Assignment 5 – Photography is simple. – redone




This assignment must have had the shortest brief of all the assignments in this module.

Short however doesn’t mean simple, photography may be simple mechanically but ideas and how to portray them are not.

I decided for this assignment that I would go out at night, my favourite time in a city; and show different facets of night life.

I went out over two nights and used my 24-70 mm. and 70-200 mm. lenses both hand-held and wherever possible tripod mounted.

The majority were handheld and this drove the ISO high and therefore the noise.

In post processing I used median image stacking to reduce noise wherever I could and where the subject was animated I just toned down the noise with a little luminance adjustment.

See Tutor assessment at the link below.



There really isn’t much research needed for the idea I had you just need to participate i.e. go out very early and shoot.

You could say that I took on-board Henri Cartier Bresson’s statement that photography is luck and the quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”.


Analysis and reflection:

For this assignment I wanted to show a progression of a night out on the town.

Believe it or not these images were taken after 1 a.m on Saturday and Sunday in Kensington and Hammersmith.

The image of the man in the bar was a nightmare of reflections and many different coloured lights both inside the bar and outside.

I wanted it to portray those still out partying and I think it does that.

It was also taken hand-held which required a high ISO and I was thankful for the 12 frames per second my camera can do as it enabled me to have a choice of expressions for my selected image.

My second image of the girls was tricky because if I got closer or more obvious they would stop what they were doing and look at me, this is not what I wanted so I walked away and used the building as partial cover.

They where using sign language to communicate and where resting in the middle part of a crossing.

I wanted this shot to show those that had been out all night but who were reluctant to let the night end.

I would’ve ideally liked to be a lot closer but didn’t have the time to chat and put them at ease with my presence.

I like the image of the office cleaner because it shows those who are still working.

The photograph of the interior of the phone box was an after thought, I was looking for an image to not only fit my narrative but one that showed a more seedy side of night life.

I remembered seeing some photo’s of the inside of telephone boxes showing these advertisements and this was the first one I opened.

It was outside the Natural history museum, it struck me that any child wanting to use a red telephone box in London might do so in such a place and that the owners of the box should’ve taken the time to remove them.

I took this shot one-handed whilst keeping the door open with my other, very awkward I must say.

The next two images are of a similar vein, what you should do and the consequence of not doing it.

I would’ve got closer to the Police van and in front of it but they waved me away.

Instead I took it from behind showing the inconvenience to other road users.

The image of the couple walking home is down a walk that I have shot many times but this is the first time I can remember seeing people using it.

I use this image to show people going home and like their body language and the rim lighting the street lights seem to give them.

The last three shot’s were taken in Fulham as I neared my home.

The milk had been dropped and left there for some one else to clear up, the trail of milk pointing off in the direction of the offender like an accusatory finger.

The motor scooter was definitely upright three hours earlier.

I can’t tell whether it was pushed over or hit by another vehicle but it does show the aftermath of a Saturday night.

I also would’ve preferred a front angle on this but I would’ve cast a shadow across it.

The image of the Fox needed a flash really.

The ISO I used  to get the image and the fact that fur looks bad when you use luminance to reduce noise means this image has to stay noisy but I really wanted a Fox in order to show the encroachment of nature on urban areas and these fellows only show up when it’s quiet and dark.

What  was it all  about ?

I have an affinity for night-time in the city.

I much prefer it over daytime because it’s quieter and generally there’s less interruption.

This assignment was a combination of exercise 1 – the square mile and exercise 4.3 – the beauty of artificial light and perhaps exercise 5.1 – outside looking in.

In this assignment I wanted to show a progression from activity to inactivity using a theme of a night on the town.

I tried to incorporate images of those having a good time, those who just wouldn’t let the night come to an end and those who have to put up with the whole process of a night on the town.

I not only wanted to show the revellers but also the worker bees, some whose job it is to serve you, some whose job it is to get you home and also those who are there to ensure your safety.

I also wanted to show the results of a night on the town with the images of the driver stopped by Police suspected of driving drunk.

The couple walking peacefully home shows how responsible and considerate adults behave, they are just as legless as the driver being pulled over but they haven’t inconvenienced or endangered others.

As a finale I wanted to show the aftermath, the rubbish and mess left behind by the inconsiderate and anti-social.

The milk and the scooter to me epitomise this aspect of a night on the town.

The final image, the Fox; reminds me of the TV series “life after man”.

This series shows what would happen to various man-made structures over time if humankind was to suddenly disappear from the face of the Earth.

This image of the Fox is my way of depicting the encroachment, or is it reclamation; of nature on urban areas.

For some reason they also want a link to exercise 5.2 here even though the two narratives are not the same.




Still out drinking.

Not wanting the night to end.

Those who are working.


By appointment.

Those who take you home.

Drunk driver pulled over.

Walking home.

Aftermath 1.

Aftermath 2.

Curious Fox.


Contact sheets:


I chose image 36 because it was well exposed, showed what I wanted to portray and had a better facial expression than the others.

I chose image ten because I caught him looking at me and also the pose of the barmaids.

I selected image 14 because of the position and body language of the couple plus the rim lighting on her coat.


I chose this image because it was tighter and more balanced.


I  chose this image because of the positioning of the signing girls hands.

I chose this picture because it showed how much inconvenience drunk drivers cause.

I picked this one because the eye’s were better than the others.

I chose this one because it was the clearest.

I selected  image 28 because it was sharper and a tighter image.





Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing.

Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image.

Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back.

There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.



Perception versus intention.

I was reading an interview with Quentin Bajac, the curator at the Museum of modern art in New York.

He had this to say on the subject.

“The most interesting photographers in that field are those who manage
to find a proper balance between perception and the idea.

I was talking about this with Paul Graham a few weeks ago, who said that you can set out with the best possible idea, open your door, go outside, and the world changes that idea.

And you have to accept that and shift your expectation to accommodate what you observe and evolve with it.

What you produce in the end will probably be quite different from the initial

This is what photography is about.

It is about having an idea at first and accepting that you’re going to be seduced, in the etymological sense of the word, by the world you’re encountering”.

Quentin Bajac a conversation with Philip Gefter, judgement seat, 16/06/14

You can read the whole interview here.

This recently happened to me while working on exercise 5.2 .

I had intended to pay homage to Alfred Stieglitz or Ruth Blees but ended up paying homage to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Photography whilst on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

I can honestly say that this was a first for me during this course and was a very pleasant surprise, it was also very on the fly.

As I walked around Hammersmith in the rain I noticed this display in the window of an office building and I lined up the shot, see exercise 5.2 for the photograph.

To go out with a couple of ideas that you’d thought of and come back with vintage NASA is quite incredible to me.

A wonderful 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, but you must make explicit in 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 Five.



I went out with my 24-70 mm. lens at night around Hammersmith in London.

I hand-held for all the shots.

The intention was to get some images like Rut Blees images taken for London transport.

I did get some.

I also tried to get some shallow depth of field shots like Gianluca Cosci took to emphasise the corporate take over of urban spaces, this I also did.

The image I decided upon was one taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

I’d taken this from across the street and exposed for the interior wall.


This iconic image was taken of Buzz Aldrin near the legs of the lunar module.

Neil Armstrong, image as11-40-5903, NASA. 1969.

Space one…….

Contact sheet.


I have previously looked at Blees and Coscis work and was aware of it.

As I walked past this office building I noticed the photograph that is circular and mounted on the wall, I had seen this before; so in a rare case of image first research second I took the photograph.

Turns out it was a crop of an image taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 lunar mission.

You can tell it’s the same image by the reflections in the helmets visor.



Barrett says there is three types of information in a photograph, that in the photograph, that information surrounding the image and how the picture was made.

He calls these the internal, the external and the original contexts.

The brief asks :

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?

For my chosen image I’d have to say yes to all.

Stylistic because it blends so many ideas and styles together, Juxtaposition because of the photo mounted on the wall together with the sign in the window and the statue; the subject can definitely be described as a decisive moment.

It also is a reflection on the commercialisation of space as I don’t think that NASA intended for the photograph to be used to advertise office space.

This window was a pleasant find and is one of the reasons I like photography.

As for which of Barrett’s information is to be found within my image ?  that to be found within the image and that which is found surrounding it.



As I said, I went out with the intention of doing something different but I just couldn’t resist using this image.

I was seven years old when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon.

I can remember my mother letting us stay up late to watch the landing and the first steps on the moon on TV.

I thought it was the coolest thing ever, I can only imagine what it felt like for those involved.

Harry Benson- shoot first.

I saw this movie listed on Netflix and decided to watch it despite never hearing of his name before.

I may not have known his name but his images I had seen before, an awful lot of his images at that.

This is a documentary film of an interview with this fantastic photojournalist.

I don’t think there’s a famous person on this planet that he hasn’t photographed.

From the Beatles, Mohammed Ali, Johnny Carson to Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo.

He took images of the Bobby Kennedy assassination while gunfire was still going on.

Bobby Kennedy assassination 1968, Associated Press

His association with the Beatles started in Paris because the senior Daily Express photographer was too ugly so they sent him, he didn’t even want to cover the story at the time.

Probably the two most famous of his Beatles images.

Beatles meet Mohammed Ali, Harry Benson – seeing America.

Pillow fight, Harry Benson, Time Magazine.

Interviewees had nothing but good things to say about Harry.

He seemed to me to have a great bond with his subjects and most regarded him as a friend and would invite him to different social occasions or their homes.

He says that he dislikes studio photography and his images are always candid.

The pillow fight image is a perfect example of how he could get people to let down their guard.

In the film he says that “a great photograph can never be taken again”.

His work ethic was one of ” be the first one on a story or the last one out”.

Superb advice.

He said he also lost three tweed jackets to Michael Jackson but that it was a small price to pay for the exclusive.

Not only was he good at getting in with the jet set he was also a  great photo journalist.

He covered Vietnam, The IRA, the racial tensions in America during the 1960’s and lived in a refugee camp in Somalia in the early 80’s during the famine.

James Meredith march, Mississippi  1966, the Atlantic magazine.

IRA, Harry Benson  –  shoot first, Magnolia pictures.

After the shot about the race riots he found himself sitting next to Martin Luther King and asked him how it all started, MLK replied ” it’s dangerous to be a black man in America”.

He also got invited to a KKK rally.

He probably will be most famous for his work with celebrities.

Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol, NYC 1977, Contessa gallery.

Ivanca Trump, Trump Tower, Harry Benson, Time magazine 2016.

Reagan’s, Vanity Fair magazine.

The Clinton’s, Harry Benson –  shoot first, Magnolia pictures.

He was and is good friends with the remaining Beatles which is where his fame started.

He interviewed John Lennon’s assassin  Mark David Chapman where Chapman apologised for killing his friend, How many people can say  they’ve had that experience.

In closing I must say that Benson sounds like a photographic version of Forrest Gump the way he seemed to make contacts and just bump into people of note.

Overall a great guy and a good documentary.

Lovey speak and the first part of the course.

Let me first define what I mean by the term “Lovey speak”.
Whenever I heard Lord Richard Attenborough being interviewed he had a tendency to address people as “Lovey”.
While he didn’t, to my knowledge; have to explain his art in order for it to gain a popular following I and a friend coined this term to explain the gushing or rhetoric you come across in photographic galleries and press when they are describing a photographers work.
This gushing rhetoric turns me off, after all; if the work is so good then why the sales pitch?
This is not just a fault in the art or academic world but it seems more prevalent there.
This difference can be noticed when a lesser known photographer is described as “most influential” or some other exaggerated way and when Bresson describes his photography as luck.
To me art is open to individual interpretation and is therefore in the eye of the beholder much like beauty.
I know what I like, if I have a connection in some way to what I’m looking at I don’t need to be coerced as it will not work.
I also know it’s catering for a certain audience but strikes me sometimes rather like the way classical music lovers look down their noses at other genres.
A kind of artistic snobbery that I find distasteful.

As I worked through this first section of this course I had a hard time reconciling these descriptions and what I was seeing and feeling about the photographers I read about.
Similarly I found a lot of the course a bit like basic training in the armed forces, how to wash, keep yourself presentable and knowing left from right; very basic.
This of course is the whole point, it’s to get everyone on the same page so to speak.
The course material didn’t start to challenge me until the last two exercises and assignments.
I expect it will get much more challenging as time goes by.
I’m looking forward to it very much although I still have to find time to read and study more on the “art” of photography other than on its mechanics.

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 it not from the point of view of your
intention, but because it is there.



For this exercise I wanted to explore the idea that I was an outsider looking in.

I also wanted to vary the distances and focal lengths to show how far or close I relate to the subject.

I went out over two nights to get shots of reflections in windows aswell as anything else that could reflect the idea of an outsider looking in.

On the first night I took my 70 – 200 f 2.8 and on the second my 200 – 500 f 5.6 and a monopod.

I often put my camera into continuous high so that I could image stack to remove noise in post processing.





Don’t go there…


Beanie hat.



Outside looking in.


I selected this shot because it portrays part of the journey from homelessness through the grimy window to reconstructing your life.

I selected image 16 because it shows the emptiness of time passing by and image 39 because it shows my intended path of getting a photographic degree.

Image 11 shows what I  avoided unlike many homeless.

Image 16 gave me a feeling of the lonely and anonymous journey I took.

Image 8 was selected because it shows re-training for a different stage of life.

No selection from this sheet.

This one really isn’t the selection, I used median image stacking using all similar shots to portray the jostling crowd and reduce the noise of the image ; this one is my select.

I selected this image because I thought it was someone looking out of their window, turned out to be a bust wearing a beanie hat.

I selected this because it shows a feeling of loneliness.



For this exercise I didn’t research a photographer or any other artist.

I  got inspiration from my old journal.

Below is a copy of my thoughts from my learning log.

Part of the brief for exercise 5.1 is the following:

“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’.”

Sometime after reading this I happened across my old journal I wrote for the three months I was homeless.

This homelessness went on for nearly three months during the most deplorable weather  Oxford has ever experienced, from November 2013 through to February 2014.

The notes in this journal took me back to the bleakest time in my life.

In it were my feelings toward fellow campers, the hunger, the desperation and the loneliness.

Colorado, an American student who saved his money by living in a family sized tent that blew down and leaked often and Cat Weasel an older homeless gentleman who wasn’t all there if you know what I mean.

These and more helped me retain my sanity.

I have to mention here an experience I had at 7 am. Christmas morning.

Two young Scandinavian students stopped across the street from me, not another soul to be seen; took off their hats and started singing a Christmas carol.

Their voices were angelic and echoed from the surrounding buildings.

It was very moving, once finished they donned their hats, smiled at me and carried on their journey.

It was an incredible experience to say the least and I was the only  person there to appreciate their fine singing.

This journal then gave me the idea of measuring how far I have come since then but it didn’t seem to fit the narrative very well.

Maybe I can explore something more specific that I noted down.

I’ll give it some more thought over the weekend.

Well I gave it more thought and decided upon the subject of an outsider looking in.

Looking on the WWW I came across this article in Psychology  today which deals with Highly Sensitive People .

“As one highly sensitive person put it recently, it’s like being an outsider looking in.

Life as a HSP feels very much like pushing your nose against the glass that separates you from society and all you can do is watch and wonder how they do it and how you can ever get in”.
Deborah ward, On The Outside Looking In, Finding the balance between community and sensitivity.
Psychology today October 16 2011.

It doesn’t entirely relate to homelessness but the overall feeling of the article felt strangely familiar.


I like my first image very much, it shows a contrast between the dark and cold outside to the warm glow of the interior.

There’s also a contrast between the circles on the window and the straight lines and squareness of the interior.

The grimy window also adds a certain atmosphere that adds depth of feeling to the shot.

The second image of the chair and clock has a feeling of time passing to it.

From the empty chair to the Earthy tones.

It’s a photograph taken through the window of an interior decorating business and this I think explains the balance within the image.

The image of the Police and their van isn’t as strong an image as the others but did fit into the story I was trying to tell, I did like their faces being framed by the window.

The image of the man using his phone at a table to me is a powerful scene.

Many a time I was connected to distant friends via the  cafes WiFi.

The space around him gives the feeling of loneliness and his expression suggests that all is not right in his world.

The shot of the bust in the window was included because I thought it was someone looking out, as it was on the 6th. floor of a block of flats I didn’t know until I processed the image that it was a bust wearing a beanie hat.

The man on the bus image has many reflections, coloured lights and isn’t what I’d consider a perfect technical image.

But it does have feeling and begs the question “where are you going and where have you been ?” .

The bartenders shot was taken because of the interaction between the three people, that and the fact I was outside looking in.

The last two images really portray my journey to date.

From outside and not belonging to having and working a plan.

The pub was again a median stacked image, I knew the crowd would move and I wanted this to express the chaos of their interaction.

What I didn’t expect was that some of them would remain still despite the jostling that was going on.

This to me makes the image and is therefore my choice or select.

The final image portrays my photographic journey, I’m outside taking photo’s and aiming for my degree.

This is my state of the art at the moment.

It almost made it as my choice for this exercise because of the content but also because I hadn’t noticed the reflection of the traffic lights upon the poster which look like they were part of the original photographers image.


I found this exercise more liberating than some of the past.

Mainly because it was up to me to come up with the subject and how it was treated.

If I had not found my old journal and the idea it gave me it may have been more difficult to conceptualize.

As it is I feel I have completed this exercise with more confidence than some of the previous ones.

I have also started to let go of the technical aspects of photography and let the inner me shine through more.

I’m no longer going to fixate on noise and levelling etc. to the extent I have been doing and concentrate more on the subject and what I intend for a given image.

Tutor feedback on assignment 4

Tutor feedback 4



I still need more books and research on photographers to be included in my blog but feel I have done more research and experimentation since the last assignment, such as image averaging etc.

I will try to expand on this more in future.


Corrective actions:

I’ll go back and explain my choices from the contact sheets and try to describe my selects better.

I’ll also include some critical analysis of each image also.

I’ll also do a lot more reading.