Hopefully, you've had a few lessons on how to use your camera and how to compose an image. Obviously, the point of learning that is to help you take better pictures, so let's start on that.

There are lots of different types of photography and it can help to consider a few of them and to think about how best to approach them. IF nothing else, it really does help to look at the work of other students and photographers. SOme of the more common photographic types, with students examples, are listed below.

Portraits

TIPS:

  • Don't necessarily have people making direct address. Don't ask them to smile. Let it be natural.

  • Try to get light on the face, in the eyes.

  • Props can help. Find something which matches their personality.

  • If in doubt, a slightly low 3/4 angle shot often works. Let the subject choose their best side.

  • Blur out the background unless there's something in it you want to emphasise. 50mm lens would help.

  • If your subject is a young child or an animal, filling the frame with their face will usually make them look very cute. Just turn off your flash or you might blind them. (Not cool.)

Photojournalism/ Street Photography

TIPS:

  • Take a LOT of shots. Street photography is unpredictable so most shots probably aren't going to work out!

  • People often look more interesting when they don't know you are shooting them.

  • Fast shutter speed unless you want blur.

  • Go to interesting places, perhaps at night, and keep an eye out for interesting looking people.

  • Set your camera up in advance. The semi-automatic modes (Aperture priority or Shutter priority) might help. You don't have time to change settings in this context.

  • Take your camera everywhere.

  • Just take the photo. Shoot from the hip if need be. Technical perfection is not everything and you will lose opportunities while you're messing around with focus and aperture.

Architecture

TIPS:

  • It's all about angles. Don't shoot straight on at a building (or anything, as a rule!) Stand off to the side, shoot up at it.

  • Maybe don't shoot whole buildings. Find interesting details and focus on them.

  • Don't necessarily look for huge, grand buildings. EVERYONE uses those. Look for other, more out-of-the-way structures.

  • Will the building be lit? Shoot it at night.

  • Can you use glass in the building to capture reflections?

  • Wide-angle lenses or panoramic modes can help capture large buildings.

  • Vertical composition for tall thin buildings. Horizontal composition for low, flat buildings.

  • Don't stay outside. Shoot inside the building too.

Landscape/ Nature

TIPS:

  • Think in advance about the location, time of day (or night), lighting conditions, weather.

  • Think in planes. Position interesting things in foreground, midground AND background.

  • Landscapes are typically shot with a wide-angle lens.

  • It can be hard to expose for the sky and the landscape feature. (Sky's to bright, landscape's too dark.) A simple ND Grad filter or a polarising filter on your camera will make a huge difference. HDR might achieve a similar effect if you have it on your camera.

  • Know what the subject of your photograph is. Focus on it or compose the image to emphasise it.

  • The golden hour - when the sun is rising or setting - really does make a difference.

  • Often, the weather is the focus. Don't assume it needs to be sunny. 

Art/ Abstract

TIPS:

  • Abstract doesn't mean 'random.' Ideally, there should be a concept or idea behind what you are doing.

  • Look for odd angles, unusual views or shapes. Think in terms of colour, line and shape rather than objects.

  • Get your Photoshop on. Practically all images benefit from cropping and tweaks to exposure and colour, but these abstract images are often mostly created in post-production.

  • Think about overlays, adding to images, drastic colour changes, flipping and rotating images.

  • Use a macro lens to go extremely close and find patterns.

  • Break rules. Move your camera to create motion blur. Distress your images. Create jarring juxtapositions. Consider mixing text with image or creating montages of images and other media.

TASK: PHOTOGRAPHS THAT DON'T SUCK

You are going to put together a very small portfolio of photography. (5 - 10 shots is plenty.) These images should show a range of styles and types. So, you might include some portraiture, some landscape shots and something more abstract.

We are looking for:

  • Technique. You should be able to discuss what you were thinking of in terms of composition. The best students will also be able to talk about how they used their cameras and any other equipment to achieve certain effects.

  • Creativity. Successful students will find subjects, angles and approaches which make their work stand out. This will practically always be as a result of having done a little research into the work of other photographers.

  • Effort. Those who do well will have gone to locations, organised studios, arranged models and generally set up shots to a much greater extent that others. It takes some work!

TASK: FEED THE BEAST

Kyle Yu's influence on Shee Won!

Inspiration and creativity don't come from nowhere. We have to go find it, usually by looking at the work of others. (Feeding your creativity is sometimes referred to as 'feeding the beast.' Well, it is by me anyway.) You need to go and find 3 to 5 photos which you think are very effective. Choose one and be prepared to explain, using the necessary terminology, why you like it so much. Here are a few links to get you started.

Best Instagram Accounts

Best Hong Kong Instagram Accounts

Fan Ho - Hong Kong's iconic photographer

KEY VOCABULARY (in no order at all...Image Analysis vocabulary is also needed here)

(Thanks to creativelive.)

Aperture - aperture is the size of the opening in the lens.

Aspect Ratio - Aspect ratio is simply the ratio of the height to width. An 8 x 10 has an equal aspect ratio to a 4 x 5, but a 4 x 7 image is a bit wider. 

Depth of Field -  refers to how much of the image is in focus. 

Exposure - how light or dark an image is

Focus - The clear and sharply defined part of an image.

Histogram - A chart which tells us how much light we have in an image.

ISO - how sensitive the camera is to light. For example, an ISO of 100 means the camera isn’t very sensitive—great for shooting in the daylight. An ISO 3200 means the camera is very sensitive to light, so you can use that higher ISO for getting shots in low light.

Long Exposure - A technique where we slow down the shutter speed and allow light to hit the sensor for a longer than usual time. Will create motion blur or light streaks.

Noise - Interference or grain in an image - little speckles which are often caused by using a high ISO setting.

Shutter Speed - how long we leave the aperture open. Measured in hundredths of a second.

White balance - The setting which makes sure the camera knows what 'white' is in order to create the proper look for your photo.

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