Contrasts and similarities

In terms of the photographic series, research two contrasting photographic series’ and try to analyse them in your learning log. What is it that ties the chosen series together as a conceptual (theoretical) and visual whole? 

So as a final challenge I was given this task by my tutor and I have decided to look at the work of Diane Arbus in her cataloguing of the people she met on her travels and who lived on the fringes of Vietnam era American society against the ordered and some would say a privileged and organized environment of stone and mortarboards in Oxford.

While both series of stills are focused on people it is the way the subjects are captured. With Arbus, there is certain closeness to the subject. A desire to be a part of their life to show their humanity in all of its weakness, a tenderness towards the subjects own personality and who they are. Which for all his technical brilliance Parr sometimes misses.

With Parr you get the feeling he playing the voyeur, intruding on private moments. While this is often deliberate, and sometimes he captures the moment perfectly. However, with his shot taken at Wadham College. Queerfest, I feel he just seeing the moment as an editorial example of youthful discover as opposed to the spirit of the individual.

Such theories of mine are purely subjective but show how different artists approaches can influence how we, as viewers/voyeurs see things.




Parr, M. (2014) Wadham College. Queerfest. Available

Transvetsite at a drag ball

Arbus, D. (1970), Transvestite at a drag ball, N.Y.C

Resources used

Arbus, D. (1970), Transvestite at a drag ball, N.Y.C. Available at:–New-York-Ci/184C4E7F03BC1D47 Accessed 07052018

Parr, M. (2014) Wadham College. Queerfest. Available at: Accessed 07052018


Assignment Five – Photography is Simple

Overall Comments

 So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue. Please note only relevant feedback from my Tutor has been selected and is shown in italics.

 Feedback on assignment 

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

Over the course of the last four assignments, you have consistently chosen to focus on the outdoors, from horse racing to late night street work. Looking at this series of images, it is clear that you are continuing to try to work something out about the environment that surrounds you. On this occassion it is an almost macro survey of trees and water.

 In terms of the accompanying commentary you have given, you have achieved some of what you describe but as you move forward, you need to develop your analysis of your work beyond the formal and technical elements of the work. The world around us, as captured by photography, is a complicated mix of image, signs and symbols that refer to greater subjects beyond the constraints of the photographic frame. Are there environmental issues that you would like to address in your work? Or a political standpoint that you would (subtly) like to take? Your work is beginning to potentially touch on greater things and it would be great for you to develop the ability to recognize and reflect on these moments. For example – Definitely. Photography can be very political and it’s something I’m slowly I’m beginning to appreciate. Admittedly I feel that the subject, viewer, and artist must all be in tune with one another to make this appreciation work. This is a theme I’m continuing to work on and taking time to think about what it is I’m saying as opposed to producing purely demonstrative work.

 Image 01

Here you present an interesting image that, in the initial reading, asks questions about scale. It looks like the kind of image that you might see in Yann Arthus Bertrand’s book, The Earth From the Air, but when you notice the tarmac on the edges of the ice, its actual scale becomes more apparent. This mixed scale message, accompanied by other images in a series, could start to ask questions about the prevalence of drones and surveillance or the modern technological advancements in environmental imaging technology – we have come a long way since Timothy O’Sullivan’s nineteenth century geographical surveys of the United States with his portable darkroom wagon. Analysing your own work is about recognizing the potential readings that your own work might have so that you can drive forward with a more precise (but not less intriguing) series of pictures that ask pertinent questions about the world we live in. The comment about the parallels with drone photography is interesting and something I’d not considered when producing this still. I chose it for its contrast between natural and man-made surfaces and now they can complement one another. This is a case of me not recognizing my voice through photography, or simply ignoring it and looking for a more reasoned rationale.

 Images 2-5

These four pictures act as a kind of visual jigsaw for the viewer as each image offers a shallow focused section of this (I am assuming it is the same tree) tree. From image 2, which resembles a horse’s head we are offered only glimpses of these naturally occurring organisms. I admit to teasing the viewer with these images a little as I felt their details and contrasts, especially between the hard and soft, mobile and immobile elements of the natural world, both obvious and delicate, made for an interest play of visual metaphor. I had deliberately sought these out, and felt spending time with my processing, looking at the original RAW images and converting them accordingly has produced something unique.

Image 6

Continues this macro survey and in some ways acts as a segue to the second part of the work; the water. What was behind your decision to crop this and the subsequent images in to thin horizontal strips? There doesn’t seem to be an apparent visual or conceptual reason for this? The post processing crop was an intentional device to focus the eye on the movement and moment I had captured the waters flow. A moment of capturing movement without life if you will.

 Image 7-10

There is an interesting relationship between image 9 and some of your earlier images of the tree(s). This uncertainty about what we are looking at is engaging. Conversely, it is clear that we are looking at water in images 7, 8 and 10 but there is, perhaps, either too much or not enough information in the frame for these pictures to maintain interest. Fair points, I have tried to use shape and flow to convey meaning, especially frames seven and eight. Again I’m seeking to portray the magic of the flow of water.


Suggested reading/viewing

Context; The concept of… I’ll get to grips with this yet



Assignment Four – Languages of Light: Feedback and Reflection

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue. Please note only relevant feedback from my Tutor has been selected and is shown in italics.

Overall Comments 

You describe an interest in the nature of different kinds of street lighting from crisp white fluorescents to orange sodium lights.  The advancement of technology certainly changes the way we feel about artificial external nighttime light and this shift in feeling in different lighting conditions could be something to follow up more thoroughly if you continue to work with similar interests.

In general, terms, think about how you can improve the consistency of your assignments. Although the coursework does not specifically ask you to think about this at this stage, it would be good to start thinking about moving towards this as you work on future assignments. For example, in the Shintaro work that you refer to, there is a real consistency about the way he is looking at night-time Japan. The images are on the whole fairly wide shots, the light sources are numerous and there is a relationship between the natural light of the sky and the artificial light that is illuminating the landscape. In contemporary photographic practice, the series operates in a really interesting way as each image shed’s a different light (pardon the pun!) on another aspect of the overall conceptual and visual themes. Hindsight really is a wonderful thing. Shintaro’s approach is sadly very hard to replicate in a rural environment, nevertheless, it inspires and maybe something I will try to replicate at a later stage.

 I think that you have been very much concentrating on the light within the image (as per the assignment) at the expense of some of the other technical attributes of the images as a whole. Wouldn’t it be great to achieve both? On this occasion, especially images 004 and 005 I would disagree with my tutor. Given that technical is an extremely broad term, identification of what I missed would have been very helpful.

Feedback on assignment

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

Image 01

 There are some promising compositional elements to this image. The uprights of the main light and the lamp post to the right of frame echo each other and at the same time are perpendicular to the horizontals of the illuminated gutter in the back ground and the kerbs and verges in the mid and foregrounds. Technically, these elements would be better served if the light were allowed to describe these better. In this instance, I was attempting to convey a mood as opposed to producing a moment of crystal clarity, much like the work of Philip Lorca diCorcia through the use of artificial light. That said a longer exposure period or higher ISO may well have made a difference.

Image 02

Technically, this image is better lit than the previous one giving a better sense of this space at this time of night. How much post production have you done on this picture? The orange glow around the streetlights lacks detail and appears as a blocked orange colour. Although people are drawn towards the apparent magic of long exposure shots of water or light trails, please make yourself aware of the visual clichés that exist in photography. Unless you are directly referring to the nature of cliché as part of your concepts, images like this can easily be dismissed at degree level. Again I feel the tutor has judged this image harshly and would refer to the work of Rut Bless Luxemburg, especially Nach Innen/In Deeper, 1999.

 Image 03

This image is a weaker on in the series. Compositionally, I am not sure what you are trying to achieve, the framing could be better thought out (are the lights that are creeping in to frame right deliberate) and I am not sure what the main point of focus is. Wholeheartedly agree with these comments. I was trying to show the coloured up lighters in contrast to the white light of the street lights. However, the angles are wrong and the inclusion of the 4×4 detracts from the overall image. Most definitely the weakest image of the set in terms of composition.

Image 04

The level of light in this picture is working well and I like the fact that we are looking at an illuminated photographic image of painted images that have light as one of their main features.  However, the framing is letting you down here, why are the paintings on the right and left edges of frame cut off? I went a little too far with the cropping and in doing so distorted the composition. The uncropped image is below.



Image 004

Image 05

I can see that the red glow is the main interest here – and this is clear. Think about your framing again, I like the fact that the whole of the left-hand window is in shot but it is a little annoying that the right hand one is not. Is this deliberate? If so, what does this communicate to the viewer? Again I went too far with the cropping and in doing so distorted the composition and image unnecessarily. The uncropped image is below.


Image 005 

Image 06

This is, for me the most successful image. It is technically better all round in terms of framing, composition and overall light level (although you might rotate the image a bit to make the uprights of the phone box vertical. It presents a very simple set up that begins to communicate something about this particular place. It is cosy at the same time as being slightly eerie and offers us a kind of false safe haven. It also offers a portrait of technology that is becoming outdated. How many phone boxes have disappeared in the last 5-120 years? This comment made my day, especially as I was in two minds as to whether or to include the image, I’m glad I did. My tutors comments about the outdated nature of the phone box in this age of mobile communications is a good observation, especially as many rural phone boxes have found themselves in use as libraries, defibrillator stores or garden ornaments.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis 

 Still the same problem with the menus as mentioned in the last feedback, please address. There is some good research on the blog but in its current form, the assessors will find it really difficult to make judgements about your reflective process. Please tidy. Now addressed and sorted.

 Suggested reading/viewing


Again, there is no research and reflection from my suggestion of the last feedback form. – Now sorted

 In terms of the photographic series, research two contrasting photographic series’ and try to analyse them in your learning log. What is it that ties the chosen series together as a conceptual and visual whole? See:

Assignment Three – The Decisive Moment: Feedback and Reflection

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue. Please note only relevant feedback from my Tutor has been selected and is shown in italics.

Retrospectively I really should have concentrated more and kept the theme in context for this project instead of focusing more so on the actual decisive moment.  For that reason I feel I didn’t really meet the entire criteria for this project.

Overall Comments

Feedback on assignment

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

 Your fabrication method is interesting and creative. By creating a wooden ‘book’ you have managed (in most cases) to tie the series together. This is a great thing to experiment with as you move forward and shows that you are thinking carefully about the status of your pictures in the world and how your images might be read. Certainly, the choice of fabric that you have chosen to line the cover reminds me of the shirt fabric that is worn by many members of the rural community and this, in relation to your images of animals and horse jumping, is appropriate and subtle. There’s the hint. Contextually I was all over the shop for this series of images.

 It is not necessary to list the camera settings that you have used with each image. I genuinely thought it was. One less thing to worry about there then.

Image 01

You did well to capture this moment and as you say in your commentary capturing a good image is sometimes worth the wait. I like the fact that there are birds flying around the frame, it makes me happy to think that these creatures have escaped! Although difficult for this kind of image that is captured very quickly, try to be aware of the framing. I am not sure that this image works as well with the shooter cut off at the waist. Time to consider a judicious crop, something I’m still not used to doing for academic work. Rest assured the subject failed to hit anything. In fact, he stopped shooting not long after this.

Ass03 001 Cropped

Image 01 Cropped – looks much better in fairness

Image 02

This is a good example of the decisive moment. Although we know exactly what animal this is and what the setting is, the shape of the dog makes us look in an interesting way. As well as capturing the moment in time, this image succeeds where the first didn’t in terms of framing. For example, the eye is directed up and through the dog by the triangular shape of the body of the animal and this triangularity is echoed by the point of the black tail and the way that it is further described by the way that it fits within the triangle of the white tent in the background. The way that the dog is placed directly in front of the head of the dog on the mid-ground poster is also an interesting addition. As well as being in the right place visually, it also points us in the direction that the dog will go. Has to be one of my favourite stills of the year. I love the way he’s diving in.

Image 03

Interesting to see a long exposure in an attempt to produce a decisive photographic moment.

 Image 04

Although it fits within the general theme of ‘rural pursuits’, this image is less successful both technically, being slightly out of focus as well as its composition. Sometimes high-speed photography and low light don’t always work. I should have taken the time to consider my camera’s settings to counter this.

Image 05

I am drawn to the blank and thoughtful expression on the face of the model and the composition does well to guide the viewer’s eye in her direction. It works as a single image but really doesn’t fit within the series. The subject matter is completely different to your other images. I love this image for these very reasons. Ironically I only noticed her visage in post-processing. A very lucky shot, and Decisive Moment indeed.

Image 06

Again, less interesting in terms of subject and composition. Fair comment

Image 07 and 08

These two pictures are interesting to compare in terms of composition. Image 08 offers a much more interesting view of a bird of prey. In a similar way to the black dog earlier in the series, the shape of the owl is intriguing, its colouration is similar to the hedge behind and the placement of the post in the foreground echoes the blurred tree and telegraph pole in the background. Although I like the placement of the wing tip against the wording in the background, image 07 is much less interesting to look at as a photograph because of the other elements within the frame and the general placement of the animal. I was trying to be clever with Image 07, by showing a bird of prey (a Peregrine) next to a bird of prey sign, thus showing off the Decisive Moment. Didn’t quite work.

Suggested reading/viewing


I would be interesting to hear your views about Keith Arnatt. Some of your coursework examples (particularly the jump sequence) reminds me of the performative process that he used in his photography. Ask and you shall receive:

 Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

 Reflect on my suggestions in your blog

Have a think about the conceptual and visual consistency of a photographic series – Gregory Crewdson is a good example or Taryn Simon albeit for different reasons – make a comparison of these two approaches in your blog. This will be placed shortly.

Assignment Two Collecting: Feedback and Reflection

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue. Please note only relevant feedback from my Tutor has been selected and is shown in italics.

Overall Comments

It is early days but, as you move forward, you need to further refine the kinds of things that you are trying to communicate. What are you trying to communicate about the rural landscape? For this exercise, I was using the images as visual commentaries about man’s attempts of mastery of the land and how, no matter we feel we can do, nature can do it far more beautifully.

 Feedback on assignment

Image 01

I like the way that the brewery is squeezed to the extreme right of the frame, this begins to suggest you are trying to push this kind of industrial intervention on the rural landscape out of the way. Is this the way that you feel? (questions like this in your feedback are prompts for questions that you should ponder on and reflect in your learning log). Once again, make sure that you are completely happy with the way that everything appears in the frame, have you deliberately not straightened the cylindrical towers? No, as their not leaning. Also, this image (as well as some of your others) is really grainy, more than I would expect to see from an ISO of 400, have you added more grain? Not sure why this image is so grainy. I certainly didn’t add any grain to the image. If so what is the reason for this? This and the general yellow colouration begins to create a nostalgic feel, is this deliberate? Most probably my colour settings weren’t as sharp as they should have been.

 Image 02

There is a similar suggestion (as in image 01) about the buildings being forced to the edge of the frame here. If this is the case then are you suggesting that farming also has detrimental to the landscape? This is an aspect of the photo I’d not really thought about. Its part of it, but perhaps not a whole. Also, because you have based your exposure on the sky, the farm building is very dark. If the shot were to be taken again I would use the dark panels on the building sides as the key points to measure reflected light. Bad photographic technique on my part. Note: Sadly the buildings are no longer open to access to the public.

 Image 03

The traditional compositional rules that you describe in your commentary are evident here as the eye moves up the dyke and towards he brewery and on up the chimney. The ploughed field mid frame acts as a kind of visual barrier separating the very rural from the industrial. Is this kind of compositional ploy something that you could develop further? Most definitely, I think by lowering my lens by a couple of feet or so the view would change entirely and be more imposing.

Image 04

This is one of the stronger images from this series. There is a quiet sadness about this image, and it reminds me of images from the first world war, the tree trunks lying on the ground are not the kind of thing that we are used to seeing in a ploughed field. They lie dead and forgotten as if this were some kind of battle field. This connotation creates strong feelings about death and destruction, is this how you feel about the rural landscape? I do, I’m often saddened by how we have treated the land in the past. It’s only now we’re fully appreciating its worth. I hope it’s not too late. The tree trunks have been removed by a mole, a single large plowshare that is being used to break up soil compaction. Such a process reveals how far behind our stewardship duties we are and how remiss we were in the great reclamation projects of the past.

 Image 05

On a formal level, I like the way that the eye quickly and efficiently taken out of frame left but this one communicates less than some of your other images. This is one of the formalistic ‘landscape’ stills from the set and in retrospect lacks message and meaning. If I were to be ruthlessly judicious about how I would use this still in future, it would be abandoned.

Image 06

I like the kind of ghostly presence of the tree that you have managed to create here. This combined with the fact that the tree has been hit by lightning begins to connect with some of the ideas communicated by image 04. Be careful of your framing, did you mean to leave the top of the tree out? Does the inclusion of the wooden rail bottom left add to the image? Oh the joys of photography in foul weather. I rushed this shot a little and cropped the tree. Very clumsy on my part. This image has been cropped to make the image a little sharper.

Landscape06 Cropped

Image 06 – Cropped, Ben Skipper

Image 07

This image feels like a visual and conceptual leap from the rest of the series. Although there is a very general relationship between man’s intervention with nature, this image feels really isolated. Could you remove this for assessment? Will do. Although my intent was to link the wind turbines with the isolation of the tree of Image 06, it doesn’t quite work. 

Image 08

This image is more ‘obviously’ visually striking but think about how it fits with the feelings that you are beginning to tap in to with other images. Is this visually clichéd? Quite possibly, yet I feel if placed against Image 06 there would be a visual link (see below).


Image 09

The eye is taken on a journey up the bottom half of the frame but this picture is less strong than some others in the series. I wanted to show the curves made by the drill that has been highlighted by the snow. By cropping and converting the image to black and white I hope I achieved this.

Landscape09 B&W Conversion

Image 10

This image works well. It is visually interesting and there is an odd timeless quality created by the colouration of the light snow covered foreground. But oddly, this quality seems to dissipate quickly as the eye moves up to the sharper elements of the picture, mainly the hedge. Have a think about how this image might sit with images 04 and 06? I think if I had gone for f22 or smaller aperture this image would have been much sharper throughout. Combining it with images 04 and 06 has made a much sharper group.

Images 04, 10 and 06, Ben Skipper

Suggested reading/viewing


Jesse Alexander –  Perspectives on Place. This is a great entry level book that talks about landscape photography in a really practical and accessible way but that refers to the main ideas evoked by this genre. This is a brilliant read and a great way of looking and addressing how I view landscape photography as an art form, away from the cliché of commercial landscapes. I have to be honest this should feature on the essential reading list and I can’t thank my tutor enough for introducing me to it. 

Have a look at some of the war images by Roger Fenton in reference to my earlier comments about first world war photographs. Roger Fentons coverage of the Crimean War is as relevant now, almost 200 years after it first appeared. Whilst seemingly banal it was truly ground breaking, showing the public what the Empire war machine looked like at work and play. It also showed the horror of battle and the unimaginable scale of what resources were required to undertake such a venture. Groundbreaking and heartbreaking I equal measure, its impact can never be understated. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the British were not too keen on having independent photographers in the trenches in the Great War?


Strengths Areas for development
Improving technical ability

Evidence of meaningful reflection in your commentary

Good visual consistency


More focused conceptual thinking. – Started to read Conceptual Art by Tony Godfrey.

A stronger relationship between visual and conceptual concerns.  I must learn to think, consider and plan a little bit more.

Broaden your knowledge of contemporary photographic practice. Read, research and watch. Lots out there, sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by it all, but getting there.

Assignment One; Square Mile: Feedback and Reflection

So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in blue. Please note only relevant feedback from my Tutor has been selected and is shown in italics.

Overall Comments

This is an interesting set of images and is ideal as an introduction to the way that you photograph as well as how you describe your visual and conceptual process.

Reading your commentary about this assignment Ben, it is encouraging that you are thinking about a set of concepts in an attempt to bring together your visual experimentation. The effect that man continues to have upon nature is an enduring theme and one only has to look at recent press surrounding the prevalence of waste plastic in our oceans to realise that this is a hot topic at the moment.

I am interested in your notion that ‘the world of humanity is artificial’ – is this true? I believe that man has become separated from nature by his greed, his urge to dominate and desire to own. Are we not part of nature? Sadly not, we have lost our way, become alienated, and it’s very sad. Surely we have evolved on this planet in the same way that every other organism has? No doubt, but unlike other organisms, we have become selfish, greedy and see all others as servants to be used as we wish.

Feedback on assignment

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

Image 01

An interesting image to start your series as the contents of this frame does not obviously sit within the conceptual framework that you outline or the collective visual strategy that the rest of the series employs. I assume that you are attempting to show how we have built up villages and cities and that the continued use of fossil fuels is affecting our planet in detrimental ways? I have to be honest I selected this image as it portrayed one of those rare moments of beauty in the everyday. A moment when our actions of destruction can be equally beautiful. Does this image fit with the series? In terms of light, subject and composition no, but in terms of being part of my square mile, then perhaps so.

In technical terms, think carefully about your framing. Should the railings in the foreground be straight? These curve around in front of me hence the slant.  Should the edge of the sign on the front of the building right of frame be included?  I included it to put a stamp on location initially, but with thoughtful cropping, I could have precluded it from the image entirely. Where is your point of focus? The front of the lorry, again not entirely obvious, and now with the cropped image it’s the door of the lorry. Here I’ve fallen into snapshot mode. Aesthetics over form. Ideally, I should have made it in front of the outside front tire of the stationary vehicle. 

BJS SM 001 FB 01

Image One Revisited

Image 02

I like the relationship between the specific danger warning sign and the wider potential harm that the creation of electricity, in general, might cause. Are you suggesting that the ‘danger of death’ in the modern world is our continued exploitation of natural materials for our own existence? In a very clumsy way yes.

Image 03

The almost unnatural purple colour of the ivy fronds is interesting here, offering the suggestion that nature itself can also look ‘unnatural’. I loved this image, but also chose it as a demonstration of how, no matter what we do, nature will reclaim.

Image 04

As well as being an ironic addition to the series, I like the fact that the word ‘everlasting’ echoes the natural term ‘evergreen’ that is used to describe some plants. I’d also chosen this particular image as it’s a metaphor, for me at least, that human life is not ‘Everlasting’ and this statement is made in defiance at the natural order of things by the interned soul.

Image 05

Again, a more obvious image for a series with this kind of conceptual underpinning – the mixture of decaying natural and man-made forms. The almost unnatural colour is engaging here as is the composition – I like the creeping shot of ivy in the bottom left hand corner of the frame. I was chuffed to see my message had translated visually in this still.

Image 06

The reference to death and burial is clear here. Through the apparent vandalisation of the flower holder, is there is a suggestion that man is as good at looking after its own sites of burial as it is the rest of the planet? It was, it’s symbolic of our destructive and careless nature, even in an environment that is ‘Hallowed Ground’. Perhaps this still would be well titles ‘Is Nothing Sacred?’

Image 07

A different compositional strategy here and I am wondering how this picture fits with your concept(s)? You mention the impermanence of benches in your commentary but the viewer may well need some help to link this image with some of your others. The intent was to show this bench, which sits in the cemetery, as a resting place for the living to commune with the dead. However, the composition is all to pot. The framing should have included a gravestone to help set the scene/theme with the cropping focusing on a gravestone in the foreground and the bench in the background.  

Image 08

The close-up creates an annoying (but not necessarily unsuccessful) visual experience. I find myself desperately trying to pull back from this image – in the same way as I do when trying to focus on something close-up when I am not wearing my glasses. Look at the image and you can see how the bole of the tree is slowly growing over the wood of the fence. Nature overcoming, taking back its own.

Image 09

This picture fits conceptually but I am not sure how visually engaging it is. I chose it to show nature reclaiming its empire over the artificial construct of man.

Image 10

Consider a tighter crop here, do we need the suggestion of another tree in the background? Very good point as it does distract. The cropped image is shown below and is far more effective visually.

BJS SM 010 FB 02

Image Ten Revisited

Images 11 & 12

Although I guess these images act as a bookend to the series (along with your first image), I am not sure how they fit within the series and are not particularly visually engaging. A bad choice on my part, there is no flow or real connection with the previous images. Retrospectively I should have sought a more suitable subject and moment.  


Strengths Areas for development
Evidence of conceptual thinking

Good initial reflection

Some good research



Conceptual and visual focuswill come with study

Final edit of imagesmust learn to be brave and crop

Broaden knowledge of contemporary photographic practicewill come with study

Overall I enjoyed the challenge of the task and have quite a bit to learn. Onwards and upwards!


Assignment Five: Photography is Simple

Ass 5 Contact Sheets Final Set

Assignment Five Contact Sheet

My initial intent for this exercise was to explore the rural landscape, a favourite subject, and isolate individual elements for their aesthetic and natural beauty. Once on site I chose to develop my approach, looking at the individual beauty of the dormant tress along side the small stream that runs through the chosen Vale. In turn I wanted to show that the moving water of the stream was as much a source of power and life as the trees were.


Shallow water runs fast

Singling out elements of the trees that attracted my interest through their shapes and contrasts I set to capturing these using a range of f-stops and utilising an ND8 filter. This allowed me to capture detail shots far more easily, whilst utilising a low f-stop and not over or under exposing the final image.

The Contrast and Texture of Trees

I also chose to photograph the soft, fast flowing waters of the stream as these were physically in contrast to the hard stillness of the trees that lined it. Though, the inclusion of the frozen puddle as a second image was to illustrate that water can also be hard and lifeless at times.


Frozen Puddle

As such I felt its position in the series was warranted by it shape and form. In this instance the curves of the ice reflected not only the curves of the steak fungus of the preceding image but also the water below, with the grit around its edge emulating the bokeh of the stream.

On stranger planes

I also sought to use differing Planes of Focus (above), much in the style of Jan Groover and especially Richard Page’s Suburban Exposure series, to help portray the action of the stream. Developing the images in black and white while cropping certain images delivers a vibrant range of tone and contrast and portrays the energy and beauty of each moment.

Link to Exercise 5.2:

Resources Used

Alexander, J.A.P. Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography, Fairchild Books, 2015.

Shore, S. The Nature of Photographs, A Primer. Phaidon Press Inc, 2010

Jackie Higgins explains how artists are breaking the rules and redefining the boundaries of the photographic medium. (Accessed: 30012019)


What [Creative] Dreams May Come


As I near the end of Express Your Vision its fair to say I’ve learnt a great deal. I’m not one to say I know it all and still don’t, as a genre photography is forever evolving and I’ve been lucky enough, through the course to evolve my own style and voice, or more aptly; Express my own Vision.

New concepts, re-tuning old knowledge and plenty of practical exercise have sharpened my focus and creativity. I’ve enjoyed the course, and given my agoraphobic nature, it has also got in out and about.

In terms of development I’ve always tried to stick to the Manual setting of my camera’s, choosing my venerable D70 over the D300, so some of the early tasks went against my stubborn nature. For Exercise 5.2 I returned to ‘M’ mode with my D70 and an Adaptall lens and away I went.

After a few shots I achieved my goal, I think, and can away with a decent still. However of the three new settings which would I choose?

Beauty – The shape, colours and shade of the pepper would have been crystal clear and distinct, but would it have been aesthetically pleasing? As the centre of attention most probably; but as part of the overall image probably not. It would be a mere pepper in a cardboard box, beautifully rendered, and that’s about it.

Creativity – Now you’re talking. Here the shadows and highlights would be in perfect balance. The background smooth and with soft linear definition. All of this perfectly rendered in moody black and white of course.

Memento – This would be more suited to the decisive or critical moment. That moment you look up and see something so remarkable that if only you could commit it to memory to be downloaded later on… a bit dark. However the camera setting would convey the right light, the right mood, perfection visualised….

Until these setting exist I’ll bash on as they say, tinkering with Photoshop, layers and masks. Seeking new ways to share my story and how I see the world. In meantime may I suggest an extra setting: Confidence.

Exercise 5.3- The Pivotal Point (The Devil is in the Detail)


Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932, Henri Cartier-Bresson

Why am I always drawn to the ladder in Cartier-Bresson seminal work Behind the Gare St. Lazare? It seems such a minor element of the still at first glance when placed against the dynamic movement of the leaping man. Yet without this abandoned ladder the image would be be entirely different.

Aside from the obvious effect of the leaping man wading, the dynamism and beauty of the shot would cease to be. The still would be transformed into little more than a moment of voyeurism. Whilst still interesting it would lack that wow factor, which shows how vital the decisive moment is to an image.

u. a. play house, 1978

U. A.  Play House, 1978, Hiroshi Sugimoto

Part of the joys of this particular element of my studies is that I have been introduced to a range of photographic styles, read a great deal and have learned to appreciate photography in a new way. One element of this new enjoyment in my new way of looking at photography has been to move away from appreciating the subject matter. I find myself looking at and appreciating the colour and light more so. Visualising layers, considering composition and the techniques behind images and thinking “How have they done that?”

In the case of U. A.  Play House by Hiroshi Sugimoto its the way the light forms a near perfect reflective curve on the ceiling directly about the screen alcove that drew my eye. Whilst Sugimoto’s initial intent was to use the long-exposures to capture the light coming from the screen to illuminate the immediate screen surrounds it also picks out little details beyond this. Details that I notice every time I return to his work, much like the visually complex works of Hieronymus Bosch. In that lies their aesthetic appeal to me and adds to their visual beauty.

The Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1495–1505, attributed to Bosch – a never ending visual story?

experiment 0053 pinhole garden

Experiment 0053 Pinhole Garden after Thomas Ruff, 2018, Ben Skipper

This ‘discovery’ of these hidden moments, that transform a still, giving it further depth in terms of their symbolic meaning and aesthetic have now become a part of my own personal practise. In Experiment 0053 Pinhole Garden after Thomas Ruff, I took a moment to experiment with a pinhole camera adaptor made from an old sauce lid. Choosing a deliberately bright day I pointed the camera at the largest spot.

It wasn’t until I’d processed the image that I saw the cross of vapour trails which reminded me of the work of Thomas Ruff. For me this turned a simple experiment into something more personal and the more I looked the more the lines worked within the still, crossing above the disused mill tower.

If anything the course has taught me to not only seek out the decisive moment but to take a moment to look and appreciate the smaller details. After all the devil is in the detail.

Resources Accessed

U. A.  Play House, 1978, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Available at (Accessed 21/01/2019)

Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Available at (Accessed 21/01/2019)


The Separateness of Things

“My aim was to transform the role of the woman from object of curiosity to that of subject of curiosity – to transform showing into knowing, exhibitionism  into epistemophilia.”  Victor Burgin

The  interpretation of the homage can be as complex and as beauty as the photographer or artist desires it to be, regardless of medium. I enjoyed Burgin’s take on the issue as he interpreted Office at Night by Edward Hopper tying in his complex Contextual Art messages with visuals that the viewer would understand.


Office at Night, 1940, Edward Hopper

Office at Night is the start of the visual journey for Burgin, is the scene filled sexual tension, or is it a tantalising power play between two parties. Or is it a mere moment? While Burgin notes the position of the paper that has fallen off the desk may be acting a cue to some for of tense physical or underlying sexual exchange, using the woman’s gaze as a guide I cannot help but think is he falling prey to his own desires here?

The man behind the desk seem pre-occupied, totally oblivious to what has happened and is going around him. To me it seems that the woman is almost reaching out to the seated man, wanting to console him in his corporate loneliness. Could retrieval of the fallen paper be a cue to initiating this closeness?


Detail from Office at Night, 1986, Victor Burgin

Moving away from this personal view and looking at how Burgin has taken an element of Office at Night and combined a single part of this into new image. As well as capturing the still he has turning it into a dual visual message, the homage combined with the pictorial representation to the left.


Section from Office at Night, 1986, Victor Burgin.

Above is a example of wonderful switching character roles and combining these into the new still with the accompanying graphics, showing how different arts are able to combine and deliver stunning visuals.

I have to admit I’m taken with this direct the photography as an art has taken and recommend the article to any reader who wishes to develop their art.

Resources Used:

Burgin Quotes and Stills taken from: (Accessed 19012018)