Posts from the ‘Photography’ Category
For my final project this semester in my photojournalism class, we created photo stories of local happenings. Errin Whitaker, self-titled Brother Lightheart and his fellow artists showed me around their spaces in the Fisher Building’s Fourth Floor Initiative space, dedicated to give local creatives a place to do their work, rented at a subsidized rate. The artists enjoy each other’s company and collaborate often. I used Adobe’s Premier Pro to edit together my audio and photos together to create the video below.
For our assignment on feature photos, I decided to use a shot I took of a group of window washers at work in downtown Detroit. The Features assignment was to capture a “slice of life,” a street shot of someone we don’t know. I found the contrast of these men’s bodies against the overcast sky incredibly striking, and I used the law of thirds in this photo. as well as a bit of perspective. I felt this was a good example of simply capturing life around me.
Window washers off Woodward in downtown Detroit, April 18
The second half of the assignment was to create a photo story using the iPhone app, Steller. I made two Stellar projects, one of artwork at the Carr Center in Downtown Detroit and another of my recent trip to the Dominican Republic.
This art exhibit at the Carr Center features local female artists whose works’ are themed in femininity and what it means to be a woman. Pieces in the exhibit ranged from paintings to different forms of sculpture using mixed media.
In my time in the Dominican Republic I spent time traveling in between the resort side of the island, Punta Cana, and the more residential area of La Romana. In this photo series, I captured local Dominicans, workers in the resort town, professional sailors, and even one of the many stray cats in the area.
Shooting sports was the assignment I’d been dreading the most this semester. I’ve always had a fear of volleyball in particular, but this was the only sports assignment that fit into my schedule. I managed to keep myself from ducking every single time the ball only slightly flew in my general direction, but I wanted to and I did at least a few times. I don’t keep it a secret that I understand very little about sports, other than the basic appreciation of teamwork and camaraderie, and have very little interest in covering it as a journalist. With so little basic understanding of gameplay and terminology, I struggled to write captions for these photos as well.
Shooting the assignment didn’t seem difficult, with the exception of having a difficult time finding a correct white balance, but that was easily corrected in photoshop. I kept my shutter speed short to have stopped motion for the action and kept my ISO high as well. The biggest challenge during shooting was finding a good fan feature- there wasn’t a large crowd and they weren’t extremely reactive, luckily one man in the crowd brought some pom-poms and cheered often. I think what I learned the most about in this assignment was jumping through the hoops of finding a Wayne State game that was appropriate for photographing and acquiring the proper permissions.
All jokes aside, shooting this assignment wasn’t as awful as I was expecting it to be. I appreciated watching the players supporting each other and doing something they enjoy.
Fans cheering on Wayne State University’s volleyball team at the game April 7.
Teammates Grace Frazee, Ellie Rodriguez, Natalie Breault, Haley Tenelshof and Hailey Richardson pictured supporting their teammates during their game April 7.
Northern Michigan’s Kelsey Hackman and Tayler Smith, defend against Wayne State’s Hailey Richardson, Ellie Rodriguez and Haley Tenelshof at the game April 7.
Julia Malewicz of Macomb, Mich. listens to WSU volleyball head coach Tim Koth at the game April 7.
Errin Whitaker, self-named “Brother Lightheart,” is carrying with him a worn, large Samsonite suitcase as he gets into the Fisher Building’s ornate elevator.
“I’m a wild dude,” said Lightheart, who brought the suitcase and some art supplies into his shared space on the fourth floor, over-crowded with his paintings and sculptures.
Lightheart often uses mixed media in his work, including found objects. He said he had to do a U-turn in order to pick up the suitcase, which was sitting on the side of the road.
“I think sometimes in life you should do U-turns even though it’s like quote unquote illegal, and it’s symbolic to how you sometimes decide to go against the grain,” said Lightheart. “You’ll find the treasure when you do that. I think this is a treasure.”
Lightheart is taking part in the Fisher Building’s initiative to fill their fourth floor with local artists at a subsidized rate. Lightheart and fellow artist Jessica DeMuro who also rents gallery space on the fourth floor, often discuss the pieces they’re working on and the meaning behind them to determine which step should be taken next. DeMuro suggested Lightheart include old family photos in the suitcase piece, to which he immediately agreed.
“I listened to my inner voice, and that’s what told me to do a U-turn,” Lightheart said. He explained that the suitcase brought to mind his life experiences as a black man.
“Black men have a lot of baggage,” said Lightheart, “as far as like we don’t necessarily take the steps to move backwards in order to correct the things that are ever-present in your present which triggers the effects of your future.” (sic)
“So if you don’t deal with that baggage, essentially things I’m going to put in here,” he gestured to the suitcase, “things that could easily go un-dealt with like family issues, generational curses and stuff like that. You just carry it along and you don’t pay attention to it, because as a black man you’re just told to continuously work until you die.”
Lightheart shares his gallery space with two other artists, Harold Braggs III, and a new tenant Tonaya Chapman, who often goes by Saint. Lightheart said that the spiritual energies of his fellow artists influence the space, and that Saint’s non-binary gender affects the space in a new and exciting way. He explained they like to do drag events, and that he and Saint share an interest in the metaphysical.
DeMuro, who often rides a Razor scooter back and forth from Lightheart’s space to her own space on the other side of the north wing of the Fisher Building’s fourth floor said she’s only known Lightheart for about six months, but feels like she’s known him for years or even lifetimes.
“I would definitely say there’s mentorship going on,” DeMuro said in reference to her relationship with Lightheart. “There’s parts of Errin [Lightheart] he doesn’t show everybody, and sometimes I get the honor of seeing that, and I don’t take that lightly.”
“Jessica [DeMuro] calls me the manager of this floor. You know, it comes with responsibilities, and I got to make sure people are taking care of this space and they meet all the checks and balances and such,” said Lightheart.
Lightheart said he received his chosen name while on his first “vision quest” in his personal spiritual practices. He said the nomadic Lakota tribe out of South Dakota is where he acquires his spiritual influences and that he identifies himself as a “nomadic individual.”
Lightheart explained that the vision quest, which happened sometime in 2015 entailed going out into the wilderness while fasting without food or water. He stayed in one small space on a sleeping bag while praying, singing songs and meditating until he received the vision that gave him his new name.
“I was feeling like I had this callous that was formed around my heart,” said Lightheart. “When I was growing up I felt like I had a petrified heart, like it was impenetrable because I just felt like I wasn’t receiving love.”
“The morning comes and I’m sitting there in my space and I’m singing this song over and over again until I went into this trance and I started lucid dreaming.” Lightheart said he began to hear a voice chanting the “Om” sound with his first name, Errin.
“It was soothing, like a woman, like my mother,” Lightheart explained that he wasn’t sure if the voice was his mother, or another maternal ancestor. He said that the voice’s chanting gave him a feeling of approval.
“The ‘Om’ kept repeating until I felt like my heart was shattered,” said Lightheart. “I sat down and this hummingbird flew by me and it was like, ‘your heart is lighter, you’re Lightheart now.’”
In addition to his massive body of work, Lightheart also received his Bachelor’s degree in general studies from Oakland University, and his Master’s degree in arts and education from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville Tenn.
“Chaos is the things that look crazy, that you need to pay attention to. I like to go deep into my mind and find the things that are overlooked and try to bring them to life,” Lightheart explained the primary influence for his works include abstract symbols, images of the human form, and romantic couples.
The fourth floor artists are opening their studio doors for the public on April 17 from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M.
In the past few weeks in my photojournalism class with Lori King, I’ve been learning more about the controls of my DSLR, a Nikon 7100.
I got a chance to further explore my camera’s manual and understand more thoroughly the location of my options for managing the controls.
A good portion of these lessons were a review for me, specifically the understanding of the basic functions of shutter speed and aperture, and knowing how to use a camera meter. The combination of the different stops of light using ISO shutter speed, and aperture create reciprocity. We went through the numbers that are standard for ISO, shutter speed, which controls motion and light, aperture, which controls depth of field. Explaining some of these things to my classmates also helped me solidify some of the concepts more.
I have a lot of practice using my camera on aperture or shutter speed priority setting, but not as much on manual. It’s been challenging controlling both the shutter speed and aperture to properly expose images, rather than just choosing an f-stop of shutter speed as you would on one of the priority settings. Starting a shoot in manual made for a bit more time metering and preparing than I’m used to. In my artistic photography, I generally work with the lowest ISO possible because I have always preferred the look of soft light in my shots, so avoiding that was a big change for me. What I found most challenging was using the controls to create a specific outcome, namely our panned and blurred action shots. I usually fight against seeing much motion in my images, as I despise the lack of control I feel I have over the full image. I struggled to take these shots in any higher light atmosphere, so I decided to attempt to tackle them at night.
Overall, the last few weeks have forced me to get more comfortable using my camera but also has given me a chance to reflect on the value of images in journalism and practice my artistic instinct in capturing a photo. It was hard for me to present any images that I didn’t find composed completely to my liking, so taking and choosing these shots took me quite a while.
Wide Depth of Field-
Shallow Depth of Field-
Stopped Motion –
Panned Motion –
Blurred Motion –
Law of Thirds –
Reflection (graphic element of choice) –
Photographing the news has a natural slippery slope of turning from documentation to sensationalization. Every time a photographer takes a picture, they are literally “framing” an event, showing a visual perspective of what happened. If this is done improperly or distastefully, the real value of the image can be lost in commercial sensationalization or completely misrepresent a factual event. The New York Times reported last September that Facebook officials said they shut down hundreds of accounts believed to be created by a Russian company that bought ads and posted anti-Hillary Clinton messages during the American election campaign. Some argue that this heavily affected the outcome of the 2016 Elections. While framing happens in all forms of media, journalism is clearly supposed to convey truth.
The responsibility of the photojournalist is to portray a true event in a way that is useful to society. Legally, photographers may take pictures of anyone or anything from public property with few exceptions. When it comes to matter of disrupting privacy, it is up to a photojournalist to work through the moral dilemma of sacrificing the feelings of the individuals involved for the greater good of society, without unnecessarily intruding. Documenting a sensitive event can and should be done with compassion and empathy and only when the event is justifiably important for the public to see. The National Press Photographers Association code of Ethics says that employing ethical practices in photojournalism involve avoiding staged images as well. Visual journalists are trusted by the public to represent real events with their images- not manufactured ones.
Photojournalists have the opportunity to convey the truest depiction of events. In “Photojournalism The Professional’s Approach”, W. Eugene Smith, a Life magazine photographer was quoted in 1948 as saying that photographers could be given “poetic license” by rearranging objects for a shot. This was at one point a completely acceptable practice for photojournalists. Now, we ask when set-up is acceptable, or even necessary. Isn’t the point to show the event for what it is? The distortion that a photographer adds just by being present, without active involvement is enough to affect behavior in others. The effect of the photographer depends on the story being told by the image.
When gruesome or emotionally conflicting images with depictions of suicide and death come into play, photojournalists have an ethical dilemma. When a person contemplates suicide in front of another human, the seemingly clear choice is to talk them out of it or prevent it in some way. The question is in where the importance lies- the life of this person right now, or the effect of the documentation and dispersion of this event for society. Editors often make final decisions on whether or not an image will be dispersed, and in that decision the impact of the message must be assessed. A photograph can be incredibly powerful for the wrong reasons, like shocking and distracting readers. Just because a picture is grotesque or intense doesn’t make it relevant. Utilitarian ethical practices in journalism that focus on providing information that is critical to our society is the responsibility of visual journalists.