Exercise 2.12 – Pixel Painting


Steaming Happy – by Richard KeysExercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

This has been a lot of hard work, over two days, a lot of fun, a lot of frustration – and you know what? I am a happy bunny. Photoshop is definitely required for this kind of exercise, it can’t be done in Lightroom. Creating art with multiple images, converting to PNG, free transform, layer mask, warping, hiding the layer mask and then revealing with the paint brush – its something that I am not very skilled at and find frustrating. However, I have done it. I’ve read magazines, watched YouTube tutorials, and here is the final result after around 17 hours of work.

Working with layers, moving them, putting them in the right place is something that I have improved at, as has using the background eraser tool so that I can blend layers into each other, such as the train and the bridge coming out of the bottle.

Photos for first draft

Step one involved a free transform of the train (above), the quick selection tool and eraser. I created a larger canvas so that I could rotate the train so that it pointed slightly upwards. My initial plan was to create a scene where it was leaving the tracks and beginning to fly. The flame involved – menu select > colour range, then the add to selection and mousing over the desired colours, messing around with the fuzziness so that I got the edge that I wanted, then take away from desired colours so that I could eliminate the background. Once I had got the flames I tidied up the background with the eraser, saved as a png, then copied the png into the train picture. Free transform, warp, persective, and placed them where I wanted them at the front of the train. The flowers were done via the same process.

First Draft

Exercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

This morning I got my watercolour pencils out, and drew the viaduct, and photographed it (along with the bottle). I processed them in Lightroom using the adjustment brush tool, increased the exposure and the whites to maximum, sent them over to Photoshop, quick selection tool, delete the background, and then save as png files, and copied them into the first draft. The background eraser again was useful, and I reduced the hardness of the brush, so that I could slowly brush them into the bottle.

Photos for second draft

The sky was the more complicated part because it involved using the layer mask. In the first layer I changed the curves because I wanted a little contrast in the clouds, once I had finished this I pressed Ctrl J – to copy the layer. Then dragged the mask into the rubbish bin and created a new mask for hue and saturation. I love the colours. Following this I tried to use a brightness and contrast mask, but it didn’t work out.

Second Draft


The flames look out of place and their lines are too sharp, so I decide to tidy them up. I have tried to use the Photoshop render clouds filter on a previous occasion and I did not like the result. The process is – menu layer > new > layer > then press shift f5 to create a fill layer, change the contents drop down to 50% grey and set the opacity to 50%, press ok.

**Go to the menu filter  > render > clouds. Menu edit > free transform, you can now change the profile, size and shape of the rendered clouds so they are in the position that you would like them. However, if you now right-click on the render clouds you are given other options, so that you can warp, distort and change perspective.

Next its menu layer > layer mask > hide all – and this means that you can now use the white paint brush to slowly paint in the clouds where you want them. It doesn’t really create clouds, but I have seen others use it to add mist to landscape photos with very good effect.

Photos for third draft

The clouds didn’t work for me (yet again) so I opened up a photo of a steam train, cloned the sign out, erased the background, so that all I had left was steam, then converted to png, and copied it into draft two. Then instead of render clouds, I used the same process (from **above) but with the steam. Brushing it back in took a while but it was worth it. I managed to reduce the harsh lines of the flames, and have the thicker part of the steam at the front of the train. I also cloned out the white line between the train and the viaduct, and spot healed marks on the neck of the bottle.

Third Draft

Exercise 2.12 Pixel Painting

The sky is very grainy and I would prefer it to be smooth. I went to menu filter noise > reduce noise, and in the drop down I changed the strength to ten and the reduce colour noise to 56%, returned back to the menu filter > blur > blur more, and then brushed that over the sky layer. I then repeated the filter blur process. The file has been saved as a psd so that I can go back and change any part of this piece of art in the future, but have also also saved it as a JPEG. Before saving a creative piece of work that has layers as a JPEG, you need to go to –  menu layers > flatten image and then ctrl alt shift and s to save for web (save for web embeds the colour profile).


Steaming Happy by Richard KeysExercise 2.12 Pixel Painting





Initial Thoughts For Painting With Light – The Marriage Of The Mikado Phantom

Painting with light is an opportunity to explore lighting, and I’m considering doing this in a theatrical style.

I’m considering using two models to create a marriage between Phantom of the Opera and The Mikado.

I will sketch my plans over the coming week.

Two people, facing each other, ballroom hold, suit, cravat, pocket hanky, top hat, wedding dress, umbrella, beads to reflect lighting on wedding face, phantom mask painted out so outline and highlights are left white. Facing each other with faces close.

Shoot profile and can then create one face out of the two faces.

Standing forward of a black backdrop, lighting behind. Torches placed in a blackout box. Holes in boxes in shape of confetti, each hole covered with different colour gel cut outs. Lighting behind couple and facing the wall.

Front lighting – 6 lights, gels, triangulate on each face, black muslin in front of gels to soften and diffuse light.

Match light to enhance skin tone, make up, beads and possibly glitter.

Have purchased lighting, next step is to experiment with gels and different coloured fabrics.

Have been exploring lighting, make up, skin tone and costume this week thanks to tv and I’ll upload that to my sketchbook this week.

Assignment One – Tutor Feedback

Jayne Taylor  (tutor) and I spoke on Friday. Before discussing the assignment we discussed the coursework. Jayne pointed out that there was one stand alone photograph from my coursework that stood out. Abbey View, in the style of Walker Evans.

Exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape

It’s strengths were the layers, the subtlety, and foreground.

Formal and Informal Feedback

The following formal feedback word document is published in full with the consent of my tutor Jayne Taylor.


Jayne felt that my assignment was a very good start to the course, and there were five photos which thought were most promising from the assignment.

She thought that this one was the strongest.

York :- A Photographic History




The first photo had a depth that meant something to me, and Jayne commented upon the evidence of the connection. The personal connection was present in all of the photos that Jayne thought were good. There was a strength in the composition of the Clifford’s Tower photo (1st). Jayne stated that the photo could have been improved by two things. The use of a tripod, and going back a different times of day and different lighting conditions, to ensure sharpness and detail throughout the photo, and to capture the lighting as I want it rather than leaving it to the digital darkroom. Jayne initially felt that the photo was underexposed, but when I explained that I had deliberately developed it so that there was a cold and foreboding element because I wanted the photo to make a statement about the isolation and massacre of the Jews who were killed there, she was in agreement that I had developed it properly.

The two major learning points from this are:- go back to the same place repeatedly to ensure you understand how it is affected by lighting, and use a tripod.

Photo 2 – river’s Ouse and Foss

The composition was strong in this photo.

Photo 3 – Dick Turpin’s Grave

Good composition and exposure. Simple but strong photo and a strong sense of history.

Photo 4 – York Minster

Strong composition. The amount of windows and their prominence added to the composition. The composition highlights the strength and symbolism of the Minster and the influence and power that it had upon society. A sociological statement.

Photo 5 – Jayne wasn’t keen on the man in the background and felt that he took away from the good use of colour and the lines from the paneling and paving. A good photo which could have been improved if I had taken the scene without anyone in it and had then reduced the exposure upon the shops.

There’s a good learning point there for me and shows where I currently am with my photography. I like the alley, its lines and colours, but felt it didn’t have a point of interest without the man there. I had a good photo without of it without people. If a photo speaks on its own then I don’t need to wait for a secondary point of interest. At least it was strong enough to be mentioned as a good photo.

However, Jayne wasn’t enamoured by my photos which had people in them. She felt that they fell into the category of advertising and promotion, something the council or tourist board would favour. Jayne was clear that if you get commissioned for that type of work then go for it, there is nothing wrong with that kind of photography. But it doesn’t fit in with making a strong series for this assignment.

I discussed how I had tried to demonstrate the different elements of the coursework with my series. The response was clear. Make use of the skills practiced during the coursework for your assignments, but allow only your strongest cuts to go forward for the series, regardless of whether they demonstrate coursework skills or not.

We discussed why the photos of people didn’t work, and Jayne thought there was an overt disconnect between me and the people. I explained my reticence to photograph people without their consent and agreed that this had come out in the photos. However, the flipside is that we both have a strong sense of where we stand ethically in relation to only photographing people with their consent.

The presentation in the book format was good, ant the square format worked well. But in future limit the font to 12 point and 80% grey rather than coloured.

A good assignment that was nicely put together and presented.

Jayne has recommended 4 photographers for me to review, and preferable to buy or lend their books if possible. Anthony Levera, Bill Brandt, Chris Killip and Alec Soth.

A particular point of interest is Jayne’s comment about how good my photography is with larger scale photography. She pointed  to the photo I had made of Whitby Abbey (top of page) and also from the assignment the landscape profile of York Minster (below). Although I particularly like those two photos, I had previously considered that I struggled with a broader working canvas. I had felt that there was too much space for me to adequately control.

With the feedback relating to my learning log, I am now continuously updating a log of all my posts relating to Image the Portrait, which I can then add to my completed assignment for ease of access.

York :- A Photographic History


York:- A Photographic History – Assignment One – Square Mile

I have produced a photobook to present the series, and a reflections book to demonstrate my processes, technique, learning and development. Once these have been printed I will send them to my tutor.

I am aware that on WordPress with tbe content area white background, some of the highlights and whites of the images bleed into the page. In the book I use a lemon pastel background which is more effective.

Although all of the photographs are in the books, you can find them below, along with the PDF’s for both books.

Photobook Front and Back Cover

Photobook – Main Body

Assignment One Reflections – PDF

Assignment One Reflections Book a


Contact Sheets

Final 13

Developed top 40 series 1, and series 2

As shot 48 – series 1, and series 2

As shot – full set of 70

627 CE – The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter (York Minster)

York :- A Photographic History


Back Cover (this is not an assessed photo)

York :- A Photographic History


71 CE – The Southern Gateway to Eboracum, St Helen’s Square

York :- A Photographic History


306CE – Constantine the Great

York :- A Photographic History


866 CE – Coppergate, Jorvik and Ivar the Boneless

York :- A Photographic History


1190 CE – The Festival of Pesach Massacre, Clifford’s Tower

York :- A Photographic History


1350 CE – Shambles

York :- A Photographic History


1570 CE – Guy Fawkes – St Michael le Belfrey

York :- A Photographic History


1644 CE – Roundheads, Cavaliers, and the Siege of York

York :- A Photographic History


1739 CE – The Execution of Dick Turpin

York :- A Photographic History


1825 CE – Mad Alice – Lunds Court

York :- A Photographic History


1997 CE – El Piano, the Latin Quarter, and the Festival of Angels

York :- A Photographic History


2015 – The Great York FloodYork :- A Photographic History


PDF of PhotoBook Produced for Square Mile – Feedback Appreciated.

I decided that I would make my series for Square Mile into a PhotoBook. There are two PDF files, one for the cover and one for the book.

I am going to proof read tomorrow before I commit to getting it printed. It will be a12inch by 12inch hardback book. I would really appreciated any feedback. In the PDF the Pages are above and below each other. So there is a photo and then a page of text that accompanies the photo. In the book they will be side by side. I dont know how to do that in my PDF viewer.

York A Photographic History Cover

York A Photographic History

My plan for Thursday is to make final adjustments from proof reading, and then write up my reflections on the assignment.


Square Mile – Contact Sheets

Here are the contact sheets of the photos for Square Mile, after the initial evaluation.  There are 41 photos in total. I am going to get this down to 24, once I have reviewed these, and make two series of 12, which I will then ask for critique from my peers, before making the final selection. The series will be a historical journey through York from the first century up to the present day. I have not developed these photos as yet, I will do so when I am down to the final 24. These photos all have the clarity that I desire and fit into my themes, so I am more concerned with which ones fit together rather than developing them at the moment. Although I have lebelled these Series 1 and Series 2, I may well swap photos around once I have developed them.

My aim is to have the final series include capturing stillness and movement, light and shadow, using different white balance to emphasise warmth, sunshine, diffuse light, coolness and emphasise linear structure. Also I want to use the research from Tom Hunter and Dan Holdsworth to bring the photos together in a series that is also sequential in nature.

I welcome critique and feedback, so if you wish to comment, then please do so.

Series 1

Series 2


Series 1

Lightroom (_DSC4657.NEF and 24 others)Lightroom (_DSC4657.NEF and 24 others)

Lightroom (_DSC4657.NEF and 22 others)Lightroom (_DSC4657.NEF and 22 others)

Assignment One – Square Mile – Further Development of Ideas

Tomorrow I will plan a walk so that I can go around all of the places below for Sqaure Mile. I will also take a letter on the walk so that I can collaborate with the public. My aim is still to use the Johari window theme with collaboration, and York facts. Complete both projects and then when I develop the photos I can see which works better as a series.


Guy Fawkes Born Stonegate (street near minster) 1570 – Baptised at St Micheal le Belfrey (York was the centre of the Catholic revolt) Plot to kill King james the first and restore a catholic monarch to the throne

Dick Turpin – Grave – St George Cemetery, Lead Mill Lane (off of Piccadilly)

York – the most haunted city in Europe (https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/aug/10/arts.artsnews (16/08/2017))

Mad Alice – Lunds Court Snickleway – Mad Alice killed her husband after suffering years of violence at his hands. After murdering him she was hanged at York Castle in 1825 – between Swinegate and old peter gate.

365 Pubs – The Yorkshire Terrier by York brewery – 10 Stonegate, The Golden Fleece – Pavement (better place of transition – and wont replicate Stonegate from Guy Fawkes), Kings Arms, Kings Staith – (transition Yes, but so photographed it’s a cliché)

Unrepealed Law – In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1568475/Ten-stupidest-laws-are-named.html (accessed on 16/08/2017))

(Scots and Parliamentarian siege of York – Walmgate Bar – Lamel Hill 1644 – Canons attacked York) (Battle of Marston Moor – defeated the Royalists of York) – Oliver Cromwell

Could Photo the Spread Eagle Pub (Marstons Brewery) from Walmgate Bar

York and the Vikings – Coppergate- Jorvik  All saints day 866 Halfdan and Ivar the Boneless took york, retreated then retook it in the following year – vikings were on the whole hard-working tradesmen and not as savage as they are made out to be. Made Pottery, Swords (blacksmiths), Shipbuilders etc. St Olaves Chrurch (olafe) Marygate – St Marys Bishophill – coppergate/Jorvik centre (transition – busy)

Layered dig showing ground levels changes from 1st century to modern era at the back of the Library

York Minster – From Petergate and include St Michael le Belfrey or from College Street Minster Yard with the tudor buildings

Rowntrees – Tanners Moat, castlgate (historic sites of rowntrees or haxby road (now nestle)

Psychiatry and its modernisation in York –The Retreat 1790 (quakers) following death of Hannah Mills at Bootham. William Tuke, private rooms, non violence, modernised psychiatric care, dignity

Heslington Road

The Shambles – Diagon Alley (Harry Potter) – Anglo Saxon The Great Flesh Shambles (fleshammeles) because of the Butchers (see if York Coin Collectors has a Potter themed Coin) Transition – Shambles from Kings Square, snickleways into market

Constantine the Great – St Leonards Place (theatre Royal) and York Minster

Review – Tom Hunter


Tom Hunter http://www.tomhunter.org/gallery/ – Look at the two series Life and Death in Hackney and Unheralded Stories. Do you notice the connection between the people and their surroundings? How does Hunter achieve this? What kinds of places are these photographs set in? Are they exotic, special or ordinary, everyday places? There’s something ‘mythical’ and yet also ‘everyday’ about Hunter’s pictures. Look carefully at one or two images and try to pick out the features that suggest these two different qualities.

Tom Hunter provides information about his art alongside the two galleries required for review by the brief, and I have been able to add to this with further reading online. Hunter uses local people in their own environment, a place that is familiar for he and them. The photos are staged with “sitters” (not models). They are local people who he either knows, or he discovers locally. Although the photos are meticulously staged so that they represent a painting from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the sitters are so familiar with the environment that only a few appear to be staged photos. Hand on heart – I have no idea about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and no art history, so I have had to do some research)

Hunter gave an interview to the Guardian Newspaper in which he says “The whole idea was to elevate the status of my sitters; to take the attributes of classical painting and put them on to my sitters. That was my political motivation. I’ve always been political, and it’s very important to me that people don’t see Hackney as a mythical place. It is a real place, and it’s somewhere everyone up and down the country can relate to. These things are going on in every town and county. You don’t have to go to Afghanistan to find a war zone. People are shooting each other every day in Hackney.” (Aitkenhead, D; 2005)

Do I understand the political intention behind staging people in their local setting to reenact news-stories, as a way of engaging the viewer with what is going on in front of their eyes? Yes. Do I understand the propaganda instigated by the capitalist minority so that they can further influence and control the behaviour of the proletariat, and corrupt their minds so that they scorn those who live an alternate lifestyle or who are socially excluded, and that this is social control? Yes I do.

Most of the external of the settings appear to be edgelands. The spaces between the city and the countryside, and they also appear to be less affluent. Hell that’s not true, they appear to be places of poverty and degradation. We are seeing marginalised people in marginilised communities. The kind of places that governments make quick promises to, and take slow actions about. These kind of areas can be found in cities and towns throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Interestingly the London Borough of Hackney is no edgeland. Its is in the heart of London and borders with the City of London (business district).

I do not see these places as being exotic (foreign, non-native, tropical) and only three of four of these pieces of art appear to have anything mythical about them. Maybe if I had a history with fine art I may have seen more mystery and myth within the series. Staging photos so that they mimic famous paintings does not necessarily create a magical feeling to those with no knowledge of those works. Although having read from Hunter site, his interview in the Guardian and a review by Robert Wilkes (Wilkes, R; 2014) I do have an understanding of the intent of adding an aesthetical feel to political issues as a way of engaging political dialogue.

Exploring the everyday and mythical

DMJ0104Z_09.tifFig 1

My thoughts –  A dilapidated house from the 1960’s. I would have guessed at an earlier period if it had not been for two miniature colour photos of children on the fireplace to the right of the scene. The woman is alive (colour of skin) and is wearing lipstick and eyeliner that is still very neat with no smudging,(so we are not viewing heroin chic of the late 90’s and no apparent drunkenness). Its 8.50 and I would guess PM as there is the reflection of a light in the painting of the female religious figure on the wall – top left. She is divorced and the wedding band is now on her right hand. Is she preparing to go out for the night to meet her friends? Despite this she is grieving and feels alone, dirty ashamed and unloveable (Symbolism – empty made bed, that’s stained and dirty, the floor has no carpet, the wall paper is terribly faded, there is no longer a mirror above the fireplace and there is now just white paint). She sees herself as a fallen woman, prostrating before Jesus and Mary (Mary statue, Jesus Painting, Cross on necklace on the Jesus painting, female religious painting). There is clearly the overlay of the myth of the fallen woman – a label that puts women on a pedestal as being saintly then humiliates them for being human, and the myth of Christ as portrayed (Catholicism – WHITE (WTF?), halo, saintly, GOD in the form of man).

The reality is that it could be any one of us in this situation and at different times throughout our life we all feel alone, ashamed, tired, grief and not good enough. When compared to Death of Sardanapalus by Delacroix and become aware that a man is laying on a bed staring out from his bed at an orgy, with a woman dead at his feet, we are then reminded that the woman on Hunters bed has suffered at the hands of man. That is so familiar that most of the 3.6b women on the planet can relate to. The myth that is alluded to is a familiar and frequent reality for many.

the-way-home-high-2009-emailFig 2

My thoughts – When I first viewed the series Life and Death in Hackney, this was the photo that I stopped at. The reason being that all of the others looked like candid or street photography. However this photo did not. It reminded me of a painting, and this was the one photo that looked staged. The canal has indeed become a stage so that Hunter could recreate the painting Ophelia by John Everett Millais. The blue trousers, the grassy bank and shrub with its flowers and bloom and its petals in the canal, provide a very surreal scene. However the bridge and industrial buildings in the background bring us back to the present day. The title suggests that there has been a misadventure on the way home, but the staging stops me from having emotion relating to it. I don’t believe the story because of the staging. I find that is a shame. Because the story is tragic, and it is tragic because it is real. Hunter read a newspaper article about a woman who had been found dead in a canal. This leaves me with the dilemma and tension between the beauty and art of the photo, and the tragedy of the narrative. I do not like that feeling, but its an incredibly clever piece of art that brings together myth, tradgedy and beauty – all of which are very real and very human.


Fig 1 – Hunter, T; 2010; Death of Coltelli; At http://www.tomhunter.org/unheralded-stories-series/

Fig 2 – Hunter, T; 1998; The Way Home; At http://www.tomhunter.org/life-and-death-in-hackney/

Aitkenhead, D; 2005; Life is Grand; In The Guardian [online] at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/dec/03/photography (accessed on 14/06/2017)

Wilkes, R; 2014; Reinterpreting the Pre-Raphaelites: Tom Hunter; At https://dantisamor.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/reinterpreting-the-pre-raphaelites-tom-hunter/