Monday, August 25, 2008

Out with a whimper

So, my final photography class was last Tuesday. It was phenomenal, it was amazing, it was .......... ok, shoot, I have no idea how it was. I didn't even get to go.

Brayden's new soccer team had a mandatory parent/player meeting, and Puke Boy over there sure couldn't manage it. So I left Kellen and Kendrie home with him, comatose in the bed (him, not them) which was a big mistake because when my phone rang half-way through the parents' meeting, it was Kendrie on the other end, hyperventilating with panic because the alarm system had gone off and she and Kellen panicked. Come to find out, *they* forgot to turn it off when putting Barley out, but she was convinced that bad guys were breaking down the doors to steal her away, and practically screaming at me in hysteria to GETHOMENOWWEDONTKNOWWHATTODO amid cries of WHATSWRONGWITHTHEALARM punctuated by SOMEONEISGOINGTOGETME and where was Blaine? Sleeping through the entire thing. Ahhhhhhh, there's some responsible parenting. God bless Phenergan.

So I skipped my final class to attend the meeting, and skipped part of the meeting to stand in the hall and talk Kendrie down off the ledge. And what wound up happening? Well, Kellen and Kendrie calmed down and were able to turn off the alarm themselves .... Brayden discovered that this soccer team, although billed as "co-ed", was actually ten boy and only two girls, and she promptly decided not to play.** And me? Missed my final photography class for absolutely nothing. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

The class was supposed to be a final photo critique and lecture on "What makes a prize-winning photo?" Personally, I don't need my photos to be prize-worthy; I'd just like a shot or two where my kids' skin tones aren't green or gray and I somehow manage NOT to get a trash can in the background, or blur everyone into having two heads.

Since my instructor couldn't critique my photos (on account of me not having them there, of course) I'll let all of you do it for me.

The lesson was over light, both natural (available) and artificial. We had a list of photos to take in different light situations, so he could see how well we could manipulate both our cameras, and our surroundings. I think these might have been my crappiest photos of the entire class, so maybe in hindsight, Blaine getting the flu was a blessing. (Just don't tell him I said that.)

The criterion for this photo was Indoors, Daytime, Natural Light. As everyone knows, that means taking advantage of light coming through a window. I've always heard that north-facing windows have the best light, and this is the ONLY north facing window in our entire house, unless I have one of the kids sit in the kitchen sink. But I didn't think it was a great photo. Overexposed on the side near the window and underexposed on the other side. In hindsight, a white sheet of poster board or something to reflect the light from the other side might have helped.

I thought the photo might look better if I converted it to black & white .... but, meh. Still not anything that would take your breath away, or even be deemed worthy of framing.

The criterion for this photo was Outdoors, Nighttime, no flash, available light only. Obviously, to take an outdoor photo at night with no flash means you must have a lighted subject, and must shoot in aperture priority mode. I used the local church because I think the stained glass windows are pretty at night, but even standing completely still, I couldn't avoid the blur. To get a better shot of this either I need to use a tripod, or to quit drinking so much. My vote is to buy a better tripod.

Criterion: Photo indoors, nighttime, with flash. Pretty much any snapshot would do, but we had to take the exact same photo with no flash, so I needed to get light into the image. I did this by pretending it was a birthday photo, with lit candles on the cake. This photo revealed a few things to me: I don't know if it's possible to get any kind of fabulous picture, shooting indoors with flash. I think a "decent snapshot" is about the best I can hope for ... which I what I consider this photo to be. It also told me I have no business baking a fake birthday cake and trying to be artsy-fartsy and making a two-layer cake because I don't know how to level the cake and this one almost fell over plus I didn't have enough icing to cover the whole thing so in actuality? This cake was a disaster. And, either Blaine or I one need to start smoking so we actually have a lighter in this house. I had to hold one of the birthday candles upside down over a burner on the stove to light it. That's pathetic.

This was the picture that perplexed me the most. Criterion: Indoors, Nighttime, No flash (available light only). Every year I take a photo just like this one of my kids with the candles lit on their birthday cake, and the lights in the room turned off. I love the glow it puts on their faces, and I have done this picture successfully at least a dozen times over the years. So why, all of a sudden, do I have this halo thing going on? The light from the candles is reflecting back up in Brayden's face .... hmmmm. My guess is one of two things: either the candles are too close together on my beautiful, wonderfully decorated piece of crap two-layer cake, instead of spread out like they normally are on a 13x9 cake. Or, there's some funky new adjustment I need to make on my new camera that I'm not aware of, and until I figure it out, my kids are doomed to a life of having reflective candle glow on their faces.

And since I didn't get to ask the instructor about it, I'll ask you, Peoples of the Internets: what on earth did I do wrong???

**For the record, our rule is once you start playing a sport, you are not allowed to quit until the season is over. Responsibility, dependability, obligation to team, blah blah. But since this season hadn't even BEGUN, Blaine and I agreed that she could quit if she wanted, especially since none of us expected a co-ed team to be so lopsided. And I got a full refund from the league, which was a pleasant surprise.


lizinsumner said...

Uhmmm, supposed to be packing so that we can leave for Oregon, so - no time to critique photos...which is a good thing, since I know nothing about photography. So I'll just give you a big, fat 'ol A+ and check back in a few days so to see what people that might actually know something said! BTW, I thought the cake was great - especially since I know I couldn't do any bette with one. And I think Brayden looks beautiful in any picture!

Anonymous said...

I love the church picture. But in all honesty, (please don't be mad) I think you were a much better photographer BEFORE the class. Quit trying so hard and go back to the way you were doing things before..... please don't hit me...

Jennifer said...

I have never taken a photography class, but I do love taking photos and teaching myself about lighting and stuff like that. I really liked the photo of the church, and I agree with needing a tripod. I usually brace my camera on any flat surface I can find to prevent it from blurring and that seems to work really well. I've used railings, benches, chairs, tables, other people, anything. I never actually have my tripod with me when I need it.

Also, the one inside with flash, with your new camera can you redirect your flash, or purchase one that you can do so? I got an old film SLR that takes gorgeous photos and the flash actually turns. I find when I bounce the flash off of something out of the photo it lights the subject much more naturally and doesn't wash them out.

As for the birthday candle halo, I have no suggestions.

Good work! I like your pictures.

Anonymous said...

I understand Brayden not wanting to play, but the poor other little girl. Now, she is all alone. :(

Melissa said...

I love to take photos and I actually have a pretty fancy, expensive camera (Canon EOS 40D) with a buttload of special lenses and crap, but haven't a clue when it comes to taking good photos. I STILL take crappy pictures. I also have Photoshop, which can really work wonders, but it's like trying to figure out college algebra to me, and I'm even worse at figuring that out than I am taking photos! I'll offer what I can, though; the first one looks about like the kinds of photos I take, so I'm at a loss there as to how to enhance it. I'm sure Photoshop could make it fabulous, but once again I'm clueless there! The night shots I find I pretty much have to have a tripod, I've never been able to take a blur-free shot without it. Also helps to have a remote shutter release cable so you don't actually have to touch the camera at all. The last one? I've never seen anything like it, though it looks like maybe your shutter speed was too slow? Sorry I'm not much help, I could probably benefit from a few photography classes myself!

Pam Doughty said...

you know, I have a major in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in photography, and I still have to agree with the (totally chicken) person who said you took better pics before the class. Really, Kristie, you are a natural. And just maybe, you and the old camera worked better together than the new one (well, at least until you figure the new one out.. you know how that goes). Sometimes, the "experts" can make you think into something that you are naturally good at to the point that you can no longer do it well; you're too busy trying to remember all the "rules". Just remember one thing... when it comes to great photos... YOU rule! Some of the pics in this blog and on Kendrie's CB site are absolutely fantastic; don't mess with perfection!!!!!!

Mama Bear said...

The halo thing has me stumped. Do you have a lens filter on your lens?

I just bought a Canon XSi and it came with a lens filter. The salesman said that if something were to hit the camera, the filter would take the hit, not the expense lens, so it's really helpful to have one. I was wondering if perhaps the light of the candles bounced within a lens filter to create that second image.

Just a thought.

And I need a class just to figure out how to use this new camera!

Peace said...

The light problem could be a cheap lens filter, like a UV filter. It could be refracting the light funny. For shots like that you need to remove the filter or get a multicoated filter, which should run about $20. It definitely is not the candles. Other option is, the camera is haunted :-)

I've really enjoyed your photos class entries, and it has gotten my husband to read your blog. His advice is above. I had to read it back to him so that I don't sound like an total doofus.

Amy said...

Can't comment on the pics b/c I'm at work right now and should not be trolling blogs! But just had to let you know that you can plan a trip to Indianapolis, IN soon b/c SONIC IS ON ITS WAY!