The End of the Road! I’ve Passed!

It’s officially the end. My education comes to a remarkable close as I have finished my final year at Croydon College.

Who would have thought that this time three years ago I would be starting my first day at Croydon College, only for the time to fly so much quicker than school? Even I am shocked myself by how far I’ve come since I started at Croydon College.

This time, three years ago, I had just marked the end of secondary school for good as I finished Year 11, and I can even remember starting my first day at Croydon College. I introduced myself to everyone and within the first day, I had made a lot of friends, as we instantly clicked with one another. Three years later, I have so many friends who I keep in contact with and even now, the support I’ve received from my family and my friends has made me realise that I can talk to anyone if I ever feel down about anything.

Croydon College, despite the ups and downs I went through over the course of the three years I studied, gave me the chance to realise my potential and now as I am at the stage of applying for a full-time job, I have officially decided to take a gap year to apply for jobs as I am considering possibly doing a degree in photography next year, which, for me, will really help me in many years to come.

I have enjoyed this year better than the last, but it’s safe to say I will miss Croydon College and everyone in that respect. On the plus side, I have left with my head held high knowing that I have done so well and I cannot wait to take on the best opportunities that become available to me.

Although my work is sufficient enough for a Pass instead of a Merit, I will settle for a Pass instead as I have managed to pass my final year of the UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course. That’s good because I have passed my final year. Result!

I am so chuffed to have worked so hard because despite spending a countless amount of hours getting work done, even whilst having to pull all-nighters that would last up until 8:35 AM or 9:00 AM in the morning, I am glad to have passed because now I can officially bring my time at Croydon College to a remarkable close.

Thank you, Croydon College, for all that you have done to get me to where I need to be and I shall continue to go the extra mile to really get the best out of the work I produce in the foreseeable, and thanks for giving me the chance to realise my potential to become a photographer. None of this would have been possible without your help and guidance, so thank you, Croydon College, I’ll miss being at Croydon College but my time at Croydon College has now officially come to an end. Thanks for everything.

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 6 (Tuesday 17th May 2016 – Thursday 19th May 2016) – Final Major Project

Bringing the Final Major Project Weekly Log collection to a remarkable end, here is the final Weekly Log from the Final Major Project, which reflects on what I did in the final week of the Final Major Project, as well as to what I did over the entirety of the Final Major Project.

Research / Context

During the course of the sixth week, I started to get together my research, which were the Chosen Photographers presentation, including the Photo Research presentation, including my experimentation photographs that I have taken over the course of the past six weeks since the beginning of the Final Major Project. Based on the previous set of photographs I took of my first subject for Shoot 5, I took my sixth and final set of photographs, but this time of my fourth and final chosen subject. The location that I chose to take the sixth shoot of photographs was the car park, opposite Croydon College, as I had previously developed my experiments there when I took my fourth set of photographs but of my third chosen subject. The car park opposite Croydon College was the location I strongly believe was best suited for taking my sixth and final set of photographs, as I was able to use the settings I adjusted on the Canon EOS 1200D correctly to take my photographs of my fourth and final chosen subject and I also felt that there was a dramatic improvement in the way I took my photographs, based on my reflection of Shoot 5. In terms of the research and photographic experiments I have done, I have made sure to pick the best photos that I have taken, as I will be presenting the photographs that I feel are my best for the show, which I will also want to count as my final pieces for the first year of this two-year Film & Photography course.

Practical Tasks Done

As I wanted to make sure that my sixth and final set of photographs were of the correct standard that my previous experimentation photographs were at, I did make sure to set the exposure for my photos correctly, including changing the light setting to Cloudy, given the damp and dismal weather conditions during the course of this last week of photo experiments. I also made sure to keep the ISO below no more than 400, to ensure that my photographs are of the best resolution and lighting where possible and I also made sure to set the aperture and white balance correctly so that my photographs would come out the way I wanted them to look.

I did initially find taking these photographs of my fourth and final subject difficult at first, as I was worried that because of the damp and dismal weather conditions, this would affect the photographs I would take. These photos were difficult to take initially given the areas of lighting in and around the car park, so I did make sure to think very carefully about the variety of locations around the car park that I could use.

What worked well for me was I was able to produce most of these photos to a much better standard than to how I did my previous photographic experiments, as some of the photographs I took of my fourth and final chosen subject didn’t need to have the curves adjusted in Adobe Photoshop, including not needing to have the levels changed. I did feel that Shoots 4 and 6 had that standard of photographic exposure that I wanted and I feel pleased with the overall result that I have managed to achieve.

To improve on this in the future, I will be making sure to choose a better location next time for taking my photographs, that’s including setting the exposure, the aperture, the white balance and the light setting correctly, so that I stand a better chance of producing a set of photographs that will be of the best quality where possible.

Critical Analysis

For my critical analysis, I did make sure to refer to all of the research I have gathered over the course of the Final Major Project, including referring to the photographic experiments I have developed over the duration of the Final Major Project. As the photographic experiments I’ve done on my first, second, third and fourth subjects have developed over the course of the entire Final Major Project, I have noticed that I have been able to produce my photographs better each time, and when there has been the odd occasion where certain photographs I take may end up possibly fuzzy due to camera shake or being underexposed or overexposed, I have made sure to rectify any mistakes I’ve made in taking certain photos by improving on them better for the next time. August Sander, Fazal Sheikh and Thomas Ruff’s photographical works have influenced me and inspired me to create my own concept throughout the whole of the Final Major Project and I also feel that the level of research and experiments I’ve done, including doing extended research by taking notes from the Barbican Gallery have helped me to produce the concept I wanted from the very start to the very end of the Final Major Project.

I feel that I have developed and bettered my understanding over the entirety of the Final Major Project, as I have been able to reflect on the experiments I’ve done, including the research I’ve gathered to produce my own concept for my Final Major Project, which has been based around Facial Expressionism. I also feel I have developed a better understanding of my own concept, which was influenced and inspired by the three chosen photographers, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and Fazal Sheikh, and I now have a clear intention of the final pieces I will be producing for the show, given that I have the best photographs available to use now for digital printing. My concept has, from the very start, been genuine and I strongly believe that I have developed my confidence better with camera work, including getting a better understanding of the settings I can use to produce a better photograph or a set of photographs for experimentation, and I strongly feel that the photos I have chosen to use as my final pieces are ready for printing and are also ready for hanging for the show in June.

This Final Major Project Weekly Log set has officially come to a remarkable end. I hope you found all of these Weekly Logs interesting, and if so, please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 3 (Tuesday 26th April 2016 – Thursday 28th April 2016) – Final Major Project

Continuing on from the second Weekly Log, here is the third Weekly Log from the Final Major Project.

Research / Context

During the course of the third week, I made sure to use the extensive research I gathered, including the photographs I took to do some further photographical research on the three chosen photographers, which were August Sander, Fazal Sheikh and Thomas Ruff.

In the photo research presentation that I did, I looked up the same photographs that the three photographers took, but instead I wanted to make sure to detail the photographs based on what they were called, what year they were produced, the year they went to print, as well as the website location I found those photographs from, including when I last visited that specific website where that photo or photos were located.

After doing the photo research presentation, I went outside and also into the photography studio to get some more photos, but this time of a different student from my class, considering that two weeks before, I did my first shoot of photographs using my previously chosen subject. I did make sure that there were some ideas available from the collection of photographs that I’ve taken so far, so that this would help me when I produce more photographs for the following week, based on the concept I want to produce myself.

Practical Tasks Done

As I wanted to make sure that my second shoot of photographs were of a similar standard to the first set of photographs that I produced, I wanted to make sure that I could expand my ideas further with taking my photographs of the second chosen student, but also showing improvements in setting the exposure, the aperture, including setting the camera on the correct light setting, based on the research I’ve currently gathered so far.

I did initially find taking these photographs somewhat difficult considering I was in the photography studio, though I initially was going to take these photographs outside. I did take into consideration that the lighting may not be as good in the photography studio than it would be outside, but the second shoot of photographs were a little bit more complicated than first thought, given that the exposure and aperture, although set correctly, did sometimes go off a little bit after the photos were taken.

What did work well, however, was I was able to produce these photographs with the exposure and aperture staying the same. The camera I used to take the second set of photographs was the Canon EOS 1200D. Overall, I feel pleased with the results I’ve been given from these photographs, though I will be making sure to improve on this in the future.

To improve, I will be making sure to choose a better location where there is enough light, but where it isn’t inside the college, but outside somewhere either outside the college, or somewhere away from the college. This will be better for me as I will be able to set the exposure correctly, including the aperture and white balance.

Critical Analysis

For my critical analysis, I wanted to make sure that I could use all of the research I’ve gathered so far, including the first set of photographs that I took to produce a photo research presentation, including taking some more photographs for the second shoot, based around the same amount of emotions (6 or 7) that I used previously for the first set of photographs that I did on the first chosen subject, but this time with the second shoot of photographs being taken of the second chosen subject. The photo research presentation, including the current amount of research I’ve gathered so far, including the growing collection of photographs have benefitted me as this helped me to expand my ideas further into something that I will be able to produce for the fourth week.

I do feel that I have applied my own understanding based on the research I’ve gathered, including the photographs I’ve taken, as this will help me to expand further on the concept I have in mind, including being able to develop my photography skills and experiments better as well. I am absolutely keen on expanding my knowledge of the ideas I have further, considering that the concept I have in mind is genuine and is the concept I will want to produce for my final piece in June.

This brings the third Weekly Log for the Final Major Project to a close. Please make sure to check back soon for the fourth Weekly Log from the Final Major Project.

Alex Smithson