Headshot #2 / Facial Expressionism / Final Major Project / Jonathan McCartney

Following on from the first set of headshot photographs I took of my good friend, Jonathan McCartney, I present to you the second headshot photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan, but this time, with a black backdrop, which I must say actually works much better compared to a white backdrop, and the black backdrop was an idea a close friend of mine suggested to me after he critiqued the Headshot #1 photographs I took of Jonathan.

These headshot photographs have not only improved my photography skills, but it does make a lot of sense to use a black backdrop in these photographs, including any other photographs that I will produce.

I have made sure to experiment carefully with these photographs by editing them in WordFoto and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) so that they can retain the facial expressions I asked Jonathan to make, as these headshot photographs tie in with my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, including the research I have done so far on the Facial Expressionism photographers, Fazal Sheikh and Irving Penn.

Below are the Headshot #2 photographs of my friend, Jonathan.

Just like before, I have edited these photographs with WordFoto and used more than one word on one of the edited photographs shown below.

I have made sure to develop the photographs further by also changing the selected photographs to black and white whilst raising and lowering some of the curves on the photographs so that the lighting on Jonathan brings out his facial expressions better with a sense of depth and detail.

Overall, I am absolutely pleased with the end result that has come out of these photographs, and being critiqued on my work has actually helped me to develop my photography skills better, not just from receiving peer critique whilst in my Film & Photography lesson, but also from receiving critique from a close friend of mine.

The Headshot #2 photographs I have taken of my friend, Jonathan McCartney, including the edited versions of these photographs that I produced in WordFoto and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) can be found in my E-Folio.

I would love to get your feedback on these photographs and please let me know what improvements I can make for when I produce more Facial Expressionism headshot photographs for next time. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Nature is Beautiful.

Nature is absolutely beautiful. The Spring weather continues to amaze us and with a small breeze in the air with the lovely sunny weather, it’s safe to say that this weather is beautiful and that nature is also beautiful.

I used the Camera+ app to photograph the Rose Bush again, and then I made some small edits to this photograph to give the rose-bush more of a friendly approach so that it rings true to the lovely and traditional Spring weather.

Do you love the Spring weather? I’d love to know. Please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear what you think of this wonderful weather :-).

Alex Smithson

So Solid Crew / I’ve Got 21 Seconds to Go! / BOXPARK EXCLUSIVE!

So Solid Crew smashed it when I went to see them perform at BOXPARK CROYDON and I was lucky to get some photos with one of the members from the group and honestly, it was so good! I loved every second of the performance, and the fact that they doused alcohol into the crowd (yes, I was one of the many few that got soaked but I loved it) just made the night so much better! I can tell you, they had those Diffusion smoke machines on site and those Diffusion smoke machines definitely must have had something in them because when I inhaled the smoke, I went from being somewhat tired and not as alert after finishing college to being suddenly active, wide awake and alert, in other words, whatever may have been in those smoke machines must have made me high.

They kicked off the Christmas Light Switch On by counting down not from 30 seconds, but from 21 seconds, considering that they did the record: “21 Seconds” a long time ago and they started the Christmas Light Switch On with a bang and then they started to perform 21 Seconds, which is a memorable record in its own right, considering that Ashley Walters (a.k.a. Asher D), Michael Harvey Jr., Double Dee and some of the members of So Solid Crew performed the iconic hit.

They performed other songs as well as their own tracks, some of which were rap-based and some not necessarily rap-based but songs we all know and honestly, they smashed it at BOXPARK Croydon. Luckily, as the tickets were free, me and a group of friends went and it was the best night of my life! I was also lucky to get some photos with Double Dee from So Solid Crew and I told him that it was my first time seeing So Solid Crew perform, and straightaway, he said: “Respect for you Brother.” Now for him to say that to me, again, like the time I went to see Ben Haenow, Alex Haenow & James Plimmer, it felt like I had been friends with him for a long time, even though it was the first time I actually got to meet Double Dee from So Solid Crew, and honestly, he is so down to earth and is such a genuine guy and it was an absolute honour to meet Double Dee and it was also an absolute honour to see So Solid Crew at BOXPARK Croydon.

I have got dozens of photographs from the Christmas Light Switch On at BOXPARK Croydon, including some footage from the Christmas Light Switch On which clocks in at around 45-50 minutes.

Overall, I absolutely loved every second of So Solid Crew’s performance at BOXPARK Croydon and I’ll treasure that night for the rest of my life. Also, I’m so happy to have met Double Dee from So Solid Crew and I will remember that night for the rest of my life as it is a happy memory I will never forget and will always smile about.

I’ve got 21 seconds to go, so if you enjoyed this massive photo collection and video article, please feel free to let me know by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: October 2016

As Halloween draws October to a close, in a place where no one can hear you scream, I will make sure to round October off by taking a look back at the articles published over the course of this month. Happy Halloween!

1.10.2016 – Kicking off October, I welcomed all of you back to Mother Nature and I would announce that this month would be just as busy as September, considering it would be quite a productive and busy month given my Film & Photography Course.

3.10.2016 – On Friday 23rd September 2016, me and my class headed up to Dungeness as part of our course, and considering that the trip was an hour and a half via coach, I can honestly say that Dungeness is actually really peaceful and quiet. Despite the fact that I have heard it is a depressing place, to me, that is a complete understatement, as Dungeness is not a depressing place, even if the huge landscape around it suggests otherwise. I published my photo collection of The Trek to Dungeness on this day following the trip just around one or two weeks before.

5.10.2016 – On this day five years ago, the iconic and revolutionary technology figure, Steve Jobs, best known for shaping Apple into the company it is today, sadly passed away on the 5th October 2011 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

14.10.2016 – As I collaborated with the famous GIANTLAND actor, Oli Regan, on the article surrounding Autism & Mental Health Awareness, I published an article based on whether Autism & Mental Health were overlooked, to which they actually were, and the article came about after a video surfaced of a man and an organisation who believed that Autism and Mental Health were curable, which they’re not, and I used the sole intention to publicly shame them for their disgusting beliefs of what they think works and what doesn’t where Autism & Mental Health is concerned. It is and always will be an absolute honour to work with Oli Regan, because without his help on this topic of discussion, this article wouldn’t have come to fruition and I thank him wholeheartedly for collaborating with me on this article.

21.10.2016 – To celebrate the release of her fifth studio album, JOANNE, following her remarkable comeback to the music scene, which saw her record: “Perfect Illusion” go straight to Number 1 around the world, with a few other singles that followed shortly after, Lady Gaga‘s highly anticipated fifth studio album, JOANNE, was officially released worldwide. As I had listened to and purchased the deluxe edition of the album on this day, I can honestly say I love Lady Gaga’s fifth studio album, JOANNE.

25.10.2016 – As Winter is fast-approaching, the coats, scarves, gloves and headgear comes out as the temperatures are set to drop, despite the weather being warm on some days. I also mentioned that Daylight Saving Time would come to an end on Sunday 30th October 2016 at 2:00 AM, in which the clocks would go back 1 hour, with the daylight hours being considerably shorter, with an extra hour of sleep included.

29.10.2016 – I published an article that was of serious discussion based on whether you thought drones should be used in the public domain to which I immediately said: “I Don’t Think So!”

Also on this day, I asked you all if you were prepared as the clock would go back 1 hour at 2:00 AM on Sunday 30th October 2016, to which I mentioned that I’m prepared to get back the extra hour as I needed it, also because of the fact I tend to get more work done with an extra hour in hand.

31.10.2016 – It’s been a long time coming, and after a long wait, BOXPARK is officially open in Croydon! I used the opportunity today to snap a large collection of photos during my lunch break and also after I finished my first day back at college after the one-week holiday. It’s absolutely lovely and so peaceful in BOXPARK. This photo collection would consist of 56 photographs, including 1 edited photograph based on an original version of one of the photographs I took of BOXPARK.

Thanks to all of you for such a productive and busy month, and I will try my best to get as many articles published when the free time becomes available over certain times during next month. Again, thanks to all of you for such a productive and busy month, and I will see you all in November.

Alex Smithson

BOXPARK is Officially Open!

It’s been a long time coming, and after a long wait, BOXPARK is officially open in Croydon!

I used the opportunity today to snap a large collection of photos during my lunch break and also after I finished my first day back at college after the one-week holiday. It’s absolutely lovely and so peaceful in BOXPARK.

It’s absolutely peaceful in BOXPARK and is the best place in my opinion where you can meet up with good friends you may or may have not seen in a long time, also because there are so many benches and tables available, which is useful if you want to have something to eat with friends, and not only that, but if you’re someone who likes to study in your own free time, BOXPARK is a useful place to study if you’re someone who loves to be creative.

Below are all of the 56 photographs I took today, including an edited version of one of the photographs I took earlier today.

I wanted to take these photos to show you BOXPARK in its full glory for the remarkable design aspects and perspectives it carries. BOXPARK stands tall and makes a statement of its own, stating that they want you to be able to enjoy yourself and to have a good time. They aim to repackage and repurpose what is already known into the unknown, but into an entirely new concept that no one has even thought of or ever seen before.

If you’re in Croydon, and have visited BOXPARK, please let me know. I’d love to know your thoughts on BOXPARK. If you are someone who loves travelling the world and you plan to travel to Croydon, London or even Shoreditch to see BOXPARK, please let me know your thoughts about BOXPARK, I would love to hear your feedback.

Alex Smithson

Looking at Life Through a Lens: What Makes Each Photo Tell a Story?

We all love the idea of taking photos no matter where we are, but what makes each photo tell a story? I’ll tell you.

A photo tells a story based on what you may have done in a certain place at a certain time, but sometimes, the photos you take may have a completely different story behind them based on how that photo was taken, where the photo was taken, as well as the scene that is set for that particular photo.

For example, if you remember the photo of the Canada Goose that I took back in July 2013, in which the Canada Goose was positioned directly in the middle, it’s like the Canada Goose has spotted me and is coming towards me at a certain speed, or it’s coming closer and closer to me expecting food, but really, it’s not.

When I took that photo, which, at the time, was taken with the Samsung ST200F Camera before I upgraded to the Nikon D3300 DSLR in September 2014, I was actually in a rush when I was in Kelsey Park whilst taking the photo, and even to this day, it is one of my most iconic photographs, as it was the type of photo I still haven’t, to this day, seen being recreated by other photographers, whether they’re amateur or professional or not.

For me, I like to make sure each photo I take, whether it’s part of a large photo collection or not, tells a story, as I want that photo to describe not just what I want you to see, but how I want you to see it.

I love photography and I’m always fascinated with how a certain photo is taken, because I like to know how I can produce my own photos to that similar standard.

For example, the shutter speed of the photo, the ISO (International Standards Organisation), the exposure of the photo, the exposure program that the photo was taken with (e.g. Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority), including the focal length of that particular photo that was taken.

I aim to make sure any photos I do or don’t like are kept separate from each other, so at least that way I know which photos I will upload and which photos I won’t upload, so that it gives me a better chance of balancing any article I publish.

Overall, I love photography, and if you do as well, please let me know by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

The Truth About Summer? It’s Sweet, Serene, Stunning & Gorgeous!

On Wednesday 6th July, I ceased the opportunity to snap a large number of photos of nature’s bloom for the Summer, as there were a large number of flowers that have blossomed, all thanks to the lovely Summer weather we had on Wednesday.

Below are all of the 80 photographs I took in and around the best areas of my garden, and you may just be surprised that maybe half, if not some of them I have changed the exposure on whilst in Shutter Priority mode on my Nikon D3300 DSLR.

Overall, I am very pleased with the way these photos have turned out and I can’t wait to get out more over the course of the Summer break considering I have the extremely huge bag of free time available.

If you enjoyed my large photo set, including this entire article, then please feel free to submit feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

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 5 (Tuesday 10th May 2016 – Thursday 12th May 2016) – Final Major Project

Continuing on from the fourth Weekly Log, here is the fifth Weekly Log from the Final Major Project.

Research / Context

During the course of the fifth week, I continued with developing my photography skills, based on the research I have gathered so far and I also worked on my evaluative notes, which were based around the best photos I took over the course of the past few weeks since the first week of the Final Major Project.

Based on my previous set of photographs which I took of my third subject, I started my fifth shoot of photographs, which focused again on my first chosen subject, but this time in a different location that didn’t involve graffiti. I did experiment more with facial expressionism in these photographs, as I had made sure to capture my first chosen subject simulating some of the similar emotions I asked him to do for the first shoot of photographs, but this time with some new emotions that I hadn’t tried before in my photo experiments.

Based on the research and shoot photographs I have so far, I used the car park below the outside of Croydon College to take my fifth set of photographs of my first subject. The research from the Barbican Gallery also gave me more ideas for my own concepts, given that the exhibition I went to see at the Barbican Gallery was called Strange and Familiar, which contains a collection of works that were curated by Martin Parr.

In terms of the fifth set of photographs I took of my first subject (previously used for Shoot 1), I wanted to make sure that I didn’t use the graffiti spot this time, but instead where he would be centred in the middle of a brick-wall. This was useful for me, as I was able to create a similar amount of emotions in the photos I took, including some new emotions as well.

Practical Tasks Done

As I wanted to make sure that my fifth set of photographs were of the same standard of the photographs I took of my first, second and third subjects, I did make sure to set the exposure correctly, including the aperture correctly, not to forget to mention the white balance correctly and also the light setting correctly. I had made sure to change the light setting to Sunlight, as this would help me to take my photos with perfect exposure, rather than the photos be too underexposed or too overexposed.

I did find taking these photographs of my first chosen subject again difficult at first, given that I did have a small amount of trouble in trying to keep the camera still, which did notice in a few of the photographs I took, though the slight camera shake appeared only in some photos, but not all of them. I did also worry that the changes I made to the settings on the Canon EOS 1200D would affect the photos I would take.

What did work well for me, however, was I was able to produce these photographs with the settings I used, which helped me to produce the photos I wanted and I feel pleased with how some, if not most of the photos turned out.

To improve, I will be making sure that the exposure, the aperture, the white balance and the light setting are set correctly for my photographs, as this will help me when it comes to producing my final set of experiment photographs before I proceed onto my final piece, including hanging my work for the show.

Critical Analysis

For my critical analysis, I did make sure to refer to the research I gathered, the shoot photographs I took, including the notes I gathered whilst I was at the Barbican Gallery on Tuesday 10th May 2016 to produce my fifth set of photographs. As I had previously taken photographs of my first, second and third chosen subjects, I thought it would be a good idea to use my first chosen subject again for the fifth set of photographs. The photo research presentation I did consisted of certain photographs I chose that were by August Sander, Fazal Sheikh and Thomas Ruff. This photo research presentation, including the Chosen Photographers presentation I did had helped me to produce a better set of experimentation photographs for the Final Major Project. This will help me considering the concept I have in mind is developing a lot better than I thought and is the concept I will want to produce in my work, but most importantly, in my final piece as well.

I feel that I have developed a better understanding now, considering that I recently took the fifth set of photographs, but of my third subject, which has developed a lot better than I thought. I also feel that I have developed a better understanding based on the research that I have gathered over the course of the Final Major Project. I feel I have developed a better understanding of the concept I have produced and I hope that the concept I have developed is at the standard I want it to be at for when I produce my final piece, including the last set of photographs I want to produce. This concept I have is genuine and I will be making sure that I can produce it for my final piece, including my photographic prints as well, which I will aim to produce and hang for the show in June.

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

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 1 (Tuesday 12th April 2016 – Thursday 14th April 2016) – Final Major Project

To kick off the Final Major Project Weekly Log series, here is the first Weekly Log from the Final Major Project.

Research / Context

During the course of the first week back, I started doing some extensive research based on the three photographers I chose that were based on my influences for this Final Major Project. The photographers I chose that I would do research on were August Sander, Fazal Sheikh and Thomas Ruff.

I created a research presentation based on their work, as well as picking out at least 9 images that I felt would influence me for my final piece. As I want my final piece to be of a person expressing at least 6 different emotions, I looked at Thomas Ruff’s works, including August Sander’s work and also Fazal Sheikh’s work, as some of their photographs grabbed my attention, based on the concept I have in mind.

In the research presentation, I had made sure to research on the web about Wide Aperture and Small Aperture (just to save confusion), as this would give me the ability to make sure that the photographs I chose from the three chosen photographers were correctly labelled with the kind of aperture that they were taken at. Luckily because some of the photographers works I chose were Small/Wide Aperture-based, I had made sure to combine them both together, creating a mixture of both Small Aperture & Wide Aperture.

Practical Tasks Done

As I wanted to make sure to gather a lot of relevant research together for this Final Major Project, I did some extensive research on Fazal Sheikh’s work, and the notable photograph that still sticks in my mind from when I first saw it was of the: “Afghan girl born in exile, Afghan refugee village, Urghuch, North Pakistan, 1997”.

I did initially find it difficult to find some good photographs from the three chosen photographers that I intended to do research on, as I wanted to make sure to pick the correct photographs that I felt would work with what I want to produce for my final piece towards the end of the project, though I had to tread very carefully when I was doing some extensive research on Thomas Ruff’s work, as some of his photography work was known to be pornographic, and not for the faint-hearted.

What did work well for me was I was able to find a good range of photographs that August Sander, Fazal Sheikh & Thomas Ruff took, as their works have the strong connection that I want, as some, if not most of their photography pieces have strong emotive connections, as well as signs of movement in their photos too, which is useful for me as the concept I have in mind is to create 6 different emotions as well as the first emotion being normal, but to also create movement as well, as I want emotions and movement to be combined together.

To improve on this in future, I want to make sure that I can gather more photographs of their works together, and to develop the concept on paper, so that I can make my concept become a real idea that I want to produce for when it comes to producing the real final piece.

Critical Analysis

For my critical analysis, I wanted to make sure that I had gathered the correct information together, given that the research I’ve done so far is based on the concept I am keen on producing for my final piece. The research I’ve gathered has helped me as this will now give me a clear idea of what I will be producing for the second week.

I do feel that I have applied my own understanding of the research I have gathered, as this will help me to start producing my first set of experimentation photographs based on the concept that I want to produce for my final piece. I also feel strongly that the concept I have in mind will work as long as I have the research there, including the experimentation photographs, as these will help me to piece together the final result that I want to achieve from my real final piece when the final week of the Final Major Project commences.

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

Alex Smithson