Tag: visual art

8th Grade Photography Unit, Lesson 4: ISO and Nighttime Photography

8th Grade Photography Unit, Lesson 4: ISO and Nighttime Photography

Description of the Unit – Students will explore the ISO function on their digital cameras so as to understand how it affects exposure, practicing using it and all previously learned functions to take sharp, interesting nighttime photos.

Activity statement – ISO completes the basic triad of camera functions necessary to understand and manipulate your camera in order to get the shot you want. Our objectives are the following:

  • Understand what ISO means
  • Understand what the corresponding ISO would be for various light circumstances
  • Practice using different ISO’s and examining the results
  • Take at least one clear night image

What is ISO? With analog cameras, ISO represented the film’s sensitivity to light, which was rated via a number, such as 400. The more sensitive the film to light, the higher it’s rating, or number; in photography it was also referred to as the film being “faster”. Film with low ISO was typically used in bright, daytime settings, and so of course the higher ISO’s were used if it was overcast, night, or a darker indoor scene. There was always a compromise, however, as the higher the sensitivity, the grainier the film—meaning the image would actually look grainy and lack sharpness. Additionally, with analog cameras, whatever film sensitivity you were using you would be stuck with until the roll of film was all used.

With digital cameras, one can adjust the ISO at any time. However, if one is not actually using film, why is there still ISO? Well, to the best of my knowledge, when digital cameras first came out manufacturers co-opted ISO to reflect the sensor’s performance level under given light circumstances, so as to give photographers the same options as one once had on analog cameras, when adjusting the aperture and shutter speed just weren’t enough. As with analog cameras, higher ISO’s also produce more noise, however camera technology has been decreasing this outcome over the years.

So, on a digital camera, if your setting is in low light, your preferred aperture and shutter speed might not allow enough light to reach the sensor, and therefore you would need to opt for a higher ISO.  

Now that students have had a few weeks to learn about and practice using shutter speed and aperture, I invite them to use them, along with ISO adjustments, to take sharp nighttime images. The images may also involve the use of motion of some kind to blur light. Students should consider either using a tripod, or setting their cameras on a steady surface to reduce the possibility of blur due to handholding the camera.

I love shooting at night, so I give students examples of my own photos and talk to them about the settings I used, the experience I had while shooting each image and what I learned with each.

The Eiffel Tower lit up at night, in Paris, France, by Anita Sagastegui
Paris at Night, ©Anita Sagastegui Photography
A street corner at night in Dublin, Ireland, with the headlights of a double-decker bus in motion, by Anita Sagastegui
Double-decker in Dublin, Ireland, ©Anita Sagastegui Photography
Snowy winter scene, with the lights from homes reflecting on he water's edge, in Bass Lake, California, by Anita Sagastegui
Bass Lake, California, ©Anita Sagastegui Photography

As always, in class we go on a photo walk to continue to play with our camera’s settings. The nighttime photos will be the assigned homework.

A student showing curious children her images while out on our class photo walk
A student showing curious children her images while out on our class photo walk

Goals – Students should…

Understand:

  • What ISO is
  • How ISO affects exposure

Know:

  • When a high ISO would be used vs. a low one

Be able to:

  • Adjust the ISO setting on their cameras
  • Take an image at night that is sharp

Resources and materials –

  • A digital camera with manual settings
  • A memory card with enough space for the day’s photo excursion
  • Fully charged battery
  • Examples of photos highlighting the day’s lesson (shutter speed manipulation in this case)
  • Optional: a tripod for sharper nighttime images

Students were assigned the nighttime photography over winter break, so were fortunate enough to take images celebrating the holidays and new year’s eve.

8th grade student's night photography: trees lit up for Christmas reflected in a lake
8th grade student’s night photography
8th grade student's night photography: a shopping center festooned with a Christmas tree and presents
8th grade student’s night photography
8th grade student's night photography: fireworks
8th grade student’s night photography
8th grade student's night photography; city skyscrapers
8th grade student’s night photography
8th grade student's night photography: city skyscrapers and a pedestrian bridge on which a couple is walking
8th grade student’s night photography
6th Grade – Yaacov Agam and Agamographs

6th Grade – Yaacov Agam and Agamographs

Description of the Unit – Students will examine and discuss the work of artist Yaacov Agam, and through his inspiration they will create their own Agamograph, a kinetic work of art that transforms from one image to another, depending on the viewers’ perspective.

The kinetic Dizengoff Square Fountain by Yaacov Agam, seen here lit up at night
The kinetic Dizengoff Square Fountain by Yaacov Agam

Activity statement – Yaacov Agam is an Israeli artist best known for his pioneering Kinetic Art. His lenticular prints, or Agamographs, made illusory images appear depending on the audience’s viewpoint. These pieces ask one to contemplate change, progress, time, and our role as observer vs. participant. Students will consider images of concepts, creatures or objects which can shift or change in some way, and incorporate their chosen concept into an Agamograph. To successfully create an Agamograph, students will need to make precise mathematical measurements throughout the entire process. Students will have the choice of coloring in their Agamographs in marker, colored pencil, oil pastel and watercolor (for backgrounds)—or a combination of any or all of these media.

The artist Yaacov Agam demonstrating the fluid changeability of one of his kinetic art pieces.
The artist Yaacov Agam demonstrating the fluid changeability of one of his kinetic art pieces.
Yaacov Agam's tribute to victims of the AMIA bombing
Yaacov Agam’s tribute to victims of the AMIA bombing
"Visual Prayer for Peace, Hope and Tolerance" by Yaacov Agam
“Visual Prayer for Peace, Hope and Tolerance” by Yaacov Agam

Goals – Students should…

Understand:

  • The meaning of kinetic art
  • What an Agamograph is and does

Know:

  • Who Yaacov Agam is, and the kinds of concepts he explores in his kinetic artwork

Be able to:

  • Use a ruler to make precise measurements
  • Think in fractions and apply fractions to paper
  • Visualize the process of change between two separate images in order to create an Agamograph

Resources and Materials

  • Examples of Yaacov Agam’s work, as well as examples of student Agamographs 
  • 9×12 white heavyweight (Bristol) paper
  • 12×18 lightweight white paper
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Sharpies (fine and thick point)
  • Rulers
  • Colored markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Oil pastels
  • Watercolor
  • Brushes
  • Jars
  • Cutting board

Questions – (first few questions pertain to observing Agam’s work)

  • What do you notice? What is happening?
  • How do you think this work is created?
  • What could the idea of kinetic art symbolize?
  • What deeper meaning might there be to kinetic art?
  • What makes kinetic art interesting?
  • How do you feel about being able to interact with the work of art?
  • How does this make it different to viewing a static work of art?
  • What kinds of things can you imagine that transform?
  • Give examples of two different beings, objects or concepts that can represent a transformation (ie, caterpillar to butterfly, egg in a nest to bird, daytime landscape to nighttime landscape, etc.)

Evaluation – Did students:

  • Come up with a concept that represents change/transformation?
  • Successfully construct an Agamograph to represent this transformation?

Informal:

  • Student questions
  • Group discussions
  • Oral responses to essential questions
  • Elaboration and risk-taking

The following are video representations of 6th grade students’ Agamographs:

6th grade student Agamograph – city to countryside
6th grade student Agamograph – otter to bones
6th grade student Agamograph – from farm to plate
6th grade student Agamograph – Shell Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’

The following are photos of 6th grade student Agamographs displaying both sides of each piece:

6th Grade Student Agamograph - Transformation from an otter to an otter skeleton
6th Grade Student Agamograph – Transformation from an otter to an otter skeleton
6th Grade Student Agamograph - Transformation from a common rat to Mickey Mouse
6th Grade Student Agamograph – Transformation from a common rat to Mickey Mouse
6th Grade Student Agamograph - Transformation from the Batman searchlight to Batman
6th Grade Student Agamograph – Transformation from the Batman searchlight to Batman
6th Grade Student Agamograph - Transformation from the little boy to the old man inspired by Shell Silverstein's "the Giving Tree"
6th Grade Student Agamograph – Transformation from the little boy to the old man inspired by Shell Silverstein’s “the Giving Tree”
5th Grade – Play Props and Scenery

5th Grade – Play Props and Scenery

Description of the Unit – Students will conceptualize, design and build props and set pieces for their end-of-year performance. This unit can help anyone who has some kind of event or play to put on and is looking at how students can take full control of the process.

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1st Grade – Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square

1st Grade – Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square

Description of the Unit – Students will explore Josef Albers’ series Homage to the Square, using his artwork and our discussion as a guide to creating their own series of squares, concentrating on contrast and depth.

>Josef Albers with one of his paintings from the series Homage to the Square
Josef Albers with one of his paintings from the series Homage to the Square
Continue reading “1st Grade – Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square”
8th Grade – Photography Unit, Lesson 3: Shutter Speed & Motion

8th Grade – Photography Unit, Lesson 3: Shutter Speed & Motion

Description of the Unit – Students learn about shutter speed manipulation, and how it affects motion and light. Students will experiment with using a variety of shutter speeds to capture still motion and motion blur. Our featured photographer this week is Sebastião Salgado.

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7th Grade – Fashion Design

7th Grade – Fashion Design

Description of the Unit – Students will create their own fashion line, featuring at least three different looks that share a unifying theme, be it color, pattern, line or particular article of clothing or accessory.

Photo of a catwalk for men's fashion
Students will attempt to create a fashion line of at least three pieces unified by a theme of some kind
Continue reading “7th Grade – Fashion Design”
1st Grade – Sakura: Japanese Cherry Blossoms…through a straw!

1st Grade – Sakura: Japanese Cherry Blossoms…through a straw!

Description of the Unit – (Not a unit per se, as we only spend a couple of class periods on this.) Students celebrate the arrival of spring by creating Sakura, or Japanese cherry blossoms, in the most amusing way…

A photo of Hanami is the tradition of celebrating the Sakura, the arrival of Japanese cherry blossoms
Hanami is the tradition of celebrating the Sakura, the arrival of Japanese cherry blossoms
Continue reading “1st Grade – Sakura: Japanese Cherry Blossoms…through a straw!”
Kindergarten – Halloween Shadow Puppets inspired by Wayang Kulit puppets

Kindergarten – Halloween Shadow Puppets inspired by Wayang Kulit puppets

Description of the Unit – When I was about eight years old, an uncle of mine returned from working abroad in Jakarta, Indonesia, and brought back a pair of Wayang Golek rod puppets. These two-foot tall dolls both frightened and fascinated me, with their elaborately painted, expressive faces and beautifully dyed, patterned clothes. Many years later I learned that these puppets were related to another Indonesian puppetry art-form: the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets. These puppets are mostly two-dimensional and are manipulated in front of a diaphanous, backlit screen. The puppets themselves have designs and patterns cut into them making them look almost lace-like, adding to the characteristics of individual puppets.

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6th Grade – Architectural Foil Repousse inspired by artist Stephen Wiltshire

6th Grade – Architectural Foil Repousse inspired by artist Stephen Wiltshire

Description of the Unit –

Students will learn about the life and work of artist Stephen Wiltshire. Using his incredibly detailed drawings of buildings and cityscapes, students will create a mini architectural drawing that they will then transfer onto foil.

Artist Stephen Wiltshire working on one of his cityscape panoramas
Artist Stephen Wiltshire working on one of his cityscape panoramas
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5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!

5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!

Description of the Unit –

Students will use a variety of artistic techniques to create a bright, vivid and wildly textured magnified dragon eye. When you look through the students’ dragon eyes below, note how remarkably unique each one is: it speaks to the fact that by 5th grade, many students are really beginning to hone in on their personal artistic styles!

5th grade art lesson - magnified dragon eye
5th grade art lesson – magnified dragon eye
Continue reading “5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!”