TAoP Assignment Five

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v. Applying the techniques of narrative and illustration

After a further break of several months, I have finally to completed Assignment Five. Although a relatively straightforward project on paper, I wanted to make sure I was able to incorporate many of the exercises, lessons and skills I've learnt from the Art of Photography module thus far.

I hope you’ll see reference to framing, focal point, shapes, size, contrast, cropping, composition, points, lines, movement, exposure, colour throughout my project. Above all I have tried to make good use of light and lighting techniques throughout the project by selective use of modifiers, reflectors and additional light sources where appropriate. Although not asked for as part of the assignment I have included details of the lighting techniques on pages 18 & 19 of the book.

Download a copy of my project mood board by clicking the button opposite.

You can read a summary of my learnings from this assignment and the accompanying exercises at the foot of this page.
The assignment can be viewed further down this page but you can also download a .pdf by clicking the button below. My tutor's report for this exercise together with my corrections can also be downloaded by clicking the relevant buttons.
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Tutor comments: Firstly I would have moved the wash basket a touch more to the left to avoid the corner of the room on the right hand side of the image. I would also use a colour from the clothes for the title text so that there is continuity. Finally, delete the text “TAoP” and “Assignment Five” so that you are left with the cover illustration and no reference to the assignment; just as if it were a real article. (SL: see amended image, right)
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Tutor comments: Again the introduction refers to the assignment rather than “Washday”; however, the images on these pages indicate the start of the wash which is gathering the garments. The blurred image of Jo at the bottom of the stairs gives the viewer a sense of urgency and the keenness to get the job done. Text associated with the images is fine. Well done for that.
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Tutor comments: These two pages illustrate the washing machine being loaded and the washing powders to be used. Again all the images are accurately exposed with good colour saturation. There is even a touch of humour to add a bit of light relief, but this poster would have been better if you could have taken it square on to avoid the dark area at the bottom left hand corner. (SL: see amended image, right)
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Tutor comments: Another two images that have been well composed and accurately exposed. The shot of the control switch is given “scale” by the operators finger and thumb and the skin tones are accurate. The use of a slow shutter speed in the larger image of the drum has indicated movement to show that the washing machine is in use.
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Tutor comments: Again all images on these pages are accurately exposed, but I would try to make a more interesting composition out of the pegs on the grass shot; I think you would be better with a few pegs less and arranged better. (SL: see amended image, right)
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Tutor comments: You have obviously put a good deal of thought into the images on these pages. On the main shot you have yellow pillow cases standing out very well against the bright blue sky. However, the tree is cropped off at the base and it would be better to go in closer or zoom out a touch so that the base of the tree is in the shot. The two images at the top left are very competent and I particularly like the diagonal composition of the socks on the washing line. I also like the blue pillow cases with the contrasting pink pegs; a simple composition with the very effective use of colour. (SL: see amended image, right)
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Tutor comments: I am not too sure about the five images on the left of the page; technically perfect, but for me too close together with no separation. The main image of Jo ironing is very good and well lit with the use of fill in flash which again you have handled very well. The close up at the bottom of the page is also very competent with the “Ted Baker” labels well placed in the frame. (SL: see amended image, right)
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Tutor comments: This close up image of three shirts hanging on coat hangers is another very competent shot. The use of differential focus to concentrate the viewers eye on the centre shirt has worked very well and the texture detail in the collar can be seen clearly. Well done.
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Tutor comments: Again the image on the left is very competent in composition and execution. Very good texture detail in the stacked towels with the rolled up towel at the base to give interest to the viewer. The image at the top right hand corner is a good record shot of Jo placing the completed washing in the airing cupboard. Jo is well placed on the right hand third of the frame although I would tone the lighter area down a touch at the bottom right hand corner. (SL: see amended image, right)
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Tutor comments: The final pages describe your lighting techniques which have worked very well for you and there is nothing I can add to help you improve on this. I don’t think this would be part of an article as such, but now that you have done it I would leave it in.
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Here's What I've Learnt:

I was a little disappointed with my tutor comments from this assignment. I was really happy with many of the images presented and particularly happy with the layout. But following a critical review I see my tutor (Peter) was right. Mostly.

Fundamentally Peter was looking at the images in isolation and I can see I lost sight of some images by putting to much emphasis on the whole body of work. With the cover for example I chose a border colour that complemented the colour theme of the brochure. It made sense at the time, but looking back I can see the far better decision was to use a colour that worked with the image in front of me. I have now selected a colour that matches the striking pink of the socks.

In the same image Peter picked up the somewhat 'messy' corner to the right of the frame. He is right - but what frustrates me is the length I went to hide an air vent behind the shirt to the left. Why didn't I take more care on the right? Looking back I know I was in a hurry to complete the shot and the assignment. In the real world I suppose there will always be deadlines to meet - but once again it is the eye of retail that I need to continue working on. This is what I have learnt.

I'm not sure I agree with Peter about the pegs on grass on pages 8 & 9. As you can see from the revision, I have altered the composition. In fact I tried a variety of different options, but I don't think any are as strong as the image originally selected. What this tells me is that I could spend more time bring further options. It also teaches me that I could have tried more variations at the time. and perhaps my first instinct - pegs in a bowl - may have told a better story about their random arrangement. I did not choose that image as it was not connected visually or illustratively with the story. Here are some of the options:

DSC_1195 DSC_2097 DSC_2091 DSC_0144

But I do agree with Peter about the tree on page 11. I had exactly the image Peter wanted to see among the shots I took at the time. So why didn't I use it and what have I now learnt? Well, at the time my decision to go for a slightly tighter shot was based on the colours and movement of the 2 yellow pillowcases. This is what I tried to emphasise. Peter's view (unsaid, by impression) was that a more balanced and better framed image would tell a stronger story. I agree with him. The point is here that it's really important to step back from the shot to assess the overall situation and weigh up the priorities. Taking an utterly unbiased view of the results after the shoot is a second chance to do the same. By shooting the image Peter wanted I clearly managed to do the first. By making the decision to user the tighter image means I did the second, but was my decision correct? I suppose the answer is to do with the editorial slant. Perhaps a stronger caption emphasising the pillowcases would have swayed Peter. A more general caption about the breeze, setting, view etc. would lean more towards Peter's point.

Where I don't agree with Peter is the layout of spread 12-13. I know exactly what he is saying and why he says it: it's a change of pace the layout of previous spreads and the images sit alongside one another with no white space between them. I know the importance of white space and though I am not a graphic designer I have worked with enough of them over the years to know how they suggest a change of graphic pace every now and then. At this point in the book (moving from outdoors to ironing) it made sense. So again this is about editorial context.

But what I have learnt is that this is also about the 'client' - in this case Peter. From his perspective the images were more important than the layout (this is a photography module after all). From the alternative spread (downloadable by pdf) you'll see the images are more prominent and, individually, tell a stronger story. I do prefer the
graphic solution of the first version though. So, I have learnt to stay focussed - and listen to the client!