Imagine you were fortunate enough to have attended Ansel Adams’ workshop in Yosemite. What do you suppose the grand master of photography would teach you? The complexities of his “Zone System” or how to operate a large format camera, or maybe he’d talk about some esoteric point of photography, while stroking his gray beard?
It’s a characteristic of many students to sail right past the basics and expect what they need to improve is some mysterious and hidden piece of knowledge.
What they most need to learn is what is literally right in front of their face!
Let me ask you, what is in fact the most fundamental point of photography, or for that matter, most art?
Is it the operation of your camera, our how to control a complex system? Or how to get that perfect exposure? Or which filter to use to get the sky to turn black (as Ansel of did)?
Or could it be as simple as learning to see your photograph?
Yep, this is about as fundamental as it gets–look and see!
That’s how we learn sports be it baseball, tennis, golf or surfing. “Keep your eye on the ball (or wave.)” The best have mastered this and arrive at square one.
Okay, here you are in a beautiful meadow in Yosemite, how did Ansel train you to look and see? First he explained visualization: the whole key lies very specifically in seeing it in your mind’s eye first. Click to hear this right from Ansel and then take the Quiz after.
Then he handed out black rectangles and told you to go out and use it to find and frame your shots.
So for the first class of our photography school here’s what you’ll do (and don’t bail on this because “you can already do it” or “that’s for beginners” or “I don’t have time for this” or whatever excuse… just do it!)
1. Click here to Watch this short video with Charlie Cramer describing how to use Ansel’s “framing card.”
2. Get a piece of cardboard or a file card and cut out a rectangle the middle of it like this (or you can use this as a template and print it on the card.)
3. Now go out and practice seeing images, like you heard Charlie telling you, moving the card.
4. Keep this up until you learn something! And leave a comment and tell me what you learned. Or better yet, leave one on our AYP Club and while you’re there, post one of your photos for critiquing.
5. Do this exercise often, as you would use a backboard in tennis or go to the driving range.
6. Now remember our school is free for now but we do ask you to spread the word to your friends–tweet, Facebook and tell them to come on board!
What did you learn?