Assignment 2 Submission

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

For this assignment you’ll make a collection of photographs using a combination of lens techniques that you’ll decide for yourself. Your tutor will evaluate the series in terms of its technical skill but also on how well the assignment works as a whole.


All images were captured on a Canon EOS 750D camera with an 18mm – 55mm lens and in AV mode.

I must confess at this point that I have proceeded to take my self-reflection photographs in a state of slight confusion. Confused as to whether the most important issue in this Assignment is to demonstrate a range of lens techniques learned, or whether I should be using the same lens techniques throughout to make the series stick together as a cohesive set. I shall await feedback from my tutor with interest.

In the meantime, I hope I have demonstrated that I have learned my lessons from Assignment One, where one of the main criticisms was that my images were a little too ‘stock’. I have enjoyed capturing moments as they really are, without feeling the need to rearrange the backgrounds as I may have been inclined to do in the past. I have found this to be very liberating!


Assignment 2 Research

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

I started off by researching a variety of portrait photographers and their different approaches.

I was fascinated by the Heads of Philip-Lorca diCorcia. These people were photographed from afar and were unaware that their image was being captured. This meant their expressions were completely genuine and unposed.

I also loved the idea of taking a series of photographs all from the same viewpoint, possibly all of the same person, only changing some detail about them each time as in Lorna Simpson’s Stereo Styles:

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 19.33.40

and Bettina von Zwehl’s miniatures:

However, my understanding of this exercise was that it should demonstrate a range of lens techniques, so I felt this approach might be too restrictive.

Owing to a busy schedule and the frustration of the people whose heads I wanted to photograph never being available when I needed them to be, I decided that I would photograph myself instead.

I really love the work of Elina Brotherus and was inspired by her work Les Femmes de la Maison Carré. This series involved her taking portraits of herself in different rooms of a house.

I decided to base my project loosely on this, with me photographing myself going about my daily tasks around the home. For one thing it meant I would be able to reshoot time and time again until I was satisfied with my pictures.  The logistics of the self-portrait though, were a nightmare. I spent countless hours setting up my scenes, the tripod, the lights, the remote timer and carefully getting myself into position for the shot. However, time and time again, the images just didn’t work.  The focus was wrong, my position was wrong, it was all extremely frustrating. And so I decided to make a series of Self-Reflections instead. This meant I had the freedom to move around with my camera either in my hand, or within reach on a tripod, meaning I was able to capture moments more spontaneously. Elina Brotherus and Vivian Maier have both used this technique to great effect.

Elina Brotherus

Vivian Maier

I really like the shallow depth of field used by Mona Kuhn in her Evidence Series shown below, and also the mainly neutral colour palette she employed. I felt I would like to incorporate some elements of this in my series of photographs too.

Mona Kuhn





Exercise 2.7

Use a combination of small apertures and wide lens to take a number of photographs exploring deep depth of field.

Achieving a deep depth of field isn’t necessarily as easy as it might seem. The trick is to include close foreground elements in focus for an effective deep depth of field. Foreground detail also helps balance the frame, which can easily appear empty in in wide shots, especially the lower half. When successful, a close viewpoint together with the dynamic perspective of a wide-angle lens gives the viewer the feeling that they’re almost inside the scene.

f22, ISO:160,24mm,1/8


Exercise 2.6

Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject.

With shallow depth of field, the subject really stands out, but the out-of-focus areas help to set the scene and are important in the building of a pleasing composition.

Exercise 2.5

Find a subject in front of a background of depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the focus to infinity and take a second shot.

As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition?

The first image has the flowers in focus and the eye is instantly drawn to them as there is a shallow depth of field and they stand out from the blurred background.

By setting the camera to infinity, the background comes more into focus and the foreground becomes blurred. This image is way harder to look at as there is nothing in the foreground for the eye to immediately rest on.


Exercise 2.4

Find a location with good light for a portrait shot. Place your subject some distance in front of a simple background and select a wide aperture together with a moderately long focal length. Take a viewpoint about one and a half metres from your subject, allowing you to compose a headshot comfortably within the frame. Focus on the eyes and take the shot.

f4.0, ISO:250, 100mm, 1/400

The background blur created by the shallow depth of field makes the subject stand out really well. The long focal length (100mm) slightly compresses the features in a flattering way, so is ideal for portrait photography.