Alex Brown's Photography Portfolio

Photography 1: In photography 1 we learned about every main aspect of photography and how to weave them together to make a good photo. Those primary aspects were aperture, shutter speed, the rule of thirds, field of view, ISO, and mergers. For the beginning of the class we learned how to use our cameras, Canon Rebel XSi's, which was very confusing at first. After we got used to the cameras and how they worked we began to shoot our projects, starting with the aspects; we would learn one at a time and shoot a project based solely on that "tool," taking into account all of the aspects we previously learned. After every project each student would present their photos to be critiqued by the whole class to see what they did well and what they should work on.

Aperture: Aperture is the size of the hole in the lens in which light passes through. When the hole is small, say at f/22, it allows more of the photo to be in focus and has more depth of field. When the hole is big, at an ideal f/3.5, only one portion of the photo will be in focus and it has a shallow depth of field. This is a very key part of photography because it allows you to control the focal point and it is also one of the three technical things you MUST take into account when shooting a photo in order to get the correct exposure (AKA too dark or too light): aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. The first picture below is at f/3.5, the second at f/9, and the third at f/22.

Shutter Speed: Shutter speed is arguably the most important part of taking a photo. When you hit the shutter release, otherwise known as "the button," a sensor is exposed for a (usually) a very short amount of time. In that instant, incoming light is imprinted onto the sensor or film, which makes the picture. The Canon Rebel XSi's went from bulb (any time you want) to 1/4000th of a second; although, we have cameras that go as fast as 1/8000th of a second. The general rule of thumb is to go no lower than 1/60 without a tripod. Shutter speed is one of the three main parts to a photo as it goes hand-in-hand with aperture and ISO to get the exposure correct. We also learned how to pan a subject in order to add the feeling of speed into a picture. In order to pan you must use a slower shutter speed (~1/15) and keep the subject in the same place in the viewfinder the whole time, which blurs out the background but keeps the subject in focus. The first picture is at 1/4000, the second is at 1/13, and the third is panning a biker at 1/15.

Rule of Thirds: Rule of thirds is a method that's crucial in photography. When you shoot you are supposed to imagine the frame as being split into nine equal rectangles; two lines down the frame, two lines across. The "sweet spots," or spots in which your focal point should be in most cases, are where the lines cross or along one of the lines. If a picture is centered it is almost awkward and it doesn't look right. In almost every picture with a single focal point you should shoot using this method. My pictures are not the best examples, but they do show how the placement should be done. If the can was completely centered, it would look even more bland and uninteresting. In my opinion it simply makes the photo more artistic.

Field of View: Field of view in a nutshell is zoom. The measurements that are used on lenses go by millimeters. A wide angle lens starts at 35mm and goes down; a telephoto lens starts at 80mm and goes up. As you can guess, the more millimeters the lens, the more zoomed in it will be. The millimeters are the distance between two parts of the camera which directly affect how much of the scene if being viewed. The left picture has a lower number of millimeters which allows more of the scene to be viewed, and the right picture has a larger number of millimeters which allows a smaller view, which in turn makes small things bigger. Essentially, the more you zoom, the smaller the viewed area gets.

Portrait: Portrait photography is a rising theme among modern photographers. Making someone look great on camera takes a very honed set of skills; for the model to look their best, you must know what you are doing. For that reason it was one of the first projects we did in Photography 1 after we had learned all of the different skill sets in photography. We were required to shoot at least 3 models and have at least 20 pictures of each. Within all 60 or more shots we were required to use set methods which help make the pictures better. The key to shooting portraits is to catch a moment rather than create it. You must be comfortable with the model in order for them to be themselves, and it's up to you to get the picture at the perfect moment, which adds a whole new layer of difficulty to the mix: not having full control over your subject.

Landscape: Landscape is one of the most common types of photography, especially in Alaska. For this project we were required to get 3 different landscape shots which could include no man-made structures. Landscape photography requires a good understanding of the rule of thirds, because the horizon must be straight and not in the middle, and placing the focal point (which can be hard to simply identify) at the right place in the shot is crucial. When it comes down to it, location is key in getting a good shot. Location counts on the big scale, such as Denali National Park versus the Kansas plains, but also on the small scale, such as being low beneath the trees or up on a hill looking over them. Part of the reason I felt my landscape project was weak was because I did not shoot very many locations and the viewpoints were not the best, although I feel I made the best out of the places that I was.

Project 1 - Long Exposures: For my first project in Photography 2 I wanted to keep the subject broad because I am not very creative with my ideas when I'm not told to do something specific. I chose shutter speed in hopes of capturing movement, although I quickly realized that doing so and getting good shots requires much planning and setup, which is not how I enjoy to work when shooting. When I shoot I want to be able to go to/get my subject and shoot it as is. This caused me to shoot more mellow things which led to using slow shutter speed. I had gone to Flattop to capture the clouds moving in the sunset and I was satisfied with how the shooting went, although my SD card malfunctioned and I therefore lost all of my best pictures. I was forced to shoot more cliché long exposure pictures in order to hit the deadline, so I ended up turning in two picture of car lights on Minnesota Highway and one picture of sparks shooting off of steel wool.

Project 2 - Panoramas: For my second project I was lost at first. I could not think of anything until one day I realized that panoramas were always interesting to me, so I decided to give it a try. Using Adobe Photoshop it is extremely easy to link multiple images together almost seamlessly, so just like landscape it came down to shooting a good location. I tried to pick locations that had a nice view to look at but also had a wide viewing area. For the first picture I was on the metal bridge at Westchester Lagoon by the beginning of the frisbee golf course, and for the second picture I was at Elderberry Park. After shooting the pictures it came down to stitching them together using Photoshop and doing some minor editing with the colors of the sunset.

Project 3 - Beach Photography in Film: In Photography 2 we are required to shoot at least one of our four projects in film. I wanted to wait until spring to do it so I could get better colors which film is good for, although the snow was still on the ground when I decided to shoot it; I was aiming for nature but my best shots ended up being on beaches (I'm not sure if it was coincidence or not). I used a Canon AE1, which is an aperture-priority 35mm film camera (you set the aperture and it tells you what shutter speed is necessary). Shooting film was interesting because you have to get it right the first time, and if you don't you won't even know until everything is said and done. It really makes you pay closer attention to your picture in order to get it right the first time. In my opinion it better displays your skills and has a cool affect on pictures that you just can't get with digital cameras. The first two pictures are taken on the beach at Point Woronzof and the last one is taken on the beach at Kincaid Park.

Project 4 - Coastal Trail: For my fourth project I knew I wanted to do film but I wasn't sure on what the subject should be. For the third project I aimed for nature but ended up with something different, and that experienced gave me confidence in finding a subject while I shot. So, I began to shoot whatever I felt like, and I ended up choosing 3 pictures that I took on the Coastal Trail. I tried utilizing a shallow depth of field in the second two, and the first was just a relevant picture which went with my stronger two. A big part of presenting a project is how the pictures work as a whole piece of work, which is emphasized in class, but this project showed me that as long as you stay relevant when you shoot you can successfully make a piece of work without focusing directly on one aspect.

Fixing Blemishes: One of the most used, and almost overused, parts of Photoshop is the tool used to fix blemishes. It is ridiculously easy fix 90% of blemishes; you simply make the circle the correct size, click on the blemish, and it copies from an area close to it and clones it over the blemish. If it picks from a mismatched area then you can choose the area that it copies. In most cases it works flawlessly. For this tutorial I chose a picture I took for a fashion project and took off the distracting pimple from the model's face.

Portions of Pictures: A big part of what you can do in Photoshop is take portions of pictures and layer them with other pictures. There is a quick selection tool that bases off of colors, but it does take some fine tuning to perfectly select something. You then paste that section onto another picture and edit the layers together or separately to get them to look well together. For this tutorial I took a picture of downtown and pasted it onto a picture of mountains to make it look like the buildings were in front of the mountains.