May 15th, 2005


A Walk In Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Yesterday I spent the later afternoon in the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Bright sunlight, mostly clear skies, and a photography student session offered the underlying reasons for going.

Photography student: respecting privacy, no names here. Suffice to say that a request was made by a spouse on behalf of their partner, and I will do student sessions. I should, in fact, probably spend some time doing a bit more prep work for such things. Right now my rates are dirt-cheap. For $20 per hour I'll answer questions, provide tips, and even demonstrate a few things. At least one follow-up session is highly recommended, which will include critique of the photographs made during the actual photo-taking time.

I'm not quite so hard-line as my original teacher. My father insisted I learn composition first without any addressing variable shutter speeds or F-stops, and enforced this by providing me a Kodak Instamatic. In fact, it was one of the first release models, before flash-cubes, one shutter speed, one F-stop, one focal length. Can't get more basic as a point-and-shoot than that. I don't insist on that simple of a camera for the approach, but do base my approach on the basic premise.

I'm not critiquing art. Oh, I'll comment if I think a particular photograph catches my eye. But everyone's "eye" is going to see something different, that's one of the reasons there's so much room in Art for so many different artists. What I figure I'm being paid for, though, is to comment on a student's success regarding composition (based on the Rule of Thirds) and exposure.

C told me that the goal is to gain a better understanding of the basics, and to understand better what the camera is doing when the automatic modes are being used. I recommended to C that for learning purposes:

  • to understand what the camera is doing on automatic, learn what it does on manual.
  • keep variables to a minimum, select one shutter speed and adjust F-stop or vice versa, but only one variable.
  • start using the Rule of Thirds for composition. There are slight variations on this. The one I use divides my frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically, so I'm surpimposing a tic-tac-toe grid on the composition, then lining the composition up on that grid.

C decided to keep shutter speed constant.

So we wandered as a group through the Botanical Garden, stopping occasionally to make photographs. I shall wait to see what C photographed. What I photographed I can talk a bit about. Recall I mentioned bright sunlight and mostly clear skys. Perfect lighting for pinhole photography.

Following the initial play in N'Orleans with the pinhole adapter, I am quite ready to continue experimenting with that toy. For my 35 mm, it is a 50 mm lens equivalent so neither telephoto nor wide-angle. It took me very little time to learn in N'Orleans that composing a shot through the viewfinder with the pinhole on is a waste of time. So in the Gardens, I'd pick a subject (pond), set the tripod for my point of view, compose the shot using my 50 mm lens, then switch over to the pinhole. Made notes on each exposure (not something I usually do while working with the FE2 though I frequently make notes when working with the Mamiya C330).

Working with the pinhole adapter, my aperture (F-stop) is fixed, so the only variable is shutter speed. The guidelines from the manufacturer state "Bright Sunlight, 400 ISO film, 1/2 second" for exposures, but these are only guidelines. So each exposure is bracketed, four shutter speeds. Later, I'll compare exposures to decide which shutter speed worked best for given light. The reference shot done with the 50 mm lens will give me a baseline for exposure evaluation.

Alas, my lab closes at 18:00 on Saturday, and it was 17:55 when I left the Gardens. Nowhere near enough time to get to the lab and put the film in for processing, so I'll need to do that on Monday.

Oh, and I received an hour and a half's pay for the tutoring. Should cover film and processing quite nicely.

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