Now that I’ve got a very basic understanding of composition, the professor assigned the class to compose photographs using Gestalt principles. In my first photo assignment, I borrowed a Pentax K1000 and quickly learned how to take photos as the meter dial moved up and down until it reached optimal lighting conditions.
I still wasn’t sure what to do about my father’s non-working camera; but after a discussion with my professor and Prof, I knew that I wanted to shoot photos with my father’s Canon A-1. The A-1 is very different from the Pentax K1000. In fact, the Canon A-1 revolutionized 35mm SLR cameras because it was the “first SLR to offer an electronically controlled programmed autoexposure mode.” In other words, the A-1 had a microprocessor chip that allowed the photographer to control the shutter speed, while the chip could automatically calculate and set the correct amount of light exposure in each frame. Today, your digital cameras offer those same kinds of modes with ease and flexibility.
The Canon was, thus, a more powerful camera than the Pentax. I read through the manual several times, but I just needed to take the plunge and start taking photos. Halfway through my photo shoot, I realized that I didn’t taking metering into account, I had the wrong ISO setting, which let in even more light. I knew that I was going to have to reshoot with a new roll of film. I spent about six hours of shooting that day with Linus in tow. He took a nap in the middle of my photo shoot, which I took a lovely photo of him passed out with his Learning laptop toy still playing.
By the time I met with my professor to learn the basics of handling the Canon, I was armed with a second roll of film and more determined to make this new roll work. However, time was not on my side; I had only two nights of lab time left to enlarge two prints and board before Tuesday’s class.
I developed my first roll of film anyway to see how they turned out, and I received visual confirmation when I saw the negatives. But by the second time, things went much faster until I entered the darkroom. Dun-dun-dun….
I processed a contact sheet, printing my negatives onto a single 8″ x 10” page, to see which photos I wanted to enlarge. Assuming that I would use the same lighting and amount of time exposing the negative to the 8″ x 10” photo paper, my photos came out too dark. I wasted over an hour of useless enlargements, and the lab was going to closing in an hour.
Thankfully, my professor was in her office, and she was able to answer question after question, like a first-time freshman unsure of myself in my environment. Upon her recommendations, I proceeded to make a new test strip to determine how much time I needed to expose the negative onto my enlargement, hopeful that it would yield a lighter enlargement.
Then I heard what no student wants to hear in the darkroom, “You have ten minutes left.” My heart palpitated a bit, so I quickly exposed two enlarged photos and processed both (one at four seconds and the other at six seconds) together.
After spending the rest of my evening alone framing and boarding my two photos, I walked away after 10 pm glad that I completed my assignment. While I wasn’t completely satisfied with my enlargements, I was grateful that it was done.
Here is a photo of the photo I enlarged:
This was the one that took quite some time plowing through 18 inches of snow and single digit temps (without gloves) to take that photo. Students suggested some excellent critiques, recommending that I switch the two dresses next time. I may choose to keep with the dress theme in future photo shoots, but I think I’ll keep my wedding dress tucked away safely in my garment bag or at the very least indoors.
Learning About Composition
Taking Intro to Analog (Film) Photography
American History of Photography, the Darkroom, and the Unintended Photogram
Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Non-Traditional College Student
From my hometown to yours,