Cruel & Tender: Pt 15

With all the term’s work from both the BTEC Level 3 & NCEF Level 2 courses submitted, it was time to get it on the wall.

The first session involved myself, my classmates & Zig working out where to put all this wonderful work. There was just about enough space to get them up.

This joint effort took most of the day, but the labels still had to be added. This was done a couple of days later. It certainly made a major difference having everyone’s names & work titles next to the photos.

It was also great to see the results of many weeks of hard work, research & discovery finally on display.


Criteria Ref: P1, P2 & P4.

Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 13

With the end of term upon us, a final decision had to made regarding which image I would submit for my Still Life task.

After showing the class the two prints, it was clear which one was the favourite.


I’ve tried so hard to ‘like’ the other image, but I can’t bring myself to hand it over. Yes, the photograph does not have the symbolic additions & can’t be deconstructed by semiotics. However, I love the simplicity of the flowers, the lighting, composition &  background. It’s an image I would have on my own wall. The tulip was once a valuable commodity & now I can understand the obsession.

Criteria Ref: P1 & P4.


Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 12

After ordering the new image from DS Colour Labs on Monday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the prints the next day.

Here are the digital images.

And here are the prints.


The new one does look more balanced. I also decided to keep with a basic matt finish due to cost. Will let the class have a look on the next & final session then make my decision.

Criteria Ref: P1 & P3.

Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 11

Time to show the two still life prints in class. Again, there was much conjecture with regards the two images.

The main feedback from my classmates & Zig was with regards to the lamp image. There wasn’t enough ‘space’ around the items. With no viable option to increase the background size, I looked at the images again & selected a new one:

I then made a few adjustments in Camera Raw, before preparing the image for printing.

Criteria Ref: P1, P2 & P4.

Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 9

After another useful feedback session with the class & Zig, I finally got the selection down to two images.

I do like both of these & am still quite proud of the vase of tulips. However, for the purpose of this task, which is to ‘interpret’ a classic still life, the glass rose lamp combined with the shell, tulip, petal & shell does play with the semiotics usually encountered in this style of painting.

For example, the tulips initially alluded to the transience of life & were considered an expensive luxury. With the lamp & the butterflies, they are a man-made interpretation of nature & totally un-natural. It reflects the consumerism of today’s current society, items mass produced in China & easily available. The shell is one that my daughter brought back from the Isle of Wight, not a distant land but still a symbol of discovery & travel. The tulip & petal at the bottom of the photo still allude to life’s quick passing & a reminder to not forget that the flower is a simple piece of beauty. I also really like the way the real tulip looks like it’s been painted onto the image.

Regardless of the meaning, there’s still the printed images to examine. Will be interesting to see them when they arrive.

Criteria Ref: P1 & P4.


Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 7

After practising a couple of set ups at home yesterday, today was the time to bring my props into the college studio.

Consisting of my glass rose lamp, a bunch of pink tulips, a couple of fake butterflies plus a selection of shells & stones the challenge was to interpret a classic still life painting.

Here goes…

Firstly, I set up the glass rose lamp on a black background & took a couple of phone shots.

I then set up the camera with the flash trigger & used a spotlight with barn doors. The following were taken with my Nikon D5500 using the 50mm lens. I did try a couple of shots with manual focus, but my eyesight let me down, so I used automatic focus which works well for me, adjusting the single focal point on the subject.

Next, I tried a composition just using the shells & stones.

Then I tried the tulips in the vase.

The light was quite sharp & not giving me the effect I wanted. Then Clare, my classmate volunteered to help with suggestions on how to use the items that I’d got. First, she suggested taking the flowers out the vase & combine them with some of the shells. Let’s give it a go…

We weren’t totally convinced with the result. There were a couple of shots in that group that did look quite nice, but I wouldn’t have been happy submitting any for my final image.

As the light was quite harsh, Clare suggested using a softbox to diffuse it. This made a major difference as it provided the light I was looking for. I also returned the flowers back into the vase. Something had triggered in my mind’s eye that this was the type of image I was going for.



The light was certainly softer & more even. By then I was quite visually strained & physically drained, so it was time to check out the images on the PC. I personally really liked the last set of images the most so far, with one really standing out for me. However, Zig was going to give me a push in another direction. He really liked the lamp & butterflies, which played on the concept of a classic still life painting. By twisting the subject matter, it subverts the original representation of each of the elements.

Back to the set up with some more shots of the glass rose lamp, butterflies, tulip & shells.

At the time of writing, I wasn’t totally convinced I want to go with any of these images. What I will do is not look at them for a few days & revisit with fresh eyes. Also, to view & discuss them with Zig & the class during the next lesson.

Overall, this was a great practical exercise during which I learnt a lot. It also proved that practice (as usual) makes perfect.

Criteria Ref: P1, P2 & P4.