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Tomas Gallucci

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The First Photograph I Made [Sep. 25th, 2011|11:08 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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In class, my photography professor distinguished between taking a photograph and making a photograph. Taking a photograph is the process of getting behind the camera and pressing the button, capturing whatever may be in front of the camera based on the settings that the camera is set for. Making a photograph is the process of taking the knowledge of how the photographic process works and creating a photograph that resembles the vision in your head.

While I've tried certain techniques before and have made a handful of photographs, I consider this to be truly the first photograph that I have made. My reasoning is thus: I had a friend over who had went outside for a smoke. I was sitting in a portable chair and I saw this stalk of grass (or weed or whatever this is) and I imagined an image where the only thing in sharp–or any, for that matter–focus was the one stalk with the seeds or pods on the top.

I knew that I would want to use a lens with a longer focal length to give me two things: a narrower field of vision and a shallower depth of field. Compositionally, I didn't know where I wanted the stalk, but when I looked through the viewfinder I used the rule of thirds, putting roughly two-thirds of negative space to the left of the subject and about a third to the right of the subject.

I also knew that I was going to have to get the camera level with the stalk. This meant using my shiny new Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod for the job for which it was designed.

I knew that I wasn't going to be able to shoot wide open, mostly because of the fact that the telephoto lens that I have only opens to f/5 on the low end anyway, so none of my favorite f/2.8 or f/1.8 apertures. I didn't really think through what f-stop I was going to need; I knew that it needed to be somewhere close to the middle.

As for white balancing, I was shooting during the golden hour. The light was angled from the left (I was facing north). I didn't know how color temperature was going to affect the shot in terms of having an ultra-green subject with ultra-warm light. I figured that I wanted to cool down the image quite a bit, but I had no point of reference other than knowing that daylight is 5500ºK.

In setting up the shot, I had to be able to focus on the stalk. In order to do this, I had my friend put his finger near or on the stalk so I had something to look for through my viewfinder. The lens I had to work with was a 70-300 and had a minimum focusing distance of 5'. I got a tape measure and put the camera between 5' and 7'. Once I got the camera on the correct level (which took a lot of effort and my "assistant" had to help me with greatly) I was finally able to focus on the blade.

Looking through the viewfinder, I had the shot that I wanted. Now it was a question of depth of field, exposure and color balance.

As I stated previously, I don't own a meter, so I used the camera's multi-point TTL metering system to get correct exposure. The f-stop was set for f/10 when I looked through the lens, so I adjusted for what I already had, thinking I would need to make many exposures, "walking" in on the final image. I wound up taking an exposure of 1/50 sec at f/10 and ISO 200 (lowest my camera will go) with a focal length of 190mm. The color balance was set to cloudy from my previous bumblings, so I started there.

The image you see above was the first and only exposure and required no post-processing.

This is the first photograph that I have made. Somehow this one exposure has flipped a switch in my brain that now makes me feel like I can make any photograph I want if only I continue to apply the lessons from class and personal study.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: panacea42
2011-09-25 09:29 pm (UTC)
Wonderful image, you nailed it IMO!
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-25 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: celtmanx
2011-09-25 10:20 pm (UTC)
Have you been watching the Simpson's to much lately??? Embiggen is a fictional word.
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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2011-09-26 12:35 am (UTC)
VERY nice, sir!!!
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-26 02:57 am (UTC)
Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: mrs_dragon
2011-09-26 02:09 am (UTC)
Great picture!

I really like the concept of "making" vs. "taking". I am generally much more of a "taker". I do change up compositions, adjust white balance etc, but nothing near the level of what you did here.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-26 02:57 am (UTC)
I didn't do that much work for this image. What I did, however, was walk readers through my thought process of how I got there.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_dragon
2011-09-26 03:13 am (UTC)
You pulled out a tape measure. Number of people I have ever seen pull out a tape measure to ensure they are at the right focal length? 0. Hence, that alone is considerably more effort than most.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-26 03:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for the ego stroke. ;)
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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2011-09-27 01:52 am (UTC)
Because digital distance meters are way faster ;)
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 02:20 am (UTC)
I don't own a digital meter.
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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2011-09-27 02:30 am (UTC)
And I don't own a tape-measure!
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[User Picture]From: celtmanx
2011-09-28 03:19 am (UTC)
Sorry, I borrowed it!!!
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 02:29 am (UTC)
The real reason I pulled out a tape measure was so that i wouldn't have to guess the distance to the subject–that is, to say, I didn't want to have to keep moving the camera back and it not be back far enough. To me, measuring was a way to avoid more work (placing the camera, getting down on my stomach, looking through the viewfinder only to find that i wasn't far back enough.)

This is why I don't think I did anything radical.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_dragon
2011-09-27 02:46 am (UTC)
I know. I was being a bit tongue in cheek. The point is you MADE AN EFFORT. Whereas most people would have pointed the camera at it and snapped a couple of pictures. It's the idea of making/taking that you talked about.

Also? The best way to accept a compliment? Just say "thank you". You don't need to explain why you didn't earn it.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 02:55 am (UTC)
It's the idea of making/taking that you talked about.
I found a different photography podcast called Photography 101 by Scott Wittenburg. I think you will enjoy it better. I didn't notice any nervous ticks in the first couple of episodes that I watched. You may find his instruction more useful than Ted Forbes'.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_dragon
2011-09-27 03:06 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'll have to check it out. : )
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 03:09 am (UTC)
;)

I anxiously await your thoughts on this podcast.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 02:55 am (UTC)
The best way to accept a compliment? Just say "thank you". You don't need to explain why you didn't earn it.

*le sigh*

One of these days I'll learn. Don't give up on me.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_dragon
2011-09-27 03:06 am (UTC)
It's tough to implement. Once you get it down though, it makes things much easier.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 03:08 am (UTC)
For me, it's a balancing act between learning when to shut up and nod vs. pontificating on why or how I arrived at a particular conclusion. As I myself am fascinated with the thought process that a person goes through to achieve their final product, i assume that everyone else is too. Then again, if this were the case, more director's commentaries and featurettes would be made.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_dragon
2011-09-27 03:28 am (UTC)
In something like this post, where you outline your goals and how you got there, that's a great thing. In cases where you are tearing yourself down, not so much.

Process vs person, I suppose.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2011-09-27 03:29 am (UTC)
Hmmm. Points to ponder.
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