Low Key Photography
What is due? 5 photos using low key lighting.
Low key refers to a style of photography that utilizes predominantly dark tones to create a dramatic looking image. Low key lighting intensifies the contrast in an image through intensely reduced lighting. I am challenging you to achieve a low key look without studio lights. One way to do this is to use two separate spaces. One space needs to be darker than the other space. For example, you can turn the lights off in a room and use the window as the light source. Try to keep the light from hitting the background, and purposefully underexpose the photograph.
In 100 words or less:
- Clearly and simply state the central idea of your concentration.
- Explain how the work in your concentration demonstrates your intent and the exploration of your idea.
- A strong concentration is one with a clear focus on an idea or theme.
- The focus remains central throughout the portfolio and the progression or transformation of the idea or theme is evident.
- The work invokes a response in the viewer as it is engaging in form and in content (Sunday, 2011).
A concentration is a body of related works that: grow out of a coherent plan of action or investigation; are unified by an underlying idea that has visual and/or conceptual coherence; are based on individual interest in a particular visual idea; are focused on a process of investigation, growth and discovery; and show the development of a visual language appropriate for the subject.
A concentration is NOT: a variety of works produced as solutions to class projects; a collection of works with differing intents; a group project or collaboration; a collection of works derived solely from other people’s published photographs; a body of work that simply investigates a medium, without a strong underlying visual idea; or a project that merely takes a long time to complete.
What is due? 1 levitation photo completed in class, which is made up of at least two photos (subject and then background).
A great set of instructions can be found here for taking the photos and editing them. We are doing the levitation photos that involves using a stool or box on which to rest the subject. Use a tripod and manual mode. After you focus on the subject, switch the lens to manual focus. You'll take one photo of the subject resting on the support (i.e. stool), then remove the support and subject and photograph the environment without changing any settings.
The video below shows how to do the Photoshop steps to combine the two images.
What is due? A 5 minute presentation to the class. This presentation is open to however you want to do it (PowerPoint, Google Slides, the photographer's website, video magazines, etc.). Find a photographer that inspires you. You need to explain why you selected the photographer, what their style is (show plenty of CLEAN examples), critique their photos (are the photos technically good, artistically good, interesting, etc.), and identify the concepts or ideas the photographer explores (if applicable). Feel free to ask the class questions and lead a discussion.
When you critique their photos, here are some things to think about:
1. How is the technical quality? Let’s start here before we get to the more subjective issues of composition and emotion.
- In focus? (or if not, was that intended?)
- Exposure: Is it too light or dark? Are there blown out or underexposed areas? Do you consistently have dark, moody photos? Why?
- Use of depth of field to control the viewer’s eye.
- Use of contrast? Too muddy or too much contrast.
- How was lighting handled?
- How do the colors look?
- What principles of composition does the photo or photographer use?
- What should and shouldn’t be in the frame?
- Where is your eye drawn to?
- What emotion do you feel when you look at the photo? Or lack of?
- Did the photographer connect with his subjects or do they look tense, posed or stilted?
- Does the photograph tell a story, or part of one? (It could be as simple as, “here are my kids who I adore” or “here’s my dog catching a frisbee.” Or a very deep one such as, “this is what poverty looks like, right in my hometown.”)
- What techniques/lighting/lenses/props does the photographer seem to frequently use?
- Any specific mood that occurs in most of the photos?
- What kind of words would you use to describe most of the photos?
- What makes this photographer different from other photographers?
You can use the class' website to find a photographer, Google one, or use this website to find one.
High Key Photography
What is due? 5 photos using high key lighting.
High key refers to a style of photography that utilizes predominantly light tones to create a bright and airy looking image. Use bright lighting to blow out most or all harsh shadows in an image or expose the photo for that effect. I am challenging you to achieve a high key look without studio lights. One way to do this is to use two separate spaces. One space needs to be brighter than the other space. For example, you can stand in a room with the lights on, use the window as the background light source, and expose for the subject. Since the light outside the window will be brighter, when you expose for the subject in front of the window, it will over expose the background. A second way to do this is outside. Stand on the shaded side of the subject and expose for the shaded side. Then make sure the sky is the background, which will over expose it since you are exposing for the shade. You can also use something white as the background and slightly overexpose to blow out the detail of the white background.
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
What is due? 4 photos.
Get 4 photos that will show an interesting composition if you make a geometric selection and rotate the selection. Most examples on the internet are landscapes, but photos with buildings, people, cars, etc., can also be interesting.
- Open the photo in Photoshop.
- Create a selection with either the rectangular or elliptical marquee selection tool. Hold shift to make a perfect square or circle when you create the selection. If you also hold Option on the keyboard, the center of the selection's shape will be where you click and expand out on all sides.
- Press command j to copy the selected pixels on to a new layer.
- With the new layer selected, press command t to rotate the layer. Press enter to accept the transformation.
- Erase parts if you want it to blend in.
- Repeat as desired!
- Create more advanced geometric shapes by using the Polygonal Lasso Tool.
- Add a slight drop shadow to layer with the shape on it by clicking the FX button on the bottom of the layer panel.
- Erase parts of the new layer to have it blend in.
Black Light Photos
Objective: Experiment with a different type of light and paint that reacts to black light.
Experiment with the black lights and paint to create interesting portraits or images. Be creative and try something new!
Objective: Learn the technique of focus stacking for macro or product photography.
The video below goes over how to take the photos an combine them in Photoshop. Here are written steps for combining the photos in Photoshop:
- From Lightroom, click Photo > Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop. (If you aren't using Lightroom, in Photoshop, click File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack. Click Browse to find and select all of the photos. Check the box "Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images." Click ok and wait.)
- When it's done, select all the layers.
- Click Edit > Auto-Blend Layers...
- Pick the "Stack Images" option, and check the "Seamless Tones and Colors" box. Click ok and wait.
- Double check the layers masks to fix any errors by painting black or white with the mask selected.
- Edit the photo in Photoshop or save it and take it back into Lightroom!
Objective: Force yourself to look at things differently. You've all seen the school and environment around it. How can you use minimalism to show it differently?
Minimalism is a style that refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials, or you can say it is characterized by extreme spareness or simplicity. For photography, the focus is on one key element and the rest of the composition is generally clutter free. Here's a good, brief article about minimalism in photography. Here is another set of good photos showing minimalism.
Prisms with Portraits
Objective: Learn how to use a prism to create visual interest with a portrait.
A few different ways to use a prism:
- If you use a prism in direct light, you can get the refraction (rainbow effect) of light and have those colors either shine on your model or hit the lens.
- Place the prism close to the edge of the lens so it creeps into the frame. That will give interested reflections or light patterns that come into the photo.
A few other things to help achieve the look before is to use a fixed lens that has a wide aperture and shoot where you will get bokeh from background light sources.
I'd also like you to practice paying attention to the environment that you use in your portraits. You might think the school is boring to take photos in, but use that as a creative limitation to force you to think differently like the video below.
Objective: Create two still life scenes to photograph. Photograph one scene with a hard light and the other scene with a soft light to learn how to control light for different effects.
Photographers are concerned about 3 things with light.
- Brightness - Another word is intensity. You control the brightness of light by moving the light closer or farther away (remember the inverse square law!). Or if possible, adjust the brightness with a setting on the light.
- Color - Every type of light has a different color temperature. Try not to mix different types of lighting so you can easily correct color in Lightroom or Photoshop.
- Contrast - A light has high contrast if its rays all strike the subject from nearly the same angle and low contrast if its rays strike the subject from many different angles. A shadow with sharply defined edges is called a hard shadow. So high-contrast light sources are also called hard lights. A shadow with no clearly defined edge is called a soft shadow. So low-contrast light sources are also called soft lights. You control the contrast by the size of light. A small light source is always a hard light source and most large light sources are soft ones.
Shape & Form
Objective: Experiment using the plastic to show shapes and form. This eliminates color and texture and places the focus of the photograph on the shape of the subject. This will also force you to concentrate on how to have the light help you shape the subject.
Creativity Exercise 1
Sparkly Background/Product Photos
Objective: Practice creating an interesting product photo by using common items.
Use the provided tinfoil and your cell phones to create interesting photos. You can use your cell phone for an interesting reflective surface and use another cell phone as the light source for the small products and background. Crumple up the tinfoil to create bokeh as well as an interesting background. How far away should the tinfoil be? Where should you shine the light? What settings blur out the background the best? Experiment and try new things.
Automotive Light Painting
Creativity Exercise 2 - Stuck for 5
Posing & Fill Light
Dodge & Burning Portraits
Objective: Learn how to dodge (lighten) and burn (darken) locally and globaly to enhance portriats.
Dodge and burn can be subdivided into local (think micro, pixel-level) and global (think macro, sculpting & contouring). Each subdivision has its own goals and challenges. When you're performing local D&B you normally determine the area that needs corrections while being zoomed out. Then you zoom in very close and even out the values of different parts of the skin to achieve an even surface look. Global D&B, or sculpting & contouring, your goal is to add volume and more dimensionality into our 2-dimensional image. Contouring is the art of expertly highlighting and shadowing the correct spots on the face in order to accentuate and bring out the subject's best look.
- After you've cleaned up the skin with your basic retouching tools (such as Clone Stamp tool, Healing Brush, Spot Healing Brush, etc.) and possibly some Frequency Separation add two Curves Adjustment layers on top of your Photshop layer stack.
- Pull one Curve slightly up (brighten midtones), name this layer "Dodge" and invert the layer mask color to black (Command (CTRL) + I).
- Name the other Curves Adjustment layer "Burn", pull the Curve down (darken midtones) and invert the layer mask color to black (Command (CTRL) + I).
- Use your paint brush and have white as your foreground color. You will work with soft brushes set to a very low opacity or flow. Paint on the dodge layer to brighten parts on the image and paint on the burn layer to darken parts of the layer.
- Build the effect up gradually! When you're finished, it's a good idea to lower the opacity of the layers because you probably did too much.
Do you want to get even better are dodging and burning portraits? Read these articles:
Objective: Learn how to create a specialized panorama to achieve a shallow depth of field with a wide angle of view.
The Brenizer Method is a way to create a specialized image with a shallow depth of field but wide angle of view, and it was popularized (though not created) by the photographer Ryan Brenizer. Similar to a panorama, Brenizer Method portraits consist of several photos stitched together to make one image. The objective of the Brenizer Method is to achieve a very shallow depth of field with a lot of background blur and bokeh. This shallow depth of field is only possible through layering images together.
To achieve this you need to use all manual settings - white balance, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Most importantly, though, your focus needs to be on manual or stay locked throughout the process. You will be stitching the images together in Photoshop, and it will not work if the camera automatically changes the focus for each shot. It will also look bad if the white balance changes between each shot, too. We wouldn't want a bad looking photo now, would we?
When taking the photos, I would start from left to right, top to bottom - similar to the way a book is read. Make sure you overlap each photo by at least a 1/3 to ensure Photoshop knows how to stitch the photo together. If taking portraits, make sure that the subject's face isn't cut off. Ensure the exposure, white balance, and focus remain the same throughout the process.
After importing the photos into Lightroom, select the series in the film strip and then click Photo > Edit In > Merge to Panorama in Photoshop. Leave the settings in the Photomerge dialogue box to what it's set (Auto, and Blend Images together checked) and click Ok. Wait. Then crop and edit either in Photoshop or Lightroom.
What is due? 10 photos. Each photo shows a different type of relationship, such as love, friendship, nature and human, pet and owner, hands and objects, or something else creative.
Use different techniques that you have learned to show the theme "relationship" in an interesting way. The 10 photos need to be about different types of relationships.
Shape & Form - Water
Objective: Explore the shape and form of water by controlling shutter speed.
Use the cup to experiment throwing water and photograph it with a fast shutter speed to create interesting forms and shapes.
Objective: Practice framing subject and adding depth to your photo.
What is due? 5 awesome photos that use framing.
Be creative with the frames that you use. Go beyond doors and windows. What else is in your environment that works as a frame? Can you hold something in front of your camera? Also, notice that when the frame is close to the camera it adds depth to your photo.
Objective: Practice shooting in manual mode and showing everyday objects in an interesting way.
What is due? 26 photos. Each photo of is something that starts with a letter in the alphabet. So one photo of something that starts with an A, another photo of something that starts with a B, and so on.
Objective: Learn how to control the on-camera flash for special effect.
What is due? 5 photos that show experimentation with rear curtain sync and shutter drag.
Shutter sync is when the flash fires during a photo. If the flash fires as soon as the shutter opens, it is called front shutter sync. If the flash fires right before the shutter closes, it is called rear shutter sync. To decide between the two, ask yourself if you want the motion to be behind the movement or in front of the movement.
To learn more about rear curtain sync, you can read this article here or read this one here (better examples). You can see some good examples on this website to help get your creative juices flowing. This article and video is by a photographer who uses this technique, too. Not only can you move the camera while taking the photo with a slower shutter speed, you can also zoom in or out to create some cool movement.
What is due? 1 poster.
Objective: Learn how to create your own poster on a normal printer and learn more about exporting from Lightroom for print.
What is due? 2 images.
Objective: To experiment with typography and layer masks in Photoshop to have the text interact and flow with the elements in the still life image.
Use 2 of the images form the Still Life assignment to complete this assignment. You will learn (relearn) how to use layer masks, install fonts, and control type in Photoshop to create two interesting images. Fonts have moods and styles. Use them to match your scene. You can download free fonts from dafont.com.
What is due? 9 photos
Objective: Practice creativity by photographing the same object as your group. You will each take turns taking one photograph but you may NOT take the same photo that anyone else has in the group. Each photo has to be different. You may not use another person or yourself in the photos. Use the provided objects as your subjects.
What is due? 1 completed image.
Objective: Learn about light painting an object (car) and how to blend the images together in Photoshop.
The video below has the instructions on setting up the camera, taking the photos, painting the car, and editing the photos in Photoshop.
Key points to remember:
What is due? 20 photos
Objective: Practice seeing things differently and practice being creative when you are limited in the space you are you and the time that have there.
You will be placed in a location for 5 minutes. You cannot take selfies, each photo has to be different, and you cannot move out of the location until the time ends. Time yourself and practice challenging yourself to see things differently.
What is due? 5 photos.
Objective: Experiment with studio lights to try to get different results by changing light modifiers, light intensity, light distance, light angle, and posing.
The photos need to be 1 butterfly, 1 loop, 1 rembrandt, and 1 split lighting. The 5th photo needs to use more than 1 light source. Try to replicate the lighting on a photo that you like.
Watch the three rules of lighting to understand how light works.
On the following video, watch from 6 min to 12 min. http://masterbeautyphotography.com/mbp2/
One of these portraits will be used for the Dispersion Effect assignment.
What is due? 5 photos
Objective: Learn how to use fill light in the studio and practice posing.
The purpose of the fill light is to soften the shadows from the key light. The ways to adjust the brightness of the fill light can be the distance from the light to the subject or change the intensity of the flash. If the fill light is too bright, it will flatten out the portrait. If the fill light is not bright enough, you won't see any change. Typically, the fill light is at a 90 degree angle from the key light, but you may experiment to achieve the look you want.
I also want you to practice posing. Pick one of the following to practice with while you pose:
What is due? 1 photo.
Objective: Practice using layer masks and brushes in Photoshop.
The video has the instructions on the bottom. Be creative and add your own twist to this effect by using different types of Photoshop brushes or putting separate elements into the image.
Local D&B is normally applied in tiny dots and lines, while the global D&B will be represented by large areas painted with a soft brush. Example by Jesús Vilca.
Contouring example: lighten white areas and darken the brown areas.
What is due? 10 photos
Objective: Learn how to create custom bokeh and take great photos with bokeh in the background.
Bokeh is out of focus light in a photograph. The shape of the bokeh is determined by the shape of the aperture. So you can create different shaped bokeh by cutting paper and covering the lens with it to create a new aperture. It is also very helpful to have a fast lens (a lens which has a very large aperture like f1.8). Remember the relationship between how close the subject is and how far away the background is to create a shallow depth of field.
What is due? 10 photos
Objective: Learn and experiment with different ways to create flare or visual interest in a photo.
Here are a few ideas:
What is due? 5 photos.
Objective: Learn how to investigate the construction of a digital image through creative means.
The results of this effect highlight the nuances of a digital image and explore the action of altering photographs through non-traditional means. Pixel stretching is one way to investigate the construction of a digital image through creative means. The process involves selecting a single row or column of pixels and stretching them out over an image to create a warped, surrealistic visual effect.
Tutorial found at https://digital-photography-school.com/pixel-stretching-photoshop/
On completion of this course, you will have acquired knowledge and developed a range of practical skills associated with photographing people.
Completion of Introduction to Photography Level 1 - Technical and Aesthetic or equivalent
Studio lighting equipment. Introductory course notes.
Materials to bring
The SLR digital camera you intend to use during the course (and camera information booklet if available)
Pen and paper for note taking
Participants will be awarded an RMIT Statement of Participation.
Note: The cost of digital printing for practical assignments undertaken during the course will have to be paid by participant. Further guidelines will be given by the instructor during the course.
Completion of this course will not guarantee entry into an RMIT Program.
Course Presenter - Bryce Dunkley
Bryce has operated his professional studio for 20 years with extensive experience in portrait, wedding and commercial photography. He has published his work in three acclaimed books on the Mornington Peninsula.
Deborah Dorman is a qualified professional photographer with a Cert IV in Training and Assessment. She loves sharing the joy of photography with others and has a skill for explaining the complex in easy to understand ways.
Deborah established Wild Honey Photography, a successful portrait, wedding and event photography business, in Qld in 1998. She moved to Melbourne in 2010 and commenced teaching photography at RMIT.
You'll find Deborah teaching the Introduction to Photography Level 1 and 2 as well as the People and Portrait short courses.
Deborah also runs Photography Travel Tours and regularly exhibits her fine art photography, with images in both public and private collections.
The friendly, informative atmosphere, the relaxed pace. Also adding to current knowledge and validating what I already do in a class with instant feedback. Alina
I loved everything. Sad it's over. Belle
Experienced teacher, great examples and very motivational. Veronika
Practical hands on exposure to studio and location photography. Congratulations to Deborah on a detailed, insightful and practical (and fun) course. Andrew
Fun and valuable course. I learnt so much about portraiture and people photography to build on my existing skills. Emily