MM 4.5 — Day 4: Great Shots Galore

It’s another “first” for me today: we’re on our way from Livorno to Barcelona and are at sea the whole day. No matter in which direction you’re looking, there is only water around us. What I expected to be mildly scary feels very serene and calming, instead. This is “being away from it all” in the best possible way. To be honest, it’s a shame that this cruise only offers two of these days. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

With no shore excursions scheduled today (like, duh!), there’s time for a full day of geek cruise classes. It were the Mac classes that got me interested in the MacMania cruise in the first place, but after last night’s photo critiquing class with Bill Durrence, I might just as well put more emphasis on photography. That’s why I attended Jack Davies’s photography workshop today.

And, boy, was it worth it: Jack’s passionate and energizing presentation of photography basics — both in terms of technology and technique — has substantially changed my view of taking pictures. Instead of confronting us “students” with text-based slides, Jack only used folder-based outline of the topics we’d cover, and used lots of his own photos to demonstrate every concept.

Apparently, Jack has grown up with digital photography, so instead of spending a lot of time designing and arranging a scene before shooting the picture — like Bill Durrence prefers, who grew up with expensive film — he takes lots and lots and lots of pictures, not worried about discarding any afterwards, since there is basically no running cost involved in digital memory, as would be when working with celluloid film rolls. As a result of his experiments, a lot of his photos of an unreal quality to them, especially the motion blur photos he took by using long exposure times while shooting from the tour bus. You can still make out what it might have been that he shot, but the photos shown something you simply have never run into before in real life.

The most immediate insight I got from Jack’s class was that I immediately started to put the intended use of my photos into account before shooting them: would I shoot something as a personal keep-sake, or would I want to produce an image that was presentable even to someone who had no idea about the background of the photo shoot. But this tidbit is just the tip of the iceberg, and it’ll probably take lots more pictures before I even apply half of what Jack taught us today.

Just to give you an idea just in which direction Jack’s class went, here are some random tips and tricks:

  • By using motion blur (via a long exposure time), you can turn hordes of tourists, which would usually spoil a photo motif, into an interesting dynamic component.
  • Also think in terms of shape, not just subject matter.
  • “When there’s a child in the photo, that is the subject matter. There is no way to have a different subject matter if there’s a kid in the shot.”

In the evening, there was another critiqueing session with Bill Durrence. This photo here got some positive feedback, both from Bill and from the other students, and I’m quite happy with it, if I may say so myself. Taken during the trip to Montecarlo di Lucca, what makes this photo so interesting is how all the basic geometric forms like the rectangles of the frame, the semi-circle of the arch above the door, etc. play together.

The Drape at No. 1

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