Reviewing Images from Colonnade Park


Vision-Driven Photography


Lesson Info

Reviewing Images from Colonnade Park

Let's, use the next few minutes. Just teo, you know, take your cameras out and kind of do some visual scouting. And just because, again, for me, the best, the best process for me is just to get my camera and start looking through through the frame and threw my lenses and and let's, let's, wonder for, you know, five, ten minutes, and they play with the lines in the architecture, er and and all kind of all allow you guys to do the wandering, and I'll just kind of wander up behind you and see what everyone's shooting. Now we'll just kind of play it loose, and until our mountain bike guys got here and then then maybe we'll set up a couple shots, and we'll just kind of play with that. Again all pretty organic because you're all gonna respond to this place and your desire to take photographs a little differently so I feel like I'm kind of the same thing is what zack was talking about I kind of need to loosen myself up a little bit and kind of get things going and take a couple of sucky shots...

and realized that I don't have a styled in and then we'll go from there over here like how letters air so dark but then behind it like the light makes it stand out but I'm just trying to frame it so that I could get like kind of a blurred backer my letters just like like light basically but yeah it's ritual I found interesting when I'm going to keep exploring because there's a lot of things way need to to do is get you coming get in air getting some air through a beam of light that would be perfect would be enough to make me take up action photography today I was expecting to see a mountain biker I overheard that that would be a possibility but not in this setting at all. I was thinking more probably in mountain so this totally threw me off the whole urban decay thing under the highway and uh wasn't expecting this at all wolf for me it just meant uh focusing on different things so I was focusing a lot more on the lighting, and less so on the actual biking or trying to capture bikers in the air, or writing down a hill or anything like that. But just trying to get, like way. We've been talking about vision, and my vision of this place changed. The more I kind of explored its. I'm just curious to know, like, did your impression of the place change? Did you become more intrigue? Didyou come less intrigued, and and what does your photograph in the few few minutes that we have? What kind of sickness do you shoot? I think I'm a detail person just in general I focus on the details first immediately gravitate toward details and what I started seeing was a lot of like what looked almost like pathways so I was getting down and shooting like down a down a log that had all this texture on it and then down a path that texture now you know all of these different cats so they were all details until I saw nathan shooting down here so I was way back there so I got him like with all the pillars so that was like also drawn to details and so I started walking around so texture and then walked over here and found a library book and that losing and thought to myself I'm my simon myself is gonna be nothing to do with bicycles on this but just found objects I also ended up focusing kind of on pathways and I ended up in all the spaces where there's anything made out of wood which I wasn't I mean I don't really know why but that's just very ended up kind of also similar to what you're saying is shooting down down a pathway where I was going up and down there's kind of a it looks like a poster but it looks like what I was just kind of experimenting with that and then also kind of some of the lighting booth did you have your impression of this place changed in the few minutes that we're shooting on what did you end up doing I don't know if it's if it's changed it's definitely difficult because we've got such a high contrast but I'm noticing right off about it I'm still shooting people go with the apartment's really trying to kind of check you know you well you had a full light going on and also put you in next to the camera guys out in this really bizarre spot and just kind of with juxtaposition there and then talking with your buddy flynn here each of these guys are coming and they all have really cool color on him I can't help but I guess I'm already just drawn straight people are trying to frame also working with long wind so wide angle stuff not having for me today so I think there's a really cool people stuff he's telling about the moon dust got down the ground coming off me and I really dig by the dad but I don't know how I'm gonna get it really spot so yeah I'm sure you have been coming down in a really dirty and clean but you just don't kill me please I guess I when I come to a place like this I think skate park and I know where the sick jumps are you have to follow people doing it so I immediately seek out somebody and ask him you know what do you like to hit what route you take and he was like oh big ears over here come over here follow me so I kind of just ask the experts where I should go I find it. The reason I asked that question is I find it very interesting to see I mean, I was looking around, everyone was shooting something different, and to be quite honest, I mean, this is a pretty cool place, but it's it's not like it's to me, rich in visual, like I didn't get out of the car and all this is so cool, there's not a lot of people, and yet I found it interesting that for me, what this place was about, I was shooting lines and the sun coming through, and I looked over and natalie shooting a flower and that that just that was very jarring for me because I'm seeing gritty, industrial, post apocalyptic there's nothing here there's a high five sign and the sun and it's harsh and it's, it's grit and natalie shooting this little flower and so it's interesting to me that you know your vision of a place and what a place khun b could be very, very different from one person to another and that's simply going to change what you photographed and how you fooled around fade to black, maybe he'll stop talking. Um, yeah, so what I wanted to do was was go, teo, go to some of the photographs that we shot yesterday and and looked at them, I want to say a quick word about people that are posting to flicker, that this whole thing's kind of experimental, so, um, for one don't don't freak out about the rights, I mean, obviously, if you're not comfortable with it, don't don't join we just really want to be able to put them up on the screen and to be able to draw on image and talk about it, at least that's our intention, whether we get there or not, is another thing, but we wanted to be able to have photographs that we could draw from, because the best way to study photography is, in fact, a look at photographs, rather than just to keep talking, whether it goes that way or not. Well, well, kind of see, so just so, you know, we're only looking to gather images so that we can draw from them is illustrations, and they're more helpful if they're your images having said that, we're gonna look at the photographs that we took at the skate park, um, or a colonnade park yesterday, and the thing that really did interest me, and I said it in the video, was that that everyone found something different. We went to this place and we all responded in a different way, and it was the same this morning, we all respond in different way, and some people look at a place like that and go, oh, this is so cool, and other people like myself, I showed up both both venues and were initially was kind of like, yeah, doesn't really do anything for me, and yet the more I think we work through our process. By the end of today, I was having so much fun because I didn't immediately see the place for I mean, I just I didn't get a personal vision of the place, but I gave myself an assignment in the end, I gave everyone assignments that go shoot something, and I ended up shooting bloom, and I will talk about that later today, but what really interests me about this whole thing is that everyone shot something very, very different, you know, you have you have flowers and dragonflies, and again, you know, when I first showed up, if you'd shown me this or this, I never would have imagined that it was taken, because this is not what that place was to me, but everyone sees things different and that's what this is about, it's, about mindfulness and asking yourself when you show up in a place, how do I see it? How am I experiencing it? Am I disappointed in the place? Do I do? I wish it was something else and then just kind of follow that stream because it's okay to be disappointed with blazing off the force yourself to like it if you don't like a place photograph, why you don't like it and follow that stream and see. But just the more consciously aware you are of things I think allows you to more intentionally make some photographs that are are maybe more a reflection of you than something you're kind of forced into. So, uh, where was there was an umbrella against a tree? It was just sitting there a free umbrella. There is a free umbrella colonnade park in seattle. If you're looking for one, um it's um, very dramatic lighting that's a that's, a really cool kind of reverse lightning bolt. I love that that's really neat. The light was really cool under this under this spot, and we talked a little bit about harnessing that the dynamic range. And if you expose for the light, all this other stuff will fall off, and this is this is a great use of that, just capturing the dust on dh stuff in that beam heavily tattooed, urban greedy guy and I think I think what's interesting is that all of these photographs, if you look at them as just as a grid there's quite an I'll go through the other ones but there's quite a difference in the style that not only in the way that the process but just simply the way that they've been envisioned, the optics are different, the light that perspective, everything is different and I think shows a real difference in the unique people that shot it if if we had a hundred people, we'd have some commonality issa's we do here, but we have very distinct voices, and I think the minute you recognize that you're telling a story with a distinct voice it's a good clue that you're actually beginning to dial into your vision a little bit because you don't feel we talked about yesterday. One of the barriers to expressing your vision even to finding your vision is that need to be like someone else and here we're seeing these distinct individual voices come out not only in the capture but in the post uh, post process great, great use of angles and, you know, a choice and I because this is a sort of unusual perspective it's not your first when you see a guy in a mountain bike, your first thought is to lie down and, you know, shoot him from the dirt and then this is this is one of things that interests me is that you are in a situation where it's all about you know, mountain biking or whatever but there are people that really frankly don't want to shoot mountain bikes and you still end up shooting you know the thing that you love shooting right and uh I think that's really great that horizontal framing is really really nice that works really nicely together I could go back and forth like this all day how do you feel about that natalie uh so what is it whose whose is this is this ah bite going by yeah, okay. All right again another really cool use of the the p o v and and he got this great dramatic kind of lens flare and that's really interesting so now I want to I want to ask you a question um how did you feel about yesterday? I mean especially sort of if you take from the moment we arrived and then compare it to after we left how did you feel about explain to me what kind of process you went through and you're thinking did you find it was a bit of a journey? Did you find that you know, it was different from the time you arrive to the time you left tell me a little bit about about the process of of what went on yesterday is we're shooting anyone anyone anyone union fueler microphone go for christmas for me when I first got there I was uh really kind of turned off by because it was all dark and there was these really, really, really bright things like coming through and uh that just seemed difficult to me to get exposure right on that there's a lot of contrast uh so once they started actually going up and down the hills I just tried to focus on the contrast I guess and even increase the contrast a little bit so it's well, almost just the extremes black and white and try to get them coming through that um I wasn't really attracted to the environment so I focused more on the contrast of the light by the end and that was actually a lot of fun. Yeah, I mean, I think so often we show up as photographers and we look at a scenario and we try very hard to uh I mean we want it to be perfect. We want the light to be nice and and my first reaction as years was chris I show up and I go oh man, you know, the light's really contrast e and but I think what that does it actually tells us more about ourselves than it does about you know the situation because if we concentrate on what's not there, you know there's no soft light and you could have gone of course and found soft light but why not take advantage of what's there and turn it to our advantage? So yeah if you want to shoot really soft portrait maybe it's not the best light but it's perfect light for shooting contrast he stuff and taking advantage of that that really you know, this shorter dynamic range of the camera um did you find by the end that you were shooting that you were kind of getting a bit of ah I mean, I don't want to overuse the word vision I'm going to anyway, but did you find that you know, from the time you arrive and we're a little disappointed by the end you had found something that you were enjoying shooting? Yeah, it was really I was really enjoying it look at that like if you were to go back to yeah, which ones which ones I like the first one there number five like thea the beams of light were super straight, but on the hills they make these little zigzag patterns er and I just as they were going back and forth down the hills, I thought it was really cool to try to capture that the shape of it and also try to get the face in the light to is just a challenge most of my frames were just up you can't even see the biker and all you see is this thing of light, but I was really just spent a lot of time focusing on just trying to get a face in the light and, you know, what's cool about this to me is that this again? We talk about, you know, well, did it really look like this? It didn't really look like this, I mean, our human I could see a much bigger dynamic range, right? I mean, you and I, if we were there, we could see into the shadows, it actually looked a lot brighter than this, but because the camera's got an ability or inability to capture that broad range of light on the sensor, you're actually able to use that in your favorite isolate so that's actually using the ability of the camera or the inability of the camera, do a certain thing actually create a really cool aesthetic that, you know, that isolates. And so now the story where is before you might have seen all this? You know, kind of craft in the background now it's yours like you're pulling the I like straight and you didn't, I'm guessing you didn't do much to this, and post processing is no the exposed for that light and everything else just kind of blew up to play, yeah, just falls into place and you plunge your shadows and you know, in the digital age I think too often we want these perfect hissed a gram's on our files someone's going to look at this and go oh there's no detail in the shadow what if you don't want detail in the shadow don't put detail in the shadow if you want to blow out your highlights and don't want any detail in the highlights feel free to blow him out you know there are no rules and I think the more bound were to these rules the more we forget this is about aesthetics and if you want a blown out highlight blow it out if you want nothing and because this is I mean in the days of shootings excuse me shooting slides you would have a much more um whatever you had to do this I mean the dynamic range was quite quite small, so I think the ability to do this and purposely uh give yourself the freedom toe totally plunge your shadows and stuff I think it's great for some reason everyone's looking for a perfect digital file instead of a great looking image and we're building this like religion around blink ease and kind of drives crazy um anyone else have having experience about this in terms of what your your perception of the place was when we arrived compared to what you were feeling about it and the way you saw it after um I think one of the biggest things that we talked about this little bit is when we got there there was just so much going on and there were a lot of really cool lines over the uh you know, all over the place with the highway over top of us but um and even going back again to the beginning of yesterday of kind of that that blank canvas of were to start with this when there's just so much going on and um you know, the exclusion idea of um you know, kind of how do I go about uh you know, setting up the little bit that I want to see and to make sure that's the only thing that that uh is with frame um and I guess just the approach uh on that I got a little overwhelmed with, you know, all the different light I love what he's done what you've done here um you know, get it kind of blocked out a lot of the other nonsense that I didn't want uh write that I would not like to see in this picture and I think that's a really that name equality to it and so you know, dealing as well with all of the logistics of, you know, all the camera and the settings and baba block um and then from there trying to work in that environment that was really complex and you know if that's what they're what is there then that's what's there and how to best make use of all of these various things going on um you know I make them work together and not be distracting in the picture that you're tryingto put across um I am it's funny but you know we talk about expectation my stuff that I shot when I first arrived for me it was the lines and so I started with I was shooting these thes lines and I have this I have this sickness related to getting some flair and my pictures lately I can't get enough of it dial it down f sixteen or f twenty two and get that starburst and if anyone's effort guilty of using overusing that effect it's me so I started with that and with the lines and then I sort of realized that that was kind of the guiding thing and I wanted that this stuff that I came out of it all tohave lines I want to play with lines um but I also really like people and so the next one I found was this and I still got the lines in there but I laid down on the track and I actually I played with several kind of frame ings of this because there's lines kind of going everywhere and the question for me was how can I how can I get the lines to you know play nicely with the lines of the frame but also to increase that feeling of you know I mean these guys because it was wide you can't really tell but I mean they were like zipping by my head's like and it was kind of scary I was sure one of them was just going to come around not know I was there and ride right over me um but my perception of the place actually changed from I mean the lines were cool but it's like how do you photograph all because of what they were everywhere and for me it's my process and this is kind of what I'm getting at is I went kind of from chaos to order I was so overwhelmed at first my first impression actually ended up being what I wanted to shoot I had no idea I was like oh my gosh this is like just so chaotic and there there was this and there were the light wasn't right and so but as I kind of worked it and I explored and and I went through the process eventually a candle place where it's like okay I can isolate these lines I can exclude all of that junk whether you use your lighting to your advantage and exclude the stuff that's not part of the story or whether you use your framing or your optics you were shooting primarily with a seventy two, two hundred beginnings that changed everything for you your image is for that beginning period would be very different than mine because I was shooting with a seventeen to forty so I was forced into exaggerating those lines and you, if you wanted to do that would have had to come up with a creative solution to get that because your lenses compressing those lines so, you know, we use there's this process from the beginning to the end and you have to kind of trust that process I think is if you go in you go look around, go okay? My vision for this place is this you immediately prevent yourself from actually kind of dialoguing with the place and going, you know what? What, really, what is this place about? And had someone like natalie come in and gone, you know, I don't don't like all these lines she would have just been, you know, almost paralyzed into not doing anything but instead she wanders around, she starts finding flowers and and had you come in taza and said there's, no there's, no people here, you know, but in the end you end up finding I mean, you know, she took another photographer and ends up, you know, posing her and and working through things, and I think that's a testament to the fact that your vision will kind of even if you even if you try and not to make this happen your vision will kind of it'll force itself you know it'll force you into its channel you know what I mean like e I mean I'm not an action photographer but I love lines and so I ended up shooting I was still stayed this is not an action photographer shot for me this is me shooting lines that just happens to have a mountain biker in it to give it some visual interest and some movement and some action but I when I was there my first thought was why I'm not really a mountain bike photographer guy right? I don't have a lot of interest in that but I do have interest in motion I have interest in lines I have interest in color it was the same a gasworks park when I got there I don't have an interesting crafty old machinery but I do have an interest in color and texture and that sort of thing and so in an image like this this subject really is not the mountain biker the subject is is the lines the subject is whatever the urban setting the subject even could be motion and you can take those subjects and express in a million different ways so if you love that kind of thing the good news is you can do it anywhere and so the question that was asked on line from one of the twitter followers yesterday was, well, what if you live in a place that's not visually stimulating? Well, I think that's visual laziness because this was not visually stimulating for me, but you go and you explore and the more you kind of get into rather than taking your expectations to a place and going, oh, well, it doesn't live up to my expectation I you know, I can't shoot anything interesting, you go when you explore and you let the place kind of speak to yourself, and then then you start playing, you know, and you take a lot of photographs and you lie in the dirt and nathan was covered from head to toe and dust yesterday and but it's the process and we'll talk a little bit about process later what I really wanted to talk about today and, well, we'll come back to some of this stuff, I think, uh, first I wanted to kind of review yesterday, yesterday we talked about exploring your vision. Today we're going to kind of talk about expressing your vision, how you actually get that picture in your mind or that feeling even that you have and get it into into a photograph because it doesn't just automatically you can't, you know, envision it proof it's there there's this this is process that has to happen to get it into the final print so we'll talk a little bit about that today uh but I wanted to ask the twitter audience and I wanted to ask you guys if there were any kind of residual questions in your mind about the idea of exploring and yesterday we we went out we did some of this stuff this morning we went out and shot and intentionally into places that had a lot of potential but they weren't like knock you on they had amazing you have to work for it right did you feel like you had to work for it because because I did I mean I walked around for the first little bit going home and you know and there's nothing worse is a teacher then you know coming up with nothing you know and and so I was glad to at least I got one frame that I like so that was good but did you how did you feel about it yesterday in the process did you feel better being allowed just to be frustrated with it punch through it how did you feel? I think for me it was yesterday you talked a lot about taking risks and pushing through a feel of fear failure and all of the um being in our own comfort uncomfortable zone and out of the comfort zone and so I felt good about letting myself do that um because ofthe tonight I don't want to so all of your yesterday saying uh it's okay to be messy it's okay um it's hard that was just it was encouraging and I took that out in a field and how did that I mean how does it translate in terms of how you shot in what you shot did you find it give you more freedom be creative or what? How did that work out for you? I found that it allowed me tio um shoot mohr uh and be okay with the fact that not everyone was going to be perfected a few hill um we're going back to film days when you you know that you wanted to save your your your film um and so it was just allowing myself in the beginning of this shoot um at park I was kind of slow and kind of nervous and then um uh and then I was running around more towards the end so the process of doing that over time um and then I think, um allowed me to get do things that I don't normally do and then in the end get where it wass I know what to say in fact there's a question that just came up on the twitter feed and said, you know, do you feel sometimes like you're overworking or overthinking a subject and I think that's for me part of the struggle in part of the process and discovering my vision for a place and and it's it's not like there's a vision in the back of my brain waiting for me tio discover I've got to experience the place and it's I've got to find that vision kind of come into being and go ok, I kind of get what this place might be and what I could photograph um but sometimes when you're overthinking it when you're trying too hard, I think that stands in the way I think you need to sometimes just kind of let it go because again I show up in a place like this I'm like okay, I got to come up with something that expectation weighs pretty heavily on you got to come up with something cool and I think when you're trying that hard you're actually thinking I've got to come up with something cool instead of what is this place what what is here? What is not here? What and instead of focusing on whether the lights great of the light's not great describe the light well it's really contrast he okay? Well, if it's really contrast he like what could I should shoot that would take advantage of that contrast he stuff would really help with some of those lines and with the gritty kind of feel of it or if the contrast isn't working for you okay, where can I go in this place where that light isn't and thinking instead of I got to come up with something great just kind of get into the stream go ok what is here? What isn't here where ants then start playing and see what works and what doesn't overthinking it I think is a real danger and I think that's a uh good anyone again we're going to talk about process today and we're going to talk about intent and interpretation because this is one of the biggest problems we talked yesterday that some of the problems of exploring our vision one of the biggest problems of expressing our vision is the problem of the connection between the intention or the vision and the interpretation or the expression so intent on interpretations kind of what we going to talk about today um one of the things that I missed yesterday and I want to talk a little bit about it before we launch into this is, um is the idea of a of a theme or a subject in a photograph and the reason that this is important is because we talked about you gotta have something to say I mean, if you're trying to say something, how do you say it? Um so in this image for example um the the subject could be a number of things the subject in fact on if if you were doing a photo essay about this underpass, the subject would be the underpass uh if you were doing a photo essay about this particular mountain biker the subject could in fact be this particular mountain biker but for me as I was shooting it the subject was actually more the lines and the motion of it it could have been a skateboarder for are all that matter so it wasn't specifically the mountain biker that I was concentrating on in fact had I really wanted to concentrate on this mountain biker in a single frame I probably would've shot it at a much faster shutter speed and I would've frozen him so he was more of the subject but I honestly didn't care about the mountain biker I like the motion I like the human interest that he added, but being able to zero in on what the images of about allows you to exclude what the images not about and so that's why I talk about themes and I don't mean again the big stuff it could be it could be a meta narrative about good versus evil but that clearly is not what this photograph is about this for me was about thes lines and this underpass and you know that's why I chose to frame it with this line here I just I loved how it accentuated where the sky was and and inform my choice of post processing because I really wanted something was a little kind of grittier ah a little kind of I don't know, I really like the light under there. It was actually kind of bouncing around, and and it was really interesting when she got out of those high contrast beams, and so I chose to use this cross processing kind of look and maybe bring a little more attention to kind of the grit and the herb vanity of it, but you only make those decisions once you know what you're trying to say, otherwise, you're just flipping through pre sats. Why is that right now? Is that it? You look that's cool, and I'm not sure that's the really the best way to express if you have something you want to say, going flipping through it's like an author, kind of just randomly going to the dictionary and picking words, uh, I know you know it, you know what you want to say, it's going to make it easier to say it, if you know what the subject is, if you know what the theme of your photograph is, I think that makes it a little bit easier. So I want to take a few minutes, and hopefully you guys will kind of get into this, and I want to go to the to the flicker pool and pull up some pull up some photographs, and I want to talk about what is what is the subject of this image and some of them are going to be really easy some of them may be a little more difficult some of them the photographer may be sitting at home going that stop the subject at all and and that's really a matter of the fact that your intention may not be interpreted by the end audience but that's another issue altogether that's a big heavy thing but I want to look through some of this stuff um so this is, uh, nighttime in four calling this night I don't know I'm not sure what that title means time and anyway um what is the subject of this photograph? Okay, but it could be boys, right? I mean, if there were boys in that picture and exactly same same frame it would still be the same subject really would be the same the girls are expressing a subject but what is what is the theme or think of it in terms of theme what is the theme of this? What are they doing? Do you think okay, that would've been my first impression. I would've said that it looked like they were study they may not be but you know they got their heads down it to me the theme is late night study okay, so whether that is or not let's say it is the theme is late night study it's pretty well expressed it's also what's cool about it to me is that you're it's almost like you're peering in like you know that you're you're looking at this sort of pretty intimate little group of girls that are late night studying if you can narrow it down and say the theme is late night studying, then anything that doesn't belong to the theme of late night studying in this particular place you could cut out now I would suggest I like the color in this image it's kind of living room warm it's kind of cozy but you could actually cut the color out entirely and this would be a great image on dit was still kind of enforced the theme of late night study what I like about the colors it gives it that warmth and it suggests to me that it's in in sort of a homey kind of made me meet be the dorm or something like that maybe ah, some kind of, you know, crappy old restaurant or maybe it's a very good restaurant I don't know um do you know what I'm saying? Like the more you zero in on the theme, the more you can say okay, this is not the theme like someone could've shot it really, really wide and you would have just seen, you know, the girl's kind of as part of the theme was part of the scene and then to me the scene would be kind of deluded like it wouldn't really tell it you've got to get in close but not too close because then you lose because what is late night studying if not for the environment that you're in and so if you went really, really close, I think the subject would be different I think the subject would be would be about the relationship between these girls that are you know they're in the same place and they're studying still but it would be a different story, right? So in this part of the story is not just late night study its late night study in this place if the in this place is important to you, then you have to include the place it's not important than you could actually get quite quite tight and so what I'm suggesting is that in your photograph if you know what you are trying to say it tells you immediately what is not part of the story all right? So let's look at a couple others this is not always easy and sometimes it's actually quite uh okay, this is the same night nighttime and four callings set for collins I don't really fort collins, colorado I would've thought it was for collins and then but I'm not sure with these last words are here um night time may be nighttime maybe um so here's a here's a good one and I encourage people to submit images that that you don't always think work um so let's look at this a little more critically what is the subject of this one? What is the theme or the subject of this photograph night are in the public place okay all right now that's interesting you saw something I didn't I didn't actually see the crayons or the chalk that that she's drawing there that she's using so let's say that that's the that's the theme of it it's it's it's a girl who's drawing it's there's a warmth to it there's a bit of a solitude there's loneliness there's people kind of walking away assuming that is the theme assuming that if it was your photograph kanna um how could we perhaps have told this story with a little more focus on the theme? You know what I'm saying? Because I think there's elements here that make a good story but I don't think it's a very focus story in part because I can't see her face and I don't know what she's looking at there's not even really enough profile on her face for me to get a read on her emotions oh my you fascist well the people in the back are a little distracting for me as well unless she was having some kind of interaction with them okay, so if if what I saw was the color there, um, of what she was actually doing, then if and if that was the theme, then perhaps something where, um, you could actually see it a little bit more of what? What she was actually doing. Okay, um, so maybe a different, um, instead of her, just in the middle, you know, maybe making it a little bit little bit more interesting. Now, what's interesting to me is that there's you could tell the story, and you could have shot this in ways that tell very different stories. This for you might have been about the drawing, in which case you might have chosen a perspective that actually had you didn't have to see your face. You might have chosen a different moment where she actually had the chalk on the on the pavement than that story, for you would have been about the drawing, and you would have chosen appeal via point of view. You would have chosen an optic, you would have chosen settings that actually maur communicated, drawing right? The key word there is drawing, whereas someone like nathan may have seen something completely different. He may have seen this woman she's got no shoes on she's kind of sitting in in quite a unique posture, she maybe she maybe just killing time waiting for someone in which case he would wait for a different moment, a different gesture, the people in the background may actually be a very important to his story. Where to you they're actually a distraction. So that's, why I'm saying that you need to identify what you're actually trying to say? Because that determines is she looking here? Is she looking there? Do you wait for the people to leave? Or do you wait for them to come or in the frame? And so when we criticize an image, when we give a critique very often we say, well, in a perfect world, I would have liked not to have seen these girls there, and they always the disadvantage for the reviewers. Well, maybe the photographer wants the people there may be they are part of the story and instead of them being out, they actually need to be more in right and it's the same thing with post processing very often were saying, well, I just want to make my picture look better until you can define better. What does that even mean? Does it mean more contrast or less contrast, does it mean you gnome or color or doesn't mean no color at all? So rather than saying I wanted to look better we need to begin to zoom in on what do you actually want to say that's what determines whether it's good or not whether you pulled off whether it like a story while the story was good what was it about? Well, I don't know it was just a good story while how can that be? The storyteller knows what he wants to say and you only judge whether it's a good story by whether you as a reader get engaged and actually buy into this story and, you know, get all the way through to the end and engage in it and I think it's and get the message whatever that you know it's not making sense feel like I'm rambling now help me out here, nathan start talking what I was going to say is, um as you were talking about, you know, something that I might see in there I said stare at this picture probably fifteen seconds before finally kind of I guess pulling my meaning out of this thing we're talking about, you know, did you keep the people in there keep him walking away and after can I mention the artwork of it sitting there almost as you know ah street artist watching yet another person go by after she's pouring her heart out on the sidewalk here and just I'm assuming the people are walking away if I'm looking at that right it's a little from the side, but you know, the fact that she is looking at these people walking away from her as she's got her artwork, you know, splayed out on the sidewalk there, um, it started teo, I guess put me farther and farther into, um, the picture and I just as a quick side, one of the things that I've been, um, dealing with us, like yesterday and this morning of setting the framing of the picture in this one just of your own personal preference, would you have cropped in a little bit tighter and brought are taken away some of the bottom portion of this picture and, you know, home did a little bit more on her with the people behind like, let's say, given the image that you have now, well, I you know, I think that depends on what you're again what's your the story you're trying to tell if I, for example, was was trying to tell a story that was more about the girl looking at the people, I would probably even get the camera much, much lower, because as you bring that camera lower, of course you're going to see less of the pavement, so then what she is drawing is becomes irrelevant because you can't see it but her gaze and the background and you would of course he has they bring the camera up as you go lower, you're going to see more of more of the people so that's a much different story than if it was about the chalker that she was drawing, in which case I'm actually choose to stand on a bench and come down a little lower so that I was concentrating more on what she was drawing. So again, your choice of people v your choice of optics, your choice of everything depends not on what you can do but on what you're trying to say. So in this case, yeah, I mean, I like a tight composition so I might move it over a little bit more. But again, as a reviewer is a someone is criticising them it's hard to say because I don't know a soon as I move the camera, I don't know what now I will be including so you know you just might want to do a crop or or change the orientation. I do think that the horizontal format was actually well chosen because of that long gesture that her leg provides, you know, kind of it provides a nice movement through the frame that lower line here kind of pushes us in there's a nice triangle so you might want to might want to have cropped it here I'm not sure you know again depends on the story and if those people were walking towards her and you wanted to tell a story maybe she's actually you know drawing the people that you know maybe she's a chocolate is drawing people in which case her gaze she's looking at her subject while she's drawing and you would then choose to actually wait until her hand was down here and she was drawing you might widen the lens but coming closer so her hand was a little bigger and the subject that she was drawing was bigger. So all of these things I mean this is this is not you know this is just a shot of ah woman in fort collins but you could apply this to everything that you choose your your tools based on the story you want to tell and until you know what that story is it's very hard to choose your tool so you start with one and sometimes that takes a journey right? Like it's not like I would show up on the scene and go well, look a woman drawing and feeling loneliness and you know and you sometimes you actually have to shoot it for ten minutes and if you wander around you have to experience the whole scene before you get a read on what the scene really is and b how you you really are reacting to it and so you may have actually decided to frame it vertically and pull back a little so that you could see these two people coming or going because they may may actually be very important to the scene there may have been a street sign or street light that actually added some mood or some ambiance to it so you've gotta play with it in the end it's again it's the process vision isn't something you just go boom I know my vision and you put on the vision lens and boom you've captured it there's a process and it's messy and it's frustrating and so sometimes you create an image like this and you know I'm not really sure why it would whether it works or not and I don't think it works and it's great to take it to some people that and say look quite what am I saying here because I'm not really sure and if twenty people say I think you're saying this you know that's not what I was trying to say it all well, you know you haven't quite pulled it off think we learn more from the images that don't work then the ones that do find one more and then we'll see if there's any talk from the twitter world out there me and I picked something that's that's ah a little different here um okay here's here's here's a fun one so obviously you know, this is this is about something very particular I have chosen this causes so much it's a simple composition and it's not complicated but what's going through the photographer's head when he's shooting this okay, uh, after the after the after that what is he? What is he thinking? I mean, what is he trying to say with this again? Doesn't have to be a big thing but what he's trying art write her name and lamont says that art to be art has to point it something and I really believe that everything whether it's a book or wear a movie it points that something it says look at this look at this and look at it this way what is the photographer pointing at in this picture? Um e made me think of the endless summer poster like that with thea painted sunset pink and yellow with the surfers and the silhouette whatnot and just kind of that you know, that particular skateboarder is not important one it's skateboarding or right young oh, can you with all of that kind of okay now wait, wait, wait, wait don't put it down. Why is it why is why do you know that it's not that particular skateboarder that's the the subject because we have no detail in there doesn't show anything specific about him other than he probably has some screaming right here um or brown here who knows um but just I feel like the way it's framed that it's um kind of set against the sun has uh you know not to get too ah existential but it just seems like it's got um kind of that that depth endless is not the word I'm looking for but just kind of set against something timeless if you will with uh with the sun and again the fact that there's no detail I mean you can perfectly see what it is and what he's doing which I think sets up well for the more generality of it but right so when you when you silhouette someone like this and you rob the viewer of the the information that would tell you who that person is unless you're a close friend of this this person it immediately stop saying this is this skateboarder says this is a skateboarder and so what's cool about this you got this really iconic shape you've got a very free spirited kind of you know the hair contributes to it the the fact that the skateboarders upside down contributes to it the and the skateboarder in relation to this upside down it's a very dynamic shot um you've got great lines what contributes to those lines what makes those lines so strong the light? Absolutely what else? The wide lens yeah, this is this was shot with a really wide lens you see there's a bit of kind of barrel distortion there when it just draws things out so it actually I think pulls you a little more in had you shot this with a two hundred millimeter land shooting way back, it wouldn't have been that you know, as an inclusive a frame this makes me feel like I'm right there and he's almost you know about the kind of fly over my head which again for something like this I think gives you a little more experience it it gives you a little more engagement with the photograph so my feeling is that this is he was at least feeling a sense of playfulness a sense of fun there's a dynamic kind of feel and sold the photographer has made some choices to say this is skateboarding right? This is and and you would go maybe a little further and say this is skateboarding on a summer evening you know, there is that sense of, you know you can almost smell the barbecue is in someone's backyard and they're off you know they're slurpees bind you on the concrete melting and I mean it really pulls you in the warmth all of the elements in this frame seemed to suggest something and in in my way of thinking they actually are really helping to tell this story now assuming that we're even dialing and close to what the photographer wanted, I'd like to think we are because I assumed that the photographer has done a pretty good job um then it's, the decisions he made and the elements that he chews chose to include and exclude all contribute to it. But before any of that, I think if you're away aware of kind of your subject, which in this case is skateboarding more than a skateboarder even it allows you to make those decisions a little more intentionally makes sense. How are we doing from the the international audience of I sown confusion among the ranks or is there some questions or um art has a question in the chat room okay? He'd like to know, does an image always have to say something or tell a story or can it just be, um I would be curious to know if he's thinking of an example for that? Because I think everything tells I mean may not tell us the full story may only hint at the story, but I think yeah, I think it says something even if it just says look at this blue thing, which is what I shot all morning was, you know, look at this blue thing, but then it was a question of how does the color interact with shapes and and, um because I mean otherwise why you shooting it? I mean otherwise you might as well shoot snow banks or black pieces of paper so but it doesn't have to say something complicated but if it's a photograph of a person I think it has to say something about that person if it's a photograph of a place has to say something about that place so yeah, I'm guessing I would say yeah does it always has to point at something even if it's very simple right that you don't have to be making a big statement but it does have to point out something I think otherwise why did we do it? I don't know. So the great thing about um being the voice of the internet is that we have ah john cowie who took the picture of the girl doing the chalk right okay and he says it was about having, um her hanging out at midnight that was that's what it was about he hadn't taken your class yet. Okay, in which case you know if if in fact um let's go back to the pool if in fact that shot is you know about this why flickered drives me crazy I can never find anything uh my back okay, I may not be able to do this I'm flicker and competent did I delete all that bad stuff um nighttime ok, here we go so yeah so okay, so if in fact you're you're sitting there and saying we need to if a client says we need two to create an image about this girl hanging out at midnight um I think then the question is, what can we include in the frame that best tells that story? If the word midnight is important, this doesn't do it because I don't know it's midnight if it's just sometime in the night, then it absolutely it does because the warmth a streetlight might do it ah clock somewhere that tells, you know, tells me the time, but again, I suspect midnight's not the point I suspect it's the fact is it's ah ah time at night and it's this girl, but I still think there's going to be some kind of emotion? What was this person feeling? What was this person thinking? Why her? I mean, why did you want to even photograph a girl hanging out at midnight? We'll probably because we've all been there. We've all had nothing to do at midnight in the middle of fort collins, haven't we? I don't know, I would suggest that this is a great sketch image this is a photograph that on its way to saying something but doesn't yet tell a complete story even if that's just a mood, it doesn't quite do it for me doesn't point someone's in this photograph I feel someone's pointing going look at this and I'm going uh look at what I see I see what you're pointing out but I don't know why you're pointing at it and I think that you could have dunmore and I'm speaking t the two john john I think you could have done more to emphasize that emotion that thought if this is about this girl at midnight then I would like to have seen something that maybe more of her face maybe wait for a moment where she stops looking here and she comes back and now I see the profile of her face and she looks down at the pavement and now I may be a see a look of boredom and that gives me an indication that she's not only hang out at midnight she doing it cause she's bored or she glances at her watch and I hit maybe have a suggestion that she's actually waiting for someone and she's bored or she starts drawing and is engrossed in what she's drawing all three of those things are very different thoughts and emotions and so you've got you've got impatience or waiting you've got boredom or you've got just creation she's you know she's actually drawing she doesn't care what time it is she's you know maybe she started at eight o'clock at night and she's just distracted and ours have flown by so the things that you choose to include or exclude whether it's a gesture or appeal v or choice of lens all of those air going toe allow you to tell a slightly different story even if they're only seconds apart you could actually within five seconds have told three very different stories that all connect and then when you show all three those image to go actually this is the more full story she's what they're waiting and she's a little bored and in her distraction you know we're trying to distract herself she's drawing this beautiful thing on the pavement so you can't always tell the whole story in one frame and that's where you know a photo essay or multiple frames comes into play um anyway little little bit off track but I think that's all sort of part of it I think as you this is coming back to the point as you explore your vision before you get to the idea of expressing it asking yourself what is the subject not for example we when we're gasworks park today we had a model and she was in a she was in a nice dress and she was sitting on on a harley davidson normally you would say, what is the subject and someone say the girl really the girl was not the subject the girl was the way you express the subject but the girl would have been um depending on the look you know because you were asking her to look a certain way ask her ask her to look sad like she's heartbroken and so then the subject of the image is a heartbroken girl who's you know left the prom driven stolen her boyfriend's motorcycle I mean you're not gonna be able to tell all these details on this story but the more you have in your mind the more able you are to craft a photograph that at least communicates something of that heartbreak so she's sitting on the motorcycle what look does she have on her face? Because if she's grinning she's probably happy and she's you know you're not suggesting heartbreak most people don't grin when they're heartbroken now maybe she's just made off with her boyfriend's motorcycle and she's a mischievous person in which case no harm done but you're gonna ask her to have a mischievous look what you want to say affects how you're going to set up that shot and it may even affect what kind of motorcycle I mean maybe she's on a little vespa you know and she's and it's a bright yellow vespa and she's a fun kind of fun loving girl that photograph will say something completely different than her on address that maybe as a tauron shoulder strap and her hair's mussed up and she's on a you know on a harley looking nasty you know and mean and angry similar shot very different message so your choice whether you're contriving the photograph or not your choice and optics if you wanted to be a really fun shot and she's in this bright, colorful place you put on a wide angle and you get in and she's bright and fun and a little bit exaggerated if you want to concentrate on that dark and moody your choice of light's going to change your optic will probably change your point of something a little longer compress it a bit focus on her and the bike and the gritty and it's everything will change and the way you post process will change because you're trying to say something different the way you express fun and woo ha is different than gritty and heartbroken right? If you if you can identify that before you start shooting, you're on your wayto being able to express a little different cause you're going to make choices all the way along that mean you make them for some reason, right? You know I'm not just going to pick a lens anyone lends you know on you you know flip a coin and you go with long because long his heads and tails is wide you pick it because you've got something to say and you're choosing the best to afford that makes sense some accents internet okay just once I want to see the camera nod yes it does okay let's, move on! We're going to talk about intent and interpretation, so the big challenges with the whole issue of intense interpretation, the first big challenge to me again and this comes back to we were just talking about is discovering your intention. This is not always cut and dry. If you're shooting for a client, very often, it is cotton dry because they've given you a thing that saying this is your intention and it's a creative, brief and it's ten pages long, and it tells you exactly what you're shooting and it's it could be very, very detailed even then, I think it's your job to interpret the brief, but this idea of discovering your intention can be can be quite hard for some of us is very intuitive, and that actually makes it easier to express, but harder to actually dig up because we're the kind of person that just kind of goes with the flow you pick up the camera, shoot, you find it being able, actually unearth it and hold it up and describe it in words can be very difficult for those of us that are intuitive. But for some of us, we talked yesterday, some of us don't actually think in pictures, we think in words, were actually much better if we have a piece of paper and a pen and we can write down our intent for the image. I want this photograph to look like, I want the viewer to feel like and right. These things actually write them down is a very, very helpful exercise, whether you're an intuitive kind of person or you're kind of more cerebral, I think writing it down is very, very helpful, because then you've got sort of a guiding principle, and when you kind of forget and you start going off, you know, on some wild tangent, you can come back and go, right? Mike, my vision is this, having said that, as we experience yesterday at the park, your vision often changes, especially if you're there to be reactive. If you're there to photograph ah, place, your initial vision actually is totally irrelevant if you're going to representa place the way you interact with it, it's very much like a first date with someone you know, the way you perceive them the moment you first see them and the way you perceive them after you spent two hours with them, maybe very, very different. Probably that first impression was quite wrong, and if you had taken a photograph of that first impression and a photograph of the last impression, they look very different, right? And and so I think sometimes you're actually just you're kind of going along for the ride and like that skate park were at her or whatever you call in a park, you go in and you have these initial impressions and I think you need to pay attention to them don't discard them, but you need to allow the place to kind of speak to you and you need to explore it visually and it's the same whether you're photographing a place or a person if you're doing a portrait and someone walks and they think comes in and I see you know, I see this guy with this hat I'm going to make certain assumptions and he's scruffy and I'm going again you make certain assumptions, not bad assumptions certain assumptions the more I photographed him and get to know him the more I think actually those assumptions weren't right at all he's actually he my initial assumption was he's he's very serious and takes himself very serious and I want to photograph from this way and then after an hour realised actually this guy's really funny and I want to photograph him in this way that first impression is good because there was something there that said he's serious so maybe I want to take a picture where there's ah hint of both, you know I don't know again it's that journey and you have to and this is beginning to sound like him no idea what I'm talking about, so I'm just gonna kind of move on. What I'm saying is, the more you explore it and give yourself permission for this to be a bit of a journey so that you start with an initial impression, take a note of it, write it down if you have to, because as a travel photographer, especially one night when I go to a place, I want to hang on to that thing that first hit me right, whether it was a smell or because sometimes after a week, you get used to a place and you forget what was that first impression that first, like the color, if you go to a place like gold poor in india, the old cities all blue and walk in, and the first thought is, oh, my gosh, like disney couldn't create a set this cool. Look the blue look at the contrast, and after a week you may get bored of the blue. You've seen so much of it. You start shooting something else that's good, except that the city's still blew. You might still need to hang on to that initial vision in some way and work it in if you can combine the first vision with what has become maybe a more mature vision, sometimes that's helpful.

Class Description

Join David duChemin, author of the best-selling Within The Frame, as he teaches you how to use your camera and the digitial darkroom to find and express your vision as a photographer.


Maros Matousek

I have just finished this great class and ended up with a notebook full of notes. I highly recommend this class to all who would like to take not only technically perfect photographs but more importantly who want to express their vision and create something that moves others. I read many books by David and still enjoyed and got a better understanding throughout this course.

Melvin Williams

This course may seem to drone on at times but I firmly believe that repetition or other restatement helps learning. I highly recommend David's course, his ebooks and his site. He gets to the important stuff about photography. He focuses on the conceptually tough stuff like vision, finding your own, and less on the "geek" technical stuff that, while necessary, is only a tool to accomplishing your vision, what you want to say in your photograph.

Phillip Ziegler

David is always worth listening to. The course might have been shorter given there was a lot of repetition and conversation that wasn't terribly interesting or valuable. But when it was good it was amazing. I learned a lot and it was worth the time and money spent.