Category Archives: ASSIGNMENTS


Overall Comments
You chose a very good subject; it is all about the light!

Feedback on assignment
However the distorted taxi image is the one that probably least meets your idea so probably not a good idea to have it first in the series which probably needs to be your strongest image relating to your theme or one of them.

I think that might be image #3, even though it lacks the ghostly figures.
It has a particularly uncanny feeling and of course there is a ghost of a human in the window which could perhaps be made a little more of, like this…

Image #2 has got the elements and the tilt adds a dynamism to it, like jumping out of the way of the speeding car light trails but all the action is tight to the bottom of the of the frame, one wants to pull the camera down to see what’s happening below the bottom of the frame.

See Barthes ideas about studium and punctum.  The studium is what we expect to see, it’s what we don’t expect which engages our interest above being visually entertained.
With #4 your comments about the road works suggest a rather pictorialist approach, in
fact we should be looking for elements which disturb our expectations to make
interesting narratives in our images, such as you have in #3.

Going back to the previous assignment it’s the decisive moment which is the punctum
in that case and this assignment would have been a good opportunity to include your
learning from that assignment, which you were so successful with, into this

#5 is beautifully executed but it’s all stadium with no punctum; a fine pictorial representation of the church but lacking in the ghostly narrative.

#6 As you say doesn’t work in a square and is slightly tilted.  This crop is better and makes more of the figure…

#7 is potentially effective with a ‘huddle of ghosts’ but needs some post production work to make the most of it…

As with #8 too; in general the prints seem to be darker than the images on your blog.

#9 certainly makes for an interesting image, putting it in a category above most light
trail shots as we contemplate what the statue makes of the colourful miasma in front of
Overall I would say that it was an excellent idea which was realised more successfully in
some images than in others but more work in post production could improve the
outcome noticeably.

The coursework is fine as always.

As is the reserach

Learning Log

Great you got the image click through going!
What would have been good to have more of in the log is your reflections on how you are progressing conceptually as a photographer. How have your ideas about photography changed as you have progressed through the course and how do you feel your progress has been expressed through your work.

Suggested reading/viewing
Carry on with your approach.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
This is the assignment which sums up your development through the whole course
and it will be the final impression you leave with the assessors so take some time over
immediately comes to mind.
Typically in assessment one might look at the first and last assignment first to see the
progress in conceptual thinking, technique and approach so a well thought through
and executed last assignment can affect the outcome more than all the other
assignments so be sure to do something that really engages you and if your initial efforts aren’t panning out the way you’d hoped then stop and go in a different direction rather than ploughing on. You can run any ideas past me first if you like.

Tutor name Clive White
Date 15/5/17
Next assignment due 15/7/17

Reflections on Feedback

Unfortunately when you copy and paste from Clive’s feedback it does not paste his images – I will include a copy of all feedback provided in the hard copy for assessment.

I felt Clive’s feedback was all very valid for this assignment.  It was one due to work commitments I had struggled to find time to do very well or to have the head space to really reflect on what I was doing which is probably why I lost sight of the ‘punctum’ concept.  I hope to re-do a couple of the photos on one of my Scottish trips prior to needing to submit the work for assessment.

I hope to re-print photos for assessment – I have difficulty in that I do not own a printer and there is the difficulty of getting correct calibration.

I will spend time think and reflecting on my progress through the course and make some notes in the appropriate section on this blog.

Assignment 4 – Languages of Light



Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:

  • Create a set of between 6 and 10 finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.
  • Include annotated contact sheets of all the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
  • Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment. Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your ‘process’ (the series of steps you took to make the photographs).  Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four of your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link in to your own work.  Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you’ve developed the exercise in order to meet the descriptors of the Creativity criteria.  Write 500-1000 words.

Include a link (or scanned pages to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor’s comments.



For this assignment I decided to expand on Exercise 4.3.  I had taken photos in both London and Edinburgh for this exercise just prior to Christmas.  I was not going to be visiting London again so decided to expand on the Edinburgh set of photos.   I explored all the photographers outlined in the course book who had undertaken night photography – I particularly liked Rut Blees Luxemburg’s work – see Notes section of the blog (  I liked the way she was able to ‘think outside the box’ and take unusual photos of things such as carparks.

I was also influenced by Brassai’s Paris by Night images which tend to be more traditional but show the people of the city as well as the cityscapes.

I have always loved the city at night and Edinburgh is particularly beautiful with all the old buildings and cobbled streets.   I was at home in Fife over the Easter break and decided to spend the evenings in Edinburgh using artificial light.


 The majority of the photos were taken on the Royal Mile with a few on nearby surrounding streets.  I travelled into Edinburgh on two consecutive evenings on the Easter weekend.  The difficulty with night photography at this time of year is that the sun didn’t set until 8.30 so it was around 11 p.m. before I finished on both evenings – I was somewhat restricted by train times in order to return to Fife.

I would have liked to be more creative in terms of finding out of the way spots or to have had time to look for the unusual but time was against this so my images were perhaps more in tune with Brassai’s work on the whole.  Edinburgh has a reputation for ghost tours so where I took images of the older buildings I tried to include shadowy figures.

On the first evening I took the images using an ISO setting of 800 but while this made the photos sharp it was difficult to get much creativity in terms of either light trails or ghostly figures.  I have only included one photo from this first shoot which was something quite different – at the top end of the Royal Mile near the castle there is a Camera Obscura building with three mirrors outside which gives for some interesting shots – I have included one of a taxi driving outside on the cobbled street by the mirror which distorts the road and car.

The rest of the images are taken the following evening where I used my camera on a tripod – ISO was initially set at 100 and by the end of the evening I had raised it to 200 due to the darkening sky.  I could have used the bulb setting to keep it on 100 but being mindful of the limited time did not want to take exposures that were over 30 seconds.

I feel that this next image is perhaps the weakest of the set.  It was taken during the ‘blue hour’ straight after sunset – the long exposure does give movement in the clouds and with the traffic trails but unfortunately I didn’t straighten the verticals in photoshop before printing so everything seems to lean inwards.  I feel there is too much in the bottom of the photo with a lot of blue empty space through the middle and above the buildings on the left.

There are not many modern buildings in this part of Edinburgh but I liked the way the steps lit up the area in the foreground of this building and with the lamp giving a ‘starburst’ effect.

The Raddison Blu hotel in Edinburgh has a changing light colour display – I was able to capture it in blue to go along with the hotel name.  Unfortunately there were road works outside so the barriers do spoil the image.

As I went further up the road it became darker and the rest of the photos have a black sky.  St Giles Cathedral was the next on my list.  It took some patience to get this selected photo due to an annoying car that first of all was parked just in front of the monument with its lights on and then drove round it and parked just outside on the road – it did eventually drive off!  By this time I did an internet search on how to straighten the verticals in Photoshop – (duplicate layer, transform, perspective and then drag the handles until it is straight) so was pleased with the final result.  Some sharpening was also added.

The next three photos show the particular ghostly effect I had hoped to achieve with old buildings and ghostly figures.  These were created using a long exposure but not too long to completely obliterate the people.  It would have been even better if I could had some people dressed up in either ghostly clothes or old fashioned clothes but couldn’t quite plan for this.

The photo of the castle unfortunately has a lot of foreground space due to trying to get the whole castle in – it does look better as a panoramic picture with that cropped out but in the interests of keeping the photos in the same format left the foreground in.

The next image is taken looking down one of the many little cobbled staircases that abound in this area and has a group of ghostly figures coming towards me.

This next photo is looking back down the road from the castle.  The different lights on the buildings made it somewhat difficult to capture and there are some slightly blown highlights on the right with it being a little dark in the background.  Again there are some ghostly figures walking up the road.  Sadly there was a modern litter bin that took away from the ambience of the photo.

And last but not least I decided to attempt some traffic trails – the idea in this photo was to try and frame the statue (I think it is of Robbie Burns) with the trails – this has been somewhat successful although I think the thicker white trail at the top (from a passing tram) is perhaps too thick for the photo.

Assessment Criteria

I think I demonstrated my knowledge of the technical and visual skills required for this assignment.  I knew that in order to capture images after dark you either need to raise the ISO setting on the camera or use longer shutter speeds.  A tripod is essential for avoiding camera shake with longer exposures.  I wanted the images to be sharp so also used a narrow aperture.  I think I have been able to be critical of my final images and to point out the ones where composition was not as good.  I have included these weaker images to show that I can reflect and know what has not worked as well as what works.

This assignment was around being creative – this is something I always find harder than the technical side of photography.  I have tried in this assignment to be creative with my use of longer exposures  in order to create in some of the images an effect that goes in with the nature of old Edinburgh.  I also took some photos of new buildings to show the contrast.  Again I used long exposures to capture traffic trails and used these to frame.

I researched the suggested photographers in order to gain and understanding of how they had used artificial light in their images.  I have communicated their ideas in my Notes pages and took some of their ideas but made them my own in the context of old Edinburgh.

In terms of my written work I believe this is clear and easy to understand and follows a logical order.

The link to Exercise 4.5 is as follows: and is the last exercise in that section.

The annotated contact sheets have been sent with the print version to my tutor – given the large number of pages I have not uploaded them to this blog.

Reflections on Feedback

Again I was encouraged by the positive feedback by my tutor on this assignment and that he felt I had met the brief.  I note his comments regarding the use of a wide angle lens – unfortunately at the moment I don’t own one although the 16-35 Canon is on my wish list!

I will reprint the photos without the captions for the final assessment.  I will also see if I can improve the photo with the scooter to avoid the blown out highlights and print a colour set as suggested.

Clive is right about not being able to click through to larger images – I had tried prior to sending the assignment through following the instructions in his attachment but couldn’t get my computer to install the plug in – I will have another go but got stuck at one particular point – I’ve not worked with plug ins before so maybe am missing something.

It was good to get some ideas for the next assignment – it remains to be seen if I use these or do something of my own choosing.





I undertook quite a bit of reading for this assignment and watched the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary.  Please see my notes and research sections on my blog

I have also attended some exhibitions since beginning the course and wrote these up and in some cases also reflected on how certain images met the requirements of ‘The Decisive Moment’. See

I have found this assignment the most difficult so far.  I felt I wanted to portray ‘decisive moments’.  My first idea was to do something with wildlife as I was going on holiday to Costa Rica and thought I might get some action shots of wildlife doing something interesting.  However, once there I found the lighting very tricky with dark jungles and sometimes dark skies or at other times very bright skies which made it hard not to get just silhouettes.  I found the requirement to use shutter priority mode made it almost impossible to be quick enough to re-set the camera in these conditions so decided against this and used manual or automatic which meant I was unable to carry through on this idea.  Interestingly our last speaker at the Isle of Man Photography Society (09/01/2017), Jeremy Paul who is a wildlife photographer and painter, gave a presentation on Costa Rica and also commented on the difficulty with light in the area.

I next turned to the idea of street photography.  Taking photos of people is completely out of my comfort zone so I wanted to take candid shots where hopefully people wouldn’t realise what I was doing.  My first attempt was in Edinburgh where I set the camera up on a tripod and sat on a monument.  Behind me was St Giles cathedral.  I took photos using the remote app on my Iphone so to all intents and purposes I wasn’t actually taking photos but was playing with my phone.  On this day there were two types of people – those demonstrating the busyness of their lives rushing by me and then the tourists who stopped to take photos of the monument and cathedral.  Even while taking the photos I felt bored and after two hours my rear end was numb from sitting on cold concrete so I gave up.  On reviewing the photos that evening I didn’t feel excited by them although I think they could’ve been described in the same way as Pantall describes Graham’s work (see Notes section).

My second attempt at street photography was no better.  On a grey, cold day I went to the Prom in Douglas, Isle of Man.  On this occasion I tried to use a small compact camera that does still allow shutter priority mode.  There weren’t many people about other than the odd dog walker, runners and cyclists.  The biggest excitement on this occasion was when a dog took off from the beach and then seeing the panic on his owner’s face when he finally realised after eventually looking up from his mobile phone.  While this may have been a ‘decisive moment’ others were sadly lacking so again I came home with some unimaginative photos.

Finally, my third attempt and I was pretty despairing by this time that I would get anything that was going to demonstrate ‘the decisive moment’.  I initially based myself close to Marks & Spencer on a seat down a side street from the main shopping Strand.  Again to start with I seemed to be getting people rushing around doing their Saturday morning shopping.  I then noticed a young girl nearby using the engraved paving stones in front of me to play hop scotch and got the idea that children do seem to be more action oriented.  I took a few in this area and then a photo of a man throwing a stick for his dog.  Unfortunately taking this photo attracted the owner who decided to come and speak to me – this lead to him trying to convert me to his religious beliefs!  As soon as I could I made the excuse to go and have some lunch.  On return the gentleman in question was still hovering so I decided to try another spot and headed to the Prom – it was a lovely sunny day although chilly but there was a lot more action going on than in my previous attempt.  I decided to concentrate on children – on the whole I tried not to be obvious but on occasion either the child or parent did see what I was doing – interestingly none challenged me regarding my taking photos of their child.  I had made sure I had my student ID on me in case of any questions.

I did end up having an ethical discussion with a colleague at work a few days later when I mentioned the assignment to her.  She questioned the fact I would be putting the photos on a public blog and was somewhat upset when I said they would be going on a University blog.  She said she has deliberately chosen not to place photos of her young daughter online and felt I was ethically in the wrong for not having sought consent to do so.  I did prior to putting this assignment on line check the legal aspects and read an article by Lyndsey Dobson ( accessed on 12/02/2017).  While the article is based on English/Welsh law generally speaking the Isle of Man tends to follow English law in many aspects and I don’t believe it would be dissimilar.  I couldn’t find anything specifically relating to the Isle of Man law online.

The photos all demonstrate a moment where some kind of action is going on.  I haven’t been as strict about geometry and form as Henri Cartier-Bresson and have done a minimum of cropping on the set I finally decided to submit for the assignment.  I did originally have another set printed but had tightly cropped them to just include the immediate action but having read the discussion on the forum ( accessed on 29/01/2017) decided against that set.  This final set therefore had some more interest in terms of other people in the background – some of these were watching the action.  Like Henri-Cartier Bresson I opted to use black and white in order to accentuate the action.

Photo 1


Focal length: 96mm, 1/400, f6.3, ISO 400

As can be seen I used a relatively fast shutter speed in order to capture the action, the camera chose a slightly wide depth of field to throw the background out and I increased the ISO to 400 as the action was taking place in a shady area.  The photo may have been better if the girl was facing the camera but I felt there was some interaction with the lady in the background which added interest.  Unfortunately the path going through the middle has blown out and the detail lost in the paving in that area.  I think to fix this I would have needed either to use the HDR facility on the camera or to have taken two exposures and merged them (probably unsuccessfully due to the movement of the child).

Photo 2


Focal length 105, 1/800, f7.1, ISO 800

This photo was taken in the same area as the first.  In this instance the little girl who had a mask on had decided to chase the pigeons.  Although I had changed the settings to up the shutter speed and ISO there was still the problem of the light horizontally through the image although some of the detail is now captured.

Moving onto the Prom – there is a little play park there which led to the next photo.

Photo 3


Focal length 105 mm, 1/800, f.5.6, ISO 400

As the light was brighter down on the Prom I took the ISO back down to 400 but continued with a fast shutter speed in order to capture the action.  How many children haven’t tried to climb a slide rather than slide down it!  This did nearly end in disaster as there was another child at the top trying to come down – I wasn’t able to capture this piece of action as the boy’s father intervened to remove his son and was in between me and the boy.

Following this I sat down on a seat at the edge of the paved area of the Prom and tried to blend in as much as possible with my camera.  This was largely successful as generally the children were intent on what they were doing.

Photo 4


Focal length 105 mm, 1/800, f11, ISO 400

The camera for this one set an aperture of f11 which helped to keep the picture sharp as the girl on the bike was a bit further away.  I have vivid memories of my first attempts to ride a bike having fallen off into the rose bushes in the centre of our garden when I realised no one was pushing me any longer!).  I liked the encouragement Dad was giving this young girl.

Photo 5


Focal length 102mm, 1/800, f7.1, ISO 400

This little toddler was a gem – in fact there were probably several decisive moments as can be seen from the contact sheet – he initially stood facing me, contemplating whether to jump or not.  I chose this one as the fast shutter speed had captured the splashes and the sense of force of him jumping in the puddle.

Photo 6


Focal length 105, 1/800, f.11, ISO400

Again the little girl in this photo was a bit further away.  She much like the toddler had appeared to spend time deciding on whether to get what looked like brand new wellies wet – she had paused and given them a good look first.

Photo 7


Focal length 58, 1/800, f9, ISO400

I believe this teenager did clock me taking the images as he continued to do wheelies up to this point – my first photo of him was considerably further back.  Again the fast shutter speed has captured the action.

Photo 8


Focal length 105mm, 1/800, f8, ISO400

In many ways this is my favourite shot as I love the expression on the skateboarder’s face as he sees the ease of the young girl on the scooter.  In fact a bit like Henri Cartier-Bresson I hadn’t realised he was in the photo at the point of taking it.  I had taken quite a few of him earlier skateboarding in the area where I was sitting but thought he had moved off with his parents.

As can be seen from the file info information for each image, once on the Prom I essentially left the shutter speed and ISO at the same setting.  It was interesting to see how the aperture changed and this appeared to relate to my focus point and how far away the subject I was capturing was.

I enjoyed capturing the children in action and feel that overall this set of images captures the idea of ‘The Decisive Moment’ although not meeting all the standards Henri Cartier-Bresson set himself.

Printing – I don’t own a photo printer as I rent a bedroom while on island so don’t have the room for a lot of stuff so have to send my printing to the UK.  I have used a particular colour lab over there for some time but it is difficult as I am unable to print my laptop to the printer and the prints (particularly in black and white) tend to come out darker than on my screen.  I did up the brightness on each image this time.  I actually also sent my first (cropped) set to another lab which offered free calibration – I think the print quality was better but they were twice as expensive as the first lab so when I decided to redo the set I reverted to the usual lab.  However, I will bear the difference in quality in mind when preparing for assessment.

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Tutor Feedback and Reflections



Formative feedback

Student name Joy Brodie Student number 515609
Course/Unit Photography 1: Expressing Your Vision Assignment number 2
Type of tutorial Written    



Overall Comments


You’ve approached the assignment in a very methodical and thoughtful way which has made it a good all round learning experience for you.


Assessment potential


I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* 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, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.   



Feedback on assignment


You’ve met the brief and implemented some developments in your approach such as maintaining a format, not mixing colour and black and white.


The subjects were well chosen and composed and the great majority technically successful, apart from perhaps Photo 8 which ironically was your most creative intervention and worth persisting with. I would have been happy if the series had been made entirely of 10 attempts to throw leaves in the stream and the series was called, 10 attempts to throw leaves in the stream.


Amongst the photo enthusiast community ‘creativity’ is often associated with effects of one kind or another. That’s not the kind of creativity we’re dealing with here, we’re talking about conceptual creativity, the ideas behind making the images and the reasons for displaying them. Both of your references, Ansel Adams and Fay Godwin had sophisticated reasons for making their work, more than showing beauty. Adams for example was a pioneer in raising green consciousness.


Again amongst the enthusiast community there’s a convention to not interfere with the landscape and portray it as a beautiful perfection when that’s often far from the reality. The whole of the countryside has been husbanded as ultimately an economic resource.


Photographing in black and white moves the image and the argument to a cooler rationality, distancing it from the conventional idea of landscape as beautiful entertainment asking the viewer to engage rather than be passively entertained.


Intervening in the image, ‘breaking the fourth wall’, can perform the same function shooting in colour, disturbing the ‘perfection’. This then becomes the punctum.


You’ve got a good baseline of ability in landscape which you can build on in future work.


A word about the prints…


Coloured borders should be avoided; they interfere with the colour relationships in the actual image. The border acts as a reference colour and should always be white for a print and wider to allow the print to be picked up without touching the image surface; a minimum of 3.5cm so the finished print looks like this…



It’s more important to have the borders this wide in proportion to the image than it is to try and make the image as big as possible on the paper.


Formatted like that and presented in the clam shell portfolio will be perfect for assessment.


There’s no need to send prints to me in the box, an envelope is fine and saves wear and tear on the portfolio, keeping it in good order for the assessment when it’s important. By the way it’s like a box of expensive chocolates; the lid is the bigger half.




The course work is carefully executed, well done, carry on.




A good solid start on the Research and Reflection; you’ve got the idea, keep it up and do more.



Learning Log


The blog feels clean and airy, everything accessible and easily navigable. The only thing that needs addressing is being able to click through to larger versions of the assignment images.


Suggested reading/viewing


Continue with following up the research and reading references in the module notes.


Pointers for the next assignment / assessment


Read the brief through carefully a few times at different times.


Students sometimes place a rather bizarre interpretation on this assignment and produce work which doesn’t encapsulate the idea of a decisive moment or its inversion, the non-decisive moment; it’s more like avoiding the whole idea of the decisive moment and its conceptual antonym. As a consequence the images they present can be inconsequential and hence not very engaging in terms of content and narrative.


Take a look at this on the student discussion site…


Overall you’re progressing everything very well; take it to another level again on the next assignment.


Tutor name Clive White
Date 16/12/16
Next assignment due 16/02/17

I felt pleased with these comments.  The borders had been a mistake as I hadn’t realized when I sent them off for printing I had a wrong foreground colour – I’m not quite sure how to get the right size border but will need to try and work this out.


I was interested in the comments around black and white versus colour.  I do quite often use black and white in my landscape photos but due to the lovely autumn colours had left these in colour.

As I’m reflecting on these comments I have been working on the ‘Decisive Moment’ – I have struggled to get conceptual ideas/creativity for this next assignment and fully appreciate Clive’s comments that photos can seem inconsequential.  I did an initial attempt sitting on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and discarded the whole lot as I felt bored looking at them.  I have now sent off a set to be printed from a shoot I did today but I’m not sure they’re at ‘another level’.