I’ve had some positive feedback from my tutor on the first assignment this week, plus some pointers for improvements. The key comments that pleased me were:
· I seem to have successfully conveyed the atmosphere of the place.
· My shot of the pig farm is seen as particularly strong (which sounds like a piece of irony in itself!); composed in a traditional landscape style; feels deliberately ironic; like a landscape painting or a photograph in a pictorial style. That’s good; I want to present the ordinary and mundane in a manner that makes the viewer sit up and take notice & I quite like the notion of the ‘sublime’ pig farm.
· My blog seems to be working well.
· And my images are close to his own interests – which pleases me because it makes me confident that they will be viewed in an interested but critical fashion.
There are of course some further suggestions for improvement and development.
· The series explores different strands and perhaps I could have focused more specifically on one. Actually, in many ways, this series is more focused than the last time I put together a series on the local environs. I have followed highly specific themes in the past e.g. ‘Stone’ for one of the Landscape assignments. Essentially, the message is not to compromise my own interests for the sake of the brief, which is good, and consistent with what has been coming across from OCA.
· The feeling is that some of my shots of stonework don’t add much to the series – though a recognition that I have used detail shots to provide some rhythm to the narrative. It’s actually hard to make any images around here without stonework; it dominates, and that’s why it is so prevalent in my series. He refers to the feeling of claustrophobia, and that is linked to this theme as well. I can see how it might feel ‘over done’ but I also know how stone and stone walls dominate this landscape, whatever the scale. My own tendency to focus on it is, I guess, a kind of emotional reaction; and there is also, perhaps, some metaphorical link I could make ... if I could just find it!! Perhaps my response to this point, and to the previous one about focus, should be to photograph even more stonework ... push it ... explore it ... obsess with it ... and see what I discover ... about myself?? (Get ready, readers, to be bored out of your tree with stone! Stoned, even?)
· The last shot in the series (the layers of stone walls), interestingly, is ‘pretty and has a decorative quality but lacks critical edge’. That is a particularly interesting reaction. I quite liked that shot and didn’t find it pretty; shot in an attractive light, perhaps, but for me, it said hard and gritty, a metaphor for the layers of history that are laid across the land around here ... and it also felt like a kind of barrier, a stop, a dead end for the narrative. I don’t mind that it came across differently to him; we put our images out there and viewers will read them as they will; but the very different reading of this one is certainly interesting.
There were a few other useful suggestions about, for example, incorporating a ‘contact sheet’ of all images from a shoot into this blog; and perhaps taking another look at this collection to make a more personal selection (back to the focus and concentration on a theme).
He also encourages the use of a tripod, which I did quite a lot when completing the Landscape module and, latterly, for portraits in People & Place. I think I quite enjoyed the freedom of handheld on this assignment. The key point being made here, I recognise, is that I shot quite a lot in relatively poor light & ISO100, which has meant that several of the original images were somewhat underexposed. I’ve been able to process them OK (Oh yes, one more positive there ... ‘processing seems to be fine’, which is a great relief. I’m getting there.); but getting a more ‘accurate’ initial exposure with the tripod is perhaps preferable. That said, I think I’ve felt more personally involved, if that makes sense, wandering the local lanes, unencumbered with too much equipment.
So – encouraged by the feedback; have noted some points for further thought; now time to move on.