Task 4 – Visual Language, 3 images with text

Task 3 consists of the creation of 3 images, prepared to A3 print size containing text and visual elements. Click on images to view full screen. The final images can also be viewed here.

Image 1

Camden Pride Bar, Camden Market.

This was an image inspired by the documentary and street photography of Walker Evans (1903 -1975) who was fascinated with signs and lettering and created many iconic images of rural America particularly during the post great depression period whilst working for the FSA (Farm Settlement Administration) and other government bodies such as the Resettlement Administration which was also responsible for Dorothy Lange’s iconic “Migrant” Mother image.

Through out his career Evans captured photographs of or containing signs and or lettering, some carefully considered landscapes or interiors, others instant captures of street life.


“Posters advertising a 1936 circus near Lynchburg, South Carolina” – Walker Evans

More examples of Evans work can be seen in the Task 3 output.

On a visit to Camden Market in January 2015 I wandered into the Camden Pride gallery which is a photo gallery and entertainment venue. As the entertainment venue is closed during the day you can walk around and see the building which is a converted stable. The bar area was closed off with security bars but it was just possible to get a shot of the eclectic signs and lettering that make up the back drop to the bar.

Preview_03_MG_5812The shooting conditions were awkward as it was through the security bars which limited the postioning of the camera and further had to be taken in natural light which meant a wide open shutter. Focus is on the lettering which does result in some of the bottles nearer the camera being slightly soft focus.

I took several variants of the image before selecting the final one above.

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In post processing lens correction was applied to address slight bellowing of the original. The image was straightened and cropped and minor adjustments made to levels and contrast to produce the final image.

Image 2


This is a deliberately commercial image designed to appeal to prospective parents as part of documenting pregnancy and newborn photographs. Although determinedly commercial in order to be a very saleable image I do like the composure of the final image as the knee’s, stomach and chest form a diagonal across the image and the white space to the upper right is balanced by the coloured letters.

The model is our daughter Stephanie a few weeks before the birth of Poppy Evelyn.


Taken with studio flash against a neutral background the letters are formed by the commonly available lettering used to form the child’s name as a room decoration or toy. The lighting was set up and measured with a meter then the model put in place and the train letters added. This has to be done speedily as at this stage of pregnancy remaining in still any position for more than a minute or two is generally uncomfortable for the mother to be.

Post-processing of the image was done with minor adjustments to levels and exposure, removal of minor skin blemishes spot healing brush, then masking the letters using the quick selection tool, inverting the selection and adding a Black and White adjustment layer, boosting the red / magenta channels to enhance contrast of the B&W areas of the image.

Image 3


I very much like the food photography work of Tessa Traeger, particularly where she has used the food itself to compose the image for example as the Chapter Title pages in “A Visual Feast” where the section on Beans, Peas is written using beans and peas.

With this as inspiration I decided to create an image from scratch using natural materials to create an image. My thinking evolved in that instead of just an image of food it should be a message and as a further twist in recognition of my engineering background – I originally took a 5 year apprenticeship as a toolmaker – and to inject some humour I decided the message should be “NUTS!” and the image should be composed of both the edible variety and the engineering sort of nut.

I scavenged in my own and an engineering friends garage to come up with sufficient quantity of the engineering type and ended up with a range of sizes and quality of nuts some being corroded and others being brand new but decided that the rust helped the overall image. Again in terms of the engineering theme I wanted some precision in the layout of the lettering and so I decided to make templates of the letters to aid the laying out. A trial run uncovered a few issues to be resolved.

Firstly placing the nuts on the templates left too much exposed white in the background visible and secondly the technique / materials didn’t suit fine text such a script type fonts. After some trial and error I decided on the font of QTBodiniPoster in italic. These were printed as single letters on A4 sheets using the  text mask  tool with a narrow stroke and then cut out by hand for a further trial run at home. The letters were laid out on a Hessian background.



This style of font proved successful and so was adopted for the project.



Laying out the nuts was time consuming with larger nuts in the centre parts of the letters and increasingly smaller for the detail in the serif elements of the text.

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Lastly  I decided that a completely linear layout was too rigid and so provided a slightly random layout of individual letters facilitated by them being on separate sheets.

The final shots were taken in the studio at college to take advantage of the continuous lighting available and the boom arm to hold the camera at right angles with the finished layout on the ground. I took images with both the edible nuts and engineering nuts but decided the combined images were not the best as felt they lacked tonal range and contrast and I decided the image featuring the engineering nuts alone was better.

There is one nut that is slightly separate on the left hand side of the “U” this was corrected but I ended up preferring the image with it included.

Trial Images:

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Post processing consisted of straightening the image and adding a high pass filter to a duplicated layer with overlay blending masked to just the letters. The border size was increased with white canvas and the Hessian border image was randomly masked to blend with the oversized canvas.

Final Image


As a last step I decided to print and frame this image. Some time ago I had acquired a large aluminium picture frame from a car boot sale for a bargain £3 that I thought would complement the image. On close inspection the frame was marked and deeply scratched in a few places so I decided to apply an engine turned finish to the frame to disguise these defects. This is simply achieved by putting an abrasive pad into a drill press and applying gentle pressure to the surface. The finished result gives a fish scale effect and adds to the overall industrial feel of the image.


Framed final Image.


The framed final image was made available for viewing as part of the project submission.

Steve Edwards

March 2015

This entry was posted in Location, Visual Language.

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