Another Lesson

Another photography lesson under my belt.   The main thing that I’m learning is that each student is different and needs what I’d call different exercises.  Today was a good lesson because I think I was able to get across the idea of how to see what’s around you and to look for meaning in the stuff that you normally walk by without noticing.  The exercise was to take ten picture while we covered about 1/4 of a block.  Nothing was special about the 1/4 block.  At least not at first.  But slowly as we looked around, you began to notice and think about the surroundings.

Why did they use this sort of wood for the outside of the bar?  Can you relate anything here to your own memories?  It’s very similar to sense exercises used in method acting.

What I’m learning is that many students (and I wish there was a better word for it) are afraid of making mistakes.  I try and impress on them that “there are no mistakes.”  That’s not strictly true, but it is a helpful way to go about the city.  With the one-on-one lessons, I’m trying (in Zen you don’t try, you just do) but I’m trying to find ways to help the student find what they need to work on, not in a technical way, but in an artistic way.  Technical stuff I go over as needed, especially how cameras figure out what the “correct” exposure should be, but the idea is how to over ride the camera when necessary to achieve your own visualization.

When I say that each student is different – I mean that.  Some will hardly lift the camera to their eye, and others will shoot anything that moves.  But to be able to really slow down and get into a sort of zen state of seeing – that’s something.  We both did shots of this building (this one is mine) but the student’s were equally good or better.  I’m getting more comfortable trying to figure out what the student needs and how to challenge them a bit.


A car screeched and I ran up to see what was happening — this woman was almost hit by a car.



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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

3 thoughts on “Another Lesson”

  1. That woman may have just escaped being hit by a car, but she was nailed by the photographer and might run into the shopping cart if she doesn’t turn around in time. Man, it’s tough living on the upper east side these days.

    I like your idea about finding meaning in ordinary things and the 1/4 block exercise. It saves a lot on travel expenses. I’m going to try a photo video of the pigeons in my backyard accompanied by Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries.”

  2. Dave,
    On the shot of the stairs with shadows, I see quite a dynamic range. There is texture in the very dark areas of the stairs and in the white-washed wall. The details in the window are also rendered with a good tonal range. Is this simply the goodness of ‘Highlight Tone Priority’ or Lightroom workflow on top of it.
    Thanks, Bob

  3. Hi Bob – it’s both. The highlight tone priority and how I meter the scene means that I am reasonably sure of getting the widest dynamic range I can get. However, you can assume (as with this shot) that I then use that capture as a starting point for adjustments in Lightroom. Most of what you talk about (detail in the shadows and highlights) is also the result of accenting this in Lightroom, but if I didn’t have it to start with I couldn’t do much.

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