Author Archives: niamhsphotography714680177

Thomas Ruff : Aesthetic of the Pixel



where I got the image above by Thomas Ruff

David Campany’s Review of ‘JPEGs’ By Thomas Ruff

J M Colberg’s Review of ‘JPEGs’ By Thomas Ruff

I have read and dissected both reviews by David Campany and J m Colberg.

Campany’s review of Ruff’s work is the longest of the two and is more detailed, he seems to have an understanding of what Ruff was trying to achieve. On the other hand Colberg’s review had a  much more unsure feel to it, he failed to find the concept behind the work. Personally I agree more with Colberg’s review as its more honest and to the point. He doesn’t understand the concept but can admire the beauty of it “everything would have been fine if there hadn’t been so many attempts to convince me that in reality ‘JPEGs’ is more”. I also can see where Campany is coming from, that Ruff’s work is definitely demanding, it either provokes discontent or provokes beauty.  “it seems to belong to everybody and nobody and as a result we are neither free to look just as individuals nor to respond collectively either” I find this particularly interesting as it the subject of his work rather than the medium that is causing this, everything he used is a scene that can’t be recreated its also something that is mainly public and thought provoking, natural disasters don’t just happen to one person they happen to a community, the pixels themselves also appear as a community but can be singled out alone.

Campany focuses on the actual image more then Colberg, he talks about the pixel being “grid-like, mechanic and repetitive” ” we switch from looking at figuration to abstraction”.  Both reviews have context, Colberg talks about  ‘compression algorithms’ and briefly adds that “the role of photography is changing through its online use” I feel that that is still very relevant now, ten years later.  Campany mentions archives and how the internet has become an archive of digital data, he also mentions Pop, Minimalism, Conceptualism, Dada, Surrealism and Cubism.

In conclusion I feel both reviews have interesting points of view but to me every time I look at his work, JPEGs I am waiting for the image to load properly and it never will.


The above photo is my own, I resized the image to 180 X 270 Pixels and got  this effect.


1.4 Frame



I have been asked to use the viewfinder grid display setting on my camera, which adds a grid to the viewfinder so you can line your images up properly. I have been asked to take a good couple of photos, composing each shot within a single section of the viewfinder. I have also been asked to ignore the rest of frame. When the photos have been taken I have been asked to select 8 photos and present them as a single composite image.

My thoughts

I have no clue how to get a viewfinder grid display on my camera so ill have to look into that. I am intrigued in this as I struggle with lining things up and if this helps to make me think more about composition and framing I will be very pleased. I also have no clue how to take 8 photos and make them into one, but I love a challenge.

Planning & execution

 I googled how to get the viewfinder grid display on my camera. I then took a few photos to test it out. I then re-read the brief and thought of going out my back garden and playing around to get a feel of what I was going to do. I decided that to make the set of photos sit well together I would focus on nature.  I then went on to take my photos.

I have grouped these photos to demonstrate how I focused on different sections of the frame. I hope to pick on certain photos and add it to my final image. These are not all the images I took but I wanted to show how I took multiple photos with different scenarios

My final 8 images,

Untitled-1.4 collage

The above images I feel work together as a set and as individuals. I tried on each row to have differential photos so they would sit well not just together but alone.. Throughout you can see different textures all from nature. Each photo has been lined up in a different way.

In reference to the image as a whole I feel I could of lined them up as a row of two and four going down as I have a big white gap where a ninth image should be. I was very unsure if I should of added another image in to make the set look more complete but it was not what I had been asked in the brief so I left it. I used photoshop to put all the images together. I found it very difficult but I got there in the end.

I set my camera (Nikon D5300) to automatic and took the photos. My main objective was to try a few photos where the subject was the same but the position within the frame was different, as demonstrated above. I then went and tried changing the subject and framing. I found the framing very helpful when lining up.

The first image in the first row is lined up in the bottom centre of the viewfinder. As I was told to forget about the rest of the frame I did so but I believe this image works well as a whole. The branches reach up to the left and right corners of the frame.

The second image in the first row is lined up in the bottom left hand corner. I was focused on the bright orange leaf that was laying on the ground. I believe this photos worked really well as the path leads your eye on up the frame. This was completely unintentional and I believe I achieved a gestalt with this image in particular.

The third image in the first row is lined up in the right hand middle of the frame. I feel again this image works well, the lines in particular are interesting as you can clearly see the Buddha is perched on a wall.

The fourth image in the middle row is lined up in the right hand middle of the frame again. I knot this is not of nature specifically but it is made out of wood a natural material. I feel the framing in this in particular is what makes it effective. the reflection of the camera in the mirror and the background within that is very effective.

The fifth image in the middle row is lined up in the top right hand corner of the frame. I was focusing on the log. I find this image to work well as the leaves give texture and the wall guides your eye to the log.

The sixth image in the middle row is lined up in the top portion of the frame. I wanted to stop focusing on the corners of the image and focus more on the sections within the frame. I and this image to work well because the tree branch has been singled out and is the main focus.

The seventh image in the last row is lined up in the left hand section of the frame. the buddha again is clearly perched on the wall and in the background of this photo we can see more nature.

The final eighth image in the last row is lined up in the top left hand corner of the frame. The branch is reaching down the frame which I find effective and in this photo unlike the other photo of a single branch we can see another tree in the distance.

Overall I am happy with how these images turned out.



1.3 Line


I have been asked to take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth. It has been suggested to use a wide – angle lens and to choose a viewpoint close to the line, within the frame of the photo.

My thoughts

After reading the brief and looking at the example by Eugene Atget, I was intrigued to get started. I decided to take a trip to my local park. I liked the idea of your eye being drawn into the picture, following the line.

The following are my photos…


This photo in particular is very effective at giving the illusion of depth. Your eye is drawn into the photo, there are multiple lines running through the image. The line of trees, the two lines of the curb. You can also see the lines going horizontal which have been created by the sun leave a showdown. This photo makes you want to keep on walking to see what is at the bottom of the path.


In this photo I got really close to the ground, I wasn’t sure if the photo would turn out well but to my surprise I found it very effective. The edge of grass looks very well running along the path, I actually love the different textures in this photo. Your eye just follows the path onwards to the horizon where you can see buildings and more trees, in my opinion it is very inviting. Although one thing that is plaguing me is that the line is not dead centre, I really need to focus more on lining up my photos better.


In my opinion this photo is a modern version of Eugene Atget’s ‘Coin de quai Voltaire at rue de Nevres, 1926′ and is where I got the inspiration to line up the photo that way. I stood right behind the tree in the righthand corner and followed the line of the wall. The wall draws your eye down past the trees and to the row of houses which look colourful and perfectly lined up beside each other. The trees are vertical lines and are almost lined up with the houses when really they are miles down the street.


This photo uses line in a different way. I got close up to the railings which surround a pond, the railings draw your eye round the pond as it curves. The shadow coming from the railing gives a diagonal line and draws your eye to the horizon, where we can another line alone the flower bed as a border. Although there is a lot happening in this photo I still think it is effective at giving depth.


This final photo is one of my favourites, the railings that line the pond are being reflected back in the water and we can also see the horizontal line of the trees and cathedral also being reflected. I personally think that if it hadn’t of been such a beautiful autumnal day I wouldn’t have had such success with these photos. Your eye is drawn directly to the spire of the cathedral and then along the railings. This photo gives great depth and a different perspective.


I was then asked to take a number of shots using lines to flatten the pictorial space and avoid perspective. I was slightly confused but it is mentioned that the sensor should be parallel with the subject.

My thoughts

I am very confused and unsure I will be able to get the right outcome. I decided to start simple and walk around my back garden for some inspiration. After that I had the idea to photograph a bar of chocolate as it would be easy to get the camera parallel to the chocolate.

The following are my photos…


In this photo I got down, parallel to the wall to give it a flat appearance. I think it is effective but there still is a bit of depth regarding the lines where each brick has been laid.


This photo is very effective in my opinion it looks very flat and there is little or no depth in the photo. This photo is actually the very top step of my step ladder, it is made out of aluminium and therefore gives a silver/blue sheen which I think helped it to look flat, there is very little shadow as the aluminium reflected light well, I think that really helped.


This photo is of my roof. I don’t feel this is a perfect representation of a flattened pictorial space but I feel I should put this in to show how difficult it was to achieve a flat image. I got on my step ladder but unfortunately couldn’t get up high enough to be parallel with the roof, I thought it would have made an great photo. The lines in this image are very effective going horizontal and vertical, but because the roof is at a slant there is depth the photo and its not quite flat. I was very disappointed that it didn’t work out.


In this photo I moved inside and set up my tripod to be parallel to my table. I then took an empty egg carton and turned it upside to get this as a result. Although there is shadow, this photo looks very flat and I was surprised at how effective it was.


The final few photos are what I found to be the most effective. I took a bar of Galaxy chocolate (my favourite!) and placed them on the table, my camera already set up with the tripod. The lines are kind of like the roof which I was originally trying to achieve but the bar of chocolate worked just as well. Both horizontal and vertical, the lines compliment the set up. I did my best to reduce shadow and I feel this really benefits the image. It looks flat and has little depth.


I have been asked to review both parts of this coursework in relation to how different lines relate with the frame.

In the first section of this coursework I feel the photos are more realistic, they give more perspective and personality. The second set are very different I feel its more about creating a pattern than someone experiencing a place they may never get to experience. Both sets of images are different in their own way and would appeal to different kinds of people. The first set would be someone who wants to feel what others feel, someone looking for something simple yet beautiful. The second set would appeal to someone who finds comfort in consistency and gets satisfaction from repeated patterns or for example; someone who comes into your house and straightens your pictures!

The first set we see a variety of ways in which horizontal and vertical lines are used, how trees can frame an image, how a reflection can create depth. However in the second set we see a uniformed use of lines either horizontal or vertical. The lines are repeated over and over and we see little or no depth, shadow or anomalies. Its more simplistic yet you have to be meticulous when lining things up as any mistake will stick out like a sore thumb, this is mainly due to the fact there are few distractions. The first set draws you into the scenery and the second set pushes you out. This shows just how important line and composition is in a photograph or more importantly in a set of photos.

Assignment 1.2 Point


I have been asked to take three or four photographs in which a single point is placed in different parts of the frame. When composing the shots I must use three rules: the place of the point shouldn’t be too obvious, the composition should hold a tension and be balanced and the point should be easy to see.  I must evaluate these photos in relation to the three rules, then take a few more photos without any rules.

My thoughts

I was slightly confused to what I was being asked, I had many questions such as do we place an object to create a scene (that being the single point) or do we look for a single point in an area? After thinking it through and asking friends to read over it to get their perspective, I still wasn’t too sure so I went to research. I looked at other blogs of my fellow students through our email group, most student leave a link to their blog which is very helpful, most students had set up a scene so I decided I would do the same. I decided I would take my old football which would stand out amongst the green of the forest. I hope the trees show lines, texture and different tones of colour while the football shows a smooth texture that stands out.



In this photo I placed the football under a fallen tree as though it had always been there. The small green tree is the main focus of the photo yet I feel drawn to the abandoned football. The brown forest floor really gives the photo depth and contrast.


In this photo I did not move the football I just changed my perspective, the small green tree is still the main focus yet the football catches your attention. This photo looks more open, there are so many things going on in the background


I then moved on to a different part of the forest, I feel the lines in this photo really stand out and really highlight the ball as it seems to be the only circular thing in the majority of these photos. The fencing gives the illusion that this was once a child’s play area, the football appears to be forgotten about. While the leafy branches droop down almost creating a boarder around the image.


This photo gives more perspective on the surroundings in which these photos were taken. The football is not as noticeable here but I feel the colour really helps draw your eye, you can see that the fencing has been placed around the tree creating another boarder, giving more depth. Showing that a lot goes on in the background.


In this photo, although off centre the ball is the main focus. I really love the lines in this photo, the benches are uneven which again, gives it a childlike nature. I feel the lines are very important in this image, the benches give the perfect illusion that something should be in between them but its just fencing. Therefore your eyes are drawn to the ball.

The following are the photos I took with no rules…


In this photo, I kept the football just of centre, the path leads your eye into the beyond. the surrounding trees and forest floor really add dimension. Although the ball is noticeable it still blends into the photo, a little out of place but it looks as though it has been there a while. The lighting in this photo is a lot brighter as I had just entered the forest.


Personally this is my favourite photo out of all of them, the lighting is soft but still quite bright, the view from the forest floor really emphasises the nature aspect of this shoot. The football has been wedged under the fallen tree and as from the previous photos you can see that this is just from a different angle. Although annoying the piece of ivory on the tree trunk is blurred,  I still believe that its not too noticeable. This photo in particular leads me to believe that there is a story behind the image. Who owned the football? Was it abandoned when the tree fell? Who long has it been there?


As you can see this is the same fallen tree trunk as in the above photos from a different angle. Although the tree trunk is the main focus of this image, the football still really catches your eyes. The messy forest floor leading gradually down to a little burrow really creates the illusion that you could just walk over and fall in! A little like Alice in Wonderland. This photo to me is more childlike and enchanting.


On this final photo the football is very much out of focus, the forest floor leads your eye up to the ball and the wooden benches in the distance. The stark line just off centre of the image is a burry tree which in my opinion creates depth of field, reinforcing the fact that the forest has so much activity going on. The contrast between the new green growth and the dirty dead leaves really shows how the forest eco-system works. Some leaves fall off in order for new ones to grow.


 I am very happy with how this work has turned out, I feel making the decision to take these photos in forest gave me an advantage, its created a great deal of texture and contrast throughout each photo. Choosing to use my bright coloured football was a simplistic yet effective way of creating a point, drawing attention and creating a childlike story. If I was to do this again I would go earlier in the day, I went to go take these photos too near dusk and I found the lighting very difficult. I was afraid that the photos would not turn out well. I didn’t think through properly how the lighting would already be impacted by the canopy of the forest, never mind the fact it was near dusk. I will know this for the future. I feel I used the three rules effectively, even if it took a while for me understand fully. All of these images are unedited and taken using a Nikon D5300, handheld.

Exercise 1.1


I have been asked to take three or four exposures of the same scene having the camera in auto mode, without changing the frame. I then must bring up the histogram on each photo to compare. I have used the image below to help me understand how the histogram works.  Please find attached the link to where I got this information below.

How to read a histogram


The following shots are hand held with the flash on, indoors.



These photos have been taken seconds apart and there are slight differences within the histograms. The third histogram has slightly more highlights compared to the other two which are almost identical. The flash has given a brighter appearance to all three of these photos, and as these photos are hand held I feel that the third photo is even brighter because my hand may have moved, making the flash reflect back against the glass pot.

The following shots are hand held without the flash, indoors.



As we can see with the histograms in this set of photos is that without the flash the histogram is more in the midtones section. The natural lighting has created a perfect balance between shadows and highlights. Although each histogram is different they all seem to have a more balanced range.


The following are shots with a tripod and flash taken indoors.



This set is much like the first set of photos. The flash has again made each photo brighter and of course the histogram corresponds. I feel that using the tripod eliminated the worry of a shaky hand that would then cause the histogram to be very different.


The following shots are taken with a tripod, no flash and are indoors.


Using the tripod gave me the assumption that each histogram is this set would be identical seeing as all the photos are literally seconds apart, but in this case the total range has gotten bigger as the photos went on. So even using the tripod, no flash and natural daylight each histogram is different. Maybe the daylight got brighter, maybe the camera processed the photo slightly differently or the daylight got darker. Regardless of what it was exactly no histogram is the same and the conditions in which you shoot are more important the you realise.

I found this task interesting as I didn’t think about how light and shadow can really effect a photo and that there would be a graph that represents it. I found it difficult to work out how to get the histogram, date and time stamp and the photo all together. I am worried that its hard to read. My only other way of doing this was to take photos on my phone of the LCD screen showing the histograms but it didn’t give me the image data that was required, therefore wouldn’t have worked.

Assignment 1. ‘Square mile’



For my first assignment I have been given, six to twelve photographs to convey my response to the welsh concept Y Filltir Sgwar ‘The Square Mile’. This concept deals with how photographers have found inspiration in the environment around them. In Professor Mike Pearson’s words “– site of discovery and putting names to things – people and places – working with difference and similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play, imagination, experiment – finding the best location for doing things – creating worlds under our own control, fantasy landscapes’”  (Photography 1 Expressing your vision course pdf).

I am required to ‘use this sense of place’ as a basis for beginning my assignment, there is emphasis on not taking individual photos, but to try and link each image to collectively communicate my idea. This statement left me wondering how I would convey such a thing. I then learned that this idea is actually known as ‘conceptual photography’ I ended up looking at the Tate online gallery where it gives a brief statement about conceptual photography “the term ‘conceptual photography’ began to be used in the 1960s, coinciding with the early explorations into video art and Conceptual Art. The phrase can refer to any use of photography within the Conceptual Art movement”. “The aim was to make simple, realistic images of the artwork that looked as documentary as possible, artists adopted this approach as far back as the early twentieth century”.  Tate – conceptual photography

My thoughts

In the brief of this assignment, I was given a list of artists to look into. I found that each photographer had a different style and concept when it came to photography. I feel this really benefited me as I got to experience different ways of working, which in turn gave me more opportunities to look into other artists. On the Tate website linked above there were also some artists mentioned that I look forward to reviewing.

Keith Arnett 1930-2008

Keith Arnett was a British conceptual artist. He lived and worked in London, Liverpool, Yorkshire and Monmouthshire. He had studied painting at Oxford School of Art in the early 1950s and later at the Royal Academy Schools in London. When I looked at some of his work I found it simplistic yet so effective at provoking thought. I found his piece ‘Self-Burial’ so intriguing and quite of a childish nature. I related to it in the want to escape. My favourite of his work is ‘Walking the Dog’ the concept that dogs are like their owners. Being a dog owner myself I found this an interesting idea. He spent three years of his life documenting dog and owner, going about their business with the same expressionless faces, I  love the idea of consistency throughout a series of images and may use this when I come to do my assignment. He has introduced me to minimalism and land art. I find minimalism fascinating and went on to research more about it.

Minimalism (definition) “design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect”  Collins dictionary – minimalism  I went onto the OCA library and searched for minimalistic photographers and an article by The British Journal of Photography came up about a past UCA Rochester student, Jade Perry. She followed a minimalistic approach to her photography and began exploring “the notion of beauty with a humorous interpretation highlighting the “stupidity of our drive for perfection”  which I completely agree with! At the start of the article she is asked what she is inspired by, she goes on to say “the rigid and minimalistic style” of photographers such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Bettina Von Zwehl and Rineke Dijkstra”. The British Journal of Photography article on Jade Perry  I went on to research these minimalistic photographers and can see a consistent style within each that correlates with Jade Perry’s unique style.

Rineke Dijkstra and Bettina Von Zwehl

Both photographers have an interesting relationship with their subject, each photographer wants to capture an intensity from their subject within the frame. Both styles of photography are quite similar, very minimalistic and focused entirely on the subject, with complete white backgrounds being a common occurrence.

Rineke Dijkstra was born in 1959, Denmark, she began as a conventional portrait photographer but gained international recognition with a series of beach images consisting of a single figure against the sea from a low angle which she made from 1992 till 1996. The most famous, named ‘Kolozberg, Poland July 1992’ was known to have looked like Sandro Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus and was shown in the Tate Gallery. Online Tate Gallery of Rineke Dijkstra

Another series consisted of men and women who have just been through a life – threatening experience. The men, bullfighters from Portugal, where the object is to hold the bull down rather than kill it. The women are mothers holding their babies a short time after childbirth, still wearing the maternity underwear. Both are depicted against totally white backgrounds.  Online Tate Gallery of Rineke Dijkstra – mother and child

Bettina Von Zwehl was born in 1971, Munich, Germany. She got a BA (hons) in Photography in 1994 and then went on to get an MA in Fine Art Photography in 1997. The slight difference between these two photographers are that Von Zwehl likes to take  more historic approach to her photos. “She specialises in 19th century studio methodology, her practice is an ongoing enquiry into the possibilities of portraiture and the descriptive power of the format”.   Artimage Reference for Bettina Von Zwehl

I feel as though I have learned how important planning is and how to not over think things, that less is more especially in circumstances like portraiture, I look forward to experimenting in the future but I feel that I shouldn’t do portraiture for my first assignment as my initial response was to focus on land art.

Land art 

Land art was part of the wider conceptual art movement in the 1960s and 1970s”  also known as ‘earth art’ it was a way of using the earth to create artwork then document it with photography. “The most famous land art work is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty of 1970, an earthwork built out into the Great Salt Lake in the USA. Though some artists such as Smithson used mechanical earth-moving equipment to make their artworks, other artists made minimal and temporary interventions in the landscape such as Richard Long who simply walked up and down until he had made a mark in the earth” Tate online Gallery – Land art

I am truly fascinated by this idea of creating art that’s man made yet can be left to be destroyed by the elements. Its not being made in a classroom or protected in a gallery its simply some earth being moved. I feel this is a true crossover and a great example to anyone who thinks art and photography don’t go together. If something won’t be preserved then it must be documented and photography is the perfect way to do it.

Robert Smithson and Richard long

Robert Smithson born in 1938 and died in 1973. He was an American sculptor and land artist, he studied at the Art Students League, New York from 1955-1956. “His practice as an artist had its origins in the Minimalist preoccupation with the context around the object and the same mistrust of the marketable art object that had been one of the motivations for Conceptual art”. He had began taking photographs and getting maps of the locations he visited. He seemed especially interested in geology and the earth itself. His most successful ‘earth art’ was the one mentioned above from the Tate online gallery reference, Spiral Jetty 1970. It consisted of him moving lots of basalt to the Great Salt Lake in Utah and arranging the basalt in a spiral shape of mass proportion. To this day it is still there although the tide comes in and it becomes temporarily out of sight. “One aspect of Smithson’s thinking was the idea of ‘entropy’, that the world inevitably moves towards disorganization, and his work as an artist incorporates this”. I found this fascinating as it is a true representation of life, the world moves on and things go from orderly to disorderly. Oxford Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art – Robert Smithson

British artist Richard Long was born in 1945. He studied at the West of England College of Art from 1962-1965 and then at St Martin’s School of Art from 1966-1968. His work ‘A Line Made By Walking (1967) which is briefly mentioned above in the Tate online gallery reference, really did consist of him walking up and down a hill, till a line was drawn in the grass. Its so simplistic yet effective, there is something so appealing about his work. “The work becomes a compound of action, trace, and documentation”. This then went on to become a regular thing and Long began collecting twigs or sticks to be used in the gallery showing. He then went on to use mud and clay to do paintings which in my opinion are very effective. Long brought nature inside and placed it in a unique form, he separates the busy world from it, so we end up forced to appreciate and acknowledge it’s beauty. Oxford Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art – Richard Long

Both artists are very minimalistic and like to achieve the most impact on the spectators. I feel both artists have shown me how less is more and that you don’t need twelve different things in order for a shoot to go well. I love that they have incorporated earth into their work, we take nature for granted and this is a fresh reminder to look after our planet. This idea of making history which is then documented is so inspiring, even if its as simple as walking up a hill multiple times, it makes you question who walked there before, if anyone!

Gawain Barnard 

Born in 1976, Welsh photographer Gawain Bernard studied at the University of Wales where he got his BA hons degree 1996-1999 and his MFA Documentary photography 2007-2009. He also studied at Cardiff’s University to get his PGCE in 2004-2005. He has also been shortlisted for the 2018 Athens Photo Festival and is currently a teacher at the University of South Wales. My favourite of his works is ‘Tomorrow 6am’ the use of nature is so simple yet effective. How the lighting really portrays the mood of how sleepy and quite things would be, it is a great thing to reflect on myself, what lighting I could use to get a desired effect when I come to do my assignment. I find how each individual person isn’t looking into the camera very effective, it gives a sense of reflection; almost like they are too busy thinking of what the day ahead will bring.

Tina Barney

When people say that there is a distance, a stiffness in my photographs, that the people look like they do not connect, my answer is, that this is the best we can do. This inability to show physical affection is in our heritage” – Tina Barney. In this particular quote I find it fascinating how honest she is and in my opinion she’s right, family dynamics and human relationships in general are not perfect. She focused on what surrounded her, she took realistic candid’s in a large-format, an 8-by-10-view camera enabled her to create highly detailed images that kept their focus and vibrancy even when made into four-by-five-foot prints. She was one of the first photographers to present colour on a grand scale. I find this kind of realism very intriguing there’s often the sense that your subject must pose or that you should stage a background but this is very normal, unexpected and in the moment. She has a kind of minimalistic approached in the sense that she is looking for one thing when regarding her subjects and that is for them to be themselves and show her and the camera something no on else has.

Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter reconstructs stories, memories and myths to create a psycho-geographical landscape in his local neighbourhood of east London. Born in 1965, Dorset; Hunter has a clear passion for the mythical world in his work we see gods and goddess, dusk lighting with lots nature, he has been known to recreate other works of art as well. My favourite collection of photos are titled ‘Unheralded Stories’ this series consists of whimsical images, dimly light with a single figure as the subject, these photos are quite simple yet effective. My favourite from this collection would be ‘Anchor and Hope’ based on the structure of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, 1948. A young women lays in a nude dress surrounded by a green field staring at the horizon in which we see some dilapidated buildings. These images make me question the story behind them; did she used to live in those buildings? Perhaps she grew up their and played as a child? I find this work very engaging and would like to achieve this with my own work. His photos are almost like individual stories, which is what makes them to engaging I believe. This work is quite similar to Rineke Dijkstra and Bettina Von Zwehl in regards to their being one subject as the main focus. Tom Hunter – Unheralded Stories

Peter Mansell

A former student of OCA, Mansell took his assignment on landscapes to a different level. He decided to show how a disabled person gets around, one of my favourite photos of his is the scuff marks on the bottom of the wall, the effect of having and using a wheelchair at home, I relate to this very much as I myself am disabled and use a walking stick so this was a fascinating concept to me, I may refer back to this in future, as its personal to me. Another collection that I love is ‘Paralysis Unseen’ every photo that is taking is something that he either has to do to himself or something that he uses to his aid as he has no choice. His photos are of the stuff people don’t see and more specifically don’t want to see and I really relate to this, I am classed as disabled but am not in a wheelchair therefore people presume I am lying and see what they want to see. Personal photos like this are so important as it promotes awareness to those that are sick that they are not alone and lets healthy people know how difficult times can be.Peter Mansell – Paralysis Unseen

Jodie Taylor

Taylor, also a former OCA student, focused on her childhood and the theme of nostalgia. I really love this idea because we all know photography and nostalgia go hand in hand, I love looking at old photos of my family and friends. “For this project I want to photograph places that form memories from my childhood. I am currently living back in the house I grew back in after several years away from the family home so there are a lot of memories within the house itself and surrounding areas”Jodie Taylor. This idea that our childhood memories shape who we are, is so intriguing to me. When looking at her work I felt really inspired, I’ve spent the majority of my life living in the same town that my family grew up in so there are a good few generations in this town and a lot of history. I feel inspired to do something relating to my hometown.

Initial ideas

One initial idea I had was to follow my mammy for a day. The bond between us was to be the focus of my ‘Square Mile’ as I still live with and speak to her daily, but I didn’t feel it fitted the brief well and thought it could be a little too easy and that I would struggle to find real context apart from the fact that I love her. Rineke Dijkstra’s work referenced above ‘mother and child’ was really what provoked this idea. When looking into Keith Arnett, which then lead to me looking into minimalism and land art, I was thinking of a way of applying land art to the ‘Square Mile’ and I thought, instead of creating land art I would go and photograph the land art that’s all ready in my city and what better place than the Free Derry Corner in the Bogside where I also went to school as a child. This gave me a personal aspect and when looking into Jody Taylor I loved the idea of going back to my childhood, it gives context because of the history of the Troubles and all the murals now painted in memory of those who died, and would challenge me to try something new as I have never photographed the murals before.


Extra references not mentioned above are as follows,

Keith Arnett – Reference

Gawain Barnard – Reference

Tina Barney – Reference

Tom Hunter – Reference

Peter Mansell – Reference

Jodie Taylor – Reference

Idea to planning

After much thought and research I have decided to focus on my hometown, I have walked down the same streets for years; my childhood memories are littered everywhere. I feel I should focus on the artwork around the town depicting the history. I am hoping to take multiple pictures and then eliminate them down to twelve. Knowing that Keith Arnett, Jody Taylor, Land Art and Minimalism have all inspired me I decided to look over my research and write down in my notebook that I will be taking with me on the shoot, all the things I wish to incorporate into these images. What things inspired me from each person or genre. (please find image attached of the list below) I then decided to write down where I was going to go specifically to get good photos. I have planned to do this the next day and have arranged for my friend to come with me. I decided to shoot in automatic mode as I was told to do so in the brief and will bring two lenses one telephoto lens and 55mm lens. My camera is a Nikon D5300 and I have decided not to bring my tripod.

handwritten notes on square mile

Execution of task

I went and shot my photos unfortunately it was raining but I still think the photos turned out well. I went to all the locations listed above as I had planned and overall the shoot went well. I feel that planning in advance was vital for things going smoothly and I will continue to do so in the future. The one thing I regret is not taking my tripod as some photos are shaky and not well aligned. The following are my contact sheets. I deleted the photos that were either blurry or had water marks on them because of the rain but with those gone I took around 100 photos in total. The following are my contact sheets,



Final set of photographs


Known as the ‘Gásyard’ locally this was my school hall that we had our annual discos, Christmas plays etc.


This is the original mechanics store on the Lecky road and has been there as long as I can remember, it is opposite the school I went to.


This is known locally as ‘The Fly Over’ the decorations on it have all been done through community projects and my old school.


This is a dilapidated building that has been burnt out multiple times when trouble has gotten bad.


John “Caker” Casey 1946-2000 painted the slogan “You Are Now Entering Free Derry” this wall is actually a gable wall of row of houses that where bombed and this wall is all that is left and remains iconic.


This is a close up of one the murals, this is a realistic scene to what it was like during the troubles.


Here is a wide angle shot along the walls featuring my friend.


This photo is of a young Thornhill College student who rallied for peace during the time of the troubles.


This is one of the houses in which a mural has been painted on, as you can see there has been a fire in which a window has been burnt out, this shows that there is still trouble today.


This photo is of a very important mural again depicting what it would have really been like back then.


This photo shows that all the people wanted to begin with was civil rights, there was a march were both Protestants and Catholics marched for civil rights – peacefully. The police at the time attacked the protestors brutally and it ended in chaos.


This mural is to show peace and love to one and another regardless of religion, ethnicity and abilities.


Final Thoughts

I feel I have conveyed my childhood and my surroundings well, these photos are what I would have seen at least twice a day going to school. It was weird being back there, I would have gone on mini school trips walking through these streets, had festivals and done community projects. When doing my research I stated I liked the idea of consistency throughout a series of images, I feel in my work that I stayed true to what I stated. Through-out my work you can see wall after wall decorated with murals, this is a running theme. Artwork is the consistency, not only does it make the images eye catching, the vibrant colours make the city eye catching. I  feel I stayed mostly true to what I wanted to incorporate when originally planning my shoot, there was colour, a simplistic style in the sense that the murals do the talking and it is thought provoking; what was it like to be living with all that fear of being shot or your loved ones getting hurt in the cross fire etc. I am not sure if these images are nostalgic to those who don’t live here in Derry but they certainly are nostalgic to me. The ‘Your Are Now Entering Free Derry’ wall is not normally pink, it has been painted pink to publicise the fact that its Organ Donation week, the month before the wall was bright yellow to raise awareness of Sarcoma cancer. It is normally white, but ever since I can remember it has been painted different colours for different reasons for example pride month. I feel I could of lined up some photos better, the use of my tripod would have greatly improved this outcome. Teaching myself how to create a contact sheet was very hard, I mainly used google and YouTube as my main resource as I had never made a contact sheet before. The most difficult thing was narrowing down my photos to 12, I spent almost 2 hours trying to pick which photos would convey my idea best. I kept picking favourites, that didn’t necessarily say anything about my childhood. If I was to do this again I would take my tripod and spend more time getting better quality photos rather than rushing around while the rain was off. I would line up my photos better and wait for a sunny day as there were very few tourists and I love seeing other peoples reactions to the city. This concept was very out of my comfort zone, I don’t really photograph my surroundings unless I’m in a new city, I prefer to photograph people. I was a tourist in my own city and it felt very strange!

EYV – Evaluation

The above is my evaluation.

Reflection on Formative Feedback

In my tutor report, I completely agree with everything my tutor said. It was mentioned I needed more self-initiated research and I will make more use of my resources in the future. It was suggested that I try to apply a consistent visual strategy to my final work to give an overall perspective and composition, I will try to apply this in the future also. He very kindly included two artists for me to go look into which I find very helpful and look forward to researching them in the future.


If you have any feedback please comment below on what you think of my first assignment, it would be much appreciated!