken from a seated position.

I like this shot because it catches the moment a goose takes off for flight from the water. The choice of camera setting means the goose and the water movement in the water that it makes is in focus, but the foreground and background has a bokeh effect.


Image 5: 190mm, 1/2500, f/5, ISO 320.  Taken from a seated position.

This shot captures the majesty of a swan at the moment it rises and flaps its wings. The choice of camera setting means the swan and its wings are in focus, but the background has a bokeh effect.


Image 6: 200mm, 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 640.  Taken from a seated position.

Here a man is hand-feeding a swan. The choice of camera setting means that the hand and swan’s head are in focus, but the background has a bokeh effect. The orange of the swan’s bill adds extra interest.


Image 7: 80mm, 1/1250, f/6.0, ISO 200.  Taken from a seated position.

I included this shot as it’s different to the others and yet still part of the set. The older brother appears to be talking to his sister as they stand at the edge of the lake looking out at the ducks and geese. Again, the background has a bokeh effect.


Contact sheets







Andy Rouse Photography. (2016) ARWP Ltd. At: (Accessed on 08 October 2016)

Exercise 3 – Project 3

Watch the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001) available in five parts on YouTube:

Write a personal response to the film in the contextual section of your learning log, taking care to reference properly any quotations you use (300–500 words).

What struck me most about Henri Cartier-Bresson’s approach to his work is that it comes across as effortless to him.  It’s all about luck – such as the pointing of the camera through the railings for the iconic leaping man shot and his inherent intuition as described in his taking of the shot of the children playing in the covered square. The narrator recalls that Bresson didn’t stop for a second “Whilst others are unobservant, Henri is on the lookout ready to react.” (L’amour de court , 2001)

Indeed, Bresson observes that “People don’t look.” (L’amour de court , 2001), Bresson intuitively sees the geometry of “the divine proportion”

When talking portraits of his artist friends or “doing a head” (L’amour de court , 2001) as Alberto Giacometti referred to it, Bresson was observed to capture the “movement of a man in relation to himself his absolute being….The carefree nature of a man who had no umbrella”. (L’amour de court , 2001)

It was stated that Bresson’s approach was “never using anything that wasn’t from his own perception” often taking a photo when others wouldn’t think to – for example when photographing Pierre Bonnard – who challenged “why did you push the button then?” (L’amour de court , 2001)

The narrator of the film noticed how Bresson managed to take photographs where others would be spotted and stopped.  The example of the photographs taken at the funeral of a Kabuki actor in 1965

“These faces wear the intensity of a Caravaggio or a Dreyer. These people are natural, absorbed in themselves. Henri CB likes those that he photographs not to realise what he’s doing. If the subject is aware someone is staring at them, they will pose, put on a mask and lose spontaneity. Thus, Henri paints black the shiny parts of his Leica, so that no gleam of light will draw attention to him. How could he not be noticed here yet seem to stand among the deceased actor’s friends? One may say they were too preoccupied by their grief to be aware of him. But grief makes many people overwrought and sensitive. At a funeral, a stranger is easily noticed. My belief is, that if Henri was invisible on that day it was because among these mourners he too felt pain. Don’t get me wrong. Not exactly sorrow for the death of a stranger, a sorrow that would have surprised and been noticed, but compassion, which can be felt even for others’ mourning, and which makes one withdraw into oneself, and therefore to make oneself invisible.” (L’amour de court , 2001)

What I found sad in the film was that for someone whose “tool was part of his soul” (L’amour de court , 2001), at the time of the filming, Bresson was no longer thinking in terms of photographs, but at that time he liked to draw (but with the same attention to form) stating that even “the tiniest piece of graffiti has meaning.” (L’amour de court , 2001)

L’amour de court (2001) [user-uploaded content online] Creat. Rangefindergeneral 7 Feb 2008 At: http:// (Accessed on 04 October 2016)



Assignment 2 – Feedback

I received feedback for assignment 2 back in May, but due to health and work commitments have been unable to focus on my studies since then.  My situation has now changed (I’ve left my job) and I am now committed to the course again.

Reading back through assignment 2 feedback from my tutor at that time (I now have a new tutor), I’m pleased with the feedback given especially as Mike seemed happy with my work.

I take on board the advice given to do more work on my blog and practice implementing more of the techniques that I am observing in other photographers. I also recognise that I need to put more observations of others’ work on my blog and write up more exhibition visits that I make.

At this point in time, I don’t intend to re-work assignment 2, but do intend to focus on completing assignment 3.



Pre-assessment, I re-visited this assignment and added two images that featured a group of friends posing for a selfie, and a friend taking a photo of an artist in conversation via her mobile phone.  These are the images:

PunkItUP DonLetts_StephanieWebb_329A1258PunkItUpDonLetts_StephanieWebb_PunkItUP DonLetts_StephanieWebb_329A1241

The final set of images as submitted for assessment are: