Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Assignment 3: tutor feedback

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I got my tutor’s report on Assignment 3: Colour earlier this week and so it’s time to write up and reflect upon some of the key comments.

The good

Generally it was quite positive (thankfully) and included in the overall comments the phrase I was looking for: “Overall this was a good assignment and you should have no problem when it comes to assessment”.

My previous assignment report had some constructive feedback about the sharpness of my images (combination of shutter speed / ISO decisions while shooting handheld, and frankly a sub-optimal lens, since replaced). This time round “you have obviously taken on board the previous advice as the sharpness issues have all but gone” – one image out of 16 was still a little too soft; the one I shot on the day I submitted the assignment…

I was also pleased to read that I have “notably managed to maintain [my] overall clean and geometric aesthetic” – I have a clean and geometric aesthetic! This sounds like a compliment :-)

Jumping to the end, the tutor did call out one image (below) for particular comment:

I was very interested in the Contrasting colours photo, number 15, of the interactions of the reflections. The photo showed a different way of working from what I have seen from you before and it was probably the strongest photo I have seen you produce yet. Your very graphical way of seeing works well here and moves your work beyond just documenting what you see and into something more lyrical. This might be an avenue for you to explore further in later assignments/modules.

OXO Tower Inside/Out

OXO Tower Inside/Out

It’s very gratifying to get such positive feedback and reinforcement, and helps get me some direction in where my photographic style might be heading.

The not-quite-so-good

Enough of the positive stuff… what’s really useful is the constructive feedback on ‘development areas’!

The main thrust of the critique was that in a couple of cases I “may have tried a little hard to show the viewer that they should be looking at these colour relationships, rather than it just being an inherent part of the photograph.”

One such example was the padlocks. The red lock stands out well but I’m not sure if you have done something in post-processing with the saturation or if the other locks really are that yellow, but the photo ends up looking somewhat unnatural. I would probably revisit this photo and adjust the saturation a little either globally or of specific colours.

Paris Love Locks

Paris Love Locks

He got me bang to rights on that one. I totally over-processed it in my desire to make it fit the brief. Hindsight being what it is, yes I could have been much more subtle. Less is more and all that.

The Rubik’s cube is also a tricky image. The colour seems a little off to me, but it’s not an easy photograph to rework. […] I feel it is a little too red in the shadows which is giving the whole photo a more orange than yellow feeling, that appears unnatural because the blacks are no longer black, but a dark orange brown hue.

Rubik's Cube

Rubik’s Cube

Now I will confess to being initially a bit deflated by this – I genuinely thought it was one of the strongest in the set, I really liked it! But I absolutely take on board the critique – and will go back to the RAW file and see if I can get the black to be properly black and see what that does to the overall colour tones.

So for both these two images, I will return to the digital darkroom (aka Adobe Lightroom 4) and reprocess them based on the advice. I will post the results of this in a new blog post shortly.

The other note of warning was that my prints came out a good deal darker and more saturated than the screen counterparts. This could be a colour profile or settings issue, and he’s offered to review my workflow in this regard before the next assignment. I think part of it is down to me using an iMac as my primary display, and reading online they have a reputation for being difficult to calibrate (strangely, given the reputation they have for graphic design etc). So as a precaution I have got hold of a ‘regular’ Dell PC monitor that I can use to sanity-check whether my iMac is seeing things very differently to the rest of the world.

Anyway – in all, a really useful set of comments that I will take on board and act upon!

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