Assignment 5. Reworked.

Following my tutor’s feedback, this is the definite sequence of images for Assignment 5:

“El Abuelo y yo” (Grandad and I)
“Un tesoro escondido” (A hidden treasure)
“Buena suerte, mi princesa” (Good luck, my princess)
“Mételas en casa” (Bring them home)
“Espera a que se vayan” (Wait until they’re gone)
“Once horizontal” (Eleven across)
“No quiero perderte” (I don’t want to loose you)
“Cena frugal” (Frugal diner)
“Junto a la ventana” (By the window)
“Buenas noches, Abuelo” (Goodnight, grandad)

As advised, the two images that needed rework are “Buena suerte, mi princesa” (third) and “Goodnight, grandad” (last). For the image of the clovers, I have agreed with my tutor that the file IMG_0052 could be replaced by IMG_0079. This image is more dynamic and I did like it better than the one chosen but thought the first one fitted better with the overall rhythm of the series. I am satisfied with the change as I find the image a lot more interesting. There is a feeling of myself leaving the frame when the reality is that I was holding that position during the exposure, with the inevitable and involuntary movement of my body getting mistaken by real action. Also the composition is more appealing, with a viewpoint slightly higher and tilted towards the paper.

The last image of the series was found confusing. The similarity with the twin towers and the fact that it represented the dead of my grandad (which occurred on 11/09/11) when the first intention was to create an 11 with the glasses was certainly problematic. My tutor mentioned keeping the element of the milk and have a thought about how it could be better represented, more in the line of the eighth image (“Cena frugal”). I wanted to keep the milk and the 11 so chose a vase with a flower to complete the number together with one single glass of milk.

I finally decided to include myself on the frame to contribute to the meaning. Like this, the glass and vase create the number 11 while the flower points away from me, since I was far away from Spain when my grandad passed away. At the same time, the hand entering the scene and approaching the vase pretends to show that I cared and wanted to be there. Apart from my grandad’s work at a dairy factory, a glass of milk is a distinctive symbol of getting ready for bed, hence it goes well with the title (Goodnight, grandad) and it is a way to wish him rest. I have chosen the flower as a substitute of the second glass of milk since flowers are so linked to dead and funerals, but still hold a positive feeling which I wanted this series to have; rather than picturing grief after someone’s dead I wanted to record the memories and good feelings experienced beside this person.

Contact sheets for the last image:

Image selected IMG_0532

Assignment 5: tutor’s feedback.

Following the last chat with my tutor on Assignment 5, here is a link to the written feedback:


I am really satisfied with the results of this assignment and so am I with the feedback received. There is always room for improvement so I have taken my tutor’s advice and replaced IMG_0052 with IMG_0079, which is a more dynamic image. The last of the ten photographs from the series was a struggle from the beginning: I felt myself a little drained creatively and the pressure of getting a good result to end the series caught me somehow. I agree that the representation with the two glasses is confusing; the reference to the Twin Towers would have worked if there would be a connection between that event and my grandad’s death other than the date. As I have explained on the reworked assignment blog post, I have kept the symbolism of the glass of milk and created the “11” with a vase, so there is still a reference to the date he left. I have also tried to create a darker image that would integrate the previous shot (“Junto a la ventana”) a bit more in the series and also to accentuate the progression in brightness and meaning through the last four images, which are clearly more “moody”.

Following with the feedback, I have started to work on the presentation options for this series. I like the idea of creating a small hole in the middle of a black card and get the assessors to look through it to see the printed images. I have tested the effect on the screen with a couple of friends and it is interesting how the brain fills in the gaps to create a sharper image, but I also find the act of looking through the hole as if looking into someones intimate life. Since the images are about distant memories from childhood, it could add an element of play and discovery. My task now is to find the way to make a perfect hole and how to prompt the assessors to engage with the “game”. I have thought of a thin clamp box where the photographs could be kept standing while keeping the black card in front of them, but also thought of creating the whole on the actual box, so the container of the image could be used as the tool to can see them. This second option is the risky one, as I would have to be very precise in getting the hole right at (ideally) the first attempt.

I am not planning major changes on the learning log apart from the suggested by my tutor (changing the font size for the menu, which I have already done). What I have in mind is learning from the experience with this first module and be more organised and clear when creating the entries for future courses. I have found that creating the blog posts at the beginning of each part of the module and complete them as I go works better for me, since it gives me a better idea of the workload and also allows me to make the most from those small breaks I get sometimes and add some thoughts here and there. This method has a downside: the dates are not really accurate since a number of blogs are created on the same day but not completed until weeks later, but I do not mind (and hope the assessors won’t either). I am thinking of creating a new category next time that would only include sketches and scribbles, only to encourage myself to actually post that content that otherwise would stay in my notebooks and journals. It can also be very valuable to have all in one place, since I find myself gathering the information quite often and not being sometimes sure of where did I write it down.

Another addition to the learning log following the feedback has been a further research post on pinhole photography, that can be found here.

Suggested reading/viewing

As usual, I got a good range of artists/work to research and reflect on. This time from quite different styles, which I like. These are:

David Samuel Stern

His series on woven portraits are a delight to see. Stern cuts up two different portraits of the same person and weaves them together, creating a textured image that represents two views of the same subject at once.

I found it difficult to see the technique used until I read about it (I somehow thought the grid formed on the background of some images was an empty, transparent layer on Photoshop!!). The final result is engaging: the interest fluctuates between the composition created -the portrait- and the quality and texture of the photograph itself, as if there would be two separate dimensions in which the work could be admire.

I personally feel driven to his woven nudes, so beautiful.

Stephen McMennamy

His “combophotos” are so effective that regardless personal photographic preferences or interest, I don’t think anyone would not stop and enjoy his compositions. I do appreciate the fact that McMennamy is not cutting and pasting the elements from one picture onto another but making tow separate photographs work together. The way he has carefully chosen the background of each half of the images is so clever and it satisfying to see where each of those halves ends to five way to the second part. Not only the background but also the colour of each element represented has been taken into detailed consideration.

Benjamin Henon

This surreal series are also very satisfying too the eye, not only because of the creative ideas but also the clean aesthetics of product photographic. I do find this kind of technically and visually perfect images a bit disturbing: that grade of perfection that involves such precise technical approach to the images take away most of the fun of actually making them (or thats my view on product photography). There is no “surprise” or happy coincidences here, and everything is precisely measured. The end result is so polished and perfect that seems odd. On the other hand, I do enjoy Henon’s fragrance images. The contrasted light and the aesthetics are exquisite, I really enjoy the work on his website.

Emily Allchurch.

Allchurch creates surreal scenes using composites of actual landscapes together with historic elements, paying homage to some well known artists and their oeuvre. Like this, London actual building industry and its impact on landscape is turned into a modern Tower of Babel, or images of ancient Roman sculptures and constructions get merged into the British capital iconic sites. The final result invites the viewer to have a good look at what is it that is represented. I could not resist but thinking of matte painting and HDR techniques when I first saw her gallery. It is not a kind of photographic work that I would feel attracted to but I appreciate the detail of including the signs and lettering (and rubbish!) on historical buildings, just as anyone would encounter on their own photographs after a touristic scape (and that can be also be very disturbing).



-Benjamin Henon. (n.d.). Benjamin Henon. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

-Colossal. (n.d.). New #ComboPhoto Mashups from Stephen McMennamy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].david samuel stern. (n.d.) [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018]. (n.d.). GALLERY – Emily Allchurch. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

-Nafziger, C. (n.d.). David Samuel Stern Physically Weaves Portraits Together, Showing Two Different Sides Of His Subjects. [online] Beautiful/Decay. Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

-Photogrist Photography Magazine. (n.d.). Sarcastic and Surreal Still Life Photography by Benjamin Henon. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].


Assignment 5: Final Submission: El Abuelo.

“El Abuelo y yo” (Grandad and I)
“Un tesoro escondido” (A hidden treasure)
“Buena suerte, mi princesa” (Good luck, my princess)
“Mételas en casa” (Bring them home)
“Espera a que se vayan” (Wait until they’re gone)
“Once horizontal” (Eleven across)
“No quiero perderte” (I don’t want to loose you)
“Cena frugal” (Frugal diner)
“Junto a la ventana” (By the window)
“Buenas noches, Abuelo” (Goodnight, Grandad)

What is it about?

I was almost 30 when I saw him for the last time. I think I knew. I remember looking back for a second or two while leaving him behind at his table, sitting on his chair, the place were he was always meant to be. I made sure my eyes, my brain and all my senses recorded that image. Two months passed, I was far away. It was the 11/09/2011 when I said to a friend that my grandad was dying and I was right. Someone told me the next day, and his funeral was held on my 30th birthday.

“El Abuelo” never talked too much but despite the distance he somehow said goodbye so I could know he wasn’t here anymore. He also made sure I would never forget.

Exploring the relationship with my grandad is about portraying his role from the perspective of my childhood experiences beside him. It is a very personal view of a loved person, intimate till the point that the girl inside me would not exist without the influence of my grandad.

Each image is a reminder of our genuine connection. The sequence is shot through a pinhole camera, recreating the feeling of memories through its particular texture and aesthetic and acts as a reminder of what relationships are about and how memories are imprinted in everyday objects. It is an invitation to reflect on the special people who nurtured our childhood and the feelings and emotions that emerge when an object or situation brings us back to those early years.

This isn’t a collection of “mementos”, as each item is a representation of the original objects. Regardless, the imprint of the past and the strong bond created between “El Abuelo” and myself allows me to appreciate them as if they were in fact the items that once existed.

Exercise 5.3

Look again at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in Part Three. […] Is there a single element in the image that you could say is the pivotal “point” to which the eye returns again and again? What information does this “point” contain?

Include a short response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in your learning log. You can be as imaginative as you like. In order to contextualise your discussion you might want to include one or two of your own shots, and you may wish to refer to Rinko Kawauchi’s photograph mentioned above or the Theatres series by Hiroshi Sugimoto discussed in Part Three. Write about 150-300 words.

Looking at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare and observing the way the different elements conduct the eye through the image and back, I would say that the pivotal point resides in the shades reflected on the water: the semi-circular figures, the railway and the blurred reflection of the man against the white surface. The top 2/3 of the image seem irrelevant, bringing little or no attention to it when I look at the photograph.

Reflecting on Rinko Kawauchi’s image of an overexposed flower and comparing it with Bresson’s photograph, I can see why we are invited to analyse them together.  As opposed as what it’s mentioned in the course materials about what “information” means in Photography and it’s connection with correct exposure (the better the image is exposed, the greater the information that is captured in the frame), it is interesting to note that in both images the component of engagement is represented by the less defined areas.

In Kawauchi’s image for instance, the overexposed areas of the flower are an invitation to observe it more carefully, trying to unveil the information that hides behind the brighter areas. Since the object is a common one (I would assume it is a rose), the eye almost fills in the gaps using the information preconceived by our understanding of how a flower looks like. Also, hiding the real information on how this particular subject looks like (which could have been easily captured and delivered to the viewer with a perfect exposure and detail) is what stablished a dialogue with the audience and draws interest on to a simple object.

Resources (2016). Illuminance_eg. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan. 2018].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2017). Henri Cartier-Bresson. Behind the Gare St. Lazare. 1932 | MoMA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jan. 2018].


[…] You may already have taken some homage photography where you’ve not tried to hide the original inspiration but rather celebrated it. Refer back to your personal archive and add one or two to your learning log together with a short caption to provide a context for the shot.

Before I started this course I considered that drawing inspiration from other artists was a “bad thing”. I was scared of being accused of plagiarism if only my mind would register something from someone else’s work that would condition or add to my own photography.

I see things differently now and since I am continuously looking for inspiring art to reflect and learn from I have become aware of how paying homage to an artists or work that you feel specially excited about is nothing wrong but a good opportunity to learn.

I can’t recall of any image shot with this intention apart from the initial submission for A3, were homage to some of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s images was the base of the project to challenge the Decisive Moment:


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: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

LAGalerie (2017). hatakeyama slow glass. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017]. (2017). Photographs and Context [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].


Exercise 5.1

Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!). Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a sequence of shots to “explore the distance between you”. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your “select” – your best shot.

When you review the set to decide upon a “select”, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4). In other words, be open to the unexpected. In conversation with the author, the photographer Alexia Clorinda expressed this idea in the following way:

“Look critically at the work you did by including what you didn’t mean to do. Include the mistake, or your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it, and analyse its not from the point of view of your intention,  but because it is there.”


I have spent over a month trying to choose a subject that I would have empathy with. During this time I have also been packing my belongings since I have recently moved house and have lived surrounded by boxes for almost two months. Now, my new home is full of boxes needing unpacked and I see these as the last thing remaining from my previous flat. Since I have some empty ones, I have decided to choose them as my subject because of the emotional bond I feel I have created over this time and the memories they bring from the last days at my previous home. Here is the sequence:



I am not used to shoot without “a plan” so I found this task a bit overwhelming at first. When Quentin Bajac talks about intention vs perception in the process of creating a photograph in the interview by Philip Gefter , I feel very much identified with the former. My process usually begins with the idea, which tends to change as I reflect on my intentions; then I plan the images I want to shoot, even though I am always open to the unexpected. I agree with Bajac  that “what you produce in the end will probably be quite different from the initial idea.” (Quentin Bajac, 2013). Sometimes what you plan has nothing to do with the final result and I don’t see this as a problem since the end product tends to be better than the intentional shot, often a surprising finding that leads to further ideas.

I wasn’t sure of my intentions or wasn’t looking for any specific results while approaching my subject but I am pleased with the sequence. I used a flash head on the left which I progressively moved opposite the subject. Images are shot in manual mode with the camera mounted on a tripod. By observing the shots I can see a pattern of thinking, from photographing the subject in its environment to going more into its details afterwards. There is a moment were the images could be described as portraits; the building of the character made up of boxes and the vertical frame combined with the flash light and the curtain as a backdrop reminds of this genre. In the end, the subject gets simplified to a minimum and there is a last shot were I felt like including myself in the image, which I see as a dialogue between myself and the subject: an interaction that goes beyond the expected. This is why I have chosen the last image as my select. I find that Image 13 resumes better the initial reason that made me chose the boxes as a subject. The inclusion of certain elements in the background (the opening of the curtain and the hook holding the tie back) seems adequate in the context, as connects the new place with the old one represented by the boxes. The legs could symbolise the beginning of new times although I would rather say it represents me as the individual transitioning from one point to another. I also find image 12 quite strong as the horizontal and vertical lines give lots of dynamism and both the old and the new are still represented however, I can only pick one image.

Would be interesting to know what other people may think about the whole sequence without knowing what is it about.


Aperture Foundation NY. (2013). View from a Judgment Seat – Aperture Foundation NY. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2018]. Originally published on Aperture Magazine, issue #213, Winter 2013, Photography as you don’t know it.