I Dare You To Define ME



Re-WorkedAssignment Two



This is a re-worked version of assignment two following feedback from my tutor. She asked me to consider how I would display this series on a gallery wall? What text would I have as an accompaniment? Words which touch upon the meaning of the photos without being so explicit that the viewer cannot question or interpret the photos as they see fit.

The poem that I have written by way of introduction raises questions in a way that I wasn’t sure that I could achieve if I had composed a statement.

The concept of a gallery presentation and accompanying text is new to me so I would greatly appreciate any ideas or suggestions which will help me to improve upon this.

Although I have received verbal feedback from my tutor, I am going to leave going into full detail, and my response until after I have received the written feedback, so that I can attach it to the post.

Painting With Light – Assignment Two

Glow Sticks


Following my reflections you will find the six individual photos that I selected, and also the PDF contact sheets for the full set of photos, and others which I made during the evaluation process. There will also be a PDF that contains all of the blog posts relating to Image the Portrait.


This assignment has been one that has developed for me over the period of the Image the Portrait coursework. When watching Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor I realised the opportunity for exploring how lighting effects the skin, hair, clothes and make up. The dancing and some of the holds inspired me to develop a vision for the assignment. I have made two posts about my original plans, which can be seen here, and here.

Due to anxiety and paranoia I am socially isolated and rarely meet up with people, but as I had a planned holiday with friends, I asked if they would help me with the assignment. Having not visited them before I had no idea of the space that would be available, and when I got there I soon realised that I was not going to be able to follow my original plan.  I wanted to be able to follow the brief, and create a snoot so fine that I would be able to use the lighting like a laser so that I could paint a crown, a wedding ring, and light up parts of clothing very specifically. However, I just couldn’t create a snoot this narrow. Light is both quanta (packets of particles – Photons) and a wave (electro-magnetic), that spreads out rapidly from its source (wave particle duality). The light from my snoot acted accordingly and covered a larger area than I wanted it to. Lasers work differently and would have been effective, but I did not have access to any lasers.

I had to develop another idea. After considering my options and decided that I would use glow sticks in order to create the effect of moving narrow strips of light to create my portraits. This came with its own challenges. The room I was shooting in had light coming in through the curtains, I had no black background to hide the kitchen behind Nick, and it took a while to get the aperture and shutter speed to get the correct exposure for my models face, and the moving glow sticks.

It has certainly been a positive experience of having to think outside of the box, develop another plan, and how to get the most out of ISO, shutter speed and aperture in order to create the visual effect that I wanted. The creative and technical process was thoroughly enjoyable. I made use of a tripod (which I don’t do often enough), learned how to connect my camera to my phone so that I had remote shutter and instant view, and have now learned how to adjust my print output so that it increases the light level to that of my screen.

After evaluating and developing the photos, I went through a further selection process to arrive at the final six that I am using for the assignment. My initial print run highlighted that my prints were darker than the on-screen photos, so I had to make further developments in Lightroom to increase exposure and saturation, whilst decreasing the background very carefully with the adjustment brush. Another print run helped me to spot some places where I had been a touch careless with the adjustment brush, and where I needed to make further use of it. I increased some of the highlights with the adjustment brush and then the dodge tool in Photoshop. This has taken longer than anticipated because I run out of black ink and had to oder some more.

It has not been easy to decide how to mount the photos, which layout, which background etc. I have tried a plain white background which looks too stark, a plain black background, a white background sitting on a further layer of black, and with glow sticks around the edge.

After due consideration I have settled for the black background. The glow sticks looked good, however, for this to have worked I would have need to cut the glow sticks down to size  so that they framed the photo. I tried to cut them and the result was coloured dye leaking out of the sticks. The test photos of the differing gallery layouts can be seen below. Choosing the layout of the photos was difficult, and I tried several arrangements. The reason that I made the choice for the final piece of work was due to the way that the light on the centre edge of the photos almost flows from one image to the next.

The process of photographing the gallery was challenging, and I felt frustrated at times. Overhead lighting reflected off of the photos, side lighting from the open curtains had a similar effect, and the mount was slightly twisted which altered how the light could be captured. In the end I hung a dark curtain behind the camera, so that the wallpaper didn’t reflect onto the images, closed the curtains used a long exposure, and corrected the twist of the mount.

Is the result perfect? – No, far from it. There is too much background light which wasn’t possible to eradicate completely. I have had to make extensive use of the adjustment brush to dodge and burn areas, and I’ve increase the saturation quite a lot to enhance the light from the glow sticks. However, I am pleased with the effects, and particularly like the movement of the light across the model and the frame. This was created by throwing the light sticks at my model, towards him, around him, and from the sofa behind him.

I do not have the opportunity to repeat this assignment, as I am back home and will not have anyone available to model for me for sometime now. However, given the chance I would do a couple of things differently (a black backdrop, make use of blackout curtains, different location, combine torch and snoot for more side lighting, develop a finer snoot, paint light closer to the model). This is an exercise that I will come back to when I have the right equipment to complete it in the manner that I had originally planned.


The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica; 2018; Wave-Particle Duality; Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc; Online AT: https://www.britannica.com/science/wave-particle-duality (accessed on 22/01/2018)

Richard Keys; 2017; Initial Thoughts For Painting With Light – The Marriage Of The Mikado Phantom; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/initial-thoughts-for-painting-with-light-the-marriage-of-the-mikado-phantom/ (accessed on 22/01/2017)

Richard Keys; 2017; Exploration Of Lighting, Skin Tone, Skin Colour, Make Up And Costume; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/exploration-of-lighting-skin-tone-skin-colour-make-up-and-costume/ (accessed on 22/01/2018)

Richard Keys; 2017; Assignment Two – The Original Vision; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/assignment-two-the-original-vision/ (accessed on 22/02/2017)

Final six photos

Painting With Light (3 of 6)Painting With Light (5 of 6)

Painting With Light (2 of 6)Painting With Light (1 of 6)

Painting With Light (6 of 6)Painting With Light (1 of 1)

PDF Contact Sheets

Full : First Cut : Second Cut : Third Cut : Fourth Cut : Final

Image the Portrait Blog Links

Gallery Layout Practice


With special thanks to Nick, and also to The Saltburn Framing Company who provided me with a selection of black and white mounts free of charge.


Assignment Two – The Original Vision

Assignment two is Painting with Light, and we are asked to create a series of images in which we use a source or sources of light to make a portrait.

Although I described my vision a while back, I decided that I would use some time to create my vision digitally using my new Huion graphics tab. Its going to take a while to get used to, especially as I am no artist. I have got it as I intend to make use of it for the “sequence” exercise in part three of the course. Look out for my version of the Hobbit, in which I will digitally create the characters and add them to landscape photos that I am preparing.

Getting back to assignment two. I was not able to follow through with this vision as there was not enough space in the environment that I was shooting. I hadn’t been there before so I had no idea of the space or layout. I will post the completed assignment when I am able to. We are required to mount our final selection so that we can consider how a series looks when it is displayed, and I am waiting for a guillotine so that I can cut the card. However I have taken, evaluated and developed and selected the final photos.

For now, here is the digital art that I have produced for my first plan.

First Plan (1 of 1)The plan was to include two sets of lighting, one at the back to produce the confetti heart, and the other at the front to paint the models with. The scene is a wedding scene, with the couple during the first dance. The male is representing The Phantom of the Opera, and the female was meant to be from The Mikado. However, I got a little carried away with the graphics and artistic side, and in the end I went a little more disco. Here is the image without the black overlay. I really enjoyed creating her hair and dress, although skin tone, shadow and shading were very difficult. The black overlay in the original is to represent that we were asked to shoot in a very dark environment to avoid light leak.


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)