Thursday, April 26, 2012

Up on Rubble Hill

There is a hill outside of Stuttgart where the rubble left over after the WWII bombing was piled up. The Germans call it affectionately Monte Scherbelino ("Scherbe" meaning shard, as in piece of broken stone or glass). At the top is a huge cross and a great view of most of Stuttgart and the surroundings.

 I was up there recently with the U.S. Photographers in Europe group. We always inspire each other to experiment with our camera settings to try for unusual shots. HDR is in fashion, so we try it out.

Stephen showed us a trick with steel wool and a whisk which creates a circle of sparks that looks great with a 30-second shutter speed.

Laura climbed up on the rocks to get a shot and I couldn't resist capturing her pose. It'll grace the cover of my next book.

After having a bite at the Schweinemuseum, we walked over to the Mercedes Museum and used it as a backdrop for some more light paintings.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On the street with the students

Friday morning I accompanied my students on a walk through downtown Stuttgart. The purpose of the exercise was to make them aware of all the motifs one can see and capture in town. In preparation for the walk, we had discussed both the theoretical and practical aspects of photographing urban landscapes and of doing street photography. We agreed that the pictures would probably end up saying more to the viewer if there were people in them, first of all so that there was someone to identify with and, secondly, so that one could quickly see the scale of the buildings in the landscape.

Using a super wide angle lens in town results in a rewarding experience for the photographer. You capture so much in one frame that you usually end up cropping something out in order to not make the picture too busy. Early Friday morning there wasn't too much going on near the station.

First we went through the train station and found this old ticket hall empty except for the lovely streams of light coming through the large windows.

We were concentrating on taking pictures from unusual perspectives, so putting the camera down behind the wheel of a bike was part of the game. I just waited for the right moment to press the shutter release.

While I was trying to take advantage of the converging lines in this building's structure, a man asked if I had permission to photograph it. Although I was standing on the sidewalk (public property), he felt he had to make me aware that there might be rules against it.

By the time it began raining, most of us had already reached the modern art museum at the SchloƟplatz. Before going inside, we observed the goings-on from just outside the building. This man was enjoying the sun's last rays with his hazelnut ice cream. Obviously, by then I had changed over to my 70-300mm lens.

"Find a good background and watch the drama unfold in front of it." I love these steps.

During the brief rain shower, we went inside the museum to continue making pictures. Is this still "street photography"? I like the way it looks as if Jannis were wearing a suit made of dark green leaves.

After it rained, the pavement was slick and just perfect for pictures when the sun came out from behind the clouds!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teaching photography

I'm blessed. That's all I can say. This semester I was given the opportunity to teach visual design/digital photography at the Media University here in Stuttgart. Word had gotten out that I was pretty fanatical about digital photography, lighting, Adobe Lightroom, photowalks, studio sessions, models, kids, photo challenges and competitions, etc. Now I am passing on my knowledge to nearly 60 students for the next three months.

One way I've learned a lot is through informative websites. Here are a list of some of the sites I visit most often:
This professionally run site has up-to-date information on new developments in the area of photography. It also has a great database and thorough reviews for any equipment you might consider purchasing. I also enjoy  participating in the challenges, which pit my imagination and photographic abilities against those of the thousands of other members.
Since I use Sony Alpha cameras, I look for information about the camera here in this forum. I've joined a "SUF" (Sony User Forum) Stammtisch and have been able to learn quite a lot and share my knowledge here. It also is a good place to buy, sell and trade Sony (and other) equipment. Unfortunately, the tone of many of the "know-it-alls" gets on my nerves, so I've stopped reading this forum as closely over the past few months.
For a collection of "the top photography sites on the web", you can start here. So many websites are listed (even this blog!) that it will take you a month to click through them all. However, once you have found some you like, this is a good place to go to catch up with your favorites.
If you want to read a well-written, unpretentious photo website, this is the one for you. The two main writers share with the readers their experience and pass on what they've read elsewhere. They also answer your comments!
Created and maintained by one of the world's most successful bloggers, Darren Rowse, this blog specializes in passing on tips from photo enthusiasts and professionals. It features a forum and weekly challenges/contests and can be sent to your inbox if you subscribe. I end up clicking on several of the stories in the newsletter every week.

Now, as an assignment aimed to help everyone in the class, I've asked my students to search the web for answers to their individual questions concerning digital photography and to post their findings here in the form of a comment. Good reading!