Category Archives: Assignments

Feedback – Assignment 5

I was pleased with the feedback from my tutor for this assignment. He gave me some pointers for my future work which I will be taking on board:

  • Keep the technical quality consistent – use the right ISO for the weather conditions
  • Step back and show context. Sometimes cropping too closely can lose part of the story
  • Use a tripod and Dofmaster to get a better handle on depth of field
  • Reference appropriately in Harvard. I wold use the original Barrett journal article rather than an internet link.
  • Submit high res and contact prints with annotations separately to tutors as well as the blog.

My tutor’s full feedback can be read here: Stephanie Webb_PH4EYV-5

As most of the feedback had been positive, I chose not to do any re-work on this assignment before assessment.

 

Rework – Assignment 4

On reflecting on the feedback, I changed my selection to include the following image:

Annesley5pm_StephanieWebb_329A2245.jpg

My final set of images are as follows:

Rework – Assignment 3

In preparing for assessment, I re-read my tutor’s feedback and re-visited Attenborough Nature Centre & Reserve to try and get more of an interaction between human and bird. I took some time to capture the moment before the birds took seeds from a little girl’s hand. I took about 80 shots – many were mis-timed as the hungry birds moved very quickly.

I also reflected on my tutor’s advice regarding framing and chose closer crops for these images.

These two images were the best of the set taken at the re-shoot, and they have replaced a couple of my previous weaker choices in my final set sent for assessment.

Attenborough_StephanieWebb_329A0550

 

Attenborough_StephanieWebb_329A0572

My final set of images as submitted for assessment are:

 

Reflection

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

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

For this assignment I tried a variety of settings in order to get differing depths of field. Being only allowed at the site during daylight hours, and visiting on a clear, sunny day meant natural lighting conditions were excellent. Whilst composition wasn’t always perfect in the original shot, the use of Photoshop enabled cropping to improve on the original framing.  A variety of shooting positions were used to vary the viewer’s perspective.

Quality of outcome

I feel my assignment gives a good balance of the technical aspects of my shots, alongside my showing of the multiple aspects of the character of the Major Oak and its interaction and popularity with the public.  I found the use of printed contact sheets useful in order to shortlist down to a final 20 images before settling on my final 10. Many of my images didn’t show enough of the Major Oak itself (they could have been taken anywhere) or were too ‘obvious’.

In order to choose my final 10, I printed the shortlist of 20 and asked opinions of peers. I then played around with the ordering of the final 10 in order to give the best ‘story’ of the Major Oak.

Demonstration of creativity

In approaching this assignment I tried to look at the Major Oak in a different way to how it’s usually shown in regular stock images. Consequently, few of my images show the whole tree, instead I chose to concentrate mainly on elements of the tree and in some cases only very small parts of it in order to show it in context of other things going on around it. I varied my perspective of standing, crouching and sitting on the floor to achieve the views I was seeking.

Context

It was important for me to show the many features of the Major Oak in this assignment – from its weaknesses to its strengths, from its historical importance as a tourist attraction to it being just a tree in the background of a picnic area, and from its pathetic nature being held up by metal stilts to it still budding new life.

Assignment 5

Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph
must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new
information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention
to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There
should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.

What is it about? (300 words)

The Major Oak is famed for being the tree where Robin Hood and his Merry Men are rumoured to have hidden in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. The tree is believed to be 800-1000 years old, has a canopy of 92 feet and is oddly shaped. Due to its historical significance and the public’s love of the tales of Robin Hood, it is a popular tourist spot with many people visiting it each year. As well as tourists from further afield, locals like to pass it whilst taking a walk in the forest, or to relax in the picnic area whilst children play.

The days of being able to go inside the tree, or indeed being anywhere close to touching the tree, are long gone and it is fenced off to stop anyone approaching it too closely. What was once a majestic oak, is now a tree that looks like a sad old man – seemingly alone, wizened in part, with many metal props holding up its once strong branches. If it were human, the Major Oak would be in a care home seeing out its final few years, no doubt recounting how things have changed over the years and how much more lush Sherwood Forest was back in the day.

Nevertheless, the Major Oak remains standing proudly amongst a forest of younger trees. If it could, it would have many tales to tell those many years younger – be it stories of Robin Hood or of the millions of visitors that visit each year. However, no matter how old it looks, to prove it has still got life in it, the Major Oak continues to have new buds sprouting each spring.

Bibliography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Oak [last accessed: 01/05/2017]

Technical info

All images were taken on the same afternoon with a Canon 5D Mkiii and either a Canon 16-35mm lens or a Canon 75-300mm lens. The shots of the buds on the tree additionally used a 1.4X teleconverter. All shots were handheld, and a mix of standing and seated shots were taken to give different perspectives. Minor adjustments and cropping have been made in Adobe Lightroom.

Annotated contact sheets

Final set of images

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4133

The big old tree dominating a forest of young trees

Settings: 16mm, f/4.5 , 1/640s, ISO 200

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A3984

Metal bears the weight of aged limbs

Settings: 220mm, f/9 , 1/160s, ISO 200

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4054

The spirit of Robin lives on

Settings: 300mm, f/11.0 , 1/200s, ISO 200

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4077

Yet another photo…

Settings: 300mm, f/5.6 , 1/1000s, ISO 200

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4092

So much to learn

Settings: 196mm, f/7.1 , 1/400s, ISO 200

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4108

Youth admires the aged

Settings: 98mm, f/6.3 , 1/800s, ISO 400

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4112

One for the family album

Settings: 112mm, f/13.0 , 1/320s, ISO 400

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4121

Not barren yet. The cycle of life continues…

Settings: 420mm, f/13.0 , 1/320s, ISO 400

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4147

The alternate angle

Settings: 20mm, f/9.0 , 1/200s, ISO 200

EYV5_StephanieWebb_329A4166Watching over families picnicking

Settings: 35mm, f/16.0 , 1/200s, ISO 200

Feedback

I was very satisfied with my feedback for Assignment 4. There were positive comments from my tutor together with examples of how i could improve on my work for the future.

Main learning points are the following:

  • a need to visit the site before taking the shots to better plan for the shots I want to take
  • a need to take a tripod to allow for greater lengths of exposure to allow for more possibilities of presenting depth of field
  • a need to include comments on my contact sheets so that my tutor can follow my thought processes in choosing my selects

 

The full tutor feedback can be read here:    Stephanie Webb_PH4EYV-4

Reflection

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

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

For this assignment I tried a variety of styles in order to get differing depths of field, however my final shots mainly have a shallow depth of field. Whilst composition wasn’t always perfect in the original shot, the use of Photoshop enabled cropping to improve on the original framing.  A variety of shooting positions were used to vary the viewer’s perspective.

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 wide angle lens meant that I felt a lot of my images were unusable for final images due to distortion of vertical lines. Taking additional lens may have rectified this.

Demonstration of creativity

 

Variation in approach to the shots during the day and exploiting the light to add interest has led to more creative shots. A series has been created using two shots from each shoot at different times of the day. This creates a story starting with entering the site in the morning to experiencing the interaction between plant life and the ruins, to leaving at dusk.

Context

The context of these images is very much around being creative – the opposite of the Google image search I did of the site where stock images made the site look flat and uninteresting. My images aim to capture the spooky isolation of the site together with the nature that surrounds it and continues to give the site life and hope.

Languages of Light

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.
  • Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
  •  Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment. Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your ‘process’ (the series of steps you took to make the photographs). Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link in to your own work. Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria. Write 500–1,000 words.

Include a link (or scanned pages) to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor’s comments.

I had several ideas for this assignment. I thought about re-visiting Exercise 2.3 to show some further examples of music photography with artificial light at the same venue but a different musical group. I’d been disappointed with how Exercise 4.2 had turned out with the light not varying enough throughout the day, so I considered photographing the deer at Wollaton Park (which I used for Exercise 2.6) but once I started working again, finding time to re-visit at different times of the day to capture the varying light became difficult.

Then, one morning on my drive to work, I noticed the outline of some church ruins through the trees. On Googling the site, I found out the ruins were of Old Annesley Church. The church was built in 1356 and fell into disrepair after its use was discontinued in 1942. The church is Grade 1 listed and an Ancient Monument.

Images I found of the ruins online all looked flat and uninteresting – how one would expect a stock image of the site to look. I was keen to take on board the observations of the coursebook in that we have an expectation of how a subject should be photographed and creativity comes from looking beyond the obvious. Whilst I couldn’t do as Chris Steele Perkins did with his photographs of Mount Fuji as the background to everyday events, I was keen to photograph the ruins and the grounds in a more original way.

Whilst on a mound by the side of a busy road, the site is desolate and its remoteness attracts antisocial behaviour. On my visits I was alone, it was drizzling with rain and I found the site creepy and I didn’t want to stay there too long.

I took my Canon 5D Mkiii and a Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens. I knew the site was relatively small and I wanted to capture as wide an image as I could of the ruins. My first visit was around 1pm on a Sunday in February and the light was as bright as it was likely to become. As recognised by Eugène Atget, there’s a greater quality to the light at this time of day and minimal shadow. I took a variety of shots at eye-level and crouching to get different perspectives.

On returning at 5pm, I just caught the final light of the day – however, a bit too late to catch the ‘golden hour’ of light. I didn’t take many images as the light was dropping very fast and I was already having to use a high ISO to capture anything.

I didn’t get to return to the site for the early morning shots for a few weeks, but I eventually got to the site on a non-raining day at 7.45am. The sun was low causing a lot of glare.

Due to being alone at the site on each occasion, none of my images contain any people. The absence of the presence of humans in the shots adds to the desolate nature of the depiction of the site.

Whilst the photos weren’t taken chronologically on the same day, for the purposes of presentation, I’ve put them in chronological order – starting with early morning, going through to nightfall in order to tell a story of entering the grounds to leaving later in the day.

karen_stephaniewebb_329a2438

Image 1-Entering the graveyard. Focal length 35mm, f/5.6, 1/50s, ISO 400

Here the rising sunlight throws a beam of light down the path toward the entrance. The image was composed so that the curve of the railing and the steps leads towards the light. The light reflects off the railing and the damp steps highlighting the curve further whilst the treads with no light on them are a black. The light falling on the snowdrops towards the top left of the image creates a white line in front of the trees and gravestones in the background.

Karen_StephanieWebb_329A2428.jpg

Image 2: New life. Focal length 35mm, f/4.5, 1/50s, ISO 400

Daffodil bulbs are sprouting showing that even amongst the deserted grounds, new life grows year after year. A close, low perspective allows the daffodil leaves and immediate foreground to be in focus whilst the gravestones, tree and church wall in the back ground are out of focus – almost as if they’re incidental to the photograph. The shot has been cropped so that the daffodils are seen in the bottom right of the image initially before the eye is drawn to the distant shadows in the bright light

annesley1pm_stephaniewebb_329a2147

Image 3. Only moss grows on the old church walls. Focal length 35mm, f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 160

Here a dead weed growing from a crack in the church wall is composed as centre of the shot – its wispy skeleton leaves in focus (as is the moss on the upper part of the wall) whilst the evergreen trees and window shapes in the distance are out of focus. A similar weed creeps into shot from the right-hand side.

annesley1pm_stephaniewebb_329a2162Image 4: Light from both sides. Focal length 35mm, f/2.8, 1/200s, ISO 160

This old window frame with its missing stained glass and broken shaping has the light from outside shining from behind the leaves from the tree, and light from behind me illuminating the decaying internal wall in a way that would not have been possible when the church had a roof. The shot is composed with the window centred to highlight the in-pouring light.

annesley5pm_stephaniewebb_329a2235

Image 5 Desolate grounds. Focal length 16mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 6400

Here as dusk heads toward darkness, the gravestones are hard to make out and it’s only the trees and the church ruins which are obvious to he viewer. The photo is composed so that the tree is centre of the image as if its ‘arms’ are outstretched beckoning the viewer forward through the spooky abandoned graveyard.

annesley5pm_stephaniewebb_329a2251

Image 6: Sihouettes at dusk. Focal length 35mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 6400

This image is taken from below the wall boundary of the grounds. The shape of the cross memorial stone, together with that of the gravestones, the church ruins and the tree create a beautiful silhouette against the blue light. The tree’s overhanging branches looking as if they’re protecting the ruins from further decay.

The series of shots achieves the objective of demonstrating how the light differs and changes the appearance of the site through the day. The theme of how nature continues to grow around the decaying man-made ruins creates a sub-story. The combination of different shooting heights (below site level, crouching and at eye-level) and different focal lengths used in the shots show the site from less usual angles. The composition (and cropping) of the final shots has been considered in order to add interest by best framing of the subject matter, with the available light being exploited to frame or highlight the subject matter and its immediate and distant surroundings.

I considered converting the shots to black and white to give a harsher look to them, however, colour helps to demonstrate the effects of the rising and falling light throughout the day as well as helping to accentuate the interaction between nature and the ruins.

Contact Sheets 7:45am

Contact Sheets 1pm

Contact Sheets 5pm

 

References

http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/annesley-old-church/hintro.php [last accessed: 29/09/2017]

http://www.chrissteeleperkins.com/books/fuji.html [last accessed: 29/09/2017]

 

Feedback for Assignment 3

Between Assignment 2 and Assignment 3 I had a change of tutor and although I submitted Assignment 3 late (initially in October 2016, I didn’t receive feedback from my new tutor until early January 2017.

The wait was worth it. Whilst initially I felt a bit deflated by my tutor’s comments on the assignment, I received lots of guidance to help me think about what I need to focus on for my next submission. The feedback made my realise that I was being lazy in some of my approaches and that I really should think more about the creative side of my photography and not be lazy about my work.

The feedback is attached as a PDF document below, but the key things are summarised here:

  • I need to consider the micro element of my photographs – particularly the context’s work and my reading of my images
  • I need to review David Doublet’s work, and Garry Winogrand’s zoo
  • I need to work harder on my focus point when using long lenses with shallow depth of field
  • My self-evaluation needs to explain more ‘why’ something is interesting
  • I need to ensure the  images work as a sequence/narrative
  • I need to work on using a variety of viewpoints and framing
  • I should title my photographs

My tutor suggested additional reading by the following:

  • Terry Barrett – internal and external contexts
  • Joel Meyerowitz – ideas and framing

Some books were also suggested.

My tutor also commented on not being able to see my blog and contact sheets. This was a technical problem with my tutor’s device. My blog is viewable.

Following the feedback, I would like to re-work some of the images concentrating on the pointers made by my tutor. I will aim to do this after completion of Assignment 4.

Before receiving the feedback for Assignment 3, I had started work on assignment 4, but after reading my tutor’s advice I decided to re-think my ideas and push myself to use a variety of camera settings to show my understanding and use of the photograph as an art-form.

stephanie-webb_ph4eyv-3

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.

Context

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.