25mm Prime Lens – Layers and Depth – Bird-Watching

I went out to do some bird watching today, a bit of an adventure to look for fieldfare and redwing. Alas, I dint find any, but I enjoyed watching redshank and oyster catcher, a few goldfinch, and a cheeky starling that took a ride on the back of a sheep.

Of course I had a camera with me, and as my OMD EM 10 iii is new, I feel that I need to get used to its menus, the way it handles, and using a prime 25mm (50mm equivalent).

I havent used a prime lens before, and have always relied upon telephoto. There are two things that are immediately apparent to me. The 25mm places the subject further back than I see them with my eye, not a lot, but it’s there. To make use of the prime I am going to need to slow down, move around, and take more notice of composition, distance and perspective. I have a feeling that this is going to be good for my photography. To really consider the shots that I am taking, and allowing myself to move closer, to get into the scene.

Having the prime on me was a good enough reason to explore layers, and how the use of them can add depth in a photo. It’s a step further than the foreground, midground, background exercise, and it can create either a feeling of spaciousness, or movement through a photo, depending upon how it’s used. The photos that I took today are not special,  (I will add them to my sketch book menu above), but the practice is always good.

Thought I would also create a panorama as well. I made three overlapping shots, knowing that I could run them through the Lightroom panorama option. Thanks for the tip Agrandaiz.


Juxtaposition In Photography – What Is It?

In the Foundations in Photography it was suggested that we take a look at a photo made by Kevin Carter in 1993 whilst he was filming the famine and drought in Sudan. The photo is of a sick child with a vulture in the background. A disturbing photo, that won Carter a Pulitzer prize, and also added to the guilt that he felt about photographing people who had been tortured, killed, suffering the effects of apartheid, war and natural disasters. (Neal; 2017)

The New York Times reported that the child continued on her journey after the photo was taken and that the vulture was chased away. Carter committed suicide on July 28th 1994. The juxtaposition in his photo was one of life and death. (Keller; 1994)

A powerful example of juxtaposition but there are many other ideas of what the word means. In my mind juxtaposition is about two opposing objects that create a dynamic subject. In my photo below the man in the skeleton mask wearing the chains and the leather jacket is in contrast and opposing the “church open” sign.

Street Photography

Eric Kim puts it simply “To be specific— juxtaposition is when you put two opposite things together, and the contrast of those two things becomes interesting.” (Kim; 2017) He goes through several ideas that relate to contrasting emotion, social circumstances, activity, past and present, and direction. For me the most enjoyable photo is one where he shows subjects versus shadow. I am drawn to the humour that is created by the womans shadow and how it distorts her features.

Shadow Eric KimFig. 1. Person and Shadow (2017)

Jason Row explores many themes including scale, colour and concept, as well as mood/emotion and age. The two examples below are good photos and demonstrate his ideas. They are themes that I will log in my mind as I am sure that I can make use of them at a later date, although I do prefer street photography based juxtaposition.

Fig. 2. A Juxtaposition Using Size (2016), Fig. 3. Scale, Colour and Concept are all featured in this shot (2016)

The photo that I appreciated most in this short excursion into researching juxtaposition is called Emoticons. It came second in the Curators Choice Award in the World Street Photography Awards 2015 (Kujaja). The photo by Paola Saetti captures contrasting emotions and also the diversity between the new age and maturity.

Emoticons-by-Paola-SaettiFig. 4. Emoticons (2015)

Although this has been a quick review it is something that will reinforce ideas and themes in my mind, so that when I am out with my camera I can be more aware of how ot create interesting photos.

References and Illustrations

Figure 1; Kim, E; 2017; Person and Shadow; At: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/juxtaposition/ (accessed on 13/11/2017)

Figure 2; Row, J; 2016; A Juxtaposition Using Size; At: https://www.lightstalking.com/juxtaposition-examples/ (accessed on 13/11/2017)

Figure 3; Row, J; 2016; Scale, Colour and Concept are all featured in this shot; At; https://www.lightstalking.com/juxtaposition-examples/ (accessed on 13/11/2017)

Figure 4; Saetti, P; 2015; Emoticons; At: https://www.kujaja.com/en/photo-competitions/winner/street-photography-awards-2015-juxtaposition-5 (accessed on 13/11/2017)

Keller, B; 1994; Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Winner For Sudan Photo, Is Dead at 33; In: The New York Times [online] At: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/29/world/kevin-carter-a-pulitzer-winner-for-sudan-photo-is-dead-at-33.html (accessed on 13/11/2017)

Kim, E; 2017; 10 Tips How to Create Juxtaposition in Your Photography; At: erickimphotography.com/blog/juxtaposition/

Neal, LM; 2017; How Photojournalism Killed Kevin Carter; At: http://all-that-is-interesting.com/kevin-carter (accessed on 13/11/2017)


Progress – One Year On

Although I have been taking photos on and off for many years, I have only taken it seriously for the past twelve months. Photography improved the quality of my life last year, it got me to go outside when I was too scared to live, and afraid to go outside of my front door. Because of the impact it had upon me I made a decision to put the effort in to improving my photography.

I realised that I had to have a focus so that I could develop, and as I have an interest in sociology I set myself some sociological themes. Some of these have turned into projects that are ongoing, and others I have turned into photo essays. Others I have put to the side for now.

I needed to create a bit more space on my computer so I have gone back through my photography from the past year, and have deleted many of the photos, photos that I saved in two different formats and others that I will not make use of.

The process has given me the opportunity to review how my photography has improved, and I feel really grateful that I have done this. It is quite obvious that my technical abilities have improved, but I can also see how I have begun to take photos that I want to take. Even if I havent made the quality that I want to, or that don’t tell the story that I like (and this is most of my photography), I am heading the right direction. There are themes that have become clearer, and other ideas that I had, that I currently have no plans to develop although I may do so in the future.

The turning point has been decided to take Foundations in Photography with The Open College of the Arts. Yes my photographic techniques have improved, but more importantly to me, my creativity and ideas are improving. With the encouragement of my peers, and through viewing the work of them and other OCA students, and photographers that I follow on WordPress, my progress is improving.

Am I where I want to be with my photography? No, not by a long shot. That is a good thing, I have a lot to learn and the willingness to learn.

Progress is being made.

Photographers Do Not Always Have To Take The Photos – Learning From Collaborating With Others On The Photo Essay – Autism: Out Of The Box

Developing an idea and a plan

The idea to create the project came to me a couple of months ago. I saw a film with an autistic lead character and was aware that film and TV tend to focus on savants rather than a more representative view of autism.

This led me to consider what I thought I knew about autism, and I thought that perhaps my views were influenced by the media rather than from autistic people.

It would have been so easy to read diagnostic criteria and symptoms, but people are not symptoms, and people matter.

I developed a plan to research the experiences of autistic people on-line, on YouTube, and by inviting autistics to help me.

I made the decision that photographers don’t have to take photos to tell people’s stories and decided to invite photographic input from those with autism. I set the title as Autism: Out Of The Box in order to highlight my belief that when we label people medically we dehumanise them and stop seeing the person. This essay was about seeing the individual.

After completing Assignment One my tutor suggested that I research the work of photographer Anthony Luvera, and how he supported homeless people to create a self-portrait. I wasn’t in the position to meet with autistic people and I decided to find away to invite people to send a photo to me that represented an aspect of living with autism. I would then research and write the essay and work that around my collaborators photos. I also asked if they could write around 50 words to say something of the photo or their experience.

Learning Points

Drop all prior knowledge and ideas, my ideas don’t represent others.

Start from a position of wanting to learn and not express.

Develop a clear plan so that I can communicate clearly.

Ensure collaborators can improve and develop the plan.

Find a primary source for connecting with those you want to represent.

Find a primary source of information.

Be willing to change terminology (I say that I’m a person with anxiety and depression.  Autistic people on the whole prefer not to use “person with autism”. They view autism as being something that defines them. I was asked whether I would say “I’m a person with maleness”. With this in mind I was asked to uses the terms autistics and autistic people.

Apologise to people who did not want to be approached. I gained consent to approach people from Actually Autistic Blogs List (thankyou Judy), so I approached people who had no idea I was going to approach them. This was successful on the whole, but one apology was required.

Send the finished article for collaborators to review, and re-write according to their feedback and criticism.

Make sure that you spell people’s names properly and ask if they have a site or blog so that I could link to them.

Reference collaborators as co-authors.

Be clear about where the finished article will be published.

Clear communication with publisher to ensure photos and links are in the right place.

I only display a link to my publisher, they are kind enough to publish my submission, they deserve my viewers to read their magazine  (respect).

Do not develop other people’s photos or art. It’s their intellectual property and they have the right to have their work presented as it is. To include their writing in a manner that kept the article neat I did need to take their photos into Photoshop, change the canvas size and add a border.

I love making photography, but photographers do not always need to take photos in order to represent others. I think this is why I use the term “Sociological photography” rather than documentary photography. I want to be able to help others represent themselves.

This project worked. My co-authors and I worked together so that we could tell a personal story about autism that put autistic people first.

Current Photographic Learning – Health – Expressing My Vision – Lighting and Portraits

I’m struggling at the moment. My confidence in my photography is low. Partly this is relating to my health. I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s not a major condition bit it’s knocked the wind out of me. I have no energy and feel ill after eating, and because of my mental health I rarely get out until after lunch.

So I haven’t been out with my camera much. This doesn’t help with confidence. To improve my photography I need to be taking photos, exploring light, and seeking opportunities to create the photography that I want to.

My first assignment has been an eye opener for me. I followed the brief and from reviewing the work of Chloe Dewe Matthews, Walker Evans and Dan Holdsworth, I wanted to create a series that fit together and had a narrative. My aim was also to create a narrative in some individual photos that also included some symbolism. There were four that my tutor liked, which I also did, and one more that I felt worked. Five photos that achieved my aim. There was one other that I didn’t include because the traffic, which was endless, ruined the photo. I am not good at travelling without support so I can’t go back and re take it at the moment.

I know the photography that I want to make and it involves people, and a sociological narrative. History has come up for me as something to explore that had also come from the Square Mile assignment.

In writing this I feel better about the first assignment. I did achieve my goals in several photos, and even the ones that I didn’t get good feedback about in relation to my vision as a photographer, there technicality and how they would work well in the tourist industry and promotional photography was noted upon and promising.

That’s not the kind of photography that I want to make though.

My plan now is to bring sociology and history into my coursework wherever I can. If I make the kind of photos that I want then tI can make the most out of the rest of my coursework.

I have been asking people if I can take their portraits, which I will upload at a later date. I’m a stickler for doing things in order.

I have completed my photo essay on autism, but can’t contact who I publish with at the moment, I will give it a few more days and then either self publish or look elsewhere, although I would prefer to stick with the magazine I use. I will add my analyses and learning once the article is published.

Image the Portrait.

I’ve been reading others blogs and I look forward to Creating the Exotic. I’m going to compare it with photos of Matahari.

Painting with light.

I have some ideas that I want to explore, including using two people sitting side by side, and using light to highlight half of each person’s face, the half’s that are next to each other.  I can then create a face from two different half’s that are the wrong side.

Colour, skin, texture and drama.

Wow. What a difference colour can make. The drama of different lighting is apparent to me from my photography of the Chinese State Circus. But I’ve also been looking out for lighting effects on TV and film. Green is not a good colour as it makes skin look Ill. Red can have many effects depending how close, soft, or hard the lighting is. Blue brings out texture of skin and building very well when it is close to the subject.

Lighting, make up and tanning.

Why are we seeing so many orange people on TV nowadays? Sunbeds and tanning booths make for poor skin on TV. Make up artists and lighting technician’s need to be more aware of how lighting and make up interact. With the wrong lighting and make up people look burned or bruised.

The question this has raised for me is how does lighting affect people of different race and skin tone?

I’m feeling much better at the end of this post. I may not be photographing at the moment, but I’m still exploring photography.

Collaborative Photo Essay About Living With Autism – Learning About Portrait Photography

It has been a pleasure to have 9 collaborators on the photo essay that I am writing about living with autism. The photos and accompanying words are great. The challenge for me is researching autism, living with autism, and writing an article that recognises the medical model but has more focus on the people.

Although autism is often a disability for people who have it, that’s a minor part of what I want to present. The real disability is how society reacts to people with autism, and also de-humanises people once they have been labelled and put into a neat box. More over the next few days.

A point of learning for me with regard to collaboration is Authorship. I’m putting the essay together but that doesn’t make me the author or the owner of the work. We have agreed where I will publish the essay, my collaborators have shared their photos, writing and how to credit and link. Once I have written the article (aiming for monday), I will then send it out for their review and feedback, along with alterations where necessary. The key is to ensure that we all retain Authorship and ownership of the essay.

What have I learned about portrait photography? Relationship, rapport and repetition.

That’s the buzz words covered, ha ha.

Repetition is key. The way to improve is practice.

Rapport. It’s hard to build rapport if you are taking photos solely for the purpose of improving your skills. I have certainly found it easy to ask someone if I can take their photo when something about them interests me.


This is now leading to building a relationship. Through reading about portrait photography and reviewing other photographers I had the confidence to try something different today. I asked a man to look through the lens, into my face, and look angry. I asked him to look passed off with me for taking his photo.

It’s another step forward and I can develop this into exploring other emotions with other people.


Portrait Photography Progress – What I Have Learned So Far

I will upload the photos to my sketchbook, once I have continued with the research that my tutor suggested.

It has only been three days since I made the decision to ask one person if I can take their photo each time I go out. I have managed to get out one three occasions, and have asked several people each day.

It is apparent to me that I am going out to improve my confidence with asking people if I can “take” their photo so that I can develop as a photographer. It is to improve my skills, and I did not set out with a vision of what I wanted to say with the photo – which is why I say “take” instead of “make”.

To make photographs implies one of two things two me. Either I have something that I want to say with my photography, or that I am collaborating with someone else so that I can collaborate with them, so that they can express themselves as a subject. I can see wh my tutor says that its important to ask people who you are interested in or have a connection to, or as I am learning, involved in a subject that interests me.

Even after a few days I am beginning to get a feel of what I am looking for. I connected with one woman in a cafe. It was her character. She very calmly and authoritatively diffused a situation. I spoke to her about this, and was then able to ask to take her photo. Then today I spoke with a couple who were having a drink outside of a pub. They looked so relaxed and happy, and yesterday there was a man who was vaping on his e-cig.

There is something about people who are involved in an activity, texting on their phone, talking with each other, that draws me in. Because of this I have been asking people to continue with the activity. I have then been able to photograph them during the activity and then zoom in for a facial portrait.

I do find full face portraits more challenging to take, and I think that is because I am only beginning to develop a vision about portrait photography. It certainly helps when I feel some kind of connection to the person or people, although at this stage I feel that I need to keep asking people whether there is a connection or not, and let the process unfold, and my vision/style develop in its own time. It’s not a matter of taking lots of photos and hoping that I get a couple of good ones, but it is about working with as many people as I can until I get a feel for where I want to go with portrait photography.

Conflicting Thoughts On Candid Street Photography

As I left a shop yesterday a man put his camera to his eye and was going to take a photo of me. I turned away and put my hand to my face. If he had approached me and asked to take the shot I would have obliged. It wouldn’t have been candid but I would have agreed to walk back into the shop and come out again. He would still have got a good photo.

On Friday I watched Masters of Photography. Series 1 episode 1 which was shown on Sky Arts HD on 16th May. A few of the contests followed individuals around Rome, taking their photos. Several of the people told them to stop and leave them alone.

One of the better photos of the day was a candidate street shot. I attended a photography society last year and two of the best presentations were by candid street photographers.

My attitude has been that if I am aiming to take a photo where one individual is the main subject then I seek their consent first. The photos for my homelessness project were taken with consent and information about how I would use the photos.

When I attended Northern Pride it was apparent that seeking consent would not be possible during the march. I shot on the presumption of informed consent. I remained visible as a photographer and only used photos where people were engaged with the camera. If people looked uncomfortable or turned away I deleted their photo. At the event following the march I again gained verbal consent for portraits.

Whilst in York shooting for assignment one I took several photos of individuals or small groups where they were the subject of the photo. I included one of these in my final cut. This photo was taken when I was obviously in view as a photographer. However there was no engagement between the camera and subject.

I also took one photo where I was almost hidden from view. I got a great photo. It didn’t make the final cut, however that was because it didn’t fit in with the series. Would I have included it if it had have fit the theme?

I feel that I’m on an ethically sound footing with informed consent, and I am comfortable with implied consent. I’m less comfortable with being visible but without informed/implied consent. I feel very uncertain about candid street photography where I catch people by surprise or where I’m partially/fully concealed.

This is an area that we all have to be true to ourselves. What other photographers choose to do is their choice, and what I shoot is my responsibility. I certainly appreciate the art of candid street photography and have seen some incredible photos of this genre.

I can see that my ethics and boundaries are evolving as I watch more photography and read books and others blogs, and I will continue to evaluate my personal morals in this regard.

Chinese State Circus – Shaolin Monks – Macro – Exercise 2.1 and Project 1.

What have I learned from the past 4 days making photography.

Stick to the brief but have fun once that’s done.


Sometimes you can’t make the shoot that you wish to, so shoot again in a planned environment.

The Chinese State Circus and Shaolin Monks were incredible, and have definitely made some good photos. But I will have to re-shoot project 1.

Why – There is a limit to shooting in low light with the D7100. Despite being described as presenting little noise with high iso, this is definitely not my experience. Which means I’ve had to use a wide aperture. Consequently I haven’t been able to demonstrate the different depths of field for project 1. It was an event that I didn’t know about until Friday so I haven’t completed the research from the brief, so this was an unplanned shoot. I’m not giving myself a hard time. I got a wonderful opportunity to see the amazing Shaolin Monks and Chinese State Circus. Truly awesome.

There are times when making photography that you miss the enjoyment of an event because you see a limited 3:2 ratio. I took lots of photos and some of them are pleasing. My eye was to the viewfinder throughout, yet I never felt like I missed the pleasure of the performance because they were so darn good. I missed some iso and shutter speed changes, but my gosh am I improving. I’m beginning to intuitively know what to change and when.

For exercise 2:1 – use a white backdrop to remove background details and thus isolating the subject. Make a series of portraits and still life/nature.

I did my best to stick to the brief. The lighting was good for the outdoor shots, but the wind was so strong that the paper blew away or ripped. To be honest it’s not a big deal as I have enough ability with Photoshop to correct the ripped paper.

Indoors – I don’t have a speed light and using my makeshift lighting wasn’t adequate. plastic box, two torches inside, paper on top – didn’t work due to highlight patches. Same technique for side-lighting – light too strong and when moved away it was too weak.

I was using my Tamron 18-270 at max focal length and combined with Vello extension tubes with a combined length of 68mm (with 1.5 crop sensor that’s an effective 507mm focal length). It’s a brilliant set up when you get used to an incredibly narrow depth of field and ensuring you have the right angle for the photo you wish to make. I can get so close in with this set up. I love love love it. I did stick to the brief – for a while. Then I slipped into the enjoyment of macro. If you want a crisp 24mp photo of a twenty pence piece or sliver of watermelon then I will have them here later in the week.

I also learned that flash is not good for wet fruit and macro photography so I need to improve my lighting set up as soon as I can.

No portraits shot for the exercise as yet but really enjoyed these pieces of photography.

How Does A Photographer Create Intimacy At Events Photography?

Despite my anxiety about being outside and being around people, I enjoy events photography and in the long-term i see it as being the focus of my planned photographic career. Not all events photography involves people but some of it does.

I follow a professional events photographer Alan Barnett, and the intimacy that he creates is apparent in the majority of his photographs. He demonstrates a collaboration between photographer and photographed.

I have been able to create intimacy in the homelessness project that I am undertaking, but I feel that’s because I am an insider. Having previously been homeless I find it easy to sit on the floor and chat with the people I’m photographing, to give them a space to be heard. I value them and that comes across in their photos.

But how do you create a connection with people when you’re an outsider? When you’re at an event to do a job? To fulfill a professional contract?

Something that I realised at Northern Pride is that I need to talk with people more freely, and that’s something that I  struggle with. I felt awkward and clumsy, although it did become easier as the day progressed.

Image: The Portrait, is my next piece of coursework. I have read through the content and it terrifies me. I’m a hermit, I don’t live close to my friends, most days I get out for an hour – at a push. I have no connections in my community because I’m scared of people.

I’m going to have to push myself to complete this assignment. Technically I feel competent. I already make use of the technical skills that are addressed in this section.

It’s the people part i struggle with, and you can’t make portraits without people. I need to work with people as an outsider to complete Image: The Portrait, as I don’t see my friends that often. If I’m honest I will develop more as a photographer if I undertake these projects with people whom I don’t know.

Being kind to myself, being patient, taking my time. These will be required for success. Oh yes, and to remember the exhilaration I felt after shooting at pride.



Barnett, Alan; 2017; Online at https://closecrop.wordpress.com/ (accessed on 11/09/2017)