First off, each of us is going to need to pull together some gear. This won't be expensive but feel free to make it expensive if you want to. ;) Secondly, one of the MOST IMPORTANT things I've learned in photography is to be adaptable and creative with your equipment as well as your photos. Personally, I am not an "equipment geek" - I believe great photos are made by great photographers, not by great cameras. ;) That's an intellectual agenda I will probably be unconsciously promoting during this workshop. ;) So - a possible lesson in the form of an observation: Your ability to produce photos that please you is directly
coupled to your ability to understand the tools you have handy.
A second point is:
You know you're "there" when you can look at a photographic situation and say to yourself, "if I do A, B, and C, it's going to come out looking like X, Y, and Z"
During this workshop I am going to
try to focus you (so to speak) on assigning yourself a problem that is inherently
ability to achieve it. Then encouraging you to experiment *with* that idea and try to *explain* what you wanted to achive, how you
achieved it, what met your expectations, and what didn't. This will hopefully encourage you to break out of the equipment-centric
view of photography and move toward a process-centric view that I've found a lot of success with.
To illustrate this: One of my favorite photos was one I shot about 8 years ago of a piston run of an old steam locomotive. It was in a dark museum, barely lit at all, and all I had with me was my medium format camera with slow film, and a tripod. I reasoned that if I just incident-metered the scene, put the camera on the tripod, and shot it it'd come out about "right" - but then I decided to challenge myself with an experiment. I had a small portable battery-powered flash with me, and I reasoned that if I calculated my expected exposure right with that, I'd get the same picture (more or less) using a totally different process. So I did one shot at something like f/11 with a 30 minute exposure (reciprocity failure and all that jazz factored out) and another one with the handheld flash. I computed that to get f/11 I needed 2 stops more light than the flash would give me, so that was 1, 2, 4 "pops" of the flash. The pictures came out the same. That was the moment when I started to "get" exposure and it's still a favorite photo of mine.
OK - so, here's the deal: if you want to use your new studio strobe that you bought, that's great!! If you want to use a candle from the grocery store, that's great, too! But what we're going to do is challenge ourselves to *predict* what our tools are going to produce, then do the experiment, and *see*.
Another important point:
The essence of science is learning from what FAILS as well as from what WORKS.
This is not a conventional "class" - there is no "pass" or "fail" there is just a chance to experiment and learn and the other people on the list are going to help you. (Right, guys?) So we're all going to have to be brave enough to say, "I thought it would do THIS but it did THAT instead and it didn't work." And we'll all try to figure out why and we'll learn from that, too!
So now I will tell you a list of stuff you need to start collecting and then I'll give us all our next assignment.
Stuff to collect:
1) Obtain a sheet of paper about 3' x 4' or so. It should be flexible (e.g.: not gatorboard) - this is going to be your
"photo studio" for the rest of the workshop so pick something you are happy with!! :) You can use any color you like but
I'd suggest white or black. Why? Because pure white and pure black bring challenges and remove others. We can
talk about that later if you like. Remind me, if I forget.
2) You will need a light source. What I'd like us all to use is a mini-maglite flashlight. You know, the little 2-AA-cell jobbies
with the focusing head? It's not quite the studio strobe (and I know some of you have THOSE) but if you're willing to play
the game, see if you can scrape up a mini maglite. There's a reason behind this, too, that we can talk about later.
3) Get yourself a doll or action figure about 8 to 10" high. I just bought myself a Barbie Doll for $4.00 at the mall.
She's by far the cheapest (and skinniest!) model I've ever worked with.
4) A camera. If you want to shoot film that's OK but you're going to have a disadvantage: you can't experiment as
easily with "exposure by triangulation" as those of us with digital cameras. Your camera should be able to have its on-camera flash turned off, if there is one. WARNING - this is our first possible pain point: if your camera has no manual controls, the light of a mini-maglite is going to be problematic. I am guessing we will be doing some longish exposures. If you have only a basic point-and-shoot we'll have to do workarounds and it's OK IF WE HAVE TO DO THAT because then we can discuss it and we can all learn thereby.
5) A tripod. Since our studios are small (right) if you don't have a tripod you can probably make do with a glob of plastecine clay or something else you can use to brace your camera.
6) You're going to need a way of metering light. Either:
- your camera and its built-in meter can handle low-light situations well
- you have an incident light meter
- you are willing to compute exposure by trial-and-error (works surprisingly well with digital cameras)
OK! That's it. If you have any questions about the equipment, Email back to the list and we'll discuss. :) You've got a week or 2 to
pull your gear together. We'll start using it in about 2 weeks, depending on how we do elsewise on schedule.
Image Analysis Assignment:
It's a whole lot easier to get a photo that you like, if you know what you like!!!!
This assignment is about "what
do I like" ;) Your assignment is to find a photo you like (since this is
a glamour/studio lighting
workshop, let's make it a STUDIO glamour photo) and email a copy of it to the list (keep sizes under 700pixels by 700pixels jpeg, please) Try to *describe* what you like about it. The goal here is to further the assumption that if you can identify elements you like, then you can try to create them. I am not talking about slavish reproduction of someone else's work. I'll send an offering of my own to give you an idea what I am talking about. Bear in mind that you're going to be working with these concepts yourself, so I suggest you don't go for something impossible. (e.g.: "I like this photo because it's Christina Aguilera") ;) To elaborate a little bit; there is nothing about the image that is NOT fair game, OK?
All of these are acceptable things
to say about an image:
- The light has smooth silvery quality; I like that
- The model has a terrific butt! I love the curve of her back!
- The way she's standing is really cool
- The image is sleazy-looking somehow and I like that!
- The image is intensely contrasty and I like that...
whatever. Right? Everyone remember that like/dislike is intensely personal. I recognize that I am asking you to expose yourself a bit, and I'd like everyone on the list to be respectful of the fact that we're dealing with *tastes* which is a subject that's imultaneously easy to disagree about and hard to explain in words.
Separate your comments about *lighting*
from your other comments. End with any comments you might have about how
the lighting in the image affects the OTHER aspects of the image that you like.
What I'm going to do is just browse around photosig.com and pick something that catches my eye.
We're going to use this photo for our next assignment as well so put some thought into your selection!