Photography Course - Lesson 2

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Andrew McCall, Feb 8, 2004.

  1. Hi Folks,

    Well, after asking in this newsgroup if people were interested in
    hearing what happens on my photography course I have decided to make a
    post. If people are offended by this, and think its too off topic, then
    let me know politely and I will arrange to post somewhere else. I
    ignore insulting flames, so that won't get my attention.

    The lesson started off by quickly going over what we had done last week
    - creating photograms in the dark room, We were told to use objects
    that we had brought in and objects from around the lab to create a few
    photograms of our own on the Ilford 5x7 multigrade paper we were asked
    to get for this week.

    This was pretty fun, and despite constantly forgetting to look at the
    clock when I put my pictures in the developing trays, they all developed
    OK! I have uploaded them to my web site in case people are interested.

    This was just a couple of items lying around the lab, it actually turned
    out pretty funky!

    Not too impressed with this one :( Whilst looking for some new items to
    use I saw a light bulb. I was hoping this would come out showing the
    element inside the bulb, but the bulb was frosted and the frosted glass
    didn't let enough light through. The light bulb also rolled around a
    little too much, so I moved the paper to where the bulb settled rather
    than trying to balance the bulb on the paper. It turns out some of the
    paper was outside the enlarger light so it didn't get exposed.

    When I told the lecturer how I wanted the light bulb to look and he went
    and found me a clear bulb. This turned out alright. I was lucky to get
    the bulb in that exact position - it was dark and we didn't have use of
    the red safe filters on the enlarger, so it was pure luck the element
    was in the right place.

    I need to scan these images in properly and fix any dust or scratches.
    I am not too sure whats the best way of doing this yet.

    He then gave us a quick intro into the camera covering ISO speeds,
    shutter speeds and loading and unloading film. This was really quick
    and if I hadn't been reading up on this already I don't think I would
    have fully understood. He also explained the benefits of older cameras
    in that they are normally easier to manually operate - some of the
    students have newer cameras such as a Cannon 300EOS and the student had
    to keep looking at a LCD display to check some of the settings, where as
    the older ones such as the Pentax K-1000 and my FM2n had the settings in
    the view finder. In addition to this, the Cannon's wound the film all
    the way back into the cartridge, making it harder to remove in the dark

    He asked us to buy some Ilford HP5 400 24 exposure film for next week.

    After this we went into the studio and did some light work. He
    introduced us to a big soft box, a hard studio light (like a spot light)
    and a softer light.

    he demonstrated how to use the different lights to bring out the texture
    on a brick, and then showed us on a glass bottle - which then led us
    over to a "white-area" that was used for some objects, like the bottle,
    to indirectly light them, and to create silhouettes.

    During this he also introduced us to metering for a mid-tone gray card,
    (Anyone know where I can get a mid-tone card?) and the importance of
    ignoring the meter after we had metered for the mid-tone.

    He then demonstrated lighting on a dummy-head showing how to avoid
    getting two shadows. After this we each took two pictures of other
    students using a Pentax K-1000 to get used to moving and setting up the
    lighting, and getting the right settings on the camera.

    He developed this film so we could see it, and told us we would be
    printing this next week. He also gave us our first "assignment" which
    is to take 24 exposures for the next lesson where we will be developing
    the film ourselves!

    A good lesson! It flew by and we all had produced something to take
    away with us!

    I want to read up about lighting for next week, can anyone recommend
    some books on lighting that I can get from the college library?

    Anyway - discuss!


    Andrew McCall
    Andrew McCall, Feb 8, 2004
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  2. Sounds like an excellent course!
    Charlie Dilks, Feb 8, 2004
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  3. Andrew McCall

    fake name Guest

    hi Andrew,

    I can only hope you will keep us up to date with your Photography
    Course. I will make sure I set a filter to highlight your posts. Or you
    could also keep the subject line the same (Photography Course - Lesson
    #) to make sure we don't miss it. Great course, great way to put it into
    words, good job and good luck!

    fake name, Feb 9, 2004
  4. Andrew McCall

    Peter Irwin Guest

    Paper development is pretty non-critical as long as you
    leave it in the tray long enough to get good blacks.
    If you leave it in for a very long time, your whites
    may get degraded.
    Pretty nice. I still have a photogram silhouette of my head
    at age 9. It brings back memories.
    Any good camera store should have one.
    That's one reason why meterless cameras and handheld meters
    aren't really that inconvenient.
    It sounds like a pretty good course.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 9, 2004
  5. Andrew McCall

    Alan Browne Guest

    Reminds me of 5th grade ... did the same kinda thing.
    I like this one...

    ....still, without the runway models...
    Alan Browne, Feb 9, 2004
  6. Good stuff? What did you learn from this? Can you tell us in a few words?
    These are prints, yes? What scanner are you using? More important, what
    image manipulation program are you using? There should be tools to do that
    sort of thing to the scanned image. Interesting exploration of the digital
    darkroom awaits you.....
    No problem with 'quick' here, as you'll get exposed to this over and over
    again until you'll know it without thinking about it. AFAIK, most Canons
    (one 'n') do provide all the information you wish in the viewfinder itself.

    And many (most?) Canons have functions that you can set. One of them tells
    the camera whether or not you want to leave a leader out on rewind. Set it
    thus, and until you change the setting, every rewind will leave the leader
    out. It's handy for midroll rewinds, where you simply reload the cassette
    and shoot on manual (lens cap on!!) one past the last frame you exposed,
    leaving a blank frame for safety's sake.
    Good choice, I think.
    And this is exactly the core of photography, learning to use light
    creatively. You'll do this over and over again until it's second nature,
    if you stay with photography.

    I think it's an excellent idea for student's to spend some serious time
    doing still life shots. You get to control everything about the setup, and
    if you do a lab log correctly (full description with all relevant data,
    including distances etc), when you see the neg you'll know exactly where to
    start making any changes you might wish. You don't do that, you are flying

    Dunno how big your still life setup in the lab is, but it doesn't have to be
    huge in order to be very usable. Check out how it's made and see if you
    can figure out how to make a small one for yourself. It's the time you
    spend doing this sort of thing that will hone your sensitivity to what you
    see elsewhere. Working with tonal shading with reflectors and gobos and
    spots and stuff will allow you to automatically assess the situations you
    find elsewhere. Knowing, for example, that an outdoor scene might be
    really enhanced by the addition of some light here, or subtraction of light
    there, will result from this.

    And wait until you get to color!!! The possibilities are endless!!!

    The point here is that studio work allows you to learn how to be creative.
    You can envision all sorts of stuff, but if you can't create what you
    envision, your visions die in memory and you'll never know how well they
    might have turned out. You need to be able to make the moves, to handle
    the gear, to actually make a setup that will allow you to create what you
    "see", and that takes practice every bit as much as musical performances
    that enchant us.

    And if you have your own home setup, there's no one to tell you what and
    what not to do. You can learn much, much more by evaluating results that
    weren't what you wanted, because they'll never be mistakes! This is very
    important, because otherwise it'll be tough to be able to develop a
    personal style, your own expression of how you see things. Yep, labs
    (studios to photographers) are where you really learn stuff!!
    That's an 18% grey card, and should be available from any decent camera
    store (although decent is here described as having real photo gear and not
    just the latest glitz for sale). You should be able to get them from
    BHPhotoVideo... yep, you can. An 8x10 Delta grey card sells for $3.00US.
    Get a half dozen of them and stash them in various places you'll be using

    That's what the camera meter believes is the average of any scene. So if
    you simply stick the grey card where it's perpendicular to the lens, move
    up until your viewfinder only sees the card, and read the meter. That'll
    be what the meter says is the optimum exposure.

    What you'll find is that light doesn't really change as much as your meter
    might make you think. Want a neat metering trick for out doors? Hold the
    palm of your hand in front of the lens in the place where the scene/object
    is (where the light is). IIRC, palm color is probably the most universally
    common skin color for everyone. Take a reading, and open up one stop, and
    you'll be within a third of a stop of optimum, usually.
    Excellent!! Pushing gear around is a lot of what studio pros do, so I
    understand. The actual exposure takes only an instant, but setup takes..
    well, it takes as long as it takes!! What you'll be learning is what moves
    to make, so that you'll be able to cut back on the 'false moves' that are
    the source of so much frustration!

    Pay attention to what you're doing when you shove gear around making a
    setup. The more efficient you are, the quicker it goes and the easier it
    is to get into a creative 'flow'. Even more important: the moves you can
    make easily will be the ones you'll be willing to actually make because
    they won't detract from what you're trying to do. Start fumbling, and
    you'll have a hard time keeping your enthusiasm and vision.

    Further, if you can do smooth and efficient setups in the studio, when
    you're out shooting, you'll be much more able, and therefore more likely,
    to improvise in order to get the lighting you want. And that will make a
    major difference in the quality of your work. And your satisfaction, as
    You might do yourself a favor and note the relevant data for each frame.
    Dunno whether it'll be useful, but it sure won't if you don't have it!
    Yep, keeps the enthusiasm going.
    Others can make recommendations here, but for black and white it really
    isn't all that complex to understand. Color is an entirely different
    matter. Look closely at B&W prints that you like and try to guess how may
    light sources were used/available. Where were they placed? Which source
    was stronger/weaker? Any indication of what sort of light source was used?
    What about reflections? What about glare (light overpowers the texture)?

    You spend some effort to make these kinds of analyses, and you spend time
    learning how to shove gear around to make effective setups, and between the
    two, you'll learn much of the most important parts of photography.

    Yeah, I can blather on with the best of them... <grin>, but perhaps you'll
    find something I've written useful, and that's worth my effort.

    And most of important of all: Have fun!!

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Feb 9, 2004
  7. Yeah, thats a good idea. I will keep the subject line "Photography
    Course - Lesson X" so its clear - this might also help anyone who
    isn't interested in filtering it out.


    Andrew McCall
    Andrew McCall, Feb 9, 2004
  8. Andrew McCall

    Edwin Petree Guest

    Edwin Petree, Feb 9, 2004
  9. Basically I learned how the paper reacts to different amounts of light,
    which in turn I translates to how the paper will react when printing
    from a negative. As a negative allows different amount of light through
    each area of grey in the picture, the paper will react differently,
    making up the image.

    This also made me realise why a negative is a negative image, and not a
    positive image - if it was a positive image, it would print a negative!


    Yes, these are 5x7 prints. I am using an Epson Perfection 1200S scanner .
    I am using PhotoShop 7 on a Mac. I tried the "Remove Dust and Scratches
    Filter" but the filter seemed to remove a lot of the print from the
    shape of the light bulb. I think the best way to clear this up would be:

    1) Scan it in at around 1200dpi
    2) Fix the skew
    3) Select the bulb
    4) Invert the selection
    5) Apply the filter to the selection
    6) Remove the other scratches and dust by hand
    7) Downsample the image to the required size

    Is it just a case of taking it to a printers to get it printed correctly
    then, or is there a way I can print it myself?
    This is originally what got me interested in photography, but now I am
    more interested in taking the correct image in the first place on film :)
    Thats what I am hoping. It does seem so hard at first. When I was
    adjusting the lighting I could see the shadows changing, but I couldn't
    tell exactly if I was doing it right - did I have crossing shadows? Was
    one side of the face going to be too dark? I suppose its just getting
    used to it!
    I might make a seperate post asking about this, the students who use
    these cameras will be pleased if they are able to leave the leader out.
    Unfortunatly I had already bought a 36 exposure, so I will find it
    harder to get it all on the spool at developing time :(
    I have always been interested in "art" - when I was 16 I actually was
    interviewed for the same college I am doing the course at (indeed the
    same building!) to enroll on a fine art course, but for some reason at
    the last minute I ended up going to a different one and my career
    followed the IT/Computing path.

    Its huge! Its a large hall about the size of a tennis court! It has
    little "bays" all around side for smaller shoots, and each end it has
    big setups for larger shoots.
    I was thinking this. I bet with some wood, white/black cloth and some
    lamps I could make a small setup for still life. This months issue for
    "Professional Photography" magazine has an article all about still life,
    so it might have some tips.


    Well, its pay-day on Friday, so I think I will order a few from Jessops!

    Yeah, this was pretty fun, but it was also a bit edgy - the class hasn't
    really got to know each other so taking pictures of each other was a
    little weird. I suppose this is exactly the sort of thing professional
    phtoographers have to do every day!


    Indeed! Your post was most welcome! Thanks.
    Thats what lifes for isn't it? ;-)


    Andrew McCall
    Andrew McCall, Feb 9, 2004
  10. Andrew McCall

    ericm1600 Guest

    Ask around and see if you can find a couple rolls of "junk" film. Either
    you don't remember or don't care what's on them, or buy some "expired" film
    at your local camera shop. If you explain that you're looking for something
    that you can practice opening and then loading in the light, they might find
    something really cheap/free for you. Ask your instructor.

    Then, learn how to open a can of film using a bottle opener. Much easier
    and less chance of scratching your precious film than pulling it out of the
    cartridge through the felt lips.
    Sometime during class, ask to borrow his. Take a reading from his gray
    card. Then, take a reading from the *palm* of your hand. Your palm will
    most likely be half a stop or a stop lighter. Once you can meter off your
    hand, you don't have to worry about remembering where your gray card is. :)
    ericm1600, Feb 9, 2004
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