Joseph Podlesnik - Using Design in Your Photographs (Online); Sundays, February 7-March 14, 2021

Date: Sundays, February 7-March 14, 2021 (6-week course)
Time: 12:00-1:30 PM Pacific Standard Time
Level: All
Medium: Photography

Our live online classes are taught via Zoom. Students have the opportunity to interact with the instructor and other participants, watch live demos and receive feedback and instruction. You will have access to a class chat forum on our website where you can share work, comment and ask questions. You will also have access to recordings of the class that will expire 30 days after the final day of the course.

To take this class, you need a microphone and camera enabled computer OR an iPad /smart tablet OR a smart phone (android or IOS) and a strong internet connection.

You will receive an email with the Zoom link and class details 5-7 days before the class starts (don’t forget to check your junk folder). Find out how to access the class group message board here. 

This 6-week course will combine intuitive and analytical approaches toward design while using photography. Learn about “Gestalt Flash Drawings” and how gestalt laws of organization can influence designs AND our photographs. Learn the simple but vital importance of visual similarity vs visual difference, applied to your photographs. The course will cover compositional analyses of designs and photographs. All sessions will be recorded for attendees unable to attend. Materials needed: Drawing pad, pencil, a camera (DSLR or phone), and any other gear that you use (lenses, tripod, flash, etc.)

Week 1

Digital photo basics. The digital camera. RAW vs jpg. The “Trinity of Exposure”: aperture (light and depth of field), shutter speed (motion) and ISO (light sensitivity) and how they affect our images.

Building 2-D awareness. Gestalt Laws. Perceptual organizing principles (unit-forming factors), such as similarity grouping, proximity grouping, continuity (edge alignment) and closure. Gestalt “flash drawings”. Gestaltists’ contention that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,”. Teaching design (examples of when we take in experiences as “wholes”): How do we learn to ride a bicycle? (A drawing pad and pencil will be needed for this class) Homework: For those with DSLRs, take photos experimenting with manual control of aperture, shutter speed, ISO and photos featuring noticeable visual similarity. For those with smartphones, take photos featuring noticeable visual similarity.

Week 2

Review homework. Focal length/lenses – and its influence on depiction of space and framing (what certain focal length lenses allow and do not allow in one’s pictures) – 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 150mm and beyond. Prime and zoom lenses. Garry Winogrand, photo medium and the frame. How photos distort. Framing, composition (Rule of Thirds, quadrants, asymmetry). Seeing discoveries in the frame.

Visual Literacy: Line (geometric and organic), Size, Direction, Placement, Balance, Value and Space. The organization of energies. Design as a dance of compensatory moves. Thinking not just of outward, nameable ‘things’, but of forces acting behind things. Seeing contrast. Value can affect visual balance in designs. Homework: Take photos that feature noticeable visual unity of the visual elements; next take photos what feature noticeable contrast of the visual elements.

Week 3

Review homework. Lighting (direct, diffuse – flash, reflectors, etc.) The three roles of light in our pictures. The effects of black & white & color, what they bring to our images.

Edge alignment (referred to by gestaltists as “continuity” or “good continuity”). Slide-illustrated overview of the application of aligned edges to flat compositions, such as page layouts, more commonly called “grid lines.” Continuity that spans the work vs. isolated continuities. Aesthetics versus anesthetics. Monotony versus mayhem. Homework: Take photos which explore artificial (continuous) light, natural light and photos which guide the eye through visual or edge continuities.

Week 4

Review homework. Closure: the importance of being implicit. Study gestalt closure (obscuring, blocking, breaking up elements in a photo, inviting the viewer to complete or piece together the image).

Storing and managing your image files. Processing your images. Demonstration of Adobe Bridge (using Camera Raw) and Photoshop. Resizing, cropping. Dodging and burning. Ansel Adams’ ideas of the ‘score’ vs the ‘performance’ of photographs. Homework: Take photos which explore the gestalt idea of closure.

Week 5

Review homework. Color: Color & Context: color properties HSB, color wheels, color schemes, color accents.

Seeing the social element or irony or thematic contrast in photos. Continuation of processing images. Image & canvas resizing, color correction, transformations, cloning and healing tools. The Print. Homework: Take photos using any of the color schemes covered and photos exploring social elements; note how design affects the reading of the social element.

Week 6

Review homework. Continue studying master photographer’s works.

 Joseph Podlesnik holds a BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MFA in drawing and painting from Cornell University. He currently serves as Adjunct Instructor of Art for Stockton University and Facilitator for the Online Digital Photography Certificate Program at eCornell. Podlesnik exhibits his photographs, singly and in group shows, nationally and internationally. He resides in Phoenix, AZ.

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