Trajectory: The Basics of Photography


General Notes

  • The photography area is completely open-access
  • You don’t need to know anything about photography to use the areas

Booking and Availability

  • Studios are available 9-5 Monday through Friday
  • ORB
    1. Copy stand
    2. 3D Table
  • Technicians
    1. Larger studios
    2. Spinning Tabletop
  • Open Access
    1. Darkroom

Research and Preparation

  • Come in with a general idea of what you want to do
    1. You can change during the shoot, this is part of the creative process, but it is very important that you do have an idea to know where to start
    2. Show examples of the type of photograph you want to take, including lighting, styling, and the set
      • This is based on the photographic technical effects, NOT on what is actually in the picture
    3. Explain to the technicians what you want and they will be able to help you
    4. Use examples and moodboards
      • Background
      • Styling
      • Lighting
      • Props
      • Accessories

Techniques and Possibilities

  • The studio works heavily with digital cameras
    1. Equipment for this is provided in the studio
  • Analog photography and experimentation is encouraged
    1. You must then find your own camera
    2. You can get a camera from the kit room
  • There is a cross-over between the digital and analogue techniques
    1. Louis, who does the more analogue stuff, is in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
  • Dropping off film
    1. Put BW film in the white envelope with name and number
    2. Put coloured film in beige envelope with name and number
  • Cannot do slides or transparencies

The Different Areas

  • The Big Studio
    1. Designed for larger shots
    2. Usually not 100% quiet
    3. Has studio flash photography lighting
    4. Has LED lighting for continuous exposure for videos
      • This has its limits
    5. Studio is available for ½ day slots, which you have to book with the technicians themselves
    6. Backdrops
      • White
      • Green
      • Black
      • Use colour gels for colours
  • 3D Tabletop
    1. Used for smaller objects
    2. Continuous lighting which can be marginally adjusted
    3. Colours
      • Black
      • Grey
      • White
    4. Used to photograph objects head-on or from above
    5. Books, portfolios, products, sculptures, etc.
    6. Limited range of use


  • Spinning Tabletop
    1. Talk to Simon about this
    2. It rotates 360 degrees and hold up to 100 kg
    3. Can be used for full views of products, books, portfolios, etc.


  • Emergency White Room
    1. Used for emergencies only, when you have to shoot something for the next day or so
    2. MUST bring your own camera
  • The Darkroom
    1. Used for analogue development
    2. Only black and white film can be developed here
    3. There is orange light which does not harm the paper for black and white, but messes with the colourful film
    4. Equipment in the room
      • 5 chemical baths
      • Enlargers
    5. Materials provided
      • Photosensitive paper
      • Mixed chemistry
  • The Copy Stand
    1. Rules
      • The camera remains fixed while you work
      • It moves up and down on a track
      • Everything is done via the computer
    2. Capabilities
      • Frame-by-frame animation
      • Can photograph anything which is flat
      • Can photograph a drawing to turn into a print
      • Digitalizing whatever you’d like
      • Can photograph glossy objects
      • Can create a video of flipping through a book


  • The Smaller Studio
    1. Loud because of the darkroom next door
    2. Ideal for smaller projects or silent video


  • Scanning Room
    1. Contains flatbed scanners
    2. Can scan film
    3. Contains a high quality archival printer
      • Not free, charged online
      • A4 = 4 pounds
      • Matte
      • Semigloss
      • Inkjet
      • Technicians check the files with you to make sure you’re doing it right
  • The Finishing Room
    1. Equipment
      • Lightbox to look at your negatives
      • Machine to dry photos from darkroom
      • Cutting boards and cutters
    2. Capabilities
      • Fibre prints
      • Printing on different surfaces (TRY MIRRORS)


The Fundamentals of Photography

Why do we do photography?

  • We capture the moment
  • Create and generate memories
    • We remember the photograph, not the memory itself
  • For fine art purposes
  • Sharing content and experience
  • Documenting and creating historical record
    • Define a sense of time and place
  • Photographs are vehicles of emotion
    • Advertising and idealising
    • Promoting experience and situations across the world
      • Photojournalism is more editorial
    • Advertising lifestyle to sell products
    • Politics and ideas

Truth or Lies

  • Both
  • Depends on the view of the photographer
  • Photography was considered the only truth
  • Now we are creating versions of the truth
    1. Telling a story
    2. As the author, you can choose the language and the tone

The Basics of Photography

  • The first thing you need to create a photograph is light
    1. Light
    2. Light sensitive materials
      • A material which responds when you expose it to light
      • Clothing dye, like that in jeans
      • Human skin, pigmentation and sunburns
  • The word ‘photograph’ was coined by Sir John Herschel
    1. Means ‘painting with light’
    2. Responding and changing to light
  • The Camera Obscura effect
    1. A darkened box with a convex lens or aperture for projecting the image of an external object on a screen
      • This image is upside down
    2. You end up looking at a projection of the outside world in a darkened room
    3. Used as a phenomenon, then as a draftsman tool, and then became an attraction and the basis of photography (left top) (right) (left bottom)

  • The first photographs
    1. Based on Silver Halide chemistry
      • Still the case today
      • The silver halide chemistry goes black when exposed to light
    2. The pinhole camera
      • Light sensitive material placed in black box
      • ISO is the light sensitivity
        • The correct amount of light
      • There is a tiny hole made into the box and covered in black tape
      • To take a picture, remove the tape for a designated exposure time and then cover the hole again
  • The Lens
    1. Iris
      • Similar to the eye
    2. Aperture
      • The aperture changes when the lens opens and closes
      • You can achieve the same lighting with a high aperture and low shutter or vice versa
    3. Exposure
      • You always need the right exposure to take a picture, so that the film or digital card is exposed to the light for the proper amount of time
    4. Shutter Speed
      • The shutter gives a subject a stillness or a motion
      • A fast shutter means capturing very sudden or fast movements
      • A slow shutter results in a blur

Basic Tricks and Techniques

  • The illusion of movement
    1. Tracking and pursuit slot
      • Follow the object
      • Use a slow shutter
      • If you move at the same speed as your subject, the background will appear blurred and it will seem like your subject is moving very quickly
    2. Motion blur
      • Decrease the shutter speed
      • What does not move will be in focus
      • Like a billiards table
    3. Shutter speeds tell a story
  • Depth of field
    1. Means how deep the picture looks
    2. Deep DOF
      • Use a small aperture and a high shutter
      • Big number
    3. Shallow DOF
      • Big aperture

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