Exercise 1: A narrative picture essay

This exercise required that we set ourselves an assignment and then photograph it. The aim being to tell a story in a set of pictures, with between 5 and 15 images.
Approximately sixty images were initially taken, with a gradual culling as the final layout was visualised throughout the process.

Photos have been taken on an Olympus E-M5 with a 12-50mm lens. All images have been reduced in resolution for web purposes.

Assignment choice

Several themes were debated and two were finally selected. The first entailed a trip to a fly-in day at a local airfield, but my armoury of lens’ wasn’t really up to capturing anything at a great distance. The nature of the event also resulted in restrictive access to a number of areas which I had envisaged using.

The final layout depicts a visit to Furzey Gardens in Minstead, Hampshire.
The gardens are a mix of traditional planted areas, rustic and traditional artefacts, tea rooms, and lakes, in a rural setting.

When plotting the intended images I kept these elements in mind and have tried to include the key aspects, which can be seen below.
Although captions were required for each image, I felt that the layout was fairly self-explanatory.


I found it useful to consider the targeted audience for this narrative, and the context in which it would be used. With this in mind it has been styled in more of an advertorial layout.
Viewing all of the images taken, certain ones immediately stood out as not gelling with the overall theme. The reasons were varied, and included stark colour contrasts, overly detailed, or lacking in purpose, to name but a few.

I initially viewed the images in Microsoft Words’ Publishing layout as this gave more immediate results as to how the images worked as a set.
Viewing them in smaller scale also helped to review which images could stand alone at almost thumbnail size, and which overall could act as a centre-piece.

A more detailed explanation or each image is shown below;


IMAGE 1 – Thatch and gardens
This was selected to show the ground of the setting in conjunction with some of the structures, without including too much detail. The viewer is left to imagine the rest of the scene. I have also purposefully left images of people out to give a more tranquil feel to the set, and echo what the gardens themselves also convey.

IMAGE 2 – Close-up plant
The second image was selected for its detail and colour combination. This worked well with the surrounding images, and being of smaller scale, was necessary to enhance these qualities.

IMAGE 3 – Lake
Wanting an image taken with a longer focal length, this section of the gardens made an ideal scene. Again colours, and contrast are kept in balance with the overall set of images.

IMAGE 4 – Floral woodland
This image stood out from the rest due to the colour combination, which I felt was better suited to a larger size, and therefore have placed it centrally.
The bright green is a colour I’ve also tried to keep in the majority of images to form a more cohesive set.

IMAGE 5 – Fledgling
The gardens are a haven for wildlife which I’d hoped to capture in some way, but wasn’t hopeful.
This is a cropped image as I was unable to get too close to the subject.

IMAGE 6 – Exit sign
I was undecided whether to use this due to the pull of text on the eye. Contrast and brightness levels were adjusted to subdue tones and ensure it blended with other images rather than stand out.

IMAGE 7 – Lantern
As part of my initial research, I’d planned the picture script with shots that I aimed to capture, covering the key elements of what the gardens had on offer.
‘Traditional artefacts’ was one point, which the lantern conveyed. It’s also set against a backdrop of traditional style herbs which I’ve kept slightly out of focus to enhance the lantern.

IMAGE 8 – Cream tea
As the cafe is a key element of the gardens, the inclusion of the cream tea was a natural choice. It is also in keeping with the bright colours in the image set.

IMAGE 9 – Scarecrow
The final image is of a scarecrow or more accurately, his feet. A cropped image has been taken as it shows the key features and is better portrayed at this size. It again retains the traditional theme that the overall layout is geared towards.

Initially a plain white background was used which looked too stark. Instead I’ve used an image of a bluebell wood taken at the gardens, and reduced its transparency levels so as not to compete with the overall layout.

The exercise has been useful in researching a subject, not only to think about what images should be included, but more importantly which ones should be left out.
Visualising an audience and the context in which the layout would be viewed, was also a key learning point.

Having worked mainly with individually placed images to date, which stand on their own merits, it was interesting to consider sets of images.
Scale and placement altered the whole layout, which then highlighted images which no longer seemed a good fit.

Although course notes suggested that graphic elements within each image were not so important in this exercise, they were a factor. It is difficult to ignore them when faced with a set of pictures.
overall balance was more highlighted, for this and every other compositional element involved.




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