4 The Morning Read


The older you are or the greater your disability, the more you need to read about, or obtain help for it.


Many people read the newspaper after breakfast, particularly if you are retired. When you are dealing with people with disabilities and trying to make arrangements for their care then there is a huge amount of information to digest (and forms to fill in!). When you add to this the fact that some older people have poor eyesight then it can be very difficult for them.

I tried to convey this in the photograph by assembling a range of papers, forms, booklets, magazines, etc., to show the volume of material concerned.

Originally I had a pair of spectacles and the magnifying glass placed on the papers as part of the scene, but this did not give a very striking image.

Then I had the idea of holding the magnifying glass away from the papers so that some part of the scene was isolated and made to stand out.

I had a choice of focussing on the background papers which would mean the magnifying glass and the words that were being enlarged were out of focus or vice versa.

I chose to focus on the background papers and leave the magnifying glass clear for two reasons;

1.      It may have been difficult to see what the background papers were and they are integral to the image, if they were too blurred and not legible then the image would not work. Whereas even though slightly blurred you can still read the words through the magnifying glass.

2.      The blurred nature of the wording in the magnifying glass gives a suggestion of what reading might be like for someone with failing eyesight. (and how would they cope with the volume of information available).

I wanted to ensure that the scene was evenly illuminated so that the wording could be read on all the reading material. I had read in Learning to Light (Hicks and Schultz, 1998)  that this could be achieved with a softbox fixed to a studio flash and placed over the papers and parallel to them. I arranged the lighting so that the softbox was about 3 feet vertically above the papers and parallel.

I decided to hold the magnifying glass over the title of a library book that I had borrowed for the purpose of this photo. I also added the medicine box as an indicator of the pervading nature of medication for some older people. I arranged the red of the book title, the red pendant in the Contact Care leaflet and the red ibuprofen pack to form a triangle within the image and draw attention to those three aspects.

I had to make sure that the magnifying glass was held at an angle so that there was no reflection of the softbox on the glass.

My intention with this photo was to suggest;

·         The large amount of information available and forms to be completed for the care needed

·         This is aimed at people who, generally speaking, have the greatest difficulty reading

Technical alternatives

I could possibly have used a smaller aperture to get greater depth of field, but I don’t think it would have made too much difference as the magnifying glass was too far away from the papers. I could have held the glass closer but this may have looked unnatural. In terms of the image I think that the blurred magnifying glass suggests the difficulty some people would have reading the information.

Technical information

Lens:                            VR 18-55 F/3.5-5.6G

Focal Length:               32mm

Aperture:                     F/11

Shutter Speed:1/125s

Exposure Mode:          Manual


Exposure has been increased post capture by 0.3EV.


How could this image be improved?

Perhaps I could have constructed the image on a larger scale – I only used a fraction of the leaflets, forms, books, etc., that I had collected for the purpose. The image may have been more striking if the background reading material had covered  an even larger area.


What have I learned from taking this photograph?

I think that in this photo I have learned how to make something from an image even when the original concept hasn’t worked. I had originally tried to set up an image similar to one I had seen in a book but it really wasn’t striking enough however I was able to use one of the props in a different way to make a more interesting photo.

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