4.10.12 – Lesson Notes

Here is the first of my lesson note posts regarding the photography sessions. I have included it within the portrait category as well as the Photography section as some of the points made specifically are of benefit to this project.

Facial expressions: The session started by exploring what is the minimum features required for something to be recognisable as a face? Well the general answer to this appears to be found in the form of emoticons, such as 🙂 and 😦 as two examples. This I have already discussed in my initial ideas, where I wondered about an idea only using emoticons, as they are used to convey the emotion of the face in a written term, so could they have some psychological focus?

The tutor went on to say there is evidence to believe facial expressions can be ingrained, as the tutor was saying research has shown babies can respond to 🙂 or 😦 on a piece of paper shown to them, and their emotions match that of the ones on the paper, despite not being taught what they represent.

Lighting: One of the most important aspects of photography, and what you want the photo to convey will alter the way you light the image. As our session was late in the afternoon of a day in October, the sun was very low and setting, meaning the sun shining in the window illuminated some faces, and what stood out was when the iris in people’s eye were lit, out allowing some radiant colours to be seen. This light on the iris is something my idea development will focus on as it would be a great way of making it stand out against the rest of the portrait.

Audience: Our group discussed how sometimes it is the age group that makes a difference, as old people with weathered faces carry more texture with their wrinkles, with interesting shapes and patterns that with right lighting, can be captured in a photograph. Often they are more settled with themselves and are happier to be photographed. Whereas children can have a dynamic, relaxed quality around the camera as they lack focus. This focus does make them rather tricky to photograph though apparently, as their attention is minimal at best, so they need to be occupied. And in general, teenagers often are not keen on being photographed as their identity is not fully formed yet and peer pressure can be at its highest.

Legal side of things: For projects such as these, anyone who is photographed should fill in a model release form giving consent to being photographed, more of which can be read here. Apparently this is also important as they otherwise own the copyright of the photo, as it features them, which means if at some point in the future, they decide to kick up a fuss, it can land you in legal trouble.

What makes a face unique? Well, it is the combination of facial features such as eyes, hair, skin etc… all which are genetically unique but can be similar to others, which when all combined together create a true unique person. Looking at people helps to reinforce this, something the tutor was keen to get us to do.

The beginnings of getting used to a DSLR camera: To introduce us to this there were three main controls the tutor wanted us to understand:

  • ISO: The amount of light let in. In general the rule is the higher the ISO number you set, the darker the surrounding area. ISO normally goes from 100 to 3200. The tutor said you are best off going for the lowest ISO you can get away with, as the higher the number, the grainier the images can be.
  • Shutter Speed: This is how long the sensor is exposed to light. There are a variety of speeds, as quick as 1/1000th of a second. This particular value would be suitable when photographing insects for example. The longer the shutter time, the more movement that is allowed within the image, so a longer shutter time is great for capturing movement, whereas a short shutter time captures more like a freeze frame.
  • Aperture: The size of the opening in the lens. It determines how much light hits the sensor. They are measured in “f-stops” that are calculated by dividing the the diameter of the aperture by the focal length of the lens. Apparently the range can go from 1.8 to 22, with the smaller the number being better for portraits. It can control the depth of field of an image. A larger f-stop (smaller aperture) will produce a greater depth of field.

To understand how the different settings effect the overall image when changed, the tutor came up with a triangle, each side for a setting where you could see what impact the setting would make. The idea was to ensure the photo ended up in the middle circle to ensure it would be of a suitable quality. You can see a picture of it below, as it will make more sense than my writing. Hopefully I will get a handout of this as well in the near future to place on this blog.