Simon Roberts

Posted in Reading/Exhibitions/Web on June 26, 2011 by Judy Bach

I went to see an exhibition of his work today @ the Mac, Cannon Hill Park Birmingham.

We English

On looking at this collection I was amazed at the intricate detail visible in his large scale work which is printed at 50 x 40.  It is great to be able to get really close up to work like this as there is so much detail within the frame that is not immediately noticeable, tiny dots turn out to be human inhabitants of the landscape scaled images . He uses a 5 x 4 Ebony plate camera, “a brand new traditional old design“. Once the film is in the camera he is unable to see and compose through the lens, he comments that any human subjects therefore cannot be too sure if he is actually shooting them as his eye is not looking at them through the viewfinder. Additionally he uses a cable release frequently held behind his back. The camera forces him to work slowly, he has to ” look and study” carefully to compose , this slowness he feels helps  “crafting a photograph” .These are not quick, candid, images, they are thoughtful and studied images of the British landscape that just happen to also include people. My favourite was of Saunton Sands, Devon, 23/5/2008. The frame is filled with soft beige neutral tones and gentle curves, with tiny, just visible, black dots of surfers.

The Election Project He was chosen as the 2010 Election Artist and his images capture the disparate nature of what is
Britain in the 21st Century. In an age where digital images are beamed around the world instantaneously his use of old traditional photography forces the viewer to slow down and really look at the rich diversity captured by his seemingly old fashioned methods.



Posted in Thoughts on progress, rants, raves, & woes on June 13, 2011 by Judy Bach

My work has arrived safely at the OCA office ready to be assessed in July. I feel relieved but also slightly lost.

My plan , at the moment, is to have a couple of months break and then start a new course in the Autumn.

Working full-time leaves me little spare time, my house really needs dusting , I have friends to catch up with , my family can have my undivided attention, but I am already missing the routine of studying!

Assignment 5 Feedback

Posted in Assignment reports on April 29, 2011 by Judy Bach

I found the final assignment challenging for various reasons so I am very pleased with my final report. I really value Robert’s observations and suggestions, who comments “this is good work showing attitude , feeling and atmosphere“. I am glad my Blog received a thumbs up too —“Your blog looks good“. How I hated using a blog initially , I felt exposed. I am a private person who keeps most thoughts to myself, I hated “going public” but have come to quite enjoy blogging. Robert has made some interesting suggestions that I would like to explore further following on from this assignment. Reading a critique of one’s own personal work can be difficult but it is important to look upon it not as criticism but as a guide to improvement. His comments about some individual images reflect to an extent some of my own thoughts when choosing my final selection. Robert commented my images “could easily be used for a magazine article about teenagers” but he also noted that my client brief was not really specific enough, “what would that magazine article be about ?”. Thinking about this with hindsight I agree, and now realise it probably made the assignment more difficult for me in terms of creating a cohesive set of images .

A successful “moody portrait


 Your Worst Nightmare

Robert liked the image but questioned its inclusion as he felt ” in a documentary article you need to stick to the actual facts” . Interestingly my husband also felt this one image was out of place and suggested I did not include it in my final selection. Reflecting on this I can agree that it probably is not a depiction of an actual event but a state of mind. My interest in surrealism has grown during the course and is something I would like to explore further but can understand why it really was not ideal to include this particular photograph with the assignment .

Community youth centre

Robert commented” Its a telling atmospheric shot” but ,and I agree completely, it would be so much better with youngsters in the frame. Time and opportunity meant I took the chance of including a people less shot. How I wish I had forced myself to just go and take it!

The Stare

Robert liked the direct eye contact of the taller boy but felt I should have waited for a more “engaging” look from the other two subjects in the frame, I was aware that their facial expressions were not as direct or as interesting .Following Robert’s observation I have cropped the image to exclude the other boy as this seems to intensify his stare. Interestingly whilst leafing through my paper cuttings I came across a piece about Alberto Korda who cropped his iconic image of Che Guevara to specifically “highlight the intense gaze”of his subject  (The Observer 07/03/10) Link to image of Che below.

However I would still have liked to have got the taller boy either on his own , or as Robert has said should have just waited for the right moment.

Welcoming committee

I nearly did not include this image, I was really unsure if the light was alright. I am so glad I did as Robert felt “ this is one of the best shots” , both my husband and eldest daughter urged me to use this, sometimes it helps to ask other peoples’ opinion as they are often far more objective. Robert felt this should have been my opening shot, I found it quite difficult to decide on my initial image, and think he is probably right. But as I commented in my assignment notes I wanted each image to be considered individually, not to be seen as a story as such , with a beginning, middle and end , but as a photographic essay with a common theme.

The Cage

Another atmospheric and telling shot” but “weakened” by lack of people. I was very aware that my presence around the youth centre might possibly be misconstrued. I felt horribly self- conscious and was not allowed inside the youth centre (any youth workers must have a CRB check). Access to the cage was only available through the centre but it is visible from behind the building. I had envisaged perhaps being able to take a shot through the wire fence whilst it was occupied but felt just too uncomfortable. Although the course has helped me become more confident approaching strangers I felt really unable to take what I felt would be a sneaky shot ,I did not fancy having to explain myself to the local constabulary! I totally agree that the image loses impact due to lack of any inhabitants.


“Good as a simple portrait” but is not really informative in context with the assignment I set myself. Robert suggests it would work well in “another kind of assignment” concentrating on the facial expressions of young people. In a separate section of my blog I have written about my encounter with Roger, a much older man, I concentrated mainly on his expressions as I photographed him and this is certainly something I would like to expand on.

The Threat

Well composed “strong photo“. Following advice from Robert about being careful not to make my images be too saturated and have too much contrast I have been careful when processing them but he has advised me “I think you could safely increase contrast here” to improve the light which is rather “pale“. I shall be doing this as I also think my main subject’s face is too bleached out.


Good simple composition with the hair really standing out well” I am glad Robert liked this image. I usually prefer to use available light for most of my portraiture work but used flash to increase the saturation of her dyed hair ,the colour is so much a part of who she is.

Game induced trance

Robert said “the longer exposure time is interesting here” and “something worth exploring further“. I have started to experiment with long exposures and included one in each of my two previous assignments (On the Edge assignment 3, and Rush Hour assignment 4). As stated earlier I have developed a growing interest in surrealism that has led to me using longer exposure times and something I fully intend continuing with.

No Go Zone

A “strong shot” with a “wonderful blue cast “. I had only minutes to compose and obtain this shot and Robert felt the leading lines worked well drawing the eye into the frame towards the cyclists.

The Threat——more contrast

As suggested I have increased the contrast and additionally the saturation very slightly.


Posted in Roger on April 26, 2011 by Judy Bach

I met Roger for the first time whilst I was in Cornwall last year (October 2010). I was trying to obtain some more images for assignment 4.  He is a wonderful local character who I could not resist photographing, an amateur historian who  was walking  through his home town of Penzance. I told him he had a wonderful photogenic face, he was very surprised and told me no one has ever said that to him before. Even though I did not use any of his pictures for my  assignment I really enjoyed talking to and photographing this man.

I returned to Cornwall  again this year (April 2011) and took the prints to his house, he invited me into his home. I had not intended taking any photographs of him that day but as I had my camera with me I took some of him inside his home and as I left. He is so sweet , with a marvellous face, I love how his expressions change as he talks, they show such character. However, I have decided not to include those taken inside his house on this blog as I feel that is an invasion of his personal space and I feel honoured by his trust in allowing me–a virtual stranger– into his home.

The coursework has given me the confidence (and a reason) to approach a total stranger in this way. I am certain that without having completed the exercises and assignments I would never have thought, or had the confidence, to  take a series of images like this of a man I had only met twice.


Some final thoughts.

Posted in Thoughts on progress, rants, raves, & woes on April 26, 2011 by Judy Bach

I’ve posted my last assignment and must now get my work organised and ready for assessment in July (2011). As well as this blog I have a paper journal with articles, cuttings, etc. Although I sent 5 x 7 images to my tutor I have now printed all of my assignment photographs on Permajet Fine Art Fibre Royal Base 325gsm A4 paper for assessment. I enjoy printing all my own work, it is very satisfying to be in complete control from start to finish.

I’ve found the course extremely challenging at times, especially when photographing complete strangers. However I have taken images, and met some interesting people, whom I would never have considered approaching prior to this course.Roger is one such person, see separate blog section re Roger. The coursework has given me the courage to approach people with a wide angled lens rather than hiding some distance away with my long 200mm telephoto lens. The image below represents a moment of achievement for me when I became brave enough to go really up close and personal, and the one I have chosen for the front page of my Blog.

I have invested in an ultra wide 10-22mm lens which, along with a 50mm prime, has become a favourite. I was lucky enough to return to Cornwall again this month and managed to take some much wider images of the Minack Theatre as suggested by Robert following assignment 3 ,shame there was no performance .

Working towards assignment 4 I also discovered just how peaceful, and fulfilling, landscape photography can be, something I was never particularly interested in before. I wrote in my blog how I nearly did not submit my chosen images but am glad to say I feel this was one of my most successful assignments. The assignment forced me to really observe the light and my surroundings carefully, a skill that I hope I can build on. On holiday in April this year I got up at 5am –unheard of for me—simply to take some landscape photographs for pleasure.

I still love my black velvet background but have learned to look around me and see the potential in all sorts of everyday places to provide  interesting, and free, backdrops (see below Live Life or Die).

I have developed a growing interest in surrealism and using photography as a way of expressing thoughts and feelings , something I have tried to incorporate into some of my assignment work. This is certainly an area I hope to expand on in the future. My tendancy to frequently focus on smaller details and objects has however  perhaps meant that often my assignment work was not really what was being asked for. Is this the beginning of a personal style perhaps? Developing a distinct way of working photographically takes time and experience , I feel it has to grow and mature into something unique.

I have enjoyed discovering new (to me) photographers and enjoyed looking at their work for inspiration, especially Lise Sarfati,  whose work influenced my decision to present my final assignment in colour rather than black and white. I have got a set of images on Flickr that have been inspired by some favourite photographers, an ongoing project and one I want to carry on adding to, but am aware that I must try and build on my own skills to create a style all of my own.   Set here :

I am slowly adding to my growing collection of  photography books , I also subscribe to Hotshoe & Ag photography journals. I  enjoy reading and learning about photographic theory, new thoughts and ideas, as well as just enjoying the stunning art work .

I  have managed to improve (slightly !) my PS skills. I intend to have a summer break and then enrol on my last level one course DPP which I hope will further these skills.

I have tried to reflect constructively after each assignment and have recorded my responses to tutor comments in my blog section Assignment reports. I found this hard sometimes but do understand how reviewing images retrospectively, along  with tutor feedback , helps build up skills, and rather than be despondant about mistakes try to learn from them.

Finally I must thank first of all Robert, my tutor, for his invaluable critiques and feedback. Also my long suffering family for putting up with my ongoing obsession with photography and being patient (sometimes!) models for me .

Roger revisited

Posted in Roger on April 26, 2011 by Judy Bach
Roger by Judy... B
Roger, a photo by Judy… B on Flickr.


Posted in Roger on April 26, 2011 by Judy Bach
Roger by Judy... B
Roger, a photo by Judy… B on Flickr.