Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teaching Manual Exposure Experiment

I have a method of using manual exposure settings on a digital camera that works great for me. I have never seen the method taught by anyone else but I did try to pass it on a couple of years ago when Jerry Klumpp, David Bahn and I taught an exposure class for NWHPC. Don’t know that anyone adopted it.

I have always disagreed that beginners should shoot manual early on. You are discarding two thirds of the price of the camera and it didn’t make sense to me even though I frequently use manual exposure. Well, I am about to change my mind. I just assumed that beginners would learn f/stops, shutter speeds, what they do, how they relate—but I am about to decided that they don’t. So I am considering doing a class or two on using manual to those that don’t normally use it. Alcy and Debi are my guinea pigs.

Yesterday Alcy and I went to Mercer for shooting on manual lessons. The heat had gotten to the flowers and it wasn’t long before it got to Alcy. Temperature was near 100 degrees and there was not a sign of a breeze. We drove over to Old Town Spring for a cold drink and called it quits fairly early.

Today Debi and I went to Glenwood Cemetery for shooting on manual lessons. It was still hot but we started earlier so we stayed a little longer. Most everyone goes to Glenwood to shoot the angels so we started with one of my favorites, the Dunovant angel. I thought that I had shot the Dunovant from every conceivable angle but the last time we were there Alcy got a shot with the angel framed by a grove like clump of dark tree trunks in the background. It was exceptionally nice so I tried to replicate it but could not find the right angle. I think she must have chainsawed the grove right after shooting the photograph. I settled for framing it with branches and a curb and stone. 

Until the Shulman angel was installed early last year the Hill angel was the most spectacularly beautiful memorial at Glenwood. There is no indication of the sculptor’s name that I can find but it is after a 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story The Angel of Grief  that marks Story’s family grave in Protestant Cemetery in Rome. The left hand on the Hill angel does not overhang the pedestal as much as the Story angel but I personally believe that in many ways, especially the wings, the Hill angel is more beautiful. There are copies of the Story angel all over the world including six or eight in Texas. There is one in Brenham and even a brand new one at Glenwood.

Original Angel of Grief
Original Angel of Grief
 The Cheng angel, another copy of Story’s sculpture, has been placed at Glenwood within the last two weeks. We shot there the end of August and it was not installed at that time. The Hill angel is approximately life size and the Cheng is about a quarter or a third of the size of the Hill angel. Frequently on copies, the design of the pedestal will be slightly changed. But both the Hill and the Cheng are very similar to the Story pedestal.

The Schulman angel is about the only real competition the Hill angel has for beauty. Debi and I were fortunate to be there during the installation so we got to do some close up shots. Since then it has been gated. You can only get within about forty feet from the front. But if you climb the hill and squeeze between the cedar trees you can get a fairly nice shot from the center of the arch that frames it. When we first discovered the Shulman angel I commented that the lack of patina made it look too plastic. I thought that as it weathered it would become more beautiful. Today, shooting from the back you can see inscribed, Francesco Mochi 1580-1654. On research this appears to be a fairly faithful copy of Mochi's Angel of Annunciation, original in Orvieto, Italy. On close inspection of the photo it appears that the piece is starting to develop weathering. Look forward to seeing what it looks like in a few years.

Original Angel of Annunciation

I mentioned recently that I have difficulty finding poignancy in a cemetery of full of rich people—for which I took heat from more than one front—but I still feel that way. For a while today I thought I was going to have to retract that when we stumbled into an area of older stones, ones that had plastic flowers, some markers were cracked and disheveled—elements that I generally find poignant. I have several 'cemetery themes' but what I generally look for is signs of how we are forgotten after death; indications of how those left behind are affected by our death--you don't find that is an extremely well maintained cemetery as easily. We shot for a while and as we were going back to the car we discovered that we were actually in Washington Cemetery. I had been to Washington many years ago and as far as I am aware the two cemeteries were completely separate. Well now they have been connected and what had been gravel roads have been paved and curbed. I will need to get back there.

After lunch at Jax Bar and Grill, my favorite beer joint, we ended up the day walking around Heights Village. By that time the heat was about to get to me so a brief circle of a couple of blocks and we called it a day. 


  1. Thanks for the additional information on the angels. I know you have photographed them many times, but you continue to find new ways to shoot them. My favorites photographs are the Fredericks Angel and the 2 from the left side of the Hill Angel. The second one (and its crop) is absolutely beautiful. The first one makes such a strong statement to me. The angle you shot from is almost like you are intruding on another's grief. I'm sure as a kid I must have found one of my sisters with her head down (crying?) and I tried to pry them up with no success. Then I can just imagine bending down and looking up to try to see their face. That's what this reminded me of. Beautiful post.

  2. Jan, thank you. Shooting the face of the Hill angel is not easy but I do like the lines in the long narrow. Actually I think Debi got better photographs of the face than I did.