Stalled!

I reckon to have been making fairly good progress with my current work but seem to have stalled.  Firstly I received my feedback on Assignment 1 and have been feeling a bit thoughtful about that.  Secondly I have been surprised by the deadline for the March formal assessment of my ‘The Art of Photography’ (TAoP) module that I completed at the end of last year.  I rushed to get off a paper guide on how to access my on-line work which I hope will have arrived in time.

My assignment feedback has reminded me that there is a lot of ancillary work that needs to be done as well as just shooting the photographs and I have been skimping on that.  Perhaps it was because I treated the assignment an a glorified exercise on workflow as it was the third similar task in a row… perhaps also I didn’t give it my best attention as it isn’t even formally assessed with the rest of the work in this module.  Either way I need to go back and improve the ‘mouth music’ a bit or no one will know what I was thinking when I shot it all.

I have also had some informal comments on my TAoP layouts from an assessor.  Apparently it is easy to loose marks when it is hard to locate important work, particularly relating our tutor’s feedback and to our ‘before and after’ thought processes concerning our assignments.  It was suggested that my workbook/blog isn’t the place for these comments and that they should be placed with the assignment itself… which in my case is on my assignment web site.  A bit late for that now and it will make me rethink my layout in the future.

What I have done is go back through my TAoP blog and add additional labels to assist in navigating the site which will hopefully aid the assessors which is all I can do at this stage but I wish that this sort of thing received wider circulation as it would have altered the way I set things up more than 2 years ago!

Exposure explained

I have recently been a little vocal about some of the limitations of our study notes but there is no point floundering in ignorance.  I have discovered Michael Freeman’s book Perfect Exposure which amplifies and makes clear the concepts and exercises that I have been puzzling over.  I was a little disappointed that this book wasn’t listed in the Reading and Resource Appendix of our notes as a suggestion for further reading as it would appear that it is the basis for some of our notes.  Certainly, the book describes in much more detail the technical and practical aspects of exposure, noise, hightlight clipping, rolloff and scene dynamic range than the course material does.

With everything that I was previously dismissing as ‘too hard’ now explained, I realise that many of the limitations of our course notes are down to the efforts made to précis them from a much clearer and more detailed source.  The same was true of parts of The Art of Photography where I and several other students found that reading Michael Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye gave us the understanding we needed to get past areas of the course notes that were far from clear.

I think that any conscientious student, keen to learn and fill in the gaps in their understanding would be happy to resort to extra curricular reading but not in order to make sense of core knowledge.  In this area, our course study material should be adequate… its not like we have them as a back up to a lecture or class where we can listen to and question a tutor.  They are the bedrock of our efforts to comprehend and learn and should fulfil all our needs.  In this respect they are, at the moment, lacking.

So, what of Perfect Exposure?  The book is brilliant.  Far from being too deep or technical, I am finding that it is really hitting the spot to satisfy my need for a full and clear explanation of the problems associated with digital imaging.  I would go as far as to suggest that it becomes required reading for any student of DPP.  The only drawback I have found is that having purchased it as a Kindle digital ebook I would have been better off waiting for a paper copy which has many advantages over the iPad version… quicker to access, find sections, leaf through etc.

Having a rant!

Perhaps I got out of the wrong side of my bed this morning.

This is a degree course isn’t it?  Our tutors are all well above our level of skills and academic achievement and the author of our notes is presumably more than a level or two above that?

Then why the hell don’t the notes make sense?

This really gets me down.

I previously bleated to my fellow students that I couldn’t understand the exercise ‘Sensor linear capture’ because when the notes said that the tones were squashed right on the histogram, mine where squashed left.  And when the notes said ‘brighter’ my efforts became darker!  Well I was told by my tutor and several other students that the notes were wrong in this case!  Wrong!  You bet… 180º out you mean.  I’m sorry Captain Scott, we have been going North instead of South so no wonder the Norwegians beat us to the pole!

Now I am faced with paragraphs of gobble-de-gook in the exercise ‘Your camera’s dynamic range’ and I am spending more time trying to sort it out than the whole exercise should take!

Of course I might be wrong and I might have to take it all back when someone sensible explains it all to me but in the mean time I want to shout from the roof tops, “Who wrote this, who proofed this and did anyone actually try these exercises out for real before they were palmed off on us?”

Shooting Assignment 1

December has been a hard month!  I have done 6 long haul flights and 2 training days in the simulator.  I seem to be in a constant haze of jet lag and fatigue.  With only around 14 days in the UK, most of which were spent trying to recover from the previous trip, I did well to have Christmas day at home,,, albeit I was in bed by 8 pm to rest for the next day’s flight.  Whilst most of the UK had a holiday between Christmas and New Year I went to America and back twice!  Unfortunately, although I have done my best to shoot whilst away, I haven’t had much time to process my stuff once I got home.

My most successful achievement was to get my shots for Assignment 1 in the bag.  Because several of my trips were to New York I had decided to try to photograph the city by night, concentrating on a Christmas theme.  I took my images over 3 nights, working at a different location each time… I didn’t have the luxury of spending more than a couple of hours at each location because the layover was short and I needed to get some rest before getting back to the airport.

Manhattan was like a rugby scrum.  I have rarely seen so many people out on the streets, particularly once the sales had started.  I won’t try to describe the frustration of trying to guard a tripod in a river of people who wouldn’t hesitate to trample mothers and children to get to those Nike Airs at 50% off!  Still, I have managed to cut my efforts down to 12 shots and apart for weeding out a couple of the weaker efforts I think I they will do.

My troubles handling a Canon 5DII with battery pack on a tripod and another few lenses about my person whilst negotiating the streets makes me think that there must be an easier way.  I am being lured by the Fujifilm X10 as the discrete street photographer’s weapon of choice.

This neat camera is styled after the old 35mm range-finder cameras that were so common in my father’s era and is one that any competent photographer would love.  I say that because many of the controls are manual switches and dials rather than menu options accessed through the back screen.  The lens opens to a wide f 2.0 and although the zoom isn’t everything I might want at 28-112mm it will do fine for my family holidays and quietly walking the cities of the world.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

In the mean time… welcome to 2012 and have a great New Year.

Starting

I had thought I might give my degree work a bit of a rest after finishing The Art of Photography (TAoP) but the temptation to get on with Digital Photo Practice was just too much for me.  So the notes arrived a couple of days along with a lovely email from my new tutor.

When I started my original TAoP blog I was very much a beginner and now with a couple of years under my belt I thought I might try another host who offers a few more facilities hence I have moved my workbook here to WordPress.  So far the additional editing options look great and I shall enjoy experimenting as I go along.

One area of concern during my last module was the problems of fitting in my important photographic work in with my extracurricular activities like work and meals so, on leafing through the course notes I was glad to see that there seems to be a little less to do and I trust I shall be able to finish this a bit more promptly.