Synesthesia in Photography: Using Film and Tunes as Inspiration | Micah-Daniel Lewis (ItsForGotham) | Skillshare

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Synesthesia in Photography: Using Film and Tunes as Inspiration

teacher avatar Micah-Daniel Lewis (ItsForGotham), Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project Instructions

    • 3. Star Wars Inspiration (Movie)

    • 4. Dark Knight Inspiration (Movie)

    • 5. Drake Inspiration (Music)

    • 6. Editing a Frame Image

    • 7. Editing a Vanishing Point

    • 8. Editing A Candid Portrait

    • 9. Editing an Action Shot

    • 10. Bonus Round

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About This Class

Editorial and brand photographer Itsfor_Gotham teaches an introductory class and explains how emotions evoked from movies and music can inspire images.

Meet Your Teacher

New York City based ItsForGotham has been drawing from a unique brain condition known as synesthesia since late 2012. Using this subconscious ability to "see" sounds and "hear" colors has led to a development of a unique approach to capturing and evoking any given emotion. Pursuing themes such as neighborhood violence, corruption, silence and human psychology, he began pursuing the craft more seriously in his free time and would later develop a certain technical ability to shoot and edit various urban landscapes all within apps on the iPhone 5 and Canon DSLR equipment. Months of persistence, patience, and meetings landed him the opportunity to became a brand photographer for Nike and Jordan brands, and he hasn't looked back since.

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1. Introduction: What's going on, guys, welcome to the first day of my skill should class. This is class number one. So just a quick introduction about a little bit about what I am and what I'm doing. Presenting in this class for those of you who don't already know this is it's for Gotham on instagram in Social Media. I'm a brand and editorial photographer from Nike and Jordan brand based in New York City, And I'm getting a lot of people who have been asking a lot about my style and sort of where inspiration comes from. And that's finally I decided, toe put something down and this is some you guys can look at refer to, um, couple ground rules. This should not be a measure of anyone style or, um, perspective on how you see the world. There are no right or wrong answers in this class, so anything that you want to present as long as you can, um, you know, back it up consistently and present a style that's forward and creative. I'm all for it. That's how photography moves forward, and that's how you move forward as a person. So without further ado, let's get star 2. Project Instructions: So this is just a quick overview of the assignment and the deliverable that I'm expecting from you guys. The four images that I want to see, um must be inspired from either a movie or, um, a song or an album. Whatever you choose, you must reference it in your final deliverable. So the four images that I want to see are the first being a framed by architecture image, so that either could be through like a fence, like you see, right here it could be through glasses. It can really be creative and kind of open that up. Whatever that is that you wanted to be. The second image that I want to see is just a regular straight of vanishing point that can even be a look down. Could be from a roof. Whatever it is, though, I really want you guys to focus on one certain subject, like whoever your focus is going. The I needs to be leading towards one place. You guys can really get creative with that one also sort of. The one that's a little bit more closed is the candid portrait, so that can really just be, you know, whatever it is, you know, you find to be a portrait can be a group portrait can be individual. Um, something I've been doing for inspiration is a lot of stride buys where I've just been kind of hiding in the environment and just sort of blending in and getting like the most candid in depth picture I could get. So that's inspiration for you guys if you want, um, and for the final image, as I want to have a sports or action image. So whatever that is, um, whatever kind of motion that you see in your day to day life if you have friends and play sports, um, if you know you're driving whatever action or motion is to you, I want toe. Really? See, you guys encapsulate that and put it out to an image. So, whatever that is for you guys, I want to see it. So it could be a motion blur. Um, it can be, you know, athletes moving around. It could be, um, any kind of motion. But I really want you guys to distinguish that from the portrait, so make it so. The focus is on the action and not so much as the subject. So we see the whole images as one big hole picture. So that's it. Those are the four images I want to see from you guys. And also see what your inspirations are, what you got him from and what inspired you to make your individual sets. So that's it. Have fun and I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. 3. Star Wars Inspiration (Movie): So what I want to do with this first class is sort of draw connections between film and music and put those into stills. So essentially, you take what you see from movies. Oh, here from music. And you put that into an image and create a set based off of that one or several emotions really quick, I'm gonna go over synesthesia What I put in the title. Um, it's something that I have had since I was about 17 and basically it's kind of like a condition where you are drawing constant connections between stuff that you hear or things that you see, and you're able to put them kind of like all together. So it's like life and kind of like three d almost eso stuff that I hear might be connected to. Stuff that I smell or you know, something that is like, really dark and shadowy is something that my feel little bit colder to me versus something like this image right here might be a little bit warmer, with a little bit more contrast in higher shadows. So that's really just a brief overview. What what synesthesia is and kind of those who have it. What? They what they see? Um, I'll refer its to it back, back and forth throughout the video a little bit, Um, but with a quick I just want to jump in inspirations and what that's gonna show and inspire for the four images that I produced for this final set on. And then from there, you guys are gonna be able to go ahead and create your own. This image really quick. Just one of the inspirations that I have is from Star Wars. The Empire strikes back the battle of horse, and it's kind of fill me kind of vintage look. And it's something that I've been putting in a lot of my recent Instagram images lately. It's has quite a bit of grain, and it's a really soft kind of touchy feel. Everything kind of looks the same. If you look over to the left, well, it's a little bit darker. Just the shadows are a little bit brought out, its not too dark, and it's not really kind of hiding anything, it says. There's a one big focus on a subject, and then everything else is just kind of flattened out. So that's something that I've really been attributing and my pictures lately. And this has just been a really consistent theme that I've seen. Um, and a lot of photographers, actually. So this is kind of where one of the inspirations comes from. 4. Dark Knight Inspiration (Movie): another quick inspiration and all drawn really quick is Batman, of course, My it's in my name is forgotten that, Ah, um, sort of right here we have the vintage feel that I talked about earlier, that kind of Matt feel. It's also got a little bit of grain in there. This is the 19 sixties Batman this was like starring Adam, Adam West and Burt War. This is like the done on a known about. It's kind of like where came from, so I like keeping that sort of cartoony vintage feel to it. At the same time, we're also kind of moving forward to the most recent Batman, which is kind of, you know, it's really blue. There's a lot of dark contrast. You know, there's a focus on the subject as well and sort of creating that cinematic look. And that's also something that, like toe put in both of my images. So I kind of like to have a little bit of the fade. Um, a little bit of the grain were also still keeping it really dark, really sharp, Um and you know, telling a story that's the most important part. If you aren't telling a story you colors corrections and grading can be on point. But if you're not telling a story, doesn't really do anything. So that's always been The purpose is to, you know, create an invoca any kind of emotion, and that's ah, little bit about my inspiration. So we're going to jump in a light room and we're gonna go ahead and get started. 5. Drake Inspiration (Music): all right. So for our next source of inspiration, I want to talk to you guys about using music is like a source of inspiration. Um, for those of you don't know Before photography, I was a jazz major, so I majored basically in music and study music for all of high school. Um, about halfway through college, and I still study it to this day. I don't play as much as I want to, but it's something that's really influenced my photography and even just what I do as an artist. Essentially. So I have on a playlist that I've put up. It's called Gotham. It's a public playlist. So if you guys want to follow, it's essentially every photo that I've well, every song that I've tagged to an image since. Ah, what since actually I started photography. Um, on Instagram. The first song I believe is Billie Jean from Michael Jackson. And then it goes all the way up to just all over the place. I mean, I got FM, you know, D J stuff like cut chemist, dead mouse, Um, all the way to the classic hip hop, Of course. You know, common. Um, you know I can't even name NYU's Jay Z, of course, chi a, um, all the way to, like my latest inspiration, which has been coming from a lot of chill wave stuff like James Blake, uh, little people flying Lotus, even some early stuff like Coldplay. Just ridiculous, like all over the place you wouldn't expect. I listen to everything. This is something that I kind of reference to a lot. And I try never to use the same song twice. When I'm editing a set, I like to listen to one specific album. So, for example, for the formula that I did I listen to drinks latest mixtape. Um, and I put the link in the project description. But Star 67 was the song that inspired the, um, the four images that I had for this final. So whatever you guys choose really high emphasis. You guys need to tell me what movie or what song are album, influence your work. So I want to see either a link or I want to see um and name whatever inspired you to create the four images for the assignment that I'm giving you. Guys. I want to see what created that. So my inspiration, You know, I get it from all over the place in my music, but specifically, I used the latest drink mix tape so that could be Kendrick. Lamar can be Madonna. Whatever you guys listen to, um but just make sure that you guys tell me I want to hear. Or maybe you might use both, You know, you might use ah, movie, and you might use songs in both. So I really want to hear what I 6. Editing a Frame Image: All right. So for the first image of the architectural framing, this is just an image that I shot in Chinatown. Um, just a pretty, pretty basic framing idea. The shot. You know, the shot is looking to a chain link fence, and you can obviously tell that there's there's a fence in front of your field of view, but the focus is on the background rather than the subject, and the subject is kind of just there is kind of like the icing on the cake, and it just adds a little bit of great to the shot. So this is something you can try. I want to talk really just really quickly about anything that I did to this, Um, really quick what I'll normally do. I don't use presets. A lot of people have been asking, you know what I use? I don't use any presets. I use one filter essentially, that I built, and it's a really cold put cold, like feeling the temperatures really low. The contrast and clarity of both very high and what I'll do is I'll kind of slap that on in the picture and nine times out of 10 it's just is really purple and blue, kind of kind of picture and what I usually do from theirs. I'll just play with the temperature until I get something that I want. And then from there, it's just a matter of okay, you know, the highlights are too bright. I need to bring those down the whites a too bright I need to bring those down in. The overall exposure is what I'll do is I'll just kind of tweak with until I find, like, kind of a balance. And I'll stick with that. Um, normally from there, I just kind of kind of bumped a tent one way or another. I don't really like having it to Pinker to green. Um, then I'll usually, you know, kind of add the final notch of, like, temperature that I went until it's right about. You know, even I don't really wanna add too much, because then we'll just kind of make it look skewed. And I don't want that, um, and then I'll kind of mess around with the clarity. You get something that's fairly fairly bold, you know, and usually ah, kind of tweak with the shadows also, and then usually that's that's basically it. I don't want to take any more than 30 seconds, 30 to 45 seconds tops on editing. Um, once that's done, and then really, you have your final image. If you want to add Fade, you'll want to set to anchor points. Essentially, is what this is on the tone curve. Eso, for example, really quick, it's often said, is linear. And that's just a straight line. Um, when you click anywhere on the point essentially just adds an anchor, and it holds down that spot in the tone curve toe. Add the fade. You'll just go to the first line and you'll just go up the line a little bit. And then from there, you can just kind of tweak until you get the amount of fade that you want. I normally like to stay on this end just because it it phase the shadows. If you add an ankle point appear, you condone, you can fade the highlights. It's not really something I like in my photos, so I kind of stay away from there in the from that you can just kind of balance it out until you get something that you want Um, and I'll probably we get a little bit more when I'm done. I don't wanna have too much too much fade because then it kind of just waters down the picture a little bit. Um, and I'll balance it out like right there from the blanket preset that I have has a lot of, ah, grain in it. So, like, it's like grain 30. I'll only take it down like 17 toe 20 depending on what the picture is. It's pretty bright outside, so I don't need that much grain. I'll leave it at, like, 20. But I'll bump the size up to, like 40 so I just It'll add more grain particles toe the image itself. Um, make sure your profiles on camera standard that just is, you know, the natural settings for the camera throwing profile correction. So it flattens out the picture a little bit, and it takes ah, any distortion out of the picture. And I don't really see any blemishes or any kind of, you know, black spots that I really need to take out of the picture and I'm ready to export. So go file export. Oh, really quick if I'm exporting is a square for Instagram. Um, I'll crop it in light room. I don't need to crop it when I get it on my phone. This way can keep the file size down and avoid having the send a huge file over my phone. What I'll do is I'll go to the crap the crop tool, and I'll just go one by one. And from there it'll just drop a square in and the Navigator tool like the half down, because then it shows you in real time what the actual square's gonna look like when you crop it. And when I find something I like close it. And that way you have a nice little package square and you're ready to export. What I'll do is I'll export to a father having my documents called I g ready. It's just a bunch of squares. Um, I normally export by dimensions. And if you're doing a square, you don't wanna go any more than 10 25 by 10 25 and the resolution. You went 90 pixels per inch any more than that, and you're gonna get a lot of crushing in the in the colors. And just when you get it out of the phone. It's gonna and distort from here. Um, people like toe I mean, you can airdrop if you have a Mac you can export directly to your phone. When you go into finder, you can just right click the image, and you can just share it by air drop, and you could pick it up on your phone. That's one way I pick up most of my square pictures. If you're exporting yourself a large image like this like a print of something you can use excuse me. You can use Dropbox, um, Google drive. We transfer. There's a 1,000,000 programs you can use. Um, and that's really about it. So that's the first image. The next one we're gonna move on to is the vanishing point. 7. Editing a Vanishing Point: All right. So for the next one, we have editing a, um, vanishing point. So really quick. Um, just same as always. I'm gonna throw on the filter, the thirst vibe, those violent person thirst on it again makes the picture really cold. And then from there, just like dragging and temperature up and kind of just matching the mood of the picture. Noticed that the vibrance is down pretty low on this preset. That kind of gives. Ah, consistent kind of feel like a film. Look, I guess, if you will, whatever vibrant so clarity, saturation presets that you have, um, you want to make sure that they're all the same if you're trying to create, like, aesthetic, especially on instagram feed? If you change this around a lot, it is easy to kind of get on not distracted, but it kind of makes just ah, stylistically kind of gets all over the place. So, um, going to keep those the same for the preset and then just mess around with the lights a little bit? I noticed the highlights a little bright, so I want to bring those down. It's just the sky that's back here shooting the image itself really quick shot again on a 35 Canon five D mark three shot in the morning about seven seven something right when the sun was coming up, I saw that 500 because it's pretty dark. There was a big tall building that's right behind me. So it's blocking out most of the natural light eso to make up for that. I have moving images that air down here. Otherwise, I would have had, um my shutter speed and a lot lower. If this was, like just a look up, I would have shot maybe 1/13 of a second. But since I have cars down here and I don't want to create a long exposure, I'm going to go ahead and shoot just regular standard 1 1/100 of a second. And I have to stop pretty far down because it's a look down all the way down here. This is the other side of Manhattan, so I need to have, you know, not stopped all the way down. I didn't stop to, like, 20 or anything crazy, but since there isn't that much natural light, have toe stay pretty much in the middle, so I stopped down 10. Um, And after that, you know, he just got a mess. The is so And I just bumped that up a little bit and ended up going all the way up to 500 before I got something that was solid and consistent. So that's just a little bit back story on the image. The song inspiration for this was Drakes Star 67 off the new mixtape. That's actually the inspiration for all these images. But when I was taking all four of my images, that was the song that are that I edited to, and that's what made made this image what it is. So this is, you know, pretty much my final image. I don't really have that many colors that I want to play run with its. The neighborhood that this is in is called Two Door City, and in my hand, like you could see is a lot of brick and mortar. It's not too much stealing glass, so it's kind of like that old school kind of New York vibe. So not really too much to play around with, and I want to keep the temperature kind of in the middle I don't want it to one because an ageism doesn't really look that natural. And I don't want to have it too cold, because and it just doesn't make sense. So kind of one of balance right in the middle. Um, after that, I'm ready to export the tone curve tone curve solves all your problems. Okay, If anyone asks you how to get across the street, you tell him, Tone curve. If you have problems with your girl, man, you tell him told Curve, if you got an F on your math test to give him the tone curve tone curve fixes all your problems, all right, if you have a really high I s old picture, right? So stay like this. For instance, I shot this is 500 isil, right? So that means there's gonna be a little bit of noise here in the blacks in the image. It's right here in the front. It's just gonna be a little bit noisy just because I shot so high the tone curve. Essentially, when you pull up the fate a little bit, it kind of flattens that out and just matched. It doesn't really make it a problem anymore. So it's a pretty, uh, pretty solid sheet. If you ever wanna get rid of some extra noise, it works also good for long exposures and at night, um, profile corrections. And I want to level it out because you want the lines to be straight. And it's leading lines, all matching all the way down to the end of the picture, and enough to that you're ready to export. 8. Editing A Candid Portrait: and for the third image that we have is a hitting a candid portrait. Um, really quick. One of the things I want to mention is if you see this little red straw right here, it kind of takes away from the picture that we have actually actually didn't even notice it until just now. So this is something I'm also gonna throw in here really quick for you guys if you ever need to clone something out, for example, So, like, this red straw is like sitting right in the middle of my sterile image, right? Just ruin my image, right? So rather than going back and be taking a picture of something you could do in light room is use either the clone of the healing tool. The adjustment brush is that, like, from five has, and you can kind of a size, and you could set a feather. Um, and opacity basically is how? See through the brush that you put down, And so if you have it all the way the 100 it's going to completely cover the image versus if you have it a little bit towards the lower end. Um, you're gonna be able to see through it a little bit more. So I'm gonna go ahead and use his brush right here. Probably 70 seventies will be OK. It's pretty small. And I'm just gonna layer the brush over and automatically light room will try to cover it up. Um, the engine in here, we'll just cover it. Um, and right away, you could see it doesn't look right, because it cuts out some of the lines. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna drag it manually myself. And I'm gonna copy over the line and cement just a little bit ahead. Where there's it's already clean, and then I'm gonna let it go, And you can hit Kay for the hot key, and it will take it away. So, essentially, I've just brushed out the straw. You could see there's another little one right here, but we won't worry about that. But essentially, um, we just took out, um, this red straw that we have right here in else. Nothing really quick hockey for what I just did before and after you can hit. Why? For the hockey. And it'll toggle back and forth the image that you had raw right out of the camera from the library and the final edit that you have and it's locked in. Also, you can unlock this if you want in the settings, so it doesn't drag. You know exactly where the mouse moves over. But if you want to see, like, my new sha little differences like how much grain that you put in the picture, it's really good. And for this example, right here, we'll just show you how we just took the straw. Um, why again is the hot key and we'll take you back and make sure that you un select the brush you can hit Kay um, or you just right over here in the tab. You'll quit the second on the spot Movil brush, and you can use K toggle back and forth between that. Um, I'll put the first vibe on the picture. Um, just really low, really low arm vibrance and colors. I'll add my temperature until I feel like I've gotten something that I want and that can kind of communicates this really cold kind of stable. Um, just another guy walking through, you know, trying to get from point A to point B kind of vibe in once, I feel like I've got that. Go ahead and just touch everything else up and I'll bring, you know, bring my highlights down and just really kind of layer out the picture. So the final image is just really, you know, kind of clean. And once I'm happy with that, I'm ready to export and on to my next image. 9. Editing an Action Shot : All right. So for the last image that we have, um, is just ah, action portrait. So that can be any number of, ah, of candid portrait. It's or something that just conveys a lot of emotion. You want to see something that that shows just a lot of action? A lot of people in treed people's reactions. It can really be anything. But I wanna have, um, for you guys for this assignment. I wanna have a focus on action. So whether it's in sports day to day life or you know, anything, really, I just want to be able to show Are you guys to show me what you're either your sporting environments alike or just lifestyle? Anything that's just showing a lot of excitement? Um, I'll show you some images really quick that I did over the week of ah, of All Star weekend, right around Ah, Fashion Week and just some of the sporting photography that I did. Um, and just kind of how that translates into what I'm actually you guys to do here. Um, we me and ah, several people were shooting LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for his surprise entrance that he did at the House of Hoops on 34th Street right before the All Star game. Um, I just kind of want to show you guys really quick some techniques that I'll use just toe get a really high energy moment. And what I'm gonna be axing of you guys for this assignment. Um, really, The biggest thing I can tell you guys is for shooting sports photography. The best thing you can probably do is always have a high shutter speed and really never stop shooting. Um, I figured this out the hard way like this Second, you take away your camera, um, tell, like, pauses. Just, like even clean the lens or anything is the second you'll miss like an amazing picture. So that's why you know, it's always better to just have a high shutter speed. Have your settings dialed in your color, corrections, everything I said, everything you know usually like the half hour before. So I'm ready. The second whoever it is, I'm shooting walks in, Um, so you get really candid, clean Portrait's. You'll be able to get everything, and you have a lot more images to sift through. Um, you have some. You have quite a few blurry images like in the set, like maybe 70% of the images I had were like garbage. I wanted to throw him out. But the It's kind of like high risk, high reward photography like the more that you shooting, the more likely you are to get like that one crisp like magazine. Why call it like the billboard shot like I would feel comfortable That's going on a billboard or like a look book or anyone's website instagram. Um, so just really quick having a high shutter speed being in the right place at the right time . Always, always hopes. If you're shooting a sporting event, it's usually pretty easy just because the action is usually in one place. But you always want to get like the reaction, um, and just the audience and how they're reacting to the situation. So, like really intimate details shots like this on people holding jerseys or, you know, pens for autographs. Whatever kind of game that you're shooting, whatever it is you always want to get, like people's reaction and and how they're reacting to the moment, that's really something that is good to keep in the vacuum mind, Um, and just really after that, it's really up to you guys, whatever you want to put in, Ah, in your emotion and what have you you want to convey? Essentially, that's like that's legit because at the end of the day, it's about what your eyes doing and how you're showing that to, um, your audience. So that's what I want to see from your sporting photography or whatever action that you choose, whether it's a portrait, landscape or motion blower. Um, and just really anything that you do, I just energy, energy, energy, and it has to come from an inspiration. So, like I said, my inspiration has been drinks latest mixtape, just like the lyrics and just the notions he's conveying. Um, that's really been my inspiration for most of my coloring and for the four images that I put up for my final project. So I want to see the same from you guys. I would really like to thank everyone for checking out this first skill share class that I have. You guys really do make my my life so much easier. Just hearing from the support and the inspiration I get from all you guys. So I want to see you guys. Is ah, your final, um, discussions below. On what? You guys would be nice to each other. Be give positive feedback, you know, give constructive criticism and I really can't. Can't wait to see what you guys have. 10. Bonus Round: guys, This is just a really quick final conclusion going over all the final image him laughing at myself right now. I realize how many times I said, um, um, I just right there. I try to stop and pause when I feel like I'm coming up on a break. I'm not really good talking with people, and especially when it's over a screen and you guys don't really see my face. You don't really see my hands. And the way I talk like my hands in front of my face right now, like shaking my hands like like the Italian like, Forget about it, man. What you doing, man? Forget about it. Tony. Tony. So what I'm really trying to do is, like, cut the arms and I apologize if you felt distracted or by the time you got to the end of this video, you felt like damn, he said so many arms. Um, like, right there. I'm sorry. So this is kind of like a final treat, I guess. Then whoever can count how many times I said, um, throughout the course of this whole class, you will get a prize. I don't know what it is yet, but it'll be something crazy. That's all I can tell you. A so far as that goes, you know, have fun with this project, are really looking forward to see what you guys come up with. And thank you so much for watching the skill share and please share with your friends and anyone else that you know who might be interested about my process or just getting into photography in general. Really looking forward to what you guys are bringing to the table and I will have you guys soon.