Tuesday, September 23, 2014

GRAPHIC ARTS . . . The Art of Photography

Lower School electives have begun and graphic artists are taking advantage of the beautiful autumn weather on the Ranney School campus. It is the best time of all to head outside with a camera and take photographs of things in nature.

Each group is focusing on images outside on the grounds of the school with their digital cameras. We are learning how to properly carry a camera, how to hold it steady while shooting an image, and how to frame the picture. Once we all have images saved to our folders on Google Drive, we will begin working in Ranney School's new Media Center and discover how Photoshop can crop, adjust and alter our pictures for our first project.

Here are some things to remember when taking a picture with your camera (or even your smartphone) ...

1.  A digital camera has a monitor that frames your image. Take advantage of this feature and make sure you have included all of the image within this frame. With Photoshop you can always crop off the part you don't want in your composition, but it is really hard to re-create the top of someone's head! Just to make sure, allow for plenty of room all around your subject matter.

Photo by Winston
2.  Most cameras (and phones) have a zoom feature. It is much better to walk closer to the image than it is to stand far away and zoom in on it. The camera does a sharper job of focusing without using the zoom. Winston came really close to take this picture of three blades of grass on the bricks. Look at how sharp it is! If you can't come this close, it is always better to crop away the extra background and zoom in on the subject right on the computer screen with retouching programs like Photoshop.

3.  Hold the camera steady when you are shooting. The digital cameras we use have an auto focus function, as do phones. If your hand shakes when you snap the picture, you are not giving the camera a chance to focus. A blurry picture is not usually the fault of the camera, but of the photographer. Sorry!

4.  Watch where your hands are when you take a picture. I know that many times I was so busy getting just the right picture that I never noticed my finger covering part of the lens.

Photo by Taylor
5.  The greatest thing about digital cameras is how many photographs you can capture on one small memory card. If you are not sure the photograph was perfect, take another shot. You may never have the chance to stand in that same spot, with the same perfect lighting, and with the same subject again. Taylor's beautiful photograph of pebbles would not be the same at any other time of day. She caught just the right amount of shadow under each rock.

6.  This last tip is for compact digital camera users. When the camera is "on" and in shooting mode, a lens pops forward out of the body of the camera. If the camera falls or hits something, this lens can jamb or lock into this position, not allowing you to turn it off. It is the most common reason a digital camera is brought in for repairs. When you are not shooting photographs, remember to turn your camera "off" and save your lens, not to mention your battery life!

If you love to take photographs at home, I would love to see them! Bring them in and share them with the class.

Feel free to add your own comments and tips about photography below.
Happy picture taking, everyone!

Note to families...
This art blog will be updated regularly with new posts sharing our daily activities in the art room and news about upcoming art exhibits. To respect the privacy of our students, names will always be limited to first name only and identifiable photos will never be accompanied with a name. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write in the comment box below or send me an email at blevine@ranneyschool.org. I would love to hear from you!
    In my class, students are given the chance to explore different materials and fun new techniques as they develop their signature style. Some young artists love to draw with a pencil, some like to paint on canvas or create images in a digital format, while others prefer working with clay and molding three-dimensional forms. In my classroom, we use a variety of materials allowing all artists to experiment and figure out which type of art they like the best. At Ranney School, we place a strong emphasis on originality and celebrate artistic differences, always nurturing and encouraging the imagination of every student.
     Remember to check out our display of finished artwork and student portfolios in the Ranney home page of Artsonia.com.  http://www.artsonia.com/schools/school.asp?id=114839

FOURTH GRADE . . . The Art of Photoshop

Every grade begins the year with a self portrait project as we get to know each other and all of our new friends. Fourth graders in general art are discovering the magic of modern technology with their self portraits as we blend traditional art forms with digital images on the computer. Leonardo da Vinci will be our inspiration for the more traditional lessons in drawing portraits, but I have always thought that Leonardo would have been a very eager student of all things digital in our modern world. Imagine what he could have done with the art and science of Photoshop!

Adobe Photoshop is a wonderful retouching tool for professional graphic artists, but as most of us have access to a digital camera, either through a smart phone or by using an actual camera, we should all know how to upload photos to a computer and use them in different applications. We should also know how to correct an image, change its size, or adjust the color. With Photoshop, my fourth grade students will learn how to do all of that, as well as discover how to change a digital image into a creative and original work of art.

With new advances in technology there is always a moment we have to step back and review what impact this new technology will make in our lives. Before the new digital technology, cameras took a picture by exposing an image onto film. Unless you were very skilled at darkroom techniques, the image was printed just as it was captured by the camera lens. The best we could do at the time was use a pair of scissors to crop the photo. Now with software such as Adobe Photoshop, photos can be altered and you would never realize a change was made.

Here is a link to a video created by Dove Beauty that I shared with my classes. This really highlights the significance of Photoshop and how photo retouching software impacts our perception of reality. Growing up, I always assumed that if it was a photograph, and not a painting or a drawing, the image had to be real. This assumption can no longer be made. More than ever before, photography is a creative art form and not just a recording of life.

Here is the link for the video...