PHO703: Week 9 Production WIP

Week 9 Module Leader Office Hours (Bridging)

I had considered and finally decided to build an installation in a box and I took it to crit in Arles. It provides a tactile presentation – viewers pick up mounted 2 by 3 Zink prints (Lifeprint Zink links to server and 20sec videos not used at the moment as this is new work and is not yet fully considered.

The viewer unavoidably is exposed to the graphics/visuals of the public for commercially marketed products. This is part of my strategy to bridge to the viewer.

The commercial side of DNA testing is public, we can all participate where it is of interest.

I have waited for results and now have artefacts the viewer can touch. A visual introduction occurs by using the installation box.

First left hand image is of Healing.

Categories installed

  • Ghost images
  • Landscape / seascape
  • Glow images
  • Inner space / outer space

Week 9 Webinar

I’m resolved to concentrate on making enough abstract work for my WIP Portfolio.

I decided to enrol in two sessions this week, one with my tutor to give an update on visuals progress and making since we met last a fortnight earlier (the Arles visit intervened): then I had a second session this time with our Modernist Abstract photography specialist.

Very recently my work has come under increasing fire from non abstract practitioners. And again the general demands of the course call for finished work ahead of the Final Major Project Modules.

My intent with an abstract portfolio is to work on a plane that crosses over between photography and art. It is more demanding intellectually and naturally more difficult for many to access. Imagine a Shakespeare work being reduced to a boy fancied a girl and their families fell out. Easier to understand yes, but such a loss, I say.

As owners of our work we obviously maintain artistic control over our practice. As for us being increasingly challenged, a springboard diver performing, does not accept a late input from their coach to add a somersault to the run up.

PHO703: Week 1 to 12 Development Project

Week 11

For the upcoming Oral Presentation and as support to the WIP Portfolio, it became clear that an Artist Statement was missing. The normal pitch is succinct and so to a longer statement. I shall edit down from this:

Artist Statement

In this work, I use the characteristic glow we emit in healing and bodily repair to identify with ancestors who perished in a Great War. The work is at the intersection of biology, photography and art.

Archive images I made are used to develop a visual language for the work.

The concept that guides the work is one of exploiting the lens-based digital camera and processing software. I make the invisible, visible and modern capability to identify with a time past.

Landscape portrayal when sought links to my heritage left behind in Scotland, yet ghost images or signs of belief are found in a glow.

Earlier career experience at the sharp end of technology is a constant influence alongside design authority experience in the subject area of my photographic imagery.

Methodology: Challenging the Limits

Three components of light are my interest. Surface reflected light, surface penetration light and my greatest interest, light emanations from the (heat) of the body. I alter the balance between the latter and the former. I consider the environment with the subject, the lens-based digital camera and the digital processing in post as an integrated whole. Taking this together with elements of chance in the data capture and my imagination leads to the final results.

In summary and in line with the thinking of Flusser what I do is subvert the process of image making.

Stage 1

The lens creates a shallow depth of field for the close-up work I do, So I control the lighting for balance and luminance and work at higher DoF, which actually is still quite shallow. I focus stack to bring the contours of my recent work into sharper focus.. Without controlled lighting, I stacked 61 individual photographs which caused me to adapt the lighting and lens aperture. In my portfolio, some images are 6 photographs. The reason I mention this is because I define that as one type of re-photography albeit with a very short time interval between shots. The tripod position is exact. There are correctable and minute differences in perspective as the lens motor is commanded to ever closer position of the glass. This is handled in the automatic software.

Stage 2

Next, I subvert the digital sensor and the associated filter. Sensors readily detect infra-red IR spectrum light and manufacturers install a filter to cut out as much as if practically possible. Filters have technical limitations in a drop off of effectiveness. The fraction of IR passed can be viewed for example in holding a tv controller up to a smartphone camera. The IR is made visible live on screen.

Stage 3

I subvert the processing software. My professional experience has been in algorithm design as well as in more recently in generative digital art. I have a sense of where coded features will break down and readily observe the effects. Analogies might be in television with the style of picture breakup on the original analogue sets and again on modern digital platforms.


There is no surprise that odd things happen to images by chance, but the magical thing for me is that it is the original data in the photograph that drives the final image output, albeit with a high degree of subversion applied by the author.

Unlike glitching techniques, which which are popular with some, I do not undermine file integrity as in searching and replacing bytes to mix it up and potentially break the file. I use the high power of modern computing to create abstracted glow layers I combine.

I apply a level of digital art to enhance the magic of what I can see in the subverted image. Maybe this is characteristic of the photographer as a frustrated painter. I land up with a consistent mix of re-presentations of landscape or seascape or mountains, or simply glow effects, or of inner space and outer space and more recently a growing series of images of ghosts. Something subconscious must drive the outcomes.

Week 10

With enough images made I could now contemplate an edit and apply myself with some seriousness to the viewer and the impact of mixing archive and abstract work.

It took me several steps including examining how the painter Rachel Howard approached the problem in the exhibition guide/book for Repetition is Truth via Dolo Rosa. It is a good example and I can use it in my book, but I need to figure out what to do for my web portfolio of images.

I now have something worth review.

Here on ISSUU is the latest mix of my portfolio work. I’ve introduced archive images to break out the visual language and give an access point for the viewer.

Portfolio on ISSUU as of 7 Aug 2019

Week 9

I had a break in productivity by engaging in abstract re-photography.

I took my subject matter for photography, that of healing wounds and with the original person and new healing (from mosquito bites) I recreated the methods of producing saturated colour abstracts of a type from an earlier module.

This gives a stark comparison with my current work is the first thing. The second had to do with recreating steps for what is a destructive editing process. So I got to compare the working method with that in the earlier module.

Commercial Production and Standardisation of Process versus Creativity

What is plain now is how hard I’ve tried to contain the wilder aspects of abstraction bringing technique under control to allow reproducibility. It was great for knocking out sets of images that go together or at least it improved the chances of such. However, I’d forgotten how much freedom I used to express with my earlier imagery and how much of the enjoyment I’d lost. Freedom and joy returned with this attempt at abstract re-photography.

A downside of absolute consistency I have discovered is to do with viewer focus. When they see a stream of consistent work I understand that they might stop looking any further and give up on the work. By being more expressive, I take a chance and reintroduce variety.

Week 8

I had at this stage created a large catalogue of photographs as abstract material. With one foot in photography and another in art, it does take me appreciable time to “paint” from the original.

I needed to work quickly and it seemed a good idea to stop myself from spreading out into too many areas by setting a constraint. I opted to do abstract landscapes, but in the event, inspiration had dried up or I’d lost something on the intuitive selection of the right photographs to work on and maybe through my learning instead of making, I was lacking practice.

It took me a whole week of concentrated effort and finally, I got back the inspiration. Along the way, every other subject type appeared in my week’s work and so I had to use once more a variety of abstract topics.

Time pressure and learning activities and making a book and an exhibition in box were probably the distraction behind this.

My work was still short of images for a portfolio and given the importance of this in the MA Photography marking scheme I had no choice but to continue on. Meanwhile, crits (somehow I fitted in a 5) placed me under increasing pressure to adapt to the viewer and I was being encouraged to task risks. Not quite yet though.

Week 7

Abstract Landscape

Improbabilities and chance (file size, false colour and fringing)

A long term fascination of processing in the abstract for the author concerns the direction obtained on examination of the data within an image. A deliberate engagement in this activity provides eternal fascination and is allied with my other practice as a technologist. With experience, it is possible to pre-visualise then begin to press an image in a given direction. It is about seeking out the effects of non-linearities when working in post. Seen when extracting the red healing glow of the subject matter. Some might view these actions in terms of unintended use.

This week I implemented resolution improvements to my working methods. This was previously avoided but needed to be addressed for large scale print. Why avoided? It is known that standard filters respond less well or not at all with modern higher resolution equipment and resulting images. I don’t use standard filters but nevertheless, the software response holds true. The glow images I seek, through levelling now contain a lot more fine detail and this visual style persists across images that are subject to the new method.

In summary, I began improving my method and unintentionally obtained previously unseen effects and I now observe new branches in visual direction.

Outcomes regularly relate to chance hence my past comments about non-repeatability and my resorting to batch processing to get consistent images within these sets of images. My attempt to get images that go together.

The methods of improving resolution naturally lead to larger file sizes. What I didn’t expect was a 1.2GB layered file of what on the surface amounted to a black tile.

There is scope for rationalising this down to a smaller file by removing layers that can readily be added back. Maybe I need to stage my work by keeping all of the original processing but make a subsidiary flattened file. I’ve not been caused to (forced to) go down this route just yet as machine and network performance can cope. The slightly slower performance  is acceptable given the retained flexibility to create (I’m in a phase of exploration of abstract landscapes) retained

I now get images with the look of black sandpaper. What I pre-visualise has more structure, something to lead the viewer’s eye. That has now gone it seems.

I tried downscaling to lower resolution. No success so far.

In my search for abstract landscapes, a colour effect (false colour) and fringing effect (moire) appeared on the screen. The effect was literally that, on-screen. It could not be saved or copied to a layer. The fringing is not present at higher magnification. When visible fringing is fixed at other magnifications. Moire fringing might be expected to produce continually altering patterns not a fixed pattern. Anyway, I need to think about what is going on and meanwhile, I captured the effect by taking a photograph of the screen.

Abstract moire red

figure: transient fringing effect (magnify to view full effect)

The false colour is not the false colour found in infra-red photography, but more like a selection mask style (without invoking a selection mask and not responding to commands to remove the mask if that is what it is). I’ll investigate. There was a software error that affected an earlier portfolio where a small red rectangle appeared in Lightroom images and persisted. A software update resolved the error in my images. I did take inspiration from the effect as at the time I sought to layer in glyphs and other effects as a visual narrative construction.

Week 6

My work is seen through another lens as I start to churn out work for this module. I’ve sorted through and tagged 310 photographs. These are candidates for processing into abstract landscapes.

I changed or should I say improved my method. Using a more configurable tripod and computer software for a remote live view, I can now obtain even inaccessible shots with improved resolution and focus. I do this in a conflicted situation where I need to be able to scale to very large (art as an experience sized) prints, starting from a small scale subject matter. No one wants or wishes for large scale injury or healing sites. While I know that my methodology calls for removing details in favour of glow. I’m forever destined to be conflicted.

Week 5

Two things have gained influence. Now I’ve created a trailer I realise the importance of imagined landscapes in my work. I also realise how much work there is ahead and so decided to use the Pareto 80 to 20  principle as it should allow me the scope to engage with all three surfaces: Exhibition, Publication and Workshop to gain valuable experience ahead of the FMP modules.

The discussion also grew around the visual language of science. Side by side stereograms has a closer match to my work than red/cyan anaglyphs. The incorporation of photos of some of the apparatus I concocted could be of interest. I’d have to make sure it didn’t dominate. I’m still not resolved as to what to do around glyph layers. I found these quite effective in my last module work. I have been distracted by moving towards then away from text captioning of abstract work. There is resolution required over the narrative.

Collaboration has been present in the background of my work and came to the fore as I created the video trailer. I’ve never seen such excitement. This does have future or should I say immediate scope for inclusion.

Week 4

During this week, I explored the relation of science, the biology I refer to in my work, and this allowed me to explore a new visual language. A side by side stereogram fitted better alongside my work than anaglyphs. For large scale presentation, I would prefer anaglyphs. I do understand that red and cyan edge representation does grate against black and white work.

Where does this leave me? I think I have to be mindful of the facts concerning visual language.

Update: subsequent conversations lead me to unpack my actions (our / student actions) when working between black and white and colour. I also begin to bring to the fore collaboration.

Week 3

The narrative development of my abstract visuals is intended to take on an element of political and social direction as I identify with roots in Scotland I share with brothers Andrew and Richard and others from the soldier ranks who made the greatest sacrifice and go unrecognised for their bravery in the worst of condition that was the Great War.

We are from the same lands where there is a quiet beauty and shared cultural identity and so I look to add something to my work, either as a brief essay or as supporting installation. It is still early in the project development as I have three modules in which to gain resolution. I have yet to figure this out and critique how it fits. Well, it fits, but how so with abstract work?


figure Week 3 my first attempt at reestablishing colour in my practice

Having been through a development stage of portraying monochrome images, which I admit support the sombre, my instincts cause me to return to a celebration of life and of course, this brings back colour. For me, it is a respite and is a valid expression of my second narrative (celebration) that has been on hold for a couple of months.

However, monochrome is not dead.

Working with black-and-white, I can confirm, is an important skill and I continue to develop this through:

a. Metering.

b. Camerawork (fine-tuning settings)

c. Post-processing (dodge and burn, contrast enhancement).

I’m currently publishing black and white mainly to Instagram and colour can be found back inside my project.

As mentioned before in my CRJ blog, I continue to process like images together, to get the consistency I seek. Using this with colour is different as it allows me to pick the best of the bunch by this method, then edit groups of colour images. I have to find out how successful this method will be across a portfolio.

Week 2

I have a number of new photographs to process. On this occasion bodily impressions are used. These were originally substituted in the past, for a minor injury and as a technique works as the effect of glow is the same as for minor injury. I need to post-process.

I began looking at my work in wider ways and discussed this in Module Leader Office Hours. I need to be careful that I understand where my work comes from and maintain the resolved nature rather than take my work and cause it to fray at the edges. Resolved means resolved.

Week 1

For me an unexciting start this week. I lack orientation over what the present new module will lead me to. This is my base image process and is at least serves as a baseline for comparison with future weeks. The contact sheet images are in effect part processed. Update: by Week 5 I had elected to create more imaginings of landscapes. In which case I can return to do further layering.

PHO703: Week 8 Guidance Workshops

Week 8 Resources

Week 8 Webinar WIP

I concentrated on my making of new work for edit as is necessary for follow on activities such as Landings 2019 Exhibition and doing my Work in Progress Portfolio for assessment.

I managed quite late to get the first set of images together, and I built myself an exhibition in a box.

The exhibition in a box and my photobook dummy were taken to Arles for the crits. I benefited from this, and it has done the obvious and generated more work for me to complete! Should have stayed at home? No way, I’d have missed so much valuable input. However, progress on this front has been at the expense of teaching in a workshop.

Week 8 Independent Reflection

The exhibition I made in a box, and my photobook dummy was taken to Arles for the crits. I benefited from this, and it has done the obvious and generated more work for me to complete! Should have stayed at home? No way, I’d have missed so much valuable input. However, progress on this front has been at the expense of teaching in a workshop.

Week 8 Activity Teaching

My preferred approach is informal and takes place in a learning environment. I get to spend time with accomplished pros. It is excellent if an exchange is in response to being quizzed about my photography. When the opportunity arises, then there is already some buy-in, and from there it is down to me to respect others’ time. Similar questions might occur in different contexts, and so I get a chance to be challenged and work out a slick answer.

Another approach is to show interest in others and discover areas of interest that overlap, and then I may get the chance to ask the questions, and so the communication continues. At times I can take other learners particular challenges and relate them to my methods and compare notes, probably on technique. There is a specialist audience for abstract work, but at the same time, there is leeway if people are concerned with mindfulness or photography as therapy, both very popular at the moment.

The subject matter can range across, macro, art photography, portraiture, photographic projects, product photography, light painting, studio lighting, and more besides.

Week 8 Some Considerations

Week 8 Introduction Thinking About Helping Others


Working independently and collaboratively



Studio lighting

Street photography


Digital technologies including photoshop (Adobe qualified)

Interacting with people, in public and one to one. 

Working with professionals and teams on set. 


Practice at teaching outside the business and technical sphere

Photographic marketing and sales 

Practice curating 

Alternative processes

Darkroom printing


PHO703: Week 7 Guidance Photobooks


Week 7 Resources

Week 7 Webinar WIP

Week 7 Independent Reflection

Week 7 Activity Dummies

My first dummy in progress is on ISSUU at the moment:

Locks photobook dummy
This is purely for practice as it relates to the earlier Ed Ruscha challenge.
I’m working on the page imposition.
An update: I completed the imposition in Photoshop, having made up a model for the signatures and numbered them by hand. The action gave me a double-sided printing sequence. It was then down to the practical steps of making, which turned out well enough, especially for my first printed book. I haven’t had the heart to slice into the pages to guillotine the edges by hand cutting with a sharp blade. I particularly enjoyed picture matching and have two more of these books to make: one on chains as they form lovely catenary lines and make interesting junctures; the other is of phone entry systems I started to document after poking around Leicester Square hotel night entrances. I’d eventually hope to make a boxed set, for a bit more experience of making. I have to halt myself and get on with the other learnings available to us.

Week 7 Some Considerations

Week 7 Forum Sorting Images

So here I have new work rather than a collection of everything. As I write this, I have a dummy practice book already made, and once my module edit is ready, I will repeat the making exercise. This is an A5 handmade book with kettle stitched signatures, case bound. For an A4 sized book, I would try perfect binding. This would be a good back up position, as it is easier to do the page sequencing (imposition).


My abstract images are halfway between photography and painting so take a while each to craft. This is the bottleneck I have had to contend with over the past several modules, but it has worked for me even if the project activity is backloaded. This can be quite pressured, of course.


Week 7 Introduction Thinking About Pages

Although I’m an advocate of the library online books and other eBooks, my photography pile library is currently taking up room on my studio sofa, leaving insufficient space for rest. Grief, three more outcrops of piled books surround me. There is nothing in these piles to compare with the sort of publication I would make as the constraints of the MA Photography course seem to limit me to pamphlet-sized books.

I did this exercise already in one of the previous modules: (Links to an external site.)

I love books and have had to meter their use a bit more during the current module. I was starting to sound as if I’d swallowed a photographic dictionary!

PHO703: Week 6 Guidance Installations

Week 6 Resources

Week 6 Webinar WIP

I came out of the webinar with a glow perhaps of having been let off lightly. It was a larger group, and all of the other students’ work came under critical scrutiny except mine. Maybe I felt relief. I also felt that there is more to benefit from with sharp critique. Perhaps it was easier to keep on time if the Tutor avoided causing me to respond or explain the visual motives, or maybe I already had been given the right advice in a previous session and needed more time to explore.

As I have come back from Week 7 to update Week 6, the tale did unfold. More of this in my Week 7 reflection.

Week 6 Independent Reflection

The way the course flows at this stage, I can plan the making of an installation/exhibition.

I can (then) take this work forward into the University-sponsored Landings 2019 Exhibition, plus by Week 12 have this flow into my Work in Progress WIP Portfolio.

Perhaps I make some assumptions in this, but I can see a logical flow of work from one activity into the next in an ideal manner.

So what is the issue I uncover here as there is indeed an issue?

First, to look inside where my perceptions and perspectives intervene. Maybe I seek out the ideal or have a strengthening desire to continue to improve my work. As I carry forward my abstraction into a third module, I feel I need to make progress, by refining the work. The abstracts I make need to be right, of course, but better than last time. My technique may have already reached a kind of pinnacle, and so I press for the unobtainable. At this point, factors arise like actually is it possible to keep turning out work I base on chance, on the data recorded in the original photograph. The presence of healing from more serious accidents or incidents would drive this, but for moral reasons cannot happen. There was a severe injury, but it did not manifest externally other than through puffing up. Ligament and cartilage do not have a steady blood supply. Healing is through adaption by building up strength in the surrounding and supporting muscle rather than through biological repair as we have here an example of slow healing.

With events being immediate and severe, my natural reaction triggered to protect and help, rather than act to make a photograph.

I turn to bodily impression as a fallback, where pressure marks react in a similar way to healing before quickly disappearing. My actions were over a spectacular and geometric pressure mark was frustrated. For whatever reason, perhaps to do with cooling of the area the subject matter was not traumatic, and any heat just dissipated. I processed the photo(s), but my technique failed to extract the heat or any signs of glow. Not always perceptible to the eye, a healing site does need to glow my method to work. I passed over this and reflect now on events.

This learning occurred, but time pressure would continue to build the demand for shareable results. Many other students are not displaying work in progress. Maybe my so-called Pareto based decision to engage with three surfaces is driving beyond what is genuinely feasible at Week 6.

Turning to external considerations, I perceive that critiques build in a natural assumption that we show finished work and so it is judged as finished work. What I have learned quite recently is that I need to be open and say what stage of development is with the second year yet to fully unfold.

We need to remain faithful to an expectation that our work ought to adapt and change with the various contexts of the MA Photography course.

The amount of photography I do each Module is slowing. The presence of healing dictates progress but so too does technique improvement.

I started with consistent lighting, then incorporated flash and improved focus of close-up low DoF constraints. On schedule, I have introduced the Focus Stacking technique.

My first attempt stacked 61 images, far too many. I adjusted my settings to get fully in focus results with 4 to 6 pictures stacked.

While it is still summer, I can flood the subject with natural lighting instead of using flash. The environment is something I have reacted to, and I now get to examine the consequences. In a shorter timeframe, a project’s set-ups would be more stable or consistent. With my work running over a two year period variables, in lighting have to be accommodated.

Events cause me to draw a comparison with the conditions of Vincent Van Gogh. He worked in the beautifully consistent light found in Arles. Van Gogh also was prolific, as he turned out vast quantities of paintings in a short period. There are many differences in our circumstances if we compare painting with photography or more precisely with healing glow photography.

Week 6 Activity Models

Rather than the computer of a constructed model, I looked at setting up a live venue. I’m thinking North West London location.


This environment could work as my practice emphasises the glow we emit in healing etc. I’m sure you‘ve me heard me describe this before. I need to explore and unwrap the requirements and benefits.

I have three elements set up here in the image above. There is more latitude than this for mounted print display, lightbox viewing and large screen presentation. Early thoughts are:

Mounted prints hanging from the top wire. Point lights shown can be on at the start, and be switched off for viewing. Maybe hang translucent prints. Already I’m going over the top but why not explore the possibility as the facility is there but try not to waste time on diversions.

IKEA tables and legs shown are in sets:  hire lightboxes and lay these out on the tabletops. Print on translucent material – I’d have to check how effective or not this would be. Perhaps arrange tables to display photographs on lightboxes set out as a square (abstract fovea?); draw the cables together and tie in the centre (optic nerve like). Ignore the metaphors of seeing, getting carried away in this first exciting stage.

Large screen present/not present? If present, display related portfolio work or with permission of the  Module Leader make a live link to the Landings site as a centrepiece.

Footfall – a drive might bring some folks in. However, as a display of art as an experience, something I aspire to, a video feed could be streamed to the web.

There is scope for an artists talk. Also, the scope must exist to invite a proposal from another student/lecturer. A positive is that alternative works that are taken together ought to enrich the experience.

There’s scope to build a display stand as there are other plain walls.  Alternatively, I could contemplate the hire of a set of easels,  to mount prints.

Enough for now as there are already many unanswered points to be addressed.

Draw up a plan/ to-do list is next.

Ps already I have some other ideas to try out / to simplify matters.

Week 6 Some Considerations


Week 6 Introduction Thinking About Spaces

It was impossible limiting myself to just one alternative space.

Immediately the mind turns to white wall exhibition spaces. But there is a suggestion of using the shoe – an off the wall suggestion (apologies for the pun)?

(A) What impressed me this last fortnight was the portable exhibition in a box. The idea is this. You make a box about the size of a lever arch folder.

Then inside, you include a collection of photographs and materials related to a project. An accordion fold exhibition of pictures would be the eye-catching piece. Then there might be a hand made book about the making of the show. Other artefacts you include are there to be picked up and examined.  Here is a photo of the kind of thing.


(B) Another idea is related to the outside world – thinking outside of the box (stop the puns now). Galleries can be looked on as an exclusive preserve of the few. Why not print on a massive scale on weatherproof material. Hang the exhibition on the outside walls of buildings, such as around a university campus?

Come on Falmouth University, who do we approach for permission?

(C) The technically minded (and well off – I saw some recent costings), might be inclined to procure gallery space in a virtual world. Art curation takes place in Second Life an online space. Sales can be made (I heard somewhere).

(D) There is something starchy and rigid suggested by the term exhibition. Print on material and silk would be another choice. Then the images primarily if abstract, become much more portable and more manageable to store.

(E) Following on from (D) the silk or other material could be in the form of clothing or accessories like a scarf or shawl and of course could be worn.

Click here for Contrado (Links to an external site.) cloth printing.

(F) How about this thought, which I’ve already started to look at for some inexplicable reason. I took a cereal box containing wrapped Shredded Wheat. I carefully unwrapped the contents and gauged the printing area and folds and glue points. With this information, the cereal bars/biscuits can then be re-wrapped in a print jacket. We are talking one step up from tissue paper here. You have to question why and how applicable this is to a given project. I just liked the materiality but not so much the scale. When the exhibition is over, you can grab a bowl and some milk and eat the display contents!

I hope someone on the course takes inspiration from one of the suggestions or at least has fun reading this post.