Buildings in use.

 Assignment 3 finally ready to be posted to my tutor.

Thoughts on the assignment prior to photographing.

My understanding of this assignment is to try and show how a space is used, from a practical point of view ,even when devoid of people. Its about observing human activity within a building. My assignment therefore will be as much about people, even if absent from the image, as the buildings they inhabit.

 How do I plan to make this concept into a visually interesting and attractive image? I have found through photography an appreciation of how colour can be used to make a visual impact. I plan to use colour for all of my chosen buildings and spaces .  Photography has also increased my awareness of my surroundings ,and  as  well as taking portraits I really like photographing inanimate objects that often go overlooked , or  do not really seen  interesting enough to be photographed. The most mundane objects  can be beautiful, ugly  or just plain weird, but still photogenic .Whilst  working through my previous course ,TAOP, I went to an exhibition of surrealist work and wrote at the time I  found it difficult to understand. However the work of Eugene Atget “dramatically brought dead matter to life” pg 139 Ian Jeffrey, “Photography A Concise History“, Thames &Hudson, London 1981.  Therefore when taking my images I aim to photograph “suggestive fragments” pg 139 Ian Jeffrey, “Photography A Concise History“, Thames &Hudson, London 1981.   , not only to create (I hope)  an attractive image, but also help enable the viewer to visualise and think about the building from a users perspective. 

 This inspired me to expand on the concept of surrealism, (which I still find mildly perplexing) . I wanted to consider the theme of visualising the  subconscious, in an attempt to represent memory and thought, if possible, in some of my chosen  images.  Many years ago I watched a TV play called “The Stone Tapes” , the concept behind the play explored the haunting of a building, the walls retained, and replayed, the memories of its former inhabitants. Often you hear someone say they have moved away because of “the memories” their former home held. Notorious buildings, because of their association with  scenes of horrific crime, are often demolished to destroy any evidence, or memory, of its former history, or turned into a museum to ensure the memories, and therefore the history, is never forgot. How do you photograph a person’s, or buildings,  memories, and what do their possessions tell you about them? 

I am quite shy but working through the exercises and preparing for the assignment I feel I  have gained more confidence in photographing people in their environment and look forward to  assignment 4.This assignment has also made me consider how I aim to progress as a photographer, and what I can do to develop a more personal style .  Although I would love to photograph perhaps more serious social issues I do enjoy capturing the lighter side of life. Following assignment 2 I lost some of the enthusiasm I had for photography, I  felt uninspired. I struggled to see how I would enjoy photographing buildings and spaces. However I have found being able photograph the unseen beauty of the everyday and incorporate this into assignment 3 most enjoyable. It has also changed my view on how I see  buildings and spaces and consider new ways to photograph them. I  hope my ideas work and that some act as  “portraits without people”  pg196 Pamela Roberts , A Century of Colour from the autochrome to the digital age, Andre Deutsch, London 2007.

Thoughts after completion of my assignment.

 I have found the assignment far more enjoyable than I anticipated, and have certainly needed to think far more  laterally. It took a lot longer to organize than I expected, and I took hundreds of shots until I got what I felt was representative of how I, as the photographer, wanted to portray buildings in use. Choosing what to photograph, and how, took quite a lot of planning, this has made me realise how important it is for me to consider prior to doing any photographic  project  to have a basic idea of what I aim to achieve, and how. I already understand how light can alter an image, returning to the same spot at different times of the day can be tedious but for two of my chosen buildings I rediscovered just how important light is to  transform an image of the same space  into something quite new. Something I have never done before was to take some initial test shots prior to  photographing to check my framing and ensure my exposure was as I intended . This was time consuming , but I found it especially useful when I used myself as a subject in one of my  images. I have found it fascinating to try and see how human activity can be represented in an people- less building . I feel this has helped make me become more visually aware and given me renewed inspiration.

 As I have worked through this assignment  I have started to look at, and consider , genre more. This has encouraged me to read and think more about how I wish to develop (pun not intended ! ) as a photographer. I realise I have used what are different genre’s for the various buildings and spaces I have chosen for the assignment, not just one style throughout. However I feel this is a good thing as  by experimenting with different methods of recording how I see the world around me and how I choose to interpret this into a visual representation I will start to then, hopefully, develop my own personal style. I feel style is an elusive concept that  grows into a more individual distinctive form with experience.

Link to images on Flickr below.

The Minack Theatre was designed and built by Rowena Cade from 1931 until her death in 1983. An open air theatre formed from the steep cliff side that overlooks the bay at Porthcurno , Cornwall. Visitors are allowed all year round but the staged performances only run, obviously due to our climate, from April until the end of September, but are rarely cancelled. The seating area comprises of  very steep rows of terraces down towards the stage, you do need to be reasonably agile to negotiate them. A unique place to visit in the daytime , even more spectacular to watch a performance on a balmy midsummer night , as I was lucky enough to do.

Planning to  photograph the evening performance I knew I would need a reasonably fast lens as the performance ran from 8-10pm and flash was forbidden . The light changed throughout the performance, additionally the low sun and bright reflected light from the sea caused metering difficulties. Knowing the seating area would be quite compact, and I would be unable to move around, I only took one lens with me and chose my 28-75 F2.8. I have got a couple of faster F1.8 prime lenses but wanted the versatility of a zoom. I did regret not taking a longer focal length lens as I missed the opportunity  to frame closer, and obtain more intimate images of the actors on the stage. Returning for a day-time visit the  following week  I was able to photograph more leisurely and have also included one photograph taken that day.

Minack by day.

F8   1/320     ISO 200     @ 28mm   Daylight WB

This image was taken from the top level of the terraces looking below as I walked  down towards the lower terraces. It was obviously less busy than the previous week during the evening performance, but I wanted to try and  include people in the frame to demonstrate how the space is used by a daytime visitor. During the day it becomes a place for exploring,  to enjoy the views, contemplate, and of course photograph. Although there are far fewer people in this image than Interlude I have tried to show how each individual is using the space. A wider angled view would have been better. The curved lines of the terraces and steps leading down to the stage area all lead the eye around and down the frame. I would like to return and retake some of my images of the Minack. Prior to taking this course I much preferred to use a telephoto lens, I have found as the course has progressed I have began to really enjoy using a wider angle. Unfortunately I had not taken my 17—-35mm lens with me on this visit to Cornwall. I have even though of getting a wider prime lens as I feel this would be quite challenging to use, using a prime lens forces you to really consider the composition and not rely on zoom.

The Doctor’s DaughterPerformed by The Central School of Speech & Drama. University of London.Inspired by William Shakespeare’s “All’s Well that Ends Well”. Minack Theatre June 2010.

F5.6    1/125   ISO 400      @ 38mm       Shade WB

I wanted to show how the Minack is used by both audience and actors.  The view an audience member has of the stage is determined by how large the person in front of them is! Unless you are lucky enough to be seated at the front your  view of any performance will  include other members of the audience, albeit the back of their heads. The audience is nearly always in the peripheral view and I feel is part of the unique experience of a visit to the Minack. This image therefore includes not only the actors spread across the stage but the audience sat below and around me. This depicts my  experience that night and is intended to show how I, and the actors , used the space. As the actors are the main subject I had to compromise  losing the wonderful turquoise hue of the sea behind the stage , using a slower exposure  than the metered reading.  A big problem of photographing an event like this is that I also wanted to enjoy the performance, and therefore took less photographs than normal. Space was another constriction as I was unable to stand up, or raise my camera above my head, to take any pictures from a different angle of view during the performance . I used the interval  to try and do this, however once seated I was reluctant to walk about as I do not like heights and felt slightly unsafe with my camera slung around my neck!


F5.6     1/125      ISO 400    @ 28mm     Shade WB

Photographs sometimes make clear what cannot, or is difficult, to  explain in words. Describing the terraced seating area fails to really depict the sheer gradient and  how it  is used. I took this image during the interval but was  still safely sat in my seat. I like how each individual is engrossed in some activity, each making use of the short break. I like the busyness of the scene. Not a great composition, a wider angled view would have enabled me to include the top of the structure making a better image. I tried cropping but by doing this lost the scale I wanted to try and illustrate.

Minack at night.

F4.5    1/2500    ISO 400    @ 32mm     Shade WB

The uniqueness of the Minack Theatre is it’s spectacular setting. I wanted to try and capture this in an image, its part of the experience of a visit. This was taken just before the 8pm performance was due to begin. Not especially late on a summers evening but the light was beginning to slowly change, the hues of the sky were beautiful. Exposed mainly for the sky but  I also wanted the audience, stage hand, and edge of the theatre structure to be included and visible in the frame. The triangular shape created by my framing is intended to try and reinforce that  this is not a landscape image. My intention is to show the experience of a night time visitor , which  includes both people and  place. I like the small details , the man drinking wine from a bottle in the top third of the right hand frame, the bottle pointing towards the ship out at sea, made golden by the sun. All these elements and the triangular shape generate movement across and around the frame. Exposing correctly was quite tricky, I needed the audience to be still visible , not in silhouette. Overexposing would have meant losing the picturesque colours of the evening sky. I was especially lucky with the weather , rainy grey weather would have prevented me from showing the sheer beauty of the surroundings created simply by the low sun and clear evening light. This reinforced and reminded me just how important light can be to alter the ambience of a place and therefore  how it is perceived.

 A museum is a building that primarily exhibits and preserves historical and artistic artefacts.The Marazion museum is very small and is housed inside an area of the town hall building that once contained the very small branch of a bank, and was  also the former fire station . A step inside the museum reception area leads down into the main display area. Although occupying a  very small area for a museum it is crammed with artefacts depicting local life. Manned entirely by mainly elderly volunteers I photographed the interior on a day when Godfrey, a Marazion resident his whole life, was “on duty“.  All things must change, and time moves on, but inside the museum the exhibits commemorate a previous history and are protected from the modern world.  I have chosen to include more than one image of the life size mannequins that are used to display the clothes of long gone Marazion residents, each has a tale to tell. The museum is a place to contemplate and reflect on the past, mannequins may not talk but they can tell a story. As this is such a small intimate museum I have chosen to photograph them in a close up portrait style, they are inanimate representatives of the past. How I enjoyed taking their photographs, they do not move, talk , or get fed up when I take my time!The museum light was awkward as in some areas I needed to use flash and in others there was enough daylight to shoot hand held. I found getting Godfrey’s skin tones to look acceptable a nightmare because of this, my 2 chosen images of him were both taken without flash.

Please Mind the Step.

F5.6     1/50      ISO 400      @ 37mm     Custom WB @ 4619

My intention was to include visual information in the frame, that although not specific, gave clues about the function and location of the building and how it is used . In the top right hand corner is a print of St Michael’s Mount, a glimpse can be seen of the main exhibit area behind the elderly man as he greets his visitors. The rectangular doorframe is intended to give structure to the image and force the viewer to look beyond and behind my main subject, Godfrey.  The notice—-Please Mind the Step —-provides  visual evidence of the design of the space .If I were able to take this again I would stand further back to include more of the entrance in the frame, and possibly use a smaller aperture to capture the background exhibits in more detailed focus. However as I wanted to use Godfrey as the main subject, not the room, I needed to frame quickly. One of the problems of photographing people in their environment is that they are not models, they are not on assignment with me, but subjects I have chosen. I am sure if I had asked him he would have been happy to pose more, but I wanted to capture spontaneity not an unnatural pose.

Godfrey’s memories.

F3.2   1/40    ISO 400   @ 28mm  Custom WB @ 4262

The main problem with this image is the bright area of light on the left hand side of Godfrey’s head from the spotlight behind him. He was quite happy for me to take photographs,  but I needed to be quick in order to catch him before he moved on as he showed my husband and I, his only visitors that morning, around the various exhibits. However what I really like about this image is the look on his face. He had just been explaining that the exhibits behind him had been owned, and used, by both himself and his father before him. For just a moment his seemingly optimistic disposition changed, his memories  and younger days remembered.  The museum  provides  him with a sense of purpose in life but as it also contains many of his own  personal possessions is , I feel,  also tinged with a sadness that the passage of time inevitably brings. This is exactly what I saw in his split second change of expression and have tried to convey in this photograph.

Godfrey’s Wife’s clothes.

F6.3   1/50   ISO 400     @ 28mm    Flash    Custom WB @ 4950

I was undecided about including this image but felt the look on her face expressed how I felt when Godfrey informed me the clothes and jewellery  this mannequin wears  belonged to his deceased wife when she was a young woman. She gazes out of the frame and has a look my own mother has when reminiscing , a far away stare towards the past.  The  museum preserves the memory of Godfrey’s wife’s youth.  I really wanted to get a full length shot of this mannequin with Godfrey stood in front. However he kept walking and talking and I did not want to disturb his train of thought so I took a quick shot, unfortunately  my attempt was out of focus. A shame as the juxtaposition of the mannequin wearing the old man’s dead wife’s clothes would have been a visual representation of the pathos I felt for him, and what the various exhibits elicited in me that day as a visitor to the museum.

Tommy blue eyes.

F6.3           1/50          ISO 400       @ 33 mm           Flash             Custom WB @ 5000

As with the other mannequins I found myself wondering who originally wore Tommy blue eye’s clothes. His unseeing bright blue eyes contrast with the orange/rust  tones that surround him. The colour balance does not have what is considered the correct 1:2 Orange/blue proportion, the orange tones are more dominant which I feel increases the magnetism of those eyes. They create an accent of colour that is intended to make the viewer “search for evidence of character, even in a waxwork, because of the animated impression a photograph suggests” pg 107   Charlotte Cotton,  “The photograph as contemporary art ” ,  new edition, Thames & Hudson, London 2009. This is one of my personal favourite images taken for the assignment.

Cranham School. Looking for examples and inspiration I read about photographer Robert Polidori, whose  images “act as character studies for their previous occupants” . His image Kindergarten no, 7, “Golden Key”   uses ” cheerful colour” that  contrasts starkly with the abandoned, “trashed“, deserted classroom. Pg 213 Chapter 10 Digital Directions, Pamela Roberts , A Century of Colour from the autochrome to the digital age, Andre Deutsch, London 2007.  The former inhabitants of this building  ,we know, will never return, making it a very touching image. This gave me the idea during the summer holidays  of photographing the  school where  my eldest daughter teaches . The age range of the children taught at Cranham ranges from 4 to 11. To a child school can be exciting and scary at the same time and I wanted to capture this aspect if at all possible. Although there were no children present I also  tried to frame my images from a child’s perspective. One of the first things that struck me as I walked around the empty classrooms was how colourful they were ,and although the children were physically absent, their presence, and how the space is used by them, was still perceptible. Unlike the  users of Polidori’s schoolroom the inhabitants of Cranham would be returning. The bold saturated colours and subject matter are intended to represent the vitality and sense of  community I felt the building possessed, even when devoid of its usual inhabitants.

Our Class Rules.

F4     1/60     ISO 400     @ 18mm    Fluorescent WB

Taken sitting at a school table used by the children with a wide angle to try and show how the classroom is seen from their viewpoint.  The ethos of the school is visible all around with its use of  coloured displays  and I wanted to combine these into a single image. The prominent tone is yellow, a warm and inviting hue, the colour of sunshine , a colour associated with optimism and happiness. School should be a safe haven, a place to learn and progress, I wanted to show how colour has been used in a positive way by the school to encourage this. Using a wider aperture has thrown much of the background out of focus, I personally like this, but perhaps  a smaller aperture and keeping more detail in the frame would have been preferable. I have a personal preference for using wider apertures, and I do like to concentrate, and closely frame, on just a limited, or single, element in a composition when making images like the ones taken at the school.


F8     1/60     ISO 400      Flash     17mm     Flash WB

The bold primary and secondary colours of the various displays around the school were eye-catching. This particular display is in the reception area where newcomers aged just 4 will first arrive. I used a wide angle lens and knelt below the display pointing my camera up to try and photograph it from a child’s height and perspective. The painted messages and children’s name badges provide visual clues to the function and purpose of the room. My one reservation about this image is should I have included more background detail? However I felt that as the colour and detail were what really drew me to photograph this display  I felt  the best way to do them justice was to exclude the rest of the room. I  enjoy photographing what may seem inconsequential but can be  visually informative and attractive. Using a wide angle from below alters the perspective and draws the viewer into the frame making the painted faces come forwards, almost leering perhaps? The multi colours are bold, brightly coloured,  and deeply saturated,  I wanted to try and show how this display, although visually inviting and attractive  , could also be  slightly frightening. The first day at school for a 4 year old is a momentous occasion, a mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown, this is my visual representation of that experience.

Bullying stops here.

F4   1/40   ISO 400     @21mm  Custom WB @ 4200

This poster is on a connecting door between classrooms and a library/ reading area. I was drawn by the colour and its content, it acknowledges a perceived threat. I wanted to expand on the notion that school can be both exciting and threatening at the same time. The colour of the poster is interesting, pink, a colour more normally  associated with feminine behaviour. A visual reminder that regardless of gender bullying exists, and at this school will not be tolerated.

The pencil case.

F7.1    1/160      ISO 200  Flash   @ 21mm   Flash WB

I spotted this lone pencil case in an empty classroom. Why was it there? Had it been abandoned by its former owner? It seemed too new, and was crammed full. Whatever the reason I thought it  ideal to represent the start of a new school term. This will inevitably mean the purchase of a shiny new pencil case, pens and pencils . The pencil case is intended to personify all the excitement of a new term, it represents its unknown owner’s experience of sitting in a schoolroom. I wanted the pencil case to appear larger than life, it is such an integral  part of the school day.  I have attempted to try and show the view of a small child looking over the top of their new acquisition towards the front beyond the desks. What I enjoy most about photography is how even something as mundane as a pencil case can also be visually attractive and “how non-human things, often quite ordinary, everyday objects, can be made extraordinary by being photographed” pg 115 Charlotte Cotton,  “The photograph as contemporary art ” ,  new edition, Thames & Hudson, London 2009.

Gwelva Landing.My husband commented that he did not think the Gwelva could be classed as a building for this assignment! I disagree, it may have no roof or distinctive rooms  but it is a structure with a function and purpose for the people who use it.The Gwelva landing is in Marazion, Cornwall, a space consisting of a seating area at the top and steep steps down to the bottom landing area for reaching the boats that ferry passengers to and from St Michael’s Mount at high tide. The seating area is   popular with visitors and locals alike for simply sitting and watching the world go by. My mother remembers being introduced to my great aunt there just after the 2nd world war, sat with other local women enjoying their daily gossip. Its a space I always first return to on one of my frequent visits to Marazion.

 The Gwelva can be reached through a passageway from the main street in Marazion, and also at low tide via the beach. The view overlooking the Mount is breathtaking making this a very popular space to sit, contemplate, and enjoy a Cornish pasty whilst doing so. The seats at the top of the landing are often very busy during the summer and although most visitors have cameras I preferred to return later in the day when it was quieter with fewer people. If the tide is high enough the boats arrive at the landing space down below the seating area and this is a great vantage point from which to take photographs  of the boats  arriving without being too conspicuous. 

   The view from the top landing looking towards the magnificent St Michael’s Mount is stunning, and  what most visitors will take photographs of. My images for this assignment are about the Gwelva in use, not the Mount or the beautiful scenery. The Gwelva itself is not an attractive structure, just  a concrete area with  basic wooden seating , to create  visually attractive images I needed to really consider my surroundings and my first two images were influenced by William Eggleston who “does not attempt to varnish, polish, clean up, or otherwise beautify his world” Pg 170  Icons Of Photography The 20th Century Prestel Publishing Ltd London 2005.


F4.5   1/1600    ISO 400     @ 47mm   Daylight WB

Although the telescope allows the visitor a better view of the Mount I have deliberately used a large aperture to throw it out of focus. The tones of the image are quiet, hues associated with calmness. I aimed to combine these to create an attractive image .I love this place, it  is special to me. This image is my way of showing what I see, and how I feel, when I first arrive and stand in the Gwelva. I stand and gaze, without really seeing the view, simply enjoying the ambience that being there brings. I like to think this is how other visitors might experience it also. The beauty of the Gwelva is not created by the physical structure, but  by how the space is used.

F4.5   1/1600    ISO 400     @ 47mm   Daylight WB

Although the telescope allows the visitor a better view of the Mount I have deliberately used a large aperture to throw it out of focus. The tones of the image are quiet, hues associated with calmness. I aimed to combine these to create an attractive image .I love this place, it  is special to me. This image is my way of showing what I see, and how I feel, when I first arrive and stand in the Gwelva. I stand and gaze, without really seeing the view, simply enjoying the ambience that being there brings. I like to think this is how other visitors might experience it also. The beauty of the Gwelva is not created by the physical structure, but  by how the space is used.

Gwelva#2. No fouling.

F8    1/320   ISO 100    @ 70mm    Daylight WB

I sat on a bench on the Top Gwelva landing and looked around trying to see how I could create a structured image using the No Fouling sign. I liked the bright colours and I enjoy using  overlooked elements in my photography. The sign serves two purposes in my image. It creates structure, the eye is immediately drawn towards the bold colours before moving further around the frame to consider the arrival of a boat to the Gwelva. It is also a reminder of the rules and regulations users of the space must (but frequently do not) adhere to.

Gwelva #3. Daytime.

F8    1/500    ISO 100     @ 70mm     Daylight WB

Getting off a boat is a precarious business , I wanted to depict how the bottom landing is used by those arriving via the sea. I found it hard to frame exactly as I wanted, I feel more of the landing area and less sea would have created a better image. However I was at the mercy of the tide and did not manage to do this during my time there. Although I was able to keep returning to the same place the tide does change and my chance had gone.

Gwelva #4. Evening.

F8    1/250     ISO 200      @ 35mm    Shade WB

Returning to the Gwelva on an evening enabled me to create a more tranquil image than my others to show a different aspect of the Gwelva landing in use. I like the golden tones and soft light created by the lower sun and early evening light. The jetty forms vertical and horizontal  leading lines across the frame creating movement. I like how the fisherman and small boy are each engrossed with  their own separate activities showing their individual use of the space.

My House. In order to  start photographing my house I need to define what I see as it’s function. Its a building where I live with my husband, keep possessions in, it also  contains memories. It was with this in mind that I started to consider how to photograph my home . How to make any image not boring was a struggle!  I found I needed to set up and plan my compositions . I  took initial test shots  to gauge the best composition and camera  settings to get the effect I wanted. I found taking these images the most challenging of the whole assignment, and am still really not sure if my images work well or not. I hope they are not too opaque to understand how I have interpreted the assignment photographically.  However I feel I have been really challenged by the assignment, especially  this section, and have tried  to think “outside the box” — (I hate that expression but am unable to think of any other way of putting it ! ) “The reality that any photographer depicts is subjective”  Sheryl Garratt   “Pioneer of a new kind of beauty” The Guardian Newspaper,  Saturday 4th September 2010, and the images taken inside my house are a personal  view of  my home in use. Photography in this respect can be very revealing, a glimpse allowed into a private life, albeit a biased one. I have not included any full room views of my home (as is the case for most of this assignment) I much prefer to  photograph the minutiae to reveal its usefulness as a space to  myself and my husband.

On the edge. 

F8   20secs     ISO 100      @ 28mm     Tungsten WB

The  bedroom, a room to sleep, relax , and dream in, where ghosts suppressed in the day re-appear.

I found Chapter 2, Once Upon a Time Charlotte Cotton,  “The photograph as contemporary art ” ,  new edition, Thames & Hudson, London 2009 useful reading when considering how to tell a story in one frame. This is my attempt to create an image with “dream-like qualities” pg 58  by acting out “an event” pg 50. I escape to my bedroom to sleep, think, and read . However as I get older I do not sleep as well as I used to, and will often spend the long hours of the night reading, or worrying about things, that in the day, seem insignificant.  The photograph on my bedside table, visible in the frame, is a treasured image of a happy time. There are no clues as to the relationship between it’s subject and me, I want the viewer to consider this connection, it represents memory and the past. Just who, or what, is  the core of this image? This image represents the night-time me, a subconscious self-portrait, my thoughts, worries, and  the room become a part of this process: they are integral.

 It took me most of one  evening to obtain. I  set my tripod up and changed it’s position until I was happy with the composition and then took a series of bracketed shots to get the exposure correct. The room itself was in darkness and lit from  behind the tripod and camera. I then needed to keep taking shots of myself at different shutter speeds until I finally managed to make myself ghostly. This in itself was hard work, I used the camera shutter delay button and a release cable as I moved around the bed. I took over thirty exposures, I had simply disappeared from some as I moved too quickly . Reading through to  the next section of the course I noticed that motion blur is referred to as “slightly mannered” pg 45  Photography 1: People and Place Open College of the Arts . However I struggled to  think of any other way of creating a visual representation of the surreal concept of room and user becoming one.


F7    1/50     ISO 100    @ 17mm       Custom WB @ 5950  Cropped post shutter.                 

The bathroom, a room containing a shower or bath.I spent an afternoon attempting to photograph my bathroom, and having failed miserably gave up and went to read my newspaper instead. I had stupidly tried to emulate William Eggleston ,I adore his seemingly lack of concern for subject matter, whatever he chooses to shoot the colours and composition create an  new way of looking at the world. The mundane & everyday are seen in an exciting new light. Green shower, Memphis, 1973 uses “gorgeous colour” and “clever cropping” pg 169 Digital Directions, Pamela Roberts , A Century of Colour from the autochrome to the digital age, Andre Deutsch, London 2007, to create a visually attractive image. My bathroom , shortly due for renovation, has  grim green tiles, and I tried , unsuccessfully, to recreate a similar scene. 

I took this  shot later that night ,  inspired by an article I read that afternoon  about the death of photographer Corrine Day , aged just 48, who “cast off glamour in favour of grubby naturalism”  Sheryl Garratt   “Pioneer of a new kind of beauty” The Guardian,  Saturday 4th September 2010. Taken just as my husband was getting out of the shower  I was amused to see how his body movement almost mimicked that of the ceramic mermaids on the tiled wall. The green walls and towel, the tanned orange hued arms of my husband, and the orange hair of the mermaids create a colour palette of two contrasting secondary colours.My bathroom may be uninviting but is certainly functional and I have tried, through the use of humour, colour, and cropping, to make it visually appealing to a certain extent!!!

What a nightmare trying to take any attractive photographs of this building in use! The  surgery (where I work) was built in the 1970’s and could not be considered an attractive building by any stretch of the imagination. The building was extended  during the 1990’s and the interior combines a mixture of old and new offices, with ancient (a slight exaggeration) and modern furniture. It provides care for over 15,200 patients , and accommodates 12 GP’s , 8 practice nurses, a team of district nurses, 4 health visitors, administrative and ancillary staff. Due to patient confidentiality I was obviously unable to include any real patients in my photographs. A practical problem was the light, there is very little available day light, additionally the fluorescent lights are always on.

Although the building and work environment are quite dreary  I wanted to try and show the surgery in a intriguing way and felt the best way of achieving this was to concentrate on framing  “close-ups of the everyday”  with ” the jaunty use of colour” pg 196 Digital Directions, Pamela Roberts , A Century of Colour from the autochrome to the digital age, Andre Deutsch, London 2007, rather than taking a larger scale image of a whole room or building. We have an excellent reputation as a caring and friendly practice, the building we inhabit does not impede these qualities. 

 This was the final building I chose to photograph and I took three lenses with me, 17-35mm , 28-75, and a 50mm prime. Two images for the assignment have  been taken with the prime lens, without flash. Using the prime lens forced me to really consider the framing and not really on zoom. I have found I have been relying too much on using my zoom lenses, they are practical, but I think I need to challenge myself more. I must try going out  with just a prime lens and see just how inventive I can be with the limitation of using foot ,not digital , zoom

The Blue Chair


F5.6   1/200    ISO 400   @ 28mm    Flash  Custom WB @ 4300 Cropped and overexposed by 2 stops.

Brenda, our caretaker is the lowest paid member of the practice team. I followed her around one evening as she cleaned the empty clinic rooms. I was amused by how the chair overpowers her, making her seem even tinier than she is, almost insignificant. Nothing could be further from the truth, she arrives first in the morning and leaves last at night and is responsible for the essential daily maintenance of the building, ensuring all other users of the surgery work in a clean and safe environment,  the empty rooms are her domain. The empty chair  acts as a reminder that there are other, unseen , users of this room. Overexposing to keep the background walls bright I wanted the walls and space around Brenda to have a bright clinical and uncluttered appearance, how treatment rooms are normally perceived to be.


F3.5    1/400   ISO 1000    50mm  Prime lens     Fluor WB    Posterization post shutter.

I shoot Raw and do enjoy processing my images, the control I have over the final image far outweighs the extra time involved. I also love doing my own printing. However I  rarely go beyond basics such as Levels, saturation, contrast etc. I somehow felt that too much manipulation alters the essential truth of a photograph. However  an article in the Spring 2010 issue of Ag set me thinking, manipulation is nothing new and was used in the dark room long before digital imaging arrived. “As Alfred Stieglitz said:”The print should reveal what you saw and felt” pg 62 Paul Gallagher Nothing but the truth pg 56 Ag Spring 2010. 

Hence the process begins with the basic raw file and finishes with the final print and” only the photographer can decide how he or she believes the final image should look, which tools to employ, and to what extent” pg 56  Paul Gallagher Nothing but the truth Ag Spring 2010. With this in mind I took just 2 shots of the poisons cupboard , kept hidden away in the depths of the surgery. I wanted, through the processing, to create a wildly coloured ,distorted, psychedelic looking image. This locked cupboard contains controlled,  often hallucinogenic, drugs, that have to be signed for in the book kept on  top of the cupboard, and is carefully regulated.  This is my attempt at creating “a metaphorical visual language” pg 98 Pamela Roberts , A Century of Colour from the autochrome to the digital age, Andre Deutsch, London 2007. The surgery staff deal with and care for many emotionally  disturbed patients and drug users (legal and illegal). This image represents their state of mind as users of the service we provide in the surgery building and of the rules and regulations surrounding patient care.

Practice Nurse Tina.

F3.5  1/125    ISO 100O   50mm Prime lens      Fluorescent WB

Using a fixed focal length lens proved awkward trying to frame this image. The treatment rooms are quite compact, but hold all the equipment necessary for comprehensive patient care. Without moving outside of the room  I wanted to take the photograph from the perspective of a patient sat inside, and additionally  illustrate Tina’s small working space, the desk and shelves crammed with paperwork and other essentials of a modern treatment room. I wanted to point out that computer literacy , as well as patient concern, is a vital necessity  in 21st century nursing care. As much time can be spent completing computer records by our practice nurses as actually treating a patient.  Tina was a great subject, easy to photograph as I know her well, talking to me as if I were a real patient. I took a sequence of shots until I decided I had captured the expression and composition I wanted to show how this room is seen and used by both nurse and patient.

Service with a smile.

Service with a smile.

F5.6   1/200   ISO 400    @28mm     Flash   Daylight WB  Overexposed by 2 stops.

Despite the rather dull surroundings the practice team are generally cheerful and try to  greet all their patients with a welcoming smile. This image is intended to illustrate how a patient using our surgery building  might hopefully  see beyond the uninviting decor, which is made irrelevant  by the smile proffered as they enter the consulting room. I used flash for this image and the correctly exposed image created a nasty shadow behind my subject’s head,  to compensate I overexposed by 2 stops to make most of the background fade away and eliminate the problem. I decided to use this to my advantage as I feel the image perhaps  illustrates how the eye does not take everything in on entering a room, missing small details, but looks directly towards the other person within the room. Whether my idea works I am not 100 % sure, my husband preferred more background detail. I wanted to include the clutter on the desk as this is my subject’s work space and how she uses it. We are actually a paperless practice, but seem to generate enormous amounts of paperwork!


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