Category Archives: Assignments

Assignment 5 – Photography is simple. Take 2

Following my rather poor tutor report I decided to redo this task completely.

For the retake I decided to my fiancée as a subject. She is also doing a degree with the OCA.

In her case it is a B.A. course in Textiles, and her current assignment is to create textile designs which use abstraction based on man-made structures. For this she has decided to base her work on a nearby car scrapyard, in fact the same one that I used for my exercises leading up to assignment 2. Continue reading Assignment 5 – Photography is simple. Take 2

The Languages of Light

For this assignment I have returned to my Exercise 4.2 where I took photographs throughout the day to show the changes in light. The results of this exercise can be seen on my blog at I have chosen this exercise for my assignment as I felt that it gave me more opportunity to be creative, over and above the restrictions of the original exercise.

Continue reading The Languages of Light

Dodging and Burning

I received some criticism from my tutor on Project 3 – the Decisive Moment, some of which concerned the amount of distracting detail behind and around the main subject. It was suggested that I made use of the dodging and burning to isolate my subject more within the picture.

As an example I have  modified the images of the kimono-clad lady taking the waters at Kiyumizu-dera temple in Kyoto.

Here I have reduced the luminance of the background and the jackets of the people behind the subject in order to make them much less intrusive. Here is the result, showing both the original image and the modified result.


Continue reading Dodging and Burning

The Decisive Moment

To me, the decisive moment is all about what happens in front of the camera just at the moment you press the shutter release. The right moment can make the difference between a mundane photograph and something special, or at least improve it.
Sometimes it’s a matter of pre-arrangement, sometimes it’s a case of waiting until something happens, but often, as with Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Derriére La Gare Saint-Lazare, it’s purely a matter of luck.

Continue reading The Decisive Moment

Tutor Report

Student name
Gary Bainbridge
Student number
Expressing your vision
Assignment number 1

Overall Comments
Great to see the assignment appear so quickly and it is a promising one. Your technical and visual skills are good, with beautiful grey tonality and thoughtful dodging and burning consistent through-out these photos. And the visual qualities of your decaying subject ‑ texture, shape and form ‑ all stand out well. Focus is often spot on, quite deep and helps draw the viewer into the scenes you depict. The series ‘sits’ well together, being all about dilapidated farm buildings and all processed in the same way.
My main concern about this work is that it is overwhelmingly technical and visual without a meaningful connection to you. You don’t say much about the farms themselves nor about any reason why you chose this as a subject. Your text is mostly about composition and technical issues. That’s fine, but don’t neglect the meaning of the subject. Of course, it may be that it is only the purely visual aspects of photography that you are interested in at the moment, but you will find photographs are rarely purely visual. They depict a subject in a particular way.

Assessment potential (after Assignment 1)
“Formal Assessment: You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.”

Feedback on assignment
This wide shot of barn is nicely composed and beautifully balanced in tone. I like the way you can see the inside of the barn as clearly as the outside and the eyes roam around the picture, which is totally in focus.
There’s a ‘snooping’ quality in this viewpoint towards the old wooden door, which adds an air of mystery in the overgrown scene.

In a few pictures you struggled with strong highlights and this is one. Cameras usually perform better in the dark tones than the whites, so under-exposing can help. You then lift the photo in Camera RAW repressing the highlights. You can also explore using High Dynamic Range (HDR Pro) 32 bit images, which can help with tonal latitude.
I have to say, if your highlights are this blown out, you would probably benefit from waiting a few hours for the light to change or just return on another day.

I like the composition of this old tyre and the door. The two shapes stand out well as the two main points of interest. The blown highlights are distracting though, and this could also have benefited from a cloudy day!

Amazing tonal quality in this almost abstract vision of decay and neglect. That pole…why didn’t you move it? I realize it may have been there, but it looks quite new and it is visually distracting being right in the foreground.

Although the exterior/interior shots are visually more exciting to rove around, this interior is have provided you with a much more sympathetic light for what you wanted to achieve. Lots of shape, form and texture here.

This light bulb is an interesting subject, but you’ve framed it against a distracting background – the dark shapes. I think you needed to frame it against either one or the other so that its outline would stand out well. It would also have been good to try to render the translucency of the bulb and it’s fragility.

This drain pipe is a good study of a line. I like the way it stands out against the overgrown shrubs behind it.
Doorways and windows make good frames within frames, but here there isn’t much to lead the eye to. It’s good to have a focal point of some kind.

Another example of a two-point composition with these two wooden rectangles standing out well with shape and texture. Really good lighting here, no problem at all with the sky.

Your framing of the flower pot, lower right, looks a bit indecisive as if you weren’t sure whether to include it or exclude it. But this is another good study of decay, with the white barn doors standing out in quite high contrast.

It’s interesting the way the ivy has started to grow around the barbed wire. This is a strong detail that emphasises the prickly barbed wire well. Actually, this may not have been so strong in colour, which can lose the strength of edges and textures.

Learning Logs/Critical essays
Apart from being a bit too technical, your writing is fine, but do try to consider intellectually the subjects that you are photographing. What does a decaying farm building “say” in a conceptual way? It could be something to do with abandonment, or the end or change of the farming industry – more mechanization leading to less work for country people and the effect that has on nature. There can be any number of conceptual reasons to motivate photography, and usually they deepen the meaning of the photographs.
Your blog needs a section on it for Research. Have a look at this OCA blog template You are welcome to use it and rename it.
Pointers for the next assignment
You have already started to make a collection of images here. And these views fit pretty well together. Have a look at the series “Heads” by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Ask yourself, which of the heads stands out, and what does it make you think about what that person is feeling or thinking?
Good luck with the next stage.

Tutor name
Robert Enoch
14th January 2015