The Art of Cropping

15/11/2016 – 28/11/2016

Brief: Collate a range of diverse visual elements and produce several visually dynamic and spatially inventive abstract asymmetric compositions with the aid of cropping tools. The aim is to develop dynamic asymmetric compositions, master the use of ‘L’ shape cropping tools, and develop an understanding of the role of empty space in graphic design.

I began this project by creating my ‘L’ shape cropping tools out of mid grey mount board and also collating a range of diverse visual elements. The elements we were instructed to collect had to fall into any of the following categories; experimental/abstract photographs, abstract marks, abstract shapes and forms, 10 one line quotes, hand lettering, linear/drawn forms, found imagery, something old/aged/weathered, processed imagery or processed type. To find my visual elements I turned to previous university coursework, past foundation work, my environments and objects that I own.

To explore using the cropping tools I physically arranged my elements and then overlaid my cropping tools in order to experiment with how cropping alters an image. Whilst doing this I took photographs of my several crops, this was so that I could go on to review and compare the crops and then to act as a reference when I went on to digitally render my most successful designs.


An example of a crop made with the cropping tools, this crop is for the composition set ‘Something Old/Aged/Weathered with Processed Typography’

In order to manually arrange my elements I had to make sure they were all in a physical form, this involved printing out my digital images and cutting into and altering some elements that were already physical. Furthermore to experiment with overlaying I printed some elements onto acetate.

In the brief we were instructed to produce design options for 7 different composition sets, and then render the best design option for each composition set digitally. Below are my most successful designs for each composition set digitally rendered.


Something Old/Aged/Weathered with Processed Typography


Processed Imagery with Quote


Abstract Marks with Processed Typography


Graphic Shapes and Experimental/Abstract Photography


Graphic and Linear/Drawn


Hand Lettering with Found Imagery


Quote plus Abstract Shapes/Forms

I struggled with this project at first as I found processing my assets so that they were all physical and then going onto manually cropping them time consuming and resource intensive. Personally I felt my work would have been more effective if I experimented with cropping digitally as it would have allowed me to produce more work within the time given, however I do see the importance of using physical cropping tools as it allows you to think more carefully about the work and crops that you are making.


Something Old/Aged/Weathered with Processed Typography

The above set I believe varies in quality a lot as illustrates my struggle with this project. For presentation we had to choose 2 from the final 7 designs to print at A2. I chose ‘Something Old/Aged/Weathered with Processed Typography’ and ‘Processed Imagery with Quote’. I am confident that choosing my ‘Something Old/Aged/Weathered with Processed Typography’ image as one of my A2 prints was a good decision as it is the strongest design from the 7 final designs, this was backed up by the feedback given from my tutors during the critique. However I don’t believe I should have chosen ‘Processed Imagery with Quote’ as my other print. This image possess interesting colours and forms however displays very little awareness of cropping. Once again the feedback from tutors supported my thoughts as they suggested working into the image more, possibly further zooming into a section of the processed imagery further and then further experimenting with how the type is incorporated into the image.

Post Critique Amendments

Hand Lettering with Found Imagery

In the time leading up to semester 1 assessments I decided I wanted to improved other projects that needed more work, therefore I didn’t think improving ‘Processed Imagery with Quote’ would be a valuable use of time due to it not being as strong as my other 7 designs. Instead I improved ‘Hand Lettering with Found Imagery’ which I perceived to be much stronger that ‘Processed Imagery with Quote’ and I regret not selecting as one of my final designs. To develop the design further I added in a torn form in the bottom left. I did this as before the image simply consisted of type overlaid onto a photograph, therefore not displaying an understanding of cropping, also the image filled the entire of the print so the addition of negative space would help to break that up.

In conclusion I found this project very difficult to get the hang off at the beginning and by the time I understood what to do I had ran out of time. I know feel like I understand cropping and composition and can use the skills I learnt effectively in future projects, however I don’t believe that is fully reflected still in my final outcomes for this project.

Spatial Awareness


15/12/2016 – 28/11/2016

Brief: To produce 20 sketches expressing emotions/feelings/sensations through the composition of black and white geometric shapes (the shapes pictured above). These shapes may be repeated, just use the outline, cropped using cropping tools, black on white or white on black. The 5 best compositions should then be rendered on A3 paper. The aim of this brief is to enhance my understanding of spatial awareness, create strong visual statements in a simple manner, and to explore visual language with minimal iconography.

I began by brainstorming 100 emotions, I did this to help me collect emotions that aren’t simple, such as worried, but were more in depth and allowed for more creative play, such as anxiety or apprehension. Once I had done this I selected the 20 most intriguing emotions and began to thumbnail out some designs for them. Whilst thumbnails I discovered that some designs were more applicable to other emotions and not the emotions I initially started with, therefore this process was very fluid and my designs were not concrete.

Furthermore I decided to make sure my designs for positive emotions were primarily white and the designs for negative emotions were primarily black, this was due to the positive and negative connotations associated with each colour. However once again this rule was not concrete and some designs due not follow it, for example my design for Tranquility as soon below. I chose to make this design primarily black as the outlines of the circles were very harsh when viewed on a bright white background, so a black background was more soothing to the eye.

Once I had my thumbnails in place I started to physically cut out the geometric shapes in various sizes out of black and white paper and began to experiment with using the cropping tools. I did not do this with all of my designs, only with those that I thought needed improvement or could be aided by cropping.

Below are my five final designs that I digitally rendered.


Tranquility – Outlines of circles which are placed on top of each other and increasing in size. They meet in the middle and appear to be radiating out calm pulsating waves.


Stressed – The negative space between two circles creating a form that appears to be stretched out and under a lot of pressure and force.


Inquisitive – Circles of alternating tone placed on top of each other increasingly reducing in size to create depth, as if peering into something unknown.


Bored – A straight continuous line that does not change representing the monotony of boredom.


Alienated – A single shape in the corner surrounded by negative space highlighting how distanced it is.


The feedback I received during the group critique was very positive, the tutors could all correctly identify roughly what each emotion was and supported my reasoning behind the design choices that I made. They also found the fact that I used mainly black designs refreshing as many other students had primarily white designs.

Introduction to Darkroom Photography


My Final Black and White Print


Whilst studying my Foundation at college I became interested in darkroom photography and it became an important part of my projects, therefore I was excited to finally be inducted into the darkroom at the university. Although I was familiar with the process the induction was still interesting as I got to learn the printing methods that they use at the university, also I learnt what was achievable within those facilities which will allow me to experiment more with my work in the future.

Using found negatives we spent the day using the projectors to develop a successful 10 x 8 inch print. The negative I chose proved to be a tough negative to work with due to the high contrast erasing some of the details. This meant I spent hours experimenting with exposure times and, dodging and burning the print in order to achieve the detail and contrast I wanted. Although tough to work with, this print helped me revisit some of the skills I had learnt months ago and forgotten. I also began to familiarise myself with the facilities, as at Brighton they use a machine that develops, stops, fixes and dries the prints for you, where as previously I had done all of these steps manually. Also we used contrast filters within the projectors which I had never used in my work before.

Introduction to Studio Lighting


To accompany our Let There Be Light project we had a workshop introducing us to studio lighting. This workshop was held by the universities photographic service unit (University of Brighton Photographic Service Unit) which offers services such as equipment loans, bookable photographic studios and working in the photography darkroom.

Initially we began at looking at how to correctly use a camera, specifically looking at the exposure triangle. The triangle consists of ISO (how sensitive the light sensor is to light), shutter speed (how long the shutter remains open), and aperture (the size of the hole in the lens). Each three of these components affects each other and can be controlled to produce different effects. Shutter speed can be used to capture motion blur or a freeze frame of a moving object, and aperture can be used to control the depth of field.

There are settings on digital cameras which can be used to make controlling these components easier, the A/AV setting gives manual control of the aperture whilst automatically adjusting the shutter speed and ISO, and the S/TV setting gives manual control of the shutter speed whilst automatically adjusting the aperture and ISO. Another setting that can be useful is white balance, this helps to control the colour tone of the lighting in the image. Other ways of modifying the light is through hardware like soft boxes (soft diffused light for portraiture and fashion shoots), umbrellas (shoot through for diffused light or reflective to softly bounce away light), barn doors (use the flaps to direct the light), snoots (direct light) and coloured reflectors (control the tonal colour of the light).

Once we had covered the basics of photography we put what we had learnt into practice and began experimenting with different studio lighting set ups and the DSLR cameras. The first set up was a one light setup and the second was a basic lighting setup. The one light setup has a light facing the model at about a 45 degree angle, with a reflector acting as a fill light to soften the shadows, this is good for portraiture.

One Light Setup

The basic lighting setup is also good as a basic starting point for portraiture but also for still life. There is a background, main light and a fill light.

Basic Lighting Setup

During the workshop I experimented with using the a DSLR camera and one light setup to photography my calm jar, the object I choose initally for my Let There Be Light project. A calm jar is a jar filled with glitter, glitter glue and food colouring, and when the jar is shaken the glitter becomes animated and swirls around the jar before slowly settling. Due to the kinetic aspect of this object I spent a lot of time experimenting with capturing the motion by altering the shutter speed, with the help of the technician. Capturing moving objects and lights is a running theme throughout my Let There Be Light project therefore this feedback and advice was extremely valuable. I also experimented with using reflectors and adjusting the intensity of the light source in order to soften the shadows. Below are some of the photographs taken from my workshop, although they are not polished images they are recordings of my experimentation with studio lighting.


Samantha Lippett

Samantha Lippett is a University of Brighton alumni who graduate with a first class honours degree in Illustration. During her degree she produced a video consisting of various YouTube clips of home births in the United States. These clips were accompanied by disturbing comments made by men who would use original videos as pornographic material. This video was then published on YouTube under the tags that these men would have used to find the original videos. However the film was removed from YouTube due to containing ‘inappropriate content’. Her final piece was part of a body ownership movement and birthing activism, and confronted todays society and the way in which things are over sexualised. She also challenged topics such as feminism, social politics and intimacy in her final dissertation.

Once leaving university she went to New Mexico on an internship with Birth Rites Collection, there she worked with native midwives. Her work there explored their perspective of birth.

The Birth Rites Collection is the first and only collection of contemporary artwork dedicated to the subject of childbirth. The collection currently comprises of photography, sculpture, painting, wallpaper, drawing, new media, documentary and experimental film. It is housed in the University of Salford in the School of Nursing Midiwfery and Social Care in the Mary Seacole Building. –

In 2014 she moved on from New Mexico and returned to the UK to complete a masters at Goldsmiths university in Curating, where she has organised many talks discussing maternity, and has since been producing work back in the UK.

Personally I really enjoyed her work, I have a strong interest in ethical and social issues, such as feminism and body ownership, therefore it was interesting to see how another artist tackles these topics. I have revisited feminism several times throughout my A-Level, Foundation and Undergraduate studies, and I am confident that I will continue to revisit this topic in the future, therefore seeing how another person has made it a core topic within their work and given back to communities through their work was truly inspiring.

Suggested Artists for Further Research

ST. GENEVIEVE (1999) by Kiki Smith

An Earthwork Performed (1970) by Mary Kelly

Let There Be Light

25/10/2016 – 14/11/2016

Brief: To select an object individually and as a group experiment with photography, exploring the effect of different lighting set ups upon the range of objects and documenting our exploration. Following on from this we should conduct further explorations, investigations and experimentations with light individually and within our groups. As a group we should produce an A3 contact sheet displaying our 12 most successful images, with the 2 most successful images blown up to A3, and as individuals we should also present an A3 contact sheet displaying our 12 most successful images taken by ourselves.

As a group we worked extremely well together from the beginning therefore we did a lot of exploration together as a group, therefore my individual and group work is closely linked due to the thorough nature of our group exploration.

Individually we did our own contextual research before meeting as a group for the first time to being our primary research, this was to help give us an idea of what we wanted to achieve in the limited time we spent together as a group. I looked at 23 Envelope, a graphic design partnership between Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson, who produced many record sleeves for the music label 4aD. I also looked at Davy Evans and Thomas Saraceno, all of these artists / designers play with experimental photography or light in their work.

Heaven or Las Vegas Cocteau Twins Cover by 23 Envelope, 1990

Untitled by Davy Evans

Poetic Cosmos of the Breath by Tomas Saraceno

From my individual research I concluded that I was interested in the use of colour within experimental photography; 23 Envelope did this through long exposure photography of coloured lights, Davy Evans used a mixture of oil and other house hold chemicals to produce iridescent mixtures, and Tomas Saraceno used iridescent materials which moved in the sunlight.

Through group discussions we shared our own personal interests and concluded that we initially wanted to begin our exploration by looking at making an installation incorporating all of our objects due to the interesting array of objects brought in such as a found vintage mirror, magic lantern slides, a colourful moving disco ball, fairy lights, a series of glass vessels and my glitter jar. We played with using a lamp to project the magic lantern slides, refracting light through the slides and glass vessels, assembling the glass vessels and magic lantern slides on a light box. Whilst playing with the light box we noticed a strange visual glitch that it would cause on our phones and low end cameras whilst recording the lightbox, I go into further detail about this glitch here.

During this photoshoot we also photographed the colourful disco ball whilst it was moving as well as photographing the disco ball through other glass objects, this was of particular interest to me due to the variety of colours it produced. In my photographs of this object I played with altering the focus as well long exposure. A video of my experimentation with the disco ball can be seen here.


Projecting magic lantern slides and glass vessels with a hard light


Magic lantern slides on the lightbox


Moving disco ball, playing with focus


Moving disco ball, playing with long exposure and moving the camera

Whilst cooking in my own time I accidentally got some grease onto my phone screen and noticed the iridescent colours that would appear as the screen light reflected through the grease. Inspired by this and following my interest of colour in experimental photography I covered my phone screen in a thin layer of oily cream and photographed the effects.


Cream on a phone screen

The next time our group was together was for our studio lighting induction. During the presentation we received a presentation informing us on how to correctly utilise all of the features on a dslr camera, then we put our knowledge to use by photographing our objects on one of the two studio lighting set ups. As the induction was very informative I produced a separate blog post going into further detail on what I learnt which can be found here.

After our studio lighting induction as a group we visited the pier, this played a very important part in my individual and group exploration due to the large amount of coloured artificial lights on the arcade machines, which relates to my interest in coloured light. Furthermore many of the lights were kinetic which meant I could continue playing with focus and long exposure, techniques I started using with the coloured moving disco ball previously.


Pier arcade light, playing with long exposure and moving the camera


Pier arcade lights, playing with long exposure and moving the camera


Pier arcade lights, long exposure

The third time our group met up one of our group members brought it a new object, a box of gems and stones that she had collected over the years. Although not kinetic they were very colourful. Using a light box, natural light and torch lights I photographed the illuminated textures coloured gems and stones. With the more transparent stones I photographed the reflections produced on surfaces from shining a strong torch light through the stones. Another of our group members brought in a series of clip on lenses for iPhone cameras which included a macro lens, you can see my photographs using this lens here.


Stone on the lightbox


Stone with natural lighting


Torchlight reflection of a stone on the lightbox

As a group and individually we had produced thousands of images therefore to narrow our selection down we individually selected and cropped our own strongest images. Then as a group we collated our images and discussed which 12 we wanted to see included within our group A3 contact sheet, we also went on discuss our two favourite group images that we wanted blown up to A2 prints. When discussing what images to choose we wanted to show the breadth of our research as we felt we explored a large variety of techniques, however we also wanted a level of consistency throughout the whole contact sheet so we choose images that were all colourful and followed a similar colour pallete. Here you can see the 12 images that we selected.

Following on from our group discussions I took the feedback given by my group members on my own photography and selected my own 12 images for my contact sheet which can be seen here. For my contact sheet I still wanted to show the breadth of my exploration however I also wanted to display my experimentation and interest in colour and movement. My images focused on coloured artificial light or illuminated coloured objects. To show movement I included many of my photos taken using long exposure, either of moving objects or still objects but the camera was moved when the picture was being taken.


Both of my contact sheets were presented during the group critique for this project and during this critique we received mixed feedback, Our work was praised for the breadth of our exploration which as a group we really focused on, we made sure to investigate all of the techniques and skills listed on the brief, for example hard light, soft light, studio lighting, natural light, indoors, etc. However we were also told out exploration was too broad and we should have focused on one aspect and developed that further, however this goes against what was required of us on the brief. During the briefing we were also told that the project was all about experimenting and a concept was not necessary however during the critique we were advised to have used a concept. Through out our exploration we had a common theme of colour and movement as the focus of our work causing our work to have a direction which seemed appropriate for an experimental and technical brief. Considering the amount of exploration required on the brief, although the tutors said our exploration was too broad, incorporating a concept into the work as well would have been too time consuming, especially as were developing group and individual projects simultaneously. During a separate tutorial with my personal tutor she disagreed with the feedback I had been given on our groups work, therefore I felt the initial negative feedback didn’t mean this project was unsuccessful but that the tutors all interpreted the brief differently and were looking for different things in the work. In the future I will aim to include a concept or a strong running theme along with my experimental and technical briefs to help direct my work and offer guidance however I don’t feel that going back to this project and adding a concept is necessary and would be extremely time consuming.

Let There Be Light – iPhone Lens


A group member brought in a series of clip on lenses for iPhone cameras to one of our Let There Be Light group days, these lens kits can be purchased online here from Amazon. Within the kit is a macro lens, fish eye lens and wide angle lens, although other lens kits can be bought online with a wider range of lenses such as telephoto. From the kit she brought in I decided to test the fish eye lens, this was due to the wide angle lens seeming inappropriate for the focus of our photography which was small gems and rocks, and the macro lens is only effective when pressed against an object which was difficult to do with the curved gems and stones.

Below are some of my photographs taken using the fish eye lens. Although I chose not to include these photos in my Let There Be Light layout pad due to the low quality of an iPhone lens meaning they can not be enlarged, and the difficulty caused by an iPhones auto focus, it was interesting the play with the lens. This has made me more open to using more lo-fi technology to produce my work, as iPhone lens are much cheaper compared to DSLR lenses and can produce very interesting outcomes as seen below.

img_2606 img_2612 img_2616

Introduction to InDesign


Adobe InDesign is important in graphic design and illustration for producing publications and other printed material. This workshop not only equips me for producing my own publications and printed material in the future but also helps me in producing the  ‘Learning the Ropes’ typography archive that I am currently working on and which has to be produced in Adobe InDesign.

We started by setting up a new document and becoming familiar with the different options that can be adjusted; intent, facing pages, columns, gutter, margins, bleed and slug. Once the document was set up we became familiar with the pasteboard and adding, moving pages and placing images. To add content to the pages we first looked at type which has many different options available, more than the other Adobe softwares. For producing typography you have control over the font, font size, colour etc. like most design software however you also have control over the leading, tracking, kerning, vertical scale, baseline shift, skew, overrunning text and paragraph formatting.

Colours are another important part of the software as you can mix and add colours to the swatches palette , however for more accurate colours you can use the Pantone system which is mainly for text or large blocks of text. To use the system you can purchase different swatches books from Pantone for different stocks of paper, you can then select the colour you want from the book and enter the Pantone number into InDesign which will then select that exact colour on screen. This ensures that when you print your work it will be the same colour as it was in the Pantone colour swatch book.

Out of all the software introductions I have been to so far I have found this one to be the most useful. I started this introduction with no knowledge of the software, where as with the other introductions I was already familiar with them to some degree, and left feeling confident with using the software independently to produce work which is essential considering its importance to my course.