After submitting Assignment 5 I volunteered as a photographer for the main Special Olympics Great Britain Summer Games, and got some fantastic images, so was gutted that I had already submitted my assignment. When my tutor sent his feedback on the assignment, he suggested possibly changing a couple of images, so I took the opportunity to rework the whole assignment and make it all about the Special Olympics Summer Games as a whole (including the Equestrian events) and change the images I submitted, so this is the amended version of the submission.
For this assignment I was to produce between 7 and 12 images to illustrate a magazine article, telling the story with the range of images. One of the images needed to be more illustrative, to be used as the “cover” photo, whilst the other 6 – 12 images should be more narrative, covering aspects of the story.
The suggestions for possible topics were:
- A commodity – the production of something in a narrative format, or maybe symbolic implications of owning something.
- Light – it could be the progression of light over a landscape, or the way light can transform a subject.
- Holidays – it could be either a conventional narrative of the subject, or something more abstract.
- Personal choice – I could also choose something of my own, which is the route I went down.
Planning and Preparation
From the beginning of the Narrative and Illustration section of this course, I had a particular topic in mind for my assignment. A few months ago I volunteered to be a photographer at the Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games to be held in Bath at the end of August, and also the Equestrian event in late July. I knew that this would be a fantastic subject to document, both for this Assignment, and also for the athletes involved and everyone involved with the Special Olympics GB.
Having covered a number of sporting events in the past, of varying sizes and importance I was pretty happy with what I would do. My aim was to capture as much of a flavour of the particular events I was to cover as I could, and having spoken to the organisers beforehand I had a good idea of what the events entailed. At the Equestrian event the athletes would be competing in a couple of different disciplines and on the day I was there they would be taking part in dressage, inside an arena, Working Trails which would be outside, and Knowledge and Care of Horses, which would mainly be a question and answer session inside a stable. I would also photograph the medal ceremonies at the end. At the main summer Games I would be covering the Opening Ceremony, to be held at the Royal Crescent in Bath, and also the Aquatics events, and some of the Boccia and Bowls. Having this knowledge prior to the event meant that I could be prepared with the kit I would need and also some of the challenges I would face with exposure and shot types, with the events being in a variety of different arenas with different exposure challenges.
As I would be spending the days running around the events I wanted to keep my equipment to a minimum. I knew that opportunities to use a tripod would be pretty much non-existent, so that saved me having to take that, although I did have it in the car – just in case! I also had the Nikon SB-910 in the car, but due to not wanting to spook the horses or distract the athletes I didn’t take it in as the chances to use it again would be non-existent. In the end my rucksack contained:
- Nikon D800 DSLR
- Tamron 28 – 75mm f/2.8 Lens
- Nikon 70 – 300mm f/4.5 – f/5.6 Lens
- Tamron 10 – 24mm wide-angle lens
- Sigma 8mm Fisheye lens
- Pen and paper for taking shot notes and athletes details.
- Spare battery
- Spare SD and CF cards
Execution and Results
At each of the events I met with my contact on arrival and was shown the different locations for the events and requested a timetable, which included the athletes’ names, so I could keep track of the names of the people I was photographing. At the start of each individual event or race I tried to photograph the timetable and competitor listing so I had a record on my SD card. I then headed out and covered the events in the way I felt captured it all. I wanted to ensure that I covered them fully – not just showing the athletes competing, but to also show them getting kitted up, relaxing, preparing for competition and a few close up detail shots, as well as some spectator participation where possible
The images below tell my story of the events, spread out over the few events I covered, hopefully giving a good flavour of what it was all about.
Overall I’m pretty happy with how this assignment has gone, after re-evaluating the images I’ve submitted; my main complaint about myself is the length of time it has taken me from taking the images to writing up the assignment! I’ve had so much going on that putting aside time for me to do the work has been a challenge.
Looking at the assignment, in relation to the assessment criteria set by the Open College of the Arts, I need to assess myself on a number of criteria.
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
- Overall the technical aspect of the images was handled well, although due to the extremely poor light levels in some of the locations arena, and the fact that I was unable to use flash meant that I had to uprate my ISO to pretty high levels, bringing quite a lot of digital noise into some the images, which detracted from the interior images a little. This meant that I used less of the interior images than I would have liked.
- Compositionally I think the images work well on the whole, and there is a reasonable mix of shot sizes, with some close ups, some medium shots and a couple of wider images, giving more of a location context to the feature.
Quality of Outcome
- The images in this feature give a pretty good flavour of the events that I covered, and I’m quite happy with the variety in the images, both in shot size as mentioned above, and in subject matter, with a variety of action shots of competitors, wider establishing shots, still life images, behind-the-scenes images and additional shots to support the feature.
- I think ordering the images chronologically suits this particular feature, telling the story of the events, and think that it shows my experience of the Games, as well as the experience of the athletes and their supporters.
Demonstration of Creativity
- As it was more of a documentary feature the images are mainly of uncontrolled action, but I think in terms of creativity I’ve covered the subject well, using opportunities for a little bit more creativity where possible.
- Looking at my Learning Log at http://heidibocalog.wordpress.com/ I still need to look at other photographers work more, and reflect on it, rather than looking at others work and not logging it. I also intend to start looking out for more exhibitions to visit, to look at and reflect on the work of others.
- As this type of feature work was something I had some experience of, I didn’t maybe look at enough of the work of others, as I felt in my comfort zone, both prior to and during the shooting phase of this feature.
- Other than a lack of research on the Learning Log, I am pretty happy with how this section of the course has progressed, and the exercises leading up to the Assignment were very interesting, and enjoyable to do.
Now I’m at the end of this part of the first element of the degree course, The Art of Photography, I’m quite happy with this assignment, Assignment 5 and the four previous assignments. Overall I’ve learnt (and re-learnt) so much, and am starting to get a feel for my “arty” side, which has had to remain suppressed during my RAF photographic career! I’m now looking forward to moving on to the next phase of the course – assuming that I successfully pass this assignment of course!