Going Digital

from Educators' eZine

Whether it be shooting a portrait or framing a landscape, teaching young people to understand both the technical and the artful within the realm of digital art photography requires that you take a multi-disciplinary approach to art (and life).

Character Revelation

A good photograph reveals the subject’s character. It is more than a ‘look’ at the exterior of the person. It shows what really lies beneath that exterior.

How Do You Discover Character Traits?

Consider how differently students reveal their feelings and attitudes. Some may show individual character with immediate transparency, while others may be more difficult to 'read' at first. The portrait photographer must become proficient at studying people around them. Since your students are to become photographers, they must begin to know one another well. Watching for signals in a subject's mannerism, reactions, expressions, body language and so on, assists one in capturing the subject's character so that it is revealed and asthetically fits into the frame.

You can ‘get the pot cooking’ by engaging them in a think-pair-share to have them write sentences with the theme “how-my-partner-looks/acts-best.”

Since students know their subject, they can take photographs of each other, capturing them in amore-relaxed and natural-looking manner. Teachers and students can produce quality images of each other (yes, give the camera to your students and have them photograph you) by findinga common ground or a topic of particular interest to his/her subject--a hobby, the latest news, a mutual acquaintance, or any number of other topics.

You must take all possible steps to put a subject at ease in order for her or him to appear natural. You can also revise the steps to create a fascinating writing lesson for your student/photographers.

Master The Craft With Math

Photography, like any art form, is based on some basic math-based rules of composition, such as the Rule of Thirds (making a landscape photo, for example, with one-third sky and two thirds land) andusing a vanishing point (drawing out in perspective of a scene).

After students master those composition techniques, they can put their own artistic interpretation of a scene to make an art photo. They can experiment with various camera settings (f-stop, shutter speed) by writing down the values of what's shown in the camera each time they shoot at each value. Without even knowing the term f-stop and/or shutter speed, they will see a pattern (lightness/darkness of photo for example) after they record the numbers.

The Trek From Camera To Computer

Snapping a photograph is only the beginning. Digital art photography requires following certain paths before you can print and frame your output (final image), including
1. Getting the image into your computer
2. Digitally tweaking the image: With your image open in your favorite image editing tool there's practically no end to the tweaking that you can do.
3. Saving your image in the appropriate file type. Whether you’re shooting with a high-end digital Single Lens Reflex Camera or a mid-level point-and-shoot, there are many different formats in which your camera may store your picture, and these may be changed on the computer. There’s the common .jpeg format to the larger (and more space-using) TIFF format. Each has its unique advantages/disadvantages, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this article.

Foregrounds And Backgrounds

Keeping your shots clean and uncluttered is paramount to presenting a great art photograph. That's not to say that you can't shoot something detailed and ornamented, but make sure your audience sees what you wanted to show, not clutter and unnecessary background or foreground distractions. In order to do this take various photographs yourself with foregrounds, middle grounds and backgrounds to show students how they can visualize a three dimensional space in a two dimensional photograph.

For more information (and a lot of multidisciplinary fun), visit my blog Digital Art Photography for Dummies.

Email:Matthew Bamberg

Matthew Bamberg is a Palm Springs, CA freelance writer and the author of Digital Art Photography for Dummies.