Assignment 3 – Tutor feedback

I was well pleased with my tutor’s report on this assignment. His comments are below and my responses are in italics.

Overall Comments

Your photographs always show the clear, sharp light of Canada, which is very beautiful. There is a lot here that works well and shows your understanding of the concept of colour in design. I realize you felt limited in colour possibilities, but you’ve done well despite that to make some strong pictures that all owe a lot to colour effect for their success.

There are times when your colour combinations are tenuous – as with the first shot of an Orange/Blue marina. There just isn’t enough boldness in the orange here to register above the predominating blue.

Complementary Colours

There is a slight pink-orange tinge from the sun (I guess) reflected on the shipyard buildings, but it’s very subtle. The predominant colour effect here is blue. The buildings register as a silvery grey colour.

It’s a pretty good landscape composition, with the buildings making a line across the horizon. Everything is in focus and the light you’ve captured is really wonderful. That’s something to work on – that amazing light.

[Firstly, thank you for the compliment on the composition. I had mentioned in my write up that the sun had set and the light cast on the boat sheds was from an artificial source which created the orange colour cast. I did wonder if the orange would be too muted for the assignment’s purpose, but I did want to include it as I felt it was a good composition and not all colour needs to be bright and bold.]

The orange lifeboat is much bolder here and certainly stands out against the neutral colours and the blue sky. Have a look at those bright corrugated aluminium buildings shining in the background – they are not central to your subject here, so it would have been good to either wait for the sunlight to change, or to reduce their brightness in Photoshop.

[Once again, there was no sunlight here, only artificial light which was shining directly onto the boat sheds.]

I’m not that keen on signs in pictures unless they add some meaning. This sign provides a centre for the composition, which makes the viewer ponder the ‘hard times’ signified by empty buildings. But the building itself is barely visible. I think you could have tried thinking about how to ‘tell the story’ by using colour rather than just thinking in terms of a colour composition.

[Actually the building is not empty. It is one of those places that offer furnished office space as well as secretarial services to clients. That aside I take the point about the sign.]

This one is mostly blues with the background containing golden signs, I think the chap reading the newspaper in the foreground is more interesting, with his pink socks! In a way its a pity that the advertizing these days often swamps photographs and makes the human element seem small and insignificant. I like the ‘dissent’ of this guy reading the paper. It would have been nice to get a bit closer.

[Fair point.]

Similar Colours

This is a good near/far composition. The sky is a bit bright and the horizon is not quite straight. (My tutor provided an reworked example here).

[I had straightened the horizon in Lightroom, but maybe I missed it by a fraction of a degree]

This photo of a woman on the bus is a bit like the man reading the newspaper, it begins to tell us something of the social milieu of Vancouver by using colour and light. It fits into a small series you have here of people in the street. Something that may be worth building on.

[I actually thought that this was one of my weaker images, so I’m pleased to hear it is something worth building on.]

The rusty corrugated iron is a good study, but you need to move away from this kind of ‘easy’ picture and seek out some more meaningful subjects. There are only so many ‘patterns’ like this that you can make before you’ve ‘made ‘m all’!

Red maples are always a good subject for this assignment.

Contrasting Colours

There is something about the unusual way you have composed this shot that makes the imbalance between the big blue sky and the place where the eyes naturally move (the building), work reasonably well. It is a bold colour study, but it also describes something of the environment.

Blue and red make a strong contrast here. Ideally you’d want the subject to be different from the background. Here the red is kind of peripheral. But it is there and does affect the overall picture, which is one of the better photos in this assignment, if only because he’s an interesting looking character.

Again, a street portrait that works quite vividly as a colour contrast. There is also a little narrative here when we interpret the worried looking man outside the law firm.

The rusty containers are different colours, but they are very subdued. (My tutor provided a reworked example of this image in which he had selectively increased some of the colours and reduced the brightness of the sky in order to bring the foreground out). It’s an interesting industrial landscape photo and something that you could develop as a series.

[Compliments on all four images – I’m pleased!]

Colour Accent

Your yellow leaf works well as a colour accent, actually it is also accentuated by the brightness of the leaf against the darker background.

[I totally agree]

This four point colour accent is more interesting. Super vivid orange road markers almost swamp the cyclist.

When you find subjects that are this strong, you shift a gear. You need to take the best photos in this assignment – like this one – and print them out so you can view them repeatedly. Try to stay this good, this proficient in all your photography. (My tutor then suggested and provided an example to reduce the brightness in the sky and buildings in the background and bring out the pumpkins by doing selective toning. Unfortunately he provided a Photoshop solution so I will have to try and find out how to do this in Lightroom).

[Wow! I was blown away by this remark and extremely happy to get such positive feedback]

This picture is indecisive because there are two colour accents: the man and the logo on the left. The most meaningful accent here is the lost looking young man. It reminds me of something Jeff Wall could have made. (My tutor then suggested and provided an example of an alternative crop for the image).

[If my photo is reminding anyone of something Jeff Wall might have made, then I’m taking that as a huge positive remark – even if the photo is indecisive.]

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Your writing is extensive and indicates that you have some clear ideas about processing your photographs and interpreting them.

Your research is beginning to blossom, which is great. Try to say what you think about the photographs of McCurry or Eggleston rather than just reiterate what others think or provide a potted history of the photographer’s life. It’s what you think, your responses that matter most of all.

[I have tried to convey my thoughts on McCurry and Eggleston, but I guess a bit more analysis won’t go amiss. Its a work in progress.]

Suggested reading/viewing

Have a look at this video with Jeff Wall, it may interest you.

Also Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects, where you’ll find a stunning pumpkin picture!

Pointers for the next assignment

Try to find yourself an interesting object for AS4. Something that will tell a different story in different lighting and thereby reveal the meaning of light.