This assignment is not submitted for formal assessment.
Devise a themed assignment on a topic that interests you and in a field of photography with which you feel comfortable (for example, landscape, street photography, portraiture, still-life).
Use what you have learned so far to construct an effective workflow, all the way through to the final displayed image. Your work for this assignment can be in the form of either prints or a web gallery. (For subsequent assignments your tutor will want to see some prints as part of your assignment submission.)
List all of the steps in your workflow, and as you move through the sequence, write a short commentary against each of these steps describing what you did.
Explain how you think your own workflow may differ from others’, and what adaptations you made to suit the way you yourself take and process photographs.
The number of images will depend on your subject, but plan to send between 6 and 12. Send your work to your tutor together with extracts from your learning log or your blog URL.
Before you send this assignment to your tutor, take a look at the assessment criteria for this course, which will be used to mark your work when you get your work formally assessed. The assessment criteria are listed in the introduction to this course. Review how you think you have done against the criteria and make notes in your learning log. Send these reflections, along with your photographs, your sketchbook, supporting studies and your learning log (or link to your blog).
INTRODUCTION TO ASSIGNMENT
My first action for this assignment was to sit and devise a workflow of how I wanted the assignment to come together, making sure that none of the OCA requirements were missed and that everything was covered. With this in mind, I came up with the following plan of action:
General Assignment Workflow
PICK TOPIC / LOCATION = My Theme: Why this topic?
Pre-shoot 1 = Location
Pre-shoot 2 = Aims and Requirements
Pre-shoot 3 = Equipment
Pre-shoot 4 = OCA Assignment Requirements
-Photo Requirements / Exposure Types / Histograms
-Final Batch of Images
HOW IS MY WORKFLOW DIFFERENT?
REFLECTION / CONCLUSION
Upload details to my learning log
Send assignment to my Tutor
“Devise a themed assignment on a topic that interests you and in a field of photography with which you feel comfortable (for example, landscape, street photography, portraiture, still-lift)”.
During TAOP, I never really thought much about the body of work I was producing and my exercises and assignments never really had a specific theme, only that which was dictated by the title of the module/exercise/assignment (Elements of Design; Colour etc.). Over these past few weeks, I seem to be thinking about this more and my photo-taking has become more theme based, which is working well as it makes me think in more detail about the photography I am about to undertake and what, in turn, I want to achieve from my photographs.
For this assignment we are required to devise a theme, based on a topic that interests us, and to use an area of photography with which we feel most comfortable. Thinking about this, I decided on a landscape themed photo-shoot, not specifically because I prefer these kinds of photos, but more because I find this type of photography the easiest to achieve as I can immerse myself in the landscape and just loose myself in my surroundings. Building on the need to find a theme for this first assignment, I decided to continue with the series titled “In Search of …” and as I knew I would be heading to the beach have called this batch of work, “In Search of Water”.
“Use what you’ve learned so far to construct an effective workflow, all the way through to the final displayed image.”
Looking back at my learning log surrounding workflow, and thinking about what steps I currently take in my own workflow, I wanted to see if I had made any changes to what I do, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there have been significant changes to the way I currently work.
My original workflow looked a little like this (taken from my learning log):
- Pre-check equipment to make sure that everything is clean, charged and included in my bag.
- Take my photos.
- Return and upload everything into iPhoto.
- Back up my images to a Hard Drive, giving the file a name that I find appropriate to the days photographs.
- Pick the images I like, discard those I do not.
- Tweak those I feel need tweaking.
- Print and/or post online.
But now, it looks much more like this:
- Think about the requirements of the photo-shoot. Will it be themed based and what am I looking to achieve from my outing.
- Pre-check equipment to make sure that everything is clean, charged and included in my bag.
- Take photos, being mindful of my histogram, composition and exposure of my images.
- Upload RAW files through Adobe Bridge, directly to my Hard Drive, giving the folder a corresponding name, and photos a unique file number.
- Backup JPEG files to my Hard Drive, using the same process as the RAW files ensuring that both files and folders correspond.
- If working towards a specific goal, go through the images using the ‘selects’ process.
- For those images I want to share, upload the JPEG image to iPhoto.
- Share …
Even though there is only one additional point to the process, each of the eight points are more detailed than before and more inline with a professional, easy to follow workflow.
The workflow I have used for this assignment is outlined below and the original scribbling’s can be found in my sketchbook.
Pre-Shoot Workflow Pt.1 ~ Scout Possible Locations
“List all the steps in your workflow, and as you move through the sequence, write a short commentary against each of these steps describing what you did”.
Even though I decided to stay within my comfort zone by conducting a landscape themed photo-shoot for this assignment, I wanted to use a different location, somewhere I had not used for any of my TAOP assignments in the past, and this was why I decided to head down to the beach. Another reason behind this choice was that the previous evening had seen celebration of the first full-moon in this New Luna Year of the snake, so celebrations where being held by the water front and I thought that there may be some good photo opportunities to be had during the next day’s clean up. In this first part of my workflow I show the basic rational behind my choice.
Pre-Shoot Workflow Pt.2 ~ Aims and Requirements
This second part of my pre-shoot workflow is very similar to the same section of my original workflow (as documented in my learning log), in fact I find these workings have become a constant in my pre-shoot workflow sequence, as in my mind it shows a logical way to breakdown the requirements of my day without over complicating things, although, not having that much experience with more regimented photo-shoots such as portraiture or still-life photography, I cannot say that these will not change over time. In fact, in the future it will probably be prudent to have different workflows for different photography scenarios i.e., one for a portrait shoot, a different one for a still-life shoot and something different again when I venture out on an open-ended, open-themed adventure.
Pre-Shoot Workflow Pt.3 ~ Equipment Check
Again, step three is almost identical to my original workflow for this procedure. The actual process here will probably never change, as it is something I feel very comfortable with and a process I followed long before I started thinking about my photography workflow. The only thing that will always change is the requirement of my equipment, as this is photo-shoot dependent, and as we know, all photo-shoots are different with different equipment requirements.
Pre-Shoot Workflow Pt.4 ~ Assignment Requirements
In addition to my usual pre-shoot workflow sequences, for this assignment I have also been mindful of the following items, as I feel each needs to be considered and included within my documentation:
- The assignment brief states that: “Your work for this assignment can be in the form of either prints or a web gallery.”
- Photo requirements.
- Exposure types.
Each point will be highlighted and covered where necessary.
Of the entire workflow process, my Post-Shoot workings have seen the most tweaking’s and changes as I have changed my image filing system and have introduced Adobe Bridge into the sequence for uploading my RAW images. I have also been using this programme in my ‘select’s’ process and I use Photoshop to convert RAW images to JPEG to be used in exercises – the first time I did this was during the Editing Exercise (details of which can be found in my learning log).
My original Post-Shoot Workflow followed these steps:
- Upload RAW images to external hard drive
- Give the folder an appropriate name & date
- Format CF card (where my RAW images are stored in camera.
- Upload JPEG photos to iPhoto
- Back up photos to external hard drive
- Give the folder an appropriate name & date.
Or in more detail below:
And the post-shoot workflow used for this assignment was as follows:
In addition to documenting my workflow, the assignment required me to answer the following question:
“Explain how you think your own workflow may differ from others’, and what adaptions you made to suit the way you yourself take and process photographs.”
Everybody works differently, and during my studies I compared the workflows of various academic bodies (Freeman, 2011; Langford, 2008; Steinmueller & Gulbins, 2010), all of which were very similar, but each very different in the way they carried out specific tasks. Looking at the work of fellow students, I can see that we all have different ways of doing things, some of my colleagues are detailed in their approach and methodical in the way they select their final images, whereas others are more relaxed surrounding their workflow and tend to go with the flow a little more. In my case, I am still learning about the best processes to put in place to make the whole sequence of events easy, enjoyable and productive.
Back in my learning log, while originally looking at workflow I made the comment:
“This final workflow in the sequence is the one I am going to have to work on over the coming weeks and months as after all of my research on workflow, I now realize that my post-processing activities let me down and are restricting the kind of photography I know I am capable of achieving”.
As a whole, I can see that progress is being made at all stages of my workflow, with the introduction of a new image filing system and by using new (to me) programmes to assist me in my editing capabilities. This will continue to change over time as new hardware and software is introduced to my workflow, it is my philosophy to adopt an open mind to the way things are done and that nothing should ever be carved in stone – something better could be round the corner, you just have to find it!
I have always been a little lax about my photography as a whole, but looking back over not only the work I have done for this module, but of all the work I have done during my studies, I can see major improvements in my knowledge and photo taking capabilities and in the process I follow while carrying out these tasks.
Once I had been out and taken my photos, it was now time to concentrate on working through my ‘select’s’ process and making my final choice of image for this assignment.
The first thing I did upon return to the apartment was upload my JPEG images to my computer and backup these files to my hard drive, once done, I was able concentrate on my RAW files.
As the selection and editing process is still quiet new to me, I have used the same editing process for this assignment as we did for the editing exercise.
My initial photo count was 115, not as many as I usually take, but enough to satisfy this assignment. I was a little disappointed when I arrived at the beach to find most of the clean up from the Luna New Year celebrations had already been conducted, so there were no interesting shots post-event to consider, although I did try out a few angles of the chard bonfire.
As said, my first look at the images was a little disappointing as I did not feel that there were that many good shots to choose from, I am used to taking lots of photos during a photography outing and having a good selection of images in the bank, but at this point I was already reconsidering another outing, but carried on editing in the hope that things would improve.
My technical edit saw me reject 20 images (marked as reject in red).
These images have been rejected as they are either incorrectly exposed or hold no interest within the frame (bad composure on my part).
Now that I have looked at the images a little more closely I can see that there are some good images to choose from, so do not feel that I need to conduct an additional photo-shoot to satisfy the assignment.
During the selects process I identified 35 images that I think are the best of the bunch. Adobe Bridge allowed me to mark these as ‘Select’.
Using this system works well for me, as I am able to keep an eye on the choices I have made during this elimination process, which can be seen to the left of the image. I just need to make sure that I do not change my selection process in the future as it could confuse me!
Looking at the 35 ‘best images’, I think it will be difficult to keep within my title “In Search of Water” as not all of the images have water in them, although each of the photos chosen have a water theme.
Now we are coming down to the nitty gritty as I have to make my choice of first selects.
I found this quiet a difficult task to complete, as the few images that really stand out do not include water, or have water theme, after about an hour of staring at the images, I have come up with a list of 10 First Selects and 25 Second Selects.
Now that I have arrived at this stage, it is time for me to walk away and come back tomorrow with a set of fresh objectives.
Having been away from the computer for around 18-hours, I have made a few changes to my final selection of images. I have swapped one image out and deleted two from my batch of first selects.
Although this image of some seaweed is okay, I have decided to swap it for something different (which can be seen later in the post).
You can see from the histogram that this image is well exposed and that it is of a fairly low contrast, due to the shape of peak; it is also well within the dynamic range of my camera. The tonal range peaks are in both the red and green channels, indicating that there are more lighter tones within the image, whereas the blue channel has a lower peak, which in turn makes the image a little less luminous. On second glance, I decided that this image is quiet boring, although well lit, which is why I decided to move it out of my 1st selects and into my 2nd selects.
I actually really like this next image, but decided to delete it from my selects, as there is no indication of water, therefore it cannot be grouped under the title ‘In Search of Water’.
This is a nice example of a Low-Key image. We can see that the graph peaks tend to the left, indicating the darkness within the frame, which is further enhanced by the increased levels of blue in the histogram. We can also see a little under exposure in the left hand corner of the picture, but we can also see that there is a peak of over exposure, which is present in the centre of burnt paper.
As with the previous image, this last rejected image has been eliminated, as there is no indication of water in the shot – a shame, as this is my favourite photo from the day.
Reading the histogram for this image, we can see that there is a high concentration of tones (or colours) present within the photo; this is represented by a very jagged graph. We can also see that the tonal representation is well within the dynamic range of the camera, and that there is no over-exposure or highlight clipping present in the shot.
Group & Review
Now that the changes have been made to my selections, my group and review stage images contact sheet is shown here.
I am happy with this final selection of images as each has a water-based theme and therefore come under the group title “In Search of Water”.
This was probably one of the hardest choices I have had to make for an assignment, is that because I had an off day with my photography, or am I getting more selective about what photos I take and in turn what images appeal to me? Not a question I feel I can answer now, but something that may become apparent over time.
My final eight photos for this assignment…
For this sequence of images, I will first show the histogram, then the final copy of the image.
This guy was fishing the seaweed as it is washed up onshore.
The histogram show good dynamic range in the image, but a limited tonal range as indicated by the low graph. There is also quiet a lot of highlight clipping present, due to the over-exposure on the waves as they move up the beach. I am aware of this issue, but with my limited knowledge and experience with Photoshop I am, at this time, unable to rectify this.
Looking at the shot, I decided to crop it a little to take out parts of the beach not relevant to the story. Although, perhaps a little more cropping was needed to place the fisherman more directly in the right third of the frame.
The histogram for the image titled Pebbles shows this to be a high contrast image, which is true due to range of tones across the axis. There is one area of clipping, which can be found in the foam of the crashing waves, but this does not spoil the photograph.
I got very low and personal with the beach for this shot and really like the angle of the stones and the fact that the focus is midway into the frame. I took many photos from this position, and this, I think is the best of the bunch.
I did not feel the need to make any changes to this photo and have kept it the same as in camera.
The histogram for the image Crashing Wave tends towards this being a low-key shot due to the darkness of the subject, which was created by my shooting into the sun, but there is no over-exposure or clipping present in the water or the waves.
I like the curves and flow of this shot, and the way the shoreline meanders in and out of the frame. I have cropped my final photo a little as I felt that there was too much darkness in the top of the frame, and by doing this, the appearance of the photo has changed to be a little less dark and sinister.
I really like the simplicity of this shot. I set up the frame so that the paw print in the front is the point of focus, and all other prints peter off into the distance.
The narrow histogram dictates that this is a low contrast image, and that the tonal range across the photo is limited too. The exposure is also within the limited set by the data within the shot.
A Sea Weed
This is the replacement image for the seaweed shot I took out of my original 1st Selects Batch. I made this change because when I looked at the batch with fresh eyes, this appealed to me more than my original choice of the two-coloured seaweed.
Again, the histogram shows that this is a low contrast image due to the narrower peak produced, but again, it is well exposed, with only slight over-exposure in the blue channel.
You can see that I have cropped this shot to take out some of the messiness to the left of frame, making it a little more pleasing to the eye, this has also been achieved by the placement of the seaweed on the central line, but over in the left third of the shot.
This image is of higher contrast than of the seaweed, and again there are no out of place readings on the histogram.
I have made no alterations to this shot, and although the step in the background seems a little ‘off’ the picture is a good representation of what I saw at the time of releasing the shutter.
The sand seems a little on the red side, but this is due to the natural filter of the sun as it rises in the sky.
I think the thing that appeals to me most about this image is that from the messiness of the sand, there is order in the lines created by something being dragged through it and the horizon seems to hold everything together.
I shared this (and all of my final eight photos) with a DPP group I belong too on Flickr, and one of my colleagues stated that: “He [the fisherman], seems so precariously perched, the things people do for their escapism. And his face being obscured in shadow makes him anonymous, as though he represents the stereotype”.
This is actually quiet true as the fisherman, and many more like him, have climbed a fence and scaled down this rock face just to be able to fish in this spot, perhaps there is something good to catch there, I don’t know, but by him wearing the headscarf, it look like he is a criminal, trying not to be noticed. Whatever the meaning behind the garb, it makes for good photographs.
Technically speaking, again this photo ticks all of the right boxes, and when I originally looked at this shot I did not like it so much, but with the crop in place, tightening the rocks in around the fisherman, it looks and feels much better.
Standing to Attention
I cannot quiet put my finger on it, but there is something that really appeals to me about this photo. Perhaps it is the scraggy lines created by the eroding rocks, or the glimpses of water you can see through the gaps in what looks like teeth, but the more I look at it the more I like it, which is strange as it really is nothing special!
Looking at the histogram, I can see there is an over-exposure spike to the left of the graph, which can be seen in the top right of the photograph. The graph does tends to the left, which again can be interpreted by the darker tones with the shot, and there are quiet a few blue channel spikes, again all tying in with the darker undertones.
THE FINAL IMAGE
Although I said at the beginning of this process that I would struggle to find my images for this assignment, when I saw this shot – in fact when I was taking this shot at the beach – I always knew that this would be ‘the one’. I like the simplicity of it; I like the detail of the print in the sand and the detail of the sand that surrounds the print. There is nothing fancy here and you can see exactly what the photo represents.
When I saw the requirement to produce my images as either prints or as a Web Gallery, I was a little flummoxed as we have never been asked to use this medium to present our work, but for me, this is great as I do not have to print my photos (at this point) and can display them online. That said, I had never really done this before, unless of course you count Facebook or Flickr, which are both really Web Galleries. I undertook some research.
Freeman (2001, p.242) states that ‘Digital photographs are among the very few entities ideally suited to the Internet, and websites are a perfect medium for them’. This is true, as our images are already in the correct format for uploading to the Net; we just need to find the best way of doing this and for showcasing our images.
Knowing that I would not need to create a website (at this point), I then dug further to see how I would be able to design a gallery that is easily accessible and also relevant to only this small body of work. I found the following:
Being a member of Flickr, I am able to create a Web Gallery, but looking into this, a gallery is created by including 18 images of fellow members’ work, and I cannot create one of just my work – so that is no good to me.
As I look more into the workings of Adobe Bridge, I cannot understand why I was so afraid of using it, as the programme is quiet amazing and very powerful. During my investigation, I found that Adobe Bridge allows the creation of a Web
Gallery, which is great, but unfortunately I have no means of uploading this to the Internet. Using my final eight photos I did create a sample page, a screenshot of which is shown below:
Finally, and taking this idea from a fellow DPP student I found Google +. Although this is a social media site, within its ability to upload photos, is the ability to create a web gallery, which is not as sophisticated as the Adobe Web Gallery, I have used to satisfy the requirement of the assignment, which can be seen by following the link below.
So, as the first module of Digital Photographic Practice draws to a close, I can safely say that this has been one of the most enjoyable modules I have undertaken through the OCA. It has been hard work, and at times very technical, but I have been on one of the biggest learning curves for some time and my ‘grey-matter’ has really been stretched.
Who would of thought a few weeks ago that I would now be able to look at and understand the workings of a histogram, and that my photography workflow would come under such scrutiny that it was obvious for me to make changes in the way I worked? And to top it all, who would of thought that I, a post-processing cynic, would ever praise any programme created by Adobe! But it now looks like I have been converted so long may the relationship last.
To end this assignment, we have been advised the check and see whether our learning’s and writing come up to the standard expected of us when submitting work for assessment, and looking at the assessment criteria below, I think I have managed to cover all of the bases.
Onwards and upwards …
Here are the assessment criteria for this course. These are central to the assessment process for this course, so if you are going to have your work assessed to gain formal credits, please make sure you take note of these criteria and consider how each of the assignments you complete demonstrates evidence of each criterion. On completion of each assignment, and before you send your assignment to your tutor, test yourself against the criteria – in other words – do a self assessment, and see how you think you would do. Note down your findings of each assignment you’ve completed in your learning log, noting all your perceived strengths and weaknesses, taking into account the criteria every step of the way. This will be helpful for your tutor to see, as well as helping you prepare for assessment.
Assessment criteria points
- Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills
- Quality of Outcome content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas
- Demonstration of Creativity imagination, experimentation, invention, development of personal voice
- Context reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log)
Adobe Bridge CS5
Freeman, M. (2011) The Digital SLR Handbook. Revised 3rd Edition. East Sussex: The Ilex Press Limited.
Google + (2013) https://plus.google.com
Langford, M., et al. (2008) Langford’s Advanced Photography. 7th Edition. Oxford: London.
Steinmueller, U., Gulbins, J. (2010) The Digital Photography Workflow Handbook – From Import to Output. Heidelberg: Steinmueller Photo.
Freeman, M. (2011) The Digital SLR Handbook. Revised 3rd Edition. East Sussex: The Ilex Press Limited.