Photography for Artists & Designers

Art & Design 265: Project


Project: Shoot From the Hip

Week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Schedule


The Short Version

— Shoot 100+ images with your camera on full auto.
— Shoot almost randomly, "from the hip", barely attentive to what you're shooting. Consider shooting a single area or subject.
— In Bridge and Photoshop, survey your images looking for "the image within the image". Often, with cropping, there are interesting compositions and forms present — and photography, like all imagemaking, is, in part, a matter of recognizing, selecting and isolating worthwhile and evocative imagery.
— Select a theme (from list below).
— Select 20+ images for initial cropping, then narrow that down to a series of seven final, thematically unified, compositionally strong images.
[ — *** NOT REQUIRED Spring 2013 *** Create a composite of your image set, presenting them as a unfied whole. ]
— Convert to mid-size JPGs. Upload to G+. Comment and crit yours and peer images.

Concept | Preparations | Process | Content | Sorting | Editing | Presentation | Turn In | Resources | Deadlines


Goals & Concept

Images are not solely dependant upon subject matter, but rather pure formal aesthetics are a part of what the viewer responds to, and are a part of what the photographer must offer.

Effective image-making involves conscientious cropping of visual content — visual composition is a prime responsibility of the photographer. Usually that cropping occurs while the photographer is looking through the viewfinder framing her image. Further cropping often occurs in post-processing — when an image is edited in Photoshop, Camera Raw, Lightroom, iPhoto, etc.

In this image-making exercise, that composition task happens after the image is shot, rather than through the viewfinder. You will be looking for images that have some visually interesting, sharied traits — a shared graphic concept.

Also involved: basic camera setup, image organizing, image editing, uploading are exercised.

 This imaging-making exercise requires only the most basic and automated use of your digital SLR.

Basic Shooting Setup

If you've not shot before, or need an intro to the controls on our equipment, go here.


Shoot between 100-200 images “from the hip”.  
This means you’re not necessarily looking through the viewfinder and often you don’t know much about what is in frame -- you’re just capturing images as you go.

You may want to set your lens ("focal length") to a wide angle setting — but that's optional.
Camera Manual PDFs:          D7000 Manual — p. 37      |        D90 Manual — p. 37

Check on how your images look.
Use Image Review to see the images you've shot. Feel free to delete obviously useless images.
Camera Manual PDFs:          D7000 Manual — p. 46-47      |        D90 Manual — p. 48-49

Usually, this shooting tactic would be considered really sloppy photography. But here, it is an experiment in image-finding. Your job is to find the image within the image during post-processing — look for the worthwhile images that are somewhere within the photos you have shot.

Your goal, then, is to shoot at least a 100 images of unknown content and unknown form.
Go ahead and shot a lot...these can, obviously, be shot quickly, especially once you find an area with subject matter that is rich.
Again, you're not aiming for content, but you’re simply collecting a set of almost random images to work with.

— Transfer these images to your m-drive or personal drive so that you can view them in Adobe Bridge.

— Then the work begins. Use bridge to survey your images and select the "keepers."


Find the Image within the Image

In Bridge you can view many images at once as thumbnails. You can size these thumbnails up or down.

Select images that have visual potential based on the theme you select.  Many of your images are likely worthless -- at least at first glance.
Look for images that have something in them — some image, pattern or bold shape within the visual field that might be cropped into an interesting image.


Content: Image Series Theme

You will select a theme that will guide your selection and editing/cropping of images.

The idea, here, is to survey your images in hopes of seeing some traits the might be "harvested" into a coherent set of finished images. Since your shots are rather random, you really don't know what you've got until you survey your entire shoot.

Consider these themes:  
— Light & Shadow Patterns
— Active Shapes 
— Varied & ActiveTextures 
— Movement, Motion and Action
— Dynamic Color

— Masses & Volumes


Sorting Images

Most of your images will be rejects. Begin to identify the images that might, just maby be useable. 

You'll likely be using Adobe Bridge for your sorting and image management since that is what is installed in our labs. Lightroom and Aperture will offer similar features.

There are several strategies that photographers use to visually sort and organize their images. Here are descriptions of several methods of organizing your imagesStar Ratings, Collections and Folders.

At the very least, create a folder for all images from this shoot. In Bridge, create Collections to store your candidates for your final series, and for your final series.


Image Editing

Edit images that have interesting graphic potential into sets of finished images.

You’ll have to settle on the theme that your images will reflect -- pick one of the themes noted above.

Now start cropping, rotating and editing these images for best effect.

See the videos, below, on how to use the Crop tool, particularly noting how you can
     i) crop to a particular format/proportion,
     ii) rotate the image as you crop and
     iii) follow the "rule of thirds" as you move the crop boundary.

When working in Photoshop, avoid using decorative filters.
You may edit via Curves, Levels, Contrast/Brightness or other global editing tools. See the videos noted below on using Adjustment Layers and Levels...especially if you don't remember how to use them.
Do not add elements, or erase elements in any image — avoid local editing.
Cropping, rotating and global color/contrast editing are allowed.

Export copies of your final images as JPEG images, max dimensions: 1500 pixels high, 2000 pixels wide.
While exporting, add a copyright statement to your images. In the export dialog box, there is a field for copyrights — just enter the year, your name and (suggested) your email.
See video tutorials below on Bridge Batch Resize steps.


Presentation Composite

*** NOT REQUIRED Spring 2013 ***

Create a composite image that depicts how you would display your image set as a group.
Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign can handle this. For me, Illustrator is the most convenient.


— Upload your JPEG image set and composite to Google+ into your “001 Shoot from Hip” album.  
Drag that album into your Photography_Art265 circle.

— Add comments to your photos and album. Describe the traits that unify this set of images.  Write a short (25-75 words) concept statement that describes the visual traits or ideas that this set of images emphasizes.

— Review and comment* on the photos uploaded by at least 7 other students before class.
* Provide relevant comments (25+ more words) discussing what you see in the photos presented -- comment particularly on what impresses you or what catches your eye.  Comment on what you think might improve the cropping or editing of the presented photos.


Tutorials and Resources

Bridge 101

(CS 6)
Bridge as an image organization tool.
It allows you to set up folders, favorites, collections and filters.  You can keyword, rank and sort your images.
This video goes through all prefs and the basic interface

Adobe Bridge CS5 Intro: Though this deals with the prior version (CS5) of Bridge, it does a good job looking at far more features, and most of them are identical to CS6 Bridge. (at 2.30 min he gets "in" to Bridge) | Part 2 | Part 3 |

Crop tool in CS6

Crop tool in CS6 has changed... for the better.  
Know how to Crop/Rotate  and  Crop/RuleOfThirds
Destructive vs. Non-destructive Cropping.
Straighten tool to rotate by drawing along a known horizontal or vertical edge.

Levels 101 The Levels controls offers one of the most versatile means of altering exposure and contrast traits in an image -- which is to say, its really a good panel to get to know.  Increase or decrease dynamic range.
terms:  Levels, histograms, pixels, dynamic range, clipping, blown out whites and value/brightness levels.

The Power of Adjustment Layers

Levels and Curves are important value (and color) editing tools.  You can apply them directly, or through an Adjustment layer.  
Adjustment layers allow you to make such changes non-destructively — which means, in part, you can change your mind later without degrading the image.
Image: Adjustments: Levels   (destructive editing)  
Adjustments Panel: Levels (icon)   (creates adjustment layer; non-destructive)

to create an Adjustment Layer Mask
Magic Wand selection tool.
Select: Inverse
AdjustPnl: Levels   (new mask automatically made based on current selection)

Bridge Batch Resize

Bridge Batch Resize/JPG Images2

These videos cover the basic batch conversion process that you’ll want to know.
For most of our in class uploaded images, save as JPG, quality 10 (or so); size W 2000 x H 1500  (these define the maximum dimensions of the final image -- so your converted image will be the same shape/proportion as before, but now the max height will be 1500 pixels and the max width 2000 pixels.  That’s actually a bit large for most online viewing, but should be fine.

Required — Deadlines and Details

By Tuesday, 8am

Shoot at least 100 images.
Select (at least) 20 of those for editing. (crop them down to interesting compositions)
Select 7 of those for G+ presentation as a theme-unified series.
Create a composite image of the final series arranged for presentation.

Downsize images to 2Mpix JPGs before upload.

Post to G+ :
Sub-Album/Folder: 001_ShootFromHip Roughs (70+ images)
Album: 001_ShootFromHip Edited (13+ images)
Album: 001_ShootFromHip Final Series (7 images) plus composite image.

Write an artists statement for the final series.
— Discuss whatever theme or emphases you discovered. You might describe what you found as you surveyed your images in Bridge. What surprised you? How did your direction change as you went?

Write critical comments about the final series images:
— Discuss the strengths of the final images in relation to that theme.


Tuesday, before Class

Crit your Peers:
Go to G+ and review what your classmates have uploaded.

For each classmate, go to their 001_ShootFromHip album, and then to their Final Series sub album.

Add comments to at least one image, or to the series as a whole.
Discuss ways in which the series is formally unified — what traits tie the separate images together?
How compositionally successful are the images? What is interesting about them?


Thursday, before Class

Upload any reshot images or any edited images that you would like to replace and improve your series.

Add comments on changes and improvements.


By Saturday Evening

Provide crit comments to each of your peers' series.



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Greg Clayton
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