Digital Film Production: Assignment 1 – Framing

I’m posting this a little out of sequence as there is one more exercise that I should complete from this part of the Digital Film Production course, but as I had the opportunity to film this before the exercise before it, I thought I might as well get it posted!


For this assignment I was to produce a short sequence, of no more than 5 shots, telling a simple story, using the images only, and then evaluate my sequence critically, looking at the strengths and weaknesses.

Planning and Pre-production

The sequence I chose was similar to the one I storyboarded for the first exercise of the course – Project One Exercise: Telling a Story about a girl who was feeling a bit down so she went out for a run to cheer herself up.  I re-wrote the storyboard, changing the subject to a man, as I had a willing actor lined up, and I adjusted the location a little, to be able to be able to use my 5 shots effectively.  If I were to have my subject starting from inside their house I would have needed to show them leaving the house, so I decided to start off somewhere outside.


  • Nikon D800 DSLR
  • Tamron 28 – 75mm f/2.8 Lens
  • Manfrotto tripod
  • Pen and paper for taking shot notes
  • Spare battery
  • Spare SD and CF cards


I’ve photographed my actor Andrew before, he’s a professional dancer and model, so I knew that there would be no problems with direction – he’s a natural in front of the camera! As luck would have it, the weather was on my side, with it being a sunny autumn day.  Although I didn’t have a firm idea when I storyboarded it, as to where to film my first shot, I’d decided to use one of the shelters on the seafront.

 Shot 1

Shot 1:

Although I had storyboarded a mid shot I decided to go for something between a mid and a long shot to show a bit more of the subjects surroundings, without showing too much.  I positioned the camera above the subject, to look down on him, and composed it with him off to the side, looking into the screen, rather than straight on looking towards the camera position.

Shot 2

Shot 2:

I wanted to get the subject out of the shelter he was in and onto the beach so went for a long shot to reveal a bit more about exactly where he is, and to give him a bit of space to move into and out of at the end of the shot, I used the pillars to create a little bit of a frame, and they came in handy as a prop for him to lean on whilst stretching.  We also took the opportunity to use this shot as a tool for the subject to remove his jacket as he was leaving the shot, allowing us to lose it during the next shot of his feet only.

 Shot 3

Shot 3:

Although I storyboarded a close up of the subject tying up his laces I decided to change it to a close up of him starting to run.  As I wanted the running shots to be on the sand, I realised I wanted to show the transition from being on the concrete prom, to running on the sand, and also show the transition from standing/walking to running.  I filmed two versions of this shot, one was a much tighter shot, but this meant that the feet weren’t on screen long enough so I tried this version.

Shot 4

Shot 4:

I wanted this to be a long shot to show the sea and beach, and to also allow the subject to be on screen for a little while, to show a bit of the run. I framed it up to show the sinking mud sign, as I felt the balance worked well.

Shot 5

Shot 5

A mid shot, with a low camera angle to make Andrew look empowered by his run, we set up the spot that I wanted him to run into, as I wanted his final position to be with the sun over his shoulder, and he did it spot on in 1 take!

Post Production

With all of the shots I tried to pay attention to the matching/overlapping action to make the edit easier.  The action carried out at the end of one shot, were repeated at the beginning of the next shot, to enable me to edit the shots together easier.  I also kept an eye on the direction that Andrew was moving on the screen, to ensure that I didn’t cross the line, which would have jarred the edits.

Having controlled both of these elements in the filming meant that the edit flowed very well and caused no headaches at all.

Self Assessment

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

Although I’m still trying to get the hang of DSLR filming, I’m reasonably happy with the technical aspects of the piece, although I do need to clean my lens before filming towards the sun!  I made a decision to use the tripod for the whole piece, rather than handheld, which although it restricted any camera moves, it ensured that the shots were all stable.

Quality of Outcome

Controlling the screen direction and overlapping action has given the piece a flow, although as I’m used to longer pieces, it feels too short, and over too quickly.  As it needed to be contained within 5 shots one other option would have been to make one or more of the shots longer, possibly by having a handheld moving shot of him running, moving alongside him, or positioning the camera more head on so he ran towards the camera, although that could have led to a very long, boring shot.

  • Shot 1: I feel that maybe I could have raised the camera even higher above the subject, to emphasise the powerless feeling more.  Alternatively, ad the shot size itself is neither a long shot or a mid shot, perhaps a very wide shot could have made the subject look even more depressed and isolated, although that might have been emphasising it more than is needed.
  • Shot 2: Compositionally I’m reasonably happy with this, although it is a bit of a long, slow shot, which was needed to make the stretches look a little bit more like real life, rather than a 1 second stretch!
  • Shot 3: A bit loose to be a true close up, but it needed to have enough space for him to start running and run out of shot.
  • Shot 4: As mentioned above, although long enough for a static camera shot, I think it needs a bit more of the run, so I would possibly reshoot it with a camera move.  Unfortunately I don’t have a fluid head for my tripod, so would need to try and pan it very carefully.
  • Shot 5:  Other than the dust spots all over the filter, this came out pretty much as I envisaged and I’m happy with the feel of the shot.

Demonstration of Creativity

I’m still trying to find the artiste inside of me, and although technically I’m relatively comfortable, (although still learning all the time) I hope that as the course progresses I can relax into the artistic side of it a bit more.  Although I don’t think I will ever find myself producing wildly abstract work!


I think I need to ensure that I carry out more constructive research, although I am constantly watching television and films with my instructional eye from when I taught video to military photographers and looking at the technical aspects of screen direction, matching action, camera moves etc…., I need to look more at the creative aspects.


Overall I’m quite pleased with how this worked out, although there are minor points that I would adjust, if I were to repeat the exercise, such as maybe lengthening the running shot a little, perhaps by using 2 shots to cover the run, and combine two of the other shots into one.

The Art of Photography Assignment 5 – Narrative and Illustration


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 Games to be held in Bath at the end of August, and in the run up to the main Games, I’d offered to go along to 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 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 day as I could, and having spoken to the organisers before the day I had a good idea of what the event entailed. 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. 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.


As I would be spending the day running around the Equestrian Centre at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, 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 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
  • Pen and paper for taking shot notes and athletes details.
  • Spare battery
  • Spare SD and CF cards

Execution and Results

On the day 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.  I then headed out and covered the day in the way I felt captured it all. I wanted to ensure that I covered the day 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.

The images below tell my story of the day, hopefully giving a good flavour of what it was all about. (click on each image for a fuller description and my thoughts on the image)

Self Assessment

Overall I’m pretty happy with how this assignment has gone; 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 the dressage arena, and the fact that I was unable to use flash because of the horses meant that I had to uprate my ISO to pretty high levels, bringing quite a lot of digital noise into 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 day, 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 riders, 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 day, and think that it shows my experience of the day, 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 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!

The “Also Rans”

The gallery below contains some of the images that I considered but decided against.

Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments

Congratulations on completing the course. You have produced good work throughout and there has been a growing confidence in your approach and strong development in your sense of composition and technical ability.

For this final assignment you undertook a challenging project which required a good deal of preparation and knowledge and the final images provide a good narrative of the day’s events and in particular the special circumstances of this sporting occasion.

The narrative works well, but I would look at presenting the images as you might a photo-essay, with perhaps a brief written overview and minimal single sentence captions (which you have). Perhaps this is something you could produce in hardcopy – to provide a sense of the narrative as it might be presented to a commissioning editor or reader – and send it to me prior to submission for assessment so that I can give you feedback?

You mention in your self-assessment that you didn’t do as much research as you might given other commitments. For a subject like this, an equestrian event, and perhaps one with which you are not that familiar, there is a real wealth of available material to study, and I do feel you would have benefited both technically and creatively from further study and exploration of this sporting genre.

Taking away nothing from your work here, there doesn’t seem to have been much of an audience (a genuine shame) and so the set is lacking a little in that festive/competitive atmosphere.  Perhaps one (highly selective) image of an enthused crowd would add to that?

One other image that is missing in the narrative is a sense of context and place – a wide shot of part of the setting at least, and this might give it an extra sense of occasion.

From a technical point of view, the images vary a little in terms of quality; this is partly down to the variable light and conditions (as you discuss in your notes) with the need for a high ISO in places and the resulting noise, but also I think you need to look at both the colour and contrast balance throughout the set. Some of the images are lacking considerable detail in the darker areas, and in general the colour tends to be a little flat.

Detailed feedback for the individual images follows

Feedback on assignment

The Cover

This works very well and provides the necessary information as well as the much sought after sporting ‘gong’.  You make good use of selective depth field to bring attention to the event title in a well-composed shot; extending the focal depth to include the whole medal, title and logo, might have worked a little better.

Young Athlete

The second image of the competitor preparing for the event works very well with a good view of his expression and the assistance he receives from the volunteer. In any given article, this is perhaps a place where you might use an image to establish the setting or place.


I think you point out all the inherent problems with this shot, the level of noise from the high ISO, and the awkward composition resulting from a difficult camera position and lack of accessibility. The judges are small in frame, the back of the horse and rider dominates, and there is too much negative space around the subjects who are cramped together in the centre. In situations like this my rule is ‘don’t use it’. Better to focus on other areas of the competition rather than cover everything with shots that you aren’t happy with.


Again, you offer your own critique in your notes; ‘a great chunk of dead space in the middle..’ This would have worked better with a larger crowd, a longer lens to compress the space, with two shots covering the celebrating rider and helper from the front, and an enthusiastic supportive crowd. In this shot, the celebrations of both are diluted by angle and distance.


This candid shot of the competitor revising for her next event works very well. It’s cropped a little tight, cutting through her body and feet – if you have a wider version take another look – and this is a good example of the high contrast level eliminating any details in the shadow areas – out it through a ‘levels’ filter and adjust the middle arrow – see the difference.

Horse Care

Not knowing the space you were working in, it is hard to suggest a wider angle to include the whole horse in the shot; this version feels half way between a medium close and a wide shot. But the narrative element works well with both the amiable judge and the competitor stroking the animal. There looks to be a touch of motion blur here, or a little variable focus.

Working Trails

This is a lovely shot which captures both the action in close detail, a real sense of movement, and the joyful expression on the competitor’s face. Again, from a technical point of view, a levels adjustment would enhance the detail in the darker areas (and further define and separate the horse from rider), and a touch more vibrance and saturation would bring it to life. I noticed you have a couple of very strong action images in your Blog.


You discuss in your notes how you would like to have used a volunteer in a volunteer’s shirt, and I agree. Here, you have the back of two people and a distant out of focus event in a very awkward composition – the back of the small girl’s head at the bottom left of frame…. If in doubt, don’t use it. The information on the back of the T-shirt we already know.

High Five

This image of rider and fellow competitor celebrating works very well, capturing the moment. You’re right, it might be a second to early, but the gesture is anticipated. I expect this is the whole frame as shot – inevitably, in capturing that moment; we may have to settle for some problems in the composition – the cropping of the right hand subject in this case.

Checking the results.

The problem here is that you have to tell the reader what they are looking at through the caption – results, and a relationship that we couldn’t know. It is a literal part of the day’s narrative, but not one that works – stretched across the frame – or is particularly visually engaging. It’s never possible to cover everything, and best to focus on strong composition, action and visually compelling material.


This shot works well; it brings together competitors and winners and shows their pride and happiness at success. It’s a little cramped in the frame, and a touch flat – try boosting the vibrance and saturation.


The final shot of the competition logo groomed into the horse’s coat is a nice touch, and a possible alternative for the cover image. I wonder though, here, whether, as one of twelve shots, it takes the place of something more informative and relevant to the day’s events?

Think about my notes, and the possibility of replacing a couple of the images and making the necessary post-production adjustments I have suggested. While your narrative works well, you may find it improves if you simulate a genuine layout for a reader.

The Art of Photography Assignment Three – Colour


Part three of the Art of Photography section of this course is all about colour, and this assignment is to show my understanding of colour, and how I can control and use it in my images.  Throughout this part of the course I’ve been looking at the relationships between different colours, both complementary and contrasting, and I need to show my understanding of these relationships through my assignment images.

I needed to take around four images of each of the following colour relationships:

  • Colour harmony through complementary colours
  • Colour harmony through similar colours
  • Colour contrast through contrasting colours
  • A colour accent using any of the above relationships.

Before preparing for this assignment I wanted to ensure I was familiar with the colour wheel and how the colours within it relate to each other, so I revisited the earlier exercises to remind myself of the main “rules” (click on each of the images for more details)


As with the previous section of the course, I needed to really concentrate on this one to get it right, as over the years I’ve never really thought too hard about how I used colour in my images – other than the traditional red, white and blue of the Royal Air Force roundel, or a red poppy for Remembrance Day as an eye-catching PR tool. I looked at the work of other photographers, such as Jay Maisel ( and also various photographers for National Geographic (, and although I was slightly saddened by the fact that I was in Somerset in the middle of winter, rather than somewhere more colourful and sunny, I had a few ideas. As I’d worked through some of the exercises in the run up to the assignment, I’d taken a few images that I’d planned on using for this final assessment.  Below are some of my early ideas for images to be used – some already taken by this planning stage, some to be taken (or not as the case may be in some of the ideas):

Complementary colours:

  • Red flower on green background
  • Traffic lights, one behind the other, try to catch one on red, 1 on green – use long lens to compress distance
  • Yellow centre of purple flower

Harmonious colours

  • Road markings (red road, yellow lines)
  • Neon lights on pier
  • Woods
  • Portrait

Contrasting colours

  • Flowers
  • Spices
  • Car light
  • Bristol Street Art

Colour accents:

No real prior ideas for this part, just wanted to see what caught my eye when out and about with my camera.

Overall my main aim was to avoid all the images being too similar a style – I didn’t want them to all be landscapes, or close up, or nature for example.  I also wanted to have a mix of posed, still life and uncontrolled action, natural colour and artificial, manufactured colour – I wanted to get a wide variety of images, if nothing else; it makes it all a bit more interesting to look at, although during the planning I seemed to be heading down a theme of flowers so tried to make sure I didn’t have too many, but failed a little!


Standard Kit:

  • Nikon D800 DSLR
  • Nikon 50mm Fixed Focal Length lens
  • Tamron 28 – 75mm Lens
  • Nikon 75 – 300mm lens
  • Tamron 18 – 24mm lens
  • Manfrotto tripod (used on any shots below 1/60th second)
  • Nikon SB-910 flash (used off-camera when used)I use ambient light as much as possible, (other than the portrait) and all images have only had “darkroom” adjustments in Adobe Photoshop – cropping, levels, brightness and contrast, and maybe a hint of a vignette around the edge of one or two.


Click on each of the images for more information, including self-critique and camera settings.

Complementary colours

Below are a slideshow of sketches of my interpretation of the balance of the image:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall I think this is the set of images I struggled with the most, finding it difficult to find the complementary colours in the right balance, I’d really wanted to stay away from lots of flower images, but found myself being drawn to them as subject for this part, mainly due to a desire to try and find the colour combinations occurring naturally rather than man-made through paintwork, or packaging, for example.  I had hoped to get at least one example of the three different colour combinations, but seem to have ended up with mainly orange/blue, none of which I’m 100% happy with the ratios.

Harmonious colours

Below are a slideshow of sketches of my interpretation of the balance of the image:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Contrasting colours

Below are a slideshow of sketches of my interpretation of the balance of the image:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On my initial sift of my potential images for this section, I seem to have ended up going with blue/red for the colour contrasts – not intentionally, it just seemed to happen – perhaps it’s harking back to my previous job again, I am naturally drawn to this colour combination!  I think that these images generally work quite well, and are quite eye-catching.  In the end I chose the orange/green one and the flower to balance it out, although it does mean that there’s yet another flower image, which may be too many!

Colour accents

Below are a slideshow of sketches of my interpretation of the balance of the image:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m quite pleased that there is no flower image in this section, and generally I’m quite happy with the range of images, although I’ve kind of surprised myself that there’s no red accents in there!


This assignment was a definite challenge, but then again, what’s the point in study if it’s easy! Overall though, I’m generally pleased with the images I’ve got, there’s certainly more variety than I initially thought I’d have at the end, although there are too many flowers for my liking!  I feel that I’ve got a good range of still life, streets, landscapes, portraits etc…, perhaps a few more people shots would have been useful.

I do feel that now I have a much greater awareness of colour and how to use it.  Previously I would have used colours in a particular balance purely because I felt that it worked, or looked good, or was eye-catching, whereas now I have a more in-depth knowledge of why particular colours work well together, or contrast strongly, and will be able to use this in future work.

The gallery below is a selection of some of my rejected images, and why I chose not to use them:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elements Of Design Assignment

I’ve now come to the end of my Elements of Design section and it’s time to submit my assignment. The purpose of this assignment is to put all that I’ve learnt throughout the course so far into a project on a particular subject, showing use of the various design elements I’ve covered. The suggested topics were:

  • Flowers and Plants
  • Landscapes
  • Street Details
  • Raw Materials of Food
  • Or something else

I went for the “something else” option and decided, kind of obviously, on The Seaside, and sat down to plan my shots before heading off. The list below is the images we needed to get, followed by my initial ideas

Requested images My first ideas
  1. A single point dominating the composition
  2. Two points
  3. Several points in a deliberate shape
  4. Diagonals
  5. Curves
  6. Distinct, even if irregular, shapes
  7. At least two kinds of implied triangle
  8. Rhythm
  9. Pattern
  1. Driftwood/Footprint in sand/ Steepholm Island
  2. Two footprints in sand
  3. Various people on the beach/shells
  4. Pier struts/concrete prom seat
  5. Big concrete circle
  6. driftwood
  7. Seafront fountain/driftwood/pier struts
  8. Pier roof (curvy roof lines)
  9. Sand/stones/ripples

I needed somewhere between 10 and 15 images, so I then headed out (once the rain had eased off) down to the seafront, starting at Sand Bay – a less “seaside”, more windswept beach along the coast from Weston-Super-Mare, before heading over to Weston.

Nikon D800 | 400 ISO | 1/125th Sec | f/8 | 75mm Focal Length
Single Point Dominating the Composition
I had a couple of options for this, shot early on during the day, but I spotted this on the side of one of the Victorian buildings along the Weston seafront (this was actually a toilet block!) and I though it looked interesting, with a couple of contrasts making the disc stand out – not just the circular shape against the square bricks, but also the smoothness of the disc against the rough bricks.

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/125th Sec | f/10 | 42mm Focal Length
Two Points Dominating the Composition
Along Sand Bay beach I played around with various driftwood images for this category, but it was only as I was walking back to my car that I spotted these – presumably left out by a kind local for people to give their dogs a drink.

I like the brightness of the items against the green, and as it was a grey misty day, they stood out that bit more. Not 100% happy with the actual composition of the items, I think I should have shot around the subject a little more to give myself more options.

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/125th Sec| f/6.3 | 75mm Focal Length
Several Points in a Deliberate Shape
Although I’d planned on trying to find a number of people on the beach for this one, the orange brick jumped out at me (not literally!) and I thought I’d create a square with the neighbouring bricks. I also like the way there’s a footprint in the middle of the square, it kind of gives it an added dimension.

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/125th Sec | f/10 | 60mm Focal Length
A Combination of Horizontals and Verticals
There’s been a lot of work on Weston-super-Mare seafront and these bricks are part of the footpath along the promenade, as it meets the steps down to the beach. I liked the contrast between the two types of bricks, and although the verticals aren’t that vertical, it still seems to work.

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/200th Sec|f/7.1|300mm Focal Length
Diagonals 1
Although I only needed one option for this, I’ve put two in as I can’t decide between the two! I do like this, with the contrast of the green and silver against the grey stone, but I do think it’s lacking something – I just don’t know what!

Nikon D800| 800 ISO | 1/125th Sec | f/8| 300mm Focal Length
Diagonals 2
This was underneath the pier, which had been part of my original plan, and I took various images of this subject, mostly wider shots, with various different focus points, but I really liked this tighter shot, with the focus point on the struts nearest the camera. I deliberated about putting it in the “Diagonals” category, because it’s more of a cross, or triangles, but I do like it a lot!

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/125th Sec| f/7.1 | 28mm Focal Length
As with all of these categories I had quite a few different options to choose from, but went for this as I’d also taken a shot (not submitted) of a marriage proposal that someone had written in the sand beside the pier. I liked the romantic, public display of the lads love for his girlfriend (hopefully now his fiancée!) so thought that the curves of the heart in the sand would make quite a sweet image. I decided to turn it black and white to make the texture of the heart stand out a little more.

Nikon D800| 800 ISO| 1/125th Sec | f/11 | 98mm Focal Length
Distinct Shapes 1
Another one with two options, this was the underside of the pier, I liked the shapes create by the girders – triangles, within squares, within rectangles, combined with the rust and dirt on the struts, and the lightness of the grey, against the darkness below the pier.

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/125th Sec| f/7.1 | 28mm Focal Length
Distinct Shapes 2
This is further along the wall of the Victorian lavs from the disc in the “Curves” image, and I like the combination of crescent, rectagles and squares within the bricked up window. I also had another possible which was a wider shot including the concrete disc too, but didn’t want to put the disc in twice!

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/200th Sec | f/11 | 28mm Focal Length
Implied Triangles 1
This is the end of the Grand Pier, and I liked the triangle created by the 3 circles in the image, topped off with the flagpole.

Nikon D800 | 400 ISO | 1/125th Sec | f/8 | 28mm Focal Length
Implied Triangles 2
Maybe not so much implied as blatant, but I did like the forked shape of this driftwood, and as I’d planned on shooting driftwood for one of my images, I thought I’d use it here.

Nikon D800| 800 ISO| 1/125th Sec | f/8 | 300mm Focal Length
Implied Triangles 3
Again, I’ve got an extra image for this category as I quite liked this composition, forming the triangle with the sandcastles, the wood pile created by the same children that built the sandcastles, and the concrete circle to the back. Part of me thinks that it need a greater depth of field to bring the circle into focus, but then again, that might have detracted from the foreground elements, as the triangle still works with the circle being out of focus.

Nikon D800| 200 ISO| 1/160th Sec | f/8 | 300mm Focal Length
Rhythm 1
This is the “dotto train” that takes people up and down the Grand Pier and I liked the bright colours of the doors and windows, and think the rhythm of the colours and the little blue round blot covers works quite well.

Nikon D800| 400 ISO| 1/200th Sec | f/16 | 15mm Focal Length
Rhythm 2
This was the image I’d originally planned for, although I’d thought more about a tighter shot of just the roof, but those images didn’t work as well as this one. I like the way the roof combines with the leading lines and the woman pushing the buggy to lead the eye along the pier, down towards the seafront.

Nikon D800| 200 ISO|1/200th Sec| f/5.6|145mm Focal Length
Pattern 1
I liked these tyre tracks on the sand, and thought it worked really well as a pattern, as its regular, but the crumbly sand breaks up what could be quite harsh lines

Nikon D800 | 400 ISO | 1/125th Sec | f/9 | 75mm Focal Length
Pattern 2
Yes, another one with an extra image, but I liked it too much to not put it in – although it’s quite similar to one of my earlier images. I liked the variety of colours and the slightly irregular shapes of the bricks.
Overall I’m quite happy with this assignment, although the images I’d planned didn’t necessarily work out as I’d envisioned, I was able to work with what I had planned, but in a different way, once I’d actually got to the locations and seen other images. I’m pleased that I actually ended up with more than I needed, as I was slightly concerned with one or two of the categories, that I would have to work hard to find one, let alone more, so it was good that when I worked through my images I ended up with three or four options for each category.


*Edit 15th January 2013*

Below is the feedback from my tutor for this assignment, I’m really pleased with how it all worked out.

Feedback on assignment – Elements of Design

The part of the course is designed to help you consider elements of composition in both figurative and abstract terms, the way elements in the frame interact, directing the viewer’s gaze and thus their interest in the subject matter, but also defining space and creating illusions of depth.

You demonstrate here a good understanding of the brief and a strong response with a set of images that are unified by theme – the beach – and through your reflection a good approach to the individual elements and subject (creative and technical) and an exploration of different techniques, using the distinct and individual characteristics of photography.

Single Point

While the large circular stone disc is the dominant point in this grey brick Victorian Wall, there is a second point below, the plant growing out of the wall, at the bottom of the frame.  The eye is drawn to this because it is an irregular shape, so best to crop it out.  Both the shape and the texture of the stone in the wall this to stand out against the regular structure.

Two Points

It’s interesting that you should happen across these two objects – such a contrast to the natural elements, but probably used by most beach goers. I think you are right about spending a little more time exploring the possibilities of composing the subjects – perhaps try to get more of the context, the landscape in the shot.  Also, although this is down to opportunity, it would have been useful to see a figure – child or dog.

Several Points in a Deliberate Shape

This is quite an abstract image, but there are several clear points which, although not related, serve to guide the viewer’s eye around the frame.  They create a circular motion, with the orange plastic thing dominant point. As you say in your notes, the footprint at the centre serves to create some textural interest. Your idea for a wider shot using people in the frame would also have been worth exploring.

A Combination of Horizontals and Verticals

This is a good example to illustrate the element, but again I feel it would be a better shot if there were some context to make the image more interesting. For example, a low angle shot looking along the path to provide context, or the path working its way around an object.   I think it’s important always to bear in mind the aim to produce images, which the viewer will find interesting and compelling.

Diagonals 1

The bright green mold or seaweed cuts a clear diagonal across the frame and the dull grey stone, similarly the polished steel rail stands out for its smoothness and colour, bisecting the frame.

Diagonals 2

This shot of the frame structure under the pier is much stronger I think, although again, a bit of human interest would be good. Here though, you have found an angle to explore both the diagonal element created through the cross frame, and also the depth and scale of the structure as it runs into the centre of the frame, nicely rendered through the diminishing depth of field.


You wrote about a potential narrative in your notes for this – the marriage proposal by the pier – and although this image of a heart drawn in the sand does the job and says ‘curves’, it doesn’t have a great deal of interest on its own.  Some additional subject material, an empty champagne bottle, a discarded wedding buttonhole.. ?

Distinct Shapes

A shot of the steel girder structure of the side of the pier offers a distinct set of shapes, and the weathering and rusting brings an additional element of interest to the scene.

The second bricked up window also offers a distinct shape of sorts – certainly the upper part.

I think in both cases the shapes are somewhat predictable, and something organic and weathered, such as a piece of driftwood that might be found on the bridge would have offered an interesting subject.

Implied Triangles 1

This is a good example of implied triangles, and as you say in your notes, the three circular objects, and the top of the flagpole, offer a sense of movement and direction for the viewer to follow, and to take in all the detail offered in the composition.

Implied Triangles 2

This is also a good example – and would have been an interesting subject for the previous element.  One thing that you might explore with something like this, is where you place the camera; a lower angle might give you more opportunity to place the subject in context and explore the depth of the scene in a different way.

Implied Triangles 3

This a more interesting image altogether, with a driftwood construction, sandcastles and the distinctive archway in the background. The framing is a bit tight here both right and top, a little more space for the subject matter would make for a better composition.


Both examples here, the brickwork and the texture of the tread in the sane work well for this element.  The second variation is very similar to the previous shot, and both, while interesting studies, might benefit from some context – the scene – and additional element of interest to contrast/conflict and help define the pattern.


The second of this pair works better than the first, with the more distinctive ‘pulse’ or ‘beat’ running along the diagonal and back into the frame. The strength of the shot is also in your use of the wide-angle lens and the strength of the perspective along the pier.

The first image works quite well although the variation in height of the round blue rivets isn’t so defined, a shallower and lower angle might work better to get a beat between the coloured uprights.

Some good work here, then, with a linking theme. One of the things I noticed is the number of close, detail shots, which is fine, but they feel more like a response to an exercise than an image of real interest. The wider shots work better, because they are placed in a context, and there is more for the viewer to explore through the direction of the elements of design.

Assignment 1 – Contrasts

For this assignment I had to look through my previously taken images and fnd images that demonstrated contrast, and not in the conventional photographic version of contrast – it’s more about finding the less obvious version of contrasts.

I needed to pair up images showing contrasts in line with 8 pairs of contrast chosen from a supplied list, along with one single image that showed contrast in the one image.

Pair 1: Low/High

At the launch of the local towns Poppy Appeal a number of balloons were released with messages on from local children to serving military personnel.  They started out under a net on the floor and flew wonderfully when released!  In the low shot I like the kids who had been positioned at the front by the local press photographer as the net got thrown over their heads and the little girl at the front is determined to keep smiling for the cameras!  In the high shot I like the little girl on the shoulders of her dad on the left of the shot, watching the balloons heading off, along with the others.Although technically it’s a bit of a fail, pointing into the sun causing lens flare, in this photo I quite like it – the balloons are rising up towards the brightness of the sun, carrying the kids positive messages to the armed forces personnel.

Pair 2: Straight/Curved

I like the lines of the pier shot – the straight line leading off to the end of the pier, and then back to see the visitor pointing off to the left hand side.  The curve of the rainbow is quite subtle as far as curves go, but I think it still works nicely.

Pair 3: Large/Small

This pair is a matter of scale, as although in the grand scheme of things a squirrel isn’t normally considered to be large, when compared to a spider it is!  I also like this pair together as they balance off nicely, with the squirrel on the right and the spider on the left.

Pair 4: Many/Few

I think this pairing is a little weak, it was an idea I’d been thinking about, in fact it was the first idea I had when I read the assignment details – as always the good ideas don’t always work out quite so good in practice!  I wanted to show the contrast between piles of leaves on the floor and then one hanging on a tree, but the where went to look for pile of leaves, there were no massive piles, just a carpet of leaves.  Although I suppose with the shot I took there are leaves on the floor and on the trees still so it kind of works.  I don’t particularly like the composition of the two lone leaves either, I think I’d like to go back and re-shoot, maybe with just one leaf and balance the composition a little differently, possibly balancing it off to my favourite position of off centre!

Pair 5: Pointed/Blunt

I think this is my favourite pairing, purely because the contrast link I’ve made makes me smile!  The top shot of the town War Memorial pointed off into the distance, and telling Darth Vader that he’s had an Epic Fail is a bit blunt and to the point!  Okay, I know it’s a proper tenuous link, but I like it!

Pair 6: Smooth/Rough

both of these images could possibly fall into the section of two contrasts in one image, but I’ve put them here as I think they work this way too.  I spotted the lovely smooth ripples on the windblown sand of Weston beach on a particularly windy day.  I’d initially gone down there to photograph the loose sand blowing across the surface, but liked the look of this patch of sand.  As I was crouching down taking my shots a little dog came running up to have a look at what I was doing and ran straight through the nice smooth ripples that I was shooting!  Luckily I kind of liked it – it shows one of the main things that people do on the beach – walk their beloved pets, and shows the dog leaving his (temporary) mark on the landscape.

 Pair 7: Still/Moving

I originally chose a different bike shot for the “still” image of a number of bikes lined up from further away in a landscape format, but it didn’t look as dynamic as the one I’ve gone for as my final image above.  I think it works better picking out one of the bikes as the main subject with the others supporting in the background. The “moving one” I still feel the same about it as I did when I first took it – the technical photographer in me thinks it’s too blurry and should have at least a part of it sharp, but the small, arty side of me that’s trying to get out, kind of likes it – it’s mega blurry, but you can still see what the subject is – and it’s a fast moving subject so it SHOULD be blurry!

Pair 8: Strong/Weak

I like the switch around in this pair – in theory the web should be considered weaker than solid stone, but in both of these shots, the opposite applies, and it’s water that has caused the switch in both images – the droplets dangling off the web show the strength of it, and the damage to the sea wall was caused during a particulary stormy night when the tide was at it’s highest.  I also like the minimal depth of focus in the web shot – it really highlights the water droplets well.

Two contrasts in one Image 1: Liquid/Solid

This image was my original choice to show contrast in one image – although the sand is pretty solid, it also has potential to be a lot more liquid – as highlighted in the “sinking mud” warning sign.  Also on the day I shot this the sand was being blown across the surface and alsmost looked like liquid flowing across the surface.

Two Contrasts in One image 2: Light/Dark

I think this works better as a contrast in one image shot, I decided that as I hadn’t shot fireworks for a large number of years I’d head down to the seafront to get some shots of the Grand Pier display – it was pretty good and plenty of fireworks for me to play around with exposures.  I like the reflection of the fireworks on the water on the sand, it gives it an additional dimension that I’ve not had before when I’ve shot fireworks and normal sports pitches firework displays.  This particular shots exposure was a 3 second one – I do think that the drifting smoke off to the left lets it down a little though.

So, that’s my first proper assignment sorted, I’m really enjoying this course, it’s been great to get back to basics, and I’m looking forward to moving on to the next section!