Thursday, October 04, 2007

Photographie

My Photo I teacher is French. He's kind of funny, too. The first night of class, we talked about cycling during the break. He asked what we thought of a picture, and one girl said it made her think of landscape calenders. So now, anytime he sees an image that he thinks should go in a calender, he looks at Megan for her opinion, calling her the "expert on calenders." He also knew right away which photos were mine, or so he thought...we pinned our photos up on a board and he walked around, and when he got to one group that included a picture of downtown St. Louis with a bike race going on, he looked at me and said, "No need to ask who took these pictures." Okay, so he was right, but still...

I used to take pictures of nothing but cats. I got my first camera when I was probably ten or eleven, and seriously...all cats. I got some great pictures of cats...but really, I took about thirty rolls of film and they were all of cats.

Not that I have gotten much better. I bought a nice $80 point and shoot film camera right at the start of the Digital Camera revolution, ran a roll of film through it to get used to it, and took it with me to college. That first roll? All cats. And did I take a lot of pictures at school? The whole time I was there, maybe three rolls. And no cats.

When I got a digital, guess what? My stupid cat bore the brunt of the flashes.

But now...having become incredibly unsatisfied with the lack of control I have over images I get with a digital camera (the point and shoot kind), I find myself loving SLR film cameras more and more. Okay, I love Kathy's Digital Rebel as well, but that's her camera and not mine. And so I keep taking steps back to a more involved process...which is why I love the darkroom. And so far? No pictures of cats.

My four pictures that I turned in, well...my instructor said they were unconventional. For instance, one has a horizon line running across the middle of the image, rather than set at one third or two thirds, as is the standard practice. My picture of the bike race is loaded with action and focus in the bottom right corner, and devoid of anything in the top left. My picture of downtown Clayton? The foreground is dark, leading the eye to an empty street caught in the sunlight. The only conventional one, he said, is too dark to really be a good print, and there's not enough contrast.

Back to the first one, though, with the weird horizon line. It works, he said. For two reasons; it's not the actual horizon, it's where the trees start after a clearing. And also, while the picture is not divided into thrids horizontally, it is vertically. I think you'll have to see it to see what I mean.

And the shot of downtown Clayton? It works as well, he says, because the street is emtpy. There's all this darkness in the foreground, there's no people (aside from one in black, walking out of the sunlight, his back to the camera), and it's just that...emtpy. Which is what I was going for. I like downtown Clayton but there's a sense of banality about it, this sort of clinical mock-up of an urban scene that is missing something. And at that point, what it was missing was people. In fact, there were lots of people behind me, waiting for me to take the picture. I wouldn't have minded at the time if they had just went ahead and walked through the shot, but now, having seen the print...I like it the way it is.

And the downtown one? I can fix it. I just need to burn in the sky in that empty corner. That will help balance it a little bit. Or, I can just make a 5X7 of the area in which there is something actually happening, but then it's not a city scape like it's supposed to be, but a street scene. And the last one? Well, I just need to increase the contrast and decrease the amount of time I expose the paper, I guess. See if that helps. But the assignment is over, and we're on to motion photography. And my question to you, dear readers (all eight of you now, since Annie's started reading), can any of you do backflips? Anyone? Or know somebody in the St. Louis Metro Area that can, that would be willing to do a backflip or two (or, possibly, four) that I can take a picture of? That would be sweet. Let me know.

6 comments:

Annie said...

When I first started being fascinated by cameras and photography, I was drawn to fences and playgrounds. I have no idea why (though I've always lived within walking distance to a park), but that's where I gravitate. Strange!
As far as backflips go. I can do a round off, and that's it. I can ask my brother, though. Why?

Elliot said...

Motion photography! I want to capture somebody in mid-flip. Maybe I should try and track down Jon Roundy, he could always do a back flip.

mGk said...

or good old Aaron Story!

mGk said...

What about someone jumping on a bed... I am pretty good at jumping on beds.

mmg

Becca said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels they must constantly take pictures of cats... Every hostel we stayed at in April (except the last one) had a cat. Which I took photos of. It's a poor substitution for not being able to take photos of my own cat. Oh, I also have photos of the random cats that run around Arana... Hm... Guess my priorities really haven't changed much since I was about 10 years old.

Molly said...

I bet you could get a cat to do a back flip... all you need is a cat, a firecracker and a match....