Module Reflection and Evaluation

I have finally complete my second module- Digital Photographic Practice. I have learnt a huge deal from this module, and feel that it has taught me invaluable information for my potential photography career. Prior to this course, I had no idea about many of the techniques I have been taught thus far, as I am a beginner to photography and DSLR cameras. Therefore I have learnt everything from scratch since beginning my first year with the OCA. Every module is a huge learning curve and DPP was no different. However, this module I have learnt the following;

– How to structure, plan and carry out a workflow in order to successfully complete a photo shoot with minimum problems.

– How to use a camera’s histogram to determine whether a scene is under or overexposed; leaning to the right of the graph illustrates over exposure, and to the left of the graph illustrates under exposure. Also I have learnt to determine when a scene contains highlight clipping.

– How to measure a high dynamic range scene’s exposure using spot metering, by either measuring a mid tone in the scene, or measuring the darkest and lightest points in the scene and selecting an exposure in between the two. Both these methods will result in a very accurate exposure.

– The requirements a scene must have in order to successfully convert to black and white in editing; including texture, a strong shape, and a good tonal range and the importance of keeping these in mind whilst shooting  for black and white photos.

– The standard techniques of editing an image, such as; setting the black and white points, adding contrast through curves, removing colour cast, and removing flare.

– The importance of knowing my stance on photo manipulation, and deciding what I feel is an acceptable amount of editing for an image; I decided that I agreed with the process of enhancement in editing, but disagreed strongly with manipulation (unless used in clearly fictional situations i.e. book covers).

– How to plan, shoot and edit a portrait photo shoot successfully. This required bringing together all the techniques which I learnt thus far in this module.

– Lastly, I learnt a huge deal through my research into the following inspirational photographers and painters;

Elliott Erwitt

George Brassai

Annie Leibovitz

David LaChapelle

Ben Goosen

Marianne Taylor

Nick Knight

Helmut Newton

Sacha Goldberger

Paula O’Hara

Phillip-Lorca diCorcia

Max Wanger

Gustav Klimt

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Norman Rockwell

Ansel Adams

All of these amazing photographers and painters have given me vital compositional, lighting, editing, and style techniques which have been invaluable to improving my photography knowledge and skills .

Overall, this module has aided me in improving my camera and editing skills, as well as my overall theory in photography.

Final words:

I have grown to love photography so much- it is my passion! I can only hope that one day I will become half as good as the professional photographer’s I’ve been studying. This was my favourite module so far on this course- and a big shout out goes to my tutor for all his help and support. So glad to finally be finished, and moving on to my last module of first year!


Assignment Five: Write-up

I have finally completed my last assignment, and it was well worth the effort! I worked really hard to create a unique and exciting photoshoot for my final piece of work, and I LOVE the finished result!! During initial planning for my assignment, I had a couple of ideas for themes. However, my heart was set on doing a couple’s photoshoot, with the theme being “love”, as the wedding business is where I see my photography career going. You will find this early planning here. I feel that this planning worked well in establishing my theme from an early stage, and it was from here that I began planning where I would have my shoot, and who I would ask to be my models. I finally decided on a seaside town in Ireland, called Crawfordsburn. It had both a beautiful beach, and a charming old-style town which matched my vintage theme perfectly. I then decided to ask a young couple to be my models who I have known since I was a child, enabling them both to feel at ease around me.

Prior to the shoot I created a workflow plan in order to ensure maximum organisation, and it worked superbly. You will find this plan in detail here. This worked great, and ensured that I was completely prepared for the shoot, with all my equipment charged and checked off before leaving that morning, as well as all my props gathered and checked off. So I was able to set off that morning without a hitch! My plan also ensured that I arrived half an hour early; which gave me plenty of time to set up and get the correct exposure settings before the couple arrived.

My main concern prior to my photo shoot was to get the couple to relax in order for me to capture their true personalities and connection to each other. I had researched a little into portrait photographer Eve Arnold, and came across this great quote; “What I have tried to do is involve the people I was photographing. To have them realise without saying so, that it was up to them to give me whatever they wanted to give me…Because what you want to do, you want to go as deeply into them as people as you can, but usually what happens, they will offer you part of themselves that you can use, and that is the big secret. It has more to do with the relationship of the photographer to the subject than it has to do with anything else that might be happening.(1)” This one quote was the key to the success of this assignment. To capture the couple’s true relationship, I had to gain their trust, and help them relax around me and my camera. In order to do this, prior to the shoot I came up with the idea of playing a game with them. I decided I would give Chris three objects; (e.g., a pig, a picnic and a pineapple!), and get him to tell a story to Ruth including these objects. This worked a treat!! It encouraged them both to relax, and enabled me to get some great shots of them laughing at each other. So thank you Eve Arnold!

My next concern was if I would automatically know what compositions would work in capturing the couple together. I had never done any couple’s shoots before so this was a huge worry! However, I did a lot of research into compositions used in classical paintings, and how modern photographers used these in their work. This provided me with some great ideas, including using a blanket as a prop in the shoot to draw the couple together. This turned out to be one of my favourite shots from the shoot, so the research definitely paid off. You will find all this research here. I then printed off some examples of these to take along with me to the shoot. This enabled me to show the couple a visual example of my ideas; providing them with a strong vision of my finished product right from the beginning. This helped the couple to quickly get into my desired poses, and made the shoot stress-free.

I decided for this shoot I would use my 50mm prime lens, as this enables me to use a wide open aperture; creating soft images that focus solely on the subject. However, when the shoot began, I discovered the difficulty involved in this, as the lens doesn’t zoom in and out, but is stuck on the one focal length. This made it a little trickier to capture the shots as easily as I would have liked, however the soft bokeh backgrounds were important to my finished product, so I persevered! One day I will be able to get a prime lens with a variety of focal lengths, but until then, compromise is the key!

In conclusion, I am very pleased with my finished images, and really enjoyed this assignment. I feel that a huge part of the success was all the research I carried out, which provided me with very little room for error, and resulted in a finished product that I was delighted with. You will find my finished assignment here.

(1) BBC RADIO 3, Transcript of the John Tusa Interview with Eve Arnold, Available from:  [Accessed 02/04/13]

Assignment Five: Final Planning and Workflow

Assignment Five is really starting to come together, and I am very excited about this photo shoot!

Pre-Shoot Planning;

I have definitely decided upon a couple’s photo shoot, with the central theme being LOVE. My aim is to capture the love between the couple, and I have been researching loads of different wedding photographers to gain experience in this. I also want to get many different poses of the couple; so prior to my assignment shoot I have researched composition ideas- including classical painting compositions and how modern photographers use these in their photography today. I have also printed off some famous photographer’s images that contain beautiful and contrasting composition ideas. I intend to take these with me to my photo shoot for reference, as this will help the couple to understand the poses that I’m describing to them- creating a clear visual instruction.

My photo shoot is THIS Saturday!! From Assignment One I discovered the benefits of having a planned workflow for a photo shoot. Therefore below you will find my pre-planned workflow.

Pre-Shoot Preparation;

– I am using my Canon 650d for this assignment. I will also use primarily my kit lens (18-55mm), along with my prime les (50mm f1.8) in order to gain soft images that focus on the subjects.

– I will charge three batteries prior to the shoot (just to be SUPER careful!!), and double check that these are all in working order prior to the shoot. I will pack these securely in my camera bag and double check that they are there prior to my shoot.

– I have purchased a new 16gb memory card in order to ensure that I have enough space to hold plenty of RAW files. I will pack both of my memory cards- ensuring that I have a spare one in case of technical difficulties.

– I have gathered a great deal of props for my vintage picnic scene, which I will pack in the car and check off my list prior to leaving.

– Before leaving the house on the morning of my shoot, I plan to choose my camera settings (which I predict to be; ISO 100, WB Daylight, and Spot Metering). I will decide upon shutter speed and aperture upon arrival on the shoot site.

The Photoshoot Plan;

– I intend to arrive at the scene half an hour before my subjects in order to set up my vintage picnic and capture a few images of the props. This will also give me a strong idea of my exposure settings for the shoot, and will enable me to iron out any problems before my subject’s arrive.

– Upon my model’s arrival, I need to have a chat with them to explain my vision for the shoot. I also plan to use a quick game to relax them at the beginning of the shoot (in the form of one subject telling the other subject a funny story with three objects that I give them; ie a pineapple, a pig and a picnic…!!)

I think this covers all my planning for this shoot. I will write up how my actual shoot went in my final assignment write-up!

Assignment Five Thoughts

I’m very excited about assignment five as there appears to be a great deal of freedom in regards to the theme. This has resulted in this post of my many ideas for this assignment! We’re asked to produce a personal project of 10-12 images on a theme of our choice. It’s still early days in my planning for this assignment, but so far I have two main ideas;

1. A couples photo shoot- THEME; LOVE. I have never done a couples photo shoot, and would really love to do one for this assignment. The theme of LOVE can be captured in so many different ways, and I had thought of a vintage picnic, an intimate shoot on the beach, clifftop romantic shots, or a simple walk in the park. These are all options, and if possible I may incorporate a couple of these ideas into my assignment.

My real dilemma is finding a suitable couple for this assignment. I am attempting to acquire a couple at the minute- so their availability will be the deciding factor on this theme in my assignment. I would like a couple who are truly in love- and who will be at ease in front of a camera in order to show their love for one another accurately.

Another reason why I would like to do a couples photo shoot is simply for experience. I’m aspiring to be a wedding photographer- which would involve capturing many special moments between happy couples; therefore I’m dying for the chance to build up my experience in this area. I would hope to learn what poses work in capturing the connection between the couple, and what simply don’t. I would also hope to learn how to relax a couple and peel back their guard in order to truly see the love between them. Also- producing high quality and original images is a MUST!!

My tutor suggested looking up some other wedding photographers to gain further ideas and experience. He also suggested looking at some classical paintings for composition ideas and some contemporary photographers who in turn have taken influences from these kind of paintings. Therefore this is my next step once I decide if this is the theme I will choose!


2. A kids photo shoot- THEME; CHILDHOOD. I have shot several kids photo shoots, and am starting to build up my confidence in this area. Therefore I thought this may be a good idea for my assignment as it would show off the area of photography that I have practiced and am getting stronger in with each shoot. Therefore, this would be less of a risk than my couples photo shoot, as I already know how to work with kids, and what expressions, poses and environments work well in making the perfect shoot. My models for this would be my niece and nephew. Had I not known the children- I may have struggled with the initial hurdle of shyness and stiff poses- however by using my niece and nephew I have overcome this difficulty before beginning. This will enable me to capture more candid and relaxed photos, that are much more realistic and personal to me.

For locations for this shoot, I had thought of the family farm. This would enable me to capture a large variety of different shots on a relatively small location- the perfect shoot! I had also thought of bringing in a second location- for further variety. All these are just thoughts at this point- and I am constantly thinking and planning on ways to improve my ideas.


Which to choose?! Only time will tell!!