Photography 1 & 2 Senior Portfolio

by Chris Walton

I'm not much for expository dialogue for something like this, so I'll keep it short and get down to brass tacks.

What I learned in Photography at West High School:

1) Photography class at West can make a semi-pro photographer out of the most camera-shy neophyte, if you allow it.
2) M(r)s. Morell doesn't take crap from anybody, and will be on you from day 1, but it's because she loves you.
3) RESPECT THE CAMERA (and it will return the favor).
4) The sports adage rings true for photography: You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
5) It can (and often will) take 10, 100 or 1,000 shots of the same subject to get one satisfactory, much less spectacular, picture.
(5.1: Memory is cheap, so don't hesitate to get trigger-happy.)
6) Rules were made to be broken, but only if you break them correctly.
7) Take your camera everywhere you can. Who knows? A random opportunity could end up being the next "Snake River."

Now, on to the photos:

Photo 1 Sample Projects:


IMG_0152.JPGAn aperture, in a nutshell, is a hole or an opening through which light travels. The smaller your camera's aperture, the sharper everything will be in the final photo due to parallel light rays coming into the camera; as the aperture gets larger, unaligned light rays start to creep in and blur the image to all but rays of a certain focal length. Aperture was the first project of the semester, and one of the easier ones to get the hang of. In the above picture, a small f-stop (the measurement used to evaluate aperture sizes; the larger the f-stop, the smaller the aperture, and vice versa) led to the book cover being in focus, an everything else growing blurrier the deeper the photo goes. This can be used to one's advantage, if a photographer wants a picture where the subject is in focus and everything else isn't, in order to emphasize the subject.

Rule of Thirds

IMG_0440.JPGOur second project explored the Rule of Thirds, a rule of thumb used throughout the visual arts. The rule states that an image should be divided into nine equal parts, divided by two equally spaced vertical lines and two equal horizontal lines. The points where the lines intersect, four in total, are focal points in the image and should be taken advantage of whenever possible. In this photo, the subject is the radar dish, which is sitting on the bottom-left focal point. Horizontally, the picture is divvied up into thirds along the bottom edge of the building and on the street beyond the fence and parking lot.


Landscape.JPGOur next project explored landscape photography. This provided an opportunity for practical application of the techniques we'd been learning to this point. The picture here, taken across the street and train tracks from Potter Marsh, makes use of a large f-stop (requiring a tripod to compensate for the extended shutter speed) and of the rule of thirds, with the horizon resting just under the top horizontal line of the image.


Portrait.jpgThis proved to be one of the most entertaining projects of the semester, the objective being to capture the "essence" of a subject by way of photography. I want to say at least 300 pictures were taken during this project, in order to come up with just three that would be project-worthy. This is was the first of the three, and was to show a sense of connection, that he was "dialed-in" to the world around him, and that it was serious business to him.

Black & White

This was by far my favorite project that semester. Shooting in black and white requires a different eye for composition than shooting in color, because the contrast of the subject matter becomes that much more important when there are no colors to help in that regard. It also allows for alternative subject matter; where something may not have looked like much in color, flip it to black and white and it takes on a new quality all its own.

Photo 2 Projects:

Project 1: Lego Mecha (Part 1)

I'll be the first to admit, my first project wasn't too great. I wanted to experiment with profile shots of Lego mecha that I'd built at the time, and I was more concerned with getting the pictures so I could run them to school and mess with them in Photoshop, than actually composing them correctly, and it shows. What shopping I did do to these involved washing out the colors somewhat and grayscaling the background behind the models, in an attempt to gain a comic-like quality to the pictures. While unsuccessful this time, it provided valuable intel to act on for my second project.

Project 2: Lego Mecha (Part 2)

This started as a revisit of my first project, specifically to attain a comic-book-like quality to shots of Lego models, and quickly took on a life of its own. What started as mere profile shots of one unit in the first project became posed scenes in the second, and what were washed-out colors and grayscaled backgrounds became highly-stylized and exaggerated colors to enunciate what was happening within. These were my first real attempts at Photoshopping images to attain a specific effect, rather than merely color-correcting or touching something up, and I think they turned out quite well.

Project 3: Ice-Fishing in Shishmaref

These were all taken in Shishmaref, Alaska, as part of the Rose Urban Rural Exchange. We were ice fishing that Monday, maybe a mile or two outside of town, which yielded an opportunity to get these photos. It proved an interesting experience to compose these shots, as the merging of ground and sky into a singular white backdrop proved a unique canvas to frame the subjects against, as well as allowing the myriad coloration of their clothing to shine through all the brighter.

Photoshop Fun:

These were all samples taken from projects in Photoshop we worked on throughout the semester, each lesson demonstrating the understanding of a particular technique.

This was one of our first lessons, demonstrating the ability to move a part of an image from one picture to another. I moved the 747 from an image of it taking off at the airport to a landscape picture I took last year.

This was the end result of an instructional on using layers in Photoshop, whereby one can stack different photo effects (contrast, color correction, etc.) on top of each other. I shopped in the ninja as its own layer, warped the hue/saturation to an exaggerated degree, and replaced the background.

This was for the lesson on compositing images for a panoramic effect. I just took five or six pictures, rotating in a circle as I did, and plugged them into Photoshop, which took care of the rest.

This was the end result of the color correction lesson, via the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools. I burned in the clouds and part of the sky to deepen the colors, then dodged the hood of the truck and the surrounding ground to bring out details previously shrouded in shadow.