Category Archives: ASSIGNMENT 3

Assignment 3; Colour – Notes for the Assessors

This was probably the most problematic of the assignments. As noted elsewhere (here, and a few days ago, here, and no doubt a few others, too) I found it very hard to stop taking photographs and to start editing them into either finished exercises ready for a write-up or to complete the assignment itself.

Then, after handing in my work here, this has been the section that has seen the most reworking of the “completed” pictures. I had worked on accentuating the main colours in the submission and then, following Dave’s comments in his report, dulled them down again; for the assessment prints, I have further reworked the way the colour was handled, again reducing the saturation (in part directly, but also by lightening the overall picture) in order to get print masters that didn’t smash the colour gamut of the paper that was being used to make C-Print, while experimenting with soft-proofing in Lightroom.

Now, I suspect I have calmed the colours down a bit too much in some of them; as a result, I have included the original print for Colour Harmony through Complementary Colours – Orange and Blue rather than the reworked one. “A work of art is never completed, rather it is thrown aside in disgust” as Apocryphal said…

Tutor’s Report – Assignment 3


I have included 4 prints in my physical submission for assessment:

  • 01 -Colour Harmony through Complementary Colours – Orange and Blue (01 in the original submission)
  • 02 -Colour Harmony through Similar Colours – Violet and Red (06 in the original submission)
  • 03 – Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours – Yellow and Blue (11 in the original submission)
  • 04 – Colour Accent – Orange (13 in the original submission)

High Resolution Files of the Assignment picture are on dropbox in the folder: Assignment 3 – Colour

This contains:

    • 16 full-size jpegs of the assignment photos (512973-PH4AoP-A3-nn.jpg)

There are no contact sheets included for this assignment as they would need to be so extensive as to be meaningless as anything other than as an indication of my indecision!

All Related Posts can be found either Here or by using the link in the main menu at the top of each page. I have removed all “Read More” commands, to reduce the amount of clicking you have to do.

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assignment # 3 – tutor’s comments & re-edited set

I got the feedback for Assignment 3 in time for Christmas. Dave, my tutor commented: “The log is coming along well. I’d like to see a little more content generally but there is plenty of time for this over the next two chapters.” The fact that that I’m only posting this now, 3 months later shows that there’s still a fair bit of work to do on this front. I have done the exercises for both part 3 and part 4, but have been appalling at writing them up. I have no real excuse for this and can only say that my intention is to rattle them off in parallel with doing the narrative exercises over the next few weeks.

But now onto the main part of Dave’s feedback, relating to the pictures submitted for Assignment 3. The slideshow below is a revised set of pictures, incorporating the areas he identified as needing work. I’ll get them reprinted before I submit them for assessment. The original treatment of the pictures can be seen here.

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Overall, the feedback was generally very positive – “Firstly I should say that the colour relationships were mainly all clear and well spotted so well done –this assignment is particularly difficult to do when out of the studio so you have done well. Your diagrams show that you are seeing the different relationships well and composing the frame accordingly, which is the primary objective of the assignment.”

Where it wasn’t positive, it was, I’d say, fair and tended to chime with what I’d thought myself as I was completing the assignment:

  • “There was one image that stood out as not really up to the quality of the others -AoP-A3-06. The sign and shop front are all a little soft from camera shake.” – Premier Halal Butchers is on my way home from the tube; I reshot the picture on a night when it was rainy enough for the neon to reflect back from the paving (Fig 6 in the slideshow above).
  • “The only overall concern I had was that you seem to have had a slightly heavy hand with the saturation controls –presumably in an effort to really make the colour relationships stand out. I would advise against this, you are better off keeping the colours a little more natural. […] The assignment is all about seeing the colour relationships when you are framing, not about creating or highlighting them in post-production.” – I had come to the same conclusion myself when I realised that some of the “accentuated colour” versions of the assignment pictures weren’t all that more accentuated than the “normal” ones; I had spent a fair bit of time isolating the colours I wanted to stress in most of the pictures, reducing the saturation and shifting the hue of things that reduced the clarity of the main colour relationship in the picture; some of the results were downright garish. Ugh! I have now restored the pictures to something much closer to what came out of the camera.
  • “I would like to begin to see is some effort to link the images in later assignments together thematically or narratively.” To an extent, I felt – and still feel – that these pictures all link together in the sense that they were taken on my way to or from work, and my original intention as I started to compile the set was to come up with each of the four categories containing one picture from each four sub-groups – Walthamstow, Public Transport, Glasgow and Oxford Circus with one night shot in each subgroup – but this quickly became more of a hindrance than a help in getting the assignment completed.
  • Finally, one of the pictures was picked out as having a rather tenuous colour-relationship, Fig 9: Red and Blue – London. Again, guilty as charged, I think. It’s probably only there as a throwback to the 4 public transport pictures idea. I shall go through the rejected pictures from the other shoots and see if I can find something that more clearly shows Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours.

Throughout Part 3, I had been reading and thinking around the work of the New Topographics photographers; following on from this, Dave suggested I look at the work of a number of more contemporary (and more British) photographers, to develop further my thoughts on depicting landscape. I have worked through the list and have particularly enjoyed work by Jem Southern and Fay Godwin. One of the posts I need to write here over the remainder of the course is one that goes into all this more, as I try to make my thoughts on town and country, America and Europe, wilderness and “man-altered”, home and away, past and present etc etc coalesce into something I build on. Watch this space…

assignment # 3 – colour: pictures and commentry

Take about sixteen photographs:

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…that illustrate the following colour relationships:

1: Colour Harmony through Complementary Colours

I spotted the building while I was walking from the subway on my way to a meeting at Pacific Quay. On my way back, I had enough time to loiter, waiting for people to walk by in both directions. The pale orange of the brick is matched by the reddish orange of the trim to the gable and the door and contrasts nicely with the pale autumn blue of the sky to the north; I like the tiny bits of colour reflected in the gutter. A very flat image (with flat lighting – it was taken at noon)  with a lot of horizontal lines running through it: the kerb, the line in the middle of the road and the bottom of the building wall; the diagonals of the gable add interest. The eye moves between the two points made by the door and the walking man (who is surprisingly close to the wall, if you look closely).

The orange and blue of the sign stands out strongly here and there’s lots more of both colours in the traffic and the pedestrians who occupy the space round it. Your eye moves then to the green and red barriers that enlose the sign, making an inverted vanishing point in the centre bottom of the image, with the red also turning up as highlights in the fragments of distant buses on the road and reflected in the plate glass of the window on the right.

An astonishing corner on the Lea Bridge Road, composed as four quadrilaterals united by the sense of movement provided by the striding man in the jersey that managed to be a gloriously matching blue to the door.  There’s a minor violet and yellow thing going on in the upper right quarter as well. There is an interesting absence of any scale to the various bits of the building too.

Essentially a diagonal band of orange, a diagonal band of blue and a second diagonal band of orange, with your eye drawn to super-bright highlight of the central streetlight, which is casting all the yellowy-orange glare in the street. I’ve been walking on my way home from the tube at dusk a lot these past few weeks, and this is probably the best representation of it that I’ve managed to take.

2: Colour Harmony through Similar Colours

Lots of lines pointing in towards a vanishing point on the platform, held together by the overall warmth of the colours in the station. The lightness of the yellow contrasts to the dark orange-brown of the tiles where the stair dips down to the platform while the brigthness of the orange (sort of) cross formed by the sign, its reflections and the train give a focus and depth to the picture.

Reflections after rain stop this being boring, while a walking man (central and pulling the attention in from the edges of the frame) gives the composition focus and a point of balance. The violets in the this are very cold somehow, with the reds providing no sense of warmth.

Despite the sense of forward movement into the space between the nearer two buses here nothing was moving (possibly a faster shutter speed might have spoiled this while sorting out the slight sense of softness across the image) and I was safely stood on a crossing in the middle of Walthamstow Bus Station. Again, there is something quite cold about the image, despite the warmth of the colours.

More streetlight, mostly a rather bilious yellow provides an out-of-focus backdrop for the leaning sign. Despite the possible depth off to the left and the right, a rather flat image.

3: Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours

Red and blue fighting one another with the orange relating to both (opposite to blue and comfortably similar to red) and so making it less uncomfortable somehow. compositionally arranged around the triangle betwen the seats occupied by the man and his rucksack.

A striking yellow gable end with the shadow of a perpendicular row of houses cast on it by the late afternoon sun. The blue of the eastern sky contrasts with the yellow strongly.

Nice shapes at the entrance to work. For some reason on the day I took it, I was able to notice the strong contrast between the yellow of the artificial light inside and blue light coming in from the windows to the west. Compositionally a mass of quadrilaterals, capable of further abstraction.

An objet trouve. A strong colour contrast between the red of the flowers and the blue of the rubbish sack and the lighter emphasises the softness of the abandoned roses and the hardness of the plastic; the light green of the leaves’ underside contrasts with the red of the flowers while stopping the blue jarring as much as it might. The lines between paving slabs and the stems of the roses adds a sense of movement through the frame.

4: Colour Accent using any of the above

A very centralised composition with the cyclist frozen within a a central diamond formed by the cars’ slanting windscreens, the roofs and the tree. An obvious orange point amongst the blues and greens of the foliage and the sky’s reflections on the shiny surfaces of the cars.

Taken through a 1 inch square mesh, covering a window on the hoarding that surrounds this building site, hence the vignetting at the bottom of the image. I got the lens in a better place for this with a second shot, but the man’s legs were no longer in a perfect inverted ‘V’… The picture is further held together by two triangles (or one quadrilateral) formed by the man and the two orange-red bands above him on the building and the orange net at the bottom left.

If William Eggleston can do pictures with their composition based on the confederate flag, I can take a picture composed like a saltire. Particularly when I’m in Glasgow. The greenish-blue of the building, the sky and its reflection in the puddles along with the green of the leaves contrast strongly with the red of the no entry sign.

The sight-lines of the woman at the bottom left and the man taking up the whole of the right side of the frame all point in towards the woman in the red coat, with the colour hopefully stopping the tall man in the hat being the sole focus of the picture.

All pictures taken with a Fujifilm X-100s apart from Fig 3 which was taken with my Nikon D50 and a Nikkor 24mm 1:28 lens. All editing on the main images done in Adobe Lightroom 5.

More general thoughts on these pictures and how they relate to my reading will be contained in the next post.

Assignment 3 – Getting There…

For some reason, I’ve found part 3 amazingly difficult. If part two fell into shape around my day on Flotta, this all felt remarkably unfocussed somehow. I was taking pictures – some for the exercises; some which could be considered for the assignment – but none of this seemed to cohere into a theme or to even to start showing the way towards one.

a3-intro-header

I have now got the pictures for the exercises, I think, but I still need to make a final selection and write them up. I have a set of photographs edited and printed for the assignment. Yet somehow it all feels a bit wooly. However, I think if I press on and do the writing, submit the assignment and write up the exercises, start on part four and carry on reading and thinking, it may all become a bit plainer. An optimistic reading would be that any sort of learning involves stepping into areas of uncertainty and that the way I feel about this now is simply a sign of progression. I shall therefore try to be optimistic and assume that I am still progressing…

Anyway, buoyed up by David, my tutor’s, feedback on my second assignment, I cracked on with part three. I’d generally felt comfortable with colour, and there weren’t many exercises. Surely this should be relativeIy straightforward. So, I quickly took the pictures for Exercise 1 and began to build up a selection of dominant colour pictures for Exercise 2. I began seeing things which would possibly work as part of the assignment and started to take pictures.

At this point, I started trying to reconcile the course notes’ instruction to:

Try to vary the subject matter, including both arrangements (such as a still-life) and found situations.

with my desire to try and develop a coherent theme for this exercise. Not easy.

I came up with 4 subsets for the pictures I would take: at night; on public transport; Walthamstow; fruit and veg as still lives. It almost came together…

But then I had a weekend in Glasgow and managed to take some pictures that seemed better than the ones I’d taken previously but they didn’t fit into the categories; and I hadn’t managed to set up and take the still lives, despite spending a long time in the greengrocery aisle in Sainsbury’s wondering about colour rather than recipes; and certain colours and combinations of colours were proving easy to find (it’s amazing how much orange and blue there is out there) while others were really quite elusive.

At this point, I sort of ground to a halt in terms of completing the assignment, although I continued taking pictures. Some things though began to stand out.

Orange rainwear/hi-viz bibs make a good highlight:

It’s relatively hard (but not impossible) to isolate natural colours, if you’re in a city:

It’s even harder to narrow down the number of colours that are in the frame into something you can classify in the terms of the assignment:

I also began to realise that something was altering the way I took pictures in London. In Orkney, on holiday, I’d been comfortable with the location; Assignment 2 bears this out. London, on the other hand, is a place I haven’t quite worked out how to photograph yet. This may be changing. Certainly, I hope it is.

Orkney has occupied enough of my head – there are views that are burnt onto the inside of my skull somehow, like the stretch of hills beyond Finstown when you round the shoulder of Wideford hill on the road to Stromness. I am aware of how much sky there is above me. I “know” what it is I’m looking at.

I don’t think I have ever quite reached this point in the 17 years I’ve lived in London (I’m not sure if I managed it in Glasgow either). However, this may be changing: the pictures I’m taking now in London are less tightly composed; there is more context around the isolated detail I might have been content with earlier; I’m possibly more comfortable with finding a composition that suggests what lies outside it than I was before. All this is progress.

And so, for the assignment, I think the unifying theme can be no more narrow than “In passing” or “This is what I see, when I think about colour around me”. The things I’ve been reading or looking at are changing what I notice and how I process that. I’ve come up with 16 pictures for the assignment and they may not be perfect; they work however, and I like them all to a varying degree (some are really super, I think).  Anyway, time to offer up a final sixteen. Time to move onto the next part of the course…