Category Archives: The Art of Photography

Exercise: Rain

Imagine a magazine cover on the subject of rain. Produce a single, strong, attractive photograph that leaves no  one in doubt about the subject.

I took a number of images for this assignment, and while it states you should produce one image, I’ve also included another one that I was very tempted to have as my first choice.


The image I’ve picked is more abstract than my second choice, but was taken at the same time and location, I zoomed into an empty part of a pond at Martin Mere wildfowl and wetlands trust, so that the frame was just filled with the water droplets and ripples. While its obviously rain, its not as obvious due the lack of background and situational detail, so it can rain anywhere, whatever the viewer imagines.

Rain 3 bw

The rejected image was born out of seeing the patterns as the raindrops hit the water. There was an area of the pond that was filled with branches, so I was able to focus on those for sharpness when I capturing the image, and allowed me experiment with shutter speeds. I didn’t pick this as my first choice as I would have preferred a different angle to what I had, but unfortunately the access is restricted to hide only.

Rain 2

Exercise: Juxtaposition

For this exercise I had a choice to choose either a still life approach and

make a suitable cover illustration for a book using two or three elements, or to photograph someone undertaking a hobby.

As I enjoy the creative side of putting together still life situations, I decided to opt to mock up a book cover.

I had narrowed down a couple of book titles for this, and had an idea in my head of what I wanted to arrange as a still life.

My first choice was the Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, I had a plastic wand I’d been given as a present years ago, I visualised this on an appropriate surface with some colour coming out of the end of it. I found some Halloween shaped confetti in different colours and arranged these around the wand. Despite attempting different angles and using different backgrounds, I just couldn’t get the shot I wanted, it seemed too flat and needed to be very wide angle to get the whole of the wand in as otherwise you couldn’t tell what it was.

Deciding to move onto my next book title’ The Jewel that was ours’ by Colin Dexter, I went in my jewellery box for something appropriate and came across a clockwork necklace that I recently bought and it triggered another idea.

I used the clock time turner necklace sat on a black velvet base and background, with lots of broken clock parts and dials that I have for crafting. I took a few images at different angles and focus points and some with an aged label where I’d written the title and author and a number as if it was part of a museum exhibition.

In the end I decided to go for the composition where there was subject in the middle with plenty of free space at the top and bottom for the title of the book and author to go. I’m quite pleased with it and the colours. I tweaked the exposure slightly in Photoshop just to ensure the background was dark enough but on the whole it had very minor processing. This is one of my favourite images I’ve taken for the course, and while it was frustrating to begin with when my original ideas weren’t working, I’m pleased that this came to mind and I was able to represent the visualisation I had in my mind.

The image without the text

book cover 1

The image with the text

book cover 2 copy

Exercise: Symbols

The idea of this project is to find symbols for a number of concepts. List more than one symbol for each of the following subjects and add short notes saying how you might use them in a photograph.

The subjects are:-



– Large plant or shrub

– Height of a building standing proud of others around it e.g skyscraper

I’d use these in a photography by trying to capture a contrast with them, such as a smaller person stood with a large tree for example, or a huge tower stretching above a cityscape.



-  Fast car

– Bottle of alcohol

– Person eating junk food e.g a burger

– Lots of fatty foods/cakes/chocolate

– A night out in a town centre where there are lots of drinking/drunk people

I’d use these in a photograph by framing the image so that the actual part making it ‘excess’ such as the burger in a hand is the main subject and is eye-catching.



– Derelict building with broken windows

– Graffiti

As above I’d try and get a tighter crop on the actual subject, but being mindful to ensure that there was enough of the background to put the subject into context.



– Library

– Empty street

– Phone off the hook

The obvious thing for me when thinking of silence (apart from a Dr Who episode) was of a library. Also an empty street would be particularly evocative of silence. If you had access to a model, then you could place a gag over  a models mouth for a very obvious silence.

For silence to work as an image, I’d go a for a wider angle to get the whole scope in, aiming for as much in the frame as possible.



– Homeless person

– Big issue seller

– Evidence of sleeping rough

Poverty is the easiest topic to get very obvious imagery for, although poverty can strike in many different guises, you could presume someone shopping at a bargain food retailer might be suffering from poverty, or an old person struggling to heat their house. I’ve gone for the obvious choices here, with the homeless route as it will be very easy for a view to understand the imagery. I’d use a mixture of wide angle and close crop depending on if it was a person or a location that I was photographing.

Example image could be


Exercise: Evidence of Action

Produce one photograph in which it can be seen that something has happened. As a suggestion, include in the photograph something that has been either broken, or emptied.

For this, while the brief said one image, I actually took four different ones and decided that I wanted to put both of these in.


Image 1 is of broken eggs within the cake mix, with the action being that the eggs have been broken into the bowl.


Image 2 is the empty and broken egg shells in an empty eggbox, showing that they’ve been broken and used up.

Narrative Picture Essay- Layout

To show a magazine style layout for the picture essay, I worked with Publisher to create a layout that would work well printed and would show the story.image

Exercise: Narrative Picture Essay

This project required me to set an assignment and then to photograph it, with a set of pictures between 5 and 15 that tells a story.

I decided that the subject of my picture essay would be an event run by English Heritage at Whitby Abbey over November’s Whitby Gothic Weekend event. I picked this as I knew that there was a number of different events happening themed around ‘Victorian Gothic’ and that one of these was a display on falconry.

While I did take images of the other events that were on at the Abbey, I focused on the falconry as that gave me a wider range of different scenes and images that some of the more static talks.

1) Advertising the event, as well as a gothic self portrait, both the photographer and the ruins of the abbey can be seen in this reflection

Image 1a

2) A short while before the event, crowds begin to gather around the tent where the birds are being kept.

.Image 1b

3) Entering the arena, the Victorian lady shows the crowd one the display owls as she explains the relevance of falconry and bird hunting throughout history.

Image 1


4) Joining the display, a Victorian game keeper enters the arena with a hawk for the crowd to look at as they gather around the barrier.

Image 2

5) A willing volunteer acts as bait as he runs around the arena with a fake mouse tied to a rope to entice the hawk to pounce, this has been successful as the child runs from the dropped rope.

Image 3

6) The gamekeeper shows the dexterity of the hawk as he spins bait around in the air

Image 4

7) Resting from the excursion, the hawk is introduced back to the crowd as they get a closer upfront view at the end of the display

Image 5

8)As the birds are all placed back inside the tent, a crowd of viewers gather to look at them and ask questions. To fit in with the Victorian theme, I’ve converted this to black and white to give an air of age

Image 7

9) Finished for the day, all the hawks and owls are happily back on their perches out of the cold Whitby headland wind.

Image 8

Exercise: Shiny Surfaces

For this exercise I need to find a subject that is shiny enough that I can see my face in it, this needs to be placed on the floor or a flat surface so I can take the images from above.

I used a piece of black velvet as the background and picked out some shiny cutlery that we don’t tend to use as this ensured that I had enough reflection when looking into it. I set up my camera on a tripod and used a shutter release so I didn’t disturb the set up. I made the cone out of a type of baking parchment as I couldn’t find tracing paper in any of the local shops I went into. I placed the cone around the top of the lens and secured this on with elastic bands as every time I focused, the lens moved and disturbed the paper. I ensured that the bottom of the cone fitted around the composition.


1)      Composition on velvet with no cone, the lighting is above the subject

Shiny surfaces 1 no cone, lighting above

2)      Composition with the cone around it, the lighting is above the subject

Shiny surfaces 2 cone and lighting above

3)      Composition with the cone around it, the light is directly from the right hand side

Shiny surfaces 3 cone and lighting from right side

4)      Composition with the cone around it and the light is from a small lamp to the left hand side

Shiny surfaces 4 cone and small lamp from left side


5)      A comparison shot, with no cone and the light from a small lamp to the left hand side

Shiny surfaces 6 no cone light from right side comparison


As I took a couple of comparison shots without the paper around the subject, I can really see the difference in the ones with and without. While I like the ones without the cone, where the lighting makes the object very reflective and shiny, using the paper provides a matte effect to the subject that allows the detail to be seen and transforms the object. With a mixture of black velvet as the background and the cone to diffuse the lighting hitting the subject, the cutlery is transformed from a shiny object to almost an art work and with the right item and composition; this technique could produce some great images.

Exercise: Concentrating Light

For this exercise, I had to create a cardboard snoot to place around my chosen light to direct it at specific areas. I rolled up some cardboard into a tube shape, and I was using a handheld LED light, I fitted this into the tube and then taped it in so that it was a complete handheld unit.

I then used the same stool, tripod and camera set up as I’d previously used for the contrast and shadow fill exercise. I created a small still life comprising of a TARDIS model and Dr Who figure, and then took a number of images directing the light in different areas

Image 1 is just of the subject with normal light

CL 1 Subject with normal room light

Image 2 – I directed light into the middle of the subject

CL 2 Directed light middle of subject

Image 3-  Directed Light to the right of the subject

CL 3 directed light right of subject

Image 4- Directed light on specific area

CL 4 Directed light on specific area

Image 5- Directed light from different side angle

CL 5 light from different side angle

Image 6- I directed the light from above downwards onto the subject

CL 6 Light shining down from directly above

Exercise: Contrast and shadow fill

For this exercise, I had to set up a simple still life shot; this was two statues placed onto a stool. I set a spotlight up to the left of the camera at right angles to where I was shooting. The camera was set up on a tripod and I set the ISO at 400 to reduce noise, and used a shutter release to ensure that there was no camera shake when taking the images. While the course notes mentioned white card and foil to be used, I didn’t use these as I had a Portaflash 5 in 1 reflector that I’d got on a previous course and hadn’t used, and I felt that this would be more realistic. However if I hadn’t gotten this, I would have used the card and foil methods.

The different reflectors I had and used were:-

Gold reflector- traditionally adds warmer tones

Silver reflector- gives a brighter light but this can be harsh (this is a shiny silver)

White reflector- gives a more even light

Black reflector- this reduces the amount of the light falling onto an area, could be used to add details in specific areas

White diffuser- gives a softer light with no hard shadows as the light falls directly through this as opposed to bouncing off

The images I took were

1)      Subject with the undiffused lamp and no reflector

Image 1 Undiffused

2)      Subject with the white diffuser between the light and the subject

Image 2 White diffuser

3)      Subject with the white diffuser placed opposite the light approximately 1metre away from the subject

Image 3 white reflector 1mtr distance

4)      Subject with the white reflector positioned opposite the light but closer so its only half a metre away from the subject

Image 4 white reflector half a metre distance

5)      Subject with the gold reflector placed opposite the light approx. half a metre from the subject

Image 5 Gold reflector

6)      Subject with the black reflector placed opposite the light approx. half a metre from the subject

Image 6 black reflector

7)      Subject with the silver (shiny) reflector placed opposite the light approx. half a metre from the subject

Image 7 Silver reflector shiny


8)      Subject with the silver reflector material crumpled placed opposite the light

Image 8 Silver reflector crumpled


Looking at the example images in the course book, the shadows add interest and impact, and I feel that if they had been lightened, the impact would have been lessened.

Exercise: The Lighting Angle

For the subject, we had a curved sculpture that I felt would be quite good for the shadows and light to fall onto. I set this up on a white portable studio to ensure that it had the required neutral background as well as providing a neutral base for the sculpture. I set the camera up on the tripod with the ISO and white balance fixed to allow me to take the images consistently and moved the light through the required positions taking an image every time.

The order is



Behind 2

Behind 1

Behind and to one side

Behind and to one side

Behind downwards

Behind downwards

Direct ahead with flashgun and no diffuser

Direct ahead flashgun no diffuser

Direct ahead with flashgun and diffuser

Direct ahead flashgun with diffuser



Front downwards

Front downwards

Light at the front

Light at front

Light behind

Light behind

Light directly above

Light directly above

Light directly down with no diffuser

Light directly down no diffuser

Light slightly in front

Light slightly in front

Right downwards

Right downwards

Same level

Same level