Photography with Faculty

I had the opportunity to work with Ryan Smith again recently. He’s been putting in serious work on on his website (Richmond Cemeteries) and is now turning a portion of that work into a book (Death and Rebirth in a Southern City: Richmond’s Historic Cemeteries). Ryan came by to talk a bit about pictures for the book which led to a field trip (Hebrew Cemetery and Shockoe Street Cemetery) and I think some useful reflections on how the balance between technology, technical proficiency, and art works together to make something interesting. It’s a bit of rambling tour of a series of issues that are specific to this task (getting high quality images of grave markers for a book) but are also illustrative of larger things. Basic Considerations Light Light matters quite a bit. When we looked through Ryan’s initial photos many of them were taken in very bright light. That’s good in some scenarios but leads to really hard shadows. In any photo, thinking hard about where the light is and how it falls will be key in creating the image you want. Usually you want the light behind you. Usually you want it to be soft. I showed up a little before sunrise but I didn’t have a shot list and I’d never visited the site before. That led […]

Ben Franklin bust with 'think it through' written on his forehead.

Photography – #165

View this post on Instagram #phomag_tour condensation as filter A post shared by @ twwoodward on Dec 6, 2018 at 11:48am PST View this post on Instagram #phomag A post shared by @ twwoodward on Dec 6, 2018 at 4:29pm PST View this post on Instagram Strange lights, strange shadows A post shared by @ twwoodward on Dec 8, 2018 at 7:18am PST View this post on Instagram A post shared by @twwoodward on Dec 7, 2018 at 2:45pm PST


Photography is Magic – Class 3 Notes

As we wander down the road with this digital photography class, I’m taking fairly detailed notes and expanding on things that don’t get fully covered in the class. I’m also including some of the strange asides because I think they’re interesting. I’m not sure how useful or interesting this will be absent being there but I figure it is unlikely to hurt anything. Off Camera Flash If any of you are interested in taking your lighting game to the next level, The Strobist (dated as the site is) is remains a pretty impressive resource. They also have a solid Strobist Flickr group that’s active, are on Twitter, and has some great videos on Lynda.com (free for VCU students). His lighting 101 section is solid and will lead you to stuff like an ideal lighting starter kit or 50 DIY lighting projects. I’m also a fan of their lighting diagrams and the extra descriptions that tend to accompany the submissions to their Flickr group. It’s like extra exif for lighting. Memory Cards There were some questions about memory cards. This page breaks down probably more than you’ll want to know about various flash memory types and how they work mechanically. If you’re really more interested in figuring out the kind of card you need to buy, I found the section “So […]

Screenshot of the photography is magic home page. A group of people are looking in many directions. Photo by John Freyer.

Photography is Magic

I’m co-teaching a class this semester on digital photography with John Freyer. It’s aimed at undergraduate non-art majors and it’s blended. There will be lots of field trips and a chunk of online work. There is no particular camera required. Many of the students will be using phones but some have DSLRs. I’m building the companion site as we go but you can see it at http://photographyismagic.com/ and the work is out there on instagram under #phomag and the various challenge hashtags (#phomag_eat and #phomag_hunt so far). The work aggregates to challenge pages where the challenge is described. This is the #phomag_eats page. In the week one post, I make an attempt to show some of the value I find in online photography communities and at least sketch out a bit of the diversity you can find there. I highlight Flickr, Wikipedia, and National Geographic’s Your Shot. With Flickr, I do a bit better job showing how the data provided by their interface might help you figure out technical things about your camera and the photos you want to shoot. I’ve always found Flickr’s ability to make exif data public to be a really nice feature that may be passed over if you’re not looking for it. It’s been an educational resource for me as I moved from automatic settings […]


Photography – #164

Starbucks mermaid A post shared by @ twwoodward on Mar 8, 2018 at 4:46pm PST #subgenius A post shared by @ twwoodward on Mar 11, 2018 at 12:03pm PDT

A portrait of David that I took on a VCU shuttle bus.

Photography – #163

I ended up talking to David on the bus from the Medical Campus to Monroe Park. We started off talking a bit about cameras. From there I found out David has six children. Four of those children are adopted. He believes strongly in trying to do good in the world and this is part of that effort. David’s a very devout Christian and referenced God repeatedly in our conversation. He did it in a way that seemed very natural. We talked a bit about how much children learn from their parents and their actions even when that isn’t the intent. David talked about how he teaches a course and on radiology transportation (his current occupation). He talks about starting the class focusing on making good choices and how, with that foundation, everything else can be learned in time. David’s brother died about a year ago in a car accident and was an organ donor. He was there when the hospital called his father to confirm the organ donation. His father couldn’t answer the question and gave the phone to David who agreed that all the organs should be donated except the eyes. “Because the eyes are the windows to the soul.” All in all, a pretty intense and wide-ranging conversation for a short bus ride.