Merry Christmas Charlie Brown – Canon Mark IV

I looked around my home tonight and still can’t bring myself to take down the Christmas decor.  It will stay up for at least another week.  So I thought I would record my favorite decorations and Christmas elements before we pack them up for the year.  This Charlie Brown Christmas Tree is a recent addition, but one of my very favorites.  I shot it tonight in available light, with just the general can lights on.  As you can see in the info detail later in this post, it is shot a very comfortable 1/250 of a second because I have my 50mm 1.2 and an ISO of 3200.  On my 5D mark II, this ISO is a bit noisy, but just fine in Black and White and on my Mark III was completely impossible.  But the Mark IV does a create job with the grain structure and the color noise is non-existent.  Now, keep in mind, I am using this practically, I am not trying to be a scientist here, but rather a practical user.  I am shooting RAW and using Lightroom to produce the final jpg you are seeing.  I have added a vignette and adjusted the color to suite my taste and I have used the noise reduction in Lightroom, but nothing heroic has been done to the image.  Basic Lightroom noise reduction has produced a file that I would be completely happy showing my clients.  The grain looks good and the color noise is great for such a high ISO.  Tomorrow, I will pump up the ISO even more and see how it fairs at 6400 and 12800 ISO.
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In the detail crop you can see all of the basic setting for this Mark IV exposure and see the grain structure and look into the monochromatic background, that is where you should see the color noise, but without heroic noise reduction plug-ins (just normal Adobe Lightroom – Camera RAW color noise reduction) the file is fantastic for such a high ISO.  And I am so thrilled with Canon’s grain structure, both here on the Mark IV and on the 5D mark II.  Both feel so much like film, that I almost prefer shooting at a higher ISO to give my images a bit more depth and texture to them.  We’ve become so sterilized with digital that we almost can’t imagine a world without smooth continuous tones.  That’s why film shooters always “feel” so different.  They have grain, even in the lower ISOs.

Grain is beautiful!  Say it again and again!  Never grow tired of that mantra.

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A Fashion Shoot in the Farm Lands South of Phoenix, Arizona

I went out with Bill K., a previous student of mine to shoot some portraits of Tayler.  It was a fun morning and we got some nice shots.  The entire shoot was done south of Chandler, Arizona.  This area is filled with farmland and this month, we were fortunate enough to have a few fields of wheat.  When we decided to do the shoot, I knew we had to do it here because Tayler’s hair and skin tone are both perfect for the setting.

The Farmlands south of Phoenix, Arizona make a great backdrop for Tayler and her golden hair.

The Farmlands south of Phoenix, Arizona make a great backdrop for Tayler and her golden hair.

Tayler's golden hair reacts perfectly to the sun, but that powerful hair light can be challenging to avoid blowing out the highlights.

Tayler's hair reacts perfectly to the sun, but that powerful hair light can be a challenge as well. The last thing I want is a blown out highlight in that angel hair.

Eyes, lips, curls... nothing else mattered in this photograph.

Eyes, lips, curls... nothing else mattered in this photograph.

Just a quick thought about exposing in the harsh sunlight of Phoenix, Arizona. There is almost no place like Phoenix on the planet. The hot, dry desert climate tests your skills as a photographer.  On a cloudless day (which is the majority of our days) there is nothing to soften the light of the sun and without humidity, there is very little in the atmosphere to refract the light, so we in the desert, are challenged to find ways to equalize the light.  One of the simplest ways to remove the harsh shadows from the subject’s face is to turn them away from the sun’s light.  In the shadow of their own body, there are no harsh shadows.  Just the expansive soft light from the opposite side of the sky.  However, just turning the subject is not enough.  Without some additional light source, the shadow side of the model’s body would be extremely dark and by exposing for her face, I would have to completely over expose the background.  So I must expose for the background and then light the subject with either a flash or a reflector and since I would prefer not to blind her with a reflector, I chose a flash.  But on-camera flash would flatten out the face and body, so in order to avoid the obvious flashed look, I took the flash off camera with Pocket Wizard’s new TTL System.  By using the Pocket Wizard, I am able to allow the camera and flash to work together to determine the proper amount of flash (with some flash exposure compensation on my part -2/3) for the subject, while my only manual exposure concern is the background.  My assistant holds the flash off to my right at about a 45 degree angle to the model, which helps to give her more volume than we would have gotten from an obvious on camera fill flash.  Direct on camera flash is almost always the worst form of light one can use to light any subject.  Look for ways to get that flash off o f the camera, or avoid using it all together.

There aren’t any perfect Wireless TTL systems out there yet.  But I think that Pocket WIzard is the closest to getting it right.  We’ll see how things improve as time passes.

In this image, Tayler is backlit by a very hot and bright morning sun.  Exposing for the background puts her in a very dark shadow, making the image unusable.  But with the help of off camera TTL technology from Pocket Wizard, both she and the background are just right.

In this image, Tayler is backlit by a very hot and bright morning sun. Exposing for the background puts her in a very dark shadow, making the image unusable. But with the help of off camera TTL technology from Pocket Wizard, both she and the background are just right.

Being able to find a small country road in the middle of the sixth largest city in the US is one of the reasons I love Phoenix, Arizona.  We have such a great variety of locations in this state, the possibilities are endless.

Being able to find a small country road in the middle of the sixth largest city in the US is one of the reasons I love Phoenix, Arizona. We have such a great variety of locations in this state, the possibilities are endless.

During the photo shoot, I am often looking those natural moments between the poses.  This image is one of my favorites from the shoot.

During the photo shoot, I am often looking those natural moments between the poses. This image is one of my favorites from the shoot.

And sometimes, no matter how harsh the desert sun happens to be, soft light is still available in the subjects own shadow.

And sometimes, no matter how harsh the desert sun happens to be, soft light is still available in the subjects own shadow.

Im not sure what it says about me, but solitude attracts me to an image like nothing else does.

Im not sure what it says about me, but solitude attracts me to an image like nothing else does.

Album Cover Photo Shoot with Kevin Burdick

I have posted about Kevin Burdick before.  I thought I would share with you a slideshow and set of images from the album cover photo shoot for Kevin’s latest album, We Are The Walking Wounded. It is a fantastic album which you can find at iTunes or on his web site. Kevin has written some of his most haunting songs for this album.

Below are shots from Kevin Burdick’s final album cover for We Are the Walking Wounded.

It is always interesting to see the final product after it has gone through the designer. The original file was a color image with the head of the model included, and is a great image on its own. But, I love the effect of the crop on the image. There are so many things that can change an image, but I will always maintain that the crop is the hardest hitting change that can be made to an image. Notice the way the focus of the image is changed completely by the crop.  In this case the focus of the image becomes the girl’s wounds, and perhaps her pain…

Kevin Burdick's final album cover for We Are the Walking Wounded.

Kevin Burdick's final album cover for his latest album, We Are the Walking Wounded.

… whereas the original un-cropped image focuses less on her wounds and metaphorical pain and more on her loneliness and solitude, as she trudges down a lonely road.  Leaving the image in color still allows her wounds to remain important in the photograph, but the overall message behind the photograph is very different in the original, rather than in the cropped album cover version.

The original image that ended up as the cover for the album cover, complete with the model's head.

The original image that ended up as the cover for the album cover, complete with the model's head.

Some photographers might be upset when the intent of their image is changed from their original idea at the camera, but I was not shooting some high brow artistic project, I was part of a larger production which had as its end goal a multi media product. This kind of a thing includes the music and lyrics of the musician and his vision, makeup artist, designers, crew and models. And everyone adds to that final creation, by bringing their artistic abilities to the table. Many times, as a photographer / director, I ask for one thing and on the way to the end, a model will give me something completely unexpected and it is far better than what I had originally intended. And I am happy to follow the new path and follow where it leads. When I am involved in a larger production, it is important for everyone to have a strong opinions, but check their egos at the door. Quite frankly I was pleased with the final image and thought it furthered the song’s message quite nicely.

Scouting the album photo shoot was the most critical thing we did.  We knew that there was an old town called Thistle, Utah that had been buried in a mudslide years and years ago, so we went out in search of the location a few days prior to our shoot and found this home buried in a bog, which had a fantastic look, and was near highway, so it made access very easy.  The only real concern was how to carry a Grand Slam Piano Body through the thickets and swamp to a small patch of dry, firm ground.  It was quite a challenge, but we did it and I think the images were a success as a result.

Kevin Burdick and his wounded entourage and his stage piano in the near a half sunken house in Thistle, Utah.

Kevin Burdick and his wounded entourage and his stage piano in the near a half sunken house in Thistle, Utah.

Kevin, his manager and one of the models carying a Grand Slam baby grand body across the highway back to the tour bus after the photo shoot.

Kevin, his manager and one of the models carrying a Grand Slam baby grand body across the highway back to the tour bus after the photo shoot.

I wanted to see Kevin playing his piano in the most unlikely place.  This spot worked out great.

I wanted to see Kevin playing his piano in the most unlikely place. This spot worked out great.

It was an fun shoot, we all had a great time and got some cool images.  It is important for me to get out of the wedding photo zone once and a while to photograph something very different.  Shooting personal work, political events, editorial portraits and such helps me to maintain a fresh eye on the world and I find that each time I come back to a wedding I have something new to give to my clients as a result.  As photographers we have to continually practice and keep our skills sharp, and any opportunity I can find to do that in a different way, I take.

Here are a few more images from the album cover photo shoot.

This one seemed to feel like an old horror film, where the girl is running away from the monster and of course she is constantly falling and looking back.

This one seemed to feel like an old horror film, where the girl is running away from the monster and of course she is constantly falling and looking back.

The makeup on this model was very good.  As we were shooting I thought the little lip bite was adorable in a strange way.

The makeup on this model was very good. As we were shooting I thought the little lip bite was adorable in a strange way.

The vantage point on this image was critical to seeing Kevin, the wounded and the swamped house.

The vantage point on this image was critical to seeing Kevin, the wounded and the swamped house. My height was accomplished by climbing up onto a half demolished old shed. Not the safest place to be, but we didn't have a ladder. Lesson: always bring a ladder, but if you forget, do anything to get the shot...

We were very proud to have gotten the piano into this position for the shot.  And my hat off to Grand Slam for making a piano body that is light enough to get it into this spot.

We were very proud to have gotten the piano into this position for the shot. And my hat off to Grand Slam for making a piano body that is light enough to get it into this spot.

Musician: Kevin Burdick

Photographer: Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Thistle, Utah

My New Regular Blog Post at Pictage

I am now posting a regular blog entry at Pictage on professional photography topics like workflow. Each week, I will be posting a small tip of some kind, so put the blog on your reader and watch for new entries.

This week’s entry is an introduction video, filmed in my office late one night last week with my 5D Mark II.



Remembering Bill Jay – Professor, Historian and Friend
Bill Jay being interviewed at his home in Mesa, Arizona by the BBC.

Bill Jay being interviewed at his home in Mesa, Arizona by the BBC.

I began by writing the title to my post here by writing “Remembering Bill Jay – Professor, Historian and Fiend“, accidentally missing the R on the keyboard, and as I moved the cursor back to correct the error, I laughed, because Bill Jay (if he has a blog feed of everything we are saying about him in the hereafter) would have laughed as well.  He would have quite readily taken the title of Fiend and run with it.  He was just the sort of self-depreciating, sarcastic humorist that could find a hearty laugh in any stinging insult one might thrust his way.  As I remember him today, I think of the twinkle in his eye that flashed as he smiled and chuckled warmly during almost every conversation I ever had with him and I am convinced that he chuckled again as I misspelled the word friend and instead called him a fiend!  But he might prefer a more embellished version of this title: Politically Incorrect British Fiend.

Bill Jay was my mentor and professor during my undergraduate and graduate years at Arizona State University.  I was among the very last of his students before he retired and I was privileged to be one of the very last to have him sit on my graduate thesis panel.  I took every class he taught, every semester, and when I wasn’t taking classes from him I was in his office listening to his stories about the great photographers of the past.  He had met, published work by and knew the sordid tales of more of the great photographer’s lives than most people will even read about in their life time.  And every time he spoke, I listened in wrapped attention.  In fact, I recall a semester where I did nothing but listen.  I think I completely stopped taking notes and just soaked in his ideas.

Bill Jay smoking a cigarette at his home.

Bill Jay smoking a cigarette at his home.

Bill was famous for his unconventional view of the history of photography and had a talent for pushing buttons across the world of art academia.  His lectures and articles were hard to swallow by the artist who surrounded him in the university faculty because his ideas were full of facts and historical documentation. He ridiculed the artist’s natural longing to create by accident and without method or schedule.  And discounted the irrational and emotional discussion of art without the grounding influence of history and perspective.

I will recall one article, in which he chided the art community for their hatred of advertising and reverence for art.  You know the argument… when an artist finally sells his work to be reproduced on a coffee mug, or a corporate advertising campaign, the other jealous artists who are still working at the ever so non-corporate Starbucks to pay their bills scoff and call him a “sell out”.

When I hear my colleagues pontificate on the purity of art versus the sordidness of advertising I have to wonder at their own grasp on reality. The boundary between art and advertising cannot be erected because there is no dividing line. This has always been true. Art, even so-called Fine Art, is no different in principle or spirit from advocacy. The chances are good that our ancient ancestors, like us, were equally complicitous in the selling/buying pact.

Recently I was reading a turgid tome speculating on the purpose of neolithic cavepaintings, in which the authors were blathering about magic, spiritualism, ritual, psychic connections, shamanistic practices, empathetic resonances, on and on. It seems to me more than likely that Og, hoping to be elected a tribal elder and so have his pick of the meat and women, is boasting of his prowess with spear and bravery on the hunt, and in an effort to sell himself hires Ugh to produce some visuals on the cave wall which when lit by the flickering flames of the fire look like television commercials.

-Bill Jay, Artist Rebells without a Cause

Bill discussing the selection process with photographer David Hurn.  David was a consistent figure that appeared into my life once or twice a year.  Hang around Bill enough and you were bound to see David Hurn.

Bill discussing the selection process with photographer David Hurn. David was a consistent figure that appeared into my life once or twice a year. Hang around Bill enough and you were bound to see David Hurn.

I listened to him discuss art from the rational viewpoint, its business, the political implications of it all and the light turned on inside of me.  Finally I was home in the art world.  I was raised by an artist and a lawyer.  My mother is a very talented art teacher, and my father is an intelligent hard working lawyer.  I am 50/50.  So I, like Bill, never really fit in among my artist colleagues.  I was far too rational to buy the gibberish that explained their unexplainable art work.  I knew I had a talent and an eye, but it was only when Bill spoke that I found a place in the world of the photographic arts.  There was actually a rational way to see art.  Yes, art is emotionally based and full of musical communications between souls, but it is also something that the rational human being can discuss, without developing a whole new circular vocabulary of catch phrases and hippie drug induced comma speak.
Bill ran the small but defiant Photo Studies program in the Photography wing of the School of Fine Arts at Arizona State University.  With a few exceptions, the powers of the Art School were hell bent on watching his program wither and die.  His little program consisted of four or five students who studied not just the act of photography, but learned how to research and write about the medium.  It was the goal of this program to create photographers and photo historians who could leave college with a useful set of skills, industry and academic contacts and the ability to earn a living in their chosen medium.  It was a “professional” program.  Translated for the artists: we were the “sell outs”.  So with Bill’s tutelage, our little photo studies program continued to defy, the conventional art culture.
It is funny indead to put it that way, most artists see themselves as defying culture, going against the grain, but in the end, they are falling right in line with their own art culture where everyone is just the same.  They must rebell to conform to the social norms of their peers.  Without the tattoo, the nose ring, a joint and full funeral black dress, they might stick out and look like a happy “normal” person, they might be too different from their crowd.

But in this crowd of artists, I and my fellow photo studies graduate students had found a less morose, and more intellectual home with Bill as our father figure, showing us how to step out on our own and do something truly unique in the art world, succeed.

Bill Jay being interviewed by the BBC.

Bill Jay being interviewed by the BBC.

For years after his retirement, I spent many mornings at his favorite diner having pancakes as he ate his eggs, bacon and hash browns talking with him about my latest efforts or listening to more stories about this photographer or that one.  He would encourage me to run with one project or another and I always thought, ‘I need to spend more time with Bill, record our conversations and document this man and everything he knows before he leaves us, because at the rate he salts his eggs, he can’t be around for much longer.’ Bill had already had a series of heart attacks, but he swore that life was only worth living if you could live it well.  And salt and eggs were part of life.

Soon though, he moved to San Diego for health reasons.  (Phoenix is to hot!)  And I recall meeting him at his apartment there several years ago, when I presented him with a small portfolio book of my wedding photography.  I suppose I presented it to him with the same eagerness my son presents his latest drawings to me.  I hoped that my “photographic father” would approve of the work I was accomplishing, even though I knew he probably wished that I had taken a more intellectual path, following in his historical footsteps.  But his response both shocked and thrilled me.

Perhaps it was that he had not seen the state of the wedding photography industry, but I like to think it was the work itself to which he was responding.  “Jared, this is the most amazing wedding photography I have ever seen.”  He continued to tell me how fantastic the images were and that it was great work, for it’s own sake, regardless of who’s wedding it was.  It was timeless work, he said, that would be important beyond the client’s spear, like portraits by Avedon or Penn (not that he was putting me on their level) that are important beyond their subject’s immediate use.  I was flattered and excited.  It was a confirmation that what I was attempting to create in wedding photography and portraiture was something more than images just for the clients who hire me, but images that would be important to anyone who saw them because of the visual and intellectual concepts in the photographs themselves: composition, emotion, shadows and highlights, movement, moments, metaphors, framing, lines, perspective…  Perhaps he was more complimentary than was warranted, but Bill was always genuine.

I learned something about myself that day, about where I tend to and should look for accolades.  It was his opinion of my photographs that meant more to me than anyone’s, more so than that of another photographer’s, even a master photographer, because it was his considered opinion that stood against changing fads and whims.  Because he knew the traditions, the movements and the alterations of the medium, he could see more clearly from a more objective vantage point.  It was the validation that my work might stand the test of time that I sought and received from him that day and no award that I can receive in this medium can match that small comment from one of the worlds most treasured photographic historians.

Bill Jay in California with one of his students.  Bill took us on extended networking field trips to meet people who may be helpful to our careers in the future.  But I think he also just liked being a tourist.

Bill Jay in California with one of his students. Bill took us on extended networking field trips to meet people who may be helpful to our careers in the future. But I think he also just liked being a tourist.

Unfortunately that may have been the last time I saw Bill.  We spoke on the phone on occasion, but he soon moved to Costa Rica, where I swore I would go as soon as I could to see him one last time.  I somehow knew that he would not be coming back and I missed the chance to see him again before he passed on.  I regret that missed opportunity, but his passing doesn’t bring me sorrow.  He wouldn’t approve of that anyway, sadness was not in his nature.  I have only once seen him with tears in his eyes, and that was for his youngest daughter as we discussed her challenges when she lost her leg in an accident.  But I think they might have been part sadness and part pride at her successes.  I rarely saw him without a smile on his face, or at least in his eyes.  I think that came from the furious curiosity that churned inside him.

He approached the opportunity to gain information with pure excitement and then to pass it on with even greater enthusiasm.  He used to tell me, “I have so much to get out into the world, I have plenty of papers in there that haven’t been submitted, just put your name one and get it out into the world.”  He wasn’t interested in the credit, just in getting the information out into the world for the benefit of the historical record.  I suppose I should have taken him up on that once or twice.

Perhaps the things I write and the lectures I give about photography are still his voice.  I found my voice through Bill Jay.  It was as though I had found my thoughts inside someone else head and as he spoke I recognized my own thoughts about photography and the world.  I don’t know what drew me to Bill, or why I rejected Law School to study with him.  Perhaps it was the intellectual and objective approach to the art.  Perhaps it was the historian.  Perhaps it was the sarcasm.  Perhaps it was the funny old englishman and his crazy stories.  Perhaps it was his rebellious spirit.  His independence.  His wisdom.  His beard.  But whatever it was, Bill Jay was my friend from the beginning  and soon became my guide and I hope as he reads his blog feed at St. Peter’s internet cafe’, that he has a good laugh as I call him a Politically Incorrect British Fiend.

Bill Jay and David Hurn.  This is Bill signature laugh/giggle that was to common in conversations with him.

Bill Jay and David Hurn. This is Bill's signature laugh that was common in conversations with him.

My Lightroom Workshops are Almost Here
Learn how to use Adobe Lightroom and to speed up your post photography workflow.

Learn how to use Adobe Lightroom and to speed up your post photography workflow.

The Lightrooom Workshop Tour

August 10th is just around the corner and that is the date I kick off my Lightroom Workflow Workshop Tour.  I will start in Las Vegas on the 10th, then I’m off to Salt Lake City, Denver, Tucson, Phoenix, San Diego, Newport Beach, LA, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.  Wow, all that in a month.  It will be a whirlwind, but I am looking forward to it.  Then I get home just in time to head to the north east and hit places like New York, Boston, Washington and more.  Then it’s on to Texas, Louisiana (where I will be speaking at the Pictage Partner Conference) and then to Florida.  Sign up today for a workshop near you.  I look forward to seeing everyone on tour.

liveBooks Webinar on Tuesday, July 14 at 11:00 am.

If you are interested in Lightroom and workflow and want to get a sneak peak at some of the things you will be learning at the workshops, go to liveBooks today.  I am holding a webinar online there on Tuesday, the 14th of July, but you have to sign up before the webinar starts.  So go there today and sign up.

Lecture in Hong Kong

While we were in Hong Kong, I was asked to lecture on photography to a group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  I titled my presentation, “The Photographer’s Eye,” in reference to John Szarkowski’s classic book by the same name.  The book is primarily a book of photographs, but with small discussion on the elements of design which are uniquely critical in the act of making a photograph.  Because photography, unlike other image making processes is not based on synthesis, but rather on selection, the process requires a completely different visual language.  Unlike a painter, who constructs his image by adding and rearranging elements, the photographer (at a basic level) observes what is, and by way of mental and emotional process selects a subject, chooses a frame, chooses a composition by means of her vantage point, waits for the proper moment and then “takes” the picture.

Jared Platt lecturing on Photography at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Jared Platt lecturing on Photography at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

In Szarkowski’s book, he discusses five visual concepts that make up the act of photography’s “visual language” and displays illustrative examples.  In my lecture I showed samples of my work and discussed the same concepts as they relate to my methods and mental process as I am making images in the camera and as I am editing them in the computer.

The process of photography is based in set of choices that are, as Szarkowski says, “imposed on the photographer.”  These choices are based in a set of five concepts.  Each one of these five is critical on its own and in connection with the other five to the taking of a superior image.  The five areas are as follows: The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, Time and Vantage Point.  Inherent in each of the five areas is a set of constraints placed on the photographer based on the nature of the final image.  For instance, the way that time is expressed in a photograph is unique to photography alone.  A photographer’s choice of shutter speed will determine weather the photograph expresses the passage of time in blurs and movement, or by freezing the subject in motion, describe a particular moment in time.  Likewise, each decision the photographer makes at the camera in answer to the constraints placed on her will dictate the final outcome of the message of the photograph.

It is in understanding the visual language that we use as photographers that we master our ability to comunicate the feelings, emotions and facts we wish to present to our audience.  Glossing over any one of the five concepts that Szarkowski presented in 1964 as obvious or too simple would be a mistake.  It is often a lack of mastery of the simple things that means the difference between average and superior skill.

I suggest that any photographer, seasoned or amateur, look for a copy of John Szarkowski’s book, The Photographers Eye (it is generally out of print, so you have to find it used), and study it as your photography Bible.  It has been mine from day one.  Practice thinking of these concepts on a daily basis as you practice.  These simple ideas are the backbone of your chosen medium.

Below, I have presented a few recent photographs which demonstrate each of the five concepts.

The Thing Itself: More so than any other image making process, the photograph produces a tangible presence of reality.  As a result, we believe more readily the facts that are presented to us.  We believe that the place and the people really exist.  We believe that somehow the lens is impartial and tells the truth about the thing itself, and because we believe it is true, the thing itself becomes all that much more important in a photograph, more so than in any other picture making process, like a painting, for example.

The Thing Itself: More so than any other image making process, the photograph produces a "tangible presence of reality." As a result, we believe more readily the facts that are presented to us. We believe that the place and the people really exist. We believe that somehow the lens is impartial and tells the truth about the thing itself, and because we believe it is true, the thing itself becomes all that much more important in a photograph, more so than in any other picture making process, like a painting, for example.

The Detail: The photograph's ability to show the detail in exactness, to describe perfectly the small minutia in less than a second gives the photographer the ability to show things that were otherwise "too ordinary to paint." Because of this ability to turn the camera on the details, we are free to explore, to symbolize with the mundane with relatively no cost of time or effort.

The Frame: Inherent to every photograph is the frame.  The photographer cannot escape it, he is constrained by it and must choose what to include and what he will exclude from the frame.  This window to the world, makes photography a subtractive art.  The photographer creates his art in an instant by choosing a given frame and removing it forever from its context.   Furthermore the frame continually intersects and dissects the lines and elements within the frame and as a result, the frame itself becomes an active part of the photographers image.  All of this occurs in every image in a fraction of a second, making the discussions the photographer makes relative to the frame all that much more crucial.

The Frame: Inherent to every photograph is the frame. The photographer cannot escape it, he is constrained by it and must choose what to include and what he will exclude from the frame. This window to the world, makes photography a subtractive art. The photographer creates his art in an instant by choosing a given frame and removing it forever from its context. Furthermore the frame continually intersects and dissects the lines and elements within the frame and as a result, the frame itself becomes an active part of the photographer's image. All of this occurs in every image in a fraction of a second, making the discussions the photographer makes relative to the frame all that much more crucial.

Time:  The camera boasts the unique ability to see and describe with complete accuracy, what they eye can never see.  The camera can freeze a bullets flight through an apple as easily as it can present the the movement of a car from point a to point b and all stages in-between in one continuous blur.  Only after the camera did painters begin to see the possibilities of blur and motion in their works of art.  Photography opened up, quite by accident, the human mind to the possibilities of visually describing the flux of time.  In addition to this scientific ability to record time, the photographer is tasked with the discovery of that segment of time that Cartier-Bresson called the decisive moment.  This is the moment that the photographer must anticipate.  He must prepare himself for it, arrange his position and watch for that moment when all of the elements in his viewfinder come together in a harmonious design that for only one small moment has become a picture.  And then, it is gone.

Time: The camera boasts the unique ability to see and describe with complete accuracy, what the eye can never see. The camera can freeze a bullet's flight through an apple as easily as it can present the the movement of a car from point a to point b and all stages in-between in one continuous blur. Only after the camera did painters begin to see the possibilities of blur and motion in their works of art. Photography opened up, quite by accident, the human mind to the possibilities of visually describing the flux of time. In addition to this scientific ability to record time, the photographer is tasked with the "discovery of that segment of time that Cartier-Bresson called the decisive moment." This is the moment that the photographer must anticipate. He must prepare himself for it, arrange his position and watch for that moment when all of the elements in his viewfinder come together in a harmonious design that for only one small moment has become a picture. And then, it is gone.

Vantage Point:  For the most part, the photographer can not move her subject, but must move the camera.  Unlike a painter who can conceive of an image where the tree is really on the left, rather than on the right, the photographer, must physically move herself to change the position of the tree and thereby change the relative positions and angles of all other elements within her frame.  It is this constraint on the photographer that forces her into a constantly changing world or perspectives, angles and spacial relationships which are the basis for her images.  And all of these elements and relationships, must be assessed in an instant as the scene unfolds before her.  Somehow, in all of the myriad of subtle changes the photographer makes, she is able to reveal not only the clarity, but the obscurity of things.

Vantage Point: For the most part, the photographer can not move her subject, but must move the camera. Unlike a painter who can conceive of an image where the tree is really on the left, rather than on the right, the photographer, must physically move herself to change the position of the tree and thereby change the relative positions and angles of all other elements within her frame. It is this constraint on the photographer that forces her into a constantly changing world or perspectives, angles and spacial relationships which are the basis for her images. And all of these elements and relationships, must be assessed in an instant as the scene unfolds before her. Somehow, in all of the myriad of subtle changes the photographer makes, she is able to "reveal not only the clarity, but the obscurity of things."

An Assignment:

I will issue an assignment to all who are willing to take the challenge.  You can accomplish this assignment with any camera, even a disposable camera.  And this is equally valid an assignment to the amateur and professional alike.  As a pro, you are not above such assignments.

Start with PERSPECTIVE.  Take your camera out with a fixed lens.  If you only have a zoom lens, choose a mm setting, like 50mm and tape the lens to that length.  The idea is to force yourself to move rather than get lazy and just zoom in.  Go out, turn your camera on a program setting that will keep you from having to think about anything but perspective.  We want to focus on one simple concept and nothing more.  Now, take photographs.  But don’t walk down the street like you would a cafeteria and take one shot of this and one shot of that.  Rather, find something interesting and stay with that subject for a long period of time, if you are on a film camera, stay with the subject for an entire roll of film, on a digital, stay with it until you have at least 30 images or more of the same subject.  Move around the subject, get in closer, or step back from it.  If it is a landscape, you may have to hike a few miles to get in closer (assuming your subject is the mountain, or the lake).  As you move around your subject, above it, below it, you may find that you are distracted by something new that is far more interesting than your initial subject, go ahead and turn your attention to the new subject and do not return to the old subject, unless called to do so by an overwhelming urge.  This is the beauty of the exercise, you may have never have found the new subject if you had stayed on the edge of the road with your zoom lens, snapped a couple photos of the barn in the field and then driven on to the next subject.  It is only when you are forced to change your perspective that new and more interesting visual avenues open themselves up to you.  Keep working each new avenue until you have either exhausted it, or found another avenue to pursue and stay on this challenge until you have exhausted your film, cards or time.  Do not just quit due to boredom, keep working until you find something.

Now, go home and review your images and while you do ask yourself hard questions.  Why did this angle work while this one did not.  Don’t just simply look for the good images and disregard the rest, you are learning here.  Look at your images in a grid view or on a light table, so you can review them all at once and watch the natural progression of your visual thought process.  You will notice trends in the way you think and react to various visual stimulation.  I can tell a great deal about a person from looking at their unedited contact sheets and were I a doctor, could diagnose and prescribe Ritalin for many photographers.

No need to turn in your assignments to me.  You are your own best teacher.  But tune in later for more assignments.

Conclusion:

I highly suggest that you look for an get a copy of the book, “The Photographer’s Eye.”  It has been a great learning and reference resource for me as I have studied and practiced the art of photography.  If you can not find it, keep coming back to the blog and we will not doubt, discuss the topics again in the future.  Also, look for my workshops and lectures in your area in the near future by going to Jared Platt Workshops.