Friday, February 18, 2011

Assignment 2: Tutor Response

Feedback on this assignment was not what I was expecting, I am disappointed and not really sure what I have learned anything from the process.  That is not to say that my tutors comments were not fair or reasonable, it is just that I feel only one element of the images was really addressed.  When I put this set together I had to make a call between two conflicting intents, the first to create a set of very technically correct photographs of building details, I had developed such a set.  The second was to try to introduce some art into the images, sacrificing precision for a different aesthetic.  This was a risk as such images have a subjective impact, however, I had good feedback on all images from fellow students so thought it worth a try.  In the end the images that conformed more to the first intent were praised, whilst those that leaned more to the second were thought boring or dull.  In some cases I take the point, in others I am inclined to disagree.

My response to the comments:

DPP-1: The only comment concerned the fact that it was flat and dull, so met the requirement of the title, no comment on the concept of the ghost of a tree - guess it was a poor idea.

DPP-2:  This was seen as a good punchy image and interesting.  However, I still think the first image was far more interesting as a piece of "art", this is more technical.

DPP-3: Big experiment for me this one, never attempted B&W before, so was pleased to have it described as a very competent night shot - suggestion was made for the following crop:

I liked the second line of windows, but am happy to concede this to greater knowledge and experience.

DPP-4:  This was simply seen as not very interesting, although meeting the brief.  Not sure how to respond here, I really like this photograph - it is meant to be abstract, a pattern of colour, not truly representative.  The problem here is that I cannot really improve it based on the comments.

DPP-5: This was the most disappointing feedback, I really thought this was a good image, tying well into cubism and abstract art.  I did not make it as punchy as I could have to keep the contrast down, however, still felt it was interesting.  What I find hard is that there was no reference in the response to the artistic versus technical intent, other than that the image had not much of interest.

DPP-6:  Possibly the best image feedback and objectively the best of the images - strangely I nearly left this one out.  The suggestion was the addition of a person, however, as shooting into a building like this is quasi legal in Germany, discretion was needed.

I do not set out to criticize my tutors comments, I value them and the process of development that they should trigger.  What I do struggle with is that in this course in particular it is very difficult to understand from the assignment briefs what is needed.  I am beginning to think that this course requires a very technical approach providing images with a much greater degree of cleanliness, avoiding too much reference outside of the direct reading of the photograph.  In essence a modernist approach.  In this assignment, I think I have attempted something of post-modernism, trying to imbue the photographs with other layers of meaning that depend upon the accompanying text, not simply the image.

Should an image be divorced from the context of the artists intent?  Perhaps, but then it does very much depend on why the image was created and how it is used.

The bottom line is that three of my chosen photographs were essentially boring - I accept that and will move on, but first let me present 3 more that would replace those that were seen as dull, images that carry more punch and meaning.  All of the additional images were shot as part of the preparation for this assignment, they were discarded at edit, wrongly!

DPP2-1: Low Contrast

Whilst this is a very brightly lit image the contrast is low as all is similarly lit!

DPP2-4 High Contrast

This is a wider view of the same building, the contrast now being built between the silver and blue - I really liked this one, but thought it too boring.

DPP2-5 Low Contrast - replaced with Mixed Lighting

This was on my list for a long time, only rejected very late on - another reflection based image, contrasting the interior artificial lighting with the dying sun in the reflected building.

So, not the greatest assignment, thoughts must now turn to assignment 3 and the descent into darkness!


  1. Have you thought of speaking to your tutor about this Shaun? In a post on WeareOCA Gareth recently said that learning to work with our tutors is one of the key skills that we develop as we progress through the courses. I don't see why you shouldn't ask, politely and constructively, for clarification on the points which don't add up for you. I am lucky in having a tutor who gives very detailed and precise feedback, with every comment referenced to aspects of the pictures, but once or twice I have had to ask for some further explanation and that hasn't been a problem.

    As far as it goes I don't understand your tutor's comments. He seems to have found uninteresting the pictures which I think were the most interesting and multi-layered in the set. I'm not suggesting that my feedback is more worthwhile than the tutor's but just that his meaning is not immediately clear to me either. And as you've said, the feedback wasn't specific enough for you to know what to do next.

    I think your idea of ghost trees is very interesting and I hope you do make a series out of it.

  2. Hi Eileen

    thanks once again for taking the time to read my blog and for your supportive comments. I am frustrated with the input, although I am able to rationalise it and move on. What I am trying to do with DPP is to explore ideas that might become central to my progression through to the Landscape course. I am exploring the landscape of the city and the ghost of a tree idea is intended to move forward with me. The destruction of country to create city could be a good theme and one that can be developed by a city dweller.

    My tutor for PAP was excellent and his comments really helped to drive my understanding and progression. For TAOP I had someone who appeared not too interested, one image she was critical of, was one of two that the examiner thought showed my promise as a photographer. As then, I will not change these images, as I am willing to take a chance that the assessor will have a broader view than my current tutor. At the end of teh day a tutor can only critiwue based upon the goals of the course and DPP is really very technical, so perhaps he was right in a sense, even if I feel that as an art student, the art component should always be addressed.