Danny Schweers Photography and Design

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Link to folded paper photosDelaware Art Museum
Introductory Photography

Assignment No. 9

Make a series of ten photos, but only of one subject. The subject can be people, places, animals, landscapes, close-ups, or action and sports. They can be color or black-and-white. The ten images can tell a story.

Teacher's photos:

In-class exercise: folded, rolled, and crumpled paper. Everyone in class spent 30 minutes making photographs of these simple shapes. The instructor's pix are not the best!

Single-exposure light-painting of a hydrangea bush at night, some using a LensBaby lens. The traffic light at the corner made some things red.

Of the 315 photos I shot at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, here are the 30 best.


Gallery 339 in Philadelphia

Beth Trepper, a local photographer

Link to Light Painting photosAssignment No. 8


Continue to experiment with separating the subject from the background. Some ways of doing this are suggested below, in Assignment 7. Also, you might want to try painting with light as demonstrated in class (image at right, link below).

Painting With Light. Click here to see the results as I experiment with this technique.

Other Recommended Links:

Assignment No. 7
Delaware Art Museum
Introductory Photography


Experiment with separating the subject from the background. There are many ways to separate subject from foreground:

  • Shape: Subject has definite shape; background does not.
  • Focus: subject is in focus, background blurred.
  • Lighting: subject and background are lit differently.
  • Texture: subject and background have different textures.
  • Color: subject and background have different colors.
  • One of Many: the subject is one of many in the photo, but has a unique feature. In a group of blue horses, it's the yellow one. In the line of ballerinas, it's the football player dressed in a tutu.
  • Tension: There are several elements in the image, with a tension or interaction that is the subject. A father holds a child, both look at two horses looking back. The subject is the interaction, not the individuals.

Then, bring to class all your shots, not just your most successful. In our class of February 28, we spent our time looking at and discussing photographs from all but one person, and especially enjoyed seeing variations on the same photograph, discussing why one image was better than the others. We'll do that again on March 7 and, if we have time, we will learn light painting.

If you missed class, you missed a long discussion of depth of field, the main point being that a number of things will be acceptably sharp in an image if they are within the depth of field. That means that the subject need not be in the middle of the depth of field, but can be at the near or far ends of what is acceptably in focus. So if you have a two people, one behind the other, you can focus between the two and get both acceptably in the depth of field. Of course, depth of field varies with f-stop. An aperture of f16 gives the most depth of field, f1.2 the least. Most zoom lens at their widest opening (aperture) are only f3.5 or f4.0. Fixed lenses have wider openings and are easier to focus because, when you look through the lens, much more light comes in and the focus is more apparent because the depth of field is so much shallower than a zoom lens.

Questions? Feel free to call me or send me an email. We have three more classes!

Assignment No. 6


Experiment with your flash, not only as primary illumination, but also as a fill-flash, that is, to use the flash in sunlit situations to light areas in shadow. You might also want to experiment with other artificial light sources such as lamps, overhead lights, headlights of cars, outdoor lights at night, etc.

Photojournalism Ethics: Last class I mentioned a photojournalist who lost his job because he Photoshopped an image. Here's a link to an article about what Brian Walski did in 2003 to get fired. At the time, Walski was a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times working in Iraq.

Assignment No. 5

DUE MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, President's Day

Our sixth class is Monday, Feb. 21, 6:00 p.m. In class I said to take some good photos and bring them to class. Let me be more precise. Put your camera on automatic and, when you see something eye-catching, photograph it. Then put your camera on manual and see if you can get a better exposure AND a better composition. What I'd like to see is your first shot and then how your photos improve (or suffer) as you use manual settings and take time to compose.

One thing I did not mention last class is that, because cameras capture scenes in red, green, and blue, not all colors are captured. That is, you can approximate all the colors of the rainbow by mixing those three colors, but some approximations are better than others!

Again let me recommend that you put a UV/haze filter on the front of your lens, to protect it. And, if you don't already have a second battery, I recommend getting one and keeping it with the camera. That way, when the one battery needs charging, you can replace it with one fully charged.

Starting April 4, I will be teaching a course on working with photos after clicking the shutter. That will be on Monday evenings. Kathy Buckalew will be teaching introductory photography midweek.

Assignment No. 4

DUE MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, Valentine's Day

Our fifth class is Monday evening, 6:00 p.m. Last class we reviewed all the mechanics of making a good manual exposure: shutter speed, aperture, ISO setting, focus, light meter, histogram, and, for the first time, white balance. Your assignment was work on understanding all of these, especially where you have the least understanding. The photos I want you to bring to class are those where you are struggling, or at least having fun.

I will bring in my computer and show you some sophisticated photo editing tools: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I hope to show you some of what can be done in post-production, but also give you a better idea of the underlying structure of the Red-Green-Blue images that digital cameras produce.

Also, I hope we can make some highly experimental images in class, as well as review all the basics again. Then, in the last five weeks of class, we'll work on aesthetics: to understand what makes one photo better than another, and to learn to make good photos predictably rather than randomly.

Don't forget your valentines!


Computer rating of aesthetics by Penn State University. A curious endeavor.

Joe del Tufo photographs Young Actors Workshop by Arden Club's Shakespeare Gild. Joe says this about metering light: "I have never trusted any light meter on a camera - it allows too much variation. I've found that, for indoor situations, I can generally look at the light and be within a stop. I review quickly after the first shot of two, and adjust from there. Since I am so often shooting wide open (f/2.8 or faster) indoors, I am really only shifting the shutter around, which is not that complicated. If I am in a situation where the indoor lighting is changing dramatically (typically a rock concert), and I feel like my reaction time is causing me to miss shots, I might go to aperture priority. Very rarely, though- and then the photos always feel more like luck to me. I always tell people to start with aperture priority and then move to manual as soon as they get it."

Assignment No. 3

Assignment #3 is about exposure and histograms. In our 3rd class, we talked about proper exposure and about histograms. If you missed the class and are new to histograms, search for "histogram" on the Internet to learn about them. Histograms are a great way of telling what kind of exposure you get when shooting. Here's one link that explains histograms.

Assignment: Make three photographs:

  1. Well exposed, with both ends of the histogram near zero.
  2. Over exposed, with the right side of the histogram high.
  3. Under exposed, with the left side of the histogram high.

Note: anyone can over-expose or under-expose a shot. See if you can find a subject that looks better over-exposed or under-exposed.

Here are three examples

Each of these examples shows a photo with its histogram underneath it. These histograms, from Adobe Lightroom, not only show the range of shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, but also show how the colors are distributed.

1 - Well exposed, with both ends of the histogram near zero. The histogram tells us that there are lots of red highlights, which is obvious looking at the photo.

2 - Over exposed, with the right side of the histogram high. The under-side of these flowers are in shade. By over-exposing the shot, the flowers don't look shaded, they look bright, while the background has gone pure white in many places.

3 - Under exposed, with the left side of the histogram high. This under-exposed photo preserves the details in the brightly-lit leaf while the background goes black in many places.

All photos copyright
© 2010 Danny N. Schweers.

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