With Assignments 1 (Contrasts), 2 (Elements of Design) and 3 (Colour) completed, it is time to reflect on where I am with TAOP. Contrasts went smoothly enough and I found that once I got started the opposing pairs of images came together quite well. I still need to produce a photograph for ‘low’ that has a connection to my selection for ‘high’ for which I used The Shard in London as suggested by my tutor. I have a couple of locations in mind and will ensure that these pictures are taken and added to the final set intended for submission at Assessment.
Elements of Design was successful I think, certainly in terms of tutor response, and I found the strict focus on one location to look for suitable material a big help, as was the opportunity at the time to be able to make a number of repeat visits until I felt I had a decent image to represent each of the design elements. It was also a first real journey into the world of digital black and white in any sort of serious way and I was really pleased with the outcome, both from the perspective of image quality and from that of being able to isolate and restrict the design elements to actual shapes rather than being drawn into using coloured areas to define them. I will certainly be drawing on this experience later in the course and intend to deliver another black and white project at some stage. I always felt on top of Elements and was happy that I knew where I was going and what the intended outcome was, and also felt able to make some difficult selections from a significant amount of material. It is an essential skill to be able to fine down to a required number of images and I certainly hope to be able to maintain this as I go along and not fall into the trap of submitting ‘extra’ images rather than making hard choices.
Colour was hard work, and I have mentioned this briefly before. I originally intended to work with the natural world, but in order to meet the brief I strayed away from this concept and consequently found that without focus it became much more difficult. I also discovered that finding the appropriate colour combinations is not easy, and finding the complementary colours in the ‘correct’ ratios even less so once you get away from set up situations. I had hoped to avoid the truly mundane in the images I collected, but I think failed in this regard with some of them! I rarely felt in control of Colour and am determined to get back on track with Light.
Am I developing my own photographic voice yet? Well, no, and I had not expected to this early in the course, but hopefully that will start to emerge at some stage beyond TAOP. The voice may not be there, but I am starting to feel comfortable with subjects outside wildlife and beginning to ‘see’ opportunities for photographs that I would certainly never have spotted or considered pre-OCA.
The visits to the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, Magnum62, The Deutsche Borse Prize 2012 and Japanese Photobooks exhibitions at The Photographers Gallery, the Edward Burtynsky exhibition at the London Festival of Photography, and various Tate Modern exhibitions all considerably enriched the experience of the first three units of the course and enabled me to get a little way down the road to being able to read a photograph and see more of its meaning than what is obvious simply from its content. I still do not see in many ‘classic’ photographs what some authors claim to be there, and I will take a lot of convincing to believe that the subtleties bestowed on some images is not just the result of serendipity! However, a second read of Graham Clarke’s ‘The Photograph’ did make more sense than it did during the first week I was doing the course.
Reflection could not be complete without mention of the excellent time spent in the company of nineteen other OCA photography students at the residential weekend in Leeds. I won’t repeat what I blogged earlier about this, but it really gave some context and meaning to the course and removed many of the inevitable barriers which come with any form of distance learning.
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