Assignment 2 – Collecting

“Create a series of between six and ten photographs from one of the following options Crowds, Views, Heads ) Or a subject of your own choosing.

Use the exercises from Part Two as a starting point to test out combinations of focal length, aperture and viewpoint for the set. Decide upon a single format, either vertical or horizontal. You should keep to the same combination throughout to lend coherence to the series.”

The Subject 

As we were allowed the option to choose our own subject, I chose something that was easily accessible for me, and allowed me the chance to further experiment with shallow depth of field. I liked the idea of capturing strong shadow, and some of the resulting images of fruit are influenced by the fine art tradition of chiaroscuro, though relying on natural light. (Disclaimer – I’m not claiming to have suddenly transformed myself into a fine art photographer overnight. Far from it!!)

During this process I also branched out in trying to describe my surrounds from a different viewpoint. This mostly involved spending a lot of time lying on the floor. I hope I have experimented a little with some ‘impressions’ of my home in a slightly different way from assignment 1. Therefore I have ended up with two alternate ‘sets’ of images in order to explore this brief.

The fruit

I used wide aperture and macro filters for these images, mostly with manual focusing. Its been extremely helpful to dip into several ‘how-to’ photography magazines, and I was quite grabbed by the idea of focusing on only a section of an object in close up. This is thanks to my friend Rach, who passed this on to me,  it comes from Digital Camera magazine.


Camera Info…

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From the ground

For this set of pictures I kept the ISO at 200,  aperture at f-stop 5.6 and the focal length at 55 throughout. You can see that the shutter speed drops quite low depending on the light and I was lucky to get away with not yet owning a tripod.

Camera Info…

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Image set 1 – Fruit & Flowers

pearStalk-LR pearGroup2-LR grapes-LR BestLily3-LR appleStalk3-LR appleGroup-LR


How well do I think this works? As suggested, I stuck to one format only – landscape in this case. Which means I had to disregard a couple of others that I might have considered. In fact my first dilemma was sifting through a large number of images and trying to decide which ones were up to scratch. It gets rather confusing when they are quite a high volume.

BestLily2-LR BestLily-LR

Plus points:

I enjoyed making the most of the sunlight,  using close-ups and experimenting with manual focus. The macro filters are really interesting to use, but quite hard to focus once you stack them, they are more controllable at individual magnification. I suppose you might say these images convey a love of nature, and enjoyment of the richness of these forms. I like the contrast of lights and darks, they seem to add depth, and a degree of richness. I like the possibilities of close up shots, they really make me feel very absorbed and involved with the subject. Clearly some of these images are stronger than others but overall I enjoyed making them.


I think fruit and flowers are OK as a theme,  but very traditional and lacking in originality. I question whether they really sit well as a set, as the degree of magnification varies, for example there is a close up of an apple stalk, and a group of the same fruit. Some more variety in the subject matter would have been good, perhaps it would have been sensible to plan ahead and buy more exotic fruit?? I suspect that some of the extremes in tone are possibly not ‘good’ in terms of an uneven histogram but I do like the effect!

Image set 1 – From the ground







This was my departure from the rules – I’ve used portrait and landscape, and simply took whatever interested me from ground level. I debated with myself about whether to rotate the image of the chair label, but I like “carelessness causes fire” upside-down,  as that was my true viewpoint.

Plus points:

These pictures are more meaningful to me (I can’t say if they speak to anyone else!) I felt particularly emotionally engaged with what I was doing, and as though this viewpoint represents a ‘secret world’ amongst the ordinariness of a familiar room and therefore a breath of fresh air. My favourite picture is of my dog – the angles, the variation in texture of his dark velvet ears against the wood, and the fact that you can’t see his face. I’m a bit gutted I took one of his paws which would have worked well in continuing a theme, but its blurry.



I struggled to begin to pull together a set. The theme may not be all that easy for the viewer to ‘read’, and the mixture of chrome/shoes and an animal may well be out of place.

Contact sheets

ContactSheet-001 ContactSheet-002 ContactSheet-003 ContactSheet-004 ContactSheet-005 ContactSheet-006 ContactSheet-007 ContactSheet-008 ContactSheet-009


I’m still getting to grips with basics, which to some extent has made me concerned with how to use my camera more than anything. With a bit more practise, I hope I’ll feel more free to experiment, and feel absorbed by the subject I’m looking at. This happened towards the end of this assignment, as I was primarily thinking about what I was looking at, and only half thinking about how to actually take the picture. Given my inexperience this results in a very hit and miss approach but moving forward I should improve over time.

I’m aware that photography is sometimes concerned with evoking a mood or a moment, as much any technical considerations. I do feel my pics could be much more imaginative, but again I hope inspiration will strike more easily when I’m not checking I’ve taken the lens cap off!!!

Tutor Report

View PDF of tutor report here

As my tutor pointed out, I have had problems with exposure – not something I fully understand or feel able to spot when this needs correcting yet. I was a little disappointed that he felt the images from the ground lacked narrative potential. Maybe I should have explained why I was on ground level. Its simply that I have problems sitting and standing for any length of time, so spend a lot of time lying down. I decided to get even lower and see the world from the floor.


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.”

For this brief,  I was able to actually get out in the car and take some pictures of Dartmoor. (Technically I was on a golf course which features sheep and ponies meandering amongst the bunkers) All the pictures are taken just yards from my car. Its was really lovely to escape from the confines of my house!

I don’t yet own a tripod, so I had to be careful that my shutter speed didn’t go too low.  And I don’t have a wide angled lens,  just the kit lens that came with the camera but never having used one, I was happy enough… As it was sunny, it was hard to view my images after I had taken them, and it took me a while to realise the lens hood had crept into some of the pictures. Arrgggh. I didn’t realise this could happen, so will try to watch out for this in future.

Generally these images are taken at my smallest aperture, which is f/32. The ISO varies between 200-400, and the shutter speed between 1/30th sec – 1/100th sec. I varied the ISO in case I was getting some shake at the slower shutter speed but it was fine. I kept the white balance on Auto.

I have simply re-sized these pictures in photoshop, with no fiddling or cropping so here they are. The contact sheets first…



And a few I’ve selected to discuss….

This is known locally as The Pimple. Its not particularly steep, but its the main sledging spot around here in winter. I wanted to be dramatic with the portions, but I’m not sure the foreground mud is all that appealing! I like the little building on the horizon though. It would be interesting to crop this.


I was conscious that it had been suggested in our course notes to include something interesting in the foreground.  At the first this was tricky, and all I had was some golfers in the mid ground. So I changed location and tried again.

The sky was stunning with these lovely clouds. I found this large gorse bush and experimented with portrait and landscape. (NB earlier attempts feature the lens hood, and a nice pile of animal poo in the foreground)

I think this one works best


The horizon is not far off half way in the photo which isn’t ideal, but framing this in landscape gives an idea of the sweep of countryside.


Just when you need to find ponies they all disappear…but I managed to stalk one. The backdrop is against the edge of town, which possibly proves that the location I was in looks pretty in any direction. It would have been nice to see more of the pony’s face, as she’s in shadow. But I do like the cast shadow on the ground.


I caught the side of my car in shot a few times, then passing traffic, and finally, these pictures. The tree is typical of dartmoor – they are usually a solitary few.  Amazing that many centuries ago it was a forest.

TreeLowRes Tree2LowRes

I loved getting outdoors, and I’m fairly pleased with my first dartmoor landscape pictures in Aperture Priority.  Dealing with the settings is becoming slightly less confusing, and I felt I learnt quite a lot during this afternoon – namely watch out for where shadows are falling, keep note of the horizon line, beware the lens hood, and keep trying!

It was also a challenge to think creatively about where I could park and position myself within a fairly small radius of the car. As my walking ability isn’t great, I wasn’t free to wander for miles to find the ‘perfect spot”. In a funny way this restriction at least made me work with what I had and make quick decisions. I can imagine that if I was free to roam long distance perhaps you would over-think it all and faff about?! I don’t know, but it was lovely to be here, its so beautiful.