Digital Photography in the Classroom Megan Frauenhoffer's Learning Journal

Digital photography is probably the most accessible of creative skills. Most everybody has a phone capable of taking quality photographs. However, there is more skill behind just clicking a button. I should know, I'm an artist for a living and I stink at taking photos. Part of it is laziness and part of it is lack of practice. With this course I tried to practice more focus and purposeful photographing.

Week 1 Notes

  • Photography is easy to learn, hard to master.
  • Adobe Lightroom CC is pretty intuitive to use with lots of neat features on the mobile version. I like the healing brush quite a bit!
  • There are key differences between Lightroom Classic and CC. I prefer CC since I am more of a casual photographer and wildly interested in being able to edit on all of my devices.
  • While I am much more of a photoshop person for editing, I do like the convenience that is provided with Lightroom CC.
  • Focused Looking. It's much easier to practiced this if you have a theme or series you are trying to go after.

Week 1 Assignment: Hidden Faces!

I'll be the first to admit, I am not very good at photography. I am much more interested in painting and drawing. BUT! I want to get better. My first photos were not great, composition left much to be desired. I think I did the best I could with Lightroom. The program at least polished off some of the rough edges. I enjoyed the color presets and I think it really improved my favorites, the antique looking hanger and the bathroom sink faucet.

I think my favorites are the faucet and little hook.

The hook was probably my favorite due to how much it was transformed. I had to crop it majorly and then work some magic with the presets. I really liked the results. I'll show the before so you can see the wizardry of Lightroom. The only thing I don't like is now grainy it became because of how much I needed to crop it in.

Very dramatic change!

Week 2 Notes

  • Portrait photography is much more about the photographer than the subject.
  • Portraits are more about capturing the essence of the subject.
  • Learned a lot about the history of the digital camera, which I didn't have much familiarity as with traditional camera history.
  • Learned more crafty tricks in Lightroom CC mobile app and boy howdy did I use those!

Week 2 Assignment: Self Portraits!

For this assignment I used a combination of older photos while photographing additional photos with my phone. I usually take a bunch of reference photos for my drawings and paintings and often use myself with a timer on my camera. I have an obsession with using skulls and bones in my work, so I kept the theme going for the new photos. I also went to Hobby Lobby for the purpose of getting supplies for the next assignment. Since I went with a selfie stick, I took portrait photos in their floral section (hahahaha) which was surprisingly good despite the bad exposure.

For the black and white reference photos, I mostly messed with the split tone feature and cropped the photos and messed with the exposures. With the colored skull photos, I had some fun with spot lights and originally had much more contrast, but fell in love with the witchy vibe that the matte preset gave it (also I gave everything a vignette, because it's awesome). For the Hobby Lobby floral photos, I had to mess around quite a bit to get something purposeful with the over exposed images. Comparing it to the originals is almost night and day. The healing brush came in handy for blending away the little price tags that cropped up in the final format.

My favorite (well one of them)!

It really was difficult to chose the final image. I had so much fun with the final results and was really impressed with what Lightroom could do. I ended up picking this image because I think it's perfect as an artist profile image and exhibits the type of personality I want to show my audience. I'll probably touch it up some more on Photoshop, but it already feels professional in comparison to other photos I've used before.

Week 3 Notes

  • Still life photography work a lot with composition and balance (rule of thirds and symmetry).
  • Still life photography grew out of the roots of still life painting.
  • Try breaking the rules once you master them!

Week 3 Assignment: Still Life!

I had a lot of fun with this project. I've been meaning to do better at "product photography" with my artwork. It's the thing these days on Instagram to not only create beautiful drawings, but to photograph them in a breathtaking arrangement (It's all about those instagram likes, right?). I'm fairly lazy when it comes to that, so this assignment gave me a challenge. I wanted to give the artwork a setting and mood that I thought reflected well with the self portraits. So I went to the thrift and craft stores to get fake florals and accessories to create a scene.

My cat joined in on the fun too.

For the artwork, I mixed paintings and sketches from inktober. I still did a lot with the presets, only this time with the desktop app of Lightroom CC. I am a fan! I was just thinking during last week's assignment how much I wanted to be able to edit with Lightroom tools on my desktop, especially with the healing brush. It was like Adobe read my mind!

Week 4 Notes

  • Light is extremely important to landscape photography
  • The "Golden Hour" is a period of time just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun’s natural light is at its warmest
  • There are different qualities of light and direction to photograph that can impact the look of the photo
  • There are different formats of photos that digital cameras can take. I knew of RAW and JPG, but never heard of DNG. Unfortunately I don't think my phone/camera are new enough for DNG photos.

Week 4 Assignment: Landscapes!

I'll admit, I don't enjoy landscapes as much. I didn't feel as inspired by this project, but appreciated the challenge it took. I had photos from Estes Park where there were beautiful mountain scapes and greenery. I wanted it to have a lonely feel, misty feel to the place, so I experimented with the saturation and tones quite a bit.


I think I struggled the most with the high contrast of the sky. Definitely not golden hour. I'll have to try again with a rainy day or during the golden hour times.

Week 4 Notes

  • Capturing motion in photography is all about exposure...which I am terrible at.
  • Three basic methods of exposure are ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed which all still seem like a mystery to me.
  • The graphic of the triangle and brightness with the three methods helped a little at building my understanding.
  • There are apps and helpful tricks that can make it easier for the mobile device to take long exposure photos, which I totally took advantage of!

Week 5 Assignment: Motion!

When I saw this assignment, I got a little apprehensive. I was always terrible at understanding things like f-stops and aperture and knowing the difference between the two (still don't know how I passed photo 1 in school). And honestly, I still don't think I have a strong grasp of it, but fooling around with the settings and giving trial and error a go did make some magic happen. I tried both options for the assignment. I looked up the best mobile app I could use for long exposures and found Slow Shutter Cam, which did wonders! I also got great tips off of some Mac iPhone articles for long exposure:

  • Take photos around the golden hour, but closer to when it's dark.
  • Use a tripod-- those small ones for mobile devices are great for tucking in my purse.
  • Use a remote shutter -- I used my iPhone headphones to accomplish this.
Photos around downtown square.

I found the results were okay. I don't know if I waited for it to be dark enough. Lightroom really help give it more "oomph" than the original photos. I decided to give up on trying to get trailing lights from the cars and go for the glow stick method. On my way to the dollar store to grab glow sticks, I stuck my phone on the dashboard mount and took a few photos (DO NOT RECOMMEND). It was a little distracting, but I got two decent photos. It occurred to me that this might be something students might do on their own, so it might be good to warn them not to do this for the sake of safety.

dashboard motion photos!

The glow stick photos were my favorite! I had my husband play with the light sticks like tiny light sabers and got some great shots. It reminds me a bit of the Weave Silk website.

Painting with light!

Final Thoughts!

The class was great at getting me to try new things. I am not great at photography, but Lightroom can really polish some of my mediocre photos. I think this is great for students, beginners and advance alike. I would be happy to use some of these assignment ideas in my art appreciation class!


Created with images by Skitterphoto - "lens shutter aperture infinity focus vintage photography" • Dan Gold - "untitled image" • DariuszSankowski - "old camera travel" • sarandy westfall - "untitled image" • rawpixel - "untitled image" • Ian Espinosa - "NRG"

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