Feb 13, 2013

One Light, One Lens, Two High Schools

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens, f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 800, red filter in monochrome mode in the camera
Ah, high school. Remember how great it was? How free you were? How your only worries were about friends and home work that wasn't really that hard? How you went to an after school job to earn spending money instead of mortgage money? How you got to go to art classes and have a good time? Those were the good ol' days, eh?

Well, I went back yesterday. Twice. I spent the morning with Photography students at Fast Forward Charter High School were we set up a simple studio and made some simple portraits (still hoping to see their pictures of me on Facebook!). We did the same thing at Logan High in the afternoon. I talked about light and working with people and not sitting back in your chair so your legs don't look fat. Then--finally--I shut up and made pictures.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens, f/4, 1/25s, ISO 400, red filter in monochrome mode in the camera
And I have to admit, this post is not normal for me: I haven't finished any of the images, they are straight form the camera. I normally adjust the exposure and do some touchups and add a vignette and maybe use the Nik software tools to really make them pop. But I wanted the students to see here that the photo as I shot it wasn't bad, and that I'm not using photoshop to completely change the picture. Most of the students have shot film and may be inclined to think that photoshop is a little bit of cheating: but I heartily disagree. I use photoshop (Actually, I use Lightroom4) to finish the image off, just as I would in the darkroom, brightening here and darkening there, and increasing contrast, and cropping. It's not rocket science, but it does finish my image to look the way I envisioned when I pressed the shutter button. That's the way photography has been for nearly 200 years!

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens, f/4, 1/100s, ISO 400, red filter in monochrome mode in the camera
Besides that, digital camera all have significant photoshopping skills built right in. This black and white setting I use isn't one of them, however.

When we shoot black and white film, a red filter (red glass) placed in front of the lens makes pictures more contrasty and has an especially nice effect on skin tones. See, it evens the tones and makes blotchy skin more clear, and makes pimples virtually disappear. Now my digital camera does the same effect without the glass--it interprets the light coming into the camera as if there was a filter on the lens. This is great! Just go the monochrome settings in the Menu on your camera (not the shortcut to button on the outside of the camera) and go in and choose to use a red filter (ROYG are usually the options--red, orange, yellow, green). I love it, and I think you'll enjoy better black and whites from it, too.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens, f/4, 1/100s, ISO 400, red filter in monochrome mode in the camera
Also, the students at LHS will remember that the above picture of J. (long haired male) was made when he was sitting farther from the light--that's why the background is more visible. When the students sat closer to the light the difference between the amount of light on the face and on the background was too much for the camera to distinguish and so the background is completely black. The the model farther away from the light, the difference in the light on the face and the background is similar and so the background is visible. Note also that image was shot at 1/25 of a sec--much slower, and much too slow for me to handhold, so I'm using the tripod. 

Also, these pictures are simply made. There's just one light to the side (at Fastforward we put four lights right next to each other to make a single source, and at LHS we shone two lights through a white sheet to make a single source), one lens, and the subject is turned so there is light on both sides of the face. We're lighting the short view of the face, remember?

In the end, I think everyone had a good time.

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