Recap of ASOP Photography One

by Kayla Dreisinger | Photography

Posted on January 15th, 2017

Last fall I took a six week Photography 1 class with the Austin School of Photography. I've had a Canon DSLR for the last eight years and though I would occasionally get lucky and shoot an awesome picture, I lacked the basic understanding of how my camera worked.

This class was fantastic because it not only shed light on photographic technique, but it also gave the student advanced knowledge about photography equipment - without all the added in bullshit that the Canon and Nikon marketing teams bombard the shopper with.

  1. All photography is a lie.
  2. Manual photography is 100% faster than automatic.

Here are my main takeaways:


The body of a camera mirrorless versus DSLR. In a DSLR the light enters through the lens and bounces off a series of mirrors to reach the viewpoint for the user. A mirrorless camera is exactly like it sounds, with no mirrors. These cameras are typically a lot smaller.


The primary characteristic of the lens is Focal Length.

Three types of focal length

  1. Normal
  2. Wide Angel
    • Drastically expands space
    • Has a foreground, middle, and background
    • Is a hierarchal expansion of space
    • Distorts and bends space.
    • Creates energy
    • Seen in journalism, narratives, travel
  3. Telephoto
    • Collapses layers of space
    • Background is more important than foreground.
    • Renders lines with total precision.
    • Typically used for fashion, art, modeling, products

Full Frame - 50 mm is normal
85 mm telephoto - Portraits/Product/Studio
24 mm prime - National Geographic - wide angel

Crop Sensor - 35 mm is normal
50 mm lens
16 mm wide angel

Lenses that are bought for Full Frame Cameras will work on a Crop Sensor body, however, not the other way around.

Camera Features

Controls the amount of time your lens is open. Measured in fractions of a second. Shutter can be responsible for Light OR Time.
1 2 4 8 15 30 60 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000
More Light <---------------------------->Less Light
BULB --> Where the user controls the amount of time the lens is open typically through a remote control. Bulb is typically used to shoot lightening, star trails, fireworks and can also be used in the studio.

The opening and closing of the lens. Measured in Focal Length (F/_). They have an increasing or decreasing iris the lets in more or less light. Apertures are responsible for Light OR Depth of Field. Not all lenses have all apertures.
1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 32
Biggest to Smallest

Stephen introduced a unit of measurement called The Stop. The "stop" is the way we measure light with each increment in our aperture and shutter numbers. A change in aperture from 5.6 to 4 is adding one stop of light. Measuring our units this way allows photographers to consistently and easily discuss how they set up the shot.

When shooting in manual, we are able to set all of the camera's features to best serve our purposes. To gauge our setting we use the meter to give us an analysis of our environment.

It's the combination of aperture and shutter that creates the exposure of our image.

Most photography classes are taught that aperture, shutter AND ISO creates the exposure --> also known as the exposure triangle. But that's simply not the case and ISO should be manipulated as a last resort.

ISO (International Standards Organization)
is a relic of shooting film. It's a way to chemically engineer film to be more sensitive to light, the higher it is. HOWEVER, a higher ISO compromises the image by adding in film grain. It starts to get really dangerous upon reaching 800 and higher.


Little pieces of the history of photography were nested through this class. We learned that Joseph Niepce was credited as the inventor of photography capturing the first ever image in ____. I had the pleasure of viewing this image at the University of Texas' Harry Ransom Center.

As photography developed, we notice that every single portrait taken during the 1930's was straight faced and non-smiling. It's not because everyone was miserable, rather the shutter speeds were not measured in seconds and fractions of seconds, but minutes! Stern-faced photos were the norm, often times peoples' necks were held up in braces.

Photography influenced painting. At the time, it was about factually rendering the world in front of you. Once the photograph came along, painting veard towards impressionism - painting what I feel vs painting what I see.

We discussed how the population as a whole is literate in languages but only half of us our literate visually.

Pete Mondraian - geometry painter

Sam Abel
color symbolism
Structure and capture content.

Ray Metzler
Structures and creates.
Mandates a scene

Sebastiao Salgado
Creates a narrative

Steven Shane(?)
Does not author the world in any way.
Philosophical photographer
Repeat the word until it is unrecognizable.

Ansel Adams
Zone system of photography

Stanely Kubnuk


Middle Gray
In class we did a fun experiment. Point at a white wall, meter your camera & take the shoot. Next point camera at a black chalkboard, meter your camera, and again, shoot. You'll quickly see that your camera produces two images the exact same color of GREY! Your camera's algorithm is designed to turn everything it has a balanced meter on to the same shade of gray. In automatic shooting, cameras balance for the brightest thing in the room. This is when we introduced Spot Metering. A setting on your camera that meters on one spot within the frame as opposed to the entire image.

Additionally the classes were layered with discussing photographic techniques for given scenarios. We discussed:

  • How to totally freeze movement - race cars, hummingbird wings, helicopter blades. We can do this by setting the shutter speed to 1/4000 of a second. However, freezing a race car going 200 mph can make it look as though it's parked and thus we lose the context of the image.
  • We then discussed how movement in photography revolves around an object changing relationship with your frame. Shutter speeds faster than 1/60 will freeze movement whereas shutter speeds lower than that will convey movement.
  • This lead to the introduction of Photographic Syntax --> The narrative of the image.
  • We want to exploit what a camera can see.
  • Panning: movement photography where you physically move the lens with the object you're tracking.

Things to Strategize for:

  1. Type of Movement
  2. Direction of movement
    • Z Axis --> Depth
    • Layers in Space
    • Thinking of photography as 3-dimensional
    • More like a language than graphic design.
  3. Distance
    • The speed of a car moving is irrelevant, what matters is how close you are to the car.

The first thing to do when photographing movement is to simply watch and observe the scene. Try to pinpoint what is visually iconographic. Next set your shutter speed based off of distance from the moving object.

Zoom Burst
A technique that involves zooming in while the shutter is moving. Best set at 1 second or longer. Examples of this include light coming through the trees, or conveying any sense of movement (bikers coming towards you). See more here


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