Thursday, April 5, 2012

Assignment Two Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

This was an excellent second assignment submission for you Katie with some strong individual images included with a thematic approach adopted to the work.

The key issues I mentioned within my last feedback report were as follows:

Ensure all photographic work has been specifically shot for the assignment.
Submit assignment with a Word Doc and embedded images.
Maintain an academic level to writing using Harvard referencing
Consider ‘composition’ much more closely and read more around this area – in particular the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Develop your Blog along with a physical journal for research.

I can see that you have clearly taken on board these suggestions, some of which are now actually beginning to come through in both your writing and visual imagery. All the images now look like they have been taken as part of an ongoing project specifically dealing with the problems / challenges set and not looking too disjointed as a body of work.

In terms of compositional considerations you will see my detailed responses within the Assignment Feedback section, but overall I would comment that you are beginning to ‘see’ more now and have even adjusted your viewpoints and camera angles to further improve this aspect of your photographic image making.

I was extremely pleased to note the inclusion of academic referencing within your assignment work now. You may already be aware of this, but the reason why we cite ‘academic reference’ is to demonstrate you have engaged in wider reading of secondary sources IE: Books, Journals, Films, Websites etc. Quoting from, or alluding to these sources to back up the points you wish to make, shows a sophistication of writing and expression, which is what is required at degree level study. By referencing clearly, you can show which ideas are your own and which ideas you have borrowed from other sources [thus avoiding plagiarism]. By relating the work of others to your own, you establish a ‘Critical Position’. The quality of these sources is always very important so forget Wikipedia ! These are just on-line encyclopedia entries by anybody with an interest and don’t hold any academic rigour, scrutiny or peer review. Make sure you are looking at relevant sources and always include the full ‘Harvard’ reference in your bibliography [The same as entries in the Suggested Reading section]. This may sound a bit heavy, but you need to balance the level of practice to theory on a visual arts undergraduate programme of study – you can’t just get away with taking pictures alone unfortunately ! Towards the end of the submission it might have actually been a good idea to quote Weston directly here … he has said many wise words over the years and particularly in relation to the nude.

Assignment Feedback

These were an excellent collection of female nude studies which I felt really took you out of your comfort zone. Generally I think you have probably learnt a lot from this exercise, certainly in terms of trying to construct a workable set of themed images. You managed to include 18 images which was a couple more than the brief required but which did not detract from the final submission. The images all looked correct together, but also didn’t suffer from visual repetition which can often be the case.

It is quite a difficult subject to shoot for the first time and does take a little concentration in order to get over what it is you are actually doing when shooting nudes. The first shot was excellent and I agree with your annotation …. It is actually just light and dark enough to make out the subject matter and can be considered to be lit very subtly … having said this do you think it could have benefited from a little more contrast ?

I liked the second shot of the hand but am a little bothered by it being out of focus though. You do mention that you ‘deliberately wanted a slightly blurred and out of focus feel’, but I think this is very easy to say and actually quite difficult to properly justify and explain …. becoming a very convenient objective after having shot it ! Unless you are using a large format camera which has movable lens and film planes to allow exact control of differential focus, for obvious reasons, I think I’d like all your work in focus for the time being please !

Shot three is nicely composed, but again a little flat / lacking in any highlights? With regards to the subject matter, I don’t think there would be any doubt about the image being confused for a medical representation as it wouldn’t be much use for this purpose to be honest. It is also not pornographic in any sense of the word based upon the context and purpose for which it has been shot. I wouldn’t worry about taking nude photographs as the study of the naked form has been around since the beginning of ‘art’. There is a level of maturity required from all in order for it to be viewed seriously though… thus being way beyond any childish level of scrutiny. I think you have seen the works of Edward Weston particularly in relation to his nudes and would also recommend the work of Bill Brandt.

I liked shot four with the awkwardness of the feet / legs but my attention was really caught by shot five which I thought actually looked quite sinister ! I understand your thinking behind this, but it took me a while to figure out what was happening here ! Moving on through the shots I liked the way some of the poses had actually become quite abstracted with the use of the white flesh against the dark black background. The darkness of the background really added to all these images and helped tie them all together as a series. It also allows all concentration to be focused upon the model without any distractions which really benefited the series.

Diagonals 1 shot was very reminiscent of a Weston nude in terms of the pose and camera position with Diagonals 2 also creating some interesting sections but I would recommend thinking very carefully about your depth of field here with a few of the shots as it might have worked better if everything had been sharp ? Curves 1 was actually my favourite image I think, as it does actually have a ‘landscape’ overtone to it … again though I think it is just slightly too dark with the contrast levels needing tweaking just slightly. [I may be wrong here as I am only looking at small embedded images at this point in time]

The rest of the imagery made good use of artificial lighting with even a display of small triangle of circles in the models eye in Triangles 2. You might have been able to cut out a triangular mask here and tape it around your light source to give a perfect triangular white reflection in the eye maybe ? The other notable image was Rhythm 1 which was very curious in terms of the use of the steel poles, however again I couldn’t see enough of the model here. Pattern 1 was also very inventive and I’d encourage you to try more make- shift solutions to problems like this …it is all part of the experimentation process.

Once again …. Excellent work !

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your Blog has been developing well and you are posting on it regularly now and I’m glad that this is covering OCA / Photographic related matters.

I mentioned in your previous feedback about the need to develop a physical ‘workbook’ – somewhere you can gather thoughts / ideas / research / literature etc … did you have any joy with this yet ? It is possible to photograph entries into this and send along with your imagery / post online etc if this helps ? Just let me know where to find it or include it at the end of your submissions clearly labelled as such.

Suggested reading/viewing

Parr, M.2004:Think of England. London. Phaidon Press Ltd.
ISBN-13: 978 - 0714844541

Eggleston, W.2002: William Eggleston’s Guide. New York. MOMA Press
ISBN-13: 978-0870703782

Shore, S.2004: Uncommon Places. London. Thames & Hudson
ISBN-13: 978-0500542873

Follow Up Work

As well as further considering ‘composition’ I would like you to take a look at the work of the three practitioners listed above called: Martin Parr, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. Parr is a well known Magnum Photographer, so it may also serve you well to try and become acquainted with what the Magnum Photo Agency [] is all about. The other two [Eggleston & Shore] are very important American photographers especially in relation to the use of ‘Colour Photography’ which I think may help you with your forthcoming 3rd Assignment. Eggleston in particular is cited as being the photographer who introduced the art world to Colour Photography, with his ground breaking exhibition at MOMA in New York in 1976. Prior to this, most serious photography had been monochrome.

I hope this is of help to you and look forward to your next assignment.

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