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Week 5 Language Analysis: Visual Texts

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Liam Brooks

on 5 March 2017

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Transcript of Week 5 Language Analysis: Visual Texts

Your turn
model: dumb ways to die
Week 5 Language analysis
Visual texts
today's lesson
To analyse persuasive techniques in visual texts.

Students will be able to identify and explain the impact of the use of subject, camera angle, shot size, lighting, colour, focus, and composition (foregrounding/backgrounding).
key skills
critical thinking
interpersonal development
application of prior learning
Today we are going to be viewing a variety of persuasive images. Your task is to identify the ways in which the author of these texts is trying to position you to receive a particular message. To get you started, I have provided an example of how your annotations/notes should look.
In order to consolidate your learning, you will each be assigned one persuasive technique at the end of this class. Your task will be to create a poster on your computers which provides a 'snapshot' of the way your technique might be used to persuade an audience. You can include images, a definition, and examples of the technique in use. This task is due at the end of your next lesson (you will have approximately 60 minutes of class time to work on this).
1. Finish cut and paste activities, and test each other
2. Introduce model for analysing visual texts and analyse as a class
(Dumb Ways to Die)
3. Answer questions on the following images:
Old Spice
It's Nice in the Surf
WWF Ambulance

When analysing an image, we first need to figure out who the author/artist is, and what they are trying to convince us to think. This is called a
. You also need to figure out
this ad is for. In this case, it is aimed at users of Metro Trains.

The producer of this image is
Metro Trains
. The contention of this image is that behaving in an unsafe way around trains is 'dumb' and dangerous. The artist wants the people who view this image to understand how deadly an oncoming train can be and to think twice about the way they act on train platforms. One of Metro Trains' role is to ensure the safety of the people using their services, so the contention of this image is easy to determine.

We also need to think about the way the contention is delivered. We need to determine the
of the image, and we also need to recognise
persuasive techniques
in the image.

Tone refers to the attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. It is the WAY they tell their audience what they think, and it usually makes the audience feel something about themselves. The tone can be formal, informal, serious, comic, sarcastic, sad, and cheerful or it may be any other existing attitudes. The tone in this image is
The annotations on this image highlight some of the ways this is achieved. You may want to open up your persuasive technique match up sheets to refer to when reading the annotations.

Smile on his face- he is oblivious to the fact that a dangerous animal is about to kill him.
The bear is coming from the top of the character, in the same way that a train can come 'out of nowhere'.
Comparing 'running across a train track' to something as obviously stupid as 'using your private parts as piranha bait' is an
appeal to reason
. It makes anyone who has run across a train track feel stupid for failing to see the danger in their action.
Pointing a stick at a grizzly bear- this is an appeal to reason. No reasonable person would poke a bear with a stick, but the artist is suggesting that running across tracks where a train could come any second is just as stupid and potentially deadly.
The cartoon is similar to the sorts of images you might find in a children's book. This sets a
condescending tone
to the viewers desire to be seen as educated and mature. Adults who have run across tracks will see this will feel like they are 'dumb' for needing a visual as simple as this to teach them about train safety.
Activity: Analysing visual sources

1. Working in pairs.

2. For each image, identify
the author
audience (who it is aimed at)
three VISUAL persuasive techniques (use your guide to help you)

3. 7 minutes for each image.

4. Class discussion to follow.
Next session
Starter activity: Compare and contrast these two images...
1. Working in pairs.
2. Compare use of
- colour
- foregrounding
- backgrounding
- focus.
3. Dot points are fine.
4. We have 5 minutes.

Brief overview of persuasive techniques in visual texts

Photographs usually have a subject. This is the focus of the

Although the subject of a photograph is usually a person, this isn’t necessarily the case.

When you’re looking
at the subject, think about how they are dressed and their
body language. These sort of visual cues can be subtly used to make us think about the issue in a particular way.
Camera angle

Photographers always consider how camera angle
will contribute to the meaning of their photograph.

• Overshot: The camera is positioned directly above
the subject, looking down. This can create a sense
of powerlessness and insignificance.

• High angle: The camera is positioned at an angle above the subject, looking down. This camera angle usually makes the subject appear small and powerless.

• Eye level: Most photographs are taken at eye level
because it is how we’re used to seeing the world. It can create a sense of normality.

• Low angle. The camera is positioned below the
subject, looking up, giving them a sense of power
and dominance.

• Undershot: The camera is positioned directly
beneath the subject. Increases the subject's sense of dominance.
Shot size

Shot size refers to how close the camera is positioned
to the subject.

• Long shot: In a long shot, people are usually visible but there is often a great deal of background as well. Long shots often depict places and provide some sort of commentary about how people in the frame are affected.

• Close up. Close ups are usually used to emphasise the facial expressions of a subject. Whether pain, anguish, happiness or confusion, the close ups of
these expressions can help to persuade an audience to accept a particular point of view.

• Extreme close up. Extreme close ups show a very small detail. It might be a shot of someone’s eyes or something else entirely. Extreme close ups can create emphasis by capturing a detailed view of something related to the issue.

Photographers think carefully about their use of lighting
and how this contributes to the meaning created in their

• Hard light. Hard light refers to any light source that
emits bright, direct light onto the face of a subject.
This creates shadows, emphasises wrinkles and
creates a sense of gritty realism.

• Soft light. Soft light refers to any light source that is
diffused or indirect. This is usually more flattering
than hard light because it creates softer shadows.


Always consider how colour contributes to the meaning conveyed by a photograph and how it might be
used to persuade.

Are the colours bright and vivid? Are they dull
and desaturated? The colours themselves also convey meaning.

Red is commonly used to convey passion and romance.

Blue might create a sense of sadness or depression.

Green might be used to reinforce an environmental message.

Deep focus
is when everything in an image, from the foreground through to the background, is completely in focus. This can help to emphasise the surroundings of the subject.

The phrase
‘narrow depth of field
’ is used to described shots in which the focal distance is quite short. Photographs using narrow depth of field typically have the subject in focus while the background is completely blurred out. This technique can be used to emphasise the subject (human or otherwise) of the photograph.

When analysing photographs, always consider how the shot has been composed.

Think about the positioning of the subject and objects within the frame.

Is the photograph balanced or asymmetrical? How does this help to represent the issue? What does it make the audience think and feel?
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