Photo Arcturus

Just a quick post to say ‘thanks’ for following me & reading my rambling photographic posts. My journey of discovery will be continuing as I’ve now started the Pearson BTEC Level 4 HNC Diploma in Photography.

Hope you will join me in my creative endeavours.



Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 27 Final Critique & Conclusion

Having produced a final piece for this project, it was time to:

  • Evaluate my outcome
  • Consider the process
  • My use of materials
  • How the work evolved (including any technical issues)


Have to admit, I’m very happy with the final piece for this project. I’ve had the concept of how it should look in my head for about three years & it’s been wonderful realising it.

Ok, it’s not perfect (in my eyes). But going through this whole process during the last three months I’ve learnt a whole new technique. By taking my previous knowledge gained through this course (plus that of both Level 1 & Level 2) I’ve produced a piece of work that shows my vision.

There are so many ways in which I could take this concept further. Now I know a whole raft of techniques there is definitely scope for development.

Also, by looking at the work of various photographers & artist with their own obsessions with reflections & water it’s given me an extra depth to my work.

The process itself was a drawn-out experience. But every with each step I learnt more. Learning a new way of capturing images & utilising them was eye-opening, frustrating, liberating & life-enhancing. I discovered that my tenacity, proven in other areas of my life, was just as imperative as my creativity.

With regards to materials, it was a bit disconcerting not printing anything. I’ve been so used to producing prints for this course & the others in order to show my final results. However, there was no way I could show my final project in any other way than either on a screen or projected somewhere.

The work evolved in a directed, but organic way – by experimenting, testing, getting feedback & revisiting. Yes, there were some technical issues, but these were dealt with & surpassed.

Looking at this now, I am chuffed with the result. Am also delighted that this is not the end of my journey…

Task 5


Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 26 Magic Making

With the files prepared it was now or never to create the final sequence. I had two days to do this. So far I had issues with working out Adobe Premiere & couldn’t get the results I wanted using other methods. Hearing my frustrations, Zig had kindly worked out how to do what was required. My ever-helpful tutor was also on hand to show me what to do.

Please note that at the time of writing my Vimeo limit has been exceeded & I am unable to load the pieces mentioned below.

With Zig’s assistance I had the method sussed. To try things out, I decided to create a visual using just the first sequence I shot. As I ‘d already used this in Adobe Lightroom, I would be able to compare the two. It was definitely an improvement. To test this method, I set the frame timing to varying rates per second with dissolve between each. This created a longer transition between frames.

Next I continued with the available sequences. I created a piece using the first six sets consisting of 50 frames each, but it didn’t quite work. I then continued experimenting with the other image selections using different frame rates & number of seconds. Was very captivating seeing how each one worked (or didn’t!). I also learnt to check a sequence before exporting it – there can be an occasional error (an Adobe Premiere issue) resulting in valuable time eaten by a less-than-satisfactory final MP4.

About halfway through this process, I remembered my initial musical inspiration. While searching for ‘Says’ I came across this other piece by Nils Frahm:

I thought it went quite well with the last piece I came up with. This was created from 900 images with a six-frame per second transition.

The jerkiness of the movement goes really well with the pace of the music when played in synch. It wasn’t perfect, but after a five and a half hours it was time to go home, relax for the evening & continue the next day.

It was a good feeling being able to sit down in front of the college pc knowing exactly what to do. The most essential aspect now was creating a sequence with the optimum transition time that looked fabulous. No pressure…

The sequence which seemed to be the most aesthetically pleasing was the one with clouds in the background. Also, with 500 shots playing at a rate of 12 frames per second the sequence lasts for four minutes. This is another aspect to take into consideration. As Zig & the other students present while I was creating these pieces, you don’t want it to be too long.


I was really pleased with the outcome, but there was something missing.


Going back to my initial musical preference the decision was taken to use ‘Says’. Zig showed me how to add the music as a separate element within Adobe Premiere. I then created the opening & closing images using Adobe Photoshop. Zig then showed me how to fade between these & the sequence itself.

Next, I saved & exported the Adobe Premiere file to create an MP4. Was torture waiting for this to process. Took about 15 minutes!

As mentioned above, I’m currently unable to upload the final piece via Vimeo. However, it can be accessed via my Facebook page.


Ok, final piece completed. My next task to tackle is No. 5 – “evaluate my outcome: consider the process, my use of materials & how the work evolved, including any technical issues.”

Tasks 3, 4 & 5


Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 25 Preparation Time

After my previous attempt at getting my project finalised by using Lightroom, I was quite despondent. Then Zig offered to help with a session using Adobe Premiere. All I had to do was prepare the images.

I decided to use all the images I’d shot during May and June for my final project. At this stage, I had no idea how the stills would look when creating a moving piece. I spent an evening (& a couple of hours the morning after) cropping the images to 1920 x 1080 pixels. About 4,000 in total!


After cropping each sequence, I checked them in Adobe Bridge to see how they looked. I have my favourites, but whether they will work or not remains to be seen…

Tasks 2, 3,  4 & 5

Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 24 Lightroom Slide Show

After a couple of weeks of major procrastination, hot weather, not enough sleep & too many external distractions, I decided that progress had to be made.

At the last class session, Zig suggested ustilising Adobe Lightroom to produce a slideshow version of what I was previously attempting in Adobe Premiere.

I had the images already prepared, so I gave it a go. It was quite straightforward to upload the files, I then adjusted the Slide Length & Cross Fades timing until I was happy with the result. One thing I did notice was the minimum time for the Slide Length is one second. The Cross Fade time that suited this best was four seconds. Here is the result:

Not totally happy with the result & will need further work, but am fascinated how the images transform, melting from one to the other.

Tasks 2, 3, 4 & 5

Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 23 South Bank & Summer Exhibition

One of my favourite annual events is the Summer Exhibition held at the Royal Academy & I decided to take a visit on Sunday 2nd July.

As it was a beautiful sunny day, I walked from to Piccadilly via the South Bank & Hungerford Bridge. Here are a few of my impressions of that stroll:

I then continued onto the main event. This is the third year I’ve visited this art extravaganza & I was again enthralled by the variance of work on display.

Some I loved, some I hated, some I just thought “why?!?!”. But it isn’t just about the work – I had some great conversations with those also perusing. It’s also a wonderful place to watch people.

Here are a few of my captures:

Task 3

Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 22 White Cube & Larry Bell

During my trip to London on Sunday 11th June, I visited the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey. It was my first visit to this great building. Outside, it looks quite unassuming, but inside is a fantastic gallery space.


My main reason for this visit was to see the work of Larry Bell (born 1939) is a contemporary American artist & sculptor. I’ve not been aware of his work before, but, when I read up on his particular style, I knew I had to see this exhibition.

This is how the gallery puts his work into context:

“Since 1968, Bell has been developing his series of freestanding glass wall sculptures in varying scales and configurations. 6 x 6 An Improvisation is the culmination of this series. First shown at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas in 2014, it consists of 40 panels, each measuring 72 x 72 inches or approximately 6ft square, a measurement relational to the artist’s own height. ”

“Bell has reconfigured the panels for White Cube Bermondsey, creating what he terms an ‘Improvisation’, combining clear glass, grey glass and glass coated with Inconel (a nickel/chrome alloy) which results in it becoming, to variable degrees, reflective.”

“Arranged in right angle pairs, some that are inverted or doubled up, the sculpture forms a labyrinthine series of spaces that reflect and refract the interior architecture of the gallery. Highly dramatic and visually complex, 6 x 6 An Improvisation subverts the viewer’s spatial comprehension through a layered convergence of hues and densities, while maintaining an illusion of volume.” (1)

Also on the White Cube website are these enlightening comments by Bell on this series of freestanding wall works:

‘In some cases, it’s highly reflective where the glass parts come together; in others it is highly reflective where the glass touches the floor, and so on. And I like the idea of being able to just combine these things so they’d stand up, since the parts were all the same size. They balance in the weight of their own vertical thrust, and are anchored to the floor with glue, and equally bound together by glue. So they hold each other up, and I could change it any way I want. So there was a lot of versatility. That gives a certain kind of symmetry to the relationship of the reflective coatings to each other. I’m trying to say that symmetry comes from the relationship of the distance between the parts being half the width of the part.’ (2)

It was quite mesmerising walking round & taking in the ever-changing reflective effects. It does take a little while to get your head round what’s unfolding in front of your eyes. I think you could spend the whole day just observing the ghosts & shadows wandering past.

These are some of the photos I took of this fantastic installation during my visit:

Also on display was a new series called ‘Church Studies’. These are densely layered collages consisting of a combination of various papers & films. These are overlaid by fencing grids & props that have undergone a coating process. This process is carried out in Bell’s vacuum thermal evaporation machine that Bell has used since the mid-60s.

What is unique about these images is that, apart from the black arches & red paper, there is no actual pigment. The colour is the result of light reflecting on the thickness of the layers, which (as explained in a short film also shown at the exhibition) is called ‘instinctive colour’. This is the same as how light is refracted when it hits oil on water. The colour is dependent on the density of the oil on the water – hence the rainbow effect.

I really did enjoy seeing this exhibition. It reminded me of my own fascination of reflected light & how it can transform the ordinary. Even the average selfie:




Tasks 1, 2 & 3