Personal reflection: Colour

Wednesday 14 Feb 18

(see list of illustrations 1)

I started this journey with the OCA to develop my creative voice, choosing Photography as my vehicle. I have no idea if photography will be my final destination though.

Since I have started this course, and especially since the start of this year I have been having more frequent and more vivid dreams.  Last night I had a startling dream of and about colour.  It is hard to describe but it felt euphoric and healing; I almost felt overwhelmed by the sensation of colour, ecstatic, full of humour and pleasure.  For those who know me, they will wonder if I’m on some sort of medication – I’m not one for grand and emotional outpourings.  All I can say is that something is awakened in me and for some inexplicable reason, it feels like I should be making something visual (images?) that is connected with healing.

Reading my own words makes no sense to me – how can a photograph be healing? At this stage I do not have the answers but I want to capture the emotions.  I have touched on this before, but I have a condition which was described growing up as being “colour blind”. Apart from the obvious, I am not blind to colour, this diagnosis hijacked my childhood dream of becoming (don’t laugh) an electronics engineer.  Perhaps I took the diagnosis to heart because I also decided from an early age that I preferred black and white, or monochrome, photography. For years that is what I defined as “my photography” – for years that is what I read about, bought books about, viewed exhibitions about, collected and photographed.  I used tri-x, fp4, hp5, acros and worried about acutance, edge sharpness, developer dilution.  More to the point I ignored colour; I had no right to talk about colour because I was “blind” to it or my colour vision was “all wrong” or “untrustworthy”.

I started Expressing Your Vision wanting to develop my photography, knowing that I had to get out of my monochrome comfort zone and this has been encouraged by my tutor.

Last year I went to the most amazing exhibition Breathing Colour (Jongerius, 2017).  The artist created an exhibition using colour and form, that was principally about colour, that awakened something in me.  This exhibition shook me up visually and the OCA Discuss forum is opening my mind creatively.

I feel now that colour is calling out to me; I’m just not quite sure how to respond yet.


  1. Owen-Ward, M. (2018), Orange


Jongerius, H. (2017), Breathing Colour, [Exhibition].London: Design Museum, 28 June – 24 September 2017.

Assignment 2: reflection against assessment criteria

Before submitting my assignment to my tutor I must take time to reflect on my submission against the Course Assessment Criteria.  These are outlined on page 10 of the course handbook and again  at the end of part 1 on page 34 in graphical form which I have included below.  Assignment 2 marks the end of Part 2 of the course which has looked at “how the lens controls the depiction of space though focal length and aperture.”





Demonstration of technical and visual skills (40%)

I worked through part 2 of the course methodically.  During the assignment I made very specific decisions about which lens to use, which aperture, lighting control, distance from subject, composition and design.  My interpretation of the brief was to control as many of these factors as possible to maximise the technical result of the assignment as far as possible. Technically my six images look like a series and there are no disconnects from image to image as occurred in my first assignment submission. However, because of that control there is not a wide use of different lens techniques in this particular assignment.

Quality of outcome (20%)

I am satisfied that the resulting images work well as a series and are technically competent. I have actively sought peer feedback on this and feel that I have done a reasonable job on the quality of the images.  I am not sure that a viewer not aware of the brief would be aware that this assignment was specifically about collecting.

Demonstration of creativity (20%)

I am not sure that I am yet doing enough in this area.  I feel a conflict between being creative and the constraints of the brief.  I honestly felt bewildered when I discovered that one student used a photo-booth for this assignment. Yes this is a creative approach to collecting head, but is it using a dslr in aperture priority mode? Do creative risks mean ignoring the college instructions if the results justify it? I am as yet unclear on this and believe this is my greatest area of challenge – yet it is the area that I most want to develop.

Context (20%)

This is another area that I am working to improve and need to develop.  Now I am reading more and learning to reference what I discover rather than just keeping it in my head.  I find this challenging, as do many, as it is not a natural way for me to work or communicate.  However I recognise it as necessary and a strong part of what will help me develop my creativity above.  A work in progress.

Assignment 1: Self-Assessment and Analysis

I enjoyed working on this topic whilst finding it challenging. I took many of the photographs with a 24mm equivalent wide angle lens and tried to use colour, proximity and motion to give a sense of being there. I am lucky in that this group of people trusts me and I was able to photograph them in a way that few people would normally permit and for that I am grateful.

However there was a huge degree of time pressure as I had to capture the images whilst running the classes! A degree of time pressure isn’t a bad thing – these images are certainly not composed at leisure. This required that I work quickly and without distracting people from their main reason for being there. Personally I enjoy the banality of the surroundings contrasting with the absolute effort of the people there. I enjoy the shot of one client in his garden, being observed by his dog but perhaps it doesn’t feel quite as much as part of the series as the other images.

I chose to present the images starting with broader contextual shots, moving closer as the series progressed. I hope there is a sense of connection with both the people and the place for the viewer.

The feedback from other students would be very welcome as I find it quite difficult to analyse my own work when it looks so different from much of what I do. I am particular worried about the colour element given my colour blindness and lack of confidence in this area. But this is my start – my square mile.

Getting started on EYV

recommended books

June 2017 and I am finally starting the photography degree that I was supposed to start 30 years ago: better late than never.  There is much to remember, how to study, how to write, how to research. I’ve started in three places at once:

  • An Introduction to Studying in HE
  • Buying all the recommended texts, mostly secondhand, from Amazon
  • Taking photographs for my square mile project

There is a lot to read! I have spoken to my tutor Matt White and he has encouraged me to embrace colour work – I have typically favoured working in black and white.  Partly this has been due to my experience in photography and the darkroom and feeling very comfortable with this type of work; partly I fall back on black and white work because I am red-green colour blind.  Actually “blind” is the wrong word as I do see reds and greens, perhaps just not as others do.

Exploring colour is something I look forward to doing and so I start with a photo of the brightly coloured spines of some of the recommended books.