Friday, December 18, 2009

We're Closed! Returning January 4th.

Hello Arts Friends,

UCLA Extension will be closed from Saturday, December 19, 2009 through Sunday, January 3, 2010. This extended closure is due to the salary reduction furlough plan adopted by the University of California Regents in response to the State of California’s budget crisis.

For program information, or to enroll in winter courses, please visit our website at

If you are interested in a course that is currently full and would like to be placed on a waitlist, please call (310) 206-1422. Leave a message with your name, the name of the course, the registration number (which should be something like V4863) and the date and time of your call. When we return to the office we will add names to waitlists in the order in which they were received.

Happy New Year to all! See you in 2010.

If you're wondering how you'll fill the remaining days of 2009, why not check out The Year in Pictures on the blog The Big Picture. There are some stunning shots.

Part I
Part II

Part III
(via Urlesque)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


(image by Greg Keene via Wikipedia)

Up until today, tilt-shift photography was something that I would have pretended I knew about. You know how sometimes, someone will reference something, and you'll have heard of it but not really understand it fully (or at all), but you'll say "Oh yeah, that thing!" because you want to sound smart? Like, if someone says "Hey, you know the book Jude the Obscure" and you'll be like "Ah yes, the Thomas Hardy classic," even though you have not read Jude the Obscure and know nothing whatsoever about the plot? I know I'm not the only person who does this.

Anyway, that was how it was with me and tilt-shift photography. I had noticed it enough that I was like "Hey, I should do a post about this cool-sounding thing, because HOW HARD COULD IT BE?" (answer: so hard.)

The first place I turned was Wikipedia. Here's how that went:

"Tilt-shift photography...specifically refers to the use of tilt for selective focus, often for simulating a miniature scene. "Tilt-shift" actually encompasses two different types of movements: rotation of the lens plane relative to the image plane, called tilt, and movement of the lens parallel to the image plane, called shift. Tilt is used to control the orientation of the plane of focus (PoF), and hence the part of an image that appears sharp; it makes use of the Scheimpflug principle. Shift is used to change the line of sight while avoiding the convergence of parallel lines, as when photographing tall buildings."

Oh right, the Scheimpflug priciple! I'm sorry, but that sounds like something professor Frink would say (followed by "BLAVIN!"). Sometimes if Wikipedia isn't part of the solution, it's part of the problem, you know?

Luckily, I found an article on the site Cheap Shooter, which offered a clearer, less geeky explanation:

"A tilt-shift lens allows the photographer very exacting control over the depth-of-field in an image, much more than any regular lens could provide. Focus can be restricted to a single, narrow band, with everything else rapidly blurring away. This distorts the appearance and makes the eye think that distances are a lot smaller than they typically are. When applied to a large scene like a city or a museum, everything appears miniature." In addition, "Tilting the lens with respect to the film/sensor plane changes the perspective in the image: you can make lines that otherwise would converge, showing perspective, instead remain parallel or even diverge."

OH, THAT'S WHAT THAT IS! Much better. Thanks, Cheap Shooter. Hugs.

Now that we've exhaustively defined this term, let's see some examples:

(image by cloudsoup)

(image by B Tal)

(image by Jeangenie)

(image by Vincent Laforet)

Oh! The Wikipedia entry should have just said "Tilt-shift photography makes everything look like crazy fake little miniatures! It's nuts! The end."

I mean really, it's hard to believe that these are not photos from miniature movie sets. It's a pretty cool effect.

Ok, now are you ready for this? Because we still have half a rabbit hole to fall down (ie. we are only halfway down the rabbit hole by this point). Because check it: tilt-shift videos!

The East Side of Los Angeles on a Sunny Day from clark vogeler on Vimeo.

How blown is your mind? 100% blown? I have no idea how this is done, and if you think I'm going to try to find out, you're crazy. You can check out a whole gallery of beautiful tilt-shift videos over at this Gawker post - the one above is my favorite because it's set in East LA.

There is so much more to say about tilt-shift, like how there is a big controversy because people can pretty easily fake tilt-shift techniques in Photoshop so you never know what's really real, and whether you should buy a bunch of expensive equipment or just get a Lensbaby, but I'm not going to get into that, because this is already the longest post in the history of this blog, even longer than the Lady Gaga posts. But I will say that I learned something today, and I hope you did too! Isn't that nice?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Photography Quiz! Test Your Knowledge.

(image by Craig Havens)

One of the fun things about Extension classes is that there's such a diverse group of students. People from all educational backgrounds, career paths and walks of life show up to learn and make art.

Because our students are so varied in their experiences, some find it difficult to decide which level of study is the right one for them. "I've been shooting on my DSLR for two years, but have never taken a formal class - am I ready for Intermediate Digital Photography?" "I've been shooting headshots for my friends, but have not worked in a professional studio before - which lighting class is right for me?"

It can be a bit confusing, especially since so many of us who own high-end cameras are self-taught. Maybe you know HOW to adjust for nighttime shooting, but aren't exactly sure of the technical term for what you're doing.

To help students find the right level for them, instructor Craig Havens has devised a short quiz that he gives the first night of class. If students are stumped by the questions and unfamiliar with the terms used, they're good candidates for Introduction to Digital Photography. If they get half or more of the questions right, they're probably ready for the Intermediate class.

Here's the quiz - highlight the areas below the questions to see the answers. No cheating!

1. If your camera’s light meter is reading f8 at 125th, what does that mean?
Aperture opening is at or near its mid-point.
Shutter Speed is at 125th of a second.

2. If you want a different setting than f8 with this light reading, say f16, what would you have to set your camera's shutter speed to?
Two light stops down to 1/30th.

3. What is the best ISO when using a digital camera for both speed and picture quality?
640 to 800 depending on the quality of the sensor.

4. What is the highest quality setting for picture quality on a digital camera?

(Fill in the Blank - highlight to see answers)

5. When shooting in high contrast situations with film, you should expose for the___shadows_______ and develop for the ____highlights_____.

6. When shooting in high contrast situations with digital, you should be sure that the ____highlights_____ do not "blow out" and that the ____shadows_____ hold as much detail as possible. One way of doing this is to _____bracket_______ multiple frames of the same scene and checking the ______Histogram______during exposure.

7. The practice of allowing a slightly larger space beneath the image area of a final digital print is called "_____weighting______" a print.

8. When working in Photoshop always save your files in the _____TIFF____ format to avoid image loss with repeated saves.

True or False

A client owns your images until you sign a contract together stating otherwise.

You can include all costs for materials, including rental of your own equipment.

You should never ask for the total cost of your estimate up front.

When hiring paid models for any purpose, it is required that they sign a model release.

You should organize and back-up your images archives on two separate hard drives at least once a month.

All clients must sign a contract stating their understanding of licensing fees once the job is completed.
False (before!)

Ambient light refers to any type of lighting that exists upon your arrival at a location.

How did you do?

FAQs - Photography Program

Here at the UCLA Extension Photography program, we offer a variety of courses to improve your technical skills and your creative eye. Courses range from Introduction to Digital Photography to our Master Photographer Series, and can be taken individually or as part of a Certificate Program.

Below are some of the questions I often hear from students.

Q: Where can I see a list of the photography classes you will be offering?
A: You can download a PDF of the current catalog here.

Q: I've had my DSLR camera for a few years, and have done some independent shooting, but have never taken a class. How do I know what level I'm at?

A: Introduction to Digital Photography covers the following topics:
  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • Depth of Field
  • Focus
  • ISO
  • File management (including coverting files, tagging, file batching and archiving)
  • Basic Lighting Skills (including contrast, direction, color, white balance, histogram)
  • Composition (including framing and perspective)
  • Digital imaging (including an introduction to Adobe Lightroom)

If you feel confident in your knowledge of the topics listed, you are ready to move on to an intermediate-level course. If your understanding is hazy or you struggle with some of them, the introductory course would be the best place for you to refine your skills and get a solid foundation of technical understanding. Many students who are not technically "beginners" take an introductory class as a way to test their current abilities and for the challenge of assignments and instructor critique.

If you're still not sure which class you're ready for, take our Photography Quiz to find out how much you really know.

Q: What is the application process to take courses with UCLA Extension?

A: There is no formal application process. As the continuing education arm of UCLA, Extension courses are open enrollment. Students may enroll online, or by phone at (310) 825-9971.

Q: Who are your teachers?

A: Our instructors are professionals currently working in various fields of photography. They have valuable real-world experience that they are eager to share in the classroom. You can see links to their websites on the main page of the blog.

Q: Can I transfer Extension class units to UCLA, or the grad program of my choice?

A: Maybe! That is entirely up to the admissions office of the school to which you are applying. They may ask you to e-mail course descriptions or class syllabi to an admissions counselor, which we would be happy to help you obtain. If you think you might want to try to transfer course units at some point, be sure to take your courses for a Letter Grade (as opposed to "Not for Credit").

Q: Can I visit a class on the first meeting to see if I like it, even if I'm not enrolled?

A: Students may visit the first meeting of courses that are 10 weeks in duration or longer. However, many courses fill up quickly, so if you are interested in a course, it's advisable to enroll early to ensure you get a space. All students must be enrolled by the second class meeting.

Q: How many students are there in each class?

A: An average class will probably have 15-18 students - the limit for most courses is 20.

Q: Who should I contact if I have more questions?

A: You can reach our office at (310) 206-1422, or send an e-mail to

(image taken during the course Shoot and Critique with instructor Scott Stulberg).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kodachro-oh-om, Make It Yourself At Home

Today at a photography meeting, there was some lamenting the disappearance of Kodachrome film.

Well guess what, film fans? Some dude, identity unclear (let's call him the Hasselblad Hero) built a machine called the "Filminator" that produces film stock. As he elegantly puts it: "Can't buy the film you want any more? Just make the stuff! Plastic and goop go in one end, and camera film comes out the other end. This is not a trivial undertaking."

Here are some pictures of this awesome machine. Also, if you go to the Flickr set and scroll over the first image, different parts of the machine are tagged with explanations, such as where the emulsion is chilled, and that the coating head and roller are the "business end."

Via Boingboing

Friday, December 4, 2009

Leaftist Propaganda

I should retitle this blog "The Christoph Niemann link dump" because I always end up posting links to his NY Times Abstract City pieces. But I love them!

The latest is Bio-Diversity, where he cuts leaves into shapes and gives them funny names. I have to admit, the concepts never sound that promising, but his execution is always so creative and funny. I suspect I also like them because they involve puns.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Attack of the $30-Million Production Deal

My Mom grew up in Uruguay, so whenever any of us see Uruguay mentioned in the news, we get all excited and e-mail each other, because it doesn't happen that often, because IT'S URUGUAY.

This morning Paul saw a piece in the LA Times about young Uruguayan filmmaker Federico "Fede" Alvarez. Alvarez, who runs a post-production effects house, created a 5-minute short film called "Ataque de Pánico!" (Panic Attack, for those of you who took French in High School) that caught the attention of Hollywood mainly through YouTube and word of mouth. Alvarez got on an airplane, made the EXTREMELY LONG flight to LA, and a few days later he had a $30-million deal with Mandate pictures to make a feature.

This story has so many great elements, but my favorites are the description by the Times that the short film "depicts an invasion of Montevideo by a battalion of giant robots" and the fact that it first gained attention on KANYE WEST'S BLOG (where it was no doubt discussed in all caps). Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay, and giant robots invading it would be like an alien invasion happening in...Barstow. Or like...Fresno. NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THOSE PLACES! I'm just saying.

So bravo Fede, bravo Uruguay, and bravo Mandate pictures for taking a chance on what they think will be the Next Big Thing. Maybe soon we can all go to the multiplex to see Mate flying everywhere as Uruguayans battle aliens (Uruguay inside-joke!)

Here's the short film that started it all.

UPDATE: My Mom's reaction to the video: "It was panic inducing indeed, since every single scene took place in locations that are quintessential Montevideo, and part of my very consciousness. The little boy looks like an angel, typical Uruguayan look. Apparently the love for whole cities being blown up by invading aliens crosses cultural borders. Can't wait for the upcoming project!"

LA Times - Hollywood Has a 'Panic Attack!'