The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

Response to tutors comments and assessment – TAOP Assignment 3 – colour

AssignmentsPosted by Mike Fri, February 08, 2013 21:50:21

It has taken me a long time – since receiving the assessment on the 26th of January – to respond in writing and blog it, this chapter did not enthuse me, and in terms of my excuses, my wife’s father passed away on the 26th of January, so we have been somewhat distracted, but additionally, I have elected to change tutor, this assessment being my last contact with my original TAOP tutor.

Distance learning is a delicate affair, it suits or it doesn’t, and personally I am OK with the nature of education from afar, as long of course as there is some line of communication. My former tutor’s words were always courteous and fair, and tended towards the philosophical and depth full realms; this was in essence fine, but the problem was that the words always appeared reluctant and slow in coming forward. The one thing I have learnt from my time in education is that discourse is key; lines of theory and thought need to be aired, discussions shared and ideas banded around. From the most complex theory to the most simplistic view of things when learning from afar one needs that occasional poke to say ‘Hi how ya doing?’

Unfortunately, my first tutor was not as communicative as I needed, with a four week or more delay in providing a report on this chapter (and only then after gently poke from me), and to be honest a slow and lack of direction/tuition in response to previous assignments and questions, I had to install some change for the sake of what I wanted to achieve. I do understand that most if not all tutors looking after students of the OCA do have a multitude of full time responsibilities… but when communication starts dragging across weeks and months, I felt I had to draw a line in the sand and request a new tutor.

The effect of my lack of interaction or discussion, even in this early banal level that is TAOP, is that I started to feel wholly alone on this return to study, and with some lacking of interaction on the OCA forums I was beginning to doubt my choices in studying and more importantly I was beginning to doubt my photography, and any hopes I had to do something with photography. I want this course to galvanise my technical approach and my artists considered eye and up to this point – my only inspiration has really being the reading list provided with the course materials.

My response to assessment….

I moaned about this assignment throughout the entries leading up to my assignment posting. I have an uneasy relationship with colour, which despite my misgivings about this part of TAOP I have as a result of the assignment begun to work through… Part of the issue is maybe my brief obsession with Moriyama in the lead up… a body of work almost entirely in grainy B&W. Despite my moaning (perhaps a cry for help?!) I felt like nobody was reading my learning log (even my tutor) and I was moaning and mithering to myself!

My tutor made initial comment with the following;

Overall Comments

There were quite a lot of interesting concepts to cover in this assignment and you have made a good response to this through your approach and ideas in using colour in your image making. The brief required you to explore the idea of colours, their relationship to each other and to our perception of them. You have clearly observed and recorded colour in your work but this could have developed further with research into theory and symbolism in the use of colour. I get the impression from the work and exercises that you clearly understand the relationships of colour to the image but that perhaps you are uncomfortable in using colour as a strong tool in composition and meaningful content. Why not for example have shot the German market as a colour piece of work. You are aware of colour but as the comments in your learning log indicate you find it difficult to relate it to your personal view of the world and photography.

I agree that I did not offer broader discourse to my references and theory… though I did give reference to accomplished artists works… and to the publications of Michael Freeman…. I agree I could have dug further. With reference to my work at the Birmingham Christmas/ German market… I decided to shoot this experience in black and white – using a high contrast mode I have created on my Sony Alpha A850, I like the high contrast effect of this setting and set out to abstract the experience from its natural ‘high colour/ neon normal experience. However, on reflection I do agree that for the sake of the experience, to shoot the event in colour may have helped my personal ‘colour experience’.

It is an interesting idea that with normal sight and brain function we see the world in colour and as such black and white is the illusion. However within the confines of photography we have accepted this illusion as reality. At one time only black and white was considered to offer truth in documentary and street photography. In recent times I have read articles arguing that pure photography was B&W and that photography as fine art comes from the darkroom in the form of the B&W print. Yet we have to learn to read the tonalities of a scene, understand the latitude of film, the effect of process and transpose our vision from colour to black and white to interpret the world within the limitations of these tones. Surely this is as abstract a concept as any use of colour might be.

I agree that personally I may strive to use B&W to abstract myself from normal colour experience, and if anything to work in colour will force me to overcome a lazy photographic approach where relying on B&W and high contrast B&W in scene provides mood to an otherwise lazy composition – forcing me to use colour in these aspects to provide a meaning with greater latitude with the actual experience.


I am now ‘almost’ enjoying having to view colour in my B&W mental eyes, the work of Shore and Eggleston, with their subdued tones are leading me in gently by the hand, despite my misgivings…. The chapter has done me good!

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