Last week I received the Feed Forward and Overall Comments of my assessment. I have been pretty busy with People and Places and the holidays, so it was good to be reminded of all the work I've done and my learning process.
The feedback is quite what I expected:
'This is a strong submission and full of striking imagery. You have good observational skills and as you demonstrate in Assignment 5, an ability to produce a coherent photo essay. It is encouraging to see your application to the historical and contemporary contexts around the medium, although there is plenty of room to add depth to your analysis and evaluation of practitioners, work and writing on photography.'
In my work I have tried to come up with images that are different and off the beaten path and it's good to see that recognized. I do agree with that I need to add depth to my analysis of practitioners, work and writing on photography. I often think a lot about what I'm reading and seeing, and I have even read more and gone to more exhibitions than written down in my log. It's just that I'm often too hurried to get an other post off my check list instead of taking my time to really think about what the work has done to me and find the words how to express that. Having to write in an other language than my my mother tongue might have to do something with that as well.
All in all I would like to thank my tutor Pete Davis for being such a great encouragement and support during the course!
When I was a teenager I had a huge poster of the famous photo 'The Kiss' hanging on my bedroom wall. For me it reflected ultimate romance. No idea that this image had been taken by one of the most influential street photographer the world has known. You can imagine I was really happy that the Fotomuseum in Rotterdam was exhibiting Robert Doisneau while I was in The Netherlands.
I had high hopes going to this exhibition, in which 143 photos and documents were shown, including the 'The Kiss'. And I was not disappointed. Not only did the exhibition give a great overview of Doisneau's life, career and the way his character is reflected in his work, it also highlighted the challenges and joys of being a street photographer.
It's very obvious that Doisneau had a love for life. His images are radiant with humor, human interactions and the beauty of seemingly insignificant happenings. In one section this movie was shown, in which Doisneaux explains how he takes his images, in sequences of the images you can see how he waits for the right moment that shows what he is experiencing in the environment he's in.
In this video Doisneau explains how he comes to take his images, the way he uses composition, finds luck or waits for it. Mostly he tells about what he finds interesting and how he shifted from wanting to tell a complete story to planting a seed that triggers the viewer's interest.
Besides really enjoying all the images, their quality, human interest and humor, I learnt about how it takes time to get to good results, that street photography is some kind of magic game of expectation and anticipation, knowing what you want to show and let yourself be surprised by what's happening in front of the camera. But most of all, to be able really practice yourself in street photography, you have to get out there and just start.
During my stay in the Netherlands I paid a visit to Foam Museum in Amsterdam. This museum exhibits work of famous photographers as well as upcoming artists. It's always a joy to go there and be inspired. This time was even more special, because I met up with two other students of OCA! It was so nice to talk about our studies and photography. I look back on a very inspiring day all in all.
The main exhibition was 'Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923 - 1937'. It showed Steichen's work that he made for Vogue and Vanity Fair in the 20s and 30s and portraits of celebrities, for example Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo and George Gershwin.
Besides the beauty of the photographs, the people and clothes they were wearing, I was really surprised at how the ways in which lighting, use of props and backgrounds, position and framing of the model were used were very different in almost every image. But still every image was very recognizable as being made by Steichen. It was also interesting to see how Steichen's work was influenced by Art Nouveau and becomes more and more glamorous throughout the years.
Steichen was a true all-round photographer and pioneer in the history of photography. The exhibition didn't show a lot of his other work, but already his biography was very inspiring and showed that it's not necessary to choose one specific style or subject to work in, or hold on to one way of working, but that one can have an identifiable signature in lots of different types of photography anyway. Also that different styles and types of photography can be transferred to others photographic genres. I like this kind of open-mindedness in working and creating one's own style. It doesn't have to be bound by self inflicted rules or regulations or ways on how to do things. It doesn't make it easier though, it challenges to keep on exploring and learning.
As I'm still working on my basic skills and understanding of photography, I feel very eager to become better on all these different aspects of photography and become a true all rounder. Steichen is a good example to follow!
I've been thinking a lot on how I wanted to present my images. I know that the assessors prefer to see prints and I also wanted to have some tangible results of the work I've done in the past year.
So I decided to have the images printed in book form. I watched the videos on the OCA website on what the assessors expect the submission to look like and kept that in mind while designing the layout. I want to keep it all as minimalistic as possible and keep all focus on the images itself. So one image a page, centered in the middle with a white background.
To keep the interest of the reader going, I have tried to put the images in an order that has diversity, but on the other hand shows how the images belong together. The captions refer to the elements of the assignments themselves and not about the place of people in the photographs. It will be printed on professional photo paper, and have a linen cover. Here's the book!
After receiving the feedback for Assignment 5 I first thought that I would not change any pictures from the ones I had sent in. But while working on my assessment, I did realize that my tutor's remarks concerning the number of images and the fact that I'm using a lot of portrait sized photos were really worth noticing and changing the images for. So that's what I've done. Here's the image I sent and the one I'll replace it with.
As my tutor had mentioned, there's more depth in the image and as a viewer, I am more engaged in the photo because there's more visible of the work that's being done. So that was a good suggestion!
While adding images to my assessment, I did want to add one that was a bit different from the painters and work itself and showed somewhat the state of the bus. So I thought this would be a good addition. It shows the inside and also how old and run down the bus actually is.
In the Assessment, I've adjusted the text a little, made a a bit more concise without loosing what I wanted to say. Since I'm submitting the images in book form, I want to keep it all as minimalistic as possible.
There's not too much to change about the images I sent in for Assignment 4. I have made a completely different shot for the texture in natural light, since my tutor suggested to crop in on the actual part of the chair that shows the texture. So here's my the image I sent in and the new one.
As you can see, it's a good change. The texture is much more obvious and the photo itself stays interesting enough.
An other suggestion my tutor gave was to clone out some of the chopped of paint on the chair in the artificial light texture image. I've cloned out some spots in other images as well, so that there are less distracting elements in the images. This is the best example of what difference it makes:
The other image I've changed is the color one. I did not like the color too much after the whitebalance. It's not how I perceive the chair most of the time, so I thought I'd change it a bit.
Now the image has a muh warmer feel to it and the color seems more evenly spread, without too many shadows and highlights.
It's always nice to receive a quick response after sending in my assignments. Like this time! My tutor's feedback is in cursive, I'll give my comments below and in between.Read More
Looking back at the course, I think I have struggled most with getting this assignment done. I tried still lives, looked for specific combinations and tried to get a lot of diversity in the final product, sometimes choosing an image over a better one, just for the sake of diversity. My tutor's feedback was very constructive, as always, and helped me to adjust the images in a way that it makes the image more attractive. I've also swapped a few images for ones that are better and/or reflect the idea of the color combinations more. As in the other post on the final touches, I'll show both the images that I sent in for the assignment and the ones I have submitted for Assessment and explain the changes.
By adjusting the RGB levels and the separate color levels, this image has much more clarity and has more depth.
To add some snap, I have cropped this image a bit to balance out the trees and leaves a bit more, adjusted the levels of the colors and put it through high pass filter to sharpen up the photo.
My tutor had pointed out in the feedback how the three men take the viewer across the frame in a diagonal line. I wanted to stress that even more by taking away the distracting highlights on the log and dodging the yellow wall behind. The image is a bit cropped to eliminate some distracting elements in the front and on the wall.
As you can see, I've swapped this image. Not because I don't like it, but my tutor suggested that the portrait itself was so striking, that it would benefit from cropping the girl out and use it as a contrasting color image instead. I have chosen this image with the girls, because the red/pinkish hues complement well with the green benches. I also really like all the completely different looks on their faces, but still their school uniforms keeps them as a unity.
My tutor suggested that the image of the ocean would have worked better in a landscape format, so I tried that, but didn't like the final result too much. The colors look a bit over processed when I turn up the saturation and all. So instead of that, I've cropped the image of the girl in the orange dress and adapted the colors and dark and light areas a bit. Now there's a nice contrast with the orange dress and green leaves in the back. The funny thing was that when cropping, I discovered that there's a little girl standing right behind the other girl! Maybe that explains her cheeky look!
To make the contrast between the colors, the graffiti artist and his work even more striking, I have cropped the image a bit and leveled out the RGB channels. Now there's more clarity and the colors pop even more.
Now that I've learned more about Photoshop and Camera Raw, I knew that I should lens correct this image a bit. I've also added more contrast, brought in more clarity by adjusting the levels. I think the patterns of the highway, the windows in the back are more obvious now, while on the other hand the taxi does seem to have a more prominent role in the image.
In order to keep some diversity in the images, I added the photo of the flowers. My tutor had suggested to use a wider depth of field, so that all the colors would be more prominent. Instead of this, I decided to add an other favorite that has a lot of contrasting elements as well. The blue in the artist's glasses contrasts with yellow wall, the yellows and reds contrast, as well as the purple and yellow. I took this image at noon, using a silver/gold reflector, which explains the soft shadows in the back.
My tutor mentioned that the layout of this image was pretty obvious and formal. He didn't call it as such, but when you look at it, it doesn't seem to have a lot of dynamics to it. So I had an other look at the image and decided to crop it in a different way, now showing a strong diagonal divide in the image with a bit of shoe of a fishermen.The fish has a context now and the image shows much more of the place where the image was taken.
This image was regarded as a good shot and I wanted to stress the strong aspects more in post process. There's more contrast, I've highlighted the paintings on the wall and lens corrected the overall picture. By adding a bit more space on the sides I find that the rhythm of the fans and the paintings come out stronger.
I haven't changed too much in this image, just sharpened it a bit more, put more highlights on the red areas and cropped it a tad to put more stress on the central part of the image.
My tutor had mentioned in the feedback that the color accent on the roof of the train station showed how even a small accent can break up the rhythm of an image and that this one and the image in the church have a lot in common. That's why I thought it would be nice to use the other image instead, since it's a good example of how the lighter and cigarette really distract the viewer from the central part of the image, interesting as it may be. The purple of the lighter and yellow/orange of the cigarette complement each other, stressing the color accents even more.
I wanted to add more clarity in the colors, especially the sky. By leveling out the color channels, there is more contrast between the sky and foreground, bringing more dynamic to the composition as well as the colors.
It was suggested to crop out the plates on the sides, which I have done. I think it's a good change. I've place the plate a bit lower in the frame, so that it touches the lines of thirds a bit more as well. Besides that, I've upped the saturation and sharpened the image a bit more. Now the fish plays a more prominent part in the image as well.
There's not a lot of difference in the new version, apart from a crop that makes the viewer be more drawn into the image and more focused on the feet and hands of the woodworker.
I haven't changed much in this image either. It's a strange image, and as my tutor noticed, interesting. I tried to crop it a bit differently, but it still feel strange. But that's what goats and feet do anyway, perhaps.
It was a good to have a fresh look at the images and discovering that I have learned more techniques to improve my images. What's perhaps more important, because of this course and my tutor's feedback, I know how what makes an image interesting and what I can do to bring interest and dynamics to my photos.
I've finished all the assignments and am now getting ready to hand in the images for assessment. I've been going through the images I've taken, thinking of how I could post-process them better, also keeping in mind the comments my tutor has made and have changed the images accordingly. Here are the images with the changes I've made, starting with Assignment 2:
My tutor suggested that this image should have been taken from an other angle, to reduce that static effect that the symmetry brings to the image. I do agree with that, and decided to send in an entirely different image that in my idea reflects the curves idea better. The viewer walks through different curved arches in a diagonal line. In post-process, I've retouched some distracting elements and balanced the highlights and shadows to make sure that the texture is visible, but that the eye does not get stuck somewhere because the shadows are too light.
My tutor suggested to change the image from black and white to color, since otherwise it would not really match with the rest of the set. Apart from that, I think that the colored version is much more interesting, since it also shows the texture of the walls and wood and the different layers of paint that are chipping off. Besides that, the colors in the image bring much more depth in the image. In post-process, I've lightened up the shadows, added contrast and made the sky a bit bluer.
A combination of horizontal and vertical lines
I've leveled out this image and filtered it through a lens correction. The lines are clearer and and the colors speak more.
Several points in a deliberate shape
This photo needed some leveling and I've brightened up the colors and contrast. Now the lines in the sea are clear and so are the boats in the back.
In his feedback, my tutor suggested to bring more space around the image. On the left side of the image, this was not possible, but I've added a bit more space on the right. I've retouched the bird pooh and some of the white spots on the wall, so that there are no distractions from the shutters. The photo is leveled out and I've saturated the wall a bit to show the intensity of the colors more.
Looking again at the image I realized that the rhythm of the lines and crosses was not as visible as I would like it to look like. So I've lightened the yellows and blue and cropped the image differently. Now the crosses are on the upper third part of the image, the column is more visible leading the eye more to the back row of crosses. I've dodged the highlights in the leaves and on the ground, so that those light areas don't distract too much from the fence.
In this image I have brightened up the colors and changed the crop somewhat so that the boats are a bit more prominent in the background. While making these changes, I discovered the man hanging on the red boat for the first time!
My tutor had already commented on the first picture that I should have used a fill in flash to get the two faces more prominent. I haven't been back to the place where I took this image, so I had to get more light in the image itself with post processing. I've cropped the image differently, because I wanted to show more of the inside of the bunker. Besides that I've used dodge and burning techniques to lead the eye from the middle of the bunker to the two faces and from there through the hallway. I've also cloned the area around the over lit spot, which drew a lot of unwanted attention. There is more clutter in the image, but I think it's more interesting and the main focus is still on the two faces.
In the feedback it said that this image shows what I want to show from the subject, the drops of paint and shapes in the back. I burnt and dodged the image to stress that even more and have added clarity to the image. I've also cropped it a bit more, just to emphasize the barrel even more.
All in all, I have found it very interesting to look at my images again after a few months and be able to see things that can be changed and also be able to actually do that.