Jay Maisel Day 3 & 4 – It’s a blur

Reference internal to the frame

Reference external to the frame

Day 3 & 4 jumble together in my mind as I have almost no notes in my notebook. We are in a rhythm: shoot, edit, talk, eat, shoot, talk, eat… sleep.

I remember the Nikon reps showing up on Wednesday morning with the new D4 and D800 and several lenses. The gear will be on loan for the class through the end of the week. Being a Canon shooter, I busy myself preparing my images but keep an ear out for something interesting. Jay, like the others, is clearly looking for the keys to deciding between the two. I hadn’t realized that the D800, with its 36 mega-pixels, was actually the cheaper of the two cameras. By the end of the week, however, for all those who tried these two cameras the D4 was clearly the winner for the type of photography we were doing. Learning more about these cameras gave me more perspective on the Canon line. I currently shoot with the Canon 5dmkII – 21 mega-pixels, 3 frames-per-second. Given Jay’s style of bracketing, 3 fps is a bit too slow, so I can appreciate the shot-gun shutter of the D3s (Jay’s current camera) and the D4. I think about the new Canon 5DmkIII with its 6-fps and think again that it is probably in my future.

On Wednesday we had an extended period to shoot –  from lunch through to 6pm – and on Thursday our usual couple of hours. Each day we turn in 5 images for critique. They must have been taken the previous afternoon or in the morning. I’m still a bit disoriented about on which day we critiqued which images. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that we had our first critique of the images we brought from home. I don’t remember having two critiques in one day, but somewhere we must have doubled up to get through the whole week.

The rules of critique – Jay does not speak unless others do. If no one talks about your image, and you want some feedback, you better start. He used the critiques to reinforce all the things he had been telling us. I can no longer remember the specific images, it was more about a general progression. Are there things in the frame that are not contributing? No, frame them out? Is there something interesting going on? No, wait for the trigger? Lessons on gesture over graphic and the “Catch-22”. Catch-22 is when there is an interesting scene so captivating the interest of the people involved that they never notice the photographer. We also pay close attention to images that receive a “verbal”. That is an image that extracts a immediate verbal reaction from the class as soon as it is shown. We talk about images that make reference to things within the frame and to things outside the frame.

The black matboard cropping tools  get a lot of attention. We are continually asked – what is this part of the image doing for your image? Often Jay will reverse the crop and remind us to look at the part of the image we would be framing out to determining if it was interesting. Usually it was some blob of gray or streak of white. We sometimes made it a little too easy for him to make his point.

Around Wednesday, philosophy begins to give way to brevity – “There’s not a f-ing thing sharp in this picture?”, “Doesn’t this piece bother you?”, and “Why did you include this text?” (Jay doesn’t like text in his image unless it is absolutely part of the story).

Wednesday night will go to the SoHo Photo Gallery monthly Salon and then head to City Hall for dinner. Jay whispers around the table, “get the tuna, get the tuna”. The restaurant had a run on tuna steaks that night.

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2 Comments to “Jay Maisel Day 3 & 4 – It’s a blur”

  1. I would not have put myself through the experience you had with Jay Maisel.

    • Marian – it was not a chore. It was like being a child climbing a new hill or rock pile. As I grow I will be able to scale it more easily and measure my progress and look for bigger hills and rock piles to climb.

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