Friday, December 14, 2012

It is all in "Post" with CaptureOne Pro

Continuing with their knowledge and understanding of PhaseOne gear and the CaptureOne Pro software we look at what tools are available in post to make adjustments to the files before they are processed out so we are not decimating the pixels. CaptureOne Pro is a world leader with it's processing software and ability to accept RAW files from all platforms. In class we take a look not only at the regular adjustments that we typically make before processing out files but also some of the advanced features as well. These include custom color editor, conversion to black and white, correcting for moire, vignetting, lens cast calibration etc. I like to test their understanding of the concepts with assignments. In this particular instance the assignment consisted of two parts:

(1) Capture an image that purposely had the White Balance incorrectly set. Process out two files - a"before" image showing the file uncorrected for color and an "after" image with color correction.

(2) Capture an image (free creative licence to shoot whatever came to mind) and process out the file as "normal" (before). Then using any of the advanced features of CaptureOne Pro software adjust the file however you like (after). Process it out and show both before and after side by side.

The marking was assessed not only in their ability to use the software but as always also in the creative, execution of idea and the final result.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Medium Format?

I have had the opportunity this term to introduce the second years to capturing using medium format gear. As a professional photographer there are many reasons why I shoot medium format with my PhaseOne equipment. I like to bring this experience to the classroom so that they all have a chance to at least understand the basics of medium format capture and the quality of the files that it creates. I go through and demonstrate how to use the camera system, PhaseOne digital back, shooting tethered and use of the CaptureOne Pro software for processing. I then turn the tables on them and break them into groups of 4 to 5 and have them shoot this assignment tethered using the PhaseOne system. The creative is left up to them and they are given 1 1/2 hours to collectively work together to light and capture their idea. Once again a real world scenario working under a tight time constraint. It was interesting to see the final results and variation in ideas amongst the four groups. I was pleased with the final results and the opportunity they had to capture an idea using medium format PhaseOne gear.

Who turned on the lights!

We are almost at the end of the term now and the students have handed in their second last assignment "High Key" for PHT 350. We explored what classifies an image as High Key and how to go about creating it. Fundamentally it is defined by lighter tones, lower ratios and softer light. This may seem easy but is not always easily achieved - getting a clean high key image with contrast and clean tones takes practice and experience. I am proud to say that my students have a good start on creating "High Key" images.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And last but not least "Gravity"

So our first years have survived their first term of Critique and have handed in their last themed critique "Gravity". Each of us, as visual artists, have our own creative thoughts on a theme or idea so I am always interested to see their interpretation versus mine. Sometimes we are close other times we are not - that is why our world and work is so subjective. How would you interpret "Gravity" as a theme?

For the first time ever instructors had to also submit a photo that we had taken to fit with the each critique theme. Students were glad to see this as it shows we can walk what we talk. I think that it will become a new tradition within the program.

Friday, November 30, 2012

PHT 125 CRITIQUE: "Shopkeepers"

Shopkeepers proved to be a lesson in working with people who are not models, who do not understand that a photograph can be more than a snapshot and, in some cases, are very reluctant subjects.
However, many assignments in photography involve photographing people who are not comfortable nor skilled before the camera.  In wedding and portrait photography the subjects are likely to be unpracticed; there is the executive in commercial photography who will grant you five minutes; in photojournalism and editorial work those you are sent to photograph are not in the spotlight because of their posing skills.
In doing this assignment some of the naivete of the novice photographer was lost. And, as usual, in spite of their lack of experience and the reluctance of the subjects, some students managed portraits of their shopkeeper that are quite revealing.

                                                                  Charissa Kennedy

                                                                         Kelsey Somers

Key is everything

This is one of the more favoured student portrait assignments of the term. They are all gaining more confidence in their lighting and starting to develope their own shooting style. In this instance students get to show off their skills creating a "low-key" portrait. Creative was wide open for their own interpretation. The only criteria were: darker tones, higher ratios and a crisper light source. It is always interesting to view the range of interpretations for this assignment.

Two is better than one

So our second years are well on their way this term learning the basics of Portraiture. Every two weeks they are assigned a new topic based on materials presented and demonstrated in class. Most recently they completed their "Couples" assignment. The assignment had to be captured using natural light only - no supplement with artificial light. They were quite pleased with this as it meant there was no hauling of lighting gear and having to worry about the technical aspects of combing artificial with ambient light - wahoo!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Architecturally Speaking and Multiculturism Critiques

As many of you know our 1st Years participate in a course called PHT 125 Critique. Each week they have to submit images that prescribe to a predetermined theme. It pushes them to creatively capture an image that they feel supports the theme. Interpretation of course is two-fold; student and the instructor marking. The marking instructor(s) provides feedback the week after submission. I am pleased to say that the classes are active and lively with dialogue from both sides. The last two weeks “Architecturally Speaking” and “Multiculturism” have been marked and critiqued – enjoy!

Architecturally Speaking


Thursday, November 22, 2012


“…to follow in pursuit with the hope of attracting, gaining, winning…”

That’s exactly what our first year students did with this weeks critique topic, THE CHASE.

Some of the students’ images attracted critic’s praises; others hopefully gained valuable photographic lessons from the critique.  The following students’ images, just plain won me over. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Critique - Water

We all have different interests.  Different strengths.  Different ideas.

Critique class plays to the individuality and creative imagination of each of the students.

Each student is going to have topics which they are going to struggle with, and those that they excel at. The water topic is one that is open to a lot of interpretation.  A lot of experimentation.

There were a lot of fruit/vegetables being splashed into water, water droplets, calm and relaxing water scenes, and a few outliers.

The following images are the top 3 from the class.  Overall this was one of the best submissions in my opinion.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First Year Critique - Speed

The first year students are now half way through their first semester.  Their third critique assignment was on the topic of "Speed".  Speed may prove to be one of the most difficult of topics to excel at.  Below are the top 3 images created for this assignment.  They capture speed in 3 different ways.  

The first image is from Christophe Benard.  This image captures the speed of a bird from a trailing bird's perspective.

The second image is from Josie Baerg and I felt it chronicled the hustle and bustle of a daily commute quite well.  

And the third Image by Taylor Mah is another featuring Public transport.  I liked the contrast of the speeding train with passengers reading the newspaper and staring out the window.

The first year students are improving with each and every critique, and each assignment showcases their unique perspectives.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spiderman tests out "Portable Flash"

Technology advances have changed the face of photography as we knew it 20 to 25 years ago. Our cameras now have the ability to capture images at high ISO’s with unbelievable results. “Golf Ball” grain is no longer a creative option. The camera’s ability to capture at these high ISO’s means that our little portable flashes now are a realistic lighting option in the studio or on-location. They are an inexpensive form of lighting that can be modified, turned up or down like a power pack and guess what – you don’t have to bring your 600lb capacity cart to lug them to shoots.

In class we discussed the dreaded Guide Number and how it mathematically relates to distance and aperture. Using their mathematical skills they can now place their portable flashes at any distance and know what the flash output will be. Conversely, they can chose their depth of field and now calculate how far away their flash has to be from their subject – enough math already! Let’s just look at some of the favoured results of their “Portable Flash” assignment using two flashes. Even "Spiderman" agrees Portable Flash "rocks"

Outdoor Portraits with Mother Nature

Every year Mother Nature shows her true colors and we all rush outside to take our clients outdoor portraits. Using tools of the trade the second years learned the fundamentals of outdoor portraiture. We studied how to “look” for light and make use of it to provide shape and form on our subjects. We also explored methods used to modify it to our liking or add some supplemental light to compliment what’s existing. As usual with every module of content there is an assignment created encouraging them to put into practice what has been taught. Assignment parameters required that they go out and shoot an “Outdoor Portrait” and capture two images of their subject enjoying the environment and then a second closer. These two images were then to be put together as a collective for review by their “Client” the old commercial guy for marking. Here are a set of Outdoor portraits that I would consider worthy of selling to the market.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bathrooms or Garages

“Formal and casual criticisms of a work often use the term 'critique' to refer to any somewhat loosely-applied argument about the quality of the work, typically when used in reference to popular expectations, or conventionality of a genre or class."
"Critique is based upon an informed opinion, and never upon personal opinion. Informed opinion is accepted as being technical knowledge, personal or professional experience, or specified training.”…

Ya, ya…in the simplest terms and most accurate description:

The following photographs submitted by our first year students for “Bathrooms or Garages” are the ones that I found to be the most successful and overall pretty darn cool!

                                                                  Christophe Benard

                                                                  Charissa Kennedy

                                                                                    Sara Tetz

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The second Critique theme was "Shadows". Which opened a debate about whether or not silhouettes constituted  shadows. Which led some students to observe that it didn't pay to be subtle in the photographs submitted. Which led to muttering and the disgruntled kicking of objects lying on the floor within range. Which led to vociferousness. Which led to the expansion of vocabulary, especially of the blue variety. Which led some to ask, "How do you spell that?" Which fulfilled the mandate of Critique - to make students more articulate in discussing visual material.

Below are two of the more appreciated submissions.

Janine Esplin

 Sara Watson