Wednesday, 3 May 2017

BTEC L3 Photography Materials, Techniques and Processes – Photo-copy paper

Materials, Techniques and Processes – Photo-copy paper
Most of the student photography we see produced in their sketchbooks is now produced on photo-copy paper. So, this makes it one of the most frequently used materials that they use. With that in mind, it should be identified as one of the key materials that they use.

As with all of these materials, the first thing students should do is find the brand name of the paper they’re printing on and then go onto the manufacturers website by searching “Product data sheet” followed by the papers brand name…


You should go onto the website and download the product data PDF file for the paper you use in your college. Read the document identify the information relating to its properties and characteristics.

 General observations relating to these papers that you might include… (See over page).

·         Extremely cheap and economic.

·         Ideal for interim images and research images in sketchbooks

·         Ideal for reducing and scaling up using photocopier

·         Potential for mixed media application at basic level – finish is usually matt, so that the paper takes many mark-making media such as graphite pencils, biro’s even paint with the potential for buckling if used too wet.

·         Two basic sizes A4 and A3.

·         Comes out of the machine dry and with the image fixed.

·         Potential in art applications such as degrading and damaging, tears easily and works well with sellotapes for re-fixing and re-configuring.

·         Once screwed up maintains a 3D aspect.

·         Glues well.

·         Is semi-transparent so useful for over-laying and tracing.

·         Clean and white

·         Good for digital contact sheets.

·         Quick and easy.

·         Software on most advanced printing systems allows for nesting of images – MS picture viewer system had excellent nesting configurations for quick handing of images.



·         Buckles and distorts when used in conjunction with wet mark making media such as water-colour paints/gouache.

·         Not suitable for final images and portfolio use.

·         Images lack colour vibrancy because of the matt finish.

·         Easily damaged and ripped.

 Look at the relevant data sheets for further details.

To take this a step further you’re advised to use a number of different mark making media – pens, inks, high-lighters, different grade graphite pencils, paints – oil, gouache, acrylic, poster, water-colour; Different pencil types – charcoal, conte’, wax and other soft types and use them on the paper.

 Try smudging, smearing and wetting to show what effect you achieve with these media on this paper. Discuss what you have learned about the properties of the paper in conjunction with the potential of the mark-making tools/media. Is there any potential to use these media in conjunction with mixed media approaches in photography or combing the use of images and text?

Have a look at this link here too




BTEC Art and Design Photography - materials, techniques, processes and equipment - TLR camera

TLR camera (Through the lens reflex)

·         Firstly, this is a fantastic looking camera that draws attention to you as the photographer, and you simply using this camera says… I know what I’m doing, I’m an artisan with advanced knowledge of photography.

·         Looking down psychology. People don’t like being scrutinized through the lens of a camera. With SLR cameras, your face is on the same plain of focus as the lens and the subject often feels uncomfortable and uneasy about the apparent level of scrutiny implied through the use of SLR’s. With a TLR you focus with your face and head pointing and looking down and not at the subject. This has a potential effect in that they’re not so aware of being photographed and may feel more at ease and potentially a better result may evolve?

·         Prime lenses – they don’t use zoom lenses, all of the lenses that come with these cameras are fixed focal length and therefore prime lenses with better optics.

·         6cm x 6cm negative. This is a big negative that produces a very high quality image if used with the right films, processed correctly and printed on the right type of papers.

·         Focus on need to get the shot (12 frames). Again, this is another psychological factor, the whole process or making images using a camera that only has 12 frames per roll focuses the photographer’s attention on the job at hand. The process of making the pictures becomes slower and more measured and potentially better for it.

·         Requires use of hand-held meter – again another set of skills and it looks more professional and people potentially take you more seriously – you look like a photographer and you should be telling them you’re an artist… Digital photography is for snappers and amateurs.

·         Requires more advance knowledge of photography – filters out the cowboys and the wanna-be’s.

·         The square format also makes you think about the space in the image and creates further awareness of backgrounds in images.

·         Enables and encourages darkroom skills and a greater under-standing of the relationship between exposure, light and the print.

·         Enables you to shoot and create images in the style of the greats such as Avedon, Bailey and Penn through the use of techniques such as the inclusion of the border, again making you consider the frame. (Shooting full frame).

·         Working with such cameras demands and identifies more advance skill-set and increases potential to attain higher grades.




·         12 shots on a roll – although can be seen as a positive aspect (See above)

·         Lens parallax error – what you see through the viewing lens doesn’t correspond with the ‘Taking lens’.

·         No internal metering system

·         Bellows extension factor – with different lenses at different focal lengths and the closeness of the subject, the camera has a bellows system to facilitate focusing which affects the exposure. This needs to be factored into the exposure calculations.

·         You have to know about film in order to expose properly.

·         Need to have access to 6x6 format enlargers.

·         Need to additional skill-set of processing and printing skills/knowledge to get full advantage.

·         Size and weight – cumbersome.
Cost factor - film is expensive, photographic paper is expensive too.
Environmental factors - Film and photographic paper is full of sliver and there are issues with regards to discarding Fix which is one of the key parts of processing procedure.

BTEC Materials, techniques and processes - Flatbed scanners and photo-copiers as a camera.

Flatbed scanners as a camera

Something that many people over-look is the potential to use flatbed scanners as a means to create images. See the two links below for examples...

Scanners produce good quality images at quite high resolutions, with a unique feeling of their own. Ideally suited to flat-copying, but they do have the potential to create renditions of 3D objects too. In addition because of the way that images are scanned by a slow moving capture system, there's loads of scope to play around with movement in conjunction with the images, creating potentially very creative outcomes.

  • Normally associated with 'Art' applications in photography, rather than commissioned photography.
  • Can be used adapt other types of photography for instance Pinhole photography produced on photographic print paper on small scale can be scanned at high resolutions and therefore digitized and scaled up.

  • Lack of mobility, need mains supply.
  • Limited in their ability to render and record 3D objects
  • Requires expensive software packages such as Photoshop to work with at post production stages.
  • Limited to A4 capture size although A3 scanners do exist.

*Note - The photo-copy machines at college have a scanning function via the menu. Select the 'Scanning' option and click the 'email' option as well as the resolution and colour settings. Also choose what type of file type you want your scan to be sent to you as. I would generally opt for a TIFF file. Once your scan has been made, you'll be sent a digital file to your college email address.

BTEC Photography Materials, techniques and processes - DSLR cameras

DSLR Cameras - characteristics and their properties.

Why use one camera over an another, what are the benefits of using different cameras and how does it effect the image and meaning?

Within the context of your BTEC qualification this is a re-occurring question and one that you have to address. This post helps out with that aspect of the course. Remember though - do not copy this, read it and write it up in your own language and add to it, if you're looking to attain higher grades.

Digital SLR's

Why use one? One of the key reason's is that you're on a photography course and the majority of professional photographs are shot using a digital SLR and therefore as an aspiring photographer you need to be fully conversant with how your DSLR works. Other reasons include the following here in this list...

  • Versatile - DSLR's are extremely versatile and are able to cover most photographic jobs, they come with hundreds of attachments enabling them to be used for scientific photography in labs to under-water photography in situations such as Surf Photography using camera housings.
  • If you use either Nikon on Canon, you'll find that wherever you are in the world, there's usually somewhere near by in a big city that can service the camera and sell you components needed for your work.
  • They relatively cheap.
  • Small and light weight, relatively tough.
  • They're able to be fitted with a huge range of lenses going from super wide Fish-eye lenses to super long telephoto lenses used in sports and wildlife photography that cost thousands of pounds.
  • They're simple to use with auto and program modes that anyone can use.
  • They're extremely creative tools once you're able to work with them manually - over-riding the auto and program functions.
  • They use digital storage cards, usually 'SD' cards onto which literally thousands of images can be captured and stored. In comparison with shooting film this is a massive advantage both from a cost point of view and enabling you to get 'The image'.
  • Light colour in the image is controlled in-camera via 'White balance' settings - no need for sets of filters as the case for analogue cameras.
  • The images can be see on the preview screen on the back of the camera enabling checking of composition, white balance and lighting to some extent.
  • There's a tendency for students to produce images from digital files using Photo-copy paper or poor quality and expensive digital prints using ink jet printers at home. So their prints produced for the assignments are very low quality with limited use.
  • Everyone thinks they're a photographer and people with very limited knowledge are setting themselves up as photographers, under-cutting real photographers and putting people out of business.
  • The fact that images are unloaded off the camera and then stored on digital devices and never seen. As opposed analogue cameras that traditionally when the film is processed you end up with hard-copy prints to be shown and shared between people - a more tactile sharing experience.
  • Technology advancements, with newer technology, sometimes the format of the files (Images) becomes so advanced that there are no longer computers/software that are unable to view the 'Old' outdated file types. This is in opposition to traditional photography and the use of prints.
  • Susceptible to damp, moisture, dust, grit, extreme cold conditions.
  • Reliant wholly on batteries.
  • SD cards and storage devices including Hard - Drives on computers, DVD's etc susceptible to corruption and all of the images lost.
  • So many images/files a great deal of time is required to catalogue and file them.
  • Perceived that you also need Photoshop as a part of the 'Package'. Photoshop cost several
Note - look up your own camera on websites such as and to find out the specific details about your own camera.