Saturday, October 11, 2008

Photography not made simple

As those of you who are close to me know and the rest of you may have figured out I'm a perfectionist. A total perfectionist- which is why I was so happy when I got my first digital camera! No more shooting and developing an entire roll to find out you hate every photo.
I'm taking photo 1 this term to reacquaint myself with how to use my camera. To relearn what an fstop, shutter speed controls, etc and in general to become a better photographer. We got our first assignment last week and so far I think I've shot around 100 photo's and I have 1 I like- the picture included in this post. My teacher assigns projects in 24 images so that students who are shooting film cameras fill an entire roll for one assignment. If I only had 1 roll to work with I would go crazy!
It's hard to see in the itty bitty thumbnail here but the picture rocks! With the light coming in from behind you can see the outline of the back leaf on the leaf wrapping around.

I've been burried in homework so far this term, spending hours shooting photographs and relearning how to name organic molecules. I've been wanting to get into the studio and get some binding done but it seems that something else always seems to come up. I've got a custom order that needs to be finished this weekend so it's on the front burner tomorrow morning while the fog burns off so I can go shoot more pictures to finish this first assignment tomorrow. In the last week I also became the proud owner of an old leather couch that I'm going to strip down for the leather as it's no good as a couch anymore. It's a dark green leather that has great wear and age marks on it. When I get it done and some pieces to lay out I'll try to show you- it's gonna add some great depth to the journals.
For now I'm off to bed while visons of spaghetti monsters dance in my head.


Billie said...

Excellent photo Kiley. I'm a perfectionist too, still not worked out if it is a help or a hinderence.

I know what you mean about the photography though, when I first inherited DH's old digital camera when he got a newer one, I thought who needs 100s of pictures on a single I know. I'm the same about wanting pictures just right. My problem is that I have no idea about photography, I am a point click and hope kinda photographer...which probably shows in my blog pics, and is why I spend so much time with photoshop.

Good luck with your classes


Kiley said...

Thanks Billie!
Your photo's have never looked bad to me. I got tired of being a point and see person and I have to take at least two classes to receive my student loans so I've been taking art classes to balance the science.

I ended up shooting well over 250 images for this project and just scraped together enough. Our next assignment is going to be even harder for me. We've got to shoot landscapes and self portraits- luckily I don't actually have to be the self portrait!

Iris @ Pied Crow Press said...

For what it's worth, I really, really discourage using digital cameras for photography classes. Although it might be frustrating to only have 24 or 36 frames to work with, if you decide to go that route, by the time you finish the program I think you'll be very glad you did.
I was in one of the last classes at my community college to be forced through the traditional silver print, wet darkroom process. I must have gone through hundreds of rolls of tri-x. But I came out of the program with a deep love for the medium, a discipline and a fundamental understanding of light and composition that I didn't see in the students that followed me, who had access to digital equipment. My experience left me firmly convinced that a traditional film and wet darkroom education is extremely important for anyone serious about photography.
Shooting film makes you consider each frame individually, and think much more about composition and lighting than you do if you have 300 frames available. Digital lets you be lazy - which is good sometimes, but not when you're still learning. Waiting to process the film and print each frame forces a steep learning curve - you're much more self-critical. Developing and printing shoulder-to-shoulder with other students encourages informal critiques. It's inspiring and fun, not to mention helping you see your work from different perspectives. Definitely different from sitting at a commputer, editing alone.
That's not to mention that learning on a film camera is sooooo useful once you move onto digital. You learn the basics like controlling aperture and shutter speed, plus all kinds of little old-school tricks that digital photographers don't know these days.
When I left the photography program, I and a few other students in my class were the only ones still printing with wet trays, using fiber paper and experimenting with solarization and different developing chemicals. It's a whole different - and much richer - experience, and I really encourage you to try it. Digital photography is a fantastic technology, but I just don't think it has the ability to teach fundamental skills the way black and white film does.
:) I'm a real photo nut, and I shoot every day for my job as a news photographer, so you can totally disregard all that if you want. Most people are way more casual about photography than I am. But that's my $.02. :D

Kiley said...

Thanks Iris, I actually agree with you as I've taken an actual dark room class before and learned a lot from it. I think it does show in my digital work, we had our first review last Friday and my light as subject photo's were a lot better than most of what I saw (I rock!). I really think I could have dropped this class after the first day as it was the only time we've spent talking about how to use the camera. The rest is mostly aesthetic, and I already know what mine is.
We also aren't allowed to edit our prints before we turn them in, we are only allowed to resize them to print out for the critiques.

The thing I learned about darkroom work is I'm beyond terrible at rolling film. By the end of the term I was taking 2 exposures of anything I thought I would like as I always ended up ruining my two favorite negatives by having them touch or be slightly wrinkled. I really enjoyed manipulating film in the development process which is why I'm taking this class now. Photo 1 is the prerec for the photoshop class at lane and I want to take photoshop to learn to really control and manipulate a digital image. I know it's not quite the same as the darkroom but it can do several of the things I would like it to do.

I know that my future career path will require me to have a digital portfolio I can send to perspective employers or clients when I finish school so I thought I would use the time now to get some work in on it. If I worked in a professional photography field I would be more into film, but I know I'll be required to do lot's of digital work.

Well thats a nice long scattered reply. But basically yes I agree with you, but I need to learn to use digital to keep a leg up on my competition.

Iris @ Pied Crow Press said...

I know exactly what you mean!
You might find that it's worth taking any or all the photo classes multiple times. I took all the classes in order, then I ended up going back and taking everything again! It's interesting how much you learn the second time around (or third, or fourth... :D ) You can concentrate on all the little subtleties and I found it really improved my work. Plus it's fun!
You are going to really enjoy a photoshop class. I mean, I worked with photoshop regularly and I thought I knew the program even before taking the class. But once I got into the class, I couldn't believe all the things photoshop lets you do! There's so, so, so much more than meets the eye. I could have taken a whole year of photoshop classes and still never got it all!
Hooray for photo classes, lol. Happy shooting! :)