Monday, February 1, 2010


Know what? I am really frustrated. I've had such a hard time with the last two assignments in my photography class. I have that terrible, foggy-headed, unable-to-attend-to-real-life creative block.
I know y'all know what I'm talkin' about - when it seems like, no matter what skill and vision you possess, the things you attempt sort of wither at your touch and better ideas are just not coming at you.
I'm so there right now.

Last week's assignment was technical and tough and this week's assignment built off that. As I mentioned previously, I had to buy some equipment and I did my best to hack some out of stuff I had around the house, too.

A single-light portrait sounds pretty easy. Portraits seem to be what I'm best at so far. I like people and they talk to me and we smile and laugh and I take twenty hundred shots and some of them turn out pretty nice. But not this time.
I tried my set-up on Mindy, who had generously given me such beautiful pictures last week, and I couldn't get it right.
Maybe it's because I'm used to working with sunlight and window light, maybe it's because I was so worried about equipment setup in my tiny living room...I don't really know. But they were pretty bad.
So, I tried again today. It nearly came down to begging my husband to pose for me. I am sure that would have cost me a steep price. We tend to negotiate "prices" for special favors - negotiations like, "I'll wash the dishes tonight if you (fill in the blank)," or "I'll fold the socks and put them away AND supervise homework if you (fill in the blank with a super-huge favor)." And, you know, some other stuff too.
But at the last minute, Chris offered to pay Andrew to do it. Andrew is always, always motivated by money.


So he sat still for me and actually cooperated, which is becoming a rarity since the onset of adolescence. We had a good time and we laughed. The pictures are surely not my best work, but I hope they'll get me a decent grade, anyway.

The idea here is to start taking notice of light - where the source is, how it falls on your subject, the interesting shadows it creates, and the quality thereof. There are myriad considerations here.
Now, there are also a few tools that will completely change the mood of the photograph without adding extra lights. A white surface (in my case, it was a foam core board from the Wal Marts) will reflect light and fill in the shadows on the opposite side of the face. A black surface will absorb extra light and can create even more drama and shadow. And we can diffuse the light to soften the shadows and make it pretty. That's the technical jargon.

So, here's Andrew under a single-source side light:

And here, I've used a white board to reflect the light into the un-lit side of his face:

Here, my lovely, bearded assistant (poor Chris!) is holding a black card near Andrew's face:

And here is the diffused light showing off my baby in all his gorgeous-ness:

Here's one with diffused light and a reflector (white foam core):

I think I'm having trouble getting the camera to expose white as true white. A gray card should work for that, but it doesn't seem to be working for me. Maybe that's why I'm frustrated. I don't know. These are pretty good, and maybe I'm being too hard on myself too, but I have definitely taken better pictures under different lighting conditions. Bleah. I'm ready for next week's assignment. Ready to be done with this one.
And with that, I do promise (Mom) that pictures from Disney will be coming up. These next couple of weeks will be insanely busy for me, but things should slow down after that. I am looking forward to being just a piano teacher.


mindy said...

the diffused light source images are definitely my faves! and, yes, i think you're being too hard on yourself. ;)

Christy said...

Thank you, love.

Kate said...

This really is a super hard assignment. I too work better with natural light. I did a set of robot pictures way back in the day and struggled big time. Now I know why.

I really like the second one!

Amy said...

I *love* the first one. The shadow and *those eyes*. Fabulous!

60ish and Glad said...

Oh my heart-throb James Dean Andrew

Mary said...

I really like these pictures. I'm too tired to comment intelligently (in other words...I'm about to start rambling), but I think you did a great job and though I think you are probably being too hard on yourself...I totally understand. I am disappointed in myself a lot, because I know how great I am and how little of it is showing when I don't perform to my own expectations. Oops...flashed my vanity again. But really if people could see what is in my head they too would be disappointed in me. You are a very talented gal, and you will make up for any lack of ideas or technique or whatever you see as missing, in the next go 'round. It's in you.

claibornes corner said...

To hell with the photography - get pictures of this guy to a Hollywood agency PRONTO......beautiful...PS - would still like some the "bearded one"..

Jessica said...

That boy of yours - oh, the girls are going to eat him up! Can't stand it. I love the 2nd one, and I definitely think they're better than you're giving yourself credit for!

Christy said...

Thank you guys so much. Really. And Mary? Yes. Yes. I know. Yes.
Nana - the Bearded One just won't sit still for a picture. One day...