I Dare You To Define ME



Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Two

Please click Tutor Feedback Assignment 2 for the full word document of Jayne’s feedback.

Of particular note in your second assignment is the fact that you successfully worked with a model here and that you achieved the results you wanted through direction and rapport as well as careful preparation. You clearly enjoyed the creative process and (I sense) are feeling enthused towards the rest of the course – so I look forward to your third assignment!

Many of you are already aware that I have anxiety about being around people in general and working with people and photography. However, my skills and confidence in have improved throughout the Image the Portrait section of coursework. Although my anxiety remains, I enjoy working with people, and hopefully, in time, I will become more engaging and conversational with those that I work with. There is a vast difference between asking someone if I can make their portrait, and entering into a conversation with them. It helped that my close friend was my model for this assignment.

So Nick’s stillness of presence is key. As is the black background (the unknown aspects relating to his move and the future) and the light ‘waves’ as the different emotions or energies around this.

With this in mind, I encouraged you to write a brief (100-200 word) introduction to the piece to gently (slightly obliquely) introduce the context (leaving experiential space for the viewer, i.e. try not to be too literal or too descriptive. You might also decide to veer away from the factual side of Nick’s life altogether and take the images somewhere different entirely through the introduction.

We also discussed the possibility of developing this work further as a future project (using the very strong 5th image as a ‘template’), as you enjoyed working on this so much. The idea of masks is very creative and potentially very interesting. But, no rush! Generally, though, taking the strongest image from a series and developing elements of that image further can be a great way to go when riding a creative ‘wave’.

Chloe Dewe-Matthews provides an excellent introduction to her body of work “Shot at Dawn, which can be seen here Shot at Dawn, and Tom Hunter has an introduction to all of his series of work which can be seen in his web gallery. Their series of work have a mixture of both long and short introductions, which are informative, and guide the viewer to think about their photography. I found that this guidance was thought provoking and still allowed me to view the photos and have my own thoughts and opinions.

I chose to write a poem to introduce my assignment, and my reasons for doing so are:- I intend to follow Jayne’s suggestion of using the fifth photo to develop a series of work that explores “self-identity”, and felt that the poem raises questions. Who am I is a question than has been around as long as humanity has had rational thought, but I have a personal interest in this question. From a spiritual, cognitive and emotional perspective I am beginning to let go of conditioning, and am committed to exploring my identity. Although I have not followed Jayne’s suggestion in the manner that she suggested, we have communicated via email and she agrees that the words are an appropriate accompaniment to the series of work.

Jayne commented upon a photo that I took for exercise 2.8

You’ve overcome the challenge of photographing strangers and have produced a super portrait in ex 2.8, which not only illustrates the flash effect but also the great rapport and connection you clearly achieved with the subject. Well done!

and I believe that this is my strongest individual photo from the coursework, and demonstrates that I can photograph strangers despite my anxiety.

Jayne comments upon the preperation and planning that I put into developing assignment two. What I find most interesting is that preparation and planning are important. They create ideas, provide the opportunity to explore options and develop perception and technical skills. I thoroughly explored the effects of coloured light and how it interacts with skin tone and make up. However, plans also go sometimes, as they did for me with the assignment. My belief is that my preperation gave me the confidence to be flexible and creative when it was not possible to shoot as I had planned. Was the outcome better than what my planned shoot would have been? I have confidence that it was. The out come was vibrant and dynamic, and I think this is because it allowed my model, Nick, and I to play and experiment.

The final comment of Jayne’s that I feel is important to reflect upon is in relation to my experience as an OCA student.

Excellent to see/hear that you’re making the most of the opportunities for peer group interaction; a real enhancement to the student experience, especially in distance-learning mode.

Studying at a campus would not suit me at this moment in time due to anxiety and paranoia, but that doesn’t mean that I do not need connection with other people. I have chosen to make the most of the opportunity to interact with others as part of my student experience. The Foundations in Photography  group email is a wonderful form of connection with my peers, there are several of us who communicate regularly via the group email and provide feedback on each others work.

Giving and receiving critique can be a bit daunting at first, but I find it is one of the best opportunities to develop. receiving the input from others provides an alternate perspective as well as suggestion of how to explore, alter or develop photography in a different way. Giving feedback I find scary, because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. However, it also engages my eye and permits me to explore what an image is saying, rather than just looking at a photo. My own photography improves because of this, and when I am out shooting I am more considerate about the photos that I make. Why am I taking this photo?

When I started the course I used the WordPress search option to find other OCA students. As well as following my Foundations peers I follow the work of OCA degree students, and now communicate with several of these. Seeing how others, who are studying at a higher level than me, think, plan, execute, present, reflect upon their photographic work is inspiring, and this also has an impact upon how I view and want to develop my own photography.

There are other photographers, artists, poets, creatives on WordPress, as well as OCA students, and I follow several of these and engage with them as well. Creativity is creativty, I feel inspired by creative people, and it doesn’t matter whether they are photographers or not. One of my aims when I began the course was to develop my creativity. Anyone can develop technical skills if they apply themselves, but creativty requires internal and external engagement, and the willingness to let go and be free. As someone who is highly analytical, following other creatives permits me to let go and be free.

My peers, and the others I engage with on WordPress have become a community for me. I avoid contact with people face to face, so my OCA and WordPress community have given me the opportunity to contribute, and this has improved how I perceive my value and worth.

The poem that I have used as an introduction to I dare you to define me (assignment two) is

What do you see when you look at me?
Am “I” the “I” that you think you see?
The stillness within and my activity,
These are just circumstance, do they make me “me”?

Is it the hidden depths that I cannot see,?
Or does the mask that I wear make the person you see?
Can we define self with true certainty?
I can only be sure that I am humanity.

Do you dare to define yourself?


Dewe-Matthews, C; 2014; Shot at Dawn; Online AT: http://shotatdawn.photography/about/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)

Hunter, T; 1980’s – 2017); Holly Street Resident Series; Online AT: http://www.tomhunter.org/gallery/ (accessed on 07/02/2018)


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.


The Fun of Photography – The Right Equipment – DNG files – When Things Go Wrong

It has been a busy time for me recently. I have been away to Cork to stay with friends, and whilst I was there I wanted to make the photos to complete Image the Portrait. Visiting somewhere new is a wonderful opportunity to take lots of photos, and that’s just what I did. That was the fun, taking photos, taking more photos, and exploring with a camera (or three).

I  found Cork to be an interesting city. I miss being in a multi-cultural environment, and Cork most certainly is. It had a great energy and vibrancy, as multi-cultural environments tend to. Lots of busyness, lots of people (for a small city), and a fair bit of history as well.

Before leaving for Cork, I made a decision about which of my cameras to take, and I decided on the Olympus OMD EM10mk iii (which I wouldn’t have left behind) and also the Fuji S9900w bridge. I have an interest in nature and especially in birds, and that’s why I took the bridge camera with me. I have commented before that I don’t like the bridge for most forms of photography because it lacks quality and produces a lot of noise, however with 50x optical zoom its an excellent camera for birds, without the expense of a DSLR lens with the equivalent focal length.

The EM10, with the 25mm prime, is a good set up for portraits, street, architecture and landscape, and the images are excellent quality, and the in camera image stabiliser is so good. However, the electronic viewfinder doesn’t give full coverage, which is a bit tricky, but I am getting used to it.

I now consider my smart phone to be a second prime. The Huawei P10 has a dual 20mp f2.2 camera with Leica lens, and this adds versatility to my set up. The Pen F 25mm is effectively a 50mm lens due to the 2x crop sensor, and the Leica is 27mm. I found this particularly useful for architecture, especially churches, or buildings that are tall or built on hills.

Having these choices is amazing, and it meant I could photograph in a range of environments, and this has been a really enjoyable experience for me.

Windows 10 doesn’t have a codec for viewing DNG files (The EM10  raw files are DNG, as are those from the Huawei), so I tried to find a DNG viewer. Thank god for google. I have previously avoided Bridge as I felt I had enough to do with learning Lightroom and Photoshop, however google pointed me towards Bridge for viewing DNG files. I didn’t want to open files in Lightroom for my initial evaluation, particularly because I file my uploads to a “To Sort” folder, before assigning them to their appropraite folder after the first cut.

I have only used Bridge very briefly this morning, but I can see the benefits of it, something new to learn.

Sometimes the best laid plans go wrong, and that’s an opportunity to try something different. I had put some plans together for assignment 2 -Painting With Light, and had made assumptions about the amount of space that I would have to use at my friends. Without the space required I had to come up with a completely new idea on the hoof, as I needed to make the photos whilst I was around people. The other difficulty was in relation to light. The assignment brief suggests that we take the photos in a dark environment so that we do not get light leak ruining the image. My home is up quite high, there are no street lights shining through my window, so when the curtains are closed its dark. My friends house is in a city, with street lights outside, and even with the curtains closed there is quite a lot of background light. It took a while to get the best ISO, aperture and shutter speed, to cut out as much light as I could, whilst allowing in the light that I wanted to capture. All good experience, in fact, it was a great learning experience. I will evaluate and develop the photos over the next few days, and update my coursework as I go along.

If you’ve managed to read this far – Happy new year. Have a great photographic 2018.

Exploration Of Lighting, Skin Tone, Skin Colour, Make Up And Costume

All of these photos are taken of the TV screen from my mobile.

White Balance

One of the things that I am most interested in is how lighting effects different skin colours. As a photographer, unless I am using lighting for a specific effect then I want the results of a photograph to match the skin colour of my model. Lighting affects different skin colours differently, and make up works differently as well. In the examples below, the first photo is the closets representation of the mans skin colour. For the others I have changed the white balance and have included incandescent, flourescent, cloudy, daylight and auto.


Facial Up-lighting

An interesting effect for a surreal/scary look, and also for highlighting certain features if the lighting is directed towards the features that you wish to highlight.


Coloured Lighting and Skin

Green is my least favorite lighting colour. I think that it makes skin look unhealthy, although the highlight upon Tess Daley is used to good effect for a Halloween theme. The highlights are better than general green lighting that affects the whole face as in Craig Revel Horwood. I like how red lighting affects the skin, but when it’s too bright it can create a sunburned affect, such as Sam Black below. In the examples below the blue brings out the features of Nicole Scherzinger, which it doesn’t on Spencer Sutherland, however I do like the mixed lighting of the blue and pink, and I intend to use mixed lighting for my assignment. Blue Lighting can make hair look greasy, whereas white can destroy details and tone. Diffuse blue lighting can bring out texture and detail if it is used appropriately, and this can be seen by viewing the coursework of fellow Foundations in Photography student Archna Singh. Something else that I am aware of is how the lighting is positioned, head on, below, side and behind. Front on coloured lighting produces a blanket of diffused lighting that flattens the face and hides texture, side lighting and lighting from below highlights facial features and exaggerates them. Lighting from behind can be good for highlighting skin and hair, but can also cause a halo.


Theatrical Makeup

This is something that I wish to make use of for the Painting with Light assignment. These examples are an exploration. I particularly like beads and glitter when they are used around the eye. It’s also possible to use them to create contour, so that in a dark rook and with a black background, lighting can then pick out skin or clothing contours.

Natural Skin, Skin With Make Up and Good Lighting

Good examples of natural looking make up, that is enhanced by the lighting, on black and brown skin. Minimal foundation on Debbie McGee, Aston Merrigold and Martin Brundle. Good make up and lighting on the next five, but over use of the wrong colour foundation on the final two photos. Foundation is the key for good make up that enhances the natural colour of an individuals skin. The wrong colour, and on top of a fake tan tends to be a male showbiz thing, although in saying that, Jack from Jack and Joel does look good with the make up that he wears.

Foundation is also used to soften the glare of lighting on the skin, it acts as an absorber of light rather than a reflector. It is also used to  make the skin appear smoother and in doing so it removes the detail.


Costume, Lighting Effects

A brief look at lighting effects in general, and lighting upon costume.



Singh, A; 2017; Exercise 2.7 People in light; Online at: https://archnasingh.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/exercise-2-7-people-in-light/ (accessed on 31/10/2017)

Sing: Ultimate A Cappella; 2017; Series 1, Episode 4; Sky One; 27/10/2017

X Factor; 2017; Series 14, Episodes 17 and 18; ITV; 28+29/10/2017

Strictly Come Dancing; 2017; Series 15; Episodes 9, 10, 11 and 12; BBC 1; 21,22, 28+29/10/2017

Formula 1, Mexican Grand Prix; 2017; 29/10/2017; 6pm


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.