Exercise 5.2

Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, b ut you must make explicit un your notes what it is that you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?

Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log. Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case? Take your time over writing your response because you”ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment 5.

Following my tutor’s advice after submitting Assignment 4, I researched the Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama’s series titled “Slow Glass”, which I mentioned on my reflection on A4’s feedback. One of the tasks that was suggested to me was taking some night shots with the same distortion technique I used on my precious images. It was on my way home while shooting these night landscapes that I came across a McDonald’s store and this image from Hatakeyama’s project came to my mind, so I decided to use the same subject but with my own technique as a response to his shot. Here is the resulting image:


Although the two images are completely different, both have common elements such as the subject and the use of distortion. The main impulse of taking the picture was the universality of the symbolic neon sign which (sadly, I guess) could be recognised internationally and in a fraction of a second. The first time I saw Hatakeyama’s image, the one thought that came to me was that there are subjects that no matter how you disguise or distort them, they will always be easily spotted and understood by a wide audience, even if that is not your initial intention.

I wonder what other viewers perceive from either of the shots. Even though Hatakeyama’s image is far more refined and encapsulates a finer and more interesting composition and colours, what I perceive is that there are symbols (not necessarily brands) that are so stablished in our everyday life that talk by themselves, no matter how you present them to the audience. When you see his picture, you forget about the beauty of the “Slow Glass” series and think “oh, look, McDonald’s!”. It is a stone on the path, a thought you can’t avoid confronting at a first glance.

This is the reason that provoked my response. I wanted to create a different image but showing nothing new to it, because the information sent by the subject itself is so strong that the intention of re-photographing it becomes almost pointless. Both images are taking the viewer to an undetermined part of the world but they can easily guess the look of the place, the smell, what kind of food customers are buying, the feeling inside the highly branded premises… the images themselves are sending lots of subliminal information that the viewer can relate to.

When editing my image, I could have recovered most of the information from the white, blown up area that covers the name of the company however it is the “M” symbol the only element I needed to keep recognisable.

In terms of what Terry Barrett explains about the sources of information when creating an interpretation of an image, I would say that:

  • The internal context (a McDonald’s store at night) is the main element I have given response to. Hatakeyama’s picture gives more information about the location and therefore it is easier to draw a more detailed idea of the place itself. My image focuses solely on the store, avoiding any other information, apart from the time of the day/night. The store I photographed was also situated beside the road (a busy one) and a change in viewpoint wasn’t possible with the lens used. Therefore, I have answered only to one aspect of the internal context which is the main recognisable subject on the image.
  • The external context (information surrounding the image) would relate to the physical position of the image, wether printed, exhibited, published online… I believe that since Slow Glass has been published as a photobook, exhibited in galleries and it can also be found published online in art related websites, the external context of his image has much more to offer than mine, published on a student online log. Whoever comes across for example, the book “Slow Glass: Naoya Hatakeyama” would also see the picture as part of a series, nicely printed in a high quality publication, which would automatically reinforce and validate the importance of the piece. This would also influence the internal context, elevating something mundane to an image that worths considering as a work of art.
  • The original context (how the picture was made), which was the main reason why I was shooting that night. I did not plan to emulate Hatakeyama’s style; I was working on my own project which started shooting in the woods with day light. The technique is different, yet there is some resemblance in the aesthetics. Hatakeyama focuses on the water drops that cover the glass, leaving the background out of focus while I manually focus on the subject to then place a textured glass over the lens. The original context is therefore very different if looked at it in depth, however, thinking of it in a simpler way, both have taken the shot by placing an object between the scene and the camera, so not sure how to judge this one. I guess it is only a matter of perception.


I have found the text “Photographs and Context” by Terry Barrett extremely useful and well explained. Reflecting on this text and the interview with Quentin Bajac by Philip Gefter on page 105 of the course materials, I have noticed that so far intention vs perception and the context in which an image is found determine the viewpoint. Both perception or intention generate the internal and original context, with the interpretations of the internal context being more dependant on the viewers own perceptions and believes. The external context however, could be controlled by the artist to achieve certain reaction or perception from the audience. This reminded me of one of the chats with my tutor where he explained me about the importance of thinking about how to exhibit your work (format, place, size, adding music, video, text…). I


Aperture Foundation NY. (2017). View from a Judgment Seat – Aperture Foundation NY. [online] Available at: https://aperture.org/blog/view-judgment-seat-quentin-bajac-conversation-philip-gefter/ [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

LAGalerie (2017). hatakeyama slow glass. [online] Lagalerie.de. Available at: http://www.lagalerie.de/hatakeyama7.html [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

Terrybarrettosu.com. (2017). Photographs and Context [online] Available at: http://terrybarrettosu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/B_PhotAndCont_97.pdf [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].



Exhibitions at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery


I have recently visited a couple of exhibitions at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Having missed Graham MacIndoe’s show “Coming Clean” last month, I didn’t want to leave the opportunity to see the actual work exhibited in the gallery.

The first exhibition is called When We Where Young: Photographs of Childhood from the National Galleries of Scotland. The works put together for this thematic exhibition showed a variety of images dating from 1800’s till the present.


I was pleased to see a good amount of photographs from Edith Tudor-Hart. Her images draw my attention because of the clean compositions and the simplicity of the everyday events that she documents. There is one image that stands out which shows a group of children getting ultraviolet treatment; their eyes covered with googles and the practitioners directing the session. The contrast of light and shadows and the almost theatrical feeling of the scene gives the photograph a double reading, between the scientific and the absurd. Although I doubt this was her intention here (the image was commissioned to promote the treatments at the South London Hospital for Women and Children) but thinking of the actual Health Service and more modern procedures I believe this might be the way this photograph could be seen nowadays buy younger generations.

Ultraviolet Light Treatment, South London Hospital for Women and Children. Edith Tudor-Hart, 1935.
Images by Edith Tudor-Hart.

There is another image that caught my attention. Tassa Tee, Master Frank Jefferson by Frank Eugene (1898-1900) depicts a young boy holding a teacup and saucer in what it feels like a really dark space. As the text accompanying the image explained, the artist darkened most areas of the image in order to draw the attention to the boy’s face and hands. The image itself it’s a photogravure.

Tassa Tee, Master Frank Jefferson by Frank Eugene (1898-1900)
Tassa Tee, Master Frank Jefferson by Frank Eugene (1898-1900)

The resulting image reminded me of the light-painting technique I attempted on Exercise  4.3 and that I would like to try on portraiture in the future. It was initial idea for Assignment 5 but I am thinking of other alternatives, yet planing to test this technique again for a project.

There where also examples of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes on display, showing the translucent images transferred on the glass (some of them where also hand-coloured):

Ambrotype, explanation.
Ambrotype, glass and frame.

More modern pieces where shown, such as photographs by Margaret Mitchell (who I already talked about here) and Wendy McMurdo (who also signs the image at the entrance of the gallery room). Her image of the series Let’s Go to a Place speaks of the influence technology has for the new generations and presents a series of portraits of children where their faces appear distorted as an allegory of the different dimensions in which they interact through technology. It is a very interesting approach and the way the portraits resemble traditional school photographs appeals to me. The fact that they appear looking away paired up with the distortion of their faces creates engaging images, giving the impression of the child being there on a physical plane but with their attention and interest somewhere else. I am not sure if I have referenced this artist before as I have come across her work in many occasions in the last year. Here is the image exhibited at the gallery:

From the series Let’s Go To a Place by Wendy McMurdo, 2016.
Work by Margaret Mitchel.




The second exhibition called “The Modern Portrait” shows portraiture in a variety of media, from painting to photography, sculpture, collage… The sitters are all well known Scottish public figures from different fields such as arts, politics and sports. It is an interesting exhibition and I enjoyed admiring other art disciplines than photography for a change. The piece I appreciated the most is this large oil painting of the Scottish actor Alan Cumming, created by Christian Hook (2014):


Alan Cumming. Oil on board by Christian Hook, 2014


The technique used here gives the impression of a pixelated image from the distance, I would say that it reminds me to the interferences that occasionally happened with old televisions (I feel old as I type). I guess my perception might be influenced by my acknowledge of Cumming being an actor and the connection with the media. Since I started reading about perception and how to read art, I have become more aware of my own experiences and ideas influencing the way I see images and the conclusion I draw from them.

There is a piece that caught my attention because of the media used and the apparent complexity of its execution:

Gavin Hastings. Postcard and photograph collage, by David Mach, 1996.

The piece is a large collage made with photographs and postcards (lots of them) that depicts the rugby player Gavin Hastings. Here there is a detail of the image where the way the postcards are arranged to create the background can be appreciated:

Detail of Gavin Hastings by David Mach, 1996.

There was a good section of the exhibition dedicated to modern portrait photography:


Portraits by Donald Maclellan

I appreciated certain reciprocity between the artists depicted and the photographers behind the lens, reflected in very intimate images where the person is shown as a random citizen rather than a public figure. This shows specially on the portraits created by Donald Maclellan (above image).

It has been a great experience overall. I am glad I visited the gallery as it is the only one from the National Galleries in Edinburgh I had never been in before and it happens to be a very cosy and intimate venue which I am already planing to visit again soon for the BP Portrait Awards 2017 exhibition that opens next week.



Assignment 4: tutor’s feedback and some experiments.

Here it is the feedback from Assignment 4:


Overall I am happy with the comments and the impression that the images have caused. I am in the process of re-editing some of them and will be shooting in an urban setting next week, trying to include some people on the frame and hopefully getting a variety of colours to add some visual impact.

My tutor has given me a few tasks to take the assignment further and this is the part I enjoy the most from the report. So far, I have been researching the artists mentioned and found them inspiring. Rolf Sachs’ landscapes taken from a train combine the movement captured by using long exposures with interesting distortions produced by the landscape itself: as the train approaches a curve the angle and the motion create an unexpected distortion that makes it difficult to guess how the images are taken. Naoya Hatakeyama’s series called “Slow Glass” depict night scenes seen through a wet glass, accentuating the lines and shapes created by artificial light. The simplicity of the scenes invites to guess what hides behind the “slow glass”, enhancing the interaction between the viewer and the images.

As suggested, I have taken some night photographs using the same technique as for Assignment 4 (with the lemon saver container attached to my 50mm lens). I am extremely surprised with the results so far. I have selected some of the shots and enhanced or altered the original colours to add even more vibrance and dynamism.


There is an image I took in response of one of Naoya Hatakeyama’s photograph of a McDonalds store, as part of Exercise 5.2 (I will develop this further on the appropriate blog post). This is the image:


Although I am not planning to include any of these night scenes in the re-worked submission for Assignment 4, I am certainly interested in continuing with the project and add some more images regularly. I somehow feel the style of the images is far from what I usually shoot, specially in the use of colour, but I have found something stimulating that I enjoy doing. The abstraction of the images leaves some room to interpretation although some of them may look like something different. Most of the images were taken by pointing directly to the light source, which brought interesting geometric distortions. However, at the end of the experiment I started shooting pointing away from the light, increasing the exposures to capture a more atmospheric scene (as in the case of the fourth image of a sign on the pavement). This is something I have to try again next time, as I think it is more in the line of my work. I am really excited about this discovery and I can not be more grateful for having a tutor that pushes me to try new things. This assignment has opened my eyes even more to what can be achieved with an open mind. After practising with longer exposures I would also introduce some camera movement to see where this takes me.

I am also looking forward to shoot with a pinhole camera. I believe the idea may resonate with what I am looking to achieve in my photography or it seems adequate at least from theory. I have never tried this technique and I will be hands on it as soon as I move house after the festive period. For now, I have read about the authors suggested by my tutor. Both Alex Yates and Tom Hunter use a pinhole camera to produce some of their images. The way this technique allows Yates to represent natural elements such as fog, lakes and clouds is what I feel attracted to when I see his images. In the same way, the blurred edges and softness achieved by Hunter on his “Prayer Places” series capture my attention and curiosity. The colour quality of these last ones feels precious and the general atmospheric scene wraps you inside it.

We have also discussed the pointers for the next assignment, which has a rather general brief (this makes it even more difficult to choose a subject). I have some ideas in mind and I have welcomed both sources of inspiration suggested by my tutor. First, the blog Plenty of Colour is a good one to keep looking at from time to time. The images and projects presented show striking colour combinations and held a strong visual impact. Again, I am not sure how much I like colour or how could this reflect on my practice, but I have certainly a strange relationship with it. I am synesthetic in a way that words, numbers, shapes, times and other elements have “colour” in my head so I can be easily annoyed by certain colour combinations or the combination of an object with certain shape and certain colour altogether. I do systematically avoid colour in many aspects of my live (clothing, objects I buy, gadgets, decorative elements etc) or stay within a particular colour range in order to don’t feel “disturbed” by this condition (which is a great condition, I would say, I don’t complain!). This is one of the reasons why I feel a bit surprised with the experiment above and the colourful night scenes. The association my brain makes between colours and anything else in the environment make me perceive certain combinations as right or wrong, so the way I read an image has an extra dimension that comes to me spontaneously. I guess I could potentially be using this for an assignment or project one day, but the task of making others understand the feelings synesthesia bring and the way the brain processes these feelings seems a difficult one. There are other aspects of my synesthetic perceptions that could perhaps be easier to explain or represent, such as the shape of certain smells or names.

Another task derived from my research for Assignment 4 is exploring the way Laura Plageman creates her modified landscapes and try to apply a similar technique onto my work. I have started experimenting with this, although it is still early stages but I will be writing about my findings and sharing the results in a separate blog post.



Assignment 4: Languages of Light. Reflection.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Overall and in my modest opinion, I believe the resulting set of images for this assignment is interesting from a visual point of view. I find it engaging and intriguing in both narrative and technical approach.

Technically, the decision of using certain camera settings has been done thoughtfully, fulfilling the demands of the assignment and helping to achieve the desired results. With the use of different external aids to create a mysterious landscape, I have shown that I am keen to experiment and develop an initial idea in a creative manner.

The images from the set represent an atypical landscape that brings the viewer into the scene. The mood and aesthetics of each shot encourage the audience to use their imagination and interaction through their own interpretation of the landscape.

Quality of outcome and demonstration of creativity

This is a set of 8 images that works together as a whole, while each single image tells a story on their own. I feel the interpretation of the brief is satisfactory without being too obvious. The selection of a subject for Excersice 4.2 and its development has followed a natural path of research and experimentation with results that I have found very satisfying. Although the subject chosen is far from innovative, the techniques used and moreover the context in which this theme has been approach demonstrate a good degree of creativity. The images represent the landscape in a non conventional way, as a method to gain the viewers engagement with the set. By presenting intriguing and unexpected photographs the attention is brought to the questions “what am I seeing?” and “how was this photograph taken?”.

Strengths and weaknesses

I would say the main strength of this assignment is its originality and the balance achieved within the series. Aesthetically, the images seem very pleasant and inspiring. The softness and painterly effect achieved by placing a filter on the camera changes the way landscape photography is perceived by the general audience.

It would have been quite easy to take an image of a forest and manipulate it to achieve a similar effect, but I am proud I have managed these results straight from the camera.

I am not great finding weaknesses on my own work, specially because I would not have considered the assignment finished if I would feel something needs improvement, so I would leave this to my tutor to point out.

How could I develop this further in the future

As I have mentioned on the previous blog post, I feel a great affinity with distorted and modified landscapes. I have plans to visit this place many times in the future, as I will be soon moving five minutes away from it and I have already ideas I would like to try here. I have other glass pieces that I have acquired to experiment further with reflection and distortion. The observation and reinterpretation of natural environments stimulates my creativity as it is a landscape in constant change.

Assignment 4: Languages of light. Final submission.

Final images

From the initial 11 images these are the final 8 shots selected for submission.


The landscapes presented on this series are quite abstract, yet the brighter areas were the light shined through branches and trees are helping defining the silhouettes, giving cues to the viewer on the scene itself. These areas of light are common to all the images of the final selection and it is the reason why the other frames have been discarded. There is a strong correlation between the way light shapes the landscape and the mood that imprints on it. The same element (light) that scares and intrigues at first, becomes the guide in identifying the scene. Its glow represents the experience of being lost and found, being blind but able to find the way.

By looking at the landscape through a textured filter, details get lost. The image softens and there are only two elements left on the frame: light and shapes. the resulting landscape feels unreal. It evokes memories or certain altered state of the mind which makes it difficult to identify the scene. However, it is the presence of daylight what helps the viewer through the sequence and unveils the story behind the images.

The sequence talks about this same journey of discovery. The rhythm progresses from a first visualisation of the woods (their magnificence and power) falling into a stage of inquisition that resolves as the woods give way to more open spaces. Finally the scene is left behind.

Modified landscape

As I progress through this module I am beginning to identify the themes and subjects that recurrently come to my mind when creating and experimenting. Distortion and movement are two areas I feel the urge to explore, as it happens with modified landscape. Artists such as Benoit Paillé (and his impressive series on Alternative Landscapes) and Laura Plageman (Response, Land series are my personal favourite) are inspiring and show two very different ways to alter landscape in a very aesthetic manner, not destructive or intrusive.

Landscape photography is a genre I have not practiced much and my knowledge is limited, however, with this assignment and after identifying a subject that I feel intrigued by I am hoping to take my research further for future projects.


It is difficult to assess oneself against the creativity criteria as I find it would be the viewer’s role to identity whether or not the work presented seems original and creative. In my opinion, the amount of experimentation undertaken on this particular assignment has naturally led to a creative piece of work. It has inspired me to continue finding ways to create original images through non-conventional routes, either exploring new techniques or finding overlooked themes and subjects that could become interesting.

Along this journey I have repeated myself several times why not choosing another exercise, go an shoot a few night scenes and get on with it. But one thing I am not is conventional in any way and this is a quality that naturally helps me be creative in my work. It is however something I began to identify since I started the module, and I hope I can push this further with each assignment.

Here there is a link to Excercise 4.5 on creativity for tutors evaluation.


Gbuffer.myportfolio.com. (2017). Benoit Paillé. [online] Available at: https://gbuffer.myportfolio.com [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].

Photolp.com. (2017). Laura Plageman. [online] Available at: http://www.photolp.com [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].

Assignment 4: Languages of Light. Development and contact sheets.

Final response to the brief

When I started exploring ways to take Exercise 4.2 further for Assignment 4 I had a very vague idea of how to approach the task. Through the exercise itself and after researching onto artists such as Sally Mann and Eugène Atget, I began shaping an understanding in the use of daylight to create as specific mood and add interest to the scene.

The subject was chosen by carrying over elements that I found interesting from the exercise, such as the landscape (nature, natural elements) and the window (reflection, distortion, a filter between the viewer and reality).

Although the first intention was to bring new elements (reflections, flares, fragmented light) onto the landscape, the final approach changed towards using a foreign element (filters, prisms) to transform the landscape into something else.

Previous tests and thoughts on the brief can be found here and here.

Technical approach

After experimenting with different types of prisms and their effect when placed between the lens and the scene, I have achieved the best results with a textured plastic lid from a lemon saver container. Held over a 50mm lens it gave me the option to move it around in order to alter the detail gained in different areas of the frame.

The camera was handheld at all times. With a focal length of 50mm, I kept a wide aperture throughout the shoot, as I was looking for a soft detail that would create a more intriguing image.

The time of the day chosen was mid day. I have tested the light at this time of the day since I started shooting for the assignment, as Atget did on his garden series. However and since its almost winter, the days are shorter now and the sun was not at its highest despite the time but I found this translated in an even more mysterious mood, specially when the light filters through the trees in the woods.

The day was bright during the last shooting, with some clouds slightly filtering the light so there is an added softness to the landscape.

First images: The contact sheets

These are the contact sheets from the last shooting for Assignment 4. Once I realised I had found the way to create the mood I was looking for, I took also shots of the scenes without the plastic filter so I could have evidence of where the distorted images came from and what the exact effect of the filter was. Due to the uneven surface of the filter, the resulting images varied according to the way I would hold the plastic lid against the lens, capturing more or less detail in certain areas of the frame, hence the repetition of some shots.

Selected images

Marked on the contact sheets above and after slight corrections of contrast and exposure, these are the images I have picked as a first selection:


I am currently in the process of reducing this selection to anything between 6 and 9 final images.

Assignment 4: Languages of light. Further experiments.

Last two months have been a period of lack of time and inspiration due to personal commitments which had me confined between home and work but still I have managed to explore the ideas for this assignment a bit further.

First, I wanted to explore reflexion and the possibilities of creating images that would resemble the double exposure technique using a triangular prism. The prism can be seen on the images as it was simply held in front of the lens, creating areas of reflected images from behind, above and under me. The possibilities are endless, as it allows to introduce new elements on the image by changing the viewpoint, the position of the prism or my own position in relation to the landscape. Here are the contact sheets:


I find a great resemblance between  IMG_8348 and those than can be achieved with the Supersampler camera, which takes four images on the same negative. Here is a sample of an image captured by myself with this camera:



At this point I still could not visualise the way to take this assignment forward. Using the same triangular prism, I took another series of images using the same technique but positioning the prism in a different direction so the lens would be looking into what is reflected on the prism’s surface and combining the image with a capture from the surroundings. These are the contact sheets:





I find the images of the trees quite intriguing and enjoy the way the colours of the spectrum can be identified. The resulting landscapes are dreamy and I can perceive a sense of uncertainty: what am I seeing? is it a real image? There is an evident distortion that may suggest these images are part of someone else’s perception, maybe someone who can’t see clear or who’s consciousness is compromised. The more I observe these images, the more I see them as representations of a parallel world or reflections of thoughts that somehow tell a story or potentially could end up telling one. By converting the images into black and white, the lack of colour information makes these perceptions stronger by impeding the viewer to guess how the image could have been taken so nurturing that idea of reflected thoughts or unknown and sublime places.



Assignment 3 REWORKED and tutor´s feedback

Overall, the feedback on Assignment 3 was very positive. I am happy and relieved to see I have managed to express my understanding of the Decisive Moment and that my work is seen as creative and innovative.

Here there is a link to my tutor´s feedback and the reworked images below:


I have been asked to reshoot three of the images so the frame would not be so tight (Images 2, 4 and 5), also having both Henri Cartier-Bresson and Francesca Woodman in mind. Considering the space available for shooting this was an issue, as for two of the images I did not have enough room to move the camera back or the background would become distractive if shooting with a wider focal length. I also had concerns about how the final series would look if half of the images turned to be too different from the original photographs I tried to emulate and how this would be perceived by the viewer without access to the notes and process. My perception at this point was that my tutor wanted me to take this assignment a step forward and so I felt this was also necessary, specially if a new aesthetic approach was to be introduced.

Therefore, I resolved to reshoot all the images, opening the scene and thinking of the relationship between the subject and the frame as shown through Francesca Woodman´s work (as my tutor pointed out on verbal feedback). Still, my idea was to keep distinctive elements from the first submission on each image to provide not just a sense of continuity but also contributing to the overall composition. As in the first attempt, I kept an eye on geometry and the balance between black and white areas.

To start with, I thought of Woodman´s indoor photographs so partially emptied a room and used it as a stage for all the images. It is a very small room so creating a set of different images was an exciting challenge.

Generally, I enjoyed the freedom of creating my own photographs rather than reproducing others´in a literal way. I drew a quick sketch of how the new scenes could be approached and composed but I looked mainly at the original images for inspiration while shooting.

Escanear 55

Overall, I find the new set of images more successful as they don’t only reflect my thoughts on the Decisive Moment but also feel more like my own work. Reworking the assignment has also teach me to look further, even when an image can be considered done there is always room for development or at least to ask yourself the question “could have I done it differently?” and explore all possibilities.

These are the reworked images, compared with the ones submitted earlier, contact sheets and exif data:

Image 1

photo1 diptic

Although this was the easiest image to emulate at first, it has been the most difficult to reshoot. Initially, I wanted to keep the element of the book and the movement of the pages. This was the result:

Hoja de contacto-003

Somehow I thought the composition and approach were weak and it did not tell anything new that would justify a reshoot. Analyzing the elements on it I realized the book was not relevant; it didn’t add to the composition. The original title of Henri Cartier-Bresson “Martine´s legs” gave me the clue to change the focus onto the legs so my aim here was to find a way to create and interesting composition introducing movement in a different way. I played with the idea of taking my shoe off and realized long exposure allowed me to have one shoe on and off in the same frame, so I shot until I was happy with the effect and the position of the elements on the image. This is probably the image that most reminded me of Francesca Woodman. It is the last I shot and I feel I was very much involved with the creative process here, not thinking too much on the outcome but enjoying the process instead.


ISO: 100, 8″, f/22, 17mm.

Hoja de contacto-001

[Image selected: 8157]


Image 2

photo2 diptic

This is one of the images that needed reshooting. I kept the element of the cup to help me come up with a movement that would feel natural and coherent. It was the first image to be reworked so I was not completely sure about what I wanted to achieve visually, so tried different poses taking the original pose as a starting point.

The elements on the background (armchair and light stand with soft-box) are accidental as that is the original place they have in that particular room. I wanted to maintain a homey feeling, thinking of Henri Cartier-Bresson´s wife relaxing on their coach. I chose that corner as the armchair is a small version of the coach I used on the original submission. The light added some interest and as Martine was a photographer herself, it is a nice element to keep in what pretends to represent a photograph taken at home.

The movement is fluid and so it is the general feel of the image. Again, the freedom of composing my own way helped me to achieve the shot and gave me also more confidence since I could explore different possibilities.


ISO: 100, 4″, f/22, 29mm.

Hoja de contacto-001Hoja de contacto-002

[Image selected: 8056]


Image 3

photo3 diptic

Funeral of a Kabuki actor was one of the hardest images to emulate. For this second attempt, I thought of simplifying the scene to a minimum while keeping a fair amount of movement. The result seems a bit inconclusive and open to interpretation on what this moment is about.

The backdrop and stand have two purposes: firstly, I wanted a black background to match the original and secondly, both elements resemble the flag that divides the original image by Henri Cartier-Bresson, which was missing on my first approach. I looked for contrast so kept my clothes white, which remind me of the handkerchiefs on the left image and also helps introducing a bigger sense of movement.


ISO: 100, 6″, f/22, 24mm

Hoja de contacto-001Hoja de contacto-002

[Image selected: 8117]


Image 4

photo4 diptic

This was my favourite image from the original submission so it hurt a bit when I knew I was to reshoot it.

I put the camera outside the room so the door frame and part of the wall and a table appear on the left side of the image. This locates the subject and adds some additional framing; I think it makes the image more interesting, as if someone would be spying from outside the scene. Initially, I shot on the same dark suit as on the picture of the left but I wanted to catch the light from the window to create lighter areas. The element of the box was discarded as again, it wasn’t relevant. I see this new image as the one that connects Image 1 and Image 6.


ISO: 100, 6″, f/22, 21mm

Hoja de contacto-001

[Selected image: 8127]


Image 5

photo5 diptic

The only elements I kept from the first attempt here are the position of the arms and the look into the camera. This was another favourite that needed to be reshot. I still prefer the first version but not within the new series. However, I feel this image is more personal.

It is a very simple photograph but I believe effective. I looked for triangles in the composition to match the position of the arms and the lines of the wall and skirting board to direct the eyes into the subject. The idea of the Decisive Moment comes to me here as I image the scene as a portrait (rather than a self-portrait). I picture the photographer´s approach to his or her sitter: when to shoot? Which moment would represent better the subject? Is it about the pose or about the mood of the sitter? Or is it about the overall feeling of the image (composition, expression, contrast, theme…?).


ISO: 100, 6″, f/32, 32mm.

Hoja de contacto-001

[Selected image: 8084]


Image 6

photo6 diptic.jpg

I did not know hot to reinterpret this photograph until I started shooting. Keeping the shapes created by the position of arms and legs was a must so I focused on that. To connect both before and after versions, I brought the two black chairs into the scene and experimented from there.

I see lots of elements of duality in this photograph. The two chairs, two people, two bits of curtain. The window slightly open, letting fresh air come in and the subject suffocating with the curtain around the head. It could be interesting to know what others think about this. It was not something intentional but I can see some concept there when looking at the image.

As a quirky detail, my phone sits on the window sill with the original images opened on the screen, as a little reference/secret. I see this image as a continuation of Image 5 on the series.


ISO: 100, 10″, f/22, 17mm.

Hoja de contacto-001

[Selected image: 8144]


As part of the changes suggested by my tutor, I had to come up with a title for the series that would define “the moment”. As I mentioned on my first impressions blog post, it was my intention to “fragment” the Decisive Moment, yet my tutor does not see the series as Fragmented or Indecisive Moments, but more like “Tentative Moments”.

I have been looking for a word that would define define my approach to the Decisive Moment. I considered how long exposures and movement have resulted in a series that record action by freezing every stage of it. Each of these images tells a story by offering a wider view of the moment: showing how it started, how it finished and what happened in between, even though the other of these stages is subjective. It is not possible to state how long the action lasted by only looking at the images. I therefore thought a good name for these photographs would be “Indefinite Moments“.

[Indefinite: lasting for an unknown length of time.]

I have also come up with the decision of changing the order of the images, taking into account the new connections I perceive between them. This would be the “Indefinite Moment” sequence:

Assignment 4: Languages of light. Preparation for assignment.

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:

  • Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time. 
  • Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you´ve shot for the exercise (see notes on the contact sheet in Part Three).
  • Assignment notes are an important part of every assignment. Begin your notes with an introduction outlining why you selected this particular exercise for the assignment, followed by a description of your “process” (the series of steps you took to make the photographs). Reference at least one of the photographers mentioned in Part Four in your assignment notes, showing how their approach to light might link to your own work. Conclude your notes with a personal reflection on how you´ve developed the exercise in order to meet the description of the Creativity criteria. Write 500-1000 words.
  • Include a link (or scanned pages) to Exercise 4.5 in your learning log for your tutor´s comments.


First impressions and introduction to the subject

I have chosen Exercise 4.2 (daylight) to be prepared for formal assignment. The reason for this is that after considering the three different exercises I found daylight the most revealing and complex, also the most difficult to control as it is in constant change.

After researching about photographers Sally Mann and Eugène Atget, I resolved to shoot some elements of nature (not necessarily landscape) as it is a subject that resonates with my practice. I have found inspiration on Atget´s botanical photographs to start with, as well as the atmospheric landscapes of Sally Mann. An element that came up from Exercise 4.2 was the reflection on the bottom of the frame, which I found interesting and something that could be introduced in the final images. I also wanted to connect the exercise and the assignment by choosing a similar subject.

First, I compared two images from Atget with two of a similar subject from my personal archive, and noted down the differences that I perceived make his images interesting as opposed as mine. This helped me see how the use of light in Atget´s photographs is not only enhancing the subject but also creating a layered background that contributes to a more dynamic image.


Experimenting with refraction

I recently bought a set of defective optical glass prisms and a triangular prism to experiment with distortion and light refraction. I started exploring the different effects that could be achieved in camera by holding the prisms close to the lens and the results are quite interesting. The options are limitless, which appeals to me. This technique could introduce something new to the assignment in the way daylight can be manipulated, creating surreal images. I did some research on light refraction to understand how light travels and found the connection between the theory and Tacita Dean’s “green ray”, which I find it’s fascinating. In the sample images below, the reflection of the window on my sitter’s face evokes memories or thoughts, as if the camera would be reading into his mind and exposing the information.


Another curious fact about this is that the raw file shows the colours of the refracted light differently than the final images without manipulation. On screen preview of the RAW file, the light looks pink throughout and after opening the file and saving it as JPG there are different colours of the spectrum that can be seen. This still remains a mystery to me, as I haven’t found a reason for it. Below there are two screen grabs from images Flat prism 3 (on the right) and Flat prism 5. 

I am now looking at ways to integrate the effect of the prisms with my chosen subject (nature, trees, plants etc).


Escanear 55


Experimenting with daylight

  • Test images (part 1)

Escanear 54

To take my comparision on Atget´s photographs further, I took some snaps of interesting trees/bushes at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh (which is probably my favourite place on Earth) to get my thoughts going. I was after some “portraits” of natural elements to observe what light conditions cold bring to the image in terms of the overall look of the subject within the scene. It is difficult to isolate a tree from a background of trees and I found that the direction and quality of the light is key here. The images above were shot at midday so the light was falling flat on the trees that were completely exposed to it and the resulting image was not interesting enough and the subject did not stand out. However, when shooting a shrub that was shadowed by taller trees, the filtered light coming from the top was helping in revealing its shape and also creating a layered composition.

  • Test images (part 2)

On a second visit, I explored light in a different way, drawing from what I had observed on the first time. I used a compact camera on aperture priority mode. I shot the trees and bushes by pointing with the camera slightly down, pressing the shutter half way to focus and hold the metering and then recomposing by including a part of the sky on the frame. By doing this, I wanted to trick the meter and overexpose the image to “burn” the sky and create a more atmospheric scene. I also experimented shooting against the light but trying not to get it right in camera. As a result, some images have a faded flare on them, like a blue- ish reflection, which appeared mainly when direct sun light was filtered through the top branches of the trees. This flare gives a very mystic effect that feels almost like a “presence”.

Looking at the sky on some of these images I think of Sugimoto´s “Theaters” series and the overexposed screens. I find it fascinating how I can appreciate something like an overexposed photograph in some way now. Before, I would have seen this as a mistake and discard the shot straight away, without thinking of a possible meaning or use.

I am still unsure about which direction my assignment will take, since I need to experiment further. I somehow feel the urge to include a human element in this assignment as I would like to tell a story that works as an allegory to light from both the visual and conceptual points of view. I would like to use a strong natural light in my images and due to bad weather this will be impossible for a while, so I am still developing the ideas I have gathered in this post and I am hoping to find the right moment to continue testing a bit further before I decide on how to approach the assignment.




Exercise 4.5

Make a Google Images search for “landscape”, “portrait”, or any ordinary subject such as “apple” or “sunset”. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.

Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the “Creativity” criteria at the end of Part Four. Yo might like to make the subject appear “incidental”, for instance by sing juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the “camera vision” of Bill Brandt.

Add a final image to your learning log, together with a election of preparatory shots. In your nose describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.


I looked on Google Images Search for the term “Portrait”. These are the first images that come up:

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.38.58 copy.jpg


There are some similarities between them even though the sitters are of different gender, age, and background. The ones that I have noted down are:

  • Framing: mainly headshots or closely framed crops.
  • Subjects: looking into the camera with neutral expressions.
  • Style: a majority of studio portraits with flash or bounced light.

There is a variety of colour/black and white shots. I found it surprising that most images are photographs, with little reference to painting/drawings.

Overall, the images from the search shot a very cliched concept of a photographic portrait. Thinking of how to add creativity to the term “portrait” I came up with the idea of creating a series of portraits of my husband through his absence, by photographing the everyday findings that evidence his existence even when he is not present.

These are the images I took:



I have selected the image of the empty bed as my final image:

His side of the bed is empty

It differs from the Google Images Search in many ways: framing, expression of the subject and style of photographs, since the sitter is not even present. However, I feel my images talk more about the person behind them than most of the portraits from the search, which do not tell much about the personality of the subjects, their habits, environment, preferences or routines. I have chosen this particular image because of the relation between bed and intimacy. The empty bed brings up the feeling of an absence, even more when the bed is not been made as it recalls there was a person sleeping there not long before. The image shows only my husband’s side of the bed rather than the whole bed, which would have had a different interpretation. It is also the place where he spends 7-8 hours in every day so it retains his essence more than any other place.