Assignment 2 - feedback

This morning I received the feedback for assignment 2. I'm really happy and feel encouraged. Here it is!

Overall Comments

Leonie, I’m glad you stuck to using the island of Goree as the set of resulting images are very strong and also interesting. I think you could also probably use the island as a longer-term documentary project (should you so wish) as I feel the island has lots to offer in terms of the historical context and the modern day use of the location. Although this assignment doesn’t really ask for any specific narrative there is one starting to form in this selection of photographs, and I think that is something to consider.

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are very likely to be successful in the assessment. 

Feedback on assignment 

Single Point: This opening shot sets the scene well and straight away the viewer starts to get a sense of the location, the combination of a simple composition and range of colour means the eye is drawn to the shutters immediately. The crop is maybe a little too tight and you could have possibly stood a little further away just to give a sense of the bigger picture, although that’s a small gripe! The shot also works well in terms of a book cover, there is plenty of space for text and the window acts as a metaphor for the rest of the images, as though you are letting the viewer into a secret, which I guess, the island is for many.

I hadn't thought about that the image would be nice on the cover of a book, but it's a good idea. In the original image the window was relatively smaller, but because some holes in the wall that were distracting, I cropped it a bit. Maybe next time it's better to shop it out.

Two Points: I think this image could have benefited from a little fill in flash onto the wall, not too much but just enough to show the details a little more. Mixing ambient light with flash is a very useful skill to learn and here the technique would have been perfect. Aside from this technical issue the shot does work well, the composition is thoughtful and by keeping the corridor in the frame you are allowing the viewer into the shot as well. These first two shots are good examples of a flowing narrative; a minimal first image and then the second one that shows a lot more visual information, this is something to bear in mind as the module progresses.

I haven't really worked with the flash yet and I'm looking forward to doing part 4 of this course! It's good to learn new ways of getting the lighting right, I do notice that only using natural light in images has its limits.

Several Points: This is a very subtle image with a simple range of colour (as in the first shot, so there is an interesting style starting to form), with the boats catching the eye in what looks like a fairly idyllic and calm day. Yes the horizon kind of peters out, there is no definite ‘end’ to the photograph and the image comes across as quite poetic and contemplative.

Horizontal & Vertical Lines: This is a great shot and has a strong formal style (e.g. Mark Rothko paintings) and reminds me of some of Walker Evans images, particularly his polaroids. The combination of lines forms quite a few different shapes within the frame, but in a simple and uncomplicated manner that allows for the viewer to examine the textures and colours of the beach hut. 

Diagonals: This is another great shot, but I’m not so sure about the black & white conversion! I can understand why you converted it but I just think the image is pretty strong as it is and didn’t really need to be in black and white. Also I believe the assessors prefer most assignments to be in one medium or another due to the fact that they both have very different properties. The image has been shot from an interesting angle, with the viewer being confronted by the main diagonal which splits the frame before the eye leads on to the multitude of graphic shapes in the rest of the image.

I will change it back into the colour version. I understand that it's better to stick to the same medium, especially since the photos are all related to each other.

Curves: The shot of the steps is a striking image and the curves do catch the eye instantly, although I wonder if you could have gone for a more close up styled shot as in the first two images (single and two points)? The colours are wonderful and I do think this would make a great location for the next assignment!

I tried that as well, but they didn't turn out as nice as this one, especially because there were a lot of tourists around and it was hard to get just the curve. I know this is not a good excuse though :-)

Distinct Shapes: This shot shows excellent observation skills and seems to fit well with the earlier image of the paintings, you mention that many artists inhabit the island and this shot is good evidence of that. The ‘runs’ of the coloured paint stand out well in the overall landscape colours and again you show your skills in being able to direct the viewer to see what you want them to see! This highlights a good development of your own style and vision, and I can only encourage you to continue working this way.

Thanks! In this case I really wondered whether the shapes were obvious enough, but maybe that doesn't always have to be the case, especially when you want to hold the attention of the viewer. It's good to read that you saw what I saw.

Implied Triangle: I love this shot, I think because of the combination of the light, colour and actual subject matter. You have allowed just enough of the stairwell and landing to draw the viewer in and make them wonder about the location, the house and associated histories. It also reminds me of Simon Norfolk’s work particularly your use of the light and colours.

The style of the second implied triangle shot is totally different to the first one but works just as well, the composition is a varied mix of the graphic perspective of the building and the clutter of the paintings, paint pots and other bits and bobs. This shot also works within the narrative context of the assignment, you haven’t forced the narrative and as such the images work well together.

Rhythm: Again this is another excellent image and shows rhythm perfectly in quite a subtle style. For me rhythm and photography are full of connections, you can have a fairly standard 4/4 rhythm within an image or a more complex 5/16 signature, and this image seems to be like a musical score with the crosses in the background underlining the form of the rhythm.

I want to explore the idea of rhythm and pattern a bit more, this part has been a good start in becoming more aware of what I see and how images can become more interesting if you highlight these concepts.

Pattern: There is a great symmetry to this image, yes there is the pattern of the blue shirts of the school children and also with the two very similar ships in the background, the railings and also the landing area. These connections form a thoughtful image where pattern and rhythm combine well together.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Your blog is really coming together well, you are looking at other photographers work and I think these influences are starting to come through in your images and outlook. It is also good to bring other areas into your blog such as movies and books as this forms an integral part of the learning process and will also influence your work overall. 

I have been reading a lot, but because I start reading others before finishing the other, I'm a bit behind in writing about it in my blog.

Suggested reading/viewing/pointers for the next assignment

There are a number of photographers who’s work you could look at for the colour assignment, Ernst Haas is one of my favourites, he was a pioneer of colour photography and was a very successful commercial photographer, and as such his personal work was largely ignored by the critics. Steidl have recently brought out a book that has some previously unseen work in it, heres the link.

William Eggelston was instrumental in getting colour photography accepted as a valid art form by the major art institutions in the early 1970s and his seminal book ‘William Eggleston's Guide’ is well worth having a look at. Here’s a good overview and introduction of the book.

All in all, I'm very encouraged by this feedback. I often doubt about whether I'm on the right track and experience all those dumb related feelings of inadequacy, self pity and wanting better equipment :-) These feedbacks are good to hold on to!