April 18, 2011

Shoot, It's All About Perspective

So I've decided to invest in one of my long-term hobbies and have enrolled myself into a short Photography course at Prairieview. It starts in 2 weeks and I haven't done much to prepare myself. I guess I'm expecting to just show up and be a student of fine art - let the teachers do the teaching. But I know that if I'm going to maximize my learning experience, then I should prepare by familiarizing myself with the basics of shooting with an SLR.

I enrolled in Photography 2 - Focus on Creativity (got to love those play-on words). I'm technically supposed to take Photography 1 as a pre-req, or have equal experience. I know it makes myself sound like a pretentious swank (man I love thesauruses), but I thought I was too good for Photography 1. I was afraid I would already know most of what they would be teaching, and would therefore be wasting my money when I could be challenging myself instead. So to determine which course I should take, I made a call and the Prairieview employee gave me a short, verbal test. It went like this:

Prairieview Employee: "Ok, what do you know about depth of field? How would you make the background appear out-of-focus and the subject sharp?"

Me: "Um. You would change the aperture. The smaller the number, the narrower the depth of field?" (I answered most of this as a question- I was only 85% sure). She replied, "Good." and I breathed a sigh of relief. One question down.

PE: "How would you make moving water sharper or blurrier to show movement?"
Me: "Um. I would change the shutter speed."

PE: "Good... What do you know about the rule of thirds?"
Me: (Drat, I don't really know about this but I remember my friend mentioning it when she took the course - let's make stuff up). "Um like not just centering your subject." Yes, my profundity is mind-blowing.

Apparently that was a suitable answer, even though there's much more to it. I plan on educating/refreshing myself on some photography lingo to avoid sounding like a fool in the classroom. But for a more detailed description of the Rule of Thirds, click ici.

PE: "Do you know about white balance or how to read a histogram?"
Me: "I know a little about white balance, but I don't really know much about histograms." (See what I did there? It's all about forming an answer by rephrasing the words already present in the question).

I feared that was enough to drop me down to Photography 1, but my shoddy answer didn't seem to affect the standards set in place because she thought I was ready for Photography 2. I guess I'll be the ultimate judge of that in May- I may get the hang of it, I may not.

This course focuses on creativity, which I'm looking forward to. I received an email forward from a friend that held some creative photographs - serendipitous? (Nah I don't believe in that but the word is cool). They aren't interesting because of content, but because the photographers were able to construct new images based solely on angle and perspective.

Take a look.

Somebody get a tissue. We have a situation.

Note: I don't know these guys, nor am I related to them.

April 10, 2011

Uh Oh, What Are They Trying to Sell?

Do you like to be marketed to in stores? When I'm shopping at a large department store and I feel like browsing on my own, I don't really feel like being approached by someone trying to sell me something I don't need. Sometimes these marketers have promotions that align with my current deal-seeking wants, but more often than not, they don't. For those of you who want to avoid being approached in a simultaneously stealthy and polite way, here is:

Chui's Practical Guide to Avoiding In-store Marketing

This is key to avoiding in-store marketing. If you're not conscious of your environment and what's around you, I can't help you. Those who wander around carelessly unaware are more prone to attacks- I mean approaches- because they walk in a cloud of tranquility and unsuspectingness (yes that's a word).

Exhibit A: Familiarize yourself with the store's floor plan.

First, Know your Exits: Most department stores have roomy aisles with multiple access points. Be aware of these access points. As you're walking and browsing, do a visual scan of your surroundings. This is so if you see someone you want to avoid, you can  quickly slip into one of these exits or alternative walkways without wasting precious time - time that would allow the marketer to encroach. The footwork-technique you use is up to you. (Some like to pivot, some like to shuffle).

Second, Identifying the Marketer: While you're sweeping the premises, you might see one. He/she is probably well-dressed and will be wearing a company logo somewhere, whether it's embroidered on his/her chest, screen-printed on a hat or adorned on a lanyard. This logo adds authenticity and company unity. They "represent." Marketers may work in pairs, and may or may not be clutching a clipboard. (Product sign-up sheets are attached to these clipboards- if you're given one of these, you've failed).

Exhibit B: An example of a marketer. Note dress shirt and lanyard.

Avoiding Hot Spots and Eye Contact: If you're far enough away from a marketer, you can just take the long way around (also known as The Perimeter). Most marketers choose to be stationary, and "camp-out" in open spaces with moderate people movement and flow. However, if you find yourself close to one, it's important to avoid eye contact. Once your eyes meet, they're aware that you're aware of them, and they'll usually take that chance to approach you.

Walk Like You're On a Mission: Keep your eyes focused straight-ahead and make it look like buying that bottle of shampoo is of utmost importance. Walk swiftly in a determined fashion, with the (optional) casual swing of your arms. Do not take the risk of glancing back to see if you've been noticed. That's a rookie mistake.

But that's it for now kids. If you feel like being solicited, by all means, talk these people up. But if don't feel like it the next time you're shopping for runners, try to be sneaky. Or the next time you're shopping in the ladies department, try to skirt this issue. Just remember, the more nonchalantly you act, the less likely you'll be to offend and the more aware you are, the better prepared you will be to react.