Black & White vs. Color

Many of the photographs in The NOTA Project were shot in color but converted to black & white. You may want to consider converting some of your color images to black and white in the following circumstances:

To emphasize the lighting (Photo credit: Deanna)

deanna_darren_color   deanna_furia_1

To eliminate distracting colors and create a cohesive color scheme (Photo credit: Ms. Lawson)

IMG_0603   isiah_photography3

To unify a series of photos (Photo credit: Katie)

katie_murrer_1   katie_murrer_3

When should you leave the color in a photo? When the photograph has a harmonious color scheme that would be lost in a conversion to gray scale:

Photo Credit: Serena

Photo Credit: Serena

Photo Credit: Jenny

Photo Credit: Jenny

 

How to convert your image to black & white:

Image -> Mode -> Gray scale

Image -> Adjustments -> Levels

Look at the image that pops up. If your image has sufficient contrast, the “mountain range” will extend to the edge of the window.
If your image looks similar to this, you do not need to adjust the levels, and can close out of the window:

levels_no_adjustment

If your “mountain range” of values does not extend to the edges of the window (such as the example below), you will click on the left cursor and drag it to the beginning of the left side of the mountain.
You will then click on the right cursor and drag it to the beginning of the right side of the mountain.
You will be able to preview what you are doing as long as the “preview” box is checked.

levels_before_and_after

When you have adjusted your levels, click ok.

How to create a composite image:

Sometimes part of an image will already be sufficiently exposed (is bright enough), while part of the image is too dark. In this case, you would want to lighten selective areas of your photo with a technique called compositing. Here is how you composite a photo:

  1. Go to the “paths” window. Click the “new path” button. new_path_icon
  2. Go to the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Select the pen tool. pen_tool Outline shape you want to lighten.
  3. Once you have closed your shape by clicking on the first point, go back to the paths window. Right click on the path you have created, and click “make selection.” Feather the selection by 1pixel (this will soften the edges of your selection).
    people_selection
  4. Control + click to copy your selection. Control + click to paste your selection.
    IMG_1096_bw_people
  5. Go back to the “layers” window. Click the new layer you have created that contains only the shape you want to edit. Edit the levels on this layer only.
    layers
  6. Repeat the steps above to individually adjust the levels on each part of your photo that contains unique lighting.
    IMG_1096_bw_after

Today we will:

  • continue editing our photos
  • create a new blog post featuring the before and after of each edited photo

Featured Photographer: Vivian Maier

Today will be our last shooting day. Look over these photographs taken by Vivian Maier to get some final inspiration on how to portray YOUR Rochester:

VIVIAN MAIER still 12

1955, New York, NY

vivian-maier-bus

vivian_maier_port_street2

VivianMaier-May51955-1024x1024

1954, New York, NYvivian_maeir_CHI-1025 CALIFORNIA

VIVIAN-MAIER-facebook

vivain_maeier-3468

You can learn more about Vivian Maier by viewing her official website. It contains her story and hundreds of her photographs.

Today we will:

  • Take our final photographs. We will focus on:
    • capturing a particular moment
    • filling in any gaps in our story or view of Rochester
  • Create a new blog post with the following:
    • the best photos taken today
    • a paragraph describing how these images complete your view of Rochester

We will spend the next few classes editing our photos. If you do not have 30 solid photos to work with, take photos during lunch, after school, and at home. You may sign out a camera to use during the school day, but you must return the camera and upload the photos to your blog by 3pm that day. I will also be after school from 3-4pm on Thursday and will be signing out cameras during that time slot.

Photo Essay: Portray YOUR Rochester

500 University Avenue Don Menges

500 University Avenue Don Menges

Art and an Oil Change #1 Steve Malloy Desormeaux

Art and an Oil Change #1 Steve Malloy Desormeaux

Hopefully, viewing The NOTA Project and talking with the photographers at Image City Gallery has given you a clearer understanding of the photo essay. For your final fall photography assignment, you will create a photographic essay representing Rochester as you see it. You may choose to photograph your neighborhood, family, sports team, or favorite after school hangout. Take as many photos as you can – the more options you have to choose from, the better. At the end of the unit, you will post the 10-12 photographs that you feel best show your vision of Rochester (along with a 250 word artist statement) to your blog.

Although the term “artist statement” feels very formal, we encounter artist statements every day. When each photographer spoke about their work last class, they were essentially narrating an artist statement.

More information about The NOTA Project  and Image City Gallery can be found here.

Here are some examples of powerful photo essays:

Some of the photographers at Image City Gallery mentioned feeling like there were multiple worlds within Neighborhood of the Arts. Shortly after taking office, mayor Lovely Warren referred to Rochester as “a tale of two cities.” Here is a brief excerpt from that speech (you can read the speech in its entirety here):

“In his State of the State address just a few short weeks ago, Governor Cuomo candidly and accurately described Upstate New York as being in a “cycle of decline” — and the evidence of this is clear to see in Rochester.  The Rochester of today is far different from the Rochester of just a generation ago. Rochester is a tale of two cities.  One city is vibrant, hopeful, wealthy, and highly livable. The other suffers from escalating poverty, dysfunction, unemployment that is higher today than it was during the Great Depression — and a deficient educational system.  This divide has both immediate human consequences and short and long-term economic consequences.

The Mayor’s challenge — our community’s shared challenge — is to bridge these divides so that all people feel there is hope for them and their children; and we all feel that we have an equal stake in the future.  A recent report by the Rochester Area Community Foundation outlined the harsh reality we face; and the findings are a call to action that cannot go unanswered.

Rochester is the:

  • Fifth poorest city in the country among the top 75 largest metropolitan areas;

  • Second poorest among comparably sized cities in those metro areas;

  • Ranked third for highest concentration of extremely poor neighborhoods among cities in the top 100 metro areas;

  • Poorest urban school district in the State.”

 

Today you will inventory the photos you have taken, decide which photos you may want to include in your photo essay, and make a list of any shots you will still need to take. You will then continue editing your images. By the end of this class, you will create a new blog post with the following:

  • Any photos you may include in your photo essay (unedited are fine for now)
  • A list of 8-10 additional photos that would complete your photo essay (we will have one last shooting day next Tuesday)
  • A minimum of 5 photographs taken by another photographer depicting the photographic style you hope to mimic
  • A brief project proposal (minimum of 10 sentences) describing your project concept. This should be written in the form of an artist statement. What motivates you to photograph these subjects? What mood are you trying to portray? What elements in other photographer’s work do like appreciate and hope to capture in your own photo essay?
  • before and after photos of any images you edited today

Extra Credit Opportunity for students who are missing blog posts:

  1. Write a thank you letter to the photographers at Image City Gallery. This thank you letter should be a minimum of 10 sentences and include the following: what you learned, what you enjoyed, how the show and/or field trip ties into your own photography experience. Email this thank you letter to Ms. Lawson by Thursday, October 30th. This will count as one blog post.
  2. Create a SEPARATE blog post with featuring photos taken on the field trip, and a one paragraph summary of the field trip. This must be posted by Thursday, October 30th. This will count as one blog post.

Remember, the marking period ends Friday, November 7th. There will be no other extra credit.

How to Take Great Candid Portraits

1. Take your camera everywhere. Probably the best way to take spontaneous photographs is to always be ready to do so. Taking your camera with you everywhere also helps people to be more at ease with you taking their photo. Once  friends and family expect you to have my camera out, they will act more relaxed if they do catch you taking a photo, making the photos appear more natural.

2. Position yourself strategically. Anticipate what is about to unfold in front of you to increase the chances of getting some great shots. Which way will people be facing? What will they be doing? What will the light be like? Thinking through these issues will save you having to run around repositioning yourself when you should be shooting images – it’ll also mean you take a whole heap less shots of the back of people’s heads!

3. Zoom in. The further you are away from your subject the less likely they will be to know that you’re photographing them, and the more natural and relaxed they’ll act. Using zoom enables you to shoot from outside their personal space but keep the feeling of intimacy in the shot you’re taking. One of my students pretended to be upset with her fellow classmates. They then gave her enough space that she was able to take better candid photos without them noticing!

Note: This tip only works if you are using an actual camera, not a camera on your phone. Most phone cameras don’t have a true zoom; rather, their digital zoom feature merely crops your photo. Avoid zooming on a phone camera to prevent blurry images.

4. Shoot first, compose later. And shoot lots. Don’t worry about framing the perfect shot while the camera is in your hand. Keep moving, getting as many angles and moods as possible. Click fast and often. Back at the computer, you can refine your raw material into a beautifully composed candid. Purists like Henri Cartier-Bresson shunned cropping as a kind of photographic half-truth; for the rest of us, there’s Photoshop. When you shoot multiple images quickly of a person, you’ll increase your chances of that perfect shot. This is especially helpful if your subject moves quickly or is a talker.

5. Don’t pose subjects. People look relaxed and comfortable when they’re engaged in activity – talking with one another, fixing their hair, petting the dog. Anything that keeps their mind off your lens is good. Wait until your subject is has forgotten that you are photographing them and is fully focused upon what they are doing or who they are with.

kwondell_katie_breanna

6. Photograph people with people. Something very interesting happens when you photograph more than one person in an image at a time – it introduces relationship into the shot. Even if the two (or more) people are not really interacting in the shot it can add depth and a sense of story into the viewing of the image.

darren_josh

7. Frame images with foreground elements. Purposely include something in the foreground of the shot to make it look as though you’re hiding behind it. You might do this with by shooting over someone’s shoulder, by including a little of a tree branch or the frame of a doorway.

8. Be patient and catch people in the moment. Waiting is an important part of getting a good photo; wait for that perfect smile, or for your subject to turn to you. Capturing people in the moment provide the best results and details of what’s going on in a photo.

keion

9. Add context. Without context, photos lack depth. Try positioning subjects to the left of right of the frame to show some of where they are or what they’re doing. Another great way to add context is to shoot through the environment that they’re in, like trees or people.

Note: Be strategic with the cropping. You don’t want to crop out so much of the environment that the photo loses context.

isiah_photography3

10. Avoid clutter in the picture. At the same time, make sure anything in the background adds to, rather than detracts from the picture. Frame the shot by moving the subject left or right in the viewfinder. If the background continues to be too cluttered, use a wide aperture to blur the background. You can fake a wide aperture in on a point and shoot camera by switching into portrait mode.

11. Move around your subjects. If you’re taking a photo of someone candidly, you can’t exactly ask them move to create a better composition. It’s also pointless asking them to look natural, as that creates the most awkward shots of all. Get up and walk around your subjects until you have them positioned how you’d like and then take the photo.

12. Watch the back. Never take photos of people’s backs. Nothing is more boring than a group of people with all backs turned to the camera. It just doesn’t work.

13. Keep quiet and blend in. Do what everyone else is doing so you fit in with the situation. This will ensure that you do not distract from the main event. Your subjects will act more natural if they forget that you are photographing them.

Sources:
http://digital-photography-school.com/11-tips-for-better-candid-photography/
http://expertphotography.com/10-way-take-better-candid-photos/
http://www.wikihow.com/Take-Better-Candid-Photos

Today we will:

  • begin taking photos for our “Portray YOUR Rochester” photo essay
  • upload your photos to your username AND a back up location
  • create a new blog post with the best photos taken today

Tips for photographing lighting

Take photos with the sun at your back. When you take a photo looking into the sun, the following things tend to happen:

The entire image becomes out of focus and is blurry

The entire image becomes out of focus and is blurry

Parts of the image are overexposed (too much light)

Parts of the image are overexposed (too much light)

Parts of the image are underexposed (too little light)

Parts of the image are underexposed (too little light)

 

 

Editing Photos

Today we will edit our best photos and post before and after pictures. Not all photos need to be edited – sometimes you’ll take a near perfect picture.

Not sure what needs to be edited? Consult this list of common photography mistakes: Common Photography Mistakes

The most common ways you will edit your photos are cropping the image and adjusting the levels.
You can view instructions on how to crop your image here: How to Crop a Photo
You can view instructions on how to adjust levels here: How to Adjust Levels

Sometimes part of an image will already be sufficient exposed (is bright enough), while part of the image is too dark. In this case, you would want to lighten selective areas of your photo with a technique called compositing. Here is how you composite a photo:

  1. Go to the “paths” window. Click the “new path” button.
  2. Go to the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Select the pen tool. Outline shape you want to lighten.
  3. Once you have closed your shape by clicking on the first point, go back to the paths window. Right click on the path you have created, and click “make selection.” Feather the selection by 1pixel (this will soften the edges of your selection).
  4. Control + click to copy your selection. Control + click to paste your selection.
  5. Go back to the “layers” window. Click the new layer you have created that contains only the shape you want to edit. Edit the levels on this layer only.

Here is a photograph with potential, but a few issues. The napkin bin is distracting, and the flowers, which should be the focal point of the image, are too dark. By cropping the image, and creating a composite image where I have only lightened the flowers, I have improved the photo:

city_grill_original   city_grill_edited

By the end of today’s class, you should create a new blog post with the following:

  • Before and after images of any photos you have edited. (You will need to save your edited photo as a png or jpg to be able to upload it to your blog, but make sure you are also saving a photoshop version of the image so you can continue to edit it at a later date if necessary.)
  • A few sentences under each photo describing your editing process and which photography errors you fixed with these edits.

Photo Assignment 2: Light, Shadow, Reflection

Our second photography assignment focuses on light, shadow, and reflection. In order to really focus on capturing interesting light, we will shoot this assignment in black and white. Here are some photographers known for their outstanding use of light in black and white photography:

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is arguably the best-known American photographer. He is famous for his black and white photographs of the American West.

ansel-adams-photo

Adams_The_Tetons_and_the_Snake_River

ansel-adams-road-fever

Gavin Hammond

Gavin Hammond is a contemporary London-based photographer. Inspired by London’s many rainy days, he has taken an entire series of photographs in the reflection of puddles.

gavin_hammond-2

gavin_hammond_08

5594789344_e3a98cac75_b-450x298

Project Requirements

Daily – At the end of each class, you will:

  • Copy any photos you have taken that day onto your username and a back up (google drive account, flash drive, etc)
  • Delete photos off the memory card
  • Create a new blog post with the following:
    • Post your best photos unedited from that day.
    • Write a few sentences describing what you like about each photo, and what you can improve by later editing the photo.

Final – At the end of the unit, you will create a new blog post with the following:

  • Your 10 best photos from that shooting assignment. (Ideally, try to post five photos of lighting and shadow, and five of reflection. Lighting, shadow, and reflection are all interconnected, so your all of your photos will probably feature this elements, at least to some degree.)
    You will post the original photo next to the edited photo to allow for side-by-side comparison.
  • You will write a short paragraph describing the changes you made editing the photo.
  • All photos should be in black and white. (You should only be shooting in black and white for this assignment, anyway!)

You will be graded on:

  • Documentation of daily progress via daily blog posts.
  • Quality of 10 final photos.
  • How well the 10 final photos show your understanding of lighting and its impact on photography.
  • Technical editing; your edited photos should look better than your originals.
  • Improvement and reflection; your photos should be getting better with practice and reflection.
    This should be clear in your daily blog posts.

Reminder of Class Back Up Policy:

It is your responsibility to save your photos to at least two different locations.
I will provide ample class time to take enough photos to do well on this project. If you fail to back up your photos and lose  your work, you will still be required to turn in ten photos by the deadline, and will be graded on these photos.