Exploring the Language of Light

What makes a photograph most interesting, most successful as a work of artistic interest?

That is a question visual arts teacher Adina Scherer asked in this summer’s Digital Photography class where students’ shooting and editing skills were honed. “Teaching them to consider the subject is not the thing in the photograph, even if that is what they are aiming at. The subject is the photograph itself. And discovering how the control of exposure, contrast, composition, and color constructed in shooting and then to discover all the ways editing tools can expand their ability to communicate what they were thinking when they were inspired to snap the shutter. Finally, photography is a language that communicates feelings and ideas and they have a great deal of power to have fun and make beautiful art with their phone cameras.”

The class met for three weeks, four days a week, three hours a day on Zoom using Google Classroom as the portal for communication. “We looked at many contemporary and historic masters of photography to inspire the students, as well as having a daily critique review of everyone’s work,” Scherer said.

Siming Fu Moonrise photo Siming Fu ’23 Black and white landscape with lighthouse
Justin Durso Orange light and blue Hyacinth among greens Justin Durso ’23 Orange Light and Blue Hyacinth
Hanna Gross Record Store Hanna Gross ’23 Record shop double exposure
Martine Fiore collage and black and white couple walking photo Martine Fiore ’22 Collage and Black and White couple strolling along treelined street
Siming Fu Daisy with Blue Chairs landscape photo Siming Fu ’23 Summer daisies with blue Adirondack chairs behind fence
Hanna Gross Sky and Skater photos Hanna Gross ’23 Black and white skyscape and skater girl on colorful pavement
Owen Samra garden path and swamp photos Owen Samra ’24 Winding garden path and swamp at dusk
Emily Mansfield '23 puddle Emily Mansfield ’23 puddle reflection
Emily Mansfield Newspaper Emily Mansfield ’23 Daily Dose of News
Jacob Gill pillow fight and chalk covered brother Jacob Gil ’24 Double exposure pillow fight and chalk covered little brother

I joined photography club with Mr. Devyatkin,” said Owen Samra ’24, “and had played around with editing photos a bit, but not much else.” He said he joined the summer photography class to learn more photo editing techniques. “And I definitely did,” he said. “My favorite assignment was probably the double exposure assignment because it gave me opportunities to be more creative with editing.”

“Photography is a language that communicates feelings and ideas and they have a great deal of power to have fun and make beautiful art…”

Adina Scherer

Scherer said she hoped the students would take away from the class “that photography is a language of light and that they learn to see light, compose with light in mind, and then in editing reinterpret the light.”

Jacob Gill Hot Air Balloons at sunset photo
Hot Air Balloons by Jacob Gill ’24

Among the assignments Scherer gave the students were: photographing six different views of five different subjects; looking for patterns everywhere, shadows, objects that are patterned or that create patterns; self-portraits; photographing the “magic hours” of sunrise and sunset; the first thing you see when you wake up; a photo of someone in your family; reflections; creating an emotional quality by exploring black and white; exploring double/multiple exposures; and thinking about photos as telling a story, a photo essay, a group of photographs expressing an idea. Students used the app Snapseed to edit their photos.

Martine Fiore black and white self portrait
Martine Fiore ’22 black and white self-portrait; another of her self-portrait photos was also the thumbnail image for this story.