TAOP: Assignment 2 – Element of Design: Tutor Feedback, Learnings and Ideas for Improvement

This post collates the tutor feedback, things I?ve learnt or need to apply in future, and ideas to improve elements of my second assignment before assessment at the end of this course.

General Learnings

  • The overall summary from my tutor here was good “A good assignment for this level of the module, but there are ideas there which if expanded on and pushed further will take the photography up a level.”  I felt there was a lot of positives to take from the feedback on this assignment – more so than on the first – and a lot of things I can use to improve what I’m doing; which is already helping with my thought process for assignment three.
  • The assignment is about creating or making photos that involve elements of design, rather than just taking photos which involve elements of design, and I coped well.  My tutor said I was helped by my choice of all-artificial light setup shots, but argued that its a ‘bit of a cop-out’.  I should try and get a good mix of images that involved outside shots, different lighting and such.  Not exactly ‘found’ but planned shots.
  • He advised me that choosing a theme allows the expression of ideas within a stricter set up – which will point towards the final assessment.  I should have narrowed the theme down to take the photography to the next level, rather than broaden it as I have.  I’ve touched on this with ‘breakfast’ themed shots – so could have stuck to that more narrow theme.  He’s told me to think beyond the obvious and take my planning further to create a narrative and story.
  • Try to investigate what others are doing and see what my knowledge brings to tell ‘my story’.  He stated that this is beyond ‘normal’ at this level but worth keeping in mind for later assignments.
  • I should ensure future assignments show examples of previous assignments – such as contrasts, etc.
  • I need to include detail of how I planned out the assignment and chose the photos.  What alternatives there were and how I assessed the ones for selection.  He noted that some of this is in my blog – but I should include links to the relevant area of the blog.
  • While I go into detail on taking a particular image, I need to mention planning and how it fits the theme and whether it was the only idea considered.
  • I don’t mention RAW files or anything about processing and software.  I should include this detail as the choices I make with these can add artistic value.
  • Extra notes or areas of expansion can be included in my blog, with links, so I don’t need to produce a huge amount in the assignment.
  • I should try to draw on external influences – e.g. for this one I might have read up on food photography, cookbooks, how lighting is used in food photography and what the current trends are in this area.
  • Finally, on post-processing, he advised all digital photography requires it – I’ve gone the opposite way after criticism of my excessive post-processing in assignment one.  There’s still a “middle ground’ to find.

 My Learning Log

  • Basically I need to improve my navigation and included pointers to blog posts in the assignment.  Otherwise there were good accompanying notes.

Suggested Reading/Viewing

  • I should expand on influences and when I mention other areas of reading or examination of other photo sites if there is anything specific in them I like – then use this as influence or areas for experimentation.
  • I should always mention source and influence – rather than just the source.
  • Don’t be afraid to include negative influences as well as positive.
  • Keep up comments on when I’ve reworked due to feedback (e.g. Flickr comments).

 The Photographs

This section looks at the photographs and the specific feedback I had on each.

Single point

Link: Original post

  • Technically doesn’t fit the description – the single point is not in focus.  It doesn’t have to be, but it helps.
  • Avoid making bland statements about composition or artistic ideas – e.g. “angled to give it more interest”.
  • Include a lighting diagram or picture of the setup.  As it happens this is something I did in my post about the image ‘Breaking through‘ prior to getting feedback on this assignment.

 Two points

Link: Original post

  • My tutor wrote “You really seem to get the assignment with this photo.”
  • Additional feedback was that it could have been post-processed with more contrast and colour, but within the context of the assignment it has meaning.
  • Colour also dominates the composition – regardless of focus.

Several points

Link: Original post

  • My tutor agreed with my comments on this – and said it basically says ‘trying too hard’.  He suggested I bin the idea and try doing something else – but still keep the image in my blog/learning log.

 Vertical and Horizontal lines

Link: Original post

  • Whoops!  I got a telling-off for not at least taking the shots I decided probably wouldn’t work.  Had I taken them I could have examined what works, what didn’t and said why I chose the images I did.
  • Spaghetti is often seen for this section!


Link: Original post

  • My tutor provided some more advanced technical feedback here, concerning the lighting points I had raised on this image.  He said to improve light on the bottom of the bottle simply don’t use a dark base – a light base, mirror or glass could be used.  I could also avoid reflections by shooting through a white sheet and post-processing the reflection of the camera out.
  • The use of the ultra-wide angle lens shows a range of how to use certain lenses to emphasise aspects of my subjects.


Link: Original post

  • My tutor said I had provided a very good description of the process and how I adapted to circumstances, changing ideas to suit.  It looks like a planned out shot – and I should extend this to linking most or all images in the panel together to take it to the next level.

Distinct shapes

Link: Original post

  • Tutor said it’s a simple, straightforward shot which stands out.
  • It could use some sympathetic post-processing, or change to lighting – e.g. reflecting light on to dark parts of the onion.

Implied triangles

Link: Original post

  • The blog photos emphasise the issue of using just one light – I need to expand on how I came up with the manual settings I did.
  • The images do look under-exposed.  My tutor suggested rather than blanket adjustments I adjust selectively and – if it works – try with real light, using narrow reflectors.
  • He said I’d made a good point on how planning and extra thought affects the photos – “It’s a huge point that a lot of people miss.”


Link: Original post

  • He advised that most students don’t get rhythm at all – but I’ve got a good idea here.  He pointed out there are technical issues with the white-balance – and I think I’ll have another go at this in the future.
  • He suggested it needs some post-processing.  He also suggested seeing what it looks like with a burnt piece of toast in the mix.


Link: Original post

  • Tutor’s feedback “A good image to end on – again its simple and looks simple but as you described is far from simple to execute.”
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