Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Assignment 1: Contrasts



Create eight pairs of photographs that each demonstrate a contrasting pair of words from a given list, and one final image that demonstrates a pair of contrasting words in a single image. The images should clearly express the extremes of the differing qualities being depicted. Review the assignment against the assessment criteria and evaluate how you believe you have done against the criteria, and what you have learned.


Small versions below for online viewing. Larger versions and contact sheet in a downloadable zip file.

UPDATE: tutor report uploaded.

1. Sweet & Sour

2. Continuous & Intermittent

3. Many & Few

4. Pointed & Blunt

5. Diagonal & Rounded

6. Still & Moving

7. Straight & Curved

8. Light & Heavy

9. Rough & Smooth


I initially found this assignment harder than I expected, and certainly harder than the exercises that preceded it. Once I got a reasonable amount of preparation out of the way, the images themselves came fairly quickly.

I tried as far as possible to have some visual or thematic connection within each pair. Sometimes this was easy and obvious, other times maybe more subtle (e.g. the continuous/intermittent pair were taken at the same underground station; diagonal/rounded were both aspects of neighbouring houses) and in some cases I didn’t really achieve the desired connection at all (still/moving might have worked better with two vehicles or two animals rather than one of each). However, as this was more of a self-imposed rule than part of the brief, I’ll go easy on myself on this point.

I also kept in mind when preparing, shooting and selecting images the basic concepts covered throughout Part One: The Frame. I saw this assignment not simply as illustrating the contrast concepts but as a construct for demonstrating the elements of composition covered in the preceding exercises. So, I tried to pay attention to positioning elements within the frame, what format (frame shape) suited each image, whether I had selected the optimal crop in-camera or in post-processing, and the balance of elements within the frame.

Evaluating my submission against the Assessment Criteria:

  • Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills:
    • I used a few different techniques (e.g. slowing down shutter speed to emphasise movement, using focal length and angle to accentuate perspective etc) to achieve the images that I had pre-envisaged
    • I experimented with lighting in pairs 1 and 4 but I don’t think I’ve been wholly successful; I am looking forward to the Light portion of this course to help me here
    • I do feel that my visual awareness skills have developed as part of this assignment, as I find that ‘my photographic eyes’ are open more of the time – I am seeing photo opportunities where I might otherwise have not
    • In terms of composition, I have realised that I have a preference for compositions with a diagonal aspect to them (most of the submissions here demonstrate this to some degree) – I will keep an eye on this in case it becomes a crutch, or a cliché
  • Quality of Outcome:
    • I am reasonably pleased with the quality of the images and their demonstration of the required concepts
    • I believe that I could have maybe taken better versions of some of the images; I do recognise though that I need to get through the assignments in a reasonable time-frame rather than being a perfectionist
    • I feel that the presentation of the submission above is clean, and serves the images rather than detracting from them
  • Demonstration of Creativity:
    • To be self-critical, in hindsight I think that in some of these pairs I have chosen quite uncreative subjects; if I could go back and do it all over again, I’d try to find more inventive takes on the themes in two or three instances
    • I don’t believe I’m yet developing a distinctive personal style or ‘photographic voice’; in fact, the range of styles on offer here reflect the fact that I’m still ‘trying on’ different photographic styles and have yet to settle on one that is really reflective of me as an individual
  • Context:

In summary, I believe I’ve acquitted myself to the best of my current ability in this assignment – and am very much looking forward to getting comments back from my tutor to point me in the right direction on my development areas.


3 thoughts on “Assignment 1: Contrasts

  1. Some great images here Rob. I’m bookmarking this blog as one of my more inspirational fellow students. I’ll be starting on my first assignment in a couple of weeks. Planned a trip to London to offer some inspiration. :)

    • Thank you! Never been called inspirational before ;-)

      Good luck on the assignment – can be a bit daunting getting started but it’s OK once you get onto the rhythm of it…

  2. Thanks Rob. Nice theme too. I might have to have a play with Yoko. I find the default WP theme a little too narrow.

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