Assignment 2: Feedback.

Here you can find a PDF with my tutor’s feedback on Assignment 2:


I am very happy with the feedback received, specially after my initial concerns with the direction my Assignment 2 was taking towards meeting the brief. I was quite aware that my ideas and approach were risky or at least not a very straightforward answer to the brief and I feared a negative feedback would make me have doubts about trying different routes than the obvious on following assignments.

My tutor seems to like my ideas and creative process and I appreciate his encouragement   to continue on this line. As I started presenting one idea but ended up sending a different one for formal assessment, the feedback is directed to both, the initial and final work. As a response to the feedback, I am following the advice given and developing some concepts.

First, I am continuing with the initial project (which I called “Innominate”) by producing new images of the strangers that reply to my advert. All new work is published here. In addition, I am also working on the suggestion from my tutor about integrating the text from the titles on the photographs. I have not come to a final decision on which technique or aesthetics I want for the project yet, so I am still experimenting. I have tried scanning my handwriting, blending it on the image by playing with layering options. I like the result but I am not happy with the image quality of the text itself, so I am looking forward to try a drawing pad to see if I can gain some more definition of the handwriting.

One of the images where I am testing how to integrate text on.

The other option I am looking into came from a memory I have from an old photo my auntie gave me when I was about 8 years old. It was a picture of her in Egypt, with the pyramids behind her in the middle of the desert. It had some handwritten text on the back of it (my brother did it) so the photo had bumps at the front with the text appearing back to front. This annoyed me a great deal on that time but I think it could add a lot of personality to my images. Since the titles are secrets, the idea of writing them on the back of the photograph, almost as it would be hidden from the viewer, runs parallel to the whole concept that inspired the project. I found an old picture and wrote my name on the back of it, using a soft surface for support in order to get a greater relief. It did not work quite well, but I think it does depend on the colours/pattern at the front of the image where the text shows. So, the next step is getting the images printed and testing where the text would be more noticeable from the front. If it works, I will then scan the images and re-print them to see how the final result looks.

Old photo with writing on the back.


Secondly, different ways of continuing the submitted project (which I called “Almost 36”) were discussed during the verbal feedback with my tutor. He introduced me to artists such as Karl Baden and Tehching Hsieh, who committed to their self-portrait pieces in a way I could not have imagined before. Both, (Baden with his daily self portrait for a period of 30 years and Hsieh with what it is known as the “time-clock piece”, where he took a picture of himself every hour for a whole year) show not only an extraordinary tenacity but also a common interest in recording the passing of time. Hsieh´s work is quite amusing, as he spent a whole year inside a cage without talking, writing, reading or listening to the radio/tv before committing to the time clock piece for another year, in 1981. Still, after this one project was finished, he spent the following year living outdoors, without being able to go into any building, vehicle or tent.

I am not planing to modify the submitted series but I would like to use these ideas and the inspiration from Baden and Hsieh in future work. It has been a good experience for me and only now I can see how it would worth taking it to another level. I  have been thinking a lot recently about memories and time and I am currently gathering information for future development of the idea of time and how it reflects on people and places. I am also thinking more about presentation of my work. My tutor gave me good examples during our verbal feedback and I realize that should be something I want to develop for future projects.

On the pointers for the next assignment, I am definitely going with the idea of “the indecisive moment”. After going through the exercises in Part Three and researching some of the artists suggested plus some others that I have encountered on the way, I have a clear idea of what I want to create. I really liked the work photographer Bettina Von Zwehl produced in her series “Alina” and the whole concept, which somehow freezes a moment where nothing seems to happen at the time that creates a perfectly valid piece. She could have triggered the flash in many other moments and the results would not have been better or worse, maybe not even different. Neither the sitters or Bettina herself could know how the image would look like. Is there such a thing as the decisive moment then?



– Bettina von Zwehl. (2017). Bettina von Zwehl. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– YouTube. (2017). Wasting Time – Tehching Hsieh. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– YouTube. (2017). Tehching Hsieh: One Year Performance 1980-1981. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].



Assignment 2: Collecting (Part II) Final images and reflexion on the results.

Re-approach of the brief and new assignment idea.

(Part I can be found here)

For my headshot series I wanted to follow the same line as on the initial idea, research wise. I wanted to communicate something personal and integrate image and written word, so decided to document a day and a half of my life through headshots.

I work as a nursing assistant and often do night shifts. Normally, I would not go to bed after my shift and will try to keep myself awake till the following night. My diet goes off the window and at the end of the day (and a half) I do not even feel like a person. I thought I could come up with an interesting set of images that would show the changes on my face together with some brief notes of what I have done and eaten, and the time the images were taken.

I set up a light and the tripod in one of the rooms and kept it closed so nobody would interfere and the distance between me, the camera and the light source would remain as stable as possible throughout the process:



As I did not have space for a second light or a reflector, I tried to place the single light as parallel and close to the camera as possible, to get my face features illuminated in order to appreciate the changes from one photograph to another. I did not have a remote shutter release so the biggest challenge here was getting my face in focus. Other problem was finding the right spot to get my face framed properly and in a similar position for all the shots.

Technical approach and planning

After mounting the camera on the tripod at a hight suitable to take a self portrait while standing, I chose my camera settings. When working with external flash I would normally choose the settings (aperture between 6-8, ISO 100, white balance set to “flash” and shutter speed between 125 and 250), take a test shot and bring the power of the flash up or down (or using flash compensation on camera, again depending on the kind of light I am looking for and the power of the flash unit I am using) till I get an exposure that I am happy with. So I started with:


ISO: 100

Shutter speed: 1/160

Focal length 42mm

I used these settings till IMG_6226, where I closed the aperture till f/9, in order to ease the process of getting my eyes in focus. I adjusted the power of the flash from there and once I got the exposure right, I took some more shots until I figured out what position I needed to be in and also experimenting with my facial expression. I resolved to stay away from smiling too much and remain as neutral as posible so the effects of poor diet and sleep could be seen in a clear way and not conditioned by my expression. I planned in advance at what times I was taking the shoots (after certain activities) and documented my food and beverage intake and the main facts occurring in between the shots.

The technique I used to get my face in focus without a remote shutter release was as follows:

  • using the self-timer of the camera (10s) and selecting an AF point that would fall on the lines of my eyes, I place one hand on the spot were my face was meant to be while pressing the shutter down half way.
  • when the light on the camera indicated that focus was found, I was pressing the shutter fully and positioning myself on the same spot where my hand was, working better when standing slightly ahead of that spot.

Here are the contact sheets of the whole shoot (with the final nine images marked in red):

Selection of images and notes

I noticed that, as the day was progressing, it took less time for me to get the shot right. This was partly because learning the exact way to focus and position myself improved with practice but also because the more tired I was getting, the less picky I was about the way the image looked and I was happy with a focused centered photograph.

The criteria for choosing the final images was:

  • 1 image per period of time documented.
  • in focus.
  • as centered as possible.
  • similar position to the previous shots to keep the continuity of the series.

[I called the series “Almost 36” because that is the gap between the first and the last image (35 hours and 43 minutes) and also because I will be 36 next month and I thought it was a brilliant coincidence for a self portrait project.]

These are the images selected and their annotations:


“Almost 36”


Wake up time: 6:40 a.m

Left the bed at 7:15 a.m





Strengths and weaknesses

I was positively impressed with the final result as I think it reflects clearly the ups and downs of the day(s) documented, exactly as I felt they happened. While taking the photographs, my impression was that the project was worthless as I thought I was looking exactly the same in every image. However, when I reviewed the photographs at the end of the experience, I could see how much my face and expression was affected by the lack of sleep and uncontrolled intake and how the tiredness builds up along the way, which was the main thing I wanted to communicate with the series.

As weaknesses, I would point out the lack of light bounced on the right side of the face, with would have made the portraits more flattering.

Overall I am pleased with what I am presenting. It has been also a good exercise for me as I am quite self-conscious and I was totally out of my confort zone. I reflected about publishing the images, whether or not I would regret it, what would people think about me… only till I saw the series as a whole and instantly loved it and left all these questions aside. I feel I have succeed only because I have put a little bit of truth out there (the truth about how hard it is to be a nurse and have a family life, the truth about how terrible someone can look after sleeping…and after not sleeping) and because I have found the courage to publish a picture of myself in such states.


How could I develop this further in the future.

It could be developed in many ways and I feel that more personal work like “Almost 36” will come. As I mentioned above, I do feel somehow liberated and willing to experiment a bit further by documenting little happenings in life through photography and trying to make it interesting.

Perhaps a more exhaustive approach to the specific times when the photographs were taken (every hour, every two hours…) would have helped and, although impossible in my current situation, it might be something that could be applied to future projects of similar nature.

Another idea that came to mind and that would be interesting to come back to is taking a similar series exclusively with available light, so the time of the day would be reflected also on the image and it could be guessed by the quality of the light and not only by the footer of the photograph.



Looking at the overall work on Assignment 2, I consider I have fulfilled the Assessment criteria. I have documented all the process, taking notes of the mistakes and finding alternatives for both meeting the brief and solving technical challenges.

I think I have shown a good level of technical skills and that I know my camera and understand the concepts reviewed during Part I and II. I do tend to explore different options in order to achieve the results I expect.

In the end, the requirements of the brief are met. I have presented a series of nine headshots, created by showing a degree of technical skills and although my first approach to the assignment could not progress in the way I wanted, I have managed to come up with an interesting set of images that are also working as a whole, communicating an idea and showing continuity.

I was concerned about the feedback I would get from my tutor if I would have followed my initial idea but I am now more confident as I perceived the final work submitted has a good professional feel to it.

Overall, I have enjoyed greatly working on this Assignment and I am looking forward for feedback and new challenges in Assignment 3.

Hoja de contacto-FINAL

Project 2. Lens work.

Do some research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project. 

Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes described in Project 2. Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took this photograph isn´t important: find a photo with a depth of field that fits the code you´ve selected. The ability of photographers to adapt to a range of usages is something we´ll return to later in the course. 

Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you have re-imagined your photograph. 

From the authors mentioned in this section, I have selected two photographers who´s work on landscape photography is radically different.

Firstly, I have researched the work of Kim Kirkpatrick, an American photographer from Washington D.C who produces his images in this same area ( I love how this resonates to the Square Mile assignment).

A very shallow depth of field was used on his early work and shows his intention of capturing the beauty of “unnoticed elements”. With an exquisite care put on composing each image, the soft areas on the background interact with the sharp subject, framing it and enhancing its presence.

Looking at his current work, the differences and progression seems to follow a purpose. It feels more personal. His images maintain the same crop and distinctive style and his love for bringing awareness of overlooked objects and scenes is constantly present.

The depth of field looses that extreme level shown on earlier photographs, introducing the viewer to a broader view of the area. Therefore, there is a greater integration of his subjects in their surroundings as opposed as using the background to isolate the focal point of the image.

It presents the viewer with a more realistic idea of what he sees and points at the importance of representing the colours and atmosphere as he perceives them.

There is a particular interest in capturing the landscape in great detail and uses a large format camera for his recent work, taking various minutes to produce an 8 x 10 negative. As Kirkpatrick recognizes himself, his work is not everyones preference and still he shows passion for what he does. I appreciate how warm and personal his work feels to me how carefully crafted despite seeking beauty where others would not see it. Also the not-so-obvious compositions on his most recent photographs and the dedication to a specific story told through images in a specific area makes his work one to admire.


The other photographer I would like to comment on is Ansel Adams. Born in San Francisco, California in 1902, he was actively involved in Environmental movements and as Kirkpatrick, his work explores the beauty found in nature through landscape photography.

Adams´s  approach and aesthetics are radically different from Kirkpatrick. His landscape style seems aimed to show the greatness of monumental forms of nature, capturing impressive images of waterfalls, mountains, deep valleys and natural parks. His images show either a high or low viewpoint combined with a very deep depth of field: canyons and waterfalls seem to elevate themselves from a ground view showing their magnificence and the horizon expands in front of the eyes when contemplating rivers, valleys and mountains.

His images are distinctive and skillful. It represents the kind of landscape photography that would appeal the public and would be sold on a postcard. However, it feels less personal than Kirkpatrick´s work. Creating the kind of images Adams does would certainly require discipline, knowledge and amazing technical skills, but how challenging is it to look for beauty among beautiful things? In my opinion, Kirkpatrick´s take on the mundane demands a greater consideration of the subject and a different kind of love.


My photography archive

I have selected a couple of images from my personal archive to illustrate the two techniques mentioned in the course materials for Project 2:

Image 1 shows a very shallow depth of field. It is not a technique that I would normally choose but it was intentionally chosen in this particular case. This photograph was taken as part of a newborn photoshoot and I wanted to capture the baby features that disappear soon after the first couple of weeks. By using a shallow depth of field these features are made more noticeable, isolating them from the rest of the scene.

Image 2 has a very soft overall feeling, with just a very narrow area of the bird on focus. There was no particular intention in use of depth of field here apart from feeling it was the obvious thing to do in this kind of shot. Now, I would have put more care on getting the whole subject in focus by slightly lowering my aperture or stepping back and recomposing the image.


Image 3 and Image 4 show a deeper depth of field. Image 3 was recently taken at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the intention was to capture the whole installation locating it in its surroundings. The depth of field came determined by the focal length used and the distance to my subject rather than by personal election. However, reflecting now on the course materials and my own research, I would have definitely given this mater a thought and use the aperture more carefully to make sure I can capture as much detail as possible from the background.

I had a similar intention on Image 4. As the sun was going down, I wanted to capture the light glowing from behind the houses and somehow integrate the woman on the balcony with the rest of the scene.



-Kim Kirkpatrick´s Portfolio. Online resource. Archive. Karen Schaffer, June 13, 2001. Photographer trespasses into our real world. Online resource.

-The Ansel Adams Gallery. Online resource.

– Gerry Badger, 2007. The Genius of Photography. How photography has changed our lives. Quadrille publishing Limited, p. 134-135.


Exercise 2.7

Use a combination of small apertures and wide lens to take a number of photographs exploring deep depth of field. Because of the small apertures you´ll be working with slow shutter speeds and may need to use a tripod or rest the camera on a stable surface to prevent “camera shake” at low ISOs. Add one or two unedited sequences together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.


I have encountered various problems during this exercise. Firstly, I did not have a tripod or a place to rest the camera, so I had to bring the ISO up quite high and the noise on some images is evident. Secondly, it was very windy and also the light was harsh, with big contrast between light and dark areas. I also made a mistake and shoot at an aperture of f/16 which made me need that high ISO when I could have probably get everything in focus at f/11 and gain some speed.

Here is a sequence I took exploring deep depth of field and a brief explanation about the settings:


Image 1: I started off setting my camera to f/16, ISO 400, shooting with a 17mm focal length. This gave me a reading of 1/13s on camera, far to slow without using a tripod. I also felt the image was overexposed and I felt frustrated as I could have compensated that in manual mode and get some more speed. I took the shot anyway, as I think it is good for learning purposes. As I said, I did not think of opening a bit more till f/11 or more to compensate the lack of speed and decided to raise the ISO up to 1000.

Image 2: I did not gain much speed by pushing the ISO up. Not only 1/20s wasn’t enough to get a sharp handheld shot but also the wind was too strong and there was no way the leaves where going to look in focus.

Image 3: Using the same settings as for Image 2, I got a better speed as there was more available light, but still not enough to compensate the movement of the leaves.

Image 4: I moved to another area without changing the settings. At ISO 1000 and with a good section of the image in shadow, the amount of noise is evident.

Image 5: Considering the noise in the previous shot, I changed the ISO again down to 400.  There was an even distribution of light in the overall scene so this shot was successful with the parameters chosen.

Image 6: I continued to shoot in a darker area again but as I did not expect the logs to move, I kept ISO in 400. The shutter speed is not great but still manageable at 17mm. I was again in an area of strong highlights and shadows so I had to wait for the moment when the light was not so bright before taking the shot.

Image 7: To finish, I took this shot to show a deep depth of field where the three elements at the front, middle and back planes are in focus.


Exercise 2.6

Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.

Following with the exercises of Part 2, I set my camera on Aperture Priority mode and set the aperture to the widest I could in order to get the shallower depth of field possible.

Sequence details:

Focal lenght: 50mm


ISO 320

Here are some unedited shots:

Most of the images show a very shallow depth of field, except Image 6, where I was not shooting as close to the subject. There is evident depth if looking at the top left corner behind the car but a shorter distance between the lens and the wheel would have worked better for the purpose.

On Image 5 I was focusing on the middle of the branch so both the front and the background show a shallow depth of field.

Image 2 is the most extreme example from the sequence, as there is only one petal of the middle flower in focus and everything else is out of focus. It was very windy and the flower on the right was closer to the lens, which did not help much. Also the camera was giving the lowest shutter speed but still enough to get the focus right.

I have found myself very limited using the aperture priority mode and Image 4 is an example of my struggle. The sunlight was falling on the flower on the right which I was focusing on and the camera was overcompensating this by lowering the exposure so much that the flower looks almost in shadow. Here is the same image with a quick basic exposure correction in Photoshop:

shallow rep


Exercise 2.5

Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in, focus on the subject and take the shot.

Then, set the focus to infinity and shot again.

Sequence details:

Focal lenght: 37mm

f 2.8

ISO 320


Exercise 2.4

With a wide aperture, place your subject at some distance of a simple background and take a portrait situating the camera at one and a half meters away from the subject. Use a  moderately long focal length such as a 100mm on a full-frame camera (65mm for crop sensor).


2.4 portrait
A patient husband



Shot details:



ISO 320

Focal length: 50mm on crop sensor (as this is my longest)




Exercise 2.2 and 2.3

Select your longer focal length and compose a portrait shot tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth. Take a photograph.

Take a second portrait using your shortest focal length, moving towards the subject till you fill the frame.

The background should show different elements between the two images, but the subject remains almost unaltered.

Since my only zoom lens is a 17-50mm, this exercise has been challenging and the purpose of it does not show with these focal lengths.

This is the photograph I took at 50mm filling the frame with the subject:


And this one the image at 17mm, walking towards the subject to fill up the frame again:


As my shortest focal length is very wide, the distortion on both background and subject is remarkable. At 17mm and in order to take a portrait filling the frame, the camera needs to be too close to the subject. In this case, the subject is taller than me so when shooting from so close, my viewpoint respect of the subject changed, affecting the image dramatically. It almost feels like two portraits of two different people when looking at his face features.

This is the reason why I have put together Exercise 2.2 and Exercise 2.3.

[Exercise 2.3 consists in changing to a lower viewpoint from Exercise 2.2 to appreciate this distorsion].


Exercise 2.1

Find a scene with depth. From a fixed position, take a sequence of shots at different focal lengths without changing the viewpoint.

Specifications of the shoot:

Lense: 17-50 mm on crop sensor DSLR.

Mode: Aperture Priority.


1/1000s (except for the widest focal length, 1/800s)

ISO 320


As the viewpoint is maintained throughout the sequence, there is no apparent change on the individual elements on the images, with only the fence on the left getting some distortion at the widest focal length and also increasing the illusion of depth.

I would say the closest image to a natural angle of view would be somewhere in between the 25mm and 35mm shot.