Assignment #9 of my year-long photo challenge inspired by Henry Carroll’s Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs is from page 56: Use framing to create a photograph within a photograph.
I love the city! The variety of people shuffling to and fro, the trains, the honking cabs, the buildings, the shadows, the energy…buzzzzzzzz. I get an energy high from it every time I visit. And while I LOVE the city, I can honestly say I’ve never been a street photographer. I don’t get jazzed running around sticking my camera in peoples’ spaces. It feels intrusive, as if I’m invading their private bubble. I could never be a paparazzi photographer.
And yet, when I’m in the city, especially somewhere like NYC, I *totally* get street photography. Photographic opportunities abound: architecture, people, oddities, crazy shape-shifting shadows are EVERYWHERE. And New Yorkers seem so desensitized to everything, that someone sticking a camera in their face is just another way to interact…or not…whatevs. In one subway interlude, I had a guy rushing past me ask, “d’you get me? d’you get the shot?” “I GOT you,” I smiled and strolled off.
I will say, having a photog buddy with me while shooting street eases my nerves. I was lucky enough to be accompanied by none other than my good buddy Charles Dube, who is not only a street photographer but also happens to be a mean sax blower. Check out his work here. There’s often a reassurance for me that if something goes awry, maybe if I piss off one too many New Yorkers, Charlie’s got my back. But thank goodness this time it didn’t come to that. Maybe next year, Charlie. ;)
Up next? Assignment #10: Page 32. Contrast movement and stillness in a single frame. Assignment #10 will be posted May 31.
One rainy day afternoon reminded me of another…
Assignment #8 of my year-long photo challenge inspired by Henry Carroll’s Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs is from page 121: Show us that photography is a form of magic.
Things are gonna get technical this time. Really technical. ISO 100, 150 sec at f/22 kind of technical. Because while I think photography possesses a type of poetic, storytelling magic, the kind I usually try to capture, it also possesses technical magic. The kind that literally makes a person disappear.
The above shot did not turn out like I wanted. But, I only had 2 shots at it (excellent pun intended). It was sundown, starting to rain, and my daughter, Sophia, and I were in a nearby forest. I pushed my aperture to its max for the lens I was using, f/22, to kill as much ambient as possible, because I intended to show how a subject can exist over the entirety of a shutter clip but appear all in the same resulting photograph. The idea was to create one photograph that included multiple Sophias, leaning on a tree, twirling in the brush, skipping down the path, staring at the camera, etc. I knew I could do this by dragging my shutter and asking her to take long pauses between poses.
These “multiplicity” photos exist most commonly in composite form, as that technique makes these photos easier to nail sharp focus and detail. See the below example photo from one of my very talented buddies, David Mattos. Below photo is copyright of David Mattos.
Isn’t that cute!? I love it. But, I wanted to harness the power of the camera to do this without compositing.
To do this, I set my camera to bulb and held the shutter button down, while Sophia walked from spot to spot and paused for 10 seconds or so, then walked to another spot and paused for another 10 seconds. And the above forest scene is what I got. I knew that I wouldn’t get a crisp image of her. That would be impossible without introducing flash. There’s no way she can stay still that long at that slow a shutter. But, I did think I would get faint outlines of her in each pose. But I got pretty much nada. If you look really closely, you’ll see a bit of white ghosting in the final shot. I had asked her to wear white so she would pop against the green of the trees. But nothing distinguishable enough for you to know where she was posing unless I pointed it out, which I’ll do in 3…2…
So, this technique needs practice. BUT, how magical is it that I pretty much made her disappear from the frame? She was roaming all over that area during the 150 second shutter, and there’s barely a trace of her.
Up next? Assignment #9: “Use framing to create a photograph within a photograph,” page 56! :) Assignment #9 will be posted May 15.
Assignment #7 of my year-long photo challenge inspired by Henry Carroll’s Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs is from page 62: Make light the subject of your photograph. The opposite of last week’s “photograph a shadow” assignment.
I have to admit, while I always consider light when taking a photograph, I *rarely* make it my subject. Any while it may not be the subject of the photograph I created for this assignment, I definitely think that the light tells the story…it’s the narrator, if you will.
Initially, I wanted spotlight rays/beams on her. This is why I introduced the smoke, to bring out the light rays. It wasn’t until after I took down my set-up that I realized that my aperture setting was too low to catch the rays. I had set it low to catch the bokeh of the curtain behind her. Inevitably, I would never have been able to get the shot I wanted in camera unless I had a really large backdrop and moved her further from it or I took two shots and composed them: one at a wide aperture to create the bokeh background, the second at narrow aperture to catch the beams highlighted by the smoke. So, while this one didn’t fully live up to my hopes and expectations, I still kinda like it.
Up next? Who knows! I’m waiting for my fellow challengers to set Assignment #8! :) Regardless of its details, Assignment #8 will be posted April 30.
Assignment #6 of my year-long photo challenge inspired by Henry Carroll’s Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs is from page 23: Photograph a shadow.
Okay, I’ll be straight. I’ve been working on this one for a while–gathering props, test shooting, squirreling away time, and finally shooting. This assignment just gave me the excuse to indulge in the time needed to set things up.
“Dad” was inspired by my earlier photograph “Mother” and an un-dying desire to force the viewer into a child’s perspective.
Up next? Who knows! I’m waiting for my fellow challengers to set Assignment #7! :) Regardless of its details, Assignment #7 will be posted April 15.
Specific to photographers but a great article for artists, in general…
My favorite parts?
“Do you still [t]ake photos or do you already [m]ake them? Do you capture the world around you or *the connection between that world and the world within you*? That’s what generates unique photos.”
“Your camera only captures what you see. What you see (Eye) is determined by how you feel (Heart) about it. How you feel is determined by your your true self, your Soul.”
“Art is not a catering service to others, it’s an expression of yourself.” ~ VICE
Because I missed Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday :)
Happy weekend and here’s to Spring!
Assignment #5 of my year-long photo challenge inspired by Henry Carroll’s Use This If You Want To Take Great Photographs is from page 117: Freeze the frame exactly 57 minutes and 32 seconds into your favorite film. Take a picture inspired by what you see.
I picked my favorite movie in a heartbeat: Amélie, or if going by its French name Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain. Amélie is a wonderful romp by director Jean-Pierre Jeanet that follows the life of Amélie Poulain, a young woman spurned to do-gooder action by accidentally finding an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. Not only do I love Amélie for its charmingly-quirky story, but I’ve always found it visually stunning without fully verbalizing why. This assignment changed this.
The 57 minute and 32 second frame of Amélie led me here:
Our heroine, Amélie, is in red, just left of middle of the frame and at the tip of the prominent, short cross line. She’s in a train station after having just returned from visiting her father for the weekend and having tried to encourage him to travel more. Amélie’s father withdrew from the social world and into his fascination with garden sculptures after the long-ago death of his wife, Amélie’s mother.
While I adore, every aspect of this story, I wanted to take Carroll’s assignment literally: Take a picture inspired by what you see. When studying this scene without considering it in the larger context of the movie’s plot, here’s what stood out: a high angle, shadows, lines, green, yellow, and pops of red. After studying this frame and going back to re-watch Amélie, I finally figured out why I loved the visuals of this movie so much. Nearly every color in the film is painstakingly coordinated into tones of green, red, and yellow. In researching how Jeanet did this, I ran into a blog by Christopher Meurer that discusses this briefly and gives a few more glorious still examples: http://christophermeurer.com/learning-from-the-masters-amelie/
So there I had it. I needed to create a photograph with one or more of those elements-a high angle shot, shadows, lines, green, yellow, and pops of red. Several ideas crossed my mind. Inevitably, the weather and time boiled these down to concentrating on light, shadow, lines, and color, which brought me to Chiaroscuro Peppers:
More about Chiaroscuro here if you’re interested: http://study.com/academy/lesson/chiaroscuro-in-art-definition-technique-artists-examples.html
Up March 31: Photograph a shadow, from page 23 of Use This If You Want to Take Great Photographs.
This is a great short about art, creativity, and persistence to give you a creative boost to get out there this weekend and do some work.
“The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.” – Ira Glass
Many thanks to my wonderfully creative friend, Stina French, for sharing this with me!
It closely echoes Chuck Close’s motto for creative work, a snippet that came to me by way of another of my incredibly creative friends, Nicole Dube:
“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.” – Chuck Close
I completely agree with both. Now get to work!