Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Class #6

Light Meter
Today we learned that our light meter isn't so smart.  Objects come in countless shades of light and dark.....from bright white to absolute black.  All of these objects require different exposure settings.  Our cameras are making a big assumption that everything in the world is medium gray.  With this assumption, the light meter gives you a reading that will make whatever you're pointing at gray.  This is fine for many scenes that have "average scene brightness" (equal amounts of lights and darks).  But as soon as there is an imbalance of tones (like bright white or dark black) you've got problems.

To correct this you need to over expose when you're taking a picture that is bright white, and under expose when the object is dark black.  This is easy to adjust by looking through your light meter.  We also learned about the Exposure Compensation on our camera.  Usually when taking a picture, you adjust your settings until the light meter is balanced at 0.  If you are taking a white picture you'll want the light meter to read to the left (over exposed).  Or, you can adjust the Exposure Compensation setting in your camera so that when you're taking a picture, you'll adjust your settings until the light meter is balanced.  You just need to make sure you turn off the Exposure Compensation setting after you're done taking pictures......wanna bet I mess this one up.

Photo Essay
Next we talked about a Photo Essay.  This is any time you want to use more than one photograph to tell a story.  Often it is difficult to tell a story deeply with only one picture.  A photo essay can explore an idea or event with more detail and depth of emotion than one picture. 

Like writing, the Beginning, Middle and End is the basic frame work of a photo essay.  You start with a picture that describes where you started, what you did along the way, and where and how the trip ended.
There are no rules....but here are a few suggestions.
- The viewer knows nothing.  You have to guide them through the story....
- Break a scene down.  Take different shots from different angles with different focal length lenses edited together to tell the story.
- Start with an "establishing" shot or "long" shot.  The establishing shot is often an overview of a landscape, building or room that gives the viewer a sense of where the scene is taking place.
- Medium shots and close shots are the usual progression to the main theme in a scene.  Medium pictures are usually the bulk of a picture story.  The provide the body of the narrative.
- A detail shot is a quick "cut away" edit to some telling detail in the scene.  A close-up of a cigarette held in a shaky hand during a medium shot of dialogue is an example of close up.
- Camera viewpoints play a major role in story telling.  In film you'll often see three quickly edited shots of the same subject from three different camera angles.  Remember, a director is trying to tell you a story with everything that he or she does with the film.  By quickly showing you three separate views of the same subject they have told you everything about the environment that the subject is in.
- Try to think like a director when you make a picture story.  Shoot establishing shots, medium shots, portraits and details.  Be aware of the passing of time, the weather, and people's moods.  Ask yourself what is the real story unfolding here, and make sure you are using all your photographic skills (good light, composition, color and exposure) to tell it.
- Put meat into the story.  Include Action Shots and Point of View

My final assignment is a photo essay bound in a book.  I'm going to need a little help with suggestions.....so please feel free to share.  I want to keep the story simple....nothing too complex.  Final class is July 19th and it takes about 1.5 weeks to get a book printed and mailed.  The clock is ticking!!

I'll most likely be printing my book at Blurb.com

Links to Picture Stories:


  1. So excited. Are you going to keep us in the dark until your are finished with the project or will you document the process as you go?

  2. I think I'm going to keep you in the dark until I'm done. If you have any suggestions.....please let me know. Its stressing me out a bit.

  3. This is why I gave you the light meter. It is great for doing spot readings and once you go into manual mode you control both the shutter speed and the aperture setting. Try it, you'll like it.

    I think a story about work would be terrific. Try to tell the story of a typical day for a financial analyst. I would view it with great interest.

  4. I thought about doing a story on work. The only thing I'm worried about is getting the correct light. No window in my office. Not sure I would get the ok from my boss. But I'll add it to the list and see if I can make it work!

  5. Sounds like a good time to move up to that corner office with two walls of window! Can't imagine anyone more deserving!