Transformations Final set – Scars

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Following up on my OUTLINE post for the Transformations project, For my final set and presentation for this term entitled Scars, I have chosen a set of 6 images that I feel portray this theme to perfection, showing material change yet also offering a change in perception to the viewer as they look upon rust with a new viewpoint and perspective as totally unrecognisable from what they expect. Inspired by Aaron Siskinds textured works.

Equipment, editing and technical information for the project and shoot can be found in this Post.

From the moment I began editing and selecting images I had visions of the planet Mars in my head, since the photos closely resemble what I have always thought Mars to be like and have observed in actual images of the Martian surface.

I have named each picture after an area on Mars, after seeing work by Rachael Talibart in which she named images after mythical entity’s, that I feel represents the image and the structure and content within and I will go through these individually after the gallery of final images below.

Now I will explore and explain each image in a bit more detail along with the area of Mars which inspires its name. I hope you will see why I have chosen the names, as each of my images draws its inspiration from those areas. Below is a stock photo of the area followed by my image and its presentation format and media used.


Shot from above Utopia Planetia (Stock Image)

Utopia planetia is a vast plain on Mars known for deep red colouration and being relatively flat Compared to other more rocky and mountainous regions.

Due to the large size of this print I wanted a good colour depth and also to keep detail in the Image. I chose lustre as my media as it offers a good balance of both without favour toward one. The flatness and flat effect I needed for the overall image would not be affected by the lustre finish as can happen with gloss perhaps being too sharply detailed.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO200 – 1/200s
Framed 16×12 print in white box frame


Syrtis from Above (stock Image)

Syrtis is a huge dark patch on the surface of Mars surrounded by a flat pitted plain of deep reddish hues.

I chose to print this image on Permajet Omega Rag at home and I feel it has come out superbly showing deep contrast and detail in the blacks and shadows whilst retaining colour and vibrance in the overall print.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO200 – 1/400s
Approximate crop and corrected orientation


Elysium is a huge volcanic region with cascading hardened lava flows and icy regions of frozen rock

As with Syrtis I printed this image on a fine art paper, Permajet Baryta paper which again allowed for crisp detail and contrast and retained and enhanced colour vibrance.

105mm Macro – F11 – ISO200 – 1/250s
Approximate crop and corrected orientation

I chose to print and present the next 3 images as a triptych of texture and surface markings, I feel grouping the images like this allows me to offer some seperation from the more serene and flat surfaces of the previous set whilst retaining them as a cohesive collection.


Naukluft is a plateau of jutting rocks and layers of volcanic sedement, the sharp edges to the plateau contrast with the sand beneath.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO160 – 1/640s

Olympus Mons

Olympus mons is a huge circular mountain around the size of France on the surface in the volcanic region of Tharsis

105mm Macro – F11 – ISO200 – 1/400s


Tharsis is a volcanic region with several round volcano like mounds they dimple the surface like hills.

105mm Macro – F8 – ISO200 – 1/500s

For the more textured images of the “really rocky and mountainous areas” I chose to print in gloss to ensure extreme detail in the sharp contrasting lines of each image and still retain a colour depth and 3d effect to the print.


Finally we come to presentation of the images as a set. I took the framed images to class and following input from the class and Zig I chose this grouping which is quite formal and contemporary as I feel the Images should be displayed and set very simply to provide a contrast the abstract content in the images. I printed my main image in large format 16×12 complimented with 2 medium images of around 7×5 and a Triptych of textured images. All images have been mounted on acid free white mount board and framed in a white box frame.

Final set in display formation (obviously gaps between)

Final Critique

Overall this term I am extremely happy with the 6 images I have produced and chosen for “Scars”. I feel they match the images they are inspired by and really give the viewer something to consider when they look at Rust in the future and the transformation that it brings to metal surfaces. I am pleased at how quickly I rethought ideas and overcame obstacles to produce a coherent and tonally structured set which fulfills the brief given.

I feel the title is apt and gives the viewer only an inkling of what the set portrays but has enough there for anyone who hears the title, Once viewed, to say “yes I get it”.

Yes there were a few missed opportunities and perhaps I could have further considered which pictures to include from many taken but feel the set produced is excellent and pleasing to the eye, I could have expanded the project to cover other decay and such but I feel the set of 6 images here are special and form a much better cohesive set than if I were to include more images of a different style or subject.

Transformation Final Project Submission outline – Scars

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

For my final submission I have chosen to do my photographic study of Transformation on the theme of Decay, specifically Rust. I considered many approaches to the theme as detailed HERE but finally settled on the topic of Rust and corrosion as I became more and more focused and narrowed down onto a single course I had seen work and discussed Transformation of surfaces HERE.

Rust causes transformation of a metal object at chemical levels, it is ceaseless and can be fast or slow, there is no predictability in its action, it is the ultimate destruction of an iron based metal object transforming strong metal to base elements.

I was not just content with showing this material change, I wanted to take people’s perception and twist it aswell, I wanted them to see the beauty in that change. To challenge them into seeing a landscape of red, mountainous and jagged, contrasted with flat desert plains of crimson, orange and brown hues. This is the basis of my project – SCARS.

A slow decay is underway
When neglect stays ever vigilant
Movement slows to a stop
Robust iron and hardened steel
Give way to the conformity of corrosion

Potential etched with failure
Layers stacking and packing
Cavitation, pitting, and spalling

Aged soldiers forever at rest
Vivid drippings from many holes
A stark likeness to flowing crimson
The discipline of structure gone

Emptiness and sadness
Abandoned to father time
Painted with the oxide of depression.
Fences that guard no boundary
Closed doors that never open
Implements evolve to ornaments

Rust supporting flaked cement
It falls with no one to hear
Massive gears that will not turn
Horse shoes, nails, and barrel rings

Cast away like everything
From the front yard to the scrap-yard
Out to pasture as they say
It’s the price of progress today


To begin with I started taking images of Decay at the coast, this ranged from flaking paint on boats and buoys to cracked surfaces of anchors, chains and fences I had come across, pitted and creased by age.

It was when I was exploring the cliffs at Portland I came across my subject, An old quarry crane used for lifting stone and boats known as The Red Crane. A relic of industry left to the elements on the coast. Once I had explored its surface in the sunlight I knew this was the subject for my project.

The challenge now was to creatively capture this relatively ordinary object in new ways, to see beyond the obvious and find a new angle so to Speak. I set about it’s surface looking for crags, flakes and scars in its hardened exterior, cuts in its skin bleeding in the sunlight, the scabs, scars and wounds of decades of standing alone as a coastal monolith.

Equipment and Technique

From the outset I had envisioned Macro as the way to go for these miniscule landscapes to be pictured and given scale and majesty. So I used my Canon 80d with a Sigma 105mm Macro lens, this afforded me the luxury of being able to get very close to the surface and retain focus and detail whilst the combination of great light and optical stabilisation allowed me to be free of a tripod and move about the structure. All the shots were taken by hand keeping the camera sensor level and parallel with the plane of the subject, I used varying shutter speeds and F-stops, which I will Detail below the shots on the final post, and took each image using a burst shooting mode and gently. Moving toward or away from my subject to ensure I got as much chance of a fully focussed image as possible given the hand holding situation at such high magnifications.


I actually had very little editing to do as such on these shots, the surface itself was quite well lit and saturated with colour and as I previously said the detail afforded by the Sigma macro lens was excellent. I have increased the contrast and ambience slightly, adjusted for blacks and white levels and added some structure via clarity. There were a few where I had to raise the exposure a tad to lighten the I age as it was taken in my shadow due to positioning. I felt this was sufficient and didn’t need to use the high pass filter method for sharpening that we have been looking at with Zig. So just simple minor edits to each image to create an over tonal similarity and cohesiveness to the set whilst retaining as much detail in the mini scene as I could. You can see some test edits HERE

Safety Considerations

Health and safety was foremost in my mind on this assignment given I was atop a cliff around 100 feet up from the sea. I had my partner watching as a second set of eyes and was extremely careful with my footing and placement of myself and my equipment. The flat surface of the cliff helped but there were a few points where I was perilously close to the edge and in those instances I always had a handhold to the structure and shot one handed.

Gallery of Prospective shots

Below is a gallery of Several Shots taken and considered for this project, a few of the final Shots are in there in a pre-edit stage for reference


Having initially decided to present in a square format as 5×5 prints I looked at clean white frames and did some Tests, however I did not really like the look or feel of those, Somehow they seemed lost and too partitioned. I then looked at previous gallery visits and how other photographers and curators would often present in different sizes and formats leading the eye. I decided to do something similar, but not only to present in a series of sizes but also a series of finishes that I had used or researched over the entire course from Lustre and gloss finishes to rags and fine art paper. To present the images I chose 1 large framed image complimented with 2 smaller framed images and 1 set of 3 framed in a tryptch style. I experimented with a few photoshop frames detailed HERE but decided on another approach which I will detail on the final post.

Shocking printing disparity

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

Well I am Stunned today at the vast difference between a set of Prints of a single Image.

Lets explain, I wanted to see how different sizes and paper types. Would Affect the colours, hues and quality of an image so I set up a Test.

The following are prints of the same image file, edited to my taste in Photoshop and then I printed one at home on fine art paper, 1 on 18×12 lustre and 1 on 9×6 gloss at a commercial lab.

I am Absolutely stunned at the colour difference between them the lovely vivid red print is my one from home on Permajet fine art paper and it matches well the screen and the outcome I was looking at. The other 2 more brownish prints are the gloss and the lustre printed at a commercial lab.

To say I am Stunned is putting it mildly, the sheer disparity between the quality of these prints is a lesson to me why fine art and good. Quality papers are an investment in photography. The sheer colour match and detail reproduction on the home. Printed fine art image vastly superceded any print from the lab, although both prints are OK detail wise and the browner prints still retain a good level of colour.

Whether it’s the paper difference, the size or Just a combination of both is unknown but my god what a difference.


Transformations – The final preparation.

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Transformations – The theme given to us for our final term was extremely vast. In reality anything could be construed as being in the realm of Transformation, from my Initial mind map below I found myself perhaps limiting the ideas I was having to a few more obvious ones. Although my final technique was one I considered from the outset. The subject was one I had not considered all those weeks ago.

However this changed once I really looked into the subject and began to explore how I could translate the idea into an Image. I wanted to do something that delved into Transformation in more than one way, by both showing something transforming in a material way and transforming the viewers perception of that subject, to take an object or subject that we see everyday and make it new and introduce a completely different look and feel to the visage presented.

Initially I thought I was settled on an idea which combined seascapes with long exposure, but upon trying this whilst on holiday it very quickly became apparent that the sunny weather and clear skies were perhaps not the best conditions to make for good shots for that particular idea as the ND filters needed to bring the shutter speed down to what I required would have been prohibitively expensive (the local camera shop was asking triple the price of online) and also numerous not to mention nigh on impossible to mount with the equipment I had, perhaps an idea for another day… A wet cloudy day.

With that in mind I reverted to another idea I had, after seeing some of the works by Aaron Siskind, which would show transformation of a Surface in some way through decay, rust or peeling paint. And as well as taking images of peeling paint and cracked surfaces whilst on holiday in Christchurch and Mudeford. I finally found my subject on the Dorset coastline on the cliffs of Portland.

The Red Crane is a large iron and steel relic quarry crane on the cliffs or Portland, used for lowering boats and stone into the water for decades, it has been steadily decaying and rusting due to the constant exposure to the elements at their harshest and has the deepest reds and orange hues in the rust I have ever seen. The textures and colour drew me in immediately and I knew straight away I would be using this as my subject. Now I did mention I wanted a dual perspective on Transformation so I decided that using Macro as my technique would give such an effect on perspective as it would transform the rusting surface in the viewers eyes to an almost unrecognisable surface.

Almost everyone I have so far shown the images to has commented that some of the images are unrecognisable as rusting metal, in fact many have commented that they look like the surface or Mars or some other barren desert, which is exactly the outcome I was looking to achieve.

Now when I saw the images in full I wanted to go further, the full image although stunning printed at 12×8 needs refining, therefore I decided that I would further transform that image and take portions of the full size print and mount those in either a square 5×5 format or a tryptych of sections around 5×4 or thereabouts. I have even trial Printed at 18×12 in lustre finish to see what sort of levels of Colour depth and Detail that brings but we shall see once they arrive. I printed some of my final edits on various matte type fine art papers from Permajet and was extremely pleased with the outcomes, so much so that I will be using some Of them for My final selections. The colour reproduction and depth was amazing as was the detail particularly on fibre based and Baryta type Papers which offer such inclusions.

I am still yet to land on my exact way of presenting the images for marking, but I have purchased some clean white frames in various sizes and mount options and will be looking at my different choices this week. I really like the idea of small sized prints which draw the viewer into that macro world, yet make it look like landscape, very much like Rachael Talibarts series I talked about HERE.

Transformations – The end is near

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

So now is the time to properly finalise my choices and edit to taste. The decay and rust style Images I have taken will be my final selection for editing and printing and these images have had good reception and feedback from people I have shown including Rachael Talibart which was nice to hear. I have many images similar to below (some test edited some straight from camera) to choose from So it will be a hard task to narrow them Down.

I’ll have to get some Feedback from Zig tomorrow to help narrow down to around 6 to 8 images.

As for printing I was so impressed with the clarity of just some gloss test prints I did that that seems the natural choice a real matte fine art paper would make the courts pop but lose some detail as would a lustre or pearl finish but I will get a better idea of how to proceed once I have edited a few and added any framing or borders.


Transformation – Editing Testing

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

Just a couple of quick snapseed edits of some of the cracked paint shots from Portland and Mudeford in Dorset. Just experimenting with a few things before I start the real Processing in Raw and Photoshop.

A quick set of test prints from these has shown that in either gloss or lustre they look equally as detailed and colourful which is good so I have options for printing the finals.

Just the final choice… Editing…proofing… Re-editing… mounting and presentation of these to go now… Who said photography was Just clicking a button eh…

Thinking about Framing

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

I have been thinking recently about how I will present my chosen Images for this term. The topic I’ve chosen, which has an Abstract Macro element, lends itself to smaller seperate Images purposefully smaller than previous projects to draw the viewer closer to the picture, making them consider the miniscule nature of the subject.

I thought about combining these Images together on single prints both normal and panoramic rather than all seperate prints.

With that in mind I did a few tests with frames in Photoshop

12×12 inch frame with 0.75 Inch border with 0.5 inch central dividers with 4 5×5 inch images.

And a 36×12 panoramic with a 1 inch border and 2 Inch dividers with 10×10 inch prints giving a nice tryptych effect.

I really like both these options and the possibilities they give for display and drawing the eye between the Images.

Ill keep looking at this.

Some Decay/Rust shots from Portland

Unit 1: Visual Recording in Art and Design – Criteria P 2, 4, 5

So today I visited Portland near Weymouth. Famous for its stone and lighthouse, Portland Bill, and battered by the sea for centuries. Perfect for the types of shots I wanted as much of the metal machinery has been eaten away at by the sea air and the paint on the sheds doesn’t last long.

All the shots below are straight from Camera so have yet to be edited and tweaked but ready they look like the surface of alien planets, deep. Colours and rippling textured surfaces…. Nasa could save alot of money by popping along to Portland rather than sending satellites to Mars…

I am very pleased with the shots I got and will be even more pleased when I get to edit them and start thinking about which ones I will choose and how to display them.

For now though I’m done with the specific places I wanted to visit and can enjoy the rest of holiday.