Assignment One – Contrasts – Response to Tutor Feedback

This post is my response to the tutor feedback for my first assignment, Contrasts. It does not show the report in full but merely addresses the salients point put forward by my tutor. It was a very well balanced and constructive report which enables me to go ahead and engage more purposefully with the subject of Photography.

The main thing I think will be taking from this report is to take more time over my photography and my thinking process. Too many of the points that were picked up on would be easily overcome if I were to rush less and think more clearly about what I am trying to achieve with the final image.

The course is thoroughly enjoyable and I can feel the change in approach to photography taking hold. I will continue to be open and honest on my blog about my thoughts as it would seem pointless not to be with such an emotive subject.

Straight & curved


“A good choice of subject” but “It’s not too well composed for balance though, the colourful barges are taking a lot of attention and you probably needed to make a decision about what to include and what to exclude here: the building looks most promising, but the crane is clearly in the way, so this meant moving your viewpoint.”

I should have known it wasn’t the right shot with the amount of to-in and fro-ing I did in the edit trying to work out what looked best. In retrospect I can see that the barges are taking attention away from the background especially as they are set in the warm coloured water. I actually thought they crane was not as obstructive as it is. I was using it as another straight line but clearly that doesn’t work in the context of the image. I should have used a different subject as Singapore has buildings like these everywhere. I was caught in the moment of trying to capture my idea rather than noting it and coming back to it later in a different place.


“I notice you’re shooting on ISO400.” (instead of lower)

Clearly a mistake and not the first time I have forgotten to change my ISO to suit the conditions. Note taken.

Hard & Soft


“….there is a wary and somewhat uncertain look in the man’s eyes.”

It’s interesting that my tutor interprets it like this as, in the moment, I felt that this guy was quite intimidating and in retrospect I still can’t see it the other way.


The shot of the boy is lovely, his bright and happy face is charming and the light in his eyes is excellent.  It’s a pity he’s looking at you rather than into the lens though.”

I find this very interesting, as I really hadn’t noticed he wasn’t looking to the lens.  I can now see that he is looking past the lens at me. The reason I find it particularly interesting is because I don’t have a viewfinder on my camera. This leaves my eyes exposed when taking the photo meaning the subject always has the opportunity to see me. Maybe I need to hide behind the camera even more. I need to think about this and how it will affect my technique going forward.

“This kind of character portrait is almost always really strong and I’d recommend you have a look at Sebastian Salgado’s work, looking at the kind of telling portraits he manages to find in amazing places.”

He is already one of my favourite photographers so will invest more time in to looking at his work.

Diagonal & Round

“Although these photos answer the brief, they are among the least interesting images here.  Beware of simply ticking boxes with the briefs, try to excel.  At least surprise yourself.”

Box ticking was something I was actively trying to avoid but have obviously missed the boat here. Actually these were among the first shots I took for the assignment and I guess it shows. I didn’t do as much planning for these shots as I did for others.

Low & high

“Your interpretation of Low and High in relation to a class of retailers is amusing.  A good observation, but something to be fleshed out.  This is exactly the kind of subject that becomes deeper and more mature for the photographer, but it would be a subject that you would need to commit to over sever months or years.

As for these photos, the Low is ‘average’; the motorbike being a distraction as well as the pin-cushion lens aberration (although that can be fixed).

The High image is better, more balanced as a composition and more conclusive as an image, with the woman clearly visible inbetween [sic] the two shops.  The big visual dilemma for you here is to find a way to make your point without inadvertently re-advertizing the shops.  The contrast of the pair should do this, but you’d need to think more in terms of capturing the clientele as well as the shopping environment.“

Annoyingly I already knew that the ‘low’ image was sub-standard but decided to submit anyway. In my haste to complete the assignment I took the shot with little planning because I found myself in the right circumstance. Given the outcome I should have gone back another day and shot again. It is interesting to consider that this theme could/should be fleshed out and used as social comment over a period of time. Singapore’s retail obsession would certainly be an interesting subject!

Long & Short

“Another interesting conceptual idea here – although I’d say the face to face communication is the short one and the texting is the long one because it’s about distance (which is visually implied).”

Again, very much open to interpretation. I was considering the implied ‘time’ element when taking these images.

“I like the way you’ve captured the conversation in full-flow, with both men quite animated.  The visual distractions are a problem, as is the fact that you’ve placed the man on the right far too near the edge of the frame.   It could possibly work to crop the other man tight too, but the main thing is to control the background and get the two men to stand out more – and that is all about dodging and burning or using Layer Masks in Photoshop.  Sadly, the light is rarely perfect to tell your story and so you would almost always need to do some simple image editing to adjust levels of luminosity.”

Working on a high ISO, I had the aperture wide open to try and blur the background, which obviously hasn’t worked. What I was trying to do was show that everyone else was talking too and these two were my main focus point. Lighting is always a problem in these situations, but I will to overcome it as I enjoy this type of photography.

Many & Few

“Amazing colour these coconuts have!  Quite unreal.  I think that the Hindu festival sounds more interesting than just the isolated close up of the coconuts – couldn’t you have shown a bit more of what was going on around them?  Actually, considering the Cropping exercise on your blog is so effective, I’m surprised that you’d be settling for close ups like this.  Always try to shoot wider subjects, close-ups are way too easy for amateurs – it’s time to move on.”

Point (already) taken and have been trying to see the bigger picture. I was again too much of a slave to the obvious!

Still & moving

“To capture a sense of movement you really must experiment fully – this means making many exposures at different shutter speeds to get the right shot.  The subject is rarely moving at the same speed so that you would know which is the right speed.  Here, the blur is far too great and almost rubs out the figures.  A better way of doing this could have been to layer multiple exposures.  That way they would have stood out a lot better against the background – being more solid.”

 This shot is more technical than I usually take but only gives room for improvement. I enjoy taking shots a night and especially in Singapore where the lighting is generally good enough to give quite an amount of control over the exposure time and settings.

Sweet & Sour

“This is a hard one to express visually and you’ve done quite well with a saccharine sweet close shot of sweets and a facial expression.

You could probably darken, or remove the colourful distraction on the right side of the sweets photo.

Also, rub out the bright spot of light in the background behind the man’s head.”

I will have to get used to ‘rubbing out’ the spot lights in the night photos as this is the de-facto lighting in SE Asia for night markets, cafes and bars. I.e. where all the interesting shots are! I did in fact burn in the lighting, but not enough effect was given.

Rough/Smooth in one

“This is a nicely composed abstract image with an effectively used reflection in the rippled wet sand bringing out both subjects well. 

Thinking visually, what do you think would be a better subject for the reflection? The square shapes make a good frame, but there could be something in the frame.”

Possibly a person looking up with their reflection in the water, although that may have disturbed the ‘smooth’ element of the image.

2 thoughts on “Assignment One – Contrasts – Response to Tutor Feedback

  1. All sounds great feedback, remember they are the experts with many years experience, we can’t possibly get it all perfect because thats not learning. I am sure you will take this feedback onboard, you seem more than capable, so I now wait to see some more beautiful images from Singapore.
    PS If you ever need someone to hold your camera bag, I have a passport, as Singapore looks amazing :-)

  2. Pingback: Assignment One – Workflow – Response to Tutor Feedback | BA Blog

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