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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Assignment #4 Environmental Portrait

Assignment #4 The Environmental Portrait

“The subject must be thought of in terms of the 20th century, of houses he lives in and places he works, in terms of the kind of light the windows in these places let through and by which we see him every day.”

                                       "Willie The Lion Smith"  by Arnold Newman 1960
 Simply put, an environmental portrait is a portrait of a person that includes enough of the environment around that person to provide context that helps the viewer understand more about the defining characteristics of the subject.  One of the keys to a successful environmental portrait is that the portion of the scene included in the frame should be "representative" of the environment or context you want the viewer to associate with the subject.  The relative importance of the subject to the environment is also important in defining an "environmental portrait."  The subject should be the most prominent element in the scene, with the surrounding elements providing strong supporting context.  If you are too close to your subject to include enough of the environment, then the image simply becomes a normal portrait.  On the other hand, if the subject is so small in the frame that other elements become more prominent, or viewers cannot discern the defining characteristics of the subject, then the image would be better classified as something other than an environmental portrait.

"Baker" August Sander

Shoot a minimum of 50 images/frames. You can shoot this assignment at a number of locations and even on different days. The subject must be part of the process and may include others, no candid photos of random people you have not met however! No animals or no humans under the age of 14 year as primary subject matter.

Submit one print for crit October 8th

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Assignment #3 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

Submit best effort, one print minimum for crit September 26th.