Category Archives: ASSIGNMENT 1: The Square Mile

My Square Mile: Reflection Post Tutor Review

While I will keep the detailed comments private overall the feedback was positive and the recommendation was made to move on to Assignment Number Two.  I am satisfied about this as it has given me a benchmark for where I think I am and what is the expected standard.

The tutor was pleased with the thoughtful approach to the subject resulting in strong images showing solid compositional techniques.  However it was felt that while some of the images were strong standalone images they may not sit well in the context of the theme.   The issue that was highlighted was they did not explore my personal feelings as much as others, an example being Mountain Backdrop.  While from a personal point of view I was pleased with the seeing, execution and final image I do (in reflection now) see the point the tutor is drawing to my attention.  For me excellent feedback which I take all on board as part of the learning process.

At some point I might replace the ‘weaker’ images by either looking at the contact sheets for substitutes, or going out and re-exploring the Square Mile.  I would not necessarily rush out and retake because for me the original sequence represents my real time exploration of the area which cannot be repeated.  My view is substituting would break that flow however I will keep an open mind.



My Square Mile: Reflection Post Submission

Self-criticism of one’s own work I think is a difficult thing.  Having taken the idea from conception to realisation gives an emotional attachment that can blind flaws.  That said there are easy binary decisions that can be worked through.  Does it actually answer the question? (yes/no); have I completed everything that has been asked in the question? (yes/no); do I believe the work is of the right technical quality (yes/no)?  If the answer to any of these is ‘no’ then clearly the work should not be submitted in the first place.  After the binary decisions come assessment guidelines. Although these are clear they are subjective.  In these early stages of the course I would expect there is a large gap between what my interpretation and understanding of the criteria and what is demanded of the course. Examples are discernment and experimentation.  But then I see this is the learning process.

For The Square Mile

Overall I believed I had ticked all the binary questions and therefore would judge my work at the detailed criteria as follows:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)

  • Technical skill: All in focus, all exposed as I wanted then, all level, depth of field as I required
  • Observational skills:  Did not go for the obvious, variety of subjects
  • Design/Compositional skills: Selected a variety of angles, sense of depth, full frame composition (no post editing)

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)

  • I take this as was the question answered in an original and thought provoking way.  Here I would have to answer yes as I tried to take the view on my journey of exploration as we were both being witnesses together.  As I was exploring the area for the first time I felt that the viewer was also getting that experience

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)

  • Felt that the work was presented sufficiently different than a straight record shot of sights and sites of the area. The way I tried to bring the view into what I was seeing by the different use of angles, shadows and reflection is shown in the final selection.  The contact sheet will show that there is clearly experimentation and invention.  In many cases these were not successful but that is the point of experimentation.

Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking. (20%)

  • What I am realising about this course is the photograph is not the end in itself.  Within my leisure photography the end result is a pleasing image.  Within this course it is only the start.  It is about exploring theme perhaps the self, femininity, the use of ambiguity, the concept of the voyeuristic nature of photography, or can photography be a silent independent observer.  In fact the photograph can be seen as a window to see through or a door to enter the theme of idea beyond.  In other words photograph here is not as what I do that is take for the beauty and composition of the moment.  Therefore within my writing I feel there could have been more context but within the word limit there was little room for critical thinking.  I hope to improve this for the future

Overall I would give myself a pass.  By how much I have no idea.

My Square Mile

The subject choice was the easy part although initially I was very unsure how to tackle this brief.  My current work contract bases me in Switzerland.  Where I stay is technically a suburb of Lausanne and also home to two large universities.  In all the time I have been there I have never explored the area.  This assignment gave me the opportunity to do so.

I knew I wanted my images to be different.  I did not want simple record shots.  What caught my eye about the brief was the work had to be out of my comfort zone.  For me the interesting point was that I never really analysed what my mine was in first place.  With the danger of overthinking and therefore never starting I concluded that having to produce a themed series of interrelated images rather than just twelve individual photographs was definitely going to be that challenge.

For inspiration I looked Henri Cartier-Bresson , Bruce Gilden, Thomas Leuthard and others as outlined in the course material.  I then discover the work of Andy Karr and Michael Wood who are exponents of Contemplative (Miksang) photography.  Rather than the doctrine, the images captured my imagination with the idea of recording my Square Mile in close up graphical form.

What was planned and what actually happened were two entirely different things.  Leaving my apartment I took a test ‘selfie’ in the elevator mirror to check the camera was working.  Seeing the result triggered the idea to somehow incorporate myself into all the pictures to show my Square Mile journey of exploration.

For the shots the camera was on fully automatic and all images were taken in one day.  None of the images were cropped or manipulated other than some horizon straightening.  I tried where possible to get others into the frame going about their daily lives in order to show me observing through my reflections, rather than just having my image reflected.  In the reflection shots I tried where possible to incorporate both reflection and reality.  In the shadow shots I used my refection if was actually me in the situation rather than just the shadow of me taking the photograph.

Overall I am happy with the work.  I feel the final twelve chosen sit as individual photographs, work well as a story telling set and the exercise drew me out of my comfort zone.  The difficulty was choosing the twelve out of the day’s shooting session.  In retrospect as it was an extremely bright day all the images do have the same feel with my reflections being in glass, mirrors and shadows.  I would have liked some other surface or media (rain puddles perhaps) to give the set a different narrative rhythm.

I recorded the exploration of my surroundings in one day.  What could be done for the future is to choose one of the pictures and repeat it through time, perhaps once a month to see what if anything changes throughout the year.


Final 12 Images

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Final 12

Contact Sheets

(Click to enlarge)

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Sheet 1

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Sheet 2

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Sheet 3

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Sheet 4

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Sheet 5

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Sheet 6

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Sheet 7