Roll #11 — Blurred Action

Why you are doing this assignment

Cameras with manual adjustments allow us to set aperture and shutter speed, giving us tools to create unusual, striking images. Most of the time, you select a shutter speed at 1/125th second or higher, in order to avoid camera shake. However, once in a while, you want to create images with blurred action. Those images show movement as a blur surrounded by clear, sharp details in the background. Think of a basketball game at Kekuhaupiʻo. The players will be blurred but the bleachers and spectators behind them will be in sharp focus.

How to do this assignment

Your assignment is to locate the “sweet point” in your shutter speed setting when the moving object begins to blur. It is that blurring that creates the impression of action, of something moving fast. Distance affects blur. If you are close to your subject, 125th second might work, but if you are far away, you will need to lower your shutter speed to 1/60th or 1/30th. At those shutter speeds, DO NOT try to handhold your camera. Put it on something, like a railing, and then press the shutter release carefully, so that the camera doesn’t jerk right at that moment. Remember that the blur you record only seems blurry if everything else is sharp. Pay LOTS of attention to avoiding camera shake.

When you photograph a moving body or object, remember to allow for more room in front of the object than behind it. The space in front is called “live space” because the person or object is moving into it. The space behind a moving object is called “dead space.” Try to minimize dead space.

What to shoot

This assignment really requires you to make the effort to go to a sporting event, one with moving bodies, swinging bats or balls dropping through hoops. Even sweating bodies on a wrestling mat would work well. Avoid boring shots of your friends running on Konia Field. Please, no moving cars — that is way too boring.

What to turn in

  • A contact sheet of 16 images on medium-format film
  • Two 8X10 prints
  • An analysis of your best print. Be sure to fill out the last section of the analysis fully.

What your assignment should look like

At this point in the semester, your prints should contain a full range of values (tones) from deep black to light, light gray. Pay lots of attention to your two test strips and make an effort to hit the right combination of exposure and filter #.

Also — try to set your easel blades to give you a thin, even border around your image.

WHEN YOU TURN IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT, DO NOT PUNCH HOLES IN YOUR PRINTS! MOUNT THEM ON SHEETS OF PRINTER PAPER.

Roll #10: Studio Roll

Why you are doing this assignment

The light in a typical studio recreates the ideal conditions you lokked for in the last roll: soft, diffused light hitting your subject from the side. Whether you are shooting under natural light outside or in a studio, this is one of the best ways to photograph a subject.

How to do this assignment

Studio light is diffused and hits the subject from the side, at about an angle of 45º. There are many ways to arrange the lights, of course, but in the “generic” setup, one light is stronger than the one on the opposite side. The stronger light is called the key light. The weaker one is called the fill light; its job is to fill in and soften the shadows created by the key light. Sometimes a third light, called the background light, helps separate the subject from the background. If you want to go for more dramatic lighting, unplug the fill light.

After the lights have been set up correctly, follow these guidelines:

  • Shoot vertical
  • Include your subjectʻs hands. No amputations!
  • One person at a time
  • Avoid fakey, silly poses
  • Avoid the fakey “camera face” that people sometimes put on in front of a camera.
  • Try to capture your subject looking like he or she looks when alone. In other words, try to capture something of your subjectʻs inner character. Have the person look at the camera, at least in some shots.
  • Finally, be sure that the camera is set to the correct aperture and shutter speed. Focus carefully.

What to shoot

Bring a friend. If you wish, have the person dress up. Use face paint. Add props. Get creative.

What to turn in

  • A contact sheet of 16 images on medium-format film
  • Two 8X10 prints
  • An analysis of your best print. Be sure to fill out the last section of the analysis fully.

What your assignment should look like

At this point in the semester, your prints should contain a full range of values (tones) from deep black to light, light gray. Pay lots of attention to your two test strips and make an effort to hit the right combination of exposure and filter #.

Also — try to set your easel blades to give you a thin, even border around your image.

WHEN YOU TURN IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT, DO NOT PUNCH HOLES IN YOUR PRINTS! MOUNT THEM ON SHEETS OF PRINTER PAPER.

Kulaiwi

* The Hawaiian term “kulaiwi” refers to the place where the bones of oneʻs ancestors are buried, an even closer connection to the land. In Maori language, that same place is defined by the term “turangawaewae.” It is the place with ancestral ties where onesʻ feet are rooted.

Roll #12: Texture

Why you are doing this assignment

One of the major elements of composition is texture, the reproduction of small detail, such as the surface of asphalt, the weave of cloth or the peeling paint on an old house. It might seem like a small thing, but texture makes an image come alive, and helps create that illusion of an imaginary universe on a flat piece of paper.

Remember that “textural perspective”  is one of the ways of showing depth in an image.

How to do this assignment

Take a series of images that make use of textured surfaces in various ways. This does not mean that you should shoot boring images of bark or grass or concrete. A textured surface should be a part of each image, but not necessarily the only part. Shoot the textured surface in such a way that it shows textural gradient, with close texture sharp and obvious and far-away texture less obvious.

This assignment needs to be sharp, in focus, with no camera shake. Maximize your depth of field. Shoot in cloudy bright light at a high shutter speed (125 and above) with a small aperture (f/11 and smaller).

Please use everything you have learned this semester to create visually interesting, appealing work.

What to shoot

Your main subject (center of interest) could be a person or an object, but whatever it is, use a textured surface as one of the major elements of the image. Think of shooting from a low angle or with the camera close to a wall, but try to create an image with every part sharp, in focus.

Locate an interesting place with interesting surface patterns, such as the small courtyard on the Leʻahi side of Smith Office. If you are at the beach, use the sand for your textured surface.

What your folder should contain

  • An analysis sheet of your one best image
  • Two 8X10 prints of your two best images
  • A contact sheet with at least 20 visible images related to the assignment, with the two best images circled with a blue, red or green sharpie

What your assignment should look like

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images
  • At least 7 different subjects
  • images that show creative use of textured surfaces

Roll #9: Diffused Side Light

Why you are doing this assignment

An earlier assignment (#4) already asked you to consider the kind of light hitting your subject. This is so very important that the assignment is being repeated, with some additional requirements. Not only is the quality of light important, but its angle as well — where it comes from. When you want to make the very best image possible, look for diffused light coming from a low angle, from the side. This is the same light we create in a studio when we photograph people or objects.

How to do this assignment

Repeat roll #4 by looking for soft, diffused light. This happens under certain conditions, such as when a cloud covers the sun. It needs to be just the right kind of cloud: not too thick, not too thin. The cloud cannot be so dense that it robs the sun’s light of all shadows and leaves everything looking flat.  Look for clouds that leave vague shadows. Another condition that produces diffused light happens when light reflects off some large surface, like a light wall. If the wall is in bright sunlight and is reflecting sunlight somewhere, such as onto a person’s face, that can result in a wonderful quality of soft side lighting. Yet another condition happens when sunlight comes through a thin window curtain. As you begin to look, you will notice more and more sources of diffused sunlight.

BUT WAIT! The light also needs to be striking your subject from the side. That means you will need to shoot this assignment in the early morning or late afternoon.

What to shoot

Take a roll of portraits and / or other nearby objects. They must be lit by soft, diffused light striking from the side (as opposed to overhead light, like sunlight at noon).  Side light happens early in the morning and late in the day, when the sun is low on the horizon and when light is hitting your subject from a low angle. For some images, this creates ideal lighting condition.

If you decide to shoot portraits, do not forget what you have learned in all of the previous assignments. Shoot vertical. Get in close. Include a foreground “frame,” and perhaps something in the background. Use focus to help emphasize your subject, with some parts of the image deliberately blurred. Remember the rule of thirds.

What to turn in

Turn in at least one contact sheet with at least 20 printable frames. Include two 8X10 prints and an analysis of the best one of those prints. Always put the analysis first — so that I know what I am looking at.

What your assignment should look like

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images
  • At least 7 different subjects. Include portraits if you wish.

Aim for two 8X10 prints that

  • Are blurred in the areas you wish to be out of focus
  • Are completely sharp in the areas you wish to emphasize
  • Place your center of interest off-center — towards one of the four corners (but not in the corner)
  • Contain some small areas that are completely, totally BLACK
  • Contain highlights that are CLOSE to white but not actually, totally white.

Roll #8: Patterns

Why you are doing this assignment

Like literature and music, visual images communicate through repetition. If a song repeats a certain musical phrase or a beat, a visual image repeats key shapes. Repetition is a major component of the visual language used by artists to communicate with their audience. Composing an image to create this repetition is a skill that needs practice.

How to do this assignment

This is the opposite of roll #7. Look for a series of shots that have absolutely no center of interest. This is hard, because when there is no center of interest, the shot can become — that’s right — boring. In order to avoid this embarrassing situation, you need to look for images that show repetition — but not too much repetition. Look for images that walk the fine line between repetition and variety.  A good image has both. Avoid turning in work that is the equivalent to a childrensʻ song like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

What to shoot

The subject matter for this assignment is wide open. Think of

  • the patterns formed by railings and their shadows late in the day on the stairway down to ʻAkahi
  • the patterns formed by a crowd of feet and ankles walking down Konia hallway
  • repeated shapes of leaves on the ground, or of the shadows of leaves (or people) created by the sun late in the day.

What to turn in

  •  an analysis (fill out both sides!)
  • two 5X7 prints from the two best negatives
  • a contact sheet with the two images circled.

What your assignment should look like

Pay attention to the quality of your two prints. Aim for prints

  • that are sharp
  • that contain a wide range of tones, from solid black to small areas pure white
  • but that do not contain large areas (sky, white shirts, etc.)  that are pure white
  • that have even 1/8th inch borders

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images that show repetition
  • At least 7 different subjects

Roll #7: The Rule of Thirds

Why you are doing this assignment

When people make photos, they have a natural urge place the most important object right in the center. If it is a portrait, the most important point is the eye or eyes. If it is a more distant  shot of, say, a surfer, then of course the person is the most important point. We call this point the “center of interest.” However, it is usually a bad idea to put the center of interest in the center of the photo. Instead, we place it near (but not in) one of the four corners.

When we make a landscape shot, the tendency is also to split the frame with the horizon running right through the center of the image. It is usually a better idea to place the horizon at the 2/3 line above the center, or at the 1/3 line below the center.

How to do this assignment

Try out the rule of thirds. (Actually itʻs not a rule, but just a guideline, a suggestion that photographers ignore under some circumstances.) Decide what is the most important point in your image (the center of interest), and place that point near the upper or lower right corner, or near the upper or lower left corner. In other words, DO NOT place it in the center OR on the horizontal or vertical lines that cross the center of the frame.

What to shoot

Go to one or two places and make images that capture their “feeling.”  We talk about this kind of image as capturing a “sense of place,” something of what people experience when they are there. This sense of place could be a positive emotion, like our feelings about a certain stretch of beach, but it could also be a negative emotion. Think of going into an abandoned house covered with graffiti, or a place where people throw out household goods on the sidewalk before they get picked up by bulk pickup trucks.

What to place in your folder

  • an analysis of one of your images, the best one.
  • two 8X10 prints of your two best images.
  • a contact sheet with the two prints circled

What your assignment should look like

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images
  • At least 7 different subjects – no portraits
  • images evenly exposed (with the same levels of dark and light tones)
  • Apply what you have learned so far. This means
    • Shots that are sometimes vertical
    • Shots that contain only deliberate silhouettes
    • Shots taken in ideal “cloudy bright” conditions

Aim for prints that

  • contain no large white areas. We need to see faint details in the upper tones
  • contain some areas that are absolute, completely black – to anchor your tones to the lowest part of the tone range.
  • make use of the entire rectangle, with a clear center of interest in one of the four possible areas.