BA Phot

EyV: Assignment 2, Reflection

Back - text history - image history - contact sheets - tutor feedback

Extended Reflection

written 2nd-3rd December 2018

Technical - Quality - Creativity - Context

The assignment requires students to,

Check your work against the assessment criteria for this course before you send it to your tutor. Make some notes in your learning log about how well you believe your work meets each criterion. EyV pp. 52-53

The word constraints mean that only a limited response was possible in the submitted text. I will expand upon that here. In identifying the images shown Figs. 1-10 are the photographs submitted: any other designations are related images created during the project but not used in the submission.

Details of the assessment criteria are here.

Technical Skills


Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills EyV, p. 34

I stated,

I feel that I have used the equipment reasonably well to illustrate my subject. I am not aware of anything I set out to show that has failed on technical grounds. The major learning point for this exercise was that whereas I previously have just photographed what is easily accessible and available and ignored the rest, here I consciously tried to show “all” of the church and in doing so had to make compromises because the subjects are fixed, the background always cluttered and the interior lighting always difficult (mostly dark with intrusive highlights). My late change of working method has been noted. Asg.2 submitted text

The main technical challenge was exposure for interiors, where most of the shots include a window resulting in excessive dynamic range. The most extreme example is the dome interior with a central cupola (fig. 6). Exposure bracketing was used extensively and Affinity used to merge images where necessary, for example in the. As agreed with the tutor when discussing Asg.1, HDR excess is now a thing of the past.

asg2 fig 6 St Stephen Asg2
Fig. 6 composite, base image f/8; 1/8 sec; ISO 800
Fig. 6b f/8; 1/125 sec; ISO 800
Fig. 1

Image stitching was necessary for the front exterior (fig. 1). Because of the constricted space, the whole of the front could not be taken with a single shot without resorting to a focal length which gave excessive distortion (see the contact sheets for 22nd November).

Some thought was given to running the project in monochrome as some effective images had been generated during the project (see blog, 22nd and 26th November). Ultimately, colour was chosen as the images were perceived and (almost all were) taken in colour. Depending on the subject chosen, there is a fair chance of presenting Assignment 3 in black and white, although they will probably bracketed in colour to keep options open.

Altar Reflections
Figs. 7a, 10a

The "change of working method" refers to my implementation of ArtUK's project standards, described in the blog.


This refers to,

Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

One of the ways to communicate discernment and the development of your ideas is through the contact sheet …
The editing process is probably at least 50% of the work of being a photographer.

EyV, p. 34 and p.61

and I stated,

The coherence of the set is inherent in the subject and so, unlike the first assignment, this largely takes care of itself. I struggled with deciding the order in which to show the photographs. The contact sheets are shown on the web site (Blackburn, 2018c). Asg.2 submitted text

The course brief specified, "[d]ecide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal" and I decided at an early stage (see text notes, 20th August) to use square format as this was the simplest solution.

A considerable amout of time was spent considering the most efective sequence for the images. Eventually the order chosen was approximately that in which the visitor would see the various features. I remain unsatisfied with that choice and think that an earlier sequence I had tried where, for example, the dome interior followed the dome exterior (i.e. fig. 1, fig. 2, fig. 6) was more elegant.

Regard contact sheets, I took some exception to the course material (p. 61) where a Boris Groys quote "since Duchamp … selecting an artwork is the same as creating an artwork" is used to reinforce their importance and to justify the 50% quote above. I say in my annotation of Part 3, that, "selecting what is in front of the lens; which lens; the exposure; which shot; what processing; the presentation, pretty much defines most of photography, but the [50%] … is unsubstantiated".


This covers,

Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice

At Level 1 you’re not expected to have found your ‘personal voice’

EyV, p. 34 and p. 91

I observed,

I do not regard the set as particularly creative aesthetically, but as my intention was essentially functional and documentary, this is not a particular failure. Asg.2 submitted text

That I am not expected to have 'found my voice' yet is quite a relief. As noted in the submission, the subject matter is fixed and architecural and the intention and approach were documentary.

One dilemma that I experienced was in fig. 8 the altar detail. An early shot taken and pencilled-in for inclusion (see images, 24 September) was a shallow focus shot showing the texture of the travertine marble and cropped as fig. 8a. At a late stage (when reprocessing the raw images, the day before submission) the uncropped version of the same photograph (fig. 8) was substituted because it better shows the moulding on the altar. The reason for the earlier crop was aesthetic, cutting out the distraction of the pillar, seating and rope. There is also an annoying lectern in the background: I repeated this shot from a variety of angles on every visit, but this remained the least cluttered. I believe that fig. 8 is the correct choice but wish that I could have moved the furniture.

asg2 Walbrook
Figs. 8, 8a

I also prevaricated over the mosaic, fig 3.: whether to show the whole piece and its setting in entrance stairwell (fig 8a) or cropped to show the detail, as the remainder is ornamentation? Then, if a detail, to show it at the angle seen by the viewer or to straighten the image in software? The detail was chosen and the straightening (in place until the last few days) rejected on the grounds of my new standard of minimal processing.

asg2 Mosaic_B
Figs. 3, 3a


This addresses

Reflection, research, critical thinking EyV, p. 34

I noted,

I do not really understand this component yet and note that it is presented later on in this course and more particularly in Year 2. Asg.2 submitted text

The aspects quoted from the course material p.34 above are relatively easy to grasp but I find the later elaboration quite daunting,

Why is ‘Context’ such an important part of the assessment criteria? The word ‘mutable’ is sometimes used by writers when discussing photography …
Some take this mutability (ability to mutate) so far as to say that photographs are essentially empty. Allan Sekula, for instance, says that photographs are a fragment of the world with just ‘the possibility of meaning’ (1982, in Bull, 2010, p.41). The meaning depends on the context – where the photograph is published or displayed, the caption or other text with it, the sequence of images around it. As you continue to take photographs on the OCA photography programme, you’ll also be developing a context for them, shifting the emphasis from formal and aesthetic concerns to include what you feel about it and want it to mean. This is the focus of the next course in the programme, Photography 1: Context and Narrative. EyV p.106

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