So, a bunch of things for you to work on this week …
Let’s start with this New York Times piece by Jessica Bennett on failing. A big chunk of this class is about making mistakes – big ones at first, little ones later on – but then learning from them. You will make hundreds, if not thousands, of mistakes – and that is both okay and fully encouraged.
(Aside: While your reading that Times piece, look at the portraits – what do you think of the work Lauren Lancaster did there?)
Done with that? Okay, let’s watch this short video about Randy Olson, an amazing visual journalist …
Intrigued? Go check out some of his work now, spend a few minutes learning about the work he does with Melissa Farlow and then come back here.
Now, let’s jump back in time. Photojournalism has had a couple of Golden Ages, and one of the most prominent would have to be during the Civil Rights Movement. Charles Moore was one of those who was on the front line and made many of the iconic images you’ve seen in history books and documentaries.
This video, titled, “I Fight With My Camera,” will give you an understanding of why he did what he did.
But not everything is always as it seems … Bill Hudson made another of the iconic images of the time, similar to one of Moore’s images of a German Shepherd attacking a protestor. Hudson’s was turned into a statue, but the story behind it, as told through the Revisionist History podcast, will have you questioning what you believe to be true about images. Put that on your phone and listen while walking to class one day.
Let’s hop back to modern times. Interested in how politics is covered in Washington these days? Then you need to know who J. Scott Applewhite is – one of the best in the business.
So, that was a lot of stuff to get through before getting to your assignment. Your first one, are you a little nervous? Don’t be.
This is an exercise in exercising your fingers, your brain and your eye. The only way to do this wrong is to not do it. You have to get to a point where your fingers just move without you having to think about them. It’s like playing a piano or running hurdles – so much of those are about muscle memory. And the only way you develop that muscle memory is by practicing.
So, here it is – Nouns and Verbs.
Between now and next Friday, September 1, you need to shoot at least 400 photos – more is better. Shoot all of these (and all of your assignments this semester) on the manual exposure mode using manual focus. If you go into the auto modes it will show up in your metadata. I strongly recommend that you set your ISO to 400 and just leave it, trying to think in three variables is much harder than two.
The first 200 or so should be nouns – just objects. Trees, fire hydrants, food wrappers – doesn’t matter what it is, this is a chance to practice. Pick a subject and try it at maximum aperture and f/16, at the wide end of your lens and the telephoto end. Shoot with the light at your back and behind the subject. Try to think of as many ways to photograph an object as you can.
Once you’ve got your first 200 frames, move on to verbs – motion, action. This will be tougher as objects in motion don’t wait for you to set your focus and exposure, but so much of what you’ll shoot later in this class will be candid photography.
Here’s a tip for the verbs: Your camera defaults to the single-frame mode, meaning you press the shutter it takes one frame. Look for the continuous mode in the manual and try that. What happens?
Don’t try to shoot these indoors or at night, the low light levels will wreak havoc upon your exposure settings and neither you nor I will get much from this experience. Carve out a little time each day to play.
If you run into any issues or questions, let me know – by email or in person, whatever works for you.
Focusing tip: It’s easier to focus at the telephoto end of your lens than it is at the wide end, so try zooming in, setting the focus, then zooming back out for the composition you want.
Exposure tip: Many of you will try to set your exposure on the display screen of the camera – don’t do that. Set it while looking through the viewfinder. Part of this assignment is learning how to manipulate the controls without looking at them. But the larger issue is if you’re holding the camera so you can see the screen, the lens (and meter) are not looking at your subject – your exposures could end up being way, way off.
You will need to watch the tutorial on Adobe Bridge (below) to learn how to batch process your images – they will need to be renamed and captioned. We will discuss some of this in class next week, but you need to watch the video first.
To submit this assignment, you will need to compress (zip) the folder of images and upload it to ELC by noon on Friday, September 1. You will get some additional instructions on how to resize and compress your images next week. (ELC has a file size limit and this first assignment will massively exceed it – this is a one-time issue for the class, all your other assignments will come through just fine.)
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Send me a message or stop by, I’m here to help you get through all of this.