Assignment 5 : Response to Tutor Feedback Part One

Assignment 5 : Response to Tutor Feedback Part One

I’ve mentioned before how heartened I was by my tutor’s preliminary feedback on and support to take the leap and submit Tales with Valeria for Assignment 5. She also commented that my draft of Village Voice was a strong contender as well and she hoped I would draw attention to this when I send my work for final assessment.  What I have done is to place all the draft work for the latter in my paper learning log.

In addition to the positive feedback there were three suggested areas for further work/reflection so far as Valeria is concerned:

  • The varying degrees of sharpness/blur in the prints
  • Suggestion that I discuss in greater depth the works of other photographers/artists/writers who employ similar feminist themes/strategies
  • Encouragement to produce a Blurb book

For this post I’ll concentrate on the prints and the book.

The prints

 My intention from the start had been to have a small, square book as a final product for myself if not for actual assessment. For the Assignment itself, though, I had created larger pages in InDesign using the Blurb plug-in for a small portrait book (approx 8” x 10”). I had done this because I thought that my tutor (and Assessors) would want to see larger prints and my tutor agreed with this assumption.

My tutor was concerned that the first three images of Valeria were perhaps a little too blurred compared with the images with her sister, the tree trunk, the frog, the children and the birdcage. She also commented that the last two images were quite blurry again but didn’t seem to fit the narrative. Her suggestion was to work on the sharpness a little or perhaps just increase the contrast slightly.  She thought she agreed with my point about printing the images smaller. Additionally, she commented that she found the completely sharp woodland path a visual jolt and, for her, it didn’t fit the sequence in its present form.

I had had some problems in managing the colour in InDesign, despite using the same profiles for all the Adobe software, and this had driven me quite distracted in trying to produce a print that matched my calibrated monitor. This was particularly so with the wolf. My tutor’s other concern was with, ‘She wanted them’ where, in the print, Valeria is slightly darker and it’s easy to overlook her presence. Suggestions there were to experiment by using the dodging tool very carefully or using magnetic lasso/Select/Modify/Feather.

1. The cover




















I made the blue background larger which makes the image itself smaller and sharper. I also increased the contrast on the image, which makes it stand out more against the background. The blue is a paler colour but I think it works well now that the image has more contrast.

2. The Woodland Path

I discussed this on the telephone with my tutor. She said she was less familiar with the Helga lens but was surprised that this too had been produced from it.


At the time I’d been pleased that I’d obtained such a bright, clear image from the lens but I do accept the point about the visual jolt.


I’ve added some Gaussian blur, which is probably more obvious on the print I’ll be submitting than here on my blog.

I have also re-printed the wolf so that he looms more out of the darkness in the wood and ‘the babes in the wood’ so that Valeria’s face is more noticeable.  The soft-proofing function in Lightroom 4 really helped with that.  I’ve also re-sized the image on the page where Valeria is looking at the Wolf man so that, again, it looks less blurred and all the re-worked prints will be submitted with the Assessment material.  I’ll write more about the Wolf man in Part 2.

The Book

For the assignment itself I submitted a booklet I’d put together which showed the layout and wording, together with approx 8” x 10” prints of each individual page. As mentioned above though my intention eventually was to have a small square book.  I think what was in my mind was a similar book I’d been given by my headteacher at infants school when I’d passed my first piano exam (which turned out to be my last as well!). The book was Cinderella and it’s a shame that I no longer have it.

The idea of a small, square book was reinforced when I bought a lovely small book  Andre Kertesz : The Early Year (2005)s. This book is only 5” x 5”. It has a lovely navy blue, linen cover with a small (2 x 1 ½ `’) sepia image of three little boys reading a book  (A link with Kertesz’s series On Reading which I also love). The Early Years contains some unknown early photographs created in Hungary between 1912 and 1925 and the book accompanied an exhibition. The book has a an Introduction by Bruce Silverstein and a beginning Essay by Robert Gurbo, curator of the Andre Kertesz estate, which details the reclaiming of the long-lost negatives and prints in 1963. The photographs in the book are quite tiny – most of them 2 x 1 ½ “ and you almost need a magnifying glass to see them, and I knew that really would be too small for Valeria. (In any case, at present Blurb’s smallest book is the 7×7”).

My tutor had encouraged me to go the self-publishing route and so I re-sized Valeria into the separate Blurb software rather than in InDesign. This was because I was concerned about the colour management problems that I still haven’t been able to resolve.  My tutor had a look at the ‘proof’ on the Blurb website, pointed out a typographical error, which I corrected, and made a couple of suggestions on possible minor tweaks in the placement of the wolf and the pacing of the last two pages.  The book was re-uploaded and here it is

It’s just a small and simple book but it’s very satisfying to follow the whole process through to a proper completion. It won’t arrive in time for me to send it with my material for Assessment but I am including the link here so that the Assessors can see another outcome of my work.

I still want to produce a more personalized book though especially after buying another book from the bookshop at The Whitechapel Gallery the other week. This is Six Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm: With Illustrations by David Hockney. It’s a small portrait size (8 ¼ x 5 ¾ “) hardback, with a blue-green coarse linen feel cover which has a small inset etching of Rapunzel. The book is illustrated with black and white etchings drawn onto plates by David Hockney and information on the back cover states:

Although inspired by earlier illustrations of the tales by such artists as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, Hockney’s extraordinary etchings re-imagine these strange and supernatural stories for a modern audience …”

The Fairy Tales are the lesser-known ones, apart from Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltkin and it’s delightful book to hold and read.

I’m not going to promise myself that I’ll do it for Valeria but I do intend to talk with Otter Bindery where I did a Workshop on Bookmaking some time ago. They offer a Photobook printing service   with software you can use for arranging photos and inserting text etc plus bespoke bindings in addition to standard ones.  I really do like the idea of  linen bound covers with inset images.

8th June 2012


Hockney, D, Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, (2012) Royal academy Publications

Silverstein, B & Gurbo, R , Andre  Kertesz : The Early Years, (2005), W. W. Norton & Co., New York, London.

6 Comments on “Assignment 5 : Response to Tutor Feedback Part One”

  1. vickiloader says:

    Can’t wait to see the book for real! So glad you followed through on the idea—when do we get the sequel??

  2. Catherine says:

    Hmmm! the sequel might be in a different style – haven’t decided yet.

  3. marmalade says:

    It is clearly a successful assignment but in so many ways feels so much more than that and your leap of faith has paid off with so many avenues now open to you. Well done and hope the assessment in due course goes well.

  4. John Umney says:

    Terrific work Catherine! You’ve set the bar high for yourself here.

  5. Barry says:

    Fantastic Catherine,
    Looks like the assessment is going to go really well!

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