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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s