PHO704: Week 6: Draft Oral Presentations

After the fact:

That was quite a week. It started with cutting out a studio opportunity to give me some breathing space for drafting the Oral Presentation. Next, the task looked identical to the previous Oral – the wording was the same, and all that had changed was a shift in my practice. We had that resolved by the Tuesday pm, with a letter of clarification and an update to the task description. So two and a half days leftover which we were to create a bright shining new presentation.

I learn that the experience comes around once a module or twice a module if we count draft and final versions

I was on the bounce from a previous experience, which was tainted with shooting away in remote areas of Scotland. The transfer to mobile was quite sudden and unplanned (not my fault/nothing I could be but buckle down). The technology went horribly wrong. Nasty, nasty nasty. Do I want to remind myself? No. It is in the past. However, it has stayed with me and affected my approach to these Oral Presentations. In a sense, this task had become a first time experience, learning new tools on a new platform. Last time I created the whole piece, the day beforehand in – I never planned to do this but being horribly constrained, it happened that way. So this time, even the reduction of timeframe to two and a half days was a luxury.

Being the visual type, I was now really pleased to be able to collate photographs with ease. Before, every click had been painful. Next was the changeover of platform and software tools. Even what tools should I use? This I would have answered the last module, and this is why I reckon it felt like starting over, instead of building on past experience.

I had favourite methods but was not able to use them last time (mobility issue)  or even this time (change of platform). A wilderness or a stage for experimentation? Rather than dawdle, it was a case of make a decision. I went native with the supplied software, the wrong software. It was a great way of working that at last, I seemed to be enjoying. A quick test demonstrated the file should translate.

So yes I overdid the bells and whistles through unwittingly selecting a theme with too many visual elements available and that I also used. Too much for typical Photographic taste. Post review that was quickly rectified. I should have known better by now and yes I keep seeing others sites with the most minimalistic appearance designed to make the photographs sing, or something like that.

A significant part of the exercise was presented in the presence of time pressure. Now the Oral creation involves a narrative and photo narrative, but it also consists of a production task. With time for just one run through, how was this going to succeed? How do you aim and achieve a specific file size limit and speaking duration? These metrics are critical in the context of the task set.

In came a quick piece of creative thinking. Put the main punch of the presentation, the bit/content that had to be there, put it at the beginning. Then follow with the supporting development of photographic practice. I was only a few minutes over, and an edit sorted that. A massive PDF saved to a smaller size, a fraction of that allowed. At once relief but also there was some scepticism over resolution. I accepted the comfort and whether turning a blind eye or not, was happy at the superficial level that individual pixels didn’t show. This is part I deem to be the production task. Given to an expert to work on, they’d size and check and do the technical posting. As an all in one mission, that experience has to be gained.

When it came to the actual timed review, the disconnect in the timeline was noticeable – my ruse had been discovered. Post review I’ve got time to swap back into time order. It’s easy enough to change the time order – simply swipe up or down a  list of slides. However, it’s a more significant task to do than that. With alterations resulting from the review, the timings and file sizes alter, and the job has to be resized to take on board all of the changes.

In reality, and I kind of knew this from extensive experience, it’s a case of allowing time to do the Oral draft task twice with multiple practices runs being necessary to meet timing and size constraints. I must go back to completely finish that off. I’ve been somewhat distracted by my photographic reading – I went back to Susan Sontag On Camera and dived into Fashion Photography and Kinship lifestyle magazine from past and current research recommendations.

I was pleased to have gotten together a consistent look to my images and will ditch those horrible default frames that add nothing. I faltered in delivery on basically checking whether there was time left to fit in the full slide deck which marginally there was. The practice is necessary. Having time to practice is also required.

I thoroughly enjoyed the task, even if left to last in order (the creeping pressure that lasted the whole session) and heightened time pressure due to starting late. Others presentations and reviews gnawed into the available time. It was a great relief getting through it, and then as a bonus, there was clear and purposeful advice I’m able to work with.

I’ll crack on with that.

On the subject of potentially compromised image resolution, there is something to add – I certainly worried about it and was picked up on it last time. PDF file size reduction works but can be visible. For this course, a piece of work was done by the University by the software training department. I tried it out during late summer. What it means is InDesign if available, can be set up to use full resolution images and the reduction can be made there. I was shown the method called save to an interactive PDF. Small file size with uncompromised image resolution.

As I have not used any visuals here so far, I will post the updated draft when I’ve got it in order, I’ll include one photograph from my non-DSLR digital processing era. From this, a lot of my later abstract image references developed. It is a really dirty image, designed to grab attention and was photographed on a cold December night in London’s Oxford Street and taken through the misted upper deck window of a London bus.

Oxford Street

PHO704: Week 5: Stronger Together

In Week 5, we were presented with a task of producing some co-authored work.

Co-authorship Take 1 and 2

I set off to a meeting in a nearby town to establish contact and begin the co-authorship task. I arrived seemingly prepared, yet as is often the case in my photography, chance intervened and plans altered.

I found there to be a lively gathering and was strategically placed to enter the conversation. But,  it was someone else who gained my attention first. The subject was broached, yet I knew that this potential coauthor wasn’t really a candidate. They’d travelled, and I’d not reasonably be able to get to the location and photograph in good time. I could have persisted and made something from the situation, but I still had in mind my preferred choice of co-author.

In the event, I was only able to take part in the snatches of conversation with them, so this attempt fell flat.  Lesson learnt.

Take 3

A nearby scenic location had earlier come to mind as a potential area to conduct this weeks task. So having set aside the time, I set off and went to get a feel for the place on an actual day before approaching a member of the public. It was a great October day, but the light was wrong, being rather bright and contrasty and it would have been too much. I decided to wait until the hour before sunset to return and go on the lookout in a shop or cafe for an opportunity to find a co-author. It would be more comfortable in a more captive setting to strike up a discussion, but I was prepared to take the risk. I’m confident in talking to others I’ve not met before and usually get into easy conversation reasonably effortlessly. As time passed, and the onset of more sympathetic lighting conditions, an unexpected request came in via social media.

Take 4

Someone who’d seen my current work made contact as they had a request. Having recently lost a family member, they enquired about having one of my abstract colour treatments applied to this person photo. A discussion was fairly general at first, and as I realised the opportunity to co-author, I got into gear and suggested a suitable starting image, one I had in my catalogue from back in 2015. As the live discussion unfolded, I went into multitasking mode and trialled the application of my current signature style in post. Initially, the treatment I applied was too heavy on the particular portrait, thinking this might support discussion and help create clarity as feedback would likely follow, and it did.

The tonal change was requested which happily aligned with an intermediate stage of post-processing, so a new version was made available without delay. We arrived at the colour image below. As the discussion was on a trajectory of toning down, I decided to take the source image to the next stage and created a dreamy monochrome also below. It felt for me more in tune with the circumstances of the loss. I worked on and offered another image as a trial option, but the choice had already been made, so I was able to halt further processing.

Next, my request for captions was made, but initially, this was declined. Understandably more time to think would be needed in such a sensitive situation. Then almost by return my co-author got inspired and came back with song lyrics as captions. I understand the power of linking music to an image but wasn’t familiar with the choice of lyrics. I agreed with the form of words and some corrections needed for accuracy.


Fig WK5 – 1 Visions of you in shades of blue


Fig WK5 – 2 Hello darkness my old friend

Things then became more progressive. My co-author now wishes to make a canvas using both images and plans to have a couple of sets made.


I attempted to stick to the brief. In the event, I went with the spirit of co-authorship even if the subject matter involved being constrained to using an already existing portrait.

PHO704: Development – Project

Week 5 to Week 12

Developments were made in different areas of the project: Print, Macro/Microscopy, End to end image file management, Post improvements in technique, Colour Calibration and Colour Management. I planned to work on colour and have started to make inroads now that I routinely measure it as a standard practice. I currently make custom filters to add or remove casts. There is more to do as are there are other methods. There has to be a purpose, and for me, it is to build consistency across a portfolio, to pull images towards a signature direction. That is coming along.

I also questioned rectangular (square) framing and developed a method of more directly guiding the gaze. I’m not happy yet with this as a widespread effect The idea was bubbling away, and I was waiting for an opportunity to reframe like this, and when I chanced upon the work to Ellen Carey, I decided to act. Carey reframes as a result of the Polaroid push-pull method and creates an attractive surfboard look in some of her (colour) monochrome prints. So far I’ve opted for a sort of keyhole kind of approach, but having developed the technical method that scales (photographing and tracing in Illustrator and passing the result as a layer into post), then it is down to homing in on a durable style. It can even derive from freehand sketching rather than starting with the making of a framed photograph. There are two examples in my portfolio:

Narrative development has also taken place. Abstracts in my collection are displayed in a line to prevent overload or clashing of images. The metaphor I heard in tutor group meetings was of poetry or song or from writing punctuation. I went ahead and as a start now group in threes with white tile rests. That tackle visual narrative.

A further development designed for impact is call and response captioning, which can be seen in my portfolio. Repetition in the captions helps the narrative, and as a trial, I recorded audio of the captions, and it begins to add drama as it starts to drive the images along in slideshow. 

I’m surprised how much this has come along. I still work with stage 1 abstract and stage 2 abstract, and overall, it is still down to developing further skill and judgement basically through practice.

The personal nature and physical inaccessibility for the subject matter led to the trial of a smartphone camera (clip-on lens), articulated mirrorless bridge and DSLR with autofocus bracketing. I want to use the latter for quality, but the smartphone versatility wins out consistently. I don’t really want to have a smartphone-based portfolio if it can be helped. Practical considerations may constrain what is practicable. There are techniques for smartphone use that can be improved get the results I’m looking for in an image before I abstract it in the now usual way.

Week 4

Work diverted off into a minor project and freed up my thinking for a short while. This was much appreciated, having been focussed so intensely on my main work abstracting images of which more below too.

Microscopy Experiment

Short Project

Fig W4 – 1  Microscopy project

I’d intended to work in the garden in a certain way expecting to create long exposure images. So much for having a plan in the end though. I was influenced by a commercial course I reviewed for the Studios and Training Centre, where I hang out as Studio Manager.

After some test shots, I changed tack to microscopy instead.

I was surprised by how working freely allowed intuition to take over. It pulled together several strands of practice.  After a recent period of abstracting, I felt the need to shoot straight images for a while if only for some relief. Photography has to be fun at least at this stage and hopefully later in time too.

A chat I had during the summer at the Institute of Photography at the Penryn Campus hinted towards microscopy. This was arrived at through my discussing Cellular repair and DNA. I wasn’t thinking scanning electron microscope so much as solving the more practical consideration of print size for small areas of physical trauma abstracted.

The technique thus moved over to a smartphone fitted with an x15 clip-on lens. I practised this with much joy using: an x15 magnification lens combined with x10 optical zoom along with a method of steadying and remote release and I was good to go. I’ve stuck with x1 optics for now as it gives enough magnification for my purpose.

As for the results, well you can see above.

Working outdoors at high magnification and in a breeze was a technical challenge, and the images were medium/good quality. It made sense though to add an oil filter effect as a post process with sympathetic treatment. This too helped to further tie together the images as a set. In terms of my practice, this represented progress in gaining a consistent collection of photographs.

I could have diverted for a lot longer to gain a much more extensive catalogue to create a body of work. Mindful of time, I stopped. I had what I wanted. As the season continues to change the source subject material has now drifted towards decay with the approaching winter.

Long Exposure Experiment

My thoughts on long exposure resulted in some abstract work later in the week.


Fig W4 – 2 Long Exposure


Fig W4 – 3 Long Exposure

I feel this kind of technique could work alongside the Great War theme behind my work. I’ll see if it fits my project or not.

Project Abstract Development

Abstracted images this week adding to the ever-growing catalogue of this work.

Abstract Collection

Fig W4 – 4 Abstract Collection

Bottom row – minor trauma/healing abstracted

Top row – experimental abstract images

Week 3

This week I was highly conscious of getting a rush out of recent developments in my work which so far had gone without Tutor or fellow student review. Up until this week, I was still challenged by issues affecting the VLE and so the change I made in my direction in the last week of the previous module meant I had an increased investment and increased volume of work that had not been seen or commented upon.

The Digital Possibilities challenge using Instagram gave the ideal opportunity to go out to the broader world. This combined with two reviews, a Tutor review and a presentation I gave to the Contemporary Group of the RPS at Regents University. I took the risk and let the world see what I was creating and was fully prepared for all of the feedback.

Fig Wk 3 -1 Early Project Abstracts Reviewed

Developmental comments were gratefully received and were consistent across Tutor review group and RPS Contemporary Group. While a number of the images gain appreciation including via @fotographical at Instagram the trouble is in the complexity arising in talking to the pictures as scope stretches across commemorative historical, narratives, Scottish regiments, mDNA, X-chromosome.

Development suggestions range from captioning, including some prose or poetry. The main point is the realisation of the need to simplify the intent. A great example is Chloe Dewe Mathews work Shot at Dawn, A straightforward concept everything talked about relates directly back to the title, and the pictures are also directly link to the title.

The research behind the work is also substantive, and the viewer is left to imagine the persons missing.

Week 2

Past Event Connected through DNA

A significant development occurred only quite late on in my chosen project (in the last fortnight of the term).

This was when chance and research led me to link to the past via family DNA. This substantive change in strategy gives something significant to list in this section of my CRJ blog. I have begun to link past trauma to minor cuts and bruises and bodily repair processes, experimenting with making abstract art from this.

At this stage of writing, I only log the development and intend later on to think further on this. The subject is already covered in my recently submitted project proposal in August 2018. Events moved rather fast, and I reached publication ahead of going through this part of the blog.

I was faced with choosing amongst options that could have overtaken this approach.

Separate Options for Project

I’ll list here the other options and give some of the contexts as these ideas developed before I abruptly shut them off. It is feasible that the possibilities might become reinstated is one thought but would need to go through a critique process before adoption as the subject matter needs to be appropriate to the academic course, the MA Photography that I’m taking.

OTNT: Old Town – New Town contrasted with the same for a location on the edge of Metroland.

I had tried to get something going on my Old Town – New Town OTNT work for a town on the edge of Metro-land and another nearby pairing. I did shoot for this and at first found I could almost summarise the work in a single session – of course, this would have been hopelessly optimistic but not too far removed, perhaps. I didn’t see the subject extending to a final major project. I was in part put off by discovering a contact who worked as a professional journalist and who had blogged on one half of the subject  I’d arrived at.

Their blog has become relatively inactive, and they had no problem with my processing my work even if there is a location overlap.

Emotional Charge

I use this heading to indicate an element I feel has to be in some measure a vital part of my project work and which can carry a toll when intensity is maintained. For the Commemorative Historical project, this has proven to be high impact positively up to the point of introducing the DNA signposting element as I call it, which steers the work much more towards the analytical. For the OTNT option, the work has not carried any toll and is mostly a photojournalistic in approach. That’s not to say that photojournalism is neutral. Clearly, in some circumstances it can give a great deal of risk or danger.

From practice, in working the Commemorative Historical project, the experience of sustained or recurring emotion does create strain.

As the Commemorative project is heavily loaded emotionally, it can create a great feeling of authenticity. The OTNT juxtaposition, by comparison, lacks the bite.

Sustainability Factors

The Final Major Project needs to be chosen to support continuous shooting. This can average up to 10 hours per week. This did seem feasible with the OTNT option. All of the subject matter, mainly the locations are close to hand and available to shoot all year round. Shooting schedules can be controlled for outdoor lighting, seasonal or other environmental conditions. By comparison, the original Commemorative work depended heavily on distant location visits to build the narrative.

OTNT is more easily sustainable while providing more day to day shooting opportunities.

In the interests of time and knowing I have to complete the original project either within or outside of the MA then I had or was forced to cut down options to create a more intense focus and so stood down further thought of OTNT.

Other Considerations

Another consideration ( and mentioned elsewhere) was being associated with a freelance journalist who already blogs in one of the areas so our work might overlap.

I also felt that a single shoot as already done would characterise the areas reasonably well without too much additional shooting be required. Here is an example edit. Images were made in the Positions and Practice module.


A  National Charity Based Locally and a New Way Forward from the Old Town – New Town OTNT Project

OTNT started to develop towards consideration of my embedding, that is working within a national charity based locally. From a period of research conducted earlier out of interest, I could now envisage creating narratives an aspect I’ve grown to accept as an essential part of my proposed work.

While in the interests of time this work was suspended. OTNT had not gone away though and has now moved focus.

During the Assessment Period between Modules, I was able to reconsider this again. In fact, as the charity publicity kept falling before my eyes and an open day was planned that fell happily with my busy routine, I did get to make the next step. On a location visit, I’d planned for a quiet end of the day, I had the great fortune to meet and spend an extended period with the marketing manager.

We had a wide-ranging discussion around a photographic project I had in mind and almost “had my hand bitten off”. From the reaction, the proposal appealed to them very much indeed, and they were very willing to open up avenues of narrative for consideration.

I had also wanted to know the richness of the visual environment (drab browns and dull grass as it happened) and I wanted to learn of any photographic challenges that might be met. With earlier techniques in mind from a museum visit (Perth), I took along my camera, remote release and tripod.

Even with a bright day outside, the workshop environment provided a different challenge to an earlier museum shoot and in a way demanded different kit. I’ve been able to re-assess in part regarding natural lighting and would need to return to try again then if still a challenge I’d need to take in lighting and possibly battery powered to avoid trips on any leads. I might also move over to tethered shooting and use focus stacking to manage DoF.

The Effect of the Camera – Adapting to the environment

The camera had the effect of drawing in an eager helper when really the subject called for slowing down and concentration. This is simply part of photographic life and calls for tact when there is a need to maintain focus on the task.

Way Forward

I’m now waiting for the start of the new module and communicated this to the charity. I need time to review this prospect within the MA. I have done a lot of research on operations, and narratives and so on, and naturally, I discovered even more on my visit. The keys to progressing this are getting some critique and being able to manage my time when focussing on project work. There is quite a lot of developmental work I can see is needed for success and in reality, as my work evolves, there are potentially three projects hanging here in the balance.

PHO704: Week 4: Show and Tell

In Canvas (the VLE) I posted on my beginnings in photography. I began by posting images of the rural environment I was to explore as a young child and to which I returned in my photographic project work.

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 1 to 4 Inspired by the Rural Landscape and Home Town Camera Obscura

I noted another influence by way of the camera obscura I visited taking in the experience while viewing the busy riverside town, with tourists and a tidal river with a mini waterfall. I contrasted this with the fact that early television if anyone had one, was black and white.

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 2 Inspired by Camera Obscura in Home Town

I then recounted the experience of having my work office operate as the camera club shop at lunchtimes and my fascination with the customer’s needs and apprehensions usually over a stuck film for which a solution could be found.

My interest in photography remained mostly theoretical as I’d only ever borrowed a basic camera and it was a while before I saved up for an SLR camera which I still have and is currently loaded with film.


Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 5 Photographic Beginnings

My digital photographic work is very recent, but my experience of digital technology is quite deep and longstanding from my career – I started out in the research laboratory of a computing firm. For me, experimentation was to the fore as I started out with a few 3MP smartphone camera images. With these, I learned to work creatively in post. I also learned to program pictures.

I dedicated myself to reawakening skills from an earlier age, and I was more than ready for DSLR camera photography. Gaining an ability to express myself through stills has been the primary thing for me, and I love to create images I hope might be considered as a form of art.

Image reviews

My latest abstract work has been put out there as to seek an early review of trauma abstracted. Many viewers like colourful images within the sets.

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 5 to 20 Current Abstract Practice

This is quite a cohesive and ever-growing set. Within the MA Photography course, I’ve not presented thus to date, preferring to explore as I find a voice.

Talking to the images is the main challenge due to discussing numerous strands – commemoration, history, family, genetics,  abstract art.

In review, it was apparent that discussing my work prompted a bond between two members of the audience and myself. In separate reports, age was a disengaging factor. Slightly younger reviewers do not associate well with the Great War. I’m likely the same over earlier events of the Boer War although I’m probably more tuned into ancient battles, Culloden being an example.

In the work of Chloe Dewe Mathews, a project title has three words “Shot at Dawn”. Everything talked about relates directly back to the title as do the visuals. So an excellent example of the simplicity of the concept, even if the commissioned work required to travel and use of a larger format film camera and lots of research of records and map positions. So the task is substantive.

The work of painter Rachel Howard I often refer back to. This is because of a similarity of look and visual content between the paintings in the series Repetition is the Truth via Dolo Rosa. This work features repetition and places the viewer in the position of thinking each new image looks like the previous and may require an examination to determine what is different. The theme of repetition is a success. The work is substantive due to the large scale nature of the paintings and the control used to maintain repetition.

I now relate my work to that of an abstract artist

Rapid mini project.

Coming soon a write up on a water droplet themed series of close-up (x15 magnified) images. Given the challenge of a breezy day and outdoor shooting at high magnification, I did capture some quite sharp work, but in post-processing, I decided to process the images with an oil paint filter and in doing so increased consistency when moving from one picture to the next. I’ll place the result in the Project development area of the blog.

Short Project

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 21 to 24 Microscopy Mini Project

PHO704: Week 3 Research – Contextual


Paulo Leonardi Borderlands

Paulo is course leader in photography at London Metropolitan University, has had several Arts Council grants and works with Anthropologists on a migration work. It was as much a chance encounter as anything at The Regents University, on Saturday but after her giving a presentation I was able to spend time during lunch and again after my own showing of current photographs. Let’s be clear there is no comparison as her work is top-notch, and I am currently developing my visuals, and I work in a totally different way.

However, I was glad to be able to engage in discussion and picked up many points of areas of development I can pursue. A point of inflexion was that both our sets of images come alive once there is some spoken narrative. Paulo carefully selects an edit to build and maintain engagement and picks stories that bring home the gravity of her work and personal connection is clearly demonstrated.

Gary Fabian Millar (thank you, Sophie, for making the association)

Gary Fabian Millar does work or has done work for some time in fact that in abstract style is not too dissimilar to my earlier adventures into abstract imagery.


I think any similarity is in the look of our work. Beyond that, our techniques and end products are totally different. I’m a digital worker compared to Gary, who works more practically with the physical: making photograms, working camera-less and producing textile artefacts.

What I might take from researching his work is triggering or reinforcement of some ideas I’ve yet to promote within my work.

Nature of Creativity

Creativity happens in a burst of energy for me, during which my output is highly productive. I often wonder if I can repeat the work as I take from it intuition and do not record the simple steps. This makes each work unique and even going back to the same starting position I’d not be able to fully recreate an image.

Creativity I have learned has its ups and downs, and I no longer am surprised to discover others have had the same or similar idea as myself. In passing, I mention my informal series of crafted small planet images based on closeups. In Gary’s work, I spot he too has created several planet style images, and there are other areas of overlap.

I think my efforts are a nod to the cult radio series H2G2, where a character is engaged in custom made planet building. It was just a passing phase for me.

This was a while ago but serves to illustrate further: I explored combined portraits, three into one. This can be done in-camera, or in post-processing and through my established interest, the latter is always going to be my preferred approach. I say this because if I can, I like to introduce technology into my work. It is an expression of who I am and my professional background. Anyway, having experimented earlier in this manner, I guess I should not have been surprised to find the identical style imagery done by an Associate of the RPS in one of the journals.

My current work abstracts minor trauma, and while others have explored what I might term blood and guts, I tend to bring out the beauty of the healing process and the warm glow of life within. I’m wondering about controlling the intensity of light in my work to represent life.

Part of what I do seeks an element of medical observation as the type of processing I do amplifies structure otherwise unseen by the naked eye.

Extensions I’d like to try to my work and supported by review comments pre and post the Week 3 Tutor Webinar,  would be the addition of context. I want viewers to take what they wish from my series of abstracts without my literal explanation and let the pictures speak more. I’d intend to increase the variety of media from the text (of poetry perhaps relating to a place and make my images sing similarly), a series of stirring titles or outtakes from recognised work, or write my own lines – I like to write my own stuff with feeling or effect I suppose. I’d maybe also extend to audio as I always strongly associate sound with visuals and hope an audience might too.

PHO704: Week 3: Digital Possibilities

Week 3: Update

I mentioned below doing a comparative campaign on Instagram, yet in the event, time was at a premium, so I took forward the Campaign Flyer approach.

I put the flyer out on Instagram (on a personal account @foto_graphical I have reserved for the serious photography items). I put the flyer out on my photography Facebook FaceBook

Beyond this, the image QR code references my portfolio site, where there is more background information. I then put out there a series of Abstract images that reflect my work made for this module.

Week 3: Digital Possibilities

Here we are Week 3 already, and a digital campaign is in the making. It will appear at foto_graphical on Instagram.

The campaign starts week commencing Monday 8th October 2018. Advance information leaked – campaign image in the making at present to be themed on Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment). There’s a proposed face off too, between a commemorative historical theme and a more rough and ready theme believed to play on the common mishap of the busted zipper #bustedzip – this won’t be as racey as it might seem (I hope).

The audience is targeted, of course. Various representative roles in the world of photography I’m bound to aim for (a requirement really of this weeks work), but, and there always has to be a but, I really target you all in a public campaign, and maybe there is some fun to be had. Who says learning has to be all serious? I suspect someone might just step in on that.

Campaign Case 1   Commemorative Historical

It would be great to air the build-up work for the project on this MA Photography course I’m thoroughly engrossed in. How good would that be? Well, no expectation here as the appeal is designed to simmer away and bring others their own link to relatives past in connection with a chosen event from history. While I major on narratives from the Great War, others can choose their event, probably something they heard a distant family member was tied to. Then they can discriminate amongst any close relatives and compare. It might be expected that they all feel (or reject) a connection with those in the past imagining equally right connections. However, the information supplied will allow them to determine who is a manifestation by mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) and X Chromosome and who amongst them switches to a different family line altogether – male blocking just won’t keep out of it.

Well, that’s the seriousness of the two cases.

Campaign Case 2 Popular (Trivia)

Why a second case. Again it is vital to contrast and compare. Hopefully, there is more to learn by this even if my motivation is to promote Case 1. I’m sure marketing professionals would recognise the approach.

With Case 2, it is just that the internet is awash with the popular, maybe that much-loved pet, cats photos are everywhere, aren’t they? Memes are popular too. So giving this campaign option a fair go it is bound to win, won’t it? What does winning mean in this context? Well more likes or follows on Instagram.

It is already out there the Busted Zipper. Type it into a search engine and straightaway the topic unfolds in all directions from memes to YouTube videos including handy tips on zipper repair.

The idea comes alive for me as a result of three recent coincidences:

  1. Railway station pick up, where a  suitcase bound with a belt had a good go at spilling personal effects on a platform and concourse.
  2. The wardrobe failure – yes, crawling around in the studio and a trouser zipper gave out. Why does one only notice on returning home? It must be that others see but are too polite to draw attention.
  3. Unpacking a wheelie case to find that although the little travel padlock was intact or should I say secure, the zipper track had burst open.

So that’s the narrative behind the choice of subject. How is this campaign going to work? I favour a hashtag competition, where followers outdo each other in hashtag creativity relating to the subject matter the Busted Zip #bustedzip.

I’ll seed the competition with examples: #embarrassed, #redface, etc

It’s an unabashed race to the most follows and likes.

There has got to be an educational purpose around all this, but why not too have a bit of fun and enjoy the campaign competition? That’s a rhetorical question by the way.

PHO704: Week 7: The current commercial environment

Week 7: Your Market

We were challenged to think about our Audience and Market and about the future. My work is currently in the abstract but as a theme of sports emerged in the discussion I’ll begin here with a retrospective

Rugby Union Retrospective

There have been several opportunities to dabble in sports photography. In particular rugby union has afforded me practice in photographic technique and practice helped establish the limitations of shooting action. The work I did do got a reasonable coverage internationally which seemed an accomplishment at the time especially considering it was mainly an unplanned entry into the genre. Shooting was in my own style of introducing an art approach with a bit of  respectful humour. My market covered players and playing staff. Management liked to have a record of events and players loved to see themselves in action!  Payback was not monetary so much as that of gaining practice experience.  Reflecting back now reinforces how social and any collaboration element were really important. The opportunity sprang up quickly and sustained for a while on an opportunity basis.

K for Kick

An opportunity was also created to photograph from the stands at an international track cycling event. This was quite entertaining but did not sustain my interest at a professional level. It was quite good getting the chance to sample both rugby and cycling. My sustainable interest is in other areas of photography.

Contemporary Abstract and Abstract Expressionism

Contemporary abstract is a recurring theme for me and for which my audience would be the thinking observer/viewer.  I’m not ready for this audience yet as I develop and refine the art. I’m finding my way and gaining confirmation over validity. During the Sustainable Prospects module I’ve reached out in several ways to gauge the validity of this work as art through:

  • Exhibition attendance – helps establish the accepted standard
  • Showing images to individuals in ad hoc setting helped too. At the time of writing both excitement and criticism occur in equal measure.
  • Presentation at group level – established some consensus.


The market for Abstract work ought be art gallery, exhibition or book. Up against trained professional artists though I’d say there is a long journey yet. In my favour is growing acceptance of a wide range of photographers resulting from a proliferation of cameras and relative affordability of post processing tools.

Personal work in abstract provides an opportunity for self expression. Images presented before the camera often have potential for abstraction. This is a personal outlook. 

I strive in my current work to obtain a larger set of images that stand together, Colour palette, saturation and square format, provides a level of consistency. Clearly my approach is still in early days of development. 

Abstract and Surrealist Imagery

Sale potential

Working an abstract signature style did result in a recent request to apply this to a portrait. The work was appreciated. It was shared and resulted in positive comment.   Personal service works quite well although audience is limited to one or two potential sales. I enjoy being able to create empathy like this.

Commercialisation is possible to a level.

I’d pencilled in two opportunities to “force” a sale during the week but decided against it. 

A level of commercial opportunity exists through the Studio account for art web support. On this MA Photography course I place the whole of the emphasis on personal work.


Current research through reading is helping to evolve my work and leads to quite frequent bouts of experimentation. An interest is currently developing in the Surreal. All photography is, or becomes surreal as the camera creates surrealism through the act of framing and by capturing the fleeting.

Work at present is leading to a deeper passion for contemporary abstract art images. Potential audience and market can be re-examined as this develops. Already I look back on the blog posts as a baseline for change.

Experimental Surrealist Work

PHO704: Week 2: Research – Contextual

Module Constraints

My best work, continues to fall down the gaps, as the flashes of creativity experienced have so far occurred in natural order, in very close proximity to module start dates but not close enough to qualify for publication. As a continued source of frustration, I’ve tried to slow down to coordinate with study module dates.  Potentially, what has happened is that inspiration is drawn from within, without necessarily referencing the Module content, only due to circumstance


Having got the above out into the open, let me turn to two areas a) the continuing development of practice in Abstract Impressionism, and b) the following up of advice to simply continue shooting, following one’s intuition.

 Abstract Expressionism

 Stage I Art

This is the area in which I initially linked the beauty of the bodily healing processes to soldiers from the family who were wounded, and repaired and who repeatedly continued on into battle in the Great War.

Let me see if I can illustrate developments. Initially, I’d concentrated on impressions from the battlefield alongside the soldiers perspective on memories of home.  My initial technique was Conceptual in using relevant images of colour and texture that in my artistic judgement provided scope for post-processing into the abstract. I preferred methods, including pixel stretching. Both vertical direction, representational of the environmental conditions and horizontal, representational of the landscape. Then combined, there is a layered intent similar in form to patterning found in Scottish tartan that might be missed by the viewer but conveniently supports the underlying Scottish theme.

This is just a base level of processing into image layers. These are then recombined with the original image in which line edge effects are enhanced. As required,  layers are hand-painted using masks. The impact I obtained at first I found to be visually stunning. Through planned shooting, I had a wealth of relevant images within my personal catalogue. Overshooting proved necessary as the success rate can be low as not all source images provide enough inspiration for abstraction.

This was the first area of creativity excluded by the course. However, the technique was well practised and is available to reuse,. Having said that it does take time to read the base image and in the application of skill when applying post techniques.  Often, and in favour of the work, the methods are not wholly repeatable. If I worked the same image again, the outcome would be different. I like that in this digital age. Although not a deliberate act of destructive editing, practically to resolve this, it might take a video recording of the creation process to accurately capture the steps.

 Stage II Art

This is the next development in abstraction, and by chance, I discovered that post-processing colour beta value and applying simplification recreated an effect I’d long ago practised and had enjoyed. As I photograph minor trauma concerning mitochondrial DNA as the cellular powerhouse and generational link and do so in terms of the beauty of bodily healing, I find this technique can work really well in bringing out a healing glow alongside a feeling of layering and looking into the image. I like this direction a lot. One or two copies have immediately given this result. As experimentation continued, other trauma made for highly saturated representations of colours.  An outcome obtained here is in drawing out areas of interest that the eye alone would miss. The camera records surface features and layers in post-processing that we do not ordinarily see. Again there is the same channelling of post-processing towards destructive editing.

Two more steps to go. The first relates to potential garishness in colour saturation which is not readily eliminated. A jury is out for me on this, but I may use this as a signature theme. Otherwise, I should experiment in further degrees of subtleness.  In this sense, the image continues as a crafted piece of work, which I think adds to its value.

The second step is possibly reasonably intuitive, which is to cross, that is combine, stage I and stage II art. In fact, this has now been tried, and I like the outcome as it does tone down colour saturation which can overwhelm the senses. In retrospect that could be quite representational of any hurt suffered. The crossing does give the mellowing effect and refinement I thought I was looking for. Either way, there is no loss from learning how to control an image.


There are challenges when photographing even minor trauma not least in my project, is getting relatives onside. As a photographer, I’m more acutely aware of those minor accidents to self as they can hurt. Now instead of saying ouch and moving on, I immediately go for the camera, and as a person, my reaction has already been conditioned to this.  The challenge is in photographing when a position may be challenging to deal with. There are circumstances where a smartphone camera is ideal, yet pixel resolution might show. Turning to macro techniques increases the challenges already faced as equipment becomes cumbersome and unwieldy in the circumstances.  Problem-solving though is a part of photography to be enjoyed, isn’t it?

Image Audit

Not mentioned thus far, I feel I need to instigate a method of auditing from original file through to abstract. Earlier techniques were non-destructive, and most of the working could be preserved in saved layers, but no longer is this the case. I do need an audit method even if only for my own sanity if publishing later on.

Developments in Ongoing Shooting – the intuitive  part

This topic ran parallel to my project and welcomed as it gives another frame of comparative reference compared to abstracting images of trauma.

This also hopefully demonstrate I’m active in photography in other ways throughout the current module.

Lending Support

I had an interlude photographing trees or large shrubs where gravity was getting the better of them, where the intervention of a gardener meant metal supports were provided. I found a temple garden where this was common.  The plants flourished as nature adapted to the support provided. An initial motivation in the shooting was around the interesting triangular composition. This evolved into observations of how successful the ways are in which the assistance was provided. Then I tried to liken this to the support society gives to those in need. Thus a parallel is opened on a social or political comment.

The photographs were the first pass, and as the lighting was bright and contrasty. I would need to return with cloudier skies with more even light to obtain the desired exposure.

 National Charity Engagement

This is an area I previously mentioned in a tutor group and which was viewed as a  good thing in providing a backup project if the current work cannot proceed for one reason or another. It was also advised I be wary of being used as a photographer to the charities own ends.

Preliminary test shots were made, and I was due to go back when the time was right – here note the earlier comment about progressing a little too soon.  Meanwhile, though, I managed to have a long discussion with one of the volunteers who was very helpful. I’d talked in terms of continued interest. And during our discussion, various narratives unfolded although at least one I’m sure I’d seen in their publicity somewhere.  I gained a broader understanding of how I might embed. Without causing interference to the working processes. No further photographs have been taken at this stage.

PHO704: Week 2: You are a business

This week, the work is predicated on the assumption that as students, we intend to start-up in business.   If we go with the premise,  it is necessary to realise, of course, that some already operate professionally, and others do not intend to go this route.  In my case, I considered this in-depth back from 2010 to 2011 and made a firm decision not to start up in the end. Mostly this was based on the fact that my efforts would be mostly philanthropic and as borne out by an income and expense graph, that showed the venture operating at an ongoing loss. Meanwhile, I’d be putting myself at risk in litigation, a sphere extending from the USA.  It was also a time when technology was moving apace, and the major players were in hard competition, changing offerings by the month while mopping up business in the area of the market I’d spotted in advance.  Okay so that was a bit of history and includes a firm decision, and in some respects, viability findings carry forward into photography practice.

For me in photographic practice, I  continue to seek to fulfil the philanthropic ideal, and as such, I registered with the society as a volunteer worker, alongside providing support to a commercial organisation that supports education towards the organisation’s charitable objectives.

My actual photographic practice is basically an adventure into personal work as a means of self-expression. I attempt to finesse and create images of artistic merit, that in contemporary terms are creative images that carry layered meaning. I resist stifling this creativity by distracting myself through a business start-up.

For the purpose of this week of the course then, I’ve gone ahead and engaged knowing that I’ve written my piece for practice only. If work does take off, then I will be well prepared being reminded about forms of business and how to manage them, and I’ll have gained a bit of current practice and be confident of how to get going if circumstances arose.

Nevertheless, and unspoken, it is probably true that as photographers, we do personally represent ourselves. We express ourselves and endeavours whether that be as an actual inaugurated business or not.