The following links for research on:

(click on name/heading to jump to the required paragraph on this page, this will take you to my thoughts/research on the subject that I have carried out)

 Cropping  Framing            Where do you look?        Formalism      

   Exposure           Camera Obscura         Cyanotype V  Daguerreotype     

  Studio Lighting

Photographers and Artists

Gillian Wearing       Duane Michals        Gawain Barnards        Keith Arnatt 

 Tina Barney           Karen Knorr         Tyler Sheilds       Alfred Stieglitz      Thomas Ruff 

  John Szarkowski           Sir David Brewster        Georges Rousses         Anna Atkins 

 Julian Beever        Adrian Dennis        Simeon Quarrie          Don McCullin

Ansel Adams         Fay Godwin           Domonic Pote

Kevin Gibbs    Jean Baptiste Huynh       Matt Stuart

Henry Cartier-Bresson       Rinko Kawauchi

Sandro Miller & Freddy Fabris    

Fay Godwin

Fay GodwinGerman born, photographer Fay Godwin, born to a British Diplomat and an Amercan artist mother, is best known for her b&w landscapes of the British Countryside and coast line. Motherhood was her catalyst that motivated her into photography, through taking photographs of her children.

Quote talking to David Cornfield “I started life as an amateur photographer in the 1960s, using my camera to photograph my downloadfamily on days out and holidays. I enjoyed using a camera, and thought that I could do something more with it. To turn photography into a paying hobby, you could say. It was 1966 by the time I started taking pictures seriously and books, newspapers and magazines of the time were full of great pictures that helped to inspire me.”

GoodwinFaph.1jpgIn the image below, Callanish after the Hailstorm, the standing stones are sharp and the whole image has deep dof. The soft tones around the high contrast, light stones, aid in bringing the shot alive and almost seeming to be 3d. The light cloud in the sky, mirrors pale areas in the stones, and in a strange and puzzling way, I find it does seemed balanced, yet on first looking at the shot, I thought that it was bottom heavy.  Mixing the light tones in the upper two-thirds of the image, with the dark contrast at the right side of the stones, and finally the shadow in the grass, makes it an image you want to revisit.  Its only after viewing a few times that you notice the hills in the background and the stones laying horizontal in the centre is the image.

After the death of her husband, Tony Godwin, influential book seller turned publisher, she set developed her career further by photographing the wilder landscapes around Britain.  All through her career, from its beginnings to the end, her photographs attracted the attention of writers who found inspiration through her imagery and visa-versa . One such writer Ted Hughes, went to form a creative partnership and collaboration with Fay Godwin. Her first collaboration was early in her career, with her first co-author book, The Oldest Road, with writer JRL Anderson.

Other co-authors were Philip Larkin, Salman Rushdie and the former Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams.

Quote – The Guardian ‘In 1970 she met Ted Hughes, with whom she formed a creative partnership which was to result in his lament for the Calder Valley, Remains of Elmet (1979).  And the best known of her collaborations, this volume was very much poem-led. She responded strongly to his vision of the ruined mills, the “melting corpses of farms”, the Satanic majesty, the sluttish subsidy sheep, the black chimneys, the cemeteries, the millstone grit, the willow herb. It was through Hughes, she said, that she got to know England.”l6_p58_

In the barren landscape  image on the right, the distance between the diagonal parallel lines give the shot depth.  The light seems to have taken away some of the detail, but this does not seem to have detracted from the aesthetics of the image as a whole, when you realise that this is Bronte country, were Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre and Emily, Wuthering Heights. In this context, you are able to visualise Jane Eyre in the image and arriving at the big house somewhere over the hill, or Heathcliff, running wild over the heath, while Catherine is somewhere in the background watching.

Fay found moving from film to digital a god-send as tramping around the countryside, together with her advancing years, this meant she would need to carry around less equipment. In her own words she sums this up

Quote – “I had been working in colour for ten years or so and looked at digital and liked the possibilities it gave me. So I went out and bought this little 5-MegaPixel camera that I like because I don’t have to carry any heavy bags around.

“I’ve sold all my darkroom stuff, which was quite a wrench seeing as it’s been part of my life for the best part of thirty years, and now I print my pictures in Photoshop. It’s impressed me.”

Fay_Godwin_2I find Fay Godwin work very aesthetic. Her use of soft tones and use of light turn her images into serene settings making them pleasing to the eye. Looking at some of her work, you can just image being there and walking into the restful scene of tranquillity. The simplicity in the scenes give a fairy like existence to her work. In my opinion, her compositions are less than contemporary, but still work because of the simplicity within them. Her work is akin to Ansel Adams landscapes, and in my opinion, there is a notion of the works by the artist Turner, whose signature trademark was his use of light.

Interview with Fay Godwin

Fay Godwin images online

Fay Godwin on Landscapes

Fay Godwin Land Revisited

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Ansel Adams



American Born, in 1902, Ansel Adams is a renowned photographer. At the age of 4, during an earth quake, he fell and broke his nose, which left him with his signature crooked nose for the rest of his adult life. He was home tutored by his parents, as he did not perform well at school. Its thought that he was dyslexic.  Ansel at first had a privelighed childhood, until his fathers business to a turn down hill.  Ansell was trained in music and at a young age became quite an accomplished piano player.

At the age of 14 his interest began in an unusual way. He had read a book by James Mason Hutchings, ‘In the heart of the Sierras’, which promped him to ask his parents to take him to Yosemite National Park, where he was given a Kodak Brownie to record the trip.

Quote; ‘the splendour of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious…….. one wonder after another descended on us….. three was light everywhere…. a new era began for me’ansel-adams-photo

Some of his most famous works are of the Yosemite.  The photograph to the right clearly embodies the sentiments in the quote above, with the light, natural architecture, shape and line.

Quote ‘you dont take a photograph, you make it’

In the image on the right, the light and shadow makes the picture, with the sweeping branches taking your eye right across the whole image. The far distance landscape becomes a non entity whereas the rocks invite you into the crevices to explore the image further.

At the age of 17 he joined the Sierra Club. This was where his interest in preserving the earth’s natural wonders grew. His interest in environmental issues is reflected in his work. This is when he decided to make a career in photography instead of music.

aaf7abb1120d1362603e73a64bc5a89bIn 1933, with the opening of his own gallery in San Francisco where he exhibited, not only his own work, but the works of other like minded photographers to include, Alfred Stieglitz, Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand and Edward Weston. In 1932 together with these photographers and Willard Van Dyke, he went onto form a group called f/64, mainly showing works in sharp focus associated with environment issues in a modernistic style.

In the photograph on the right, Ansel has cleverly used soft tones with high contrast. Although the composition is not what I would expect it be, by using the rule of thirds guide, the symmetry, both horizontal and vertical is very pleasing to the eye. Although the depth of field is deep, the natural mists bring the tree in the middle close, while the mist is pushing the tree’s in the background further away. I think this is a very clever combination.


f44eefc3e6282080df7ffc243987b293Ansels career spans decades with a wide range of subject matter, but landscapes are what he is associated with, many of his well know works being of the American West. In the image on the right, Ansel makes full use of the natural light, sending rays seeping through the trees, giving the whole image an a ghostly feeling, inviting the viewer to try an look beyond the first tree to follow the light behind.

In the image on the right Ansel uses the high contrast and dark shadows on the foreground to produce a sharp image, and depth in the scene. I find that the not having a gap in the foreground stops the view from being let through the clouded middle and to the mountains. If this was one of my images, I would have found some other foreground to use. If I could not find a gap in the trees. I would have said that there are two images here, as the photograph seems to give out two stories, one of the trees, and one of the cloud drenched mountains.

Creative Photgraphy – Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Biography

Photography – A critical Introduction – Liz Wells

 Read more on in my review Alfred Stiegliz

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Adrian Dennis

Images by kind permission of Adrian Dennis

Adrian_Dennis_PortraitI was lucky enough to attend a talk given by Adrian Dennis at the NEC in Birmingham on the 24 March 2015, the day after he was awarded Sports Photographer of the Year. The topic was, ‘How to survive the tough world of photography‘. It was not the first time Adrian Dennis had been awarded this, he has also had a number of other awards in his career.

Adrian Dennis, a sports photographer, started taking photographs at the age of 19. In his presentation, I noted that quite a bit of his work included shadows and silhouettes, light and shade. I found his work original and inspirational. In some of his work, shot at the Olympics, he used a variety of angles for varying shots. which gave a different perspective to the viewer.  Adrian started work as an engineering apprentice.

One day, he was watching the TV, a programme, In at the deep end, about photography and journalism in Fleet Street. It featured Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French photographer, thought to be the father of photojournalism,  Cartier-Bresson was said to be the master of candid photography and an early user of 35 mm film. Cartier-Bresson, declared, I am a photojournalist.  Adrian was never good a football, but he loved sports, merging a hobby with photography was a winning combination.  I feel that Adrian’s passion for sport goes a long way in his ability to produce such imaginative shots. Not only his passion for what he does came over clearly during his talk, but also the hard work that is involved in being the best in your field.

“I have a passion for sport, that’s why I chose sports photography”

Untitled-1He started his talk by saying that the world of photography was a competitive world, not very well paid at first, but, a photographer can become well travelled.

He posed an interesting question, one that I have asked myself. Should we start off, in the world of photography, as a generalist or specialist.  He went onto say, that if we become specialist from the start, work may come, “only a few people will offer you work“.  But being versatile at the start your career, will bring a variety of commissions. I would agree with these sentiments, because as an unknown entity, with a new portfolio, people may feel they are taking a chance with you.  Will they get the image they have in their minds eye?  I am so pleased that I am a generalist, I like to photograph anything of interest. I was recently in hospital without my camera, so I used my phone to take some shaky shots. My hobby is photography, so I ask myself, could I be a specialist-generalist???  Adrian advises,

“Give yourself a challenge, earn a living by doing any assignment, then decide later on becoming a specialist”


So, what defines a specialist? The dictionary says that it’s; ‘ a person who devotes himself or herself to one subject or to Untitled-4one particular branch of a subject or pursuit’. Adrian added that in photography, you have to be first, pictures don’t just happen on their own, or by accident. Each photograph has to tell a story, perhaps a story that is not being told by anyone else. His work definitely tells a story, one the olympic shots he was good enough to share with us was of Olympian going over some hurdles. The perspective caused an effect similar to fish eye, above could be seen the oval opening of the roof, with a lightly clouded sky. The sky reminded me or the earth when viewed from the moon, and I thought how apt, as it was the world Olympics. 

Untitled-3 copyPreparation is all important when wanting to get the shot that no-one else has. Adrian gave the example of the photograph we took of Jorge Lorenzo jumping on the podium after winning the British motorcycle Grand Prix at Silverstone.  Adrian researches his assignments and commissions before hand and found out that when Spanish born Jorge Lorenzo wins he jumps up in the air.  He waited and was able to get this shot while other photographers had taken shots of Lorenzo standing on the podium. Adrian summarised with:

a little information goes a long way” 

On another occasion, Adrian was asked to photograph the gymnastics which he did, but he knew that at a certain time of day, the sun shone in one particular place in the velodrome,  he knew what time the cyclists would be there. I can just imagine him laying in wait to get a shot of the cyclists riding through the sun drenched part of the velodrome.  (you can view some of his work by clicking here)

Additionally, being a sports photographer, you tend to work long hours as there is so much competition in that field.  You will need time to set up, getting the prime position, to get that shot no-one else did. Knowing your equipment is as important as being in prime position. When you get a new camera, make sure the very first thing you do is ………. read the manual!  You will need to know all the menus so that you can quickly change the settings to suit the changing environment.  All cameras are different and wasting time trying to set up the camera may mean the shot is lost…

Cameras are advancing these days, in the early days, sports photographers used manual cameras, but things have come a long way since then. Adrian stated that, in the early days, he may have had to work for 2 weeks before getting the shot he wanted, but with todays technology the limits can be boundless. In times gone past, rolls of film where used, a photojournalist would have to “choose his moment carefully” as there would be a limit to how many shots can be taken. Then he would have had to process the film in a dark room and hope it was the shot he wanted. But nowadays, with the digital explosion, a photographer can take hundreds of shots, and maybe 20 of those would be worth keeping.  Additionally, the photojournalist has to be computer savvy,but your shot to be the one that is sort after.

With the internet and almost immediate ability for distribution of sports shots, you have to be able to process a RAW file and send it off to the client to be published.  Taking the shot has been made easier and distribution has been made quicker. In my opinion, the job may have been made easier, but competition has increased. So the plan is, make your shots different to everyone else’s, the competition will have the same resources, but your shot has to be the one that is sort after.

Things to think about are; don’t stand in front of other photographers, as you will most probably get the same shots, move to a different location. Think about photographing from a different perspective and angle. Plan, be early at the venue.  Make sure you dress for the weather and you take a snack along. There is nothing worse when trying to get that shot,  and being cold, wet and hungry.

Being a sports photographer you do need specialist equipment which can be expensive, “you need to invest to get ahead” was the advice. For football you need a very good long lens. You need to have equipment that can edit and send images quickly.  Having a laptop handy and being able to use it to get your picture to the client quickly, if not, you will have lost out to the another photographer.  You will need to be aware of what going on around you, be able to recognise mistakes and out of the ordinary situations, like the 5th ring not opening in the Olympic Games opening ceremony, such a small thing, but it made the news big time, something simple can turn into a big story  In some cases, the photograph may not be great technically, but the relevance outweighs the technically perfect shot. In some of his assignments Adrian may have a number of cameras, some with remote triggers to take certain action shots, like a horse jumping over a fence. He would leave these cameras at planned sites, where I guess he would not normally have access to, and go to check them later. He may have quite a few cameras situated in different places on any one assignment.

 “Sometimes I have to think about where I positioned the cameras

You tube –  Winter Olympics in Sochi

The final bit of advice from Adrian was, the best way to improve on your own sports photography is:

to get out to any sports event and take photos, this is where you will learn the business end of sports photography, so when you get to the bigger games, you will be practised!”

I dont think sports photography is for me. Sports is not a great love of mine, but I may just take Adrian’s advice and go along to the grandsons Sunday football matches and take a shot or two…….

Adrian Dennis Website
About Adrian Dennis
Henri Carter-Bresson
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Simeon Quarrie

Images by kind permission of Simeon Quarrie

download (1)I had a chance to hear Simeon Quarrie talk about getting ahead and how to turn your dream into reality,  at the NEC Birmingham on the 24th March 2015.  With no formal training, Simeon Quarrie has achieved excellence in the world not just of wedding photography but is renowned for his work as a photojournalist, creating imagery and videos for commercials and corporates. . As a self taught photojournalist and cinematographer, he produces images that tell a personal story for the client.  In his work as a wedding photographer,  the client may want what is classed, as the ‘norm’ to record the celebration of their ‘big day‘, but Simeon wants to produce something different.  Again, as we have heard in the past, something different is what wins at the end of the day.  Simeon advises;

“make if different – push yourself forward”

Qualifications vs what you need to make it happen. Simeon gave the illustration of the hungry man. Give a hungry man a fish, and he can feed himself for the day, but give him a net and he can catch fish and feed himself and his family for a life time.  He went onto say that ‘giving the net‘ is not enough. You have to instruct him how to use the net. I suppose it’s the same with photography. Give someone a camera and they will produce something… maybe even a perfectly, technically sound image, beginners luck maybe? But with perseverance and a hunger to learn, an individual will start to produce excellent shots that will become sort after, if they are original and tell the story clients want to hear.  So whether self taught or working towards formal qualifications, both routes will produce the end result, as long as there is motivation in the scheme of things.

kyramelvinprewedding-004-480x320I found Simeon’s work very original and individualistic. I can see that a client may well be swayed into his line of thinking and want to approach the presentation of the wedding in his unique style.  His work can be full of colour and meaning.

Simeon declared that he makes a very good living from his work, charging top fee’s.  But this did not come about from being excellent in his field, there were other matters to consider.  Basic things you need to become successful are communication skills, telephone use, appearance, even the venue where you meet the client.  These things will have an impact on the picture a client builds of you and your business. After all, a wedding is, (in most cases) a once in life time event.  As the client, you want everything to be perfect. In years to come, you will pull out your wedding album, and look through it.  You will want to look good, ‘oh look how young I look’ or ‘look how thin I was’ or when the grandchild comes up and says, ‘is that you and granddad? you look lovely nan’. Wedding photographs immediately after the event are always shown around. So as the client, you want them to be perfect.

“I knew I had to buy a suit as casual wear wasn’t suitable any more”

Although, Simeon is now a successful wedding photographer, his career did not start that way.  During his presentation he looked at the audience, partitioned a small number off, and said that only this small percentage would go onto become successful in the field of photography. The reason for this would be that most will give up before they have really had chance to develop the business. He did not start his career charging top fee’s, he started by charging around £200, then upped it a little, then a little more, and little more. But as the fee’s rose, he also changed his image. He began to meet clients in hotels, instead of his home. He gave the example of, meeting the client and offering a drink.  So, after welcoming the client at home, you would offer a drink, tea? coffee?  you would then  have to leave the client and go make a cup of tea/coffee, bringing it back in a mug… and this what he did at first, and his fee’s reflected the image he was giving. He then thought about things and bought 2 cups and saucers, maybe this was a little improvement?

Picnic-001How much better would it be, if you met your client in hotel. Get there early.  Get yourself a drink, pass the time of day with the staff serving you, note their name, and thank them using their name. Later on when your client arrives, and you ask your client what they want to drink, you can then say to the staff member, ‘John, (if thats their name) could we have a tea and coffee please’… this is about image, about presentation, and  preparation.  Little changes, as Simeon has proven, go a long way.

Additionally, developing the business is also important. A mixture of skills will be required, from marketing to developing a brand.  Simeon has found that the social media has been a great asset in developing his business.  With the technology today, you dont really see an advert without the, must have, www at the bottom. Simeon has found facebook and twitter a real asset to his business model. I would agree with this, as its a fast growing media that advertises you and your product in real time.  The last peice of advise from Simeon was that you can;

Make the time to make it happen


Although this review of Simeon’s presentation is related to wedding photography, his portfolio is vast, and his skills are sort after by large corporations. His origins may have been in wedding photography, but he now also creates imagery and videos for commercials and corporates. The latest commission being sort after by Canon advertising the Canon PowerShot N2. When Canon a top producer of camera’s commissions an assignment, you know you have made it……  to see the result, click here 

Simeon Quarrie – Vivida,
Simeon Quarrie – Facebook
Rescued by Love
Life’s a Picnic
For the Love of Cars for GVE London
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Don McCullin

Work in progress

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Studio Lighting

(NB all the images of models used in this section are as taken, Jpeg, unaltered by photo manipulating programmes unless otherwise stated.  I did take all portraits in both jpeg and raw. Raw images will be processed and added at the end of the section.)

Sometimes its not about the camera you are using that gives the shot you want. Lighting is a very important element in taking the shot from conception to fruition. There are many aspects to studio lighting that I had not experienced until I attended a day workshop.  I found that in a short time I was able to grasp the importance of really looking at the subject and surroundings, but more importantly, to know exactly what I wanted to create. The way the lighting was placed and the type of lighting used, made such a difference to the outcome.  Thinking about, where the light was coming from, how strong the light was, and how it was delivered, are all important elements to achieving the image you have in your mind’s eye.

In a studio environment, you are in full control of all these factors. Changing something slightly, enables you to be creative, controlling the highlight and shadows of the subject.  Adding colour, by covering the light source with coloured film, can dramatically change the final shot.

conesAdditionally, another important factor in creating the shot you want, is being able to give direction the model. Making the model feel at ease. You know what you want to achieve, the look, the expression, the stance, your model is not a mind reader and you will have to give direction.  Looking at the way the light is falling on the subject, can create a good or bad shot. Looking at the way that shadows form on the models figure/face, will help in making sure the light is directed appropriately, to give the tone, look, and expression that is desired.

So asking the model to move their head this way, or that way, with or without a smile.  I find models are very accommodating and want to help you get the look you want. So if your communication skills need a little polish, best do it before you get to a studio. Also, make sure you know what you want the final image to look like.

The Lighting

There are various types of equipment used in a studio environment which are mainly, Diffusers and Reflectors. Diffusers spread the light over the subject, while Reflectors aim the light at a specific area or spot, utilising the light from another source. The other type of lighting is a spot light, where a cone is added, and a spotlight can then be directed to a specific area.

softbox_recta_03Soft light can be achieved using a Soft Box, this creates an even light over the subject making it more natural. As light passes through the diffusing material covering the bulb, a softer light will be created.  A little like putting a thin scarf over a table lamp to soften the light.  Although its not exactly the same, I remember years ago, before the digital explosion, I would put a silk stocking over the lens of my camera when taking a portrait, to soften the image. The diffusing material over the soft box works in a similar way, by spreading the softer light evenly.

The position and the angle of the soft box makes a difference to the light and shadow created. This is important to remember, especially when you want to alter the image to black and white, more contrast, therefore more shadow would be needed.  Additionally, the strength of light emanating from the bulb can be changed at source.

This lighting equipment is set off using remote triggers which are attached to the cameras hotshot.


In the images below the camera was set at, Manual, f/11, 1/200 sec, ISO100. 


In the photograph on the left,  there are two light sources being used here, one on the left and one on the right. The one on the left is positioned further back from the model, while the one on the right is positioned a little forward of the model. This had caused a dark shadow in almost a line down the side of the face, which is not the shadowing I was looking for.



In the second image, the lighting on the left was moved and it improved the shadow, but one thing I did not do was to change the f/stop.  I had it set at f/11 for the first shot.  This raises the fact that taking light meter reading when you change anything is important as the exposure will be affected. (read more on exposure click here)

In this image we loose some of the softness and tone that is apparent in the image above.


In the 3rd image on the left, not only was the lighting moved, the model was asked to move her head slightly, until the appropriate light was achieved. Although some of the tone is lost, this again is due to not changing the f/stop. We live and learn.




Reflectors, are exactly what it says on the tin, they reflect light form another source, be it artificial or natural light, inside a studio or out in the open.  They come in various colours and sizes, can be hand held or mounted. The problems associated with hand held reflectors are that help is needed. Someone to hold the reflector at the right angle and distance from the subject.

reflector-usesJust a point to note, in some cases the subject could hold a small reflector themselves. Holding it in front of them and reflecting the light under the chin will eliminate dark shadows. You sometimes see people on the beach with reflectors under there chins, directing the sunlight as they hope to end up with an even tan in places the sun would not otherwise reach.

As has been stated, reflectors come in a variety of colours, gold reflectors are used when a warmer tone is required, especially good for portraits, these reflectors are great when working outside.  Silver are best used for a more naturally reflected light, while white is often used in a studio to give a natural look.  Black refelctors can also be used, these are used when more shadow is required in the final shot.


In the image on the left no reflector was used, resulting in her cheek showing a dark brown shadow. The model was asked to tip her head to the left and raise the hand in a position that would not cause it to look over enlarged. (read more on line click here) and (frame click here)




In the 2nd shot on the left, a gold reflector was used, resulting in a warmer lighter cheek, the pose was kept the same, but the model was asked to look up in order to get more of the catch light in eyes.

Reflectors can be expensive. But initially if you want to try using these various colours, then silver tin foil mounted on a frame will work, as well as a large white sheet of paper, again mounted will give the reflection needed.

You can buy large A1 sheets of card in many colours including gold. So while you are experimenting using reflectors, this is a cost effective way to try out the effects each reflector produces.

Spot Lights


Spot lights are useful when you want to highlight a specific area in the shot. In the test shot on the right, the whole torso and guitar are lit, leaving the face and lower body dark. I wanted the lower part of the body in the dark, but needed more light in face. I asked the model to tilt his head and look at the guitar as if he was playing it. This brought the head into the the spot light, as in the image below.


The problem now was that guitar was in shadow. I didnt want the guitar in too much light as part of it was white. In my opinion, this would detract from the image as a whole and the eyes would be drawn to it. But I did want some more light on it.

(Read more on point and frame click here) and (where do you look click here)

IMG_1359After several more shots and a very patient model, the shot was taken that met my requirements. This is were effective direction comes into play, without having to constantly move the lighting equipment.

The setup for this shot also meant that there was a back light. Problems is not getting the back-light into shot are something that needs some thought and manoeuvring. As can be seen in the images below.

IMG_1363 IMG_1362

Light Meter

The light meter is an important piece of equipment that was used during the workshop. It lets you know what the setting on your camera should be for the amount of light hitting the subject. This prevents over and under exposure. I found the equipment easy to use. This should be used every time the lighting is altered.  If the lighting is too strong then it can be moved further way, or if it is not strong enough, then moved closer.  But most studio light come with the facility to adjust the bulb strength, as in the case of the ones I used to take these sekonic-l308s-flashmate-light-meter-p85-227_zoomshots. Basically, the light meter will tell us what speed we should have the camera set at.




If you are moving the lighting source, its important to remember that, moving the source back away from the subject, will spread the light more. This would have not been an option for me when taking the image on the right, as I would have lost the shadow highlighting the muscles in the torso and arms.

So now to the question of what strength and type should the light be? This depends on what you want in your image. Broad lighting? Short Lighting? or Split lighting.


In portraiture broad lighting, means that you have the broad side of the face lit. Looking at the distance between the ear and the nose, as in the image above,  the distance from the ear to the nose on the right side is greater than the distance from ear to nose on the left side. Short lighting means you have the narrow side of the face lit, as in the image below. A gold reflector was used in the image below, so that the left half of the face was not in total shadow. But the light was directed to right side of the face.



Split lighting is when you have both sides of the face, (model looking forward, equal distance from nose to ears), but only one side in lit as in the image on the right.



Problems that can occur and what you should be aware of are, lighting the face from the front can at times produce a flat image. Try and light the face from a 45 degree angle to mimic the sun and remember when changing the positions of the lighting to change the light strength and f/stop. Remember to set any back lighting or as its known, rim/hair light lower than the subject. not forgetting to check for shadows on the floor!


One problem I wanted to experience was taking a portrait of someone with glasses. I knew that there would be some reflection of the glass, even most spectacles today have a plastic lens, but people were specticles and would most probably want a portrait wearing their spectacles.  I asked the model to wear a pair and below is the result. The lens on the left has been totally obliterated from the glare of the soft box. Once this happend there is not a lot you can do to fix it. Its so important to check each photograph snapped as it may not be possible to go back and ask the model to site again.



A few processed RAW files from the workshop

Paul-1359 jackbw-1382 jacka1353 jack-1382 jack1341 Jack over the shoulder-1329


Web sites for further reading and information on setting up


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Exposure – Setting Your Camera

Exposure – Most inexperienced people will set their camera onto automatic. Although there is nothing wrong with this for the amature photographer, knowing and using settings on the camera may well produce a sharper, more defined image. When manually setting your camera, the menu maybe a little confusing, so a little time spent reading the manual is encourage as each camera is different.

exposure-triangle (1)The 3 main elements that will need a little thought in prodicing a sharp clear image are, ISO, Shutter and Speed setting. These are collectively known as the ‘exposure triangle



In the earliest cameras, there was no facility to change the aperture.  The aperture controls the amount of light that enters the camera, and in the early days there was no way to fix something over the lens to reduce the amount of light exposed. The aperture is the opening in the lens. It may have taken hours to expose an image. One development that did help to reduce the exposure time was the introduction of light sensitive paper, reducing the exposure time needed to seconds rather than hours.

With todays digital cameras, when the shutter is pressed, a controlled amount of light is allowed to enter the camera, hitting the image sensor. The larger the hole, the more light is allowed in, and the brighter the image will be. The smaller the aperture (hole), the less light enters, resulting in a darker image.

2000px-Aperture_diagram.svg_The size of the aperture is normally referred to as the F Stop. For example you may have on your camera the following;

f/2   f/4   f/5.6 f/8  f/22

Changing the F Stop setting, can be confusing to the new photographer as the smaller the number, (ie F/2) means you are actually making the hole (aperture) bigger, letting in more light.

When taking night shots or in poor light, a ‘lower’ setting is required to allow more light in, making the aperture larger, while taking shots on a bright sunny day, will require less light to enter, therefore the aperture should be smaller.



In the two images above, the first was taken of the Albert Dock Liiverpool, I wanted to capture the orange glow of the buildings as well as the blue colour of the water. It was a dark night and if I had used automatic setting, the flash would have come into play. The result would have been a bright foreground and the building/water would have lost the colour and been very dark.  So the settings had to reflect the circumstances.

The second picture, on the right was taken in Turkey on a hot, bright summers day, in mid afternoon.  The natural light meant that if I had taken the photo on automatic there would not really have been much difference, except that the result may have been a little more on the blue side that I would have wanted


aperture size = f stop = f/3.5

shutter speed = exposure time = 2 sec

ISO = sensitivity = 100


j beach

aperture size = f stop = f/5

shutter speed = exposure time = 1/250 sec

ISO = sensitivity = 125

Changing the aperture setting is one element that will have a direct effect on the depth of field, (DoF). Depth of field relates to areas which are in focus and which are not. At times, the subject in the foreground of the image, is what the photographer wants to emphasis, cutting out the clutter or distraction in the background, or maybe to give the illusion of distance. With this in mind, the photographer will want the foreground sharp, and the background blurred.

Besides aperture setting, focus also plays a part in how much of the image is sharp, as does the focal length. DoF is referred to as shallow or deep. Shallow depth of field means that there is only a small part of the image that is sharp, while deep DoF refers to a larger part of the image that is in focus. Using a wider aperture will result is shallower DoF

large aperture=small F number=shallow depth of field

Small aperture=large F number=deeper depth of field

So to decrease DoF, use a wide aperture, (small F number), move closer to the subject, and increase the focal length. I increase DoF, use a smaller aperture (large F number), move further from the subject and shorten the focal length

P1100966 f/3.5

1/60 sec

ISO 80

Focal Length 20mm


P1100967  f/3.5

1/60 sec

ISO 125

Focal Length 20mm



The depth of field in the first photograph above, taken at  Rhaeadr Falls in Wales has a shallow DoF, so that the buds on the tree are quite sharpe, with the falls and the person on the bridge in the background blurred. Whereas in the next image, the depth of DoF is deep, leaving most of the image in focus. The only thing that was changed was the ISO. It was a dull cloudy day and the light was not very good, so the settings had to reflect the circumstances.

P1180924 f/3.6

1/80 sec

ISO 80

focal Length 24mm








1/160 sec


focal length 105mm




In the two images above, taken at Market Drayton medieval fayre, the birds on display were situated in a corner of the town with unsuitable background for the final image I wanted to portray. I needed to blur the background, and get a better shot of the head, as the jesops that the bird was wearing on its feet were something I did not want in the shot. I wanted the shot to look like it had been taken in the wild.


The buddleia in the photograph to the left attracts numerous butterflies in the summer months.  This particular plant is in my back garden. The butterfly I was trying to photograph kept landing on a the buds with a chimney and TV aerial in the background. This background was not DSC03138what I really wanted, and for the most part it is blurred, although I think I should have blurred it more, to become a non-entity and stop being a distraction. Additionally, the same applies for the image of the bee on the clover flower. By blurring the backgrounds further, the subject would increase in prominence.

More examples of varying DoF can be found below

DSC07084 DSC06904

458820726088 P1120170



The Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is like a curtain that opens and closes over the aperture. This is the amount of time that the open aperture is actually exposed to the light.  Shutter speed is measured in seconds.

The shutter speed will affect the image and determine if the effect is a moment frozen in time, or blurred, showing movement. When set on a ‘slow’ shutter speed, ie ‘open longer’, the image will show movement by producing a blurred image. This effect is desirable when taking shots of waterfalls or fast moving sports events such as motorbike racing. In a waterfall shot the water will show a blurred movement of the water, while the surrounding area is in focus.  As with an image of a fast paced motorbike race, the wheels on the motorbike will show up as blurred, depicting a sense of movement.

nose past the post

In the image to the left, taken at Marsa Races in Malta, movement can be seen in the wheels and the dusts thrown up by the horses hooves. The DoF slightly blurs the background, but the horses and jockey are pretty sharp.

f/3.9  1/360sec ISO800 Focal Length 41mm

The shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, ie 1/4 means that the curtain is open for a quarter of a second, while 1/250 is two-hundred and fiftieth of a second. Again as in basic fractions, the smaller the ‘number‘ will mean that the curtain will be open longer.

The simplest way to explain this is that 1/2 is larger than a 1/4, therefore 1/500th will freeze the action and produce a sharper in focus picture.

lance the target

At Rinella Museum in Malta, the re-enactment was a great photo opportunity to try and get some images that illustrate movement. It would have been better if the horses front legs were slightly off the ground and the only bit if the image that illustrates movement are the back legs and dust. Other than that, the image captured is quite static.

f/5.6   1/400sec   ISO80   focal length 29mm



The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is the governing body that provides standards in many areas, including film speed, (sensitivity). By film speed we mean that sensitivity to light that the film has. Depending on the ISO setting of the film, will reflect on the sensitivity it has to light, and the amount of information recorded.

lower number=slower film=need more light=longer exposure

higher number=faster film=need less light=shorter exposure

Fast film will record less detail of an image, therefore resulting is a grainy looking image. This grain is known as ‘noise‘. While slower film will record more detail, making the image much sharper.

Other elements required to produce a sharp, clear image, will also be affected by film speed, such as contrast, brightness and black and white areas.

With the development of the digital camera, film has almost become obsolete. Film has been replaced with the digital image, and ISO settings relates to the number of pixels that are recorded.


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Cyanotype V  Daguerreotypestrong>

Fox Talbot developed the process of producing Cyanotype images. This was achieved by placing a piece of paper
coated with silver chloride in a camera obscura. When light was introduced a negative image of the scene was produced. Then placing the negative image against another light sensitive paper he was able to produce a positive image.  This left  This was a favourite process adopted by friend and neighbour Anna Atkins who was reputed to be the first female photographer.

cyanotype1The cyanotype process resulted in a blue image, adopted by architects and drafts men in producing blue prints, still known by that name today. Although toning can be achieved by various methods. Dipped in a weak solution of Sunlight Laundry Detergent, or using an acid as a reagent such a vinegar or lemon juice will result in varying tones.

The magic thing about the Cyanotype process is that it will fade in time, if left out in sunlight, but kept in a dark place for some time will result in the image re-emerging.

downloadJoseph Niepce and Louis Daguerre worked to the daguerreotype together. With the daguerreotype method the exposure happens straight onto a mirror polished surface, coated with silver halide deposited by iodine vapour. Daguerre went onto further develop this process after the death of Joseph Niepce, working alone, using bromine and chlorine vapours, which meant a shorter exposure time was needed. The result was a positive image, with the problem that it could not be reproduced.

504px-Daguerre_jemayall_1848So Basically, the difference between the two processes is that, cyanotype images are negatives which can be printed on paper, and can be reproduced. While using the daguerreotype images are negatives on a mirrored surface that relect a positive image and cannot be reproduced.

There was fierce competition between Daguerre and Fox Talbot to be the first to patent their process, Fox Talbot was the winner and his process went onto to be the basis of photograph development until the digital era came to be. Daguerre did not loose out in the end, as there is a very active society, The Daguerreian Society who are a group, started in 1988, and fully appreciate the work of Daguerre and the positive input he made to photography.


The Daguerreian Society

Cyanotypes Process (Click here)

Video – Making a daguerreotype print (Click here)

Anna Atkins

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Camera Obscura

rio pentras 9000 years old

Arches National Park Utah




Development of the camera – throughout time from the earliest, man has tried to capture life around him through recording images. From the cave drawings found all over the world to todays images taken with the mobile phones and digital cameras.

argentina 9000 years old

lascaux 15000BCSource

in_roomLeonardo Da Vinci was one of the first people to work with the camera obscura, basically a dark space with a tiny hole, that let in light. As the light is refracted, the image is displayed upside down. This device was used by many artists as a aid to producing drawing and paintings. Da Vinci was the first person to associate this with the workings of the human eye. Although originally, his thoughts, when carrying out research on the human eye, recorded that he thought the eye sent out a sight ray that bounced off objects, then returned the shape of the object back to the eye. As Da Vinci’s fascination and the study of the human eye grew, he went onto use this research into the development of the projector, bifocals and even worked on contact lens’. Many historians believe that Da Vinci had concepts of developing the telescope before Dutchman, Hans Lippershey was actually credited with its invention.

The invention of the camera obscura is attributed to Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham). Alhazen, who was not interested in  producing images but rather in the working of the equiment. Alhazen, like Da Vinci was more interested in optics and the human eye.


To be fair, the camera obscura was not a deivice that could capture an image as the image is only reflected onto a surface as in the image on the left.



1024px-View_from_the_Window_at_Le_Gras,_Joseph_Nicéphore_NiépceIt wasn’t until 1827, when Frenchman, Joseph Niepce coated a tar like substance, called Bitumen of Judea/Syrian  Asphalt (used by artists to make etchings) onto a pewter plate, that the first true photograph was made.  He had discovered that this light sensative material, if left in sunlight for many hours, became hardened in the most lighter areas. After hours of being exposed to sunlight he was able to wash away the parts that did not harden, leaving an image behind. The only problem with this process was that, in time the image would fade. The photograph above is reputed to be the earliest surviving photograph taken by Neipce in about 1826/27,

Johann Schulze, many experiments discovered that a piece of chalk dipped in silver nitrate became black from white when it was exposed to the sun. The unexposed side stayed white. He experimented creating crude photographic impressions, but eventually it all turned black due to exposure.

But in the end, between Neipce, Talbot, and Herschel, all working independantley, the use of Hyposulphate of soda was used as a fixing agent to stop the images from fading.

 View From the Window at Le Gras. (Click here for more info)

Home page for Joseph Niepce (Click here)

Make your own Pin Hole Camera (Click here)

Make your own Pin Hole Cameras and Camera Obscura (Click here)

Further reading on the development of Photography (Click here)

Book – (Gerry Badger) The Genius of Photography Pg 240-249 (Click here)

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Anna Atkins

220px-Anna_Atkins_1861An English born botanist, Anna Atkins produced images mainly of dried plants, ferns, algae and seaweed. She found it an effective way to record her findings. Many of her images were used in the publication of; British Algae – Part 1.

Atkins is believed to be the first women photographer. Her interests in botany was encouraged by her father, John George Children, who himself was a respected scientist of the time. Both her father and her husband, John Atkins were  neighbours with William Fox Talbot and great friends with John Herschel, who invented the cyanotype process.

Fox Talbot influenced Atkins on her publication of British Algae: Cyanotype 220px-Anna_Atkins_Title_Page_of_Photographs_of_British_Algae_Cyanotype_Impressions_(Detail)Impressions.  There were only a limited number of this book published. The text was hand written, but was illustrated with the photographs Atkin had taken. This is perceived to be the first private publication to contain photographs. Fox Talbot himself went onto publish the first commercially available book, The Pencil Of Nature, which contained photographs.

220px-Anna_Atkins_woodhorsetail_cyanotype   220px-Anna_Atkins_algae_cyanotype


Anna Atkins used photography as a means to an end, it was a tool for her to get accurate recorded images, her love was botany encouraged her in photography, she would make the plates by placing wet algae directly on light-sensitized paper and exposing the paper to sunlight as in the images above.

William Fox Talbot


 Wikipedia Anna Atkins

Book Photography: A Critical Introduction 271(m) 308

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Sir David Brewster


Sir David Brewster attended Edinburgh University at the tender age of 12 and studied Theology. Although he finished his training in this field, he only ever gave one sermon as his interests lay elsewhere.

His main field of interest lay in optics. He wrote over 300 papers, making his name as the inventor of the Kaleidoscope, which became in great demand, here in the UK as well as Europe, namely Paris France.

His research into developing lighthouse illumination, and their operation using the flat Fresnel lens was paramount in how lighthouses are used today. Brewster was fascinated by light. He discovered the polarisation phenomenon, the way light is reflected at differing angles.

The stereoscope is often associated with Brewster, but he was not the inventor as some may presume. The invention is credited to Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1830. Brewster would disagree with this, naming Mr Elliot (mathematics teacher), was said to have conceived the idea in 1823, but not actually constructing a stereoscope till 1939.

Brewsters interest in photography was fuelled by correspondence with Fox Talbot and Talbots calotype processes, which Brewster preferred to daguerreotype. Although Brewster never really took that many photographs himselfe, he passed on his interest in photography to one of his 4 sons, Henry Craige who became a military officer and photographer in his own rite.

Correspondence Brewster and Talbot (Click Here)

Henry Craige Brewster (Click Here)

Instrument Part 1 Exercise 1.1

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Thomas Ruff

220px-Ruff_Thomas_220507_koeln_museum_ludwigThomas Ruff a 50s born German photographer got his first camera at the age of 26. He started taking night classes in basic photography. At first he would look at magazines and try to replicate the images he saw. He then moved onto photographing landscapes and typical German living spaces. Ruff then moved onto taking very detailed portraits of family and friends. Ruff made his name and became more widely known after embarking on this series of portraits, which remind me of passport photographs, none smiling, non posed, no emotion shown, a kind of wysiwyg, (what you see if what you get) 

Ruff, speaking about his series of portraits: “I believe that photography can only reproduce the surface of things. The same applies to a portrait”

Moving away from the norm and thinking outside the box, he would take photographs from newspapers and blow them up so much that they would be very grainy. These would then be displayed as large prints.  With the development of technology and the digital age, and moving away from film, the digital camera offered Ruff pixels to play with.  These are not exactly the same when using film/grain, but the idea was the same. He used digital imaging to pronounce the pixels in photograph, thereby making them look ‘grainy’

Ruff uses his camera as an instrument, he believes that the camera takes ‘prearranged reality’ as it only snapshots the image in front of it, it cannot cope with anything else. (I have gone into depth on this subject here (click here))

2009CA1139_history_of_photography_blue_eyesRuff goes onto say that you don’t have to paint to be an artist as in days gone by before the invention of photography. When talking about his series of portraits, he says they are only real to him, as he knows the individuals. But to any other person, they seem to have no or little personality and are ‘anonymous‘ .

Ruff continues to think outside the box, with his series of night photography images. In some instances producing what look like images taken through night vision goggles.  To achieve this look, he used a light-amplifying lens, normally used by the military. This gave him the ability to see something that is not normally seen by the naked eye. He explains, ‘if you use a microscope or a telescope you always see something you cant see with the naked eye’

Interview with Ruff by the Journal of Contemporary Art

images (1) images



This point of view of photography, is it real or not? Makes me think of the Victorian era, when family’s’ would have photographs taken of their beloved dead. The dead person would be posed in such a fashion as if they were still alive. Maybe with family members around them.  The photographer  may use a special stand to keep the deceased person standing. Some even went as far as paint open eyes.

Victorian Post Mortem Photography 

Colberg and Campany – Reviews on T Ruff – Jpegs

Surface and Depth in Photography

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Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz -Although Alfred Stieglitz was New Jersey born, he started working life as an engineer in Germany. On returning to the United States, his ideas on photography as an art were frowned on by his peers in New York, were he was editor of Camera Notes. It raises the age old question of, is photography art?

There were some photographers who did agree, with his ideas. Together these photographers and Stieglitz split from the Association of Amateur Photograph Enthusiasts, to which they belonged. In 1902 Stieglitz formed the group, Photo Secession, where he and his fellow rebles developed a direction in producing images away from the norm. Stieglitz used a 4×5 camera, which was light and easy to carry around, allowing him to pursue subjects around the city.

Link Photo Secession Group – More Informaton
Photo Session Group


110338_1892-The-Terminal-Alfred-Stieglitz-900x506He would use natural elements in his work, such as the weather, rain, snow, smoke and so on, to produce artistic pictures with a soft tone effect. He used this effect in the Terminal (on the left) were we can see the snow and smoke, the whole image, in my opinion, makes it as pleasing to the eye as any painting.

His collection of Songs of the Sky are artistic and may well hang in any companies reception we might visit.  In his own words “clouds are there for everyone” In a youtube interview his wife tells why this series comes about. At the end of his life he wanted to create an emotional distance for himself as he was ill and near to death. He was speaking with the clouds rather than a person.
To hear and see Stienlitz you tube video, copy and paste the link below

He married Georgia O’Keeffe in 1924, who in her own right was what I would call, an abstract artist. Like Stienlitz, she would use nature and the natural to produce her work

In an ever changing world, Stienlitz produced photographs taken from the window of his gallery, while his wife produced paintings, both using geometric forms of New Yorks skyline.

004_alfred-stieglitz_theredlist images nyskylinenightbw

I am not sure about his later work, it reminds me of cubism a form of abstract adopted by picasso . I suppose as I said earlier, this type of photograph could well be hung in an office reception area. I much prefer his earlier photographs, that appear to have a story to tell, with their soft tones. I find myself moving more and more towards wanting to produce this kind of image.

Georgie O’keeffe

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Definition Formalism is the study by analysing  elements in an image such as colour, line, shape and texture, to include the perceptual aspects.

click here to for more information on Alfred Stieglitz

So what does that mean? Basically its a communication through art, images, photographs, a kind of language, but visual rather than spoken. All the different elements coming together in the image say something distinct to different people. It will open the imagination to allow the viewer to make their own mind up about what they are looking at.

All the elements, form, colour, line, shape and texture brought together will have a reaction. Formalism in photography is looking at the art of the image, the visual aspects rather than the story/narrative it is trying to convey. Basically, in formalism we look at the beauty or aesthetic side of what we see in front of us and we make up our own mind what it is conveying.

Images abstract in nature or in some cases architectural can be assigned to formalism, below are some of my own work that in my opinion the viewer would need to look beyond the norm associated with what one would look for in a photograph and make their own mind up as to what they think of the image in front of them.

The photographs below were taken in various countries on our travels, from the giants causeway in Ireland to our visit to Rome, Turkey, Crete, Scotland, Malta, and all around the UK

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John Szarkowski

John SzarkowskiJohn Szarkowski was a renowned historian of art and a photographer. In his early career days he was criticised for his point of view of photography as an art, it was not till in his later years that he was admired as a distinguished art critic.

In 1936 at the tender age of 11, he already knew his way around a camera. His love of the arts steered him towards a degree in Art History.

Szarkowski point of view was that ‘paintings are made’ and ‘photographs are taken’. (Come to think of it, isn’t that what we say, come on let me take your picture) In my opinion John Szarkowski was a man who thoughts were progressive and before their time.

Before photography, the only real visual artistic media were paintings. So when photography came onto the scene and its initial development, the cost of producing a photograph was less than producing a painting. As time went on and cameras developed in to a more user friendly piece of equipment, so more and more people took up photography, and a new passion was born. This artistic media was adopted by a vast number of people who had no idea of painting traditions. This is where Szarkowski views were deemed radical.

His radical idea’s towards art was not appreciated at the time by his peers, although he did become an published author. ‘The Idea of Louis Sullivan 1956’ and ‘The Face of Minnesota 1958, to name but a few’.

In early photography, renowned photographers would use a number of negatives to produce, in my opinion, a fantasy image. Not unlike today’s form, of using photo shop or some other programme to manipulate an otherwise boring photograph. Whereas Szarkowski looked the photographs of everyday people who had no knowledge of, what we would class today, as technical knowledge or theory of photography. In one Szarkowskis’ exhibition by a little known artist, that displayed 35 mm colour slides, criticisms were made, saying they were amateurish and lacked commercial format

John Szarkowski based his book “The Photographers Eye” on an exhibition in 1966. Szarkowski broke with tradition and he categorised photographs into 5 exacting frames.

  •  The Thing Itself
  • The Detail’
  • The Frame
  • Time
  • Vantage Point

The photographs in sequence from his book the Photographers Eye, I found fascinating, They were what we might find in a family album today.

Click here to View the.photographers.eye

Szarkowski, suggested that, detail, framing, time and vantage point came together as the point of view in the image. This is what he is known for today. On researching his life and idea’s, in every book, or internet page you will find mention of his 5 categories.

Commenting on the exhibition, Mirrors and Windows, AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHY SINCE 1960. John Szarkowski, head of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art and director of the exhibition summarised the exhibition as:

“The changes in American photography during the past 20 years have been profound, and go to the root issue of the photographer’s definition of his function,”

Press release 1978 from the Museum of Modern Art; “MIRRORS AND WINDOWS has been organized around Szarkowski’s thesis that such personal visions take one of two forms. In metaphorical terms, the photograph is seen either as a mirror–a romantic expression of the photographer’s sensibility as it projects itself on the things and sights of this world; or as a window–through which the exterior world is explored in all its presence and reality”

Press Release Mirrors and Windows – MOMA_1978_0060_56

In the exhibition New Documents he became very out spoken on his idea’s of photography as an art, although in later years, Szarkowski did become more conservative in his dislike for photography based art. In his final exhibition, ‘Photography Until Now‘, looked at the technicalogical  development in photography. John Szarkowski and his thinking, in my opinion was a man before his time.

Press Release ref New DocumentMOMA_1967_Jan-June_0034_21


BOOKS: The Photographers Eye; Photography a Critical Intoduction; Basic Critical Theory; The Genius of Photography


Interview on You Tube: (There are too many recording of John to note)

john szarkowski a life in photography


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Cropping v Framing

Part of Exercise 1.3 (2) Line click here for link

What is the difference between cropping and framing?. Framing is carried out at the time the shot is taken. Cropping is done on the computer afterwards, using some kind of photo manipulating software. This may be done to improve the photographs composition or to take away something that detracts from the message the photographer is trying to portray, also, it could be done to bring a far-off object closer, filling the frame.

So what do we want the final image to look like? Are we able to fill the frame at the time of shooting, or is there some kind of constraint that stops us filling the frame? If the latter is the case and we have to crop then crop as little as possible.

What difference does it make is we crop the image at the time of reviewing and processing? Well, one of the problems with cropping, is that the number of pixels is reduced in the image. This will have a direct effect on the image, as cropping will result is some deterioration in the picture causing it to loose some of its sharpness/quality and it will become grainy looking. So croppping will dilute the image. This may well restrict the uses for the image.

If the cropping is done to  re-frame the shot, then there are 2 ways to improve the composition we should think about. Firstly, at the time the shot is taken we may need to think about using optical zoom (preferred to digital zoom) or secondly, even better, move closer. (you can read about optical zoom v digital zoom further down the page) Sometimes we can get what I like to call, photographers sticky foot. Sticky foot is when you forget that there are different angles you could take the shot at. Instead of just going to one place and standing there to take the shot, look around, move to a better place, move closer to the subject. Moving to fill the frame will ensure that more pixels/details is recorded, thereby increasing the pixels and in return having a clearer sharper image.

P1230339I wanted a shot of the little cottage at the top of the hill. I could not get any closer to it so what where my options? Zoom or Crop?


The picture above to the left zoom was used, in the one on the right is cropped from the original long shot.

So what if you cant move closer to what you are trying to shoot?  I like to print off 20″ x 16″ for wall hanging. the more I crop an image, the more grainier it will look because of the reduced number of pixels, so sometimes, if I cant get close what I am trying to shoot, then I have to use zoom. So is it better to zoom than cropping afterwards? The one thing about cropping instead of using zoom is that the when you crop the perspective does not change because the image is already recorded.

But when using zoom the perspective changes because you are changing the angle at which the shot is being taken, there for changing the perspective of the image. So does this matter? What do you want/need your final image to be used for? If you are uploading your images to the web, then less pixels is ok, but if you are printing off large images, you need the quality to be its best. One other way to increase the pixel size is to shoot in RAW. (more on RAW later)

Its also worth remembering that Digital Zoom also works the same way as cropping, when you use software to bring the image closer or bigger, filling the frame.  Todays’ digital cameras will move the subject closer by cropping away the edges. If you use Digital Zoom the amount of pixels in the image are reduced. whereas using optical zoom the subject is drawn closer without loosing pixels there fore you retain the quality of the image.

(Read more about perspective click here)

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 Research suggested by tutor

Gillian Wearing OBE

Gillian Wearing, who won the Turner Prize in 1997, combines photography, video and interviews, to bring out a persons most inner thoughts. Her series of, *Signs, where she asked strangers to write Crisis Commission Photocallgillian wearingddown something on a card, after which she took a photo of them, brought out the private and most inner thoughts of the individual. I suppose that there was not the social media of the internet at that time, and people did not have an outlet to convey their inner feelings, so it must have brought up some surprising results. With today’s ever increasing amount of social networks, its not a surprise when a person pours out the true feeling they have inside. We often see quotes that are written in the spare of the moment, when a true feeling is recorded for the whole world to read.

 In my opinion, she is an investigative reporter, who’s interest in human nature led her towards producing fly-on-the-wall documentary, using all methods of visual media, to carry out research and presenting it in an alternative way. For example her work using adults to lip sync childrens confessions moves away from the norm. Her film 2 into 1 1997 swops a mothers voice with her twin boys and visa versa. This film does send different messages to the brain and makes you wonder if the words coming out of the actors mouths have a relevance to the person synchronising  them. Click here to see film

*Photographs in signs that say what you want to them to say and not what someone else wants you to say    

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 Research suggested by tutor

 Duane Michals

 Its interesting the way Duane Michals uses photographs and text to relate the story. He seems to cover all aspects of everyday life – looking into the soul of his models and covering subjects that portray anything relating to human nature, especially life and death, covering subjects to include religion and sex.  Some of his work is very provocative and may touch a nerve. The painted photographs make me think of the question posed by some, Is photography an art? Duane Michals would draw or paint on photographs, not just his own but of others. His tintype series takes me back to the time when there were only b&w photographs which has to be hand tinted to add colour, but saying that, he used abstract art and geometric shapes in various parts of the image.

Trying to interpret the meaning he wants to portray in some of the images I found hard. For example in the photo-art below on the left, titled The Alchemists Way. What was he saying? In my opinion the sharp corners and hard oblong shapes are depicting pain,  and as the title of the  photo-art is relating to alchemists way, its saying to me, ‘Your medicine is messing with my head’. The red spot near the mouth is the Alchemist saying, ‘Just take the pill and you will be fine’ Then there are the two ears, Is the person in the photo-art saying, ‘Alchemist, you are not listening to me!’ 

Having said that, if that was he thinking at the time he painted this photograph, I am sure he would have used hot colours to depict pain…. Maybe the person in the photo-art was just saying thanks to the Alchemist for getting rid of his headache after taking the red pill.

The_Alchemists_Revenge_00361 The_Unretouched_Beauty_00125In the photo-art to the right, titled The Untouched Beauty, its clear that he did not want to change anything to do with the face, as he found it beautiful, but reading through some of his biography, there seems to be a bit of contradiction in his thoughts, he quotes ‘

The best part of us is not what we see, it’s what we feel. We are what we feel. We are not what we look at . . .. We’re not our eyeballs, we’re our mind. People believe their eyeballs and they’re totally wrong . . .. That’s why I consider most photographs extremely boring–just like Muzak, inoffensive, charming, another waterfall, another sunset. This time, colors have been added to protect the innocent. It’s just boring. But that whole arena of one’s experience–grief, loneliness–how do you photograph lust? I mean, how do you deal with these things? This is what you are, not what you see. It’s all sitting up here. I could do all my work sitting in my room. I don’t have to go anywhere. – Duane Michals

I suppose it begs the question, does he see the physical beauty in this photo-art, or has he left it untouched for the viewer to make their own mind up?

One of his quotes sticks in my mind, and one that I will adopt

‘Trust the little voice inside your head that says wouldn’t it be interesting if……..and then do it’

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Julian Beever 

There are different ways to create depth or an illusion in a photograph or image. Julian Beever, is a street chalk artist, who is a master of illusion when it comes to visual art. He specialises in trompe l’oeil images.  Trompe l’oeil, meaning deceive the eye. Below are two photographs, one taken from the from the right angle and the other from the wrong angle. The difference is quite eye opening….


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What are our eyes drawn to?

When we look at a picture, Where do we first look, to the left or the right?

I found this article very interesting. Its talking about web design and where you should place things to catch the spectators eye. So when we look at an image do we look to the left or the right of it first?. According to the article it would to some extent depend on our cultural background. The article talks about books and how we read, left to right or right to left. The article states that in experimental tests, most will look at the centre of the screen, then move up to the top left hand corner. In conclusion, this is what it had to say:

Quote “The conclusion we can draw from all this math is that overwhelmingly, people look at the top left of a website before moving on to other features. That’s where they expect navigational information to go; it’s where they expect to orient themselves. It’s also where you can capture their attention; and it’s where you should put your stuff.”

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Gawain Barnards


bucket_001Anest_with_eggs_002Gawain Barnards collection of photos titled Boredom to Burn, made me think that, along as you have a theme going through your story, the object/subject of the image does not really matter as long as it makes sense to the collective. After reading his explanation of what the collection was about, the images knitted together very well, his youth, his childhood memories and the way he portrayed the excitement at burn time swept me along with his memories, and I ‘WENT’ there with him and relived my own boredom of youth. It took me back to my childhood in the 50’s and 60’s and what we used to get up to in the summer holidays when we were bored. Going out of the house at 9 in the morning with a jam sandwich and water, spending the day in the local park, getting upto little mischievous antics, then returning home at tea time, before the parents got home from work.

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Keith Arnatt

Walking the Dog 1976-9 by Keith Arnatt 1930-2008Keith Arnatt’s ‘Walking the Dog’ initially I found boring, the images one after the other of people and their dog, with the same expression and almost the same poses, but differing locations, street, garden, country side. I understand why he chose these 40 images. What his collection of images reads to me, is that what ever background these dog walkers come from, what ever their life lifestyle is, underneath they are all the same, we are all the same They have almost the same expressions, the dogs have the same curious look. The fact that they are all black and white again reinforces the connection between them.  You tend to forget about the different locations after a while and just concentrate on the dog and his owner. I suppose to me its not about the dog or the owner, its saying, we all come into the world with nothing and go out the same way! It’s said that some dogs look like their owners. Looking through this series of photographs I have to agree! I think this dog does look like its owner

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Tina Barney

 Tina Barneys ‘So the Story Continues’ is a collection of images that we might all have in our family photo albums, OR 15maybe not, I know that many a time when I have taken a snap shot, in this digital age, the subject has asked to see it and wanted it deleted with a cry of… ‘I look awful,‘ then a resounding ‘delete it and take another.’  Tina Barney, in my opinion, here is showing the emotions of the subject in a ‘moment of time’, be it, ‘Yes I feel good take my picture’ (agreement/happy), or ‘Go away. I feel bad, don’t take my photo now’ (sad/down), and maybe ‘Oh my god, don’t you ever put that camera down!’ (indifferent/annoyed). Maybe its because I can relate to this collection that I find it really interesting and want to keep going back and taking another look, then finding something new in each image that I missed on my previous visit.

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Karen Knorr

Karen Knorrs I just love Karen Knorrs series of photographs, putting her own interpretation on each one through the captions, and then letting the spectator make their own mind up on what the image is saying. Reading the captions below each photograph, puts a differing perspective on what the photograph is portraying. Her own words below could not have put it better!

The-Interior-represents-the-Universe-800x1000Quote “The work describes the ‘everyday’ of a privileged minority. Historically, portraiture of the upper classes has tended to be flattering but the combination of image and text brings this work is closer to satire and caricature, without losing the strong reality effect specific to photography. The meaning of the work can be found in the space between image and text: neither text nor image illustrate each other, but create a “third meaning” to be completed by the spectator. The text slows down the viewing process as we study the text and return to re-evaluate the image in light of what we have read.. There are key words capitalised and words from conversations are broken up and laid out on the surface of the photographic paper emphasizing its constructed and ironic nature, The people photographed become actors and perform their identities in a collaborative fashion with me. We choose clothes together and decide in which part of their homes would suit the portrait, There is a real complicity between us. They are after all “family”.

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Tyler Sheilds

Tyler Shields – I found some of Tyler Shields work very provocative, some had the shock value, while others where beautiful or grotesque. He seems to want to shock the spectator. In his series of photographs PROVOCATOR, he mixes black & white and colour. Here he uses, cigarettes, lipstick and underwear, but for some reason then moves away from the cigarette in some of the images. This puts a kink in the story. He seems to do this in quite a few of his collections. I would have thought this would detract from the story line, for example in  ‘Death by Rolls Royce‘, there was not one cigarette in sight, I think the kink in the story is there to make the spectator, further question the meaning of the whole series.

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Georges Rousses


Georges Rousses’ This artist shows how he can use what is in front of the lens but change it so that the perception is altered. He actually paints the area to make it look like it has been manipulated after the shot was taken. I like the way he changes an otherwise boring subject, making it more interesting and giving food for thought. I also think that he plays a kind of mind gamewith the spectator. The circle gives emphasis to the image, whether in black and white or clolour.

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