Category Archives: Assignment 6

Response to Tutor feedback on Assignment 6

 After discussion with my tutor and with OCA Student Support it was agreed that I would submit Assignment 6 before Assignment 5.  This was on the basis that all the work was completed towards Assignment 6 and, with this switch, I would have more time to work on Assignment 5, the self-directed Project.

The written feedback PDF for Assignment 6 can be accessed below.

CBanks_LDS_A6 Feedback

Reflections on the feedback

 The Assignment

It felt good to have a ‘well done’ from my tutor for strategically working down the wider edit and to have confirmation that my text was thoughtful, detailed and reflected developments in the process of my work. From there my tutor picked up on my concerns about narrative coherence in recording seasonal change and challenged me to give more consideration on what ‘coherence’ might look like and think more on why this might concern me . That’s a really good point given that, in writing about my major influences here,  I had recollected Susan Trangmar’s film “A Play in Time” which jumped forwards and backwards in time rather than chronologically and Andy Sewell’s apparently random flow of images in “The Heath” – both of which strategies appealed to me.  I had recognised that the seasons flow and merge in their own cycles  rather than adhere to convenient meteorological dates and so my strategy for some internal coherence had been to link the seasons together by including images of the same views and trees but also include different human interventions  This had taken me some way along a more creative path but stopped me short at the point where I needed to think on how to present them.

In thinking of coherence my tutor is suggesting I consider other aspects when she writes, “I suspect the key reasons will be related to the visual qualities of the image, the colour palettes and compositions”.  With different light conditions also in the mix, “It is important to become conscious of these subtle differences in your images in order for you to rationalize them with confidence”.  Suggested solutions ways forward are:

  • Combine ‘tones’ to show different kinds of ‘winter’ or ‘spring’ and how the light ebbs and flows
  • Edit images together as one sequence; titling the works in such a way as to show I’m working between the two
  • Keep in mind my thoughts on Susan Trangmar’s work and my clear articulation of what I have connected with; how it ‘jumps backwards and forwards’ whilst creating a project that has its own internal rhythm.
  • Amend my statement along with my new edit thus re-articulating my final vision and bringing the crux of what I’m trying to express to the fore

I also need to think about my tutor’s further comments that I have enough interesting images in my wider edit to be able to avoid more obvious depictions of seasonal change such as close-ups of buds and blossoms, plus her personal preference for images that retain more of a distance and similar vantage point. Do I also need to be as specific regarding Winter and Spring; what about the images of November for example?

There is much to think about here so I’ll be writing further.  In the meantime I have already made slight alterations to the structure of my learning log, as suggested, will continue with coursework for Assignment 5 and have ordered In the Dark Room, the book by Brian Dillon, which my tutor has recommended in connection with my Critical Review (Assignment 4).


4. Submission to Tutor – Assignment 6: Transitions


 Assignment 6 has been a long time in creation for me.  The idea for it took seed in September 2018 when I was considering possibilities for Assignment 1 (see here ) and followed a signpost in Ether Hill Woods pointing the way to “Viewpoint”.  If I had followed that idea then my title would have been “Disappointed Sublime” because the “Viewpoint” bench was there, but when I sat on it the only view was that of foliage and wispy shrubs straight in front of me. Even experimenting with a Claude mirror, prism and compositing the image with a dramatic waterfall didn’t provide an interesting point of view, so I shelved that idea for Assignment 1, although the “Viewpoint” as a concept itself still intrigued me.

After considering possible subjects for Assignment 6 (as here )  , I decided to focus on Ottershaw Memorial Fields which has paths up to the woods on the top of Ether Hill , especially as I had realised that views do emerge from the “Viewpoint” as the Seasons change and trees leave and unleave. (see here) .  I took many photographs,  also creating some small videos of activities in the Memorial Fields and events in the woods themselves, during which time I wrote three progress reports for my tutor, including thoughts on relevant photographers, and received much helpful feedback and suggestions. (see here)

Photographic Influences

My major conceptual influence has been the work of Simon Roberts, particularly his idea of landscape as a stage and his interest in human presence in a space – how we enact aspects of ourselves within it. Susan Trangmar’s project A Play in Time and her resulting book and video film gave me the encouragement to experiment with short videos.  Looking back at previous blog posts I’m reminded now of Trangmar’s comments on film which jumps backwards and forwards in non-linear fashion rather than following a chronological cycle and of her need, “to construct a piece of work which had its own internal rhythm and shape”.  This is what I have continued to tussle with in thinking of ways to edit my own work as there’s a strong part of me which wants to create a photobook which moves around in time.  Andy Sewell’s book The Heath  works in this way with a flow of images that initially appeared random but then sank into my consciousness as though I was walking alongside him and absorbing the landscape.  Jem Southam’s work focuses on place through time – the same scene through the seasons and tracking its changes as parts of it grow and decay.

The Brief

This was to respond to the idea of ‘transitions’ within the landscape, recording changes through an extended period of time and then to address the notion that the landscape is an evolving dynamic system. At an early stage my tutor encouraged me to take a wide view of my chosen area and this has very much suited the way I work. I do tend more towards lateral thinking and casting a wide net to begin with until some particular aspect becomes figural. Whilst this suits me I am slowly learning to control how I might get drawn into less relevant byways of contextual research.

I definitely think that landscape is an evolving dynamic system with its cycles and rhythms, both natural and man-made as humankind ‘intervenes’ in Nature; reshaping it for its own purposes.  Such shaping is fairly benign on the Memorial Fields and Ether Hill as the Council continue to follow their five year plan to enhance the area by improving paths and increasing the biodiversity of the site by removing non-indigenous invasive rhododendron bushes. I have been really fascinated to observe this happening as I have recorded my own relatively small area through around sixteen months.  I go there almost daily anyway with  my dogs but this Assignment has made me look more closely at what happens around me. Seasons come and go as the Earth rotates around, and tilts towards, the sun, creating the global cycle of fluctuations that we know as ‘Seasons’ and affix dates to,  although the Seasons themselves actually flow and merge with each other in their own slow cyclical rhythm, despite the fact that we suddenly become aware of blossom, thinking “It’s Spring”, or snow, thinking “It’s Winter”.

Alongside the Seasons I’ve taken note of shorter transitions, as users of the area perform their own short-lived interventions and enact their own rituals. Over the past few years I’ve become used to seeing ‘shelters’ built with available branches – some of them quite elaborate – from what I’ve gathered they’re now quite common in many places. I’ve observed them during the course of this Assignment but have also seen quite different interventions which have quickly appeared and disappeared. Around Christmas time 2018 a small tree on Ether Hill was decorated ‘in memoriam’. Spring 2019 brought the scattering of memorial flowers in another area; these memento-mori contrasting with the later white Spring blossoms on trees.

The Assignment

My fifth edit of photographs resulted in 68 images   plus images set aside (benches and seasonal details) for potential inclusion as ‘punctuation’ in a future narrative. I’m still not entirely sure of my direction and so the images presented now are very much a ‘draft’ idea for discussion with my tutor.  As part of a current sixth edit I looked at Winter and Spring and printed small images of my choices so that I could move them around and see how they might fit together. These two small, separate series show the seasonal changes as each begins ,ends and link with each other through images of the “Viewpoint”, forked birch and different human interventions. I have also included one of the benches at the entrance to the hill and some small seasonal detail.

Winter and Spring on and around Ether Hill

Contact Sheets :




I’m not sure if these two series contain enough narrative coherence, or if the seasonal details work, but the knowing is in the doing so I feel as if I have taken a step further along the way.

I’m already thinking that another edit could be a set of series showing seasonal changes for the Viewpoint, entrance benches and particular trees but will await feedback from my tutor on this.

Trangmar, S. A Play in Time (2008) Brighton, Photoworks



3. Editing Process for Assignment 6

Looking back I see that I created a total of 29 contact sheets for the three sets of photographs taken between July 2018 and November 2019 and the total of images taken was 346.

Second Edit

I had taken many similar images to begin with on the basis that I might want to layer some into composites so knew decisions would have to be made on those at some point.  For the time being I kept them as they were for editing further down the process as I was hoping that, through the editing, I would gain a clearer idea of how I wanted to proceed.  What I mainly had in mind was presentation as a book but perhaps there could be other groupings of the same areas in different seasons – thinking here of the tree that became a Christmas Memorial tree for a few days; the Spring Memorial flowers; the ‘Viewpoint”; the forked birch tree and the area where a shelter was briefly constructed near to an installed bird box. Each of these are, after all, a chapter in the overall narrative of Ether Woods.

Other questions were should I include people or not and, if so, which people?  Should I allow photographs taken in the Memorial Fields below to merge with those in Ether Woods?  Where is the boundary between both those – the beginning of paths, the benches, or the division between mown grass and trees? I put those questions to one side for the moment whilst I proceeded to a third edit which involved deconstructing and reforming the monthly series into Seasons so I could see the changes in light, tones and hues more clearly.

Third Edit

The breakdown of Seasons and further pruning reduced the number of photographs to 228. I decided, for the time being, to begin with Summer as Summer 2018 was when I began with the Memorial Fields and Ether Woods as a subject. To keep a clearer focus on what was happening in the woods I then extracted images of playground and sporting activities. I also separated out a series of smaller seasonal details of leaves, blossom and chestnuts, most signposts and benches which could be used as appropriate ‘punctuation points’ for potential series.  Contact sheets of benches (there are two versions of image 3007) and smaller details are below


This left me now with 151 images within the woods.

Fourth Edit

This edit resulted in a further reduction to 90 images, still grouped in Seasons, some of which span two years, and I think that I will need to make a decision whether to separate Seasons into separate years, which I now feel inclined towards but will discuss with my tutor. Contact sheets below.

Fifth Edit

By the time of the fifth edit I had decided to prune images which were similar on the basis that I was unlikely to be considering multi-exposure/composites at this stage.  This reduced the images down to 68 – remembering though that this did not include any images I might use from the benches over the seasons and detail images. 

Summer :        12


Autumn:          27


Winter:            13


Spring:              16


The Seasons are bound together by images of the path; forked birch; benches on both the periphery and overlooking the viewpoint; the viewpoint; the memorial tree with and without decorations; the clearing with logs and signs – yet each Season is distinctive, particularly Autumn where the trees on the periphery flourish their colours.  I’m thinking that Autumn could form a separate series within itself, although of course, Winter has the memorial tree and snow; Spring has the memorial flowers and bird box clearing.  Summer, at least in my photographs plays much less a part.

At this point I decided to leave the editing until the next day with the hope that my thoughts might gel overnight as to which way to go next as I needed to produce at least one series for submission to my tutor. I will also reconsider the some of the benches and seasonal details that I extracted earlier.

Tutor Formative Feedback on Progress Report Assignment 6


My tutor’s Formative Feedback related to Assignments 4, 5 and 6.  Extract below in respect of Assignment 6 – Transitions.

Assignment 6/Transitions

Progressing well, keep pushing – you may need to shoot in conditions that are not within your comfort zone in order to complete the unit in time. Looking over your recent edits/ contacts, I am less drawn to the images of the occupied cricket pitch or spaces that are explicitly occupied or used for sport, and more to the images that chart some of the traces of human interference in the landscape, such as the strange branch sculptures and pathways etc. I’m not sure the notion of the ‘green man’ works as a concept when viewed cold so might need a bit more work to align and articulate. You’re thinking about different approaches to the edit – continue mining what you might mean by this green man idea, and use this as a guide for a wide selection that you can live with and revisit, questioning what it really is you want to say and using that, and technical quality, to inform the final edit.

 I’ve had consistent feedback from my tutor about her preference for images charting traces of human ‘interference’ in the landscape – my own term for this is ‘interrupted landscape’.  I’ve continued to include the sporting spaces and playground areas in case I do use them at some point and as part of tracking changes over time.  However, looking at this in a different way, sporting activities are pretty ubiquitous in parks and recreation grounds whereas human interaction with woods/trees is more idiosyncratic and, therefore, of more interest .  I have also continued to create short videos with my phone camera and so, potentially, I could use some of the still photographs within a compilation video –  not to submit for assessment but for my own pleasure and practice in video compilation.

 “Green man” Nîmes, France © Przemyslaw Sakraida 2010

Norwich cathedral cloisters roof boss

 The term ‘Green Man’ is thought to have been applied by Julia, Lady Raglan in her 1939  article about foliate heads or marks which can be found in some churches and graveyards. There is an interesting article here  which provides an overview of theories and interpretations of such features which can be found in many countries without coming to a specific conclusion as to their ‘meaning’ as symbols of life and nature; fertility; death and rebirth; demon or as artistic interpretation; survivor from other mythologies or primeval archetype central to our relationship with Nature.

However, “A common link in nearly all of the legends and myths which have been suggested as precursors of the Green Man is that of metamorphosis and transformation” and that fits for me with “Transitions” and also my own small green man who has sprouted with leaves all over since I first photographed him. Unfortunately, as he has grown in size it has become increasingly different to get a series of technically good photographs of him because he is slightly behind a larger tree which he has moved closer to as his branches and leaves have grown. I’ve adjusted as much as possible and converted to square format to show the change in growth.

Onwards now to the editing process. Thanks also to my tutor and OCA Support for agreeing to my suggestion that I submit Assignment 6 before Assignment 5, giving me more time to work on the latter during January.



Assignment 6: Progress June to November 2019


I’ve continued followed the year round with my camera at least once a month apart from July. The ‘dog lost’ posters have disappeared now, although there have been occasional mentions of possible sightings on Facebook. Football teams were replaced by cricket teams and now back again to football. I missed July, mainly due to holiday, but compensated with two sessions at the beginning and end of August – this made sure I still had ‘Summer’.

June 2019 

<p><a href=”″>June 2019</a> from <a href=””>Catherine Banks</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I discovered someone had set fire to some documents in an area off the main path amongst the trees next to the same spot where I’d discovered the bird box and branch shelter during Spring.  The fire was still smouldering so I went off and informed one of the park keepers then went back and did a very short video.  I have a feeling it might have been someone leaving school and having a celebration ceremony – not a good idea amongst trees!

August 2019

August 13: I chose 15 out of 63 . My ‘Green Man’ is spreading and it’s difficult to get a good view of him as he’s right next to a large tree so I took a portrait view of him.  I took another portrait of the lower trunk of a tree because the shadows on it really appealed to me.



August 31: 28 chosen out of 56. Cricket season is going well. Sweet chestnuts are ripening.



32 chosen out of 67.  The trees are taking on their Autumn colour now.



32 chosen out of 118.



39 chosen out of 99.  The golds of Autumn becoming duller, fading.


Next steps

I have many photographs to revisit for a second edit and need to decide my strategy for submission for feedback before starting on this. The Assignment brief states, “The quantity of work that you submit will depend on your strategy”.  Also, “When completed, the assignment should address the notion that the landscape is an evolving dynamic system. You may wish to confirm, question or subvert this assertion”.  That’s interesting because, yes, the landscape has changed – noticeably the colours and the ‘thinning out’ of trees as leaves, horse and sweet chestnuts have dropped.  The ‘view ‘from the Viewpoint has changed accordingly. Yet, these changes have progressed so slowly as to be almost unnoticeable until, suddenly, there appears to be blossom on trees in Spring and then leaves have changed their colour in Autumn.

There’s a sedateness and tranquillity about Ether woods.  In fact, not that many people walk in the woods there.  Probably the busiest time is the Saturday morning Parkrun. Because of this it seems quite dramatic when people intervene in the landscape more specifically – as with the ‘Christmas” Tree, memorial flowers and the small fire.  Even seeing a bird box in a tree seems quite exciting.  There was one day when we were walking in the woods and saw a group of adults and young children in the part where the memorial flowers had been. The children were wrapping what looked like rolls of paper around trees and around themselves.  I didn’t even have my phone with me to take photographs let alone my camera.  It was around Halloween so we concluded in the end that it must have been something to do with that.  There was no sign of anything the next day.

Editing ideas so far are:-

  • By each season – would provide a narrative of each season but not compare/contrast.
  • Specific aspects season by season – particular trees, particular views from the Viewpoint, the ‘green’ man, human interventions. There’s scope for typologies in terms of ‘shelters’ too as here with Simon Roberts’s “Dwellings” (2017) . Thanks to my student colleague Jonathan Lamb for pointing me towards that work.
  • Mixing the seasons to give a birds-eye view. Thinking here of Andy Sewell and “The Heath”,  the flow of the book seems random to begin with but, as I look through and allow the images to drift in my mind, they sink deeper into my consciousness as if I’m walking through it. This fits very much with Sewell’s intention – he writes:

In a way this work is about the perception of what is natural, but it’s also an attempt to explore what E.O. Wilson called the human condition of “Biophilia”, being drawn to somewhere that feels natural without knowing why.  Over the last five years I have spent many hours walking on the Heath.  With this set of pictures I hope to convey something of what I was looking for and what I found.  (A. Sewell, The Heath 2011)

My interest in Biophilia has been an underlying theme during the course of Assignment 6 and was also one of the threads underlying my critical Review for Assignment 4.

I wrote about Susan Trangmar here. In her project “A Play in Time” Trangmar covered a year’s filming in St Ann’s Park, Hove, observing the changes of weather and seasons. For her the internal rhythm and shape of the published work was more important than following a chronology.

Many of Jem Southam’s Projects have followed places through time.  I accessed an older interview here  by Aaron Schuman in February 2005 concerning Landscape Stories a collection of his work from three series. Talking about the importance of series and his strategies/methods of storytelling, Southam says that each of his works is ‘built from the inside’ with an important principle being that it has, “[… ] a distinct form, which has been directed by the process of exploring the site itself, as well as the research that informs that process”. The narrative structure of each body of work, depends on the constituency of each site, his relationship with it.

There’s much to consider.






Response to tutor formative feedback June 2019 o Assignment 6 progress

 I reflected on progress February to end of May 2019 here .  Below are the relevant extracts from the combined formative feedback report: My responses are in blue italics.


 Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Assignment 6

– keep up the shooting for Assignment 6, try to analyse what you are drawn to in your shoots and why, if there are any patterns with this and any gaps in visual messages you think need to be captured.

This is something I’ve already been doing, and including in my write-ups. It’s a fairly quiet area, certainly so far as Ether Woods are concerned, yet I’m continually surprised by new events that keep occurring as people interact with their environment. One of the problems with developing a narrative is, of course, that these types of interventions into the landscape are different from planned land-management by the local Council. They’re ad-hoc, transient so a narrative that seems dramatic or poignant quickly disappears. I’ve realised that such occurrences particularly interest me – because of all the questions as to how, when and why they occur.

I’m thinking that, at my next review, I need to start thinking about potential ‘sets’, how everything is fitting together.

Start to bring in some of your visual research in relation to the transitions brief in these posts too, to show that you are constantly trying to stay informed about new approaches that could inform the development of the project.

I do have a resource list but this is a needed reminder to actually document my research and reading. I’ve already realised that much of what I’m focusing on in Assignments in general fits somehow or other with ‘transitions’ so there is plenty of cross-referencing material I already have. Also,  whilst doing an initial survey on relevant material for an idea I have for Assignment 4, I discovered several relevant artists I had already written about in previous Modules so I need to update on these too

– Also, if introducing new camera equipment that hasn’t been used before in the shooting for a project – for example you take the tilt shift wide lens out with you in April – be aware of the change this will have on the images themselves and how they might sit with earlier work, will there be a noticeable difference? Will it look inconsistent and does that matter for your particular strategy? Be mindful of this moving forward – I’d be tempted to stick to one lens on a project such as this one. Using exercises and assignments to experiment with other equipment for future projects.

Yes, I’d certainly realised that.  It was just so tempting to use the tilt-shift amongst the trees.  I think it’s good advice to stick to one lens – I mainly use a zoom lens anyway which is a very good multi-purpose one.

Suggested reading/viewing


The Heath – Andy Sewell, (re:A6) critique both the work and the design of the book, if considering book formats for assessment

Tessa Bunney – The way Tessa publishes her projects and introduces them, how she uses different types of images to tell her stories and her way of representing communities who work with the land

I think you’d also enjoy reading about one or two of the films of Margaret Tait, especially The Drift Back and Land Makar, in relation to looking at how people live and work with the land and her exploration of the land around her. lists/remembering-film-poet-margaret-tait

I’ve looked at all of them and will write about this in a separate post.

Areas of strength and for development

 The formative feedback report was a combined report with Assignment 3. I’m including the whole of it because I think the areas apply to Assignment 6 as well.

Areas for development:

I’ve taken all of these on board.  It’s easy to be tempted to keep an image just because it fits my theme or I feel attached to it and I’ll make more effort with strict self-monitoring.  What I’m doing with Assignment 6 at present is to weed out ‘weak’ RAW images as I’m processing through Adobe Bridge. 


I wrote about the Memorial Fields/Ether Woods early on here but I’m wondering whether I need to do more site-specific research. I’ll ponder on this as I think visual research needs to take priority.  I gain a lot from peer feedback on my work so this is something that will continue. Another addition to my list for the next review of progress will be to think on potential presentation. That’s another example of the value in attending meetings of OCA Thames Valley group as this always brings in new ideas as does reading other students’ blogs and exchanging comments/views with them. 

Assignment 6: Progress 25th February to end of May 2019

I had a final February session on the 26th ; one session in March; three sessions in April (I did have good reasons) and one on the May Bank holiday, although I’m not counting that because it was Ottershaw Fair that day when I filmed a very short video which I could include if I do a compilation video.

Choices are getting more complicated because I can’t stick a marker in the ground for an exact spot to photograph from, so I remember as best I can, but take extras from a slightly different angle ‘just in case’.  Also, of course, some images turn out to be a better quality than others although not exactly from the same spot as others.

February 2019

21 chosen from 78.


Some very bright days, with the sun casting heavy shadows through the trees.  The sun isn’t warm enough to dry the mud ruts left by the Saturday Park Run group. The ‘Christmas Memorial” tree is looking very bare, although some catkins have sprouted on other trees; there is, at last, a view from the Viewpoint and the little ‘tree man’ is sprouting ‘hair’. ‘Posters have appeared asking everyone to look out for a run-away dog.  There is a sense of waiting.

March 2019

21 chosen from 38.


Buds are appeared on some trees and catkins are growing larger. I went into a clearing I hadn’t visited for a while and saw some changes. A sturdy branch structure with a blue tarpaulin inside.  There was also a folded notice stuck on the ground in front of it, so of course I had to look; unfolded it said “Don’t touch” so I quickly folded it back! There’s also a bird box fairly high up a tree and logs artistically arranged. I pondered whether this was to do with a local forest school – a great idea which seems to be spreading in the area.

April 2019 (three visits)

3rd.  18 chosen from 78.


I took the 24mm tilt-shift with me this time.  This manual lens is excellent for sharpness and, of course, tall trees but it has a different effect from my usual zoom lens so I’ll have to wait and see how it melds with other photographs .

The day before, on the usual dog walk, we’d seen a group of young people gathered amongst some trees a bit of a distance away and wondered what was happening.  We didn’t approach in case they were having a picnic – a great attraction for dogs. Today I saw that many bunches of flowers had been left in that spot, wrapped in cellophane and with messages tied on them.

The dog is still missing and it seems to be travelling quite a circular route from the messages regularly appearing on Facebook.  The difficulyt is that people are asked not to approach or try to catch it because it’s so nervy but just to phone-in the sighting. I also spoke with a very friendly gentleman who was quite keen to have his photograph taken with my tilt-shift lensed camera.  It’s good to see the blossom beginning to show on the trees.

10th. 29 Chosen from 85. A bright day with strong shadows again.



It’s lovely to see green leaves, the broom flourishing and tree blossoms.  The bunches of flowers have now been taken out of the cellophane, dismantled and placed around the base of one of the trees.  Green ribbons have been tied around other trees.  I videoed the scene as it seemed a lovely tribute to whoever had died (I gathered from messages elsewhere that this was probably a tribute to a young man who had died tragically and this had been one of his favourite places).

Woodland Memorial – April 2019 from Catherine Banks on Vimeo.

16th. 6 chosen from 16.


One of those days when there’s an almost white sky and everything is very bright. I wanted to get a better view of the small ‘tree man’ who I’m now beginning to think of as the Green Man.


It’s been interesting to see the Spring changes – the white blossom and the ‘view’ actually emerging at the Viewpoint spot due to trees being bare.  Everything will change again as the trees gain their summer leaves. What I’ve realised is that I’m most interested in the human ‘interventions’ in the woodland.  It could have been a coincidence as the name on the messages were different, but did the Christmas memorial tree have an influence on the creating of the memorial to the young man?

I have created other videos – a football match, the structures in the clearing and visitors to the Bank Holiday Monday Fair on the Memorial Fields.  I’m thinking of creating a compilation at the end of the Project.