Digital Photography for Educators Matthew Eric Lit

Weekly Learning Journal

Week One - Introductions - Excited to be in the course. While I've been teaching photography since 1995 the digital age is pushing me to expand my limits and open up to technologies I would not ordinarily choose to use in my professional photography. ~ Specifically, I'm looking forward to learning more about Adobe LR CC. I use Classic in my professional workflow. While I have no use for CC in that area I am finding that having the knowledge to teach it is still very relevant and important. I recently had a private EDU student whose personal workflow demanded use of Cloud storage. This is when I realized the need for learning and teaching this new ability. Onward and upward to the Cloud I shall go.

Below are a few images from my early photojournalism career. Last year I was offered a position teaching photojournalism at Community College of Denver. It is an honor to go back to my roots and now educate young photographers. This Adobe course will be an asset to bring into the classroom.

Left: Klemens Namwira celebrates Namibia's first day of independence from Apartheid. Top Right: Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem. Bottom Right: Young biker girl, New Mexico.


Thoughts & Assignment

I can already see this course is going to be a challenge. I've been teaching photography for more than 20 years and digital specifically since 2011. Yet, this week's assignment challenged me to seek and to use the iPhone 8 Plus I just bought. ~ I admit, I do NOT like iPhone photography! I can barely hold the thing steady let alone get an image with any quality. As for editing photos on a phone platform, well, I have a 27-inch calibrated BenQ Photography series monitor on my workstation so the idea of mobile apps doesn't thrill me. ~ That said...putting myself in a position of using new devices and apps can only push my teaching skills further! So...here goes!

Assignment One: Faces with my iPhone The assignment is to find faces in patterns. It forced me to slow down and focus/defocus. Harley thinks I'm nuts walking back and forth with my face inches from the walls. Here's what I found.

Clockwise: The tile I installed for my woodstove; detail of my textured wall, a phone plate on saltillo-glazed wall; a rustic pine trunk, yellow eyes on a mirror frame, red face on mirror frame, funky art on bathroom wall.


I shot portraits on both my new iPhone 8 Plus, my Fuji X-Pro 1 w/ 18mm f2, and with my Nikon D800 w/ 50mm f1.4. The two I posted of Carrie and our shared pup, Harley, were shot with the Nikon.

While I'm very well-versed in LR Classic I'm tasking myself to use the LR CC version for this class. It's been tough letting go of having as much control. However, given that I've worked with Lightroom since version II I'm excited to see what amazing things Adobe will do with future CC versions.

Harley getting ready for bed...in MY bed. iPhone 8 Plus ~ Left: regular mode ~ Right: portrait mode
My neighbor ~ iPhone 8 Plus portrait mode. Processed in LR CC. Minor adjustments to clarity, opened shadows, bumped contrast a bit.
Harley sporting his Carhartt for the first snow of the season. iPhone 8 Plus using regular and portrait modes. Minor process in LR CC opening shadows, slight recover of highlights and a dash of contrast.

Week 3 ~ Still Life

I set up a simple still life with published clips and the cameras I used as a photojournalist (I wish I still had my Nikon F4s!!!). I didn't want to set up a series of studio lights so I kept it simple with a silver reflector to bounce the bright natural morning light in my office. The CDs are to hold the white seamless. You've got to do something with these things!

This was a great opportunity to shoot and process an assignment completely within LR CC mobile!

Shot with my iPhone 8 Plus.

Additional Still Life photos (Added 11/13)

These were shot professionally for a restaurant in Summit County. We shot a large variety of food shots including close-ups and looser images (like the tasty Bloody Mary, bottom right) which allow for advertising copy to be added. This was a lighting on location job shot at the restaurant/bar.

Week 4 ~ Landscapes

The photograph of the sole aspen leaf clinging to a branch proved quite popular on my facebook page receiving hundreds of likes and more comments than I've ever received on a photo! I wonder if it inspired a sense of calm or other metaphors during these tumultuous times. The snowy aspens are also from about one week ago. At 9,100' on Colorado's Continental Divide we can get snow in any month of the year!

The remaining photos include: Ice break up along the shoreline in spring with the Ten Mile mountain range in the background. Wild rose petals in the river. A small stream freezing up for winter. A moonrise over the Continental Divide (that's Grays and Torreys peaks, 14,267' & 14,270') and finally while doing some star trail photography on a canoe trip, I got lucky and captured the International Space Station passing between the walls of a side canyon on the Green River in Utah.

Light Trails Photography

I'm heading out tonight with my basic digital class to do star trail photography. I have a guest photographer coming in to teach this, allowing me time to try some shots using my phone and with my Nikons.

In the meantime I wanted to share these from previous photoshoots.

Farrier competition

Shooting fireworks with no tripod! I put the camera on a pad and pushed down on it to stabilize it. I love the guy on the left with the iPhone. (it's cropped a bit tight here in Spark).

I shot this many years ago on film. It is a double exposure on ONE frame of film. I shot the first image at sunset to get the detail in the marina area. I waited another two hours for the fireworks to start. Skill combined with LUCK!

I photographed this during a canoe expedition on the Green River, in Utah. I was inspired by my former student, Arthur Balluff to try star trail photography.

I had almost put my camera up for the night having shot about 20 frames of this side canyon. A voice in my head told me to shoot one more exposure. I was standing at the camera and saw the International Space Station begin to transit through the canyon! Wow! Exposure is 30 seconds. f4 at ISO 800.

I used this technique often at weddings. "Dragging the shutter" allows me to pick up the ambient light in the background and avoid a pitch black background.

It fits the energy at a reception where alcohol is poured on top of estrogen and testosterone!

Can you figure out how I got the circular effect?!

Photos submitted with the assignment. I used an LED flashlight to illuminate the top left two photos shot with my iPhone 8 Plus. The remaining photos are shot with my D800, external flash and shutter speed of 1/4 second.

Final Assignment

Course Reflections

I've been a photographer my entire life, starting at 17 years old shooting for local newspapers while still in high school. I enjoyed an award-winning career as a photojournalist and have brought that vision into all my subsequent work. I began teaching photography in 1995 at Colorado Mountain College and I've been teaching higher education photography and private workshops since.

When it came to taking this course I was intrigued that it offered me the opportunity to check in with myself on what I am currently teaching; from content to methods. Additionally intriguing was knowing this was taking a much simpler approach and was likely more inline with teaching digital photography to younger adults and kids. This fit in with my Adobe Youth Certification and the work I'm currently doing with a local youth group.

Letting go of my daily workflow ~ shooting fully with my D-SLR Nikons and Fujifilm X-Pro1 mirrorless and editing and post processing in Lightroom Classic ~ proved the biggest challenge for me! Additionally, the course tasked me with photographing subjects I would not ordinarily spend time on.

I downloaded Lightroom CC on both my laptop and desktop workstation. I also downloaded Lightroom mobile to my newly purchased iPhone 8 Plus. This piece of software proved the biggest surprise with the camera functionality and ability to shoot .DNG files.

Assignment One

Strangely the first assignment of faces proved the most challenging and fun. My dog was certainly intrigued as I wandered around my home staring at the textured walls, furniture and floor.

Assignment Two

As someone who specializes in photographing faces this proved the easiest assignment. I chose to test out the iPhone's new Portrait Mode and this assignment gave me a chance to see how amazing it is.

Assignment Three

For the still life shot I chose to use clips I was photographing for my photojournalism class and a collection of cameras from my first Nikon F2 to my digital gear. I followed that up with photos professionally shot for a local restaurant which featured full lighting and food styling.

Assignment Four

This assignment challenged me. I am not a nature photographer and while I live in a beautiful mountainous location on Colorado's Continental Divide I leave nature photography to others! The photo I submitted for my assignment was photographed with my Fuji X-Pro1 and an 18mm lens. I did do the processing in Lightroom CC. In addition I included others on this Spark Learning Journal captured with my iPhone and my Nikon D800.

Assignment Five

I had a guest photographer for my basic digital class during this assignment period. I did some simple photography with both my iPhone using an LED flashlight for lighting and my D800 with flash and a slow shutter speed. I also included a selection of recent images shot dragging the shutter both combined with flash and natural light (fireworks).

Final reflection

This course has given me the opportunity to open my eyes to Lightroom mobile apps and shooting with an iPhone. It will most help me with the youth group teaching I'm involved with. Knowing that most of those students will be photographing with their iPhones, I now feel much more confident to engage them with a newly opened mind and opened eyes to these great options! I'm leaving shortly for a session with them and will be showing them how cool the Lightroom mobile app is! I'll be having them produce their journals using Adobe Spark!

Thank you for this opportunity.

~ 30 ~


Photo of me by student Lauren Bragg

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