Beginning Digital Photography Class

I have been taking photographs since I was eleven—not good photographs, but photographs of Campfire Girl’s Camp, my family, my many trips, special events, and what interested me—like cool shadows. But as I look back at the albums of photos taken before digital cameras and as I scroll through my photo files taken with the last three digital cameras I owned, there are few images that would interest anyone other than myself, and even I don’t find them that interesting. Therefore, I decided it was time to learn how to use the camera and signed up for a beginning digital photography class. 

Our first assignment was to go out and shoot 30 subjects during the day time only, outdoors and to use our feet instead of a zoom lens to change the composition, ultimately shooting 60 photographs of the same subject composed in two different ways. So off I went, camera in hand!

At Long Beach Community Garden, I took a photograph of a cherry tree with beautiful pink flowers composing the shot using the “rule of thirds” and placing the cherry tree to the left of center where the “lines” dividing the frame intersect. However, when I reviewed the photograph in the camera the cherry blossoms were lost, blending in with the background. The problem was the intended subject, the cherry blossoms, and the background had equal weight. I then walked closer to the tree and changed the angle of the camera focusing only on the cherry blossoms, and not the entire tree, and used the blue cloudless sky as the background. In this transformed image the pink cherry blossoms (the positive space) stood out against the negative space (the sky); and also, the cherry blossoms filled the frame of the photograph becoming the only subject. Therefore, despite it being my first day using my new Fujifilm X-T20 it is one of my most effective transformations.

My second most effective transformation is a photograph taken of a sculpture exhibit in Newport Beach’s Civic Center Park, where I changed the composition by adjusting the angle from a “bird’s eye view” to a “worm’s eye view,” therefore capturing the whimsical nature of the sculpture.  Standing at the end of the pedestrian bridge elevated above the sculpture, I photographed the fourteen white rabbits sitting in a circle, not zooming in but composing the shot from a wide angle (focal length 24.3mm). While the composition of the photograph captured the entire sculpture and its location on a grassy knoll in the park adjacent to a city street, it did not capture what I felt was the artistic design of the sculpture. By adjusting the angle and placing my camera almost on the ground, the second composition transformed the photograph from being about the location of the sculpture, to being about the reason for the sculpture. From a “worm’s eye view” the rabbits are the subject and the viewer is sneaking up on them, eavesdropping on their meeting. It’s a lot more fun.

But none of the photographs are great; none of the photographs are very interesting; none of the photographs demonstrate much skill. The best part of the assignment was getting out and taking the photographs, going to places I would have otherwise not gone and using my new camera. Hopefully as the class continues the photographs will bring equal pleasure!