Assignment 5 – MAKING

I originally had several ideas for Assignment 5, the first of which was a series of cracking plants but on relfecction this was too dodgy, in the sense that I could easily travel to a distance site, only to find that I could not get near enough for what I wanted. The final idea came form the work done in a previous part of the course where I documented the work my sister put into making an art quilt. This was done over a period of three weeks.

So my idea was to create a series of sections, each on a different craft, documenting the process in photos. This then morphed into creating a poster for each craft. If I was to hold a real exhibition, it would matter about layout, uniformity across all posters, e.g. font sizes, background colour, uniform layout. I inquired of the curator of the National Needlework  Archive if they ever had photographic exhibitions. When I explained the background to my question, I was taken to the café and told, ‘ have this’. At the time, I was still trying to decide if this was a good idea or not, but I left having agreed to hang the exhibition on June 5th and it would stay up for a month.

This focussed the mind wonderfully. I had already created a trial poster from the quilting work but realised it would not do and examined the final version, taking careful notes re background colour and font et cetera to ensure uniformity.  This I then had printed (Whitewall) as A1 and A2 to judge which size would be best and decided on A1.

I started with a list of 15 crafts which was reduced to 11 after I completed the first two photographic sessions. These were ‘furniture’ and ‘lace making’. The lace making was such that I managed a complete set of photos starting with the choice of design, show the process and finishing with some completed examples. The other one was furniture. There is a small furniture maker a few miles away and they were very helpful but the problem remains that they cannot complete anything meaningful in an hour so it is such a series of snapshots. I reconsidered the list and removed other crafts were this would also hold. I wanted to keep my presence down to one hour. Most of these people are earning their living by their craft and I did not want to get in the way. I made it plain at the start that they should just get on with the work and ignore me. I did have to interrupt as I wanted one portrait of the maker. Everyone was asked for permission and told the background to the request. To my astonishment, no-one said no! (I did promise an A1 poster when finished and took a box of biscuits to each craftsperson.)

The final list was

  • book binding
  • braids
  • ceramics
  • dyed cotton
  • felting
  • furniture
  • glass
  • lace
  • quilting
  • spinning
  • weaving

Some of these were personal friends but several were total strangers.

In taking photographs, I took far more than I could use. The minimum count was 70 and maximum over 100. For each craft, 6 to 9 were extracted, processed (cropped, colour balance corrected, et cetera) and a poster created. The first figure shows the announcement of the exhibition followed by some photos of the exhibition venue and then 11 figures showing the posters themselves. The posters were all created as 60 by 80 cm at 300 dpi in photoshop. The final printing was not done by Whitewall – too expensive but by a local printer whom I know. He made a very good  job of the printing particularly the colour. I draw to your attention, the one of Dyed Cotton. The real colours were as rich as shown.


Photos of Venue


The 11 posters follow










Assignment 5 – Not Quite Yet

The silence from me is because this assignment has been very ponerous. However one more photography session next Sunday and I will be done, apart from hanging the actual exhibition. Some of it is okay and some of it could be done better – if I have a year to spend on it.  In the meantime —-


Assignment 5 Preparation

I have got past the planning stage and into execution for Assignment 5. It is going to take me at least another 3 weeks to finish. I have posted once on the idea below but it is fully fledged now.

My tutor was very unkeen on my idea of going round the country searching for good views of cracking plants and said that I could find good material close to home. By the time he said that, I was going off the idea because of the trouble I had with the photos of the wind turbine. It seemed to me that two thirds of my journeys were likely to be non-productive. So I have decided on an exhibition called MAKING which involves takes a load of photos of a craftsman or woman doing something. When I stopped to think about what craftspeople I knew, I found I had a list of more than 14 possibilities. I have done four. I am going to a furniture maker today, I have a spinner lined up for next week as well as a glassblower and a braider. Others are lined up for later. What has surprised me is that no one said No!!

Each craft will have its own A1 poster. I had an A1 and an A2 poster printed professionally and the A1 is better. What is taking time is creating the poster – in Photoshop of course. But ensuring that they all have the same format has been hard work. I have masses of notes of exactly what colour the background is and what the dimensions are. Each poster is taking 5 to 6 hours solid work on Photoshop.

The most important bit is that the exhibition at the National Needlework Archive which  will hang in their café for a month from June 5th. And I can have a maximum of 12 A1 posters.  The fact that there is going to be a real exhibition has concentrated the mind and makes me take a great deal more care about the layout. Taking the photos is less than half the work. I took 69 photos last Saturday of a feltmaker of which I have used 9. And that is about the ratio of used to unused. So far I have completed a quilter, a lacemaker, a feltmaker and a weaver is well under way. The poster for Lace is below.


Tutor on Assignments 3 and 4

I had a’’ session with my tutor last week and today (Monday 16/04/18) and can quote some of the comments. Assignment 3 was photos of my sister diagnosing problems with a sick poinsettia. It correlated well with the ideas of a staged photograph and he thought it was an interesting portrait. He gave me the websites of three photographers to investigate, John Baldessari, Rene Burri and Paul Graham.

Assignment 4 was based on the theme of Death. He argued that the photomontage of the concertina book was not in keeping with the others and at least, the grey background should have been dried blood colour. He thought the theme could be developed further and that it would be best in an exhibition with the concertina presented as a live object rather than a photograph. Also the portrait of the dead camellia is not in focus but because of the theme a certain softness was acceptable.

I was a bit startled when he said I was a conceptual artist, one who planned everything out. Yes I do but I am not sure regard the phrase ‘conceptual artist’ as a compliment. Anyway he had been looking at the exercises and noted that I talked of going to Avonmouth for Assignment 5. He thought I ought not to do that and I could easily find a good topic nearer home. But then I have abandoned that topic. Interesting though.

More thinking about Assignment 5

Things have really caught up with me. Following from my last blog where I was very undecided about topic for Assignment 5, now everything is just about cast in concrete. It goes like this. The big advantages of the MAKING exhibition, is that I know who to ask. I started by trying to create a poster using the quilting photos I did earlier in the course and that was interesting – but an intensive effort in Photo shop layers. I ended up with five different versions of the final poster which are shown below. The last one is IT.

But some queries remain. The background and border colours will have to be set according to the content colour of the photos. I think the colour has to be mid-tone and not red. I did try a lot of different colours before settling on green. It all takes time.  Other queries: should the dimensions of the photos be changed. I printed all five versions out as A3 and A1 will look quite different. So I have sent the file off to be printed in A2 and A1. This is not going to be a cheap exercise.

What has clinched the choice was that I was at the National Needlework Archive outside Newbury a few days ago and casually asked the curator if she would consider a small exhibition of photos and explained the situation. Before I could say ‘Just asking’, we were in the café, working out how many posters it would hold. And the answer is enough. So I am committed to an exhibition in the café started June 2nd. Panic has set in. The curator seemed quite pleased. One thing is clear, I need to do two sets per week. And people could refuse. So I started with a lace maker – and yes, I am going there next Tuesday. !!!!

The trouble is that the organisation is so complicated that I keep forgetting that there is the small matter of taking rather a lot of photos. Progress will be reported. And the posters take 5 working days so I have 5 weeks.

Assignment 4 Responding to a Theme

It probably looks as though I have rushed into this. Not so. I have been thinking about it for several weeks and planning.

This assignment must be based on a theme and I have chosen DEATH. I took a number of photos of which I have selected four.





The student is also required to write an A4 page about the theme.

I am an amateur bookbinder, not professional but competent enough to repair Victorian bibles. I also create my own books, that is, I set the text in a selected font with illustrations, print and bind the results. I came across a concertina book which was made 7 years ago and still makes me cross. The book resulted from finding a red bordered letter from the NHS when my husband died. Why was I never told? I still feel angry about it. And so I made the book (see third photo). But coming across it again, made me think of that death. I cannot say I have come to terms with it but I get by. So the first two photos are the natural world dying but, come spring, there will be life outside again. The third one is the book and the last is about the last photo of him ever taken – and what strikes me now is how overexposed it is, though the maple is okay. The background to all but the third photo  is a table top with a cover in the colour of dried blood (deliberately selected). It was a not very bright day and the windows look north. Bright sunshine would not have been suitable, too cheerful. The third photo was Photoshopped, each of three photos, cut out from their background, was arranged on a blank which was given a darkish grey background. I tried white (too cheerful), black (too funereal) and, after trying a number of greys, ended up with this one.









Assignment 3 A Narrative Photograph

This assignment requires a photograph (or a sequence of photographs which record ‘a telling moment’. This floored me for a few weeks and I took several sets of shots where my grand-niece threw a ball for our dog, Tom. This worked very well and I have spme excellent shots of Tom leaping in the air but Abigail has a large mop of hair and, in no shot, could her face be seen at all. So I abandoned that and thought hard and eventually cam up with the shots below. They are not a sequence, more a series. My sister has a different direction of look/expression in each of the last 14 shots. The first four are the set up shots but no person was present as I optimised the camera settings.

I reckon the one below is best.

What is Wrong With this oneC

There are two batches. In the first set, the kitchen doors are open and she has on a navy blue T-shirt. In the second (better) set, she has on a white T-shirt and the kitchen doors are shut which has the effect of decluttering as well as lightening the photos.

All of the shots including the setting up are in the ContactSheet file.


I have looked at the recommended photographers and will write that up separately.












Assignment 2. Painting with light

The brief here is to take photos of a model in complete darkness with only a torch to add light. The photos to be produced are torso and head and shoulders. Some deliberate movement of the model is also suggested.

I cannot say this was my favorite piece of work. So I have probably got it all wrong. Even though I enjoyed Assignment 1 much more, I spent a lot of hours on this assignment, practising, then more practising.

The details are as follows.

  1. The brief says show all the photographs you took. No way. Some of mine were totally black.. Others were so badly lit, you could not tell what was happening.
  2. Rather than waste the model’s time, I used a pyramid of glass tumblers to check what was happening. These are included in one of the contact sheets.
  3. I tried a number of different torches. Initially I used an ordinary torch but the beam was too wide and I hunted through my sister’s tools and found a tiny quite intense torch for examining a patient’s eye (she was a GP). This was very effective.
  4. I discovered for myself that I needed to illuminate the model’s face at the start of taking a photo.
  5. Shutter speeds were upwards of 3 seconds and I set the ISO to the highest possible value, 25,600. This probably contributed to the less illuminated parts of a photo looking distinctly grainy.
  6. I had two models, one was my daughter, taken in a garden, and the other was my sister taken inside because it never stopped raining.
  7. The last photo of teh five selected has the model moving her head from side to side

There were over 40 photos taken of which 27 are shown in three contact sheets at the end of this blog. All photos were examined and, where needed, Items were erased, photos cropped and adjustments to the colour balance made. From these, I selected five photos and arranged them on some cupboard doors, photographed them, then processed them using Photoshop layers to align them and adjust the spacing and also adjusted the background colour.


The five individual photos are shown below.

The three contact sheets are below.




Personally I am looking forward to Section 3.

Picture Analysis- The Conversation

The brief is to describe the picture and answer a number of questions.

A first glance shows seven girls dress in Indian clothing. They are wearing a lot of jewellery and the saris are rather grand. Five of them have gold or silver pleats at the floor level. The group of four on the left are in conversation. In this group, the girl on the left is talking and the girl seated on her right looks disbelieving  while the other two look amused. In the other group centred around the steps to the building, two have taken up graceful positions and none of them are paying attention to the left hand group..

The location is more difficult. The buildings in the background look like Portakabins. They are raised off the ground (see left hand end of the buildings and there are steps up to the entrance. These buildings and the scrubby trees could be in India but equally could be in the West.

To me the girls do not look Indian. It is something in their gestures. Note the leg positions of the girl  seated in the centre of the left hand group which are not Indian.

My reading of this photograph is that, while it could be posed, it might be a group of Western girls who were taking a break in the middle of a dance class. In which case, ‘Constructing the Exotic’ is an appropriate name.

At this point, I looked at the original  and they were taken in Florida. In the close ups, they are clearly not Indian. Actually Indian women are brought up to be more graceful.


Tutor on The Square Mile

I have had a ‘google hangout’ (dreadful phrase) with my tutor. I did not  ask his permission to pass info on but I am only going to make a general comments. Most of the talk was about whether or not the camera lens was not good or whether it is camera shake. He suggested I carry out a series of experiments which I will do this coming Sunday and write up in the learning blog.

He also picked up on my remark about wanting more input on people and dogs in The Square Mile and recommended a photographer, Keith Arnatt whom I have looked at  and will review separately. And I will review another photographer, Faye Goodwin.

He did not comment in any general way about composition which is my reason for doing this course. But he did make it plain that I ought not to have included two photos taken this summer  before I started the course. My argument is that they were taken in summer and now is the start of winter and the trees are looking threadbare.