Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Basic Photo Course Complete!

It's been a few (ahem...) months since I've updated and I apologize for that.

The last day of my photo course was scheduled for May 25th, but I was unable to attend that day because I was on vacation in France (I know, tough...but someone had to do it!). Fortunately I was able to attend the Dutch Basic Photo Class which met on Monday's. Monday June 8th was the last class.

After completing the darkroom assignments we moved on from Analogue to Digital. The digital portion included High Key and Low Key photography, The Panning technique, Working in Photoshop, Pop Art Portraits, Abstract photography, and creating a sequence. Phew! We've covered a lot in the last 3 classes!

To begin with, the Panning technique. This is something I learned in the last photoclass I took, but I think the success of my panning photo then was a matter of chance. I think this time I understand the technique better. But like all things I need to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Anyway, during class we were sent out on our merry way and asked to come back with a panning shot and an abstract shot. First my panning shot:

My photo partner, Elaine, and I walked around the area to try and find the best location for a panning shot and ended up on the Haarlemmerstraat. I took several shots before deciding on this one, mainly because I like the color of the bike, the green body warmer, and the fact that she's not completly in the image. The upclose factor makes it interesing for me. It also takes out some other distracting elements in the background so you get the impression she is moving. It's a fun exercise to stand on a corner shoot on shutter priority (Tv on the canon) and your adjust your shutterspeed to anywhere between 1/30 and 1/15. The try and move with the object. You get people looking at you sometimes, but that can make for an interesting composition. In my previous photo class, in order to get a panning shot, I made maarten ride his bike back and forth in the Oosterpark until I got a shot I liked. He was a good sport about it, even though I ended up using this shot (which I took on our way home from the Oosterpark). The composition with Maarten was more interesing, but the man in black on the black bike was technically better.

We also worked on Pop Art Portraits. The idea was to take a portrait of yourself, or someone else, and turn it into a pop art portrait in Photoshop. I, of course, used a photo of Pebbles, my cat (I know, I'm turning into crazy cat lady). It was good photo, though! The original photo and the two pop art portraits:

It was fun to do and to learn. Photoshop is one area I don't really want to spend a lot of time on, but one in which I understand it is necessary to learn. I have A LOT to learn, as I'm discovering!

The next assignment we had to complete was to recreate a well-known photo. I, like most people in the class, chose to recreate 'The Fork' by Andres Kertesz.

Look easy, right? I can tell you it ain't! Getting the angle of the shadow was doable, but getting it dark enough was difficult, as well as getting the line in the back. He obviously used a VERY bright light to take this photo and I used the brightest lamp I had, but it still wasn't strong enough. You have to be far enough away to get the dark, clear shadow, but close enough to whiten out the white surface. I made two seperate attempts. The first attempt I used a round table and the wrong fork, but got the shadows right. The light isn't bright enough, however and the line in the back is wrong:

The second attempt the shadows aren't as dark, but it seems closer to the original composition:

It's an interesting exercise in really looking at a photo and all of the elements that make up composition. Where does the light shine, how does it affect the shadows? Is there reflection? It's a great exercise towards better understanding light and shadow.

In our last class, we spent some more time in Photoshop, and were sent on our merry way to photograph a 'Sequence' and a photo which we could convert to Black and White in Photoshop. I started with the sequence.

Since I've started this course, I have a developed in interest in old cameras. I've started collecting them. My latest purchase is an Agfa Optima II. I used it in my sequence:

I tend to REALLY overthink and overanalyse things, so I had all these ideas about the sequence. I brought my Nikon FE Analogue SLR also, in case I could use it in a sequence (It's SOOO pretty!). In the end, it's the simple things. While a fellow student was setting up studio lighting and background, and covering all the windows to shoot his sequence, I noticed the storeroom behind me had a window with natural light. I took a white chair into the small storeroom, put the camera on the chair and shot away. It worked! Sometimes the easiest solutions are the best ones (for me, anyway). The sequence turned out better than I expected.

The final assignment was to turn a photo we took that day from color to black and white. I chose a photo of my camera:

This was also the last photo of the sequence. That was easy, so I also began working on a photo I took of my friend Jeanine's daughter Caitlin. She's a good sport when it comes to letting me take her picture. This is one of the photos I took of her on Saturday, converted into black and white:

So, the first leg of my photographic journey has been completed. I received a certificate from the Course Teacher, Desiree, and a 'Review' of my skills. She said I had really good feel for composition and took some surprisingly good portraits during the course, that I took to the darkroom really quickly and really well, but that I struggled a bit more with photoshop than with the other subjects (completely agree!).

Overall I found within myself the desire to learn and develop. Sounds strange, as I am generally a curious person, but it's been a long while since I have found an interest that can keep my attention so continually.Hasn't really happened since I was introduced to Mr Darcy 9 years ago(ahh...Mr Darcy). I spent a week in France taking photos (700ish photos in 6 days) and studying technique. I brought with me Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson and the Photography by John Ingeldew and studied (Voluntarily? On my vacation? Me?!!).

I've finally found the map to my next destination and I have to say that I am really looking forward to this journey.