Photo School Extras

Series 2

2.1   Still life

As noted in the module, still lifes are a vastly underrated subject. They offer immense opportunity for experiment, learning about lighting, understanding subject brightness ranges, working indoors during adverse weather conditions or on dark evenings, and, most importantly of all, producing really attractive pictures. We also believe that they teach you a certain amount about composition that spills over into other areas of photography.

As long as you have a camera that focuses reasonably close, as most do nowadays, you can shoot still lifes. You don't need fancy lighting, though a tripod or other camera support is just about essential so that you can compose your shots 'to camera', moving the camera or the subject matter a fraction, or changing the lighting slightly, then checking the composition again. It's certainly cheap entertainment, and the only people to who we would not wholeheartedly commend still lifes are those who are really, really short of time. Even then, working on the same still life for ten minutes a day can be a wonderful form of relaxation.

We'd suggest that you do at least one series of images of the same subject, like the tankards shown on the right, or of images made using the same technique, as seen in the digital still life gallery. In fact, look at all the still lifes in the galleries. You may also wish to try both 'graphic' and 'narrative' still lifes, as described in the module. Then again, we'd rather see ten different pictures than ten variations on the same single theme, so don't get too hung up on a single series.

tankards 3


tankards 1

2.2   Street Photography

london underground

...and of course elsewhere -- anywhere to which the public have access, and where you can take pictures. This is a classic subject for monochrome photography, but as the module illustrates, there's plenty of opportunity for colour too. If you have a rangefinder camera, this might be the module for exercising it, though another classic street camera is a twin-lens reflex.

Try zone focusing; pictures shot without using the viewfinder; wide-angles; tele shots... See which ones work best for you, and submit them.

We'd suggest about three different locations, though ten unrelated shots are likely to tell us more about your street photography than ten shots taken in the same place under the same conditions.

2.3   Portrait and Landscape

Not the actual subjects, of course, but the picture orientations: vertical rectangles ('portrait' format) and horizontal rectangles ('landscape' format). Plus, of course, squares and even circles, if that's the way you see: one of the advantages of the original Kodak was that you could rotate the image to get rid of tilting horizons.

We put this in as a 'technique' module to provide an alternative for those who care for neither still life nor street photography and reportage.

Although we are looking mainly for images that work well in the chosen format -- including panoramic formats, if you like -- we suggest that you also try to incorporate at least one or two pairs of images that work well (with recomposition as appropriate) in both portrait and landscape.


chateau ruins 1

chateau ruins 2

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© 2007 Roger W. Hicks