Home > Monterrey Workshop > Monterrey 2020 – Beginner Day 3 – Taking Control…

The moment when a photographer makes a photograph, he or she makes decisions in two realms simultaneously: aesthetically and technically. The photographer, let’s call her Alma, sees something that sparks a response and decides to make an image using that as inspiration. Imagine, for instance, she sees a bird on a fountain. Alma will begin by considering what needs to happen technically, with the camera, in order to record an image. For example, how much light is needed to show the scene as she sees it and how long she should let this light into the camera. She has to balance the three control functions of the camera in order to make a correct exposure (Camera Sensitivity, Aperture Size, and Shutter.) But once she’s considered her exposure, she can begin to make aesthetic decisions on how she wants this image to look. She can use a wider aperture, f-stop, to create a shallower depth of field thus blurring out the background, or she could use a slower shutter speed to blur the motion of the bird as it moves around. Either way, she will have to balance the control functions of the camera to get a good exposure. Aside from these more technical decisions, Alma will lastly choose how to compose her image and what she’d like the viewer to focus on. When she presses the shutter button magic is made!

There are essentially three sets of decisions being made: the purely technical, the wholly aesthetic, and then those that are a blend of the two (aesthetic choices derived from the technical or technical choices required by the aesthetic.) On our first day of class, we learned about how to do the technical. We worked toward an understanding of the three pillars of photography; how ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed come together to create an image. We also learned how to use the camera’s light meter to get the proper balance of the three. Looking at the images from yesterday (these can be seen on yesterday’s blog), it’s obvious that they already had a strong aesthetic sense and were able to combine that with their newfound technical knowledge pretty well. Today, however, we learned about the other piece to this puzzle…the part where we begin to tell the camera what to do instead of the other way around. Whereas before, the students would take an image based off of what their camera’s light meter told them, today, we learned that that is simply a guideline and we can play with our camera settings to achieve the look we’re after.

We spent most of the day working through this discussion but after lunch, we went outside to the park and had a chance to put things into play. The pace was pretty intense, and we ended up going into the evening but the results are pretty impressive. Given that it’s all a bit heady and intangible, we have to remember that this is only their third day of class and what they’re achieving is quite impressive.   However, we haven’t got any time to spare as tomorrow we’re going on our first real assignment! 



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