Tutors response to “Contrasts”

Here is my Tutor report on my first assignment:-

Overall Comments.

Some of the images you have chosen to illustrate the contrasts in this assignment is a personal one but also an interesting topic using tools and materials from the garden shed that have gathered dust over a number of years. This assignment is about observation and how it can influence one’s thinking about the photographs that are to be recorded.

Assessment potential

‘I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment’.

Feedback on assignment

Light and dark.

In this sense, light refers to a degree of brightness in greyscale and not the weight of something, so the contrast is something at the other end of the scale that is dark. The two Mapplethorpe pictures are of nude studies recorded in black and white and framed behind glass where the emphasis is on white, whereas the sculpture is probably a bronze figure, which is dark in comparison. This complies with the notion of the contrasts.

Your copy photo of the two models has a magenta cast and also some reflective lights can be seen in the woman’s photo. I have taken the liberty to straighten and correct these in Photoshop

tutor correction 1

Still and moving.

The still shot of ‘The Battery at Grain’ is a nicely composed image with the viewer being led from the immediate foreground along the walkway to the battery itself. There is a good contrast in colour from the shoreline, walkway and the Battery. Positioned just above the horizon makes for a pleasing image. The train travelling on the Hastings line appears as moving in the mist can be taken in an opposite mode with the train appearing reasonably sharp and the surroundings blurred to indicate movement as in your illustration taken when practising panning, however the contrasts do compare.

Straight and curved.

Chagall window and altar at All Saints, Tudeley and Carving at St Thomas a Becket.

Both these examples have a mixture of straight and curved lines.

In both cases you could use the transform and skew tools in Photoshop to correct the convergence that appears. Also there is a degree of underexposure in the Chagall window shot, which you could correct by isolating the stained glass window with the lasso tool and to avoid lightening that at the same time inverse the image, and brighten the interior.

tutor correction 2

Weak and strong.

The foxglove being a flower is easily damaged and can be considered to be weak, whereas the gravestone would take some force to damage it, therefore it can be considered that these two images contrast with one another in this category. I like the positioning of the foxglove turning slightly inwards facing right with a blurring of the background that still has some interest and colour.

Transparent and opaque.

Using your father’s old shed and contents is the personal part of this assignment. Looking outwards through the window displays the transparency of the glass, whereas the section of the concrete panels confirms the opaqueness as a contrast.

Smooth and rough.

In these two images we see the roughness of the old watering can spout and also the smoothness of the stem in the same picture.

The second image of the hacksaw handle is seen as still smooth in appearance, after many years of neglect.

Diagonal and rounded.

The rusty saw blade resting against the shed wall has created a diagonal and the weights are rounded by design and fit this contrast.

Broad and narrow also termed as pointed and blunt.

The stainless steel spade and fork have survived still looking good after all this time and of course contrast with one another in both categories.

Strong and weak.

The rusty drill box despite its appearance is a strong object compared to the weakness of the spider’s web.

Many and few.

The jars of screws and the single screw on the floor make the comparison in contrast in numbers in this Aladdin’s cave of historic items.

Several Contrasts in one picture.

The wood plane does show several contrasts as you have pointed out. I am sure cleaned up this tool would still function well.

This assignment has fulfilled a couple of important factors. The first to seek out objects to contrast with one another as directed in the brief and also enabled you to document a part of your personal history and memories. In other words it helped you to think about an avenue that possibly had not occurred to you previously.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays


Congratulations on your exercises recorded on your blog together with your research and your reflection with exhibitions in Paris. It was good to see that you investigated the work of Martin Parr, Robert Mapplethorpe and Don McCullin among others.

Keeping sketchbooks and a learning log/blog is an integral part of this and every other OCA course, not only because they constitute 20% of your marks if you choose to have your work formally assessed but they are also an excellent way to see how you are developing.

I do hope you will continue to enjoy the course and fulfil your aims and objectives. Please contact me with any questions /queries you may have on any aspect of the course or techniques attributed to the course.

Suggested reading/viewing

If you can find the time consider some of this reading material.

PHILIOSOPHY / on Photography

Susan Sontag: On Photography

Berger, J. (1972)               Ways of Seeing London: Penguin Books.

                                             About Looking

ELKINS, James What Photography Is

TAGG, J. 1988. The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories. London: Macmillian.

Roland Barthes: Camera Lucida

 BATCHEN, G Photography Degree Zero: Writings on Camera Lucia

Pointers for the next assignment

Elements of Design’. This does follow on from assignment 1 in a practical way. Often students use buildings as they contain natural elements of different shapes to choose from. Also these are very much in evidence in plants and flowers.

Have a look at some of these sites to give you ideas if you wish:-





I am quite pleased with the report (it is of course early days so to speak) as I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing with regard to the shots in the shed, but am glad this came out reasonably well.  I have noted the points the tutor has made on correcting the flaws in the shots and must watch out for these issues, particularly white balance on interior shots, in future.

I’ve had a look at the recommended sites and will look at some more  of fellow students work as I progress towards assignment 2.  I will also have a look at the reading suggestions.  I did start to read Sontag’s book but found it very hard going.  I will, however, try again!



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