I’m very new to academic referencing and it can be very time consuming trying to work out what references to include on your assignments, especially so if you have changed your approach and need to re-write it.  I’ve started using RefMe[2], it’s free to use for basic Harvard referencing but to organise per project you’ll need a subscription. Ref Me makes it easier to keep a track on links and research references, books and quotations.  It’s also helpful as it shares data between an iPad, iPhone app, and the web interface.  You can also download a plugin to use with Microsoft word so when you are writing that assignment you can insert links and bibliography into your document.  One minor gripe on the word integration is that you can only load 1 project at a time, this is handy of all of your links are in one place but if you have multiple links across projects when you have a subscription then you will have multiple folders and can’t swap between them without losing continuity.  Maybe I’m looking at it from a disorganised way as I’ve just started using it but that’s a day 1+2 evaluation.  At time of subscription the annual fee is 24.99 GBP per year.  I’ll add that there are other apps/resources available so please feel free to make your own choices.

Update 5th February 2017

RefMe has been purchased by Chegg, this means the RefME app will now change to Citeforme [1]on 28th February 2017.  Overall from what I can see so far it should have minimal impact on how I’m collating references so far.  It does however not support the Mac version of Word, you will need to download the document from the web browser and then load this as a separate word document.  This is disappointing, details on the change can be found by accessing their link below.

[1] *** RefMe has been replaced by an app called ‘Cite This for Me’ in Feb 2017.

The app does not have all of the full functionality of RefMe and it’s worthwhile looking to see of there are other apps available.  I’ll stick with it for the time being.


High Speed Photography

Set up

I initially had an idea relating to the assignment 3 the decisive moment.  My initial idea was to steer away from street photography as per phrase coined by Henri Cartier Bresson and take a risk along the lines of a single point in time that could not occur again, a balloon bursting, water droplets striking a surface.

The first high speed photograph was created by Harold Egerton in 1957, its titled Milk Coronet[1] and is reproduced in the Time 1oo image series.  “Seconds. There it is. Sometimes it’s no use at all. Sometimes it’s tremendous value”

I have experimented before dropping water droplets into liquids, a simple setup but was very much trial and error as to the timing , capturing the water droplet before, during or after was very hit and miss and took a huge number of frames to capture anything worth retaining.  I’m not the first one to come across this, so there must be a way to construct a set up that would allow a number of variables to be consistent to then allow similar results to be obtained and from there change the variables to produce different results.

Images created by Harold Egerton also included bullets fired through apples, playing cards and the like.  I’m pretty certain there would not be any way of convincing my wife this was a good idea!  Balloons, well there’s another thought and probably not too messy.  There are plenty of really good examples of ballon burst images, some of my favourites are by Edward Horsford [2] and this on the Flickr page of Eric Barger [3]

From my previous foray into water droplets if I was going to attempt balloons then I would need to find a way to trigger the camera at the point of the balloon bursting.  The set up was going to be a challenge, filling and fixing the balloons was going to take time so I needed to get the rig and triggering set up correct.  A few google searches led me to discover manufacturers of sound/laser triggers that link directly to flash and camera.  Once of my constraints was money, I didn’t want to expend huge sums of money on a trigger for this to then sit in my gear cupboard.

I came across 2 sets of equipment that I considered useful and of minimal outlay, one of which was by Triggertrap [4]which included a dongle to attach your smartphone to your camera, additionally something to attach their dongle to a speedlight.  The second by Miops[5].  Both can be connected directly to your camera and a smartphone app although the Miops one has more functionality/protection the Triggertrap one was cheaper so I went with that. I must add the Triggertrap kit app can be used for more than detecting balloon bursts.

The Triggertrap kit arrived quickly once I’d placed the order, pretty simple and consisted of a dongle to the smartphone and then a cable to the camera or hot shoe trigger (additional purchase).  Fairly straightforward to set up, I followed the tutorial[6]on their webpages and got together the kit for setting up in my bathroom.  I live in London and didn’t want to set this up outside due to 2 limiting factors

  • At the time of testing it was December and pretty cold to be messing about with water in the evening
  • Due to the light pollution I didn’t want to taint the longer exposure images.

Set up was relatively straightforward in my small bathroom

  • Black backdrop fabric gaffer taped to the white tiles
  • 2 lightstands and cross member to suspend the balloons from
  • something to pop the balloon, I used a stick with needle taped to it
  • Speedlight set in manual mode (sandwich bag for speedlight to keep it dry)
  • Tripod for the camera
  • Remote shutter release
  • Camera
  • Portable stand and laptop placed outside of the bathroom (not entirely necessary but I found it easier to review the images on the laptop screen during a tethered Lightroom session)
  • Triggertrap dongle
  • Lots of balloons, water, food colouring
  • Towels to wipe up water and a lens cloth to wipe off any splashes on the lens, if you’re floor is wet then it will get very slippery and you don’t need to slip over in a confined space and hurt yourself.
  • Smartphone and Triggertrap app – I’m using an iPhone 7 which is waterproof, if your smartphone isn’t waterproof then you’ll need to place it in a sandwich bag or similar
  • Send wife out for the day shopping, its expensive but this is messy!


Bursting of the balloons

Initial testing was quite promising, rather than wasting balloons I was clapping to set the sound level on the app, I did find that if you set the level too low when you activated the camera the sound of the mirror flipping up triggered the flash.  You also need to ensure there is not any extraneous light in the room (turn the phone over so the display is covered) otherwise you will get ghost images recorded of the balloon before it bursts, this is evident below in the top right and bottom left images.

Once I’d set up after a couple of test runs to check the flash output levels I was satisfied of the process,

  1. Turn off light
  2. Close bathroom door
  3. Open Shutter on camera
  4. stab balloon with pointy stick – ‘pop’
  5. close shutter

Try not to trip/slip over turning light back on!

Its worthwhile mentioning that this point keeping the length of time the shutter is open to a minimum helps here.

For each balloon I managed to get the filling up, timing up and popping into an average of 5 minutes per balloon.


From the initial set of images I’m quite pleased by how these have turned out as a first attempt.  They can be improved upon and any further setups would include

An additional speedlight, placed camera left

A painted stick in black

Review of location as my bathroom is quite small

Complimentary combinations of balloon colours and dye additive

Thickener in the water to limit the number of finer droplets

Experimentation with powder instead of water

So there we have it, a bit if fun, a bit messy, relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things and a good learning experience.



[1] – accessed 5/2/17

[2] – accessed 5/2/17

[3] Balloon burst – accessed 5/2/17

[4]Trigger trap webpage – accessed 5/2/17

[5]Miops Web page – accessed 5/2/17

[6] Trigger trap blog post accessed 5/2/17

Assignment 3; The decisive moment

I’ve started off assignment 3 with a mind map to help me with a little more focus but also so I don’t forget critical elements when I’m writing this up.  Noticing from the brief these images need to be printed I’ve read through the OCA forums on printing specifications, feedback from tutors and I’ve now purchased (sourced from Silverprint) 2 presentation boxes, A4 and A3 sizes and A3 matte double sided paper.

Why double sided? well I thought about creating more work for myself by feeding the paper through the printer twice,  to then mix up and have to then bin.  Only joking, don’t get me wrong I am concerned by the double sided printing practical aspects.  My thought process is 1 to save paper and in a vain attempt to help the environment, I can also then assemble the pages into an A3 binder (sourced from Marrutt).  I’ve sourced a small 7×5 binder and paper to practice with.  Based on my feedback from assignment 2 I will now be submitting prints on single sided paper. Double sided prints I’ll keep for an ovrerall presentation but for assignments they will be single sided.

Update 23rd March

My prints arrived on 23rd March from Loxley (one day after ordering) and I posted them on 24th March ready for my google hangout call with Helen on 5th April.

My final images are below and contact sheets, please let me know if you have any comments 🙂

A3 final Image contact-1

Final Images Contact page 1

A3 final Image contact-2

Final Images Contact page 2

A3 contact sheet-1

Contact sheet Page 1

A3 contact sheet-2

Contact sheet Page 2


Mind map current version

EYV - Assignment 3


[1] accessed 18/11/2016

[2] *** RefMe has been replaced by an app called ‘Cite This for Me’ in Feb 2017.  The app does not have all of the full functionality of RefMe and it’s worthwhile looking to see of there are other apps available.  I’ll stick with it for the time being.

Clamshell Portfolio Photo boxes

I’m planning my next assignment for Expressing your Vision.  Reading the brief for Assignment 3 it states “post your prints, no larger than A4, to your tutor together with your assignment notes.”

Following reading of the OCA forums I’ve come across what I believe to be an acceptable method of sending A4 prints and the formatting!   Essentially the print should be no larger than A4 but should also have a border (to facilitate handling) (appx 3.5 cm) and be on matte paper to minimise reflections when handling.( I will be first to admit I may have missed a post/document somewhere and if anyone spots an error here then please feel free to let me know with the source and I’ll update this post.)

I chose to then purchase 2 boxes for presentation, A3 and A4 sizes.  In addition to this I’ve selected Silverprint as my supplier (they give student discount too) and Fotospeed as my paper choice.

First impressions:

Silverprint.  Student discount at 5% and for free postage over £75.

To enable student discount  you need to register an account and email them with a scan of your student ID card and the discount is limited to 1 year.  On their webpage it states you’ll get 5% discount and any order over £75 will receive free standard postage. (correct as at 19/11/2016)

I chose to send them a scan of my OCA card and my NUS card. The following day I received an email and was provided with the code to apply to the shopping cart.  What it doesn’t state is to whether the order value is exclusive of exclusive of VAT so this needs clarity.  It transpires your order needs to be over £75 BEFORE VAT and post/packing before the free P&P can apply. Also handy to note is that the Fotospeed paper I  purchased was cheaper than advertised on the Fotospeed website, not by much.

Delivery was quick once it has been despatched and arrived in good condition and well packaged with no visible damage to the external box or contents.


SP Portfolio Box A4 3.5cm Depth Black Internal –SAB002101S (18.95 GBP incl VAT)

Image of internal box 00430260.JPG

This and the A3 version (34.96 GBP incl VAT for the white internals)  are nicely made and fit together well when opening and closing.  They seem to have a substantial enough construction to satisfy what they need to do, protect your prints, although I’m unsure as to how well they will fare being sent backwards and forwards multiple times to your tutor.

I’ll update this when the boxes have received a few runs in the mail 🙂

Fotospeed paper – I’ve used this manufacturer before but haven’t used this particular paper, Matt duo 240gsm before.  I tend to use Canson or Hahnemuhle if i’m producing client prints and use either Pearl or Gloss depending on the job.  For the purposes of this all I can say at this stage is after discount the duo paper is .325GBP (32.5p) per sheet of paper, but if you’re printing double sided then that’s just over 16 pence a print. (without ink or printer maintenance costs).

Links correct at 19/11/2016.




OCA Expressing your Vision Assessment Criteria

Taken from EYC course materials received in 2016.  To be used in reflection prior to submitting assessment and to be recorded in learning log.

Assessment Criteria

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills  – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)
  • Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)
  • Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)
  • Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking. (20%)

Assignment 2 – Collecting

Assignment 2

I’m going to admit I’ve let this one slip a little.  Combinations of an excessively busy time at work, freshers flu and lack of motivation have hindered progress.

The brief

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

  • Crowds
  • Views
  • Heads

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.

  • Crowds make a great subject for photography, not least because they are so contemporary. A city rush hour is a good place to start but events also offer great opportunities to photograph the crowd rather than the event. The foreshortened perspective of the telephoto lens will compress a crowd, fitting more bodies into the frame, but it can also be used to pick out an individual person. A wide-angle lens can capture dynamic shots from within the action.
  • If you choose to make a collection of views you need to be prepared to do some walking so keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum – you’ll walk further and see more. A tripod will be important to allow you to select a combination of small aperture and slow shutter speed to ensure absolute sharpness throughout the frame. The weather and time of day will be crucial, whether for urban or landscape views. A wide-angle lens is the usual choice but Ansel Adams also used a medium telephoto to foreshorten the perspective, bringing the sky, distance and foreground closer together.
  • Heads: Frame a ‘headshot’, cropping close around the head to avoid too much variety in the backgrounds. The light will be paramount and a reflector is a useful tool (you can ask the subject to hold it), throwing light up into the face, especially the eyes.

The classic headshot is buoyant but neutral which is quite difficult to achieve, but try to achieve a natural rather than an artificially posed look.


Work on this assignment for me should have been easy, I took the brief early on with an idea for a theme.  I had already decided to go for crowds (challenge myself and shoot more street photography) and the story/theme to tie this together seemed relatively straightforward.  To document crowds of people at different times of their lives, I wanted to shoot groups of children, maybe school children on their way to school, people on their way to work and people in death. I already had this idea when attending a closed cemetery in London to have groups (crowds) of graves and this would be the ending image.

The weeks have moved on and due to work etc. getting in my way I’m behind and disappointed with my progress.  My tutor’s feedback from assignment 1 was to take more risks and more photos.  I have definitely taken more photos and the risk for me is I don’t like street photography really, I have little or no control over the subjects and lighting although the locations can be chosen in advance its then a waiting game and I get bored easily.

So what have I ended up with, of the images collected my original idea has gone out of the window for this assignment but I have it to complete at some stage.  Reviewing my images there were some in there where the crowd is going about its business, then I have a singular person from a group who has either passively looked in the direction of me and my camera or actively noticed me and saw I was taking a picture of them.  This for me is something that is a little spooky.


On further detailed review of these images there were a few but not enough for a series to fit the brief, again an idea for the future to complete.  One of the images I’ve not included but I feel is relevant to John Berger [1].  Here we have a man actively looking at a woman, I don’t know what he’s thinking but is gazing at her as she crosses the road.


I have likened street photography in my assignment to hunting wild animals. I have no direct experience of this but crowds/street subjects are like the game or wild animal.  You find your hide, position to shoot from, and then stalk the wind animal until you’re able to then take the shot and kill the animal.  The end product is either a meal or a trophy to stick up on your wall.  As a photographer I’m finding a place to settle in and watch my subjects go by, then finding a suitable subject I then take the shot, the decisive moment, and have my image.  Will I eat it, no, but if it’s good enough I may sell it to then buy food to eat and then it may sit on someone else’s wall as a trophy.

Back to the plot, One of the other themes I became aware of and then went back to actively look for was the colour orange.  This occurred in the images outside of Blackfriars station in the form of orange shopping bags from a well know supermarket, orange hi-vis on passing cyclists and a taxi.  Using this colour as my linking theme I was able to capture an orange scarf later on Blackfriars Bridge and other shoppings bags near Westminster.  From the images I’ve selected the colour is evident but not necessarily the focal point of the image itself.

The difficulty I’ve come across is being able to get a great image but to also then fit that into a  body of work to then create a theme linking them all together. The brief suggests between 6 and 10 images, I could have included more but 7 I felt fit the brief and theme adequately with any more just being padding, like adding sentences to fill a word counted essay.  So I’m going to call this Orange rush hour. Low res images (72ppi) are shown below, the full sized images are here and the image order is correct, the wordpress layout below doesn’t allow them to be re-arranged.


Of the 7 images, the one with the scarf is perhaps my favourite with the taxi second best.

Assessment Criteria

How do I feel I’ve performed against the assessment criteria:

1.Demonstration of Technical and visual skills

All of the images are in focus and correctly adjusted for white balance, colour adjustment and contrast. Rule of thirds compositional technique is evident in all images and evidence of exercise 1.3 (1) leading lines(image bottom left and bottom right). Shallow depth of field to blur background and retain subject and or foreground interest (image top left and top middle)


Adequate technical and visual skills. Some of your images show well balanced compositions such as the cyclist image where the point of interest of the man in orange stands out as the focal point due to being place on the rule of thirds. I also think your use of differential focus in this image to fame and create depth. Other images I feel are less successful for example in the image with the lady in green in the middle, she appears to be the focal point as she is in the middle and in focus, If we are looking at the accent of orange of her phone cover maybe going in closer to the women and using the rule of thirds to balance the image would be more appropriate rather than all of the railings off balancing the image?

 The orange scarf image shows good observational skills and visual awareness and again the composition and differential focus work well here, I particularly like that the people have movement through having the implied movement space to the left of the image.

 The lighting in your images is very clean and the colours vivid which work well for this project.

2.Quality of outcome

I do feel this series of images could have been executed better, included more images and include a more varied subject matter around crowds.

Effective grasp of ideas and communication of visual ideas. The work has been presented well, I like the use of the narrow black border which is effective with these images. As outlined above I think in terms of prints these could be improved. You have communicated your ideas well and the theme of the colour orange is evident in the images without reading about the intentions of the assignment.

3.Demonstration of Creativity

I like the colour between each image to tie them all together, this is an abstract link and not as obvious as it could be by selecting random groups of people.

Some evidence of creativity, little evidence of risk-taking, with a few imaginative outcomes, some evidence of a developing personal voice. I would like to see a more personal idea to show development of personal voice, although orange is a theme it is not telling me anything about you or your view of crowds. I would also like to see more experimentation with viewpoints and composition

4. Context

I feel the images work within the brief I’d set (albeit revised from original plan) and work together as rush hour images

Feedback on Assignment and reflection

I submitted electronically and to receive feedback on my prints I also submitted by post within the deadline specified.  I hadn’t received any feedback by the new year and followed this up with my tutor on 6th January.  It appears that although I had uploaded the images and assignment I had failed to mark this as submitted so my Tutor had not seen it.  A silly thing but one I won’t fall foul of again.  My assignment was returned on 21st January.

Overall the feedback was positive but there are points for improvement including the manner of how the physical prints were submitted.  I’ve added my tutor feedback in italics below the assessment criteria above.


  • Coursework – I need to complete and upload the exercises
  • Research – More reflection on photographers that interest me.  Useful that I had visited exhibitions and photo walks but they need to be written up in my log.  I need to get more involved in peer discussions on the OCA forums.
  • Learning Log – There needs to be evidence of self reflection and research and evidence of analysis and synthesis of information.  My research and reflection needs to become more in depth.
  • Suggested reading/viewing – HenriCartier Bresson, Bruce Gilden, Martin Parr, Eugene Atget.

The next assignment looks at street photography, I had initially decided to take a risk and not shoot street genre again for this assignment, on reflection my approach at high speed photography to capture the decisive moment maybe a little out of brief.  As my tutor has now changed I will validate my approach with the new tutor.

Physical prints.  My decision submit them at this stage for feedback was a good one and useful.  I had based my submission on postings in the OCA forum, this included the sizing and paper types etc.  I submitted on double sided matte paper, this was not a good idea.  The feedback from Celena suggested the prints need to be single sided so they can be laid out in a sequence (unless they were going in a book) and be on a better quality paper but the border I had used worked well with the images.  I used Fotospeed 240gsm Matte paper to reduce reflections from lights when being viewed.  Based on this feedback I’m a little concerned, I feel the prints submitted are fine so it’s put into question my workflow/settings here.  I’m using an epson SCP800 and good quality paper so its not as if they’re on a cheap inkjet. I need to look into this further and run some more prints with different paper and settings.  I’ll now submit for assignment 3 as follows:

  • Pearl or glossy paper (I’m make a final decision on paper choice when I have the final images)
  • Single side paper
  • With border
  • Most labs can supply sample prints, I’ll use Loxley Colour lab for this and then compare these to my own prints.


My Tutor has commented that provided I commit myself to this course she believes that I have potential to pass at assessment but in order to meet all of the assessment criteria I need to focus on certain areas.

This is positive, I don’t doubt there are areas of improvement and I agree with the comments and suggestions made by my tutor. As you’ll see from my submission above I wasn’t particularly happy with my assignment submission and as such this reflects in the feedback received.  I need to make a concerted effort to upload and review the exercises completed so far and then to complete the ones outstanding (about 25%). To write up the exhibition lists and photowalk events.


[1] Berger, J. (1973) Ways of seeing based on the BBC television series. London, Eng.: British Broadcasting Corporation [u.a.].

Feedback & Reflection

Following feedback on Assignment 2 from my tutor Celena Beech there are some points that I need to address, they are in detail on my Assignment 2 page but pertinent to Assignment 3 are the following:

  • Printing – needs to be single sided and on better quality paper to improve definition.  As I submitted on Matte paper then I’ll look to change this to Pearl or Glossy.
  • There seems to be an intent this assignment needs to be on street photography, with the photographers to research being Martin Parr, Bruce Golden, Eugine Atget and Henri Cartier Bresson.  My initial intent is to use the decisive moment for High Speed Photography, I’ll clarify this with my new tutor.
  • I need to take more risks in my photography, include more of my personal view, change perspectives and angles.
  • My work in printed form has been return in the mail recently, one thing I need to review is the print resolution of the contact sheets,  this is poor quality and needs to be at greater resolution as it doesn’t view well.


Square Mile Assignment

I want to thank those of you that have read my blog and commented on the images I’ve created.  Your suggestions on keeping the images in a consistent orientation I have considered but on reflection decided that some of the images would not deliver the impact I wanted to show if they were shifted from landscape to portrait.  Instead I’ve gone with my gut feeling and left the submission as originally uploaded, which had an equal split of portrait and landscape images.

I’ve now uploaded my first assignment, I must admit it took a while tonight to identify the correct file size of the contact sheets.  The uploading process is not very helpful and seemed to crash if you attempt to upload a file larger than 28mb rather than just tell you it was too big.

To keep the contact sheets within the required file size they are saved to PDF file format and I restricted the image numbers on each sheet to less than the stated maximum of 36 images, I went with 28 in the end and even then some of the files were close to the maximum this does mean there are 10 contact sheets and they are now at the end of my earlier post.

A little screaming and hair pulling but after the third attempt I managed to upload it successfully.

Off to bed methinks!