Assignment 1 Feedback and Reflections

This is my tutor feedback on Assignment 1 with my reflections following it:

Overall Comments

A very good start that exhibits the beginnings of all the important things we’ll be working on developing.

Assessment potential

Assignment 1

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

You’re probably already committed to the degree, the above doesn’t mean that the OCA is unaware of it; we’re required to include it as part of the report template.

Feedback on assignment

You’ve approached your response to the assignment in a very well structured way, beginning with a quote that had resonance for you and resonance is an important concept in the making and reading of imagery.

What we are going to be focussing on in this course is meaning in the imagery; technique and the formal qualities, the compositional structure, the colour palette, are the tools to helps us communicate ideas/emotions through visual imagery.

Rather like poetry it depends on metaphor, visual metaphor. An image, by definition, is not the thing itself but a token that stands for it. Superficial the photographic image describes what the camera sees but the real power of the photographic image is in what it makes one think and feel. You’ve understood that with this assignment. With the series you’ve created a loose narrative of your experiences

Images communicate in an open ended indistinct manner and this is one of their strengths, the creator has no control on how they will be read once released into the world, the viewer supplies the meaning which they construct out of their own experience. The creator’s experience births the image as a catalyst to the viewer’s experience; research Roland Barthes’ Death of the Author and Camera Lucida.

In order for it to work the creator doesn’t have to have a complete understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it for the communication to function. In fact one can argue that it’s almost more effective if the creator doesn’t fully understand the work they are making otherwise it can easily become stilted and didactic.

That doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t have a sophisticated awareness of how images function.

This function is considerably aided by having an element in the image that appears ambiguous, challenging the viewer to explain its inclusion to themselves. See Barthes’ conceptualisation of it as punctum.

He then goes on to provide helpful suggestions/comments regarding each photo.

I felt really pleased with the feedback both positive and constructive received for this assignment. It was nice that it started with telling me it was good enough to be put in for assessment and that I had grasped the ideas around the concept and context.
Generally speaking it seemed to be in the post production where most issues arose which made me realise I need to brush up/refresh my Photoshop skills – I had relied on fixing exposure in Adobe Camera Raw but had neglected to check the Levels. I liked that my tutor gave me ideas for giving a bit more life to the pictures also through using punctum – as I understand the concept so far this is perhaps providing a bit more punch by utilising people in the photos – he gave me some research to follow up to understand this more fully.
I found it surprising that one of the photos that he seemed to like best was not in fact choreographed but taken rather hastily before the family moved on – this was the one of the Mum and children on the edge of the shadows.
I have played with the electric tram photo in terms of the suggestions made and got it closer to the colouring shown in the tutor’s example. There are only a few weeks left of the tram running before the winter so not sure that I’ll get the other suggestion done of a day of tram watching with the idea of getting some punctum in the photo.

I’ve always liked black and white photography and it was two of these that also seemed to engender positive comments and some likening to Ansel Adams who is a famous American landscape photographer (I remember reading about him when I did my GCSE in photography some years ago). I particularly liked the idea of adding a slight colour cast to the shipwreck. The other suggestion for the moonlight photo was to selectively use the brightness contrast – this is where I will need to revisit how to use masks. My tutor did suggest that it wasn’t usual to swap from colour to black and white in the same theme unless you wanted to show some discord – I think in this instance for these two pictures it could be justified in that they were showing more negative emotions in terms of the life cycle. Having said this one of the fossilized shells perhaps should have stayed in colour. I will need to remember this advice for future assignments.
I absolutely agree that the portrait was spoiled by the horizon and would’ve been better taken from a lower angle – the fact that I didn’t think to do this was in part due to my lack of comfort around asking total strangers to pose along with the pulled leg muscle which made movement difficult! The horizon does end up looking like it is squashing the lady on the head.
However, as a first assignment I felt pleased with the feedback and that the comments gave some useful things to follow up.


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