Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Final Evaluation

Ok, that's it, I've finished everything! Time to write the final evaluation of my experiences over the last sixteen weeks.

The Course

When I first applied to the college, I was told that I could choose between starting on the level 1 course, or, because I'd had a bit of experience using my camera, skip straight to the level two. After reading up on the various requirements for each level, I decided that I'd opt for the level one (so as not to miss anything that might come in useful later on.) I know this initially caused Marie some concern, as she was afraid I was going to get bored, but I don't regret it at all. Wednesday nights quickly became the highlight of my week, and I was always disappointed when the three hours whizzed by and we all had to leave.

I'd had my camera for a couple of years before the course, but I'd never really tried it on anything other than the auto mode. And that's what I wanted to change. It might still take me a couple of tries to get exactly the right setting, but I'm now very happy using my camera on the shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual modes. I've also expanded my knowledge in areas I'd previously studied, and learned about all sorts of thing I hadn't! Of all the things we've done over the last few months though, the most enjoyable part for me was my time in the darkroom. Producing the photograms, learning how to operate the enlargers, and the whole developing process was fascinating. So much so, that I'll definitely be choosing darkroom printing for my optional unit on level two...and three.

As far as the main assignment is concerned, I have mixed feelings. False modesty and self deprecation aside, I know my images aren't as bad as I always claim, but there's still definite room for improvement. Having said that though, I've loved my time working on it. Learning about the studio, and how to operate the lighting rigs was great. I had loads of fun every time I got to go in to the studio (hope it wasn't too bad for the others who helped me.) My one regret though is that I couldn't transfer these skills to my final assignment in a way I was happy with. Ultimately it's my own fault. I never really had a clear idea of exactly what I wanted to achieve. This is the one thing I'd change if I did the course again. Taking more time at the start of the course to clarify my ideas, would have meant I didn't waste so much time. Both my own, but especially other people's!

Having taught myself how to do some basic tasks in photoshop, I was looking forward to the digital manipulation unit. I thought I might actually be able to show I can do something right for a change. Sadly it wasn't to be. Again I know they're not terrible pictures, but I'm also aware they're not as good as Marie and some of the others were expecting of me. Hopefully I'll get a chance to prove I can do it in the future.

The presentation is the one area I think went according to plan. I always knew I wanted to produce a large print, and if possible to get it framed. It's turned out to be a fair bit more expensive than I was expecting, but I'd rather spend the money and be happy with the end result, than save some cash and be disappointed.

The research element of the course was another part that I really enjoyed. Any excuse to read about photography is a good thing in my opinion! I tried to pick a mix of people I already knew about and who've inspired my interest in photography, and also a selection of people who I've been introduced to over the length of the course. I know this is hard to believe, but I really did try to keep the level of information down. Thanks to anyone who actually read any of them.

I've tried to do my best over the length of the course, and although that hasn't always been enough (at least in my opinion.) There's very little I'd change. As already stated, I'd spend more time thinking about exactly what I wanted to achieve, with my assignments. And for the level two I'll definitely try to manage my time better, things won't be quite so rushed then. I'd also like to try and get out and about a bit more for the next levels. By choosing to do all my shots in the studio, I haven't really improved my real world photography as much as my skills under artificial light. All in all, I've found some of the aspects of the course difficult, but this just reinforces my desire to improve, and fuels my need to show people that I can do these things. It's also made me all the more determined to pursue a career in photography. What this will be I don't know, but I'll get there in the end!

I know some of that sounds a bit depressing, but I've enjoyed 99% of the course, and the 1% is all problems of my own making. I've discovered whole new areas of photography that I'm desperate to try, and If I thought Marie could put up with me for another sixteen weeks, I'd happily do it all again. So don't worry Marie, I've had a brilliant time!


When I arrived on the first night I was incredibly nervous. Not knowing anybody there, I wasn't sure exactly what kind of reception to expect. Happily everyone in the class is incredibly friendly. They even put up with my incessant chatter, and questions. I've got to say a big thank you to a few people in particular though. Chris for coming to college early and helping me with my main assignment. Lucy for agreeing to model for me, even though she didn't want to. Rachael for helping me set up some of the shoots. And Ness for modelling for me, but also for putting up with me walking back to the carpark with her every week. It's sad that not everyone is moving on to the level two, but it's been fun.


I really can't express just how amazing Marie's been over this course. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but I'm completely genuine. I wouldn't have stood a chance of completing this course without her help. She's listened to me bitch and moan about my work. Let me come in to college early, week after week, when she obviously had better things to do. Answered god knows how many, emails and texts (except the one that got mysteriously deleted...Yes I know the truth!) And not once during all this has she complained. Even when I kept interfering in class! And after all this, she still let me use a picture of her for my final six images.

Thanks for stopping me becoming a gibbering wreck Marie, I know I can't repay all the favours I owe you, but I'll try:)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm of to look wistfully in to the sunset, whilst maintaining a manly yet approachable pose. Good times people...good times!

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