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Lesson 2 Photography

Monday, October 22, 2018

Lesson 2 of the online photography course was all about taking portrait photos. I was required to take two head and shoulders photos of: 1. a man, 2. a woman, and 3. a child - all using available natural light. I had to use daylight - either out of doors, or coming in through a window for an indoor shot. Then, finally, I had to take two 'alternative portraits' -- photos that included more of the body, like hands.

The goal is to avoid direct sunlight, and use only soft light on the face, preferably coming from the side of the person. Direct sunlight can be harsh and unflattering.

The other focus of the lesson was to pay attention to the background of the portrait -- which should not have any distracting elements in it to draw the eye away from the person's face.
A good background is essential for any portrait.

My personal preference is to photograph nature. I am not very interested in what is a currently a popular genre: street photography. The only people that I photograph regularly are family members, and sometimes friends.

So for this assignment, I used my husband as the subject of portraits of a man.

For the child, I used my 7-year-old grandson.
These are two of the photos I took of him:

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For the woman I decided to use myself. I am usually the person BEHIND the camera, and as a result, there are not a lot of photos of me.
For the portrait assignment, I used mirrors and the adjustable viewing screen on my camera. I was able to capture my image in the mirror, then aim the camera at it, while bending up the viewing screen. After a few attempts, it worked pretty well.
I took the head and shoulder portraits of me, hand holding a mirror in the bathroom next to a window with a solid off white shower curtain in the background.
Then I went outside -- taking a larger mirror with me and propping it up against the front step, using the evergreen trees as a background.
(Sorry, but I do not want my face online, so I am not sharing these photos of my face.)

The funny part came, though, when I decided that I would take a shot of me for the 'alternative portrait.'

There is a stream on my property, and since I am always photographing nature, I wanted a shot of me, holding my camera, with the stream in the background.

This process took about 3 hours. And I am chuckling to myself as I write this, because, overall, it was a funny experience the way I did it in steps. The AHA! moment came late to me that day. It took me a while to get it right, and there was a lot of maneuvering and experimenting along the way.

I began with a medium sized mirror, propped against a tree, with me sitting on the soggy ground. It took a lot of twisting and manipulating, but I did manage to get a few shots.

These are two of them. (I am using a newly learned technique with Light Room to black out my face.)






Tired of getting wet on my bottom, I decided I needed a larger mirror. So I unscrewed the full-length mirror on the inside of the door to the guest bedroom closet, and carried that out to the woods.

Things got better, but it was still difficult to get that mirror positioned against a tree so that it reflected the stream as well as me. (The wind knocked the mirror down at one point. Luckily, I caught it before it landed.)
At this point, I was still holding my camera by hand.



After struggling with that for a while, it finally dawned on me that this was the perfect setup for using my tripod - with a remote control. LOL. (I should have done that in the FIRST place!)
I went back inside to get my tripod and set it up.
At this point, I managed to get a single photo of me.



After taking that photo -- the remote control stopped working - it died!

There was nothing else to do but lug everything through the woods and back to the house-- my camera and tripod, and the long mirror -- and call it a day.

The one shot I took was not bad, but there were no hands in it, so I could not use it for the assignment. (I did, however, include these photos as supplemental to the lesson, with a description of how they got taken.)


When one thinks about the adventures of a photographer, it usually involves exotic travel and interesting subjects.

I didn't think it would involve soggy pants' bottoms and full-length mirrors precariously balanced against trees being blown over by the wind. LOL

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