2013 DLS workshop dates

Before you sign up, it's important to understand that these workshops are progressive and intended to build up your skills and style over the duration of the series along with supplementary online exercises, gatherings, and more. (Don't worry - we have so much fun you won't care that what you're learning is supposed to be boring and dry...) While there is occasionally limited space to sign up for just one or two classes that you are interested in, it may not be possible to answer all of your questions if your skills are not at the level of those who have participated in the entire series. In that same token, even though you aren't graded and there is no pass or fail at the end of it all, missing workshops and skipping the online exercises will be detrimental to your progress and will interfere with your ability to keep up with the course content. (I promise, the exercises are limited to 20 or so minutes out of your week - easy peasy!) The DLS workshops are also intended to gear you up for starting a viable photography business photographing people - while there are components of the classes that cover the basics of all styles of photography, I cannot accommodate those specifically interested in specializing in landscape, architectural, macro, stock, etc. photography as I only teach what I know and love best - how to shoot people. :)

The cost of the main workshop series is $500 plus GST, with the option of adding on the Mock Wedding and/or the ALL NEW Bookkeeping Workshop. A $250 non-refundable deposit is due upon registration, with the balance due on or before December 31, 2012 or your space WILL be given to someone else. Snacks, water, & coffee/tea are provided throughout the day, however you will need to bring your own bagged lunch. Workshops are held at My Edmonton Studio located on the 2nd floor at 3460 - 91 Street. Please send an email requesting a registration package to h [dot] walls [at] shaw [dot] ca or call 780.906.3668 for more information.  Find the Studio on Facebook here, and all the courses here!

Sunday, January 20, 2013 - it's NOT about the camera
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
We'll learn a bit of photography history and by the end of the day you'll know what all the beeps, bells, and buttons on your camera are for, and have a basic understanding of photography lingo. You will understand how every camera on the planet is built on precisely the same technology, then learn what separates SLR cameras from P&S cameras. You will learn to love(hate) the phrase "Reciprocity Failure." We'll also go over a comprehensive list of the basic types of lenses on the market, what their benefits and drawbacks are, and what their common applications are. You'll probably go home with the urge to shoot everything that moves, and a rather pricey shopping list. Which is why it's good that you just learned that it's NOT about the camera... and will survive and thrive just fine without the $2800 IS f2.8 70mm-200mm lens...

Sunday, February 3, 2013 - composition, understanding light
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
This is the one that makes your brain ache, folks. While the composition portion is a relative breeze and one of the building blocks of taking great pictures, understanding how light works and how you can manipulate it to your advantage when creating different moods and effects is the key to unlocking all the greatest secrets of natural/available light photography. Whether you plan to use studio, natural, or available light, or a combination of all three, you also need to know how your camera's internal meter works, and what to do when it fails you. You'll walk away with a headache, and a burning desire to move all the furniture away from your windows.

Sunday, March 3, 2013 - technical critiquing, photo manipulation (in Adobe Photoshop) demo
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
I know - it sounds SO dry and boring... BUT - technical critiquing is a huge part of photography. We'll spend the first part of the day going through the process of deconstructing images using proper terminology so that you can develop the diagnostic tools that will be instrumental not only in looking at other photographer's work and being able to draw technical instead of just aesthetic inspiration, but in how YOU will master your OWN style and technique. Following this, we'll begin exploring some of the basics of Photoshop. I will do a brief demonstration of: skin smoothing, using unsharp mask, creating and using layers, tinting (vintage, antique), actions, and as much else as we have time for. This portion of the workshop is meant to give you enough basics that you have the confidence to explore and discover more on your own; you are welcome to bring your laptop and play along :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013 - portraiture and controlled lighting
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Get ready for LIVE MODELS! Once we've gone through the fundamentals of how and why portraits are done (the easy part) and look at a couple of different controlled lighting set-ups (OCF and continuous) we're going to hone our skills on making the connections that are so important to separating cold and heartless snapshots from gorgeous, engaging portraits that have as much meaning to you as they do to your client. We will then have a group of models at our disposal for you to work individually and in teams with doing a variety of individual and group portraits. Always a fun workshop, be prepared to be surprised! If you have a flash for your camera, this is a great workshop to bring it to as we'll have a bit of time to play around with them!

Sunday, April 14, 2013 - breaking the rules, the business end of things
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
While we spent the first 4 sessions learning shooting skills, there comes a time when we get to break all the rules and just HAVE FUN! If we decide as a group we'd like to do a final project together, this will also be our opportunity to plan and discuss those details. The last portion of the day will be spent going over the NEW and IMPROVED Business End of Things - taxes, copyright, business licenses, professional printing, model releases, contracts, blogs, websites, marketing, advertising and promotion, and all other manner of things you need to consider if you intend to charge money for your services, whether as a portrait photographer, stock photographer, or art photographer. Even if you do not intend to shoot for full-time or supplemental income, there is a lot of valuable information to be taken away from this workshop that can help protect your interests even as a straight-up hobby photographer. Lastly, we'll look at something I like to call the "photography pyramid" which breaks down into simple terms the different types of clients and photographers, and how to get (or not get) yourself to where you want to be on that pyramid.


NEW! Saturday, May 4, 2013 - bookkeeping for shutterbugs ASK HOW YOU CAN EARN THIS FREE!
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Shoebox accounting is for hacks!  The Business End of Things covers the broader aspects of business management, but bookkeeping for shutterbugs is a walk through, hands-on experience with free or cheap accounting programs, apps, and peripherals that will help you keep your books in order.  We will also cover how and why it's important to do bank reconciliations, how to track and calculate GST remittances, and how to read common business reports (income statement, general ledger, etc.) Your accountant will love you...

This workshop is NOT limited to previous workshop participants. Up to 10 persons can be accommodated - please bring your wifi enabled laptop and your smartphone. Registration and payment deadline for this workshop is April 15th, 2013. Cost for workshop is $150 ($125 for previous series participants.)  Join us on Facebook here!

May 25-26, 2013 - all-night field trip with Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt at the Relay for Life
Start time: 3pm May 25
Finish time: 7am May 26
Location: University of Alberta's Foote Field
This has become a highlight of the workshops, where participants are given the opportunity to contribute their skills to an amazing event in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. Their largest single fundraising effort, which spans across Canada in countless cities, the Relay for Life is a powerful experience. If you are able to come and if you are interested in learning what photographilanthropy is from the ground up, slap on some comfy shoes and your camera, and let's go!  FREE!!!

June 9, 2013 - WEDDING WORKSHOP: wedding photography, mock wedding
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Location: My Edmonton Studio
This is wedding photographer bootcamp. Instead of the love and marriage aspect, we're going to dive right in to the finer points of what every person dreaming of becoming a wedding photographer needs to know, from pricing strategies, wowing your client at your initial consultation, and contract inclusions/exclusions... to knowing the 'money shots' and some of the classic pitfalls of working with weddingpartyzillas and obnoxious guests. We'll spend a bit of time looking at some trends and tactics that work like a charm and others that fail miserably, discuss how to avoid getting price-point pigeon-holed, and then open the can of worms on all those little things you need to consider like bad weather contingency plans, assistants vs. second shooters, and to take or not to take destination weddings. You'll have the insider's look at the grit and the glory of shooting weddings, from start to finish, and once we've had the in-class theory, we'll waste no time in having you shoot a mock wedding ceremony & formals. And, of course, while we're hoping for good weather, if it decides to rain... you'll be getting your feet wet for real...

This workshop is NOT limited to previous workshop participants. Up to 20 persons can be accommodated. Registration and payment deadline for this workshop is May 15, 2013. Cost for workshop and wedding: $175 ($150 for series participants) and INCLUDES a pizza lunch for all models and participants. If you are interested in shooting the wedding just for fun, it is $25 for the mock wedding portion ONLY and does not include pizza lunch (unless you want to come a bit early and chip in a few extra bucks or bring dessert or something...)

NEW workshop! Bookkeeping for Shutterbugs

Saturday, January 5, 2012 - bookkeeping for shutterbugs

Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm

Shoebox accounting is for hacks!  The Business End of Things covers the broader aspects of business management, but bookkeeping for shutterbugs is a walk through, hands-on experience with free or cheap accounting programs, apps, and peripherals that will help you keep your books in order.  We will also cover how and why it's important to do bank reconciliations, how to track and calculate GST remittances, and how to read common business reports (income statement, general ledger, etc.)  Your accountant will love you!

This workshop is NOT limited to previous workshop participants. Up to 10 persons can be accommodated - please bring your wifi enabled laptop and/or your smartphone. Registration and payment deadline for this workshop is December 15, 2012. Cost for workshop is $150 ($125 for previous series participants.)  Sign up for the event by emailing h [dot] walls [at] shaw [dot] ca or join the Facebook event here for more details!

DLS Weekend Warrior

Join me at The Photographer Studio July 21st and 22nd, 2012 for the Weekend Warrior version of the Dirty Little Secrets workshop.

Just the Basics, Saturday July 21, 2012, 10am - 6pm
An entire day dedicated to learning photojargon, by the end of the day we will have covered the Law of Reciprocity, metering, DOF, understanding light, and basic composition.  While all main content will be covered and done by 6pm, for those willing and able to stay there will be an opportunity to work with models from about 6pm to 9pm.  This workshop is suitable for individuals who have recently purchased a DSLR or for those who would have been using their camera for a while but would like to increase their confidence and skills shooting manually.  Lunch is included; there will be a half-hour meal break before the models arrive.

The Business End of Things, Sunday July 22, 10am - 5pm
The Business End of Things is just that - an entire day dedicated to the nitty gritty of setting up shop.  Discussions covered over the day will include copyright, licensing, pricing strategies, marketing plans, operating costs, insurance and liability, taxes, software, and more.  By the end of the day you will have a well-stocked toolkit for legally operating a small business.  This workshop is suitable for those individuals who are thinking of setting up a small- or home-based photography business and need some help figuring out where to start.  Lunch is included.

Each day of the Weekend Warrior is a stand-alone workshop and costs $150 or you may attend both days for a total of $250.  The real bonus is that attendance at the Weekend Warrior qualifies you for a discount on the full series starting up in January of 2013 (official dates announced in October 2012.)

Located in The Photographer Studio at 15607 - 100a Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta.

Min 6 participants, max 12.  Please email Hope Walls to register.

Week 15 DLS exercise: reflecting

Simple, quick, and easy: find several reflective surfaces and take a self-portrait - could be a mirror, a kitchen appliance, your shadow, or even a mud puddle. Be creative, have fun, and post your favourite(s) on your blog or email them to me! They form a part of next week's exercise, so be sure and get these ones done BEFORE Monday!!!

Week 14 DLS exercises: time to play with dollies!

So, we kind of missed out on playing with Barbies as we had so many wonderful models, but the project is still the same.

As threatened, here is the Barbie exercise (though you can of course use whatever you like - Potatoes, popsicle stick figures, marshmallow people, marionettes, stuffed animals, etc... no one has ever fulfilled my dream of using apple head dolls - if you feel like humouring me, you should totally use apple head dolls.) Since it's close to Easter, I imagine you could find some chocolate bunnies or peeps or something to use... (Below is TOTALLY not my picture but I wish it was - picture is a link back to the source @ Irregular Bones - not sure where they got it from...)

This exercise is simple.

Your client is a family, and you need to get a set of pictures that includes but isn't limited to:

a) just Mom & Dad
b) the kids together
c) each kid individually
d) the entire family

The images should include some formal, some casual, and some candid shots. Pay attention to composition, weird background inclusions, patterns and all that other stuff we've chatted about. The only unbreakable rule is that your family MUST NOT be alive. Here is my now infamous Barbie set, though I'm feeling inspired and might want to try doing a new set using something else fun:

Get creative, be playful, and HAVE FUN! Aim for between 20 or 25 pictures in your set. ;)

Week 13 DLS exercises: location, location, location!

First we learned some technical skills. Then we transitioned into some creative skills. Week 13 marks the last week we're going to be focussing on honing your critical/creative eye before moving towards the 3rd skill set we'll be looking at: dealing with people. Our models are all lined up and ready for you, so we need to make sure you're ready for them!

Last week you went looking for details within a location, clues that could intimate a deeper and more personal message about the person or persons being photographed. We're going to pan out from the macro to the wide angle this week to consider instead of the details, the big picture. Specifically, you're going to start looking at locations with the idea of how a person would look there. I want you to go scouting for 2 or 3 locations - at least one in your home, one anywhere outdoors, where you could see yourself placing a person to take a picture.

Maybe the lighting is beautiful by that one window, maybe the scenery is gorgeous out your back door, maybe there's a funky frame going on at the corner church, maybe there's a great tree begging for someone to sit in it. I want you to take 2 or 3 pictures at each location, composing the image in your head as you would with a person in it. Pay special attention to your composition and lighting. If you need to use a model, you can. You may even want to make a game of doing before and after pictures!

I'll post the 'after' pictures with people in them in a few days...

Week 12 DLS exercise: show me but don't show me

With spring in the air, it's hard not to feel the urge to get out there and shoot everything that moves. (Or doesn't.) Sometimes as photographers we get so wrapped up in the work side of things that we forget to PLAY and honour ourselves. So this week's dual purpose exercise is specially designed to get you out and about, AND get you geared up for the portraiture workshop.

You've probably heard the term 'lifestyle photography' tossed around a bit. But what IS lifestyle photography? Well, it's the new way of saying 'photojournalism' and a hipper way of offering a 'documentary' or the like. What it is, though, is essentially storytelling through pictures. Studio portraits offer a plethora of options in terms of controlling the setting, lighting, and space, but the story you tell against a backdrop is, by virtue, created as opposed to discovered.

When you venture out to take pictures on location, however, you ultimately have the leisure of watching people interact with their surroundings. Depending on the location, you have a non-static environment. Whether you are in a person's home, at a spot they find particularly beautiful, or a park you've suggested, there is intrinsically a very different dynamic. They often provide clues to the person's "lifestyle" hence why the term is so popular.

This week, I'm going to prohibit the use of people, and ask you to concentrate on making a picture story about YOU using the places and objects around you to show a bit of who you are. Are you a scrap booker? Are you married? Do you have children? Pets? Are you a gardener? Do you go for a daily walk? Read the paper every day? Do you have a favourite coffee shop? I want you to show 5 pictures that reveal a bit about yourself, your family, and your interests without actually showing a single human being.

Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!!!!

Week 11 DLS exercises: in someone else's shoes

I hope this past week off has given you all an opportunity to play catch-up - I know we kind of made a quantum leap and your brains might be hurting.

Moving right along, we're going to push the envelope now and get you moving towards the more creative side of things. As of the last workshop, you know how to look at pictures from a somewhat different albeit cold and unfeeling perspective. This week's exercise is about the OTHER side of that, which is identifying in pictures what you DO and DO NOT like. It is about identifying how those elements lend to the effectiveness of the image to convey a message. When you are able to recognize in your own and other people's images what your aesthetic preference is, you can begin understanding your own style.

Unfortunately, you do not really pick your own style. It kind of comes out all by itself. It's been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not everyone can pull off a certain look. If you consider the world of fashion, while you may really admire the way Lady Gaga or a certain skateboarder looks, even if you purchase the exact same clothing and get the same haircut or even take it a step further and invest in plastic surgery to get a new nose, you are still going to essentially look like YOU.

Ansel Adams is credited with pointing out that there are always 2 people in every picture - the viewer and the photographer. The way you hold your camera, the way you interact with or approach your subject, the way you compose an image, the type of lighting you prefer, the lenses you favour, and the way you tweak or transform it in post-processing all form a part of your overall style. Like developing wrinkles or getting a paint stain on your favourite jeans, over time your body of work may change drastically as you acquire new skills and equipment, but the common thread will always be something that is like an invisible signature.

Part of developing your own style is trying on different ones until you find elements that "fit" -that you feel both confident and at ease with, and are able to do with seemingly little to no effort. Exploring other photography styles is a natural part of development and it's normal to try and shoot like those you admire. I encourage you to check out this video in the context of borrowing ideas in the fashion industry for an interesting perspective on how fashion trends being copied and reproduced forces creativity.

With your armoury of vocabulary and ability to look objectively at images, you should be able to identify elements of other photographers' work and recreate similar images. What kind of lighting was used? Are they prone to shallow depth of field? Is there a vignette or a colour wash they frequently employ? Do they use a lot of Photoshop? (Hint - pretty much all images look the same straight out of camera (SOOC) so if they look too perfect, they probably are.) Consider carefully how each of these elements contributes to whatever it is you have identified about the picture.

This week you will be asked to create an image by first finding one you like and identifying in writing the elements you will be incorporating into your own image. Please provide a link to the image from which you are drawing inspiration and/or get permission from the artist to use it on your own blog.

Below is the detailed description of me taking a walk in the shoes of Brandy Anderson of Fresh Sugar in Calgary, AB, by doing my own take on her 2010 WPPI award winning image in the category of "Fresh Faces." She also shared some of the mistakes she made as a new photographer on her and Danna Bowes's Two Photogs blog, which is well worth a read. The image I used for inspiration is here. Please view it before reading the technical critique. Brandy was kind enough to let me use the image here:

The image is backlit through panes of glass. We know it's a bus because we can see enough to identify it, and the child's face is clearly visible only where she casts her own shadow. You can tell it is either early in the day or later in the evening/afternoon because of the angle at which the light cuts through the bus. We can assume it is the morning because in autumn a child would not be coming home late enough to be in the sunset. We can also assume it is the child's first day of school as parents tend to make a point of photographing that and not just some random day like the third Tuesday in November of 4th grade. There is enough of the schoolbus included to frame the child and imply the context of heading off to school without overpowering the image. The use of subdued colour and addition of more texture (I'm pretty sure the bus window was smeary before she started lol) in Photoshop lends to the feeling of ambiguity, heightening the the underlying apprehension mirrored by both the child's and the photographer's feelings about the first day of school. It doesn't matter if the photographer was conscious of how profound the image would be. Whether these were conscious decisions or simply instinctual during post-processing does not alter the impact of this image.

This a novel way to present the first day of school to an audience. We are traditionally shown cheerful colourful happy pictures that attempt to reflect what we perceive as the ideal experience for ourselves and our children, but is not the case for every child, and certainly not for most parents who indeed feel a bittersweet mixture of trepidation and pride as they close the door on one chapter and open the next when they send their children off into the public arena of school. In a word, brilliant. This is the essence of her pictures, her style - something indelible in the way she presents what she sees through her lens that clearly illustrates to the viewer how the photographer is always present in their photographs.

While I have a kindergarten-aged child, this feeling of ambiguity is oddly enough most accurately reflected in my oldest son, who has survived elementary and junior high and is on the cusp of entering the adult world. Recreating the setting and the lighting was the easy part - my son is too old for school busses. He uses the public bus system, and bus shelters are conveniently a) located nearby and b) made of several panes of glass. My son isn't awake early enough in the day on weekends to do this by morning light, so we used afternoon light instead. This was one of the first shots I took. While I easily succeeded in making the setting work for me, the first images were too much like a portrait. He was posing, sticking his tongue out and putting on a show. I needed him to relax.

The second attempt didn't really capture his personality well either, but I did notice the delicious lens flare I was getting and decided to go for a third attempt.

In the image below, by lowering my perspective not only did I get my nice lens flare, but I was able to really capitalize on his edgy look and personality, mostly because by this point he was growing impatient with me, wondering how much longer he was going to have to stand in a bus shelter freezing his butt off (he's wearing pyjama pants and no shirt along with that filthy hoodie) before we could go home and he could have the two extra cookies (I put them in the oven seconds before we walked outside) I had promised him for humouring me.

Once I knew I had my image, I went into photoshop to grab the following textures, which were blended as soft-light layers and adjusted to about 75% opacity. If you need some help working with textures, this is a great link. This first texture is a freebie I downloaded from a freebie site.

Tidbit of interesting information - adding textures used to be accomplished in the days of film by doing a double exposure (taking two pictures on the same frame) and in the darkroom by a technique called 'sandwiching negatives' where a second negative was sub- or super-imposed either at the same time or consecutively as the original image. The first colour photographs were actually shot using three separate film strips, making sandwiching negatives necessary to view the final image. If you have ever seen a Selphy printer at work which lays down the colours in multiple consecutive passes you'll totally get it. Anyhow...

The texture above is a shot of concrete with light coming in through one of our garage windows. I chose this as the finishing touch because not only did it have a nice grain to it, the shadow in the picture is off a bike wheel. When you remember the photographer is in every picture, if you know I am a bicycle commuter, this becomes entirely relevant.

The final image is below. While you can clearly identify many similar technical elements, it is obviously not the same as Brandy's. Mine smells like teen spirit.

Now it's your turn. Go show me what you got!

I hope you're all playing catch-up!!!

Hopefully this week off has given you all a chance to catch up on your homework. Monday I'll be posting the next exercise, so hurry up and link me to your blogs!!!



Week 7 Exercise 2012 - Available Light is Very Predictable, Too

This week's exercise is super fun. It involves playing with eggs and a lamp. You'll need only one egg, unless of course you break it, in which case you'll need a replacement (or 5 or maybe just a nice styrofoam ball if you're clumsy) and one 40W or more lamp of any kind (halogen, energy saver fluorescent, tungsten.) I'd make you go through the process of moving the object further and further from the light but if you did Week 6's Exercise, you already know how it ends, so we'll just get to the good stuff.

Find your white balance and make sure it's set to AWB (auto.) Place your egg close enough to your light source to get an exposure you like. (Bonus points for creativity!) Without adjusting any other settings, use at least 3 other white balance presets. For your last exposure, I'd like you to challenge yourself and attempt to do a custom white balance. Please note the type of bulb (tungsten, fluorescent, etc.) you shot with when you post your images. Feel free to try with different type of light, too (another type of bulb or even natural window light!)

Week 6 Exercise 2012 - Window Light is Very Predictable

This is a super quick and easy exercise, but one that will help you to really grasp the ides of how window light works.

First you need an object (or subject - if you have a willing participant...) Throw your camera in M and start with an ISO of 200 and an aperture of f4.0. Put the object (or subject) right beside a north facing window. Meter for the light side and take your first shot. Move your object (or subject) about 2 feet away from the window, meter for the light side, and take your second shot. Repeat at 2 feet intervals until you've run out of space in your room. Repeat with a west or south facing window. If the day you shoot is overcast, you might want to try it again on a sunny day, and while you're at it, try out the Sunny 16 rule ;)

While shooting, take note of how the Law of Reciprocity affects your settings change as you move away from your window light. How far away do you get before your shutter speed drops below 1/60? Did you have to bump your ISO?

When you get your pictures on your computer, check out the quality of the light between your exposures - how hard or soft are the shadows? Are the shadows harder from the north or south window? Which side do you prefer? How far from the window is the "sweet spot" for you?

Send me a link when you're done!

Week 5 Exercise Time Trials

The "T" in FAST is for Time, which refers to the amount of Time your shutter remains open. This is commonly known as Shutter Speed (SS). There are some really fun things you can do with shutter speeds, which we will be playing with after next weekend's workshop, but for this week we'll keep it pretty simple and straightforward. And super fun. You get to play in the snow AND shoot moving objects this week - how fun is THAT?

Cameras in M, manual focus again, and you will need to use a tripod or surface area with your 2 second delay for some parts of this exercise. No need for daylight, though you may want to try this one both during the day with natural light and in the evening with available light just for fun, though I suggest that an evening indoors will illustrate results better.

Pick a nice spot indoors to place your camera so that you (or your husband or your children or your dogs) are able to walk in front of it. (Please, no throwing cats through the frame, though stuffed animals are fair game.) Put your camera to f11.0, ISO 200. Guesstimate what your shutter speed needs to be at to get a clear picture of whatever room you're shooting in - how close were you? Once you have an exposure you are satisfied with, use the 2-second delay and get someone to walk through the frame while it's shooting. You should have a rather ghostly-looking picture, no?

BONUS ... requires an accomplice... Pick your camera up (still set to f11.0, ISO200 but turn off the 2-second delay) and while your subject walks through the frame try following them with the camera in a nice smooth motion. (We'll be doing this technique called 'panning' in the workshops anyways, but if you're bored or just having fun, go for it!)

Week 4 Exercise 2012 DLS EMBRACE THE GRAIN

Now that we've covered the F(ocus) and A(perture), we're going to try our hand at playing with our ISO [S]ensitivity. This one is super simple, and you get to play with your 2-second delay timer, to boot! Yay! You do not need nice daylight for this exercise - you can set up next to any light source you like.

Set your camera on a counter surface, and make a mark so you know where to set your camera down for each shot. Next, pick a single object to photograph - might be an apple, a doll's face, a set of keys - whatever you like. Get fancy or keep it simple - the choice is yours - and focus your image so you know you are not inside your minimum focusing distance. Once you have your camera focused and your spot marked, you will need to pick your camera up and set it on the 2-second timer. (If your camera only has a 10-second timer, it's just going to take you a bit longer to do this exercise...) Next, set your aperture to f4.0 and your ISO to 3200.

From doing Week 3, this is a good opportunity for you to take an educated guess at what your shutter speed will need to be. When you have your shutter speed guesstimated, fire a test shot and see what your exposure looks like. If you think you got it, great - you can move on to doing a shot at ISO 1600, 800, 400, and then 200. If not, try again until you get an exposure you think you like. You will have to adjust your shutter speed each time to get an exposure you are happy with - listen to and take note of your shutter speed (good practice for next week.) Do you understand why I suggested using the 2-second timer?

Once you have completed a set of 5 images (one at each ISO) that you think have the same/similar exposure, using either your camera or your computer scroll in and examine the difference in the texture and/or clarity of the image. What do you see? Do you like or dislike the effect? Do you notice it more or less in the bokeh? If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you may consider shooting some at f8.0 and 11.0 or converting some to B&W - does that change how you feel about the texture? And if you're feeling curious you may consider making actual 4x6 prints at WalMart or someplace else inexpensive just to see what the printed images look like - it's $1 that's well worth spending. (Feel free to bring yours in to class to share!) Be sure and post your pics to your blog and send me the link so I can see them!!!

Happy shootin'!

Week 3 exercise 2012 DLS DEPTH OF FIELD

This is essentially the exact same exercise as the Focus exercise, only we're going to explore Depth of Field or "DOF" as it's commonly referred to. This is the "A" in FAST, being of course your "aperture" which in addition to adjusting the amount of light that comes into the camera the same as your pupil, will affect how DEEP your focus is. So, here's how this works.

Your challenge this week is to create images that demonstrate a variation on your Depth of Field. Once again I'm going to ask you to set your camera to M(anual) F(ocus), in M(anual) mode. Select 5 similar or same objects and set them in a row along a flat surface. Make sure you pick someplace that has good natural light. You may want to use the same objects as last week so you can compare and contrast, or you may want to explore your options and create a new scene. Again, as long as you've got good daylight, be as creative as you like.

Once you have your still life setup, set your ISO to 400, your aperture to 3.5, and adjust your shutter speed accordingly to get an exposure you like. Get as close to your still life as you can and position yourself so that you can see all the objects, either slightly above or to one side, and focus on the third (centre) object only. Take your first image, then adjust your aperture to f5.6 and take a second shot. It is going to be underexposed, so you will have no choice but to adjust either your ISO or your shutter speed in order to get a proper exposure. If you were on film I'd feel bad about letting you all figure it out on your own if you've forgotten, but since I know you're all digital... figure it out! ~smirk~

Keeping your focus on the middle object repeat this process at f8.0, f11.0, and f16.0. What do you notice about your ISO? What do you notice about your shutter speed? Is the relationship between aperture, ISO sensitivity, and shutter speed starting to make sense as it applies to the Law of Reciprocity? What do you notice about the foreground and the background of your images?

Upload the images to your blog and either post the link in the comments here or send it to me via email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca. If you are having problems, PLEASE do not hesitate to send me your questions. I am happy to walk you through the process so you aren't lost when we get to the next workshop!!!

Happy shooting,


Week 2 Exercise January 2012 MANUAL FOCUS

For those of you not in the workshops who wish to play along, just post the link to your own blog - we'd love to see what you have going on!

This week, we are going to practice using our camera to understand the Law of Reciprocity as we make our way down the FAST list between now and the next workshop, starting with F - focus. Over the next few weeks if you practice lots, you will be surprised at how good you get at guesstimating your settings. Frustrated? Feeling like cheating by setting your camera to an auto-mode? Remember that the meta data embedded in each file can't be erased or altered. So really, the only person you're cheating is yourself.

Your challenge this week is manual focus. Set your camera to M(anual) F(ocus), in M(anual) mode. Select 5 similar or same objects and set them in a row along a flat surface. Make sure you pick someplace that has good natural light. For example, you may want to make a row of apples on your coffee table, set up some stones on your windowsill, or put a set of Little People on your kitchen counter. As long as you've got good light, be as creative as you like. Try pennies, buttons, oranges, beer bottles.

Once you have your still life setup, put your ISO to 400, your aperture to f3.5, and adjust your shutter speed accordingly to get an exposure you like. If you are below 1/60, you may have to change something to be more sensitive ~hint hint~ Get as close to your still life as you can. You are going to shoot from the same spot for each picture, so you will need to select an angle you can see all of your objects - either slightly off to one side or from above. Your first picture should be taken from the minimum focusing distance. (If you forget what that is, remember bringing your hand towards your face until you can't focus anymore and remember the lens works the same as your eyes in that regard...) Position yourself so that you can see all the objects, either slightly above or to one side. (If you have your objects on a glass surface you could even try shooting from below!) Manually focus on your first object and take a picture. Then manually focus on your second object and take a picture. Repeat for your third, fourth, and fifth. Upload these to your blog and either post the link in the comments here or send it to me via email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca.

Get creative, have fun! Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!!! Example will be posted later this week. :)

Week One 2012 Exercises: Blogging!

Hello, my pretties! As promised, your first week's exercise would be posted this evening (a cool 3 minutes under the wire for me!) Your task for this week is simple: set up a blog. The blog can be Wordpress, Blogger, or whatever else you happen to find that is similar. You can set it to public or private but you MUST share the link with me and your DLS buddies. If you are having difficulty getting there, please send me an email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca and I will walk you through it!