Tag Archives: layouts

Looking at layouts: British Journal of Photography

In the last two blogs, I discussed design layouts from a performance art magazine and architectural design magazine.

Looking at the British Journal of Photography, we find that the layouts are more driven toward showcasing the content, ie the pictures.



This layout is similar to what we saw from Frakcija and The Sunday Times Magazine. Placing the establishing image confidently across both pages and leaving a column at the side for the headline and standfirst.

The difference here is that the columns are organised along the bottom of the page. This is possibly because of the more rectangular format of the picture, but the designer has chosen to leave crisp negative space around the title, which I think I prefer to having a page full of text and image.


Again, the layout here is crisp and simple. The more complex, detailed image has been blown up for us to study and is similar to the establishing shot on the first page. In a tighter edit, you might argue that there was not room for both these pictures but in a longer, more in depth article like this, it’s great that both images could be used.

By running the three Hollywood style portraits together in a row, there is a clear association between the images, creating structure and flow on the page.

The BJP are not worried about cramming words onto the page for the sake of filling space. The titles of the pictures have been placed deliberately to create negative space on the page where as they could have moved the three portraits to the edge of the page and created a new column for text along the bottom.


I’d say this layout is a little more risky but the conservative placement on the left page balances the odd picture formats on the right page.

Again, negative space has been placed this time across the top of the page. You can see how important the negative space is as it is undoubtedly being used in page design across all editorials I’ve looked at.

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Sunday Times Magazine

I’ve started with what I consider a more standard editorial layout. The Sunday Times Magazine is known for its in-depth journalism and  high quality photojournalism on a range of subject matter.

Although I’d say the design is fairly safe, it does its job and is sympathetic to its content. The pages speak well to its audience with full bodied journalism that is tidy on the page and photo stories often involving much more negative space for interpretation and contemplation.

I have chosen numerous spreads from The Sunday Times Magazine that contain elements I like and elements I don’t like.



These first pages are stuck on my wall as they contain elements I particularly like. FIrstly, I find myself drawn to establishing images that don’t fill the page but cross over like this, linking the two pages and leaving a natural column for the headline and title and possibly even the start of the story.

The headline is placed underneath the standfirst but is still the first text the eyes are drawn to as it is a more familiar headline font that is bold, larger and a darker colour. I think its clever how a quote is used as the headline, giving the article a sophistication.

I like the choice of colour for the standfirst, which compliments the green that sits alongside the text and brings out the similar tones of the subjects face, hair and in particular her eyes strengthening the imagery and overall layout.

The space at the top and bottom of the page is important I think as it places the content well on the page, as though it’s meant to be there. I think it’s a similar psychology to photographers cropping subjects too close to the edge – it creates an uneasy feeling when looking at it.

There is crucial information contained in the far corners of the page, that tell the viewer everything they need to know without needing to leave the page: the title of the magazine, the page number, who has written the article/who the article is about.

The left alignment of the text is classic but I don’t think on this occasion it would work aesthetically in any other way as the picture doesn’t leave enough room for it to be centred and a right alignment would create an odd space in between.


This simple story page contains a few essential elements that I’ve noted such as a captioned image. The image alone would not be informative journalism.

The quote gives a black and white page colour making it a more visually dynamic and less intimidating page, where the content is a text majority.

Similar to the establisher page, the content is aligned to the left creating negative space to the right, separating the article from the advertisement and keeping it neat as well as not overwhelming the reader. There is also a similar space between the quote and main body of text which has the same affect on the page.




I prefer this style of establishing layout less than the previous as I think it’s difficult to make text look good on top of a photograph in this editorial style. I also enjoy seeing white around a photograph, which places the image on the page.

If I’m honest, I find it difficult to describe why I dislike this style of layout. It’s more of an unsettled feeling that I am trying to justify that knowing the objective reasons as there is nothing ‘wrong’ with it. It becomes about personal taste.

I think it is because I am too aware of the text and its placement on the photograph. My mind becomes a cursor, moving the text around the page to where I might have placed it instead, rather than being able to just absorb the image and read the words.

I do like the simplicity of the headline, standfirst and credit. The designer could have chosen the writing to be in the vibrant red but I think that the impact would have taken away from the polar bear. White is clean and simple, as the picture says it all.



Unlike the journalism article, the picture essay article contains much less writing and more negative space. The emphasis being on the pictures telling the story.

There are eleven pictures in total. I have chosen this page just to show the style of layout. I think it is because of the amount of pictures, the writing element is less necessary. If the story were to be these three pictures alone, we would need more explanation.

My article will only be two double page spreads long and contain maybe three to five pictures so more writing is going to be necessary to carry the story – I think.




I’m less keen on this layout in the same article about Sally Potter. I find all the gaps of space unpleasing to the eye, as there seems to be no structure to them. I also can’t figure out why the Judi Dench text is aligned to the right as opposed to Julie Christie and Jude Law, which are both alligned to the left.





I wanted to use this an example of headline style I really dislike. Boxes in pictures is something I think looks really intrusive. I can see that it is useful, for images that don’t contain enough negative space to drop text on top of, but I think it looks awful.

To me, this whole spread looks overcrowded, which is probably due to the huge adverts, forcing headlines on top of pictures and dropping text anywhere that’s left.

Photography or art needs to rule the page and at the same time allow space for reflection.  Luckily I won’t have to deal with any compromises such as advertisements.




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Looking at layouts


In order to try and make sense of my selections, I’ve photocopied the editorials that caught my eye. Having the physical copy to move around, look at and handle I find far more beneficial than scanning in and looking on a screen.

I wonder if the next generation will be saying the same?



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Scanning professionally and the digital darkroom

Using 35mm negatives digitally requires a high resolution scanning facility and the ability to understand how to scan non-destructively in order to retain as much information from the negative as possible.

Using the Epson Perfection V750 Pro with 35mm inserts, I will take you through each step of scanning, followed by all the important elements of using Photoshop CS6 as a digital darkroom.

Using Professional Mode

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Firstly, it’s important to check that you are working in Professional Mode, as unlike any of the other default settings, it allows you to work with negatives, providing options such as film type, high quality resolutions of up to 12800 dpi and bit-depth. You can also make adjustments, although it is advised to not make any adjustments that will lessen the quality of the negative. Adjustments are better applied at the later stages of Photoshop.

Document Type – In this case the document type is ‘Film (with film holder)’ as I have inserted my negatives into 35mm film inserts.

The Film Type –  This is self-explanatory and you choose from ‘B&W Negative Film’, ‘Colour Negative Film’ and ‘Positive Film’.

Image Type – When we say ’16-bit’ we are referring to the image’s ‘bit depth’, which is the maximum number of levels per channel that can be contained in a photograph. For example, a 24-bit RGB colour image is made up of three 8-bit image channels, where each 8-bit channel can contain up to 256 level of tone.

So by selecting a high bit depth to scan, more information is being embedded within the image. This means that when you come to dodge and burn in your digital darkroom, Photoshop will be able to use the extra information from the bit depth to adjust for you, rather than guessing information for you and destructing the quality and accuracy of the image.

You will notice on the Image Type drop-down that there is an option to select ’24-bit Colour’, which from my experience gives black and white negative scans a slightly inaccurate green tinge. I know professionals that would disagree but personally, I prefer to use 16-bit Grayscale for my black and white scans and 24-bit Colour for my colour scans.

Resolution – Although there is the option to scan up to 12800 dpi, this particular scanner will only be able to scan quality up to 6400 dpi. The reason I have chosen to scan at 3200 dpi is because for the purpose of this project, 3200 dpi is plenty sufficient. It also saves on time as high resolution scans will require much more time than low resolution scans and there is a big difference in time between 3200 and 6400 dpi without any sufficient visual difference in quality.

 Document size – For the preview the document size should be left to the scan areas full size. When selecting a negative to scan from the preview, you can either edit the document size to the size of a 35mm negative, which is 35mm x 24mm but I personally like to use the marquee tool to the left of the preview to select a slightly larger area than the 35mm negative to ensure I haven’t cropped my negative on any side.

Target size and Adjustments: Target size should be left as ‘Original’ and it is important to make sure that Unsharp Mask is deselected as the Epson software often voluntarily ticks this box without your permission and this is ultimately destruct the image quality.

The only adjustment I would make is slightly broadening the highlights and shadows on the histogram by clicking on the histogram icon and pulling the correct triangles outward. This way you will gain even more tonal range in your scan.

When your marquee has been selected and all of the above settings have been considered and applied, you are ready to scan.

Note: when scanning for a preview, 300 dpi is sufficient, and much faster. Previews are only beneficial to your selection process, so quality at this stage is not important.

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After clicking ‘Scan’, Epson will take you to this screen. The main thing to remember is to save the scan as a TIFF file.

A TIFF file is the industry standard format for archive work and publishing. TIFF files can and should be treated as uncompressed files and are compatible with both 8-bits and 16-bits per channel, unlike JPEG, which are only compatible with 8-bits per channel.


Photoshop CS6 as a digital darkroom

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Before starting anything, it’s important to know what your looking at. Although it is arguably best to work in Adobe RGB (1998), it is important to remember what your output is. In this case, I will be printing the image using CMYK, so I want to view the image as CMYK, so I know exactly what it will look like, despite working on it using Adobe RGB (1998) via Colour Settings and Image Mode.

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Before editing, make sure you make a Background copy so that there i always the untampered original to fall back on, should you need it.

To dodge and burn non-destructively, make a new layer by holding option>shift whilst selecting the new layer icon on the bottom of the panels. This gives you the opportunity to select a Blending Mode  and in this instance I have chosen Overlay with 50% grey.

For areas that are too dark to dodge or too light to burn effectively, you can use Curves with the hand tool to select the local area you want to lighten or darken. Drag the hand up to lighten and down to darken until that area is how you want it to look. Don’t be put off that the whole of the image is darkening or lightening as you will then put a lid on it (so to speak) by using command>i. Now select the paintbrush tool and make sure the colour you are using is white  (reveals) and not black (hides). You can now use your paintbrush to reveal the area you want to dodge or burn.

At this point, I don’t want to crop my image but I know that a full size A3 is 420mm x 297mm so I resize the image t 420mm on the longest side and leave the shorter side at 276mm. I’m not sure whether I need to lessen the pixel dimensions at this stage so I will leave that for a later date.

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Once I am completely happy with all post-processing, I flatten the image reducing its size, and save it once again as a TIFF.

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