Reflection on Part One

This introductory unit to Digital Photographic Practise introduced concepts of workflow, histogram and editing. I found it all fairly straightforward, in the most part an extension of what I am currently doing.

Workflow is simply a way of describing what you do and I found that by writing it down and following my own workflow, I worked in a much more rigorous manner. The course materials were successful in getting me to think a bit more deeply about my work process; this, plus looking at the blogs of other students, gave me many ideas about documenting it more thoroughly.

Editing was a natural extension of workflow; in fact, the editing process is part of the workflow. My previous editing work process would be to filter out the poor technical images and then I would work in a haphazard manner. The concept of selects and first selects was therefore useful in putting some structure into my workflow after the technical edit.

Histograms seemed a little out of place, sandwiched as it was between workflow and editing, but the exercise was well-structured and a good way of using the histogram to illustrate over and underexposure and high and low contrast. I regularly use the histogram in Photoshop while I am adjusting levels but not so often in camera to review exposure. Generally I simply look at the preview screen. My key takeaway from this exercise therefore is to use the camera’s histogram more regularly.

During the previous course, Art of Photography, the photos I took for the exercises were mainly just fired off to serve the purpose in hand. For Digital Photographic Practice I am trying to take more satisfying pictures, to stretch my abilities and to put into practise, what I have learnt previously. The result is that I am getting a lot more from them than just ticking boxes. The portraits for the first exercise, the Roman fountains, the champagne glasses; all have given pictures that I am pleased with.

At the suggestion of my tutor and with encouragement from the course notes, I have started to shoot in Raw format (my camera is set to Raw + hi-res jpegs so I am hedging my bets!) At the moment I do not have the same fluency with processing Raw images as I have with jpegs. That will come as I practise more, particularly when I get to section 3, and in the meantime I am still using jpegs a lot.

All of this was wrapped up with an assignment which had a suitably open-ended brief. The Art of Photography assignments were all quite prescriptive in what the pictures were meant to show. This brought out the engineer in me – I thought that if my submission met the brief I would achieve a good outcome, ignoring the fact that I was meant to be creative as well. Being able to choose my own brief took that restriction away. I really appreciated the freedom it gave and I used it to dip my toes into a new genre for me – street photography – and to stretch myself by deliberately including more people. A number of colleagues have commented how they find this difficult so I am quite pleased to have achieved it.

I commented in my assignment submission about how leaving the Art of Photography behind has somehow liberated me to the learning from it. It was as though when I was studying that course I was in a forest, learning about the trees by getting up close to them and identifying their characteristic features. I’m not in that forest any more so I can the see the trees in a better perspective and see the forest as a whole entity. So it is that I can use the design elements I learnt but use them freely and with an end purpose in mind.

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