Some creative conversions

Since finishing my final assignment, apart from preparing my work for assessment, I have been creating some illustrations from some of my previous images.

This one of the Taj Mahal was the first that I created and I’ve been trying the same technique with some more recent images.

This one, from my trip to Russia, is of St. Basil’s Cathedral

And this is a local image of the quay at King’s Lynn.

Cathedral of the Pines by Gregory Crewdson

I visited this exhibition in August at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. I had known Crewdson’s images for some tine although I knew little about him. Having studied his work for the course, I would have liked to have attended this exhibition on the study day, but I was otherwise occupied on that date, so going to it on my own was a chance to catch up on what I had missed.

Crewdson’s mages are always fascinating, but it was exciting to see them in their original format rather than as small reproductions on the internet or in a book. The first thing that struck me about them was the incredible detail in the photographs. You could look at them as a whole image or you could examine them closely and see things that you would be unable to see at first glance. For example, in the image Cathedral of the Pines which gives the exhibition its title, I had never before noticed the bra hanging in the wooden toilet.

This indicates one aspect of all Crewdson’s photographs, there is always some sort of mystery in the image. Another example is Father and Son where not only are you left to wonder what is going on, is the father dead or alive, but why is there a hole cut in the wall beside the mirror?

Crewdson’s pictures also contain quite a lot of repeated symbols. For example virtually every image contains a glass half full of water or some other drink. Even in one of the exterior shots the glass of water is seen in the telephone booth:

Crewdson also likes to include other items in the frame such as old books and framed pictures. I could not help but notice that one picture appears in two of his shots, one in a bedroom and the other in what is supposed to be a living room.

All the images in this exhibition have incredible depth of field. According to the accompanying booklet he makes use of focus stacking to get the necessary sharp focus.

We shoot different layers of focus throughout: foreground, ground and background. Then in post production we combine all these focuses into a single image. (Plowright, 2017).

This does mean however that all his subjects are static, and I do find that the resulting images, despite the presence of people are more like still lifes than living images. This is notable in Under the Bridge where the exposure time is sufficient to blur the moving water.

I also at times find his use of light quite strange. I know that he uses a complex lighting and a lighting director when creating his images, but I’m not sure that it always works. For example in Woman in Parked Car there is obviously more light within the car than outside. This is unnatural which gives an unearthly feeling to the picture. It is part of his style but it goes against the feeling of reality within the images.

Seeing these pictures for the first time in their original version was fascinating. Whether you like his style or not, they are certainly impressive in their production values. Creating anything like these is way out of any possibilities for the average photographer.


  • Plowright, N. (2017). Loose Associations vol 3 issue ii. London: The Photographers’ Gallery, p.29.

Image credits

  • Crewdson, G. (2013). Detail from Cathedral of the Pines. [Photograph] London: The Photographers’ Gallery.
  • Crewdson, G. (2013). Detail from Father and Son. [Photograph] London: The Photographers’ Gallery.
  • Crewdson, G. (2013). Detail from The Telephone Booth. [Photograph] London: The Photographers’ Gallery.
  • Crewdson, G. (2013). Details from Pregnant Woman on Porch and Woman in Living Room. [Photographs] London: The Photographers’ Gallery.
  • Crewdson, G. (2013). Detail from Woman in Parked Car. [Photograph] London: The Photographers’ Gallery.

Exercise – Conversation

Record a real conversation with a friend. (It’s up to you whether you ask permission or not!)

Before listening to the recording, write your account of both sides of the conversation.

Then listen to the recording and make note of the discrepancies. Perhaps there are unfinished sentences, stammers, pauses, miscommunications etc.

Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how this can be applied to constructed photography. What do you learn from the conversation recording process and how can you transfer what you learned into making pictures?

For this exercise, I recorded a conversation with my friend Pam in the pub. It was mainly about the failure of her computer. Windows had had an update and it had started to cause her computer to freeze. I stated that there had already been several complaints about the update and that she wasn’t the only one. She had contacted a friend, David, who had checked the computer and found that the processor could not cope with the new updated version of windows, it was apparently running at one hundred percent the whole time. She had decided to buy a new computer and had asked advice from some people who knew about computers and had decided to buy a Hewlett Packard laptop as he did not want a desktop computer. She said that she had spent all morning trying to talk to Microsoft about the update but had been unable to get through to anyone. Continue reading Exercise – Conversation

Ray Horsnell

I’ve just found this tribute to a local newspaper photographer who I remember very well from my school days. Not only did he cover things like our school sports day, but he was also at the newspaper when I visited their darkrooms on a school trip.

Reflections on ‘Making it up’

My main feeling about the result of this assignment is that I feel that it needs more ‘frames’ between the ones that I have created. The death of the soldier in, particular, needs something of the soldier himself rather than just the shot of the machine gun. The original concept was for eight images, including two to end the sequence. They would be of the grand-daughter finding a case after her grandmother’s death, then opening the case to find the original letters and handkerchief. I have not been able to shoot these, but it might be possible to add them prior to assessment. Continue reading Reflections on ‘Making it up’

Assignment 5 – Making it up

Construct a stand-alone image of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to make a series, elaborating on the same theme.

I had several ideas for this assignment, mainly based around the exercises I had done earlier in the course.

My first idea related back to the alternative scenario that I imagined for Assignment Two: Using props.

This involved the idea of a handkerchief being given to a soldier as a memento of his lover as he went to war. The soldier dies on the battlefield and the handkerchief is returned to his lover after his death. The handkerchief is then found many years later by the soldier’s granddaughter.

This idea I had put on hold, due to lack of models and costumes, so initially I decided to re-shoot my photograph for Childhood Memory and make it look like a genuine old photograph. Having created the new image, I was about to submit it as assignment five, but I was not totally happy that it was enough. Continue reading Assignment 5 – Making it up

Childhood Memory – Take 2

When I took my photograph for the Childhood Memory exercise, it was back in February. Having requested a critique I was quite rightly criticised for the fact that my boots were cut off at the bottom, and one person commented on the robin in the picture, stating that it was probably produced in Photoshop, and that it resulted in the loss of reality in the image. Consequently I decided to retake it, but I was rather beaten by the weather. Continue reading Childhood Memory – Take 2

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