AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, September 17, 2012 12:06:15
My overall reaction to my tutor’s assessment of TAOP
Assignment 2 is, yeah, he’s right, dead right, especially with regard to the
certain weaker images that have been critiqued. Issues of meeting the criteria
of the question were weaker in some images compared to the majority, and questions
of point of view and cropping prior to image selection and presentation within
the set are all relevant.
Comment regarding the overall environment of my blog being
easy to follow was welcome to read, as this element of the graphical presentation
of the story of my journey through TAOP has been a background concern especially
as the feedback from other TAOP students is not so forthcoming.
My comments and deliberations regarding the work of established
practitioners is still not depth full enough and this has been recognised, and
I believe that as my background reading and study of current and historical
works continues my confidence in making comment and asking questions of both
their and my own work will grow.. However I am aware that this area is an
element that has to be focused on, especially to give assessors a context to my
Of the two images my tutor identified as being the weakest, one
of which, curves, I acknowledge that I deliberated heavily over its inclusion,
the depiction of a single rider advancing toward the camera on a curved road on
reflection does shout single point of interest rather than curve, yet I still
included the image. I believe I was
aware of the set of images being too static and I was compelled to include
another activity image which was different in subject matter to the previous
more active shots used for single point and two points of interest. However, on reflection this image is too ‘single
point’ focused graphically, my inclusion referring to my narrative thoughts for
the set, rather than the graphical requirement of curves.
The second image my tutor identified as weak – the first
shot of rhythm, depicting a curved row of exercise bikes, I initially viewed as
a successful image for the task and I was happy to include. However, I fully
accept my tutor’s assessment in that the continuation of the rhythmic pattern
across the image from left to right is interrupted by the out of focus, more
proximal to camera, bike on the right hand side of the image. I believe my over appreciation of the image is
derived from its commercial narrative tone -and it’s usage in a commercial set
of images I provided for a client (http://absolutefitnesswarwickshire.co.uk/contactabsolutefitnesswarwickshire.html).
The image is graphical and is to an extent rhythmic but the blockage on the
right hand side does interrupt – It does not fully meet the criteria of the question.
The image employed for two points of interest was also
highlighted as being a little weak, and again I did deliberate the graphical
strength of the two groups of figures included, as identified within the assessment.
The relationship between the two points would have been greater if a more
directly diagonal composition was employed, which would have, with a slightly different
point of view, over ridden the dominance of the foreground features. The
understanding of relationship lines should have paid its part in my choice of
composition for this photograph more strongly.
Lastly, within the set of photographs for this assignment I
included 2 colour images, which, as my tutor identified, interrupted the stream
of largely black and white photographs taken. From a personal point of view I
am aware that I identify most strongly with black and white photography, and
given the choice will always elect to photograph in black and white. My
personal thoughts are that black and white photography provides a comfortable
level of extraction, abstraction and simplification of scene which aid the
compositions I choose to take across a number of genres. There is a mental note
in my photographers eye and mind that colour often detracts from composition
and complicates scene – the next chapter of TAOP should hopefully help overcome
this personal prejudice against colour, we shall see! The inclusion of the two
images in colour is a response to my awareness of ‘I like black and white’,
however I do agree, the 2 images do break up the set, their inclusion a
response to my lack of confidence in my own work and belief that my love of
Chiaroscuro (Freeman: 2007; Badger: 2007) in photography is too exclusive,
satisfying my own visual fancies.
NOTE: My analogue photography employs a heavy use of high
contrast Ilford 100iso film, and digitally, using a Sony Alpha 850 I have adjusted one of the
black and white presets to increase contrast, sharpness and reduce brightness.
“Black and White are the Colours of
Photography”!? Rober t Frank
“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the
alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected. Most of
my photographs are of people; they are seen simply, as through the eyes of the
man in the street. There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity
of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not
enough--there has to be vision, and the two together can make a good
photograph. It is difficult to describe this thin line where matter ends and
mind begins.” - Robert Frank
From pages 20-22 of Aperture, vol. 9, no. 1 (1961)
Badger G. (2007): The Genius of Photography, Quadrille Publishing Ltd.
Freeman M (2007): The Photographers Eye, Ilex Press.
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, August 13, 2012 17:06:59
Assignment Two Elements
of Design - Theme Bicycles
Comments regarding the theme
The intention was to present the theme of bicycle in two
distinct ways; firstly as objects and paraphernalia and secondly as activity/
function. This separation arises primarily due to my worry that initially just
focusing on the object would become too abstract and inactive as a set.
Précis of images
Single Point dominating the composition
A staged image, from an evening shoot taken
with the cooperation of two team riders; The image is presented with a focus on
the centrally position figure in flight, the positioning of the figure with the
competing horizon line is intended to aid the dominance of the figure
graphically, as the contrast of the darker figure against the over exposed sky
in the upper background boosts the significance of the figure in frame and
re-draws the viewer back into this central point. The image is photographed using a wide angle lens-
which amplifies the central point via the distortion of the image and the barrelling
effect of the lens.
The significance of the central point is also
aided by the nature of frozen action.
true central point of the frame being the upper body and head of the rider on
the frame, contrasting against the brighter ‘blow out’ sky.
Two points dominating
Taken on the same evening as image 1. This
again is a constructed image, the two groups of riders providing the two points
of focus. In terms of influence, the work of Jeff Wall affects this scene in
that the image is staged, yet presents a real life scene. I placed the ‘actors’
in a position which presents a normal scene at such a location, the bmx track, and
the figures present a scene which could also be acquired candidly.
Several Points in a deliberate shape.
A triangle of riders.
Combination of horizontal and vertical lines.
This photograph was inspired by my tutor’s
reference to the work of László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946).
The theme of the bicycle connects with the focus of technology in Nagy’s work,
and the image is a reference to the light modulator series of images and the
angular constructivist influences held by Nagy and others influenced by the
abstract and angular mode such as the sculptor Antoine Pevsner (1886 – 1962). The image is of
the handlebar and stem of two folding bikes, against a plain white studio
backdrop. The lighting is bare bulb studio flash, near horizontal to the bars
with no lighting to the rear of the subjects against the background, this creating
an illumination of the 2 bikes and a casting of shadows of the vertical and
horizontal components, the intention of the shadows was to repeat the
horizontal and vertical elements and amplify this message, this repetition of
the key design elements of vertical and horizontal almost delete the significance
of the object itself, in a way similar to Victor Passmore’s Pavilion in
Peterlee – a designed object with no utility. The camera position is slightly
lower than the subject, again with the intention of creating a sense of
abstraction as the point of view is not normal to the subject. The shadows themselves offer a modulation of the
amount of light affecting the reflection from the background.
The first example
utilises the effect of perspective to induce a diagonal across the image. The
second image presents a ‘true diagonal’ across the image with an abstraction of
bicycle wheel spokes and sprocket. This second image could also be interpreted
as a presentation of triangles due to the frequency of overlapping diagonal
2 images, one
presenting the most common curve found in
a bicycle environment, the curve of the wheel, here a number of wheels
for repair are presented as a semi abstraction as the whole object is not
presented, shallow depth of field is employed to aid the viewers focus upon the
curved objects. The second image, though offering a single rider semi centred
on frame, the viewer is more distracted by the curve of the road running
through the scene.
Distinct, even if irregular, shapes
This image, photographed as objects laid
out on a white background, was conceived as a semi abstract image of a set of
bicycle components, although the abstraction from the subject was to be minimal
in that the objects were still recognisable as bicycle components, the
abstraction being the out of context setting on the white background.
The method I employed to create the image was
inspired by the idea of reducing the drop shadow (the shadow which anchors the subject
to the background) on each object by two means; a) Moving the principle light
source around the objects while b) maintaining a slower shutter speed to
capture softer shadow edge and softer shadow contrast against the white
background (Montizambert D. (2003)). The overall effect intended to aid the
abstract setting of the items.
The spacing of the objects draws focus on
the larger central object which contrasts well with the dull tones against the
number of metal polished and burnished objects equally spaced around this
central anchor. Each of the shapes is distinct in form and distinct in spacing
from the surrounding competing items in the frame.
The first image, a candid shot which I had
however planned to capture, a wheel in repair, the arms providing the
triangular shape and principle point of attention, low lighting and shallow
depth of field combine to draw focus onto the graphical shape. The second image, taken in the same workshop environment
employs the triangular shape to draw attention to an otherwise unremarkable
scene; my thoughts on taking the image revolved around images by Cindy Sherman,
presenting an ambiguous message, almost to the point where only the graphical
triangle really matters.
Two images, one presenting a spin class-
where the recurring shape of the spin bikes creates the sense of rhythm with
the viewers eye being drawn across the image in a curve from the bottom left
corner to top right. The mirrors provide a background in the frame aid the
sense of continuity of this recurrent shape beyond the frame. The second image presents
a rack of bicycles ready for demo testing, the recurrent shapes create the
rhythm and the graphical elements exceed the frame.
Bicycle bells – all the same, but occasionally
positioned slightly differently from their neighbours. The tightly framed shot
amplifies the pattern by allowing the theme to exceed the framing; the pattern
also completely fills the frame.
Montizambert D. (2003): Creative Lighting Techniques for
studio photographers, 2nd Edition, Amherst Media.
Hunter F, Biver S, Fugua P (2007): Light Science and Magic,
3rd Edition, Focal Press.
Victor Passmore: Apollo Pavillionhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/ilike/tags/apollopavilion/
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Tue, July 31, 2012 21:59:32
Dear Tutor (name changed to protect the innocent),
Sorry – a big rambling email but your previous suggestions
have kind of switched the motor on!
Thank you for your email response regarding TAOP Assignment
2. I must admit I’ve not linked the core
reading of this module into the exercises too readily, the two elements have remained
very separate in my approach so far. The particular references you suggested
have broadened the point of view a bit.
I selected my topic for the assignment fairly readily –
assuming that the ‘ideas’ board of photos I had presented myself with were a
good leader – however I quickly came unstuck, firstly with the mundane
perception of my bike filled workspace and too much clutter kind of fogged the ideas,
but additionally the elements I wanted to put together to meet the design
criteria were, for want of a better word, a bit boring. I was looking for a
narrative theme, utilising the design elements listed, but I have stumbled in
the basics of creating/ finding images which satisfied what I saw in the design
criteria and in finding a narrative which prompted my interest sufficiently and
therefore the imagination of my imagined viewer of the images.
My question to you was brought from my lack of inspiration with
what I was finding in my everyday…. And looking to clarify the design
requirements by isolating on white with studio flash – boring and not seeing
Your suggestions have presented me with a greater sense of
freedom in my approach to the assignment. I have been missing the point,
feeling that the background reading was almost abstract from the assignments
and exercises themselves.
I love the sense of
deadpan provided by the practice of Cindy Sherman, though for my assignment maybe
her work is a little too analytical and commentary like in a social sense, but
the created compositions present ideas to broaden the scope of the images –
more than just design elements, but a photograph to look at which maybe says
something more about the subject that just the physical. The work of Jeff Walls
has a nice excitement and action which again I have missed the point of, most
notably with both – I was neglecting any interaction with others in my
photographic approach to this design exercise – these references have helped
greatly in this sense.
In my email to you I was asking too simple a question which
reflects a lack of connection on my part; the Nagy light modulator is really
interesting for me on this point; to use the studio environment to create a
more abstracted version, again presenting more than just photographic fact.
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Fri, July 27, 2012 21:33:58
In quote Libi Pedder - The Guardian
"I shot this picture of my nephew, James, in the summer of 2007, when he was nine. I have worked with him a lot: he is very open to being a model and understands my ideas. Several weeks before, he had been larking about on a trampoline in the garden with his sister, when all of a sudden he came off and feigned a dramatic fall. He looked so elegant and ethereal, it sparked an idea. I got a quick snap, then returned a few weeks later to take some more.
Aesthetically, there is a sinister element to the shot which I'm drawn to. I haven't really nailed what it's about yet; that's still puzzling me slightly. Some people think it's beautiful, others wonder if he is dead or alive.
I achieved the neoclassical lighting by using a flash in daylight, which is why the hedge in the background isn't visible. It's a technique that was fashionable some years ago, and which I've developed for myself. The setting up of the light can take time, but because I was inspired by the original picture, I had a fairly clear idea of what I needed to do. It took just 45 minutes and 20 shots, and turned out to be one of those perfectly satisfying pieces of work: exactly the way I had it in my mind's eye.
I never direct my subjects. I like to observe people and work with what they do naturally. I was apprehensive about what James would think; you never know how people see themselves, and it's often very different to the view you have of them. Luckily, he liked it. He is 14 now and while I still shoot him, he is a bit of an awkward teenager: it's not quite as easy. But he's still an intriguing character. He's my muse, I guess."
From my point of view - currently lining up for TAOP Assignment 2, I acknowledged this small online Guardian article. I love the fact that Libby saw a moment, it wasn't THE moment, but was a theme that required more work - physical and lighting set up and working through to get the resulting image from the idea. - Some inspired design!
As I prepare and take images for TAOP assignment 2, I have been overly wrapped up in the topic of the design, neglecting the core reading for this module, I have struggled with finding the design shapes in my chosen subject and have been sticking to the themes of the design too strictly and therefore struggling to pull what I wanted together, a string of images with narrative but relaying the graphical themes. I have especially struggled in the 'finding of some of the design shapes in the exisiting environment - emailing my tutor, I was keen to move to 'create' some of the themes as images in a more blatantly contrived studio environment.
My tutor agreed to my change in direction, and my question was presented in little detail - can I stage shots ?- however I was thinking only of creating shapes in studio white background and flashlight - knowing there was a lack of narrative.
My tutors wise words have added the dimension I have been missing - acknowledge your reading!
I have much work to do; I have been set in the 'right' direction - use your critical reading - study other practioners - and the created shot can still be done with narrative, there is something to play with here...
More to come!
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Sun, June 10, 2012 17:29:57
the tutor’s reports for assignment 1 in TAOP... and overall I'm happy and agree
with all said - though my head is already taking a peek and growing ideas for
assignment 2.... However this moving on attitude is a common one for me and anyone
else interested in photography I reckon (and this is alluded to in Susan Sontag’s
On Photography (1977)).
have taken a photograph, reviewed it and archived it, it becomes less of a
moment and more of an archival piece that you might on occasion offer slight
reflection upon; it has become just an item in the archive whose significance
is lost the deeper and deeper it is buried in newer material. As soon as the
image is captured or the project reaches completion… you’re already looking at
the next potential image or series….. I like this mode of operation – but it is
a neglectful process for the content you have already achieved – and re
researching and reflecting upon ones own archive is essential but often
neglected (by me certainly).
already kicked Contrasts into the cupboard – but my tutors comments serve me
well to re check and consider.
italics are the general comments and feedback. My thoughts are darted into the
the first assignment that you have undertaken to cover the requirements of the
course. In it you have demonstrated an awareness of a range of technical skills
in controlling light /exposure and in composition. In working your way through
a number of the exercises you are increasing your visual awareness and
knowledge of the medium It is clear that you made a commitment to producing
work that met these requirements and in doing so you are starting to think more
about the process of image making.
challenge in this assignment is to produce images that show visual qualities
that identify and express the difference between subjects using contrasting
concepts. As a photographer it can often be difficult to get ideas and concepts
into the images that we make. In this assignment you have confronted some of
these issues. Technical ability and an understanding of the formal elements are
essential in translating our ideas into practice. In this instance it also
highlights the need to reflect upon the work and to evaluate it within a
critical context of the processes undertaken coupled with the underpinning
ideas and concepts contained within critical reading. I am glad to see that you
indicated an awareness of this process and that you are also reflecting upon
your position as indicated in your blog (return to learning).
I am not quite sure why you
have submitted prints for half of your assignment. This can cause some problems
as it is not always possible to colour manage (camera/monitor/printer/paper)
without the proper calibration tools (understood at the
time of presenting the portfolio – an overcompensation on my part).
Using a professional lab also requires an understanding of their profiles and
set up requirements to achieve best results. It is acceptable to use electronic
means to present your work and of course is less time consuming. Your blog is
one of the means through which you can present your learning log and images and
it is already shaping into a good record of your learning progression. I would
suggest that in future you submit all work through this medium (I know I need to expand upon this… I dart in and out of
blogging but do not push the learning log element enough, not showing my
reading or discussing with enough reflection upon reading the exercises and
You have submitted a range of images for the Contrasts assignment. You have understood the concept of the brief and have
engaged with it. I like your overall approach, which appears to have an
underlining narrative feel to it. However there is also a sense that you may be
holding back in your interpretation and resolving of the assignment. Do
consider your ideas and do not be worried about taking a thematic or conceptual
approach to the work. The course is also about how you put your ideas into your
photography rather than just following a series of exercises. The exercises can
be used as an experimental stage in the process of developing your projects (Agree, and I will let loose more with the themes within
presented work – that I often run with in my personal work i.e. Flickr).
Of the images submitted rough/smooth is quite amusing. The few and many
are problematic in that I would expect to see the focused area of beads to be
pinpoint sharp. In this instance they appear to be just a fraction too soft.
This also applies to the hard image. Pointed and blunt would probably work
better as a pair with tighter cropping around the main subject area.
Broad/narrow demonstrates a good use of B&W with the creation of a strong
atmosphere. Large/small is a clever idea, which works.
this is a good submission of images that are technically proficient but with a
need to expand and develop your approach through practice and research into the
work of other practitioners as well as engaging with critical reading.
Pointers for the next
already suggested in your feedback
I would like to
see you include in your learning log evidence of critical reading, reflection
on the work of others, exhibitions you have visited and other relevant items
that have had an influence upon your work.
Please focus on
this for future work and take the opportunity to develop your learning log. The
learning log forms an integral part of formal assessment.
Proceed to the next assignment
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, April 30, 2012 20:25:35
TAOP Assignment 1: Contrasts.
The enclosed PDF document is a detailed summary of this study and should be viewed in full, however for the purposes of the blog I have reproduced the images and themes below.
This first assignment has provided a thought provoking and interesting challenge, promoting a deeper consideration of images in a literal and descriptive sense.
The selected contrasting themes are:
Rough/ Smooth....... Pointed/Blunt....... Many/Few....... Hard/Soft....... Broad/Narrow
Light/Dark....... Large/Small....... Still/Moving
And the final image for both themes is focused on light/dark
AssignmentsPosted by Mike Mon, April 23, 2012 21:23:06
I can tell its my first assignment of academic work in a long time!! mucho beard stroking and over deliberation... However at last I have made my decision and reviewed my log notes, prints have been sent off for.... Nearly there.