Assignment 1 Contrasts – Tutor Feedback

I’ve recently started getting all my posts together for submission and found that I hadn’t posted the tutor feed back for assignment 1.

The original assignment can be found here.

Overall Comments

Well done for completing the first unit, Ian. You have started working at a nice pace, and if you can keep this up, you will find the course will run very smoothly for you.

Assessment potential

Formal Assessment: 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.

Feedback on assignment

Elements to consider with your assignments:

This assignment asks you to produce pairs of images that work together to illustrate a theme of contrast. You are asked to identify subjects which bring out the essential differences between the two. Ideally, by placing the images side by side the visual message should become clear.

Your assignment in connection with the above points

Producing a pair of contrasting images is particularly challenging as a first assignment, since it requires you to think on so many more layers than just the lessons given. It is however, a very good opportunity to really think about the content of a picture, and its visual strength. Having been given a title to work with, it becomes the subject, and the task then becomes one of making an interesting picture while still communicating the adjective. In addition you are asked to produce pairs of images that contrast with each other. You have produced a good variety of images here, thinking about the subject theme in each case. I particularly like your reflective comments on this process and the thought processes behind your investigations. How can we make something appear big or small in the frame? Choosing to position the baby’s foot in the hand of its mother was a good idea. This gives us some idea of perspective – particularly when you are photographing at such a close range and filling a large percentage of the frame with the subject. Converting to black and white in this instance also helps to remind us of the shape of the area we are looking at. This picture could have also been used to demonstrate large and small in one picture. Adding the reflection of the castle to add volume to the shot was another good idea. In this situation it is good to try and move beyond what we understand to be true and start to think about what we can make appear true. Think about trying to demonstrate diagonal, for instance, in the same way. How could you do this? The diagonal lines are clearly visible in your picture, but how do we go about ensuring that it is these lines that we look at, rather than the number of vertical and horizontal lines that are also apparent? In this case the challenge is to photograph from an angle that enhances your point – or choose a subject that makes the task easier for you (assignment two will offer more help on this point).

The assignment also asks us to consider this work in pairs. This is where the task starts to get even more tricky. Once you place two images side by side we automatically start seeing differences. The hard part is to limit these differences down so that we are left with an understanding of the meaning of the image, or the way it should be read. By having one of the pair coloured and one of the pair monochrome we are adding to the range of contrasts between the two. By choosing very different subject matter in each case we are making it harder to see the message. If we ask the question, “what is the difference between a white peacock and an old fashioned typewriter?” you start to see what I mean. You could come up with any number of answers to this point and the message of white and black becomes unclear. The typewriter/ telephone arrangement is a lovely strong picture and converting to black and white adds authenticity to the subject. However, even on its own the most obvious thing that comes to mind is not its colour but its age.

With very little going on in the frame, your picture for pointed, on the other hand, gives a very clear message. I can see where you are coming from with the corresponding image to illustrate ‘blunt’. Although I don’t think this is a particularly strong example for ‘two in one’ this image is worth considering. Imagine if the corresponding image for this picture involved a couple of people involved in a real (or apparently real) sword fight. If these two images were positioned side by side, wouldn’t it give a strong message of pointed and blunt? In terms of pairs of contrasting images I like your images for transparent and opaque. In these shots there are more similarities between the two shots and because of this the right difference becomes a little more obvious.

Moving back to think about the shots as individuals there are some nice clear shots in the set; the picture for ‘many’ is nice and strong and the ‘still’ and ‘moving’ shots also work very well.

All of your pictures are composed nicely, are cropped appropriately and taken from an appropriate vantage point. All show a good level of technical ability.

Summary/ Pointers for future work

With this assignment you have started to explore visual language. Contrast, as a subject, has proved to be very interesting in this respect. It has given you the opportunity to appreciate the subtle differences in communicating a word in a picture. For future projects you will need to carry this information forward and take time to consider how well the photograph will communicate to its audience without the aid of text. You will also need to pay attention to the way that images work together as a unit.

Learning Logs

The purpose of a learning log is to help you to reflect on your own work and also give you the opportunity to explore, investigate and reflect on the work of other photographers. You have started working very well on this task and I look forward to seeing this progressing.

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