Unit 5

As I started unit 5 I was encouraged to evaluate my photography skills, considering various tips to ultimately achieve more artistic, story full photos. After reading the list of suggestions I picked three specific techniques to attempt in this unit. I chose these tips as I felt personally these were areas where I could improve as a photographer. I decided to write these three techniques down so I could reference them when I had to take my own photographs in the unit.

Colchester Penguins.

Here is an example where I used depth as a technique in my ‘photoblitz’ task. Although this photo was only taken on an IPhone I still managed to place my subject in focus and blur the background, using manual focus and positioning. I placed my subject close to the camera away from its background, creating an effective depth of field.

In the ‘photoblitz’ assignment we were given 15 minutes to capture a list of provided subjects. I decided to complete this activity in my room where I knew my environment best. This decision was an effective one, as ultimately I knew which objects to use most effectively for each subject. I took two photos of my alarm clock, documenting when I started and finished. I found the ‘photoblitzing’ experience a successful and enjoyable one. Placing a time limit on this creative tasks forced me to use the first idea that came into my head. This meant all of my photos were taken and positioned on pure instinct, which I on reflection I like a lot. The photo that I thought was most inventive was the shadow of my glass camera. I used my desk light and positioned it perfectly, provided an interesting shadow and an effective photo. The photos that worked best for me personally were ones where I considered lighting. The appropriate lighting brought some of these images to life, creating artistic inventive images.




Always Shadow Creativity.


Complexity - 'Look Past & Achieve'


Openness - Travel.


Colchester Penguins.

I then provided feedback on three effective ‘photoblitzing’ photos on the ds106 site. My favourite image was of a rack of wine bottles. The photographer used the technique of ‘converging lines’ to great effect, creating a well-lit artistic image. After I had taken my photos I uploaded my favourite 5 images to Flickr, tagging them with the ‘ds106photoblitz’ hashtag.

Daily Create – ‘Tree Art’

'Tree Art'

Daily Create – ‘Window To Freedom’

'Window To Freedom'

Daily Create – ‘Thug Life’

Thug Life.

Next I completed 10 stars worth of visual assignments. The first assignment I completed was creating an album cover. I used Wikipedia the gather the name of my band – ‘Algophilus’. I then used the random quotation page to find my album title – ‘Walls Of Our Own Homes’. Finally I used the Flickr explore page to find my cover photo. After gathering these three components, I used Photoshop to edit my image and add text. By manipulating the colours in the image, using bold and appropriate text and adding an explicit content logo I created a professional looking album cover. I personally feel this cover would suit heavy hip-hop or rock music as it has a certain disturbing look to it, with the dark contrast and low lighting making the rabbits appear sinister.

(3 Stars) 'Album Cover'

Next I completed the ‘hybrid’ assignment, taking influence for a personal favourite film ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ In this film Napoleon draws a ‘Liger’, so I wanted to do the same. Taking the images from Google I placed them into Photoshop, using layers, resizing and the rubber tool to join the animals together. I then added the quote to the image, helping to tell the story of the hybrid creation.

(3 Stars) "What's a Liger?"

I then completed the ‘Splash Of Colour’ task. I took a photo of my ‘travelling stand’ and then by using the Aviary IPhone app added a small amount of colour. The app converts the image to black and white and then allows you to draw on the image specifically where you would like to repaint original colour, creating an effective contrast.

(3 Stars) Splash Of Colour.

Finally I completed the ‘common everyday object’ assignment. I took a photo of my lava lamp, again using the Aviary IPhone app to manipulate the contrast and colours, creating an unusual but effective image.

(2 Stars) Create.

Overall this was one of my favourite units of DS106. Photography is something that I enjoy greatly, but wish I had a broader range of skills and knowledge in. I feel like I’ve learnt a wide variety of new techniques throughout this unit. Considering lighting, contrast, colour and depth I have created a range of effective images that matched their brief accordingly. I personally feel like there no better way to tell a story than with visuals and this unit has only confirmed my opinion. My favourite task in this unit was the 15 minute ‘photoblitz’, I personally feel this encouraged a great deal of creativity, working purely on instinct. However I also enjoyed the ’10 stars of visual assignments’. This gave me a variety of choice, being able to handpick a selection of creative tasks. I felt the assignments ‘star’ rating system was a great idea and found the tasks to be very enjoyable.


Unit 4

I watched two clips by Ira Glass’ who offers his definition of storytelling within television and radio. I found it very interesting how Glass simplifies the theory of storytelling into two components. Glass calls these components ‘building blocks’ and states the contributors within these blocks are ‘Anecdotes’ and ‘moments of reflection’. This was something I hadn’t previously considered. As personally I felt it was very difficult to define what makes an effective story, I thought this would be based purely on your audience. However this generic theory that Glass presents I feel can be transferred to all stories. Every effective story has to have a sequence so it can gather momentum. This is what Glass describes as ‘anecdotes’. Glass suggests good stories include ‘bait’. Good stories constantly raise questions and answer them accordingly to keep people watching and interested. This on reflection I definitely agree with. When I think back to my own favourite stories they always keep you guessing what will happen next. The suspense keeps you glued in and interested in the whole story. I feel like this is important whatever the genre of the story, maintaining your audiences attention. Glass then describes the second half of the building blocks, the ‘moment of reaction’. The ‘moment of reacton’ Glass suggests is the point of the story, why is your audience listening to the story. Without this he suggests a story will not be effective. Again I agree with this theory. I can think of many stories that held my attention to begin with, however moved to an ineffective storyline or a disappointing ending, letting the whole film down. Even though previously I felt it was difficult to analyse what makes an effective story I now definitely agree with Glass’ theory. I believe this theory makes the basis of any good story and these are all emotions needed to be felt by your audience if you are to create something successful.

I then watched a video by Jad Abumrad on how radio creates empathy. Abumrad suggests that learning how to kill ideas is very important in the creation process. This was something that I considered greatly and felt like I needed to learn as I create more media. When creating something we form an attachment, I feel like this is natural as it is something that you have put time and effort into to. However as Abumrad suggests by killing off an idea it may lead to something better. This was a sentence I found very inspiring and a great way to think of it. I found Abumrad Discussing the relationship between failure and success very unique and something we don’t tend to hear from professionals. I found this inspiring and I will definitely think back to various quotes when filtering through my own creations in the future. Another topic Abumrad considers is the future of the radio. He definitely made me think differently about the subject. Previously I didn’t personally feel like the radio had much of a future. However this was purely based on my own opinion, from someone who doesn’t listen to the radio. But after listening to Abumrad discusses the connection a reader can have with a listener, a connection with is unique only to radio due to its delivery I started to feel differently. Maybe the radio will always have its listeners as it allows its audience to use their imagination much more than television.

I listened to the audio story “Its Going To Change Your Life’ by Jonathan Mitchell. I considered how Mitchell used various techniques in order to create an effective story. I personally felt Mitchell’s techniques were very effective. He uses a variety of sound effects to convey changes in location throughout. An aeroplane is heard just as a conversation is finishing; this conveys a wide scale change of location and a sense of pace in the storyline. This sound effect has been layered just over the back of a conversation to further demonstrate this quick pace. Reverb has also been used effectively in this audio story. As an audience we can imagine the size of the room that the characters are in. This helps us understand if the characters are holding a private conservation in a small office or talking in a larger room with maybe other speakers present. Another technique Mitchell uses effectively is the volume of the characters voices to represent distance. In this audio story Mitchell shows the leader of a talk moving around the classroom speaking to other members. By fading her voice out and bringing in other characters voices louder we can feel a sense of distance and where we are placed in the room perfectly. Finally Mitchell emphasises noises that we may not perhaps hear as loud in real life. This is evident when a letter is being opened and a phone call is taking place, this is present I believe to convey the importance of the event in the plot. This also makes us to listen to the story as if we are the main character, allowing the audience to relate and sympathise with the character.

I found my first DS106 radio experience a very enjoyable one. After tuning in a second time to the station I heard someone produce a live show. I felt a connection with the producer straight away. I feel like this was perhaps because we had both experienced the DS106 course and ultimately I could be in the same position, producing this radio show if I wanted. I felt an immediate respect for the producer as I personally would feel very uneasy producing a radio show, especially with such a lack of experience so I appreciated the producer’s confidence. I tweeted the producer, letting them know I was listening and offering  feedback.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 17.19.44

I checked the radio status page whilst listening and I was the only listener, however the station had peaked at 4 listeners that day.

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Daily Create – ‘Arty Blur’

'Arty Blur'

Daily Create – ‘ Inspirational Quote’

'Inspirational Quote' - Brent.

Daily Create – ‘Breakfast Selfie’

'Breakfast Selfie'

Surprisingly I have really enjoyed this unit. When first reading the title ‘Unit 4 – Listening to Audio’ I was immediately put off. However on reflection I’m not sure why? Maybe due to a lack of experience and confidence I started this with the wrong mind-set, but after completing the various audio assignments I feel more much positive. I found learning about the theory of storytelling very interesting and I enjoyed considering other theorists opinions. I found analysing an audio story also very interesting and productive. Previously I had never just listened to a piece of audio with no distractions and considered what techniques had been used for effect. This I feel has given me a better understanding of sound techniques and how to use purely sound to tell a story effectively. Overall though, I found completing the ‘Ds106 bumper’ and the ‘sound effect story’ to be most beneficial part of the unit. By experimenting with sound techniques myself, rather than just purely consuming them it has given me a good basic understanding of what techniques are effective.

Unit 3

Storytelling. Automatically this made me think traditionally. I thought of a large picture book being read by a parent to their child before bed. Storytelling to me in its core is telling a story with words, which allows the listener to use their imagination to picture the story. Someone who I recall telling me memorable stories is my dad. He would make up stories of me scoring the winning goal for Manchester United in the Champions League final as I drifted off to sleep, trying to picture the scene. That’s what ‘storytelling’ in its simplest form means to me. However digital storytelling I feel has a different meaning. Digital storytelling I believe is using technology not just words to present and share your story. Whether it’s television, music, film, animation or other media platforms.

Vonnegut uses his dry comedic style and effective use of pauses to present a basic theory of storytelling. He challenges your expectations with humour but also provides a serious definition of how the western world presents traditional stories in its simplest form.


A movie that I thought could be adapted to Vonnegut’s theory was 8 mile. The main character Eminem starts off at rock bottom, he climbs a few steps into happiness, gets brought back down, then finally achieves extreme happiness at the end of the film.

When we were asked to find a digital story I automatically thought of this video my friend had shown me a couple years ago. It includes photos and a voiceover to tell the heart-breaking story of ‘the poptart tragedy’. I’m not sure why I chose this video, it just made me laugh back then and still does to this day. Photos and words put together, making a digital story. Right?


I looked through previous DS106 stories and one particular submission grabbed my attention. The assignment was called ‘Mashup Movie Trailer’. I specifically liked this piece of work and thought the video was very effective as it showed a great deal of creativity. I like the way this student has taken this video and has given it a totally different meaning. I feel like this demonstrates how important the relationship is between image and audio in digital stories, as a change to either can so easily effect the overall interpretation. The arc in this story could be constructed around into levels of dramatic action in the trailer. This could be determined by the tone of the audio or speed of the editing throughout. Similar to a lot of horror trailers the arc is a consistent progression, with the most dramatic content coming at the end. This shocks the audience just as the title of the film is presented, constructing an effective short digital story that makes the audience want to watch the film. I think with this type of assignment is effective purely on its own and could be transferred to various genres, achieving effective results.


Daily Creates –

‘Ransom Note’

'Ransom Note'

‘Blue & Orange Action Poster’

Blue & Orange Action Poster

‘Chunky Heel’

'Chunky Heel'



Tell a story in five frames. No text just photos. Before attempting this task I considered how I was going to complete this task most effectively. To create an effective story without text I thought the photos had to be powerful, being present for a genuine purpose. I decided to create a story based on social media use. This is a simple story that shows the relief you can achieve by not allowing social media to control your life. I enjoyed completing this task, as I was something unique. Storytelling is typically presented by text with accompanying photos. However by using just visuals this ensured that the photos had to be powerful enough to create an effective and informative story.

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After browsing through various peoples blogs using the ‘open ds106 blog flow’ and the ‘random post picker’ I saw some inspiring and influential blogs. When reading other users blogs you realise how important it is that to maintain your audiences attention. The blogs that kept my focus throughout included a variety of content such as video, text photos. I felt like the blogs that grouped its text using titles or bullet points worked best as there were short, snappy and informative. I thought about my own blogging and made notes of the effective techniques used by other bloggers, considering which techniques I found most effective as a reader. It became apparent that including more video content in my own blog would increase its appeal and the occasional table or stat would be useful to help back up opinion. I commented on various blogs using the #talkingopen106 hashtag, leaving short comments offering my opinion.

Overall I have enjoyed unit 3. I found Vonnegut theory to be quite challenging, however after making notes and transferring his ideas to a film of my choice it became easier to understand. I found studying other users blogs and past DS106 work to be very useful. This research has made me feel more comfortable about writing in the future as now feel I have a better understanding of which blogging techniques are most effective.

Unit 2

We started off unit 2 with an inspirational video titled ‘Obvious to you. Amazing to others.’ I felt this was a very appropriate video as inspiration and confidence is key in succeeding in the DS106 course. As the video suggests we always look at other people’s creations in awe and jealously, thinking we’re not capable of producing such work ourselves. However as the video promotes this is a natural feeling and something that as a creator of media you have to get past. We can only do this via creating, sharing and welcoming feedback; something which the DS106 course encourages throughout.

The next task was to customise our blog’s to create a personal environment for us to present our DS106 content. This is my blog. I added a simple theme and added my daily create logo at the top to give my page a more professional appearance. I then added widgets such as: blog hits, recent posts, a Gravatar and a personal Twitter feed along the side of the blog. I finalised by adding an ‘about’ and ‘DS106’ page to add further detail on the reason for my blog posts.

BlogThe next stage of unit 2 was to learn about the term ‘digital face-lift.’ We were asked to watch a lecture by Gardner Campbell to help explain this. In this video Gardner uses example of a woman in Brazil who is getting her face stretched to demonstrate the ‘digital face-lift’. He explains this woman is experiencing an illusion as the stretching is making her appear younger. She is enjoying this experience due to the way its framed, she think’s she looks great. However in reality this is just a smokescreen. A temporary cure, rather a sustainable method for developing the future of our learning and creativity. Gardner argues instead of a digital face life the answer is narrating, curating and sharing. All of which can be amplified by information and communication technologies that can be easily introduced in our education system.

Gardner uses the metaphor of a ‘bag of gold’ to portray the opportunity that students have but don’t take advantage of in higher education. Gardner argues that Students are being given gold but they’re rejecting it. They give excuses such as not knowing what to spend it on, or they don’t have enough time to spend it. I personally believe Students are being too safe, they don’t want to think outside the box so they ask their teachers for the answers, myself included! However, I believe this mind-set has been driven into us due to the way the education system is set up. In school we think its normal to be given a textbook and to be told to just copy out notes, consuming information without actually thinking. Maybe if creating and discovering for ourselves was something we were used to then creativity and these risks would be natural, and less daunting. Gardner suggests that students simply want to know what their professors want and how to give it to them, however ‘A Personal Cyberinfrastructure’ would provide the opportunity for creativity and discovery.

I then completed my daily create task. The daily create task was to make a ‘mouse meme’. This I found to be very simple, I saved an appropriate mouse image and used a online meme generator. I decided to try and make something humorous, but also personal to me, in this case my weekly struggle to make my 9am lectures.

Mouse Meme

Finally I made a GIF. I used a GIF generator online and pasted in a specific YouTube clip from one of my favourite films, ‘The Usual Suspects’. I wanted to create something that expressed more than just a two second clip. This GIF to me personally shows an iconic moment in the film and represents the entire film perfectly in just a few seconds.


My experience of Unit 2 has been a positive one. I have learnt lots of new skills and studied a variety of content, forming my own opinions throughout. I found a few challenges along the way. Customising my blog I found to be quite challenging at times, as different themes would only display certain widgets on my page. This was something I got past successfully via trial and error. Studying David Gardner’s lecture proved to be fairly difficult to keep up with and understand at times. However after playing back certain parts a few times and making notes to myself I started to form a greater understanding. Finally embedding YouTube videos to start a specific point was a great challenge, something that I couldn’t fix. Although it seemed I followed the correct procedures throughout the videos still jump back to an earlier start time.  Apart from these challenges I found Unit 2 to be simple, but time consuming. Time is something I will need to keep on top of throughout this course, ensuring I don’t fall behind. I am looking forward to seeing what Unit 3 has to offer.

Unit 1

Our first task within unit 1 was to create a variety of online accounts so we could share our created media as we progressed through the course. The only account that I didn’t have previously was Flickr, I looked forward to using this for the first time.

Before starting the DS106 course I watched the inspirational video provided to us. I found this lecture very suitable and relatable as I look to pursue a career in the creative arts. The part that grabbed me the most out of this clip was when the lecturer was discussing his friends around him, who chose a different career path to himself. He stated how his friends were miserable as they now couldn’t do what they wanted to do in life as they had to pay the bills. I found this particularly thought-provoking as this was the exact ‘mould’ I want to avoid in life. This is why I have chosen to chase a career in media, to work for enjoyment, not simply to ‘survive’. I feel like this video motivated me greatly.

Moving on through the course we were asked the question, ‘What is Art? Before watching the video provided I asked myself what I thought Art meant to me. I felt like Art was normally an object, something that may be in a gallery, a sculpture, drawing or painting for example. I thought Art was created by specialists and the best Art sold for a lot of money. However after watching Botstein explore this question I couldn’t help but look at Art in a different way. It made me question whether it was indeed created by specialists and I questioned how much art existed in my everyday life. Botstein states that Art requires ‘human interaction’. Did this mean everything we participate in and personalise can be defined as Art? What about our choice of clothing? The way we present a meal? How we design our homes? After pondering these questions I came to the conclusion that Art is impossible to define. It means something different to everyone, a subject that will always divide opinion.

Finally I watched Kelly Anderson’s lecture on disruptive wonder for change. I thought about how Anderson’s idea of creative media compared to my own. Anderson argues that the world is full of order, that doesn’t necessarily deserve our respect. She states when we realise this we will then become creative people. I agree with this opinion strongly. Why should we take everything we see and hear in media as fact? All media portrays subjective material. As consumers of media we need to start challenging and recreating what is presented to us, not just digesting material without criticising or thinking. Something Anderson calls ‘messing with the complacently rational’.

The advice that stood out most to me when looking through students advice was this soundcloud audio clip by krisavball08. This student hands out advice that I personally felt to be very relatable. The three pieces of advice that stood out the most to me was planning, avoiding procrastination and using twitter to solve problems. Planning work is definitely a strategy that I will follow, to me it makes tasks feel less daunting and helps the structure of my work. The advice this student gave on using the Twitter world was something I hadn’t explored before. This will be a great tool to ask questions or provide answers, by simply using a DS106 hashtag it will connect me to other users who are discussing this course. Avoid procrastination; this is perhaps the most important piece of advice and one that may prove to be the most difficul..*loads Football Manager disc*

The course recommended that we complete 3 daily create tasks in Unit 1. I thought this was a great idea as the tasks were quick, enjoyable and encouraged creativity. I used the twitter hashtag from each task to find examples of my colleges creates which helped with inspiration.

Daily Create 1 – Letterhead.


Daily Create 2 – Evil Guinea Pig.

'Evil Pig'

Daily Create 3 – Un-cropped Sign. 'Road Sign'

I used the  twitter hashtag that related to the individual create task to share my work with DS106 colleges.

On reflection I have enjoyed working through my first DS106 unit. I didn’t find the unit necessarily hard, however I found that I had to find the right time to complete these tasks. I learnt that I need to be motivated before attempting to work on the unit, as this open course is about expressing your creativity, which often doesn’t always flow when you want it. I’m looking forward to working through the course, being able to express myself without a strict guidelines of content and time. I’m confident that I will find the time and motivation to complete all units effectively and I feel ready for the next chapter without any major concerns.