Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Crazy people, shenanigans and hot glue all par for the course

Erin, our disgruntled stalker
First I want to thank everyone who came out this Sunday for the workshop on the Waterbury green. I know it was a really hot day and I'm sure some of you would rather have been sitting indoors in a nice air conditioned space.

I also want to welcome those newest members whose first time experience with the group was this week end. As nutty as it was with our 'stalker' I can honestly state this is not how our workshops typically progress. Usually they are much milder but with as much fun. As you saw, we have a great bunch of members who are more than willing to share and who really strive to make everyone's experience a pleasant one.

Hopefully everyone walked away with a better understanding of how a camera meters a scene and how you can manipulate it to fine tune your exposure. Understanding how a camera sees light is a tough concept to grasp and not one that you will pick up in one or two workshops. However, you will notice that each time you experiment with the lessons your understanding will take hold and you will build on prior lessons until it finally 'clicks'. When it does, you will think it's the easiest most natural thing in the world and you'll wonder why you never got it before. Trust me, it is a process.

I know for some of you I took you out of your comfort zone and I don't apologize for that. That's my job and hopefully you walked away with some new knowledge. As for you newbies, I know I tossed out a lot of new jargon, some advanced theories and possibly more information than you could wrap your brain around. As I stated above, learning photography is a building process where one lesson builds on a previous one. Keep at it as eventually the puzzle pieces will start coming together.

For those of you who missed out let me give a quick rundown (I'll be blogging about this over the next few weeks as I walked away with so much fodder for the blog). We started off with a lesson on how the camera interprets light compared to how our eyes interpret it. Then a quick discussion on aperture priority mode and how the metering system can take us so far and a quick discussion about exposure compensation and exposure lock. During this discussion we also took photos of our model, Christine, to illustrate the various lessons. once every one felt comfortable with the lesson I asked everyone to spread out and practice in a 'real world' scenario by doing some street photography. The group spread out and the fun started. During my walk around the green I photographed a young man sitting on a roadside bench eating. I took a shot and started heading off. He asked if I was taking pictures and of what and I told him I was teaching a workshop and offered him a view of the photo I had just taken of him. His girl friend who was sitting next to him asked that I not take her picture and I said okay and started walking away.

Well, this is were the fun started. She started following me demanding that I delete the photo I had just taken, that it was illegal to photograph people without their permission and so on. I tried ignoring her but she just kept following me. She followed me all the way back to where the rest of the group was, insisting all the way that she knew her rights under the "American Law Book" that I couldn't take her picture without her written consent. That's when I decided to use her as a lesson to the group. After all, she was making herself readily available to us by following me back to the group.

I could tell the frustration level was rising among some of the members as they tried, in vain, to educate this young person on the true letter of the law but it was obvious to everyone that 'she knew better'' and that was that. She threatened with (and actually called) police intervention, twice, but it was evident they didn't want to be bothered as no one responded. She finally gave up when Marla mentioned suing her for harassment. Good call, Marla.

Needless to say, a single image that wasn't one of my best became so much more powerful and interesting because of her actions. So I thank Erin for making the event that much more interesting for everyone. I also apologize to anyone who was offended or put off by these events. However, I think this situation proved a very powerful lesson for everyone about photo laws, dealing with the public and the benefits of maintaining your composure while standing your grounds.

The evening's DIY workshop was less dramatic but just as much fun. Although we were there to build grids for our strobes it allowed us the opportunity for casual conversation on all sorts of topics. How we got any work done between jokes, conversational tangents and other sundry shenanigans is beyond me. But this much is true, the exchanging of ideas and topics was very enriching and educational. All that and no one got seriously burned on the hot glue guns, though Ed came close.

Again, I walked away with so many lessons from this one event that I will be continuing this discussion in further posts.


  1. The workshop was great and I myself learned some key features about using spot metering and exposure lock to my benefit. I also want to thank you for pushing us outside our comfort zone by sending us out to do some street photography because while I love that photography style, I find it hard to throw myself into the situation.

    What I loved the most though was Erin's display of unadulterated crazy and annoying insistence. After all, her reaction and subsequent actions are precisely what hold me back from doing more street photography, so I welcomed the opportunity to see how you handled it, what to do and say and what not to do and say.

    Looking forward to the next things I learn!

    1. For the most part, this is not what you would typically encounter. Most people either don't care, show their annoyance and move on or otherwise indicate through body language that they don't approve. Very seldom will someone be as pro-active as Erin was about having their picture taken. So long as you retain composure and refrain from 'stooping to their level' you will be okay. At worst, you leave and find a new location to shoot in. I really think she was just enjoying the attention she was getting as it was obvious she injected herself directly into the middle of the group.


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