Open College of the Arts

Reflection on the Tutor report

Student name: Stephen Barney

Course/Module Photography 1: Digital Photographic Practice

Assignment number 4: Real or Fake


Overall Comments

Well done for submitting A4 Stephen. You have clearly put effort into bringing this assignment together. You have logged research into the theme of the assignment, the stages of your workflow and editing and all exercises are uploaded. From your reflective notes it seems that you have really enjoyed exploring the subject of photographic truth and constructed imagery. In terms of areas of focus going forward to the final stage of the unit, I would suggest that you:

  1. try to expand further on points within your research (especially following up with initial outline posts for eg: http://www.photographicsteve.com/archives/5571 )
  2. broaden your experimentation and tests of different ideas and edits as you work towards your final set of images.


Just to note that in emails back and for during this assignment, you would like further feedback on the direction of A5. So I include this again at the bottom of the next section.

Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are very likely to be successful in the assessment.

Makes me happy to read 🙂

Feedback on assignment

It’s great that you have shared the various stages of your process as you constructed this final image. However, I would certainly be a little clearer with where you acquired the source images, ie lizard texture, wound imagery. If these images are not your own, you really need to reference the source. It is of equal importance to say, quoting an author in your written work.

Ah ok they were mostly textures from within photoshop that I built stuff from I will be far more careful of this infuture thanks for the heads up

In terms of strengths, this was certainly an ambitious concept to achieve and you have worked with multiple images to form the final piece – which takes research time and planning time. I also like how you have appropriated an existing book cover, looking at ways you feel this could be improved. However -­‐ Did you draw out your design? Did you consider a few different portraits until you found the one you eventually worked with? – what shortlist of options did you get it down to? Can we see those other images, can we see more indepth notes on how you decided on this particular image against others; can you scan in sketches?
Referencing a visual from the television programme itself makes sense and certainly shows your knowledge and passion for the series and must have taken time to decide upon. What other ideas did you have? Where there other visuals that you considered emulating?*

Making decisions such as the above, are all part of your ideas development process (not to be confused with final piece construction) and should also be logged as they demonstrate the level and breadth of your experimentation in order to reach your final piece.

I probably should not admit this but the subject of this assignment was like a flash of inspiration it came while I was editing the image I used as a real portrait after a studio session, I do a lot of work in photoshop on these images and when they are done I often play to expand my knowledge of  the use of photoshop etc. I was playing with adding a kind of lizard skin mesh over her entire face when the whole idea hit me like a brick I saw the V cover in my head I remembered the original character and how much she looked like Shellie. So off I went it was all about inspiration and being moved by art rather than my usual research and planning.

Interestingly because this was driven by internal emotion rather than thoughtful planning I felt really connected to it as a piece of work. When I looked up the book cover I expected to see a picture of Dianna on the front ripping off her face but to my surprise it was only the rather boring space ship. this fueled me to keep the book cover almost the same but to replace the space ship with my lizard Shellie.

I must discuss this at a future workshop as there is often not much contextual stuff to bring to the table when the work is completely driven by an inner inspiration.

I do think that whilst undergoing this kind of testing and trialing, it would have been worthwhile considering time limitations. As this was quite an intricate idea with many layers, I feel you would have benefited from more time here – to practice and refine your image manipulation techniques and work with typography. I also feel that it would have benefited the overall quality and would have made your image manipulation easier, had you been able to use source images of higher resolution. The difference in quality between your portrait and the other images is really quite noticeable. So something definitely worth bearing in mind if working with composite images in future.

I actually had far more time with this than was apparent as the concept started really rather early.

* I want to quickly return to the above point – I would have liked to have seen you consider timing and also other ideas and question if such heavy editing is always necessary to achieve the unsettling and other worldly results you were so excited to achieve. For example, could the simple editing of the figures eyes, into lizard eyes.

Nope! I feel you missed the point, I wanted to shout from the highest roof that I changed the image I wanted to act like the most outrageous drag queen in expressing how much I approve of changing images and anyone could change the eyes, also that would not have fit with the imagry from the film that I was keen to replicate.

A5 – Ok so further to A3 feedback, when you were looking into portraiture for your final assignment (but I encouraged you to seriously consider if it was actually feasible to hire a studio or models) you’ve now developed an idea inspired by this assignment, to create constructed sc-­‐fi topographic images of set locations. My main pointer about this, would be to take on board my point above, about setting realistic goals within the given time frame that enables you to produce the highest quality end result, both technically and conceptually. I think that in this instance, I would consider the quality of the images you are working with and opt for creating as much of your source images with your own photography. I would also consider why photomontage technique is used and look at as much work as possible – what messages are these artists trying to communicate? (see suggested reading below). Also acknowledge your limitations and consider that you probably will not be able to produce something of the same immersive and convincing level of 3D animators or set designers… work to your strengths and work out the most important visual devices to convey your ideas and stick with them – even if it’s a simple one. Often the simplest ideas can be the best.

there has been much discourse on this and I wont revisit it here, at first I thought “She hates Star Trek” however when I put the images on a black background and converted them to black and white I think you changed from a Star Trek Hater into and artistic genius I am humbled by the experience.

“Often the simplest ideas can be the best.” Helen Warburton 2015

That is so true thank you! I was getting carried away with creating fantasy in photoshop and leaving photography in the weeds, however this is discussed in my next assignment.

Learning Logs or Blogs

Regarding research and written work: I can see you have started this with your post about the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, however it would be great to see you further expanding the depth of your research as you move into the final section of the unit. When you rationalise your conclusions and summaries about an image or series of images, ask yourself how you came to reach this? Expand comments to include observations that you feel back up your understanding of the work. One way to do this is to select one or two specific images to look closer at – reflect on how you imagine the image was made, what key clues are there in the image itself that lead you to believe this? What technology might have been available to this photographer at the time the work was made? Why do you think the work was made at all? What purpose does it serve – where would it be found? These are the kinds of questions that your written work should be attempting to address.

This is I think a timing issue I have I think done this extensively however not much of it was available on my blog at the time of this feedback I have since caught up.

For example: you explain the story of Contreras’s image taken in Syria for a newspaper, however I’d like to see you try to go on to consider ‘why’ the newspaper or the photoagency have taken this stance – what do you believe this could be due to? You could also comment on what you believe the wider ramifications and ethical implications could be if the press published such images.

I think I have done this maybe a timing issue again.

Suggested reading/viewing

In my last feedback I noted clear gaps in your learning log, and I’m pleased to see that you’ve worked to address this since then -­‐ sharing your visual references and making a start on some more extended posts and thematic research. Collage and composite work I really think you should look at before taking on your chosen assignment subject:

Peter Kennard / David Hockney / David Thomas Smith: http://david-­‐thomas-­‐smith.com/ANTHROPOCENE / Edgar Martins: I know that Edgar came under scrutiny when it emerged that he often manipulates his images, especially this project and the image looking through the archway to double doors with the leaves in the hallway. There is sure to be an article on this somewhere online…http://www.edgarmartins.com/work/this-­‐is-­‐
not-­‐a-­‐house/?show=photographs Also Dawn Woolley’s posts on adverts, I think you’d really enjoy the detail into which she deconstructs advertising imagery – totally constructed images created with a very specific message in mind. http://weareoca.com/author/dawn-­‐woolley/

Thank you for the links and sugestions I have incorporated as much of this as I physically could.

Conclusions / Pointers for the next assignment

I hope this feedback is useful as you move into the final section of the unit. I know you are keen to complete in time for the November assessment, so I would advise to spend more time on developing and trialling a couple of different ideas for a simple yet assertive set of images, that demonstrates the best of your skills so far whilst also allowing you to respond to both your existing and newly discovered inspirations and research. I realise that you actually have to post off your work for assessment at the end of September – this is going to be very tight Stephen and won’t give you much time to rework after my final feedback. If you really must submit for November, then I suggest you get your A5 to me as soon as possible. Although I would prefer you to consider if this is rushing and to contact Eddie or Lia at OCA HQ if you have any concerns. Please note I am on holiday from 18th – 26th September.

Just to say a big thank you for pulling all the stops out in this feedback and helping to get the next assignment sorted too.