No photographs for this exercise, just ideas of symbols that might be used to depict a subject:

  • Growth: buds, shoots, new leaves, stubble on a man’s chin
  • Excess: fat, alcohol, a picture of a drunk, scales showing 12 stone
  • Crime: policeman, handcuffs, knife, gun, tough looking thug
  • Silence: baby sleeping, inside an empty church
  • Poverty: homeless person, neglected child


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Evidence of action

One photograph in which it can be seen that something had happened and the exercise asks for 5 examples of concepts that are used in advertising to depict that something had happened.  The example given was advertising and the fact that insurance companies use symbols such as umbrellas and cupped hands to symbolise protection.  I understand that but struggled to see that this was suggesting ‘that something had happened’.

I came up with several ideas of my own for pictures that would show that something had happened, e.g. my granddaughter with cake crumbs on her face, a pile of feathers where a bird had met an untimely end, cake crumbs on a plate, a smashed up car in a breakers yard, some orange or apple peelings, and the one I finally settled on, an empty chocolate wrapper.

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Project: Narrative – A narrative picture essay

The text for this project talks about photographing an event such as the Lord Mayor’s show and the process one would go though to prepare and execute such a project.  I can see certainly that if you were to tackle a major event such as this, the sort of planning that would need to go into it and this has certainly helped with my end of unit assignment.  It also made me think about the sort of project I might be able to undertake, both now and in the future and the ideas I came up with ranged from something as simple as making a cake, to a day at Focus on Imaging to photographing a wedding.  ‘Focus’ went out of the window straight away because although I had booked a ticket, I didn’t feel I could plan in the way I needed to.  I needed something that I could do fairly quickly given that I had quite a lot to get through before my submission deadline and finally settled on ‘Making breakfast for 1’.

With hindsight I’m not sure this was a meaty enough topic and having read through all the text again, I’m not sure my pictures are ‘interesting, attractive and varied’ enough.  I had got tot the point thought that I was worried about getting stuck, like I did in the last part and felt I needed to get on with it.

The first picture shows the raw ingredients for breakfast for 1; an egg, bread, butter, fruit juice as well as the pan of water for poaching the egg, plate, glass and cutlery.

I’m trying here to use different sizes and shapes of pictures to get the story across and felt that pouring the juice would work as a small picture.

The next stage in the process was poaching the egg.  This is definitely a stage where photography skills have gone out the window but I felt that in this case, the subject was more important than making sure that the exposure was absolutely right.

The other thing that I have found particularly difficult using a programme such as WordPress, is to use different sizes and layouts of images to help with the narration.  That would definitely have been easier had I printed the pictures off and used a ‘hard copy’ learning log.

Finally breakfast is ready, although I’m not sure it is worth eating by the time I have taken several pictures using different exposures and compositions.  The end of the story however is the empty plate, below!

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Part 5 – Narrative and illustration

I’ve been working away at this for a few weeks now, taking photographs and jotting down notes but haven’t got round to doing anything with it until now, I think one of the reasons for that is that I haven’t been very confident about what I’ve been doing.  Reading the first few pages in the text that goes with this section though, it seems clear to me that most of the early photographers that I have been reading about, practice this type of photography. I had made assumptions about why modern photographs often appear to me to be technically better in terms of composition, lighting, exposure etc., than many of the early ones, putting it down to better equipment, developing skills etc.  I now realise though having read this section, that capturing the subject and being able to tell the story through pictures, is more important for this style of photography than being able to put all the skills we’ve learnt into practice.

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Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron

Yesterday I took the train to Exeter to see an exhibition in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (ramm) to see an exhibition of early British photographs from the Royal Collection by Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron.  Apart from being slightly disappointed by the number of photographs on show, particularly by Julia Margaret Cameron, I found the photographs quite fascinating.

Most of Roger Fenton’s pictures were commissions of Prince Albert, either of his and Queen Victoria’s family or their homes, i.e. Windsor or Balmoral Castles.  It seems that the Queen and Prince Albert had an extensive collection of photographs and very different tastes; the Queen preferring portraits.  After Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria continued to collect and those by Julia Margaret Cameron were all purchased either through a dealer or from the artist herself.   Cameron’s work on display was quite different form the pictures with which I am most familiar; mainly portraits of women and girls.  This exhibition, and it seems Queen Victoria’s preference, consisted of photographs of prominent men; Henry Longfellow,  Clinton Parry, brother of Thomas Gambier Parry and Hubert Parry and Thomas Carlyle for example.

Thomas Carlyle by Julia Margaret Cameron

I found the Carlyle photograph quite strange.  As is often the case, the light both highlighted the face and put it partly into shadow but it seemed to me that this image was out of focus. I have since found a blog where the author thought this was a painting and I  can see why.  From what I have read, it is clear that Carlyle was one of Cameron’s heros and she considered him to be something of a rough diamond and I wonder if this was what she was trying to get across in this picture.

I have seen some of Julia Margaret Cameron’s original work before, at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, her sister Virginia was the wife of the 3rd Earl and there is an exhibition of Cameron’s work in one of the small galleries.

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Huntley C of E Primary School Photography Club

At the beginning of January I started a photography club in our local primary school.  We have 82 children on roll and the club is open to children in years 4, 5 and 6.  The first couple of weeks were manic with 22 children attending the club, over a quarter of the school roll!  Things have settled down now and we have between 8 and 10 regular members and are really starting to see some talent showing through.  Three children entered the Gloucestershire Young Photographer of the Year competition.  In total there were over 550 entries, 240 of which were from primary school children, and although none of our children’s entries won this time, one was amongst the 50 selected to be shown as part of Cheltenham Camera Club’s annual exhibition, which was incidentally fantastic.  We have our own internal club competitions every term, the current one on the theme of Easter, so the children will have plenty of practice at entering photography competitions by the time the next GYPotY comes round and hopefully we will be amongst the winners.

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Recent successes

Since joining the Newent and District Camera Club just over a year ago, I had started to enter monthly competitions, with some limited success; a couple of 4th places and a few highly commented results.  Our latest competition; the ‘Project Cup’ requires members to enter a series of 10 images, with an additional title image if we wished, on a linked theme.  My favourite and most successful theme so far has been flowers, mainly close-ups taken with a macro lens, most of with have been taken with one or other of the TAOP units in mind.  Ten members submitted projects all of which were of a very high standard.  The competition was judged by an FRPS accredited photographer, John Gould, and I was stunned to get 1st for my submission! A Feast of Flowers – Project Cup Entry

Not sure if this is a success or not, more of a mixed blessing, but I have been elected chair if the Camera Club for next year, teach me to keep my mouth shut in future!

I visited Focus on Imaging at the NEC at the beginning of the month and finally succeeded in getting myself a new printer; an Epson R2880.  Haven’t had the chance to put it through its paces yet as I’ve been trying to get ahead with the next part of TAOP but hopefully will get it going this weekend.  One thing I was disappointed in with regard to Focus this year was that the OCA wasn’t there. That is where I signed up for TAOP and really hoped to be able to scan through the materials for the other level 1 courses to help me decide which to do when I’ve finished this one.

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