1. Feedback

The first assignment was submitted on 1st September. Feedback was received on 15th and is shown here. My comments on the numbered sections (e.g. [n]) are below.

Tutor’s feedback

Thanks Nick for submitting your first assignment, and well done on completing this. You have produced a clear post on your process of working through the assignment and technical information to support your decisions. You have a good understanding of your camera and now need to take more risks with your work. This will help you to develop and by pushing yourself into new areas you will be able to make good progress through the course.

When you receive this report, I suggest that you go through it carefully and make reflective notes about it, these can then go into a learning log, reflective commentary section on your blog. 

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements. [1]

Feedback on assignment

It is great to see your process pages, with a range of images in different locations. Thanks for sending your contact sheets via email. You could include some full contact sheets on the blog well as the selected images from the wider set. [2] You are reflecting on the differences between your choices and reflection on the decisions you are making which is good to see. 

You acknowledge that you do use a lot of post processing, and I would encourage you to try using as little as you can through this course to enable you to push your photographic creativity and location work. This isn’t to say that the processing can’t be useful as you progress, but think and reflect carefully on why is being used, what does it add to the image and way the audience perceive your work? [3i]

Some of the images on your process page are very saturated, and the HDR technique gives a very particular effect, which you might want to reflect on. Your contact sheets show the original images and I would like to see an unedited version of your final images as a comparison. [3ii]

Some of your images include borders while others do not, can you reflect on your choices here? [4]

You write about the difficulty of working with a set of images to create a cohesive whole, and you have worked to capture the commuter town. I wonder about how well you think these images do hang together to capture this? You have produced several images, but can you reflect on how they work together as a set? As you move forward this is an area you can develop. It might help you to try out different combinations, using your alternative image choices, and reflect on the way the set hangs together. Is there a sense of progression, narrative, or concept that connects them as a set? What happens if you change one image in the set with something else, how does that impact? [5]

Your image of the church is an interesting point in the set as it is so different to the exterior and distance across the other images. There is something more engaging about the closeness to your subject here. The saturation is still quite strong though lessened from earlier edits, so there is still some pixelation in the upper left window. It would be good to include a comparison of the unedited and processed version and reflect on you use of editing. There is a lightness in the original image that seems lost in the processing. Again reflect on what this level of processing does to the image. [6]


I will comment on part 1 via email


You have an extensive index of artist names with information. Try to rely less on the Telegraph notes as I am finding it hard to tell what is your reflection and theirs. If you are writing about Barthes, Sontag, etc.. then I would suggest going directly to their books. It would be really useful to try and engage more deeply with less content.  [7i]

It is great that you are keen to research and include so many different photographers, but beyond factual details it would help to have more personal reflection about the artists and specifically their work. You include Roni Horn and Tom Hunter as they are in the course materials. Using quotes from websites is fine, but then comment on them, what are your thoughts about the work or what the reviewer is saying? [8]

Learning Log 
You have set up a website which is demonstrating your hard work to date. It does have lots of sections, initially I found it a little confusing to navigate, as normally OCA recommend a tabbing system with dropdown menus. However your homepage is clear with links to the assignments and exercises. It would help on the homepage to have direct links to the assignment process pages as well. If you label the exercises with the Part number that will also help. This page could then act as your tabbing system. You might then explain the homepage in the pinned blog post, and then the blog feed can act as your reflective learning log or diary of actives and reflections. [9]

Suggested reading/viewing 
You have included synopsis of various books, but it would help to separate your reading out from other writers who have given overviews of the books in order to reflect on your own direct reading. As you read texts do go through the sections that do stand out or resonate, as this will be important as you develop so that your research reflects your interests and your developing position as a photographer. [7ii]

Also add exhibition visits, or try and attend an oca study visit where possible. [10]

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

• Reflect on my feedback and include your notes or thoughts on your learning log. Find ways to show that you are responding to my feedback in your next assignment 
• I will send email feedback about Part One which you have already completed

Tutor feedback

My comments

The numbers relate to the identifed sections of the feedback below, e.g. [n]

1. Formal Assessment
I intend to submit the work for assessment and to complete a degree.

2. Contact Sheets
My approach has been to show a range of images on the working pages, comment on them and make a final selection for the assignments and exercises. I will add the contact sheets online too. ✓complete

3. Post processing and HDR
I seem to be alone in enjoying the effects of HDR. I was aware of this before starting the course and have consciously tried to suppress it. Clearly I will have to try harder. In technical terms I think it has a useful role to play in difficult lighting situations, but must resist its more extreme features. Especially in these early stages of the course, it would be wise to keep all post-processing to a minimum.

4. Borders
My normal practice is to add a border as a final processing step. If I submitted any images without borders for Assignment 1 then this was an error. Images shown before the final selection would not normally have a border, but if I go back to an exercise and rework it there might then be a mix of images with and without borders in the selection group. I will try to standardise my approach as I progress.
St Martins East Window
19th June

5. Cohesion
I have never in the past had any need to consider putting a number of images together to form a cohesive set and learning to think that way will take some time. The only linking factor for my Square Mile was the theme of subjects visible on a particular journey. Similarly for Assignment 2 my intention is to photograph a single location and the guidelines helpfully recommend using a single format.

St Martins East Window
19th June

6. The Church
I had been meaning to photograph the East Window of St Martin in the Fields for years and it is much more impressive from inside than out. It simply never occurred to me that the image would be so out of keeping with the other distant, exterior shots, see right.

Below are the the three bracketed images combined for the interior shot submitted for the assignment. It will be seen that even in DSCF7815 (the darkest image), the top of the window is overexposed but everything except the window is underexposed: hence the merge, which to my taste is acceptable, but if this is frowned upon, so be it, I’ll stop. 
The fifth image below, again a composite, provides a better rendering and composition of the window and its surrounds but, of course, lacks the rehearsal. I think if I were choosing the set again, I would use the fifth image rather than the fourth and then still have to decide whether to use an interior or exterior shot.

St Martins
1. DSCF7813 f/5.6; 1/30 sec; ISO 64
2. DSCF7814 f/5.6; 1/30 sec; ISO 1250
3. DSCF7815 f/5.6; 1/30 sec; ISO 320 
4. composite image submitted
5. alternative composite image 
all images taken 19th June

7. Research – Books
My intention in populating the web site is firstly to document the images I take and submit and secondly to provide additional material which is relevant and useful to me in pursuing the course. I thought that the Telegraph article might prove useful and so reformatted it for the web pages. 

8. Research – Photographers
I began writing these pages while working on Part 2 Project 2, having read several comments from other students to the effect that every photographer mentioned in the course material should be personally documented. I have listed all the cited photographers (so far) and I am in the process of adding any other names I admire or newly discover. The basic specification for each is a brief biography and representative examples of the main image genres they have covered. If I feel inclined to comment on their work, I do so. There are a few different routes for inclusion, as in the cases of Tish Murtha and Alex Prager where I attended their shows at the Photographers’ Gallery and commented on their work in the blog. When I later started the Photographers pages, I copied the blog contents straight in. With Thomas Ruff, I copied in my comments from the exercise in part 1.

10. Exhibition visits
The only photographic exhibition I have attended since starting the course was at the Photographers’ Gallery, see above. I attended an OCA walk at Canary Wharf last weekend (15th Sep). It was interesting, both as regards the subjects and meeting other students, but it was not very photographic.

9. Web site organisation
Judging from the email comments at OCA and especially my conversations with fellow students at the weekend, there is general confusion on how the online presence should be handled, even when using the available templates and this applies particularly to the structure and contents of the blog and the learning log.

The approach I have taken (bearing in mind that at the time of writing I have only completed one assignment and two series of exercises) is to structure it as follows:
i. The Home page links to the Assignments and Exercises – I will add granularity to the links. 
ii. The main Assignment (Asg) pages (or page, for the moment) contains the final submission and links to a text history and an image history that show the development of those two aspects. It now has a link to this tutor’s feedback page too.
iii. The Exercise pages (see Part 1 and Part 2) contain all my final responses to the exercises. In Part 1, I had a separate images page but for Part 2 I showed the additional images on the main page. In both cases, the full text of the exercise definition is held on a separate page with a summary on the main exercise page.
iv. Arrows at the top and bottom of the Asg and Exc pages lead chronologically through the course. I percieve this progression through the pages to be my Learning Log.
v. The blog is a general diary of relevant events and thoughts – this tends to get missed when I am busy with exercises or an assignment.
vi. The remaining pages are ancillary and can be referenced as required, for example, when citing a particular photographer.
Note: generally, the web sites I build tend to have areas within them that are not immediately apparent to the visitor and will only be found gradually (there aren’t any such yet on BAPhot). I believe that some effort should be required on the part of the visitor and that their perseverance should be rewarded. Clearly this should not apply to the tutor accessing the student’s work and thus the additional navigation options will be added on the home page. 

11. Next Assignment
The feedback indicates a submission date for Assignment 2 of 31st December. I had intended to aim for 31st October.

Action points
1. Minimise post-processing. No HDR. [ongoing]
2. Add granularity to the home page menu. ✓ completed 18Sep18
3. Add contact sheets online. ✓ completed 24Sep18
4. Separate the Telegraph book summaries. ✓on second thoughts, I have just deleted the Telegraph pieces, 18Sep18

My tutor replied, “Good work on the reflection, your thoughtful responses will really help you moving forward”, so that’s Asg.1 done.