Assignment 4 – Response to Tutor Feedback

Fig. 13 Black Vanitas (colour) - 1/160 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 01 Black Vanitas (colour) – 1/160 at f/16, ISO 100

My tutor has provided his feedback on assignment 4, the following extracts are those specifically relevant to this assignment, he helpfully provided his thoughts on assignment 5 which I have excluded here . My comments are included in blue.

Overall Comments

Thanks for submitting assignment four Steve, which I enjoyed looking through and feeding back on.

The key issues I mentioned within my last feedback report were as follows:

  • Look at the work of Victor Burgin and Jason Evans in relation to assignment 3.
  • Look at the work of Penn / Weston in relation to Assignment 4.
  • Continue to read around the subject matter and review both practitioners work and exhibitions visited, via the blog.

Whilst it has not been specifically mentioned I am not attending enough exhibitions. Once the busy season is finished at work and I have some weekends free I want to address this. I spent time looking at Burgin and Penn. Burgin offered a new perspective on my assignment 3 and many of his ideas have stayed with me and I think will feed into assignment 5. Penn was a major influence for assignment 4. I looked closely at Weston and there was a hint of some of his work in the way I approached some of my still life exploration but it was his nudes that had the most impact on me and I want to hold back getting deeper into his ideas for a more appropriate junction.

Overall, I thought this was a strong submission and think you will have benefitted from the technical activities required here. Also, I think you are responding very well to the feedback offered Steve and I have seen evidence of this response within both the assignment submission and via the blog.

Assignment Feedback

From a technical perspective the imagery you chose for submission worked very well. You have demonstrated an excellent control of different lighting throughout the sets explored, whilst also keeping a close eye on the practitioners who have informed your own work (Penn / Bailey etc). I’m convinced that the success you have had with the assignment is as a direct result of the comprehensive and thorough testing conducted within your development work.

Fig. 05 My Dad's Stuff

Fig. 02 My Dad’s Stuff

Some of this development work was really impressive, especially the visual exploration of your ‘father’s stuff’ which I thought was really interesting on several levels. The composition was simple, but contained enough objects to arouse visual curiosity from the viewer, then in addition to this it was a very personal, and in my opinion, worthwhile exercise – the documentation of your late father’s archive.

My tutor expanded on this subject discussing some of his own work. I have had a few comments from other people on this mini-project and it is a good example of how some simple subjects or projects can strike a chord with viewers because they are evocative topics that many people share. Archeology is about what survives and looking at what survives a person that you knew well is a subject that I find interesting and one that I want to pursue further inside or outside this course.

Fig. 09 Skulls - Shape - 1/125 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 03 Skulls – Shape – 1/125 at f/16, ISO 100

In terms of your actual imagery submitted, I can’t fault both your approach and execution. I really liked the work conducted with the skulls, which are always very visually interesting – There did seem to be quite a lot of flare wrapping around the subject though, which subsequently reduces the definition of the object being photographed. The way around this is firstly to get the white background separated from the object, in terms of physical distance between the two, and then over expose it only by 2 stops. So if you then bring the skull forward and use some kind of screens on either side of the shot, (bring them as close to the subject as you can without actually coming into shot) … you can light the subject independently of the background with a separate light at the front of the set. Try it and see if you can get a little more definition in the sides of the skull.

This is a valid point and there is too much flare on the sides of the skulls. I will rework the skull images and test out my tutor’s recipe which is a helpful guide.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Again, I can’t see any issues here and the blog is working really well – very easy to navigate and full of evidence of both research and development work.

Keep up this level of curiosity and include posts about everything you are reading and viewing in relation to image making.


I am obviously pleased with this feedback and felt that I found shared interests and connected with my tutor more than I had in my earlier assignments. I have been given a lot of guidance on the way to approach assignment 5 and this is both helpful and motivating. the end of TAoP is in sight.

The other important factor was that the valid criticism of my treatment of the skulls was accompanied with a suggested technical approach to improve the pictures and this is especially welcomed. I have commented elsewhere that I found it very difficult to track down practical guides to lighting still life with remote flash guns and there is a limit to how much one can learn by analysing practitioners’ end results to create a lighting recipe. 


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