Today I received feedback for my TAOP Assignment 3 from my tutor Derek. I’m very pleased with the feedback which I have repeated below.

On my pictures 14 and 15 I obviously didn’t explain myself well enough in the assignment, so I have added a comment below.


Overall Comments

As with the previous assignment that I reviewed, you have experimented and researched widely. As such there is growing evidence of the level of your commitment, including your text and presentation. In fact, the presentation and its layout are particularly clear and easy to follow.

Your continuing vibrant, graphic style is allied to well-ordered compositions. There are some quite simple images with clearly defined colours and others with very complex arrangements and multiple colours: It is the former that stand out as the more successful, particularly the natural ones.

I’ll indicate in the feedback below where I feel the colour relationships work best amongst the set, as well as which images caught my eye as being a cut above the others.

Feedback on assignment

Colour accuracy appears good with the possible exception of the cranberry juice image where it’s difficult to tell where the influence of the gels lies: Shooting an image without gels, then saving that as a colour balance to use in subsequent images would have given you the best starting point.

The other technicalities were strong; sharpness and control of depth of field are good, as per the last assignment. Picture 10 seems too light to show the full colour range, as indicated by the relative strength of the lamp.

Picture 2 stands out for it’s vibrant colours, strong backlighting and dynamic composition. Picture 3 is just a little too confused for me, exacerbated by the magenta diagonal line below the bird, similar to the one in figure 4, which is most evident on the tree trunk.

I like the natural simplicity of the rape seed field (yes I think it is too!). The out of focus background is bright and hazy so that it looks like high summer, which is odd in November. The simplicity of the colour palette saves this from being a messy shot as the eye is drawn to the colours more than the structure. I’d consider cropping out the brown/orange area to the top left corner.

Picture 6 is ‘yellow on red’ but the background has plenty of magenta, which could be altered and/or reduced. Picture 6 has harmonious flowers, yet the green leaves and blue wall aren’t mentioned – they too are in the frame and affect our reading of the image.

Image 10 appears to me to be too light and too blue, as shown by the tarmac path, which should be neutral. This adds to the palette of reds, yellows and greens. Image 11 has a cyan sky that seems to err towards green (which skies aren’t); perhaps that’s in the printing, although the blog image looks similar too.

I like picture 13 a lot; maybe the bricks are too close to the edge for some viewers, but I think that’s balanced by the dark mass towards the top. The texture of the wall shows up nicely to add to the interest to the arrangement of colour densities.

Picture 14 and 15 have a red on black that isn’t in the traditional sense an accent: That’s a small amount of colour that catches the eye as it contrasts against a ground of another colour. In figure 14 the red areas are too large to be an accent. By comparison, picture 16 has a small green area against a palette of lilacs and purples – a classic accent shot that is also well composed.

( *Note from Tomas: I mustn’t have explained myself well enough in the assignment notes. On picture 14, the accent is meant to be the turqouise jewellery on the red figure, and on picture 14 it is meant to be the yellow top of the candle against the red candle)


Learning Logs or Blogs

Your research is becoming far more wide-ranging; this is reflected in your appreciation of the topics that you are shooting and fuelling your interest to look further. This is the sort of contextual research we love to see within a student’s log, accompanied by a summary of your reflection on what you’ve got from it. This reflection is equally valid whether you like/dislike or agree/disagree with what you’ve seen or read.

Suggested reading/viewing

I recommend reading ‘Basics Photography: Lighting’ by David Prakel. To complement your current research of colour photography I suggest you look at the work of William Eggleston and Steve McCurry, for two completely different styles that both lean heavily on the influence of colour. The subtle and minimalist use of colour by Dane Keld Helmer-Peterson is also worth seeking out.

Pointers for the next assignment

I’d like to see your next assignments erring towards simpler compositions and (especially in assignment 4) concentrating on using light to its best advantage – as in picture 2 of this assignment.

Looking ahead, the next assignment is one where choosing a subject needs some care. It should be just one object or a small group, it can be simple, but can have many facets, textures, colours etc. A distinctive shape will help make for an interesting outline (shape), a good surface texture (and raking light) will give opportunities for texture shots (usually close-ups). It should also have some colour that can be shown off by direct light (colour shots).

An object you can turn will enable shots to be taken using sunlight at convenient times of day, as you may rotate it for best effect. Or, you may prefer an object in its natural environment where the sun’s position will determine the times of shooting.

Don’t rely solely on the sun: Experiment with other light sources (e.g. cloudy daylight, tungsten lamps, a candle, a torch, Christmas lights and more) – these should be sources to light the subject, not (necessarily) included within the frame. Use reflectors to fill-in shadowed areas to even out the contrast range across the subject. See some of the examples on the OCA student’s web site for inspirations.