Monday, September 20, 2010

Hallmark so far.....

I sent this out as an email to a bunch of people, but will try to post more regularly from my blog, so as not to overwhelm people with massive emails. Below is what I wrote:

I thought I'd give you a few lists to start off, then will give some details...

So far, I've received the following equipment (in no particular order):

1) a Sekonic light meter (which, duh, measures light)
2) a Canon 5D Mark II camera (it's pretty sweet)
2a) a 24-70mm f 2.8 l series lens
2b) a Canon book on how to USE the lens, and amazing pictures that could be captured with said lens
3) a massive (and heavy) tripod
4) a massive (and even heavier) backpack - trying to avoid carrying that until I have to
5) a reflector
6) a 500GB external hard drive (one of the few things I can take with me when I'm done. Yes, sadly, we need to give all equipment back at the end)
7) a CF card to go INTO the camera - couldn't do much without that
8) lots and lots of handouts and photo assignments...I think I've already received close to 10 assignments, some of which have already been completed, 2 more for this coming Wed's. field trip, one due 9/30, and one due 11/1, so some you have longer to complete than others.

And so far I've learned the below things (and MANY other tiny lessons in-between):

1) how to use all of the aforementioned equipment (definitely haven't mastered anything)
2) how to properly use ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds in conjunction with one another
3) how to properly expose a picture, which obviously includes using #2
4) how to create depth of field in a photo - shallow vs. great
5) what it means to "stop down" - for those who don't understand camera "stuff", this basically involves the manual settings on a camera to get that correctly exposed picture
6) recordkeeping (ongoing) - they teach us about the potential of one day running our own business, so we've learned about keeping weekly logs, even went over the basic practices for balancing a checkbook, and why it's important to be organized
7) visual arts - talking about composition, color, visual cues, lines, tone, texture
8) how to make gadgets to insert our memory card, how to use a MAC beyond basic functions, how to properly use (and not burn out or destroy) our hard drives
9) how NOT to drop camera, light meter, etc... yes, VERY expensive stuff.

So from seeing the above, I -- who was once a set-my-camera-on-auto-mode -- am now a true manual settings kinda gal. It's hard to believe. But they MAKE you struggle through dark images and messing up the first time to get a "winning" shot. Days are long and it's constant carrying of equipment and pulling this out, then putting that away, and pulling out something else, and plugging this in, and connecting this to that.... it makes my head spin sometimes.

We already went on 2 field trips and go on another on Wednesday. Last week we went to Old Deerfield (about a 15 min. ride). We had to learn how to represent depth of field. So one photo assignment was on creating a shallow depth of field (again, for those who don't know, it's wanting to keep your subject in focus while keeping things in front - foreground - and things in back - background - out of focus). The other assignment was the reverse...taking a picture with a great depth of field, meaning all objects/people in the picture should be in focus.

Today we got our tripods, had a lecture on how to (and not to) use them...then went on a mini impromptu (to us) field trip down the street to a park on the river. We had to form groups of 4 and practice changing focal lengths on the camera, keeping our subject's head the same size in each photo. It was tricky till we each nailed it.

Then on Wed., we're traveling to Brattleboro, VT, for an all day field trip. It's about a 1/2 hr. ride north of us. We'll be accomplishing a lot while there. Just for the fun of it, these are my assignments for the day (there are two):

Purpose: For the student photographer to become aware of compositional tools that help determine subject dominance and overall image impact created through subject placement, lens focal length, angle of view and body language.

Procedure: Photograph a person with a "lifestyle" approach, thinking of use in a brochure for the town of Brattleboro. Vary expressions body language, angle of view and location.

1. Use the focal length of your lens to support emphasis on subject and environment. Use the "rule of thirds" and experiment with compositional elements to add interest to your images.

2. Use your focal length to simplify your background and emphasize your subject. Experiment with subject placement and crop.

*We get to Brattleboro at 8:30am sharp. This assignment is due to an assigned instructor (8 or so instructors will be with us) by 11:30am, which really means no later than 11:15am)

Purpose: same as above, but remove body language and add emphasis on shape, line and texture.

Procedure: Photograph a scene or a still life to illustrate an article titled "The Quirky Details of Brattleboro".

1. The principal feature used to visualize these images should be "shape". The focal point of the image should stand out primarily due to contrast of tone.

2. Use "texture" and "line" as principal features in these images. Keep in mind contrast of tone for emphasizing focal point.

This assignment needs to be turned in by 4:30pm, but really means by like 4:00pm, we should be making our way to assigned instructor

(assignments copyright Hallmark Institute of Photography)

So...that's just a mere glance into the type of assignment we're given. Right now we're shooting solely in black and white (monochrone). They want us to see how to properly expose before using color and adjusting all these other settings we don't yet know about (white balance, etc.)

In other news, the apartment thing is going as well as could be expected. The roommates are nice and seeing that they are living with a combination of Mr. Clean, Martha Stewart, and Betty Crocker. I have been scrubbing and spraying, cleaning and cooking, & baking and toiling, plus a whole lot else. Our living room still needs a lot of work. We have this nasty couch (left here by previous tenants) that I refuse to sit in. I think we're going to cave and buy a futon at least. My one roomie actually lies down on the couch. I don't know HOW she does it.

It's much cooler up here now, which is nice. It's supposed to get to 40 degrees tonight (a frost advisory is in effect) this to PA whose temp is supposed to be 48 tonight.

This past weekend I went with a classmate to the local arts and crafts show. It was fun. This weekend there are events at the Yankee Candle store (the flagship store is about 20 minutes away)....lots of tourists come around this area. There is a LOT to do. Plus my roomies and I - and possibly a few others - may go to "The Big E" - my roomie describes is as a HUGE fair/carnival. It carries on for 2 weeks and just started this past weekend. That's about an hour south of us.

No other earth-shattering news to report. I've met our neighbor. He introduced himself as "Wayne the Pain". We were extremely frightened one of our first nights here, when we saw a light "beaming" Wayne was out at 1:30am with a head lamp on walking his dog. Then another night - at about the same time - he was out moving his trash to the curb. I told him this and he said he wears the head lamp b/c of the skunks that seem to pay a nightly visit. So apparently we have skunks. We have smelled them on a FEW occasions. I brought Wayne the Pain some homemade choc. chip cookies so hopefully he'll be a nice neighbor. We also have neighbors across the street who apparently have a weekly Sunday tradition of having cussing wars...females are the culprits. There was a threaten of guns, but I think it was purely that. Otherwise, it's pretty normal around here.

OK, well thanks for enduring this looong email....I have been meaning to send something out, but we just got internet in our apt this past weekend, so until then, I've been checking emails and doing updates when I am near wireless or go to the library.

If you want to know something specific, feel free to jot me an email. I'd love to hear how YOU are doing.

Much love,
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