Assignment five feedback – Applying the techniques of illustration and narrative

What follows is my tutors feedback for my final assignment in The Art of Photography.

Overall Comments

The images for this assignment are technically challenging. I was under the impression that ordinary flash heads were not brief enough to freeze water droplets, but I can see at a quick glance that you have managed to get some excellent shots. I shall now look through in detail.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

The brief is to illustrate a magazine cover and several pages inside. You begin with your cover shot, which is a very good example of this type of picture. There is a strong symmetry in the image, though the shapes are undoubtably organic. Your stated intention was to mimic a magazine article on the technique of shooting frozen water droplets and your writing begins well. You give the reader good advice, clearly indicating the equipment (both photographic and non), You show set up images which illustrate your technique and there is even a droplet and ripple in the set up shot, which is a nice touch. There is a second droplet picture, which is simpler than the first image, but still a very good shot in its own right. You also show the back of the flash unit and I can see behind that there is daylight coming in through the window. How did you prevent this from affecting your exposure? Did you pull down the blinds, or shoot later in the evening?

Your advice about flash power, depth of field and speed are very informative, and you also advise on lens choice. This is all good for the article. 

I notice that your boom arm which is holding the bag of water is quite extended, and it would probably be wise to inform your readers to put a counter weight on the other end. The advice about giving a point to focus on is good and you helpfully suggest moving the drip to align with it once the hole is made.

The advice about aperture and power settings is good, but when explaining anything technical, it is worth bearing in mind that reading about it often makes it seem a lot more complicated than doing it and the explanation must be put over to the reader as simply as possible. So far you have explained everything well and not assumed any level of competence on the part of the reader (something which immediately diminishes your role as a teacher -which you are -if you engage in writing technical articles).

One thing that keeps cropping up is the odd typing error –this must be noticed and corrected if writing for a magazine. Always check and re check before sending.

One of the most important bits of advice you give is to check the images on the computer before dismantling the set. Seeing the images large and checking critical focus will immediately separate the good images from the bad, something which is much more difficult on the back of the camera, even when magnified.

You finish with a great shot of a crown shaped splash, which works really well. If the quality was up to it, I would like to see it larger in the frame, but even at this size it is good. The bands of dark ripple across the top give tone and interest to what would otherwise be a flat area of colour. 


A very realistic magazine article, with good, clear advice and illustrated with high quality images. With a bit of ‘tidying up’ of the text this could be submitted to an actual magazine for publication.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Your blog is well kept up and you have posted many interesting examples of your exercises and research.


Assignment five – Applying the techniques of illustration and narrative

In this final assignment for the Art of Photography we were asked to produce images to illustrate a story for a magazine. There is a cover to illustrate and several pages inside, 6-12 images in total. Equipment used Fujifilm Xpro-1 and 18mm lens for illustration. Nikon DSLR, 105mm lens, tripod, flash and diffuser for main images; cover and other water images.

I have chosen to produce an illustration for a photographic magazine  to show how to capture the motion of water drops. Not having any DTP software is a limitation, note to self yet another purchase required, but I will do my best with the tools I currently have i.e.  a limited knowledge of WordPress.


Cover shot:



Water, water everywhere…

Water is a fascinating subject and combined with motion is an interesting photographic topic which lends it’s self well to both blurring or freezing motion. This article will help you understand how you can create the images like the cover of this magazine and on the pages that follow.


The setup for the shoot (you will take many shots) is a considered process. First you need a solid waterproof surface to work on, in my case there was no better place than my kitchen bench, which is also at a good hight for close-up work such as this. The bench having a cutout for the stools that normally live there means I can get the tripod in very close to the work top.


Place a clean paint tray (or any other dark container i.e. a deep baking tray) close to the side of the bench you are going to work from. Setup the tripod and camera to look into the tray, framing so to exclude the sides, front and back. On the opposite side setup the flash unit level and behind the tray.


I have chosen to use a studio flash and a soft box here but you can also use a battery speedlight flash on an extension cord and bounce of a reflector. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. The smaller battery gun has less light output (and therefore less DoF in the image) but at short burst settings of 1/64th power gives a very brief flash of light freezing motion well. The studio mains light tends to have a longer discharge duration (and has to be kept at low outputs to compensate) but outputs considerably more light even at short bursts and therefore greater DoF is possible, important for such close-up macro work.


As for the lens, you will either need a macro/micro lens or a normal lens with extension rings to be able to get in close the tray and water. To give you a guide I have used a 105mm micro lens of a full frame camera, so 60mm on an APS-C would be similar.


Once this setup is in place make sure everything is aligned, the camera, tray and flash then add a second stand with the head over the tray as this will hold a bag of water. With a jug fill the tray with water right to the very brim. Get a ziplock bag, a sandwich one is perfect, fill this about 1/3 full with water and seal the top. Attach this bag (ziplock upwards) to the stand above the tray then visually align the bag so it looks to be about mid point over the tray.

Make sure your flash is on, set to manual and I would suggest starting at the lowest power setting regardless of it being a battery gun or mains unit. The reason being is that it will produce the shortest duration flash and your best chance to freeze the motion of the dripping water. This can be re-adjusted later if required.


Now you are getting to the point of taking some pictures, well almost. Make sure the camera is on manual focus and use your finger or a nail to help you focus on the water surface where you want the drips to fall.


Use a pin to place one small hole in the bottom corner of the ziplock bag, this will now start to drip every second or two, and fine tune the placement of the stand to ensure it is dripping at your focus point.

With the camera on manual exposure set your shutter speed to your flash synchronisation speed, in my case 1/250 make a test exposure at f8 to start and take a good look at the histogram for the test image. If the image is too dark I would suggest increasing the flash power ie if set to 1/64 increase to 1/32 power, the reason I say this is that anything less than f8 becomes a real hit and miss affair on the drops being in focus, at such macro distances, as they tend to move around a reasonable amount shot to shot. Alternatively if you can, try to bing the flash or reflector closer to the subject at these distances a matter on inches can dramatically improve the exposure without increasing the power. For a battery flashsetup I would have the reflector touching the back of the tray. If you have the luxury of a second gun I would bring that out to play also.


If the image was over exposed then stop down further, as you can see in the shot of the camera top I was using f22 , this gave me the correct exposure, good DoF and meant not just the drops but also a lot of the resulting ripple remainded in acceptable focus. As a tip, I would strongly recommended increaseing your ISO to a more sensitive setting rather than increase the flash duration or opening the aperture wider than f8.

OK so now you’ve made your test and adjusted the exposure and fine alignment in the frame you are ready to shoot. My prefered method, as is often on a tripod is to ignore the viewfinder and the LCD, I look over the top or side of the camera and time the trigger (remote release is optional but prefered) by watching the action unhindered. Especially for this type of photography you are much better able to observe and timing the shutter firing much, much better to the point at which after a few minutes practice you get it right almost every time.


After a few exposures check the LCD for timing, exposure and framing once more to make sure you are truly happy with all the above. From then on its up to you how many images you take before you get ‘the one’, a good sequence or both. As you can see from the images there are a number of unexpected variations that appear over a resonable timeframe shots, those that were inverted or crowns where not what I had originally invisaged. If exposure, focus and framing are a given the angle of view has the most dramatic effect on the end results in my opinion, try to get as low to the water as you can whilst controlling the framing ie no background objects.


Once you are happy with the shots its time to start having a look at them on a big screen to check them, apart from exposure and framing, check the focus carefully. I’d do this before you dismantle the setup, theres nothing worse than pulling everything apart to realise on closer inspection that you have not quite got the shots you wanted. As you can see I also decided to colour the final images with a blue filter. Have a play with these and see what you prefer. Plus You can experiment with inks and milk, or even progress the other liquids add a shutter trigger to the setup or start using small pumps to produce multiple effects, the options are limitless, perhaps the topic for another article…



So that was the end of Assignment Five and the end of The Art of Photography, which is great to have finished but I am also sad to see the end. I can wholeheartedly say that I have very much enjoyed the module and am so glad that I did not  claim previous credit for the Level 1 courses (hope I will say the same for the next two 😉

So onto the next two Level 1 modules…well perhaps after Christmas!


Assignment four feedback – Applying lighting techniques

What follows is my tutors feed back, my comments are in blue italics. I am really pleased with the feedback and the helpful hints for using smaller flash units and mirrors to increase the distance from the flash in a small space. Thank you.

Overall Comments

Another full and well photographed submission. I look forward to seeing it in detal.

Feedback on exercises
Your submission looks full and well illustrated as usual. Your exercises are extensive and I can see that you have put a lot of time and effort into them. They are all illustrated with images which are, in my opinion, good enough to be used in a publication on the subjects and topics covered. In short: they are very professional.

Feedback on assignment: Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

The first image is a black and white silhouette of your chosen subject – a Lily. On closer inspection I can see on an enlarged view that the shot is in fact, colour. The strong backlighting has created a very subtle, almost monochrome image with very slight hints of the original colour. This is your choice for ‘Shape’. I think you have created a really nice shape against the white background here. The flowing forms of the leaves, and the bulbous heads of the unopened flowers create a wonderful shape. As you say yourself, you have described the shape of the Lily perfectly. This shot is a really strong start to the Assignment. I would suggest you try this as a high contrast black and white image sometime, it would work very well.

Yes I agree and have re-processed in the image below :


The second image has the flower from an almost identical viewpoint, showing it in full colour against a black background, giving a totally different look. Your use of black card has improved the shot immeasurably, and the result is a very professional image. The text suggests that it was lit by one flash, and I’m sure that is true, but it also has some fill-in too.

Form – the third image shows a more contrasty image, with strong colours. This is lit very well and has accentuated the grooves in the leaves and the unopened flower. The next picture is a closer in shot of one of the buds. The lighting is as before: strong, and the colour is vibrant against the black background. By getting in closer on this one, you have been able to create a shot with more emphasis on composition. The arrangement of the shapes in this shot is really strong and the extra effort in this has created a much better picture than a pure record shot.

In ‘Texture’ you have gone for a close up section of the bud, creating a colourful image with a strong diagonal. I don’t know what the technical details were for this shot, but there is a very shallow area in focus. I know that depth of field is reduced in close up shots, and you were relying on small flashguns with limited output, but you may wish to attempt a sharper version.

The way to do this is to fire the flashguns a number of times whilst having the shutter open (in a totally dark room). Doubling the flash firings gives one extra stop of light, doubling that again gives another stop and so on:
1 flash – original exposure
2 flashes – one stop more light
4 flashes – two stops extra light
8 flashes – three stops extra light.

The second texture shot is a perfect match for the first, it occupies the exact same area as the first shot and displays complimentary colours. The exposure and detail is excellent, and the flatter form of the leaf has created less of a problem with the depth of field.

Colour – how to best to show an objects colour.
The flower is represented in the same position as the beginning shot, and has now been lit by diffused front/top lighting. This is a much better shot for showing the colour, than the shot in the smaller thumbnail. The diffuse light has meant that more of the flower is lit, without reflected highlights or deep shadows and this gives a larger area of colour. The image is clear and professional and could almost be a very detailed botanical illustration from Victorian times.
Your final two paragraphs are your conclusion and within them you state the process and the difficulties you encountered.

To answer your question about the contrast difference between highlight and shadow areas, due to the closeness of the flashgun: If you point your flashgun in exactly the opposite direction – towards a mirror, you can increase your distance. This should give you less of an exposure problem from one side of the flower to the other.

Another excellent submission, there’s not much more I can say.

Assignment four – Applying lighting techniques

The purpose of the assignment is to show our new found knowledge of lighting to bring out particular physical properties of the same subject. These were to be based on four themes; Shape, Form, Texture and Colour.

Equipment used Nikon DSLR, 105mm Micro lens, 50mm lens, tripod, 2x Nikon Speedlight flash guns, 2x light stands, 2x diffusion brollies, a snoot (tin foil), backdrop holder, reflectors white and black (card), wine bottle filled with water (holds flower better than a vase for photos; key learning here..)

First things first, to choose the subject, this was not an easy task, I went through many options before landing, almost by accident, on the Asian Lily. I considered portraits, models, ornaments, trainers, bonsai, roses, drift wood and bark to name but a few and all of which I discounted for various reasons. The Lily was the best combination for size (I have only a small area to work in), colour and texture (when more closely inspected).

Shape – This is the outline of an object.


Above the silhouette describes the shape of the Lily perfectly, showing the outline of the twin headed stem. This was shot with two flashguns illuminating a white background and a reflector place to bounce just a little light from the right hand side to give the vaguest hint of colour to the mostly black silhouette.


Keeping to the same point of view, just raising the camera slightly to capture the top on the front leaf. I changed the background to black and a single flash as a point light source and lit this shot form behind the subject just out of camera view. In the thumbnail image you will see the flash flaring into the lens even with a lens hood. I had to black card placed strategically between the lens and flash to stop the flare and not reflect onto the subject.

Form – the volume of an object, it’s three dimensional qualities.


This image was to show the form of the entire subject, trying to imply its three dimensional qualities. Shot with a single flash to the left at approximately ninety degrees to the subject, using a snoot on the end of the flash to focus the light just to where I want it and stopping unwanted illumination of the background. Plus a white card placed to the right to bounce just a little light back onto the right side. Deliberately allowing shadow from the leaf on the left to cut across the one on the right, helping to emphasise depth.


This next image was to close in on the subject, using the same lighting setup as before, but moving things around a little to place one leaf across the view of the other also to use a shallow depth of field to accentuate the distance from these foreground and background leaves. I moved the lighting around to the front slightly to accentuate the creases in the  surface of the flower bud, giving it a sense of depth and form.

Texture – fine surface details of an object.

The texture on the Lily is good but fine in detail, so for both detail images I went in close with a macro lens, however still using the flash lights at hard angles to create a lighting situation that would accentuate the fine detail.


Single diffused flash light source from above and behind, angled at sixty degrees to facing back to the camera and subject.


Single point light source flash at ninety degrees to the side the subject and just above level with it to produce a very oblique angle showing the ribs in the leaf, whilst just enough illumination shows the additional surface texture.

Colour – how best to show an objects colour.


Changing again to the white background, which I felt gave a cleaner palette to show the subjects colour, this time with a single diffuse frontal flash to best capture the true colour of the Lily. With a secondary diffused flash ensures the background has no shadow. As I commented in my notes above I had only a small space to work in.


Moving in to capture a single bud and a little more surface area of the leaf this time and hence its colour. In the thumbnail you can see I originally lit this shot, with a diffuse flash source, slightly form the right of camera position, however due the the orientation of the leaf it’s colour was darker than was accurate. The larger final shot was lit from a slightly raised left of camera position better lighting the bud and the leaf.

Overall I am very pleased with the results, this was not an easy assignment to do well. The way I approached it was to give myself a few hours to setup and take an initial set of images. Then sit down and review them on my computer, review the text for the assignment again, mark-up the images up in the categories of Shape, Form, Texture and Colour, chose a few preferred shots for each and then went back to see if I could improve on them. Through this process I came to the images you see above, end to end including, tidying up, image processing and writing up my notes took a good day.

The key problem I came across was that due to the confined space I was often unable to move the flash far enough away, mainly for the point light source shots. This meant that the contrast difference from the lit side to the shadow was often at the limits of the sensor. My solution was to use exposure compensation and shoot in RAW in increase the dynamic range. Even so this has not completely solved the problem as you can see in some of the highlights. I would be interested to learn in the feedback, a way to solve this problem.

Assignment Three Feedback – Colour

What follows is my tutors feed back, my comments are in blue italics. I am really pleased with the feedback, from my own assessment I know I have some work to do still on other photographers work, the remaining exercises and assignments. But its nice to be on the home straight and getting good constructive feedback.

Overall Comments

Scanning through the submission I can see some strong images. It is always a pleasure to look at a submission which has been created with thought and effort.

Feedback on assignment: Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity 

Colour harmony.

The first image (apart from the colour wheel), is of an orange and blue building. This is well observed and well photographed, with perfect verticals and exposure. This is followed by an image of a green petrol tank against a red door. There are two other red elements and some yellow in the shot and the whole is presented in a well balanced way.

The third photograph shows another orange and blue combination on a sculpture. The close-up image has a strong graphic quality due to the crop. This is a good use of diagonals, and the grouting between the tiles makes for an interesting pattern.

Shot four is well observed and perfectly excuted. You have seen the colour green in the glass, where many would have missed it.

Number five is a simple, yet strong abstract of yellow and red. The helpful supporting image gives it context and shows how you isolated your important elements.

The next shot has more muted colours, but is still a good observation. The ochre and yellow foreground is in harmony with the green background and compositionally the proportions work well.

The image of the waters edge has unusual colours and it’s difficult to see where the yellow colour is coming from, but nevertheless, it is a nice abstract. Without the random red patches in the right side, the image would have been unbalanced and lopsided.

Colour contrast.

The picture of the lady in red walking along the street is the strongest so far and is an example of excellent pre-emptive observation and perseverance. You missed the shot, but made sure you got it on the second attempt.

The vivid red walkway in the next image is another great example of strong graphic abstract shapes and makes for another great colour contrast image.

The blue bikes against the yellow background are well split between the upper and lower parts of the frame, with just a hint of a diagonal. The verticals are a bit out on this one though.

The red lettering spelling out ‘red’ on the yellow background must have seemed like a gift when you found it, and works really well here. Strong shapes and good proportions.

You have another unusual choice in the next image; the yellow circle with blue chairs behind. This is well seen and you have chosen a shallow depth of field which has made the yellow circle stand out against the slightly blurred background. I like it when a photographer spots a picture in a less than obvious place.

Colour accent.

Three very good colour accent pictures here, all working well in their own way. The picture of the shells does have some wonderful examples of yellow ochre’s and slate blues, and there are a multitude of tiny colour accents.


A really good submission showing very clearly that you have developed a good eye and are always on the look out for the right shot. Going down the still life route would have been an easy option and although it would have fulfilled the brief, it would not have helped you see better. A good photographer has to have the attitude of a hunter, actively looking all the time, not expecting the camera to do everything. Too many photographers think that the camera does all the work and it’s only a matter of pointing it somewhere. Your submission shows me that you can see. 

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Your blog shows that you are busy with your reading and continuing with your exercises. You have put a lot of work in and your commitment is obvious. Some of your exercises have a great number of images and show a thorough working through of ideas.

Assignment Three – Colour

This assignment is about showing command of colours and being able to show different colours in deliberate relationships. The brief is to take up to sixteen images spread across four categories; Complementary, Similar, Contrasting and Accent.

The images below where taken on two separate trips for this assignment in Melbourne CBD and the surrounding area. One was to the CBD and docklands, the other the CBD and the bay leading from Port Melbourne. Though I know we were able to setup still life images to show our understanding of colour relationships, I have chosen not to do so. Not that I feel is is cheating in anyway, but wanted to set myself the challenge of finding situations in the real world to answer the assignment. This has obviously taken a little longer, and I have had to shoot what I can find to answer each of the four parts of the brief.

At the start I struggled to find subjects to shoot and found the process more difficult than I had for the exercises. But after a few hours, I ‘tuned-in’ to looking for colour and colour relationships as I looked around. On the second trip I had the same issue but it did not last long and soon found myself in the swing of it.

Equipment used Fuji XE-1, 18-55mm & 55-200mm lenses, Nikon NX2 and DXO for image processing and just before we get into the photographs, here is the colour circle/wheel again as a point of reference for this assignment:


To be honest  I still found thinking in the terms of this colour wheel a little difficult at times, as I am so used to thinking in terms of lights primary (Red,Green Blue) and secondary (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) colours. And of course this creates a different colour wheel, at times I found myself making the wrong associations i.e. Red and Yellow next to each other, which of course on the wheel above they are not. Anyway onto the images:

Colour Harmony – complementary colours i.e. colours which face each other across the colour circle


This appartment blocked spied across the Yarra river, some distance from where I could stand is a great first example for orange and blue complementary colour, even the workers in the adjacent car park have kindly used blue and orange safety netting and orange cones.


Another image seen from over the river was this green petrol tank parked in front of the red door of an old harbour building. With a larger red door to the right and red garfitti under the jetty. Try as I might I was unable to find an angle which let me exclude the metal fence from the shot, but I like the image none the less.


Up much closer this time, an abstract close-up of an tiled statue, blue tiles with a yellowish mortar and orange line painted on a raised section slashing diagonally across the image. Remembering the ratios from the previous exercises.


The bright red frame and green/blue glass reflecting the surroundings in an alleyway,  makes for my last image for complementary colours. This time being very careful to ensure the verticals exactly align to the frame of the image, the structure and the colours making a very strong image.

Colour Harmony – similar colours i.e. those that are near each other on the wheel or in the cool (Violet,Blue,Green) or warm (Red, Orange, Yellow) range of colours.

DSCF7279_DxO DSCF7283_DxO

Outside one of the cafe’s I came across a bicycle standing against the metal railing, it’s mudguard was orange and the railing yellow, putting the image squarely in the ‘similar colours’ section. Being strong versions of these colours and the black tyre and dark gap also makes for a high contrast image.


More muted, natural colours now that I have walked south to the beach. With a balance of green and yellow verging on orange in some places. These colours are adjacent to each other on the wheel and seen often in nature, as we do here, making them ‘comfortable’ for us to see together. 


This image hit the warm colours square on with yellow through to red represented here and the blue tone to the rocky outcrop adding a little contrast as well. There is a rough diagonal split in the image, primarily between the red and the yellow, with a few red accent outcrops of seaweed in the sand to the right.


Colour Contrast – one third away from each other on the colour circle i.e red and blue.


Be prepared! I saw this lady in the red coat walking along the path on the other side of the street, I hoped she would walk in front of this blue window. I did not have time to move so I quickly changed lenses and tracked her walking along, she walked right in front of the window, I pressed the shutter and …. Nothing. In my haste I had not switched the camera back on from changing lenses. About to walk off in shame, I noticed she had gone to the bank till, once finished she headed back in the direction she had come from. With the camera turned on this time I once again waited for the right moment and this was the result (having to side step a truck that had since parked between us).

I could have shot just the window as it was but that would have been like photographing colour swatches. The woman in the red coat in front of the blue window makes the image so much more meaningful for the assignment. Though I was fortunate to get a second chance, I had surprised myself that I was able to see the image I wanted and wait for it to unfold in front of me.


The ‘shocking red’ of this car park walkway, in bright sun light with a blue sky in the background was to good to pass up. Hidden away in a side street, I first saw a glimpse of the red then as I walked down the alleyway this was there to greet me. The white of the buildings either side also help to make the red look even more bold.


I knew this shot was waiting for me on the other side of the Yarra having walked past these bikes many times in recent months whilst photographing for this course. The contrast of the blue bicycles and yellow bridge just waiting to be taken. As I approached the sun went behind a large cloud, I still took a couple of shots but the colours and contrast where not quite what I wanted, so I waited until the sun was back in full force to take this final image.


Whilst waiting for the sun to re-appear for the bycicles above, I went exploring and came across a beaten up yellow forklift in one of the hotel loading bays. The colour attracted me, like a moth to a flame, and as I approached I noticed the red writing on the side which also said red!


For this shot I’ve walked all the way back into the docklands and looking again in one of the areas which has a lot of cafe’s, this sign printed on the glass and the blue chairs behind jumped out at me as a great colour contrast. Making my final shot for this section.

Colour Accent – small area of colour against a larger area


Looking up onto the sky scrapers of the CBD I noticed yet another tower going up, this red worker lift making a great contrasting colour accent in the blue sky. Placing the red lift bottom right giving a large expanse of blue to the rest of the image.



There’s a good reason why they use yellow buoys in blue water, you can see them for miles due to the contrast. Plus of course it makes for a good contrasting accent in this image with the blue water and sky and the small lone yellow accent from the buoy.


A discarded red plastic bottle top pressed into the yellow sand, though these colours are considered contrasting, because they both live on the ‘warm’ side of the wheel they are more harmonious than the first blue / red accent image at the start of this section. 


On the waters edge where the sand is wet, it takes on a stronger yellow hue, verging on orange in the darker grains of sand. There are a number of colours going on here with the predominate being yellow and small blue accents from the shells.


Looking back at the assignment and images I have taken, this was not an easy assignment to fulfil. Trying to find strong images with the right colour combinations without a single ‘staged’ image was not easy and of course some work better than others. However overall I am pleased with the outcome and that I succeeded in my own challenge of no still life shots or filters. As with the previous two assignments I find myself thinking differently again about what I am looking for in an image. My approach becomes ever more planned and focused and I am now very critical of what I see in the viewfinder, slowing myself down when events permit, before I press the shutter release. Previously I had relied on my natural ability to recognise a good photo opportunity, now I am able to see more of those opportunities but also have a structure to the approach and more control.

Doing this course remotely without the ability to meet fellow students periodically can make for a rather lonely experience. But I find the blogging quite cathartic (in the hope that someone reads it!) and the tutor feedback ever more important to spur me on..

Assignment 2 Feedback – Elements of Design

What follows are my tutors feedback on my Assignment 2. All my comments are in blue italics. Though I have not agreed with all of the feedback, it is great to get critical assessment of your work, thats is what this is all about after all…

Overall Comments

At first look your submission seems to have a good range of images with plenty of supporting text.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Single point.

You have shown an image with a large area of blank space, and in the lower left of the shot you have your point of interest. The blank space is fine, in fact it is essential to this kind of shot, but the figures are the thing that the eye goes to first. Bearing in mind that the title is ‘Single point’ I think that two figures are not quite what is required. I would also suggest that making the important part of the shot even smaller would emphasise the operative word ‘point’ better, so zooming out more (if the location allows) would be the recommended approach.

I disagree with these comments and have looked at others work and comments to validate my view. The size of the point in the image is appropriate and there are many examples of others work where there multiple smaller elements making up the single point in the image.

Two points.

I think that your two points work well here, and I notice that there is a balance with the two white tower things in the top right of the shot. I have included a crop here to show how that balance could be presented in a way that minimizes distractions and improves proportion.

<image removed>

I have cropped the image so that the space above, and to the right of the white things is roughly the same as that to the left and below the buoys in the lower left of the shot.

I agree with this comment this works much better. I have without realising it constrained myself to more conventional image ratios for a long time, being so used to producing work for ‘standard’ print sizes. See re-cropped image below.


Several points in a deliberate shape.

Your written section explaining this shot draws attention away from the shapes of the figures and points to the positioning of the sunflowers as the main interest.

Would you say though, that these sunflowers were ‘several points in a deliberate shape’, or several points in an accidental shape? I think probably the latter.

I’m also a bit bothered by the fact that you have cut them all off at the ankles.

I agree this is the weakest image by far in the set and below is a re-submitted image, replacing the original.


The above image was taken during the same trip for the original assignment images. In hindsight I have no idea why I did not use this image in the first place, it was marked-up and sent to the blog.

Combination of vertical and horizontal lines.

This is a good shot for the title. I like the idea that your composition should be symmetrical, with the horizon going across the centre. Unfortunately your slightly wonky building takes the edge off what could be a strong shot. You mention using correction in DXO afterwards, and I can only assume that you have uploaded the uncorrected version by mistake, because this is not vertical. Shooting a tall building at this distance should not cause any distortions in the verticals, so the only thing you had to do was get the camera level here. One other point: you may want to re read your text and to a little bit of tidying up, it seems a little disjointed.

The original image has a slight divergence on the left side of the building only visible due to the proximity of the image border. But it wasn’t perfect, so I have re-submitted the corrected image below. Interestingly I had to place the correction lines in slightly wrong places in DXO to achieve the perfect result. Also the text has been tidied up.



You have used a unique subject matter to illustrate diagonals, showing the side-on view of a hoop shape. This shows good observation and a way of looking at things beyond the obvious.


This is an excellent shot. You have combined a great location with perfect lens choice and taken an ideal viewpoint to emphasise the curves. I can’t suggest any improvements to this image.

Distinct, even if irregular shapes.

Another strong shot. The irregular shapes in the sculpture are a perfect choice for the title. The inclusion of the building in the background works as a counterpoint, and offers scale and pattern. I think I would have taken a slight step to my left if I was shooting this, then the building would show a bit more behind the left hand side of the sculpture.

Implied triangles.

This shot doesn’t really work for me, there are five cars within the frame and no obvious triangle shape amongst them. The three lightest colours attract the eye first, and they are arranged in a vague curve. There is more of an implied triangle in the handrail and grill in the bottom left of the shot.

On reflection I agree that the image needed to be cropped differently for it to work. I have re-cropped the original, deliberately keeping the edges tight to the cars, which I think now works far better than the original submission.


The shot of the metal stones has a better arrangement, the largest, foreground stone is a little too close to the right hand side of the frame though, and this is slightly uncomfortable.

I thought the close to the edge composition brought a little tension to the image but now I have also freed myself from my 3:2 ratio only images here’s my updated version.



The shot of the huge chevrons is an excellent one for rhythm. They attract the eye due to the brightness and the scale.


I really like this shot of the structure in the ceiling. You have got it very symmetrical, even though you could not get directly underneath it, and each side of the shot balances well with the other. The uneven colours and brightnesses of each window add interest and variety within the regular structure.


Your comments about how you noticed things to photograph and how you made yourself work harder at it, show your commitment to the work. I can see from your images that you are looking and thinking about your shots and this has paid off. I have been critical of your shots here, but that is my job. You are a competent photographer and you are well on your way to having a strong body of work.

Overall, a good submission with some strong images and good observations. I would like to see more evidence that you are looking at other photographers work, and perhaps even some critical assessment by you of general photography which might see everyday in magazines and on advertising billboards. This would show that you are thinking beyond just the competent use of your camera.

These are appearing in my ‘photographers work’ and ‘extra curricular’ categories