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San Domenico School News & Events

Photography Lessons: Controlling Exposure and Dramatic Light

If your eyes dare to be scared, I share some of my photography students' fear-themed work... These students are all first year photographers who picked up a digital camera a mere two months ago. I'm especially proud of their immersion into manual shooting mode, which this lesson required. These photos were taken on campus, indoors, with little to no editing.

In this project, the students are tasked with controlling exposure in manual mode, the final and most advanced shooting setting. It is something they, and many photographers, are still struggling with. To make it even harder, they have to create a mysterious, high-contrast lighting setup for a Halloween-like vibe. They have very specific shapes I expect them to make in what requires an expensive studio setup, yet they are achieving it with nothing but a few flashlights and some cardboard.

The flashlights allow them to illuminate only the face, and the cardboard allows them to angle and filter light. While the combined lighting and settings component may seem too demanding, it is only through shooting manually (not automatically) that you even have the option to self-direct the exposure, and I want students to develop their sense of style.

— Yoel Iskindir, US Film and Photography Teacher