Saturday, February 24, 2007

Now is the time to make fun of myself

Well, gente, it's time to poke fun at the serious folks who promote backpack-wearing safety. Of course, I include myself in this group of select human beings.

Let me explain: earlier this month I walked into the newsroom for BYU's The Daily Universe. I just wanted to use a computer for a few minutes, but the powers that be saw I was dressed up (I had a presentation in class that day), so they said I could "model" a backpack for an upcoming Universe story about the crisis of heavy backpacks plaguing college students. Starved for media attention, I decided to sign up for the job--unpaid, of course--and let my photogeneity (am I making up words now?) shine.

Of course people from class or my intramural team or church mentioned they saw my picture in the paper. They said I was famous. They said I was doing the world a service by promoting awareness about a new issue, blah, blah (ok, no one really said that).

I even got e-mails from friends about the picture. Below are some quotes from them.

"Very nice Scorup! I could learn a thing or two from you!"
"I didn't know you were an expert in the field of backpack safety"
"I would not be surprised if you get calls wanting you to model for a back pack company"
So there you have it, folks. The people have spoken.
Oh, yeah. The best/worst one of all is the caption that went with the photo:
"Sam Scorup demonstrates proper backpack-wearing techniques."
Whatever that means. The reporter told me the backpack shouldn't hang more than four inches below the waist. Good to know.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Photography 101: Learn the Basics

Even the greenest of photographers recognize there are techniques that make certain pictures more powerful than others. Most people, however, do not recognize what these characteristics are.

Mark Adams, a BYU graduate who has about two years of experience with photography, said lighting, risk taking and proper use of equipment are keys to good photography.

Lighting is important because objects can become shadowy if they are not properly lit. Taking pictures when the sun is starting to rise or set can be good for scenic photos because photographers can set up for the sunlight to be behind them, Adams said.

Lighting is often considered the most important element to good photography.

“If the light is not right, nothing else will be,” said Luciane Barros, who has shot photos for invitations and weddings and has taken photography classes.

The type of lighting needed depends on the situation and subjects of a photograph, Barros said. For example, the contrast and shadows for a pose in a serious picture would be different from the lighting in a picture of a laughing baby, which is different from the lighting for a picture of a landscape, Barros said. Light defines exactly what a photographer wants to show—mystery, joy and so on.

Adams suggested photographers avoid being shy with the camera. He said being willing to take many pictures can lead to some unexpected gems.

“Many times when you think something would look good in a photo, it looks terrible,” Adams said, “but, I’ll take the risk of wasting film on something that I wouldn’t expect to be good. These can turn out to be some of the best pictures.”

Tripods are important equipment for keeping pictures in the proper focus, Adams said. If the photographer doesn’t use equipment to keep the camera balanced, the slight shaking from the hand holding the camera can cause photos to come out blurry. Adams also takes several pictures of the same shot, playing with zoom levels, coloring and camera angles to find the best version of several similar photos.

Strobes, battery packs, umbrellas (to soften light), softboxes, external flash and studio backdrops are other equipment and features that can contribute to quality photography, Barros said.

The reasons for taking up photography vary from person to person. Preserving memories of special events, capturing images of unaware subjects and taking pictures of loved ones are all common purposes for photography.

BYU graduate Aisake Vuikadavu finds a level of comfort in the hobby and draws life lessons from the pictures he takes.

“It’s therapy; it’s like medication,” he said.

Vuikadavu said he enjoys looking at different elements of nature from a non-human perspective. For example, if he wants to imagine how a leaf or a rain drop looks to an ant, he lies low on the ground, looks up through the camera and takes a snapshot. He said people enjoy this type of photograph because it is a fresh idea many have never considered.

For Adams, who cited his father’s longtime interest of taking pictures of everyone and everything, the inspiration comes from nature.

Although the Provo residential areas don’t offer much in terms of scenic photography, other areas located farther from town, such as the mountains and Provo Canyon, make for some good photo opportunities, Adams said.

When asked why he picked up photography as a hobby, Adams said, “I saw nature and I thought it was so beautiful. I wanted to capture it and keep it for myself; I realized I could do that with a photograph.”