Assignment 3 Tutor feedback (and my comments)


Overall Comments

One of the benefits of a fairly open brief (within a structured framework with definitive aims) allows for the exploration of personal ideas and the development of the individual voice.  Your innovative and playful approach to this assignment, something you also demonstrated in A1 and A2, backed up by some rigorous and highly focused research has allowed you to define the boundaries of the assignment and given you the freedom to explore your own ideas.  It’s important that you arrived at this approach through wider research, taking in the conventional idea of DM and then –working forward to your own take on the concept. This set works really well.

As with the previous two submissions, the work is highly organized with well-articulated ideas and a clear line of conceptual development into practice.  You submitted six images, the contact sheets for the project, detailed notes and a self-assessment (in the blog).

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Looking at the contact sheets, I’m immediately struck by the sense of design in the images; there is an architectural as well as graphic quality to the set, and it’s important I feel for an approach like this to consider the depth and dimensionality of the images in addition to the shape.

The Decisive Moment for the whole set is in the personal discovery of each letter (and variations) and the challenge of avoiding the obvious and the mundane. I think that alone – that sense of a deeper exploration for structures and shapes in the everyday urban environment – is a highly creative and stimulating process. Yes, it seems to be something that I cannot stop: I see lines and shadows and forms everywhere, just aligning and crying out to be ripped out of their context and placed into my meaning(s).

Looking at the ‘finished’ piece, I wonder if the central three ‘MEN’ letters, good variations in terms of texture and colour, are a touch flat?  Or perhaps it’s the dense back that makes up the shape of M and N?
Yes, I see what you mean. I wanted that effect though (as mentioned in my notes) to mimic letters (these obviously aren’t really letters at all!) for this reason I used the zooms to help flatten forms/shadows.

‘M’  : The cast shadow floating on the pale background has an intangible quality to it; hard to grasp its substance and setting and works well.

‘O’ :  Hard to explain what you’re doing to hospital security for sure, but a stand out shot in this set. The graphic element is strong with the tiled textures and concentric circles leading through the convex window to this somewhat strange-looking place.
Interesting that you see this one as stand out shot, I really don’t like this one too much. But it really was hard work trying to get a circle to fit in with this sequence (I don’t think this ‘O’ even does fit in here to be honest), so I went with this through a mild frustration and need to get the project done without hoping for that special ‘O’ to pop up somewhere (still haven’t found it!).

‘M’ : Given the context when you took the shot, it’s a decisive moment, but is it enough of a variation from the first letter?  The glowing colour background works very well and the definition of the letter contrasts, but the shape and lack of form might be reconsidered. I don’t know: I like the repetition here, kind of adds to the stability and homogeneity of the sequence I thought? The colour, indeed, was manipulated to try to create diversity or differentiate from the first ‘bluer’ M but maintain some sort of cohesion. At least that’s how I saw/see it.

‘E’ : This works very well, with the angle of light lifting and defining the lower edges of the letter.  The foreground horizontal and background vertical sections of concrete, as well as the light and shade, exterior and interior, enhance the sense of depth. I wouldn’t have known the image was partly extended through cloning, and I don’t think it’s cheating at all – that’s part of the art of design. Yeah, I don’t know why I felt so guilty about cloning (changing) this image, possibly the company I keep, possibly me being generally honest and not tampering with my shots (just enhancing what is there). Saying that, I did purposely edit this with a clear idea of modifying it, so I suppose I wasn’t that worried about intervening was I? Truth is, I came to the editing choice through necessity – and a mild desperation: my (with hindsight) annoying decision to stick rigidly to a square format for the graphic effect of the images pretending to be text brought about this issue. The shot would have worked (and did when I played around with it whilst cropping) if I had used another format, or just been free to crop any way I needed. So the decision to clone and extend the ‘E’ was an undoubtedly creative choice, an adaptation to adhere to the – I think – aesthetically sound choice of keeping the “letters” uniform, or of a constant visual consistency.

‘N’ :  Clearly defined against the strongly illuminated floor tiles,  I wonder if exploring with transparency and degrees of blur might create a more natural (less dense) shape? Interesting. I suppose it would, something to try out next time – or even with a revisit to this project.

‘T’ : I guess with this last letter, the second idea of DM is revealed, one that takes place after the event, whether through an exploration of detail in a complex shot captured on location, or through manipulation with the LR tools.  It fits the set well; the light is a strong feature, with the diagonal cast across the top of the frame and the cross light lifting the texture and colour of the background tiles.

The set displayed in sequence is stylistically consistent, with a strong graphic quality, square format and considered placement of the letters structuring the frame in places.  One thing I might have explored – and you may well have – is rotating the axis of the letter to further explore their position in the (z) space and perhaps the focal plane through depth of field.  For example, with second ‘M or the ‘N’, using a central point at the bottom of the letter to rotate fifteen or twenty degrees through the vertical access.
I’m not sure I understand. Tilting the letters so to speak? If that is what you mean, then I can see how that might work. I wouldn’t want to reduce legibility though, that might be an issue, wouldn’t it? But definitely a good tip to think about instead of just sticking with the norm and what is expected.
Reminds me of something Maoly-Nagy apparently said: “The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of ‘how to do’. The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.” So, let’s experiment!

As you say in your conclusion:

‘Should we just conform to the collective psyche of what the decisive moment has come to represent? What are the benefits of thinking beyond that? What’s in a word (or words)? How can we do things differently and yet remain relevant?’

It is the opportunity to explore and experiment with alternatives, question the norm and push back the boundaries that allows us to develop an individual approach and personal voice that is important.


Frozen Moment – well constructed exercise with vg research references.

Really good work with shutter speeds for Movements.

Very good reading and commentary throughout – Sugimoto, Diaz et al

Holdsworth’s work is extraordinary.



You covered a good deal of ground in your research for this assignment, a process that gave you the background context to work outside the conventional interpretation.  It’s good to see you looking beyond the medium to other adapted forms – Man Ray and Hannah Hoch montage work.

Learning Log

There are some excellent entries, exercises and research points in your blog, and equally detailed and informative development material for this assignment – drawings scanned into your log and annotated notes with references to a range of ideas and influences such as Ebner’s ‘Agitate’.

Very good read to conclude in ‘Adjunct’, dealing with your approach to challenge as you say ‘the pervasiveness of the accepted Bresson/Winogrand approach…’ to the DM, and aligning yourself with Ebnar and Arnatt and an alternative conceptual take.   The Hackney road sign is a lovely piece, fun, ironic. So glad you liked it! It was an incredibly strong feeling I had, it popped into my head and then took over – just had to be made – I couldn’t stop it: it was like it was using me to exist, to manifest itself. A really beautiful energy!

Suggested reading/viewing

The next part of the course is the Language of Light.  It’s quite a technical section I can see you’ve already started working on this. I’ll give you some feedback on the two blog entries in an email shortly.

 I’ve probably mentioned the Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto before, with his range of themed sets – seascapes, lightning, Hollywood cinemas, that all feature the use of light strongly.

Sandra Bartocha uses colour and light (and superimposition and movement) to such good effect in her work

Venetia Dearden –referred to by one of my students. The use of light has, in some shots, an ethereal quality.

 This is quite an interesting use of artificial light:

(Hot Shot Eastbound at the Drive-In, Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956

  1. WINSTON LINK (1914-2001)

 It’s also worth looking at the way the masters used light in painting – Rembrandt’s use of chiaroscuro, Turner’s ethereal light in his seascapes.

Pointers for the next assignment and Suggested reading/viewing Context

Assignment 4 requires you to rework one of the exercises from the Part 4 (as a kind of reminder that you should be thinking about this for your previous submissions before assessment).

It’s a valuable approach, going back to a place, light is always a key issue – time of day, weather conditions, season, angle, available or artificial – so many options. But also it’s about looking again how our own mood and feeling can change the way we perceive (the same) place.
Ok, great! I am really interested in these things – especially how mood influences not just who we are but how we are at any given moment or in a particular situation. Add that with the beauty of light and that is a recipe for hopefully something special.


Tutor name Russell Murray
Date 14 Sept 16
Next assignment due 14 Nov 16



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