Welcome to the blog site for Stan Strembicki's Digital Photo I class. Class assignments and notes for the semester will be posted here as well as student work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Assignment #3 The Decisive Moment

You must milk the cow a great deal, to get enough milk, to make a little bit of cheese”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

There come certain moments in our lives when any number of forces (both those we can control and those we can’t) merge together.  Everything comes together as if fate had planned it that way.  To simplify this in a phrase; being in the right place at the right time.

The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson describes this sensation in his work as being “The Decisive Moment”.  A point in time and space when those forces (people, buildings, autos, animals, shapes, forms, weather etc.) arrange themselves in front of his camera to present a complete statement, both visually and emotionally.  Everything is revealed with perfect clarity.

But this is a very quick and fleeting moment.  The power created by all these forces dissolves as quickly as it arises.  Cartier-Bresson sees it as his responsibility as a photographer to be aware of such moments and to photograph them at precisely “the decisive moment”.

Your assignment, shoot at least 50 photos of these decisive moments you find in your world.  These are best found outdoors and in situations where there are lots of people around.  Use ISO 400 speed setting and try to use higher shutter speeds if your subjects are moving, around 250-500 of a second.

Carry your camera in the ready mode, that is pre-focused and the exposure controls adjusted for the lighting situation you are in.  Try concentrating on the three basic elements (time, space, and objects in space, like people).  Observe their interaction.  You skill will increase with practice and timing is everything.

Turn in a minimum of one print that best presents the idea of the decisive moment. The print may be of any size.

For more information, check out the works of Cartier-Bresson in the art and architecture library and the works of Elliot Erwitt and Gray Winnogrand two other photographers who deal with these elements.

Gary Winogrand

Ashley Britts's Motion Photo

Carly Hubbard

Depth of Field; July 2012 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Assignment #2 b Shutter Speed & Motion

The camera has the unique ability to freeze motion or to show an entire motion to the point where it is only a blur.  Both of these qualities can be used in a photograph in interpret movement as you would like it to be shown.

A few things to remember are:

1.  A higher shutter speed will be required to freeze motion when the motion is parallel to the film than when motion is toward the camera.

2.  If you are using a slow shutter speed, those less than 1/30 of a second, you should use a camera support.  A tripod is best, however you can brace the camera on a bench, a wall, or place it on the ground.

3.  Panning means to move the camera with the subject in motion.  This will allow you to freeze motion which is faster than your fastest shutter speed.  Panning requires practice, so try this a number of times.

 1. Make a series of exposures that show the effects of freezing motion with a high shutter speed.
 2. A series of exposures to imply motion using slow shutter speeds.
 3. Finally  a series of exposures that  demonstrate the use of panning technique.

 Remember that you must adjust the f stop to match the shutter speed you have selected to get a correct exposure.  You may find that you can not use a low or slow shutter speed in the bright sun, as there is too much light present.  In that case, you must go someplace where there is less light or wait till dusk.  The same is true of high shutter speeds, which often require you to open the lens to get enough light to make a correct exposure, this may not be possible indoors, for example.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Assignment #2 Depth of Field & Focus

Depth of Field and Focus 

As you have learned in your lecture, depth of field is the area, from the near point to the far point, which will be in focus in your photograph.  This can be used in many ways to make your photograph have more impact, to isolate the subject from a distracting background or to give a photograph more apparent depth.  Just to review:

1.  Depth of field is directly related to the f stop which you use.  A small f stop like f 16 will give greater depth of field (more in focus), and a smaller f stop (like f 2.8) will make the depth of field shallower.

2.  When you want fairly accurate indications of depth of field, you should use the depth of field scale on you lens.

3.  Focusing on a subject close to the camera will give less depth of field than focusing on a subject farther away.


1.  Make at least 2 photographs which show shallow depth of field.  Remember to use a wide f stop (like f 2.8).

2.  Make at least 2 photographs to show great depth of field.  Use a smaller
f stop (like f 16)

3.  Use the remaining images to show subjects in background out of focus,
objects in foreground out of focus, and other variations of use of limited and expanded focus.

 Don’t forget, as you change the f stop, you must compensate the exposure by also changing the shutter speed.  In some cases, it will be too bright to use a open apeture like f 2.8, or too dark to use f 16.

by J.H. Lartigue

Tucker's Photo

Pan's awesome first assignment photo