BRIGHTON BEACH BLUES – A STUDENTS GUIDE TO TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS

BRIGHTON BEACH BLUES

Went down to Brighton Beach the other day, with a bunch of students who were in disarray…sounds like the beginning of a blues song!

Went down to Brighton Beach the other day,
with a bunch of students who were-in disarray.
Trying to teach them to use camera’s proper-lea…
As well as compose and inform them in every-way.

Sorry, that was pathetic and a blatant abuse of the entire history of the blues.

This trip was not-so-good, it was a mixed bag of students ranging from those who couldn’t be bothered, to those with literally no interest at all, to those who were quite up for giving it their best shot.  Now setting a bunch of students off along the seafront – a place they have grown up around – and getting them to take interesting shots is no mean feat.

I tried my best to encourage, instruct and inform…but it seemed to fall, largely speaking, on deaf ears.  Eventually I got bored and frustrated.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Then, I thought: “Lead by example”.

So, instead of instructing and informing…I picked up my camera and just joined in.

Not sure if that method worked either – but thought you might be interested in the results none the less!

To be fair, making images on the seafront is not as easy it may first appear.  Besides some troublesome light issues – it is hard to frame anything that hasn’t already been shot a million times before.  Still, I was quite pleased with the results and enjoyed myself if nobody else did!

What I also found interesting was my inability to shoot in Black & White.  Many of our students photograph in B&W and I thought I might do the same – but I couldn’t do it!  Much as I used to love working in grayscale, I just can’t seem to do it anymore.  Guess I just see the world in colour and have little interest in photographing it any other way.

Enough chat – here are some pictures…cue music.

(by the way, I have decided to add an exciting bit of chat at the end of this post, which I shall entitle Geek Chat read if you like chat and your a geek.)

BRIGHTON BEACH BLUES GALLERY – (CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW FULL SIZE IN LIGHTBOX)

GEEK CHAT

The geek chat will be kept to a minimum – but there is an interesting additional tale to this set of photographs.  As you wont know…I have recently been brushing up on my Photoshop.  Undertaking the rather daunting and quite dry task of working through and array of manuals and books to hone my skills a bit better.  I have always blagged Photoshop and most of my image adjustment skills stem from some basics learned during an afternoon tutorial from Mark Power!

So I have been hitting the books and trying to do things properly.  For those interested, for an all round insight into many of Photoshops main features – set out in a structured and hands on approach, I can certainly recommend the official Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book.  It is very good indeed.

Anyway, I have also been trying to see what I can do with RAW.  For those who don’t know – RAW is a brilliant image format that does not use any compression and maintains the original information captured by a camera’s digital sensor.  This means after taking the shot, you can use a RAW conversion software to save your photos in a non-destructive manner, but better still, you can make changes to the core settings of the image like white balance, exposure, sharpness etc etc without damaging the original data or loosing any quality.  Genius.

I have also used Adobe Lightroom for several years now, but primarily as a filing system.  I sync Lightroom with my images folder on the computer so I can use Lightroom to view folders of images, re-group them, create collections and all that jazz.  I also use it to export images in different formats, resize them and so on.

Christ this really is getting dull!  Anyway, combine all those three things and what do you get?  The photographs above – that’s what.  I wondered what would happen if I did all my image enhancements and adjustments in Lightroom – without taking them into Photoshop at all.  Meaning I could work straight from the RAW files and then export them in a format and size ready to upload.  I think it worked very well – the photographs look, as the students would have said “sick”.

Of course, I think normally the thing to do would be to make the adjustments to the RAW files in Lightroom, then take the images into Photoshop for final tweaking and adjustment before exporting and resizing them.  I am still trying to figure out this whole digital work-flow thing and how to work with RAW images as though they were negatives.  Not sure I have got anywhere near to a solution yet, but this experiment was useful.

Love some of Lightroom’s features.  The straighten function is great and I really love being able to use a dropper to set the white balance on the image itself.  Also the system they have where you can drag on the image itself to adjust the curves and colour balance is genius and for me a much more instinctive way to work.

Think I might have to investigate further…more books perhaps!

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