As you may or may not know, I’m enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography’s (NYIP) “Complete Course in Professional Photography.” I signed up for it, because I’m a firm believer in always trying to better oneself. I knew that my technical skills were solid, but that there are always things to learn. What I really hoped to gain is a stronger business foundation. I enrolled about a year and a half ago, and hadn’t done much with it. Thankfully, it’s a study-at-your-own-pace course (as long as you complete it in 3 years). So, halfway in, I’ve started to get back to it in earnest. I have decided, dear followers, to hold myself accountable by posting about my progress. So, here goes!
I will post progress when I’ve completed each unit, which means after I’ve submitted and received feedback on my photo projects.
Unit 1, for me, was largely a refresher on the basics of what makes a proper exposure and a good photo. The first lesson lays out the guidelines for what makes a good photograph:
1. A good photograph has a clear subject.
2. A good photograph focuses attention on the subject.
3. A good photograph simplifies.
These are all important things to remember when composing a photo.
Lesson 2 taught me a little about different kinds of cameras, and lesson 3 went over various types of lenses, and how they work. Lesson 4 got into the basics of how to use your camera with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and how to use these to achieve the 3 guidelines of getting a good photograph.
So that was unit 1, in a nutshell. I got an A on the quiz, so, hooray! Now for the photo projects. For this unit, I had to submit 3 different photos.
Photograph #1: Using shutter speed to express a sense of motion or speed.
Now, I already knew before I submitted it that the framing was off. But of all the photos I took, this one showed the best motion without blurring the pages past recognition. For this shot, I set my camera on a tabletop tripod on the desk, the book on the other end of the desk, and then set the self-timer mode to a 5-second delay to eliminate camera shake by me pressing the shutter button. I set the focus to manual once the book was locked into focus (it wasn’t going anywhere), then reached over and pressed the shutter. When the light flashed indicating that the camera was about to take the picture, I blew on the pages to make them turn.
Feedback: The feedback I got on this photo was great. I should back up a moment to say that, once you submit your first photo project, you’re assigned a student advisor who will critique your photos and send you an audio recording of feedback on what you did right, and what could have been better. Anyway. My advisor said that, in the 36 years he’s been advising students, mine is the first of this particular kind of photo to come across his desk. So, that’s pretty cool! He did mention that my framing could have been better (i.e., not cut off the other corner of the book), which I said I noticed before.
Photograph #2: Using selective focus to make the subject stand out.
This one is pretty straightforward. I set my aperture at its widest setting, focused in on the never-interested Pepper, and the result was nice sharp cat eyes and a creamy, blurred background.
Feedback: His one suggestion was to take it down on the headroom. Otherwise, well-executed technique.
Photograph #3: Creating a feeling of distance by using great depth of field.
For this one, I used a shot I took last summer in Hawaii. I do mostly plan on taking new photos for each assignment, but I decided, just this once, I would submit one that followed the assignment guidelines.
Feedback: He liked the photo, and said that maybe next time, I could use an even wider lens, or show an even greater depth of field by having a clearly defined foreground, middle ground, and background. Fair enough.
So that was unit 1. Stay tuned as I go over each unit and photo project as they’re completed. I’ve still got some shooting to do for project 2, so expect a couple weeks on that.