Assignment five re-edit

I was asked by my tutor to re-edit, even though he felt my original posting had met the brief for the assignment. He felt the assignment would be better for the images in colour and he asked me to concentrate the re-edit on colour and then shape. My final edit is below.

I await his written feedback, which will be posted upon receipt. I  was told previously  to make a series uniform, in regards to the  aspect ratio i.e. landscape  or portrait, but on this occasion  I have been asked to mix them up. Hence my edit below.01-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images02-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images03-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images04-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images05-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images06-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images07-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images08-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images09-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images10-20170212-Nick Ward 516128 EYV Assessment Images


Assignment five


The above image was taken by myself of an Icon of Saints Columba and Kentigern, patron saints of the church in Doncaster. The icon has been painted in the age old icon writing tradition and is a work of pure love, and genius. This icon can be seen in the upper left corner of image 8  (below) and will give you some sense of scale. It was painted by a nonagenarian, who decided to take up such painting two years ago. The iconographer is the grandma of one of the congregation and she lives in Bulgaria. The icon was painted free of charge and shipped free of charge, all the way from Sofia, Bulgaria. It goes to show what amazing art is out there that never gets seen and how beautiful people can be.

Please note my images are to be presented and submitted as a series of ten, 12×8 inch, black and white glossy prints,  as this medium shows off their beauty and meaning, fully. This church is a relatively dark environment to shoot in and the ISO was increased accordingly to 3200, which is higher than I would normally shoot at. This therefore presented a number of issues for me. Not only did I have to work within the confines of a moving and living Liturgy, but I also had technical difficulties and issues around angles with each shot.

My chosen subject for this assignment is a “Greek Orthodox Hierarchical Divine Liturgy”, which took place on Sunday 12th February 2017, at Sts. Columba and Kentigern’s church, in Edlington, Doncaster.

There are many moments within the Liturgy that make this a special subject to photograph. I have tried  to capture several and various people within the Liturgy, that make it so special, and it is these people and surroundings that constitute the overall subject I have chosen. Without the collective people, the Liturgy would become simple prayers of the clergy.

It is uncommon to see a series of images on this subject matter, especially ones that take you behind the iconostasis (in the Altar area), as this is off-limits to most, including to all ladies and those who do not belong to the faith. The faith can trace its’ beginnings directly back to the teaching of Christ, and there is a continuous line of Ministry from Christ until this present day.

This was a special day for the church, as this was the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy there in over twenty years. It was a special honour for me and a privilege to be given the approval to photograph this.

Ambient lighting was used, as flash photography would have been disrespectful and could have caused issues.

Metropolitan Silouan Oner attended and led the Liturgy. He is the clergyman in the dark robes and hat with the veil, and he can also be seen with and without his crown. I have captured various parts of the service, from the arrival of Sayedna (Master in Arabic), to the preparations at the prosthesis table, Sayedna’s crowing and showing his affection and love for his Church family.

I have converted to black and white, as the majority of images on the web are in colour and I wanted to do something different and showing that I am still developing my photographic voice.

Photography is a language and I prefer reading these images in black and white. I also feel that the tonal contrast of black and white is beautiful and they are better compared to those in colour.

The lighting again is non-dramatic in comparison to some of my peers. Does this mean my images are of less worth than theirs? Not in my opinion.

I have been asked in the brief to capture a unique view of the same subject and these ten images, certainly are unique and are of the same subject.

I have captured humourous images within a serious religious service, as demonstrated in image number 7. I have also demonstrated  an awareness of my surroundings, as seen by capturing the baby in image number 6.

Shot number 4 is an image that needs to be looked at for a while, to ascertain what is going on due to the multiple elements within it. I am pleased to have captured the incense rising from the thurible, adding to the drama and movement within the image.

Having the images in black and white, in my opinion, also adds an element of truth to the images, bearing in mind this subject is something that is rarely seen by most people. This series is therefore an educational piece too.

I have added the photos as a series rather than adding my best image first, which was something that was discussed with my tutor at my last tutorial. This is also necessary to fulfil the brief.

There is unique information in each of the 10 images, whilst all remaining fully focused upon my subject of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The order of the images is chronological and they are therefore a natural series of the Liturgy developing.

Interestingly I cannot find any famous photographers who specialise in Greek Orthodox clergy/services. There are several hundred images on Getty’s website, but none that follow the full process of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

My series is all about bringing to life a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and to give the viewer a flavour of this and the diverse nature of what happens. Another purpose is also to express the beauty of the people attending, their diverse age range and also acknowledge the wide cultural base we have. The Lord’s prayer for example was said in 7 languages i.e. Arabic, Welsh, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Greek and English.

This is not only a piece to celebrate Orthodoxy, but it embraces and celebrates people of all different cultures and backgrounds and shows how beautiful all people are and not just those who are native to Britain.

I have received much praise for the work at this Liturgy and this has come from as far afield as Bulgaria. Some of the comments received are copied below :-

  • By Fr Gregory: Photo 75 is probably the best photo taken of Sayedna to date!
  • Hello Nicholas. Your photos are amazing.It is a great joy for me to see Boris and Zlatina with all of you in the church and to have their photos with me.God Bless you and all your family.much love in Christ,Katia. С най-сърдечни благопожелания – Катя Тодорова.
  • Nick has captured the essence of meeting Metropolitan Silouan for the first visit to the Parish in Doncaster. That essence is Love! The skill of getting the exact moment to grasp the best image is not easily learned, but Nick has aquired that ability in bucket loads! Will definitely hire IkoNick to capture our important memories. Hope your business goes from strength to strength, with Many Years of happy snapping.
  • You have done the parish proud Nicholas. Much Love, Fr. George.
  • I really like these and the fact that they are in black and white, the lack of colour makes the colours stand out more… I particularly liked images 3, 7 and 9. OCA student.
  • Love the series especially image 7. great set – good luck. OCA student.
  • I like them all, but I love no.7. Kids will be kids, whatever the occasion. OCA student.

My images will also be displayed shortly on the following websites and are being sold to raise money for the parish ; –

I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I did writing it.































Contact sheets with basic exposure

Exercise 5.1 contd…

The subject I have chosen for this exercise is a charity, which is close to where I live and one I have used before in my work. It is also close to my heart and empathy comes easy. This time I have not concentrated on the animals, but have focused mainly on the human side. This is a subject that I can empathise and sympathise with and all of the volunteers do this out of their love of animals and assisting others. Two qualities that are dear to my heart.

Getting permission to photograph the people you see was not easy as most objected, although the charity were more than happy for me to be there. There were only 2 people who immediately said yes, and I will leave these 2 unnamed.

The day was over cast, wet and thoroughly miserable. The light outdoors was muted and shadows were kept to a minimum. It was also raining, which made the work of the volunteers harder and it was not nice for shooting. It was 1 degree above freezing so my hands were cold. I made a conscious decision to avoid adding any extra light and worked purely with the ambient light, as I felt this would create more mood and assist with showing empathy. My select and series are below and I will explain my reason for my select, where I will critique my photos and link back to exercise 1.4.

My select

The above photograph is untitled but I will give this photo some context and reflection below; –

  • This lady is a volunteer book seller for the charity.
  • She works in a stable/barn selling hundreds of books. The stable/barn is near the proverbial barn door and 7 months of the year this is very cold work.
  • She hates having photos made of her, yet she exudes warmth and kindness, yet with a muted warning that you should not mess.
  • This warning is in the form of her Lonsdale Boxing hat, albeit predominantly pink to soften the blow.
  • The fingerless gloves also contribute to the outfit.
  • Her outfit exudes warmth and practicality.
  • The purple bum bag adds to the feeling, as does the way the coat is fastened.
  • The background places the lady in her rightful place. The books, although they stacked, they are not uniform and this is expected for me in such a wonderful place, where emphasis is placed on caring and not appearances.
  • There is somewhat of a contrast between the coldness of the building and the warmth in the colours she wears. Maybe this is a conscious decision to look bright,  warm and inviting or maybe it is a subconscious decision. Either way this adds to the feeling of wanting to get to know her and having an understanding of her, as an amazing volunteer and as a person.
  • Is she hiding behind the mug?
  • The bars in the background also place this as a barn/stable environment and the depth of field adds to the image by making you looking to see if you can recognise any of the books. I can spot a Harry Potter book and an Indiana Jones game. It must be a magic adventure working there.
  • I think it is great when people give their time freely to such charities and other worthwhile causes and the people who do so should be celebrated.
  • She is an amazing lady and I will be going back to show her the photo I made. I hope she likes it.

A similar exercise was carried out in 1.4 and I am pleased to reflect that my creativity has improved. Rather than focusing on birds, I have moved on to people, who add different challenges and more of a dynamic.  Below is my contact sheet from 1.4 and I am much happier with what I am producing now, as this is not only more meaningful, but also thought-provoking. It is also harder to photograph people in such a way than simply clicking the shutter as birds fly by. I am not sure if my work even had a studium at that stage, where as I feel my select has both a studium and a punctum and means something.

As you can see from my book reviews, I have done a great deal of academic reading and this is now starting to pay dividends. This excercise is not directly influenced by any one artist or author, but by a multitude of them and I am now beginning to find my voice.framing

My series




Exercise 4.5

Man’s best friend.dogImage taken from accessed 11/01/2017.

This is a nice image taken from the above website. The image does what it says on the tin. It is pleasing to look at but bland with everything in focus. I want to look at it for a second and then forget it. It is what I would describe as unremarkable and very two-dimensional.


The majority of the images of dogs are taken from the dogs’ eye height and are there to make the dogs look cute and appealing. Little thought is usually given to the dogs’ form or the context into which they are placed. The majority of the images are flat  and do not show any depth to the dogs or their coats. There is very little time given to the eyes, nose, paws and fur. Teeth are only usually depicted to show anger. The lighting of the images appears flat and eliminates shadows. Yes, most are cute but there is very little personality  showing. There is an element of a punctum (as Barthes would say) but no studium. in the majority  of the images.

Therefore that is my challenge is to change that and add an element of creativity by not shooting a full shot  of the dog’s body and to use my lens wide open. I also plan to use a  macro lens  to add to the creativity as  I have not found  many shots of  dogs that are  taken with such a lens.

I have also taken my shots from the dog’s eye height as the results gained from a vantage point above would not be aesthetically pleasing. There is no obvious setting for the shots, actually they were taken in my living room whilst Boris was in his basket. There may be the odd dog cliché shot in there but I have tried to give the viewer something to think about.

  • What is the dog doing?
  • Where is it?
  • Why is he doing that?
  • I can see why a dog’s nose is so sensitive.
  • What sort of dog is it?
  • How big is it?
  • What sex is it?
  •  What is its’ age?
  • What is is called?
  • How old is it?
  • Does it enjoying having its’phototaken?
  • How long did it take to complete the shoot?
  • Why does it only have two front teeth?
  • What are the surroundings, etc etc?
  • What is its’ backgound.


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Exercise 4.4

I have completed this exercise with one studio light, one reflector, a simple black background and I have used the light on different output settings. Looking at my contact sheets (below), leaves me thinking I may crop some of the images, but there will be no other editing. I have chosen black and white rather than colour, almost in homage to Sally Mann, whom has given me a new lease of life in photography, whilst not trying to recreate here own artistry.

Here are my contact sheets for this exercise, unedited, with the exception of the conversion to black and white. As I add these to my blog I have not yet made my final selection and I am unsure as to how many images I will use.

Below are my final 10 images with a small amount of cropping, compared to the contact sheets above. I have numbered them 1 – 10 and will add the lighting sketches below these 10 images. The catchlights do away give this in most of the images though.


Photoshop lighting sketches as for the above 10 images.

When looking at the above 10 artificially lit facial images, are the any similarities to the image in Exercises 4.2 and 4.3? I will briefly explore below.

Exercise 4.3 is simply a shoot with ambient light within an art gallery. The lighting there was  very much uniform, aiming to remove shadows to give an even view to the exhibition. You do not get any feeling of depth from the light and in my opinion is flat. Intentional to assist the viewer.  In this current exercise the lighting has created an opposite style of lighting. In my final 10 images above there is a feeling of reality and/or depth which is different to exercise 4.3. The photographs below show this.

Exercise 4.2 was dealing with natural light, rather than the ambient light in the gallery, as in 4.3. In this exercise (4.4) an artificial source was introduced. With exercise 4.2 you have to work with what is there and you cannot move the light source (in this case the sun). With exercise 4.4 the light source could be moved to suit my purpose. Both types of lighting created a shadowing effect and depth, but with the natural light shots the shadows were dependent on the time of day. With this exercise it was up to me where to move the light source to create depth, shadow and feeling. The following 2 images show the differences. I also had the ability to control the harshness of the light in this image and was able to manipulate this to suit my purpose, which was not possible with the natural light shots. Yes I could have used reflectors for the natural light shots but i did not want to do that at that stage. Natural light does hold an element of beauty when compared to artificial light and at certain times of day the lighting is softly poetic.  I love being able to have the ability to manipulate light when I want with studio lights, but there is something  romantic about using  what nature has provided for us.

Exercise 4.2


Contact sheet with time stamp


10th January 2017.

The weather was cold overcast and mainly raining on and off all day. My intention for this assignment was to shoot a local landscape and I had prepared my gear for an early morning start as I wanted to capture the sun rise. However, the best laid plans get changed. I have therefore completely changed my subject and how this has been shot.


South facing conservatory, with an opaque roof and glass on all sides expect the North, meaning as I have shot the sun will travel from left to right. My choice of subjects was 2 Buddhas that are in the process of going to our local charity shop as we no longer use them. My thoughts for using these were that they had very different textures and very different sizes.

 The light

My first shot was at 0714. The light was so weak as to make focusing very awkward.  ISO was increased to 16000 and colours were very muted and not noticeable. Not only was the light weak the cloud cover was adding to this but diffusing the light further. The light was still able to create a sheen on the right-hand cheek of the larger of the two Buddhas. I would not normally shoot in such conditions but the light has created what is a dream like image, with great contrast to the black background.  It reminds me of waking from a dream.

My next shot was at 0802. There is now a marked difference in the power of the light. The dream like quality is still there but less pronounced. Shade is beginning to be more visible. Sheen was more apparent on the white Buddha. And I was able to focus more accurately and easier. Diffusion was still there and was helpful due to the reflected surfaces of the Buddhas. ISO down from 16000 to 6400, with a similar exposure.

Moving on to the 1025 shot, the power of the light has dramatically increased, more illumination and less power. Much less dream like quality than the 0714 and the 0802 shots.

The shots made between 1100 and 1513 were all; very similar in light output according to my eye. Images were easier to record nut lost some of the dream like quality. Shadows were shorter but still noticeable. The light was harsher even though still diffused due to the clear cover. From the 1533 shot ISO was increased and the dream like quality began to appear again.


Light is to photography what flour is to bread. Essential. Different flour, different taste, different light different mood. The colour change between sunrise and sunset images on this occasion was negligible due to the clouds diffusing the light. What it has taught me is that natural light can be used to suit your own purpose. Use it well and it can create different qualities. In addition, the use of my light meter proved invaluable. I have gained an amazing amount of enthusiasm and inspiration from Sally Mann, whilst studying this part of the course and her work was mainly naturally lit. Please check this out and see where it takes you. (accessed 11/01/2017)