Tag Archives: landscape

Assignment 5 – Tutor Feedback

I awaited my tutor feedback for Assignment 5 with bated breath, hoping it would come in time for me to get my submissions ready for assessment. It arrived this afternoon. I have added my comments in italics.

Overall Comments

My tutor stated that this was my most mature and interesting assignment to date. It showed my technical and visual development over the course and showed my potential as a degree student and a professional photographer. He found the subject of Finn Slough both fascinating and strange, the proximity to the water is palpable in my photos and was the visual key to the project as a whole.

[Thank you. I had really enjoyed working on this project and found that I ‘found my groove’ with it.]

However he stated that there was one major flaw with the project and wanted to know where the community was in this series about a community. He assumed that it was the immigrant community that attracted me to Finn Slough and mentioned that presumably the descendants of the original Finns and ex-Soviet states were still living in the slough. He said it would have been a wonderful opportunity to look into a micro-world that has managed to remain aloof from our globalized society and see how their culture has survived, developed and cross-fertilized with Canadian life.

[While I get where he is coming from, in that I did not get close up portraits of any of the people living in this community, they do feature in two of my photographs. According to the research I have done very few descendants from the original families still live in the slough. I think there are two at most. While some still fish, it is now mainly an artists community now.]

The other obvious criticism is the lack of a clear narrative. This is a series, and it is a good series, but there is a difference between similar kinds of photo repeated and a developing story where something changes, grows, time passes. The narrative that is suggested to me is connected to the tide rather than the light. You have images here of very high tide and one of low tide. This dramatically transforms the landscape, turning a water-logged land into a land of muddy channels.

[There were two photos that had the same subject, namely the historical boat, Eva which show the location both at high tide and low tide. My narrative was always meant to be about the tides rather than the light, although shooting at different times, days and during different weather conditions would definitely have changed the light. I believe some of these lighting conditions served to enhance the images, rather than detract from them. Actually there are six images taken at high tide and four images taken at low tide. The images where the subjects are surrounded by grass (no 2, 4, 7) are all low tide images. This is a wetland area and vegetation grows below the water, grass, bulrushes, skunk cabbages and so on. Perhaps my captions lacked this explanation.]

My tutor went on to say that the work is promising and that I should continue with my studies. He further suggested that this project could develop into a larger body of work that would include the missing elements he has mentioned.

Feedback on images


My tutor suggested that the photo was not sharp, that it look as if it had been blown up.

[The photo was not blown up, but he may have been picking up on the blur on the flag. It was a long exposure taken just before dawn and there was a breeze blowing. However I have another photo of the same scene which was taken during a lull in the breeze which I will substitute].


This was not an interesting image according to my tutor. He said I needed to figure out how to give it more depth of meaning visually.

[I have another photo of the bridge which I will substitute].


This is an atmospheric water-scape giving the best overview of the living conditions in this place with the houses on stilts. You’ve maybe got a little too much of the empty water, but it’s still a strong shot.

[I have to agree on the empty water. I had cropped it, but found that I was losing too much detail on the left bank. I shall try a panorama crop].


The house is another wonderful photo, plenty of telling detail here in really lovely light. Where has the water gone? Should you have included it in the frame to retain the watery theme?

[Thank you. I agree the light was fantastic at that time. Where has the water gone? It is low tide, so the water has gone out to sea. During low time Finn Slough is totally emptied of water].


It’s good to see the mountains in the distance. This maybe a little too pretty and disconnected to form part of the series, where is Finn Slough here? This could be anywhere. You could try lifting the houses out of the dark more. (Note that this may be a monitor issue).

[I can see your point that it may look too pretty for the series, so I will substitute another photo that I took of the same house at a slightly different angle].


This house looks so full of character that it makes me want to meet the people who live here. It looks like something designed by a set designer, but it’s real and it’s organic. It is also interesting to see the Canadian flag flying, which could say something of the need to defend oneself from xenophobia.

I think this shot would have been improved if you had placed the inhabitants in front of it, on the road, closer to camera. This would have created a relationship: house + the people who live there.

[I agree with the point about the house. It is laden with character. Personally I think the xenophobia bit might be stretching it a bit. Canada is one of the few multicultural countries in the world where multiculture is actually working. Canadians are a patriotic people and like their American counterparts, they love to fly their flag from their houses. Many immigrants have also taken to flying their homeland’s flag outside their houses and apartments as well. I totally concur that this image would have been raised to a different level if I had been able to photograph the inhabitant. I did speak to her on several occasions and asked if I could take her photo, but she refused and I have to respect her wishes].


It’s wonderful to see the connection between these houses and the landscape, there is not an assault on the land here, but a true dwelling in it. Sisu is an interesting word here because this place would sure require a lot of it!


There is a contrast here, but it is not that clearly visualized by this shot because the Seaspan ferry is obscured by trees. Good that you noticed it though.

[What most attracted me to this image were the various layers from front to back: the foreground water, the row of houses, the row of vegetation behind them, the Fraser River with the ferry passing by and beyond that another island and of course the sky].


Another sign, which I think you can cut out of the series.

[I rather like the sign which is on the old drawbridge. I find it rather ironic that a bridge that was built in the 1940’s would have a sign on it that features a website URL. As this was one of my details shots, I will substitute it for another].


This was an opportunity to get a lot closer. This couple are evidently engrossed in their work and their heads are down. That can work if their work is illustrated by their body postures in a strong way. But here, it is unclear. A formal portrait using the wooden shack as a background would have presented more visual interest.

[Yes, it would have been nicer to be able to get closer, but it was high tide and they were across the river. I was as close as I could get].


The Mermaid is a remarkable shot with beautiful light and colour. It could well be the cover shot because it works almost as an optical illusion with oddly placed planes – like a Cubist painting. It’s bizarre. Well spotted and well framed.

[This image has grown on me. At first I didn’t like it, but after having lived with it in my office for a few weeks, I have come to appreciate the intricacies of it. If held in portrait format it looks like an abstract of a totem pole].


This is a much more satisfying shot of the Eva in front of the old house, though I think you will need to choose either one or the other because this looks like repetition. The light, tones and colours are really beautiful and it’s interesting that we see the dry river bed at low tide here for the first time.

[I agree that there is repetition. I was worried about that. I desperately wanted to depict high tide and low tide and aesthetically speaking the Eva was the best choice that was accessible. This was also the only location where I could get a “pure mud” shot as just past this the river bed is covered by vegetation].


The old “taken from the road shot”! It does appear a little lazy when the road appears as a diagonal at the bottom of the frame. Apart from that it’s a shot that could work, showing the tall thin trees and the little islands and spits.

[Actually the shot was taken from the dyke wall. As this is both the entrance and exit for the boats of Finn Slough I do think it is a good closer].

Learning Logs/Critical essays

The blog and your research are looking good. A bit more studying will give you the terms you lack in explaining photographs.

The accompanying text does show some immaturity (unlike the images) because it doesn’t really add much other than anecdotal information.

[I’m not sure I completely understand this statement. The brief stated that we should just write captions, which according to the Oxford Dictionary means “words printed with an illustration or photograph in order to describe or explain it.”]

I like the way Virginia has decorated her house with flotsam and jetsam, but Virginia is missing from the shot so the text tries to ‘stand in’ for the missing person.

[I have already explained Virginia’s absence above and in my assignment. She did not want to be photographed].

The historical information is interesting as an opening but it does tend to look somewhat incongruous when we see that it is essentially a landscape series. Such a text would then focus more on the nature of landscape.

[Point taken, but I do feel that the history is rather necessary to understand the landscape too].

Your visual skills are getting stronger and there are photos here that could turn up in National Geographic or some such magazine. You are noticing the light, the colour and the texture of things and ordering shapes in the frame really well.

[Thank you! That is very encouraging to hear].

Suggested reading/viewing

I see you’re reading Sontag’s ‘On Photography’, which can be difficult. Try David Bate’s ‘Photography: Key Concepts’.

[I had noted in my review on Sontag’s ‘On Photography’ that I had read it through once. I purchased Photography: Key Concepts after the tutor’s same recommendation in Assignment 4 Tutor Feedback].


Ross Penhall – Accidentally on Purpose

I took in the Accidentally on Purpose exhibition by Ross Penhall at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art on the same day that I attended the Victor John Penner exhibition. His paintings were on display in the Mezzanine and Process Galleries. I first checked out the Process gallery which is a sort of backroom alcove off the main gallery and came across walls entirely covered in little 6 by 6 inch framed paintings. On the one wall the paintings were hung in a grid pattern which made them easier to view, but on the larger wall they were hung a little haphazardly and I found this made the viewing a little overwhelming. There were just so many of the little paintings! I didn’t quite know where to look. I was rather intrigued by the smallness of the paintings and thought that the artist had definitely gone to a lot of trouble to make such small landscape paintings.

I then went upstairs to the Mezzanine Gallery where the displayed work was in a larger format. I quite liked Penhall’s paintings. His colour palettes varied from quick bright to fairly muted and I was reminded of some of the painters in the Romantic that I had looked at when studying Johannes Itten’s book on the Elements of Color, namely Casper David Friedrich, John Constable and Philipp Otto Runge and  J.M.W Turner as I found that Penhall’s body of work has similar palettes.

Hello Forest by Ross Penhall

Hello Forest by Ross Penhall

I particularly liked his Hello Forest series which is a set of paintings of the log staircases that are often built into the walking trails around Vancouver, some of them going right up the mountain. The green palette is almost monochromatic with just a few accent splashes of colour of yellows or reds in each painting. He uses leading lines on his boardwalks and staircases to lead the viewer up into the painting and deeper into the forest.

Had I not been in such a hurry to grab a seat for Ian Wallace’s artists talk, I would have read the introductory wall text that accompanied the exhibition in the Process Gallery. However, I came across this video provides the back story and which explains how Penhall works with the local kids in helping them understand art and how he actually cut up a painting as a party favour, signed the back and gave the pieces to the kids. One lady framed her tile (they were meant to be coasters) and he thought that it looked pretty good and so he got the idea of doing this in a more purposeful manner. So in actual fact he doesn’t create small little paintings. He creates large canvases and then slices them up. The video has a good clip showing Penhall hanging all the 6 by 6 paintings on the back wall of the gallery.


Penhall, Ross: Accidentally on Purpose [vidcast, online] The Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. 16/03/2015. 3 min. 07 secs. https://vimeo.com/122360608 (accessed 30/03/2015)


Eydís Sigurbjörg Luna Einarsdóttir – Eastside Culture Crawl

Eastside Culture Crawl is an annual 4-day art, design and craft festival held in East Vancouver. This year there are about 350 artists exhibiting at the event. I researched the list looking for photographers and came up with a few that I decided were worth investigating. The Crawl is an interesting event as the artists open up their studios to the public, but many of the artists actually live in their studios so you literally walk through their living spaces to get to the art work.

Eydís Einarsdóttir was the one photographer whose work I was most intrigued to see. She is from Iceland and lives in Vancouver. She was in attendance and it was nice to hear some of her back stories about her photographs. I found her use of light really amazing, almost like poetry. One of my favourite images that I saw was a sunset in Iceland. She favours making images of big skies and extremely small horizons. In some of her photos, one comes across the horizon only by chance – it is almost as if it is there as afterthought, but in a good way – the skies have such amazing detail that they tell their own stories. But by and large her landscapes are quite minimalist, which really works well. There is one image that is quite similar to Andrea Gursky’s The Rhine II image in structure, having the wide, open space, the centred horizon line and the leading in layers. I’m not normally a fan of abstract work, but I do like her abstract landscapes. One can still tell what the subject matter is and she has deployed various methods to create the abstract like defocussing the image, or performing a slow pan across the width of the image which really look quite lovely when viewed in a large print.

I like the way she creates these layers or strata of depth in her photographs which lead the eye in deeper and deeper into the image. Whether in colour or black and white the beauty of the landscape shines through, the main subject always being that of the amazing light.

Her series on Icelandic waters is a perfect colour study on analgous colours – the blue skies setting off the turquoise of the lakes and ocean. She has done some beautiful long exposures rendering the turquoise water smooth as glass and the clouds’ movement radiating out in different directions. She uses simple elements of design such as points, diagonals and leading lines in her photographs to convey movement and stability.

She has an interesting series on her website called Paper Play, where she was inspired by the latest summer fashion colours and created paper shapes to photograph in a very fun way. I wish I had come across this series while I was busy with the colour assignment. Still, this series serves an interesting example of light, shadow and form. Her black and white series on Junk Food is also all about lighting, showing textures of potato crisps, toasted marshmallows, dried noodles, corn dogs and doughnuts. I particularly like the ones of the deep fried potato crisps, where all the bubbles are etched into 3D by the light.

Eydís is also a commercial photographer, working a range of subjects from still life, fashion, beauty, food and drink to name but a few. I shall definitely be going back to her website to study her lighting techniques in more depth.

Reference List

Einarsdóttir, Eydís [online]. Studio 80s. Available from: http://www.studio80s.com [Accessed 22 November, 2014]

Karen Cooper Gallery

I came across this little gallery while I was out gathering material for assignment three. The Karen Cooper Gallery is a tiny gallery situated on Granville Island in Vancouver. Granville Island is a very artsy place, consisting of a Fine Arts University and many little artists’ studios ranging from painting to silkweaving. Most of the artists also sell their wares there. Karen Cooper exhibits and sells her own work.

She specializes in landscape photography of British Columbia. I was immediately attracted to a print done on canvas which she had displayed in her window, named Winter Reflections. It is a snow scene of a riverbank with a row of birch or maple trees, their branches devoid of all leaves and their reflection in the river. The dominant colour, of course, was white, but there was also a pink and soft green glow emanating through the trees, probably the reflection of a wintery sunset by the snow crystals. The horizontal line of the riverbank and the vertical trees both giving strength and stability to the image, while the colours lend it a fragility and ethereal quality.

Karen Cooper uses a variety of finishes on her work, ranging from acrylic to aluminium and glass prints. I felt some of the post processing work was a little over the top, for example Leaves and Rocks 2.  The grey river rocks’ saturation has been pushed into the blue-green category and does not look natural any more. I live near a river and come across this type of scene fairly often and have never seen wet rocks that colour. Even the leaves are over-saturated, but somehow this seems less of a transgression than the rocks’ colour treatment.

I did like her Hazelnut Orchard – Single Tree photograph. The image of the vase-shaped hazelnut tree placed centre in the photography with symmetrical rows of hazelnut trees on either side, creates a very strong image. The diminishing perspective of the rows of trees disappearing off into the distance, converging behind the centre tree, create a sense of drama and mystery. The colours found are mainly analogous – the dark green of the grass, spotted with yellow-green hues where the sun’s rays break through and reach the grass; the darker green of the shadows of the branches on the ground and of course the hues of the moss on the tree branches. All these greens contrast with the grey mid tones of the trees to the darker grey to black tones of the trees’ trunks in the distance.

Albeit a small gallery, there were many nice photographs to see and the visit proved to be a restful interlude to my assignment work.

Reference List

Cooper, Karen. Leaves And Rocks 2 [online]. Karen Cooper Photography. Available from: http://karencooper.artistwebsites.com/featured/leaves-and-rocks-2-karen-cooper.html [Accessed 26 October, 2014]

Cooper, Karen. Hazelnut Orchard – Single Tree [online]. Karen Cooper Photography. Available from: http://karencooper.artistwebsites.com/featured/hazelnut-orchard–single-tree-karen-cooper.html [Accessed 26 October, 2014]

Cooper, Karen. Winter Reflection [online]. Karen Cooper Photography. Available from: http://karencooper.artistwebsites.com/featured/winter-reflection-karen-cooper.html [Accessed 26 October, 2014]

Assignment 2 – Planning

For this assignment I am to incorporate what I have learned thus far into a set of photographs directed towards one subject. I need to produce 10 – 15 photographs, all of a similar subject, which between them will show the following effects:

  • single point dominating the composition
  • two points
  • several points in a deliberate shape
  • a combination of vertical and horizontal lines
  • diagonals
  • curves
  • distinct, even if irregular, shapes
  • at least two kinds of implied triangle
  • rhythm
  • pattern

Choose from these groups of subjects:

  • flowers and plants
  • landscapes
  • street details
  • the raw materials of food
  • if you prefer, choose your own subject.

I initially thought that I would choose landscape as my subject as we have many forests close to where I live. However when I went out to try some scenarios I quickly realised that it would be rather difficult to tick all the required boxes. The forests here are dense and dark with very little clearings. They are not easy to walk through – they’re fine if you are a small animal where you can get through the nooks and crannies left by fallen trees and low branches. A small selection of the images can be seen in the gallery.

Then after reading an article on the LensCulture site about Brenda Biondo who did a series of the vintage playground equipment in America, I thought that would make an interesting subject. So off I went to do some test shots. Plenty of shapes and angles, but the equipment is so much smaller than in my childhood, plus I thought about the problem of children in a photo. The way the world is nowadays, I didn’t want to go through that hassle.

Shortly after this I happened upon CreativeLive’s site and noticed a tutorial about food photography (write up is under my Learning tab). In the tutorial, Todd and Diane Porter explained how simple it was to use natural lighting for food photography and they demonstrated their workflow in this regards. This got me thinking and I started to do some research into various food photographers. I looked at the following photographers’ work, focusing mainly on their photographs with raw food and have noted what I liked/disliked about their work:

  • David Loftus – loved the clean, rustic look
  • Beatrice Peltre – her photos are very light and airy, highlights blown out, also uses contrasting materials around the food
  • Carl Warner – landscapes with food. There was no way I was going to try anything like that. The man is a genius!
  • Keiko Oikawa – I also liked the way that she blows the highlights out in the background in some of her photos
  • Mittongtare Studio – the dark, moodiness and bright, airiness of his photos. Makes strong statements.
  • Jean Cazals – I liked a few of his images, but found some of them a bit too contrived. A slice of bacon wrapped around a branch is not going to send me out to buy bacon, nor will a fresh fish lying on caked mud. Still they are different and have a bit of a shock/surprise value to them.
  • Anders Schonnemann – most of his photos have a rustic, moody feel to them.
  • Clara Gonzalez – again the bright, airy look and the dark, moodiness
  • Alexandra Grablewski – her photos were mainly of cooked food and table settings with an airy feel
  • Mythja – I really liked her photos. Very rustic, used old props and many of the photos were taken outdoors, but they all have a very distinctive moodiness to them.
  • Clare Barbosa – her fantastic props and once again the airiness of her photos.

I also looked through numerous Fine Cooking magazines and cookbooks that I have on my bookshelf. I searched Jstor for any journals, but only came up with a few articles which I will include in the Assignment’s bibliography.

Now that I had some ideas floating around in my head, I persuaded my husband to make me a couple of rustic tabletop backdrops, one dark and the other light. I then went to the local Salvation Army store and bought some few vintage style cutlery (and also borrowed some from a friend). I went shopping for some non shiny props, as most of my kitchen utensils are stainless steel.

I then sketched out (very badly) some ideas – please forgive my drawing skills – they are non existent.

Let’s see how it all works out.


Barboza, Clare. (2014) Clare Barboza Photography [online]. Available from http://clarebarboza.com/ [Accessed 27 July, 2014]

Biondo, Brenda. (2014) Once Upon a Playground [online]. LensCulture. Available from: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/brenda-biondo-once-upon-a-playground [Accessed 25 July, 2014]

Grablewski, Alexandra. (2014) Alexandra Grablewski Photography [online]. Available from http://www.agrablewski.com/ [Accessed 29 July, 2014]

Loftus, David. (2014) David Loftus [online]. Available from http://www.davidloftus.com/food [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Mittongtare, Pornchai. (2014) Mittongtare Studio [online]. Available from http://www.mittongtarestudio.com/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Mythja (2014). Mythja Photography [online]. Available from http://mythja.com/ [Accessed 29 July, 2014]

Oikawa, Keiko. (2014) Keiko Oikawa Photography [online]. Available from http://www.keikooikawa.com/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Peltre, Beatrice. (2014) Beatrice Peltre Food Styling & Photography [online]. Available from http://www.beatricepeltre.com/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Schonnemann, Anders. (2014) Anders Schonnemann Photography [online]. Available from http://www.schonnemann.dk/ [Accessed 29, July, 2014]

Warner, Carl. (2014). Carl Warner [online]. Available from http://www.carlwarner.com/foodscapes/ [Accessed 28 July, 2014]

Workshop, Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter – Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling [webcast, online] Creative Live, Seattle, USA, June 2014. 32 minutes: 48 seconds. https://www.creativelive.com/courses/story-plate-food-photography-styling-todd-porter-and-diane-cu (accessed 27 July, 2014)