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This being the second project we did together, the effort went much more smoothly than the first. We immediately had an idea and were able to shoot efficiently. The main difficulty we encountered as a group was just coordinating time schedules again. The other large difficulty was just the weather as we needed to shoot outdoors on two different days. This provided a challenge. We found ourselves waiting for clouds. We shot with a camera that did not have a full time autofocus function therefore it was a learning experience having to focus before on the final subject position instead of allowing the camera to simply follow the subject and keep it in focus automatically. For this we used a stand in. A future project that would be fun would be shooting another film using a DLSR and trying to experiment with lighting more than we were able to this time. We applied a lot of the basic principles of composition in the film, especially the rule of thirds as well as using selective focus and depth of field to isolate the subject. My contribution the project was my role as DP. My role put me behind the camera for every shot and allowed me creative control over camera angle, lens choice, depth of field control and other photography related roles. This was out first time shooting with a DSLR for a video project which brings with it inherent difficulties not normally encountered with video productions such as the focusing issue and poor sound quality. The benefits however, were well worth it.

 

Annie is perhaps one of the best and certainly most famous  contemporary  photographers.  Here are a few observations from the documentary “Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens.”

The first thing that struck me was when she mentioned that her childhood may have influenced her talent because of her time spent in the car.  She points out that the window of the car is essentially a frame.

The next thing shocked me a little.  One always imagines these great photographers as great people.  In many ways this is true.  Arnold Schwarzenegger points out how Annie had a tendency to blend into the background and how you hardly noticed she was shooting photos.  But the Versailles shoot shown in the documentary showed another side to her personality.  For a few moments, there was a demanding side to her, even edgy.  The shoot was running behind schedule and it seemed not going her way, at one point a camera was not working and she became quite snappy. It is difficult to say how one should interpret this, but it was an interesting observation. It seems towards her subjects she is open and approachable, making her nonthreatening, but that she will do what it takes to get the images she wants.

Her photos are also interesting.  Many of them are not the classical  “good photo” — adhering to the rule of thirds, good dynamic  range, good contrast, sharp, correct color, good light, strong point of interest, yet they are incredible.  They speak about that person or people or place and capture  their essences which is really what good photography does.  It is a good reminder that technical mastery does not matter as much as the content in and the person shooting the photo.

For this assignment, we were to analyze a youtube video for visual aspects.  The video was not to be a professionally published work or anything shot on a webcam such as many “how to” videos.  The video I choose is called “Born of Hope.”  It is an independent film produced as fan fiction based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  The film is based about 80 years before The Fellowship of the Ring takes place and tells the story of Aragorn’s people, and birth.

The film excels in almost all aspects of film making, considering the independent nature of the film.  As some points, acting and sound editing is a little weak, but again, completely forgivable considering the fact that it is not a professionally produced film.  But, from a strictly visual standpoint (because this is a visual literacy class) the movie is well shot.

Framing is well done is most shots, adhering to the rule of thirds and other compositional guidelines. The movie effectively uses different angles for tense scenes, smooth panning shots for transitions, and cuts for dialogue.  It also uses close ups, wide angles and long shots well.

Lighting is also consistent with the scenes. For example, one scene is around a funeral pyre and looks quite believable.  In fact the only two problems noticed are somewhat minor.  There are a few abrupt white balance shifts, though they take place before a change in mood of the scene, so it it hard to tell if it is intentional or not.  The other problem is occasional overexposure on the faces of the people in certain scenes.

Overall, in my opinion, there is little that should be changed, especially from a visual standpoint.  Aside from a few moments that seem cheesy and have slightly poor acting, there was little to fault for a fan produced piece.

For the group photo assignment, we were given the word “style” to illustrate through photos.  The four of us in the group decided to all shoot 25 photos each separately then select 10 photos from the 100 to present in the final projects.  Overall, this strategy worked out well.  We all came back with our photos and discovered that we all had different takes on what “style” meant.  The word style can be applied to many different fields.  There can be human style, style in design, architecture, etc.  Our photos covered all these different aspects.

My photos concentrated on human style and included a girl styling her hair before going out for the night as well as a close-up of Claire’s nail polish.  Both of these define style from a human standpoint and are quite traditional.

Although we were successful, there was a risk in the way we organized ourselves that our photos would not harmonize in a way that would define style.  Indeed, one of the photos threw the class off, not quite depicting style in the traditional sense.  Better organization would have involved the group discussing specifically what angle we would like to take on depicting style and who will shoot what types of photos.

Below are the two of my photos that were used in the final project.  In addition to portraying style, the photos are also intended to be ‘stylized’ to a high-contrast, “back-stage” look.

The white-balance was intentionally kept on the green-fluorescent side.

 

Below is my poster created for the assignment described below.  Endway was an opener for the SUB State Radio Concert and was actually really good — much better than many other openers we have had. This is a souvenir poster one would buy after a concert.  Here was the assignment.

This is your chance to create a poster on your own, using your own design, concepts, images, text and graphics. Incorporate the graphic concepts you learned and use Photoshop tools tocommunicate your message. This is a platform to convey your passion. You can do anything you would like. This graphic design can advertise or showcase a film, an event, your political persuasion, a cause, an organization, your inner feelings, (incorporate a poem), or promote you.

This assignment was aimed at teaching the basic selection tools used in Photoshop.  We were given this:

And ended up making this:

Here is the business card assignment for the class.  When printed, the card would have a matt-black, textured background while the white text would be an embossed, shiny white, rising off the card a little ways.

Photos have a huge power to change the world.  Consider the old saying “the pen is mightier than the sword.”  The saying reflects that no matter how strong a physical force or power may be, ideas are even more powerful, outlasting generations of men and political regimes.  The pen is a symbol of the written word.  But now consider a photograph.  For photos, we have another saying:  a picture is worth a thousand words.

Before the civil war, most of the public had never experienced war.  Journalists could write all they liked about the carnage wrecked on a battlefield, about the horrors and brutality of battle but ultimately these are just words, easily overlooked and left unread. But a photo is different.  We do not have to consciously read a story to see a photo. We don’t have to mentally commit ourselves to spending time reading of a battle.  All it takes is a quick glance at a photo for it to be burned into our memories. For the first time ever, the general population witnessed war.

Jump ahead a century to the Vietnam War.  A new revolution has emerged in photography.  Not only are photos now in full color, but motion picture is now being televised directly into the homes of America.  The images sent back to the US are arguably the reason popular support for the war degraded.  Since the civil war, photos have been powerful tools for communicating to the public real-life events.  Why were they so effective?  Why did they carry so much weight?  Because everyone recognized that photos were truth.  They showed reality as it happened.  Today however, photos have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Photos today are susceptible to incredible manipulation possibilities.  Photos no longer necessarily represent truth. In many cases they represent lies.  In the age of Photoshop, almost anything in a photo can be changed — composition, people, lighting, colors, etc.  For the first time, photographers are faced with not only documenting the truth but also convincing the public that what they are showing us is the truth.

How do photographers gain this credibility?  Fortunately we still assume a photo is relatively unaltered and give photographers the benefit of the doubt.  But that said, all it takes is for one fake image to be revealed for a photographer to loose all professional respect.

But how far is too far? Where do you draw the line between a fake or falsification and simple editing.  One may say that removing, say, a light pole is going too far whereas changing the white balance of an image is perfectly acceptable.  One may argue that removing an object from a photo changes the composition of the photo and distorts its truth.  But altering the white balance, for example, making an image cooler or warmer, can alter the feeling images give us and isn’t that distorting its truth?  Fortunately, not all photographers are held to the same level of delivering the ultimate truth through an image.  The true test of when editing is going too far depends on the clients of a photographer and how they want to perceive the event.  Take wedding photographers for instance. They routinely alter images. The clients hired a photographer not only to document the event “truthfully”  but rather to aid in creating how the event is remembered.

The Pulitzer Prize photography gallery at the Newseum is one of the most inspiring yet disheartening exhibits to be seen.  On the one hand, the vast majority of photos are of a depressing subject matter – disease, war, famine, strife, and death. But while these photos represent some of the worst moments in human history and humanity, as a photographer, it is hard not to marvel at the photography and be inspired.  The exhibit was very effective.  Any photo made large increases its effect.  Couple that with the fact that these photos are actually world-class and they literally are breath taking.

The photo that struck me most was one by Kevin Carter.  The photo shows a little girl from Sudan starving to death and unable to continue on to the food distribution center.  Carter found the girl along with a vulture waiting patiently nearby.  He shot this photo and chased the vulture away, but was unable to touch the girl for fear of disease.

The photo communicates very effectively with both the child and the vulture falling on rule of thirds points – the child in the foreground and the vulture in the background.  The child’s posture is one of despair and hopelessness.  The vulture’s looming presence is like death itself silently and patiently waiting – there is nothing the girl can do to escape it.

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