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Don’t Shoot the Object – Shoot the Light

February 5, 2014

DSLR Fundamentals Class – Week # 2

Homework Review, Focus Points/Focal Length Distortion, & Composition

Week #2 of my DSLR Fundamentals class at Schoolcraft College was another interesting and informative class.  Everyone’s Week #1 homework images were reviewed and critiqued.  Some classmates were successful in completing both assignment as instructed.  Others completed one of the two correctly and the rest were completed incorrectly.  Those with unsuccessful submissions were directed to try again and submit with the homework assignment for Week #2.

Unfortunately, I was in the “completed one of the two correctly” categories.  I successfully completed the “Depth of Field” assignment but not the “Shutter Speed” assignment.  At the time I completed the assignment, I knew something wasn’t right.  It was a sunny day and the fast shutter speed image was correctly exposed but the slow shutter speed was slightly overexposed.  Sadly, I didn’t thoroughly read the syllabus instructions and didn’t realize I was supposed to compensate for exposure by adjusting the shutter speed.  I thought the image had to be shot at the 1/30 as advised in class.  I now had to do a “Re-Do”!  Funny thing, I wasn’t the only one.  Needless to say for the remaining assignments, I will ready the syllabus!

“Focus Points” and “Focal Length Distortion” were topics of discussion for this Week #2 class.  We learned how to focus the eyepiece diopter and how to move the camera’s focus priority to ultimately get more photos in focus.  We also learned how the focal length of a lens can cause distortion to an image.  A wide angle lens will expand the background making it seem smaller than the foreground subject and a normal/telephoto lens will compress the background making it seem bigger than the foreground subject.   The below homework assignments better illustrate these concepts.

1. “Shutter Speed Redo” –  Notice the both photos are properly exposed.  The car in motion image had to be shot at 1/80 rather that 1/30.  The “stopped action” image was shot at 1/1000.

Redo of Week #1 homework assignment A-1, moving car stopped in motion, properly exposed on a sunny day.

Redo of Week #1 homework assignment A-1, moving car stopped in motion, properly exposed on a sunny day.

Redo of Week #1 homework assignment A-2, moving car stopped in motion.

Redo of Week #1 homework assignment A-2, moving car stopped in motion.

2.  18mm Image vs. 55mm Image – Notice the difference in the backgrounds

Image of a vehicle shot with an 18mm focal length

Image of a vehicle shot with an 18mm focal length

Image of a vehicle shot with a 55mm focal length

Image of a vehicle shot with a 55mm focal length

3. Focus & Lighting Options – The egg was focused as close as the lens would allow refined with the eyepiece diopter.  The egg and camera (on a tripod) were stationary.  The only movement was the light source (flashlight) showing side lighting, front lighting, back lighting and top lighting.

Side Lighting

Demonstration of left side lighting.

Demonstration of left side lighting.

Demonstration of right side lighting.

Demonstration of right side lighting.

Front and Back Lighting

Demonstration of front lighting.

Demonstration of front lighting.

Demonstration of back lighting.

Demonstration of back lighting.

Top Lighting

Week 2-9

Our instructor, Bryce Denison, Director of Midwest Photography Workshops, also shared images from his personal portfolio.  It was quite a collection with many of the images dated back to 1979 when Mr. Denison studied with Ansel Adams.  As each image was presented, Mr. Denison further discussed some of the rules of composition and lighting.  He impressed upon us his philosophy of “don’t shoot the object, shoot the light”.

Having attended just two of the six classes, I can tell you this course has already been well worth the money spent.  I can’t wait to learn more!  Until next time………

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