HSI, Class 2: Photography Basics

Multimedia

Finish Blogging Workshop


Document Your HSI Experience with Photography

We will go on three field trips during this class: Vedauwoo, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, and the Snowy Range Mountains. At each field trip, I want you to take as many photos as you can that use the creative devices and strategies that we learn today.

During class, we will share your HSI photography and memories on your blog.

You are not allowed to use your phones during HSI unless you are in my class. And, you are only allowed to use your phones for class-related activities. No Snapchating your friends back home!

Creative Devices for Composition

First things first, we’ll learn about the basics of photography and forever-useful creative devices.

Steady Does It: Hold the camera steady by digging your elbows into your chest, placing your elbows on something, using two hands, or leaning against a wall.

Move Around and Get Closer: You need to constantly be moving around to get a variety of good shots. Go on your stomach, your knees, a ladder, or chair. Change your position and your angle. Don’t be afraid to get very close to your subjects.

photographer_laying
Move around to get different angles and perspectives.

Use Vertical Shots: Don’t always shoot horizontals, be sure you use vertical shots as well.

Pick A Focal Point: The automatic focus on point-and-shoot does a good job at focusing on what you desire, but it is sometimes limiting to work with. So, when you want to focus on something very close and want to blur the background, you can use the “macro” function on your camera (if it has one).

Light: Natural light provided by the sun is the best light to shoot in. If there is bright sunlight and you’re shooting people who are facing the sun, they may squint and shadows may be cast on their faces. Be sure to avoid those shadows by moving around to find the best angle. If there is bright sunlight and people have the sun behind them, their faces will be dark. You can compensate by using a flash. Noon and mid-day sunlight is typically bad sunlight for photography. Sunrise and sunset light is better. But, partly sunny days provide the best light because it is much softer on skin.

shooting_into_the_sun
Shooting into the sun will create shadows on your subjects. This creates interesting contrast. Alternatively, you could use a flash in order to provide some lighting on your subjects.

Now for the Top Composition Tips as outlined by Photography Mad, as well as a few more suggestions of my own. Some of these are also mentioned in Ch. 7 in the book as well.

  1. Rule of Thirds: Example
  2. Balancing Elements: Example
  3. Leading Lines: Example
  4. Symmetry and Patterns: Example
  5. Viewpoint: Example
  6. Background: Example
  7. Create Depth: Example
  8. Framing: Example
  9. Cropping (Note: This does not refer to cropping in Photoshop; this refers to compositional cropping when you take the photo): Example
  10. Color: Example
  11. Texture: Example
  12. Establishing Size: Example
  13. Contrast: Example
  14. Focus: Example

Active Learning Activity

Get into a group of 2-3 students.

Review the The New York Times Lens photography blog.

Talk about each photo that you examine in terms of the creative devices used in the photo.

Discuss how the photographer may have captured this photo. What were the potential challenges in capturing the photo?

Discuss the messages that the photograph is communicating. If a “picture is worth a thousands words”, then what words are being communicated? –> We will talk more about this in Wednesday’s class.

A note about your rights and duties as a photographer.

  1. In public, you can photograph anyone or anything. If they approach you and request you don’t take their picture, you may respect their request; but, keep in mind that they are in public and they cannot expect any privacy in public (i.e., you can keep taking their picture).
  2. In private residences, businesses, and property, you should get permission. They may not allow photography. **You can always ask for forgiveness rather than permission, though.**
  3. If people ask why you’re taking photos, explain it is for your class blog and schoolwork.

It takes 100 photos to get about 5 great photos. The point: TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS!

Activity: Photo Practice

Let’s practice our photography skills around campus. Here’s a list of things to photograph this morning. Be sure you can tell me what creative device you used!

Our goal: Take 50 photos in 20 minutes. Work fast!

We will spend 10 minutes in the Geological Museum first, and then have 10 minutes to go outside on Prexy’s Pasture.

  1. The inside or outside of the Geological Museum
  2. The enormity of Prexy’s Pasture
  3. An extreme close-up photo of something in Prexy’s Pasture
  4. A flower, tree, or animal
  5. Climb on top of an object (preferably, a steady object) and take a photo from up above
  6. Something that has made you happy at HSI
  7. A physical object that can be interpreted as the first letter of your first name
  8. Get on your belly on the ground somewhere and take a photo

Activity: Photo Reflection Blog Post

Let’s discuss your photos. What did you take photos of? What did you learn about photography?

Now, in your blog post, post your five best photos. For each photo, please explain what creative devices are used in the photo.

Write a paragraph about you learned about photography.

About The Author

I'm a faculty member in Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming. At UW, I have taught online journalism, advanced new media, introduction to mass media, politics and media, and alternative media. At Ohio State, where I got my PhD, I taught research methods, news reporting and writing, visual communication, and persuasion. My reserach focuses on political communication, emerging media platforms, and entertainment media. In my spare time, I love to play with my daughters, hang out with my family, cook, hike, jog, read, and blog.