Thursday, December 25, 2014

Looking at Photographs I

You're going to be looking at photographs several times in this mini-course. You should assemble a sort of library of pictures you can come back to over and over, to look at again as you learn different things, and as I ask you to look at pictures in a new way.

Gather magazines, especially those with large ads from fashion brands (Chanel, YSL, Bottega Veneta, and so on). Buy some photo books, or get some from a library. Older books of black&white photos, newer books with contemporary pictures. Bookmark some links to online archives of photographs.

Please do NOT use only online photo sharing services, as these present a very contemporary and narrow view of photography. Ideally, stick to photographs in print media, or photographs at least have been in print media (an online archive of magazine photos is fine, for instance). Photo sharing sites tend to duplicate terrible habits on a gigantic scale, and will teach you all sorts of terrible things.

Spend some time looking at pictures. Try to look at at least several dozen different photos (not just 24 contemporary fashion photos, please, spread yourself across a few genres). Take a minute or two with each one.

With your new experience with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, try to guess what kind of settings might have been used. Guessing the exact numbers is less important than getting your head around "faster/slower, higher/lower" kinds of ideas. Consider making some notes, perhaps on post-it notes that you paste directly on to the photos.

While you're at it, pay attention to exposure as well. How dark or light are these pictures? What do you suppose the meter would have looked like when shooting each of these pictures?

You can begin to pay a little attention to composition as well. Where are the major shapes located in the frame? Are there lines? Where was the light coming from when the photo was taken (there are likely to have been several light sources) and was the light soft or harsh? Don't worry too much about this.

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