My work has finally been sent to the OCA Headquarters for the November Assessment--my last level one course has now been completed. Hurray !

I feel a sense of not only relief but also achievement, with thanks to my tutor Russell for his advice , patience , and time.  Distance learning combined with work and family commitments can be frequently stressful.

Two years have passed since I started the course I never imagined it would take me this long , I fully expected to complete in no more than 15 months. I have found the coursework absorbing , often challenging, and have a gained a lot of valuable knowledge. My workflow has improved greatly and I am much more organized at cataloging , tagging, and  editing my images within Lightroom. My workflow routine has also included printing off all of my assignment images at A4 size on Perma Jet Fibre Base Royal 325 and labeling them as I went along. This has saved me loads of time as I prepared for assessment and something I failed to do for my previous courses which meant manically printing up to 60 A4 images in the week before I needed to get them in the post! 

My processing skills have improved and my understanding of  Photoshop has grown , but I still have a great amount to learn. I am very much a novice in my manipulative skills but was satisfied with the outcome of my 4th assignment by managing to  combine 2 images successfully . My image was chose to appear in an edition of The Big Issue in the North (minus the text).

 I commented at the very beginning of the course I hoped to use my photography as a way of exploring thoughts , feelings , and memories. My 3rd assignment especially was used very much as a way of working through a very difficult period in my life. I regret not being able to continue with an idea I started work on for my final assignment (see blog entry 29/5/2013) but lacked time and found it difficult to come up with original ideas. I really needed to be working on the concept for the duration of the course and will bear this in mind when I start my next course. 

Mounts Bay
For my final assignment I have chosen to submit images taken over a 12-month period of the small bay area surrounding St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall. This area covers perhaps less than a mile but I love the changing mood throughout the seasons. I am aware this locality is a very popular tourist destination and as such is a much-photographed place. However I feel to truly capture the spirit of a place involves frequent visits and a willingness to simply wait, watch, and observe before pressing the shutter. 

 Photographing here has been, and will remain, an ongoing passion of mine, one I talked about and included images from as part of my second assignment. I remember happy childhood visits with my Mum and Dad staying with my spinster Great Aunt Carrie who still lived in my Dad’s childhood home just across the road from the beach. I am more than happy to spend hours by myself on the beach, just as I did when a child with my bucket and spade, but this time with my camera.  I love solitude and bleakness  (something many visitors probably hope to avoid) as much as blue skies and sun. I find cheerlessness as visually appealing as a beautiful sunset, which is just as well with the unpredictable British weather. An obstacle of shooting at the seaside is being at the mercy of the tides. At times certain areas of the bay were not accessible.  However for each visit I was lucky to be staying literally across the road so was able to plan my morning or evening sessions around the tide times. A great benefit of staying so close also meant being able to take advantage of the often quickly changing weather conditions.

 I must be completely honest; I had not initially considered using my photography of this area as part of my final assignment. It was simply personal work that I happened to incorporate into my college work. However without the coursework to guide me my photography of this area would have had little structure. The assignment brief is to apply all I have learnt to build a collection of between 10 and 12 final images hence my personal work has evolved naturally into my final project. I considered presenting the final project in black and white but felt the changing seasons were better represented in colour.

Colour can be used creatively to suggest meaning and mood. Additionally “colour allows habitual contexts to be seen afresh” pg. 228. Ian Jeffrey Photography A Concise History, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1981. Although I would love to include some mono work I do not think it would contribute in making this a cohesive set of images. Furthermore when I took the majority of my final chosen images I was not thinking in black and white, colours and hues drew me. Joel Meyerowitz was a primary supporter of colour photography at a time “most serious photographers had regarded colour photography as vulgar” pg. 143 Gerry BadgerThe Genius of Photography How photography changed our lives” Quadrille Publishing Limited London, 2007. His study of Cape Cod not only captures the relaxed pace of life there but investigates the shifting colour of light.  His photography of this area exemplifies how best to use light and its resulting hues harmoniously. Shooting at different times of the day and year I too also aim to explore the relationship between colour and light. 

I have grown to love trying to capture the ever-shifting transformation that occurs throughout the year, continuance and change, ostensibly opposites. I have never been a particularly keen landscape photographer and as such have not studied the genre in great detail, however I really enjoyed an exhibition in Cornwall last year of hand printed cibachrome images by Susanna Heron. Taken over a period of 4 years, within the confines of her mother’s garden in Penwith, they record the inevitable change that takes place through the seasons, she notes “ a garden is a complex thing, it exists within a period of time and is neither finite nor static” Pg. 7 Susanna Heron Shima: Island and Garden The Pale Green Press, London, 1992. That is precisely what draws me to continue with my photography of the Bay, the unpredictable and perpetual change. I can fully understand how Susanna’s project continued over a period of 48 months; I could spend a lifetime here and never become unmotivated.

Photographer Mark Hirsch spent a year making a photo-diary of a tree he passed on his way to work every day. That Tree

 What motivated him and kept him going? “ It made me a way better photographer. I just really had to change my way of thinking, and my way of looking at the world.The Guardian Saturday 25th May 2013 pg. 40.   In order to grow and evolve as a photographer means learning to observe, deliberate, and not just simply gaze without truly seeing. His images, which are quite diverse, capture perfectly the changing colours of the season within the confines of just a tiny geographical area. I find them inspiring and beautiful to look at. Interestingly the images were all shot using an iPhone, “ but photography has never been all about equipment, but it always has been and always will be all about the image.” Furthermore “its still the combination of light and photographic craft which permits us to make, rather than take, images” pg. 5 Chris CoeTravel Photographer of the Year Journey Three” Travel Photographer of the Year, Suffolk, 2010. Like Meyerowitz Mark Hirsch has used his knowledge of light to create an eclectic collection of images.

Paradoxically I also enjoyed and found monochrome imagery inspirational. There is a set of black and white reproductions of old photographs displayed at one of the cafés on the Mount, both landscape and people, I love to look at. The Bay appears seemingly timeless, only people change and move on. I also love a series of photographs by Deborah Parkin: September is the Cruellest Month. The images were shot with a large format camera using black and white instant film. The evocative images of her children, some by the sea, are intended to prompt remembrance and feeling. My children and grandchildren sometimes accompany me on my visits and I want them to love and remember the place as much as I do. Consequently I often incorporate them into my landscape work, suspending them in time, because “time passes and is never re-captured – we are only left with memories and photographs” Deborah Parkin Pg.18 Ag Spring 2011 Number 63 Picture Box Media Ltd, Surrey, 2011. Does my subjective approach make my images of the Bay any less valid as a document of land?

I also often wonder about the many different people who travel here, what do they see and think as St Michael’s Mount first appears on the horizon. My Mum remembers arriving by train on her first visit with my Dad to see the Mount rising out of the sea and the castle shimmering in sunlight, “ like a dream, a palace out of a storybook”. What does this place mean to me personally? My roots belong here, I feel a sense of peace that I struggle to find elsewhere, and I never tire of returning time after time. Furthermore I choose not to shoot at busy times, this is not how I want my personal haven to be represented. A different photographer might chose to concentrate on the hustle and bustle of the day time when many visitors arrive to cross the causeway by foot or boat. I prefer the quieter times, early morning, late evening and out of season. I have given each image a number but this is not necessarily the order they need to be viewed in, I hope they work as stand-alone images as well as creating a coherent set. 

All of the images have been shot in Raw and processed in Lightroom with some further processing in Photoshop, shooting Raw enables me to have far greater control over the final outcome. At the start of the course I would have confidently stated I did little, if any, manipulation but now realise this is not the case.  Framing, composition, filters, lens choice etc. can all alter how an image is perceived, a form of manipulation, and this made me consider for the first time that even landscape photography can be highly subjective. I have additionally learned that at each step of the digital workflow manipulative selections are made that alter the final image, some subtle some not, but I want the choice of how each of my images look to be made by me not the camera.

As these are predominantly landscape scenes I have tried to keep my post-shoot processing realistic. The images have been sharpened using the Unsharp mask in Photoshop saved as Tiff files with further sharpening applied when printed. I had a few disasters when I over- sharpened and needed to re-assess and re-print but I found a setting of Amount 100 Radius 1.0 Threshold 6 worked well for most of the prints. I calibrate my screen each month, use an Epson R2880 printer and Perma Jet Classic Fine Art Fibre Base Royal 325gsm paper, and am generally satisfied with my prints. All images are backed up to an external hard-drive. 



Following suggestions by Russell in my initial feedback and with his agreement I have revised my assignment submission.

 Some images have been omitted and others added. I was relived to get an email saying " the set of images works better" 

Stupidly I had not included my research in my l notes  sent to Russell . This is unlike me as I 

tend to write reams , perhaps more than is strictly required.  Hence an amended write-up has been sent which  "is much

 improved with strong evidence of research and context and this reflects much more your passion for the place and subject

 matter: " 
1: July. Early evening

F18     10mm      ISO 100      5 Sec using 9-stop ND filter

Lightroom adjustments

Daylight WB

Tone Curve (+ 9 Lights) Clarity + 61 

Cropped as suggested by Russell to exclude lens distortion 

Camera calibration standard

Photoshop Adjustments


Unsharp mask

I took 15 images during this session, changing my viewpoint halfway through. By evening time the area is always quiet, the tourists have all gone home, the beach was practically deserted bar for this lone figure, a local, picking up litter as he strolled past. I used a 9-stop filter that I like using, especially useful to depict the slow pace of life here.

Cropped as suggested. 
2: February. Late afternoon

F11    19mm   ISO 100   1/ 6 sec 

Lightroom adjustments

Shade WB

Tone curve (+ 33 lights -4 darks + 2 shadows)

Clarity + 56

Vibrance + 11


Photoshop adjustments

Levels adjustment

Unsharp mask

The light shining on the rocks created a lovely golden tone that contrasted with and complemented the blue hues of the sea and sky. I decided to crop quite aggressively to create a more dynamic composition. I really must learn to be more aware of where to place the horizon line. I was rather disappointed with the print, which lacked the luminance of the screen version.  

Crop overlay
3. July: Early morning

F18   10mm   ISO 100    10 Sec using a 9-stop ND filter                 

Lightroom adjustments

Custom WB @ K8100

Tone Curve (+12 Lights -9 Darks) Clarity-12


Camera calibration Neutral

Photoshop adjustments

Levels Adjustment

Unsharp Mask

Self-portrait. How may times have I stood on this exact spot and how many more visits will I make? I will come and go and this image is intended to represent the fleeting passage of time in an enduring place. 

At times like this there is an ethereal quality, like what my mum described, and is something I hoped to capture. Using a 9-stop ND filter I took 16 images, using my hand held meter to take an ambient light reading, it helps to bracket shots too. I needed to compose the shot before putting the filter on my camera, as it is impossible to see through the viewfinder once it is on. I find this a very fiddly task; I am pretty useless at putting screw-on filters onto the lens. I had no idea where I would be in the frame. This session was shot in shot Raw and jpeg simultaneously; one of the jpeg shots was submitted for my 2nd assignment. 

I have substituted this image in place of Image 1 from my initial submission l. Again I have  cropped  quite severely to alter the balance after taking into consideration Russell's comments.

Crop overlay below
Original Image submitted---see  below.
This image was number 1  in my first submission.
Russell felt the the figures were too far away to be of any impact and additionally considered that the concrete jetty dominated the frame and was out of proportion with the Mount behind. . The composition was less than satisfactory. 
4. July: Late afternoon.

F18      10mm      ISO 100     2.5 sec using 9-stop ND filter

Lightroom adjustments

Custom WB @ K7800

Tone Curve (- 7 Lights + 2 Darks) Clarity + 37


Camera calibration landscape

Photoshop adjustments


Unsharp mask

The weather had been beautiful earlier in the day, blue sky and sun, but rapidly changed as the day progressed.  

Russell mentioned that in all of my wide landscape shots I chose to place the horizon in the centre of the frame. This was not intentional; I just failed to really consider the composition as carefully as I should of. Hence I have cropped this in addition to a few other shots. Cropping slightly also eliminates the lens distortion I get using my wide angle lens at it's extreme setting. Shame I have lost some of the sky detail though. 

Crop Overlay below
5: February. Early morning

F4.4          10mm            ISO 400             1/80 sec

Lightroom adjustments

Cloudy WB

Tone curve (+15 lights   - 2 darks)

Clarity + 63     Vibrance + 9


Camera Calibration Landscape

Photoshop adjustments

Vibrance and Curves adjustments again

Unsharp mask

I walked over to the Mount on the final morning of a week’s stay here, something I always try to do-- tide allowing. It was even colder than it had been all week and there were fluttering’s of snow; something that hardly occurs here, the sky was flat and mainly grey. The small town looks quite desolate in the distance but I love the isolation and sense of being far from anywhere at times likes this. I have lost quite a lot of the skyline detail but did not want to underexpose the Causeway and foreground.

This was one occasion when I did not have my tripod with me, and when a graduated filter may have been of some use (I do not possess one). I did not feel confident enough to attempt using the Graduated filter available in Lightroom. Nor do I feel replacing the sky with the use of manipulation is necessary. This is how I want the day as I saw it to be depicted. Russell suggested cropping my original shot by a third, which I have done. I wanted the Causeway to lead the eye towards the small town of Marazion but must agree it dominates the frame and certainly the crop improves this.  

Original image below
Crop overlay
6. July. Early evening.

F8      70mm        ISO 100      1/3200 Sec  

Lightroom adjustments

+ 1 and ½ stops exposure       Shade WB

 Tone Curve (+ 32 lights  - 13 Darks)


Clarity + 12            Camera calibration Standard

Photoshop adjustments

Levels        Vibrance + 13

Unsharp mask   

Strolling along the beach another evening I only managed to get 6 shots as the rowing team walked unhurriedly towards the sea. The pace of life here seems slower, more leisurely, and this image is intended to give an awareness of how the Bay is used, what it means, to a few of the people who live here. Shooting towards the sun I was aiming to get the rowers in silhouette.  On occasions like this the advantage of shooting Raw becomes clear as I took what I thought were reasonably exposed shots but they were not as I expected or wanted (I did not have time to bracket). However post-shoot I was able to adjust the exposure by just over 1 and ½ stops. But does shooting Raw “invalidate the importance of getting the exposure exactly as you want it? The answer is, not at all. The perfect exposure ------will always give the best image quality “ nevertheless “the extra bit depth from a Raw file makes it a cushion for error-----that allows you to reconsider the nuances of exposure later, when you have more time and you might have changed your opinion about what works best.” Pg. 162 Michael FreemanPerfect Exposure” The Ilex Press Limited, East Sussex, 2009.

I find it much easier to use the auto WB when shooting Raw; the WB is easily adjusted post- shoot and can be used creatively to alter the whole atmosphere of an image. This image was actually shot earlier in the evening than my 2nd image but by simply altering the WB the ambience is totally altered. Again Russell suggested cropping the foreground as well as attempting to lift the shadow detail slightly.

Crop overlay
As shot below
Images 7 and 8: October. Early evening

Taken later in the year, both were underexposed. My only defence being that I failed to compensate for the rapidly dimming evening light as I was shooting, although I did increase my ISO from 100 to 200. I could have increased the ISO even more but dislike the resulting digital noise. Furthermore I left myself with too little time to take many photographs and should have got myself set up earlier in the evening.  However once again being able to adjust the exposure meant I was able to adjust these post-shoot. 


F14         10mm         ISO 200           30sec

Lightroom adjustments

+ 1.40 stops exposure     Custom WB  @ K 13813

Tone curve (+ 16 lights  + 32 darks)

Clarity + 97         Camera calibration Landscape

Photoshop adjustments

Levels adjustment

Unsharp mask

Russell suggested the horizon might need straightening but any attempts I make result in a very slanted horizon so unfortunately this has been left alone. 

Image as shot

F14       21mm        ISO 200           30sec

Lightroom adjustments

+ 1.20 stops exposure    Custom WB @ K 9688

+ 29 Clarity

Tone curve (+ 18 lights – 16 darks)     

Camera calibration Standard

Photoshop adjustments

Levels adjustment

Vibrance adjustment

Clone stamp tool (in 2nd version)

Unsharp mask

Although I like the ghost-like figures that can just be seen on the beach area I initially tried to remove the barely visible figures on the actual causeway. They look like dirty grey blobs to me, I tried cloning them out but made such a hash of it I decided to simply leave them there. The streak of light is a vehicle leaving the Mount before the tide separates it from the mainland. 

Russell suggested removing the gold streak, which I have done using the Clone stamp tool in Photoshop, but can honestly say I am not sure which version I prefer.

Version 1 
Version 2
9: Two images combined

I initially took a few shots of the seaweed and rocks with the intention of converting them to black and white. But one rock was particularly distracting, it had a quite significant patch of a much lighter tone, not something I had noticed at the time of shooting, and I felt it spoiled the overall appearance of the image. My eye was constantly drawn towards this much paler area and it really irritated me.  Chapel Rock, which sits besides the Causeway, is covered in lichen and I used a close up image of this lichen to create a texture file. I have altered reality, but by just a tiny bit, and quite honestly I do not feel this minor manipulation is unethical but justified aesthetically.

Russell felt the colour of my original submission (print and blog) looked rather odd. My husband agreed, and the more I looked at both the print and screen agreed also! I thought of re-processing both images but decided to try a sepia tint. Although I have not included any mono work in the assignment I like how the textures are enhanced by the varied shades of brown, and on dreary days the sea and surrounding area take on a dun hue. 

Seaweed and rocks

F9        67mm         ISO 200           1/80sec

Initial Lightroom adjustments

Custom WB @ K 4050

+26 Clarity

Tone curve (+13 lights   + 3 Highlights    - 3 darks)

+ 26 Vibrance + 21 Saturation

Camera calibration Landscape

Lichen / texture file

F6.3          23mm       ISO 400       1/25sec

Initial Lightroom adjustments

F6.3          23mm       ISO 400       1/25sec

Lightroom adjustments

+ 1 stop exposure           Shade WB

Negative Clarity – 2

Tone curve (+ 37 – 28)

+ 29 Vibrance

Photoshop adjustments

The two images were blended using a layer mask

Unsharp mask

Tiff file processed again in Lightroom

Sepia tint added  

Rocks and seaweed as shot
After processing but prior to the using texture file to edit out the paler rock . Russell commented on the rather strange colour, and comparing it to the original as shot I have to agree.
Texture file 
10, 11 and 12: February. Evening.

On a much-needed break with my 2 daughters and eldest granddaughter I probably took more photographs during my week here in February than on any of my other visits. It was a bitterly cold week, one of the coldest of the winter, but the weather remained dry and some of the evening skies were glorious. I stated I love gloomy weather just as much as I love sun but what photographer can resist a beautiful sunset? I spent one freezing cold evening waiting a couple of hours for the sun to finally sink lower in the sky, I could barely move I was so stiff and cold. However it was worth the wait as I had the luxury of being able to really take my time setting up and exposing my shots. 


F6.3     28mm         ISO 100        1/6400

Lightroom adjustments

Shade WB

Tone curve (+ 39 lights   - 4 darks)

Clarity – 16   Camera Calibration Landscape


Photoshop adjustments

Levels adjustment

Vibrance adjustment

Unsharp mask

Shooting into the bright early evening light was tricky but I like the overall golden tone this has created which is so different from images 8 and 9. I cropped the image to exclude what I felt was a rather distracting horizon line but once printed felt I had cropped too tight so adjusted this again slightly. Russell suggested I try and bring out some of the shadow detail.



F11        24mm        ISO 100    1/15 sec

Lightroom adjustments

Shade WB

Tone curve (+ 18 lights  - 6 darks)

Clarity – 9 Camera Calibration Landscape

 Photoshop adjustments

Levels adjustment

Unsharp mask

Russell suggested trying to lift some of the shadow detail at the bottom right of the frame. 


F16          16mm          ISO 100    1/8 sec

Lightroom adjustments

+ 1 stop exposure

Custom WB @ K 6126

Tone curve (+ 17 lights – 3 darks)

Clarity + 9            Vibrance + 12           Saturation + 6

Camera calibration Standard

Photoshop adjustments

Curves adjustment again

Unsharp mask

I felt this image was too underexposed as shot; I had lost quite a bit of detail, and hence increased the exposure by 1 stop.

As shot below


This image has been excluded from my 2nd set 






Two images combined





Excluded from 2nd set sent to tutor . Russell felt , and I agree, it did not really fit into the the set. 
Original self portraits by Nina Katchadourina caught my eye this week.

  I love not only the humour of her images but also the inventiveness. I sleep or read on boring flights she filled the time taking photographs with her mobile phone using whatever was available to hand to create Flemish style portraiture. Proof that expensive camera equipment is not a pre-requirement to successful and creative photography. 


Weebly Website

Prior to starting the course I set myself up with the free website I am using now. I am not a professional and have no need to have a paid for site. I had absolutely no idea how to build a website from scratch but I have since used this website as a workspace for both my OCA DPP Level One coursework and some personal work. For this project I decided to create another website using Weebly again (you are allowed 2 free websites ) and I am now relatively competent using their site building system. There are a wide variety of free themes that are available to use and I chose a black theme for my first website. As the site grew I found adding text to the black background a real pain , I had to keep highlighting it and altering the colour. I also wished I had chosen a more simple and clean looking sight. Hence this project gave me the perfect chance to create a site that could be a better showcase for my work and I have chosen a simple white minimalist theme.

The images uploaded to the site are jpegs 900 x 600 pixels with a resolution of 72ppi exported from Lightroom, making them quick to upload. I additionally applied output sharpening for the  screen. Looking at them on screen they seem ok to view.  

I initially added a slideshow but finally preferred the simple lay out I have chosen. This may change , and the site can be updated and altered as much or as little as I choose. 

Click on the link below to see my new Website. 



At the start of the course I noted that along with portraiture I had a growing interest in surrealism. The Surrealist movement, founded in the early years of the 20th Century, placed great emphasis on the power of the imagination. As a child I had (and still have) a very active imagination hence perhaps it was inevitable that I found myself drawn towards the idea of trying to incorporate my thoughts and feelings into images. I felt this was perhaps an ideal concept for my final assignment.

I love looking through an old green leather case used by my mum and dad to store family photos, a few letters, their war medals, and bits and pieces of other memorabilia . Originally a whiskey casket of some sort the case (full of whiskey) was given to my Aunt Alice (mum’s older sister) prior to World War 2 when she was in service to a rich mining family in the North of England. My dad has been dead many years now and my mum is 87 , the case is now kept at my home along with cases of my own. As time passes these cases will be passed to my own children, who knows how long and to whom they will eventually belong, but the memories they contain are precious. I planned to explore ways of combining the old with the new as a way of keeping my family history alive and relevant, linking past and present through photography.

 A major consideration was how to use the case contents imaginatively and creatively. The image below-- My dad as a young man (Let me hold you in my arms one more time)--- was taken using a 9 stop filter, a photograph of a photograph, an image taken at the very beginning of my coursework and one I wanted to build upon to form a series.

 I had various other ideas of how or what I hoped to do , which included scanning old images or letters and merging them into an image. I have a new scanner, never used until now, that I want to use to digitize all of my analogue photographs eventually and had the idea of combining scanned imagery with a new photograph using the techniques I have learned. What I had not considered was my lack of scanning knowledge . A few hours sat staring at my screen wondering why the scanner was not working was solved when I plugged the USB cable into my Mac !  

 Aunt Alice (deceased) the original owner of the green case which I have adjusted very slightly in Lightroom.

I found looking at how other artists approached the concept inspiring whilst being wary of not simply copying their ideas.

Dear Photograph

Is a website with the simple idea of contributors’ taking an old photograph from the analogue era and simply holding it up against the setting of the original and create a new image. Each picture on the site has a short paragraph written by the image-maker. The images viewed alongside the text are especially poignant.

Irena Werning won the 2012 Professional Category Sony World Photography award for her conceptual series Back to the Future. She carefully re-staged old portrait images to be viewed in juxtaposition with the original. They offer a fascinating glimpse of the aging process but I found in a gentle humorous way. Each individual is photographed in the same environment and clothing as in the original.

My favourite find was discovering the work of historian Jo Teeuwisse. I love the merger of pathos and history in her combination of old and new photographs of the same place at different points in time.

I found it difficult to think of workable original ideas and realized I needed far more time than I initially thought to create a coherent series of images. Furthermore although I started some work of my own combining old and new in Photoshop using Layer masks I think I need to really hone my PS skills before presenting a whole body of this type work as an assignment. 

I will continue to work on this personal project  and hopefully incorporate it into a future OCA assignment at Level 2 but have abandoned my plans to use it this time for my final Level 1 assignment.


When I stay in Cornwall (something I try to do at the least 3 times a year) I always visit Falmouth Art Gallery. Although only small the exhibitions and collections are always quite eclectic. The main exhibition this time featured the work of artists Cedric Morris and Christopher Wood. I always enjoy looking at other forms of art , how different artists  interpret the world , but it was one photographic image in the Falmouth Art Gallery collection that captivated me. A Lee Miller photograph that I am familiar with but viewing it in the gallery as opposed to looking at it in a book made me really appreciate the skill involved not only in the original capture but also the printing. The darkest to lightest tones were beautifully captured, but what was particularly fascinating was how the image seemed almost 3D, I could have stood and studied it for hours. 

Photograph below by Lee Miller. 
A less successful visit was to Tate St Ives. On arrival we discovered that although the building was open the exhibitions were closed for the day !

Ambling around the building I took a photograph of hubby stood in front of an instillation in the main foyer and have turned it into my own piece of modern art using the clone tool in Lightroom. Not a brilliant example of digital manipulation  but I like the bright colours. 

Original Raw image below.
St Ives has long attracted artists , the light there is really spectacular. Although it was a typical grey and rainy British day I could not resist taking a few photographs of the beaches there. Although my images are far from brilliant , I was shooting hand held whilst trying to protect my camera from the rain, I hope they demonstrate just how the quality of light there creates soft and beautiful colour even on a miserable day.  

I have re-read Chapter 8 of  Martin Evening’sThe Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book” Peachpit, 2010Berkeley, which discusses sharpening.

I shoot Raw and use Lightroom to process and optimize all of my images.

I use CS5 for further editing, if needed, for some of my better personal work and most of my OCA assignment work.  For holiday and family photographs  I simply use the preset sharpening tool available in LR for all my input sharpening, there are two pre-sets, Landscape and Portrait,  and these work fine as most are then simply uploaded as jpegs to an on-line photography site to order as 7x5 prints. I also occasionally use the Unsharp mask in CS5. However I must confess I have never really given the process of sharpening too much thought , it is just something to be done. I hope this exercise helps me understand the process in greater depth which in turn will improve my digital workflow. I take too many photographs to print them all myself but I do print all my OCA assignment work and any personal work that I intend to display in frames myself using an Epson R2880 printer. When printing my own images I use LR and use the Sharpen for print preset in the Print module.

Some considerations to keep in mind

1.All digital images need sharpening – hence require input sharpening

2. Images lose some sharpness when printing—hence require further sharpening for print

3.No amount of sharpening will improve a badly focused image

4. Too much sharpening will produce halo’s and artefacts.

6.Zoom in @ 100% to view on screen when applying sharpening.

7. Landscape or portrait images will require differing amounts of sharpening 

8. The choice of how much or how little sharpening is applied is subjective.

9. Printing is essential to assess the effect of the sharpening.

Input Sharpening using LR.

The Amount slider can be increased from 0 to 150 making the image crisper , creating edge definition.   

The Radius slider can increased from 0.5 to 3 and increases edge contrast. The setting will dictate the width of the edge details being sharpened.

The Detail slider can be used to suppress halos caused by Radius and Amount use. 0 applies the most suppression whilst 100 applies none.

Portraits with soft edges will need to have a greater Radius setting applied than a Landscape image, the effect is less noticeable due to the softer edges such as lashes and eyes. Landscapes will probably require a setting of less than 1.   

Using a Low detail and High Radius  will allow (if wanted)  more aggressive sharpening whilst eliminating halos.

The Masking slider can be used to protect areas that you do not want sharpened. 0 gives no mask protection and can be increased up to 100 to increase contrast at the edges whilst protecting smoother tones such as skin. 

The Clarity slider can be used to increase mid-tone contrast


No sharpening

The image is quite soft but not too bad on screen but in print noticeably  lacks definition and contrast. 


Average / what I tend to use most of the time

Amount 35

Radius 1.4

Detail 15

Masking 60

Although the sharpening is quite minimal the appearance on screen becomes slightly more detailed, especially around the eye area. Interestingly the print does not look that much different to the unsharpened version though.



Amount 150

Radius 3

Detail 100

Masking 0

On screen this looks awful . The skin has lost its smoothness , artefacts are noticeable, especially on the fur of the hat. However the printed version does not look as bad , I was quite surprised at just how different the two versions are. I would not use such aggressive sharpening but it demonstrates the need to apply more sharpening for images to be printed than those being displayed digitally on screen.   


Low detail & High Radius

Amount 100

Radius 3

Detail 0

Masking 60

This was my favourite printed version and even the screen version is reasonably acceptable. Using a high radius with low detail has helped keep the print crisp whilst preserving the skin tones. I shall probably try these settings again for any portraiture print but bear in mind I might need to adjust them. 

My prints were a surprise to me as the effect of aggressive  sharpening was far less discernable than the screen version. A printed image is the final step in my personal digital workflow and I understand slightly more than I did at the outset of the exercise the importance of sharpening and what each step and slider does.  However from personal experience  I also know printing it is often a laborious  case of trial and error but I hope my new knowledge will make this an easier task in the future.  


This project brings me back full circle to consider once again Workflow.

 I once lost over 200 images that cannot be replaced due to not having used a back up before a computer crash caused their loss. I now back up all my Raw images to a separate hard-drive and since  the start of the course  always now work on a copy of a file. Digital imagery can be viewed both on screen and as a printed medium. A vast number of digital images are never printed but shared via on-line via sites such as Facebook , Flickr , etc. I myself have two redundant computers containing images I never got around to printing or uploading to a photo site to be printed, I keep meaning to fire them up to do that  but never seem to have the time. Whilst sharing has become easier there is still something stimulating about a physical print. I can still remember the excitement of collecting a packet of newly developed photographs in the days of analogue photography. I get that same buzz now when either printing my own images at home or receiving my holiday or party snaps   as prints from Photobox. I like the physicality of a print that can be picked up and viewed with no need to sit in front of a monitor screen. 

My basic workflow for all sessions

Equipment check list.

1.Ensure camera batteries are fully charged. I use a battery grip with 2 fully charged batteries for each session

2. Memory cards x 2 formatted -- 4 GB and 8 GB

3. Chose lens and filters

4.Cable release


6. Light meter

7. Filters . I have a circular polarizer and a 9 stop ND filter

Camera settings /shooting


2.Spot metering  (if not using my hand held light meter)

3.ISO 100  or 200

4.Highlight clipping warning on

5.Auto WB -- I do not find this a problem as I shoot Raw and can easily change the WB setting.

6.I prefer to use the manual settings on my camera , not aperture or shutter priority , as I feel this allows me greater control .

I check the camera’s  histogram and often bracket my shots. Although shooting Raw and being able to adjust the exposure later on I prefer , if possible , to achieve the best exposure I can at the time of shooting.

I calibrate my screen every month using an X-Rite Colour Munki.

All images are imported into Lightroom and additionally copied onto an external hard drive. I review the images once imported. Any that are out of focus , badly exposed  or composed, are deleted immediately. The remaining images are tagged and put into a collection set / folder within the Lightroom catalogue. I then look through the remaining images and compare any very similar images side by side on the screen—I do find this a long laborious  task but a necessary one . Within the folder I use a coloured flag system to help me sort and further categorize the images . I always create and work on a virtual copy of a file. All remaining files are mainly processed in Lightroom. Some images may be further edited in Photoshop as a 16 bit Tiff file.


 Sonia Audhali at the mac birmingham.
An interesting exhibition of social documentary work by Sonia Audhali recording the gradual assimilation of two societies.

 The images of the younger members born in Britain illustrate the inevitable differences growing between the generations and the changing nature of Yemen traditional mores. A mother and son gaze at each other through a glass window , his Western clothing in contrast with the more traditional attire of his mother. Other images show a girl scout with covered head and football top, young boys studying the Quran in both traditional and Western style clothes.  Older community members are photographed chew khat , running  businesses, socialising.

 She has cleverly captured a population on the cusp of change, how long will it be before any trace of their traditional heritage is visible?

I found them intimate subjective images , she is herself part of the community and as such does not view her subjects with an objective eye. Because of this I got a sense of how a shared culture binds people together and understand what might be lost.